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Rachel Soothill

Our Guide to the Ultimate Festival Wedding

Luxury bell tent wedding accommodation in our picturesque Sussex meadow

If you’ve been dreaming of the laid back luxury of a festival style wedding, you are in luck! Surrounded by picturesque countryside and with our brand new bells tents pitched up on our wildflower meadow, our West Sussex wedding venue is the perfect location to channel gorgeous festival wedding vibes.

Luxury bell tent wedding guest accommodation, Chichester

Our Brand New Luxury Bell Tents

New for 2024, we are over the moon to introduce our six beautiful new bell tents! Equipped with everything you need for a comfortable and relaxing stay, they are the perfect, authentic addition to a festival wedding day theme.

Each of the six luxury tents sleeps two people, meaning we can now accommodate up to twelve of your loved ones on the night of your wedding! Complete with lighting and charging points as well as double beds with Egyptian cotton bedding, every guest staying will also receive a delicious breakfast hamper created by our talented Roots catering team.

Available from May to September, the tents are set to the backdrop of our pretty wildflower meadow so also make a stunning spot for sun-drenched, festival inspired photographs on your big day.

Wedding reception space for hire in Sussex

Festival Wedding Styling

From a starry canopy of fairy lights lighting your way on the dance floor, to the bohemian charm of pampas grass and macramé. Our styling services make creating your perfect wedding day décor a breeze. Our knowledgeable team has devised a collection of carefully considered styling options to suit all tastes and act as the perfect base to your own personal touches. From our Wild & Green option, filled with fragrant herbs and greenery, to Boho Blush and our Fairy Light and Romantic Drape options, click here to take a look at our full range of options.

Our outdoor wedding ceremony space dressed with white balloons and flowers

Dreamy Ceremony Spaces

If tying the knot under the big beautiful sky is on your bucket list, we have the dreamiest spot for you. The Secret Garden outdoor ceremony space featured a pretty wooden pergola set at the end of an elegant aisle with beautifully landscaped flower beds – the perfect location for festival inspired nuptials.

If an indoor ceremony is more your style, our Dairy Barn is a stunning backdrop for your vows. Complete with stunning new panelling and a sweeping aisle lined with sweet chestnut benches, this beautiful space provides a neutral backdrop for your choice of wedding day styling.

Newly weds dancing at wedding party venue

Festival Sounds

You can’t have a festival themed wedding without some fantastic music! Our large Collecting Yard and courtyard is a fantastic place to enjoy some alfresco music during your reception drinks – with the benefit of added shelter should the weather throw a curveball. Over the years, couples have enjoyed everything from steel drums to a Spanish quartet, acoustic guitar or a vintage serenade, add some Roots cocktails, a G&T with a twist or our Southend Lager and you have the perfect recipe for festival chill.

When it’s time to party, our spacious Threshing Barn is the perfect setting. With a great stage area and plenty of space to bust some moves, guests will be transported to the fields of Latitude, Reading or Glastonbury for a party they won’t forget.

Southend Barns in-house wedding catering by Roots

Festival Themed Wedding Food

You can’t have a festival style wedding without a mouth-watering menu! Our Roots team of chefs have created a range of delicious feasts ideal for this style of wedding day. From scrumptious street food, to perfect pizzas and sharing platters, below are some of our top festival foodie picks…

Pizza

Created and baked in our outdoor kitchen and served in authentic pizza boxes, our delicious pizza menu has been a hit with couples and is a great option for those dreaming of an informal laid back wedding day.

Our pizza menu has been carefully honed to combine the finest flavours, resulting in an extraordinary array of dishes guaranteed to delight. From our duck confit pizza with spring onion, cucumber, sesame seeds, hoisin sauce and coriander, to our Brighton blue cheese, sun blush tomato, Parma ham and fresh rosemary flavour, and of course the popular goats cheese, balsamic onion, roquette, vine tomato and walnut pizza. Every delicious option is created with artisan dough, topped with our own tomato sauce and loaded with fresh and creative toppings.

Sharers

Chatting with friends and family whilst tucking into a delicious sharing platter is one of life’s absolute joys and the perfect vibe for a festival inspired wedding.

We have carefully designed our sharing boards so that each individual component is delicious alone but also perfectly complements the rest. So however you and your guests wish to enjoy our platters, every mouthful is guaranteed bliss.

Some favourites include our Roots crispy tortillas topped with zesty guacamole, vine tomato and sumac salsa, harissa yoghurt and parmesan crisp, and also our classic basil and tomato bruschetta. Or why not tuck into a board filled to the brim with delicacies like Parma ham, coppa, chorizo and pickles, or our loaded wedges, topped with Roots BBQ pulled pork, BBQ sauce, corn and pomegranate salsa.

Salads

Perfect for balmy summer days and definitely channelling that Coachella vibe, our festival salad menu is delightfully rich and varied. Filled with delicious local produce, including much from our own Kitchen Garden, the dishes play with flavour, texture and colour, for a rainbow feast your guests will never forget. Why not sample our Cowboy Caviar, Panzanella Salad or Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets with Lime Yoghurt – fresh, vibrant and delicious, the perfect festival fare.

Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae

Children and adults alike will delight at this wonderfully fun dessert option. Select three flavours from our collection of ice creams and sorbets, and combine with your choice of toppings, sauces and a flake for a delicious and playful alternative to a classic dessert.

To find out more, contact our team and we can help you build the perfect festival wedding that combines Glastonbury vibes with comfort and luxury.

 

Photo credits:

Elizabeth Ruby Photography
Helen Cawte Photography

Our Most Commonly Asked Wedding Questions

Wedding venue fireworks display

When it comes to planning your dream wedding day, there’s always a lot to consider. From the guest list to the ceremony plan, the wedding favours to the band, the to-do-list can feel endless. This is why our dedicated team go above and beyond to do everything we can to help take the load off, whether that is through our stunning collection of venue styling options or by simply having all the information our couples need, right at our fingertips.

Keep reading for our most commonly asked wedding questions…

When do I book the registrar?

