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Bodleian Library wedding venue

One of the things I love about our region is the complete diversity of the types of wedding venues available in and around the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire. With an abundance of barns, manor houses, hotels and beautiful backdrops to tie the knot.

It’s not often that I’m completely blown away by a venue the first time I see it, before it has been styled and dressed for an occasion. But this was certainly the case for the Bodleian Library – it wowed me at very first sight!

Stu Heppell Photography

Bodleian Library location

The dreaming spires of Oxford are a pull for many tourists and locals alike. Many crave the Oxford college look for a celebration but this isn’t always possible unless you’re part of the illusive alumni. However, you don’t have to be part of this elite to utilise this stunning space.

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe (dating back to 1488) and the largest in the UK. An extensive working reference library which is part of the University of Oxford.

Set in Oxford city centre with entrances from Broad Street, Catte Street and Radcliffe Square into the Old School Quadrangle of the Old Bodleian Library.

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Breath taking ceiling

It’s rare that you find a venue that just speaks for itself and has the wow factor without any frills or accessories. This little beauty doesn’t need to be dolled up to the nines to look good – it has got the natural look down to a fine art. It is quintessentially English so it’s no wonder it’s been used to typify English culture in so many films.

The ceiling is breath taking. And whilst you may balk at some restrictions in other venues, here you can completely understand why balloons or candles would be a no-no (after all there is an extensive and renowned library just above your head!) You are paying for an amazing atmosphere here.

Photography by Nicola & Glen

Preferred suppliers

With this in mind, they specify that you use their preferred supplier for lighting as they know the ancient electrics inside out. And the Bodleian Library have partnered up with Oxford Fine Dining (who seem to be prolific in this area of the industry at the moment) for all your catering needs.

Aside from that, you have the chance to bring in your own florist, photographer and any other suppliers for your day. This venue is a dry hire so everything has to be brought in by suppliers – including the kitchen sink. However, there is an amazing experienced wedding coordinator to offer you guidance and support.

Dale Stephens Photography

Grand and intimate celebrations

There are three main areas that make up the rooms for hire. Firstly, the Divinity School (which can sit up to 120 people for your wedding breakfast) with its striking carved gothic ceiling and huge arched windows, making this the most impressive of the three. You could have your ceremony and reception in this room alone from 4pm.

Or you could use the adjacent Convocation House, with its court like appearance which was a 17th century meeting place for the debating society and still houses the chapel style seating for around 100 people. This could also be for ceremony and a more intimate seated dinner throughout the day.

Better still, you could opt for a combination of the two options and mix and match the rooms you utilise.

There is a smaller Chancellor’s Court room next door which in the evening will act as a make shift kitchen for the caterers or a private entrance for your ceremony during the day.

A drinks reception would be idyllic outside in the Old School’s Quadrangle amidst the statues, whilst the bride and groom go off to have photos in the Duke Humfrey Library. A guided tour for 20 of your guests could also be arranged during your drinks reception.

Alexandra Jane Photography


This wedding venue is a magnificient blank canvas. Whilst it was certainly not built for weddings in the 13th century, it more than makes up for its slightly trickier organisation process with its unique charm and character. In spade fulls.

The ceiling alone is awesome and you’d be forgiven for just staring at the rafters for the duration of any event. It is not an exaggeration to say that this place is stunning.

Throw in a morning punting and a sighting of Morse and you’ll have fully submerged in a dreamy Oxford world.


Type of venue: historic building
Find out more:
Location: The Bodleian Library, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG
Wedding season: year round
Guests: 100-120
Marquee option: n/a
Ceremony: licensed (in two rooms)
Venue hire: from £1800 (ceremony only) or £6550 for wedding reception. Bespoke packages available. 
Nearest church: University Church of St Mary the Virgin, The High Street, Oxford OX1 4BJ
Wedding breakfast: packages with Oxford Fine Dining
Accommodation: Old Bank Hotel nearby
Wedding fairs: Wedding showcase 23rd February 2019 and throughout the year
Other things worth a mention: You may have spotted this venue is some pretty high profile films including Harry Potter and the recent ‘The Favourite’ starring Olivia Coleman who got an Oscar for best actress for her role.

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