This is the first in an intended series of Scottish wedding venue ‘reviews’ of some of my favourite venues.
I don’t have the daunting horror of having to choose a wedding venue for myself, but if I did it would be quite good to have a couple of first hand reviews from people who had experienced multiple weddings there to give me a good idea of what was actually going to happen on the day. Don’t mention it 😉
Oran Mor sits right at the apex of Byres road in the heart of the leafy, bustling and cosmopolitan west end of Glasgow, joining Great Western Road and Byres Road, approximately 2 miles from the city centre. Having previously been Kelvinside Parish Church, built in the nineteenth century, the exterior is an impressive and imposing structure, with a bell tower which can be seen for miles around – pretty handy if your guests don’t know where they’re going!
Wedding parties will enter the building at the base of the bell tower and ascend the stone spiral staircase to the Auditorium. Here the full spectacle of the venue reveals itself. A huge and ornate room comprising a main hall, bar, stage and spiral staircase to the Gallery; the building has the ‘feel’ and many of the original architectural qualities of a converted church and is one of the most instantly recognisable interior venues in Glasgow. Amazing, large stained glass windows pepper the room allowing daylight to stream in from all angles, illuminating the stone archways and pillars. The entire ceiling is covered with an extremely colourful mural by Alasdair Gray which draws the eye upwards – I’m constantly catching guests pointing out aspects of the artwork to eachother. Lots of cool features like this mean that, if need be, we don’t even have to venture outside for photographs, there is plenty to make use of. See below for proof.
Each time I have worked there I have always found the staff to be extremely helpful and courteous to both guests and myself – a luxury that the poor old photographer isn’t always afforded! The layout of the venue seems to be different each time I visit which shows the flexibility given to individual wedding parties.
No shortage of cool backdrops for the couple portraits either 🙂
One of the best things about Oran Mor is that despite it’s location in the middle of a city it is within close reach of a multitude of excellent potential outdoor shooting environments to add some variety to your wedding photographs. While the interior of the building is one of it’s most attractive and useful features, I always prefer, where possible, to head outdoors for photographs as well to offer a different aesthetic to the day. Even if it’s just to provide a few minutes for a little breathing space for the happy couple, to make some funky ‘couple shots’ – you only get one chance to have your wedding photographs taken, so if the weather is kind, and you’ve paid good money for a photographer and/or videographer who can make you look awesome, it would be a crime to waste it! 😉
Directly opposite Oran Mor are the Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace which are exceedingly useful for both formal group photographs and intimate couple portraits. If you intend to use the Kibble Palace; a huge, tropical, greenhouse-like structure, then you will need to apply for a license from Glasgow City Council ahead of time, however it is an excellent location for your group photographs – loads of diffused, natural light and most importantly cover from the elements which tends to come in most handy!
Especially during the summer months when the flora is flourishing, the gardens provide an ideal backdrop for the couple portraits, with loads of little hidden nooks and crannies, excellent material for interesting photos, making it appear that we had an isolated, rural escape to our advantage. As with most natural backdrops, an extra benefit is that the landscape and light is constantly changing throughout the year so that no two weddings will ever be quite the same, making your images as unique as your own ceremony.
And then there’s the dancing. Some couples are nervous about their first dance, some are itching to get down to it. Whichever your persuasion, some of the most raucous and exciting dance pieces that I’ve seen have been at Oran Mor. Maybe it’s the soul of the building bringing the party to life. Maybe it’s just the booze. Whatever it is, it works 😉