20+ of the Best Wedding Venues in Dorset for 2017

Choosing a wedding venue for your big day is not an easy task.  2016 has seen new venues opening up and others looking tired, with all that’s on offer it can be pretty tough trying to make a decision.  Making a shortlist can be even more difficult when you consider the number of guests you would like to invite, the quality and cost of the catering you require and of course the aesthetics of the venue itself.  So to help you on your journey we’ve created a shortlist of some of our favourite wedding venues in Dorset. We have selected a range of venues from castles to beaches to give you a taste of the best that Dorset has to offer.

All of the images below are from real weddings photographed by us at Lawes Photography.


 

 Sopley Mill, Sopley, Christchurch, Dorset

 

Amy & Marc’s Sopley Mill Wedding
Kirsty & Aaron’s Sopley Mill Wedding

Sopley Mill is one of the most versatile venues in Dorset as it’s ideal for both summer and winter weddings. It’s a three story Grade II listed old water mill situated on the River Avon in Sopley, near Christchurch, Dorset. You have the freedom to decorate the venue as you wish, but it ideally suits the rustic vintage theme. They can cater up to 100 people and civil ceremonies are held on the 2nd floor in the The Granary with the Wedding Breakfast being held on the top floor amongst the exposed beams with wonderful views over the surrounding water meadows. If you prefer a church ceremony, then Sopley church is only a short walk up the hill.

This is one of the very few venues in Dorset where you can choose which caterers you would like, although there is a preferred list the range is extensive and covers every type of wedding breakfast you can think off from a traditional sit-down to Mexican to having a cream tea or a BBQ!

The large lawn is ideal for summer games with a great outdoor seating area and there is a log fire if you are looking for that perfect winter wedding with rustic charm.

Maximum number of day guests:  Approx.100
Opening Period:  All year round
Catering Options:  Multiple approved suppliers
Outside Grounds:  Extensive
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony on site or Sopley Church next door.
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  Yes
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Sopley Mill – http://sopleymill.co.uk


 

Parley Manor, Manor Green, Christchurch, Dorset

 

Becky & Simon’s Wedding at Parley Manor
Parley Manor Wedding Movie
Caz & Jamie’s Parley Manor Wedding

Parley Manor is a privately run Georgian House situated near Christchurch in Dorset and if you are looking for an outside wedding with stunning gardens then this is a great choice of venue. Although the house is a family home with only access to the drawing room for the Bridal Party before the ceremony, from Spring to the end of October you have exclusive use of the gardens and grounds as your day moves from the welcome drinks in the beautiful English gardens through a hidden walk into the Italian walled garden which houses a fully lined marquee which can accommodate up to 150 guests.

The venue is ideal for your wedding reception or, If you wish, you can also choose to have your ceremony in their romantic Pavilion which hidden in the English Garden.

After the Wedding Breakfast has finished and before the sun sets across the adjacent fields, is the ideal time to explore the more extensive natural and wild garden which stretches away from the Georgian house, ideal for your personal bride and groom pictures.

Maximum number of day guests:  150
Opening Period:  April to October
Catering Options:  Merlins
Outside Grounds:  Extensive attractive gardens
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony on site
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Parley Manor – http://parleymanorweddings.co.uk


 

Lulworth Castle, Lulworth Estate, East Lulworth, Dorset

 

Josephine & Blake’s Lulworth Castle Wedding
Sarah & Kostas’ Lulworth Castle Wedding

If you are looking for a majestic Castle as your setting for your wedding day, then you can’t get much better than Lulworth Castle, for both summer and winter weddings. Sitting in 1,000 acres of enclosed Deer park, Lulworth Castle is one of the most unique venues on the South Coast. Originally built as a “mock” castle and hunting lodge in the 17th Century, and after having been destroyed by fire in 1929, it has now been restored and offers an ideal venue for weddings in the Dorset countryside. With its stone architecture and high vaulted ceilings, your imagination is the limit, whether you wish to have a formal, vintage or medieval banquet wedding, then Lulworth Castle is a great choice. If you would prefer a church ceremony, then you can apply to get married at either the anglican church, St Andrew’s or St Mary’s, the Roman Catholic Chapel.

