The Asylum, London
Don’t let the name put you off – this unusual spot is actually housed inside a chapel, and is licensed to hold weddings and civil ceremonies. The Grade II-listed building dates back to 1826 and was bombed during WWII. Its history is evident – what we love about this venue is its well-worn look: the stone walls are exposed and aged, the stained-glass is imperfect and faded gravestones line the walls. It might not be for everyone, but it’s a seriously atmospheric spot. Add loads of flowers and candles and you’ve got yourself a thoroughly modern venue – in a church.
Caroline Garden's Chapel, Peckham, SE15 2SQ
Aynhoe Park, Oxfordshire
One of the most eccentric country houses in England, this Oxfordshire mansion is Grade I-listed and was built by renowned architect Sir John Soane in the 17th century. So you wouldn’t necessarily expect its interiors to be packed with modern taxidermy (picture a full-sized giraffe, floating beneath balloons in its Orangery), unusual antiques, treasures and centuries-old sculptures. Available on an exclusive-use basis, the private home has a covetable contacts book, and the team can pull together anything from a dreamlike fairytale wedding through to full-on rock‘n’roll nuptials. Traditionalists will be pleased to know that there’s also a church within its grounds.
Aynho, Banbury, OX17 3BQ
Fancy saying ‘I do’ surrounded by wild plant life, but don’t want to trek halfway around the world? Enter the Conservatory at the Barbican. A vibrant space in the iconic art centre’s otherwise stark surroundings, the glass conservatory is filled with tranquil fish pools and 2,000 species of tropical plants. Licensed to host weddings and civil ceremonies, receptions can take place in the adjoining Garden Room, which offers couples a blank-canvas, industrial-style space and the opportunity to put their own mark on proceedings.
Silk St, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS
This old-school theme park reopened to great fanfare back in 2016. Right on Margate’s seafront, Dreamland has become a popular spot for holding a wedding, civil ceremony or blessing. Inside the park, there’s a variety of venues to hold your vows, from the vintage Ballroom and Roller Disco hall to Ziggy’s rooftop bar. Added extras to make your day really stand out include use of all the rides and blessings on the Scenic Railway – just imagine the photos. Nicknamed ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’, you can rest assured that there are plenty of cool restaurants, bars and hotels to tempt guests to make a weekend of it.
Marine Terrace, Kent, CT9 1XJ
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
One of the most recognisable residences in the country, Hampton Court Palace is famed for hosting countless feasts when Henry VIII was at the head of the table. Now a visitor attraction, none of the grandeur has been lost when it comes to throwing parties – and that includes weddings. Couples can choose between the stately Great Hall (complete with stained-glass windows, tapestries and a magnificent hammer-beam ceiling), the Orangery & Privy House (a pretty, marble-lined greenhouse), or the Little Banqueting House, which makes a striking spot for ceremonies. The King’s Stairs (decorated with 18th-century paintings) and landscaped gardens create the ultimate backdrop for photos.
East Molesey, KT8 9AU
Jimmy’s Farm, Suffolk
Buried in the Suffolk countryside you’ll find Jimmy’s Farm – a wildlife park, restaurant, butchery and working farm owned and run by TV’s Jimmy Doherty. Now, Jimmy’s 17th-century barn is available to hire for weddings. Set against the backdrop of an old-fashioned working farm, guests can wander through ancient woodland and explore the farm before the ceremony and reception in the barn itself. As rustic and photogenic as the venue is, the real reason to book Jimmy’s place is for the food: menus served across the day will be seasonal and ingredients come straight from the farm. Marquees and luxury camping can be arranged on the adjacent 31-acre field.
Wherstead, Ipswich, IP9 2AP
Natural History Museum, London
London venues don’t get much more iconic than the Natural History Museum, and when it comes to wedding reception spaces, the museum has a diverse portfolio. Perhaps most impressive is the Hintze Hall, a cathedral-like space that houses the world’s largest blue whale skeleton beneath its soaring arches. Elsewhere, the North Hall offers the same grandeur on a smaller scale, while the Darwin Centre offers modernity within a glass atrium. Dancing is best held in the atmospheric Earth Hall, while long-table dining works well in our favourite spot, Fossil Way, where guests will toast the happy couple under Romanesque arches and terracotta stonework, surrounded by fossils of sea creatures.
Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, SW7 5BD
The Roman Baths & Pump Room, Bath
Dating back more than 2,000 years, this ancient site in the historic city of Bath is more than just a tourist attraction. Its Great Bath, a naturally heated thermal pool, is also a popular spot for hosting wedding ceremonies (the venue’s sunrise and sunset packages are rather special). With flickering torchlight and steam rising from the baths, to say this is an atmospheric space would be an understatement. Away from the waters, the Georgian Pump Room can be hired for evening receptions, while the terrace and reception hall offer great views and the perfect spot for the first dance.
Stall St, BA1 1LZ
Searcys At The Gherkin, London
If you want a wedding venue with impressive views, it doesn’t get much better than those from the top of the Gherkin. Usually members-only, the team at Searcys look after the top two floors of this London landmark, which offer 360-degree views over the capital – particularly special at sunset. Whether you want a full-on reception for 240 guests or a more intimate experience in one of the two private dining rooms, food and drink here will be top notch (Searcys is a caterer first and foremost and is well-known for its seasonal food and champagne collection).
30 St Mary Axe, City, EC3A 8EP
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