So…you’ve decided to get married in front of a T. rex, what now?

A wedding at the Great North Museum: Hancock

Newlyweds in front of the T. rex at the Great North Museum: Hancock

Museums and galleries are becoming popular choices for ceremonies, evening receptions and wedding breakfasts. Couples are opting to surround their guests with curious artefacts and world-class art. But how do you make the very most of a quirky wedding venue? Here are a few of my best tips for getting married in a museum or gallery:

Wedding favours

The best party favours are the most memorable

There are countless companies out there offering all kinds of unique wedding favours, from personalised chocolate bars to candles, but how do you make those wedding favours as memorable as the magnificent, curious objects in a museum or gallery?

Whether you’re getting married in front of the T. rex in the Great North Museum: Hancock, or Charles Parsons’ 34-metre steam powered ship Turbinia (once the fastest ship in the world) at Discovery Museum, why not check out the museum shop for inspiration? The shop will contain all kinds of weird and wonderful gifts for adults and children.

Themed wedding breakfast

Speak to your caterers, especially if they offer bespoke menus

Believe me, chicken supreme is a delicious classic, but why not take some inspiration from your surroundings to create a themed wedding breakfast to remember? For example, the Hadrian’s Wall Gallery at the Great North Museum: Hancock – featuring a 1:4700 scale model of the 73-mile structure which ran from the mouth of the River Tyne to the Solway Firth – lends itself spectacularly to a Roman themed menu. Now I’m not saying you need to forgo any cutlery for a more authentic meal, but you could consider a twist on the classics.


Take inspiration from the venue’s defining features

The Laing Art Gallery – home to the spectacular stained glass windows from 1896 by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) – creates the most impressive backdrop to a wedding breakfast. So why not take inspiration from these unique surroundings? Use seasonal stained glassware such as vases or bowls as your table features. Oh, and remember my tip about the gallery or museum shop? It may stock exactly what you are looking for. Or you could be creative and use glass paint to decorate vintage glassware.

Table settings at the Laing Art Gallery

Table settings at the Laing Art Gallery

You don’t need to stop there either. You can make your centrepieces more personal by including a short written anecdote about the first time you visited the gallery together. Create conversation on the tables by sharing these defining moments with your guests. You never know, it may even encourage new relationships.

Dress code

If your style isn’t traditional, should you tell your guests?

You’ve chosen your venue for a very special reason, it may be the location of your first date, or perhaps the museum’s period features or exhibitions are the perfect inspiration for your wedding day. If the latter is the case you may want to think about including this information on your invites. It may be fun to see your guests take on some elements of your theme.

For example, the magnificent Great Hall at Discovery Museum lends itself perfectly to a 1920s themed day. The Art Deco period features are the perfect accompaniment to the roaring 20s style.

The Great Hall at Discovery Museum © Jonny T Photography

The Great Hall at Discovery Museum © JT Photography

So if you find that your venue’s defining features provide the perfect gateway to your wedding theme, it might be worth letting your guests know that they are welcome to join in.

After all, your big day is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You might as well make it unforgettable for everyone.

This guide has been written by Leann Hay, Trading Development officer at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. Four of our venues – Great North Museum: Hancock, Discovery Museum, The Shipley Art Gallery, and  Laing Art Gallery – are licensed for weddings and offer unique backdrops for wedding breakfasts and evening receptions. You can find out more about these museums and galleries on our website:

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