Can I just start by saying what a handsome couple and bridal party Emilie & Charlie have, everybody is SO stylish, sexy and cool! The ASOS dresses Emilie found for her bridesmaids are gorgeous and would rival a wedding dress or two! Not Emilie’s Johanna Hehir’s gown though; the lace detail and delicate low back of the dress is absolutely stunning!
I haven’t even got to the beautiful florals yet, which were all arranged by an old family friend turned florist and captured the woodland outdoor garden element Emilie was so desperate to recreate at her urban city wedding.
This wedding truly proves anything is possible if you have a clear vision and a few helpful friends.
Emilie The Bride: Charlie and I knew as soon as we got engaged that our wedding would be a meeting of two worlds and to be honest I wasn’t always sure we were going to pull it off!
Charlie has always been a bit of a Jay Gatsby, with a love of all things extravagant, whilst I have always pictured myself as a country girl, wild and free. My initial vision of a festival-style woodland wedding in the country was steered off course by two major events: our old boss, Jamie Oliver letting us use his most beautiful restaurant in the heart of the city and Charlie buying a blue Burberry tuxedo. It became clear very quickly that I would have to move my dream wedding into London whilst attempting to pay homage to the sprawling urban beauty of the city in which we had met and fallen into love and life together.
The ceremony was held in St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch, a building so achingly beautiful both inside and out. It is so old it looks like it’s on the verge of crumbling and the light inside is absolutely beautiful. Charlie and I had become really close with the vicar, Paul and so the ceremony was incredibly personal and heartfelt. My childhood musician friend Selina played guitar and sang throughout the signing of the register and we walked out to ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ sung by a gospel choir, it was just the best!
As we both work in food, this was a huge element for us and we were so lucky to have so many friends who pulled together to create exactly what we wanted within our budget, from the champagne producer to the type of honey that went with the antipasti boards! We wanted to blend the urban elegance of the venue with our love of family feasting-style eating that encourages people to get stuck in and bond with each other!
We didn’t have a huge budget for the wedding, having just bought a little flat in London and so initially I started scanning second hand dress sites like Still White. I really wanted a dress that had a vintage feel and stumbled upon Johanna Hehir’s Mae collection. We travelled to Sussex to visit her major stockist, Matilda Rose in Lindfield (I recommend the shop to anyone, it really is such an adorable place) to try on her ‘Beth’ dress with the intention of seeing if the style suited me and waiting for one to appear on the second hand sites. It was the first dress I tried on and when I walked out of the changing room, my mum just got out her credit card and said ‘how and where do I pay?!’. It was such a precious moment. The amazing seamstress even put little lace panels along the neckline to give the dress a unique look. For the shoes, I knew I wanted to ditch the whimsical vibe and complement Charlie’s outrageous blue tuxedo with a statement piece of my own. When a pair of second hand Manolo Blahnik Hangisi in electric blue turned up on my doorstep, I was reduced to a teary mess, they were perfect and ticked off my ‘something old’ and ‘something blue’. As I’m not really a jewellery person, the only piece I wore on the day was a pair of white pearls that my mum leant me to tick off my ‘something borrowed’.
Finding bridesmaid dresses was probably the hardest part of the whole wedding to organise! I initially had 6 bridesmaids and 2 flower girls, which was a little greedy as it was but when my family became foster parents to two gorgeous girls, that changed to 7 bridesmaids and 3 flower girls! It was beginning to look like kitting them all out was going to be more than my dress and Charlie’s tuxedo together! That was until I stumbled upon the ‘Jarlo’ label on ASOS. I’d honestly recommend the label to everyone. The level of detail is amazing for the price and the cuts are flattering and beautiful. I was able to dress all my bridesmaids for a fraction of the price I’d initially thought and on the day, I got so many compliments about how good they all looked. The little ones wore BHS dresses.
I was a bit nervous about the flowers as I had such a clear image in my head about what I wanted and not a huge budget with which to make it happen. I wanted the flowers to be the element of the aesthetic that would turn the venue into the woodland-style I’d always pictured whilst looking natural and not out of place in the middle of the city. A family friend I used to babysit had recently become a florist and was killing it at weddings. She travelled up to see me and I just knew she’d be perfect. We came up with a scheme to incorporate forest greens, herbs, soft pink roses and white poppies. Charlie and I wanted to keep the hanging charcuterie in the venue so I asked Naomi to string up flowers in between the meats, which turned out really well. She also made me the most amazing wreath made out of herbs that said ‘Amore’ which is what Charlie and I call each other as a throw back from our days waiting tables in Italian restaurants. I honestly couldn’t recommend Naomi enough, our day just wouldn’t have come together if it wasn’t for her!
Design and Décor Elements
My favourite parts of the day were the bits that we did creatively and on the cheap! Having blown the budget on the dress and tuxedo, we saved money by writing the menu on our ornate mirror from home, using corks collected from the wine bar I run as name place holders and doing a deal with an eBay retailer for lots of little cream lanterns for the tables. My bridesmaid and I brought our typewriters to the venue and made a little corner for typing out marriage advice which turned out to be hilarious as most of the guests either had never used a typewriter or weren’t married so the notes we got at the end were priceless. I’d also intended to buy some nice flats in which to dance the night away but by that point we’d run out of money so I just pulled my Nike Airs on instead. In lieu of hiring a band of DJs, our friends took it in turn to take over the decks (which works very well if you have DJ mates!) Instead of hiring a car to take us all to the church, the bridal party got a couple of London black cabs and then one of the traditional red buses to ferry guests from the church to the reception venue. One of my best friends even managed to persuade a famous gospel choir to sing at the ceremony for a fraction of their normal rate as a ‘random act of kindness’!
I know everyone goes on about their dad’s speech but honestly, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he gave his; Charlie and I were in pieces! It was one of the most precious moments of my life. The best men’s speeches were incredibly moving yet hilarious and when Charlie gave his at the end, it seemed like he’d been waiting his whole life to deliver it! Kate and Jon Gray, our incredible photographers, captured the whole day in a way that we’ll spend the rest of our lives thanking them for. The little moments caught between guests, my goddaughter and I, the best men, our parents and all our friends are memories we will treasure forever. Thank you, both!