Small DIY Venues & Wedding venues that allow outside catering
Smaller venues like village halls often offer more options for couples wanting full creative control over their day. They’re often quite friendly to smaller budgets and can enable you to have the wedding of your dreams for a fraction of the cost of going to a specialist wedding venue.
As they often don’t do many weddings you can sometimes have longer time to setup and take down your decorations, as well as more control over the running order of your day, The downside of village hall wedding venues doing fewer weddings than their more specialised counterparts – is that you may not have as much support from them for your day, sometimes you will collect the keys and that’s the extend of their involvement. For some that’s ideal, for others not so much!
Most will allow you to decorate as little or as much as you like and make the venue your own. Some will even allow you to bring in outside caterers and your own alcohol – further making savings, ideal for low budget weddings.
Copsale Hall in West Sussex
Copsale Hall near Horsham is a West Sussex Wedding Venue. It’s a really sweet little countryside venue with great outside space. It’s a tin building, which looks amazing in photographs and really lends itself to a boho, rustic vibe. Think camper vans, rustic details and tons of DIY. A bonus for some, is that camping is also permitted – so you can makea weekend of it, and have your friends staying overnight.
I shot there for the first time for the wedding of Leah and Adam and really recommend it if you’re a creative couple planning a small wedding, it probably takes a little more work than most – but the savings in costs are well worth it to the right couple.
I’ve been back a few times over the years and it’s definitely a great place to head to for your reception, after getting married somewhere nearby – perhaps a nearby Registry office – Horsham would be the nearest , a church, or a national trust property like Nymans
Duncton Village Hall
Duncton Village Hall in West Sussex
Another small wedding venue in Sussex, Duncton is a village hall with plenty of scope for DIY weddings. Duncton has a lot more outside space than Copsale Hall does, so potentially lends itself better to weddings with a lot of outdoor activities. The last wedding we did here had a may pole to dance around, for example!
It also has far reaching views over the surrounding countryside, which really looks great in the photographs and can provide a cracking backdrop to any group photos.
A great option here, is to have a humanist celebrant performing an outdoor ceremony – so you can really make the most of the views, but of course, you’d have to get the official bit done at a registry office, as humanist celebrant ceremonies aren’t legally recognized – but they’re a perfect option for couples who wish to personalize their ceremony.
If you’re looking for some inspiration then check out Charlie and James’ stunning wedding held at Duncton to see how to transform this quaint venue:
Larger Venues that provide catering
Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else take the strain – venues with their own in house event and catering teams do just that, they can help organise the entire day, from the schedule and timings to the food – by using a venue that can do it all, you can sit back and relax knowing everything is taken care of, leaving you to focus on the dancing and laughter.
Pangdean Barns in Sussex
Pangdean Barns is a place I’ve had the pleasure of working at many times over the years. It’s a countryside venue just outside Brighton. Situated right on the A23 its easy to access and yet really offers a great countryside vibe. They offer ceremonies in the gardens & the building you have your reception in is a gorgeous old, rustic barn with the most incredible fairy light decorations in the rafters. Utterly stunning.
I’ve been there for weddings all year round and it just works whatever the weather is doing. On sunny days you can make the most of the gardens for your drink reception and group photos, head up into the fields and over the hills for your couple photographs. But if the weather is slightly less pleasant, the inside becomes the most cosy and warm space – just the ticket for when the British weather doesn’t work out for you, or for winter weddings.
It’s also perfect if you’re planning to get married in the city center, but want to move the party onto a reception venue with more of a countryside feel. I also cant say enough good things about Nicky the owner and Michael the events manager – each and every time I’ve been there, they’ve been super attentive, helpful and thoroughly lovely.
You can see more images of this venue from the following weddings:
The Barn at Bury Court
Bury Court in Surrey
Bury Court is a bit outside of my usual Sussex stomping ground, but I love to travel and it’s a venue we’ve been to so many times – it’s definitely one of my favorites, so I felt it deserved a mention. It offers a lovely characterful barn, as well as a generous courtyard area for a drinks reception, and even outdoor dining if the weather is fine. I photographed my first wedding there around 10 years ago, and have been back many times throughout the years seeing the venue develop and grow – a recent addition that’s really gone down well, is the gazebo for outdoor ceremonies – we were privileged to photograph one of the very first outdoor ceremonies they had there and its transformed an already cracking venue into something on a whole other level.
