1: Are there any rooms where our guests can change?

As Friars Court is a private family home, the house is not open to the public. With the exception of the Old Laundry, Garden Room and loos there are no other rooms available.

2: Can cars be left overnight?

Yes, cars may be left overnight at their owner's risk. We'd like to see them gone between 8.00am and (no later than) 11.00am the next day as we may well be hosting another event. Please note there are security gates on the drive which may automatically close and lock at any time.

3: Can I come and visit Friars Court?

Enticing pictures on a lovely website are one thing; viewing will give a truer feel for the place. We welcome viewings but, as Friars Court is also a family home, we do ask for all appointments to be made in advance.

4: Can I get ready at Friars Court?

The 'Bride's Day Room' is available for the bride and her bridemaids to get ready in if the wedding ceremony is being held at Friars Court. After the Ceremony the room may be used by the Bride and Groom to change or freshen up (or simply to have a break from it all). Friars Court is unable to allow guests, or any other members of the bridal party, access or use of the room at any later time.

5: Can I reserve a date?

Of course - but only once you've been to visit (as that isn't fair to other couples). Just an email requesting a particular date along with a 'phone number and names for the diaries will suffice. It's worth reserving a date if you're "doing the rounds" of venues but want the security of a date reserved with at least one of them. You may need time to talk dates with family and 'key' friends or to contact suppliers & establish a working budget - again, reserving a date gives breathing space to do that, knowing 'your' date won't disappear in the meantime. We usually hold a reserve for 14 days, after that it is your responsibility to contact us if you require more time. Should another couple express (firm) interest in the date we’ll contact you for a decision. If, in the end, you settle on another venue DO let us know so we can release the resereved date 'back into the wild'.

6: Can we have confetti?

Yes and no. We allow confetti as long as it is biodegradable: dried or fresh petals, lavender or made from rice paper. What we really hate is 'silly-string', streamers, "table-confetti" or anything that involves picking it out of the gravel or getting a vacuum cleaner to clean it out of the grass... you won't like it either as we will make a clean-up charge for doing it.

7: Can we have fireworks or sky lanterns?

Owing to animals on the farm and out of consideration for our neighbours, we do not allow fireworks of any kind. Sky lanterns (including "bio-degradable" ones) are also not permitted due to the acute risk of fire and the havoc the residual debris causes to surrounding farmland and livestock.

8: Can we party loud and long?

We enjoy a good party just as much as anyone however we are very conscious of our neighbours who have to hear loud music sometimes several times over every weekend from April to October. We do have sound monitoring equipment so if a DJ or band are considered too loud (or if we should receive any complaints) they will be asked to turn the volume down. If our request is ignored Friars Court reserves the right to disconnect the power supply - which will be embarrassing for everyone when the reception comes to a sudden, and abrupt, halt.

Guests must also be made aware that, without exception, receptions end at midnight (Fridays and Saturdays) or 11.00pm Sundays to Thursdays. The bar will close by 30 minutes before the end of the reception and guests must have vacated the premises no later than an hour later.

9: Can you send me a brochure?

The short and simple answer is "No". As probably 93.75% of couples find us via the internet we've made this website our brochure. As we offer a wider degree of flexibility than many, a printed brochure would be too massive to post and too costly to print. Hopefully, this section should answer most of the standard questions couples ask when comparing and researching venues. If it doesn't, do get in touch via the ‘Contact’ form and I'll endeavour to reply as soon as possible. Just bear in mind that in peak season it may take awhile but we will get back to you. And if we don't, you can chase!

10: Can you tell me how much a wedding at Friars Court will cost?

That's a little bit like asking "how long is a piece of string?". It all depends on what you want for your wedding. There are the fixed costs for hiring Friars Court as a venue (for those, refer to the Venue Rates page) after that, the rest is up to you. Most venues price per head for a 'total package'; we don’t go the 'package' route so the choice of caterer, florist, bar, marquee etc, etc, etc is up to you. We don’t leave you to the tender mercies of sticking pins in the Yellow Pages though, we'll listen to and explore your ideas (hopefully suggest some new ones) then recommend appropriate suppliers. Looking at some suppliers websites might give you a basic idea, reading answers to some of the other questions might contain clues to prices as well. But by working on something tailor-made, rather than anything corporately ‘packaged’, you have final say on what you have and how much you spend on each aspect of the wedding. Planning a wedding isn’t always that easy - our aim is to make the process as painless and enjoyable as it can be.

