It’s fair to say it hasn’t been a stellar year for weddings. With most venues forced to close due to pandemic restrictions, the majority of couples due to get married in 2020 chose to postpone their nuptials until something like normality returned. Those who did tie the knot, however, discovered that a smaller, more intimate affair could be just as joyful and romantic as the grand party they had been planning – and wedding experts predict the trend for more pared back nuptials is here to stay.
And, if you’re only planning to invite a few dozen guests, where better to hold your ceremony than in the capital? Removing the need for the space of a grand country house or vast ballroom means you’re free to choose from some of London’s most unusual, beautiful and memorable wedding venues. Here’s our guide to the best small wedding venues in London.
Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden
Petersham Nurseries’ Richmond venue has long been a favourite for elegant weddings in the capital and it didn’t take long for its outpost in Covent Garden to gain the same status. Full private hire is available, offering seating for up to 120, but for smaller weddings the Petersham private dining room, Gallery and semi-private La Goccia spaces are also available to help you create your perfect event. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that your wedding will come complete with exquisite Mediterranean fare, wines from the restaurant’s carefully-curated Italian cellar and fantastic service in Petersham’s iconic flower-festooned style.
Seated capacity: 15-120
Standing capacity: Up to 200
The House of St Barnabas, Soho
This private members' club in a Grade I-listed building tucked away at the end of Greek Street has long been one of Soho’s best kept secrets. A former aristocratic residence turned government building, it was immortalised in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and, in 1862, repurposed as a homeless charity. Today the House of St Barnabas remains a not-for-profit which trains participants via its Employment Preparation Programme for long-lasting careers in hospitality.
A warren of classically-styled rooms, dining spaces and airy reception areas, hung with art by Banksy, the Chapman Brothers and Tracey Emin, the House of St Barnabas is also home to a tranquil private garden and consecrated chapel for post-ceremony services. The House is offered for exclusive use for weddings and, with food prepared on site in collaboration with social enterprises the Ethical Butcher and Change Please, this really is your serene nuptial oasis in the heart of the city.
Seated capacity: 14-40
Standing capacity: Up to 300
Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert’s, Earl’s Court
Another beautiful small wedding venue in London that gives back, Refettorio Felix is a collaboration between the St. Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court, The Felix Project and Massimo Bottura’s Food for Soul. In its normal guise, Refettorio Felix provides high-quality meals created using surplus ingredients for people who are socially isolated or vulnerable.
At evenings and weekends, however, the space transforms into a sophisticated venue for hire. Recently refurbished by renowned interior designer Ilse Crawford, its ambient pendant lighting, modern teal walls and abundance of plants make it the perfect blank canvas on which to create the relaxed wedding reception of your dreams, with all hire fees donated to support the work of the charity.
Seated capacity: 60-80
Standing capacity: 120-150
Winchester House, Richmond
Set in half an acre of grounds on the banks of the Thames, near Putney Bridge, this historic building started life as a traditional gentlemen’s club in 1892. Its grand exterior is complemented by light-filled interiors and a range of rooms suitable for whatever type of day you have planned. As well as the ballroom for formal wedding breakfasts and evening receptions, Winchester House offers a bar and library for cocktails, a private dining room for more intimate events and a large garden overlooking the river ideal for champagne and canapés or as a beautiful backdrop for photographs.
Seated capacity: Up to 115
Standing capacity: Up to 150
The Ned, Bank
Anyone who’s visited The Ned knows it can’t exactly be described as ‘small’ but, once you get past its cavernous restaurant space, the building’s former life as a bank means you’ll find a labyrinth of stylish spaces sure to impress even the most discerning bride. There are six Grade I-listed event spaces and two outdoor terraces available for private hire, so whether you’re planning a wedding for four or 200, The Ned is able to cater to your needs.
Of course, being one of London’s best luxury hotels, The Ned is well equipped to provide everything you need for your big day. The on-site Cowshed Spa is home to a hairdressing salon, barbershop and nail bar while the hotel boasts 250 rooms, including spectacular suites perfect for newlyweds. Food by executive chef Anthony Fletcher can also be customised to your tastes and promises to be a meal to remember.
Seated capacity: 4-140
Standing capacity: Up to 210
Clissold House, Stoke Newington
This Grade II-listed house set in the tranquil surrounds of Clissold Park has recently been sensitively restored, retaining its 18th-century features while transforming the interiors to create a series of tasteful spaces designed to provide for every type of wedding. Arranged over two floors, the ground level drawing room, dining room and hallway offer space for ceremonies and receptions while the first floor Church Room, New River Room and Dressing Room provide more compact areas for smaller gatherings. Clissold House is largely a blank canvas but the in-house events team has built up a bank of trusted suppliers and are on-hand to guide you through the process of creating your perfect day.
Seated capacity: 25-60
Standing capacity: 43-80
Camberwell Arms, Peckham
Food high up the list of priorities for your wedding? Then London venues don’t come much better than The Camberwell Arms. Spearheaded by chef director Michael Davies, it is widely regarded as dishing up some of the most refined pub food in the capital – a reputation it carries through to the menus served at its relaxed upstairs events space. Simply decorated with a distinctly mid-century modern feel, the space has its own dedicated bar and is best arranged as a series of long feasting tables from which to dive into dishes including burrata with pannelle and burnt chilli oil, and slow roasted Salt Marsh lamb with porcini-braised potatoes.
Seated capacity: 40
Standing capacity: 60
The Bedford, Balham
The Bedford may have started life as a traditional pub in the 1930s but it is far from your run of the mill boozer now. Alongside its retro-style bar, The Bedford also offers an Art Deco-style Saloon Bar, breathtaking Club Room (whose stage has hosted Ed Sheeran and Michael Macintyre), a cocktail bar, ballroom and private dining room – each of which is available for private hire for your big day. The Bedford also has a wedding license for ceremonies as well as 15 eclectically-designed bedrooms in which to carry on the party at the end of the night.
Seated capacity: 30-128
Standing capacity: Up to 180