Here’s a question I get asked pretty frequently…”We don’t have a large family or huge group of friends, so could you recommend a venue for a small wedding reception please?”

From my experiences around Essex and the South East, here are my favourite function suites for smaller audiences. Please bear in mind that my opinions are based on the ‘party-worthiness’ of the function suites, i.e. dance floor location, size, proximity to the bar area, etc:

The Compasses at Pattiswick  – This place is a little gem! Situated near Braintree but located quite remotely off the A120, this characterful exclusive venue opened in 2016. It has an airy feel, yet intimate at the same time. Open plan bar and reception area leads to the enclosed dance floor that won’t look too cavernous if you only have 40 or 50 guests. It’s also a former winner of an Essex Wedding Award for the Best Venue…high praise indeed! Please click on the image below for more details of The Compasses.

Reid Rooms – Another exclusive venue, I always enjoy my times at the Reid Rooms. It’s cool, rustic, Grade II listed and great for parties. The bar is close to the dance floor which is ideal for a DJ! Although it’s a barn, it’s quite cosy for the smaller receptions. There’s an outdoor wedding pavilion too for those hot, sunny wedding days! Take a look at their wedding festivals page if a Glastonbury-style event is your thing. Please click on the image below for more details of The Reid Rooms.

Little Channels – Just like it says on the tin, it’s the sister venue to the much bigger Channels Golf Club across the road. Here there are two rooms to choose from. The main room is odd-shaped but still good for a party, seating a maximum of 85 for dinner. The smaller function suite is probably best for birthdays, etc but still offers a nice enclosed space for those less-busy receptions. And of course there’s always the added attraction of a nearby golf course! Please click on the image below for more details of Little Channels.

Blenheim Suite, Stifford Hall Hotel – To be honest, I shouldn’t include this room as it’s an upstairs venue and a royal pain for the mobile DJ! However, it is a lovely space for a small to medium sized wedding, and with almost 100 rooms in the hotel, there’s plenty of accommodation to go round. It seats up to 70 for dinner in the Georgian splendour of the hotel. Geographically, it’s situated in a great spot close to the M25, Lakeside shopping centre and the Dartford Crossing, making it incredibly easy to get to. Please click on the image below for more details of Stifford Hall.

Jaguar Bar, Orsett Hall Hotel – A curveball, this one…looks more like a swanky city wine bar than a wedding venue, it’s located underneath the four-star Orsett Hall and provides a great setting for the more intimate occasions. Situated just a few miles from the Stifford Hall above, it’s a great central location and easy to find for your guests. There’s also plenty of accommodation at the hotel, which was totally rebuilt in 2009 following a devastating fire. As a former DJ at the hotel for over 20 years, this room became a second home to me for a long time! Please click on the image below for more details of Orsett Hall.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some insight into the less-grand-sized wedding reception venues around Essex, at all of which I’ve enjoyed some very successful nights!


Leave a Reply