“What does love mean if we would deny it to others?” DaShanne Stokes
As I write this in July 2020, we are living in one of the most liberal countries in the world in the most liberal era of Western history and yet many people in this country and worldwide still face daily discrimination because of who they are.
It is the responsibility of all of us to who believe that love is love and life is precious to speak out against those who believe that some people are inferior or unnatural because of their nationality, skin colour, sexuality, faith, gender identification or lifestyle choices. So on behalf of everyone here at Thicket Priory, I would like to highlight how we, as a business and individuals that celebrate love in its many forms, do not discriminate and welcome all people from any walk of life and above all CELEBRATE LOVE!
Photo by Shamia Casiano from Pexels
As an exclusive use venue, we host luxury weddings (but check out the corporate events we do as well – to die for! – GHD Product Launch) and the traditional idea of a wedding is boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, have babies and live happily ever after, The End. And the couple just happen to be slim, attractive white people à la Disney.
*Sigh* Yeah, that happens for some people but let’s face it, for the rest of us mere mortals, life and love is far more colourful and complicated.
Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash
We all need love – love is what binds us. I chose to be in a profession that celebrates and amplifies that love. Love isn’t discriminative – love is all encompassing.
Love has many forms so let’s have a look at how Thicket Priory can amplify any love that comes into the building.
Let’s start at the beginning, well… a bit after the beginning but the beginning of the weddings at Thicket Priory, there was a couple that married. It caused a bit of a stir and not because of the groom’s outrageous outfit!
Miss Edmondson was actually pregnant on her wedding day which for a devout Catholic is… shall we say… frowned upon. Apparently, the nuns didn’t know.
But times change! We’ve had couples with pre-marital children like Kim and Tom, and couples who are celebrating their second marriage, like Becky and Darren, and for most people these days, it’s a celebration of two people and families coming together.
Sometimes, with two families coming together, two cultures also come together. Depending on the couple, one or more of the cultures’ or faiths’ wedding traditions will be incorporated into the day.
When Daniel and Irram married at Thicket Priory last September they were our first fusion wedding. Daniel is from a non-denominational British/Somalian family and Irram is Muslim British Pakistani and we learnt so much from their coalescence!
Turns out that most wedding dress hooks aren’t strong enough to hold to a Pakistani wedding dress but our wedding dress hook in the Buckingham Suite sure is! All photos courtesy of Phoebe Jane Photography.
Daniel had to pay Irram’s bridesmaids the mahr to be allowed into the Morning Room where the registrar would marry them. Traditionally, the groom and bridesmaids haggle over a price but the bridesmaids were shocked by how much cash Daniel willingly gave until they realised it was fake money! Nice try Daniel! He then haggled with real money and was allowed in room to await his bride.
The Nikah ceremony was led by the Imam with Irram in the Jefferson Room and the Nikah Nama was signed by Irram with her bridal party as witnesses.
Sweets were handed out as is traditional.
The Nikah Nama was then signed by Daniel in the Morning Room with 2 male witnesses as signatories.
Irram was walked down the aisle by her father for the legal ceremony with a registrar and the moon arch by Fleur Adamo looked stunning! The entire day was beautiful and after the celebrations guests enjoyed a gorgeous non-alcoholic reception, a petting zoo in the gardens and a stunning elegant wedding breakfast in our Ballroom.
So, while Daniel and Irram were our first fusion wedding, we have more in the pipeline with many different cultures being celebrated. One bride will be wearing two wedding dresses (a white dress for England and a red dress for Singapore), we have pagan rituals planned for a couple, another will be conducting a Chinese tea ceremony and one groom wants to add the flavour of Jamaica to his big day by having bottles of Red Stripe as a wedding reception drink… We can’t wait to embrace all the wonderful ways to incorporate different cultures, faiths, traditions and family heritage.
We’re also looking forward to welcoming our first LGBTQ+ couple! Our master suites, The Buckingham and The Vavasour Suites, aren’t called “bridal” or “groom” and could be used by people who identify as any gender or sexuality – regardless of how you identify you’ll fall in love with the suites.
But that’s not the only inclusive feature we have to make any couple feel welcome at Thicket Priory!
The chapel is the perfect wedding ceremony space for a gay or trans couple to create the traditional church wedding with as many or a few religious overtones as desired – just ask your celebrant! What is a celebrant you ask…check out of blog to find out more!
We also have some pretty snazzy toilets – I know, bizarre statement. But when you live in a world where the ‘bathroom selfie’ is a must for many, we have ticked the box of luxury loos for this! Our bridal loo is bigger than the others so that when the bride needs to relieve herself on her big day, she doesn’t have to go upstairs to her suite – there’s enough space for her, a bridesmaid and a massive dress! We have the same set up in the men’s toilets as well so that if we have a groom in a big dress, he’s got space for help and the dress! We’ve got our accessible toilet and en-suite bedroom in the Gardens Rooms and there is also a single toilet which is gender neutral so that should we have a guest who isn’t comfortable using gender segregated toilets, they can discreetly relieve themselves away from any eyes.
Home from Home…
I think it’s a very fair statement to say that Thicket Priory oozes love! For anyone who has visited or even taken our 3D virtual tour, it is not hard to see the love which has been put into every aspect of the building. Here’s a few of the wonderful features you will discover whilst residing within the walls of Thicket Priory. Love for the Priory only grows over time…
The Upcycled Keys
One of the sweetest projects undertaken last year was transforming all the old keys of the past into sheet music where each key is now a note in 5 well known songs, enabling guests to see the sheer number of keys used! The challenge is can you name the songs? There are clues to help you, and for a little head start there’s one song that as a wedding venue that we simply couldn’t live without. Dum dum dee dum…
One question we frequently get asked is do we still have the key for the bathroom (which is the original door to the original silver safe) in the aptly named Silver Safe Room? We do and you will it find hiding in one of the songs…
The Fairy House
For those with wilder imagination the Fairy Door can be found in the Gardens, secretly hidden in one of our largest trees! With stone steps, porch light and even a welcome mat, you’ll be transported into a miniature world where even the fairies have a love for fine art!
When it comes to being inclusive, we are even happy to conduct weddings for our resident fairies, goblins and elves.
The Room Stories, love for the past…
One of the most amazing ‘non-tangible’ qualities of Thicket Priory is the history. The people who were part of the history of the Priory before it was built, such as the architect Edward Blore, to becoming a family home of the Dunnington-Jefferson’s and then most recently home to an order of Carmelite Nuns, we have made a point to preserve the memories within our walls.
Each guest bedroom has a personalised key, partnered up with the story behind why your room has been given its name. We are so proud of the history, and as a team we love to share this with you.
‘Love Among the Ruins’
If ever there was a saying which feels more apt than this one right now, as part of an industry which is ‘having a rough time’, shall we say, I think this is it! No matter how tough life gets, there is always one thing which manages to shine through and that is LOVE!
We have a very special picture and poem which come as a pair, named ‘Love Among the Ruins’, which can be found in our Observation Tower.
The wonderful poem by Robert Browning and image by Edward Burne-Jones, which also hosts the words ‘Love is Best’ is a brilliant reminder for everyone right now.
In uncertain times, it’s important that we focus on what is constant and what unites us. So, go give someone we love a hug (whether that be virtual or physical!) or a phone call… Let’s get love drunk!
Love Flame x
Phoebe Jane Photography
Emma Ryan Photography
Victoria Baker Weddings
Caitlin and Jones
Cristina Iloa Photography
Aaron Jeffels Photography
…and the Thicket Team!