The most frequently asked Wedding Questions - Answered!
A few weeks ago, Tom from We Can Be Heroes Photography shared a blog post on his social media featuring questions which engaged couples should think of when considering venues for their special day and so we thought it may be helpful to share our answers to help couples understand the planning process and learn how our team at Bishops Gate Hotel can help!
Thank you to Victoria & Nicholas, who hosted their wedding celebrations with us in 2018, and their photographer Bernard Ward, for allowing us to feature their wedding portraits on this post and in our website wedding gallery.
What is the hotels capacity for wedding guests?
Bishops Gate Hotel Derry has 3 private dining spaces which have hosted wedding celebrations:
7 London Street: this intimate private dining space is located on the ground floor of our hotel, accessed through the Gown Restaurant or via it's private entrance on London Street. This room is suitable for smaller wedding dinners up to 20 guests.
Our Hervey Library found on the second floor of our hotel and traditionally the home of our Afternoon Tea Service is also suited to intimate celebrations of up to 30 guests for dining. This space is available for midweek celebrations only.
Both our Hervey Library and 7 London Street rooms are suitable for dining only. If you wish to have entertainment and dancing our Northern Counties Ballroom is recommended.
The “Northern Counties Ballroom” seamlessly blends the grandeur of Bishop’s Gate Hotel and its Grade B1 listed architecture, with modern design and contemporary features creating the perfect backdrop for any style of wedding. This is the perfect setting for intimate celebrations of up to 90 guests including the bridal table. Our Hervey Library connects to the Northern Counties Ballroom via partition doors and can also be utilised as a dining space for up to 30 additional guests.
All our dining spaces were carefully restored just before our hotel opened in March 2016, with lots of beautiful features which are in keeping with the age of our building.
What wedding packages are available and what is included?
Create your own bespoke wedding or choose our inclusive Bishops Gate Wedding Collection package – whatever your preference we understand that each couple has a unique vision for their perfect wedding day and our dedicated team will work alongside you to ensure your dream wedding becomes a reality!
We offer 2 styles of Wedding Packages; our bespoke wedding package is tailored to suit the preferences of each couple and is designed based on their interests and guest numbers.
Our Bishops Gate Wedding Collection package is an inclusive package which is based on 70 guests, additional guests may be added for a supplement.
This package includes many of the services required for a celebration from transport to flowers, entertainment and food & beverages for the celebrations. We have worked with many couples who live away from home and who have busy lives and so by including many of these services this reduces the amount of time that couples must spend searching for suppliers and this helps to make the planning a more enjoyable experience.
Our associate suppliers are:
|Venue Decor||Ultimate Touches|
|Guest Favours||Chocolate Manor|
Do you have a one-wedding-per-day policy?
Yes, we believe that our team should be focused on ensuring that we are fulfilling the plans that our wedding couple has spent time deciding and making sure that they and their guests are creating great memories which will be treasured for a lifetime and so we accept only one wedding reservation per day.
Will you have your own point of contact during wedding planning and on the day itself?
We have 2 event planners – Claire & Donna who are the main contacts for couples during the wedding planning process and their coordinator will be on hand to welcome them to the hotel on the day of celebrations. Our Events Operations Team take care of the couple and guests during the latter part of the celebration day.
We have many members of staff who have experience of looking after wedding celebrations, so we have lots of helpers available by telephone & email to assist with queries.
Can the venue accommodate the wedding ceremony?
Bishops Gate Hotel is a licensed wedding venue and has 2 ceremony rooms available depending on expected guest numbers, the Hervey Library & Northern Counties Ballroom.
Are the ceremony and reception held in the same room?
The most common arrangement for weddings hosted to date has been for both the ceremony & reception to be in the same space, this is dependent on the number of guests attending each part of the celebration.
For the majority of couples who host their ceremony with us, this will take place in our Northern Counties Ballroom after the service guests will move to the Wig Bar & Lounge on the ground floor whilst wedding portraits are taken and our team work quickly to transform the ballroom into dinner service set up.
