Spring tends to put us in the mood for romance, so we’ve been casually checking out a few of the city’s loveliest settings in which to get hitched – a little helping hand for those who have a union on the cards
There’s no denying that planning your nuptials can seem like a Herculean task, especially at the start, when the to-do list is longer than any wedding gown train could ever aspire to be, but they do say that hunting down, deciding on and booking that all-important perfect venue is the biggest hurdle (after the bride/groom, that is) and with that in mind, we thought we’d make a start on the research. Here are just a handful of our favourite Bristol wedding venues to get you started…
Bristol boltholes don’t come much chicer than this stylish country house on the outskirts of the city, with its beautiful collection of individually designed rooms, 18 acres of verdant parkland and gardens and elegant fountain (pictured left) – which puts us in mind of halcyon scenes from a Blytonesque novella and is perfect for a spot of summery splashing about. Dating back to the 1890s, the property itself – around a 15-minute drive from the city centre – can host a wedding ceremony or reception accommodating 10 to 100 of your nearest and dearest, while there’s space for a marquee reception for up to 400.
Its award-winning two AA-rosette restaurant Hattusa takes Berwick’s character and personality and infuses it into a delicious array of modern British food and fine wine, served in flickering candle light with views across the gardens. It’s ideal for an intimate party, as friendly and experienced in-house wedding coordinator Emilie will tell you – count on her and her little black book of reliable suppliers to deliver everything you need for the dreamiest day the imagination can conjure. And then at the end of it all, exhausted after dancing until the wee hours, you and select guests can fall into 14 unique bedrooms inspired by the Anatolian period and featuring chandeliers, open fireplaces, sleigh beds and all the little finishing touches and luxuries you could wish for.
Launched in 1843, Bristol’s beautifully restored resident ocean liner is not only steeped in history and blessed with some of the prettiest views in the region, but licensed to officially unite love birds in its versatile spaces above and below deck. There’s a dedicated coordinator available to assist with every step of the planning process, and another major selling point, we think, is the luxurious First Class Dining Saloon – once admired by a young and fashionable Queen Victoria. It can receive up to 160 guests and never fails to charm with its early Victorian design – think marble-styled pillars, Rococo mirrors and candle lanterns. It’s all combined with hidden state-of-the-art technologies and a PA system for the hotly anticipated speeches. With its mirrors and elegant wooden flooring, the Promenade Deck makes for an impressive aisle or a great space for canapés to be guzzled and musicians to play; and the Weather Deck is good for a drinks reception. Exchange vows while surrounded by up to 100 guests below the circular skylight; meanwhile, below deck, there’s the Hayward Saloon, with its dance floor and bar area, which immediately makes us want to party as hard as Jack and Rose during the Irish party in Titanic. After the reception, guests can continue the revelry or explore the ship – as well as acting as master of ceremonies, the chief steward can also provide talks or guided tours.
If you want to stay in the heart of the city during your nuptials, the newly opened, antique-filled Harbour Hotel could be a great shout. Set in grand, Grade-II former banking buildings in the Old City – designed by renowned 19th-century architect William Bruce Gingell – the venue’s painstakingly restored and characterful interiors are equally as impressive as their exterior. The Sansovino Hall in particular – inspired by Sansovino’s 16th-century Library of St Mark in the Piazetta at Venice and complete with remarkable historical detail and superb sky light – speaks of romance and history and is the most beautiful backdrop to any wedding day, also handily seating up to 300 guests.
When it comes to enjoying a much-needed wedding breakfast after all that toasting, know that no ordinary meal awaits, at the hands of award-winning chef patron Alex Aitken – whose tailored menus are individually designed suit the theme and tone of a wedding. Added bonuses here include a dedicated wedding team, complimentary accommodation for the bride and groom – plus exclusive accommodation rates for guests – and perhaps best of all, the newly unveiled spa. With seven sumptuous treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, areas of rest and relaxation and a fully equipped urban gym, as well as a mood-lit indoor pool, it’s bound to help relieve any pre-wedding jitters; get the bride squad looking photo ready; and have you feeling every inch the beaming bride or grinning groom when it comes to your intimate ceremony or lavish banquet.
Does the idea of getting married on a Somerset vineyard sound as idyllic to you as it does to us? Then you might want to check out this charmingly rustic 17th-century farm in Redhill, which happily unites the historic with the comforts and efficiency of the modern. Consisting of two adjacent stone barns, the main venue also includes the brick-walled Cellar Bar, a pleasant, oft sun-lit courtyard and the New Barn, with architectural features from the bygone dairy barn and plate glass windows looking out onto panoramic vineyard vistas. These skim Aldwick’s lush greenery, over to the River Yeo at the farm’s southern boundary, and a patchwork of distant fields and forests. To the west, over Homefield Vineyard, imagine the sun making its descent in a blaze of glorious colour and helping to create unique and memorable wedding photographs. Take a stroll among the vines with your beau, then be pictured amidst the very grapes produced for the award-wining wines served at your wedding breakfast… If further persuasion is needed, the family-run company took home the award for Best Wedding Venue 2017 at the Bristol & Somerset Wedding Awards recently – so unless the bridesmaids start brawling perhaps, a darn good day is pretty much guaranteed, we reckon.
Maybe you’d prefer to tie the knot amidst flora and fauna, as part of a unique woodland wedding at Arnos Vale. Featuring 45 acres of verdant scenery in a surprisingly central location, Arnos Vale offers a host of nature-centric weddings, including a ‘Twilight Woodland Wedding’ package – an atmospheric early evening celebration complete with rustic menu, twinkling fairy lights and all of the fiddly bits taken care of by a handy wedding coordinator. The wonderfully unpredictable English weather needn’t put you off your perfect outdoor shindig either, as the wooden beamed Underwood Centre provides guests with shelter at the heart of the woodland, while the Grade-II Anglican Chapel offers a traditional setting for up to 110 seated guests. And rather than going full Ray Mears outside, couples can always usher their party towards an elegant evening affair at the Spielman Centre – a bright, modernised Victorian space with room for up to 140 guests, and a neutral interior palette primed for bunting, bows and decorations galore.