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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.  Over 1000 weddings and civil partnerships take place at Bristol Register Office every year and 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

A lovely portrait taken in Bristol Register Office’s Lantern Room. Photographers can’t shoot the signing, but this was the next best thing.


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.


Wedding guests throw confetti over the couple outside Bristol Register Office

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

The building was first constructed in the 1820s and it’s expansion continued until 1899 when the Grand Council Chamber was opened by Queen Victoria.


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

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


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.  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.

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.

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.  Huge windows along one side provide natural light ensuring 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 the rooms vary depending on the day of the week and include the use of the room, two registrars and a marriage certificate.
Prices for Civil Partnership Conversion and Renewal of Vows are very 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.


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


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.  Whether it’s just you and your witnesses or you invite up to 150 guests, there is a room to suit you and all 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 and 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:


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 its diminutive size, there is still room for your photographer to move around when allowed in.


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

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.  This is pretty standard outside London, but they do set up a ‘dummy’ register for posed shots afterwards.  Every marriage licensing borough or county have different rules and regulations regarding the signing and photography.


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

Photographers’ aren’t allowed to shoot the register signing, but from a distance the registrars’ don’t mind too much. This was taken from the near the back of the exquisite Mayoral Room.


I usually take a few of the couple pretending to sign, then often 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, 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!).


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.


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 Certificate of Marriage.


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

I took this wedding portrait shortly before they left their ceremony. This is 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.
  • 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.


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 Small Wedding Day?


Bride and mum kiss whilst dad looks on at Bristol wedding

A sweet moment 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.  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!)


Father of bride hugs her at wedding outside Bristol Register Office

A heartfelt hug from father to daughter 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

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.


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 to. 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 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: 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.


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 normally starts from 2 hours.  This generally gives 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 going on to that).


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 a multitude of local restaurants and hotels within walking distance in which to have your reception and I’m happy to document the early part of that or longer if needed.

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 its beautiful architecture, is an ideal spot for some couple shots.


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 striking 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 too.  It caters for small to medium weddings of up to 150 guests and is a friendly venue with important historic significance.

 

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

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.

 

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

 

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 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 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 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

https://www.guymilnes.com/

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