There is something so magical about autumnal light that gets us every time. Especially when you see it flooding through the beautiful stain glass windows of The Asylum in London. What a heady combination. Also making us feel all fuzzy inside is Bride Cat who looks an absolute vision in her Charlie Brear gown, and like me I'm certain you will have serious hair envy for her cute tousled ponytail. Also pretty swoon worthy are her best girls dressed in adorable mis-match blush separates from Reiss. Such a relaxed, laid back wedding in the city that screams style. Wait until you see the DIY copper spray painted vases too, all captured beautifully by Haywood Jones Photography.

The Dress

Cat the Bride: I always knew the kind of dress I wanted, understated, chic...basically something out of a vogue fashion shoot BUT on a budget. I found my dress fairly quickly at Charlie Brear, and my budget went quickly out of the window. The vogue fashion shoot theme continued however - I wore gold strappy Jimmy Choos. I loved that my dress was simple and easy to wear; I made a few alterations adding the lace sleeves and lowering the back to create an extra bit of wow factor. I added simple accessories, my jewellery was from Zoe & Morgan and I wore a simple flower design in my hair made by the lovely girls at One Flew Over.

The Grooms Fashion

Ali tried on the tux in Sandro, felt like James Bond. ...the rest is history. He added a knitted bow tie from Reiss to complete the look.

The Venue

We were a bit stuck, trying to find somewhere with enough space for the Bridal party to get ready the morning of the wedding. We didn’t fancy all cramming into a hotel room so my mum suggested we got in touch with some properties through Airbnb. We rented a gorgeous Victorian Villa in Crystal Palace. It was the perfect setting for the photos while we were getting ready and there was enough space to take some nervous time out when needed! We always knew that we wanted a relaxed London wedding but worried that our limited budget would dictate what we were able to do. Our priority was to celebrate with our family and friends, and we were focused on the party. We assumed that the actual ceremony would simply serve a purpose and would be a formal part of the day in a local Town Hall before the fun started. Then we found The Asylum (Caroline Gardens Chapel). We went to visit The Asylum on a cold January afternoon, and the moment I stood in the doorway at the foot of the aisle, I knew that this was the place we had to get married. I felt emotional - this is by no means a rare thing but it felt like a good sign! From there our plan was formed, we just had to find a place to host the party. The East Dulwich Tavern was a great place for dinner and dancing. Both of our venues were relaxed but enthusiastic about helping us to organise our day. We managed to pull off our perfect relaxed London wedding, and stayed strong in ignoring the suggestions from friends that we just go for it with a Peckham themed ‘Only Fools’ style wedding. FYI there are apparently three wheel vans available for hire, we just weren’t sure the sheepskin lined overcoat was the right thing over Ali’s tux.


In the beginning, I had decided that I was going to do all the flowers myself. Then, after arranging to meet with Jess from One Flew Over, I decided that I would maybe hand over the responsibility for my bouquet. I knew I wanted a mix of bright autumn colours, and a mix of pretty blooms. When we met for a coffee, Jess understood what I wanted straight away. She suggested a beautiful burnt orange velvet ribbon to tie my bouquet, and we agreed to have smaller versions of my bouquet for the bridesmaids and simple button holes for the boys. They also made me a gorgeous accessory for my hair. We visited New Covent Garden Flower Market a couple of months before our wedding to look for inspiration to decorate the venues. Ali and I had fun getting up early (4am!!) and mixing with the locals, we had decided on the flowers we wanted to decorate the dining room before breakfast. We found a really great flower vendor who we contacted with our order to decorate the EDT. He delivered our flowers to the pub the day before the wedding, a simple mix of white blooms and foliage. Me and my mum got to work the day before the wedding and made lots of small displays for the tables and around the pub. It was great that we had a whole afternoon to organise this. It was a fun and cheap way to transform the pub into a wedding venue. From scanning photos on RMW, I knew that I wanted a confetti moment when we came out of the ceremony. We used Shropshire Petals who offer a beautiful mix of different size and colour confetti to be captured on camera. My mum also spent the summer watching her beautiful rose bushes bloom, and then carefully being there when the petals dropped. We ended up with loads of confetti. The photos as we left the Asylum made it all well worthwhile.

Colour Scheme/Decor

We knew that we didn’t want our day to be dictated by a particular colour scheme. In the Asylum we decided that less would maybe be more. This was partly because we didn’t have a huge budget for decorations, and we were only going to be at our first venue for a couple of hours before moving on to the EDT. My brother in law’s mum Janice made some impromptu flower displays for the front of the Chapel out of left over flowers we had ordered for the pub and foliage from the garden. We also added some extra fairy lights, candles and some ivy to brighten up the front of the Chapel. All the decorations were done in the morning of the wedding by my sister’s lovely partners and Ali created an amazing chalk board welcome sign to greet our guests as they arrived. We spent the summer, in our East London back yard, spray painting milk bottles, vases and tea light holders with metallic copper spray to decorate the EDT. Other decorations such as candle sticks and vases were begged and borrowed from friends and family. Ali turned his hand to design some chalk boards for our table plan, table numbers, and signs for the evening. He also printed names for place settings. It really was a team effort and all our hard work paid off and helped us to keep costs down.

