Couples FAQs


Where can we have our Civil Wedding Ceremony?
The Dairy Barn is licensed for Civil Wedding Ceremonies and we also have a fully licensed outdoor ceremony area known as The Secret Garden.

How many guests can we invite for a Civil Wedding Ceremony?
Our Dairy Barn can hold up to 140 guests, 120 seated.

There are 20 benches in the Secret Garden that seat 4 people each on average. We also have an additional 6 chairs that can be used if required and there is standing room around the edge of the seating area. The maximum capacity is 100, which includes some standing.

Do we have to pay any extra for the Civil Wedding Ceremony?
No, the cost of using the Dairy Barn and Secret Garden is included in the hire fee of the whole venue but there will be a fee to pay directly to the registrar in order for them to conduct the ceremony for you.

Do we have to book the registrar separately?
Yes, you will need to liaise with the registrar separately and ensure they are available to conduct a Civil Wedding Ceremony on the date you have chosen and it is best to do this before you confirm your date with Southend Barns. The phone number for West Sussex Registrar Office is 01243 642122.

How long does a Civil Ceremony take?
A Civil Ceremony normally takes around 25 minutes, it can take longer if you have additional readings.

Can we get married in a church first?
Yes, there are many very attractive churches in the villages surrounding Chichester, The closest to Southend Barns is St George’s in Donnington. You would need to contact the vicar of the church you would like to get married in to discuss the arrangements and check availability. We can give you the contact details of local churches when you come for a viewing.

Can we have our ceremony outside?
Yes, we have a new outdoor ceremony area called The Secret Garden which is fully licensed for Civil Wedding Ceremonies and Partnerships.

Can we have music during our Civil Ceremony?
Yes, we have a PA system in the Dairy Barn and outside in the Secret Garden, and we can manage the music for you. We ask that you provide a selection of music on an iPod, iPad or MP3 player. Music should include at least three songs for the prelude, one song to walk down the aisle to, three songs for when signing the register and one song to walk out to. Please remember that we cannot have any reference to religion in the ceremony, so we cannot use hymns. You are also welcome to have live music during your ceremony, please just let us know beforehand.

Back to Top

Outdoor Ceremonies 

What happens if it rains on the day?

Depending on various factors such as your decorations and the arrival time of your florist, a final decision will be made between our event coordinator and the bride/groom or a nominated ‘decision maker’ two hours before the service is due to start. If you have a big installation with lots of decorations or flowers then a decision will be made in the morning before the florist arrives. Once a decision is made about the location of the ceremony we have to stick with this and cannot do last minute changeovers, even if the weather changes.

At Southend Barns we are an exclusive wedding venue so only have one wedding per day. This means you always have an option to use the Dairy Barn, our inside ceremony room.

What happens on a hot day?

Please note there is no shade in the Secret Garden so on warm days it can get very hot. We do provide drinking water and advise guests wear sun cream and hats. You may decide to move your ceremony to the Dairy Barn if it is too hot, however the same timings with regards to making this decision apply as above.

Is there a maximum number of guests we can invite to a ceremony in the Secret Garden?

There are 20 benches in the Secret Garden that seat 4 people each on average. We also have an additional 6 chairs that can be used if required and there is standing room around the edge of the seating area. The maximum capacity is 100, which includes some standing. In case of bad weather, the indoor ceremony room has capacity for 120.

Is there any noise from the surrounding area?

There is very minimal noise that will interfere with your wedding ceremony and we do provide a sound system and microphone to ensure all your guests can hear the service.

Is there disabled access?

There is disabled parking with step-free access to the outdoor ceremony area and we also have accessible toilet facilities in the Threshing Barn.

Do you have outdoor heaters?

There is currently no heating or cover for guests in the outdoor ceremony area, however the oak framed pagoda provides shelter to the couple, registrars and witnesses. The witnesses and registrar are seated during the ceremony under the pagoda.

Can we have music playing during the ceremony?

We have a sound system that you can use to play music through and you are welcome to have live music during the ceremony.


What time can we arrive at Southend Barns on our wedding day?
You can have access to the bridal suite from 11am.

Can we drop anything off before our wedding?
We can arrange a drop off meeting in the build up to your wedding, please contact us to arrange.

Will there be another event the day before our wedding?
We cannot guarantee that there will not be an event taking place the day before your own. If this is the case then we can set-up and decorate the barns for you on the morning of your wedding day as per your instructions.

Do you allow children at the Barns?
Yes, we welcome children to Southend Barns but ask that they are supervised at all times.

What is the capacity for the Threshing Barn?

The maximum capacity for a sit-down meal is approximately 140 guests, which can be achieved with a variation of different table sizes and layouts.

We are planning a small wedding. Will the barn feel too large?

The Threshing Barn suits weddings and events of all sizes. We can make the space feel more intimate by installing organza drapes or bamboo screens. We can also change the furniture lay out and move an outdoor sofa in to the barn to create a relaxed bar area in addition to your tables.

What is the capacity for the Dairy Barn?

We have thirty sweet chestnut benches that seat three adults on average each. We can also add an additional thirty chairs at the back or nearer the front for any guests that would be more comfortable on a chair. Our Dairy Barn can hold up to 140 guests, 120 seated. 

