Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

More Wedding Bells

Saturday, September 27th, 2008


I had hoped never to have to write about wedding venues again, but Lorna’s still not convinced by the Phantom Shindigs page, and I can sort of see what she means. Besides, it does give me the excuse to use this pic I took last week of a jolly mode of wedding transport outside The Trafalgar Tavern.

Lorna writes:

“My boyfriend has just (finally!) proposed, and we want to get married in Greenwich and have our reception in Greenwich too.

I’ve read through all the information on your site (and all sites online it seems!) about weddings in Greenwich, and I’m still a bit blurry on what we could do to make our wedding ‘extra speicial’.

So I wondered if you, or your readers had any thoughts on what their idea of a perfect Greenwich wedding would be, or if they have been to an extra special wedding in Greenwich and why it was so!

So far with our venue research (the usual – Queen’s House etc) we’ve found that the venues are WAY too prescriptive on what you can and can’t do, and you have no freedom with suppliers etc. We’d ideally like a church wedding followed by a marquee in the park, but of course, Greenwich council won’t allow that – but clearly the Olympics is fine! ;o)

So, any thoughts, random ideas, advice would be gratefully received!

Our only stipulations is that it’s held within walking distance from Greenwich town centre and would work for around 120 guests! Winter, summer, spring, autumn all sound great to me, and I’m having HUGE problems deciding! We don’t have a budget yet – so the sky is technically the limit!

I think the key is not knowing what CAN be done in Greenwich – we only seem to know what CAN’T be done!”

The Phantom agrees that many venues seem to be extremely prescriptive – it was something that came up again and again when I was writing the Shindigs page – the dreaded “allocated wedding planner,” the stipulated “approved caterers” and the vast rules and regulations. Some of them I can understand – if the venue’s of great historic value, for example, but most just seem to be trying to squeeze as much cash as possible from the happy couple.

I would be terrified by the thought of an alotted wedding planner – the images that dance before my eyes cow me just to think about it. And many venues don’t seem to even consider giving you a quote without forcing you to go through one of these scary people. They may dress it up as ‘customer service’ and ‘added value’ but IMHO the venues have realised it’s more difficult to back out after you’ve had a huge quote if there’s a designated human who has created a wedding plan ‘just for you. It would be a tough bird indeed that would happily rack up wedding planners and play them off against each other to get the best deal.

You say that you want a church wedding. It certainly ends the agony of trying to find a civil venue for the ceremony itself, which is fraught with problems – the venues have to pay so much for a licence that they often insist on your holding the reception there too – which racks up the costs. I know you say that the sky’s the limit, budget-wise, but weddings are hideously, hideously expensive and people add a couple of zeros onto costs as soon as they know something’s for a wedding.

You should find basic details on churches on the Shindigs page – if you’re not a churchgoer at the moment, it might be worth considering attending a few services for some churches; others are less fussy.

I confess to be rather glad that Royal Parks don’t allow marquees in the park – they’d be a permanent fixture, but that does mean that marquees are out, especially if you’re keen for it to be within walking distance of the town centre. The only place I can think of that regularly has marquees is The Fan Museum, and that’s such a pretty garden it seems a shame to stick a whopping great tent over it.

Depending on when your wedding is planned, i.e. if it’s from Spring 2010, you could see at what stage the Cutty Sark will be (notwithstanding any more accidents.) I get the feeling it’s going to be a stunning venue – a quick call to the Cutty Sark Trust might see you as one of the first people to use it.

My problem is that I really did rack my brains for the Phantom Shindigs page – if there are other venues within walking distance of the town centre, I don’t know about them. But maybe someone else here will.

I know that it’s a really special day for you, but don’t get carried away, like a friend of mine, who is getting married next year. She has been planning it since last year, and every time I see her she’s worrying herself to a frazzle over some detail. That’s two years of agony for one day. After all, it’s two people saying they want to be together for the rest of their lives. The rest is just packaging.

