Bride signs up for wedding at venue - before it is even built

Steph Middlebrook wants to get married to her fiance Saun at the Marquis in Layham when it expands into a wedding venue. 

Steph Middlebrook wants to get married to her fiance Shaun Webb at the Marquis in Layham when it expands into a wedding venue. - Credit: Steph Middlebrook/The Marquis

A bride-to-be said her dream is set to come true as the pub where she got engaged is to be transformed into a wedding venue.

Steph Middlebrook said she "hassled" the owner of the Marquis in Layham every few weeks to see if planning permission for the ambitious extension had been approved because she was desperate to hold her wedding there for sentimental reasons.

And earlier this month it was finally granted permission to be used as a wedding venue.

The 25-year-old, from Capel St Mary, said she is now diving into wedding preparations, excited to be having her big day at the venue she loves so dearly - but she will have to wait for it to be built first.

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The Marquis in Layham is being turned into a wedding venue. - Credit: The Marquis

The extension will see a new reception, banquet hall, additional bedrooms and extended car park, and garden added to the popular pub.

"It means something to us," she said. "It's where we really fell in love."

Looking out at the current Marquis garden  in Layham

Looking out at the current Marquis garden in Layham - Credit: The Marquis

The Marquis is also the place Ms Middlebrook and her fiance, Shaun Webb, got engaged in September 2019 after seven years together. 

"It was a complete surprise," she said. "He got down on one knee. He said I know you want to get married here and he then proposed." 

The Marquis

The Marquis - Credit: The Marquis

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The wedding has been delayed because of Covid and is now postponed while the building work takes place but it means the couple's baby boy, Chester, will be able to remember the day.  

Steph Middlebrook, Shaun Webb and their baby Chester

Steph Middlebrook, Shaun Webb and their baby Chester live in Capel St Mary - Credit: Steph Middlebrook

She added: "There is not enough accommodation at the venue right now and we'd really like to have family and friends stay there.

"It couldn't be more perfect with beautiful views. The new garden, as well, it should look lovely."  

Owner of the Marquis Steven O'Leary was also "really pleased" to get his planning application approved and to finally be able to tell Ms Middlebrook the good news. 

"I'm pleasantly surprised it was so easy," he said. "The new garden will be in the Italian style."

A screenshot of a Babergh District Council

A screenshot of the Babergh District Council meeting that shows how the Marquis on Upper Street, Layham, will go from a pub and hotel (upper plan) into a wedding venue, pub and hotel (lower plan). - Credit: BDC

He also said the project would create 45 new full and part-time jobs for the local area, bringing the total number of staff to 55 full-time and 45 part-time positions.

The Marquis

The Marquis has been asked to become a wedding venue by customers impressed with its stunning views - Credit: The Marquis

But there were lots of objections lodged as Babergh District Council's planning committee discussed the application on April 8.

Parish councillor John Curran, who is chairman of Layham, claimed that the "larger" improved building would block the skyline and be a "detriment" to the village.

He also said weddings would cause noise, parking, and light pollution issues for residents, as well as speeding on the B1070. 

Despite concerns, permission was granted for the build.