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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 and is located on the corner of 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 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.

Bride and groom laughing in shower of confetti outside Bristol Register Office

Jo and John had an intimate wedding at the Old Council House. This is part of their confetti sequence as they left the building.

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


Newly-wedded bride and groom walking along corridor at the Old Council House in Bristol after their marriage

The ‘communal’ areas of the Old Council House are decidedly pink! Here, the newly-weds have just left their Statutory Room wedding and are passing the Superintendent’s Office.


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.

Bristol Register Office Family Wedding Portrait

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

Build Your Own>> Bespoke Wedding Photography Package

Friends Greets Bride with Open Arms at Bristol Register Office

I love weddings greetings and this was more exuberant than most. The intersection of Broad Street and Wine Street is behind.

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:

The registrar looks back towards guests in the Statutory Room at Bristol Register Office

This shot shows just how relaxed this registrar was with my presence. She was looking back at the groom’s parents sitting in the corner behind me.

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 Statutory Room shows the width of the room. Despite it’s diminutive size, there is still room for your photographer to move around.

Bride and groom holding hands in wedding at the Old Council House, Bristol

I was not allowed to use fill flash at this wedding, but this photo shows how bright the room was and how well my camera coped.

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

During a wedding, I try to photograph from lots of different angles to show the expressions of both bride and groom.

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 important, even at the smallest wedding. Your photographer should be on the lookout for detail shots such as this which demonstrate 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. They don’t usually mind!

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 usually 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.

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!).

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

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

Bride shaking registrars hand after wedding ceremony

Presenting their marriage certificate: the legal document of their commitment is something that you will hold dear. The moment you receive it will also be captured forever.

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
  • 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.
  • 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).

Newly married couple walking down the staircase at Bristol Register Office

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

Top Tip:

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.

Guests throw confetti over the couple at Bristol Register Office

Confetti is allowed on the steps outside. Time for another sequence of photographs to capture the moment.

Read More>> Having a Short or Small Wedding Day?

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.

Wedding Confetti For Sale in Cabinet at Bristol Register Office

Emotive Congratulations Shots

After the confetti, your guests will naturally want to congratulate you

This is a time when your photographer tries 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 with Corn Street outside provide the perfect backdrop for it.

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 time to take 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 compliments the architecture of the Old Council House well (although not so apparent in this photo!)

Groom and friend hugging after wedding ceremony at Bristol wedding

The groom in a heartfelt embrace with a friend – a definite must-take…

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.

Line up of couple with seven guests at Bristol wedding

A standard posed family wedding photo outside the front entrance on Corn Street.

Bride with sister Outside Old Council House in Bristol

For smaller shots I can turn the camera to shoot a ‘portrait’ shot and show off more of the historic building’s architecture.

Toddler and mother waving in street at wedding

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

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…

Bride and groom walking down narrow street in Bristol

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

Newly-weds standing with each other in St Nicholas Market, Bristol

I took this at a crossroads in St Nicolas Market. There’s so much to explore in the area around the Old Council house.

Bride and Groom posing for close up portrait

Another one taken in the market and I chose this spot for the muted background that didn’t distract from bride and groom.

Bristol Register Office Wedding FAQs



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



A. A member of staff or the registrar will show your guests through to your ceremony room whilst you go for your interviews.  You are then able to 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 this.



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.  I found that if you have a polite word with a registrar, they might be prepared to bend the rules a little.



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.



A. Lighting varies within all the rooms at Bristol Register Office.  The Statutory room has no natural light whereas the other rooms do have windows.  A good photographer is able to cope with any lighting situation regardless of natural or artificial light.

Bride and groom walking away from the camera in Bristol street

Exchange Avenue is another fantastic spot and wouldn’t look out of place as a Venetian street. 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 Caerphilly covering South Wales, Bristol, London and the home counties.
He has been a professional photographer since 2008 and loves to capture the true atmosphere of the wedding day as it unfolds naturally.


Preferred Contact Number:
07947 613070

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