Venues I LOVE – The Barns, Bedford
I’ve always said that you learn more about people and venues in the face of adversity.
It’s for that exact reason I’ll be forever grateful to The Barns Bedford for going above and beyond in every little way for a VERY special and important wedding.
I’ll explain more about the story that got me here below, but let me just say that Alec and Sarah are the most amazing venue hosts I’ve worked with.
The Barns, Bedford – How I got there & the Staff
Before we go any further in discussing the venue, I truly think that context is very important. The story of how I got to shoot a wedding at The Barns is frankly inspirational, and does make you really reflect on the value of people and their journey through life.
So it’s October 2019, I am on holiday in Greece. I’m at the top of the Acropolis in Athens. I receive an email from one of the charities that I work for. It’s from “Gift of a Wedding”, and they have asked me to be the wedding photographer for Chelsea and Cole. Chelsea and Cole are a fantastic young and bubbly couple, but Chelsea has unfortunately been diagnosed with terminal cancer and therefore they wish to get married before she becomes any more poorly.
Well, being me the first thing that I want to do is to get in touch with Chelsea and let her know that I’m here to help and will do everything and anything I can to make her wedding day amazing. Unfortunately, I get my timing completely wrong and just at this moment she’s trying on wedding dresses for the big day!
So, as a result I call the venue. I ask to speak to Sarah who I’ve been told is the Venue coordinator for this magical day. I explain to Sarah that having looked at the timeline I’ve been given I realise that there will be no natural light because the fact is that sunset happens before the wedding ceremony.
I asked for help and to find out if she has any objections to me coming to the venue to visit and get some ideas for Chelsea and Cole. I’ve never been welcomed to a wedding venue family so warmly in my life! so without hesitation, arranged the date and time for me to come over to visit! She also made sure that when I was at the venue, all the staff that I could possibly need to be working with on the day were available for me to speak to.
She also introduced me to Alec. Alec is the other main events manager for the venue and typically runs the wedding receptions in the evening once Sarah has finished for the day. Alec, just like Sarah, was truly amazing and showed me everything he could so I could help visualise for Chelsea and Cole how we could make their wedding day that little bit more amazing.
The Barns, Bedford – the Venue
The Barns Bedford is blessed with some fantastic open spaces which are picture perfect for a wedding day and ceremony. The main building is the location for the morning preparations with the Bride and The Bridal party. The main building is built around the Manor House which dates from the 16th Century. Normally, bridal preparations will take place in the bridal suite upstairs, but given the scenarios involved, Sarah and the staff made sure a suite of rooms were available on the ground floor. She also very kindly made sure I had a room of my own so that I could do the interviews with The Bridal party for the photo film without interruption or without having to find random space. I also used this space for the photographs of Chelsea and Cole’s flowers, rings and the details that made this day so special.
There is also a fantastic staircase which the Bride would normally descend in order to meet her father and then to start the procession over to the barn for her wedding ceremony. As you can probably imagine, given the circumstances surrounding this wedding, this was not viable. I have however taken a few photographs on my mobile phone during the Venue visit, and hopefully this will give you a flavour of the potential that this staircase offers you.
The ceremony and venue space is set in The Old Tithe Barn from which this venue gets it’s name. Known formally as the Tithe Barn, it dates from the 13th Century and retains many of the period features that make it such an interesting location. It is truly delightful in terms of the exposed wooden beams, the high vaulted ceiling, and the traditional feel that it exudes. At the front of this space, where the ceremonies take place, there is plenty of space for you and your bridal party to congregate and enjoy the ceremony. There is also more than sufficient space for your photographer to be with you, without imposing.
This is also the space that is used for the evening reception and most likely the speeches as well. It is very pleasing to find lighting within this space which adds to both the decor, the feel, and the ambiance of the room. One thing that particularly impressed me, were the efforts that Alec and Sarah went to to ensure that the space was friendly for all the guests assembled on this day. At the back of this space you will find a bar for your guests to seek their refreshments: I must admit I also used it to stand on to get a group shot at the end of the ceremony given it was already dark outside.
The main hotel building contains the restaurant and also a reception room on the side which adjoins the river. This space is traditionally used for after the ceremony drinks so that the Venue staff can turn around the main barn and ceremony area for the evening reception to take place.
The grounds themselves are also incredibly beautiful. There are a number of small archways between the barn and the main building which make for fantastic wedding photograph potential. There is copious amounts of beautiful green space and also the front of the building has little arches which again can be used for something a little different photo-wise. You’ll also find that the front of the barn is lit up very sympathetically at night, and again this adds to the overall ambience and overall vibe of this venue.
When it comes to group photos, the green spaces mentioned above are PERFECT! Unfortunately, because of the fact that the ceremony was after sunset, we were slightly restricted in terms of lighting. However, once again Sarah to the rescue! Working with Sarah we identified and found some fantastic space to the side of the Venue which adjoins the small bar used for the drinks reception. Known as the Terrace, this is normally in use in the summer months for outside drink receptions. In the days ahead of the ceremony, Sarah and Alec were kind enough to clear the space so that I could then erect some lighting to help with the photographs, and also ensure that Chelsea, Cole and their guests were able to access this space without any problems.
Unfortunately due to the conditions in play I was unable to use the river space and river pontoon at the rear of the facility. However, on my recce visit I did take a few photographs of this, and therefore you will see this below. Given this was a quick visit these were taken on my mobile phone, not my professional cameras. However I hope that they give you a feel of what is possible here! I will say that this would be an amazing location for sunset: I really can’t wait to be back at the Barns for this reason alone.
If you’ve not done so already, check out this article on why sunset is such a magical and important time for you on your wedding day.
As you’ll see below, for the evening festivities the Barns Bedford really comes into it’s own. The vast amount of space, with great lighting really encourages everyone to get up and dance. Oh, and a few shots always helps of course!!!
The Barns, Bedford – Overall Feelings
I can highly recommend the Barns Bedford. Not only is it a truly exceptional venue, with lots of ambience and rustic detail, it is fair to say that the staff will do anything to assist both the couple and the photographer.
If the photographs you see, and my description of this wonderful place takes your fancy, please reach out to Alec, Sarah and the team via the buttons below. You’ve got the option of email, phone or their website! If you do speak to them, please let them know that I sent you!
Barns Bedford – Website
Barns Bedford – Phone
Barns Bedford – Email