Wedding Photography at Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge.
One of London’s Grandest Religious Wedding Venues
Brompton Oratory is less commonly known as the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary or simply the London Oratory. This fantastic example of Italian baroque architecture is truly a sight to behold, whatever name you call it.
With a rich history that stretches back to the sixteenth century, it is an inspiring place to visit and is the perfect venue for your Catholic wedding.
Before Westminster Cathedral opened in 1903, the London Oratory was the largest Catholic church. It still serves as a parish church for Roman Catholics and is unique to the Catholic community.
Walking through the doors is almost like stepping back in time…
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Brompton Oratory as a Wedding Venue
Thanks to its splendid architecture and historical beauty, it’s many happy couple’s venue of choice. People come from all around London and further afield to marry at this magnificent church. When you step inside for the first time, you’ll soon see why.
It still houses many beautiful Italian sculptures and outstanding examples of marble work, woodwork and mosaic art. It’s quite simply stunning and a fantastic place to celebrate your marriage vows.
Build Your Own>> Bespoke London Wedding Photography Package
Starting Your Wedding Day at the London Oratory
Weddings at Brompton Oratory are as traditional as they come… So the groom and guests arrive first, whilst the bridal party arrives outside to be met by the Head Sacristan when everyone else is seated inside.
I take some photos of the bride’s arrival and preparation outside before she enters, then I pop inside to set up for the dim lighting and opening of the huge front doors.
Wedding Photography at Brompton Oratory
The Oratory offers a stunning backdrop to your wedding day, but the dim interior makes it harder to capture a good photograph.
When I arrive to photograph a wedding at a venue, I always seek out an official/registrar/priest/other to find out if there are any rules I should be aware of. At the Oratory, they have just 2 requests:
- No flash photography.
- Try not to move around too much.
My heart drops somewhat when told I can’t use a flash in a dark venue, but it pushes me out of my comfort zone. Thanks to some clever camera tweaks, the photos I take look like they were taken in fair to good lighting.
Read More>> Wedding Day FAQs.
Your London Oratory Wedding Ceremony
Wedding photography is all about capturing the unique and personal moments between two people in love on their big day. So, you’ll want your photographer to capture the stunning architecture of the Brompton Oratory. It serves as a fantastic backdrop for your wedding ceremony. With my professional Brompton Oratory Wedding Photography service, you can be sure your photos will have a perfect balance.
The service lasts about 45 minutes (or over an hour if you request a mass). I use this time wisely, carefully and discreetly thinking and composing each image to ensure that they are the best they can be.
I do need to move around a bit during the wedding ceremony, but I choose to do this when the priest is moving or during hymns. At times of prayer or during readings, I stand still and well away to the side. Although a few photos of readings are necessary as they are usually read by close family or friends.
I have included a few examples of shots taken from different angles throughout the service and ceremony:
Useful to Know Before Booking Your Wedding
- Make all initial enquiries to the Priest on Duty and in person at Oratory House, Brompton Road, London, SW7 2RP.
- One of you must be Catholic and have a reason for wanting to marry at the London Oratory. If both spouses are Catholic, then a Nuptial Mass may be conducted in either English or Latin.
- They do not conduct weddings on Sundays due to other religious commitments.
- All music is provided by the Oratory’s Director of Music and played by the organist and choir.
- The Head Sacristan is Paul Clark, who deals with all practical arrangements such as your photography and videographer requirements, flower arrangements, etc.
- There is a significant emphasis on religion, including prayer and reflection. The priest will guide you through this during the Marriage Preparation.
Brompton Oratory – A Potted History:
- 1852: Fr. Frederick William Faber purchased the London Oratory site for £16,000 in the village of Brompton (now South Kensington).
- In 1874, a fund-raising appeal was launched to raise money to build the church’s present church.
- March 1876: Herbert Gribble submits renaissance style plans to enter a competition to design the church. He wins £200.
- 1880: Laying of the foundation stone
- The church is consecrated in 1884 as the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (having cost £93,000) and opened a few days later by Cardinal Manning. He preaches to a congregation including 250 priests and 16 bishops.
- £14,000 are spent on improvements including the outer dome over the next ten years.
- Famous marriages at the London Oratory include Edward Elgar, Alfred Hitchcock and James Hunt.
The Schedule Signing in the Back
In 2021, the traditional register went online and was replaced by a wedding schedule. Many venues now allow photography of the schedule signing, but Brompton Oratory asks that photographers’ refrain from capturing this.
Instead, they are instrumental in setting up some posed photographs at the signing table and the priest will even pose with you. A nice touch!
Brompton Oratory Wedding FAQs
Q. WHY GET MARRIED AT BROMPTON ORATORY?
A. You need to do no more than look through some photos of this amazing venue (see my website) to see what an incredible backdrop this would be to your wedding ceremony. It is a truly memorable and awe-inspiring venue for your special day. However, one of you does need to be Catholic.
Q. IS PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED OF OUR WEDDING CEREMONY AND VOWS?
A. Absolutely, yes. It would be best to liaise with the Head Sacristan to discuss this, but they are generally quite relaxed about photographers’. There are places where the photographer cannot go during the ceremony, and they should not use flash. Otherwise, as long as your photographer is discreet, there is no problem with them moving around for the best shots.
Q. IS CONFETTI ALLOWED AFTERWARDS FOR A NICE SEQUENCE OF PHOTOS?
A. Unfortunately, not… However, bubbles can be blown by your guests outside the doors as you exit – as long as you don’t mind minor soap stains on your wedding best! I’ve never had a couple complain about this, though, and it makes for a fantastic set of photos.
Q. WHAT IS THE LIGHT LIKE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE ORATORY?
A. There are high windows throughout the building, which let in a certain amount of light. The room where the signing takes place is darker, but your photographer should have no problem in dealing with lighting, whatever the conditions.
‘Confetti’ & Congratulations
So, wedding confetti is not allowed at Brompton Oratory, but bubbles are and have become a popular alternative. If you require this little tweak to the confetti tradition, I’m happy to set this up as it can be very effective. As soon after the ceremony as possible works best.
Posed Group Shots Before Moving On
The all-important family group shots are probably the last thing you will do at the London Oratory. I request a list of required shots before your day, to allow me to set them up easily and quickly. I devote around 15 minutes to this.
After I’ve taken the group shots, London is your oyster. The churches excellent Knightsbridge location means that you can get pretty much anywhere in central London with its many fantastic wedding reception venues very easily. Whether it’s pub grub or a more elegant hotel meal and evening entertainment, there is an option to suit you…