BODLEIAN LIBRARIES - A BREATHTAKING WEDDING VENUE IN THE HEART OF OXFORD


Photo Credit - Kate Hopewell-Smith


I LOVE Oxford. I've loved it since I went there on a school trip many moons ago and even applied to go to the famous University (I did actually get an interview, which was a freakin' disaster and has gone down in family legend, but that's another story...). So naturally I jumped at the chance to visit the Bodleian Libraries and find out how this iconic location worked as a wedding venue. To say I was blown away is an understatement. The Bodleian Libraries is a genuinely astonishing venue that has to be seen to be believed. There's a real air of magic about the whole place and it's the perfect venue for a truly memorable wedding.


Photo Credit - Kate Hopewell-Smith


Anyway, let's start with a little history lesson. Part of the University of Oxford, the Bodleian Libraries are set right in the heart of the dreaming spires. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, it dates back to 1488 when Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester donated the first 300 books. The collection has grow over the past 400 years and 'the Bod' is now one of the most celebrated libraries in the world, with over 12 million printed items. The impressive buildings that house the Bodleian are every bit, if not more famous, than the collection itself and many of them have been in constant use since the middle ages. These historic rooms are now available for private hire, and if history, academia or stunning architecture are your jam, then they are the ideal venue for an incredible wedding.


Photo Credit - Barker Evans


The area of the Bodleiean Libraries which is available for hire is known as the Old Bodleian, and there are two main spaces available for hire. But first things first. The Old Bodleian is accessed via a large courtyard known as Old Schools Quad. If you've been to Oxford before, you'll know the magical feeling of stepping through one of the many doorways to discover grandiose hidden courtyards, and Old Schools Quad will definitely give you guests that sense of amazement as they cross the vast courtyard surrounded by towering, intricate stone walls. In the warmer months, you can hold a champagne reception in the quad, and it would be a truly special atmosphere to mingle in the sunshine with your guests in such a beautifully dramatic space.


Photo Credit - Stu Heppell


From Old Schools Quad, you step through the main doors and cross over a narrow entrance hall called, in true Oxford style, the Proscholium. Through another set of doors and you enter the astonishing Divinity School. This is the largest space available for hire and is a long room with towering ceilings and huge windows which flood the room with dramatic shafts of light. The Divinity School was completed in 1488 and is known as a true masterpiece of gothic architecture. I genuinely did an audible gasp when I first stepped into this room; it is extraordinary. Not only is it visually breathtaking, it has that wonderful electric atmosphere that you get in really old buildings, where you can physically feel the weight of history (or is that just me?!). I LOVED it.


Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography


At the far end of this space, doors lead to the equally impressively named Convocation House. which lies perpindicular to the Divinity School. This is a 17th century building which was designed as a meeting place for the University's supreme legislative body (fancy, I know!). Wooden benches line each side of this room, while the delicate fan-vaulted ceiling leads the eye to an beautiful arched window which dominates the end wall. It's an impressive space but it doesn't feel austere or intimidating, as the intricate details give it real beauty.


Photo Credit - Alexis Knight


I could gush about the architecture and atmosphere of these rooms all day, but what you really meed to know is how they can be used for your wedding, right? There are a couple of options depending on the size of your wedding and whether you want to hold your entire wedding at the Bod, or just your ceremony. Both rooms are licensed for civil ceremonies and can also be used for evening receptions so you can work with the in-house team to work out the best arrangement for your wedding.


Photo Credit - Weddings by Nicola and Glen


If you just want to hold your ceremony at the Bodleian, you can hire Convocation House and the adjoining Chancellor's Court, which is a small anteroom, on a ceremony only basis. You'll have the space for 3 hours between 9am and 3pm, with a private entrance for your guests, dedicated venue staff and an experienced in-house wedding coordinator to support you throughout the planning process. This package is £1700 and is a lovely way to experience the grandeur of the Bodleian before taking the party elsewhere for your reception.


Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography


Alternatively, you can hire the entire space and hold your whole wedding at the Bodleian. This package is £6000 and includes hire of the Divinity School, Convocation House and Chancellor's Court on an exclusive basis from 4pm to 1am. So let's talk numbers. As I mentioned, both rooms are licensed for civil ceremonies and can also be used for dining. Convocation House can hold 100 people for a ceremony and 30 for a sit-down meal, while the Divinity School can accommodate a ceremony or a meal for 120 guests. The entire space can hold 200 people for an evening reception. If I was planning a wedding here, I would hold the ceremony in Convocation House before heading into the Divinity School for a lavish feast. You can choose to have traditional round tables for your reception, but for me, the academic setting really lends itself to long, college-style tables.


Photo Credit - Allister Freeman


The Old Bodleian is a wonderfully grand venue but that's not to say you have to stick with traditional or formal styling. Wild, abundant flowers would contrast beautifully with the stone walls and towering windows, and create a really modern, luxe feel. Add in some flickering candlelight for a truly magical atmosphere. The team at Bodleian Libraries can help to suggest some wonderful suppliers - or contact The Wedding A-List to help put together your dream team! For me, this venue calls for abundant flowers, ice-cold champagne and extravagant sharing feasts at beautifully styled long tables - but really there are a host of possibilities and you can really make this historic space your own.


Photo Credit - Kate Hopewell-Smith


If you're planning an Oxford wedding, or just looking for a breathtaking venue with a wonderful history, then I urge you to visit the Bodleian Libraries. It's a truly extraordinary wedding venue and the perfect place to throw a party to remember!


Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography


If you're interested in getting married at Bodleian Libraries then check out the website for more information, or get in touch with the in-house events team - events@bodleian.ox.ac.uk


Photo Credit - Stu Heppell

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Alexandra Jane Photography

Photo Credit - Barker Evans

Photo Credit - Barker Evans

Photo Credit - Barker Evans

Photo Credit - Becky Harley

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Photo Credit - Ian Jackson

Photo Credit - Julie Michaelsen

Photo Credit - Kate Hopewell-Smith

Photo Credit - Stu Heppell

Photo Credit - Stu Heppell

Photo Credit - Stu Heppell

Photo Credit - Stu Heppell

Photo Credit - Weddings by Nicola and Glen

Photo Credit - Weddings by Nicola and Glen

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