If you haven’t chosen your wedding venue yet, here is some helpful advice. As a full-time wedding photographer, I am booked to photograph weddings throughout the UK and abroad, throughout the year. As I am based in Oxford, I am familiar with many established Oxfordshire wedding venues and so here I have given an insight into some of the more popular ones. If you already have a venue on your shortlist, but want a second opinion, then contact me.
Booking a venue is likely to eat a significant hole in your wedding day budget, so you should ensure the one you finally choose is a perfect fit. Ask plenty of questions before committing but these would be the Top Ten questions I would be asking if I was comparing Oxfordshire wedding venues:
1. Are you able to cater for wedding ceremonies and receptions and if so, is your capacity the same for both?
Finalising the number of guests should be the first thing you do with any potential venue.
2. Can wedding guests have a discounted accommodation rates?
If there is accommodation, many of your guests will, most likely want to stay, possibly for two nights if they have to travel some distance for your wedding. Negotiating a discounted rate is often possible.
3. Do we have to use your bar or can we provide our own alcohol. If so. do you charge a corkage rate?
Some wedding venues will only allow you to serve alcohol they provide, while others will let you bring your own bottles and charge you a standard corkage fee.
4. Do you arrange a wedding menu tasting and will it be complimentary?
Many couples assume a menu tasting will be free of charge. This is not always the case!
5. Do you allow fireworks?
There are strict laws around lighting fireworks and your wedding venue will have their own policy too.
6. May we see the chairs we’ll be using on the day?
Seating can have a huge impact on the style of the wedding ceremony or reception. Ask see the chairs when viewing the venue as well as asking for photographs of previous weddings they have held. This will show you how they intend to arrange chairs and tables and decide if this will work for you.
7. What time would the evening wedding celebrations need to finish, and can we have an extension?
At some wedding venues it is possible to obtain an extension (for a fee) if you are planning to party beyond midnight.
8. Is VAT included?
Find out now or this could push you over your wedding budget.
9. What is included in the Hire and Catering costs?
If you have set your heart of a certain style of crockery and cutlery then ensure your wedding venue can supply it – including a suitable cake knife!
10. Do we have to use your recommended suppliers or can we hire our own?
Some wedding venues will only allow their own trusted caterers to use their kitchens. If you are planning to use outside wedding caterers then check that your venue will allow them in.
Now take a look at some established and popular Oxfordshire wedding venues:
Milton Hill House
Milton Hill House is one of my favourite Oxfordshire wedding venues and can be found in Milton, near Abingdon, which is around 10 miles from Oxford city. It is a stunning venue for your wedding day. They are licenced for civil ceremonies as well as able to offer the venue for your wedding reception.
Milton Hill House is a charming Georgian mansion house, set in 22l acres of peaceful parkland. Having recently completed a multi-million refurbishment this wedding venue is ideal for intimate or large weddings and will only cater for one wedding on any given day ensuring you of their undivided attention! They can also offer various rooms licensed for civil ceremonies.
Accommodation is in either a contemporary, stylish design in their Garden Wing or a more traditional, deluxe style found in their Manor House bedrooms.
I have selected three weddings I have photographed at Milton Hill House which should give you an overview of the venue. Invited guests numbers were not restricted at the first two events, Bhabana & Dale and Danielle & Jamie. The third, Hannah & Tom, was a charming micro-wedding where numbers attending were subject to the pandemic ruling of just fifteen.
Capacity: Guests for a ceremony – 140. Guests for a seated meal – 30 to 140. Guests for buffet/cocktails – 200.
Price Range: £3,500 to £10,000 based on a typical wedding reception for 80 guests, including venue hire, wedding breakfast, drinks package and evening buffet.
On the edge of the Cotswolds and set in 300 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, complete with secluded walled gardens and a picturesque moat, Caswell House is offered to couples on an exclusive basis. Dating back to the 15th Century, this is a place steeped in history, with original honey coloured Cotswold stone buildings, an ancient orchard, and 14 elegantly styled bedrooms available for guests.
As a licensed wedding venue, Caswell House can host both your ceremony and reception. You can take your vows in the beautiful barns, with flagstone floors and authentic oak beams, giving a particularly romantic setting. In the summer months, you may want to take advantage of an elegant outdoor ceremony and exchange rings under the ancient archway of their Loggia.
