Ashmolean Museum wedding venue review
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t realise that you could get married at the magnificent Ashmolean Museum in Oxford – there are some wonderful unknown venue options on offer right on our doorsteps.
Licensed wedding venues
In 1995, the law was changed to allow marriages to be conducted in other civil approved venues in addition to a registry office or religious premises. Now over 50% of ceremonies are carried out in these type of venues and there are some truly beautiful venues to choose from in Oxfordshire and the surrounding Cotswolds.
Whether in a barn, a manor house, a marquee, a museum, or a hotel, there are some amazing places to hold your wedding or special occasion. There’s something out there to accommodate most styles, guest numbers and budgets.
Location of the Ashmolean Museum
Founded in 1683 The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public Museum in the world. It is slap bang in the middle of a wonderful university city – steeped in history, with an abundance of amazing architecture, and nicknamed the ‘city of dreaming spires’.
Just a few minutes walk from the city centre shops is this impressive building, conveniently opposite the prestigious MacDonald Randolph Hotel, where guests often choose to stay and then can just walk across the road.
The Ashmolean Museum gives you maximum impact with minimal effort, as the backdrop of this venue needs no help in packing a punch – the wow factor is there for you already!
One of the most striking things about this venue is there are many options and different ways you could use a combination of the galleries for your drinks reception, licensed ceremony, dinner and dancing. Each gallery has it’s own character, atmosphere and capacity that can be suited to your number of guests and requirements.
This is a venue which is quiet, personal and intimate, yet very much on the grand scale.
Once the museum has closed to the public, you have full rein of the venue from 5.30pm. For example, you could choose to have a drinks reception on the Rooftop Restaurant Terrace where it has a more contemporary feel; your wedding ceremony in the European Art Gallery with imposing portraits, picture perfect harpsichord playing and a sweeping staircase to make a grand entrance; dinner in the Greek and Roman Sculpture Gallery; and then dancing in the Vaulted Café in the basement with booth style seating and nightclub feel.
Additionally the European Art Gallery is also available for exclusive ceremonies in the daytime whilst the Museum is open.
The contemporary Atrium is a popular choice for drinks and canapés receptions – typical guests numbers are 150 but it’s adjoining galleries and four floors can be opened up to accommodate as many as 900 guests.
There’s certainly nothing staid or boring about this museum. And whilst I visited on a grey day at the end of May, there still was loads of light pouring into the venue.
Brides come in through a side entrance secretly to avoid the guests who are coming in through the main entrance. Then the bride is often brought down the grand staircase to make an entrance into the European Art Gallery complete with stunning gilded chandelier.
How awe-inspiring to spend your wedding day looking at half a million years of art and history with great masterpieces and statues looming over proceedings. All you need to decorate most of the galleries would be some up lighters for alcoves or where statues stand and spot lights for the aisle.
The Museum use Clerkwenwell Green as an exclusive catering partner to complete the wedding experience at the Ashmolean. Being a bespoke Events Catering Company based in Hoxton London, they too take the guests on a journey, delivering cool, confident and considered food that has been created with passion and designed carefully to showcase the best seasonal ingredients available throughout the year. Head Chef Mike Dewing was awarded ‘Chef Of The Year’ in 2017 by Benugo.
Chairs and tables are included in the price and they also offer a range of table linen, china and glassware.
There doesn’t seem to be anything that is too much to ask of this venue. They seem extremely flexible to accommodate couples’ wishes for their big day. With the understandable exception of red wine (apart from in the dinner and dancing areas), anything seems to go!
They can offer expert guides and access to special exhibitions should you wish to add something different for your guests during your wedding festivities.
Stacey is their amazing onsite wedding planner and she is on hand to help you through every detail and aspect of your wedding day. Not a cookie cutter style wedding in sight – just the personal touch all the way.
They offer all couples a complimentary anniversary dinner with fizz in the Ashmolean’s Rooftop Restaurant. Plus any couples who book an evening reception, they offer a complimentary tasting with their exclusive caterer as well as a case of Champagne delivered to your door after your special day.
This is a beautiful hidden gem of a wedding venue in Oxford. From the outside you don’t know the expanse of options that are available inside. It provides a truly wonderful labyrinth of options to hold a wedding or special occasion.
WEDDING VENUE FACTS
Type of venue: museum
Find out more: www.ashmolean.org/venue-hire
Location: Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PH
Wedding season: year round after 5.30pm (plus exclusive ceremonies in the daytime whilst the Museum is open)
Guests: 20-150 (depending on gallery) for wedding breakfast / maximum 900 for reception
Marquee option: n/a
Ceremony: the entire Museum is licenced for ceremonies
Venue hire: tbd based on requirements and how many galleries you want to use for the day
Nearest church: St Mary Magdalen’s Church, 9 Magdalen St, Oxford OX1 3AE
Wedding breakfast: packages with Clerkwenwell Green
Accommodation: local hotels and b&bs and opposite the Randolph Hotel
Wedding fairs: Wedding Open Days throughout the year
Other things worth a mention: impressive backdrops in every room – your ‘something old’ sorted in an instant
First published 16 July 2018. Updated 7 July 2020.