Are you planning a Windsor Guildhall wedding? Looking for inspiration for wedding venues in Windsor or Berkshire? As a Windsor wedding photographer, more than half the weddings I photographed last year were held at the Guildhall. I feel so lucky to have the Guildhall on my doorstep - it's such a stunning and historic venue. So I'd like to share with you all my tips for marrying at the Guildhall. Read on below...
To book your Windsor Guildhall wedding you need to contact RBWM (the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead). Bookings for the Guildhall can be made up to 12 months in advance of the ceremony (the RBWM registrars don’t take bookings further than 12 months and as you need to book the registrar before the venue, the Guildhall has to comply with the 12 month booking limit).
Ceremony bookings are for one hour from 10am with the last of the day at 5pm. You should contact the Registrar’s Office to complete the paperwork and confirm there will be a registrar available to conduct the ceremony. Their office number is 01628 796422 or you can email [email protected]
As you can see from the photos above, the Guildhall is a stunning venue - you can marry in grandeur watched over by paintings of royalty. The Windsor Guildhall are happy to arrange viewings of this stunning venue before or after you make your booking.
With such grand surroundings, do you need to be planning a grand wedding? Not necessarily! I have photographed weddings of all sizes at the Guildhall from four guests (including the bride & groom!), through small and intimate family ceremonies, to larger weddings with a hundred guests. The Chamber can seat a maximum of 100 people and is the Guildhall's largest room. The majority of couples I have photographed have chosen the Chamber as their ceremony room, even if they have only a small number of guests. Should you prefer a smaller room, the Ascot Room where Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, can seat 15 people and has beautiful stained glass windows along two of its walls.
The charges for a wedding ceremony depend on the day of the week, although if you live locally, it's worth remembering that RBWM residents receive a discount.
On the day, your guests should arrive 15 minutes before your ceremony. Most ceremonies last approximately 30 minutes, after which your guests will head out to the steps outside to greet you as newlyweds. Although confetti is not permitted inside the Guildhall, once the Guildhall's remarkable red doors are closed, they make a beautiful backdrop for confetti outside.
Should you be unlucky enough to have rain on your wedding day then, fortunately, the Guildhall has its covered area with its infamous pillars (there are a number of stories as to why the pillars stop a couple of inches short of the ceiling above them). Although this is a public thoroughfare and a little cosy with lots of guests, it is possible to arrange a few photos undercover away from the rain.
Once you've booked your ceremony date and venue, you'll be considering reception venues. We are fortunate that Windsor has a number of venues to suit all tastes and budgets.
If convenience is important, then across the High Street from the Guildhall you are spoiled for choice with three amazing hotels - The Castle Hotel, The MacDonald Hotel Windsor and the Harte & Garter. The Castle Hotel even has suites that overlook the Guildhall doors so you can get ready with a glass of champagne whilst watching your guests arrive from afar.
Although none of these hotels have outside grounds, Windsor provides a number of photogenic locations. The Long Walk offers far-reaching views of Windsor Great Park as well as the Castle, and is just a five minute walk from the Guildhall. Permits are required for wedding photography on the Long Walk; whilst there is no cost and I sort this all for you, a permit will only be granted for weekday weddings and it's subject to no other events taking place on the Long Walk (also worth noting that groups are restricted to a maximum of ten people and confetti is not permitted).
The Guildhall Island itself with cobbled streets running down the side of the Castle is another attractive (and generally quieter) location for wedding photographs. Or five minutes from the Guildhall in the opposite direction is the River Thames which provides plenty of photo opportunities. You may even wish to consider a boat trip along the Thames for you and your guests. Beside the Thames, The Christopher Wren Hotel has a lovely reception room and balcony overlooking the river.
For venues further afield, you may wish to consider the gothic Oakley Court Hotel with it's film history (the location for The Rocky Horror Picture Show amongst others) and gardens overlooking the Thames. Reached with a short 10-minute drive it's still pretty handy for the Guildhall - Christopher Cars can provide Classic and Vintage wedding cars to whisk you there. Alternatively, you may choose a Windsor Carriages ride along the Long Walk to a more relaxed and informal reception at the Fox & Hounds pub on the outskirts of Windsor Great Park.
Once you've booked your venues and transport, you'll want to book a photographer (I'd love to capture your day!), as well as considering flowers, cakes and hair and make-up. Below are a list of people I've worked with before and can highly recommend. Enjoy the planning - it's such an exciting time - and please get in contact if you've any questions about photographing your wedding at the Guildhall and around Windsor!
Event Decor & Floristry
Hair & Make-up