Perched on the banks of the River Avon and steeped in a vibrant culture lies the great city of Bristol. This city offers dozens of small, quirky wedding venues you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest wedding dreams.
Not every couple wants a manor house wedding, paying thousands to have hundreds of their friends gawk at them. Moreover, not every couple yearns to be slap-bang in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by “odeur de farm”.
Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of eight of our favourite quirky and alternative Bristol venues to help you out.
The Square Club
Situated between the historic Berkeley Square and Bristol Art Gallery, The Square Club is an entirely unique setting for a small ceremony or reception.
Founded in 1999, the Georgian townhouse is a private members’ club, formed to celebrate the arts and creative industries.
However, don’t let the gorgeous, traditional exterior fool you. Inside, the club is a striking blend of exhibited modern artwork, contemporary décor, and stylish exposed brickwork. The vibrant, colourful canvases make a wonderful backdrop for wedding photos.
You’ll say your “I-dos” at the marble altar in the Square Kitchen in front of a glamorous floor-to-ceiling gilt mirror. The windows which overlook the bustling city streets flood the room with natural light.
The versatile space can comfortably seat up to 70 guests.
Decorate the room however you want with the help of dedicated wedding coordinators who can answer any queries.
Afterwards, you and your guests can retire to the private walled garden to enjoy a tranquil drinks reception. The Grotto, as it’s affectionately known, is the real hidden gem of The Square. It offers a secluded space to relax and unwind under the soft glow of fairy lights.
As the day unfolds, you and your guests will be treated to a fantastic three-course meal prepared by expert chefs, a lavish reception in the award-winning cocktail bar and a happy night’s rest in one of the four-star rooms at the Berkeley Square Hotel.
To conclude your wedding celebrations, The Square offers an official “send off” for the wedding party, providing an intimate family breakfast, BBQ or even a Sunday roast so you can catch up with your nearest and dearest before you slink off on your honeymoon. They really have thought of everything!
Arnos Vale Cemetery
Arnos Vale Cemetery is a quiet haven, with a distinctive Gothic atmosphere, unlike any venue we have seen. Nestled in 45 acres of breathtaking woodlands, you couldn’t feel further from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Enjoy the serene forest backdrop, and capture exceptional photos between the mossy graves and bold Victorian masonry.
The Underwood Centre can accommodate 80 guests and is ideal for couples who want to connect with nature. Say your vows surrounded by natural wooden splendour as your loved ones watch from rustic pews. Certainly, it’s a marvellous spot for a woodland themed wedding.
Constructed in 1839 as a Non-Conformist Chapel, the Spielman Centre is a wonderful fusion of Victorian architecture and modern glasswork. Enter between magnificent columns and take wedding pictures on the sweeping stone steps. Neutral walls inside act as the perfect blank canvas for your themes and colour schemes. High ceilings create a light and airy atmosphere. The centre is available for exclusive ceremonies of up to 80 guests.
On the other hand, for a more traditional ceremony, consider the Grade II-listed Anglican Chapel. The Chapel was constructed in 1839 as a pinnacle of sophisticated Victorian architecture and is lovingly maintained to this day. Licenced for Church of England ceremonies, couples who say their vows here can revel in the open plan space. In fact, the Chapel is flexible for couples’ every desire, with lofty ceilings that allow for exceptional acoustics.
No two weddings held at Arnos Vale are the same. Your devoted wedding coordinator will help you mix-and-match the spaces to best suit your needs. For example, you might desire a sun-splashed ceremony at the Underwood Centre, followed by a quiet indoor wedding breakfast at the Spielman Centre. You can be guaranteed an entirely bespoke experience and excellent service from the on-site staff.
Goldney Hall is one of Bristol’s best-kept secrets. The hall is hidden just a stone’s throw from the river in Clifton village. It is an idyllic spot for smaller weddings and receptions; so why have so few people heard of it? Well, it’s actually part of the University of Bristol.
Small ceremonies take place in the licenced Mahogany Parlour within Goldney House. Rich panels line the walls, which glow under the soft light of ornate candelabras. The parlour can seat up to 40 guests, with a special dressing room adjacent for bridal preparations.
Following your intimate ceremony, your guests will be treated to a drinks reception within the private walled gardens. This is a great time to savour a glass of champagne and subsequently take snaps with your wedding photographer.
Pictures taken here are as distinctive as they are stunning. The garden offers unique backdrops such as the shell speckled grotto, the glorious rotunda and the intricate canal. Explore the area with grotto tours led by staff well trained in the history of the building.
Come in from the lawns through full-height French doors to reach the Orangery, which hosts your wedding breakfast and reception. The Orangery is awash in natural light because of the ivy-bordered windows that face onto the garden. You can decorate the room however you wish or select a company that specialises in venue dressing from Goldney Hall’s list of local suppliers.