The Wedding Party Fashion

I wanted to find dresses for the girls that they would wear again, and I wanted to move away from anything too ‘bridal’. We found the outfits in Reiss. I loved that they were all a similar shade but different deigns. The girls were pleased that they could wear the skirts/tops again. I think the pale shade blended in beautifully with the mix of autumn flowers in our bouquets. We asked the groomsmen to wear navy suits and we provided back knitted ties from John Lewis.


From initially thinking that the ceremony was there for the formalities, and that the party would be the real fun bit, both Ali and I surprised ourselves when reflecting on the day and finding that the ceremony was our favourite bit. Having the opportunity to stand in front of family and friends, with such a beautiful backdrop was amazing. We were so lucky with the weather and the sun shone down the aisle and rested on us standing together at the end. For us, the really special moments were our family and friends being involved in the ceremony. Ali’s brother’s partner, Gayle sang for us. She was amazing; I get goose bumps thinking about it. She sang ‘Songbird’ by Eva Cassidy as I walked down the aisle (I literally can’t remember this as it was so overwhelming seeing family and friends and Ali’s big beaming smile). She then sang ‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree as we signed the register. Literally amazing.... and it worked so well in the venue. We weren’t sure whether we would bother have readings as neither of us particularly remembered readings from other weddings, and we couldn’t find anything that captured our relationship. It was all too predictable, too twee or made us cringe. Our poor friend, Gav was tasked with finding something to read that didn’t do any of the above. He then delegated to his girlfriend Anna who came up with some brilliant readings. We settled on Gav reading ‘I wanna be yours’ by John Cooper Clark and my lovely friend Anna read a little something from the big man himself, Albert Einstein. I was so pleased to get our fiends involved, and on the day the readings were fun. When the ceremony was finished, me and my Jimmy Choo’s had our moment. Ali and I strode back down the aisle together as Gayle sang ‘You’ve got the love’ by Florence and the Machine. Cue the best feeling ever. Seriously, if I could bottle that feeling...... It was the most amazing moment as our family and friends cheered. Other entertaining moments included, the wedding bus getting stuck and everyone coming out of their houses to watch, and one of our carefully laid out tables collapsing as everyone sat down for dinner. It’s amazing how nothing fazes you on the day – if I was told this would happen beforehand, I would have had a panic attack.


In the pub we used a carefully mastered a playlist on Spotify as the soundtrack for the evening. It was all fairly casual and good fun.


To make the most of the beautiful ceremony venue, we opted to have canapés and bubbles on the estate outside. In keeping with attempts to keep prices down we sourced canapés and Prosecco from supermarkets. They did the job and just involved a little bit of organising in the morning before dropping them off at the venue. This saved us a fortune! We ate in the EDT opting for a main course and desert and used our wedding cake made of cheese to line the stomachs of the evening revellers. The Cheese Cake went down a storm. We had enjoyed an afternoon of cheese tasting and constructed our own cake from the favourites we sampled. International Cheese Co. delivered the cake to the pub the day before the wedding, and I left the staff to decorate it with some figs, etc. We provided crackers and chutneys which were laid out for us. This was a really cost effective way of providing evening food.


Our photographer Bethan Haywood Jones was recommended by a friend. We knew that we wanted someone who could blend into the background, make us feel at ease and capture some informal shots of our guests having fun throughout the day. When we met Bethan in a pub by Kings Cross, we shared a couple of drinks, and many more laughs and we knew that she was our girl. It was lovely having the opportunity to get to know her a bit before she was part of our day. Both Bethan and John captured some great shots and provided a brilliant ‘trailer’ to our day with five minutes of video footage that we have literally watched about a million times already. They come so highly recommended!


Try and involve willing friends and family as much as possible. We were really lucky to have people help us out with logistics in setting up for the wedding day. Getting together to make decorations is fun, makes the wedding more personal and keeps the costs right down. Enjoy all the preparations leading up to your wedding. The day goes so quickly and inevitably with a few hitches along the way. The days spent trying on dresses, making the decorations, food tasting and endless practice attempts at walking down the aisle after a few glasses of wine, are just as important memories as those you take away from the day itself. Lastly, make sure you have some time off after the wedding. We were giddy for at least a week and felt exhausted!
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Charlie Brear | Bridal Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Jewellery: Zoe & Morgan | Floral Headpiece: One Flew Over | Grooms Suit: Sandro | Tie: Reiss | Venue: The Asylum | East Dulwich Tavern | Florist: One Flew Over | Flowers: New Covent Garden Market | Confetti: Shropshire Petals | Groomsmen Suits: John Lewis | Bridesmaid Dresses: Reiss | Cheese Tower: International Cheese Co.

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