This historic town on the south coast is our focus today – a town of Victorian splendour, buzzing nightlife and a heartstopping shoreline of shimmering sea and honey-coloured sand. Brides holding their festivities here in the summer months are in luck as the natural beauty of the area ensures a plethora of places to stage photographs, especially if you choose to get married in one of our three featured hotels, all sister hotels in the Hallmark Hotel group.
Perching like a grand seabird on the clifftop above Bournemouth Beach is the Bournemouth East Cliff Hotel. The views from here are astonishing, with Boscombe Pier to the east and Bournemouth Pier to the west. The white-fronted hotel, with its eye-catching green-tiled roof, has no less than six event suites for you to utilise; three of them are licensed for civil ceremonies.
Derek and Jan Willner, who married at the East Cliff hotel, described their wedding as ‘perfect’. They added, ‘What a day. Thank you for organising the best day of our lives!’ Catering is taken care of by the hotel kitchens who will liaise with you to create the ideal menu for you and your guests.
The East Cliff is adjacent to its sister hotel the Hallmark Bournemouth Carlton, which offers a similar heady mix of glorious architecture, modern, comfortable rooms, and leisure facilities including a gym and two swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor).
Guests at the East Cliff are welcome to use these facilities in the Carlton, and you might choose to have your wedding photographs taken in the landscaped gardens and terraces there as well. There are also beauty treatment rooms for those all-important pre-wedding pampering sessions.
The Carlton itself has an amazing history where weddings are concerned. During the Second World War it housed the GI brides – those women who had married American servicemen and were waiting to be reunited with their husbands after the war. In 1946, 213 of the women (and 224 children) left the hotel bound for Southampton and a crossing of the Atlantic to a new life in the USA. While you may not be planning quite such a grand exit, the hotel nevertheless has kept up its romantic traditions and today offers no less than eight event rooms able to hold up to 200 guests.
The reception can be tailored to your requirements but a nice touch is the extra care they take over child guests at the wedding: there are specially tailored menus and even the option of a playroom set up to entertain them.
The Carlton has 76 bedrooms so your guests can all stay on site (preferential rates and early check-in are available for wedding guests, as is the case in all three Bournemouth Hallmark Hotels).
Further round the coast sits the Bournemouth West Cliff, yet another grand Victorian redbrick, not far from the same delightful stretch of beach but conveniently located for the town centre as well. All five of the function rooms here are named after wines – so you can have a small and intimate gathering in the Chenin, with its doors that open out onto a lovely garden. Or you can party with the crowds in the Merlot, which can take up to 200 revellers.
There are even more bedrooms at the West Cliff (a total of 83), so if you are planning a big event this is the hotel to go for. Fireworks, DJ, live music and cabaret are all permitted, and for the pre- or post- pampering sessions there is a health club offering hair, make-up and beauty treatments so everyone looks their best (yes, that includes the men).
West Cliff also sets up a rather beautiful outdoor reception on fine days, with the same formality (large, round tables with cloths and covered chairs) you might expect from an indoor setting – it all looks rather striking and grand.