On Saturday 22 May this year, the UK’s first marriage in a shopping
mall took place at the Belfry shopping centre in Redhill, Surrey.
The 50-shop mall obtained a special licence to stage weddings and
married local residents Deborah Lane and Damian Clapp in its management
The wedding dress, limousines and reception were all provided courtesy
of the Belfry mall. Additionally, 25 friends and family were given #50
Belfry vouchers with which to buy gifts for the couple.
To highlight the broad spectrum of shops within the Belfry shopping
Anthony Edwards Publicity dreamt up the idea of holding a wedding in the
Belfry shopping centre after seeing the mall’s bells, cathedral-like
stained glass windows and white marble walls.
The Belfry and the agency agreed the idea would also fit nicely with the
centre’s claim that its shops contain everything an average married
couple could want. The Belfry applied for a licence to conduct marriages
but had to wait eight months for it to be granted.
In the meantime, Anthony Edwards teamed up with Reigate-based Surrey
Mirror, which was planning a wedding supplement, to hold a competition
to find a couple to marry in the centre. The prize was a free wedding,
with all the extras provided by the mall.
Once the winning couple was found, the agency began planning the
It sent out gilt-edged wedding invitations to a host of media. On the
big day, Anthony Edwards co-ordinated photographers and TV crews and
lined up a dozen interviews with the bride and groom and Belfry manager
The couple arrived at the main entrance and took the glass lift to the
management suite. After the wedding, the party went to the nearby Russ
Hill Hotel for the reception. The agency’s photographer took pictures at
the reception and sent them via ISDN to various publications.
Since then, Anthony Edwards PR has continued to liaise with the media,
especially women’s magazines.
Measurement and evaluation
Sky TV News, Channel 5 News and four other UK TV news programmes plus
two international TV crews ran a story on the day. PA News Syndication
issued a post-wedding story which appeared in the Observer and the
Sunday People. Radio coverage included Talk Radio, BBC Radio One,
Independent Radio News and BBC Southern Counties Radio.
The Belfry now plans to host at least two weddings a year.
Weddings, especially unusual ones, are real media winners, so in this
sense, Anthony Edwards had a guaranteed headline grabber.
However, the agency did well to make sure everything ran smoothly on the
day which, with 1,000 shoppers and half of Fleet Street in the mall,
could have been disastrous. ’A lot of planning meetings took place
before the event. The agency kept the media in check and made sure that
everyone was happy on the day,’ says Belfry manager Edwards.
Client: The Belfry Shopping Centre
PR Team: Anthony Edwards PR
Campaign: Marriage in the Mall
Timescale: August 1998 ongoing