Wedding Transport

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Blimey – a wedding question I haven’t been asked yet!

Christina asks:

“Can you think of any weird or funky or both, transport options,other than a fleet of mini cabs, to take a wedding party at 11pm on September 13th from the Queen’s House, up to Coleraine Road.

Could be up to 80 people so relay trips might be ther order of the day?”

The Phantom replies:

You can get 80 people in your house? Wow! I once managed 20 goths I’d never met before after the fireworks on Blackheath but that was a squeeze – and a whole other story…

Hmm. Interesting/weird/funky, eh… How about a fleet of white cabs? There are several companies who provide the service – and it would certainly look quite stunning.

In fact a fleet of practically any kind of car looks quite good – the impact is in the numbers. Some friends of mine used a fleet of Reliant Robins. I’m not sure whether that counts as funky or just plain weird.

Would a double-decker bus get up Coleraine Road? There’s a lot of parked cars but it might just do it.

It’s an odd journey in that it’s a bit hilly and, although not that far, a little awkward. Car relays for 80 guests might take a long while.

The Queen’s House to Coleraine Road isn’t that far – you could take a marvellous walk through the park, led by the Bride & Groom, natch, – even, perhaps, ask about ‘chartering’ the tiny train to take revellers up the steep bit. Perhaps you could arrange for some “happenings” along the way through the park – a group playing instruments, or reading poems or something.

I wonder whether you might just arrange some lovely transport – a horse and carriage or something similarly glorious for the people that couldn’t manage the walk, so that they feel special too, and get everyone else to take Shanks’s Pony. You could arrange a job lot of white umbrellas with your wedding names and dates on them as keepsakes just in case!

More Wedding Venue Stuff…

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

This really ought to go in an FAQ – except that every wedding enquiry seems to be slightly different…

Sarah asks:

We’d really like to have our civil wedding ceremony in Greenwich then put our guests on a boat from the pier for the recepion. Everywhere I ask say they will only do a ceremony if we book the reception with them too. We would like appox 80-90 guests and think the registry office is too far from the river.We’d like to get married this summer and need the ceremony to cost under £2000.Any suggestions?

The Phantom replies:

Your problem is that there are only a few places that are registered for a civil ceremony and the buggers know it. They know they’ve got you over a barrel and make you do the whole kit and caboodle with them. I’d be tempted to avoid them on principle. If only a few would be a little less greedy and just make themselves available for lovely little standalone civil ceremonies, they’d do a roaring trade. Maybe a few more of the smaller venues should apply (though I’m assuming there are a lot of hoops to jump through and fees to be paid. When it comes to weddings everyone has their hand out…) Sadly The Phantom Back Garden just isn’t big enough, even if it was decked out with some fabulous plastic flowers and the gnomes were dressed in their Sunday best with little carnations in their buttonholes…

What friends of mine have done is two separate events (on different days.) They’ve had a quiet little ‘official’ ceremony at the town hall with a minimum of fuss and relatives, then, on another day, they’ve created their own little unofficial vows ceremony for the people that matter somewhere lovely (usually woods or Neolithic forts, though of course the latter is in short supply around here…) before moving on to yet another venue for the big kneesup.

Hmm. Somewhere near the river. One of these days the Cutty Sark will be available again (though a word to the wise – don’t book a peripatetic jazz band with a sousaphone if you’re going below decks, ok?) but until then the others know how to charge. The Trafalgar will be way over budget – the Admiral’s House is slighty better, I understand, but they make you have Leith’s catering and judging from the just-about-ok meals I’ve had in the King William Restaurant it’s nothing to write home about. The Silver Sturgeon is a fine ship for your boat idea; I believe the company has some smaller vessels that may not be quite as prohibitively expensive.

I’m beginning to see a gap in the market. If only I had the cash…

Maybe the good burghers of Greenwich can come up with better suggestions than me.

Do let me know what you come up with. I would genuinely like to know…