Wedding Photography at Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol
A Beautifully Photogenic Bristol Wedding Venue Location
Arnos Vale is the perfect location for your Bristol wedding – just a 15-minute walk from Temple Meads Station and 1.5 miles from the City Centre.
The cemetery is set in 45 acres of heritage woodland and is a real hidden gem. There are 3 wedding spaces to choose from, or you may add an additional venue for an extra cost. If you’re feeling very extravagant, you may even hire the third venue for your evening entertainment!
Are You Planning Your Wedding at Arnos Vale, Bristol?
I photograph discretely and unobtrusively to capture all the very best moments, leaving you to enjoy your day.
With me as your wedding photographer, your memories will be in safe hands, so please get in touch any time to discuss…
Photography At the Beginning of the Wedding Day
It’s a good idea to book your wedding photographer to start a while before proceedings are due to begin. They can then liaise comfortably with Arnos Vale’s wedding coordinator (a lovely lady called Buffy) and assess how they will approach the day. If your photographer covers your wedding preparations beforehand, they should aim to arrive roughly 30 minutes before the bride.
Weddings at Arnos Vale start at 2 pm at the West Lodge. Traditionally, the groom arrives first for his pre-wedding interview with the registrar. He then makes his way up to the chosen ceremony venue where the guests are arriving.
The bride arrives (sometimes fashionably late!) for her interview and is driven up the venue’s driveway. I spend time photographing the bridal party outside before they make their entrance.
Arnos Vale Wedding Photography Venues
The three wedding spaces are all highly photogenic in different ways. Each offers a fully bespoke experience, with various upgrade options and a wide selection of meal choices, from a formal sit-down wedding breakfast to a picnic in the woods! How many other wedding venues offer that?!?
The Underwood Centre
- For the more rustic wedding celebration, the Underwood is as the name suggests: outdoors! This venue is literally a wooden roof and woodland clearing, but so unusual and appealing to outdoor and spiritual types.
- Suitable for up to 60 seated guests and 20 standing during the ceremony. All 80 can be catered for during the meal.
- You can order picnic tables to make things easier for eating. Catering is informal with diverse options, including picnics and hog roasts.
- Pets are welcome in the Underwood.
- You are granted access 3 hours before your ceremony to add any personal touches and decorations.
- Extremely photography-friendly. Being in the woods, you can easily slip away for some wedding portraits after your ceremony.
- You must vacate the venue by sunset or 9 pm – whichever happens first, but you can relocate indoors if you have added a second venue.
- This venue is unsuitable in poor weather. If the weather looks inclement, your wedding will be transferred indoors to one of the other venues.
The Spielman Centre
- Glorious Victorian architecture and neutral interior present a splendid backdrop for your wedding ceremony and evening celebrations. The pillars outside mean a beautiful directional light for your wedding photography of the arrivals, drinks reception, and confetti sequence.
- 70 guests may be seated for your ceremony, with a further 20 standing. A seated meal in the Spielman can cater to 70 guests. However, you can invite 140 guests to the evening celebrations.
- Includes long trestle tables, but you may upgrade to round tables as an extra.
- Drinks and canapés are served outside after your ceremony.
- You can utilise the adjoining Atrium Cafe as an extra space for your evening celebrations.
The Anglican Chapel
- The self-proclaimed ‘centrepiece’ of the Arnos Vale venues. The interior and exterior (with stunning bell tower) are impressive and the perfect venue for an entire wedding day, from the ceremony to the evening entertainment. Or mix and match with the other two spaces.
- Holds up to 100 guests throughout the day and 120 in the evening.
- Various seasonal menu options are available from buffets, to a full sit-down meal.
Helpful to Know About Arnos Vale Weddings
- The wedding day celebrations start at 2 pm and continue through until 11.30 pm. Late-night extensions of up to 1.30 am are available for an extra cost.
- Dedicated wedding coordinator Buffy, along with her team, will see you through every step of the way.
- The venue is very photography friendly, and the weddings team are keen that your photographer is kept informed and able to take the very best shots throughout the day.
- There are no restrictions on where you can go on-site, either for a walk with guests or for your wedding photography.