You’ve planned your dress, picked your décor and united your bridal party, but have you booked your registrar!? If you are planning on having your wedding ceremony at Southend Barns, we recommend that you check availability of the registrar before you even confirm your date with us. The phone number for West Sussex Registrar Office is 01243 642122, their helpful team will chat you through the process of registering your marriage and booking a registrar.

Wedding day couple with confetti

Is Your Wedding Venue Accessible?

Inclusivity is incredibly important to us at Southend Barns and therefore we ensure that all areas of our wedding venue are accessible for wheelchair users. This includes the bridal suite, both ceremony spaces, our reception space, facilities and also our outdoor spaces and gardens. We also have dedicated accessible parking spaces in our large car park.

Is There Somewhere We Can Use to Get Ready?

For those brides or grooms looking to get ready on site, many choose to use our Milking Parlour bridal suite. Also, a beautiful option for the night of your wedding, the spacious bridal suite has its own bathroom, log burner, seating and dining table plus plenty of mirrors. The Milking Parlour is available from 11am on the morning of your big day.

Southend Barns Milking Parlour bridal suite, West Sussex

Do You Allow Candles?

We know the gentle glow of candlelight can make or break a carefully planned wedding day aesthetic, which is why we are pleased to say we do allow the use of candles at Southend Barns as long as they are in holders. The only exception to this is, for safety reasons, we do not allow real candles lining the aisle. However, if you are set on walking down a sweeping candle lit aisle, there are some beautiful and very realistic faux candles available which make a perfect substitute.

Are Guests Allowed to Bring Confetti?

Another commonly asked question is our stance on confetti. We are all for it! However in line with our pledge to be as environmentally friendly as possible, we do ask that all confetti used is natural, such as rose or other flower petals.

Wedding day confetti (credit: TeriV Photography)

What Wedding Reception Spaces Do You Have?

Some of our most frequently asked questions relate to the wedding reception. Our wedding venue consists of several interlinked spaces including our Secret Garden outdoor ceremony space, our Dairy Barn indoor ceremony space, our fully protected and heated outdoor Collecting Yard which looks over beautiful landscaped gardens and our Threshing Barn which is usually used for the wedding breakfast and reception party.

Wedding reception space for hire in Sussex

What Drinks Do You Offer?

The Threshing Barn and Collecting Yard both have bars serving a wide range of drinks including cocktails, spirits, wine, beer and soft drinks. Many couples opt to put a set figure behind to bar to kick off celebrations, but it is important to advise guests that both bars are cashless, so unless you are treating your guests to a free bar all night, only card payments will be accepted.

Wedding day drinks (credit: Kelly Hearn)

Can We Have Fireworks?

Many of our couples have enjoyed spectacular firework displays as a gorgeous crescendo to their special day. We have one approved supplier of fireworks – Selstar – who we have worked with for years. They create unforgettable, tailored to you displays whilst also being conscious of our rural location and surrounding wildlife.

Wedding event fireworks display

Is Your Wedding Venue Child Friendly?

We welcome children to Southend Barns, but understand a late night reception can be a bit too much for the young ones. To enjoy the best of both worlds, some of our couples have created a cosy kids zone in our Dairy Barn (which is just across the lawn from our reception space in the Threshing Barn). There are several childcare professionals in the area who can be hired to run a crèche in this space, or some have their own pop-up tents full of entertainment and activities. This gives young children a quiet, safe and supervised space to sleep or play, whilst their parents enjoy the party just a stone’s throw away.

Child-friendly wedding venue in Chichester, West Sussex

Do You Have Noise Restrictions?

Although we have no noise restrictions at Southend Barns, to be respectful of our neighbours (sound can travel quite far over rolling fields!) and also to conform to our premises licence, we ask that music ends by 11.30pm and that all guests have left the barns by midnight.

Do You Have On Site Accommodation?

As well as providing a range of beautiful accommodation onsite for close family and friends there are lots of lovely hotels and B&Bs located near our wedding barns.

At Southend Barns we have our Milking Parlour, Mama Lou Shepherd’s Hut and also our new Luxury Bell Tents offering which sleeps up to 12 people and will be available for use during the warmer months.

There are also plenty of great nearby accommodation options available for your wider wedding party. From Crouchers Hotel only a mile down the road, to a wide range of beautiful spots to suit a variety of budgets just a couple of miles away in nearby Chichester, including The Harbour HotelEast Walls HotelPremier Inn and many more. Check out our full recommended accommodation list.

Shepherd's Hut Tinwood bubbly for wedding

Is There Plenty of Parking? Can Guests Leave Their Cars Overnight?

Although we have a large car park which can fit up to 80 cars, we know guests often like to unwind with a drink or two to celebrate your big day. If guests choose to drive to Southend Barns, but do not wish to drive at the end of the night, we are happy for them to leave their cars in our car park overnight along the far hedge, as long as these are all collected by 10am the next day.

Can You Recommend Any Taxi Firms?

There are a wide range of reputable taxi firms in the area. We highly recommend these are pre-booked as they can get very busy, especially during the weekend. See our full list of nearby taxi firms.

If you would like to know anything further about having your wedding celebration at Southend Barns why not take a look at our full list of frequently asked questions. Alternatively, our team would be more than happy to answer any questions you have, just give us a call on 01243 641247 or email us at enquiries@southendfarms.co.uk.

Spring Wedding Day Inspiration

Wedding day inspiration 2024 (credit: Adorlee)

Why hello spring! With brighter days and blossom filled trees, we’re looking forward to lots of beautiful Southend Barns weddings.

Nothing says romance like spring on the south coast, and everything about our West Sussex wedding venue leans into this glorious time of year. From our countryside setting and carefully landscaped gardens awash with seasonal colour, to our tranquil outdoor ceremony space and of course (in case of April showers!) our cosy and fully protected Collecting Yard. Spring weddings at Southend Barns hold more than a touch of magic.

Read on for our very best 2024 spring wedding trends…

Wedding inspiration for 2024

The Wedding Flower of the Moment

When it comes to curating beautiful spring wedding decor, why not work with what this gorgeous season naturally brings – fabulous flowers!

At a time when the outdoors feels fresh, green and new, nature offers an incredible range of florals to choose from.

