We hand over to Hampshire-based photographer Jason Williams for today’s guest post!..
Let’s be honest, there are quite literally hundreds of wedding venues in Hampshire. Personally, I think Hampshire is one of the best places in the UK for weddings. We’re blessed with beaches, forests, urban venues, and everything in between. It can be a little bewildering when trying to find the “perfect” venue when what defines perfect for one would be an idea of hell for someone else. Therefore, to come up with a definitive list of “the best” is impossible. What I’ve tried to do here is to come up with my fave venues from the most common style of venue we have in Hampshire, with a mix for hopefully most tastes. Each venue on the list is one I have shot at and which I have truly loved to work at, that the couples have also loved, and the guests have had an absolute blast.
To fit the criteria to be included here the venues must be the following – interesting, accommodating, they must put the couple’s happiness above all else, plus the people in charge must pass the most important rule – to not be a d*ck.
Without further ado, let’s get to it (in no particular order).
Barns. On the whole it can feel like when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. So what makes this place stand out? For me (and this is all personal opinion of course) it’s the fact that you are totally self contained, the grounds are incredible, there are farm fields everywhere around it which makes for some cool photo ops, plus it has the most beautiful outdoor ceremony area EVER.
Just up the road from Farnham on the Surrey/Hampshire border, backed by the lush green trees and immaculately curated gardens it just feels so intimate whilst at the same time not feeling claustrophobic. It’s simply an amazing place for a wedding. I shot Hannah and Tom’s wedding there last year and I think I’m still getting over it. It was, quite simply, perfection.
This place is kind of a spiritual home for me. Words that spring to mind when describing the Dancing Man in Southampton would be – rustic, alternative, industrial, atmospheric, and just plain cool! I have shot here countless times and it is always beautiful. The massive plus point to having your wedding here is that you don’t need to do any decorating whatsoever. No bunting. No table cloths. No chairs. Nothing. Everything you see below is included (except for the cake and flowers obvs). Plus, hands down you will get the best wedding food you’ve ever had here. It’s to die for (as my cholesterol will attest to considering how many of their salted wedges I’ve eaten over the years).
Up until last year the DMB did not hold ceremonies, only receptions. However, this year (2020) all of that is changing and you can have humanist ceremonies here, making it all the more insanely awesome. Be sure to get an ale named after you too 😉
Somerley House near Ringwood has been a wedding venue for a few years now, but only last year did they branch out (no pun intended) into woodland weddings. Just a short drive from the main house you’ll find the secluded ceremony area set amongst the towering trees of the Somerley Estate.
A small wooden structure awaits and the rest is left to your imagination. The woodland area is pretty much a blank canvas, so for those of you who really want to put your own stamp on their venue and love all things nature, this might be for you. If you really love the idea of an outdoor wedding then you really can’t beat this place; not least because the wet weather contingency is to have the wedding ceremony in the main house which is a huge weight off your mind if the worst should happen (I hate to bring up the British weather but *points at everything*). More than that though, the people at Somerley are super friendly and are as helpful and accommodating as can be so you can’t go wrong.
I wasn’t sure what category this should be as “farm” doesn’t really fit. I thought maybe “estate” but again, that doesn’t work either. What East Afton Farmhouse is is a place you hire for 5 days, you move the family and friends in, and you spend the best part of a week celebrating, partying, and committing to each other forever. It’s quite frankly an incredible place.
The Isle of Wight is spoilt when it comes to it’s pick of wedding venues. To pick my fave was tough, but East Afton Farmhouse on the west coast of the island is hard to beat. Another self-contained venue, this place has a real cool vibe to it. Set just across the road from where the original Isle of Wight festival took place, there is more than a nod or two to Jimi Hendrix about. Again, with an almost blank canvas feel to it and the rustic nature of the ceremony barn, this place would suit anyone looking for all of their wedding day/week to be in one place but not feel restricted to four walls. You have exclusive use of the venue for 5 days, with the actual wedding set over a few locations – the farmhouse (usually where the couple and a few guests can stay), the barn, the rear garden, the marquee, the bar. Add to the fact you are a 5 minute drive from the beach where you can ditch your shoes and go stand in the sea while I take photos of you, it’s the perfect place to have a ruddy good knees up.
Additional plus point – if you’re heading there from the mainland you can “technically” say you’re getting married overseas. Bonus.
Your Back Garden
Ok, hear me out. I appreciate this may not be for everyone, but you would be amazed at what can be created in your own humble back garden. Let’s be real, weddings cost an awful lot, so are there ways to save some serious moolah? For sure there are, and having a DIY wedding on your own property is something more and more couples are going for (I’m booked to shoot three this year alone, and did two last year). Of course you need to sort out the “legal” bit, and most couples will have a quick trip to the registry office a day or two before to get legally hitched. Then you can have a wedding celebration that is truly of your own creation for your actual wedding day. You can even hire a celebrant to come and conduct a ceremony for you to make the day feel that bit more “weddingy”. Humanist ceremonies are hugely popular now, and if you’ve never been to a celebrant led wedding, you’re missing out.
I’m sure you’re thinking “but where can we have our portraits taken?” or “my neighbourhood isn’t that great to look at”, or “my garden isn’t that big”. Well, bear in mind that the images and portraits below of Nicki and Joel were taken on unassuming streets and over their local park. It pays to have a decent photographer to tag along 😉 Also, their garden was quite honestly an “average size” you’d find on most streets. Imagination and bravery, two things which always lead to incredible things.
By Jason Williams
You can find Jason within our supplier directory by clicking HERE.
Bury Court Barn www.burycourtbarn.com
Dancing Man Brewery www.dancingmanbrewery.co.uk
Somerley Woodland Weddings www.somerley.com
East Afton Farmhouse eastaftonfarmhouse.com
(P.S. We’re obviously bias but check out The Boat Shed too! We think it’s only a matter of time before it’s up there with the best…)