The Happy Otter Wedding planning guide

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Small Wedding Venues in York – Complete list of the 13 registered venues in York suitable for small weddings

The ultimate round up of ALL the small wedding venues in York, registered for legal ceremonies, and suitable for small or intimate wedding receptions of 2-40 guests. York is a beautiful and historic city. Spring, summer, autumn and winter - all year round this city is the perfect destination for a romantic break - so it's an excellent romantic backdrop for your dream wedding.
Small wedding venue in York
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Here's what I'm going to tell you!

Whether you are local to York, planning an elopement in York, or a destination wedding – spending time in this city to celebrate your love is a great idea!

Small weddings are a concentrated blast of love. You can hand pick your favourite people and actually spend time with them. Less wedding planning than a big wedding, your love celebration won’t become a chore. Not having to cater for a hundred people means you can lavish luxury on yourselves and your nearest and dearest. And logistically, you have so much more flexibility with a smaller group of people.

Before I photographed my first intimate wedding I was a little anxious that it might feel awkward. Like they might look at me as an intruder in an intimate family celebration. That it might be too quiet and I wouldn’t be able to take the candid photos I normally can by watching from afar – surely it’s difficult to blend in when there are only 10 people in a room.

Not at all! It was amazing! Instantly my eyes were opened to this alternative to big day celebrations. It was a perfect wedding, and I felt like part of the family. Rather than acting as an outsider, I felt welcomed into the fold – I got to know everyone individually and was able to understand their connection to the bride or groom.

A few "small wedding" and destination wedding questions answered

A small wedding has fewer than 40 guests Fewer than 20 would be intimate, though this is not always agreed upon. Some would say intimate is 30-60 people. A new term which is becoming popular is “micro wedding” this is a full wedding but for fewer than 20 people. 

Bride adn groom in York registry office garden

Who cares what you call it, the point is, there are often many benefits to have a wedding with fewer guests. In this article, I’ll consider venues which would be suitable for 2-40 guests.

Lots of people appreciate the benefits of having an intimate wedding celebration, but here are some examples.

  1. People who are marrying later in life and have often done it all before
  2. People who have children and their family have become more important than a wider group of friends and acquaintances
  3. People who are living abroad and want to have a celebration in their home country
  4. People who plan to have a big party later

You don’t like big crowds – speeches to a room of 100, or walking down the aisle with all eyes on you may feel daunting

Budget – You can now afford to really push the boat out if you are only paying for 20 guests rather than 100!

Spoil yourselves! A big wedding may have you scrimping for years, but a small wedding – this is your chance to really spoil yourselves and live the life of luxury without sacrificing the deposit on a house!

Less stress – wedding planning might be fun, but it can also be a big stress. And, as I remember, the cause for many pre-wedding disagreements!

Flexibility for people with children – big weddings have a more rigid structure, which often results in hungry and bored kids.

Involve important people – maybe you view your wedding as the blending of 2 families, or if you already have children together, you might want them to share the celebration – with an intimate wedding, you can focus more on important people without diluting your attention.

Logistics – it’s much easier to get 10 people sitting around a table for a meal than 150!

A big holiday – instead of one big wedding day, why not make this small wedding a week-long holiday with your loved ones.

Dogs – maybe your dogs want to come too. It’s much easier to arrange this at a small wedding

Planning from abroad – you might struggle to fully plan a big wedding remotely, but small weddings are much less hassle!

More control over the experience everyone receives – it is easier to ensure your guests enjoyment when there are fewer of them

Time with the people you choose – you don’t need to waste time talking to Uncle Jim’s neighbour’s new girlfriend. 

Relaxed timings – organising crowds of 100 needs to be timed, but 20 people doesn’t need to be as strict

Guests feel more involved – valued and will feel more supportive, not just one of a massive crowd

Done it all before – Let’s face it, big weddings are often an excuse to throw a big party for everyone you know. If you’ve had the big party before and you’re not particularly bothered about hosting a party to make everyone else happy… you have the freedom to think about what really matters to you when celebrating tying the knot.

The atmosphere – think carefully about the ceremony and reception venue. There may be no ambience with 10 people in a room designed for 150!

Transport – If there are only 10 people, you might need to organise transportation. If 1 person gets lost or delayed… that’s a big % of your wedding missing!

Accomodation – If you want everyone to stay in the same place, take charge of the accommodation too.

Dietary requirements – the same as every wedding, make sure you find out from your guests.

The night before and the next day – if your wedding is to be a mini holiday, plan some activities for the non-wedding days too.

