I've been a wedding photographer for over 10 years now and have photographed hundreds of weddings in Kent, Sussex, & London, across the United Kingdom, and around the world. During that time, I have worked with a wide variety of other wedding suppliers. A few stand out due to the combination of delivering exceptional quality in the service they provide, PLUS actually being a pleasure to work with. In my view, all wedding suppliers should be working towards the common goal of delivering the best for the people getting married & that often requires working together.
Now, I appreciate that most people who come to read this page will have already booked their venue, but quite a few couples approach me for my availability before booking their venue. I'm also assuming that maybe, just maybe a few people end up on my site way before even starting their wedding planning, so a few suggestions here may come in handy.
I remember from when my wife and I were planning our wedding, the choice of wedding venues just in the South East of England was extremely daunting. Once you view a few though, you start narrowing things down based on what you liked about the ones you saw. There are the types of venue such as castle, manor house, hotel, marquee. Whether there is accommodation or at least a room to get ready in on-site. Does it have an outside ceremony area? Does it have any ceremony area? Does it have inside back-up options if rain falls? What time is the music cut-off? What other restrictions are there to consider? etc. etc. There are a lot of things to consider and that is why the choices on the list may not necessarily tick all the boxes for you, but I hope my thoughts on each will at least be helpful in making your decision.
As a photographer, I look at places from that perspective. What is the light like in the rooms? What portrait location opportunities are there? Is there a view of the sunset? Are there nice shaded locations I can use for group shots? These are things that most people may not think about or notice when they are looking at venues, but are very important to what the photography will look like from the day.
Something to consider - I intend to write a little about each supplier. Some I may write just a few words, and others may be a bit more, but the amount of text does not necessarily reflect where I put that supplier in my standings. Each of those included are excellent at their role and loved for different reasons.
Penshurst Place surely has to be one of the most striking wedding venues around. The building (can it be called a castle?) is incredible and can be an amazing backdrop for photos from the gardens or from the front. The gardens offer incredible variety - fountains, ponds, beautiful arches, wild flower areas, immaculate lawn and flower beds, wide open areas, and close hedgerows. You could photograph a hundred weddings here and use different locations for each. It really is a photographer's dream.
Then there is the Baron's Hall. For anyone born in 80s (and I realise that's a little older than most of the people getting married and viewing this blog), this hall was featured in the final scenes of the classic film 'The Princess Bride.' For any non-80s people, do yourself a favour and watch this film 🙂 It's also been used in more recent film and television, but it's the Princess Bride connection that ticks the Hollywood connection box for me. And for anyone who doesn't care about film & tv connections, the hall is simply incredible. I can't think of any other setting for a wedding breakfast / evening party that is more stunning.
This is a bit of a hidden gem that I'm sure will be more and more popular over the coming years - thanks mainly to the team at Majestic Events that are getting the word out and doing a fantastic job there. I love the tried lined driveway approaching the house. The house and its stone work are beautiful, and the room used for bridal prep has to have some of the best natural lighting I've ever seen at a venue. Two massive windows flood the large room with glorious soft natural light which I bet is loved by all hair / make-up artists, videographers, and photographers alike. The gardens offer a beautiful outside ceremony area, plus a wide variety of backdrops for photos (there are lots of differently styled areas to the gardens to explore). Then there is the incredible view across the valley to enjoy with your guests after the ceremony. Check it out and I'm sure you'll fall in love with this venue too.
A beautiful 19th century castellated mansion with incredible views across Sussex, a walled garden area for outdoors ceremonies, and large grounds for photo opportunities. They have also just renovated a barn (/s?) at the venue which I believe is available for ceremonies and your wedding breakfast. I think the views here are the overall stand out for me. There's no other venue like it.
Hendall Manor Barns
A beautifully renovated collection of farm buildings giving sleek modern lines mixed with some very cool farm character. It also has a beautiful pond, orchard, swimming pool, a massive barn, and rolling fields to explore. I've loved working here every time I've been here. The early music cut-off time may put off some but has never affected the atmosphere of the day or evening, when i've been here and I know for some, that negative, can be very much a positive.
I love the central courtyard at this venue. It keeps all the guests together nicely and also offers protection against the weather at times. There are dedicated areas for ceremony, the wedding breakfast, and evening dancing, so there are no change over waiting times. I love the features around the grounds and the fields adjacent to the venue. I must have been photographing weddings at Winters Barns for nearly 9 years now, and am always impressed how lovely & helpful the staff are, and how much they look after every single couple.
I've only photographed one wedding at Northbrook Park so that tells you this made a great impression straight away. It's a beautiful venue, with the nicest inside ceremony room that I can think of, and a stunning wedding breakfast / dancing area. The light in here is so soft and plentiful that it makes photographing candid shots of guests and the speeches even more of a pleasure than it normally is. I also loved the variety of locations that you can use for photos around the grounds.
I believe I photographed the very first wedding that took place at Chafford Park and have enjoyed seeing the improvements made to the venue over the years to enhance the experience for couples and their guests. I loved it right from the start though simply because of how massive the site and how many cool areas there are that you can use for photos. I love the relaxed, rustic feel of the venue. There is something very special about this venue and I feel it has lots of potential. It'll be very interesting to see what other changes are made here in the future.
Click here for an example wedding at Chafford Park Clare & Benjamin
I am a massive music lover. I’d say I have a broad music taste and generally like good music from any genre. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I consider music a very important aspect of a wedding day. I’ve seen from first hand experience how it sets the mood during bridal preparation, how it adds to the emotions during the ceremony, and can make a vital difference in atmosphere during the drinks reception, wedding breakfast, and when it’s most obviously the centre of attention – the evening party.