Maximum number of day guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List
Outside Grounds:  Extensive grounds
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony in the Castle or choice of Anglican or Catholic Ceremony within grounds
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Lulworth Castle – http://www.lulworth.com/weddings/


 

The Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal

 

Charley & Adam’s Larmer Tree Wedding
Louise & James ‘ Larmer Tree Wedding
Larmer Tree Wedding Movie

The Larmer Tree Gardens, situated on the Dorset/Wiltshire boarder, was one of the first Victorian Pleasure Gardens and is the most beautiful setting for your wedding. They have five very different and unique buildings for your civil ceremony, including the option of having a relaxed quintessential English outside ceremony within the Roman Temple, followed by Pimms, garden games and a relaxed meal in their marquee or a much larger ceremony in the New Pavilion which can hold up to 150 guests.

Although the gardens are their most beautiful during the spring and summer, they are open all year round, so you can also be inspired plan a golden autumnal themed day with warming mulled cider and venison in their New Pavillion.

Maximum number of day guests:  150
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List
Outside Grounds:  Extensive garden grounds
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony with 5 different locations
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

The Larmer Tree Gardens – http://www.larmertree.co.uk/weddings/


 

 The Old Vicarage, Hinton, Christchurch, Dorset

 

A wedding at the Old Vicarage Hinton
Danielle & James’ Wedding at the Old Vicarage, Hinton

If you are planning a vintage style wedding, then the Old Vicarage at Hinton, Nr Christchurch is worth considering. It has the beautiful combination of a 19th Century house with six individually styled bedrooms, a light and airy Orangery with high vaulted ceilings for your Civil Ceremony and a large marquee for your Wedding Breakfast. You also have the option to hold your ceremony in their garden.  All this is set in 10 acres of woodland and formal botanical gardens which are ideal for your wedding photographs and for your guests to wonder through as they sip their drink watching the children playing garden games on the lawn.

So if you are thinking bunting, pompoms, cream tea, lots of flowers and an relaxed day, then The Old Vicarage at Hinton, Christchurch may be the ideal venue for you.

Maximum number of day guests:  100
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  The Old Vicarage own Caterers
Outside Grounds:  Extensive garden grounds
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony in the either the Orangery or in the garden
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  Yes
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

The Old Vicarage – http://vicaragecountryhouse.co.uk


 

Deans Court, Wimborne, Dorset

 

Deans Court in Wimborne, Dorset is one of the South’s best kept secrets. Not only is it within a secluded garden in the pretty market town of Wimborne Minster, it is only 2 hours from London so easily accessible for those guests travelling from further afield. You or your guests can also hire one or more of the pretty cottages within the grounds to use as a base for your preparations and to explore the area.

Deans Court specialises in hosting your wedding reception in the semi-wild gardens around the privately owned Deans Court house. You will have exclusive use of the grounds and gardens with your Wedding Breakfast being served in the large marquee next to the picturesque lake whilst the swans swim by.

As this is an outside venue, weddings are limited to between May and the end of August, which also enhances the exclusivity of this venue, and they do not allow back to back bookings so you are able to set up all your decorations the day before. They are able to cater up to 140 guests, but have been known to accommodate more if required! If you are looking for a country themed wedding in a venue which is in easy reach of the main road systems for your guests then Deans Court is well worth considering

Maximum number of day guests:  140
Opening Period:  May to Early September
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List or your own
Outside Grounds:  Extensive garden grounds
Ceremony Options:  None – this is a reception only venue
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  Yes – if you book one of their cottages
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes – cottages on site

Deans Court Wedding (Country Weddings Dorset) – http://www.countryweddingsdorset.co.uk


 

Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Mudeford, Christchurch, Dorset

 

Susie & Richard’s Christchurch Harbour Hotel Wedding
Cindy & Chris’ Wedding at The Christchurch Harbour Hotel

Overlooking Christchurch Harbour towards Hengistbury Head, the Christchurch Harbour Hotel is ideal if you are looking for a luxury spa venue with panoramic views throughout your day. The private terrace with the Champagne hut is perfect for mingling with your guests after the ceremony whilst you chat and take in the view of the sail boats in the harbour. The food at this venue is exceptional and they are able to cater up to 100 guests so is perfect if you are looking for a waterside venue capable of accommodating the larger wedding. The Christchurch Harbour Hotel is an all year round venue so you can enjoy the ambiance of the hotel and scenery whatever the weather.

