This Monkey Puzzle wedding photography review is aimed at helping you understand the Monkey Puzzle from your wedding photographers perspective. There are other factors to consider such as size, cost and how it fits into the aesthetic you wish to create that are not covered here.
For those of you living around Farnborough you would be forgiven for not thinking of a monkey puzzle wedding as being a bit weird, it’s generally thought of as a family restaurant. They do decent food at reasonable prices and have a great beer garden with a park for the kids, but a Monkey Puzzle wedding? Well actually it’s rather good!
When I was commissioned to photograph a wedding here my first thoughts was that it was going to be a very relaxed affair, lots of fun, but nothing special and I have to say I was very surprised with how good it looked. The transformation from a regular family restaurant to a wedding venue was actually breathtaking to the point that Cinderella’s fairy Godmother would have been proud.
I hadn’t realised that the Monkey Puzzle could be booked out for exclusive use. It wasn’t a case of a wedding within a restaurant, the restaurant in a moment of magic had transformed into a proper wedding venue. They are not licensed for the actual marriage service, but are more than capable of hosting a wedding reception.
The first thing that grabbed me was how much effort they had put in, they staff had gone all out with the balustrades and pillars draped in viols and flowers. White sheets on the tables, flowers and the occasional jar of lollipops, sweets and the odd balloon arch gave the interior of the venue a real lift. Many of the framed pictures had been replaced with personalised pictures of the bride and groom and in my opinion it compared favourably with many of the dedicated wedding venues I work at.
In many ways the Monkey Puzzle was better, as a family restaurant they were used to dealing with children and those present couldn’t have asked for more. Not only was a special area set aside for children with colouring pencils and crayons and even a TV showing children’s programs but one member of staff was dedicated purely to looking after the kids and keeping them entertained. Outside in the grounds the couple had arranged for 3 bouncy castles to be brought in and between the children’s disco, craft area, TV, giant footballs and lawn games the children where pretty much set!
The second thing I began to appreciate was just how practical the beer garden is for a summer wedding, particularly if your family has a large number of children. The grounds are big enough for a large number of people but not so large that small children will get lost and with a tall enclosed fence running all of the way around and a permanent play park guests with children can relax knowing their children are happily playing and can’t go too far. There are plenty of tables and chairs with easy access to the bar area, tall bushes and trees to use as backgrounds.
The third thing that really stood out, and possibly the most was how good the staff are. A big wedding at the monkey puzzle isn’t an everyday event, while some wedding venues do 3 over a weekend, week after week, it’s actually a pretty special affair for them and they went much further than most in their efforts to make sure everybody had a great time. The duty managers looked very smart in their bow ties and the serving staff also looked very well presented and all of them worked tirelessly to make sure all of the guests were topped up with drinks and had everything they needed.
Special mention has to go to Hannah from the Monkey Puzzle who did an amazing job keeping all of the children entertained. Wearing a big smile all day she was like the pied piper of children with her sparkly hat, paints and killer children’s disco moves! She must have been exhausted at the end of the day and I’m sure many of the children will remember the way she made their day special for them.
In summary I would have to say the Monkey Puzzle is actually a bit of find and in terms of value punches far higher than its weight. It has a decent interior which looks surprisingly good when decorated, enough grounds and an above average bar with regular rather than hotel bar prices. The staff are also a very much a well oiled machine and compare very well to the slickest teams at the most upmarket venues in Hampshire.
As they don’t do that many weddings I also suspect they are quite competitive, my advice would be book before they cotton on!
I hope this Monkey Puzzle Hotel wedding venue review has been useful.
The Monkey Puzzle Wedding Venue:
101 Ively Road