Kicking off my guest blog spot is the fabulous wedding planner and designer Valentina from The Stars Inside. She’s got some fantastic ideas for wedding venues in London. If you’re overwhelmed by the choice out there this is one for you! Take it away Valentina…
“As someone who has always lived in big cities, I know what it’s like to love them (I’d move back to Manhattan in a heartbeat!) – but I also know what it’s like to feel a little overwhelmed by them sometimes. I know what it’s like to feel proud and inspired by them, but to also feel like maybe you just aren’t truly making the most of it. Cities are like labyrinths, with treasures awaiting those willing to walk off the beaten path – and what better time to go exploring than when hunting for your wedding venue?
When it comes to weddings, our thoughts might fleet over to mansions and gardens in the countryside, and, if that is your style, then you’re in luck: the UK has some of the most hauntingly beautiful countryside that I have ever seen. If that’s not your style though, and you want to pay homage to the city that you call home (physically or emotionally), that’s wonderful too, and the myriad choices at your fingertips are just waiting to be found.
There are some undeniably great advantages to celebrating your wedding in a city: the range of types of suppliers and venues is much vaster (and more than you think with civil licenses); there are likely to be excellent transport links for all your friends and family (train stations, airports, etc), as well as lots of affordable places to stay; you’ll have fantastic cityscapes and street photography backdrops for your photos (if you like this, make sure you choose a photographer who knows the backstreets!); the unique and plentiful opportunities for combining historical and modern; the fact that weather extremes tend to be felt less severely; the fact that every time you see or walk past your venue, you’ll remember the awesomeness of your wedding day (and, depending on what you choose, can visit easily for anniversaries!); and the beautiful celebration of diversity and multi-culturalism.
I’ve been living and working in London for a few years now, and I’m really excited to share with you some of my favourite wedding venue ideas in this wonderful city ♡”
View from the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard
Hotels, Restaurants, and Pubs
I have very fond memories of exploring hotels with my family, and to this day the feeling of being in one is one of adventure and excitement. Large cities are populated with hotels to suit every taste and budget, often providing very comprehensive wedding services that will truly make you feel like everything is taken care of; in London we have the wonderful Shangri-La (those views!), Claridge’s, the Corinthia, the Goring, the Mandarin Oriental, the Ritz, the Connaught, the Lanesborough, the Dorchester, the Savoy – to name but a few.
The Ned, London
If you want a bit more control (and need to never hear the word “package” again), consider setting aside the large luxury chains and looking for some of the less well-known gems; these are often family-run, and stylishly curated with artwork, featuring unique quirks and a very personalised approach. Some fantastic design-led options across the budget spectrum are The Ace Hotel, The Haymarket Hotel (who so kindly hosted one of my styled shoots), The Ned (check out my review of their latest wedding showcase), the Rosewood, the Town Hall Hotel, the Ham Yard Hotel, the London Edition, Blakes, the Boundary, the Soho Hotel, and Brown’s Hotel, among many others.
Paradise By Way of Kensal Green, London
Restaurants and pubs can also offer some fantastic spaces for your reception, which effectively gives you an endless choice of cuisine types, budget levels, and décor style. As these will usually be full of a personality of their own, you can often host a visually spectacular soiree without much need for additional décor or rentals, which can help direct the budget towards the amazing FOOD. Do keep in mind that restaurants will sometimes be a little restrictive when it comes to dance floors and exclusivity, so make sure you ask about that when you visit. Some of my favourite London food & drink spaces are the Bourne & Hollingsworthbuildings, Drake & Morgan’s Fable, London’s Borough Market, the Brewery, Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, the Ginstitute Distillery, Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany
MC MC Motors
Warehouses, Studios, and Lofts
This type of venue can range from the rough and edgy to the distinctly more polished and crisp – but always offer unparalleled freedom when it comes to creating exactly what you want. These blank slates are great for minimalist, urban, uber-modern affairs, but also great to add texture and character to a more classical aesthetic. Whether you decide to embrace or contrast, these are some seriously cool options for your wedding. Some of my London faves are JJ Media’s Wimborne House, the West Reservoir Centre, all the Castle Gibson locations, Village Underground, Trinity Buoy Wharf, the Tobacco Dock, and The Roost.