Can you see photos of a typical wedding day set-up?
Yes, we have lots of images captured from previous guest celebrations hosted in Bishops Gate Hotel which feature ceremony set up, dinner set up, décor options and other touches which couples have personalised their celebrations with which we hope will inspire future couples.
We recently added a virtual tour facility to our website so that couples can explore not only our Events Floor but also view guest bedrooms from the comfort of their home, we have found that this is particularly helpful for couples who are based in other countries and may not be able to personally view wedding venues in person.
Every couple we have welcomed have added their own individual personalities to their celebrations from incorporating features from Harry Potter Series into their wedding favours (Ferrero Roche disguised as Golden Snitches!) to having a light sabre guard of honour at the end of their wedding ceremony, we have loved to see all the unexpected ideas our couples have thought of!
We host our Bishops Gate Hotel Wedding Showcase events at different times of the year, these are different from traditional wedding fairs in that our ballroom is not set up as an exhibition space with lots of companies trying to speak with you, instead our Northern Counties Ballroom is dressed as a wedding reception celebration and we have only a few associate suppliers in attendance – those who feature in our Wedding Collection Package.
This allows couples who have booked our venue but could not see a wedding set up prior to booking, the opportunity to experience being in the ballroom, in a relaxed atmosphere, with a set up similar to how their day could be.
Will there be a master of ceremonies available?
Our Events Operations Team will take care of introductions for each part of the celebration - from announcing the newly wedded couple into dinner once all guests are seated to introducing each speaker at the wedding speeches.
We have an inbuilt PA system in the Northern Counties Ballroom and can provide a roving microphone for use during the wedding speeches.
When can you start decorating?
We have a dedicated Events Operations Team at Bishops Gate Hotel who take care of setting up all celebration events so couples do not need to worry about setting items up themselves.
Our Bishops Gate Wedding Collection Package includes Room Décor Items supplied by Ultimate Touches who will visit us on the morning of the celebrations to dress the hotel with the centrepieces and chair style that couples have chosen with them.
If our couples have arranged their own personal touches e.g. photo frames to be displayed on our fireplaces, themed décor, comfort boxes for bathrooms etc, we arrange for these to be brought into the hotel on the week of the wedding celebration so that our team can run through items to ensure we know where everything is to be placed.
We want to ensure that couples can spend the final few days before the wedding greeting guests who have travelled for the celebrations or just relaxing and enjoying the experience rather than worrying about setting up the room themselves.
On the day of the wedding celebrations the wedding couple are always brought into their dining space first, before guests, so that they can see the room fully decorated and ensure that they are happy with the placement of items.
Are there any decorating restrictions?
For fire safety reasons we cannot permit naked flames to be used in our ballroom, candles inside a holder are permitted and Ultimate Touches provide battery-operated faux candles which give a flickering effect similar to real candles.
How many people can sit at one table?
Our round banquet tables accommodate up to 10 guests per table. Our ballroom has no pillars within the space which means that all guests will have a view of the bridal table where ever their table is located.
For the bridal table we offer a traditional top table of 10 guests at the front of our ballroom, many of our couples now opt for a round, informal table. We have also hosted wedding celebrations which had larger, L shaped top tables – our largest being 22 guests at the bridal table!
As each wedding will have different final numbers and group sizes we create individual layout options for each celebration and aim to accommodate their preferred style of dining set up.
Are there high chairs available for children?
We have high chairs available for younger guests on request.
What catering style do you offer for weddings?
At Bishops Gate Hotel we offer plated dinner service for our wedding celebrations. We have a dedicated function kitchen on level 2 of our hotel where all meals for weddings are freshly prepared by our team of AA Rosette Awarded Chef’s.
Can you arrange a food tasting to decide on your menu?