Using seasonal flowers is a good idea for a number of reasons, not only do they tend to be cheaper as they are more widely available, picking flowers when they are naturally thriving means you get blooms at their strongest and most beautiful which in turn ensures they will look fresh all day. Many growers cultivate popular flowers for use all year round and not just when they are naturally in-season. This can result in a pricier product and one which can pale in comparison to its in-season counterpart.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few of the most popular seasonal wedding flowers for spring:

  • MarchHyacinth, Narcissi, Muscari
  • AprilRanunculus, Tulip, Anemone
  • MayPeonies, Sweet William, Roses, Lily of the Valley

Wedding flowers inspiration

Elevate Your Arrangements

So you’ve settled on your blooms, but 2024 wedding day florals can be more than just a bouquet or single centrepiece.

From meadow-like arrangements lining the aisle in our Dairy Barn and flower filled arches framing your vows, to textural tablescapes filling the air with fragrance or picturesque ceiling installations making the most of the original beams in our Threshing Barn. We’ve seen spring flowers used to glorious effect by many of our couples, bringing the outdoors in with seasonal blooms beautifully reflecting our surrounding landscape.

Floral displays for weddings

A Road Less Travelled

If full on florals are just not your style, do not fear, there are many gorgeous ways to incorporate a springtime feel into your big day without buying out the local florist!

Your colour palette can be a powerful tool when it comes to creating the desired feel for your wedding day. Pretty pastels are evocative of this time of year and when used carefully can result in chic but romantic wedding styling. Whether you choose a tonal approach with one colour in a variety of textures and hues, or a carefully chosen collection of colours, we’ve seen spring styling done beautifully.

Floral arrangements for wedding table

Taking the Stress Out of Styling

Feeling a little overwhelmed with your spring wedding styling? Then our popular wedding Styling Selections are a great place to start. Inspired by our years of experience planning dream wedding days, we’ve created a range of exquisite decor options combining candlelight, luxury linens, centrepieces, lighting and more, to form the perfect base for our couples to add their own personal touches.

From fabulous fairy light ceiling installations to romantic drapery, textural boho touches, monochromatic chic, luscious greenery and the ultimate elegant wedding day set up. Each of our styling options has been carefully honed to deliver maximum impact, without you lifting a finger.

Wedding cake inspo

The Sweetest Thing

Your cake can be a striking centrepiece and a beautiful addition to your spring wedding theme. We have seen some true masterpieces from the creative cake makers our couples have chosen. From exquisite sugar flowers to hand-painted beauties and fresh flowers to dried pressed designs. Delicious and beautiful, what else could you ask for!

Wedding food inspiration ideas

Let it Grow!

Another glorious side of spring is the abundance of delicious food! Our Kitchen Garden is filled with scrumptious vegetables all ready to be used in our Roots kitchen. Our team of chefs are passionate about using the very best quality ingredients either grown on site or sourced as locally as possible. From homemade bread using our own Wildfarmed flour, fresh vegetables and herbs from our garden to fish and meat sourced locally, we are able to offer the freshest and most flavoursome dishes, knowing the full journey of each of our ingredients.

Some spring favourites from our current menu include our Roots Allotment Vegetable Salad, Sussex Wild Mushroom, Leek and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Tortellini and of course the classic Overnight Shoulder of Lamb, served with a rosemary and cranberry glaze, roasted new potatoes, crushed pea and mint salad and delicious allotment vegetables.

Click here to browse our full menu.

For more wedding day inspiration follow us on Instagram or Pinterest.

Photo Credits:
Lydia Stamps Photography

Martin Beard Photography
Elizabeth Ruby Photography
James White Photography
Adorlee Weddings
Kelly Hearn Photography

‘We Wouldn’t Change a Single Thing’

Perfect wedding celebration, West Sussex

The whole team here at Southend Barns work tirelessly to ensure that every wedding we are a part of is absolutely perfect for that individual couple. From the food and decor to the maintenance of our beautiful grounds, we do everything we can to make that dream day a reality, so when we get feedback like the below, it really does mean the world. Thank you Charlotte and Tom!

Dear Southend Barns,

We wanted to send a proper thank you as the entire team both on the day and in the build up were exceptional.

I still feel emotional when I think about just how good the day was. Southend Barns was exceptional and exceeded our expectations. We would not change a single thing.

You are probably aware my mum had a big part in the planning of our day and she especially commented that the event management was exceptional (she plans events in London hotels as part of her job). She also really appreciated the bar staff keeping her updated on the tab. Sorry we kept the bar tenders so busy!

Every member of staff that was part of our day was exceptional. All the wait staff were really kind too – there was a sweet girl whose first shift it was and a great lady behind the bar who kept checking if we were okay. We also really appreciated the sneak preview of the Threshing Barn! The lady cleaning the Milking Parlour the next day was also super kind and helped me organise my stuff through my hangover! The gardens also looked beautiful despite it being the middle of winter. The care and pride taken in the venue really shows and I would happily recommend Southend Barns to anyone.

Many guests have commented on the quality and quantity of the food, the excellent drinks and also how the set up of the venue, with the different barns, is really unique and much better than a standard barn. This couldn’t be more true and we have ranked in the top three weddings according to a number of friends – that is a high accolade as they are picky!

We also must thank you for the supplier list, all our suppliers, with exception of the band, were from there so thank you!

I only wish we could do it all again!

Best wishes
C & T

Tom and Charlotte's wedding at Southend Barns, West SussexTom and Charlotte's celebration at Southend Barns, West Sussex

10 Things to Consider When Booking Your Wedding Day Music

Wedding day live band (credit: Kevin Watkins Photography)

By Toast Live

Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the right music sets the tone for every memorable moment. Whether you’re opting for live musicians, a DJ, or a combination of both, choosing the perfect musical accompaniment requires careful consideration. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when booking your wedding day music.