It can lift everyone up, it can chill everyone out. It can be in the background subtly adding to the day, or a focal point drawing everyone in. I think the main decision everyone has is do you go for a band or a DJ. And it's a tough one, but aside from cost, I suppose the principal deciding factor must be down to the type of music you enjoy - typically a DJ for dance music, and a band for pop / rock. Now, I know a DJ can play pop / rock, and a band can play faster more dance-like music, but if I have to draw a line, that's where it would be. For me though, it's all about the atmosphere they create and maintain - if everyone is enjoying the music and losing themselves on the dancefloor, I get some very cool photos.
Alan Oliver - Acoustic Guitar
I may be slightly biased here as I'm learning to play guitar again (after a brief hiatus of about 25 years), but hearing Alan Oliver play modern songs on his acoustic guitar made an immediate impression on me. Whether you hire him for pre/ during / post ceremony, drinks reception, for during the wedding breakfast, or the whole day, I'm sure you and your guests will be pleased. Check out his 'show reel' on his website and just picture that music accompanying your day.
Naomi Wilmshurst - Violin
I worked with Naomi for the first time recently and really loved hearing modern songs played on the violin. She does so with incredible technique and a very obvious love of music which immediately elevates your mood. Check out her work on her website and I'm sure you'll love her music too.
DJ Marcel Mendez
I worked with Marcel for the first time this year. Marcel is more of a club-type DJ and he creates a full-on club type experience with lasers, smoke, big smiles, and hands in the air. Now, I'm sure he can tone this down if this isn't your cup of tea, but I loved it, the guests loved it, and it was an incredible party, so I can't imagine opting for anything less. I hope to be working with Marcel a lot more in the future as I know it'll mean lot of fun and some great photographs of everyone dancing.
The Sweet & Lowdown (via Function Central)
I heard this band recently & wanted to add them immediately to this list. Loved everything about them and I'm sure you will too.
I've been recommending these guys for years now. I can still remember the first time I heard them play and how amazing they sounded. They play a great mix of rock & pop with absolute precision. Anytime a couple tells me that they have booked The Riot, I look forward to what the evening party will bring.
I worked with these guys for the first time recently and really liked their style. Great mix of music and played very well. https://www.ondemand.band/media
Whether it is down to more of us these days appreciating good food, or that my photography attracts food lovers, but I seem to work with more and more couples who describe themselves as 'foodies.' Straight away, I feel closer to them as I truly, madly, deeply, love my food.
When I first started as a wedding photographer, the food was always very similar (chicken & sauce / veggie option), but nowadays the food often enters the room looking like it's straight out of the Masterchef kitchen. The variety and presentation is incredible, and the canapés are heavenly (surely we're seeing divine inspiration in whoever came up with these incredible bitesize meal delights). Now, I'm sure that like with anything there is a wide range in prices for catering, but I can also tell you that there is a wide range in the quality of what is delivered and the customer service of the staff too.
Purple Pumpkin Catering
I’ve been lucky enough to have photographed a few weddings now where Purple Pumpkin were providing the catering and can honestly say their service is unparalleled. The food is insanely tasty, but it’s also incredibly well presented. I see plate after plate leaving the kitchen and each dish is immaculate. It’s like they have a clone machine in the back somewhere and aren’t actually putting them together by hand. And if that’s not enough, I’ve always found their staff polite, considerate, and extremely accommodating.
On top of all that, they’ll also help you plan your whole day, including organising the marque, the decor, the sound system, and fireworks. So, if you’re planning your wedding at the moment and are looking into catering options, I recommend giving the team at Purple Pumpkin a call. You, your guests, and your photographer will be very pleased with the results.
Amuse Private Caterers
I've mainly worked with Amuse at the venues Wadhurst Castle and Hendall Manor Barns, but I'd love to see them used at more places. I understand that venues can be restrictive over the caterers they allow in, but if you have the choice, I recommend giving them a call for your day. Their food is always amazing, and their staff are a pleasure to work with.
Despite what you may think, I see a wide range in the quality of flowers out there. It's mainly noticeable by how the flowers look at the end of the day. I suspect this is to do with how fresh they are, and perhaps that is where the price difference comes from between florists. In addition to fresh flowers, the below suppliers all do a top job in the presentation of those flowers.
Florist in the Forest
I've been impressed with their flowers for years now. Beautifully fresh, long lasting, and well presented.
When I was trying to think of cake suppliers, the first that immediately sprang to mind was 'Sylvia's Kitchen'. I then thought back to weddings where the cake impressed me, and when I checked who made the cake for the first wedding I thought of, once again, it was Sylvia's Kitchen. I guess that is a double recommendation.
Simply Beautiful Wedding Hair
I've worked with Liz many times over the years and she always does a great job.
Harriet Rainbow Make-Up
Harriet and Liz (from Simply Beautiful Wedding Hair) are sort of a wedding dream team. They work well together, are lovely to work with and always do a great job.
Lydia London Make-Up
I've worked with Lydia a few times now over the years. Her brides always speak highly of her and she is obviously very talented in her work. https://www.lydialondonmakeup.com/
I'll be adding more and more recommended suppliers to this list, as soon as I have time.
Diamond 9 Productions
I'm very happy to recommend Harry from Diamond 9 productions for your videography. He's clearly a talented videographer, but from my perspective, he doesn't get in the way, he's cooperative in his work, rather than competitive for shots, and has creative ideas that compliment my own style. https://diamond9productions.co.uk/
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