The Castle Room is the newest option for ceremonies at the very popular Winchester Registry Office. Mel & Dicky said their ‘I do-s’ on its very first day of use. I’ve had the pleasure of covering many wonderful weddings at the Registry Office since it relocated to its new premises at Winchester’s Castle area a few years ago, from the smallest and most intimate – where I was the only other extra in the room besides the witnesses – upwards. Until now though the capacity of the Basing Room – the flagship ceremonial space – has been a bit of a limiting factor. Well, no longer. The beautifully appointed Castle Room effectively doubles the number of guests you can now have at your Registry Office wedding. And Mel and Dicky certainly made the most of it, absolutely stuffing it to the gills with friends and family!
But before all that, the small matter of getting ready. Our bride was set up in the wonderful Hotel du Vin, up in a suite looking out over the gardens and terrace, keeping busy with hair and makeup with friends and their two charming daughters who would be acting as flower girls. Meanwhile, around the corner and looking out over the Castle, Dicky and the boys settled into the Westgate Hotel for a quick pre-ceremony drink. Flitting between the two I was able to make sure that both sides of the morning were covered (one of the fab things about a Winchester wedding is that the city centre is compact enough that I can nip around a few different locations, and it’s generally quicker on foot than by car).
Returning to the Hotel du Vin the ladies were ready to descend to the gardens for some fizz in the sunshine before walking up through the back streets towards the Registry Office and the Castle Room. Slightly surprised on arrival to find the groom and all guests still in the Westgate, but all were quickly shepherded across the road before Mel walked round for her interview! No spoilers there – phew.
The new ceremony room is up at the top of the Castle building, and looks out across the courtyard towards the Great Hall. Huge big bays windows and sweeping views across the city rooftops, it’s very different in look and feel to the Basing Room downstairs. It still has that sense of opulence and grandeur, but with simpler decoration. It’s certainly nice for couples to now how the option of two very different ceremony rooms. By now Dicky was upstairs with his guests, chatting away and keeping himself busy, while Mel and attendants steeled themselves at the foot of the winding stone staircase which heads up to the roof of the building (don’t worry, there is also a lift for those who would prefer to use one). Once up at the top, the bridal party then waits behind a huge stained glass window, so no details of the dress are revealed until the walk down the aisle. The flower girls went first, with bride close behind, and the wedding was on.
Newly married, bride and groom descended from the Castle Room and stepped out onto the cobbled courtyard to be showered with confetti, before leading their guests on a winding little mystery tour towards the reception venue. I always enjoy these little walks; the back streets of this ancient city are always charming (and photograph very well) and I’ve got so many favourite little spots dotted around town for photos. We held back for a quick few family photos as guests made their way past, and then it was on to River Cottage for food and party time.
River Cottage Canteen opened a couple of years ago now and while I’ve been there a few times myself, this was the first time I’d photographed it for a wedding. It’s located in a gorgeous building on the weir which straddles one of the many little streams which meander through the lower half of Winchester, out towards the water meadows, and is tucked just off to one side of Abbey Gardens, next to the Guildhall. It’s a superb space inside too, and offers that comfortable, relaxed and less formal vibe which so many couples favour at the moment. And of course, they know a thing or two about food there too! After an afternoon of drinks on the terrace looking out over the gardens guests made their way inside for speeches, food, and then one of my favourite things to see at an evening party, the ceilidh!
Ah. good old ceilidh! Always such a great way of getting people involved, and having participated in a few myself (Scottish family, you see) I can attest to how quickly you get into it. And I’m really not a dancer! These guys were though, and threw themselves into the action with total enthusiasm. It turns out that perfecting a few reels had been part of the hen weekend, so the ladies perhaps had a bit of an advantage over the gents. A couple of drinks though and with enough instructions shouted out across the dancefloor and pretty soon everyone’s in the same boat!
A really wonderful party crowd, two wonderful locations for me right in the heart of my home town, and one of the first weddings ever to be held in Winchester’s newest ceremony room – what an absolute corker of a day! Huge congratulations Mel & Dicky, and wishing you and your family many very happy years together!
Making it possible…
Venue (ceremony): The Castle Room, Winchester Register Office
Venue (reception): River Cottage Canteen, Winchester
Bridal prep location: Hotel du Vin, Winchester
Dresses (bridal and flower girls): Exquisite Bridal
Flowers: Catkin & Pussywillow
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this little selection of images from the day. That’s just part of the finished set, and friends and family can view the full series, and the storytelling slideshow, in Mel & Dicky’s private online gallery (although you’ll need to ask them for the password first).
If you are currently planning your Winchester Castle Room or River Cottage wedding and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please do get in touch to check availability and ask me any questions you might have. I’m only too happy to help however I can.
Thanks as ever for reading, and come back again soon for many more photos from many more beautiful weddings!