Venue Reviews

With over 8 years photographing wedding and having visiting numerous beautiful venues across the south, I often get asked by potential bride and grooms to be where is the best place to have their big day. Well below is a load of completely independent reviews of wedding locations in and around Dorset. Hope it helps! 


Kingston Country Courtyard
This venue is so perfect even I chose to get married there! The food is exquisite, the service is exceptional and the décor is so perfect that hardly anything needs to be decorated as the Purbeck stone and natural barn effect make the venue sensational. I simply cannot recommend this venue enough and after seeing so many weddings, Kingston Country Courtyard really stands out above the rest.The lovely small rear garden boasts excellent views from Corfe Castle right across the Purbeck Hills to the Isle of Wight making great wedding photography opportunities.One of the best venues in Dorset and a price that suits. No wonder they are usually booked up over 18 months in advance. 10/10

The Larmer Tree
The Larmer Tree really has it all. From the most spectacular gardens and outdoor ceremony, to peacocks and parakeets to a fantastic reception room and evening dance floor, there isn't a bad word that can be said about it. I love shooting here and guests will always have the most amazing time there. Wedding planners Gail and Katy are excellent on hand throughout the planning process as well as on the day itself. I can't recommend it enough and I look forward to my next time there. 10/10

St Giles House, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset
This is one of the greatest venues I have had the honour of photographing a wedding. The setting, the grounds, the photo opportunities, the reception room (the library) the views, the history - the list is endless. In March 2014, the manor house was opened for the first time as a wedding venue and I am quite sure that the Earl of Shaftesbury's house will soon be snapped up as the best new location for weddings in Dorset and the South of England. Recently refurbished and oozing with style, I predict it will be hard to beat this one. 'THE' best manor house country wedding venue in Dorset by far and once people start to find out about this venue, it may be rather difficult to book your wedding here! 10/10

The Miramar Wedding, Bournemouth
This incredible hotel has fantastic views, service and food... and if you don't mind a small gamble on the weather for an outdoor wedding then this is the one for you! Perfect for wedding photography! I cannot fault this venue. The décor is great and the food is second to none. There is a room for the sit down meal and then another larger room for the evening reception so you don't all have to watch them as they re design the room for later that evening as I see in so many other venues. With access to the beach and beautifully kept gardens, there are plenty of wedding photo opportunities. The ceremony does, however, hinder on whether the sun shines on the day as to how the photos will come out. 10/10

 
Shell Bay Restaurant, Studland
This is a venue that doesn't strike most people as a wedding venue but it works extremely well. The views are so impressive that it makes you feel like the whole Harbour is yours for the day. The food and service are prefect and it really doesn't feel like just a restaurant. If stretched to find a downside, the beams in the middle of the room make the speeches difficult to manage but this is overcome by simple rearranging of the guests for this moment. Whilst on the subject of guests, remember to remind guests to give themselves ample time to arrive due to the very busy stretch of road outside and warn them of how busy the ferry can be (plus the last ferry is 11.30pm). With easy access to the adjoining beach and a simple walk over the road to the quiet Studland beach, you really will have a wonderful wedding here at Shell Bay!  9/10


Deans Court Wimborne
I was so excited to photograph my first wedding here at this amazing country house in the middle of Wimborne, Dorset. Having been brought up in Wimborne, it was only in fact a few years ago I even knew this house existed so I couldn't wait to test it out. This privately owned house is perfect for summer weddings with no interruption from anyone other than guests and staff. The scenery is just what you would desire on your big day with a lake and meadows to have photographs next to. The marque they offer is possibly the best I have ever been in for light too. Make sure to remind guest to be sure they go to this Deans Court and not the Dean court football ground... I have heard stories of guests and even suppliers to turn up 10 miles away at an empty football ground! I can't recommend it enough and I look forward to my next wedding there next month! 10/10


Boscombe Beach Wedding, Dorset
Being part of the FJB group, it speaks for itself. Silver service and excellent food. Lovely wedding photography opportunities in the gardens and perfect access to the beach. A play area to keep the little ones occupied is golden on a wedding day too. Only negative aspect to remark on is that parking for guests on the day will be minimal but that's a minor detail. 9/10


Studland Bay House
What an amazing venue! Tucked away in the Purbecks, this private house has it all but topping off the list is the most incredible views! A wonderful venue that you and your guests can rent out for a week so why not make the most of that and book it for a few days before and after the wedding. I absolutely loved photographing at this house and I would jump at the chance to shoot there again.  9/10