Maximum number of day guests:  100
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Christchurch Harbour Hotel own caterers
Outside Grounds:  Large decking area and lawn overlooking the harbour
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  Yes – option to book a room at the hotel
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

Christchurch Harbour Hotel – http://www.christchurch-harbour-hotel.co.uk/weddings/


 

Highcliffe Castle, Highcliffe, Christchurch, Dorset

 

Sam and Tim’s Highcliffe Castle Wedding

Set within its own gardens overlooking Christchurch Harbour, is one of the most popular wedding venues in Dorset. Sitting in 14 acres of parkland, surrounded by formal gardens and access to the beach below, it offers a wonderful setting for your wedding photography. For your civil ceremony, the Wintergarden Room is stunning, with it’s huge floor to ceiling picturesque windows overlooking the formal gardens and is able to accommodate up to 100 guests. If you have booked your ceremony later in the day, you then have the option to continue your celebrations in one of their unique rooms for your wedding breakfast and party into the night.

Maximum number of day guests:  100
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List
Outside Grounds:  Extensive grounds (open to the public)
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Highcliffe Castle – http://www.highcliffecastle.co.uk/weddings


 

Harbour Heights Hotel, Sandbanks, Poole

 

Kat and Aaron’s Wedding at the Harbour Heights Hotel

The Harbour Heights Hotel in Sandbanks, Poole is one of the few wedding venues on the Dorset coast which allows you to be married outside whilst taking in stunning views of the Sandbanks Peninsular and Poole Harbour. Nothing beats shipping a glass of Champagne with your guests on the private terrace before you make your way into the reception which is able to accommodate up to 100 guests. During the day you not only have use of the private decking area to relax with your family and friends, there is also a private bar and lounge area.

The most memorable way to end your perfect day at the Harbour Heights Hotel is watching the sun set over Brownsea Island whilst you ship your glass of bubbly!

Maximum number of day guests:  100
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Harbour Heights own Caterers
Outside Grounds:  Elevated decking area, small grass area
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony inside or outside
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  Yes –  option to book a room at the hotel
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

Harbour Heights Hotel – https://www.fjbhotels.co.uk/harbour-heights-hotel/weddings/


 

 The Italian Villa, Compton Acres, Poole

 

Abi and Steve’s The Italian Villa Wedding, Compton Acres

Set in the 10 acres of manicured gardens in Compton Acres, The Italian Villa is one of Dorset’s most prestigious wedding venues. With exclusive use of the Italian Villa for your entire day, direct access to the beautiful Italian Garden for your drinks reception, and the ability to accommodate up to 120 guests for your ceremony and up to 250 for your evening party, this venue is ideal for those couples looking for a venue to accommodate the larger guest list!  It is ideally suited to the more formal style of wedding and the gardens, especially the Japanese Garden, are wonderful photographic back drops for your wedding photographs.

Maximum number of day guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Beales Gourmet
Outside Grounds:  Extensive gardens – closes at 6pm
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

The Italian Villa, Compton Acres – http://www.the-italian-villa.co.uk


 

Eastclose Hotel, Hinton, Christchurch, Dorset

 

Catherine & Aaron’s Eastclose Hotel Wedding
Sophie & Alex’s Eastclose Hotel Wedding
Eastclose Hotel Wedding Movie

Eastclose Hotel is a Georgian boutique hotel and is an great choice if you’re looking for an exclusive use hotel. Depending on the number of guests you invite to your special day, the Eastclose Hotel is able to offer you a choice of rooms for your civil ceremony and then you are able to either move into the marquee for your Wedding Breakfast or remain in the house, which makes it a wonderful venue for autumn and winter weddings as there are several rooms for you and your guests to wonder through as you mingle.

Set in 18 acres of parkland it is a picturesque summer wedding venue, overlooking the farmland to the rear with winding paths, old walls and mature trees providing an inspirational back drop for your wedding photographs.

With the ability to accommodate up to 250 guests to celebrate your day, this venue is ideal if you are looking for the exclusive country house wedding but would like the support a hotel can offer.