- The venue provides its caterers, the Cleverchefs – https://www.cleverchefs.co.uk/
- You must book your wedding through the registrars at Bristol Register Office. Do check that they are available on your date first.
The Bristol Registrars & Your Ceremony Photography
I always make a point of introducing myself to the wedding or civil partnership officials. The Bristol registrars are very relaxed about wedding photography and are lovely to deal with too. They actively encourage photography at their licensed Bristol venues with no restrictions. Providing the photographer does not get in the way, they move around the room to take the best shots. Standing behind and to the side of the registrar’s table, I can see everything going on. I also take some photos from the back and behind the couple, particularly during the exchange of rings.
Shooting throughout the ceremony from different angles and positions means moving slowly and discreetly to avoid distraction. I think I’m successful in this, as many couples say they forgot I was even there. I also have the experience to know what will happen and where to be when it does…
For further information about the legal ceremony and your options, visit the Bristol.gov website.
Signing the Wedding Schedule
In 2021, the register went digital, so now couples sign a schedule – a sheet of paper with all data later transferred online.
Whereas before, I was not allowed to photograph the register signing at all, now Bristol Register Office have no restrictions around this. So I can capture this critical moment, including the witness signings.
The Newlyweds’ Exit & Confetti Photo Sequence
After leaving the building, the wedding coordinator whisks them through the café and keeps them there until the guests assemble outside. I waste no time in arranging them into two lines for the couple to pass through.
As the couple leave the building again, I take a lovely sequence of photographs of the confetti being thrown over them.
Congratulations & How Photography Fits in with Them
A part of the day that happens quite naturally and without orchestration is the congratulations…
As soon as the confetti settles, friends and family want to say their best wishes to the couple – this is one of my favourite times of the day, particularly at Arnos Vale. It’s a lovely time where your photographer should strive to capture precious moments and the essence of relationships between those present.
Post-Ceremony Posed Group Photos
Both the Spielman Centre and Anglican Chapel are perfect for posed group shots after the ceremony. I try to photograph a group shot of everyone first. It makes it easier to break it down into smaller groups and announce what will happen whilst everyone is listening.
When you book my photography service, I provide a questionnaire with a section to list any group photos that are important to you. This helps streamline the whole procedure, giving me a reference point and speeding things up, allowing you to relax and enjoy the rest of your day.
The Couple’s Posed Photos & a Chance to Explore
The drinks reception is the perfect point to steal you away for ten minutes for some posed shots of you together. The vast grounds of Arnos Vale Cemetery are the ideal place to do it…
I say ‘ten minutes’ because I realise the importance of enjoying your day with your loved ones, but I’m happy to take photos of you together for as long as you’re happy to have them. Half an hour or more can fly by with the scope of different locations around the cemetery grounds!
Arnos Vale Wedding FAQ’s
Q. WHY GET MARRIED AT ARNOS VALE CEMETERY?
A. The venue speaks for itself. With 45 acres of heritage woodland to explore and the best in Bristol’s Victorian architecture, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful and diverse wedding venue. Arnos Vale has 3 venues and you can mix and match them if you need more than one. There is a wide choice of food options, from a traditional sit-down meal, to buffets, picnics and even a hog roast!
Q. HOW LONG BEFORE OUR WEDDING CEREMONY CAN WE GAIN ACCESS TO THE VENUE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
A. The Underwood is accessible up to 3 hours before your wedding starts. For the other venues, discuss your requirements with the wedding coordinator.
Q. IS PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED OF OUR WEDDING VOWS?
A. Yes – the Bristol registrars are very accommodating, presenting no restrictions as long as your photographer is not a distraction.
Q. IS CONFETTI ALLOWED AFTERWARDS FOR A NICE PHOTOGRAPHIC SEQUENCE?
A. Confetti is allowed, and your wedding coordinator plays a key part in ensuring this all runs smoothly for the couple and their photographer.
Q. WHAT IS THE LIGHT LIKE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AT ARNOS VALE?
A. The venue is very much geared towards the outdoors, so photography is primarily dictated by the weather and time of day. Your photographer will probably need to use a little fill-flash to counter shadows and dark areas inside the wedding spaces, but this depends on their style and the light outside.