When it comes to a Liverpool City Centre wedding venue, 30 James Street always has to be on the list of venues to view. For us at Keyhole Studios it has been one of the most frequently visited venues over the past few years.
There are a lot of venues to choose from in our city centre but few have the location of 30 James Street. It is situated close to the waterfront so it's easy to walk over after the ceremony with your bridal party. There are a large number of lovely rooms available at the hotel for your guests to book, but it is also very close to a number of different hotels ranging in costs and luxuries depending on your guests preferences!
From a photographers point of view the venue has plenty of textures. What I mean by this is some hotels are a little corporate and they can be a little 50 shades of grey with grey walls, dull carpets, wall to ceiling glass with a grey bar and grey doors with grey external cladding and grey receptions. Not 30 James Street though!
Our day would typically start with photographs of the preparation in the morning. The rooms at the hotel are spacious and very well decorated and there are plenty of spots to hang a wedding dress. This may seem like a pretty straightforward request for a hotel hosting a wedding, but there are many hotel rooms which have a limited number of spots to hang a heavy wedding dress!
Light in some of the bedrooms can be a little limited or harsh. This isn't a problem for us as we will always carry lighting, but it might be worth speaking to your hair and makeup artist. They have likely been to the venue in the past and often bring a special makeup light with them.
With there being a large number of rooms available, in the past we have seen both of the soon to be married couple stay the night before at the hotel. With a little help from your wedding party it is possible to coordinate keeping both parties separate!
The wedding ceremony takes place downstairs in the White Star Grand Hall. This room is stunning with natural light flowing in from three sides of the room, which gives an already spacious room an even greater sense of scale.
There are a few pillars and walls either side of where the top table is placed but this doesn’t however effect the view of the speeches or ceremony. In fact it provides a great space for items to be hidden out of view for later use, such as pre dressed tables or a Photobooth.
There is a bar situated in this room at the back and during the ceremony we will generally capture elements of this area in the photos. This isn’t uncommon at most hotel venues, but where as in some venues couples choose to drape the bar area effectively hiding the space, I have never seen this done at 30 James Street. This is probably because of the styling of the bar area, it is in keeping with the rest of the room and doesn’t detract from the aesthetics .
Once the bride is dressed, the registrar needs to have a quick chat to ensure all the legal details are correct. This usually happens on the first floor which is great, because once complete the bride and whoever is giving her away can walk down the stairs. This is a lovely photograph as the staircase is very impressive, with a large window directly behind it giving lovely natural light. This makes a very special photograph of the bride and whoever is giving her away en route to the ceremony.
As the groom stands nervously waiting for his partner to arrive, the officiant calls all guests to be standing for the arrival of the bride. The music starts to play and the double doors at the back of the room open in synchronisation to reveal the bridal party. This is a lovely moment which culminates in the arrival of the bride, made even more special by the extra bit of magic 30 James Street provides by the surrounding, atmosphere and organisation.
The majority of times I have worked at 30 James Street there is a master of ceremonies or toastmaster. A lot of hotels offer this service but more often than not it will be a venue manager or someone from the hospitality team. There is a professional toastmaster called Mike Cullerton who works very regularly with the venue and his service is completely professional and a very different experience to that of a member of the hotel acting as toastmaster.
This is due to the fact that when you have a professional toastmaster, their sole job is to look after the happy couple and work alongside other suppliers such as us, the wedding photographers and wedding videographers, ensuring the day is perfect.
Once the ceremony is complete and the register has been signed, you will be announced as husband and wife and walk down the aisle. I'm sure the venue manager wouldn’t be happy me saying this as it causes an incredible mess, but on a few occasions we have seen the bride and groom walk down the aisle to guests throwing confetti. This makes for a incredible photograph and really works! The main entrance of the venue is also an ideal spot for your confetti shot.
The drinks reception then takes place in the Carpathia Bar/Restaurant on the top floor. This is another incredible space with balconies for the guests to explore either side of the bar area. With views overlooking the city and canopies and alcohol flowing, your guests will be having an incredible time! We often see musicians booked for this part of the wedding day and we would recommend taking a listen to Jade Gallagher who will provide that extra touch of class to the atmosphere.
