For many couples, getting married is the most important journey they will ever embark upon.
And while the idea of tying the knot might seem simple enough to some, deciding on the ins and outs of the big day can be as important as getting down on one knee in the first place.
Trust me, I know. I proposed to my then-girlfriend Rebecca in 2017 – little did I know just how much there is to do.
During our three years together, the two of us have loved escaping to the Lake District. I can still remember the first time I laid eyes on Windermere.
With this in mind, and with the Lakes’ first ever wedding fair on the horizon, we organised a trip to the Cumbrian heartland to sample some of the best big day attractions on offer.
After the hour drive to Windermere, we arrived at Broadoaks Country House, set back from the hustle and bustle of the town centre accessible only by a cute country lane.
The place is gorgeous, historic, with a character full of warmth.
We arrived before our check-in time, so staff showed us to the restaurant for cream tea.
The scones (pronounced scone as in gone, the menu somewhat controversially writes!) were still warm when served with fresh jam and clotted cream oozing with rich, sweet flavour.
We were later shown to our room, which for the next two nights was their The Retreat offering.
While advertised as a ‘room’, it is exclusively separate from the main building and comes with two bedrooms, a stunning living area, and both and indoor and outdoor sensory sunken spa baths.
I’m lucky enough to have stayed in five-star hotels but this was quite honestly the best place I’ve laid my head.
After heading into Windermere, to keep escaping from the hustle of daily life we headed back to Broadoaks for a four course meal in its Oaks Restaurant. The food was superb in an atmosphere that was friendly and relaxed.
We ended the evening with a beer in the outdoor spa bath which was the perfect way to end day one of two.
After a luxurious Cumbrian traditional breakfast at Broadoaks, we met wedding photographer David Rucker who had kindly arranged to chauffeur the two of us to Ullswater – the second largest lake in the Lake District.
David is a fantastic professional with an eye for detail. After taking shots of the two of us outside Broadoaks he whisked us north.
Firstly we stopped off at Kirkstone Pass. The air was crisp and the views were outstanding. David certainly knows where to go to take a photo to make you go ‘wow’.
We then continued north to the Ullswater Steamers. But like all things wedding related, it didn’t quite go as smoothly as we thought due to the fact we missed the boat. But the hospitality shown by the steamers’ cafe staff was top notch.
It also let us check out the work taking place this winter to improve the port at south of the lake.
So off we headed to our next destination; Leeming House. We sat down at the hotel, part of the Macdonald hospitality chain, for afternoon tea overlooking its traditional garden and the peaceful sight of the still lake.
The food itself was divine. The sandwiches were wholesome, the scones light and sweet. And it goes without saying that the cakes went down a treat.
Just like Broadoaks, it’s the kind of venue that oozes sophistication and the tradition that many look for in wedding venues.
David then took Rebecca and I to Grasmere. Know by many for its world-famous gingerbread, the village is home to Tweedies Bar and Lodge where we were treated to some of Hawkshead Brewery’s best ale.
I’ve been to Tweedies over the years – both the pub and restaurant – and there’s a reason I keep coming back. It’s beautifully refurbished pub and hotel knows how to cater to both those wanting a pint and those wanting a finer dining experience. It’s the best of both worlds.
We returned to Broadoaks for a few more drinks in its lounge, made homely and warm by its real wood burning fire.
For the two of us, when it comes to weddings, injecting your personality into the big day is vital. For those who enjoy historic venues, idyllic views, and the perfect photographers to capture moments you can look back on for the rest of your lives, not many places in the world can match what the Lake District has got to offer.
And the British tourism destination is beginning to know it.
Since 2013 there’s been a 36 per cent increase in weddings taking place in Cumbria.
Which is why two weeks today (February 23 and 24), it will host its first ever wedding fair at the J36 Rural Auction Centre only a 30-second drive off the M6 at junction 36, with around 60 local businesses showing just why its one of the best places you can get married.
I just might have to turn up and poke my head through the door.
For more information visit www.lakedistrictweddingfair.co.uk