Herts' unusual wedding venues
PUBLISHED: 10:24 10 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:37 21 March 2016
To mark Valentine's Day this month, we take a look at some of the most striking, beautiful and unusual places to get married in the county
Walk down the aisle in the footsteps of royalty, tie the knot at a sports stadium or get hitched in a wildlife park – if you or a loved one is planning a wedding, the choice of ceremony venues in Hertfordshire is now much expanded thanks to recent changes in marriage laws. Although many couples still choose a traditional church wedding, there are also many striking and unusual gems in the county that will ensure the big day is hugely memorable. Here we list some of the best the county has to offer.
Step into history.
Hatfield House, Hatfield.
Couples will walk in the steps of historical giants if they choose to hold their wedding at the magnificent Hatfield House.
Queen Elizabeth I grew up in the palace within the large grounds and it is here as a princess she found out her father Henry VIII was dead and she would be queen.
There is also the attraction of putting yourself in the picture. Film crews have used the stately home’s splendour in many movies including Batman and Sherlock Holmes adventures.
There are a number of venues on the site, ranging from the historic to the contemporary.
Other historic greats: The stately 18th century Brocket Hall in Welwyn, Aldenham School, Elstree, founded 1597 and surrounded by countryside; the elegant Letchworth Hall Hotel, Letchworth – an English manor house established 1625; the sumptuous Jacobean-style Hanbury Manor in Ware – a one-time convent school - has its own beautiful chapel
The natural choice.
Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne.
At Paradise Wildlife Park, vows can be exchanged against a backdrop of some of the world’s most stunning creatures including tigers, snow leopards and wolves.
This venue has more than 30 years’ experience helping couples enjoy their big day and offers a variety of options, including an opulent marquee reception and the atmospheric Safari Suite.
More back to nature options: the summer house, old dairy and Tudor barn set in the deep countryside of South Farm, Shingay cum Wendy near Royston; Ashridge House is a majestic former monastery that became home to Henry VIII’s children – its 190 acre grounds is set within National Trust woodland in the Chiltern Hills; Tipis4Hire based in Wheathamsptead give a twist to the traditional marquee – it has helped with more than 300 weddings and receptions, including at Hitchin Lavender fields; the Potting Shed – a Victorian glasshouse in the walled garden at The Grove, Watford is a magical, light-filled space.
The exotic option.
Fanhams Hall Hotel, Ware.
Couples thinking of having their wedding in an exotic location can feel guilty about dragging friends and family half-way across the world.
But there are options much closer to home that will make you feel you have travelled thousands of miles away.
Nestled in the ground of Fanhams Hall Hotel is a beautiful Grade II listed Japanese tea house.
Named the House of the Pure Heart, it sits within a Japanese garden which provides stunning backdrops for photography and is available as a wedding venue throughout the summer.
The hotel, within 27 acres of magnificent manicured grounds has a range of other venues that can be made bespoke.
Also consider: The conservatory at Luton Hoo Walled Garden – a majestic marquee set within the estate’s historic five-acre octagonal walled garden; the enticing Burwash Secret Garden at the 16th century Burwash Manor in Barton; the Italian gardens at Theobalds Park in Cheshunt make a stunning backdrop to the Georgian mansion; the beautiful sculptures set in rolling countryside at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green will add drama to your day (and your photos).
The sporty selection.
Vicarage Road, Watford.
Home to the mighty Watford FC this venue is steeped in sporting history and is the perfect site for any Hornets fan to say ‘I do’.
This may seem more of a choice for football-mad grooms, there are certainly some soccer-loving brides who couldn’t think of a better place to wed.
The stadium also until recently played host to previous Premiership Rugby champions Saracens.
So supporters of the men in black could relive some of their favourite moments, before entering matrimonial bliss.
There are a number of packages available for couples.
Other fine sporting venues: The Hertfordshire Golf and Country Club in Broxbourne is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a Grade II listed 18th century,mansion in grounds once owned by The Order of Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem; the elegant Shenley Cricket Centre near St Albans has a summer marquee capacity of 300; make a statement in Rickmansworth’s Moor Park Golf Centre’s stately and richly painted rooms.
Music, film and TV mecca.
Elstree Studios, Borehamwood.
The world famous Elstree Studious has been the birth place of countless classic TV treats and cinematic delights.
With the Indiana Jones and Star Wars flms, 2001 a Space Odyssey, and the current Dancing on Ice and Big Brother reality TV series all filmed here (although it’s doubtful Harrison Ford or Torvill and Dean will perform the ceremony).
There are three venues on offer, located within the Studios Lot, all embued with the glamour of the big and small screen.
Knebworth House, Knebworth.
To say this venue has a place in rock history would be underselling it somewhat.
Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen and thousands more have all played on the stately home’s hallowed turf.
The site’s Barns lay claim to being one of the biggest venues couples can hire out in the county – although they will struggle to cram 375,000 into their big day as Robbie Williams did.
With ceremonies held in The Barns, Cobbold and Lytton Barns and Garden Gazebo within Knebworth House Gardens and Knebworth House itself, there are plenty of options.
Away from its musical heritage the grounds have also been used by movie makers, with scenes from The King’s Speech and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire shot here.
Make it legal.
The 1831 Court Room, St Albans Town Hall.
For a truly memorable ceremony couples can choose to get hitched in this former Victorian law court. With its distinct lay out, this venue is one of the few remaining 19th century courtrooms in the country. Period decor adorns the room, with the judge’s bench and public gallery adding to the atmosphere.
Although the historic hall will have seen many a ne’er-do-well from years gone by, this could be the perfect place to start a happy story.
Other rooms in the hall are also available for hire.
For a full list of approved Hertfordshire marriage venues, go to hertsdirect.org/your-community/register/marriages/where