From uber-hip to majestic and traditional, there are art galleries all around the country that are licensed for civil ceremonies. While these are obviously great for an art-loving couple, they are also natural choices for couples looking for a quirky, original element to their day, and for those seeking a large space with lots of good lighting.
Galleries often have unexpected side rooms and hidden corners that make for great cosy areas for your guests to sit and chat. And what better way to break the ice than for Great Aunt Maud to glare at a Jackson Pollock and declare, ‘Well, I could have done THAT!’
Up in the north of the country we have Laing Art Gallery, in Newcastle upon Tyne. Classical elegance is the order of the day here, with a sweeping staircase, cabinets filled with silver, and a stunning stained-glass window created in 1904, showing the goddess Minerva presiding over the marriage of painting and sculpture. What better place to take your vows?
The dramatic 18th and 19th Century Gallery is richly decorated with paintings by world-famous artists, including William Holman Hunt, Joshua Reynolds, Gainsborough and Gauguin.
You can use the Marble Corridor for drinks and canapés, and the spacious ground floor café for entertainment later in the evening. One bride who held her wedding here, Rachel Lambert, said later, ‘It was the most perfect day of our whole lives. The venue was stunning, the staff were so helpful and the whole day was seamless, elegant and everything we could have ever hoped it could be.’
A little further south we have the Manchester Art Gallery.
This sumptuous setting has a great mix of historic and contemporary art, but is particularly known for its fine Pre-Raphaelite collection, allowing you a dreamy backdrop for your dream day.
Dinner and dancing can take place in the glass Atrium or the Gallery Restaurant, depending on your numbers. And just to top it all off, every couple holding their wedding here gets a year’s complimentary Manchester Art Gallery Friends membership. Nice wedding present!
Heading further south still, we find the National Museum in Cardiff. Here the art spans more than 500 years, so everyone is bound to find something they like (even Great Aunt Maud). Couples can choose to hold their celebrations in the more historic galleries or among the contemporary collections, though for the drinks reception the Museum recommends its world-renowned Impressionist galleries, displaying work by Monet, Cezanne and Renoir.
The grand hall is perfect for an evening reception and can hold a staggering 320 guests, so suitable for almost all sizes of wedding – including Asian weddings, which they have plenty of experience in catering for.
There are of course a plethora of museums and galleries in London to choose from for your wedding day, but one of our favourites here at weddingvenues.com is the Foundling Museum.
Founded in 1739 as a hospital for orphaned children, it functions today as a gallery and charity still working with vulnerable children. The collections include works by Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough, and the Museum itself is filled with sumptuously appointed 18th century rooms to use for your celebrations.
The Picture Gallery and Court Room can be used for the ceremony, while on the ground floor your reception can hold up to 250 guests. Exclusive use of the museum is possible, so you and your guests can wander at will and take in all the culture. Having worked with brides and grooms for many years, the museum has a useful range of contacts from caterers to florists whom they recommend to help your day go perfectly.