Wedding

Strictly Ballroom

By Patricia Campbell

By Patricia Campbell

When you live with your fiancé, the gargantuan task that is planning a wedding will slowly and surely engulf all your free evenings and weekends. Yes, it’s fun, but it can be exhausting and stressful too. So, as I headed off to Rye, East Sussex for a planned weekend break with my sister, I made a vow not to think about the W word.

It just so happened that our hotel, The George, also doubles up as a pretty wedding venue...

the george rye wedding venue ballroom seating

I’ve already found my dream venue, but I couldn’t help taking The George wedding tour. The Grade II listed 4-star hotel enjoys a prime spot on Rye High Street – an almost rudely pretty town, five minutes from Camber Sands beach. Idiosyncratic antique shops and tearooms line Rye’s labyrinthine, cobble-stoned lanes, and perched atop a hill is a ring of churches, representing multitude denominations, along with a smart Town Hall for civil ceremonies – all of which would offer countless elegant backdrops for wedding photos. The scene is set.

One word neatly sums up The George: comfort. Walking through the hotel’s doors is akin to sinking into a squishy sofa – you don’t want to leave. In the rooms, there are 34 in all, British heritage meets contemporary edge via luxurious touches and standout interiors. Outside, a garden courtyard offers a pretty setting for a champagne reception, should you be blessed with balmy weather.

the george rye wedding venue ballroom

But upstairs is the real surprise: the ballroom. Dating back to the Regency period, it can accommodate up to 125 guests for a seated meal. Large sash windows flood the room with natural daylight – a must for flattering photographs – while hand-painted silk wallpaper, antique chandeliers and original Georgian fireplaces add an elegant touch. Adjacent to the ballroom, the 16th Century Benson Room, complete with its own bar, is an ideal spot for a drinks reception or the relaxed post-dinner chill out.

Off-the-shelf wedding packages are not for everyone – my fiancé and I wanted full control over our catering and alcohol suppliers – but if you're not fussed about designing every aspect of your wedding then The George, which offers a choice of wedding packages, could be a good option. I can vouch for the food: during our stay, we enjoyed a three course meal in the smart restaurant downstairs: a starter of local Rye scallops, followed by elegant Romney Marsh rump of lamb, then an indulgent chocolate fondant with raspberry sorbet.

There’s no spa at The George, but in-room hair, make-up and pampering treatments can be organised on request through the local Rye Retreat. It was here that a diligent therapist got to work on the tangle of knots on my upper back the next day, with a heavenly Hot Stone Therapy massage. Afterwards, I was taken upstairs to the hair salon for a volumising blow dry that would satisfy even the most hard-boiled bridezilla.

I may not have escaped the W word for my relaxing weekend, but maybe I didn’t want to after all.

The George offers a choice of wedding packages to suit the needs of couples and can also be hired on an exclusive use basis. For further details, visit thegeorgeinrye.com or call 01797 222114.

More wedding venue inspiration: Huntsham Court, Devon

Catch up with ELLE's wedding blog

Pictures: Anneli Marinovich

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