11: Charges - are there any hidden extras?

We try to keep costs as simple as possible. The price you see is the price you pay. Sometimes extra charges may apply - for example, if you choose a lawn location for your marquee and the supplier (or you) needs the tent erected two days before the event rather than the one allowed for in the grounds hire charge (or if the tent stays on site for longer than it should) there’s an "extra day" charge or perhaps the reception location means the caterer suddenly decides they DO want to use the house kitchen areas (when you thought they wouldn't!) then there’s a hire charge for that. The charges aren’t massive and are, usually, discussed before the event. Sadly, we do have to deduct any costs incurred by your guests or suppliers for damage or theft, be it wilful or accidental.

12: Do I have to use your suppliers?

No, you don't. Since Silver Pear's start in 2002, we have now hosted over 350 weddings and met a wide variety of caterers, florists, barmen, marquee firms, musicians, DJs and photographers. Yes (as people ask) there have been a few I'd happily never wish to see again; others, if we like what we see, may make the recommendations list and find their details passed to new couples. So the list does expand. Working with a recommended supplier should give you confidence because they'll be tried-and-tested, if a supplier isn't reliable, hard-working, conscientious and good-humoured I don't recommend them. They'll already be familiar with Friars Court, they may well be working alongside others from my list which can create a brilliant 'team spirit' - as one recent bride put it "the wedding planned itself"; if there are suppliers of your own that you really would like to use that should be fine, that's how I've met many of my recommendations. It's worthwhile having your supplier visit us (especially caterers) so they can get an idea of the access and the layout.

Please note suppliers are recommend purely on merit and not because they are slipping us a well-stuffed brown envelope. We neither charge nor accept commission (although caterers have been known to give us left-overs, some florists pop in with the occasional bunch of flowers and last Christmas a taxi firm gave us a huge tin of Celebration chocolates which we thoroughly enjoyed).

13: Do we have exclusive use?

As Friars Court is a privately-owned house we offer each and every event exclusive use during their wedding. Occasionally we do have consecutive functions on the same day but these are rare and always on the understanding that the first wedding will have left before the second arrives. 

We’ve become increasingly popular over the past couple of years so events on successive days are more common. Therefore there may be times when a marquee for one wedding might be up on one of the marquee locations, sometimes a few members of one wedding (or their caterers) may be setting-up in the background on a day when another event is actually taking place. Invariably though, either event will be based on opposite sides of the grounds to the other so, in practice, we’ve yet to experience any form of cross-over or disturbance. We always do our utmost to ensure each party knows what the other couple is doing and ask that each couple respect the other wedding's privacy as much as they'd wish them to resepct theirs.

14: Do you charge corkage?

No, not unless we’re standing there pouring it ourselves, but caterers almost always will make some charge (but not at hotel prices) for serving whatever wines/ drinks you might chose to supply. Corkage also covers staffing as, believe it or not, during the course of an average wedding reception with 100 guests it is perfectly possible to get through over 800 glasses (which means a couple of days of washing and polishing).

15: Do you charge extra if I bring in my own suppliers?

No. There is no difference in hire charge. However, if they require more space than that included in your original hire, this may incur additional cost, which is why we strongly recommend that any ‘new’ supplier makes a site visit well before the event. And, in case you’re wondering, we don’t ask for, or take, any commission from any supplier.

16: Do you have a kitchen we can hire?

We do not have any dedicated catering kitchen areas available to hire; there are no ovens and no 'fridges and only access to a (cold) water supply. If you are planning to use caterers who've not been to Friars Court before we strongly advise they come over for a meeting so they (and you) don't have any sudden surprises.

17: Do you have accommodation for guests?

As a private family house, Friars Court doesn’t offer any overnight accommodation however we can suggest a variety of local places ranging from simple or luxurious B&Bs and pubs-with-rooms to larger hotels. We also have an area within the grounds which may be pre-booked for guests with caravans or tents. Follow the 'Guests' link on the Silver Pear Weddings 'splash' page to find further information on accommodation and taxis.

18: Do you have tables and chairs to hire?

Friars Court is hired as a 'blank canvas': aside from the armchairs and sofas in the Old Laundry there are 60 banquet chairs which may only be used in the Garden Room. Seating for outside ceremonies and/ or tables and chairs for the barn have to be hired-in (marquees usually include them in the hire package). Your caterer may be able to help, we also have a list of event hire suppliers if you're looking for something different from the norm.

