Soho Love Stories: ‘We were best friends who fell for each other’
From candid photo booth kisses and a Babington wedding to a babymoon at Soho Roc House, lovebird members Emma and Jade Shone-Sanders share the ways in which Soho House touched every part of their love story
Monday 31 October 2022 By Tilly Pearman Photography by Sam Docker
In our new series, Soho Love Stories, we’ll be getting intimate with our members to bring you the personal – and occasionally saucy – tales from those who have found love at the Houses.
Our first couple, London members Emma and Jade Shone-Sanders, share how their friendship turned into a partnership for life. From candid photo booth kisses and a dream wedding at Babington House to setting up their interior design company from the Sitting Room of Shoreditch House, this couple has marked nearly every milestone of their romance at one House or another.
‘We first met in 2003 at Leeds Festival,’ says Jade. Sparks didn’t exactly fly – Emma describes the initial meeting as slightly ‘anti-climactic’ – but that didn’t stop the couple from developing a friendship that would, to the annoyance of their friends, lead to them becoming completely and utterly inseparable.
‘We started to fall for each other when we went travelling after university,’ says Emma. ‘It had been building, subconsciously, for a long time. But once it became conscious, I started to feel hurt every time Jade would go on a date.’ Jade shares that feeling, though reminds Emma that on occasion it wasn’t uncommon for the couple to go on double dates. ‘Once, we met a couple of guys on Brick Lane [in east London], but during the date we realised we were just chatting to each other. That moment, in a lot of ways, was a bit of an epiphany for us.’
‘In 2007 we became a couple – at first in secret – because we wanted to make sure that we were comfortable with each other,’ says Jade. ‘I really feel like we had to do that in private, just the two of us, because it was our first same-sex relationship, which at the time felt huge, but looking back it felt very natural.’
‘Shoreditch House became like our second home,’ says Jade. ‘We were living just around the corner, on Brick Lane, and I remember our older landlord, who was also a fashion designer, completely misread the signals and tricked me into a “date” at Shoreditch House. That was the first time I ever went to the House. Needless to say, I fell in love with the place, but not with the designer.’
‘I accidentally pulled an entire sex torture garden installation onto myself at a Halloween party at Soho House New York,’ recalls Jade on just one of the many ‘wilder’ nights the couple enjoyed in the earlier stages of their relationship. ‘The Houses have very much been a part of our love story over the years,’ says Emma. ‘We celebrated our 30th birthdays at Soho House West Hollywood in 2014 and had an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in Soho House Berlin.’
‘In 2018 I proposed to Jade, and a year later she proposed to me,’ says Emma. ‘I think it was so nice of Emma to do that for me,’ says Jade. ‘As a girl you always think about that moment, but it meant she was robbed of that experience; I wanted to return that gesture.’
‘Babington House will always be special,’ says the couple. ‘We got married there in 2018, which was obviously the best three days of our lives. Everyone was so nice. I remember the barman, Fish – he was an absolute legend,’ says Jade. Emma couldn’t agree more, adding that ‘it just felt so intimate, like you were at home’.
‘When an Espresso Martini lands all over your wedding dress, you can’t cry,’ says Jade, as she relives the only hiccup from the couple’s otherwise perfect day. ‘We left no part of the House untouched,’ they say. ‘We had a beautiful ceremony out on the front lawn, with the House in the background. Dinner was held in the Orangery, but for the rehearsal dinner, the night before, we had a gorgeous garden party down in the Walled Garden. They set up beautiful fairy lights and we had a delicious barbecue.’
‘In 2019, we set up our business, Design & That Studio, from Shoreditch House,’ says Jade, who left her former PR agency to joins forces with her wife’s interior architecture and design practice. ‘We would hold back-to-back meetings with new suppliers and brands in the Sitting Room,’ says Emma, who also notes the increased ‘special time’ they now spend together since forming a joint business. ‘We live in each other’s pockets for sure, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.’ Since then, Jade has formed the PR arm of the business, Design & That PR.
‘Date nights look slightly different since the arrival of our son, Albie,’ says Jade, but that hasn’t signalled the end to some occasional alone time – ‘we recently had our first baby-free date night at 76 Dean Street,’ says Emma. ‘But Albie is very much a part of our lives; even our babymoon was held at Soho Roc House. Since he’s arrived, we love taking him with us to the Houses. Last year he had his first swim in Shoreditch House’s rooftop pool, and his first holiday was to Little Beach House Barcelona.’
‘I think the secret to our relationship is that we just have the best time,’ says Emma. ‘We’re really honest, sometimes brutally, but I think that’s what we love about each other; we can communicate really well, we’re always talking.’
‘We were just best friends who fell in love,’ adds Jade. ‘I think love really is the ultimate friendship. It’s your best friend in the world. It’s the person that you want to spend all of your time with. It’s the person who you can care for, and who will care for you.’