So you’ve just got engaged to be married and you’re looking for a romantic wedding venue in Essex.
The good news is that, after a bit of research, there are over 150 approved wedding venues in Essex for a civil ceremony – perfect for large weddings, small weddings, simple weddings, African weddings, traditional weddings….I think you’ll find you’re quite spoilt for choice.
From experience, I know how difficult it can be to choose a wedding venue, so, to help you, I have compiled my very own top 10 list of wedding venues that in my opinion, ideal for getting the best wedding pictures for you to remember your wedding day. I have included these venues for different reasons, and I have also found the staff to be very friendly and helpful.
Without further ado and in no particular order…
Spains Hall Estate
Spains Hall stole my heart. It is probably my favourite wedding venue in Essex. It ticks all the boxes for romantic wedding photography. It’s an Elizabethan country house and Grade 1 listed building, rich in history dating all the way back to 1570, and it has a stunning backdrop and landscape. I can understand that you might not want to spend too long away from your guests, but you really shouldn’t miss taking a stroll (with your wedding photographer) around the beautiful rose garden – it’s perfect for your post-ceremony bride & groom ‘just married’ photos. Trust me, you’ll be so glad that you did.
Last year the Olympic Torch passed through Valentines Mansion, putting yet another feather in the hat of one of Ilford’s most treasured landmarks. But that’s not why Valentines Mansion is on my Top Ten Essex Wedding Venues.
It’s a historic venue which has quite a contemporary feel – an 18th century Georgian country estate which has been restored more than once in its time. It’s on my Top Ten, because from a photographer’s perspective, the Mansion is made up of several unique features (mostly outside) and settings that would make timeless wedding photos. Make use of the canals, the Dovecote, and the grotto.
But for the really romantic wedding photos, go to the Old English walled garden and use the Victorian rose garden as your backdrop.
Leez Priory became the first country house in England to get a licence to conduct civil ceremonies. There is lots of royal history attached to this 16th century Tudor mansion and, as you would expect, being Tudor, it has plenty of character.
It is high on my list of recommended wedding venues in Essex because there is so much potential for your wedding photography, particularly outside because it’s set in parkland with lakes, the lawns are well kept and it has a sweeping driveway.
Indoors, my favourite spot for getting a beautiful portrait of the bride is from the top of the staircase, looking down at the Bride, who is standing at the bottom of the staircase looking up.
Braxted Park is straight up the A12 past Chelmsford – it’s a really easy drive - but if like me, you are a country girl at heart, you might like to take your time and the scenic route along the winding roads through the heart of the Essex countryside – it’s a stunning drive with amazing views stretching right acrossthe Essex landscape.
Picture yourself in your horse-drawn carriage or Bentley, entering the Estate grounds of Braxted Park and being driven slowly up the long drive towards the Queen Ann house where your Groom is waiting for you.
Braxted Park is on my list of Top Ten Essex Wedding Venues because it’s a wedding photographers dream come true – well, it’s pretty hard to beat. If you are prepared to spend some time with your wedding photographer, walking around the grounds of the Estate, together you could get some really dramatic shots.
Mary Green Manor
Once again, Mary Green Manor features on my Top Ten wedding venues in Essex because of its boutique charm and, in particular, for your wedding photography, there is a lovely courtyard garden complete with pond and a small gazebo for taking intimate photos. It’s a 16th century Tudor mansion house and hotel, which still has a lot of its original architecture – wooden beams across the ceilings, very narrow stair-cases and creaky floors but, best of all, there’s a real log fire which could even make you consider getting married in the winter, instead of the summer!
As for the restaurant, I take my husband there for dinner on special occasions. There’s a very interesting looking wine list to suit all budgets. Last time, I couldn’t help noticing the Chateau Latour ler Grand Cru Classé Pauillac 1961- sadly, at £3,500, I’ve not had the pleasure.