Photos – Hire a wedding photographer to capture all the love and joy. These photos might be a helpful way to include any guests you couldn’t invite – at least you can show them the photos!

Ceremony – where will it be, what will it involve?

Pets – Who will look after Mr Puddles?

Clothes – Formal or informal? You have much more flexibility at a small wedding. Some people wear wedding dresses, some choose not to. Make sure you tell your guests… some people make incorrect assumptions.

Elopement – getting married in secret, often involving running away together – usually just the couple. Sometimes there are a few guests, but usually there is no reception.
Destination wedding – getting married somewhere that involves travel and overnight accommodation. Most often a small wedding, mainly due to logistics… sometimes logistics used as a deterrent by the couple to keep numbers down!
Intimate wedding – this is just the size. Intimate, small and micro weddings are all weddings that are smaller than average.

Well, first, let me ask you this: When do you feel the most in love?
Not when thinking about the stresses and challenges of your day to day life.

The house full of jobs to be done, the constant to-do list in your mind, the calendar full of meetings. Pressures and worries that are very important at this point in time. All these things are transitional. They are important now, but next year probably not so much.

When we remove ourselves from the reminders of the burdens in our minds, we allow ourselves to take a step back. To look again at life and what is important. Not to be distracted and focus on what is important/ or pressing right now.

Going away to a beautiful place full of historic buildings, staying in a luxury hotel, eating amazing food, having the luxury of as much time as you want. Having no worries and feeling totally content, this is the moment you can look at what is important… not just what is pressing.

So, go away. Go away and really celebrate the love you share.

What makes York a perfect place for a small wedding?

It's lovely to be a tourist in York. Even York locals should spend a day as a tourist every once in a while! What a lovely gift to your wedding guests - the freedom to explore and experience York.

York has more attractions per square mile than any other UK city – and most of them are beautiful, well preserved historic landmarks. You can walk across the whole city in 30 minutes, so everything is within reach!

Plus York has some of the best small wedding venues!

Visit York Minster. Legend has it that if you kiss under the heart of Yorkshire window at York Minster, you’ll stay together forever.

York Museum Gardens are a free, public park which contains the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, York Museum, an observatory, and the hospitium (one of the wedding venues listed below!). The gardens are beautiful, and there are large areas of grass and lots of benches.

Take a boat trip on the River Ouse. YorkBoat have a variety of river cruises available (including sightseeing tours from £10.50 per adult), or you can even hire a boat for your wedding reception!

Take a stroll around the city on York City walls. Mainly built in the 13th Century, there are 2 miles of walls to walk, and they are a great way to view the city. Plus, they are free!

Walk through the Shambles, an amazingly preserved medieval street, and take a ghost walk in the evening.

If you plan to make this a little holiday for your family and friends, consider getting everyone a “York Pass”.

York Minster

The official sightseeing pass for York. Once you buy this pass you will gain entry to over 30 attractions and receive extra discounts elsewhere too. You can buy a 1 day, 2 day, or 3 day pass, starting at £42 for an adult for 1 day.

The Bar Convent
Barley Hall
City Cruises York
Clifford’s Tower
DIG
Fairfax House
Goddards House
& Gardens
Henry VII Experience
JORVIK Viking Centre
The Mansion House
Merchant Adventurers’ Hall
National Railway Museum
Road Train
Richard III Experience
The Roman Bath
Treasurer’s House
York Army Museum
York Art Gallery
York Brewery
York Castle Museum
York City Sightseeing Bus
York Cold War Bunker
York Dungeon
York Minster
York’s Chocolate Story
Yorkshire Museum

Where to stay in York - Accomodation for groups

So, you’ve decided to get married in York. Great choice!

Here’s a list of Airbnb properties within the city walls for 10+ guests

Having everyone stay together adds to the wonderful holiday feel of a destination wedding. So, I’ve put together a list of airbnb accommodation within the city walls you can stay at with a group of over 10 people (the link above will take you to the list, and as an airbnb associate, I may earn part of their fee if you book through this page).

A list of 13 registered small wedding venues in York, perfect for intimate weddings

Please note: There are a few large chain hotels I have not included in this list of small wedding venues, as the ceremony rooms are essentially conference rooms and have little unique/ York value.

You will need to pay the following fee and book the registrars from York Registry Office to attend any of the small wedding venues in York (excluding York Registry Office) listed below.

  • Monday to Thursday: £530.00
  • Friday and Saturday: £615.00
  • Sundays and Bank Holidays: £665.00

This fee will not include the hire of your venue, it only covers the registrars’ attendance.

