As an Essex wedding photographer I have what I would say is a reasonably good idea when it comes to what makes for a good wedding venue, not just from a photographic point of view, but in terms of the day itself. We are completely spoiled in Essex by the sheer number of wedding venues available to us and I would imagine that most Essex wedding photographers have shot at only a small percentage of those. Essex registry services currently list over 150 licensed venues where you can hold the marriage service and that doesn’t begin to account for the additional restaurants and venues where you can host your drinks reception and wedding breakfast.
If you opt for a religious ceremony first then your venue doesn’t need to be licensed for marriages, but if you choose to have a civil ceremony then it does. Essex boasts an unprecedented choice of stately homes, barns, hotels, restaurants and civic buildings. You can find them all under one roof at Celebrate in Essex, a great website to start to narrow your selection.
The Essex wedding photographer in me would say that from a photography point of view one of the most critical things to think about is whether the venue has both indoor and outdoor space, if you are hoping to have family groups and couples portraits. Even at the height of the summer, sadly there is no guarantee of a cloudless day and if it rains, you will benefit from having the option of taking photographs inside. If you do need to be inside, the natural light available in a venue is another consideration as it will help to give you beautiful portraits. If there is none, this is where you really need to consider the calibre of your photographer. A good photographer can create light out of seemingly nothing, it’s part of our job. Ask to see examples of wet weather weddings or winter weddings indoors to give you a guide. A few of my favourite venues that have great inside and outside alternatives are The Lawn in Rochford, Hylands House in Chelmsford, Braxted Park, if you opt to host your drinks reception in the house / orangery, and Gosfield Hall.
If groups and posing for photographs isn’t your thing and you are looking for a purely documentary approach then although good light is still key the reality is that the venue space is what it is and it will matter little other than you like it. A documentary Essex wedding photographer is looking more for the story of your day, rather than architectural lines of the building that you host it in. Beautiful venues that are limited for indoor space, but deliver by the bucket load outside include Gaynes Park Epping, Blake Hall Ongar, Leez Priory, Layer Marney Tower, and Le Talbooth to name but a tiny few.
If getting ready at the venue is important to you then it’s worth looking at the accommodation and the rooms on offer to you for your preparations. Gosfield Hall’s Rococco Suite is probably one of the most sumptuous extravagant rooms in the county and a dream to photograph in. For simple modern lines, both The Cottage at Blake Hall and The Granary in The Coach House at Gaynes Park take some beating. Hylands House have recently refurbished the Bridal Room which gives a great open space, though there is no accommodation on site and this could be a deciding factor.
If your ceremony is going to be in church from a purely personal point of view I would say that it is worth asking your celebrant very early on in the process what their rules on photography are. Typically I find that Catholic priests are very tolerant, Jewish Rabbis practically help the photographer in to the ceremony as do Hindu priests and Church of England Vicars either love us or loathe us. I’ve been in a Church of England where the vicar has suggested that the best view is from the pulpit and I should stand there and I’ve been in a Church of England where I’ve been allowed to take one photograph of the bride’s arrival and had to sit at the back with my cameras next to me for the remainder of the service. As an Essex wedding photographer I have no jurisdiction in any religious or civil ceremony or setting, it is entirely at the discretion of the celebrant, so if photographs of your wedding ceremony are important to you, make sure you know from the outset that their policy suits you.
If you opt for a civil ceremony, I typically find that Essex registrars are relatively accommodating with regard to photography during the service, although I have found Loughton’s in Hornchurch to be an exception to that, with photography being limited to the entrance of the bride, a posed shot of the exchange of rings and a set up shot of the signing of the register. The registrars that I work regularly with through Castle Point and Rochford, Southend and Chelmsford are really all fantastic and allow me to do my job discreetly so that you get beautiful ceremony photographs to treasure.
Although it is not legal to get married outside in England, it is possible to be married under a fixed structure, with your guests in the open air. There are a number of beautiful Essex wedding venues that have the perfect solution for your outdoor wedding. Leez Priory and Gosfield Hall both give you the option to be married under their coach arches. Braxted Park , Channels, Parkands Quendon Hall, Prested Hall and Creeksea Place all have beautiful outdoor gazebos and Blake Hall’s Old saddlery provides a perfect canopy.
Whichever venue you choose, one thing is certain, you will have a fantastic day to remember and hopefully, you’ll consider letting us capture it for you. Contact us here to see what your photography options are.