For me Abby and Olly's whole wedding is perfect. I couldn't love their approach to their big day anymore - the couple funded their wedding themselves and found lots of clever ways to make sure that staying in line with their budget, while still putting on a stylish and fun wedding day. And Abby still got to wear two dresses and two pairs of shoes...I think she should start a new career as a bargain hunter for brides ;) Saving money elsewhere meant that Abby & Olly could have the wonderful Jon at S6 Photography and Laura & Alan This Modern Revelry film their big day. And OMG I'm SO glad they did. The whole party has been captured beautifully and the film just brings the whole day to life. Be prepared to have a little cry and a little boogie all in the space of a few minutes...
Abby The Bride:
The Wedding Club hold regular sample sales to Birmingham, so I jumped on the train one day to pop up and see some designers that I loved, which were totally out of my price range normally. Katie was really lovely, and helped me pick out about 5 or 6 dresses to try on. She made me feel like I was shopping with a friend, which was great as no-one was free to come with me to the appointment as it was a last minute mid-week trip! I hadn’t heard of Sharon Hoey before, but ‘Flora’ caught my eye because of the vintage look and the unusual lace/beading. I don’t think I was ever going to be someone who had ‘the’ moment with a dress – when I put it on, it just felt comfy and I imagined I would be able to eat / dance / hug / go the toilet on my own in it, which was all I was really after! So I made a snap decision, bought it, and left it in Birmingham so that I couldn’t continue to obsess about it. The original capped sleeves didn’t look quite right on me, so Tess (their in-house seamstress) did an amazing job of removing these and using the lace to gently edge the dress to give a softer look.
I wasn’t originally planning to have a separate dress for the evening, but despite how much of a bargain my wedding dress was, it still seemed like a lot of money to spend on a dress that I was realistically only going to wear once. I had booked an appointment at Elizabeth Avey’s vintage wedding dress shop in Greenwich before I bought my dress, and decided to keep the appointment so that I had the experience of going shopping with my best friends. Elizabeth’s shop is wonderful, absolutely stuffed with beautiful and unique dresses, and Elizabeth herself is so much fun and so enthusiastic, it was like a giant game of dress up. She pulled out a dress which had only just come in to the shop, and I immediately loved the unusual fabric and how full the skirt was. I kept thinking about it after I’d left, so got back in touch and asked her to hold it for me – I decided that buying another dress would make me sell the first wedding dress, as I could then keep the evening dress, as it’s something I might be more likely to wear again. Now I just need to follow through on that...
Alterations to my vintage dress were done by Satish Mal at Elite Alterations who Elizabeth recommended.
I’m not much of a jewellery person, and my dress was quite heavily embellished, so I kept my jewellery very simple with a pair of Rachel Jackson earrings and my great grandmothers vintage watch. Which sadly didn’t work, but it was lovely to have something of hers on the day, as none of my grandparents felt able to make the trip down to London for the wedding.
All our wedding rings (I have two!) were purchased from the same place that Olly bought my vintage 1930’s engagement ring, Addy’s Vintage I had purchased a beautiful 1900’s ring from Erin for my 30th birthday, and Olly cleverly made a note of the name so that when the time came to get the engagement ring, he got it spot on. So it made complete sense to go back to Erin for our wedding bands. She was amazingly helpful, and spent several months searching for a diamond eternity band to match my engraved wedding band and engagement ring (long story, but Olly picked a style of engagement ring which is notoriously hard to match a wedding band to!) Olly tried on a few that Erin brought with her to give him ideas, and picked one there and then, so much more straight forward than me! I adore my wedding rings, and can’t thank Erin enough for all her help.
Another complete bargain of the wedding – they were by Agnes and Norman, Rachel Simpson’s now discontinued vintage shoe line. As they were closing down the line, there were huge discounts, and I popped into Rachel’s showroom in Birmingham when I went up for a dress fitting. The ladies there were lovely, and the shoes were so comfy! I loved the fact that I could wear them again after the wedding, as they were totally not bridal. Having said, they were so comfy and such a bargain, that I ended up buying another pair of Rachel’s shoes (gold snakeskin!) from her eBay outlet as ‘just in case’ second pair for the reception.
I tried on a couple of veils, but it felt very ‘weddingy’ and that didn’t fit very well with me, and the feel of our day. So I kept hair accessories very simple and ordered a couple of art deco style hair pins from Luxe Buffalo on Etsy.
Flowers were not really a priority for me, and a good place to save money as we were paying for the whole wedding ourselves. I did buy some dried flowers and made some bouquets for my sisters, so they had something to hold walking down the aisle. However, we forgot these in the dash to the Town Hall in the morning! Thankfully it was a very short walk down the aisle!
Olly was born and brought up in Islington, so there was never any doubt that we were going to get married there! When we visited the Town Hall, we knew it was perfect – the Council Chamber is a beautiful art deco style room, but the circular seating means it doesn’t feel too intimidating. I have to give a special mention to our registrar Cynthia Green (some of you may recognise her from Channel 4’s Married at First Sight!!) We met with Cynthia a couple of times before the wedding to discuss the ceremony and logistics. She was so warm and welcoming, and such great fun, that on the wedding day it felt like we were getting married by a friend. She was fantastic, and really made the ceremony even more special for us.
The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker we found by walking around the area and popping in on our way to another, very famous wedding pub nearby. The pub was a great space, light and modern, and the manager Sam was fantastic. He was incredibly helpful and flexible about all elements of the day, including allowing us to bring in external caterers, and the fact that they could stay open until 2am was a definite bonus! The staff on the day were wonderful, even coming out from behind the bar towards the end of the evening for a dance with us!