Regardless of where you intend to marry, you must both give notice at your own local registry office in person at least 28 days before your wedding. This task is required in addition to the booking of your ceremony.

The Mansion House

A 300-year-old elegant Georgian mansion house purpose-built for the Lord Mayor of York to entertain, now an interactive experience of York's past and present. The whole house is licenced for weddings, so you can choose any part you wish. Right in the centre of York, on St Helen's Square near Betty's.

small wedding venues in york
Photo credit The Mansion House, York

In the pedestrian zone, at the end of Coney Street near Bettys. Drag and zoom out on the map to get your bearings!

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 100 for the entire house
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum, you can choose a room to suit.
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – perfect!
  • Is there accommodation on-site? No,  but it is very central.
  • Is there parking on site? No, but located in the main shopping area, so parking and public transport nearby.
  • Link to brochure: This is the private dining brochure
  • Link to website: The Mansion House, York

Further info about the Mansion House, York, as an intimate wedding venue

You can hire one room, or the whole house. You need to get caterers in, but they have a list of recommendations. They are licenced for drinks, so the caterer can provide alcohol… but no dancing is allowed due to the structure of the building.

Imagine having your wedding breakfast in the same dining room used to host George IV, Prince Albert, and our current Queen!

This is one of my absolute favourite small wedding venues in York! Pricing starts at £300 for single room hire for 3.5 hours, up to the whole house for 7 hours at £950.

Bedern Hall

14th Centuary medieval hall close to the minster, but in a quiet residential area with a very small courtyard and a garden.

Bedern Hall is located within the city walls, to the north east of the city centre

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 80 for ceremony, 62 for wedding breakfast
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes
  • Is there accommodation on site? No.
  • Is there parking on site? No.
  • Link to website: Bedern Hall weddings

Note - there is to be no music after 10.30pm

They have in house catering, an alcohol licence and confetti is allowed.

Grand Hotel and Spa

Grade 2 listed Edwardian, 5 star hotel. Wood paneling, grand staircase. Just within the city walls near the train station with views of the Minster.

the grand with arrows

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 150 for ceremony and wedding breakfast
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes, they have 2 rooms so you can choose the most appropriate size, they often host small weddings with as few as 10 people.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes
  • Is there parking on site? No
  • Link to website: The Grand, York

Further info about the Grand, York, as an intimate wedding venue

A pet friendly hotel – they allow dogs.
There is a spa on site
Vallet parking is available at the hotel for £35, but there is no onsite parking.
Helicopter transfers can be arranged by the hotel concierge.

They advertise a last-minute wedding package and Sunday wedding package from £90 per person on their website. This includes room hire for ceremony and reception, various drinks, 3-course wedding breakfast, and accommodation for the happy couple. 

Grange Hotel

An elegant Georgian townhouse, award winning grade II listed hotel just outisde the city walls (7 minute walk).

grange hotel arrows

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 70 guests
  • Minimum capacity: 16 for a private dining room (smaller parties can be accommodated in the restaurant)
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes, though for fewer than 16 guests you will be around other hotel guests.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes
  • Is there parking on site? No – parking is reserved for hotel guests, but Marygate car park is only a 5 minute walk.
  • Link to brochure: Grange hotel wedding brochure
  • Link to website: Grange Hotel 

Further info about the Grange Hotel, York, as an intimate wedding venue

They have a drawing room and a library available for ceremony hire, this will be £275, or £165 if you also hold the reception at the hotel.
However, as the hotel is only a 3-minute walk from the registry office, it might make sense to save £500+ and have the ceremony at York Registry Office if you were not taking advantage of a reception package.

Grays Court

Grand and historic (dating back to 1080) luxurious independent boutique hotel. The oldest inhabited house in York. 0.5 acre private garden bounded by the bar walls in the Minster quarter. Also licenced for outdoor weddings.

grays_1

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 80
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum specified
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes! The Minster room (with views over York Minster) seats up to 16 and the website specifically mentions a wedding breakfast for 9.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes, 12 luxury en-suite rooms
  • Is there parking on site? No, parking is for hotel guests only (and then only 7 of the 12 rooms) – but this is very central and Monk Bar car park is a 5 minute walk.
  • Link to brochure: Grays Court wedding brochure
  • Link to website: Grays Court

Further info about Grays Court as a small wedding venue

Due to being grade I listed, the Minster room on the first floor is not wheelchair accessible.

