Best Wedding Venues in the UK
The most exciting aspect of being a wedding photographer to me is the opportunity I get to capture people, personality and emotion. Recording moments that will serve you well, long after the memories of the day start to fade. But what makes your memories extra special and unique is the venue they have been captured at. I have been fortunate to capture weddings at a range of different UK wedding venues, from countryside manors to cool city hotels. Whether I am back at the venue for the tenth time or photographing somewhere I have never been before, I get the same amount of pleasure from the experience. Familiar venues have my personal ‘hot spots’ for great photo opportunities. New venue experiences bring with them the excitement of finding those hot spots for the first time and the thrill of seeing what other photographers have done there, and doing the exact opposite! It’s worth mentioning that if you’re booking me to shoot at a venue for the first time then I always ensure I arrange a visit before the big day to explore and familiarise myself with the setting and meet your wedding planner.
This isn’t ‘the’ definitive list of the best wedding venues in the UK. I don’t think one exists (whilst I was doing a little google research into the topic this morning I found about twenty different top 10 wedding venue lists). I also haven’t photographed at every single wedding venue in the UK so I can’t compare like for like across the board. This is simply a list of ‘my’ best wedding venues in the UK, from wedding I have photographed at during last year (2012). It’s my personal view based on experience and a little set of criteria which I think you’ll find useful:
I have selected these wedding venues because, in my experience…
– the level of service in general is exceptional, professional, attentive and relaxed. There is nothing worse than stressed, rude and pompous staff at a wedding venue. I have unfortunately seen it on more than one occasion. If they are uptight then you’ll be uptight. The staff at these venues will go out of their way to ensure the welcome you and your guests receive after the ceremony is warm, welcoming with a smile and helpful.
– the wedding breakfast is an experience worth its weight in gold. The dinner is special and one of the key highlights of the day so it should be some comfort to know that at these venues I found it to run particularly smoothly, with high levels of service at each table and sublime food. Thought and attention goes into ensuring the speeches run on time and any audio equipment set up and working accordingly. The backdrop and views visible whilst you eat at these venue is also quite something.
– the setting is stunning. What sets these venues aside from others I have photographed at is the location and backdrop. If it’s Country Manor, Barn or Castle then you’re surrounded by beautiful countryside. If it’s a cool London Hotel then you have unique pockets of garden and atmospheric squares, the thames and a mix of victorian and contemporary architecture.
– the photographic opportunities are endless. You won’t be stuck for great photo opportunities at these venues come rain or shine. Whether you want to be amongst flowers, trees and nature or surrounded by contemporary, modern design, it’s here. If the weather isn’t on our side then these venues have beautiful indoor spaces to take advantage, which I think is comforting to know given the UK climate.
– they look after the service suppliers. The wedding party will always be top priority, it goes without saying. But it is nice when a venue will also go out of its way for a supplier on the day. It’s all part of a joint effort to ensure the day runs smoothly and all the bride and groom requirements are met with ease. Staff are more than happy to do a little ‘running’ if needs be. I have had to ask for a ladder to take a group photo or for something to be moved out of shot on more than one occasion and they have always been happy to help at these venues. They give ample time for any required setting up and also ensure suppliers are well fed at an appropriate time (when all the guests are fed of course). After all, no one can operate at their best on an empty stomach!
(In no particular order) My best wedding venues in the UK during 2012 were:
PEMBROKE LODGE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, RICHMOND, SURREY. Pembroke Lodge sits in the heart of Richmond Park and boasts magnificent views across the Surrey countryside. It is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding venues in South West London. The lodge itself is a beautiful, listed Georgian Mansion with bright spacious rooms and acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, situated on one of the highest points in Richmond Park. It boasts some great photography opportunities, especially if you’re looking for photographs of you and guests gainst a backdrop of rose lush countryside and rose gardens.
THE PETERSHAM HOTEL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, RICHMOND, SURREY. Perched on the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham overlooks one of the most beautiful and picturesque stretches of the River Thames and neighbouring meadows. It’s unique vista and classic style makes it a truly magical place to spend your special day. It’s a popular venue for more intimate weddings, with beautiful decor and surrounds for reportage on the terrace or bride and groom photographs in the wine cellar, or a short walk to the top of Richmond Hill for a breathtaking photograph overlooking the thames.
DARTMOUTH HOUSE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, MAYFAIR, LONDON. Dartmouth House is a truly unique and beautiful wedding venue set in the heart of Mayfair. The splendid interconnecting rooms, courtyard and staircase provide the most elegant of settings for your wedding and for photography. I often have a walk with the bride and groom down Charles St, with it’s Edwardian Town Houses and red pillar boxes, perfect for some candid urban shots. Berkeley Square is also a good spot and is just a stone’s throw away.
THE BERKELEY, KNIGHTSBRIDGE, LONDON WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY. Exclusive chic and effortless style for a luxury London wedding. The Berkeley is one of London’s most stylish wedding venues. The glittering ballroom and hotel in general form the perfect luxury wedding setting. In terms of photography opportunities,there are lots of little spaces in the Hotel itself that will ensure we can capture you amongst its elegant surroundings and if the weather is dry we can venture out to some spots outside with the Hotel as a backdrop or a beautiful London mews.