You will also have access to the landscaped courtyards for a drinks reception and the lovingly looked–after gardens offer a stunning backdrop for wedding day photography at Caswell House.
Capacity: Guests for an indoor ceremony in Wenman’s Barn – 75 to 140. Guests for a seated meal – up to 140 with a capacity for a total of 200 guests in the evening.
Price Range: Venue hire prices range from around £5,000 to just over £9,000. Includes exclusive use of three medieval barns for dining and dancing from 10am until midnight (extensions available at additional cost). Tables and chairs available for the Wedding Breakfast together with comfortable seating and garden furniture. Venue hire price also includes the dressing areas, the Honeymoon Suite for the night of the wedding, a PA system and background music if required. Catering can be arranged through Caswell House’s catering partners.
Heythrop Park Resort
This 18th Century grade-II listed manor house is now an opulent and imposing 4-star hotel, licensed for wedding ceremonies, and certainly does not lack the ‘wow factor’!
Heythrop Park Resort is set amongst 440 acres of stunning grounds on the edge of the Cotswolds. The bridal party and guests who stay overnight can choose from over 300 modern bedrooms in one of the three new accommodation wings or enjoy the charm and character of the Manor House. Here, there is the choice of 17 original period bedrooms with authentic features such as four-poster beds and roll-top baths. Across the resort are a range of bars, restaurants and fabulous facilities including a spa and golf course – perfect for the groom and groomsmen to get in a cheeky round before the main event!
If you are looking for an English countryside wedding in the magnificent manor house with Pimms on the croquet lawn, or a lavish Asian reception for 800 guests in their majestic marquee, or indeed somewhere in-between, I would advise you to check out Heythrop Park.
Capacity: From the classic to the contemporary, the intimate to the extravagant, Heythrop Park Resort has the facilities to cater for up to 800 guests. They offer six fabulous spaces for you to hold your wedding ceremony, civil partnership, wedding breakfast and evening reception, together with the use of their spectacular grounds.
Price Range: Heythrop Park Resort will tailor their facilities to your meet your needs. They also offer Seasonal Packages which start from £90 per person. Depending on the time of year, these can include an alfresco wedding or maybe a red carpet arrival! There again, you may decide on white chair covers with sashes or the services of a toastmaster. Packages can include complimentary menu tasting for the bride and groom or a complimentary suite. Heythrop Park can host very large events and offer an Asian dry hire package for up to 400 guests in The Ballroom or alternatively up to 800 guests. Prices from £8,000.
Set in 300 acres of rolling countryside, this is another venue I have photographed. If you want panoramic views then this must be on your shortlist when comparing Oxfordshire wedding venues. I know all those tucked-away scenic backdrops that make for stunning wedding photographs.
The Oxfordshire is a great location for civil marriages, wedding receptions and evening celebrations and is close to the picturesque market town of Thame.
The quality of the setting is apparent from the moment you drive up the tree-lined driveway to the imposing clubhouse. The elegant interior and landscaped grounds provide a winning combination for a romantic setting for your wedding.
The Oxfordshire is licensed to hold civil marriages for up to 180 guests. The wedding suites all lead out to an elevated terrace overlooking beautiful countryside which gives me a brilliant backdrop for photographing an outdoor drinks reception.
The hotel has 46 en-suite bedrooms and 4 executive suites with spa and leisure facilities and their own wedding co-ordinator. Situated in the heart of the Chilterns, the hotel is easily accessible from both London and the Midlands.
Capacity: Guests for a ceremony – 200. Guests for a seated meal – 20 to 150. Guests for a buffet/cocktails – 200.
Price range: £4,000 to £20,000+ which is based on a package for 60 guests but the advice is to contact the wedding venue for more information on a bespoke package to suit your budget.
Hawkwell House Hotel Oxfordshire Wedding Venue
Another Oxfordshire wedding venue I am very familiar with. Set in the silhouette of Oxford’s dreaming spires, Hawkwell House Hotel will give you total tranquillity near the River Thames.
With two magnificent 19th century manor houses set in 3 acres of gardens, it provides a variety of inspirational back drops for wedding photography.
Hawkwell House Hotel can offer totally bespoke and tailor-made wedding experiences, as well as a range of inclusive packages that include everything needed for your wedding ceremony and reception. They have a dedicated wedding co-ordinator to help with your planning.
