Venues To Make Vows In
Look around you – weddings sure don't look like they used to. In fact, we've come a long way from the clanging of village church bells and clouds of paper confetti. These days, wedding traditions are being turned on their head (want your reception on a barge in the middle of the Thames? Done) and with that, every three-tiered ivory cake and Ed Sheeran first-dance is being upended.
Leading the charge for change is the (no longer so humble) wedding venue. From cosy whisky distilleries to sprawling botanical gardens, you really can get married wherever you fancy. Making the right choice is crucial, as the venue can dictate every detail of your wedding, from the precise shade of your pocket square to the wine you serve with dinner. We've found six of the most unique venues to declare 'I do'.
The Lost Orangery, Bath
Best for: grandiosity
If you're looking for opulence, this is it. Set within the picturesque grounds of Sir Walter Raleigh's old hunting lodge it features tangled woodland, a crumbling country house estate and a shimmering boating lake. Not only that, but the place genuinely smells amazing on account of the explosion of flowers that carpet every wall, lawn and garden.
The Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury
Best for: nature-lovers
It's not just the free-roaming peacocks and resident pair of macaws that make this the ideal venue for bohemian couples. These Victorian pleasure gardens are filled with glassy ponds, quirky licensed buildings and vintage deckchairs on the lawns. There's even an old singing theatre, which is the perfect backdrop for family wedding portraits.
Hotel de la Cité, Carcassonne, France
Best for: history buffs
Nestled within the ramparts of the medieval citadel at Carcassonne, Hotel de la Cité was the place to be in the roaring twenties, when fashionable travellers would stop over en route from Nice to Biarritz. The citadel itself provides a stunning backdrop too with its 53 towers, surrounding moat, heavy barbicans and ornate drawbridges.
Nooitgedacht Estate, Cape Town, South Africa
Best for: wine enthusiasts
We all know South Africa does wine really well, so why not get married while surrounded by the stuff? Nooitgedacht Estate in Cape Town's verdant Stellenbosch region is a family-owned historical Cape Dutch wine estate where the outbuildings date back to 1774, complete with rolling vineyards, sultry oak-lined pathways and an intimate cellar where you can host your nuptials. Best of all, you can celebrate with lashings of vintage Pinotage – the region's most famous grape – afterwards.
New York City Library, New York, United States
Best for: book worms
Say ‘I do’ surrounded by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and F Scott Fitzgerald (in book form, of course). This majestic venue is one of the grandest spaces in the city to hold a civil ceremony wedding. For real drama, opt for the Astor Hall, with its vaulted ceiling and white marble walls, or the vast Celeste Bartos Forum, replete with elegant columns and a stunning 30ft high glass-domed ceiling.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, United States
Best for: culture
Your wedding is a work of art in itself, but up the ante with a ceremony at this slick inner-city gallery. Choose from the world-famous sculpture garden, the Art Deco Perelman Building, or the Rodin Museum, where you can actually say your vows in front of Rodin's famous bronze sculpture The Thinker. Who needs a decor budget when you've got these masterpieces as a backdrop?
So, with a slew of unique venues within your grasp, you really can be the master of your own destiny: making your wedding look exactly how you want it to, down to the smallest detail. Good luck, go forth and choose wisely.