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HomeDEBRETT’S LIFESTYLE BLOGDiary of a Bride-to-Be Week 4: The Venue

Diary of a Bride-to-Be Week 4: The Venue

In which our bride-to-be juggles dates, availability, capacity and cost in an attempt to secure the perfect venue.

If anything was going to throw a cake knife into the works of our optimistically short timeframe, surely the reception venue would be it. I had nightmares about being laughed at down the phone, much as if I were trying to get a last-minute table at Chiltern Firehouse circa summer 2015.

And while my fiancé would be perfectly happy for our guests to retire to our local after the service for a few glasses of fizz and a set menu, I’m less convinced, bearing in mind the distance some people will have travelled to be there.

my fiancé would be happy for our guests to retire to our local for a few glasses of fizz and a set menu

We both wanted somewhere relatively near to the church, not too expensive, and ideally available for dry hire so that we weren’t spending too much of our budget on heavily marked-up wines.

As ever, the internet came to our rescue, with options falling mainly into three camps. There were the grand, wedding-ready and expensive. Then there were distressed and Instagram-friendly warehouse-style spaces that, upon further investigaton, often proved impractical – having no kitchen or only one toilet, for example.

Finally, there were some lovely rooms available for hire in libraries, museums and small houses, but these often only accommodated between 60 and 80 guests. With an anticipated guest list of around 90, we were falling somewhere between an Englishman’s home and his castle.

With a guest list of around 90, we were falling somewhere between an Englishman’s home and his castle

We whittled the choices down to a shortlist of four, all of which generously pencilled us in for our preferred date until we could arrange to view them. Visiting in person was vital to get a feel for the space and the surroundings: one interior was stunning, but housed in a building on a very busy road and open to the public throughout the evening.

In the end we chose Clissold House, a beautiful 18th-century manor in Stoke Newington. The area is relatively residential and villagey, and the house is set on the corner of a lovely windswept park complete with deer and a goat enclosure. It’s managed by Hackney Council which charges an hourly rate for rooms, with a 33% deposit payable to secure the booking. The total cost for a 10-hour hire period for two rooms, including set-up, tables and chairs, security and staff, came to just over £2,000.

My advice for wedding venue hunters? You’ll probably need to compromise on something, so make sure it’s a compromise that doesn’t bother you too much. In our case, we’re having to seat our guests in two separate rooms for dinner, which isn’t ideal, but there’s a central, connecting spaces for speeches and drinks at the beginning. We also figure we can have a naughty room (the young and childfree) and a well-behaved room (family and older friends).

Days remaining: 129
Spend: £912
Bridesmaids’ dresses £192
Venue deposit: £730

If you’re getting married in London like our bride-to-be, you could consider these venues for your reception:

For smaller weddings:

Highgate Literary and Scientific Institute
Burgh House in Hampstead
St Mary’s Church in Stoke Newington
The Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell
Lauderdale House in Archway

For bigger weddings:

The London Irish Centre in Camden
Middle Temple Hall, near Fleet Street
Cecil Sharp House in Primrose Hill
London Zoo near Regent’s Park

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