As a wedding photographer I often get asked by couples whether I have previously worked at a particular venue where they are celebrating their wedding. Now, I’m a photographer who likes to visit a venue beforehand, not to necessarily scout locations for photos as this will depend on the weather and light on the day but just to get my bearings and consider my options if the weather happens to be bad. It doesn’t really make a huge difference as an experienced photographer will base his or her decisions on how and where to take photos according to the time of year, the conditions and above all the light.
I have worked at a number of different wedding venues in Kent so I’d like to share with you my top 5, and why I chose them.
This Hotel which sits right on the Kent coast overlooking the channel just gets better and better. I love it so much it’s where my partner and I chose to have our wedding in 2016. With its recent refurbishment and addition of an outdoor gazebo and beautiful garden area, means you can have your wedding either inside or out depending on the time of year.
With a choice of two ceremony rooms inside and the stunning Ballroom to hold your reception, there is ample space for all elements of your wedding day. I love the veranda overlooking the sea as a place to enjoy drinks after your ceremony. If it’s hot you can be outside and if the weathers a little inclement the glass fronted area protects you from the elements. There is now even a Moet & Chandon Bar in which you can enjoy your bubbles!
The fact that it’s a hotel means you and your guests don’t have to worry about taxis at the end of the evenings celebrations, just a short walk upstairs to your room.
Since I have photographed weddings here and also had my own I can highly recommend it as a venue to consider as we couldn’t fault it.
Situated near Swingfield in Kent The Old Kent Barn is a venue giving you plenty of beautiful outdoor space as well as a stylish and large modern barn. There is the option to get married outside in the white gazebo surrounded by wonderful, often colourful gardens or inside if the required.
I love it as everything you need is onsite. There is space for the bridal parties to ‘get ready’ and a bar for guests to enjoy a drink before the proceedings get underway. The staff have always been excellent and always make sure everything is running smoothly for their wedding couple.
If you’re looking for a ‘Barn’ wedding this is definitely worth considering as it is stunning.
A little further outside of Ashford, overlooking the Romney Marshes, Lympne Castle is simply a stunning venue. It doesn’t look like you’d imagine a traditional castle to look but it is an impressive venue with amazing views all the way to the coast.
With a number of different wood paneled rooms and outside courtyard and lawn areas there is plenty of room for you and your guests to roam around. There is a wonderful atmosphere here and everything about the place is well looked after and cared for and I’ve taken some of my favourite images at this venue.
This venue as it’s name suggests is a venue that has a beautiful walled Victorian garden and is located in a peaceful rural location on the Mersham Hatch estate just outside Ashford.
The main building is a converted coach house overlooking the garden on one side and the large cobbled courtyard on the other. There is also a marquee on the main lawn between May and October that can accommodate 120 people for a sit down meal. In my opinion this is a great venue to hold either your whole day or simply the reception and really comes into it’s own in the spring and summer months.
Stunningly beautiful, this has got to be one of Kents best known castles. Everything about it conveys history and elegance, both inside and out, with its most notable occupant being Henry VIII. Located just off junction 8 of the M20 it is easily accessible.
There are actually two wedding venues available, one being the main castle and the other the Maidens Tower. With access to the grounds there is ample room for you and your guests to wander and enjoy the scenery and view of the moat with its resident swans. Speaking of birds you can in fact now even have an owl deliver the wedding ring during the ceremony!
I have photographed weddings here and it really is one of “the loveliest castles in the world”!
If you’re looking for a venue that you can put your own touch to situated in a quiet area of Kent with a countryside feel to it then Hayne House could be for you. It has a relaxed and homely feel to it with a main house and 3 different areas for your ceremony to be held as well as a marquee for your reception. With a pretty and spacious garden garden there is plenty of room for your wedding guests to enjoy drinks and canapés while your photos are taken.
As a recommended supplier here I am excited about the new orangery being built which will be in operation from April 2018 as that will provide a beautiful setting for an indoor ceremony and reception. Situated in the village of Saltwood in Kent this is a family run venue offering a fantastic service with attention to detail every step of the way.
This could be considered the ‘grandest’ venue of my choice of 5 and it certainly is an impressive building. Located just outside Ashford, Eastwell Manor is set in some stunning manicured gardens and surrounded by the Kent countryside.
Onsite there is also a health club and beauty spa as well as indoor and outdoor pools and a 9 hole golf course so if you were looking for a venue to provide pre or post wedding activities this could be the answer.
As a hotel with a number of rooms providing lunches and afternoon tea to the public you don’t necessarily get exclusivity of the venue but the building and grounds are so spacious it’s not really a major concern. I really love working here as the photo opportunities at any time of the day or night are endless.
To summarise, any of the a fore mentioned venues are worth considering if you are getting married in Kent as each can offer something unique. Ultimately though a couple planning a wedding will have a list of criteria that include budget, number of guests to accommodate, indoor space available etc etc and this will need to be ticked in order to choose a venue.
Hopefully this post has given you a helpful insight into my local area of Ashford, Kent.
If you’re looking for a wedding venue in the heart of the Kent countryside which has a real ‘Darling Buds of May’ feel about it, (this was a 90s TV series featuring David Jason and Catherine Zeta Jones among others if you’re to young to have seen it) this may be a venue for you.
It’s quiet and secluded with picturesque views all around the converted farm buildings and barns which provides endless photographic opportunities, part of the reason I love it. This is primarily a Spring/Summer wedding venue as the marquee is a seasonal feature although they do hold smaller weddings and civil partnerships during the autumn and winter months.
I have photographed large weddings and small intimate ceremonies here and each is a special and unique affair and is treated as such by the friendly and attentive staff.
Having worked at Boys Hall numerous times and throughout all the different seasons I can honestly say it is one of those venues that never loses it’s charm regardless of the time of year. The building is 17th Century and is stunning both inside and out and is set in some beautiful grounds which together provide some wonderful locations for photos. The wood paneled rooms make the interior quite dark but this gives it a very cosy feel which is lovely, in the winter particularly. Take a look at my guide to planning your Winter wedding in Kent if you are having your wedding in those colder months.
As a wedding party you have exclusive use of the venue and the grounds and you wouldn’t for a minute know you were in the middle of Willesborough in Ashford, Kent as it’s completely hidden from any surrounding buildings. The staff here are wonderful and work hard to deliver the sort of day you hope for, I love the place.