ANDAZ HOTEL LIVERPOOL STREET WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, LONDON. An Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel wedding will take your breath away. The glamorous, decadent and opulent settings provide the perfect backdrop for the biggest day of your life. It’s a very exciting venue for wedding photographers because the possibilities are varied and endless, perfectly suited to those who can manipulate light confidently to get the most out of the surroundings. Any modern bride and groom who book their reception here will not be dissapointed.
BABINGTON HOUSE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, SOMERSET. Babington House and it’s 17 acre estate date back to Georgian times. A traditional English country wedding setting with a bohemian twist, nestled in the middle of the rolling Somerset hills. The wedding ceremony takes place in the Babington Chapel, St Margarets Church. On a sunny day the grounds surrounding the house and chapel are a lovley place to enjoy champagne and canapés after the ceremony. The lake, gardens and house offer a superb backdrop for contemporary, candid wedding photography.
KINGSCOTE BARN WEDDING PHOOTOGRAPHY, TETBURY, GLOUCESTERSHIRE. Nestled among the Cotswold Hills in an area of outstanding natural beauty and Gloucestershire’s most exclusive venue. Kingscote Barn is the perfect place to share your wedding day or special occasion. Your cermoney and wedding breakfast will be documented in a beautifully decorated barn and the drinks and evening reception captured with rolling hills and enchanting views as the backdrop. When we go and take photogrpahs of you both I’ll whisk you momentarily to some great spots along the sweeping drive that leads you to the barn.
PRESTON COURT FARM WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, CANTERBURY, KENT. I have only photographed one wedding here yet I love this venue for all sorts of reasons. The little church on the grounds is magestic and run by the nicest vicar I have met. It has a 17th Century Kentish Barn that offers the perfect setting for your wedding brekafast and lovely grounds with charecteristic buildings that serve as great spots for photos.
SOUTH LODGE HOTEL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, HORSHAM, WEST SUSSEX. This magnificent country house hotel in Horsham, West Sussex, is set amongst acres of woodland and parkland and is one of the finest luxury hotels in England. It has some great spots for photographs indoors and outdoors, with the latter offering beautiful lakes and long grassy fields, perfect for candid photogrpahs of you both.
THE ROOF GARDENS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, KENSINGTON, LONDON. A very elegant and contemporary urban location that’s quite modern and funky on the inside, surrounded by lush gardens and great little hideaways on the outside. There are a host of wedding venues in London, but this, being on the top floor of a high rise, has a very unique feel about it. Service is truly excellent.
PORTMEIRION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, PORTMEIRION VILLAGE, NORTH WALES. I got married myself at Portmeirion and so it has a little place in my heart. There is nothing in the UK quite like Portmeirion Village (famously used as the location for the cult TV film series ‘The Prisoner’). An Italiam themed village set in the hear of Snowdonia that overlooks the mountains and estury. If the weather is good and tide down we can take photogrpahs of you both walking bear foot in the sand, or take a stroll through the village with its endless opportunities for great shots. If it rains, we’re ok, there are lots of spots indoors for beautiful pictures.
CHIDDINGSTONE CASTLE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, KENT. Chiddingstone Castle is a stunning wedding venue in the heart of Kent and is a true fairytale backdrop for your special day. The Great Hall provides a magnificent location for a wedding ceremony and The Orangery is an amazing outdoor space which effortlessly combines ancient splendour with contemporary architecture. There are lots of opportunities for great bride and groom photographs either in the house or the grounds that surround. For a unique wedding venue in Kent, look no further than Chiddingstone Castle.
UGBROOKE PARK WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, DEVON. Ugbrooke is set in a tranquil Devon valley landscape. It has a history covering 900 years, featuring in the Domesday book of 1086. The Estate provides a wealth of photography opportunities in the parkland that surrounds the house, by the lakeside, in and around relaxing hideaways. You can’t have your reception here, so you might ask why I have included it. It’s simply a stunning venue for a religious wedding, not only from a photogrpahy standpoint but the little old rustic church you get married in next to the house is like something out of a film.
NONSUCH MANSION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, SURREY. Nonsuch Mansion in Cheam, Surrey is a hidden treasure, combining beautiful, lush gardens and contemporary interior decoration that remains faithful to its Georgian period. The mansion stands on the eastern side of Nonsuch Park, close to the site of Henry VIII’s infamous Nonsuch Palace. The team that manage the site are fantastic, they really know what bride and grooms are looking for. Their goal is to bring the mansion back to life as a stunning centre point for excitement, celebrations and memories.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, LONDON, KNIGHTSBRIDGE. The Mandarin Oriental is a beautiful venue, flanked by Hyde Park on one side and a busy urban London street, with it’s black cabs and red busses in abundance, on the other. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has played host to some of society’s grandest weddings as well as smaller and more intimate affairs, all taking advantage of the magnificent park views.There are a host of great photography opportunities in the Hotel, so if the British weather takes a turn for the worse, you can take advantage of the stylish interior.
RIDGE FARM LODGE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, SURREY. Ridge Farm Lodge is one of my favourite Surrey wedding venues. It is situated fairly local to me just south of Dorking yet it’s a million miles away from the usual wedding venues I photograph at. It once operated as a full time recording studio and has seen the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Oasis and Status Quo visit to record albums. The atmosphere is very relaxed and wedding clients usually hire the lodge and grounds for the weekend. It is exclusively yours and ceremonies take place outside in gardern.
Please contact me if you wish to see my most recent weddings at these venues.