Bury Court is a slick operation, they do a huge quantity of weddings each and every year, and it shows in their level of professionalism, organisation and efficiency – nothing is too much trouble and everything you need is right there and brilliantly thought out – from routes the bride can take to the ceremony whatever the weather, to various options for drinks receptions and evening entertainment set-ups.
We also love the fact that it backs onto some of the finest views around – makes for some of the most wonderful photographs as the sun is setting.
You can see more images of this venue from the following weddings:
Notley Abbey is popular with the Rock My Wedding Crowd – given that RMW’s founder Charlotte got married there! It’s even further afield than Bury Court (above), it’s a stunning venue in Buckinghamshire, which is licensed for civil marriages and partnerships. It’s got the wow factor that many are looking for in a wedding venue.
One of the highlights of Notley Abbey, are the beautiful gardens where outdoor ceremonies can be held – venues that can seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor ceremonies depending on the weather are few and far between.
I’ve been photographing weddings at Notley abbey for the better part of 10 years now and never has it disappointed the team are phenomenal and every wedding runs like clockwork. Architecturally it’s in a league of its own – up there with some of the finest country houses we have in England. It should though, given the historical life it led, as the home of Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh – true hollywood royalty. The parties the house must have seen over the years!
We absolutely love the fact that you can get ready in one part, your groom in another – your guests in another, before heading downstairs (or outside!) for the ceremony, then onto the lawns for drinks, lawn games and photographs – before heading into the amazing barn for the reception and the evening dancing – a true journey through the day, without ever having to leave the venue!
You can see more images of this venue from the following weddings:
A new venue for Sussex that we really like is Brookfield Barn, we were invited there in 2017 to photograph CJ & Luke’s wonderfully fun brookfield barn wedding and its instantly jumped up the list of our favourite Sussex Wedding Venues. It combines some of the best parts of other venues on this list, in an area that has been missing this kind of venue. Credit to the owners for seeing the gap in the market and extending the hotel that has existed on the site for a while into the cracking wedding venue it is now. Set very conveniently near Horsham, Brookfield is a great place for a wedding, its got tons of accommodation for you and your families to get ready and loads of parking making it really convinient for your guests (something often overlooked, but entirely important!)
The flow from the ceremony in the Barn, overlooking a wonderful golf course to the drinks on the terraces is just wonderful – so relaxed and natural. We also adore the fact that you can make use of the golf course – for golf, photos and in some cases… Laser clay pigeon shooting! A first for us at a wedding for sure, but it went down so well with the guests – definitely one to consider!
Grittenham is a lovely cosy venue which is full of Sussex Barn charm – there’s plenty of parking for guests and they even have a couple of beautiful resident donkeys called Ringo and Polly in the outside area at the back of the barn.
It’s one of our favourite wedding venues to revisit, as we have a great relationship with Katherine and the whole team there – so much so, they’ve got one of our wedding albums which they show to prospective brides and grooms. The team is so organised and efficient – completely professional and so experienced at running weddings, they always ensure everything goes smoothly.
We’ve been photographing weddings at Grittenham for the better part of ten years, and seeing it evolve over the years has been lovely, the gardens have matured beautifully and we’ve seen so many guests having a wonderful time around the various gardens and courtyards. It’s truly a special Sussex wedding venue.
We’re also big fans of the various fields at sunset and the outbuildings make for amazing photo opportunities – such beautiful colors and textures than an experienced and creative wedding photographer can utilize. They also have a great array of outside caterers that can provide everything from Hog Roasts, to BBQs and we even had a pizza oven at one of the weddings – for two foodies, it was a massive treat to tuck into once the coverage had finished!
You can see more images of this venue from Sophie and Adam’s wedding.
Laughton is another lovely Sussex venue full of charm and character. There’s also plenty of outdoor space for summer wedding ceremonies and drinks receptions. I think it potentially has more outside space than any other venue on this list, so if an outdoor wedding is your kind of vibe – this may be the one you’re after.