The Asylum Chapel, London / Photo by Eclection Photography
Old churches can be uniquely atmospheric spaces to hold a ceremony or reception, with great acoustics, striking architecture, unique visuals, and powerful historical echoes. Like warehouses, these will often be very flexible, though of course will come with a lot more “character” of their own. Some gorgeous spaces in London are Il Bottaccio’s Dutch Hall, the Asylum Chapel, One Marylebone, and The Crypt at Bleeding Heart. There are of course lots of stunning active churches in the city, for religious ceremonies, though do keep in mind that these will typically have residence requirements or restrictions.
Wilton’s Music Hall, London / Photography by We Heart Pictures
Art Galleries, Theatres, Museums, Libraries, and Zoos
As a huge art gallery and museum fan myself, I absolutely love that these spaces are becoming increasingly open to private hire. With built-in interactivity & exhibits, lots of space, and some great visual focal points to build around, these types of venues are some of my all-time favourites, and are a wonderful option for weddings, no matter the size; whether you embrace the inner geek (and I mean that as a compliment!) or whether you pair the artistic backdrop with something more muted and neutral, opening your venue search to these kinds of spaces is sure to set your imagination alight. Some of my personal London faves are Shakespeare’s Globe, Wilton’s Music Hall, the Natural History Museum, the London Zoo, the library at Queen Mary, the Museum of London Docklands, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Café de Paris, the Battersea Arts Centre, the Deck at the National Theatre, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The Dead Dolls House
Private Townhouses, Members Clubs, and Listed Buildings
London’s history really shines through when you start exploring its townhouses and listed buildings, particularly those that formed part of the Victorian, Georgian, and Edwardian eras, with breathtakingly well-preserved period features and frozen-in-time charm. Some beautiful spaces I’ve had the pleasure of visiting are Clissold House, Bloomsbury House, The Dead Doll’s House, Pembroke Lodge, Dartmouth House, Morden Hall, Kensington Palace, Fulham Palace, and Chandos House. You can also find some unexpectedly beautiful town halls in London, like those in Stoke Newington and Islington. When looking at listed buildings, do keep in mind that sometimes there are restrictions on things that might damage the property: red wine, open flame (i.e. no candles), or even dancing – so make sure you ask!
Chelsea Physic Garden, London
Botanical Gardens and Conservatories
Just because you’re IN a city doesn’t mean you can’t nurture your passion for the outdoors; in fact, the juxtaposition of suddenly finding yourself in a lush green space having just left a bustling street can be truly striking. If you want a city wedding inspired by nature, don’t miss the botanical wonderlands of Kew Gardens, the Chelsea Physic Garden, the Roof Gardens, the Barbican Conservatory, the Horniman Museum & Gardens, the Great Conservatory at Syon Park, Petersham Nurseries, the Clifton Nurseries, and Chiswick House & Gardens.
Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, London / Photography by Ali Paul
This is by no means a comprehensive list of course, but I hope it’s given you the freedom to think more creatively about your city wedding venue, and inspired you in your journey! A great resource for browsing venues is the Coco Weddings database, the Venue Report website, and Canvas Events. Another great source of venue ideas is to have a look at the wedding supplier directories of your favourite wedding blogs. If you’d like some help finding your venue, or any other support through your wedding planning, I’m here for you ♡
Valentina Ring - The Star Inside
Wedding Planner and designer at The Stars Inside
Valentina is a creator for creatives – a storyteller for storymakers – and a stylist for style-focused couples who aren’t afraid to be playful and authentic. The Stars Inside offers planning and design for UK and European weddings defined by imaginative, artful, and exquisite detail. Valentina prides herself on designing celebrations that are beautiful and immersive, but also deeply personal, while giving you complete support and peace of mind throughout your journey. Website, Facebook, Inst