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Bristol Register Office Wedding Photographer

An Historic Venue in the Heart of Bristol

Wedding Photography at Bristol Register Office/Old Council House

Whole wedding party waving at camera outside Bristol Register Office

The ornate entrance to the Old Council House is on Corn Street and provides one of Bristol’s best backdrops for group wedding photos.


Grade II listed, the Old Council House is home to Bristol Register Office.  Located on the corner of Corn Street in the city’s historic heart, over 1000 weddings and civil partnerships occur at Bristol Register Office every year.  It’s not difficult to see why.


The couple's young son watches them sign the register from behind at wedding in the Lantern Room, Bristol

I took this lovely portrait in Bristol Register Office’s Lantern Room when the couple signed the register.  Unfortunately, photographers’ couldn’t shoot the signing, but this was the next best thing.


A few minutes away from Bristol Temple Meads train station and close to the Shopping Quarter, it is the perfect venue for your wedding ceremony.  There are numerous city-centre pubs, restaurants and hotels close by, for couples who have arranged a reception meal or drinks afterwards.


Wedding guests throw confetti over the couple outside Bristol Register Office

Iain and Georgia had an intimate wedding at the Old Council House.  Above is part of their confetti sequence as they leave the building.


With its neoclassical facade and grand, sweeping staircase, the venue is a photographer’s dream, and there’s always something new to discover on each visit.

First constructed in the 1820s, its expansion continued until 1899, when Queen Victoria opened the Grand Council Chamber.


The bride enters the Mayoral Room at Bristol Register Office with parents in face masks

Bride Georgia and her masked parents are waiting to enter Bristol Old Council Houses’ Mayoral Room for her wedding ceremony.

 

Prices for Wedding Photography at Bristol Register Office

 

1 Hour Coverage:

**£380**

1.5 Hours Coverage:

**£430**

2 Hours Coverage:

**£480**

Extra time = £65/half hour.

 

The price includes all photographic coverage + beautifully edited photos uploaded in a mixture of colour and black and white JPEGS.

Includes some arrivals shots, the ceremony, congratulations/confetti and posed shots in the local vicinity (early reception if time permits).

For More Details, Including Full-Day Packages: Click here for my Prices for Wedding Photography.

 

Bristol Register Office Wedding Photography Rooms

 

Wedding guests seated and socially distanced in the Mayoral Room of Bristol Register Office

I took this photo to show social distancing for COVID-19.  But it is a good overview of the back of the Mayoral Room.

 

The Mayoral Room:  Seating for up to 50 guests.  With red painted walls, the main feature is the ornate fireplace.  Portraits of former Bristol mayors hang on the walls.

The Statutory Room:  With limited availability (Mon-Tues only), this room is for simple ceremonies with no music or readings, and only 4 guests are allowed in.  If all four guests are present, the photographer cannot attend due to fire regulations.  However, I have politely asked to come in and was allowed.  There is no guarantee, though, and I have recently been advised that they are now more strict about this.

The Lantern Room:  The most striking ceremony room 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.

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.  Queen Victoria inaugurated the room.  Huge windows along one side provide natural light, ensuring the venue is fantastic for photography.  In addition, there are giant portraits depicting events in Bristol’s history adorning the other walls to complete the grandeur.

Room prices vary depending on the day and include the use of the space and two registrars.
Prices for Civil Partnership Conversion and Renewal of Vows are slightly lower than for Civil Marriages.


The grand dome in the ceiling of the Lantern Room in Bristol Register Office

The Lantern Room’s grand central dome is a unique example of neoclassical architecture.


Bristol Register Office Family Wedding Portrait

This small posed group portrait perfectly shows off the Ionic columns around the front entrance.


Build Your Own>> Bespoke Wedding Photography Package


Bride and groom walking down a busy Corn Street in Bristol

Bristol’s Register Office is on the left in this photo.  The building faces out onto the bustling Corn Street in the Old Quarter.