Langton’s Registry Office
Langton’s House is a lovely venue for the smaller wedding in Essex. You will find that most of the opportunities for wedding photography are outside if the weather permits. The house itself is a grade II listed building – inside, it has quite an intimate feel about it. There is a beautiful chandelier which hangs from the ceiling by the staircase – a lovely opportunity for a few bride & groom portraits - but the best place to go for your wedding photography is outside on the open lawn by the river, perfect for your group photos. If you manage to steal a few moments away from your guests, go and look for the tree stump in the wooded area – it’s about three foot tall, ideal for your beautiful bride to perch on and it’s the perfect spot for a really intimate shot of the two of you.
Crown Plaza Colchester (aka Five Lakes)
Deep in the English countryside, this hotel and wedding venue in Essex was once Five Lakes. It’s recently been taken over by Crown Plaza and given a multi-million pound makeover.
It has a beautiful backdrop, as its original name suggests – that’s the reason why it gets my vote as a wedding venue. The choice for using the Essex countryside (or the golf course) as your backdrop for your wedding photography is vast. Following the renovations, this wedding venue is now licenced for a civil ceremony for up to 300, and up to 2,000 guests for a wedding reception.
If you are getting married on a different day or different venue, you might be looking at Gilwell Park in Essex for two reasons – firstly, to host your wedding reception and, secondly, because you plan to entertain your guests in a completely different way to the norm…
Were you a Girl-guide or Scout, once upon a time? If you were, then you’ll know Baden Powell. This venue is owned by The Scout Association - a very well-known Charity.
Located on the edge of Epping Forest, Gilwell Park has a beautiful 17th Century, Grade II listed White House. For your wedding reception, the main hall can be transformed with an internal marquee-style liner into a classic banqueting hall that is both elegant and weather proof.
Gilwell Park is one of my Top Ten Essex Wedding Venues because there is simply a wealth of opportunities for your wedding photography, available in the form of outdoor activities – abseiling, archery, canoeing, hiking, orienteering…and the list of activities goes on. If you are an adrenaline junky you could have a fun-packed time, and your wedding photographer will no doubt capture some amazing moments for you to treasure!
If you like being theatrical, how about a themed wedding in a castle that was built in the twelfth century. Imagine your wedding breakfast, re-enacting a medieval banquet. Brimming with history and atmosphere, Hedingham Castle is full of character which is why it’s on my top ten Essex wedding venues list – and it ticks all my boxes for wedding photography too – if you’re really serious about your wedding photos, you and your photographer will be spoilt for choice for locations…
Inside the castle, there are some really interesting nooks and crannies for your bride & groom portraits. Taken from above looking down, there’s a beautiful shot of you standing on the spiral staircase as just one example. Or, go outside (weather permitting of course) for wedding photos of a more romantic nature - down by the lake with the castle behind you – there are so many possibilities.
Friern Manor is a classical Georgian Manor hotel set in beautiful landscaped grounds. From the road, the Manor looks small, and it definitely has an intimate air about it, but, despite first impressions, Friern Manor is equipped to host two wedding events simultaneously, each with their own private entrance and area – either the Manor house, the Marquee or the Stables and Garden Room. For your wedding photography, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with a picturesque pond, several ornate garden statues and benches. There are also some interesting wall features on the side of the house, as you walk along the drive that goes from the front to the car park at the back.
Blakes Golf Club, Epping
Being quite an ambitious wedding photographer, I’m always on the look-out for something a little bit different to the norm. Blakes Golf Club gets a mention as one of my Top Essex wedding venues for this reason. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Blakes Golf Club doesn’t offer much more than a pagoda and some amazing views across the Essex countryside. But, in my own opinion, any clever wedding photographer (like me!) with a bit of imagination would be able to come up with some lovely quirky ideas for wedding photography using the golf course as a back-drop, and a golf buggy as a prop. I’m not much of a golfer, but as a wedding photographer, I can see the potential to capture some lovely memories of your golf-themed wedding.
Of course, there are many more gorgeous wedding venues in Essex but these are my top picks, if I was planning on getting married again. No offence intended to my husband, you understand ;-)
Kim Rix Photography
Making Memories Precious