Kensington Roof Gardens as a Wedding Venue

In the past few months, I’ve been tossed into the whirlwind world that is wedding planning.


It’s not something I will bore you with here on a regular basis, but it seriously is a whole different universe and has opened up bits of London I’ve never seen. So I’ll share some of those bits occasionally.


Part of this planning involves going to check out potential venues, so I convinced Dimple to join me for a wedding open day at the Kensington Roof Gardens over the weekend.


Mainly because I heard they have resident flamingos.


For the open day, the venue is set up as if a wedding were about to happen.


I hadn’t been to the Roof Gardens before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we walked in to the building tucked away on a side street off of Kensington High Street.


A receptionist pointed us to a lift in the corner and said to head up to the 6th floor.


We were greeted by friendly members of staff who offered us a seat and a glass of champagne while we waited to be taken around on a little tour.


Everything was decked out in purple – the table clothes, the flowers, the glowing lights around the bar.


A piano sat in the corner waiting for a pianist to come along.


We walked in to the main area where the ceremony is meant to take place, a separate table placed to the side where official documents are signed. A white carpet with rose petals was rolled down the middle.


The chairs were covered in white stretch material and tied with organza bows. Purple, of course.


We saw the “moo room” with its cow-print seats and froofy dress where the bride gets ready. Apparently it which can be used at some point during the event to contain naughty children or escape from the madness for a secret glass of champagne.


Besides the flamingos, the gardens outside were the best part.


We stepped outside into the Spanish garden which was lush and colourful.


There was a bar in the middle, a place to hang out under a structure with pretty archways along the side and water flowing along the other.


Tiles lined the walkway.


I could hang out here with a good book and a cup of tea any day.


It was peaceful and relaxing, although I guess once you fill it with 200 people, it’s probably not!


At the end of the garden was a Moroccan room.


Another place I could spend a few hours with a good book and a cup of tea.


Richard Branson owns the Roof Gardens.


He also owns property in Morocco (as well as probably most other places in the world) and much of the decor in this room came from there.


It’s colourful, cosy, has lanterns and looks back out onto the garden.


There were plenty of cushions and tea lights for atmosphere.


Next we walked back the way we came.


We headed through a long arched pathway where you can have your confetti thrown at you.


That led us to the area where tables are set up under a tent, a cake in the middle, heat lamps in case it’s cold.


We saw a million and one options for table runners and chair covers.


There’s a bar there as well, and an old water pump.


Around the corner is where the fabulous four flamingos live in a little pond.


Next to them, there’s a red wooden bridge and a Japanese maple tree.


This splits the flamingos from the ducks, which hang out on the other side.


There’s a play area there with huge garden chess, jenga and connect four.


After that it was back indoors to look at picture books, ask questions, eat canapés and have a cup of tea.

Listen to a Londoner: Wendy McCooey

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email Always looking for new volunteers! 

Wendy McCooey, 34 

Wendy is a southern Tennessee girl with a sales and marketing background who loves to travel, cook, craft, take pictures, blog, (currently job shopping) and do just about anything if it’s fun. She’s is now seeing what Notting Hill and the rest of London (if not the world) has to offer. 

LLO: Give us the basics first: How long have you lived in London , where are you from originally and what brought you to this brilliant city?
We moved here October 2009 from Nashville, TN (yes, I have a southern accent, but my husband does not) due to a job transfer with my husband’s company. 

LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
 I live in the W11 which is Notting Hill (yes, the inspiration for a lil’ rom-com you may have heard of) and love it here.  The energy and the layout of the area is perfect. It’s city living at its finest, but somehow it still manages to keep some neighborhood “small town” charm to it. Maybe it’s due to all the cool independent movie theatres, the Portobello Market, or maybe the adorable strip of Westbourne Grove/Ledbury area. Whatever it is, it’s home to me now and I smile just thinking about it 

LLO: Favourite place to find a taste of home?
 If I’m craving pancakes, I hightail it to Balan’s on Kensington High Street for their American Pancakes. I’m a breakfast girl, so these cravings come more often than they need to.  If it’s not pancakes, it’s buffalo wing sauce and the closest thing to ours at home is the voodoo sauce at Henry J Beans in Chelsea. It’s delicious and I get it with their yummy chicken crunchies. 

