Anna The Bride:
I’ve got short hair, and spend the majority of my life in converse and dungarees so the idea of wearing formal dress was a little daunting. The
aim of the game was to feel like me and not like I was in fancy dress for the day. A friend sent me a link to the Catherine Deane
website where I spotted the incredibly simple silk Hayden top and Danielle skirt. I didn’t order them for months because I was desperately trying to keep the budget for my dress to under £300 and went on the hunt elsewhere. Getting a bit frustrated having found nothing I loved, I came home one day to a card from one of my bridesmaids (@goosemooandlilou) telling me she’d popped money into my account for my dress. I ordered the top and skirt online that evening and tried them on for the first time in my living room with no floor length mirror! They both needed adjusting but my neighbour, who works at Stella McCartney, helped me get the perfect fit.
I bagged some awesome cobalt blue and gold heels from Ted Baker
which matched one of my bridesmaid’s dresses. They were literally killer though and I lasted until we arrived at the reception venue before I changed into some little gold pumps from Office. We were walking from the ceremony to the reception, in April, in the UK – so I bought myself a little black leather jacket from Mango to keep warm because the idea of a pashmina made me want to run a mile.
Other than that I kept things pretty simple. I had a gold chevron necklace made by Lisa Angel at
Not On The Highstreet
with A+B stamped onto one side, a gold cuff I bought at Joy in Clapham Junction Station (romance!) and a gold bracelet I borrowed from my mum which covered old and borrowed. Our wedding rings were designed and made by Mary Walsh who is an independent jewellery designer based in Chiswick. We met with her a few times and she was just so wonderful. I went for a cuff ring that fits around my engagement ring, Ben went for a simple rose gold band, and we both have the words SET ON YOU engraved inside.
I didn’t have anything to do with Ben’s outfit as I wanted to be surprised on the day too. He went shopping with my sister (let’s face it I was never going to relinquish all control!) and they snapped up his navy‐blue French Connection three piece suit in an afternoon at Moss Bros
! He paired this with a simple white shirt and grey woollen tie (from ebay!) and just livened up the brown brogues he already owned with some red laces. I got him an astronaut tie pin from Etsy shop ‘Skull and Hawk’, which was a little nod to a project he’d done with Tim Peake and why he’s now affectionately known as ‘Space Ben’.
I work in marketing for an events company who have a venue finding department, so I thought I was in for an easy ride. It turns out when you are on a really tight budget and want a London wedding you really do need to think out of the box!
I stumbled across Drake and Morgan
whilst trying to think of yet another way to Google ‘affordable wedding venue London’. Ben and I went and visited a couple of their venues with their wedding planner Will Breteau (@bewillb1980) and loved style and location The Refinery at Regent’s Place. It felt like some kind of cool Scandinavian architect’s house and was not ‘weddingy’ at all – just nice clean lines, wood and copper. I’d been told that a smaller space with less places for guests to wonder off to was ideal for keeping the party buzzy and the size of The Refinery at Regent’s Place was perfect for our 90 guests. Least romantically, but really most importantly the minimum spend was just £5K which was basically unheard of in London.
As well at that the bar spend would go towards the minimum spend, so we were pretty confident we
would hit the minimum with relative ease!
The colour scheme stemmed partly from being inspired by the venue and partly from House of Hackney’s leafy designs. I can’t honestly say I went in with a fully developed idea before I started designing things, but I designed our wedding stationery, website, table plan etc. with a banana leaf design and it all kind of snowballed from there. We both wanted the feeling of the meal to be cosy with a focus on thoughtfulness and our guests and less on being grand and just about me and Ben.
I had grand plans of doing all of our flowers myself, which was quickly nixed by a friend who is a florist and who told me I was mad. I took this on board and Ben found a lovely little florist called Titiana’s Garden
about 5 minutes walk from where I would be staying the night before the wedding. They made our buttonholes, and all 5 bouquets. I sent them a Pinterest board of ideas and they found the perfect selection of flowers which fit into our budget. We went with succulents and eucalyptus and the boys had yellow Craspedia and eucalyptus buttonholes. To
date my bouquet is still going strong! I did do all of the table flowers and ceremony flowers myself, but cut some massive corners! Me and my mum hoarded and grew about 100 baby succulents which we potted in Ikea glasses. I bought tonnes of eucalyptus from FLOWERBX
(who were awesome) which was placed down the middle of all of the tables, punctuated by succulents and candle sticks (which I bought in bulk from Tiger). My mum made bespoke runners for each table to give things a bit of depth and we finished things off with individual menus for each guest, ‘branded’ coasters and old photos of me and Ben with the guest pinned to their menu.
