Not too long ago, churches and hotels were the norm when it came to organising a wedding but that’s all changed.
These days, wedding venues take the form of barns, castles, ships, country houses, boutique hotels, racecourses and converted cinemas to name but a few – choice has never been greater and it’s brought about a whole new and exciting style of photography too.
So here are my top 10 venues in and around Cheltenham: an eclectic mix chosen for their appeal to brides, grooms and photographers alike with each one offering something distinctly different from the others.
A sprawling exclusive use Victorian mansion house that seamlessly blends the elegance of traditional architecture and design with the convenience and comfort of modern technology. And it boasts a romantic Italian walled garden and a lake – what’s not to like?
2. Cowley Manor
Situated just outside Cheltenham and set in over 50 acres of glorious parkland, one thing Cowley Manor isn’t is a run of the mill Country House Hotel. Juxtaposing wonderful Italian architectural grandeur with a unique, colourful, modern twist (including papier mache wild boar head trophies on the wall in the bar!), here is a place for people who want their wedding to be just that little bit different.
3. The Daffodil
Utterly unique, The Daffodil is an exquisitely restored 1920’s Art Deco cinema set within Cheltenham’s funky and fashionable Montpellier district. Now a trendy restaurant as well as an exclusive use place to hire, here is a real red carpet, romantic wedding venue that even boasts a pair of original cinema “kissing seats” in the foyer and is picture perfect for distinctly different wedding shots.
4. Elmore Court
Now I know Elmore Court is not strictly in Cheltenham (just the other side of Gloucester in fact) but an extra ten minutes or so in the car should not put you off considering one of the region’s newest and most exciting exclusive use country house wedding locations for your place to get married.
Privately owned, environmentally friendly (have a look at The Gillyflower: built of timber from the estate) and with gorgeous, classical gardens, stunning views and with in-house catering with locally sourced produce – including fruit and vegetables from the kitchen garden – there is a special sense of this magical place being yours for the day. If you want a selection of your wedding pictures to look like a Constable painting then look no further.
Ellenborough Park describes itself as a “Destination Hotel” and is set within quintessentially English countryside adjacent to the famous Cheltenham racecourse. With the main house dating back to the 1500’s and additional wings added only recently, this is a house that provides something for all tastes and the Nina Campbell designed bedrooms and suites are simply divine.
For those wishing to have a more intimate wedding but still with a Cotswold country house flavour, The Frogmill Hotel is an ideal choice. Only six miles from Cheltenham and steeped in history – its pretty honey coloured Cotswold stone dates back to the Domesday Book – the pretty gardens and stream make for the perfect wedding photography backdrop. I particularly like the fact that bride and groom can both be in the same building the night before so it’s possible to cover everything on the day and great for the wedding album too!
Cheltenham is one of the finest examples of a Regency town in the UK and the Pittville Pump Room is one of the jewels in its crown. This magnificent listed building was built in 1825 as a social venue and spa, and although the latter no longer exists, not surprisingly weddings form a large part of its event calendar and it’s not hard to see why: beautifully tended lawns and trees, pretty lakes and decorative bridges all add to the romance and with catering for up to 400 guests, it is the idyllic place for a grand wedding.
There has been a trend in recent years for exclusive use venues (barns, country houses, ships…) but if you are more of a traditionalist and enjoy the comforts, facilities and customer service that is usually only available at a “posh” hotel then make sure Cheltenham Park is on your short list. With over one hundred and fifty bedrooms, Gym and Spa facilities, pool, therapies and of course, a honeymoon suite, the Cheltenham Park is the perfect place for you and all your guests to share in your wedding celebrations and have a bit of pampering in to the bargain.
Picture this: undulating Cotswold scenery, a 16th century honey coloured, ivy draped Elizabethan mansion, log fires, wooden floors, grandfather clocks…and a Spa! The Greenway is a perfect venue for that not too big not too small wedding (100 guests are fine), and if you really want to be Lord and Lady of the Manor for the day can be hired on an exclusive use basis too. A lovely venue for wedding photography too.
Now a thriving, romantic wedding and events venue, Lodge Park is a beautifully restored (by the National Trust) 17th century grandstand and the only one of its kind in the country. Available for hire as an exclusive use venue and catering for up to five hundred people outside, a wonderful wedding awaits those who want to deviate a little from the wedding venue norm. Situated about fifteen minutes east of bustling Cheltenham town, Lodge Park is a wedding photographer’s dream!
So I hope my selection of favourite Cheltenham wedding venues has been useful and helped to make your final choice for where you get married just that little bit easier. And remember, I see everything through a photographer’s eyes so if you want your wedding pictures to be a fabulous mix of elegant wedding portraiture set against gorgeous landscapes mixed with fun and funky real shots of your wedding as it happens naturally then I’d love to hear from you.