For engaged couples, a trip to Selfridges might be on the cards to buy the ring, dress or suit but now they can tie the knot there too after the landmark London department store obtained a wedding licence.
The restrictions and lockdowns of the past year have halted or postponed the plans of more than 150,000 couples who are all scrambling to make alternative arrangements, with many venues facing a logjam of bookings for several years.
Selfridges said the Grade II-listed store on Oxford Street in the heart of the capital’s shopping district would offer a “non-traditional ceremony in an iconic location”. The store was a “social space” and it was keen to offer new ways to “celebrate the special experiences everyone has been missing”, it said.
The temporary licence permits Selfridges to host “micro weddings” of up to 20 guests. Ceremonies are being held in a suite on the fourth floor with the service also available for civil partnerships.
Selfridges is offering different packages, from the most intimate with just six guests. Couples can have fashion advice from its stylists and have their hair and makeup done in store ahead of the ceremony. Add-ons include use of a private cinema, fine dining or a four-hour DJ set. The store did not disclose pricing because of the bespoke nature of each wedding.
For couples worried about sustainability the store is offering the “earth-lovers” package, where they can pick from vintage clothing or rent an outfit and toast the day with organic champagne and wine.
Like other retailers in central London, Selfridges is eager to coax back shoppers after the hiatus caused by the pandemic. Stores in the area have been hit particularly hard by the shift to working from home, which has emptied city centres also suffering from the collapse of the tourism trade.
Westminster city council says Oxford Street has suffered as “much or more than any other high street in the country”, and it is paying for an artificial hill to be built at the end of the famous shopping street in time for summer. It is hoped the 25-metre Marble Arch Hill or “mound”, inspired by nearby Hyde Park, will be a magnet for visitors.
The tough conditions resulted in Selfridges cutting 450 jobs last summer – the equivalent of 14% of its workforce – after the “toughest year” in the recent history of the 115-year-old business, which has been owned by the billionaire Weston family since 2003.