Luton Hoo was to be Donna’s dream wedding venue last Saturday. There was excitement from the back of the Bentley, as the car wound it’s way up the avenue of trees to the main house, as we headed towards the wedding reception. The weather was playing ball, as had the traffic from North London – everything was going to plan. Some regular readers of this blog (I know there are at least three of you!!) may recognize Donna from Rhian and James’s wedding last year. She was a bridesmaid at Rhian’s wedding, at St Paul’s Cathedral – on a rather chillier day. This time, Rhian was a bridesmaid for Donna, while James was on Maddie duty (she was at last year’s wedding too – sort of 😉 ).
So coverage kicks off at the York and Albany – Gordon Ramsey’s gastropub/chic hotel opposite London’s Regents Park. I have to say, I wish all bride’s got ready in such a big room. So many boutique hotel rooms are dark and tiny. It was then a short taxi ride up the hill to Hampstead, where Donna and Max live. The timing was excellent – I got to witness the final Aussie wicket fall at Trent Bridge and the Ashes reclaimed, before we got to the church. When I say ‘witness’, I mean watching the ECB app update on my iphone… Hampstead parish church (St John-at-Hampstead) sits at the end of Church Row, one of the most scenic streets in the area. The locals had moved away from the benches by the time Donna arrived, a bit late. Donna took a deep breath before being led up the aisle by her grandfather.
The ceremony complete, it was then time for drinks at the front of the church. Guests then boarded the coach to take them to Luton Hoo hotel, a short trip up the M1 motorway. I hitched a lift in the Bentley. Now a luxury hotel, Luton Hoo was a private stately home when I lived nearby (in St Albans) as a teenager. (Hoo means the spur of a hill to the Saxons). The large art collection is no longer there, some of it was stolen. But fittingly, given that Max is Russian, the house has a Russian link. The wife of a previous owner being a member of the former Russian Imperial family. Indeed, the deconsecrated Russian Orthodox chapel is where the wedding breakfast was held, the dancing in the Faberge Suite downstairs. Fittingly for Donna, Luton Hoo is also a film and TV location, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, and more recently, WarHorse.
Drinks then on the sunny terrace, some persistent wasps ( they got Donna’s grandfather). The meal, speeches and then the briefest of moments to grab the last of the dying sunlight. Donna braved the long grass and myriad bugs that invaded her dress in the process. Then onto the dancing….
An elegant London wedding that was topped off with a warm wedding reception at Luton Hoo – here are just a few images from the day…