Maximum number of day guests:  250
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Hotel’s own Caterers
Outside Grounds:  Extensive grounds
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  Yes
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

Eastclose Hotel – http://www.eastclose.com/weddings/


 

Green House Hotel, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

Kim & Rikki’s Wedding at The Green House Hotel
Rhiannon & Rob’s Wedding at The Green House Hotel

If you are looking for an eco-friendly hotel to host your day then The Green House Hotel is definitely worth considering. It is one of Bournemouth’s premier boutique hotels situated a stone’s throw from Bournemouth’s blue flag beach. They are able to cater for most sizes of weddings from a small intimate family only ceremony with private dining to a large scale corporate day with the additional option of hiring the whole 32 roomed hotel for your exclusive use.

The Green House Hotel is not just any wedding venue, it is the greenest hotel in the UK so is perfect for those looking host a wedding with the minimal environmental impact

Maximum number of day guests:  75
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Green House Hotels own Caterers
Outside Grounds:  Small outside lawn
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  Yes if all the rooms in the hotel are booked
Bridal Room:  Yes –  option to book a room at the hotel
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

The Green House Hotel  – http://www.thegreenhousehotel.co.uk


 

Durlston Castle, Durlston County Park, Durlston Head, Swanage, Dorset

 

Dulston Castle has only recently opened up as a wedding venue but it is a very unique place to get married as you are able to have the ceremony outside (not just a blessing) as during the ceremony you are able to walk up to the front of the building to complete the required legal section of the ceremony before moving back onto the lawn overlooking the sea to complete your vows.

The views over Durlston Head out to the Isle of Wight are fantastic and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot a dolphin or two! Your reception can be held in the visitors centre or you can hire a marquee, the choice is yours and the decking area is the ideal spot to watch the sun set at the end of your wonderful day. The number of weddings held at this unique venue is limited, so please contact Polly at Blue Bay Events to confirm availability.

Maximum number of day guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List
Outside Grounds:  Extensive grounds
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Durlston Castle – Blue Bay Events


 

Bournemouth Beach Weddings, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

Caroline & Luke’s Bournemouth Beach Wedding

Getting married in the UK on a beach was not and option until in 2011 when Bournemouth Council allowed a section of Bournemouth Beach to be used as a wedding venue. Beach Weddings Bournemouth was born! This is the only place in the UK that you can get married on a beach, enjoying one of the most fun packed and relaxed style of weddings available in the UK.

Beach Weddings Bournemouth are able to host your day from 10am until 12 midnight and there is no limit on how you want to style your day, your can even hire a vintage ice cream bicycle to keep your guests cool! After kicking off your shoes and walking along the sea shore watching the sun set across Old Harry Rocks, if you wish you can continue the party at one of Bournemouth’s other top locations to dance the rest of the night away or party in the marquee watching lights of Bournemouth twinkle over Bournemouth Bay.  If the weather isn’t quite as you pictured it when you booked, their beautiful marquee fully opens out so you can still take in the views whilst being under cover.

Maximum number of day guests:  160
Opening Period:  May to September
Catering Options:  Approved Supplier List
Outside Grounds:  Exclusive roped off area on Bournemouth Beach
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Bournemouth Beach Weddings – http://www.beachweddingsbournemouth.co.uk


 

 The Three Tuns, Bransgore, Dorset

 

Charlotte & Jacks Wedding at the Three Tuns in Dorset

Overlooking the countryside, The Three Tuns in Bransgore is suited to those looking for a rustic venue which caters for the smaller wedding. You are able to hire their traditional Grade II listed Barn and the marquee, either together or separately, and as they also have a civil ceremony licence you can enjoy this venue for your whole day, from ceremony to the end of the night.

With full catering on site, including BBQ’s, hog roast and buffet options and a large outside area for your guests to mingle and enjoy a glass or two bubbly with you, this is definitely a venue worth considering.

Maximum number of day guests:  Approximately 80
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Their own caterers
Outside Grounds:  Lawn area with seating
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

The Three Tuns – http://www.threetunsinn.com


 

The Connaught Hotel, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

The Connaught Hotel in Bournemouth has been Trip Advisor’s number 1 Bournemouth hotel for the last 3 years in a row. They pride themselves on offering the great service, great food and great wine, which is reflected in how they look after you from your first enquiry to the end of your evening. The hotel has recently been refurbished and with its modern contemporary feel, it’s ideal if you are looking for a more modern looking wedding theme. This venue has plenty of room for the larger wedding parties and also some lovely outside courtyards for your exclusive use.