19: Do you hold more than one wedding at the same time?

No, although we do, on very rare ccasions, sometimes host consecutive or successive bookings, such as a civil ceremony for one couple in the morning followed by a reception for another couple later in the day. Have a look at ‘Do we have exclusive use?’ for a little more on how that might work.

20: How can I find out if the date I want is available?

There is a link to our three year Booking Calender located on the right of this page which will show you which days are free, provisionally reserved, booked (or simply unavailable). Please note that if you are interested in a day which is either side of a booked date please give us as much information about the sort of wedding you liked; and whether you'd like the Barn or a marquee as a reception venue, as that way we can quickly tell you what will, or won't work.

21: May we borrow or hire a ladder?

Owing to Health & Safety regulations our insurancance company will not allow us to lend or hire any ladder or step-ladder to clients who would like to hang things in the garden or in a marquee. A cherry picker crane (with operator) is available however for clients who want to decorate the beams in the Stone Barn. 

22: So how does The Stone Barn work?

We make no great pretence about the Stone Barn: it’s an unconverted agricultural building presented to you as an empty, blank canvas. It’s ‘rustic’ (so some hard-to-reach cobwebs come as standard) with rough walls, lots of wooden beams and a high, vaulted ceiling; it isn't heated so at either end of the season (mid May to mid September) it could be worth considering the added "insurance" of a marquee heater. With some imagination and a dash of creativity the barn offers lots of scope and potential.

For some a blank canvas is perfect. As everything has to be brought, bought or hired you have total control over how the barn looks and what you spend to achieve it; from the type or style of chair to its finish even to the colour of the seat-pads. You can choose how guests are seated; banquet tables - in rows or a horse-shoe - or round a more sociable circular tables. However, a 'transformation' needs planning, things hired and the work carried out by someone. So, unless you have a tame event-design team, willing slaves or really good friends, that someone could be you.

Hire of the Stone Barn includes use of the Garden Room (with its loos), the Old Laundry and the Bride’s Day Room in the main house (for the wedding couple) and access to all the grounds.

23: The bar! (An important factor!)

We're fully licensed for the sale of alcohol so the options could be either stocking up in France or bringing in a mobile bar. In practice though, most bars are run by the caterers as that saves you time, money and the hassle of one more supplier to arrange. Most caterers are usually happy to serve any wine you supply however they will make some charge to cover handling, chilling, glasses and staff.

24: We'd really like an out-door civil ceremony but what if it rains?

Hopefully it won't but... this is England after all. In licensing the out-door ceremony locations the registrars stipulation is that a suitably-sized indoor ceremony location be available at the same time - usually that's the Garden Room. For weddings larger than the Garden Room's 80 person limit if use of the Stone Barn is not possible (because it's out of season or set up for a reception) some sort of small marquee or pavilion should be erected over the Garden Room terrace to ensure the 'over-flow' can be under cover to watch the ceremony.

25: What about a free bar?

A free bar may seem a (very) generous and appropriately hospitable gesture towards your guests, but there are draw-backs. Unless you have worked in catering or have bar training, working out how much to buy of what could be a tough task, plus the stock will tie up budget which could go on finishing touch 'treats' instead. You may still need to pay staffing costs to the caterer too as manning a bar with volunteers conflicts with our alcohol licence as there needs be a 'responsible person' monitoring the amounts drunk. Plus if you get the quantities wrong you may be left wondering what to do with most of that barrel of 'Old Rank' bitter' after the wedding or, worse, you run out of red wine half-way through the evening because it's been everyone's drink of choice. Plus you'll have to store it all, cart it all over and cart what's left away again as well as provide the 'fridges and ice and, possibly the glasses too. The simpler route is to have your caterers look after the bar and then you look after the tab but...

... if the right amount of alcohol can 'make' an evening, too much will, usually, achieve the exact opposite. After a few drinks, some guests may think the bar is free to you too and will disrespect your hospitality by drinking to excess. Sadly, on a few occasions, we've seen free bar weddings result in mess, damage (which will be charged to the Bridal party), unconscious guests and, rarely, arguments which can descend into aggresion or even fights. It's a disappointing spectacle and not the right sort of memorable ending to a wedding day...

26: What about catering?

