Boy, oh boy, do the folk at Historic Royal Palaces know how to put on a show. How do we know? Because we were lucky enough to be invited to an evening of opulent entertainment, fine wines, and extraordinary food and cocktails at King Henry VIII’s old stomping ground, Hampton Court Palace. And what a night we had. We’d never have guessed it had taken staff just two hours to prep the palace for our arrival, but that’s exactly what they did and the results were magic…
Greeted by uniformed guards and illuminated ice-queen stilt-walkers, we were escorted from the West Gate to the beat of a performing LED drumming troupe, and led inside the palace to the pristinely laid out ceremony room.
From there, we moved into the Cartoon Gallery for cocktails of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety.
Set against a backdrop of historic paintings and wedding dresses inspired by Historic Royal Palaces and created by renowned bridal designers Sassi Holford, Katya Katya London, and Suzanne Neville, we mingled with guests and savoured an eclectic selection of warming canapés prepared by events caterers, Rhubarb.
A brief announcement signalled it was time to make haste for dinner. Through the corridors we went, past a monumental six-tiered cake (hats off to the maker – Unique Cakes by Yevnig) which had been handcrafted to reflect various features of each of the Historic Royal Palaces…
…and on into the Great Hall, where we joined ghosts of the past in a meal fit for a king.
Yes, there are modern day touches (we’re not sure Henry VIII would have dined at a mirrored table) but looking around the room, the architecture, the stained glassworks, the ceiling reliefs and the tapestries that hang from the walls all remain, and it’s almost impossible not to imagine the scents and sounds of yesteryear feasts enjoyed by legendary figures all those centuries ago.
With a nod to Henry VIII, who frequently rode out hunting in the deer park here, we were served venison loin and bon bon with potato terrine, sauternes golden sultanas and jus roti.
Once our plates had been cleared, the sound of choristers was heard from above and, looking up towards the Minstrels Gallery, we enjoyed a mashup of old and new upbeat love songs that got us in the mood for dancing…
And that’s when it was time to move on for dessert [hooray!]. Off we trouped out of the Hall, out of the palace and down into Henry’s cellars where music, cocktails and the interactive dessert tables were waiting.
Thank you, Historic Royal Palaces, for putting on this phenomenal event and for inviting us to experience it. It was, at points, pretty humbling, and was certainly a night we will never forget. Would we recommend a Historic Royal Palace for a wedding? Only if you want to completely and utterly blow your guests away and make your own personal history in magnificent surroundings that has so many of its own stories to tell. Being treated in a place like this is a once in a lifetime experience, for a once in a lifetime event. And that, to us, is just how a wedding should be.
Find your favourite palace wedding venue here.
Suppliers involved in the showcase were Lavender Green (flowers), Rhubarb (catering), Sternberg Clarke (all entertainment), Grosvenor Stationery (invitations, order of service, menus), HRP Event Solutions (AV equipment), Nick Rose (photography), At Motion (videography) and Unique Cakes by Yevnig, Great Hire (furniture)