How To Choose Your Kent Wedding Venue

Ideas & Advice For Couples

Wedding Tips - Choosing A Venue

Wondering how to choose your Kent wedding venue?

As a photographer, I always breathe a little easier at weddings that host the bridal preparation, ceremony and reception all in the same location!

As you plan your wedding day, no doubt you'll be considering whether or not to opt for a separate ceremony location. It's wonderful to enjoy the variety that multiple locations offer - perhaps a busy but homely terraced family house in the morning, followed by a beautiful little old countryside church and finally a bright and contemporary reception venue, for example.

If you decide to go down this route, do be sure to sit down and realistically plan the timings and travelling arrangements for such a day, for yourselves and your guests. Also make it a priority for discussion when meet your photographer beforehand.

It often means that there are choices to be made regarding prioritising the shots you'd like your photographer to capture. For example, in order to get those 'stepping out of the car' shots when you arrive at the church, I will need to leave the location where you're getting ready ahead of you in order to park up (and probably not right outside the church/venue like your driver will be able to pull off!), get into position with my kit and be ready and waiting for you to pull up in the car - this means that I may not have time to capture you getting into your dress just before you leave.

At our pre-wedding meeting, usually about 4-6 weeks before the big day, when you're reasonably clear about timings, I will always sit down with you as a couple and discuss the possibilities and opportunities for your photography. Sometimes, this may mean you're happy to prioritise which shots you'd like, or even decide that you'd like a second shooter. Like most wedding photographers, I want you to be thrilled with how well your photos tell your story, the journey of your day, and we will work out a plan together that works out the logistics with realistic expectations.

There are advantages and disadvantages to 'all-in-one' venues versus separate locations - what matters most is that you choose locations which are right for you as a couple. What is important to you? Do they have to have sentimental value, aesthetic appeal or blow-you-away service? I want to capture your venue with your reasons for choosing it firmly in mind.

Separate venues (pros):

Variety of photographic backgrounds

Multiple sentimental or preferred venues can be utilised

Religious meaning of a church wedding

Opportunity to spend valuable 1-2-1 time with your nearest and dearest and/or new spouse in a car travelling between venues

A church may be more picturesque to you for a ceremony than an 'all-in-one' setting

Single venue (pros):

No transport costs for you or your guests

No travelling times to factor into the day

Limits the possibility of late arrival

More time for each element of the day

Continuity with just one set of wedding co-ordinators

More opportunities for shots you may not get at separate venues

...if you can think of any others, please leave a comment for other readers!

BELOW: SOME OF MY FAVOURITE KENT WEDDING VENUES

ABOVE: KENT LIFE

Kent Life is a sprawling rural venue with a heritage feel, celebrating 150 years of all things 'Kent'. If a Kentish location is important to you, or you want a romantic vintage feel to your day, or you just like the idea of a totally unique setting, then consider Kent Life. Think: tractor rides for your guests, a pink vintage chapel or village hall ceremony, oast houses, hay, geese and horses as a backdrop, and a wander around mock-ups of old village shops... it really doesn't get more entertaining than this! The perfect escape! You can't get ready here but your ceremony and reception can all take place here. Whilst there is a fenced off area exclusively for you and your guests, the rest of the venue is open to the public during normal hours, but after that, it's all yours into the night...

ABOVE: COOLING CASTLE BARN

Cooling Castle Barn in the North Kent Marshes, stands proudly in its idyllic countryside surroundings, away (but not too far) from the hubbub of neighbouring villages and towns. With beautiful, very useable grounds, Cooling Castle Barn runs a tight ship, so if you feel you'd like help to properly co-ordinate your wedding, the team here are super organised in managing the logistics of a hectic wedding day and will ensure its smooth-running so you can totally relax. The traditional country barn consists of a complex of rooms which enable your guests to flow seamlessly from one area to another - from your ceremony to your reception without the need to reorganise room arrangements. The grounds and surrounding countryside provide ample photographic opportunities.

ABOVE: HIGH ROCKS

High Rocks is another Kent wedding venue and is hidden just a short distance away from Tunbridge Wells town centre. Situated next to acres of ancient and breath-taking sandstone rocks, now a National Monument, interlinked with bridges, the aptly named High Rocks venue provides one of the most scenic settings for weddings and photographic opportunities. There are oak-beamed function rooms of varying sizes and each of these has its own bar and dance floor. You can have your ceremony and reception here. There is often more than one wedding happening at High Rocks on any given day, but your guests will only really mix in the outside areas. There's lots of parking and it's very pretty at night.

ABOVE: KNOWLE COUNTRY HOUSE

The Knowle is a gothic mansion. Yes, that's all the reason you need, right?! You can hire it exclusively for your ceremony (inside or outside) and reception and you can even get ready and stay overnight in the gorgeous adjacent bridal suite. It's one of the most popular choices amongst my Kent couples for its beautiful grounds, especially in the summer, and its roaring log fires in the winter. This venue, located in the village of Higham, between Gravesend and Rochester, prides itself on a traditional, good quality menu for your guests.

ABOVE: THE PINES CALYX

(Photos of The Pines Calyx courtesy of Jason Dodd)

The Pines Calyx is my favourite venue of all. I love it so much I had my own wedding there! It's modern, it's eco-friendly, it's bright, it's spacious, it's unusual and picturesque. Nestled into the cliffs near Dover, it has a view out to sea and its completely round rooms make beautiful modern usage of natural materials, including a grass roof. Its pretty gardens and terrace area perfectly partner the indoor space and make for a gorgeous yet comfortable place for your guests to celebrate your ceremony and reception. Not for the faint-hearted, the approach is down a narrow, winding cliff side road that eventually takes you to the beach, (but we still managed to get a fish and chip van to join us there)! Stunning and a bit different. You can shabby chic this venue til your heart is content, or else go ultra modern for a wedding with a contemporary yet environmentally sensitive feel. I think this is a unique Kent wedding venue. But I would say that...

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