Do you have any high chairs we can use?
Yes, we have 2 high chairs which you can use.

What time do we need to leave the Bridal Suite the next day?
We serve breakfast at 8.30am and the Bridal Suite will need to be vacated by 9.30am.

Do you provide a microphone for the speeches?
If required we can provide a microphone and PA system for speeches in the Threshing Barn, this is free of charge.

Do you have noise restrictions at Southend Barns?
There are no noise restrictions at Southend Barns but we do ask that all of the large windows and doors in the Threshing Barn are shut once music begins.

Do suppliers need to provide insurance certificates?
All outside services used at Southend Barns must supply a public liability insurance certificate.

Can you provide an easel to hold our table plan?
Yes, we will provide an easel for your table plan.

What time do we have to finish the party?
In order to conform with our premises licence, all music must cease by 23:30 and taxis should be booked. Guests must have left by midnight.

Can we have a long top table?
We can provide long trestle tables and round tables that seat 10-12 people.

Do you have a cloakroom we can use?
We don’t have a cloakroom but we do have a hanging rail which your guests can leave their coats on if required.

Do you provide children’s entertainment?
No we don’t but we can suggest local children’s entertainers for you to contact.

Can you recommend any local suppliers?
When you come for a viewing we will give you flyers for various local suppliers, including florists, photographers, videographers etc.

Can my photographer come to Southend Barns before the wedding to look round?
Yes, as long as you make an appointment beforehand.

Are the Barns lit from the outside at night time?
Yes, there are up-lights surrounding the barns that come on in the evening and a fire pit can also be lit in the canopied courtyard area.

Do I have to lay the name cards etc. out on the morning of our wedding or can you do that for us?
We can lay the table with your name places, favours, menus etc. as long as they are given to us in table order. We will lay these out for you on the morning of your wedding.

Can we have fireworks?
Yes you are allowed to have fireworks at Southend Barns but we must be made aware of their use prior to the event and they must be provided by our approved supplier Selstar. Please note however that sparklers are not permitted.

Can we launch Chinese lanterns?
Unfortunately we don’t allow Chinese lanterns to be launched as the debris impacts on our local residents and farmland. It also causes harm to local livestock. This ruling is in line with recommendations from the Country Land Association.

Can we decorate the venue?
Yes, you are allowed to decorate both the Dairy Barn and the Threshing Barn although you will need to run your ideas past us first to ensure they are within health and safety guidelines. Please note when decorating this is at your own risk. Decorations and flower displays must be prepared beforehand and cannot be made on site.

When do we need to collect our belongings/decorations?
All belongings and decorations need to be collected by 10am the morning after your wedding in case we have another event taking place.

Can we have candles?
We do allow candles at Southend Barns but not tealights.

Can we have confetti?
We are happy for you to have confetti but ask that it is natural confetti, such as rose petals or other flowers.

Can we have helium balloons?
This depends on what other events are taking place around the time of your wedding. If helium balloons come loose they are difficult to retrieve. Please check with us nearer the time for confirmation.

Are we allowed to bring dogs?
We welcome well-behaved dogs to Southend Barns and have also accommodated other animals, such as horses. Please do discuss this with us before your event.

Can cars be left in the car park overnight?
Yes cars can be left in the car park overnight but must be collected by 10am the next morning.
Back to Top


Can we bring our own caterers in?
No, we currently work in an exclusive partnership with a local caterer called Field & Fork who offer an exceptionally high level of service and competitive prices. From January 2019 the catering at Southend Barns will be provided by Roots, our in-house team. Click here to find out more.
Back to Top

Bridal Suite

Do you have a Bridal Suite?
Yes, our Milking Parlour has been revamped into a luxurious bridal suite which is located in its own private courtyard. Once used as a dairy parlour it has now been refurbished with contemporary interiors complete with driftwood mirrors, lavish rugs and log fire.

Where does the bride normally get ready?
Most brides choose to get ready in the Milking Parlour as it has plenty of mirrors, lots of space and its own bathroom.

How many people can stay overnight in the Bridal Suite?
There is only one double bedroom in the Milking Parlour which can be used by the couple.

Can we stay over the night before our wedding?
No we do not allow couples to stay overnight the day before a wedding. However, you are welcome to arrive from 11am on the morning of your event.

Are there hotels / B&B’s locally?
Yes, there are plenty of other hotels and B&B’s locally. You can request a list of local accommodation options via email or phone 01243 6412147
Back to Top

Booking Process

Can we come and have a look at Southend Barns at a weekend?
We can organise viewings at weekends but they must be arranged in-advance so they do not interfere with booked events. We can also conduct viewings throughout the week. Viewings must be booked in advance by calling us on 01243 641247.

How long can you provisionally hold a date for us?
Once you’ve been for a viewing, we can provisionally hold a date for you for two weeks.

What deposit do I have to pay when I confirm a date?
Once you have booked a date, we will send out a contract and a deposit invoice for 50% of the venue hire fee. A further 25% of the booking fee will be required six weeks before the event and the remaining 25% will be due one week before the event date.
Back to Top