Looking for a cool wedding venue in East London? Ordinarily you’d be spoilt for choice. But 2020 has not been an ordinary year. With shifting advice on what kind of wedding you can hold, how many people can attend and how social distancing can be put in place, many couples are moving their special date. As an East London Wedding Photographer, I’m always amazed how many intimate and epic wedding venues there are in the city. So I’ve been in touch with some of the best wedding venues across East London to help couples that are planning their wedding during this uncertain period. And I’m very pleased to say – there is a real sense of optimism for 2021 as the industry slow gathers momentum.
From the legendary Wilton’s Music Hall to Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve Walthamstow Wetlands, here is summary of my conversations with what I consider to be the coolest venues in East London. Of course, the situation does remain serious and all venues are following government guidelines, so I would recommend speaking directly if you wish to discuss an enquiry in more detail.
Whether you’re looking to get a date in for 2021 or interested in visiting venues, but want to know how to do this safety, I hope you’ll find some answers here!
MKII, Lower Clapton
www.markandmarko.com Licensed For Ceremonies
First up, I spoke with Marko from the effortlessly cool MKII in Lower Clapton (formerly The Old Dairy). MKII is a bright space with plenty of windows and plants to create your own warehouse wedding vibes. MKII offer dry hire only with a super flexible approach. They don’t have any preferred suppliers so you can pick the wedding professionals that are right for the wedding you envisage.
MKII are currently taking wedding bookings for 2020 in-line with government guidance allowing a total of 30 guests from 15 August onward. They also have available mid-week and weekend dates for 2021 so if you’re looking for a venue with a blank canvas for your wedding, drop them a line!
Viewings are by appointment only.
Lea Rowing Club, Clapton
I spent a large part of my youth fishing along the river Lea next to the Rowing Club. Little did I know that it’s one of the UK’s largest rowing clubs, has produced numerous winning athletes and has a huge multi-functional venue space too. At the Lea Rowing Club, they have three main rooms naturally set overlooking the river, which can hold anything between 30 to 230 guests. I spoke with Stephen Mitchelson (General Manager) and I’m pleased to say that if you’re looking for a waterside wedding, they currently have available Saturdays in 2021.
You’ll have to move quickly though as they only offer weddings on a Saturday to work around the club events.
Viewings are by appointment only. But you can also pop in and try their new Sunday lunch menu while you’re at it too. In the name of research, of course…
The Roost, Dalston
www.theroost.co.uk Licensed For Ceremonies
OK, so you’re looking for a bit of bohemia, and you like to drink? Then you’ll love this East End boozer. The Roost was formerly a Victorian pub, but now hosts film crews, weddings and corporate events. I love this place. Decorated with an eclectic mix of wallpaper finishes, vintage furniture and eccentric props the venue has a cosy (but cool) homely feel. Steph Barrow from the team explained how they’re still able to focus on the smaller intimate weddings for 2020, but have available dates in the peak months for 2021 from July to October.
Viewings like all other venues are by appointment and will be in-line with social distancing measures.
Spitalfields Church, Spitalfields
www.spitalfieldsvenue.org Licensed For Ceremonies
You can’t stroll through the East End without seeing this iconic building, Spitalfields Church. Spitalfields is a working Anglican church. But it also hosts epic wedding receptions too, all managed in-house through the events team. Here you can celebrate your wedding breakfast against the stunning backdrop of the Nave, then move downstairs to the vaulted Crypt to dance the night away. I spoke with Rebecca Hawkes (Head of Sales & Marketing) who explained that they are offering 2020 weddings. Again, these are all in line with government guidance. They are also starting to see an uptake in 2021 bookings, but (at the time of writing) do have a few mid-week and Saturdays slots left available.
Viewings are by appointment only and there’s a short questionnaire to complete beforehand. Full social distancing measures are in place too. There’s also some great virtual tours on their website, (link above).
The thing that struck me most when speaking to Rebecca was how they’re set and ready to go. Much like the other venues, all safety measures are in place and they are only more than happy to help with any questions and uncertainties you may have.
Wilton’s Music Hall
www.wiltons.org.uk Licensed For Ceremonies
Imagine the East End and what do you think of? Pie and mash, or a good old knees up around the piana? It will come as no surprise then that the East End also holds the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world. This stunning Grade II listed building would normally host over 300 shows performances per year, but is also exclusively available to hire for weddings. Wilton’s wedding hire includes the whole building, covering the bars, the Victorian staircase, and the hall with its famous barley-twist columns – perfect for your ceremony, wedding breakfast and with plenty of space for dancing.
Sadly, at the time of posting, Wiltons are closed for events and hire. But their super friendly events team are still available to chat through enquiries. I spoke with Kate Mullan (Head of Commercial Services & Operations) who was able to talk me through their 2021 wedding plans. They have increased their available summer weekend dates to help couples find their perfect East London venue in 2021. Kate stressed that like all venues, they’re focus will be on safety and service in line with government guidance. Guests can flow around the venue safely and if a one-way system is needed for the future, this can be added without affecting the aesthetic of the venue or reception too.
Wilton’s Music Hall is currently closed but their close-knit and friendly team are available to talk you through their space and introduce you to suppliers now. Zoom calls and Google meets are available. Wiltons are working on some new virtual tours as well, just in case you’ve not walked through the Victorian splendour before!
Walthamstow Wetlands, Walthamstow
www.walthamstowwetlands.com Licensed For Ceremonies
Last but by no means least is Walthamstow Wetlands where nature meets industrial cool. As Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve the wetlands boasts beautiful views across the whole site, but all within walking distance to Tottenham Hale tube station. Ada Crawshay Jones (Marketing and Events Manager) was able to highlight how they’re managing intimate weddings for this year up to Nov 2020, by ensuring adequate hand washing, sanitising and cleaning processes are in place, with one-way systems set up inside rooms to comply with guidance. There’s still some available 2020 dates too!
There is also scope to book your 2021 wedding from February 2021 onwards. However the Wetlands will be undergoing a change in management so any bookings will be confirmed after Dec 2020 (once the new structure is in place). Viewings like all other venues are by appointment from mid August.
Your Walthamstow Wetlands wedding photography will be filled with beautiful backdrops. You’re spoilt for choice here.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful and it’s fair to say that when you do have your wedding reception, it’s going to be one hell of a celebration! If you’re looking to capture the big day with natural and relaxed photography or have any questions please contact me.
If you’re interested in one of the venues please contact them directly through the links so they can provide up to-date advice and support.
The Alternative Wedding Photographer, East London
Blog date: 14.08.20