There is a summer house with wisteria growing in the garden which is licenced for outdoor wedding ceremonies. And there are 4 different rooms in the hotel all perfect for a wedding ceremony.

This really is the ultimate elopement wedding venue in York! Total luxury, secluded and peaceful, but right in the middle of the historic city with fantastic views overlooking the Minster. Built in 1080 this hotel has hosted kings and the garden is walled by the famous York city walls! 

Hospitium

Beautiful listed 14th century building within museum gardens

hospitium

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 110 for the ceremony, 150 for evening celebrations
  • Minimum capacity: Not specified
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? I think yes for a wedding of 30+, but I’m not too sure about a very small wedding.
  • Is there accommodation on site? No
  • Is there parking on site? No, but Marygate carpark is a short stroll
  • Link to website: Hospitium wedding venue

Further info about the Hospitium as a wedding venue in York

Full disabled access with lifts
Wedding guests have access to the museum gardens even after it is closed to the public in the evening.
The ruins of St Marys abbey are also within the museum gardens.

Catering is provided by Bradshaws of York.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an answer on the phone, so I wasn’t able to find out how suitable this venue is if you have a small guest list.

Hotel Du Vin

Luxury grade II mansion house hotel, just outside the city walls on The Mount, half a mile from the train station

hotel du vin

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 100
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum mentioned
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes. The Library seats up to 12 people, and I have photographed a very small wedding reception here and it was lovely.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes, 44 bedrooms
  • Is there parking on site? Yes, but limited and as a first come first serve basis for residents only. The Queen Street NCP is close.
  • Link to brochure: Example pricing given for 50 guests
  • Link to website: Hotel du vin, York

Further info about the Mansion House, York, as an intimate wedding venue

Capacities of various rooms:
Library up to 12 people
Ouse room up to 24 people
Runiart room (which has a mural of roman feast on walls) seats up to 30
You can hire the ceremony room for £300. Package prices for 50 guests are listed on the brochure.

Merchant Adventurer's Hall

A stone and timber framed 14th century medieval guildhall in York city centre

Merchant Adventurers Hall in york
Easily missed - the entrance to the Merchant Adventurers Hall is down a small alley
Location of merchant adventurers hall
Very centrally located, just off Parliament street near the Picadilly bus stops.

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 180
  • Minimum capacity: No specific number given
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – weddings ceremonies smaller than 20 people will be in the Govenor’s Parlour
  • Is there accommodation on site? No
  • Is there parking on site? No
  • Link to brochure: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall wedding brochure
  • Link to website: Merchant’s Hall York

Further info about the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, as an intimate wedding venue

No high heels allowed in the great hall! The ancient wooden floors are too precious, so heel protectors will be required.

With lovely open fires, this makes a really lovely winter wedding venue in York, this is a wedding I photographed at the Merchant’s Hall in December.

Merchant Taylors Hall

Grade I listed Medieval building, with beams and an open fire, about 300 meters to the east of York minster, just within the city walls

taylors

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 120
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum given
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – they specify that the small hall will seat 32 at round tables, so presumably fewer will be possible.
  • Is there accommodation on site? No
  • Is there parking on site? Yes! Parking for 10 cars.
  • Link to brochure: Merchant Taylor wedding brochure
  • Link to website: Merchant Taylors Hall website

Further info about the Merchant Taylors Hall, York, as a wedding venue

3 different spaces can be hired together or individually to accommodate the number of guests you have.

10 parking spaces right outside and disabled access.

The hall has it’s own gardens – great for photos and drinks outside.

These photos below from their website show how beautifully they can accommodate very small weddings.

Middlethorpe Hall

A National Trust country house hotel with spa and amazing gardens in 20 acres, just 2 miles south of the centre of York in Bishopthorpe, but still within the A64 ring road

Small wedding venue in York

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 56 (or more if choosing to have a marquee)
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum specified
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – they specifically mention the Upstairs Sitting Room for 4-12 guests, and have a wedding package for up to 12 guests.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes
  • Is there parking on site? Yes
  • Link to brochure: Middlethorpe Hall wedding brochure
  • Link to website: Middlethorpe Hall website

Further info about Middlethorpe Hall as an intimate wedding venue

OK, it’s not within the city walls, but it’s so beautiful and would be a lovely base to explore the city from. If you fancy a walk, it’s only 2 miles along the river Ouse (through Rowntrees Park) from Middlethorpe Hall to Clifford’s tower in York City Centre.

And driving, that will only take you 7 minutes!

There is a spa on site and they also have their own chapel.