  1. Personal Taste and Style
    Consider your personal music preferences and style as a couple. Do you lean towards classical elegance, or are you more inclined towards contemporary hits? Understanding your shared musical tastes will help you select music that resonates with both of you. It’s equally important to think about your guests and what will get everyone on the dance floor at the reception!
  2. Venue Acoustics and Space
    The acoustics of Southend Barns play a crucial role in how the music will be experienced. For instance, the Threshing Barn will suit a full live band, while an intimate event in The Dairy Barn can be better suited for acoustic performers. Consider the space and its acoustics when making your musical choices, using an experienced agency like Toast can help to guide you with this.
  3. Ceremony vs. Reception
    Different parts of your wedding day require different musical moods. Reflect on the ambiance you want to create during the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. For instance, the ceremony may benefit from live classical music such as a harpist, while the reception may call for upbeat, danceable tunes from a DJ or a live covers band.
  4. Budget Considerations
    Music is a significant aspect of your wedding expenses. Determine a budget for your musical arrangements early in the planning process. This will help you narrow down your options and ensure you allocate funds appropriately. The team at Toast can deliver the perfect act to suit any budget. Getting a handle on your entertainment budget will mean that you can build a package that maximises your budget. For example, most daytime acts will cover your ceremony and drinks reception so do always ask about packages.
  5. Versatility of Musicians or DJ
    Consider how versatile your chosen musicians or DJ are. Can they adapt to different musical genres and styles? A versatile performer will be able to cater to the diverse tastes of your guests, ensuring everyone has a great time. Experienced acts can elevate your ceremony plus up to two 45-minute sets for your drink’s reception. In the evening, bands typically offer two sets lasting 60 minutes each or three sets of 40 minutes each. Toast’s bespoke DJ packages can provide the music for the entire evening celebration, with live musicians joining in throughout the night which really gives you bang for your buck!
  6. Communication and Coordination
    Clear communication with your chosen musicians is essential. Discuss your preferences, special requests, and any specific songs you want included. Ensure they understand the flow of your wedding day and can seamlessly transition between different segments.
  7. Experience and Reviews
    When selecting musicians or DJs, prioritise professionalism. Look for experienced musicians and DJs with a track record of successful weddings. You want to see reviews from other couples, samples of their musician’s work, and ensure they have the experience required to elevate your wedding. A seasoned pro from Toast will adapt to the flow of your day seamlessly.
  8. Backup Plans
    Always have a contingency plan in case of unforeseen circumstances. Musicians may fall ill, or technical issues may arise. Discuss backup options with your performers or have a plan in place with your wedding planner. Booking with Toast is a secure way to ensure your musicians are contracted correctly, deliver on the day and will always have a back up plan!
  9. Licensing and Contracts
    Ensure that your chosen musicians or DJ have the necessary licenses to perform at your venue. Review contracts thoroughly to understand the terms, including payment schedules, cancellation policies, and any additional fees.
  10. Rehearsals and Sound Checks
    Schedule rehearsals or sound checks with your musicians or DJ before the wedding day. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and that the sound levels are balanced for optimal quality. Toast musicians and DJs work with Southend Barns regularly, making for a smooth set up and sound check.

By considering these important factors, you’ll be well-prepared to choose the perfect musical accompaniment for your special day. Remember, the right music enhances the overall experience and creates lasting memories for you and your guests. Working with an experienced team like Toast gives you the peace of mind that everything from contracting, timings and back up plans are all in place so you can focus on enjoying your big day.

For more info, visit www.toastlive.co.uk

Photo credit: Kevin Watkins Photography

From Field to Focaccia

By Dan Clarke, Executive Chef and General Manager

Food and sustainability play an important part in the running of Southend Barns. Our reputation, not only for providing a beautiful wedding day experience, but for crafting the most delicious wedding day menus, is something we are extremely proud of. With this in mind, we are bursting with excitement to let you in on our latest project…

You may be aware that Southend Barns sits within a working farm in the West Sussex countryside. This is something the team and I have used to our advantage for many years, growing lots of our own produce to use in the creation of our delicious dishes. So, we are delighted to announce that we are now baking bread created with wheat grown on our very own farm.

As a chef, and one that makes every endeavour to use local produce and support local suppliers, I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to grow our own wheat. As I stand in the kitchen, mixing our flour with yeast, salt, water, and a splash of olive oil I can look out of the window and see the fields of wheat where our flour originated. You cannot get more local than that!

The wheat we grow on site is then taken to Wildfarmed who turn it into flour which we in turn use in the creation of our Roots bread – including our Focaccia. We use three types of Wildfarmed flour in our kitchens, the strong bread flour, the country style (mixture of brown and white) and the plain flour, all of which are used in our breads and pastries.

One of our most popular breads is our Focaccia. This is made on the day of a wedding, it’s the first job in the morning to get it ready and proving. We then prep the topping. At the moment, our white Focaccia is flavoured with local tomatoes, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pink pepper, sumac and once baked has a splash of basil oil over it – It is wonderful!

Another favourite flavour uses the Wildfarmed country style flour which is rich in flavour and has a real depth to it. We pair this with caraway seeds, garlic and various seeds including sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame. It is then topped with rosemary oil, sea salt and pepper. Our guests love it and the feedback has been wonderful!

“Focaccia can be so bland but not here at Southend Barns, it’s the best I have ever tasted, and I have tasted a few! Love it!”

Who are Wildfarmed?

Set up by former TV presenter George Lamb, Groove Armada’s Andy Cato and financial guru Edd Lees in 2020, Wildfarmed has a network of farms that follow regenerative farming principles to grow wheat. Wildfarmed turn this into flour that is supplied to restaurants and eateries as well as being used by M&S in bakery products. They have also launched their own range of branded bread.

About Southend Farm

Southend Farm has always been at the forefront of sustainable farming methods and it has recently gone through a conversion period to introduce a regenerative system across the whole farm. As a result, the farm will be one of approx 100 across the UK and France to join the Wildfarmed network to grow and provide wheat on a yearly basis.

Regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that amongst other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity. Resulting in both carbon drawdown, improving the water cycle, enhancing biodiversity in the soil through insect, bacteria and fungi activity and wildlife on the land.

