Eleanor the Bride:
As southeast London natives we had our hearts set on getting married locally. But after seeing a few venues we felt a bit limited, both by space – we both have quite large families and we needed something over the 120 mark – as well as by early curfews. A friend tipped us off to the Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf
, and our first visit completely floored us. The setting is stunning; it's right on the river across from the dome, among bright blue shipping containers and sculptures by local artists. The space is breath-taking, and it doesn't hurt that it's attached to the only lighthouse in London. When our guests arrived on the day they were as blown away as we were when we first saw it.
I am lucky enough to have a very close friend who has her own wedding dress making company Poppy Perspective
. Working with Phiney meant that we could design my dress together from scratch to create my dream dress. After deciding on a style we got a few fabric samples and found this incredible fringed material with subtle sequins, and I knew it was the one. It was so special to be involved in the design process, and make decisions on the details of the dress (or leave these to Phiney when I had no idea!) I can truly say that my dress is a one of a kind. The result was a real showstopper. At my final fitting there were a few tears from both of us, and I just couldn’t wait to see Raf’s face when he saw me walking down the aisle.
Another couple gave us some advice that stayed with us; the standard civil ceremony can be over very quickly, so it's worth thinking of ways to make it feel special and important. We spent a lot of time thinking about readings and music that felt meaningful for us. We also had a group of singers called the Oxford Clerks
singing before the ceremony and during the signing of the register, when they sang two beautiful arrangements of Beatles songs. Their version of 'And I Love Her' didn't leave a dry eye in the house. To finish off the ceremony we had a group singalong of Morecombe and Wise's 'Bring Me Sunshine'. We were a little worried that people might feel awkward about singing, but everyone got into it and had a blast.
Our venue was a dry hire so we needed a caterer who could not only provide the food and drink, but also take care of all the logistics. After a lot of looking we found Mimosa
, a local deli/caterer who were an absolute dream to work with. They thought of everything before we did, and were always available to answer any worries we had. The menu we went with was inspired by Israeli cuisine – lots of fresh salads, bbq skewers, flatbreads and dips, all served to share. The food was perfect, delicious and different without being overly heavy. We had lots of guests tell us it was the best they’d ever had at a wedding.
The Evening Entertainment
Raf is from a Jewish family, and though we didn’t have a religious wedding, he was dead set on two nods to that heritage: pickled cucumbers and a klezmer band. Klezmer is a style of Eastern European Jewish folk music, which is designed to get people up and swinging each other around at weddings. The band we booked is called Tantz
, and they fulfilled that brief perfectly.
The Flowers & Decor
We’d booked a week of appointments with florists, but the very first we saw was Freya (who runs Wild Abundance
), and we loved all her ideas so much that we immediately knew we wanted to work with her. She’s an installation artist, and approached the wedding from that perspective, working with the existing features of the venue to create stunning displays which fit perfectly with the space. She took all our ideas and ran with them; working with soft pinks, whites and greens to create everything.
We had a LOT of speeches – six in all. This was partly because we wanted lots of female voices, so we asked Raf’s mum and my sisters spoke as well as his best people and my dad. I also gave a speech, which I was quite nervous about doing, but I’m so glad I did. I got to tell our story and get across how much Raf means to me, and it seemed to go down well!
We came across Frances
through a friend of a friend, who had recently got married and put up some pictures on Facebook. We loved that at all the weddings she photographs Frances captures the special emotional moments. Frances also gives all of her clients a complementary ‘engagement shoot’ before the wedding, which meant we had a dry run and some lovely pictures in a setting special to us. Perfect for a wedding website!
Eleanor’s advice: be brave, and be you. Don’t waste too much time worrying about what other people might think; if you end up trying to please everyone the day won’t be uniquely yours. Also – practice your speech out loud.
Raf’s advice to grooms: get involved! Loads of the advice out there is predicated on the idea that women go mad over weddings, and men quietly tolerate it while contributing very little, but it aint necessarily so. I had an absolute blast working through all the details with El, and the day was extra special cos it had both of our tastes and ideas all over it.