What makes the Great Lodge a unique wedding venue?

Aug 9, 2022 | Wedding advice & ideas

Set on the outskirts of Braintree in the village of Great Bardfield.

Having had the pleasure of photographing at the Great Lodge wedding venue many times I thought I would share some of the unique qualities I love about it from a photographer’s perspective. Make sure you scroll towards the end to get your daily dose of dog cuteness!

The alpacas 

Starting off the blog post with a good one, the alpacas that live on the estate! On arrival at The Great Lodge, one of the first sights that you’ll see in front of the house is the alpacas doing their thing. What I love is that the wedding party (if they’d like to) can go out with Rebecca the owner of the venue and feed them. This is a great activity for all ages and if timed right you get a stunning view of the setting sun across the fields as well. Just look at how cute they are!

Alpaca's at The Great Lodge wedding venue in Great Bardfield, Essex


This is an estate with a history dating back to the 14th century but famously the estate was given to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII as part of her settlement when their marriage was annulled. The barn at The Great Lodge dates back to Anne of Cleves’ time. If you are looking for a venue with an interesting history this might be the one.

Limited bookings

At the time of writing this blog post, The Great Lodge limits the venue to 25 weddings a year. This is brilliant for couples as it will allow for a more personalised experience and they won’t just feel like another booking in the diary. With the venue never having more than one wedding a weekend it allows couples more than enough time when it comes to setting up and packing down.

Groom and bride on a swing at The Great Lodge.

Ceremony locations

You have options, inside or outside. It is great that you have the choice and both options are great for photographs. The warmer season lends itself to the outside location and when it’s cooler the barn gives a more cosy vibe to a wedding day.

Overhead speaker

You might be wondering what I mean by this one as not many of the local venues have this. Above the dance floor is a hanging structure which houses speakers. I think this is great because when you are on the dance floor there is a good party atmosphere but when you are on the other side of the room you can still hold a conversation without it being too loud. This is particularly good if you have a mix of dancers and minglers as it allows the best of both worlds.

The ceremony barn at the Great Lodge wedding venue in Essex.

Photo backdrops

Now, this is a location where you are spoilt and I mean truly spoilt for photo backdrops. I am going to list just some of my favourite spots for couple portraits: the vineyard, the apple orchard, the swing under the willow tree, by the lake, with the alpacas, the driveway, in front of the house, the gardens and the fields with seasonal crops. Now that’s just daytime, come the evening you’ve also got the stunning festoons in the garden! 

Onsite accommodation 

In recent years there was a beautiful transformation of the Rose Barn, Stables, and Cart Lodge. These locations were made into accommodation for the wedding couple and guests. I always think it is brilliant if a venue can supply accommodation, as it provides a perfect opportunity to freshen up throughout the day and not have to drive home at the end of the night. The Rose Barns also double up as the getting ready suite.

Bride and bridesmaids dresses in the Rose Barn at the Great Lodge.

Always a warm welcome

I first met Rebecca the owner of the Great Lodge back in 2015 for Becky and Tim’s engagement shoot followed by their wedding reception at the venue later that year. I’ve always been warmly welcomed at the venue and I enjoy working alongside Rebecca. She goes above and beyond for her couples and I always look forward to working there.

Dog friendly

Not all venues are dog friendly but the Great Lodge is. This means your fur baby/babies can join you for some photos in their wedding outfits!

Dog in a bow tie. The Great Lodge is a dog friendly Essex wedding venue.

Photography testimonial from a Great Lodge couple 

Gemma photographed our wedding in August 2019. She did a fantastic job, we love every photo that she took on the day. She caught the romance, emotion, the atmosphere and the memories perfectly. 

Not only is Gemma professional but she is a lovely person too, which helped us feel at ease when she was taking photos. 

Also, Gemma saved the day with her sewing kit when we had a bridesmaid dress malfunction while getting ready. 

Can’t recommend her enough!

Bride and groom drinking a shot at The Anne of Cleaves Barn.
See R & B’s Great Lodge wedding featured on Whimsical Wonderland weddings here. 

Planning your Essex wedding at the Great Lodge?

If you are considering the Great Lodge as your wedding venue, I’d love to be considered as your wedding photographer, get in touch.