Last year I blogged about 'unusual' wedding venues and how to find the dream venue that works for you. I had a ball compiling the list that included my own elopement location, Cley Windmill and the quirky/cool Didsbury House Hotel. But with my first year as a full-time wedding photographer now under my belt and a jam-packed 2017 and beyond at some STUNNING venues, I've been thinking a lot about those spots that are perhaps a bit off the beaten path or maybe just haven't been considered in your quest for your dream wedding venue - a quest that is, arguably, the first and biggest step in planning your wedding. With my first wedding of the year scheduled for next Friday at the gorgeous Belle Epoque (ticking off a box on my venue bucket list), I started thinking about the other Manchester wedding venues that I would LOVE to have a crack at.
I got the idea for a 'wedding venue bucket list' from a fellow photographer that I met at an open day for The Deaf Institute down Oxford Road. She, like me, was relatively new to the industry and had started her own list of dream venues. I warned her that I would have to steal the idea, there were too many extraordinary yet unlikely wedding venues that would be incredible to work in. So I started thinking about and reflecting on my own experience, on my 'dream wedding' and the locations in my adopted home city that inspire me, that feel comfortable to me, that have something a little special about them. The truth of the matter is that more often than not, it's the couple that inspires me rather than where I shoot them. One of the reasons I bang on about pre-wedding shoots is because I really want to get to know you, to understand your chemistry, and to make sure we're all on the same page on your wedding day. Regardless of where you're getting married, your wedding photos are about you two and your families and friends coming together to celebrate this most joyous event. And your photos will reflect that joy whether you're getting married in a Georgian stately home or partying in a church hall. The moments matter most.
But we also live in one of the most diverse, culturally rich cities in the UK and, like I said, I have got a bit of a bucket list. A couple may seem obvious, but here are my 5 'bucket list' wedding venues (in no particular order) for Manchester. And if you're getting married at any of the places listed, PLEASE get in touch, I'd love to be a small part of your big day!
1. HALLE ST PETERS, Ancoats - Dating back to 1858, this iconic space and Grade II listed building is home to the Manchester Halle Orchestra which ranks in the top of it's kind in the UK. From the website, 'Following a multi-million pound refurbishment this deconsecrated church has been transformed into an elegant setting for your special day. This unique and inspiring venue can accommodate wedding parties of 50-250 guests.' The exposed brick, the character of the up-and-coming Ancoats area, the vastness of the space add up to one seriously dreamy wedding venue. There is romance and a bit of grit and history that surround this venue and I'm so so in love with it! For enquiries, please ring 0845 680 1138.
2. THE MANCHESTER MUSEUM, Oxford Road - The museum is part of the University of Manchester is has become one of my very favourite days out with my toddler. In addition to being a family-friendly trove of wonders though, the museum is available and licensed for civil marriage ceremonies and can accomodate a full day wedding. Ever dream of getting married under a full whale skeleton with a dinner presided over by a looming T-Rex in the Fossils Hall? Here's your chance! Another Grade II listed building completed in 1885 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse (who designed both the Manchester Town Hall and The London Natural History Museum!), the museum is a hiding-in-plain-sight gem!
3. VICTORIA WAREHOUSE - From the venue's own website, 'Built in the 1900s, the flesh and bones of Victoria Warehouse has stood as a symbol of this city’s industrial strength and innovation for around 100 years, but it’s what’s happened under its skin that makes it a venue to really capture the imagination.' I first came across Victoria Warehouse when I began planning an upcoming styled shoot with the wonderful Louise of One Stylish Day. Initially we daren't contact the VW team because we were certain they wouldn't have any interest or availability for the project: a full-scale bridal shoot touching on the 2017 wedding trends in collaboration with vendors including Sassflower, Jessica Bennett Bespoke, Mimi Lomax MUA, Marie Antoinette Cakes and many more. We needed a full day for the whole production but wonder of wonders, the fabulous Freya from the events team responded to my email and gave us the go ahead. On Thursday the 2nd of Feb, we're taking over the space and transforming it into a wedding wonderland. I'm sure this project will just make me even more eager to shoot a real wedding here but I'm so excited to show you the final project in this historic industrial space!
4. THE DEAF INSTITUTE, Oxford Road - Ah, the Deaf Insitute. A gig-lovers staple. I have seen Father John Misty wax poetic from the upstairs stage, Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny serenade us with her operatic tunes, I've had bourbon and burgers in the downstairs restaurant and popped in with my husband for quick beers before gigs at the even smaller Academy 3 just down the street. It feels like an old friend. From the website, '
Housed in a historic Manchester building originally built in 1878 as The Deaf Institute, the building was derelict when we first got our hands on it 6 years ago, and we have refurbished it back to something we hope approaches its original glory. Located just off the bustling Oxford Road, we are based in the heart of the Manchester Metropolitan University Campus. ' Come for the food, stay for the music and hire it out for a slightly smaller rock n' roll wedding.
5. ALBERT HALL, Peter Street - Owned by the same group that has The Deaf Insitute, Albert Hall is another concert space cum wedding venue but on a much larger scale than the above. From the website, 'The Albert Hall, a former Wesleyan Chapel is a grade 2 listed building in the heart of Manchester. Since re-opening in 2012, the venue has earned a reputation as one of the most intimate and charismatic concert venues in the world. This is due to loving restoration of Albert Halls Victorians splendour. Vaulted ceilings, stain glass windows and the original organ all help to create a magical atmosphere for some of the most memorable concerts and performances Manchester has even seen.'
So there you have it, my Manchester City Centre Wedding Venue bucket list! Click each image to take yourself through to the website for the venue. And as I said before, if you're planning your wedding at one of my bucket list venues, please please please get in touch! I'd love to hear more about YOU and your big day. Because at the end of the day, these moments, this day, the celebrate the start of the rest of your life together. And it won't matter where you're doing it, you finish the day with a husband or a wife and that is truly the most beautiful thing of all.