Catering here is a fairly open-ended choice. There are several caterers on our list, with two or three that work here regularly. Couples are quite free to bring in their own caterer but most do choose from our list of "The Tried-and-Tested". My aim is to 'match-make' a couple to the caterers I feel they'll enjoy working with and who will understand the "feel" of the wedding. As the caterers will, effectively, 'run the show' it's vital that every couple feels relaxed and confident in trusting that the caterer will ensure everything runs as smoothly and calmly as humanly possible.

Using outside caterers means you can pick the type and menue of wedding breakfast be that a three-course sit down meal, gourmet BBQ, spit-roast, cold buffet, curry or something totally vegan. As you'll be working with the caterers from the start you also control what it costs. As a guide, canapes are between £5 - £7 per head, a three course sit-down meal averages at £25-£35 per head while evening food's usually around £10-£15. That should include all cutlery, crockery, glassware; staffing, tablecloths and napkins may be extra so that you'd need to check this with your caterer.

27: What are Capri marquees and are they suitable for any time of year?

The modular Capri marquee originated in California and is a fairly simple affair - a weather-proof 'skin' tensioned over six internal poles - as it goes up more easily in a shorter period of time with less labour and doesn't require linings it's cheaper to hire. I often suggest it as a "half-way house" between the barn and a clear-span as it combines the simplicity and informality of the barn with the "package" installation of the clear-span (useful should time to liaise with a lot of suppliers be an issue) plus it also keeps the reception in the middle of the grounds. Like the clear-span marquee, everything necessary can be supplied with the tent. However, as its design is suited more to a hot, dry climate it's best enjoyed mid-season: they are less weatherproof and robust than a clear-span marquee. Additionally, due to their pole construction, not all the internal space is completely usable so larger or additional marquees may be required to achieve the seating/dancing/catering space needed.

Capri marquees can only be erected on grass locations - either the lawns to the front of the house (100+) or behind the house (50+).

28: What are the costs for a Civil Ceremony?

Ceremony hire covers a 3-hour period, which, for legal reasons, must start 1 hour before the Ceremony itself. If your reception is planned elsewhere this should allow plenty of time for drinks and pictures in the grounds. Prices vary between ceremony-and-reception bookings and ceremony-only bookings and from Friday to Sunday or Monday to Thursday. Prices for ceremonies are here. Please note the Registrars have a strict policy that no food or drink is permited within the licensed area for the hour before  (or during) the ceremony. Our ceremony facility fee does not include the fee charged by either the registrars or an independant celebrant.

29: What are the costs for a marquee reception?

We hire out our grounds for you to use (prices here) and you hire the marquee that fits your taste and budget. The cost of a marquee depends on how many ‘extras’ you add but, as a rough guide, a clear span for approximately 80 guests costs £3,000–£4,000 and a Capri around £2,500.

Grounds hire covers use of the marquee location, access to all the grounds, use of the Garden Room and Old Laundry and exclusive access to the Bride’s Room in the house for the wedding couple. In the past, the Garden Room and Old Laundry have been used as: crèche space/ reception space/ photos space/ buffet space/ present-displaying and hat-storing space. The Old Laundry can also be used as a quieter seating area for the evening. The Bride’s Day Room can be used for getting ready, changing, freshening up or simply as somewhere quiet to escape to for a few minutes.

We recommend one firm who specialises in self-supporting marquees with has a raised wooden floor which can be placed on our tennis court. Alternatively a marquee can be erected on a lawn. For lawn marquees our hire charge takes in account a day either side of the event for the marquee to go up/come down, if more time is required an additional charge will apply.

30: What happens if I decide to book?

To secure a date we’ll email the current Terms of Agreement for you to read, fill in and sign. We also ask for a Security Bond. We need to receive both the completed Terms of Agreement and Security Bond within 14 days. The Bond is not a part-payment for the wedding, more the same type of deposit paid when renting a house or car. About a month before the wedding we’ll invoice the total venue hire and send out an itinerary and contacts form to be filled in. The Security Bond will then be returned after the wedding hopefully without deductions for damages etc!

31: What is a Clear Span marquee and are they suitable for any time of year?

A clear-span marquee is the most flexible and versatile all-year-round space solution. We recommend and work (almost exclusively now) with one supplier whose marquees have proved to be of a high standard with a more interesting array of optional extras than most firms offer and with a raised wooden flooring system as standard. Wooden flooring may sound unnecessary and expensive but it’s worth it considering the practical advantage of a raised floor over a ‘regular’ marquee. The latter usually has coconut matting or carpet laid over plastic sheeting. That' is fine if the weather is fine too but less so if the weather is uncooperative. Puddles of rainwater gather at the base of the walls will seep under and into the flooring and gather in any undulations not evened out by the matting and because the flooring's on a plastic sheet that will stop anything draining away as much as it stops damp rising from below. Result? Soggy shoes. A raised wooden-floored lifts everything about 6 inches above ground-level making it eminently suitable for all times of year and for most sites.

