Planning parties in palaces
We love planning weddings, celebrations and brand events across the six historic royal palaces in London. There's something magical in thinking of all the events that have taken place in previous years. "Over hundreds of years, the historic royal palaces have provided the backdrop to glittering banquets, ground-breaking conferences, fabulous celebrations and splendid royal occasions." HRP events.
An important part of why we like working with the palaces is that they're a charity. It's brilliant to know that your venue hire is going towards keeping these fantastic spaces running. HRP receive no government funding at all which makes the service and quality of the venues ever more impressive. Of course during the pandemic, the palaces have mainly been forced to sit empty, so as the wedding and events industry begins to recover we look forward to supporting the HRP team in bringing valuable events revenue back to the palaces.
We spoke to Heather Thomas, Business Development & Marketing Executive for the HRP events team to discuss the welcome return of events, her experience of working through a pandemic and their exciting plans for the re-opening of the palaces.
How have the palaces and the HRP events team been affected by the pandemic?
It has been a very challenging time for the team and myself. The covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Historic Royal Palaces as we rely solely on visitors, guests and donations to preserve our palaces for future generations. Events are crucial to our cause and we want to keep welcoming guests and clients into our palaces safely. We are a lively team used to producing hundreds of different events per year for clients all over the world. With furlough and the changing situation, we’ve had to pivot, adapt and change our focus constantly. Supporting our clients through this and managing expectations has been tough. Positively, we are very lucky to work with such an amazing team, event partners and great clients. Together we have been coming up with new and creative ideas. Virtual and hybrid events have been an important development for us. It has opened us up to clients who perhaps can’t travel to the palaces or expands audiences whilst there are restrictions on numbers. We are excited for what the next few months hold!
How are you feeling after the latest government roadmap announcement offering dates for the return of weddings & events?
Cautiously optimistic! With an uplift in enquiries I do feel like we have a good summer ahead. I’m not expecting to have a 500-person event next week, but compared to a few months, or even a few weeks ago we are moving forward. Our client conversations have been optimistic. We now feel confident to conduct events safely whether we need to use different spaces at the palace, use outside space as well as looking at virtual/hybrid elements. Confidence is beginning to grow, and I really feel like we are at the beginning of a recovery and some exciting changes in the industry
Have you seen a spike in enquiries since the announcement?
Yes! Many clients and wedding couples were waiting for the announcement before they decide their date and format. And recently engaged couples are optimistic that they won’t have to compromise and are looking for their dream wedding venue. We are also so pleased to see corporate clients returning. Numbers are slightly smaller, but there is definitely a demand to bring people together for conferences, experiences and celebrations. Event types are starting to diversify again, with many clients looking at late summer soirees/ parties and Christmas as well. Post Corona Parties are a thing!
Looking forward are you seeing any trends in future enquiries, what are your expectations for the remainder of this year?
The nature of enquiries has really changed. Previously, over half of our events were corporate clients, now weddings, private events and luxury experiences are dominating. Weddings are smaller and more personalised, with a focus on every guest playing a part and feeling special. Having outdoor space is not just desirable but crucial as many couples feel more comfortable and safer being outside. As a result, we have seen a real demand for our private gardens and terraces for receptions, as well as outdoor dining and alfresco weddings and blessings. Large private celebrations for belated birthdays and anniversaries are going to be popular with a focus on entertainment and party sets ups.
For awards season we are seeing a demand for hybrid style events with an in person and virtual element. After such a rubbish Christmas in 2020, I think we will see Christmas parties and gatherings but on a smaller scale. Finally, with everyone working from home, travelling to their event venue from the office is no longer a factor so we may see a shift from central london to other areas of the city.
We have missed the magic of planning parties at the palaces and can’t wait to get back to working with you, do you have any exciting venue news to share?
We have missed having you!! We have so many clients who can’t wait to come back to the palaces. With travel abroad limited this summer, we want to offer some really special experiences here at home. We are excited to be offering amazing luxury experiences such as private indulgent picnics at Hampton Court Palace as well as unique exclusive tours.
Another really exciting development is our launching a new event space at The Tower of London - The Reveller! For the first time we will be able to host dancing late into the night at the Tower. The venue, which is near our middle drawer bridge, is modern and spacious with its own terrace. Past 9pm in the evening the Wharf is closed so guests are free to spill out and enjoy beautiful riverside views of the city. We are excited for our clients to use this when we launch this summer.
We are working on a postponed wedding due to take place in August at the Pavilion at Kensington Palace and are so pleased that we have managed to secure a date for our client. What is your availability like at Kensington Palace and the other palaces?
With the roadmap now in place we are hopeful that our postponed weddings will be able to go ahead which is very exciting! We have a busy summer ahead, so we are encouraging people to get in touch as soon as possible if they wish to marry at the palaces. We do have some availability on Saturdays during the late summer at Kensington Palace and Tower of London.
You are a bride to be yourself, how has the pandemic impacted your wedding plans?
I understand the rollercoaster of emotions the past year has been. I was due to get married in April this year, but we chose to postpone until June 2022. I think for lots of couples, myself included, this pandemic has made us assess what are the most important aspects of your wedding is and what luxury means to you. Working at a venue professionally, my non- negotiable was being able to use my venue to its fullest (both outside and inside space in the daytime and evening) and we wanted to enjoy every single aspect and moment with our large family.
A huge thank you to Heather for giving us an insight into life behind the palace doors. We're big supporters of preserving historical spaces like these and we absolutely cannot wait to be back supporting these amazing venues and spaces. It seems as if over a year of not seeing colleagues or loved ones has meant that there's been an influx of enquiries so we hope to be back very soon.