With a walled garden, lake, ha-ha, wildflower meadow and many massive trees, this really is an idyllic country retreat!

They have a wedding package specifically for fewer than 12 guests as detailed below:

  • A Four Poster Bedroom for the bride and groom on the honeymoon night with fruit basket, homemade chocolates and a bottle of house champagne and full English breakfast.
  • Hire of the Library or Upstairs Sitting Room for your Ceremony and of the Yellow Room for your wedding breakfast;
  • Cake stand and knife;
  • Standard printed menus, place cards and table plan.

The cost of this package is £950 Monday to Friday and £1,250 Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays

The cost of the meal and beverages is excluded. 

I photographed an intimate wedding at Middlethorpe Hall in September, here is a link to the blog complete with many photos.

My favourite things about this venue:
The light in the drawing-room is absolutely fantastic for photos, the amazingly tall tree and massive lawns (including ha-ha), the beautiful gardens. The whole place feels so spacious without any sense of being empty when you only have a few guests. There are so many places to explore and wander. It really feels like a lovely classy country retreat even though it is so close to the city.

Middletons Hotel

6 different listed buildings make up this unique and histric hotel within the city walls.

middletons

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 40
  • Minimum capacity: 2
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – they host weddings from 2 to 40 people.
  • Is there accommodation on site? Yes – plenty, including cottages which can accommodate groups of up to 6 people
  • Is there parking on site? Yes for guests
  • Link to website: Middleton’s Hotel website

Further info about Middleton's Hotel, York for weddings

There is very little info on their website (so I phoned up for most of this info), but they do mention last minute availability – so possibly a good choice if you want to plan a wedding with not much time.

Onsite car park charged at £10 per night

Recent and £1mill refurb will make sure each property celebrates its unique history.

Middletons hotel see themselves as an intimate wedding venue, they have done weddings for only 2 people in the past, so there is no lower limit at all.

There are 2 options when it comes to licenced venues to choose from – the sun lounge, which is at the back of the Lady Ann building (and is the most popular choice) or the Organ Factory (which unfortunately is up some stairs, so not wheelchair accessible). Wedding breakfasts can be hosted in the conservatory restaurant or the Sawmill restaurant.

National Railway Museum

It's the railway museum! What is more York than this?

nrm

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity: 250
  • Minimum capacity: No minimum specified – they mention 12 guests
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes, The Pullman-style carriage “Countess of York” has been converted to host up to 12-24 guests for a ceremony.
  • Is there accommodation on site? No
  • Is there parking on site? Yes
  • Link to brochure: Countess of York brochure
  • Link to website: Hire the railway museum website

York Registry Office - Bootham Suite

York's Registry Office - just outside the city walls in a smart georgian townhouse

York registry office building

Mini fact file

  • Maximum capacity:50 
  • Minimum capacity: no minimum
  • Is it suitable for small weddings? Yes – just the 2 of you, or up to 8 in a small room, or up to 50 in the larger room.
  • Is there accommodation on site? No
  • Is there parking on site? No – Marygate Car park is just around the corner
  • Link to website: York Registry Office

Further info about York Registry Office

There is no need to pay the extra fee for registrars to attend – this will be included in the ceremony price at York Registry Office (£150-£350).

I have written a guide about weddings at York Registry Office here. It’s a lovely example of a registry office and has a nice mature garden at the back for photos.

Most people will walk into the city centre and make the most of the many restaurants nearby for their reception.

What about some photos?

I love to attend small weddings. I won’t bulldoze in and make your small family celebration feel like a show. I’ll chat to your dad, and play with your kids.

I get to know everyone there, and I develop an understanding for their relationship with you. But I’m not a clown who wants to be the life and soul of the party. I’m quiet and unassuming, I’ll blend in and listen.

After your wedding I’ll send you some photographs I took and you’ll see special intimate moments with the ones you love. Genuine laughs and unsuppressed smiles. Beautiful family portraits, and an everlasting picture story of your special celebration.

Without anyone being made to feel self conscious or awkward.

When you look back on that day, it will be hard to put a price on the value of those photos. But they are always worth more than the money you invest. Photographs of memories always appreciate in value with time. An investment for your loved ones and your future self.

I’m Emma. I’m down to earth, easy-going and a mother. So I understand why you want a small wedding, and I promise I won’t spoil it.

I have a special offer for small wedding photography in York between November 2020 and February 2021. Details in this link.

Don't go! I spent so long putting all this together for you, hang about and have a look!
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Yorkshire Wedding Photographer

Happy Otter Photography
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