9 intimate venues for small weddings in the Lake District and Cumbria

 

As a wedding photographer of 14 years, I’ve always loved intimate weddings, and it’s been really interesting to see them grow in popularity over the past few years.

Government guidelines during the pandemic enforced a number cap on wedding guests for a little while, and I think that helped people realise they can do away with big weddings and still have an incredibly special day.

A lovely thing about smaller weddings is that only your most important people will be sharing those special moments with you, and you’ll get to spend more time with each of your guests too.

The pace of a small wedding is often a little slower and more relaxed for everyone, including your wedding photographer – group photos are much quicker, and they can get more natural photos of all your guests having fun, because there are fewer people to try and get shots of.

The definition of a small wedding seems to differ, depending on who you ask – some say 30-60 guests, or 50 guests or fewer, and some say a small wedding consists of less than 20 guests.

For the purpose of this small wedding venues blog post, we’re looking at venues that hold around 50 wedding guests or fewer, as well as intimate elopement venues.

 

1. Hidden River Cabins for a nature-filled small wedding

Hidden River Cabins are in Longtown, which is 20 minutes from Carlisle. So it’s not technically in the Lake District, but it’s close enough to be included on this list.

Plus, it’s one of my favourite local wedding venues, so I had to mention it. Hidden River is one of the venues that I seem to be shooting weddings at all the time.

Something I love about the cabins is that they are completely surrounded by nature. It makes them feel extra special and really secluded.

I also love Hidden River Cabins because of the backdrops – there’s a river, lots of nature, lots of lovely little spots across the ground – you can have beautiful photos in the greenery and flowers, and all that jazz.

The wedding venue is basically one of the log cabins that you can hire for the whole day. You can get ready there, have your whole ceremony, and a reception too – they even do catering.

You can have up to 50 guests for a licenced cabin wedding at Hidden River, which can be held inside the cabin or outside on the decking if the weather plays ball.

hiddenrivercabins.co.uk
@hiddenrivercabins

 

2. A lakeside farmhouse micro wedding at Cote How

Cote How is near Ambleside in Cumbria. It’s not a wedding venue I’ve photographed at before, but would love to. Those peaks are just beautiful, and there’s an incredible lakeside view for lush wedding photos.

It’s a gorgeous old farmhouse nestled in the breathtaking landscape of the Lake District, with options to marry in the barn, outside, or in one of the gorgeous licenced rooms of the house if you’re eloping.

Cote How has a few different packages which all suit tiny weddings from 2 to 24 guests, each one with a magical and romantic vibe.

cotehow.co.uk
@cotehowlakedistrictweddings

 

3. An intimate wedding with grandeur at Broadoaks Country House

A mere 5 minutes from Lake Windermere in Cumbria, Broadoaks Country House is super secluded within its own stunning grounds.

I’ve photographed a few weddings at this fab wedding venue in the Lake District over the years, and it’s such a special place, plus it’s LGBTQ+ friendly too.

Broadoaks Country House was a Victorian gentleman’s residence back in the day, so it has loads of charm and “intimate grandeur”. The gardens are lovely too, and you can take a short drive down to the lake side for some extra special wedding photos.

They can help you organise intimate winter weddings by the fire or outside in the gazebo, from elopements with the Broadoaks team as witnesses, right up to larger weddings.

broadoakscountryhouse.co.uk
@broadoaks_countryhouse

 

4. The Forest Side Hotel for an eco-friendly small wedding

In the heart of the Wordsworth’s Lake District, The Forest Side Hotel nestles at the foot of the Lakeland Fells within 43 acres of beautiful gardens and woodland.

The Forest Side Hotel is another incredible refurbished Victorian gentleman’s residence wedding venue in the heart of Ambleside. It’s very eco friendly and they even grow the ingredients for their delicious food in their allotment.

I absolutely love this small wedding venue – I photographed my first wedding here in 2023 and I have been obsessed ever since. They really go above and beyond for couples.

The grounds are amazing too, and are full of lovely spots for wedding photos with incredible views of Helm Crag, Silverhow and Loughrigg.

They can hold up to 50 ceremony guests at The Forest Side Hotel, and up to 80 evening guests.

theforestside.com
@the_forest_side

 

5. A grand but intimate wedding at Askham Hall

Askham Hall is a well-known wedding venue in Cumbria, and for good reason. It’s an absolutely stunning Grade II listed building which dates back to the 13th century, so as you can imagine, the decor in every room looks amazing.

