The Compasses at Pattiswick
The Compasses at Pattiswick

Known for its collection of grand country manors and large barns, Essex is a county brimming with large wedding venue options - but did you know you can also host a pretty amazing intimate wedding here too?  

With so many more couples choosing a small wedding or micro wedding, we thought we’d share some of our favourite small wedding venues in Essex. From barns to old halls and even a castle, you’ll be surprised at just how many intimate venues there are in the glamorous county. 

Each venue is totally unique and allows for everything from cosy winter ceremonies within beamed rooms to sun-drenched summer outdoor 'I dos', all with the added benefit of the intimacy that only comes with a small wedding venue. 

Check out our top picks below and start compiling your exclusive guest list!

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1. The Hare’s Field – Braintree

Small but perfectly formed, The Hare’s Field encompasses the same beauty and sense of occasion as the best of Essex’s large wedding barns all in an intimate package! Everything from the pretty courtyard to the contemporary double bedrooms on-site are luxurious and high-end with pretty country vibes.

Fully licensed, you can say ‘I do’ here within the white, wooden beamed room in front of up to 60 guests before enjoying the outdoor areas or relaxing in the lounge area while readying yourselves for a meal prepared by a Michelin starred chef!

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2. Rayleigh Windmill – Rayleigh

If you fancy marrying somewhere totally unique as well as intimate, may we suggest Rayleigh Windmill? The Grade II-listed building has capacity for 20 and boasts 200 years of history and the team are more than happy to add your nuptials to the list of things that have happened here!

Rayleigh Windmill is a ceremony-only wedding venue, but you’re welcome to use the gardens after your vows to take some wedding photographs and toast your marriage.

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3. The Old Parish Rooms - Rayleigh

The Old Parish Rooms began life in 1863 as a parish hall and schoolhouse, making it a perfect choice for history lovers. These days the historic space is bright and modern with period features, such as the arched windows, showcased by ambient lighting and painted brickwork.

Arranged over two levels, the venue has a galleried seating area with a staircase. This allows couples to accommodate extra guests upstairs or simply set up a chill-out area where guests can watch the action below! You can invite anywhere between 30 and 100 to a wedding in this flexible space.

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4. Fox and Hounds - Old Harlow

Situated just over the border into Hertfordshire, this charming pub wedding venue is within easy reach of Essex. If food and drink are the most important elements of your day (we totally don’t blame you!) then we reckon Fox and Hounds could be an excellent choice.

You can hire the private dining room for up to 45 guests and enjoy views of the garden as you tuck in to a delicious French and Italian inspired menu and sip on a carefully selected wine from the pub’s collection.

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READ MORE: The 41 Best Small Wedding Venues in the UK

5. Creeksea Place - Burnham-on-Crouch

Fairytale wedding venues don’t have to be enormous and Creeksea Place is proof! Although the venue can accommodate up to 250 with a marquee, the building contains plenty of cosy spaces for intimate fairytale nuptials.

The panelled room, with a feature fireplace, is the ideal choice for weddings with as few as 30 guests. Drinks and canapés can then be enjoyed in the fabulous walled garden before a photo session in front of the majestic lake or on the Victorian Bridge!

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6. Houchins - Colchester

Houchins is a flexible wedding venue with a unique selection of spaces that allow it to host weddings with as few as 12 and as many as 120 guests. You can marry in The Foundry before heading into the adjoining Chitting Shed for a relaxed wedding reception.

Alternatively, you can say ‘I do’ in the Loggia between May and September and go on to enjoy a small marquee reception.

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7. The Old House - Rochford

One of the smallest Essex wedding venues on our list, The Old House in Rochford is a characterful gem that lends itself perfectly to intimate ‘I dos’. The Old Hall dates back to 1270 and makes for the perfect ceremony setting.

After the vows, you can head to the picturesque and peaceful garden that surrounds the building before heading into the reception room with up to 30 guests.

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READ MORE: 20 of the Best Cheap Wedding Venues in Essex

8. Colville Hall - Great Dunmow

Colville Hall consists of two thatched barns – The Mill Pond Barn and the Orchard Barn – and the team are happy to accommodate weddings with as few as 65 guests. The Orchard Barn is usually reserved for vows and reception drinks and can even be used for photographs on rainy days when the stunning courtyard is not an option.