Maximum number of day guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Hotel’s own caterers
Outside Grounds:  Small outside lawn and seating area
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  Yes
Bridal Room:   Yes – option to book a room at the hotel
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

The Connaught Hotel – Connaught Hotel Weddings


 

Bournemouth Town Hall, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

Jo & Keith’s Bournemouth Town Hall Wedding

Bournemouth Town Hall is situated in the centre of Bournemouth and is surrounded by lovely gardens and is across the road from Bournemouth central gardens, which are ideal for your after ceremony photographs. You have a choice of three rooms for your civil ceremony, The Council Chamber, which has curved seating and oak panels, is the largest room with seating up to 130 guests. The smaller Willows Room can seat up to 50 guests and it less imposing with its crystal chandeliers and pale green paint. You do also have the option of The Laurels which is suitable for a very small private ceremony with a maximum of 10 guests. This room is ideal for those who only want to say the marriage vowels with the ceremony lasting only 10 minutes.

The flexibility of having your ceremony at Bournemouth Town Hall enables you to go where you wish for your reception whether it’s a hotel in Bournemouth, a small family restaurant or back to your home for a marquee wedding, the choice is yours!

Maximum number of Ceremony guests:  from 10 to 130
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  N/A
Outside Grounds:  Bournemouth Gardens
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

Bournemouth Town Hall – Bournemouth Town Hall Marriages & Civil Partnerhips


 

The Guildhall, Poole, Dorset

 

Louisa & Glyn’s Poole Guildhall Wedding

The Guildhall in Poole is the home of Borough of Poole’s Registration Service and is the perfect venue for your civil wedding ceremony. The Guildhall was built in 1761 and with its cast iron and stone staircase leading to the main ceremony room, makes a stunning entrance for any bride. The main ceremony room can accommodate up to 120 guests and with its chandeliers, is a wonderful room to be married in. After the ceremony, you and your guests exit the room via the stone staircase which makes an impressive backdrop for a few photographs before you depart with your guests to your choice of venue for your reception!  As with Bournemouth Town Hall, getting married at The Guildhall in Poole allows you to choose any venue for your wedding reception.

Maximum number of Ceremony guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  N/A
Outside Grounds:  Very limited
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  No
Overnight Accommodation:  No

The Guildhall, Poole – Poole Guildhall Marriages & Civil Partnerships


 

The Queens Hotel, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

The Queens Hotel is one of Bournemouth’s largest family owned hotels. With its close proximity to Bournemouth Beach, it is a good choice of venue if you would like pictures on the beach or you are getting married in one of the Bournemouth churches. The Queens Hotel has two function rooms which can accommodate from 40 to 180 guests, with large windows giving plenty of natural light and a private bar area. Both rooms hold Civil Ceremony licences allowing you to enjoy your own private area from your civil ceremony to your reception and finally through to your evening party.

Maximum number of day guests:  180
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Hotels own caterers
Outside Grounds:  Small grass area
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  Yes – can be booked separately
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

The Queens Hotel, Bournemouth – http://www.queenshotelbournemouth.com


 

The Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth, Dorset

 

Overlooking Bournemouth Bay, the Marsham Court Hotel is one of the few hotels in Bournemouth offering you the opportunity to be married outside. Their Garden Wedding Pagoda is situated in their private front garden area and the stone steps leading from the sun terrace is the perfect entrance to your ceremony. If you are looking for a more traditional style of civil ceremony, the Marsham Court is able to offer you a choice of 4 different suites, some of which have access to the sun terrace, and is able to accommodate from 45 to 120 guest for your ceremony and reception and a maximum of 200 guests for your evening reception.

With private use of their sun terrace and garden for the whole of your day, and easy access to Bournemouth Beach for your wedding photos, the Marsham Court Hotel is one of the best kept secrets in Bournemouth.

Maximum number of day guests:  120
Opening Period:  All Year Round
Catering Options:  Hotels own catering
Outside Grounds:  Small lawn area
Ceremony Options:  Civil Ceremony in one of the rooms or on the lawn area
Exclusive Use:  No
Bridal Room:  Yes –  option to book a room at the hotel
Overnight Accommodation:  Yes

The Marsham Court Hotel – http://marshamcourthotel.co.uk


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