Isle of sheppey wedding photographer north kent

Wedding photographer isle of Sheppey North Kent

If you’re looking for a unique wedding venue close to London, you’ve just found it. The isle of Sheppey is an astonishing place, only an hours drive from my flat in south east London. Situated within the Elmley National Nature Reserve The estate is 3200 acres. Part of the Thames estuary, the name Sheppey is apparently derived from the Saxon word “Sceapige” which means isle of sheep. Funnily enough, it’s full of sheep. Having never heard of the island prior to shooting a wedding at the Kingshill Barn I wanted to brush up on my geography before departing for the wedding. My favourite fact is that those dwelling on the island are known as ‘Swampies’, true story. For any of you London folk reading this I recommend a visit even if you have no intention of getting married there, the nature reserve is an incredibly tranquil place so close to the capital. Sat in the North of Kent it’s also remarkably close to two other major towns, Maidstone and Canterbury…or are they cities? Answers on a stamped addressed envelope.

Isle of sheppey wedding photographer

I decided to visit the venue on a week day roughly at the same time of the cocktail hour to gauge lighting, locations and best places for couple portraits. After locating my favourite spots, I simply sat for a while. It was so soothing, nourishment for the soul. It’s incredible how quickly you can forget what the world is like outside of London. It’s sad in a way, I often find myself longing for the countryside, I’ll find my way back to being a pig farmer one day. Until then we have Sheppey on our doorstep. Take the kids, take a picnic, go for the weekend. It’s beautiful. I sat for the best part of an hour watching the sky change and the world go by. Wading birds, kites, kestrels, woodpeckers…of course hundreds of rabbits. The best spot of the day? A family of weasels! Larking about in the sunshine, I sat perfectly still and they paid me no mind. Tis a vast wilderness, teaming with wildlife. It is a truly unique wedding venue and one to seriously consider if you’re one; looking for a barn wedding venue outside of London and two; wanting to achieve a boho wedding feel.

Elmley National Nature Reserve wedding venue

This day was full of love, laughter and spaghetti, my kind of wedding. With the light streaming in from the window at the far end of the barn, a respectful hush descended and the stillness and calm from the surrounding reserve could be felt. The silence broken only by the call of a songbirds call carrying on the wind. This has to be the most blissful place in north Kent. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer for your wedding on the isle of Sheppey would be delighted to hear from you, my documentary wedding photography style is all about getting involved with the day, living moments with you and documenting your day candidly with honesty and integrity. I love people and I love wedding photography. Get in touch to book in a cup of tea and cake, or biscuits, or affogato. To see more of my work check out my portfolio or read more about my approach to black and white documentary wedding photography

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Useful information when looking for a wedding venue

Hire the whole place for three days
If I reflect upon my own wedding honestly, one thing that I would like to have been different is the turn around time. Having only one night in the bridal suite was a bit rubbish as you don’t really get to enjoy it. Don’t cry for me Argentina, the next day I was on a plane to Costa Rica. HOWEVER, at the Elmley reserve you can hire the whole place for three days. One before the wedding and another the day after. No rush, no hurried goodbyes. Chill. Drink some coffee, look at the views, eat a bacon sandwich. Nice. The wedding party and selected guests can stay bang in the middle of the nature reserve. I’ve stayed in the Saltbox and drinking tea in bed whilst the sun rises out of your window is amazing. Top tip; don’t get blasted the night before as you will more than likely be woken by the sun rising, not so blissful with a hangover.

Use any supplier you like – including caterers.

This is significant. Venues can be quite strict on their policies when it comes to which suppliers you can use which can put a lot of engaged couples off. This isle of sheppey wedding venue let’s you use whoever you like. Bands, discos, churros vans – go for it. Defintely worth bearing in mind when conducting your venue search. Some venues even have a sound limiter at the request of the local residents and council. Double check that the music you’re hiring can be heard! A double win is that when the party carries on into the after hours you can set up a fire in the fire pit and bust out the acoustic set. Jammin.

The wedding ceremony – where does it take place?
The law in the UK states that you have to married under some sort of canopy/fixed structure. Sometimes the pagoda at a venue is licensed for marriages but the main building isn’t, our laws can be quite funny. Anyway, the wedding ceremony itself can take place inside the Kingshill Barn or in the open barn in the courtyard. Good to know, just in case it rains. Inside the kingshill barn is beautiful. With a huge window at one end it creates that Caravaggio light. Chiaroscuro at it’s finest. Guests can watch you be wed with a stunning backdrop of open emerals green fields and sapphire blue skies. The two barn wedding venues in one place is also a winner in case of too much sun. Yes you read right. Too much sun in England, it does happen. If it’s an absolute scorcher, men in three piece suits soon get hot. Maybe pack umbrellas for both eventualities.

What is the capacity?
We can have 200 people at each event. We suggest that 150 is the maximum to be seated comfortably. Please note that as the barn is in the amazing location of the middle of a National Nature Reserve, additional evening guests are limited to avoid disturbance to the wildlife by additional night-time traffic.


  • Capacity is 200. 150 is a comfortable number for seated guests
  • Evening guests are limited as the night-time traffic disturbs wildlife
  • Live music is permitted
  • Camping is available – you can’t pitch your own tent though.
  • Barn closes at 0030hrs. Party should probably finish by midnight.
  • All clear up is done by the venue and their staff
  • No corkage charge
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Visiting Hours: Opening hours: 9 am to 4pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

The National Nature Reserve is independently run by Philip and Corinne Merricks, they have farmed the marsh for over 40 years. The site is of international importance as it has a huge number of rare and endangered species. Elmley is synonymous with wading birds. Lapwing chicks fledged in record numbers in recent years. One of the coolest things about the venue is that it is completely off grid. Solar panels generate the power which is stored in batteries, party on Garth.

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