When it comes to your wedding breakfast, there are few settings more spectacular than The Mill Pond Barn thanks to its 30-foot glass doors and views over the elegant duck pond. Add to that a delicious British menu from The Cambridge Dining Company – Colville’s catering partners – and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable wedding reception.

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9. Hedingham Castle - Sible Hedingham

We bet you didn’t think you’d come across a castle in your small wedding venue search. Well, it turns out that even grand venues such as Hedingham Castle have a cosy corner for small weddings hiding in their keep.

The Tapestry Room is a wonderfully atmospheric space for celebrations with 70 or fewer guests and features wooden beamed ceilings and ancient exposed brickwork. Throw in some candelabra and fine wine and you’ll be feeling like king or queen for the day!

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10. Maidens Barn - Little Waltham

Marry at Maidens Barn in the charming and light-filled Oak Barn Ceremony Room or underneath the flowering arbour in the garden with as few as 30 guests in attendance. After your vows, you can move into the Elm Barn, the oldest part of the venue, where you can enjoy a traditional wedding breakfast served up in a relaxed and friendly style.

As a family-run venue, the team pride themselves on their flexible and personal approach so you and your nearest and dearest will feel right at home on the day. In fact, for up to 27 lucky guests Maidens Barn can be a home away from home for the night thanks to the beautifully renovated barn accommodation!

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11. Smeetham Hall Barn - Sudbury

Located on the Essex/Suffolk border is the 16th century Smeetham Hall Barn. This characterful barn welcomes intimate weddings with just 20 guests and offers you the choice to book an all-inclusive package or simply hire the venue only and sort the rest yourself.

Smeetham Hall Barn is a no-corkage wedding venue and you’re free to bring in your own booze and have staff serve it at the bar at no extra cost. You’ll also have access to the barn from 9am the day before until midday the day after the wedding, giving you plenty of time to decorate the space and take everything away with you again afterwards.

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READ MORE: 21 of the Best Rustic Farm Wedding Venues in the UK

12. The Compasses at Pattiswick – Pattiswick

Having previously operated as a family-run, award-winning gastro pub, The Compasses at Pattiswick is renowned for serving up great food and drink. They don’t just excel when it comes to catering though, the venue also boats a fabulous bridal preparation suite, enchanting ceremony and wedding breakfast room complete with vaulted ceiling, and a stunning courtyard area for photographs.

You can hold a ceremony and reception here with just 50 guests in attendance and a wedding coordinator will be on-hand to help you plan your day and ensure that every detail is personal to you.

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13. The Waltham Barn at Channels - Little Waltham

Set within idyllic country surroundings is The Waltham Barn at Channels, the smallest barn venue in the Channels’ collection. With a maximum capacity of 70 guests and a cosy atmosphere featuring plenty of beams and fairy lights, this is the perfect setting for your intimate celebration.

After the ‘I dos’ you can enjoy a drink in the courtyard – available exclusively to you – before enjoying a celebration Channels style in the reception space with private bar!

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READ MORE: 32 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

14. Maison Talbooth - Colchester

With just 12 bedrooms, Maison Talbooth is a country house hotel designed for intimate celebrations. The stylish hotel can accommodate up to 50 wedding guests and the team encourage couples to treat the venue as their home for the night for a true house party vibe.

You can say ‘I do’ in the light and airy Garden Room, overlooking Dedham Vale, or outdoors at the Pool House. If you choose the latter, you’ll be required to book out the entire hotel but with a pool and spa we reckon you wouldn’t want it any other way.

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15. Parklands, Quendon Hall - Quendon

The team at Quendon Hall totally get that sometimes a small and intimate wedding is just the ticket and so they’ve incorporated an intimate wedding option into their offering. An intimate wedding here would allow you to invite 40 guests to enjoy a wedding breakfast within their stunning drawing room with a log fire. You can host a religious ceremony nearby or choose to have your civil ceremony in the house.

Despite the grand size of the building and its grounds, staff strive to make your small wedding experience the intimate affair you’ve been lusting after and we reckon you’ll soon feel right at home.

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Confused about the order of things on the day? This wedding ceremony guide should answer all your questions.