Many people believe that planning a wedding will be a joyful, happy experience – until they have to do it. British entrepreneur George Hammer knows all too well how stressful it can be in reality, and has comes up with a way to make life easier for all concerned.
George Hammer is one of the most successful British businessmen in the beauty sector, responsible for bringing a number of brands to the UK, including Aveda and L’Occitane. He also developed the Sanctuary spa and founded Urban Retreat salons. Now this London College of Fashion alumnus is set to revolutionise the wedding sector.
The Wedding Gallery, a one-stop destination for all things nuptial, is set to open in October at One Marylebone, a 19th-century former church designed by the renowned architect Sir John Soane. The ambitious space, which covers 20,000 square metres, will bring together under one roof the best wedding suppliers in the world: dressmakers, wedding planners, florists, stationery specialists and jewellers.
Hammer sees his new project as an Aladdin’s cave: a place where all the newly engaged, from the ones who want just a cake to those who would like the whole package, will find what they need. He is not exclusive: while Hammer repeatedly stresses that this will be the place for quality items, which – as we know – come at a price, it’s not about snobbery. With the average wedding in the UK costing between £20,000 and £30,000, Hammer has tasked his suppliers with providing a range of merchandise that won’t break the bank. Among the space anchors are Elie Saab, the Lebanese designer famous for creating dreamy princess-like wedding dresses and Rosalind Miller, whose wedding cakes have become a staple for any bridal Pinterest board.
Christian Lahoude, a celebrated retail architect who previously worked with Gucci and Tiffany, is taking care of the venue’s design. The two-storey space will feature a library for the all-important bridal meetings, a bar and a variety of service spaces, where a visitor can have a private fitting, a wedding party or sophisticated engagement drinks. Down the line, Hammer has plans to start wedding-planner courses, where students can master the art of taking the chaos out of arranging a successful wedding day. Along the planning services, The Wedding Gallery will provide personal shoppers who can expertly and with the minimum of hassle choose everything from the wedding cutlery to an appropriate set of thank-you cards. Unlike concession–based department stores, the staff will be trained centrally, which takes the edge off the hard sales approach.
Despite Hammer calling The Wedding Gallery ‘a sister business’ to his company One Events, that doesn’t restrict the choice of wedding venues. His suppliers are ready to offer the best locations in the world, from the British countryside to exotic islands and beyond. He also is fully aware that modern weddings aren’t just about white dresses and man-plus-woman couples.
Each bride or groom who books an appointment at The Wedding Gallery, which costs £50 for the consultation and includes a glass of fizz, will receive a personalised ‘book’. This will include the theme discussed with the wedding planner, as well as the products and services that appealed, together with all quotes for costs.
Hammer is hoping that The Wedding Gallery will become not only a must-visit for engaged couples, but also a centre for business professionals where they can train and develop their skills, and rent the private rooms for events, talks and conferences. Given what Hammer has achieved in the past, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what will happen.
And Hammer’s advice for any bride? ‘Keep it classic – you won’t regret it.’
The Wedding Gallery will open in October 2017 at One Marylebone, the-weddinggallery.com