The principles of regenerative farming are:

  • No ploughing and as little soil disturbance as possible
  • Keeping the soil surface covered as much as possible (no ploughed fields in the winter) so keeping living roots in the soil
  • Mixed cropping, for example we will grow our wheat as a mixture of 3 varieties of wheat (selected on their disease resistance) with an understory of white clover which is a legume and will assist with nitrogen fixing
  • No use of chemicals (insecticides or fungicides) and a very limited use of artificial fertiliser
  • Use of livestock in the rotation system to build up soil fertility
  • Encouraging water percolation into the soil

Southend Farm and Wildfarmed is the perfect marriage (excuse the pun). We share the same values and goals, the same ethos and a dedication to producing the very best flour to give chefs and bakers the best product for all their flour kneads (see what I did there!). We are proud to be part of this fantastic initiative by not only growing the wheat but then using the flour made from it within our own homemade bread, which is served here to couples and their guests.

Southend Barns homemade bread bakingSouthend Barns homemade breadSouthend Barns focaccia made from homegrown wheatSouthend Barns homemade breadSouthend Barns homemade focaccia

Featured in Your Sussex Wedding Magazine

Gemma and Matthew's wedding celebration

Gemma and Matthew’s slice of summer paradise has been featured in Your Sussex Wedding Magazine!

The couple’s flower filled wedding was a joy to behold with every inch of our Dairy and Threshing Barns adorned with incredible floral displays and soft pink touches. This lovely pair didn’t let a spot of rain bother them, using every part of our venue to great effect and filling their day with glorious steel drums, fireworks, garden games, a delicious BBQ and more. The couple even hired local oil painter Steve Wiltshire to capture their big day on canvas!

Take a closer look at Gemma and Matthew’s beautiful wedding day here

Gemma and Matthew's wedding featured in Your Sussex Wedding magazine

Gemma and Matthew's wedding featured in Your Sussex Wedding magazine

Gemma and Matthew's wedding featured in Your Sussex Wedding magazine

Gemma and Matthew's wedding featured in Your Sussex Wedding magazine

2024 Wedding Trends

Couple in wedding barn venue

2023 was awash with glorious Southend Barns wedding style as our couples expressed their love in lots of beautiful ways. Many of our 2023 couples chose to take advantage of our Styling Service, using our range of professionally curated styling options as a springboard to support their chosen wedding decor. But enough reminiscing, it’s time for us to share our projections for the very best wedding trends for 2024. Keep reading for the inside scoop…

What’s New with Wedding Décor?

This year wedding decor is bright, beautiful and above all personal. Glorious warm colours will be taking the stage, ranging from sunny yellow to hot pink and delightfully vibrant poppy red. Add to this a good dose of opulence and you have a celebration fit for royalty!

From enormous floral displays to fruit bowls spilling with delicious and exotic delights, the natural world will be a huge influence in wedding design. Reaching further shores than recent years, greenery will still be an important staple, but elevated with colour and texture, enveloping the senses like never before. Think billowing romantic drapes, ceilings dancing with fairy lights and your favourite candle infusing the air.

Wedding barn venue, SussexIf pared back sophistication is more your thing, then 2024 also brings a beautiful take on tonal wedding decor. Using one colour in various tones and textures creates cohesive and super chic styling. As well as being a visually striking way to style your wedding day, the tonal trend is fairly easy to accomplish and gives the wedding party greater freedom when choosing their outfits.

Brand new for 2024, our Amber Sunset styling option is bang on trend with a tonal palette of warm, sun-kissed shades. Highlighted with beautiful burnt orange and golden touches, this is deliciously rich, wedding day styling at its very best. With a sprinkle of Southend Barns magic, Amber Sunset succeeds in creating a romantic, dusky glow long after the sun has set over the West Sussex countryside.

Alternatively, our Boho Blush wedding venue styling option takes tonal texture to the next level. With sumptuous macramé touches, dried flowers and pampas grass all in soft neutral tones, this is a stunning option for those interested in romantic, blush wedding day styling.

Wedding venue dining hall

Wedding Day Dressing for YOU!

Gone are the days of prescriptive wedding gowns – for 2024 couples the world is your oyster, with brides and grooms opting for wedding wear which perfectly suits their personality. From glorious mini dresses to jewel toned wedding gowns, personal style is in!

Indian wedding dress

Black and White Wedding Day Styling

Monochrome is back for 2024, so if your dream day is to create a beautiful black-tie occasion, then we’ve got the perfect styling selection for you. Our gorgeous monochrome option features chic black and white, glass touches, white roses and elegant foliage as well as hints of gorgeous gold with items such as cutlery.

Super luxe styling doesn’t stop with dressing your venue either, over the top dress codes are set to be popular in 2024. Invite your guests to celebrate in extravagant attire, from black tie with a twist to your favourite glamourous theme. However, a note to the wise, try to keep it light and not too prescriptive, or you could run the risk of making dressing for your wedding a stressful experience.

Wedding meal table setting

The Personal Touch

Not a new trend, but one that has had growing appeal for quite a few years now. Your wedding day is all about you and your love, so what better way to create a timeless and beautiful celebration than by weaving moments from your love story through your day. From handwritten letters to homemade wedding favours or a cocktail which transports you back to that special holiday together. There are many ways to touch on important moments in addition to the anecdotes revealed during speeches.

Personal wedding service

Nostalgic Wedding Day Food

Many of our couples have been opting for food that takes them on a trip down memory lane. From Hunter’s Chicken or Chicken Kiev, our team of incredible chefs have given these childhood classics a creative twist to make them worthy of a wedding day menu without losing their nostalgic charm.

From decadent BBQs to mouth-watering plant-based options, our varied and diverse menus have something to sate any palette. You can browse our full menu here, and our Roots chefs are always happy to chat about any special requirements you might have.

Personal wedding service catering

Festival-Fabulous Weddings

Personality is everything for 2024 weddings, so if you are more of a laid back kind of couple why not opt for a festival style theme. Our rural setting is a gorgeous backdrop for a festival wedding, with surrounding fields, our Collecting Yard and pretty gardens – the perfect spot for games, stalls, drinks stations and pop up food stops! Our Roots chefs also do a delicious festival inspired menu with sharing platters, homemade pizzas in pizza boxes and more.

Our rustic Threshing Barn looks wonderful dressed with festival-fabulous disco balls, garlands and gorgeous big tonal balloons, and makes an amazing space for you and your guests to dance the night away to an awesome band or DJ.

