Couples who got engaged over Christmas and New Year have a new venue to consider in 2023 – one of Purbeck’s prettiest tourist attractions, The Blue Pool near Wareham.
Under changes to the wedding laws in 2022, couples are no longer tied to getting married in places of worship or even in licenced buildings or approved premises.
Rooms at The Blue Pool are transformed for receptions
Two dozen new wedding venues in Purbeck
Temporary measures brought in during the Covid pandemic to allow for outdoor civil weddings and partnerships have been made permanent, and more flexibility has been given to councils granting licences for venues to hold legal ceremonies.
The Blue Pool was granted its official wedding licence in October 2022 by Dorset Council and has now joined two dozen other locations in Purbeck including Swanage Pier, Corfe Castle, The Pig on the Beach at Studland and Durlston Castle where couples can legally wed.
Wedding receptions have been held at The Blue Pool before, and it is already a popular location for post wedding photography, but now staff are delighted that the whole package can be offered to couples.
Carolyn Snook with The Blue Pool’s new framed wedding licence
“Nothing is more special than a wedding”
General manager Carolyn Snook said:
“Everyone wants the perfect wedding and choosing the right venue can be one of the most consuming aspects, so we were eager to offer an exciting new venue in a picturesque and unique location.
“At The Blue Pool nature reserve we have a fantastic space for wedding parties to enjoy, an amazing backdrop for gorgeous pictures and a wonderful setting for couples to celebrate their special day.
“We have held receptions here in the past, as well as offering the location for photography, and we know that The Blue Pool is a very special location for so many families who have grown up celebrating big occasions here.
“Nothing is more special than a wedding – I have worked here for 29 years and it has been one of my dreams to hold weddings here, I feel that it was a missed opportunity not to offer them earlier.
“But the new owners Matt and Julie Jones, who took over in 2021, were truly on board with the idea.
“We got our alcohol licence a year ago so that we could hold evening receptions, applied to Dorset Council as soon as we could for a full licence to hold civil ceremonies and were delighted when it came through.”
Weddings can now be held at The Blue Pool as well as receptions
Water’s edge expected to be a popular choice
The Blue Pool team has already had enquiries from couples looking ahead to get married in 2024 and 2025, and hopes to hold its first wedding fayre in autumn 2023 to promote the venue.
Various packages will be offered, starting from catering for up to 40 guests through to the option of having the whole attraction closed for a day for the ceremony, a reception, space for a live band or DJ, a licenced bar and exclusive access to the whole of the nature reserve for up to 200 people.
The marriage or civil partnership ceremony itself can be held anywhere within the estate under new wedding laws where the registrar conducting the marriage is more important than the space in which the ceremony takes place.
The water’s edge at the Blue Pool itself is expected to be a popular choice for the service, although there are spaces to put up a marquee and many spots on the estate which have a special meaning for families.
A recent addition of a speakeasy deck out over the water has also become a popular spot for photographs to be taken.
A new speakeasy deck over the water has proved popular for photos
Spectacular scenery covering 25 acres
“We understand that every couple and every wedding is unique, and we promise to deliver a bespoke and truly memorable occasion for everyone who chooses to have their special day here with us.
“We have 25 acres of spectacular heath and woodland in the depths of the Purbeck hills and unlike other venues which can be very regimental with their weddings, we can be flexible and very open to what the couples want.
“Visitors have always said to us that the tranquil, natural environment is what they love about the Blue Pool and have family memories which go back several generations in some cases.
“This attraction has been around for 86 years, making and keeping memories alive for all that time and we know it is somewhere very special, a hidden gem which people just keep on coming back to.”
Woodland and heathland at the nature reserve are a special place for many
Changing colour from turquoise to green
The site is renowned for the colour of its pool in a former clay quarry, caused by the suspension of fine particles of blue ball clay within the waters which diffract light in different ways, meaning that the pool can appear turquoise on some days, green on others, or any number of shades between.
The tea rooms at the attraction were built in 1935 in an Art Deco style and were run by the Barnard family until the death of Jennifer Barnard in 2020 at the age of 91.
The changing colour of the pool
Other places in Purbeck to get hitched
Anyone looking for a venue to get married has a huge array of choice in Purbeck from the grand and impressive venues like Lulworth Castle to the intimacy of the end of Swanage Pier.
Not yet licensed but hoping to get permission in 2023 is Swanage Railway, offering the option of getting hitched on the platform at Corfe Castle station and other suitable places on the line.
The license has been applied for and any couples interested in a train themed ceremony are welcome to contact Swanage Railway to express their interest.
The full list of local licensed venues
- Blue Pool near Wareham
- Brenscombe Outdoor Centre near Corfe Castle
- Corfe Castle National Trust property
- Durlston Castle in Swanage
- Grand Hotel in Swanage
- Hethfelton House near Bovington
- Holme Nurseries at West Holme
- Kingston Country Courtyard in Kingston near Corfe Castle
- Knoll House in Studland
- Longthorns Farm near Bovington
- Lulworth Castle and Courtyard
- Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre near Wool
- Mortons Manor in Corfe Castle
- Purbeck House Hotel in Swanage
- Purbeck Valley Farmhouse at Harmans Cross
- Rudds of Lulworth
- Shell Bay Restaurant in Studland
- Smedmore House near Kimmeridge
- Swanage Pier
- Swanage Town Hall
- Pig on the Beach in Studland
- Tank Museum in Bovington
- Wareham Town Hall.
The Blue Pool is already a popular venue for post wedding photography
Get married on the beach
Before the pandemic, civil ceremonies at a licensed wedding venue had to take place indoors or within a permanent outdoor structure.
Couples can now have the whole ceremony outside in the venue’s grounds, giving them greater flexibility and choice, as well as boosting the recovery of the wedding sector which saw many ceremonies postponed during Covid.
But even more flexible plans currently under consideration by Parliament could soon see couples get wed on a cruise ship, during a day out at the beach or even in their own homes.
Even in winter, the scenery at The Blue Pool is outstanding
Cruise ship captains may conduct weddings
In what would be the biggest overhaul to marriage regulations in England and Wales since the 19th century, the Law Commission is recommending that weddings should be able to take place anywhere, providing the presiding official considers it safe and dignified.
Proposed reforms would also potentially expand those who could act as officiants to anyone over 18 who could prove that they were ‘fit and proper’ to conduct a ceremony.
For cruise ships with a home port in England and Wales, the captain or chief mate would also be able to conduct a legally recognised wedding, even in international waters.
- More about The Blue Pool is on its website