London for Free

Written by Emma Hla

London for free…

This title might be a bit misleading… Let me explain a little before you get too excited and think we’ve found a hidden wedding venue in the capital that’s, ummm, free!

At Coco Wedding Venues, we’ve got great venues in our collection, but sometimes it isn’t just about the bricks and mortar of the venue. It’s about so much more… The surrounding areas, the hidden backdrops waiting to be discovered and the million opportunities that await you and your Photographer.

To help me explain in a little more detail I’ve enlisted the expert advice of Heather from Eclection Photography. Heather has photographed lots of our wedding venues and you’ll find her beautiful photography in our galleries.

So, taking one of our most iconic locations – London – we’re showing you how to make the most of your city wedding (or engagement shoot!)

Notes from Eclection Photography


“There are so many iconic London backdrops, however many are also a bit of a cliché. If you’re wanting to avoid this traditional feel to your images then you need to be seeking out the alternative view”, explains Heather. “Couples can opt for less iconic locations and instead absorb the energy and atmosphere of London for unique photos. Look for key references to London – The city, the river, graffiti and the glorious Georgian and Victorian architecture…”

In terms of location get a bit creative… Leave the venue, take a stroll, or maybe stop off somewhere en-route between your ceremony and reception locations. “Leave your guests and hop off that Routemaster half-way or jump in a black cab and go on an adventure with your photographer!” says Heather “Then when you get to the venue – all the guests are there (drinks in hand ready) to greet you and cheer your grand entrance!”

In terms of where to actually take your portraits you could opt for a location that’s special to you, maybe somewhere you first met or a place you frequent often and have happy memories. Imagine walking to work past a street where you had your wedding photos taken – it would bring a smile to your face every Monday morning!

If a desired location isn’t exactly en-route between your venues then consider a first look. “Most photographers will bite your hand off to get that extra bit of time with you! A first look is exciting, stress free and a unique moment of time alone before the ceremony and party…” says Heather. Oh and don’t worry about that aisle moment being ruined if you see your boy beforehand, those couples who have indulged in a first look said that when their eyes met the connection was powerful and emotional. With a practical hat on Heather also explains, “In winter a first look is really useful as you can take full advantage of the gorgeous low daylight and then after your ceremony just enjoy the party without worrying about the lack of light for photographs!” 

So, you’re getting married in London, you’re now feeling adventurous, where should you go…?

Here are some location ideas!

  • Barbican is an amazing space with lots of leading lines and strong architecture, lovely light and shadows and really quiet at weekends!
  • South Bank is colourful, architectural, graphical and lots of space! Of course you have glorious river views to boot.
  • The City is great for architectural backdrops and again, always quiet on a weekend. The Gherkin looks great at night!
  • However, be aware of security, as most of the city is private to a distance of about 1 metre of each building. So simply keep on the public footpath and its fair play. Remember, one can generally get away with anything on your wedding day! (Not that we’re advocating anything here!)
  • Parks – Most of the larger parks will need licenses to photograph in, however you can look for the quieter options.  Brockwell Park in South London is the perfect example, an amazing space in the capital at certain angles it can look like you’re in the middle of the countryside!
  • East London is oozing with colour, urban vibe, graffiti and rustic pre-Victorian buildings. You’ll always be able to find a colourful door/wall as a backdrop!
  • Smithfield has a bit of everything; iconic phone boxes, colourful London architecture in the market and there’s a small park just next to it.
  • Olympic Park – This is AMAZING. It is however a bit out of the way. BUT, there’s lavender (yes, lavender), water, glass, lovely sweeping paths, trees and tonnes of space.

If you’re yet to choose your London wedding venue, you might want to consider these gems and their ‘free’ photography opportunities!

Stoke Newington Town Hall & Clissold House – Closeby is Abney Park Cemetery and of course Clissold Park. The roads around Stoke Newington are bursting with coloured walls and doors and beautiful cobbled courtyards.

The Old Finsbury Town Hall – Spa Green Gardens has rustic walls, graphical architecture, lovely flowers, and pops of colour, it has everything!

The Octagon Room at Orleans House Gallery –  Some couples will only have their ceremony at this spectacular venue, and then will move on to their reception spot. So if you’re heading into the City, there are numerous points along the River Thames worth stopping off at such as Putney or Battersea Power Station…

Clifton Nurseries is also a lovely little gem just a 2 minute walk from the Regents Canal – its gorgeous around there – Little Venice!

Asylum – This stunning chapel is totally swoon-worthy and the photo ops are epic. But again, there are also a few local places for a different photographic vibe. Rotherhithe village is right on the river and utterly delightful with cobbled streets, a 17th Century pub (the Mayflower) and lots of Maritime history. Moving along the river back towards the city along the Thames Path from Bermondsey to London Bridge, there are lots of interesting spots combining the modern architecture of the Design museum and cobbled streets and converted docklands… All with an alternative view of the City.

So there you have it, our run-down of how to get the most from your wedding photography by looking for that alternative view and exploring the area around your wedding venue.

For me, one of my biggest regrets of my wedding day was not taking a stroll during ‘Golden Hour’ with my boy to capture some more portraits.

At this point of the day we had overrun slightly on the breakfast (obviously) and the boy had almost had his fill of being papped. But gosh, I mourn the lost images of us gallivanting in the surrounding fields of wheat and kissing in the ruins.

Your photographer and coordinator (either your Caterer or Wedding Planner will run the day for you) will advise you on when to capture those all important couples portraits so folks – make sure you take the time out to do it!

I’d also advise a little road trip to the venue/location before the big day; use your engagement shoot as a practice run and seek out those free opportunities, whether you’re marrying in the city or in the countryside!

Lots of love…

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