We asked Gemma Hill from The Bridgewater Hall event team to guest blog  for us this month. Gemma shares with us her Top 5 Tips for getting married in a unique wedding venue.

“So you’ve chosen a unique venue for your wedding? Excellent! Choosing an unusual venue will ensure your day is the extra special occasion it should be and will forever be remembered by guests for all the best reasons. However a unique venue will mean you’ll need to think about the logistics in more detail as the venue will likely operate in its own unique way! I hope these hints and tips will help you to get the most out of the special location you’ve chosen and avoid any pitfalls you might come up against. I’ve worked in unusual venues within the events industry for 10 years and spent the last 5 years at the beautiful Bridgewater Hall, an international classical concert hall in Manchester city centre.”

Stephen McGowan Photography

  • Explore every nook and cranny

Your unusual venue could be a huge warehouse in the middle of the city centre, a ship on the docks, a theatre with an impressive auditorium or a fort in the sea! What all of these venues will have in common is the interesting environment they’re nestled in; the reason you chose that venue. Therefore make sure you and your photographer discover every inch of the venue and grounds to hunt out the perfect spot for a snapshot to remember. The Bridgewater Hall sits alongside the Bridgewater canal right in the middle of Manchester providing an impressive urban backdrop. The glass front provides an endless number of places to take a picture with the city centre skyline in the background and there’s even a copper bust of Sir Charles Hallé for a quirky image forever linking the couple to the iconic venue. Your event planner will help you explore and should be enthusiastic about the fantastic place they work in, so tap into their knowledge of the place. You’ve chosen your venue because it is different so discover the best places for a picture and get snapping!

  • Hire a great photographer

This seems like an obvious tip; of course you want a good photographer. However there are lots of wedding photographers out there, most of which are excellent at what they do but consider the type of photographer they are and the type of venues they’ve worked in before. The Bridgewater Hall is a super chic, city centre venue oozing urban style but will never be able to provide the perfect group photo on the large lawn outside, or offer a pagoda next to the pond or a grand staircase in the lobby. What it does have is style, an incredibly impressive Auditorium and lots and lots of glass! Therefore a photographer used to taking images in funky, modern spaces would probably get the most out of the quirky images the Hall can provide. A fantastic photographer doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a fortune; shop around, many will try to stay competitive within a saturated market and the really good ones will be excited to get the opportunity to get some snaps of a wedding in an unusual setting.

Stephen McGowan Photography

  • Feel confident in your venue’s wedding planner

You’ll need to rely on your venue’s event/wedding planner to advise you how to make the most of the space you’ve hired. Their expertise will be invaluable when deciding where each aspect of the wedding should take place; such as the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception. You might have hired a venue with one stunning room that needs to accommodate all aspects of the wedding, so talk to your wedding planner about where guests will wait when the room is being turned around. On the other hand you might have hired a venue with multiple spaces, so you need to know how your wedding will flow throughout the different spaces. Your venue might be able to offer a distinctive experience so talk to your event planner to find out what options are available. At The Bridgewater Hall couples can use the stunning Auditorium to exchange their vows on stage, have pictures taken backstage for an exclusive theatrical setting or have the wedding march played on one of the largest organs in Europe, there are so many interesting options. The best choice all depends on how you envisage your big day, and of course the number of guests attending.

The Stage

  • Be aware of access and restrictions

Your unique venue will likely operate very differently to a hotel that is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Therefore check when you can gain access on the day of your wedding, if there’s no accommodation on-site find out where the bridal party can get dressed and have their hair and make-up done. You will need early access on the morning of your wedding to allow enough time for everyone to get ready. At The Bridgewater Hall we provide the bridal party with our best back stage dressing rooms, with large mirrors surrounded by theatre style light bulbs. It makes the bridal party feel extra special getting exclusive use of the backstage areas.

Check when items can be delivered to your venue. You’re probably going to have several suppliers such as florists, DJ, band, venue dressers etc. and many will have other jobs on at the same time and will want to know when they can set up. The venue dressers will likely want to dress it the day before if possible.

Most unique venues will have some restrictions in place when it comes to dressing the spaces. You may be using a listed building or a museum with public exhibitions on display, therefore understandable if they don’t want you to tie bows to their 40ft T-Rex! At The Bridgewater Hall we don’t allow helium balloons because they get stuck in the artwork at the top of the building and we can’t get them down again. We also don’t allow open flame which is a restriction within our building’s insurance. But don’t worry there’s always an alternative, such as LED tea lights or air filled balloons. Your venue’s wedding planner should be able to advise a suitable alternative to ensure your vision is still achievable!

  • Use your venue’s preferred suppliers

Your venue should have invested a lot of time into creating a preferred suppliers list. The suppliers will have been chosen specifically to not only suit the type of building it is but to also work within the confines of any restrictions placed up on that venue. It’s also more likely that your wedding planner will be able to bag you a good deal with their suppliers because they’ve already established a working relationship with them and they’ll use them on a regular basis. You may not have accommodation on-site, therefore your venue will have made connections with the best hotels in the vicinity allowing you to choose the perfect bridal suite. At The Bridgewater Hall the event planners attend wedding supplier networking events purely to make connections with reputable, fairly priced suppliers. We have a comprehensive list of suppliers who we know provide the best possible service at a great rate.  Using your venue’s suppliers also means you will have less people to deal with as your wedding planner will liaise with them all on your behalf. You’ll still be able to meet them to pick the flowers, taste the cake or choose your colour scheme but your event planner can arrange all of those meetings for you!



Images are a selection from The Bridgewater Hall and Stephen McGowan Photography.

For more information about hiring The Bridgewater Hall as your wedding venue please view here.