10 of the best wedding venues in Dorset
PUBLISHED: 09:53 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:53 06 February 2018
Albert Palmer Photography
From an intimate gathering for close friends to a major event for extended family, these gorgeous Dorset venues offer a wonderful backdrop for your special day
The Italian Villa at Compton Acres
Voted the UK’s best wedding venue in 2016, The Italian Villa at Compton Acres offers a dash of Tuscany magic with its stunning Italian gardens, and the villa is licensed to perform marriages and civil partnerships. The Medici Suite is suitable for up to 180 guests for a sit down meal and offers direct access, via a magnificent stone staircase, into the gardens. The Verona Suite on the first floor offers views over the gardens and The Siena Suite on the ground floor is ideal for a post wedding party. The wow factor of this Poole location is its stunning formal gardens. With ornamental pond and fountain as well as colourful planting The Italian Villa offers some wonderful wedding photo opportunities. There is also the option to have your photos taken in the Japanese Garden with its teahouse, bridge, waterfall and pond.
Stockbridge Farm Barn
If you’re a fan of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex then this could be the venue for you. Situated four miles south of Sherborne, Stockbridge Farm Barn is a spectacular medieval barn on a small working farm – think Bathsheba Everdene’s wedding reception in Far From the Madding Crowd. Carpeted, beautifully lit and with a spacious 18 foot wooden dance floor, the barn sits 180 people comfortably, or more if you choose to have an adjoining marquee. It also offers unlimited potential to make this your own event - whether idyllic country wedding or medieval style banquet - as there is a spacious fully equipped kitchen and separate bar situated off of the main barn. They are also licensed to conduct civil ceremonies and partnerships.
Sitting above Church Ope Cove, Pennsylvania Castle on the Isle of Portland offers spectacular coastal views from its gardens. This Gothic Revival mansion has several licensed rooms for your wedding ceremony, or you can take your vows in the garden with the Jurassic Coast as your backdrop. Their Twilight Wedding option offers the most romantic of settings in the castle’s candle-lit gardens – think cosy blankets and festoon festival-style lighting for the reception after. Suitable for fairytale endings big or small they also offer Petite Penn Weddings for an intimate wedding with a smaller guest list.
Mapperton is a Jacobean mansion and the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Exchange your vows in the Garden Pavilion and then enjoy a champagne reception outside the Orangery. From May 2018 their newly renovated Coach House (dating from 1670) will accommodate up to 120 guests for a reception. The real wow factor of Mapperton is its award-winning gardens with winding gravel paths, hidden grottoes and secret walkways offering sensational views over the west Dorset countryside beyond. It provides a fabulous backdrop for any wedding photo.
The Green House Hotel
The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth proves that luxury and sustainability is a romantic match made in wedding heaven. Glamorous yet relaxed and intimate, this venue has won numerous awards for its green credential as well as its outstanding locally sourced food and drink. Packages range from a stylish afternoon tea wedding featuring their legendary high tea with all the trimmings and bubbles, right through to their ‘Green with Envy’ package which features exclusive use of the venue (available on most Thursdays) with wedding breakfast, evening buffet with wood-fired pizzas and morning after brunch.
If you like the idea of having a magnificent Palladian country house with lake and landscaped gardens for your wedding venue - think Mr Darcy’s Pemberley - then Kingston Maurward has it all. Set in 750 acres of rolling countryside just outside Dorchester this handsome Georgian house offers exclusive use of five state rooms and suites during your reception, as well as quieter rooms for older guests to retire to and a TV lounge for the youngsters. The Grand Entrance Hall with chandelier and twin marble fireplaces provides instant wow factor as guests come in for reception drinks and canapés. The Pengelly Room, formerly the music room, offers commanding views over the extensive lawns and five-acre lake – a wonderful backdrop for your wedding photos. If you want a church wedding there are some lovely village churches nearby, or you can have a civil ceremony at the house or in the gardens.
How would you like to host your wedding in a cliff-top Victorian villa filled with internationally-acclaimed artworks including Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s masterpiece, ‘Venus Verticordia’? The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum offers all this plus probably one of Bournemouth’s most breathtaking sea views from their beautiful private garden. The Drawing Room is ideal for an intimate wedding ceremony, or opt for the Main Hall or Gallery, then descend the magnificent staircase to enjoy drinks on the terrace followed by your wedding breakfast. The wow factor of this venue is the glorious photo opportunities it offers come rain or shine.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
If you’re looking for a romantic Jurassic coastal location with exceptional gardens to provide a gorgeous backdrop to your special day, then Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens offers something different. Their new purpose-built weddings and events Pavilion nestles amid exotic planting from around the world which thrives in this balmy coastal micro climate. Seating up to 150 people, the clear panelled walls of the Pavilion takes your wedding into the gardens which guests can wander around whilst you have your photos taken.
Larmer Tree Gardens
Situated on the Dorset/Wiltshire border Larmer Tree Gardens was created in the 1880s as a Victorian Pleasure Garden for the public and it retains something of an Alice in Wonderland ambience about it. Within its 11 acres of woods and gardens peacocks roam, croquet is played, deckchairs are lounged in and romance blossoms. There are two venues – The Jubilee Hall and The New Pavilion – for weddings and receptions. For those seeking a more intimate gathering their Secret Garden Weddings package are midweek celebrations (Monday to Thursday) for a maximum of 30 guests. Enjoy al fresco picnic style dining in a marquee on the lawn in summer, an elegant high tea in the New Pavilion or for winter indulge in mulled cider, hot canapés and roast venison in The Jubilee Hall.
Offering both a wedding venue and accommodation in 17 stone built cottages for up to 78 guests, Greenwood Grange at Higher Bockhampton offers you a location where you can let your imagination run wild for your wedding. Set within 7 acres of Hardy countryside near Dorchester you have exclusive use of a venue which includes yurt, indoor pool, games room and space for a large marquee for your reception. It was also recently awarded South West Tourism Self Catering Provider of the Year.