Now that I have confirmed my wedding venue, I can confidently share my London location findings without fear of you booking my date ahead of me (possibly the first of many Bride Wars utterances to come).
I've spent over a month trawling the internet to find a location for our wedding reception and hurridly visiting venues before someone else confirmed our date.
Here was my criteria (apologies to non Central London location hunters – I'm not going through this again on behalf of the rest of the country. Bride Wars moment #2);
Dinner/dance for around 120, preferably less.
Classical, stylish venue – original features with clean, modern interior.
Not a new build.
No swirly carpets, wooden floors preferred.
Nowhere that the Annual Hairdressing Awards might book.
Outside space or terrace that I could heat with lamps for the smokers.
And the results...
Pros: Dining under the skeleton of the dinosaur. That architecture, that staircase!
Cons: It's a prohibitive biggie – the £15,000 hire fee. Entry only after the museum is closed – pub for a few hours? Could our friends be trusted not to steal a bone? 120 people would look a little lonely in its 650 person capacity.
Pros: Beautifully grand but not too fussy surroundings overlooking the gardens.
Cons: a £14k hire fee again! Plus there are a lot of management no-nos; no red wine, no coloured peonies or gerberas (less bothered by devil gerberas), no turmeric (there goes the turkey curry buffet), and guest list to be approved by the Palace (would they pass?).
Pros: A delightful room with floor-to-ceiling glass and views of the garden.
Cons: Just 80 guests for dinner. Not a venue for post-dinner dancing, they don't like amplified music, only background noise.
Pros: Stunning location and architecture, interior is spot on.
Cons: dining for a max of 80 people, unless you want to hire two rooms and split the guests. Not keen, impossible to avoid an A and B room.
Pros: Best art deco venue in London. Great private entrance to the ballroom and large reception space on top, plus divine powder room.
Cons: As with all hotel venues, champagne, wine and food starting prices are steep, and it needs a bit of production budget to 'dress' the room.
Pros: Slick, luxurious, fab location and ballroom has its own entrance.
Cons: The Ballroom is where you'd want it and it's far too big for 120. Other rooms don't feel like the main event.
Pros: The run of a Georgian townhouse off Hyde Park Corner. Adaptable space, grand staircase.
Cons: It's a hire venue so you have to factor in lots of costs – from napkins and dancefloors, to taking the bins out. I'm nervous the price might escalate, but they seem very honest and organised. Entrance is on a very noisy, busy road with bus stop outside.
Pros: A converted church on North Audley Street popular with lavish events. They also own One Marylebone.
Cons: Another prohibitively expensive hire fee of £10,000. Corporate appeal only.
The Winner: The Savile Club
Pros: A gentleman's club on Mayfair's Brook Street that feels like a wealthy relation's home. An intimate, elegant ballroom for 100 guests, a separate wood-panelled bar, plus two reception rooms (one for dancing, one for chatting), two terraces and beautiful bedrooms. And you have the run of the club on weekends.
Cons: Having to get our guestlist down to 100. We're not answering the phone this year…