Keep the festival magic running into the night with our new luxury Bell Tents. Our six tents are situated in our pretty wildflower meadow and make ideal overnight accommodation for close friends and family to retire following your celebrations.

Wedding day drinks (credit: Kelly Hearn)

Wedding Day Drinks Trends

With a significant increase in people going teetotal, it is more important than ever to ensure you offer a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks for your wedding celebrations. Here at Southend Barns, we take taste seriously and have curated a wide range of the very best non-alcoholic drinks options. From the award-winning Wide Idol alcohol free sparkling wine, to popular non-alcoholic spirits, and of course our own delicious range of mocktails and spritzers.

On the subject of drinks, another trend here to stay is the gloriously decadent champagne tower! This throwback to roaring 20s style creates real wow factor as a centrepiece and is a fun addition to your big day. The tower can be filled with your choice of sparkling drink, and whether you choose one of our local Tinwood sparkling wines, Prosecco or a non-alcoholic option, it will be a moment your guests never forget.

Wedding trends can be fun to take inspiration from, but fashions come and go, the most important thing to remember when choosing styling, food and decor, is to pick what makes you and your partner happy.

Our whole team is dedicated to ensuring you have the perfect wedding day for you. A special day like no other which you truly enjoy, creating beautiful memories to treasure and hold dear for many years to come. We can’t wait to be a part of each and every celebration this year and we promise that every single wedding that takes place in our beautiful barns will be utterly and completely perfect.

If you are interested in booking Southend Barns for your wedding day, please do get in touch on 01243 641247 and our dedicated team will be more than happy to help.

Photo credits:
Ruby Roux Photography
Kelly Hearn Photography
Jasmine Andrews Photography

From Our Garden to Your Wedding Table, Our Top Plant-Based Dishes

Vegan dish

By Dan Clarke

As the executive chef at Southend Barns and one who has been in the business for 30 years, I often get asked the question, ‘What do you think of plant-based food?’

Over the years I have seen a lot of change in the culture and attitude towards vegetarian and plant-based food, gone are the days where some chefs would simply remove the protein, or serve a classic stuffed pepper. The plant-based revolution is here, in full swing and not going anywhere. As a chef, I love the challenge, to be pushed to strive to deliver new and creative ideas that are outside the traditional wedding day menu.

Here at Roots, we like to set trends, to evolve, to create, to inspire and to show our couples that we can create and deliver fantastic plant-based, gluten free or dairy free food with lots of wonderful choices, ingredients, and flavour combinations.

We are blessed with a kitchen garden that allows us to plant what we like. To sew a seed, watch it grow, nurture it, pick it and then plate it! From our garden, to your table – who cannot love that! I have just set out our planting season with our gardener Gemma, we are planning to grow lots of root vegetables this year. A firm favourite of mine is celeriac, it is so versatile and can be used many ways – pureed, roasted, confit and raw in salads. Herbs and lettuces will also feature heavily this year along with heritage carrots, and of course beetroot! Beetroot is a firm favourite with the team and where our name originates from, Roots.

My biggest source of plant-based inspiration comes from a very well-known chef called Yotam Ottolenghi who runs and owns the Ottolenghi chain of restaurants. The way he takes humble, simple ingredients, adds some spices, seeds, nuts, or other flavours, and combines it with a vibrant dressing, yoghurt or dip is brilliant! I love that style of food and would eat it all the time if I could.

Another great source of inspiration comes from a very well-known Indian recipe book called Dishoom. A lot of Indian food is plant-based or vegetarian so when I was given this book, I could feel the creative juices flowing and my mind was racing with ideas for our menu. By combining my own repertoire and experience with a dash of inspiration from Ottolenghi and voila – we have an exciting and diverse plant-based menu to delight our couples and their guests.

One of our most popular vegan options has to be our Butternut Gnocchi with Miso, Mushrooms, Spinach, Charred Tenderstem and Sesame. This dish was inspired by Ottolenghi who do a swede gnocchi. It is such a wonderful dish, full of flavour and texture, and loved by everyone that tries it.

Plant-based desserts have been more of a challenge but a very exciting one, and with my experience as a pastry chef, it is a challenge I gladly accepted!

With plant-based ingredients becoming more readily available and very good in terms of the quality, the difficult part of making vegan desserts truly exceptional is the execution – adapting cooking techniques to make it as close as possible to a pudding that has non plant-based ingredients in it. One example of this is our Sticky Toffee Pudding, which we can now make plant-based. It has been a real challenge and taken many attempts, lots of notes, lots of trials and about 9 months to get it right! We now have a pudding that is very close to the traditional version. Gooey and light with a nice flavour and texture. We serve it with plant-based toffee sauce, plant-based vanilla ice cream and passion fruit. Oh, and we can also make it gluten free!

Our Vegan Brownie is another popular choice. The texture and gooeyness of this decadent brownie is sometimes better than our usual brownie recipe. It really is great, and gluten free too.

One of the biggest questions I get asked about plant-based food (especially desserts) is what we use instead of eggs. We use a couple of items, mainly chickpea juice, with which we also make mayonnaise with and our meringues. The other is apple puree. This works well as a combiner and adds a mellow flavour which enriches many desserts.

We are dedicated and passionate about plant-based food here at Southend Barns. Feedback from our guests has been amazing with couples so thankful for the care and attention we go to with our plant-based menu, as well as the quality of the food and the variation and choice.

Browse our full range of menus here








Photos: Elizabeth Ruby Photography

Wedding Day Music Trends

Wedding day music (credit: Kevin Watkins Photography)

Elevate Your Day by Toast Live

Your wedding day is a celebration of love, and every detail should reflect your unique style and personality. One crucial aspect is the choice of music. From the romantic melodies during the ceremony to the energetic beats on the dance floor, every note sets the tone for your special day. As you plan your wedding at Southend Barns, consider these musical elements to make your day truly unforgettable.

Hybrid Ensembles: A Fusion of Classical and Contemporary

Couples are currently gravitating towards the fusion of traditional and contemporary musical ensembles. Imagine the elegance of a violin seamlessly merging with the electrifying beats of a live DJ. This harmonious blend creates an enchanting atmosphere that caters to all musical tastes.

