Cancelled holidays are disappointing, but having to put your wedding on hold is a different kind of heartbreak. For thousands of couples across the country, this has been the reality for more than a year, but with restrictions on social gatherings now lifted, people are delighted to be dusting off their wedding finery once again.
‘Unlike other annual celebrations, such as birthdays or Christmas parties, that have been cancelled over the past year, weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, which have been on hold,’ says Chloe Ly, Fortnum & Mason’s private dining and events executive. ‘At Fortnum’s, we are definitely seeing a big boom in this side of our events now that couples can finally celebrate their love for each other.’
For some couples, enforced restrictions have meant taking an entirely different and unexpected approach to matrimony. Many have opted for so-called “minimonies” – small, intimate ceremonies – with plans to throw a bigger bash later down the line. Ly calls this the “wed now, party later” trend, which for couples on a budget or those who like to keep things simple has been a welcome alternative. On the other hand, however, many party-deprived people are going in the opposite direction with a “go hard or go home” mentality.
This year marks the first time Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange has been granted a wedding licence. The heritage British company is, however, no stranger to the wedding industry, having hosted ceremonies since the 1920s. With the backdrop of a scenic Italianate Courtyard and iconic eight-columned entrance, The Royal Exchange is one of London’s most photogenic venues. But despite this, it is also something of an undiscovered treasure, and offers an elegant alternative for couples looking for something a little different.
‘In the City, the pace is very fast and generally people get into the routine of going from station to office and to the same few coffee shops, bars and restaurants,’ says Ly. ‘The Royal Exchange is a hidden gem, but once you discover it, you will be compelled to visit again and again. It is simply breathtaking. For us to have the pleasure to host weddings here is an opportunity to be a part of one of the most memorable moments in a couple’s life.’
People who get hitched at The Royal Exchange will have exclusive use of the spectacular Courtyard, as well as the terrace for al fresco drinks. The surrounding City architecture provides a magnificent backdrop for photographs in a quintessentially London location.
The process of booking your wedding with Fortnum & Mason is designed to be as ‘smooth and seamless’ as possible, with a selection of wedding packages and bespoke options.
‘Once an enquiry has been submitted, our dedicated events executives will have an initial call to delve into some finer details and gauge exactly what the client wants, to offer a tailored proposal,’ explains Ly. ‘The couple will then be invited to visit The Royal Exchange to visualise how their day might look within the building. Once the couple confirms their date with a registrar, we start exploring menu options, a colour scheme, furniture and any external suppliers they might wish to bring in. Our events executive can assist with everything from florists, gifting, AV and entertainment to accommodation and décor; supporting couples in the extra details to create their dream wedding.’
With over a century of experience, it’s safe to say that Fortnum & Mason knows what its doing. But the company also has another ace up its sleeve: world-renowned cuisine.
‘Food is our passion, and dining our speciality,’ says Ly. ‘At The Royal Exchange our chefs and bar team work hard to always produce the very best seasonal dishes and drinks, from fine wines to innovative cocktails. Your wedding menu will be at the very heart of your planning, and before the wedding feast takes place, you and your partner will enjoy a complimentary tasting by our chefs.’
Foodie couples can expect classic wedding fare on the menu, with premium and seasonal ingredients sourced from quality UK suppliers, including ‘fantastic fish from Cornwall’, artisanal cheeses and Glenarm beef from Northern Ireland.
‘Fortnum’s has always championed provenance and quality of food from all over Britain and the world, and we use recipes from our books and restaurants to maintain tradition and innovation,’ explains Fortnum’s chef director, Sydney Aldridge. ‘We look forward to welcoming couples and their guests to Fortnum’s for a culinary celebration mixed with fun and creativity.’
With all the fine details taken care of, and a stunning venue in the heart of the City, all couples need to do to celebrate their big day with friends and family is to relish it. ‘Enjoy every moment of your engagement and the wedding planning process, take your time and soak up every minute,’ Ly advises. ‘It’s one of the key chapters in life that you won’t experience again, so have fun with it.’
For further information about hosting your wedding at Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange, please contact the Fortnum & Mason wedding team on email@example.com
The Royal Exchange celebrates its 450th anniversary this year. Visit our heritage page to learn more about the history of The Royal Exchange, and keep an eye on our specially created 450 Years site, journal and Instagram for more fascinating facts and insights about The Royal Exchange’s past and present as we commemorate this special milestone throughout the year.