Venue Review – Stoke by Nayland Hotel & Golf Club

Bride and groom watching fireworks
Just casually watching a firework show at a wedding

In the next few paragraphs you’ll find my first thoughts of a wedding venue based in Suffolk; called Stoke by Nayland Hotel and Golfclub. So where do I even start? The whole place is a thing of beauty! The surroundings are a photographer’s dream so what it must feel like to get married there, I’d be mind blown. There is one particular spot that they take their photographers and although I’m not completely against this, it would be nice to explore the whole grounds (or at least as much as possible) to make up my own mind, however! The spot they choose is superb in every way and coming back from it; I kind of wonder if I could have (or should have) utilised it a lot more. Now I know the comment about exploring the grounds is a little redundant; considering the people that have chosen the spot work there and work with lots more photographers. But what I mean is that I may have seen something myself, given the chance to explore. Either in the hope of creating something unique for my bride and groom; or seeing something that would fit or enhance my style. All this being said, I did have the opportunity to explore a little but later in the day. Plus, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the one to tell the bride that she had to go 3 miles away from her wedding because I wanted to take a photo; so going too far wasn’t an option, and thankfully this venue has beauty etched into it’s DNA.


Among the beauty of the venue is the beauty of the people that worked there. Now don’t mistake this for me finding a beautiful barmaid that I managed to chat up all day; I mean every single person was helpful, respectful (of my wishes as a photographer as well as the wishes of the bride and groom and their guests), smiley and just a general pleasure to be around. I like to liaise with the organisers and make sure everything is running smoothly for the bride and groom; there are times when things run later than expected. So it’s always a good idea to keep in contact with the organisers so that you (as a photographer) are both in tune with the day. Things tend to get messy if one of you are out of sync. Again, another quality this venue had when I shot here; since I wasn’t always the person going up and communicating, it was always a two way street and made my life a lot easier. The bar staff / servers were brilliant, fluid and from my perspective; didn’t seem to step a foot wrong on the day. The bride and groom seemed to be very happy too, which lets face it, is what it’s all about right?


On to the main man, the organiser himself. His name was Michael and as we (bride, groom, myself and my assistant) arrived he was there on hand to greet us all. First of course a congratulatory glass of bubbly for the couple, followed by friendly handshake and embrace. Once he’d got reacquainted he came to me; introduced himself and gave a quick run down of what was to happen in the next 10-15 mins. And since I hadn’t shot here before that’s always helpful. This gives me a chance to prepare visually and physically by way of changing lenses, organising light stands and instructing my assistant as to what I would like them to do next. All day he was interested in my work; noticing that I had taken a few new angles to other photographers that he’d seen. Then wondering how on earth I was going to take shots of the fireworks. Some may say that’s being a pain in the brain but it’s nice for someone be interested in your work; plus the fact he was never in the way and would usually have his own work to carry out. Moving on to the evening; he allowed us to take the golf buggies out. He initially came with us; but did have to shoot off to get the next stage ready; so we used them slightly longer should have. Just as long as we’d put them back where we had got them. I apologise if this gets anyone into trouble as I know this is probably not allowed but I’m sure by this point we’d sussed each other out and had a mutual respect for each parties responsibilities.


So, we’ve discussed the surroundings, the people, made a note of the main organiser. So what’s left? If you’re getting married take a look and figure out if this place is right for you! There’s no doubt that there’s so many beautiful venues around the Essex & Suffolk areas and I hope to be able to write a little something for every single one of them as we head out in to the future. Now, I can say positively that I’ll take on any wedding couple that get married here in a heartbeat because it was just an utterly enjoyable experience. If there’s anything you’d like to see me touch on in the next venue review or if there’s something you think I’ve missed out please feel free to leave a comment but for now I’ll leave you with a couple more images from this venue.

Click on each image to enlarge

Young girl looking out into a golf course for the rabbits
Confetti shot as the first dance was finishing and everyone started to join in
Reflecting bride and groom in a lake
Confetti shot as the first dance was finishing and everyone started to join in