Bristol Register Office for Your Wedding Photographer

The Old Council House caters for weddings of most sizes.  So whether it’s just you and your witnesses or you invite up to 150 guests, there is 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 is limited which isn’t much of a problem as the rooms are reasonably light.  Most modern cameras can cope well in low light situations these days.

Below is a sequence of a few ‘must-have’ shots that your photographer should try to take during your wedding ceremony:


In the new weddings statutory room at Bristol Register Office with long table and portraits, the groom looks at his bride whilst the registrar watches on.

This attractive room with period features replaces the old Statutory Room pictured below.  However, the limit of 4 people in the room other than the couple and registrars remains.


Also Consider>> Your Wedding at Bristol City Hall.


Bride and Groom from the back at wedding in the Statutory Room, Bristol Register Office

This shot, taken from the back of the old Statutory Room, shows the room’s width.  Despite its diminutive size, your photographer still has room to move around.  However, since Covid, this room has been replaced by a larger one (see photo above).


The best man with covid-19 face mask hands the bride a wedding ring

The bride takes her groom’s ring from a masked best man in the Mayoral Room during their Coronavirus restricted wedding.


The groom places the rings on the bride's finger in the Statutory Room at the Old Council House in Bristol

I try to photograph from many different angles to show both the bride and groom’s expressions during a wedding.


Also Consider>> Your Wedding at Arnos Vale Cemetery.


Bride smiling at groom at wedding in Statutory Room at Bristol Register Office

A wedding is all about the couple and their love for each other.  So I love to capture interactions between them, especially during their ceremony.


Bride's hand holding Groom's at their Marriage in Bristol Register Office

Details are essential, even at the most intimate wedding.  So your photographer should look out for detail shots demonstrating the intimacy between the pair.


First kiss at Bristol Register Office wedding with registrar in the background

The first kiss can be as fleeting as it is intimate.  I always ask the couple to slow down for this and not rush it, and they don’t usually mind!


Signing the Schedule – Bristol Registrar Rules

Since May 2021, the wedding register’s signing has been consigned to history, replaced by signing a marriage schedule.  Gone too is the marriage certificate, as everything has is now online.  I have mixed feelings about these changes.

At Bristol Register Office, photographers’ were never allowed to photograph the signing, instead opting for a ‘dummy’ register for a photo opp afterwards – a bugbear of mine.  I’m not sorry to see the back of this silly ritual.

There are no data protection issues with the marriage schedule and, therefore, no restriction on photography.  I’m allowed to photograph discreetly throughout, although at the discretion of the presiding registrar.

I shall miss the presentation of the wedding certificate, though.  The certificate was something tangible that the couple could take away on the day.  Many register offices made a show of handing it to the couple, which was a lovely wedding photo moment.


A witness signs the wedding register at table in Mayoral Room, Bristol Register Office with couple and registrars watching

Photographers’ weren’t allowed to shoot the register signing in Bristol, but the registrars’ didn’t mind too much from a distance.  So I took this photo from near the back of the exquisite Mayoral Room.


I still often take a few of the couple at the signing table afterwards, and I usually get the witnesses in the photo.  It’s also a time for some possible congratulations shots as they speak with the guests for the first time.  Some guests with cameras can come forward and take photographs of their own too, and the registrars encourage this.


Posed shot of bride signing the register with groom watching at the Old Council House Bristol

A posed signing shot: Jo and John were remarkably composed during their pretend signatures.  Many couples find the whole procedure very odd (maybe they did too!) – but thankfully, this bizarre ritual is now in the past.


Newly-weds chatting whilst being applauded after wedding register signing in Bristol

After the signing photos, I keep on shooting to capture natural images such as this.


Bride shaking registrars hand after wedding ceremony

The presentation of the marriage certificate is sadly no more thanks to the register being online.


Couple receiving wedding certificate in Lantern Room, Bristol Register Office

In the more spacious Lantern Room and under Coronavirus social distancing, Pia and Rob receive their marriage certificate.