The pub vibe was airy and modern, so it didn’t need much extra décor thankfully, so another place where we could save some money! We strung up some fairy lights, popped some candles in some glass jam jars, and we hand made the table numbers and place names ourselves. The two huge tasks of the whole wedding were the geometric paper shape installation that we hung in the window, and the table plan – whilst they turned out well, and got loads of compliments on the day, they did take A LOT longer than we originally thought. One of my bits of advice to anyone getting married is – start earlier than you think you need to, as everything will take three times as long as you think it will!
The Cheese Cake
We weren’t really bothered about having wedding cake, and they are so expensive. We do however love cheese, and so the perfect compromise was to get a cheese wedding cake, and serve this in the evening as part of the evening buffet to soak up the alcohol and keep people going until 2am. We found The West Country Cheese Company online, and the whole process of ordering and delivery was smooth and straightforward, and the cheese was delicious. We completely over ordered, and now have a freezer full of cheese!
We had got engaged in Kefalonia, Greece, and therefore Greek food seemed like a healthy, delicious nod to where our wedding journey started. We liked the idea of sharing platters and people helping themselves as a way of getting people chatting and turning dinner into a very social event. I found The Grilling Greek on a Timeout feature of the top London street food vendors and when I contacted Sypros Blentzas (the owner) he was really friendly and helpful. The food was amazing, and really did the job of getting people interacting. Despite normally loving my food, I was a total wedding cliché and neither Olly or I managed to eat loads on the day, but everyone raved about how good the food was, particularly the meat!
The Wedding Party
Perhaps the most stressful element of wedding planning, as one of my sisters lives in England and the other one in Spain! I gave them a colour (Navy) and they did the rest, and ordered some beautiful floor length navy dresses from ASOS that had a subtle art deco feel which worked well with my dress and the venue.
Olly had his heart set on a Reiss suit and so we managed to track down a beautiful blue light weight suit in the summer sale (we literally visited most of the Reiss stores in London in one day to track all the different parts down!) He definitely tried on more suits than I tried on wedding dresses. Reiss do a brilliant in house tailoring service which is very reasonably priced, so Olly looked like he had a made to measure suit, but for a fraction of the price.
Again this was another area where we were able to save money and did entire thing online, and for free, through Paperless Post. It also made it much easier to keep track of who had RSVP’d and who to chase etc.
We had originally thought about doing a Spotify Playlist ourselves, but then decided to get a DJ to help create more of an atmosphere. However, I really struggled to find someone in London who either didn’t cost a fortune, or who didn’t look like someone’s dodgy Uncle Dave who would play loads of songs with associated dance routines. Fair play if that’s your thing, it just isn’t our vibe. In desperation I emailed our photographer to see whether he could recommend anyone, and he put us in touch with Aaron (Aaron Dicker, email@example.com). We met up with Aaron in the pub and had a great time, he clearly knows his stuff music wise, but was also happy to make sure he incorporated our favourite songs and ensure that there was something to keep everyone on the dance floor. He also organised the equipment hire, and was there for the whole day playing background music for the reception and during dinner, before keeping the dance floor full from the first dance until we finished at 2am. Top guy, we can’t thank him enough!
No need for transport, as we were literally five minutes down the road from Islington Town Hall in an Air BnB apartment. Olly jumped on the bus, but banned me from doing the same in a wedding dress, so we got a taxi up there. We walked back down from the Town Hall to the pub to get some time alone to process that we had just got married (!), and also get some great shots of Angel, which is an area which means lots to Olly and I.
What can I say about Laura and Alan, other than – complete heroes! Having read lots of real bride’s advice on RMW, I was definitely keen on getting a videographer, as I knew there was going to be so much emotion on the day, and things that we didn’t see / wouldn’t remember. However, the budget wasn’t looking great, until Laura came to the rescue with a flexible package that worked budget wise and meant that we got coverage of the key elements for us (vows and speeches). On the day they were absolutely brilliant, loads of fun to have around, and very unobtrusive. Every so often you would see them pop up with a tiny camera, and then they’d be gone again. As Olly works in TV production himself, including filming, I knew that they were good when he gave them the seal of approval. The video is fantastic, and such a wonderful way to relive the emotions and memories of the day.
I can’t remember how I found Jon of S6 Photography, but I know that we are incredibly grateful that we did! This was always part of the wedding that I knew I wanted to spend a decent part of the budget on, as it’s the only thing (apart from your spouse and the wedding rings!) that you have after the day is finished. Jon is based in Sheffield, so we had a Skype meeting and chatted about the style of our day and what we were looking for from the photography. Jon made us feel instantly at ease, and we loved his reportage style natural photography which seemed perfect for two people who can’t have their photos taken without pulling silly faces. On the day he was such fun to have around, despite being unwell and dosing himself up on lemsips, and had the amazing knack of being in all the right places at all the right times. When we got our sneak peek photos through (the very next day!) I am not ashamed to admit I was a complete wedding cliché and cried. They are amazing, and the rest of the photos captured the atmosphere of our day wonderfully. When Jon asked whether he could submit our wedding to RMW, I was thrilled because he’s such a talented guy, and definitely deserves to get loads more alternative London weddings where he can really do this thing! We can’t thank him enough for being such a huge part of our day.
Bride: Sharon Hoey | Boutique: The Wedding Club | Evening Dress: Elizabeth Avey | Earrings: Rachel Jackson | Rings: Addy's Vintage | Shoes: Rachel Simpson | Ceremony Venue: Islington Town Hall | Reception Venue: The Blacksmith & The Toffeemaker | Cheese: The West Country Cheese Co | Catering: The Grilling Greek | Bridesmaids: ASOS | Videography : This Modern Revelry