Capacity: Guests for a ceremony – 140. Guests for a seated meal – up to 140. Guests for a buffet/cocktails – 200.
Price Range: Mid-price range as far as wedding venues go. As they offer a range of wedding packages then best advice is to contact their wedding co-ordinator.
The Cherwell Boathouse Oxfordshire Wedding Venue
The Cherwell Boathouse is high on my list for the perfect Oxfordshire wedding venue, if for no other reason than it gives me the chance to get on the river in a punt which, as you can imagine, provides for amazing wedding photography. The venue is located on the banks of the River Cherwell and just a stone’s throw from Oxford city centre.
Both the restaurant, and the marquee on the terrace overlooking the river, are ideal places to hold wedding ceremonies and receptions and this venue is available to all year round.
The marquee can accommodate from 20-125 wedding guests in a variety of formats from informal to a 3-course seated meal and incorporating music and dancing. Underfloor heating can be used if it is a chilly day.
The restaurant will accommodate parties of up to 75 wedding guests throughout the year, offering more of a fine dining experience.
Their River Bar and terrace is ideal to cater for weddings that want to incorporate punting as well. Why not give it a go for a really fun experience – and I speak from experience! Take a look at Jo & Adam’s big day, you may want to give this a go!
Contact The Cherwell Boathouse direct for details of experiences they can offer you.
The Bay Tree Hotel
The last wedding I photographed at this charming West Oxfordshire wedding venue was on a chilly day in November. My lasting memory was the dramatic autumn colours on the stone walls of this charming hotel covered in vines and creepers. A great opportunity for any wedding photographer!
Situated in the quintessentially English town of Burford, The Bay Tree Hotel is full of historical charm and contemporary style, boasting a setting to remember.
Nestled in this Cotswold town, off the main street, the wedding venue offers a warm, relaxing welcome. Whether you’re planning a traditional big white wedding or a romantic and intimate day, the wedding co-ordinator at the Bay Tree should be able to accommodate your needs.
As a small country house hotel, they can offer exclusive-use weddings from check-in at 2pm on your wedding day until check-out the following morning. Once your last wedding guests have arrived, they close the front door which allows you to enjoy the atmosphere of a private house party but with the advantage of a professional team to tend to your every need.
If it’s something a little more low-key you are looking for then ask The Bay Tree about their smaller rooms. The Hawthorne Room will hold up to 12 guests which is ideal for those looking for an intimate day spent with close friends and family. I photographed a larger wedding in The Conservatory, with its stunning views over the hotel’s Cotswolds garden. This room is a perfect setting for up to 60 wedding guests. We all had a lovely time.
Then there is The Garden itself. You can make the most of this picture-perfect Cotswold garden with a wedding ceremony held in a stunning summer house, complete with a red carpet. The garden has beautiful backdrops, even in autumn, for formal family and group pictures. A wedding photographer’s dream!
Here are some other Oxfordshire Wedding Venues you may want to consider:
- Eynsham Hall, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 6PN
- The Manor Country House Hotel, Weston-on-the-Green, Oxon OX25 3QL
- Witney Lakes Resort, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 0SY
- voco Oxford Thames, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4 4GX
- The Tythe Barn, Bicester, Oxfordshire OX26 4SR
- Cogges Manor Farm, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 3LA
- Mecure Banbury Whately Hall, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 0AN
- Shillingford Bridge Hotel, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8LZ
- Old Swan & Minster Mill, Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire OX29 0RN
- Old Luxters Barn, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 6JW
- Cotswold Lodge Hotel, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6JP
- The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3BG
- Double Tree By Hilton Oxford Belfry, Milton Common, Oxon OX9 2JW
- Steventon House Hotel, Milton Hill, Oxfordshire OX13 6AB
- Ardington House, Ardington, Oxfordshire OX12 8QA
- The Spread Eagle Hotel, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2BW
- The Randolph Hotel, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4PS
- Lains Barn, Ardington, Oxfordshire OX12 7QG
- voco Oxford Spires, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4PS
- The Crown & Thistle, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 3HS
- Riverside Weddings, Standlake, Oxfordshire OX29 7QD
- Jurys Inn, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 8AL
- Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire OX44 7PD
- The Crazy Bear Hotel, Stadhampton, Oxfordshire OX44 7UR
- Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PX