London Calling? Destination Weddings in the UK (Part 1)
Having lived in London for a time during my college years, and having fallen in love with the culture, history and the beautiful countryside, the British Isles were always on my bucket list for a beautiful destination wedding (once I found the groom). Though I didn't get my dream English wedding...Two Girls in Pearls Events can definitely plan yours! Here are a few places you might want to tie the knot (did you know this phrase actually came from an old Celtic tradition called handfasting?), and other tidbits you need to know to get married in the United Kingdom.
Let me start this by prefacing, if you legally marry in the US and don't want for your marriage license to be filed in the UK then you may have a symbolic wedding in England that doesn't require any of the following paperwork.
If you want your marriage to be recognized in England there are a few steps you will need to go through to make it legal as a foreigner. First, you will need to obtain a Marriage Visitor Visa prior to departing for the UK (even though you don't ordinarily need a visa to visit there). This visa is required to enter the UK with the intent to marry but not settle. It is a document you can easily apply for online through the gov.UK website.
To meet eligibility requirements for a Marriage Visitor Visa you must prove that:
you’re 18 or over
you’re free to give notice of marriage, to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of your arrival
you’re in a genuine relationship
you’re visiting the UK for less than 6 months
you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
you’ll not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home
you’re able to support yourself during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
you’re able to pay for your return home (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
you have proof of any other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules
You will need to present proof of name, age, occupation, nationality and present marital status. In addition, you will need to provide information of the details of the marriage or civil partnership and proof that you’ve paid money for some of its costs. You can present booking confirmations or emails between you and the venue as proof you're planning to get married in England.
There are also some residency requirements you will need to determine. You must register your intent to marry at a designated registrar's office 28 days prior to the wedding. We at Two Girls in Pearls Events can help guide you through this process and obtain the appropriate paperwork.
SOME PLACES IN ENGLAND TO HAVE A WEDDING:
King's Hall, Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Are you a legends and myths aficionado that absolutely adores the lore of King Arthur? Bamburgh Castle might be the destination for your own romance, then. Built in the 6th century A.D. folklore has it that this is the legendary castle of Sir Lancelot, Joyous Gard.
Battery Terrace, Bamburgh Castle
Whether you choose to have your ceremony in the King's Hall, on the shore of the castle grounds with the castle in silhouette, or on the Battery Terrace overlooking the North Sea, Bamburgh Castle is the ultimate in romantic settings.
Highclere Castle, North Wessex, UK
Absolutely love Downton Abbey and fancy a wedding like Lady Mary's? How about Highclere Castle? The present building was transformed in 1842 from Highclere Place House (originally built in 1679) into Highclere Castle by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament. The entire castle and its grounds are available for wedding rentals, and features a fully experienced high class catering team.
Highclere Castle interior
Just 45 minutes from London, Highclere Castle offers all the grandeur of a society wedding. Brides are welcome to use any of the bedrooms to get ready, and just imagine walking down that famous staircase from the gallery to your handsome groom waiting below in the Saloon, which sits at the very heart of the castle.
The Lancaster Ballroom, The Savoy, London
The Hotel Savoy is London's most iconic hotel wedding venue. It opened in 1889 on The Strand in central London, and was the first to have electricity and elevators! Built from the the profits of Gilbert and Sullivan's successful comic operas which were originally performed at The Savoy Theatre, it wasn't long before the grand parties and galas at The Savoy became legendary throughout London. Restored to it's Edwardian grandeur in 2007, a wedding here is nothing more than spectacular.
Pinafore Room, The Savoy, London
Whether you are looking for a lavish event in the Lancaster Ballroom or an intimate wedding with close friends and family in the Pinafore Room (named after Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera "H.M.S. Pinafore") The Savoy has the event space to accommodate your affair and is known for their exquisite catering.
Grosvenor House, Mayfair, Westminster, London
Grosvenor House was once one of the largest townhouses in London, home of the Grosvenor family (better known as the Dukes of Westminster) for more than a century. The house was sold during the First World War, and was demolished in the 1920s. The Grosvenor House Hotel was built on its site and completed in 1929. Just a few steps from Buckingham Palace, the Grosvenor House Hotel is one of the most historic venues in the west end.
Grosvenor House, The Great Room
Weddings at Grosvenor House are no less lavish than their Mayfair zip code! Think of luxury and elegance at this venue. With 23 event spaces, the largest is the Great Room. One of London's largest and most impressive wedding halls, The Great Room, an Art Deco style ballroom, can accommodate up to 2000 guests, banquet style.
For smaller events, Grosvenor House (now a J.W. Marriott) has an appropriately sized space for any wedding.
St. Stephen's Hall, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London
Imagine getting married with views of the River Thames outside and Big Ben (the name of the actual bell housed in the Great Westminster Clock Tower) chiming in the background all in the setting of a place steeped in history. There isn't a place more important in British history than the Palace of Westminster, where you can find the Houses of Parliament.
Have your marriage ceremony in the Jubilee Room, with a fireplace commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and housing The Parliamentary Art Collection, which is the national collection of art pertaining to the history of Parliament.
Jubilee Room, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London
For your reception, how about the Member's Room with it's elegant furnishings and priceless works of art? With stunning views of The Thames it was only available in the past to members of Parliament, but has recently opened up for events.
While your guests are enjoying cocktail hour, take your wedding pictures in St. Stephen's Hall, which is the site where St. Stephen's Chapel (the original home of the House of Commons) stood until the fire of 1834. It houses statues of famous British parliamentarians and is now the entrance to the Central Hall that divides the House of Commons from the House of Lords.
The Member's Room, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton, England
Built by King George IV of England as a seaside retreat and completed in 1823, The Royal Pavilion is a magnificent monument to the romantic era of the Regency period. It is one of the most uniquely beautiful buildings in Britain. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic (also known as Indo-Gothic) style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century. Though he only visited twice before his death in 1830, King George IV left an amazing legacy to his son, King William IV and his niece, Queen Victoria, both of whom resided at the Royal Pavilion at times during their reigns.
The Music Room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Two rooms are currently available for your wedding ceremony, The Music Room and the Red Drawing Room, with receptions being held in the beautiful King William IV Room (for up to 60 seated) or the stylish Adelaide Rooms (up to 54 seated).
The Royal Pavilion Garden is one of the few fully restored Regency gardens in the country. It makes a lovely backdrop for your special Brighton seaside wedding.
Regardless of the type of venue you are looking at for your UK wedding, Two Girls in Pearls Events will find you the perfect one to match your interests, vision and personality. We are also adept at matching you with the perfect vendors no matter where you choose to marry, and have an extensive global network of trusted partners we work with.
Stay tuned for the next TGIP Luxury Destinations blog. We'll look at some more fabulous UK venues and travel out to Scotland, Wales and Ireland to explore there. Until next time...