Novelty Wedding Venue

Sopley Mill Weddings

See our Sopley Mill Wedding Photography Gallery

Our Sopley Mill Review:

Soplely Mill is an 18th Century water mill with lovely views of the Avon water-meadows, a lovely garden and very atmospheric period interiors.

Soplely Mill is intended to be a “blank canvas” for a couple who want to organise their own day, appointing their own caterers, planners, etc. to get the right combination for their perfect day.

There are several floors to the mill, the top floor being used for your meal, the middle floor used for your ceremony (if they have been registered now) and your evening party, and the lower floor open for your guests to roam in and out during the day whilst having canapés etc.

It is a wonderfully secluded wedding venue with great views and with an enormous amount of flexibility. It has a lovely garden, plenty of parking and is very atmospheric.

If the weather is good enough for guests to spill outside, this is a fabulous venue. If the weather is poor there are not many good options for large group shots inside but this wouldn’t matter if you intend to have your ceremony somewhere else and can do the group shots at your ceremony venue.

This is a very nice Summer wedding venue and well worth a look if you want plenty of control over your day.

by Steve Dunster
30 April 2015
Hampshire Wedding Photography

Sopley Mill
Mill Lane
nr Christchurch
BH23 7AU

Call David on 01425 672586

Master Builders Bucklers Hard Weddings

See our Master Builders Bucklers Hard Wedding Photography Gallery

Our Master Builders Review:

The Master Builders Hotel at Bucklers Hard is on the Beaulieu River only minutes drive from the picturesque Beaulieu River and acclaimed National Motor Museum. It is actually the old home of the master builder who owned the company that made Ships of the Line who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar.

There is an iconic wide street of period houses leading down to the river which can be great for photographs but be warned that this area is open to the public and can be full of “muggles” during the Summer.

Down on the riverside is beautiful but looks best in the Summer when the leaves are back on the trees and blue sky is reflected in the water.

The venue itself is oozing with historic and maritime character it is very cozy, especially in the Winter with the small of wood smoke from the gorgeous fireplace in the wonderfully “cottagy” lounge.

The garden of the venue looks very pretty and slopes away down to the river’s edge but this slope does restrict the number of level-ground places in the garden you could have group shots and if there weather was poor there are not many indoor options for large groups.

For smaller weddings this venue would be lovely with lots of options in all weathers. For larger weddings it is an exceptional historic venue with a difference provided the weather is fine enough for guests to spill out onto the gorgeous garden, iconic historic street and riverside.

by Steve Dunster
4 May 2015
Hampshire Wedding Photography

The Master Builder’s House Hotel
Bucker’s Hard
Beaulieu Estate
SO42 7XB

01590 616253

Fort Nelson Weddings

See our Fort Nelson Wedding Photography Gallery

Our Fort Nelson Review:

Fort Nelson is situated on Portsdown Hill just North of Portsmouth and is easy to get to from the M27. There is plenty of parking and this is definitely a venue worthy of consideration for any couple who what something a little unusual or something with a military flavour.

It is one of the 19th Century brick built so called Palmerston’s Follies built to fend off another French invasion but it is now home to the Royal Armouries Museum.

The ceremony room is intimate though a slightly odd shape, having two aisles that meet where the couple stand but it works well enough. Celebration drinks are either served outside in a courtyard which is sheltered from wind but is still open to rain, in which case drinks are served in one of the museum rooms which is very pleasant and the exhibits are very interesting.

At some point in the proceedings it’s normal for the bride and groom to fire one of the museum’s field guns which, we are told, is thoroughly exhilarating.

The bride and groom and their guests are welcome to wonder around the Fort and take in what the museum has to offer.

Some couples will then leave for another venue for their Reception meal but if you wish, Fort Nelson may also be used for the Reception meal and evening party.

The walk across the parade ground to fire the gun can be windy and is a little dusty and you may have more fun here in the Summer than in the Winter but Fort Nelson is a real venue with a difference and well worth a look.

by Steve Dunster
19 August 2014
Hampshire Wedding Photography

Details from their website:

Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road
PO17 6AN

01329 233734

Marwell Hall Weddings (in Marwell Zoo)

See our Marwell Zoo Wedding Photography Gallery

Our Marwell Zoo Weddings Review:

Marwell Hall is a wonderfully historic house in the middle of Marwell Zoo and it’s even thought that this is where King Henry VIII spent his wedding night with Jane Seymour. The historic and elegant interiors give many pleasing photo opportunities as does the outside if weather permits. The Hall is very impressive and so are the grounds surrounding it. If timescales and weather permits you are also allowed to roam around the animals. From a photographic point of view, this venue has a very rich supply of fantastic photo-opportunities.