The design of this space again provides plenty of texture in your photographs, the main attraction being the city scape views.
Something that is worth mentioning at this point is the size of the lifts at the venue. Assuming you have 70ish guests, the two lifts that are available to carry your guests from the ceremony to the drinks reception on the top floor of the hotel are very small. They fit approx 5 people per lift, so 10 people at a time. This can be a slow process and means some of your guests waiting to get to that well deserved glass of Prosecco.
The solution here I suggest is in the way we do our groups shots! Once you have walked down the isle and guests have showered you with confetti, you are re announced into the room to a resounding cheer and applause whereby we begin our group photographs.
The large group shot being the first photograph taken, allowing your friends to filter up the lifts to the drinks reception. Then the next image is of the brides family, then allowing them to filter upstairs. We continue the photographs over a period of circa 15 minutes, meaning your guests gradually take the trip to the drinks reception avoiding any queuing up for the small lifts.
I must admit that the small lifts are in my opinion quite quirky and somewhat of an attraction to the venue. This is a historic and protected building and we all know the original purpose of the building. This to me serves as a reminder of the buildings history and testament to the designers of the hotel who kept the integrity of the structure.
Once the formal photographs are complete we head to the entrance steps with bride, groom and bridal party. This is a lovely spot for wedding photos and showcases the grandeur of the hotel. Once these images are done we can take the short walk to the waterfront for couple portraits, or if you have a wedding car we can drive there.
It isn’t essential to go offsite for photos as there are many spots around the hotel which can be used, such as the main staircase, corridors, the bridal suite, the Carpathia bar and so on. But if you do decide to go offsite, this is the perfect time as your guests are demolishing the canopies which are being served!
As we are doing our photographs, the team at 30 James Street are transforming the ceremony room into a space for the wedding breakfast to be served. Tables are being set up, centre pieces, cakes and decor are all rolled in. The bride and groom will return to join their guests at the bar whilst we photograph the room which has been completed in time for the sit down meal.
The next order of the day will be the speeches and these can be done before or after the wedding breakfast. Whichever way you decide, they are a dream to photograph at this venue. There is plenty of space for us shoot from a distance and not distract any of the speakers or guests. If you have a wedding film booked with us you may get the occasional police car screaming down the Strand at what appears to be perfectly timed interruptions, but this is to be expected at all city centre wedding venues.
After the wedding breakfast is complete and speeches have been done, the room needs to be transformed once again for the evening. In a lot of venues at this point of the day your guests would be sent back to the same bar they went to for the earlier drinks reception after the ceremony. At 30 James Street this isn’t the case and the room is serviced whilst your guests remain in situ. I like this about the venue as most of your guests will go freshen up in their rooms, go for a short walk around the city or stay seated and digest the three course meal.
Your evening guests will now start to arrive and will be greeted by the sounds of the DJ or evening musicians which have now set up. The bar is open and the evening is about to get into full swing. Before that happens however there are a few final formalities that need to be done. The cutting of the cake is usually first and this tends to happen on the dance floor with all of your guests surrounding you both to witness the moment. This works perfectly as once the freshly cut cake has been removed, the bride and groom are announced once again as the new Mr and Mrs and the first dance takes place with all of your guests surrounding the dance floor for encouragement.
Once the first dance takes place, we stay until we have enough images of the evening, gathering shots of the musicians, evening guests and dancing.
Overall, 30 James Street is a lovely wedding venue. The decor and style of the building enhances your photographs and provides a beautiful canvas for your special day. The location benefits from being so close to almost everything of importance in the city.
To get a better sense of what a wedding day may look like at 30 James Street, please do request to see a full day wedding we have shot there. This will give you a better idea of the standard running order of a wedding and what each element of the day looks like.
You can also view one of our previously featured wedding blogs which featured Caren & Roberts wedding at 30 James Street by clicking here. This article includes many of the suppliers they used for their wedding day with direct links to those services.
You can view our fleet of wedding cars at www.keyholemotors.com or call us on 0151 708 7077 with any other enquiries you may have.