Clear span marquees are built in 10ft (3m) deep sections usually 30ft (9m) wide. One section (or ‘bay’) accommodates three 5ft (1.5m) circular tables (each seating 8). Therefore you need only hire the size for the space needed but, please, do remember there'll need to be allowances for bar/dance-floor/ entrance/ circulation so the marquee might be bigger than you think it needs to be. Clear spans can be divided internally to offer greater flexibility. For example, the main area is usually lined in ivory for the daytime wedding breakfast but, sectioned off behind a divider, could be a smaller dance-floor area lined with star-cloth. A divider could also screen off a DJ or band setting up during the meal. A clear span also offers interior design possibilities: wood, carpet or coir flooring; swags and linings in different colours; different types of lighting; different table sizes plus chairs in a range of styles, finishes and seat-pad/slip-cover colours.

Clear-span marquees may be erected on the lawn at the front of the house (150 guests), the lawn next to the Garden Room (80-120 guests) or the tennis court (150 guests). Please note that if a marquee is erected on a lawn we allow a day either side of the booked event for setting up and dismantling. If further days are required an additional charge will be made to cover the potential damage to the grass.

32: When can we come in to set up and/ or clear up

Unlike many venues we allows couples a greater degree of freedom when it comes to setting up; actual times will be something to discuss but, usually, access is fine the day before, sometimes even two days before for receptions in the barn. Hopefully that will do away with the rush and stress of trying to achieve something that's 'personal' in just a couple of hours on the day itself.

You may return the following day to collect any props, drinks, gifts, flowers, etc, etc, etc. However as we may well be hosting other events on the days around your wedding do please consider other events as you'd wish them to consider yours.

We cannot accept responsibility or liability for any loss, theft or damage of items left overnight.

33: When does the party have to end?

The cut-off for all receptions is either midnight Friday and Saturday or 11.00pm Sunday to Thursday (including Bank Holidays). These times are stipulated by the licensers and cannot be extended. We suggest calling last orders on the bar about 45 minutes before the end of the reception with the bar closing half an hour before the end of the reception. If you, the couple, head off around 15 minutes before the end that should see you waved off by those guests who are still standing and spare your last glimpses being of any "discussions" over taxis or who said what to whom...  remaining guests must be away by 12.30 – 1.00am Fridays and Saturdays or 11.30pm – 12.00am Sundays to Thursdays at the latest.

If group transportation (i.e. mini-buses or coach) has not being arranged you should advise your guests to pre-book their taxis as early as possible to ensure they are picked up on time. For whatever reason, if guests are still on-site after these times an additional charge may have to be made.

34: Where would a Reception be held?

If guest numbers are around, or below, 30 - 40 then a reception may be held in the Garden Room with the adjacent Old Laundry for drinks reception, serving of food and as a seating area. For more guests attending an evening reception a small marquee may be erected over the Garden Room’s terrace to create room for a bar, DJ and dance area.

Larger numbers means a larger space, there are two options: the Stone Barn or a marquee. There are several different types of marquee but two are used regularly at Friars Court: the more traditional and formal clear-span or the more informal and architectural Capri. For more about the barn or  marquee types head to the relevant ‘What are…?’ questions.

35: Which areas are licensed for Civil Ceremonies?

We have a total of 8 specifically licensed locations: 5 inside and 3 outside (we’re one of the few venues in Oxfordshire with genuinely outdoor licensed areas). The inside locations are (total capacity in brackets): the Entrance Hall (15), Red Dining Room (20), Winterhalter Conservatory (20), Garden Room (80) and the Stone Barn (150). Outside areas are the Front Entrance Porch, the Summer House and the Rose Arbour – while guest numbers for these areas are not restricted it is worth bearing in mind that the registrars stipulate that a similarly-sized indoor space must also be available as a wet-weather back-up (as the registrars have to ensure that the marriage register stays safe and dry).

Your Questions Answered

Above are listed some of the most frequently-asked questions; click on a question to reveal the answer below. Should you have a question that is not covered here please contact us.

For availability please refer to our online calendar before making an enquiry.

For further information on hire rates please see our hire rates page.