With all its history, meandering cobbled streets, stunning cathedral, hidden corners, riverside walks, and pretty garden spaces, there’s no doubt that Winchester is a wonderful place to get married. And for couples looking at having a civil wedding in a stylish and central location, Winchester Registry Office is a fantastic option. And an added bonus? It photographs like a dream! (Lucky, lucky me!)
To help you work out if Winchester Registry Office is right wedding venue for you, I’ve pulled together information and tips about the venue, the different rooms and their capacity, 2023-24 prices, how to book, car parking and transport, what to expect on the day of your wedding, as well as ideas for where you can have your couple portraits and your reception afterwards.
About Winchester Registry Office
Located next to the Great Hall at the top of Winchester on Castle Hill, Winchester Registry Office is housed in a very attractive stone and flint building, built in the 1800s.
What I particularly love about the Winchester Registry Office building is that it’s full of gorgeous architectural details – pretty windows, staircases, doorways, wood panelling – that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to photo opportunities.
Which rooms can you use for your wedding ceremony?
Winchester Registry Office has three main rooms available to use for wedding ceremonies – The Castle Room, The Basing Room and the Avalon Room, all of which are beautifully decorated.
The Castle Room
The Castle Room is the largest room at Winchester Registry Office and can seat up to 42 guests. It features a stunning ‘River of Life’ art installation on the back wall, and is beautifully decorated with blue walls and gold-coloured velvet curtains. It’s a lovely bright space with lots of natural window light, and views out to the Great Hall.
The Basing Room
The Basing Room is a very attractive room, and can seat up to 26 guests. It’s decorated to a high standard, and has a very grand feel from its dark green peacock-patterned wallpaper, dark wood panelling, statement fireplace, to the huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling. As you enter the room, there’s a large window on the right, which provides gorgeous natural light for your photos.
The Westgate Room
The Westgate Room is a modern and popular choice for ceremonies with seating for up to 16 guests.
The Avalon Room
The Avalon Room is the smallest room with seating for just 6 guests. The room features an ornate mirror and Rennie MacKintosh-style seating.
Winchester Registry Office Ceremony Prices (based on 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2024)
Getting married at Winchester Registry office can cost as little as £281 (Monday-Thursday) and up to £719 on Sundays and bank holidays. You can find more information on pricing here.
If you fancy having your wedding celebrations at a different (and maybe larger?) venue in Hampshire which doesn’t have a marriage licence, you can do the legal bit at the registry office and have the same Registar conduct another ‘ceremony’ at your chosen venue. For same day weddings prices range from £572 (Mondays to Thursdays) to £924 on Sundays and bank holidays. For legal ceremonies at the registry office on a separate day to your wedding ceremony (not more than a month apart) prices range from £678 (Mondays to Thursdays) to £1000 on Sundays. You can find out more about these options here.
How to book your Winchester Registry Office ceremony?
To find out about availability and to book your Winchester Registry Office ceremony, you will need to contact the registrars by filling out a wedding ceremony enquiry form or phone 01962 845 756. In addition to paying the fee to register your marriage at Winchester Registry Office, you will need to sign a legal statement at your local register office to say you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. This is known as ‘giving notice’, and you will need to do so at least 29 days before your ceremony date. The cost of giving notice is £35 per person. As well as signing the legal statement, you will also need to bring certain documents to your appointment including your passport and proof of address. For more information click here.
Car Parking and Transport at Winchester Registry Office
So long as you make a prior arrangement with your registrars, you can usually reserve space for your wedding party cars directly outside Winchester Registry Office. Otherwise, the nearest car park is Tower Street Car Park which is a 3 minute walk away, has 515 spaces and is open 24 hours. It costs £1.60 – £15.50 (Mon-Sat) and £2.10 as a flat fee on Sundays. Conveniently Winchester train station is only a 6 minute walk away. And of course, it’s also very easy to book a taxi to/from wherever you might be staying in the city.
Your wedding day at Winchester Registry Office
Before your civil ceremony
Because Winchester Registry Office often has weddings back-to-back they can’t let you in too early, so I’d recommend arriving no more than 20 minutes before your ceremony. There are a few seats inside the registry office where you can wait inside before the ceremony starts. The registrar will come and get one partner around 10-15 minutes before the ceremony to talk to them and check through the legal documents, then they will be allowed into the ceremony room. The second partner will then be called in to check the documents and speak with the registrar, after which you’ll walk ‘down the aisle’ to join your partner and the ceremony will begin!