Yes, with our Bishop's Gate Wedding Collection Package couples will enjoy a complimentary menu tasting prior to choosing the final menu options which will be offered to wedding guests. This also allows couples to sample our house collection wines to choose the pairings best suited to their menu.
Can they cater for any special dietary requirements?
We will always endeavour to cater for guests with special dietary requirements and allergies, notice is appreciated so that our Kitchen Team have time to design suitable menus for these guests.
Where will the cake sit?
This will be dependent on couples’ preference and final guest numbers. The most common placement is to be beside the bridal table as this allows all guests to view the cake before it is cut.
Although it has been traditional in past for a wedding cake to be used we have also hosted wedding celebrations where the couple have opted not to have a cake or have chosen a more unusual style of cake such as a "cheese-cake" or the “Snowball Cake” which created a lot of attention on social media!
Can they provide a cutting knife?
Yes, we provide both a cake display stand and knife for cutting.
Can guests be served cake at a time of your specification?
Yes, of course. Our team will tailor the day’s schedule to accommodate their preferred plans. We recommend serving cake with your evening buffet but can arrange for this to be another time if preferred. Traditionally cake was served with tea & coffee at the end of the wedding breakfast; we have found, however, that guests are full after their 5-course banquet menu and so enjoy the cake more when it is served later in the evening. The sweetness of the cake also helps to boost guest energy levels when the music and entertainment is in full flow!
Can you bring in a band or DJ?
Lots of wedding couples have chosen to have musicians attend during their guest arrival reception which is traditionally hosted in our Wig Lounge. We are happy to supply contact details for musicians who have worked with us in previous celebrations or couples are of course welcome to source their own options, if preferred.
We have hosted wedding celebrations who have chosen to have DJ as entertainment, ceilidh band, 2 piece live music and an 8 piece band, our Operations Team will liaise with each performer to ensure that we can accommodate their requirements.
What do they have for a sound system?
Our inbuilt PA system is suitable for speeches and background music only, for disco or band entertainment an external PA system must be supplied.
We supply background music during dinner service through our PA system but if couples prefer to supply their own CD’s or MP3 player tailored to their own preferred style of music they are of course welcome to do so.
Some of our couples have included song requests in their wedding invitations and created a personal playlist based on the song suggestions received – they then have the playlist to listen to again in future which will bring back lots of lovely memories of their time with us!
What suggestions do they have for locations to photograph?
As we are located in the centre of the Walled City there are lots of beautiful areas close by suited to wedding portraits including the City Walls, The Craft Village (Where couples can stop off in our sister property Soda & Starch!), The Peace Bridge and St Columb's Park.
Within the hotel we have lots of spaces which can be used for portraits should the weather be unkind.
Some of our couples have recreated this group photograph on our grand staircase - a lovely way to include all of your guests in a photo and also a great way to keep guests entertained whilst your evening entertainment prepares their equipment.
Every professional photographer that has visited us for wedding celebrations has found different spaces and angles to create wonderful wedding portraits – if you have chosen our hotel for your celebrations and your photographer is unfamiliar with our property our Wedding Coordinators can arrange for them to have a tour, prior to your wedding day so that they can create ideas of where to shoot before you arrive with us.
To view some wedding portraits from previous wedding celebrations hosted in Bishops Gate Hotel contact our Events Team on (028)71140300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is accommodation available for guests?
Our Wedding Collection Package includes a complimentary overnight stay in our Forman Suite, named after Alfred Arthur Forman, the architect who designed our building when it became the Northern Counties Private Members Club, for the wedding couple along with 4 guest bedrooms which can be assigned to guests of your choosing.
In addition to these bedrooms we aim to offer additional rooms at discounted rates for guests to call and book directly with our team. The number of rooms and rates offered will be subject to availability.
To arrange an appointment to meet with our team to discuss your wedding celebration plans or if you have any queries please do contact our Events Team Claire & Donna by calling (028) 71140300 or email email@example.com