One area we did splurge on a bit was the table markers, which is probably a bit of a random place to splurge. We went for our favourite foods as table names and printed icons of each food (which corresponded with the table plan) onto huge white balloons which were assigned to each
table. These were designed by me and supplied by Bubblegum Balloons
The Wedding Party
I felt a bit strange about dressing my bridesmaids in the same dress and colour. I think maybe it was because we were all over 35 and it was quite a relaxed wedding. I wanted them all to feel amazing and we went for red, black, cobalt blue and a mustard yellow cocktail dresses. Each colour really complimented each of the girls and I think they looked really chic. They bought their dresses from ASOS
and Karen Millen
with the idea that they could buy themselves a really lovely dress or I could buy them a cheap one they would probably never wear again! The groomsmen all wore their own suits with a white shirt and we bought them all cobalt blue woollen ties (from ebay), pocket squares and a little tie pin that reflected them eg my brother got a little bike being a keen cyclist. We kept things pretty simple for them (we were a bit over the matching socks trend) and they all looked super smart and lovely.
We had our ceremony at 3pm at Asia House
which is in the centre of Marylebone, one of our favourite areas of London. We looked at pretty much every town hall in London but they are all so formal and dark and we wanted things to be bright and light! I walked down the aisle to ‘Got My Mind Set on You’ by George Harrison, the song that was playing when Ben proposed and we had Blue Swede ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ and The Archies’ Sugar Sugar playing for the signing of the register. We walked out to ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Sam Cooke. We had a surprise reading from our friend Tom who read a hilarious Tim Key poem called ‘Commitment’ and our friend Rob read a poem we’d chosen.
As I’m sure most people say, music was SO important. We decided a DJ would work for us as we wanted to be able to party quite late into the night for a good few hours. We found Ben Hiard through some friends of ours. He runs a brand called Crash the Wedding and frankly he was just plain excellent. There were some real musos in the building and Ben’s aunty used to be a Motown DJ and is VERY picky, but he managed to keep things cool and fun without being overly cheesy. Every single song he played had someone shouting ‘OH YES I’ve got to dance to this one’. We danced our first dance to Hall and Oates ‘You Make My Dreams’. I say dance, I mean jigged about
and threw each other around. We also hired a face painter. It’s a bit of a tradition in our group of friends that when we get drunk someone gets the eyeliner out and we end up scrawling
over each others faces. So we thought we’d do it properly. I was a bit worried people would be a
bit shy or just think we were mental, but people LOVED it! They were queuing up until the lights went up! It did mean that Ben and I checked in to one of London’s loveliest hotels dressed as
Dracula and his bride but it was so worth it!
When we were looking at venues one thing that put us of the couple we could actually afford (!)
was how formal the menu was. We a couple with fairly simple tastes! So we decided to opt for burgers all round. We gave guests the choice of chicken, wagyu beef or vegetarian when they were RSVPing but didn’t tell them it was a burger they’d be getting which was quite fun. I designed some ‘branded’ burger sticks that the kitchen stuck into all of them and they were all served with sweet potato fries and salad. We skipped canapés and desert and instead used our ‘wedding
cake’. I LOVE donuts and Krispy Kremes were incredibly affordable! We ordered a load online and they delivered to the venue the morning of the wedding. We served these with espresso martinis and margueritas as the evening guests arrived and it basically got the party started pretty well!
We served up mini burgers, fish and chips and vegetable tempura around 10:30 which went down well with the evening guests, although by that point I must admit I have no recollection of it!
One of the highlights of our day! We found Fern Edwards
though another photographer we’d met at a friend’s wedding and who we initially asked to shoot ours. She wasn’t available and pointed
us in the direction of Fern. We loved her style and how relaxed her photos were. We didn’t want to leave the party for hours of photos and big group shots and Fern was of the same opinion! She
was such an awesome energy to have throughout the day, and we had so many friends just assume she was a friend of ours that they hadn’t met before because we got on so well! We both felt so relaxed and happy to be shot by her and I bawled my eyes out when we finally saw the photos. She is so talented and was such an integral part of our wedding and I am SO pleased we found her.
We really wanted to make sure the day reflected us as we are and not an idealised version of us,
as well as making our friends and family know how much they mean to us. I feel like we achieved
it by keeping things simple and thoughtful. Little things like creating a menu for the one baby
we had at the wedding (milk, milk and more milk) and buying a birthday cake for a friend who’s birthday it was. We wanted people to know we’d thought about them! We had a small budget as budgets go for London weddings and I think we cut costs where we could (venue hire, suit hire, wedding cake) and splurged where we felt it would be really fun (balloons!, face painter!). I’m
not going to lie, I did get stressed during planning (RSVP collecting is the worst) and hearing everyone’s opinions on how things should be done was really overwhelming but I knew this was to be expected and we had to keep bringing ourselves back to what we wanted to achieve on the day. On the day of, all the planning was in the hands of the gods (our wedding planner and wedding party!) so I just relinquished all control and it was brilliant.