Choosing to blend timeless classics with modern melodies creates an ethereal ambiance for walking down the aisle. Envision the delicate strings of a harpist intertwining with the soft notes of a piano, accompanied by the soulful voice of a contemporary vocalist. Harmonious fusions encapsulate the essence of romance and sophistication, leaving a lasting impression on your guests.

Vows in Verse

Couples are embracing personalised vows set to music. Consider commissioning a songwriter to craft a bespoke song that encapsulates your unique journey together. As you exchange vows, let the melody resonate with the promises you make, creating a moment that is uniquely yours.

Interactive and Bespoke Spotify Playlists for Every Moment

Personalisation takes centre stage with custom-curated Spotify playlists. From the prelude to the last dance, couples are meticulously handpicking songs that resonate with their love story. These playlists weave a narrative, evoking emotions and creating cherished memories for you and your guests.

Engagement is the name of the game, and interactive song requests are stealing the show. Couples are employing interactive platforms that allow guests to contribute to the playlist, ensuring everyone feels connected to the musical journey. This inclusivity transforms the event into a collective celebration of love.

Acoustic Intimacy: Unplugged Performances

Invite your guests to revel in an atmosphere of intimacy and warmth with live acoustic performances. Talented musicians strumming guitars or playing gentle melodies on pianos can transform your cocktail hour into an experience of soulful connection. This trend brings an authentic touch to your celebration, allowing your guests to immerse themselves in the magic of the moment.

Dancefloor Delights: DJ Sets with a Twist

Wedding DJs are taking a bold step by blending genres and eras. From classic disco beats to contemporary pop anthems, expect a dancefloor journey that transcends time and taste. Amplify your DJ package with the team at Toast by adding a saxophonist, live vocals, or electric violin! Your guests will be grooving to a seamless fusion of musical styles, ensuring everyone finds their rhythm on the dancefloor.

Making Memories through Music

In the grand symphony of your wedding day, music takes centre stage. By embracing the latest trends you create an atmosphere that resonates with your unique love story. The team at Toast is dedicated to making your day truly yours. They work closely with you to understand your musical preferences and budget, ensuring every note aligns with your vision. Whether you envision a classical quartet, a soulful jazz band, or a contemporary DJ, Toast have the resources and expertise to bring your musical dreams to life. So, let the melodies play on, and may your wedding day be filled with harmonious memories that last a lifetime.

For more info, visit toastlive.co.uk

Photo credit: Kevin Watkins Photography

The Best Dishes of 2023

Wedding day food

My Best Dishes of 2023

Daniel Clarke, Executive Chef and General Manager at Southend Barns

What a year it has been for Roots at Southend Barns! Our ever-evolving 2023 menus focusing on seasonal and local produce have been a huge hit, so we wanted to take a walk down memory lane and let you know this year’s firm wedding day favourites from all of our lovely couples…

Canapés

This year we introduced five new canapés and without doubt the most popular one has been our Overnight Crispy Pork Belly with Miso & Toffee Sauce which is topped with toasted sesame seeds and chives. So many of our couples have opted for this delicious dish – a mouth-watering way to start your wedding day food journey!


Starters

We introduced four new starters to this year’s menus and they have all been super popular. One of my particular favourites is the Smoked Chicken & Parma Ham Salad which is served with celeriac and apple slaw and mustard dressing. Classic Baked Camembert has also had a return to popularity! We serve our version with pineapple & chilli chutney, Roots toasted focaccia and a drizzle of our Southend Honey!

Another frequently chosen dish this year (and my favourite dish of all time!) is Ham, Egg & Chip. Our more sophisticated version of this pub favourite features an elegant pressed ham hock terrine with gherkins and parsley, served with a crispy quails egg that has a runny centre and finally the homemade chip – triple cooked to perfection!


Mains

There are two dishes that stand out from all the rest – both were new additions for 2023 and I am so pleased they have been so well received.

The first, Chicken Kiev. Oh no I hear you cry, not a deep fried tasteless piece of chicken with butter that oozes out! No sirree, our Kiev is made from farm reared chicken, stuffed with garlic and parsley butter. A Kiev bon bon made from garlic, lemon and parsley butter is then chilled, coated in panko crumb, deep fried and placed on top of the perfectly cooked chicken breast. One groom said to me, “I never in a million years would of picked a Chicken Kiev for our wedding but after having it at our tasting it blew my mind! It was brilliant and everyone raved about it!”.

Next up, Hunters Chicken. This was my daughter Holly’s favourite dish as a child. However, the Southend Barns version is of course elevated to the highest level.

The chicken breast is slowly marinated for over 48 hours in our own BBQ rub and then seared and roasted. This decadent dish also features a croquette made with smoked pancetta, Sussex Charmer Cheddar, roasted onion, thyme and potato, bound in crispy breadcrumbs and baked. The dish is served with our own BBQ sauce and delicious green slaw. The feedback for this has been really amazing!

We are also seeing increased interest in our plant based menus. Roots has an extensive choice of creative plant based options for each course. It is a really exciting time for chefs who embrace the plant based method and a brilliant opportunity to really utilise all the delicious produce we have locally here in West Sussex and on our farm.

Inclusivity is really important to us here at Southend Barns, therefore almost all of our dishes can be adapted to be gluten free, dairy free or plant based. We also ensure that the majority of our salad dressings are plant based and we create our own vegan mayonnaise.


Dessert

Now we’re talking! I absolutely LOVE desserts and have spent a lot of time honing my skills in the pastry section of Michelin star kitchens. Some of my favourite desserts are those old school favourites like Bread and Butter Pudding, Crème Brulee, Bakewell Tart and Sticky Toffee Pudding. These classics are also frequently a hit with our couples too and can be adapted to suit the time of year.

A new addition for this year which has been very well received is our modern take on the classic Profiterole. With a view that, ‘the bigger the better’, we created an oversized version with a crispy croquant on top which gives the choux bun some texture. This is then filled with the couples chosen flavoured cream, and topped with a chocolate gu. The Amarena Cherry and Chocolate version has been particularly popular.