There are quite a variety of wedding packages available giving quite different experiences depending on your needs, the size of your wedding party and the time of year you book. It is definitely worth visiting their website and contacting them for precise and up to date details but it’s hoped we can at least whet your appetite for this venue here.

Some of the packages even include an “Animal Encounter” which when we’ve been there has let the bride and groom feed some animals actually inside the animal pen itself.

All the packages provide dedicated road-train transport for your guests from the zoo gates to Marwell Hall, which would otherwise be quite a step for ladies in big heals or if the weather was unpleasant. Your guests are also welcome to roam around the zoo but I think this is only permitted whilst the zoo is open to the public.

It is possible to book only your wedding ceremony here or you can book both your ceremony and your reception. Whenever you book your wedding for, your ceremony will take place in the Hall but in the Summer, your reception would be in a marquee quite close to the Hall but during the rest of the year your wedding reception would be in the Hall itself.

It is worth pointing out that the Marwell Hotel is literally only walking distance from the gates to the zoo and it is ideally situated for guests to book in to for the night of the wedding. It would give guests the opportunity to catch the wedding road train to the gate, walk to the Hotel, freshen up and change for the evening party and still be back in plenty of time for the First Dance (depending on your schedule of course).

This venue is definitely at its best in warm, dry and pleasant weather. Whilst there is some protection from the weather in the road train, it’s still a lot more pleasant when it’s warm and dry as you’re being driven to the Hall past the animals.

Whilst the Hall interiors are good whatever the weather, its surrounding grounds are pea-shingle and can quickly get muddy in wet weather which can obviously restrict how much outside photography you might want to do if it’s been raining. If you do have an “Animal Encounter” as part of your package, you will also need to get to the animal enclosure which can also be a bit miserable if it’s wet and/or windy.

From a photography point of view this is a fabulous venue, provided it’s dry enough and pleasant enough to freely roam around the grounds.

Undoubtedly this is a wedding venue with a difference, and if you’re into animals in a big way it might be difficult to imagine a more perfect venue for you.

by Steve Dunster
22 May 2014
Hampshire Wedding Photography

Details from their website:

Marwell Hall
Marwell Zoo
Thompson’s Lane
Colden Common

01962 777966

The Spinnaker Tower Weddings

Spinnaker Tower Wedding Photographer
See our Spinnaker Tower Wedding Photography Gallery

Our Spinnaker Tower Review:

The Spinnaker Tower is a wedding venue with a difference. The wedding ceremony itself is held up the tower, as is wedding breakfast, and the view of Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, the harbour and Gosport is magnificent in both night and day - and if you’re really lucky and your timings work out, the view of a sunset is awesome.

Parking for your guests is in the big underground car park for the Gun Wharf Quays complex. There are plenty of outside portrait opportunities for both day and night on the water front and amongst Gun Wharf Quays.

At the top of the tower there are two observation decks. The upper of the two, the smaller, is usually the one they use for the ceremony, then it’s down one flight of stairs to the lower of the observation decks for the wedding breakfast. In the middle of this deck is the famous glass floor through which you can see the dizzying “straight down the tower” view.

The evening disco is on the ground floor of the tower and has recently been refurbished very nicely.

This is definitely a novelty venue but one drawback for you might be the ceremony start time. Because the tower is open to the public during the day, the ceremony cannot start until after the tower is closed to the public which can be 5pm or later.

If the visibility is good, the views are stunning. If the weather is good, the outside portrait opportunities are abundant. Sadly if the weather closes in then you may not get much of a view and you may be restricted to inside-only photography which is a little restrictive in the tower.

One thing that is very important to consider if you are thinking of booking the Spinnaker Tower is your choice of photographer. From a photographer’s point of view it is quite technically challenging and the tower staff have told us that more professional photographers then you’d think struggle to shoot well in the tower (e.g. balancing the interiors with the panoramic exteriors, dealing with the bright blue interior lighting on the lower deck, ensuring you don’t get flash reflections in the 240 degrees of glass, shooting great portraits and night because of the late start, etc.).

We are well practiced at all these techniques and deal with these issues easily...if you’re going to book the tower, do try and book a photographer who is likely to cope well with these technical demands.

The Spinnaker Tower is a novel wedding venue for weddings at any time of year but we would say it is probably better during the Summer months, when the sunset is later (in December it is dusk at 3pm and your ceremony can’t start until after 5pm) and it is likely to be warmer for portrait sessions on the water front.

by Steve Dunster
20 May 2014
Hampshire Wedding Photography

Details from their website:

Gunwharf Road

02392 857520