The couple kiss in portrait taken in the Mayoral Room, Bristol

I took this wedding portrait shortly before they left their ceremony – the perfect time for some couple photos in the place where they wed.


Wedding Bookings at The Old Council House

Useful to Know When Booking Your Wedding:

  • Weddings at Bristol Register Office are bookable up to 2 years in advance.
  • Venue viewings are arranged by calling the Ceremonies Team on 0117 922 2800 or emailing register.office@bristol.gov.uk.
  • The booking fee includes the room, two registrars, a marriage certificate and your choice of music and personal vows (except for basic Statutory Room weddings).
  • Other venues are available to hire in the city, including Bristol Museum.
  • Twenty 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).

Newly married couple walking down the staircase at Bristol Register Office

The grand staircase sweeps down to the reception and waiting areas on the right.  I like to take photographs of the couple’s exit from the building.


Top Tip:

The Old Council House staff are accommodating and happy for couples to look around the venue.  Arrange a tour before booking to check out the best room for your wedding ceremony.


The couple exit Bristol Old Council house after wedding in shower of confetti

Confetti is allowed on the steps outside — time for another sequence of photographs to capture the moment.  The little boy is oblivious to the action going on behind him.


Wedding photo in black and white of confetti and couple laughing

Black and white photography can give some striking confetti portraits, too, as this happy shot shows.


Little boy being held about to pour confetti on newly-weds in Bristol

Now it’s his turn as the little chap readies himself to pour the confetti over his parents.


Read More>> Having a Short or Micro-Wedding Day?


Bride and mum kiss whilst dad looks on at Bristol wedding

A sweet moment between mother and daughter during the posed photos: The group shots are not all about posing.


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.  They sell confetti cones and trays 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 newlyweds inside and organise the guests into a ‘corridor’ down the steps.  I ask the assembled friends and family to throw the confetti up and high over the couple as the couple walks through.


Wedding Confetti For Sale in Cabinet at Bristol Register Office


Emotive Congratulations Shots

After the confetti, your guests will naturally want to congratulate you – a time when your photographer tries to be in all places at once to get a series of dynamic shots of you and your nearest and dearest hugging and kissing and laughing together.  This is a special time, and the Bristol Register Office with Corn Street outside provides the perfect backdrop.


Bride laughing with friend at wedding in Avon UK

Jo and her friend were hugging and laughing with each other for ages, so I spent the time taking a good series of photos to preserve these fun moments.


Bespectacled guest being hugged by bride at wedding in Bristol

Black and white photography can be much more timeless than colour, and it complements the architecture of the Old Council House well (although not so apparent in this photo!)


Father of bride hugs her at wedding outside Bristol Register Office

A heartfelt hug from father to daughter is captured forever.


Groom holds little boy with other siblings liooking on


Little boy with face squashed in middle of group family hug at wedding

A picture paints a thousand words – and this one of their son caught in the middle of a family hug is a memory to cherish for a lifetime.


Posed Group Shots

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, which gives me a clue as to how long this should take.

It’s always worth checking with Bristol Register Office to determine when the next wedding follows yours.  Then your photographer will know how long they have to take your required photographs.  I work quickly to save restless guests and ensure that there is enough time before being moved on.


Portrait of whole family including little boy being held outside Bristol Register Office

A fun and happy wedding portrait outside the entrance on Corn Street


Groom's son pulls him over on steps outside Bristol Register Office during posed wedding photos

Setting up the posed shots can result in fun ones too.  Here the groom is pulled over by his young son.


Happy grandma holds smiling grandson in Bristol

There are many micro-moments during the group wedding photos, and I spotted this lovely portrait of grandma with her grandson.


Newly-wedded couple with face masks posing outside Bristol Old Council House

Showing the whole of the beautiful doorway: I took this during the COVID-19 restrictions just before the couple went in with their face masks on.