The grounds at Askham Hall are beautiful, with several locations to hold a wedding ceremony, including on the lawn, in the gorgeous barn lit with fairy lights, or the Medieval Hall.

I can really see why Askham Hall was named Cumbria Tourism’s Wedding Venue of the Year in 2022.

Askham Hall can host 150 wedding guests and has accommodation for 38, but it’s also perfectly suited to intimate weddings as small as just the two of you.

askhamhall.co.uk
@askhamhallweddings

 

6. Gilpin Lake House for a unique micro wedding

Small wedding parties at Gilpin Lake House get exclusive use of the house with 100 acres of private grounds and a beautiful four-acre lake. It’s a mile away from the Gilpin Hotel, so there’s plenty of privacy.

If you’re looking for a unique small wedding experience, Gilpin is one of a kind. I’ve not photographed a wedding here before, but I would love to as it looks so luxurious and special.

There’s the option of having your small wedding at the lake house for 12-60 guests, or a micro wedding or elopement at the boat house, which holds 2-6 people.

thegilpin.co.uk
@gilpinhotel

 

7. A small lakeside wedding at Lodore Falls

Located in Keswick, Lodore Falls is an iconic wedding venue in the Lake District, with stunning vistas and a lakeside location – perfect for show-stopping wedding photos.

It’s a sustainable and environmentally conscious wedding venue, and dogs are welcome for ceremonies too, which is always a tick in my book.

Lodore Falls is great for intimate ceremonies and larger wedding parties alike, holding up to 100 guests in various different areas of the hotel.

For intimate micro weddings, the Cascade suite is perfect, as it holds up to 25 wedding guests, or you could get married in the lovely garden gazebo.

Please note that Lodore Falls is currently being renovated and will be closed until 1st March 2024 (so no viewings or bookings). However, the team is still on hand for any questions or enquiries.

lakedistricthotels.net
@lakedistricthotels

 

8. Storrs Hall for an elegant elopement

Situated in Bowness-on-Windermere, Storrs Hall is a luxury wedding venue with a private jetty, which makes for lush wedding photos with a spectacular lake backdrop.

I was lucky enough to photograph a wedding here a few years ago, and it was truly amazing.
Storrs Hall has wedding packages for 2-80 people. You can choose to have exclusive use of Storrs Hall, for up to 80 wedding guests.

Their “Just for Two” package is specially made for an elopement, with witnesses provided, delicious meals, accommodation, a spa treatment, and loads more luxurious touches.

storrshall.com
@wedding_at_storrs

 

9. A cosy and intimate wedding at Low Hall The Lakes

This is a wedding venue I would love to photograph. It’s the newest wedding venue on the list, but just as special as the others.

Low Hall The Lakes is tucked away between Lorton and Cockermouth, down a long private lane. The 17th-century farmhouse and barn are set in 2 acres of gorgeous grounds, which would be the perfect location for wedding photos.

They have a range of packages to make your wedding special, whether it’s a big party of up to 100 wedding guests in the barn or a super intimate wedding inside Low Hall farmhouse, you’ll have exclusive use of the whole place.

There are a couple of cosy licenced areas to have your wedding ceremony inside the farmhouse, including the library and in the snug by the fire with up to 6 wedding guests.

lowhallthelakes.com
@lowhallthelakes

 

A very important thing to remember: if you choose a non-licenced Lake District location for your elopement with a celebrant, this isn’t legally binding, because weddings in England and Wales need a registrar for the legal paperwork for your marriage.

However, you can do the legal bit another day in a licensed place, like your local registry office (mine is Carlisle Registry office). They’re often beautiful old buildings with plenty of character, and I don’t think it makes a wedding any less romantic.

If you choose to get married in Scotland, a celebrant ceremony is legally binding. The best bit? You can get married anywhere you like, as there are no outdated ‘can only be married at a registered business/structure’ laws as we have in England.

 

And lastly, a tiny bit of shameless self-promo: my 4 hour package is perfect for a small wedding, or I can do an hour and a half package for really small weddings and elopements. Check out my wedding photography packages and pricing.

I’m sure your favourite local wedding photographer will have similar options, and if you can’t see it on their website, it doesn’t hurt to enquire. Most wedding photographers can be flexible to suit your wedding photography needs.

Happy wedding venue hunting!

 

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