Wedding Photography at Bristol Register Office/Old Council House
Grade II listed, the Old Council House is home to Bristol Register Office and is located on Corn Street in the historic heart of the city. Just a few minutes away from Bristol Temple Meads train station and close to the Shopping Quarter, it is an ideal venue for your wedding.
Over 1000 weddings and civil partnerships take place at Bristol Register Office every year and it’s not difficult to see why. With it’s neoclassical facade and grand, sweeping staircase, the venue is a photographer’s dream and there’s always something new to discover on each visit.
The building was first constructed in the 1820’s and it’s expansion continued until 1899 when the Grand Council Chamber was opened by Queen Victoria.
Bristol Register Office Wedding Photography Rooms
The Mayoral Room: Seating for up to 50 guests (or less if required). The main feature is the ornate fireplace. Portraits of former Bristol mayors are on the walls.
Prices for Ceremony: Mon-Fri – £239. Sat – £285. Sun & Bank Holiday – Not Available.
The Statutory Room: With limited availability (Mon-Tues only) this room is for simple ceremonies with no music or readings. There is seating for 4 guests only. Due to fire regulations, couples are informed that if all four guests are present, then the photographer cannot attend. However I have politely asked to come in and have been allowed. There is no guarantee though.
Prices for Ceremony: Mon-Tue – £57.
The Lantern Room: The most striking of the ceremony rooms but not the largest. The Lantern Room is decorated in a regency style and has a glass dome providing natural light. Portraits of King George II and Queen Caroline look down on the proceedings.
Prices for Ceremony: Mon-Fri – £648. Sat – £761. Sun – £937. Bank Holiday – £932.
The Grand Council Chamber: With a capacity of 120 seated guests and 30 standing, The Grand Council Chamber is the largest wedding ceremony room in the Old Council House. The room was inaugurated by Queen Victoria. With huge windows along one side providing natural light, the venue is fantastic for photography. There are huge portraits depicting events in Bristol’s history adorning the other walls to complete the grandeur.
Prices for Ceremony: Mon-Fri – £791. Sat – £911. Sun – £1123. Bank Holiday – £1118.
All prices include the use of the room, two registrars and a marriage certificate.
Civil Partnership Conversion and Renewal of Vows are very slightly lower than the above prices.
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Bristol Register Office for Your Wedding Photographer
The Old Council House caters for weddings of most sizes. Whether it’s just you and your witnesses or you invite up to 150 guests, there is a room to suit you and your needs.
The registrars are pretty relaxed about wedding photography with few rules. Some request that the use of flash be limited. This isn’t much of a problem as the rooms are fairly light. Most modern cameras can cope pretty well in low light situations anyway these days.
Below is a sequence of a few ‘must have’ shots that your photographer should try to take during your wedding ceremony:
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Signing the Register – Bristol Registrar Rules
At Bristol Register Office they ask that the register signing not be photographed. Every marriage licensing borough or county have different rules and regulations regarding the signing and photography. This is pretty standard outside London but they do set up a ‘dummy’ register for posed shots afterwards.
I take a few of the couple pretending to sign, then get the witnesses in the photo too. It’s also a time for some possible congratulations shots as they are able to speak with the guests for the first time. It’s nice for some photo minded guests to be able to come forward and take some photographs of their own too.
Wedding Bookings at The Old Council House
Useful to Know When Booking Your Wedding:
- Weddings are bookable up to 2 years in advance.
- Venue viewings may be arranged by calling the Ceremonies Team on 0117 922 2800 or emailing email@example.com.
- The booking fee includes the room, two registrars, a marriage certificate and your choice of music and personal vows (except the Statutory Room).
- Other venues are available to hire including Bristol Museum.
- 20 minutes is allowed for the ceremony with a few minutes afterwards for portraits.
- Some days may be busier especially Saturdays, so there may be less time for portraits on the stairs and outside. But there are plenty of other scenic spots in the locality (see below).
The staff at the Old Council House are very helpful and happy for couples to look around the venue. Arrange a tour prior to booking to check out which is the best room for your wedding ceremony.
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Wedding Confetti, Congratulations and Group Shots
The Confetti Sequence
Bristol Register Office allows biodegradable confetti on the outside steps as the couple leave the venue. In fact, they actually sell cones and trays of it from a display cabinet in reception (£2/cone or £40/tray of 25 – see photo below). Handy!
As the guests file out, I keep the couple inside and then organise the guests into a ‘corridor’ down the steps for the couple to walk through. I ask the assembled friends and family to throw the confetti up and high over the couple and not directly into their faces.
Emotive Congratulations Shots
After the confetti, your guests will naturally want to congratulate you. This is a time where your photographer try to be in all places at once to get a series of emotive shots of you and your nearest and dearest hugging and kissing and laughing together. This is such a special time and Bristol Register Office and Corn Street outside provide the perfect backdrop for it.
Posed Group Shots
Personally, I like to know about most of the required family group shots before the day and include a section for it in my wedding questionnaire. This gives me a clue as to how long this should take. It’s always worth checking with Bristol Register Office to find out when the next wedding is following yours. Then your photographer will know how long they have to take your required photographs. I work quickly to do these to save restless guests and ensure that there is enough time before being moved on.
And After Your Wedding?
There are a multitude of local restaurants and hotels within walking distance in which to have your reception. If you’re eating locally, think about sending your guests off to the venue. Then you can have some portraits taken together in the many lanes and markets surrounding Bristol’s Old Council House and Register Office…
Bristol Register Office,
The Old Council House,
Bristol BS1 1JG.