2023 also saw the introduction of our Cheesecake Menu which features a selection of 10 cheesecake flavours coupled with ice cream or sorbet. My particular favourite is the Carrot Cake Cheesecake which is served with carrot jam, carrot meringue, creamy frosting and passionfruit sorbet.

Our famous Sticky Toffee Pudding has also held its own in popularity this year. Served with passionfruit jam and marmalade ice cream, this (in my opinion) is a must try! The accompanying flavours go amazingly well with the rich pudding and the salty toffee sauce – utterly delicious.

Outside Kitchen

2023 has also seen us cook up a storm on the coals with our newly enhanced BBQ menus. The BBQ menu has been a popular choice this year with Peppered Rib Eye Steaks, Satay Skewers, Minted Lamb Rumps and Katsu Chicken being the most popular options. Guests love to see the chefs in action cooking in our new outside kitchen over hot coals and local wood.

To accompany these stunning meats we offer a beautiful and creative salad bar. Including delicacies like Panzanella, with local tomatoes, inhouse focaccia, allotment basil & shredded onion. Our Caesar Salad has been a real winner, with Kos and gem leaves, homemade Caesar dressing, crispy parmesan, focaccia croutons and aged parmesan shavings.

One of my favourites is the Tuk Tuk, inspired by Thai and Asian flavours. This rice based salad features toasted sesame, peas, toasted seeds, coriander, lime, ginger and garlic. It is a really fresh option and goes beautifully with meat, fish and plant based mains.

Finally, we launched two new themed menus for 2023, our Tapas and Festival menus. These have both proven to be really popular and are a fun take on wedding day dining. If you have not seen them yet, click here to take a look.

Photography: Ruby Roux Photography

Your Winter’s Tale – Winter Weddings at Southend Barns

Bride in white winter wedding dress (credit: Virginia Photography)

From the first flurry of snow frosting our landscaped gardens, to the Threshing Barn decked in reams of twinkling lights, festive weddings at Southend Barns have a romance all of their own.

Whether you are dreaming of a Christmas wedding day with all the trimmings, or have your heart set on a winter wonderland, our team have combined their wedding day expertise to bring you our top tips and trends for a beautiful December wedding…

Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Winter offers a plethora of décor options for your big day which can be perfectly tailored to the kind of wedding styling you want.

If you have a more formal day in mind, elegant white tapered candles look stunning combined with crisp white table linen, vintage candelabra and paired back silken greenery. Our Elegant Ivory styling option is the perfect base for this, providing everything you need for a refined tablescape.

Greenery also lends itself to more laid-back wedding styling. Wild, natural greenery looks incredible juxtaposed with a scattering of red or white roses and paired with fragrant herbs, wooden textures and candles. Take a look at our Wild & Green table styling option for a wonderful but informal theme featuring lots of gorgeous greenery.

Christmas is a time for all out decadence, so when it comes to wedding décor let your imagination run wild with opulence. Our couples have created incredible scenes, from Narnia-esque styling with rooms flanked with billowing drapes and snow-capped fir trees, to rich, berry clad wreaths and mistletoe adorning every corner – the possibilities are endless. We have even had couples opting for the prettiest dried flowers in place of the more traditional fresh arrangements.

However, a winter wedding doesn’t have to mean fairy-tale styling. Chic monochrome can also make an incredible impact, especially when paired with the warm, rustic tones of our Threshing Barn. Our Magical Monochrome styling option combines stylish black and white with shimmering glass, white roses and foliage, click here to find out more.

Walking in Our Winter Wonderland

Our carefully maintained sculptural trees and rich evergreen foliage help create beautiful wintery outdoor scenes which are perfect for seasonal photos and can be enjoyed from the warmth of our Collecting Yard. With outdoor heaters, cosy rugs and a roaring fire pit, the Collecting Yard allows you and your guests to enjoy the wonderful scenes without feeling the chill.

A staple of the festive season, our outdoor space also lends itself to glorious fireworks! The perfect end to a perfect day, we use Selstar Fireworks for all displays at our West Sussex wedding venue. Selstar produce exquisite firework displays which have minimum impact on our surrounding countryside.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

With Christmas comes a wide range of festive traditions and customs that can be incorporated into your big day. From mince pies and mulled wine for your reception drinks to adding mistletoe and wreaths to your floral displays, or gifting guests with seasonal treats such as sloe gin or personalised decorations to hang on the tree.

On the subject of trees, our impressive and beautifully decorated Christmas tree is always a hit with our winter couples. Throughout December the tree stands tall in the Threshing Barn adorned with elegant golden decorations and the prettiest twinkling lights. A stunning addition to your winter wedding day.

Dress to Impress

Now, winter wedding styling doesn’t end with decorating the barns. A festive wedding is a glorious opportunity to go all out with your wedding day look. From faux fur wraps warding off the winter chill, to silken gowns worthy of an ice queen, or touches of tartan and pops of red, the ideas for luxe winter wedding styling are endless.

Over the years we have seen couples don a range of glorious festive looks for their Southend Barns winter wedding. Some of our favourites include Alice and Pat’s jewel toned bridesmaid dresses with the softest grey stoles which highlighted Alice’s winter-white bridal look to perfection. Another gorgeous wedding day look was the combination of Adam’s blue suit and the beaded gown worn by Emily for their big day. Both couples embraced touches of jewel-inspired hues which worked beautifully for this time of year.

Have a Cup of Cheer

From the smell of mulled wine filling the air, to a hearty roast complete with all the trimmings or our luxury hot chocolate and s’mores next to the fire pit, winter is all about indulging the senses and what better way to conjure some festive cheer than with food.

Our Roots chefs have designed a winter menu which celebrates the incredible flavours and produce this time of year has to offer. Whether you are supping on a beautifully botanical Christmas cocktail or sampling a delectable beef Wellington, our talented team has spent hours ensuring every single dish is an experience you won’t forget.

Browse our full menu or contact our team on 01243 641247 to find out how we can make your wedding day dreams a reality.

Photo credits:
Ruby Roux Photography
Stephanie YT Photography
Teri V Photography
Virginia Photography

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