COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Once marred by political tumult, Sri Lanka’s capital has emerged as not only a popular tourist destination but a preferred location for couples to say “I do,” and Colombo’s most storied hotel is leading the way when it comes to destination weddings.
“Our stately heritage has made us a popular honeymoon destination-over the last century-but we’ve also seen a steady rise in the number of destination weddings since we completed our landmark restoration back in 2015,” said Deni Ohlsen-Dukic, general manager of Galle Face Hotel. “And it’s not just neighbouring countries planning their nuptials here. We’ve hosted weddings with patrons from as far afield as Australia and Canada.”
The Galle Face Hotel, which traces its heritage back to 1864, has also seen members of the same family tie the knot over the generations. “It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and daughter from one family to have walked down the aisle in one of our ballrooms,” added Ohlsen-Dukic.
The hotel’s grand ballroom was a pillar of the 2.5 year long restoration that saw the bulk of the heritage property restored to its former grandeur. Stripped back and completely redone the lofty space now has ceilings soaring two storeys high, grand arched doors framing the interior, crimson carpets embellished with gold floral motifs, and classic torch lighting as a throwback to another era. Modern conveniences, like a state-of-the-art lighting system that splashes the walls in hues of blue, red, and yellow, have been added along with soundproofing for when the party is in full swing.
Galle Face Hotel has also launched a number of wedding packages that embrace the hotel’s romantic past. Highlights from the Imperial Package include local elements such as ceremonial bagpipers, traditional dancers, drummers, vintage cars, customary Sri Lankan blessings, and a ceremonial sword for cake cutting, along with other conveniences for the bride and groom on the day. These include use of the Bridal Suite, which is a spacious 50-60 square meters (538 - 645 square feet), with homemade chocolates and chilled champagne waiting in the room, breakfast and dinner at the airy Verandah overlooking the ocean, an intimate rehearsal dinner at the exclusive Long Room for close family, and a couple’s spa voucher at the new L’Occitane Spa that opens on October 20th. There is also the option of arriving in and taking images with the hotel's 1954 Cadillac, on the big day. The coveted car was once used by Lord Louis Mountbatten during the 1954 Commonwealth tour by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
The iconic hotel has hosted small weddings through to large scale receptions up to 1,400 people, with the guests and wedding party booking out the entire hotel. In addition to the ballrooms another favoured spot in the hotel for nuptials is the Chequerboard, which has long been a place of noteworthy celebrations. It was first set up as a Chequerboard for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
Wedding packages start from as low as USD 36 per person, depending on the time of year. Visit http://gallefacehotel.com for more information.