Dine on either a three-course meal or a buffet by the wonderful team at Fosters Events. With over 50 years’ invaluable catering experience, it’s no wonder Goldney Hall have such a close partnership with them. Moreover, ensure you get a menu that’s perfectly tuned to your palate, by arranging a tasting session with them months before the big day.
No.4 Clifton Village
Just around the corner from Goldney Hall is the spectacular No.4 Clifton Village. This restaurant has the capacity to host every aspect of your big day while retaining a boutique atmosphere.
The interior of the Georgian townhouse is decorated with romantic deep reds and dazzling golds. The rooms are adorned with cosy features such as period fireplaces, large sash windows and stripped wood floors.
The spacious Admiral Room is licenced for ceremonies, seating up to 40 guests on classical chapel pews. With the help of your expert wedding planner, you can colour the room with flower arrangements and decorations. As a result, the only limit is your own imagination.
Subsequently, after the ceremony, guests are led through to the Gallery, a stylish room with colourful décor and exposed brick walls. Here your cherished guests can sip cocktails and nibble on canapés. You might also explore the secret walled garden to soak up a bit of sun in the summer months.
While you’re enjoying yourselves, the staff will be busy transforming the Admiral Room into a fairytale-esque setting for your small wedding breakfast. The room can be arranged however you want, seating up to 50 guests under the warm teardrop lighting.
Finally, surrounded by your closest family and friends, delight in a magnificent feast prepared by the in-house chefs in the AA rosette award-winning restaurant. No.4 prides itself on its flexibility, so you’ll have an excellent range of dishes to choose from.
Circling back to the harbourside, The Watershed is an arthouse cinema right on the water, overlooking some of the busiest parts of Bristol city centre. It’s recognized by locals for its quirky independent films and colourful, creative atmosphere.
The building is alive with character. The Watershed first opened its doors in 1986, and was then known as “Britain’s First Media Centre”. Now you can hold your special day there, the cosy space catering to exclusive ceremonies, wedding breakfasts and receptions. Put whatever you want up on the screens, for example a slideshow of pictures, or your favourite film.
There are three main theatres licenced for ceremonies. Each provides ample plush seating for your guests whilst you say your vows in front of the screen. This is entirely more memorable than tying the knot by an altar or an archway. As a result, you and your partner will feel like Hollywood stars in your very own rom-com.
Furthermore, there are three function rooms in the cinema, each with a different capacity to suit the size of your party. Also, the walls between the three rooms can be removed, giving ultimate flexibility in the size and shape of your venue.
You can host a simple drinks reception here, complete with delectable canapés, or run straight into your wedding breakfast and evening reception. However you choose to structure your day, the specialised events team and in-house chefs provide great service.
For hassle-free planning, The Watershed also provides flexible wedding packages with prices dependent on the size of your wedding. Small weddings really benefit from this deal, so it’s worth asking for a tour of the venue as soon as possible.
The SS Great Britain
Though the SS Great Britain was once the longest passenger ship in the world, it’s now the perfect venue for an intimate wedding day with your closest family and friends.
The ship was originally designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843 and now stands in the Bristol dry-dock as an enduring pillar of Victorian elegance and grandeur, having been salvaged and lovingly restored in the 70s.
Holding your small wedding below deck might sound a bit claustrophobic. However, there’s a surprising amount of room to host beautiful ceremonies without the space feeling cramped.
The Promenade Deck, located at the rear of the ship, offers a 30-metre aisle so you can really make an entrance. Exchange vows under the circular skylight and take in this historic vessel in all its glory.
Afterwards, take full advantage of the ship and its many rooms. For instance, the Weather Deck is perfect for sunny summer drinks receptions, allowing you and your guests to stretch your legs and take in some breath-taking canal views.
Wedding breakfasts are generally served in the glorious First Class Dining Saloon. It’s complete with trimmings from the height of Victorian luxury, such as marble-styled pillars, flamboyant mirrors and old-fashioned candle lanterns.
The neighbouring Hayward Saloon is a versatile space, established for an evening reception with a well-stocked bar and permanent dancefloor.
Some couples might feel out of their depth planning a wedding on a boat – but not to worry. Your committed wedding coordinator will help suggest themes and ideas that’ll work best in such a unique space. What’s more, the Chief Steward on board can even act as your very own Master of Ceremonies.
Quirky Bristol Venues
Finally, from boats and restaurants to Georgian townhouses and secret university halls, we hope you’ve found something that’s piqued your interest. Intimate weddings are special and very personal affairs, and hence you deserve a venue that matches that sentiment.
If you have any more suggestions that we might have overlooked, do feel free to mention them in the comments section below. On the other hand, follow the link to our Bristol venues page and start looking for your own quirky Bristol venue.