During your civil ceremony
A civil ceremony is usually pretty short, about 15-20 minutes. To make it a bit more personal to you, you might like to have a couple of readings, write your own vows, and maybe even have some live music. Do discuss the options with your registrar well ahead of your wedding, as it will help your registrar coordinate timings with any other wedding ceremonies happening on the same day.
After your civil ceremony
After signing the register the registrar will hand you your marriage certificate, and excitedly announce your marriage in front of all your guests! Showering the newly weds with confetti as you leave the building is always fun, and (depending on timings) there’s usually enough time to grab a few group photos on the registry office steps before the next wedding party is due.
Where can you have your couple portraits in Winchester?
The whole Castle Hill area is just gorgeous for couple portraits, so I always recommend allowing at least 30 minutes for this part of your wedding day. After all, this part of the day isn’t just about photos, but it’s also about giving the two of you time to relax, a pause for reflection and to have some time by yourselves before you get back to the party.
I usually like to mix up where I take couples depending on how they feel and what they fancy. For example, some couples enjoy heading into the bustling centre and don’t mind being congratulated by members of the public, whereas others prefer to head to some more secluded private corners and back streets. Either way, I’ve got loads of ideas for great couple photos up my sleeve, and whatever the weather too!
You might also want to consider doing a ‘first look’ before your ceremony. Although it’s not very common in the UK, it can be a great idea especially if your ceremony is later in the day or in the Winter when the sun sets earlier. Having an hour together before your ceremony to just relax and be with one another whilst strolling through the beautiful city of Winchester while I happily snap away can result in some wonderful photos and wedding day memories!
Remember, it’s always your day, your way, so you can change up your wedding day timeline as you like.
Where can we have our wedding reception in Winchester?
Since Winchester Registry Office is in the centre of Winchester, there are lots of hotels, pubs and restaurants to choose from for your wedding reception. Here are a few of my favourites:
Situated at the back of the main restaurant, The Buttercross Room at The Ivy Winchester (conveniently located on the High Street) is a fantastic choice for your post-registry office celebrations. Decorated with colourful vintage prints inspired by local history and topography, it’s the sort of room that needs no additional decoration but nonetheless has real character and wow-factor. It can seat up to 24 guests, or 40 standing.
If you fancy an exceptional dining experience in a 600-year old grade II listed Medieval house bursting with historic charm, then the Chesil Rectory would be a fantastic choice. Their private dining room – The Austen Room – is particularly lovely with space for 10 guests.
A sister restaurant to The Chesil Rectory, Inn the Park is a great option if you are planning a large evening celebration, and can cater for up to 140 guests. It’s in a gorgeous location too in the Abbey Gardens next to the Guildhall. It’s a superb space inside too, and has a relaxed and less formal vibe which is so popular with couples at the moment. And of course, they know a thing or two about food there too! Oh, and did I mention their giant mirror ball? Such a fab party space!
Steeped in Queen Anne-style architecture, Winchester’s Hotel du Vin is an elegant and beautiful venue for intimate wedding receptions for up to 48 guests. Their private dining room opens directly onto their walled courtyard, which is a fantastic space for drinks during the warmer months.
Just off the main street, the charming and more traditional Winchester Royal Hotel offers a choice of function rooms with space for up to 80 guests. It even has a beautiful private garden which is perfect for drinks in the warmer months, and a few family photos. The sophisticated surroundings will certainly round off your day perfectly.
Forte Kitchen is another favourite venue of mine, which offers 3 versatile event spaces. They can cater for all sorts of celebrations from canapes (up to 100 people), buffets (up to 80 people) to a full multiple-course sit-down dinner (up to 76 people). And what is more, DJ hire, live music or an alternative performer is also possible.
Are you feeling excited about your Winchester Registry Office wedding?
And there you have it! I really hope this blog post has given you some useful information and that you’re feeling excited about planning your own wedding in the beautiful city of Winchester.
If you’d like to discuss photography for your Winchester Registry Office wedding, then please get in touch. I offer bespoke quotes for smaller and shorter weddings all year round. I’d love to hear about your plans!