We interviewed Sarah Vince, the business development officer at People’s History Museum.
Q – Tell us about your venue.
Couples getting married or holding a civil ceremony at People's History Museum get to enjoy one of the unique spaces that make up the magnificent Grade II listed Edwardian pump house. This historic part of the museum, with its stunning ironwork, glazed tiles, original brickwork and vast windows, sits in contrast to the contemporary extension which is clad in Cor-Ten® steel; all combining to make this a fascinating location to experience. With wonderful architecture, it also means there are lots of great photo opportunities!
The setting is also home to the national museum of democracy; a place where ideas worth fighting for are brought alive. Events at the museum help to support its work, which is really important to lots of our couples.
Q – What packages/services do you offer couples?
There are two spaces, depending upon the size of the occasion. The Engine Hall, which is renowned for its original features - glass roof with ironwork, expansive windows and colourful glazed tiles – can accommodate up to 120 people. For a smaller celebration of up to 50 guests, the Coal Store is a more intimate and cosier space, with original brickwork and a wooden vaulted ceiling.
Couples can create a bespoke celebration with the scope to decorate the spaces to fit their chosen theme or colour scheme. Seeing people’s creativity with their designs, from lighting schemes to table decorations, is something that we love to see.
The wedding team is only small, but highly experienced, my colleague Lauren and I will go out of our way to ensure a memorable day is had by all.
Open Kitchen, the museum’s in-house caterers, create beautiful dishes that unite local, seasonal, organic, independent, short supply chains, and Fairtrade. Couples can select from specially created seasonal menus – from a relaxed, low key mixed shared buffet to a more intimate sharing platter. There is also a new seven-course 'foodie' menu to replicate a modern restaurant experience.
Q – What should couples expect when booking your venue?
We are a small and informal organisation, something that couples that chose us appreciate.
We like to meet interested couples to show them the spaces and discuss their plans to see if People’s History Museum meets what they're looking for. Then follows a meeting with Open Kitchen to discuss menus in more detail, making a selection and then enjoying a tasting of their option before the wedding takes place.
We stay in touch with our couples throughout to ensure that they are happy with the plans. On the day we like to keep the atmosphere as relaxed as possible, so we organise every last detail beforehand to ensure everything goes smoothly.
And as our thank you, and as a reminder of why they chose People’s History Museum for their special celebration, we give couples Radical Supporter Membership. This is a gift from us that includes invitations to all museum exhibition previews, regular updates and a year’s 10 per cent discount in the museum’s shop and Open Kitchen cafe & bar.
Q – What's your favourite wedding you've worked on and why?
I love weddings that have creative ideas for decorating our spaces, particularly if their family and friends have helped create the decorations. We had one wedding where all the flags for the bunting were sewn by everyone who attended.
Weddings have been more challenging over the last 16 months, so to see couples so happy and relaxed has been wonderful. For some, they’ve had to face postponements and changes in guest lists – so to know that we helped them to have had a wonderful time has been a joy!
Q – How long before the wedding should couples get in touch?
We have bookings two years in advance but also availability for a lot sooner than that, so we are always delighted to chat to couples about their plans at any time.
Q – What's your favourite part of the job?
I love meeting couples and finding out about their plans for the big day and how the museum and Engine Hall is going to be used. Helping them achieve that gives me a lot of pleasure as well as seeing smiles on people’s faces and claps and cheers at the end of the ceremony.
Q – Do you have any top tips for couples looking for a venue?
I think it's important that a couple finds a place that really fits with what they want to do and reflects their interests and qualities. It's also good to be clear about a budget, although this is a significant day in a couple’s life, there will many other opportunities to spend quality time with friends and family and getting the balance right is important.
To find out more, visit www.phm.org.uk/hire