Everything You Need to Know About Getting Married at a Royal Palace

With the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now just under a month away there’s been lots of news and articles about getting married at a Royal Palace.

I’ve been lucky enough to organise a number of weddings at Royal Palaces for my lovely clients. In fact my very first wedding, way back in 2002, was at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Yes, that is the very same place that next month’s Royal Wedding will be taking place.

St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.jpg

Hannah and Giles’ Wedding in September 2002 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Photographer –  Adrian Neal, The Studio Without Walls

So, I thought I would do a little blog about everything you need to know about getting married at a Royal Palace.

After choosing each other, choosing your wedding venue is the most important decision you will make regarding your wedding. It will influence every other decision you make and will take the largest part of your budget. So, it’s a decision you cannot take lightly and you must make before any other part of the planning process.

For many couples the ultimate dream wedding venue is a Royal Palace. Elegance, glamour, luxury and history all rolled up in one romantic location.

It’s not for the faint hearted or budget conscious couple though. So here are a few things you will need to know before deciding if a “Royal Wedding” is for you.

the-orangery-kensington-palace-photos-from-kate-nielen-www-katenielen-com

Pauline and Luca’s Wedding at The Organgery at Kensington Palace. Florist Lavender Green. Photographer – Kate Nielen Photography

Location
You can find Royal Palaces throughout the UK and probably the best place start is to visit the Historical Royal Palaces website at http://www.hrp.org.uk/Hireavenue/weddings/. My favourites in London have to be The Orangery at Kensington Palace (which is where Nicky Hilton and James Rothschild chose for their wedding) and Banqueting House, located on Whitehall. I’ve been privileged enough to work with couples at both venues and they certainly were spectacular events.

Cost
As you would expect the hire fees for these venues are at the higher end of the market. You can expect to pay upwards of £16,000 plus VAT for the hire fee alone, exclusive of the catering, drinks, flowers, lighting and all the other wonderful things that will make your wedding truly special.

So what are the advantages to getting married at a Royal Palace?

Working with the best
You get to work with some of the best people and companies in the UK. Royal Palaces have what are often called “restricted lists”, which means only approved suppliers are allowed to work there. This takes a lot of the stress off you as you know these companies are experienced at that venue, have a proven track record and maintain the highest customer service. They wouldn’t be on the list if they weren’t amongst the best in the business.

The staff working for the palace are also hugely experienced on what works and what doesn’t at these special venues.

You’ll receive a list of around six suppliers for many of your wedding requirements, such as caterers, florist, entertainment and production. They are usually more flexible on photographers, videographers and wedding planners though, so you can bring in people you feel comfortable with for these roles.

Food by Rhubarb

Catering from Rhubarb Food, one of the selected caterers at Kensington Palace. Photographer Kate Nielen.

Everything in one place
Many are licensed so you can have your ceremony and reception in one stunning location.

Stunning venue
The grounds and rooms are immaculate and so beautiful that you only need the simplest and most elegant of décor to enhance what is already there. This really is the art of less is more décor. So, classic décor often works best. You also won’t need to hide any strange carpets, walls or anything unsightly.

Kensington Palace - Cake

Wedding Cake from the Little Venice Cake Company. Photographer – Kate Nielen

Being Unique
Many Royal Palaces only do 4 or 5 weddings a year, so you will probably be giving your family and friends a unique opportunity to attend a wedding at such a grand venue and will not suffer from statements like “oh, it’s that venue again”.

And the Disadvantages?

Cost
There are no deals to be done and very few special offers or apologies for charging high venue hire fees. These are “Royal” palaces and if you can’t afford the hire fees then please do not make them part of your venue hunting process. You really don’t want to fall in love with a venue you cannot afford!

I would estimate that to have everything you want at your wedding, you would need a budget of about £120,000 or more, so we are talking the high-end of the market.

The Restricted list
There are disadvantages to the approved only suppliers list. They are amongst the best and most often this will mean they are not the cheapest. They also know who they are competing against and will know what their competitors charge, so it is very hard to make deals or find a bargain.

Catering Facilities
Royal Palaces were not built with the wedding industry in mind, they were the homes of Kings and Queens, which means the kitchen facilities may not be suitable for mass catering. Often, catering tents will need to be hired, which will put extra pressure on your budget.

Timing for the day
Many Royal Palaces are open to the public and access on the day will not be until the public doors have been closed. Therefore your set up times can be very tight. For instance, you may not be allowed access until 3.00 pm, which means before that time there is not a table, a flower, a canapé or wedding favour allowed in the door – absolutely nothing! Everything has to be planned to perfection. If you are not the most organised of brides, then I would suggest you have a wedding planner to assist you in the planning process, which is never a bad thing!

Compromise
There will be compromises to be made and rules to be adhered to. Certain pieces of furniture will not be allowed to move, confetti may be banned, no carpet down the aisle, only faux candles, or perhaps red wine can only be consumed when at the dinner table and not when guests are standing. The rules are there to protect the historic palaces and there will be very little compromise. If you are a bride that likes everything her way, it may be a challenge for you. Always remember why you chose the venue in the first place, because of it’s historic significance and beauty, which has to be preserved for future generations.

All the disadvantages aside, if you really want the dream wedding and are lucky enough to have a very healthy wedding budget, I can highly recommend a Royal Palace venue. They are totally unique, utterly stunning and will give you a wedding day you and your guests will remember for the rest of your lives together.

I am so excited for the Royal Wedding. It is sure to be a spectacular occasion and I, like you, will be glued to the television and taking in all the atmosphere of this very special occasion.

All images in this blog are taken from Stylish Events weddings. We would like to thank our clients and the photographers for allowing us to use these images.

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