Toddler and mother waving in street at wedding

I couldn’t resist including this cute shot: I borrowed the couple for some portraits after the groups while the guests walked to the reception venue.  This little chap and his mum are waving goodbye to the bride.


Options for Before or After Your Wedding Ceremony?

These days, weddings don’t have to be approached in the traditional manner of days gone by.  When attending short weddings, my photography coverage typically starts at 2 hours, giving time for an hour to cover the ceremony with arrivals, confetti and posed shots on the steps.  The second hour is perfect to use for some portraits of the couple and guests in the local area around Corn Street (or early reception if you’re having that locally).


Little boy looking back at camera whilst family walk way at Bristol wedding

On the way to the market: Little moments like this and unusual angles make the wedding day.


There are many local restaurants and hotels within walking distance to have your reception, and I’m happy to document the early part of that or longer if needed.

Think about sending your guests off to the venue if you’re eating locally.  Then you can have some portraits taken together in the many lanes and markets surrounding Bristol’s Old Council House and Register Office…


Bride and groom walking down narrow street in Bristol

All Saints Lane runs off Corn Street and is an ideal spot for some couple shots with its beautiful architecture.


Newly-weds laughing in front of gates in Bristol.

Pia and Rob didn’t feel comfortable posing, so I engaged with them to get more fun shots of the interactions and love between them.


The kilted groom and best man and others under St John on the Wall's Church Clock Tower Arch in Bristol

St John in the Wall’s Church is close by at the end of Broad Street and provides another notable spot for some wedding portraits.


Bristol Register Office Wedding FAQs

 

Q. WHY GET MARRIED AT BRISTOL’S OLD COUNCIL HOUSE/REGISTER OFFICE?

A. Bristol Register Office is very central with easy access and is a beautiful building in the historic Old City.  It caters for small to medium weddings of up to 150 guests and is a friendly venue with important historical significance.

 

Q. HOW LONG BEFORE OUR WEDDING CEREMONY CAN WE GAIN ACCESS TO THE ROOM FOR PHOTOGRAPHY?

A. Usually around 15 minutes.  A staff member or the registrar will show your guests to your ceremony room whilst you go for your interviews.  You can then join them for a short while before the ceremony starts.  However, it is more common for the groom to join the guests and the bride to be announced and make an entrance.  There are no rules about this, and it is generally up to you how you approach it.

 

Q. IS PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED OF OUR WEDDING CEREMONY AND VOWS?

A. Generally, yes…  The only room where there may be a problem is the Statutory Room, where, due to fire regulations, only the couple and 4 guests are allowed.  A way around this is to have 3 guests and the photographer.

 

Q. IS CONFETTI ALLOWED AFTERWARDS FOR A NICE SEQUENCE OF PHOTOS?

A. Biodegradable confetti is available to buy and allowed on the steps outside the building.  The venue allows a few minutes for this set-up and posed shots afterwards.

 

Q. WHAT IS THE LIGHT LIKE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE VENUE?

A. Lighting varies within all the rooms at Bristol Register Office.  The rooms have windows, although the Lantern Room is darker than most, with the only natural light coming from the dome.  A good photographer can cope with any lighting situation regardless of natural or artificial light.

I have had had an issue where a registrar won’t allow the use of bounce flash.  In most rooms, this is no problem, but in the Lantern Room, it may be.  However, most of the registrars are okay with it.


Bride and groom walking away from the camera in Bristol street

Exchange Avenue is another fantastic spot and wouldn’t look out of place in Venice!  Perfect for wedding portraits!


Bristol Register Office,
The Old Council House,
Corn Street,
Bristol BS1 1JG.

 

Bristol Old Council House Website

 

Bristol Register Office Wedding Photographer.

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Wedding Photographer in Cardiff & London

Guy Milnes Photography is based between London and Cardiff, covering South Wales, Bristol, London and the home counties.
He has been a professional photographer since 2008 and loves to capture the wedding day's atmosphere as it unfolds naturally.

 

Preferred Contact Number:
07947 613070

https://guymilnes.com/

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