In addition to being able to DIY a lot of the day and have your day exactly as you imagine it, there is also a lovely barn/marquee that you can retire into for the evening – all the while looking out over the incredible countryside.
A particularly special part of this venue is being able to have an outdoor ceremony with some of the farthest reaching views you’ll find – follow your ceremony with a wonderful party, sitting on hay bales and picnic blankets and you’ll have a rustic outdoor day to remember.
You can see more images of this venue from Victoria and Graeme’s wedding.
A true heavy weight in the Sussex Wedding Venue category – Buxted Park has been at the top of the ladder for a very long time, it’s a big country house hotel just outside of Uckfield and combined with The Orangery, which they use for weddings makes for a wonderful option for a wedding venue in the Sussex Countryside. The Orangery is light and airy space, overlooking a lovely lawned area – which makes for a fantastic outdoor space for summer wedding ceremonies. Our first wedding here was for the lovely Dani and Mark – who had an open air jewish ceremony – under the hot sun, it made for a perfect day indeed.
The fact you and all of your guests can get ready here, as well as stay overnight eliminates a lot of the stresses of a wedding day and mean you can relax and focus on having an amazing time.
We also love the fact that, as Buxted Park do hundreds of weddings and events every year, they are a slick operation – everything runs like clockwork and makes for a stress free day. Their maître d’ is an absolute star – charming, thoughtful and courteous – and with the best singing voice around – that he occasionally entertains guests with, makes him the stuff of Sussex wedding legends.
You can see more images of this venue from Dani & Mark’s wedding.
Big Impact Venues
The South boasts some incredible stately homes, many of which are licensed for marriages and civil partnerships. If you’re looking for a wedding venue with big impact then these are sure to offer the ‘wow’ factor.
If you like your venues grand, you might want to look at one of my favorite big impact venues in the South, Goodwood House. Just outside of Chichester, Goodwood House certainly makes an impression. From the moment you head up the sweeping driveway, you know you’re somewhere special. With hundreds of years of history and home to some of Sussex’s most illustrious families and nobles, this is a venue that knows luxury, elegance and sophistication.
Couple that with the incredibly meticulous staff – including the Butler, who will do whatever it takes to ensure your day runs without a hitch, you’re in for a luxurious treat. Want a Spitfire flyover? They’ve got that. Want to arrive in a Supercar? not a problem. Goodwood prides itself on being an elite, exclusive estate and this venue truly encapsulates that, and if thats your vibe – this is probabl;y the right place for you to get married!
The Goodwood estate also has another of our favourite wedding venues – Goodwood Kennels. A smaller, more intimate setting than Goodwood House, but none-the-less grand and luxurious.
Hampton Court House
Hampton Court House
A private school by day, Hampton Court House is transformed into a luscious wedding venue at weekends and during holiday periods. With beautiful indoor space for the ceremony, overlooking the park – catching occasional glimpses of Deer runnng past to the wonderful gardens, that on summer nights echo with the sound of parakeets making you feel like you are somewhere more tropical than East Molesey. There’s alot to love about Hampton Court House.
We’ve been photographing weddings here (and at the Palace across the road) for many years now and they’re always brilliant. Combining luxury and exclusivity, with less formality and stuffiness than other venues, this is the ideal spot for people who want a nice, luxury setting – but aren’t overly formal. Combined with often overlooked concerns like parking and transport links, HCH is a very well equipped venue.
We love the red room – it’s an amazing space to spend an evening (not to be confused with the 50 shades of Grey one…) intimate and vibrant, the bold red walls make for the most wonderful photographs and the ability to spill out into the conservatory and gardens on summer evenings is great – we can even suggest the perfect spot for a hog roast!
Worth a mention is the Shell grotto – not something we’d encountered before, but certainly an interesting space – popular choice to have photographs and surprisingly cold whatever the weather!
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace
I couldn’t mention Hampton Court House, without mention its slightly bigger, more palatial cousin over the road. What can I say about Hampton Court Palace! Easily one of the most prestigious wedding venues in the world. Its a royal palace – one of the few that allows weddings. It’s just as beautiful and regal as you’d imagine.
