Love is in the air. You’ve got the ring and set the wedding date, but where to get married? Harry and Meghan had St George’s Chapel and Windsor Castle at their disposal but even if Granny doesn’t have a castle there are some pretty stunning alternatives. Here are my top cultural wedding venues in London.
Where better for a wedding banquet than a room built by a King for banquets? Up to 400 of your closest friends can watch you plight your troth under the stunning Rubens ceiling of the Banqueting House or if you would prefer a more intimate setting the Undercroft has room for 150.
Tudor splendour awaits you at the Charterhouse London. Celebrate in the room where Queen Elizabeth I spent the evening before her coronation and have your marriage blessed in beautiful chapel.
Wow, was the first thing I thought when I saw the new space under the hull of the Cutty Sark, my next thought was what a fabulous party venue. Turns out you can hire the Cutty Sark for wedding receptions but only from 6.30pm when all the visitors have gone home. How better to arrive at the world’s fastest tea clipper than by boat. You could get married further down the river and then board a City Cruises vessel for a private cruise along the Thames.
Did you know that anybody can get married in the House of Commons, you don’t need to be an MP or an employee at the Palace. The exterior of the House of Commons is one on the iconic sights of London but it has pretty stunning interiors too, as I discovered on our tour of the Palace of Westminster. Don’t worry you don’t need to find enough guests to fill the cavernous Westminster Hall, the venues available to get married in are smaller. Two rooms; the Members’ Dining Room and the Jubilee are licensed for marriages and a further six are available for celebrations.
You don’t need to marry a Prince to get married in Kensington Palace, or rather the Orangery next door. That garden that Harry and Meghan walked in during the official announcement photo opportunity, that’s that garden in front of the Orangery, a perfect backdrop for wedding photos. If you have another venue in mind for actual ceremony then rooms in the Palace itself are available to hire.
Middle Temple, as I recently discovered, is not only for barristers: its grand historic spaces are available for private hire. Rooms on offer range from the Hogwarts-worthy Middle Temple Hall to the intimate ornateness of the Queen’s Room. You can choose to have the ceremony and celebration here or to get married in one of the iconic nearby churches such as the Temple Church or the journalists’ church, St Brides.
Canary Wharf doesn’t feel like London or even Britain to me, when you emerge from the train station it is as if you have been transported to America. Vast towers loom over you and there is no history to be seen. Until that is you venture over to West India Quay where a range of Georgian warehouses greet you, this is the Museum of London Docklands. Once the museum visitors have gone home, from 6.30pm onwards the space can be yours. I love the interior, its old wooden floor boards give a feeling of being on board a ship.
One of Mr CW’s oldest friends celebrated his wedding at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. We started with a drinks reception in the famous Wren colonnades and then sat down in the undercroft of the Painted Hall for the wedding breakfast. At present the Painted Hall itself is being restored (if you have time, then it is possible to get up close and personal with the ceiling during restoration) and so not available but the less painted but equally lovely Admiral’s House is.
Also in Greenwich is the perfect cube that is the Queen’s House. Over the years that I have lived in London I have looked at or visited the Queen’s House many times and never tire of it, it is one of London’s beautiful buildings. Once again friends of ours have used this as a wedding venue and I can report that as a guest it is just wonderful spending an extended time in such a perfect space.
“Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds”. Where better to celebrate marriage than in the theatre dedicated to the author of so many quotes about love? Whilst the auditorium is not on offer for your celebrations, the Swan at the Globe is. You get great views of the Thames and a variety of rooms to choose from.
Strawberry Hill House was made for parties. Every room in this Gothic gem oozes romance, there are even beautiful gardens for the photos. Horace Walpole built his country retreat in what is now firmly within south west London. From the outside Strawberry Hill House looks like a wedding cake and inside it glows with jewel colours.
How can you have a wedding on a bridge? I hear you cry. Well not on the road, obviously but rather on the walkways that go between the eponymous towers. The views up and down the Thames are amazing. The bridge is licensed for marriages, you tie the knot in the North Tower lounge that holds 50 and then head either for the walkways or the engine rooms. If I were choosing, I would opt for the view.
If you have a yen to explore your inner press baron than Two Temple Place is for you. This is the house that William Waldorf Astor, newspaper proprietor and the world’s richest man, had built for himself. It is available to hire for weddings May to December every year. You don’t just get a room, you get the whole house just for a day so you too can live like the world’s richest person!
That I like museums won’t come as a shock to you. The Victoria and Albert Museum is probably to one that I visit most and still I see something new every time I visit. Sometimes I just wander round looking at the building itself which is incredible. Once again this is a venue that is only available after visitors have gone home. We once attended a wedding where the time between the ceremony and arrival at the museum was taken up with a tour of London on a Routemaster bus with champagne on tap. Three spaces are available for weddings the Madejski courtyard at the centre of museum, under the Dome in the entrance hall and the imposing Raphael room.
Many years ago I lived round the corner from the Wallace Collection in a tiny studio flat. I used to spend my days off sat in the Wallace Collection, reading a book and pretending that it was my house. Although the rooms are very grand they are on a scale that you could imagine living in and perfect for a wedding. Several of the rooms are available for hire depending on the size of your party. Once again celebrations can only begin after 6.30pm when gallery visitors have gone home. I think that it would be rather fun to share your wedding party with the Laughing Cavalier.
10-11 CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE
Finally our own cultural wedding venue, 10 – 11 Carlton House Terrace. Number 10 was Gladstone’s house and is one of those white wedding cake houses that over look the Mall. We got married in Islington, then we and all our guests boarded a Routemaster Bus complete with white ribbons to make the journey to Pall Mall. Our bus followed the route of the Number 38 for most of the way and quite a few members of the public tried to get on as we processed!
Do you have any other suggestions for cultural wedding venues in London? Where did you get married?
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