 Sopley Mill
A simply fantastic venue local to Dorset and I absolutely love shooting there. Loads of photo opportunities and areas for the guests to explore. One downside is the life is very slow for those less abled guests. But overall this is superb and since they have done it up, it is up there in my top 5. 9/10


Lulworth Castle
One of the best venues for a wedding in Dorset by far. Set in an out of this world venue with the best food going, this is what fairytale wedding dreams are made of. Simply excellent photography locations and lovely wedding organisers to help you on your day. Remember that you will have to supply your own bar and drinks but that could in fact save you some money if you get everyone to chip in. I have been bowled over by this castle and so would you be. In essence, if you can afford to go the extra mile, go for it. You won't be disappointed. even in the rain, this venue beats the rest. 10/10


Careys Manor Hotel, New Forest
An all round excellent venue for a wedding ceremony and reception. Set in the heart of the New Forest, there are plenty of photo opportunities for the photographer as well as idyllic scenery for you and your guests to enjoy. Not surprisingly its been voted in the top 50 hotels of the UK by The Independent newspaper.
The food is fantastic and the rooms and grounds offered are perfect for small or even large weddings. 9/10 


Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Dorset
A wonderful hotel with spectacular views across Christchurch Harbour. Excellent for wedding photos in the garden and remember to use the jetty too. A good sized room for the ceremony (which becomes the room for the wedding breakfast) topped with a very large downstairs room for the evening. Amazing food and service. I absolutely love this venue. 9/10


Moorhill House Hotel, New Forest
This forgotten little gem is absolutely perfect. It's in a great location near Burley and you and your guests will love it. It does seem a little dated when you first enter the foyer and the bar does seem to be in the hallway but the reception room, drinks room and gardens are wonderful. I really enjoyed photographing Moorhill House. As a photographer it was perfect and as a guest it ticks a lot of boxes. It caters brilliantly for children with lots of running around space and secret gardens too. It would be a pleasure to be asked to photograph another wedding here. 9/10
 
The Royal Bath Hotel Wedding, Bournemouth
Lovely hotel with exceptional food and service. Fantastic views of the sea, and great facilities including a pool and terrace. Don't forget to check out the De Vere Suite, it will blow you away in the evening reception! If you plan your wedding right, on Friday nights at 10pm throughout August, Bournemouth pier sets off a firework display which looks stunning from the hotel balcony! 9/10


Burley Manor, New Forest
The Burley Manor is another of my favourites. The colourful gardens add so much to the wedding photographs and whilst surrounded by the forest wildlife, it makes this hotel so picturesque and feel so remote. The ceremony room is separate to the sit down meal which is a bonus, however, you have to be sat down for the meal and finished by 5pm so the staff can put the room back to normal for any evening non-wedding guests. This may mean that you will have to be seated for the meal by around 2pm and therefore ready for the ceremony at around 12pm which can make the day quite long. 9/10


The Langton Arms, Dorset
Situated in a lovely setting, The Langton Arms can hold the ceremony and reception in an exclusive part of the B&B. I'm told it's all in for a great price too. If you are having a larger wedding party, I recommend you inquiring about the marque to be added on to the main room. It makes the venue so much larger. There is a picturesque ford and bridge nearby which lends itself to lots of wedding photography opportunities. The food is so impressive and the evening room is a great size for showing your dance moves. Lovely location and I love photographing this venue. 9/10 


Parley Manor Wedding, Dorset
Parley Manor is a beautiful venue and usually gets booked up around 18 months in advance. With up to 6 weddings a week, I find it incredible that the gardens are kept to an impeccably high standard. Gwen is extremely professional and she will bend over backwards to make sure your wedding day is extra special. However, something to think about is if you are unlucky enough to have a wet wedding day here, the gardens may be missed and the whole day could effectively be spent in the marques. I love shooting weddings here and the food is always excellent. If you want a venue that will do all the work for you with minimal stress then this is the venue for you. 8/10


Kingston Maurward, Dorchester
Completely blown away by this hidden little gem near Dorchester. if you can forget that Kingston Maurward is a college and focus on the incredible gardens, then it will be perfect for you. The reception room is made out to feel like a marquee which is lovely and the food isn't too shabby either. Excellent for photo opportunities and views. 8/10

Rhinefield House Hotel, New Forest
In the heart of the New Forest, Rhinefield House Hotel really is worth all of its 5 stars. Gorgeous scenery, excellent service and exquisite food to match. Lovely photo opportunities (if the weather gods are happy) and a lovely reception room. There's also a great fun full size maze to send all those guests you may not want to see for a while! 9/10

