Finding the right London wedding venue
Are you looking for somewhere a little different to get married in London? Fed up with the same old, same old…?
Finding your ideal London wedding venue can be a daunting task. After all you want to make sure you choose a venue that suits your personalities and your style, then there are all the practicalities to consider such as location, budget, capacity.
Then why not marry in a museum? If you’re looking for an alternative London wedding venue with grandeur, quirkiness and history all under one roof, read on….The Museum of the Order of St John is the perfect setting for a bespoke celebrant ceremony as my happy couple Stuart and Andy found out.
What’s the story?
Let’s start with the back story of the happy couple. Andy and Stuart met over 20 years ago in a rather lively London bar with (their words) a rather dodgy drag act and questionable music. They were introduced by a mutual friend, found they had a lot in common and soon their friendship grew into love.
Andy decided to pop the question on holiday in The Isle of Skye when the couple had been together for 16 years, proposing in the most romantic and, it has to be said, theatrical way possible!
Andy commissioned a plate to be made with ‘Will you marry me Stuart’ written on it, had it sent ahead to their favourite restaurant and then asked the chef to place a chocolate dessert on it for Stuart to choose after their main course. Luckily everything went according to plan and Stuart did indeed choose, and finish, the right dessert, revealing the marriage proposal on the plate beneath.
With style like that, this couple were never going to get married at a mainstream London wedding venue.
Choosing a London wedding venue to suit your style
In addition to his busy career in the NHS Andy had been a volunteer with the St John Ambulance charity for several years and this work was, and remains, very close to his heart. It was a natural choice, therefore, to decide upon the amazing Museum of the Order of St John: https://museumstjohn.org.uk/, a London wedding venue that is steeped in history, grandeur and charm, right in the heart of the city.
Marry in a museum!
Once Andy and Stuart had decided on their perfect London wedding venue everything else slotted into place. They wanted the legalities done on the same day as their wedding ceremony so had a short ceremony with a registrar for 20 of their closest friends and family at 12.30pm in The Council Chamber, an imposing space with beautiful high ceilings and stained glass windows. In this ceremony they made their declaratory statements and signed the paperwork to legalise their marriage.
Straight after the ceremony Stuart, Andy and their guests went to lunch nearby at MalMaison restaurant, to celebrate and get ready for their bespoke wedding ceremony for 96 guests which I was booked to officiate at 4pm.
It’s certainly true that Stuart and Andy embraced the quirkiness and charm of this ancient central London wedding venue, even somehow managing to get the oldest ambulance in the UK parked in the courtyard outside for unique photo opportunities!
The wedding ceremony
Stuart and Andy chose a celebrant-led ceremony because they wanted the wedding to reflect who they were as a couple, and to have the opportunity to do things their way. The wedding ceremony was held in The Council Chamber – a very grand yet surprisingly intimate room where I conducted the ceremony overseen by an enormous painting of young Queen Elizabeth 1.
Opting for a more modern approach rather than sticking with traditional customs, Andy and Stuart walked down the aisle together accompanied by their parents. There were no best men or bridesmaids, and two guests performed readings during the ceremony.
I wrote a ceremony script that told the story of how and where the couple met, the very dramatic and romantic proposal, and highlighted some of the things Stuart and Andy loved most about one another, as well as sharing their hopes and dreams for the future – more bees, chickens and goats!
Andy and Stuart wrote their own vows and as they read them to one another I could see many of the guests were moved to tears. I confess I was working hard to keep my emotions in check!
One of the highlights of the ceremony was a fabulous choir, Some Voices, who sang a few songs as guests came into the room, whilst the certificate was being signed and as the happy couple walked back down the aisle.
Andy and Stuart were very keen to make their wedding as inclusive as possible and wanted it to be the opposite of ‘stuffy’. To this end, Sophie the choir leader taught us all the the chorus of an Elbow song – ‘One day like this’ and we all sang the grooms back down the aisle! It truly was a joyous and roof-raising experience.
A photographer’s dream
This London wedding venue really was a gift for Harry Richards, London Wedding Photographer – Harry Richards Photography (reportography.com) .The incredible historical detail of the venue, the high ceilings and gorgeous light made for some fantastic photographs and Harry captured the essence of the celebrations beautifully.
Wherever you decide to get married I would love to chat with you about your ceremony options – just get in touch.