With a variety of rooms within the palace where wedding ceremonies can be held, from the incredible chapel, to the beautiful Little Banqueting House overlooking the river Thames – whichever you choose will put you amidst hundreds of years of history and give you access to the incredible palace and gardens – it goes without saying that the gardens are totally stunning too.
We were very fortunate on our First Hampton Court Palace wedding, which was for a royal palaces staff member – enabled us incredible access to the palace and its gardens, something often difficult to obtain, but something that has held us in great stead for future weddings there, as we have an inside scoop on not only the history of the palace, but also the best places for photographs! All in all, a total dream wedding venue.
Nonsuch Mansion and Nonsuch House
I shot at Nonsuch Mansion for the first time in 2014 for Hannah and Toms wedding and I was seriously impressed. As well as being a beautiful venue, the staff at Nonsuch were incredibly friendly, welcoming and a total pleasure to work with.
Set in the middle of Nonsuch Park on the border of Greater London and north Surrey, England – it’s a truly special place for a wedding. The sense of occasion as your guests enter through the gardens to be greeted by the amazing architecture is a truly great start to the day. It’s also brilliant that you can get ready upstairs in their beautiful bright and airy wedding suite – grand arrivals just before the ceremony are wonderful, but there is alot of value in reducing the travel stresses and possibilities of getting stuck in traffic en route to your wedding.
Being able to get married overlooking the gardens, before heading out onto the lawns to sip pimms is a special thing – especially on a lovely summers afternoon, few places we’d rather be! The plethora of beautifully manicured gardens make for unlimited possibilities for photographs. We’re also big fans of the interior – we’ve found so many wonderful places to take photographs either after dark or when the weather is less than perfect, sometimes we actually hope for a bit of rain!
You can see more images of this venue Hannah & Thomas Nonsuch mansion’ wedding.
Somewhere a bit different…
Getting married is a once in a lifetime thing, so you are free to do whatever you want, wherever you want – the idea is that you make it personal and a reflection of your own story. So if you’re looking for somewhere a little different to the usual wedding-y wedding venues, maybe consider one of the below options –
Sussex University meeting house
Venues don’t come more different than the Meeting House at the University of Sussex. Situated on the University’s campus, Officially, its the chapel of the University and the hall beneath – the Meeting House is a round building intricately decorated with multi-coloured stained glass windowpanes, which project beautiful colours into the main hall of the venue.
Getting married here on a sunny day, is like getting wed in a JJ Abrams movie – the colours and patterns truly need to be seen to be believed. Often on sunny days we, as photographers, find ourselves drawn outside into the sunlight and lovely weather – but on sunny days here – you just have to spend some some inside capturing the incredible colours and light patterns.
This really makes a great venue to have your ceremony before moving onto another place for your reception.
You can see more images of this venue from Jacqueline & David’s wedding.
Despite being close to the city centre in Kemp Town, Brighton College is a wonderfully tranquil venue. A school by day, at weekends it can be transformed into a beautiful wedding venue, set in well-kept grounds – always a bonus for wedding photography! You can see more images of this venue from Charlotte & Robins Brighton College Wedding. This venue traditional wedding venues, with slightly more modern architecture throughout the various stages of the day – culminating in a reception in the great hall, which when decorated truly lives up to its name, like a scene from Harry Potter – it transforms into the most regal setting for a grand, luxurious party – straight out of Hogwarts, minus the sorting hat.
We also adore the way the buildings wrap around the central courtyard, providing an intimacy to your drinks reception most unexpected in a grand venue like this, as well as a degree of protection from the elements on colder days and a sense of separation from the hustle and bustle of Brighton.
The Ecology Pavilion in Mile End
Rounding out of list, tucked away in London’s Mile End Park is the Ecology Pavilion. Surrounded by reed beds and long grasses, the Eco Pavilion offers tranquility and beauty most unexpected in London. It also offers a large blank canvas for you to decorate as you wish. An added bonus is that you’re allowed to bring in your own caterers.
The space itself is long and stretches along, maximizing the views over the park – a wonderful space top spill out into after the ceremony, for canapes and photos!
Finding wedding venues that can accommodate Indian and Hindu weddings can also prove quite difficult – but the Ecology Pavilion worked perfectly for Yasmin & Alex’s Ecology Pavilion wedding.