LLO: Tell us about a memorable “expat in London ” experience.
 Well… although my husband moved around a lot as a kid, I did not. I had always pretty much lived in the Nashville area until we packed up and moved to London. I was ready for a change, and so I said, “Yes, let’s do it”.  So I quit my job of 7+ years, told my family and friends, packed our stuff, shipped it off, got on a plane and never cried really. UNTIL we landed and later arrived at our new home  – “our flat”. Once that door shut, something happened. I cried, hysterically. My husband could not bring up anything related to back home or I would cry.  There were a lot of ups and downs for me for many many months. Not for him though; he adjusted just fine.  It took me three or four months before I could call London home and truly be 100% happy with my decision. However, now I couldn’t imagine moving back to Nashville any time soon. I guess the most important thing that happened to change how I felt was making new friends here. I have a great group of new friends and I would really miss them if I were to leave.  Oh yeah, and the nonstop traveling around Europe doesn’t hurt either. 

LLO: If I had one day in London , where would you tell me to eat and drink?
 I would tell you to eat at either Osteria Basilico in Notting Hill for the tastiest tortellini that you will ever eat or The Ebury on Pimlico Road for their gnocchi.  As for drinks, the bar at Just St. James near Green Park/The Ritz. Order anything to drink, you’ll like it. Or if you want more low-key with loads of charm, head on over to Churchill Arms (Kensington) for a tasty pint of their organic Honey Dew. 

LLO: Favourite places for a Saturday night out in the capital?
For a Saturday night, if you are wanting to do something special I would say  dinner and go see WICKED (I’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait til the 5th) or just walk around Oxford/Regent St and people watch for a while and then crawl into a pub and drink until your heart’s content. 

LLO: What’s the strangest or most amusing thing you’ve seen since moving to this city?
 The most amusing thing was a lady on the tube, probably late 40’s. She was fair-skinned, dark hair, bright red dress and nails, sitting in front of me. Just as I noticed that her toenails were so long that they were growing down in front of her toes (like cupping them), she hopped up in this almost empty car and grabbed the “hold on” bar and starting swinging on it. She grabbed hold, lifted her feet up and just started swinging. Then she put her feet down and swung her hips to the left while still holding on, stretching herself and then changed to the right and did the same thing. This rotation went on for a good 15 minutes.  Being a girl from the South, I wasn’t sure if I needed to laugh or be scared. 

LLO: Best London discovery?
Kensington Roof Gardens! It’s amazing and believe it or not, Virgin owns it. (Where this picture of me was actually taken). 

LLO: If someone came to you saying they wanted to explore London for a day, but wanted to go off the beaten path, where would you send them?
WM: I would send them to Postman’s Park to start, then off to Camden or Brick Lane and just tell them to walk around. Those areas have so much charm and energy, not to mention all the food you could want at your fingertips. Every few feet you see something new and cool to check out. At night, take a Jack the Ripper walking tour and to finish the evening a pint at Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street. 

LLO: Favourite place around here for a culture fix?
WM: If we’re talking museum, it’s gotta be the British Museum. I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world when I walk in their gorgeous lobby, take a left and cruise on by the Rosetta stone on my way to the Parthenon area. I’ve visited numerous times and it never gets old. The Lindow man in there is also pretty badass. 

If we are talking Theatre, Jersey Boys is amazing, but WICKED is out of this world terrific in every way possible. I can honestly say that I will probably go see it as many times as I can, it’s just amazing. Although I’m a big Dirty Dancing fan, the Dirty Dancing that I saw here was Horrible, to the point that at intermission I wanted to ask for my money back and leave.  I have tickets to see Les Mis in September, so I’m really excited about that! 

You can also never go wrong with the exhibits at V&A. I’m currently dying to go see the Grace Kelly exhibit there. 

Thanks Wendy! 

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