Italian Villa, Compton Acres, Poole
Absolutely incredible venue for a wedding. With 3 floors to play with and the most sensational gardens in the area to wander through at your leisure, it really is a great place to have a wedding. To top it off, the food was out of this world, presented beautifully and if there was a record on how quickly all the guests receive their food, The Italian Villa would win! I'm not sure on how expensive it is, but what you get is simply amazing. Very impressed and would happily photograph at this venue again. NB watch for losing light in winter weddings and the general public wandering the gardens throughout the year. 9/10


Athelhampton House Wedding, Dorset
One of my favourite venues in Dorset with so many wedding photo opportunities. Make sure you leave enough time between the ceremony and the sit down meal to give the guests enough time to explore such wonderful gardens. Beautifully presented food and service to match but a rather small room for the evening party if you like to dance. Expensive but worth it for the scenery and beauty inside and out. It is beautifully remote but as there aren't any on site rooms, the wedding party and guests would have to stay at alternative accommodation. 9/10
 

Poole Guildhall
Without feeling like a registry office, The Guildhall is wonderful with excellent photo opportunities. Just make sure no one parks out the front! Great for all sizes of wedding parties and perfect for all places to get to around Poole and the Purbecks if you fancy jumping on a boat to your reception! 8/10

Harbour Heights Hotel Wedding, Dorset
This hotel hosts the best views of Poole Harbour and topped with the exquisite food, on a sunny day, this venue holds one of the best weddings in the area. However, only one small downside is that it can feel slightly restricted as the wedding areas are cordoned off from the larger public area. So it is perfect if you are having a smaller wedding here. 9/10


Sherborne Castle Wedding, Dorset
With a lake, a castle, a marquee and the countryside, what more could you want from a perfect English wedding? The castle is situated in stunning grounds surrounded by water. The ceremony room, the Orangery, is limited to 60 people and surrounded by beautifully kept grounds and history within the castle. 9/10


Upton Country Park Wedding, Dorset
This house itself is superb for small parties who want a registry office wedding without the "office" feel. It is by far my favourite of all the registry offices in the area. However, if you require more space for a larger reception, they offer the walled garden for a marque and it is awesome! This is especially lovely on a weekend wedding as you will feel the exclusivity it deserves. The gardens surrounding offers amazing wedding photo opportunities and parking for all your guests. 10/10


East Close Hotel New Forest
With a wonderful choice of two ceremony rooms which both open onto the rustic kept gardens this hotel is fantastic. Lovely gardens and awesome for those lucky sunny weddings. Excellent food and service with a wonderfully helpful wedding organiser. There is the choice to use the marque too for the larger weddings and if you are lucky to have your guests fill the rooms then you will be able to party all night until 1am. The Conquer room is perfect for your reception and evening dance floor. The East Close is well priced and sits just on the edge of the New Forest. An excellent choice of venue without paying the full price of a hotel sitting in the heart of the forest. Very impressed with this one! 9/10 



Chettle House, Blandford
One of my favourite venues in Dorset. Set in the most tranquil areas of Dorset, near Blandford, I love it when I am asked to shoot a wedding here!
The gardens are kept in an immaculate condition and look stunning when the sun is out. The house is beautiful inside so if it rains, don't worry. The ceremony room lends itself to lovely indoor group photos if needed which is a bonus that many other wedding venues don't offer. 10/10


The Chewton Gle, New Forest
Set in one of the most amazing locations along the south, this hotel could not be more tranquil in the New Forest. However, for the money that you might pay for this 5* hotel experience, it seems a shame when the food did not live up to it's reputation. Moreover, once your guests decide to move onto the bar area, a makeshift bar pops up in the hallway and charges more than you would expect...even for the Chewton Glen. With this in mind, many guests may drink very little from the bar and find it difficult to relax in what ironically is portrayed as a very relaxing hotel. 5/10 

 
Canford School Wedding, Wimborne Minster
This is an excellent venue in Wimborne with so many ticks in so many boxes. Lots of space for the couples, wonderful food, perfect photo opportunities etc. A lovely spacious, yet a cosy feel and not for one moment does it feel like a school... well, possibly Hogwarts. It's just a shame that you can only use this venue in school holidays as I think it is perfect. 9/10 



The Grange at Oborne, Dorset
When I arrived at The Grange, it was just before the whole wedding party became snowed in. The snow made the wedding absolutely magical and the staff bent over backwards to help out the couple. One of the staff headed off in a 4x4 to pick up the stranded registrar and when 30 guests couldn't make it, the wedding organiser jumped into action to rearrange the table plan. Once the wedding came to a close, some of the wedding guests who had not booked a night's stay were even offered complimentary rooms! Sensational food and service. Lovely scenery and gardens. Superb. 10/10