Esha the Bride:
You don’t have to spend a total fortune (just a small one). Yes, it’s your big day, but it’s also everyone else’s day to join in on celebrating your relationship. Don’t be afraid to get people involved, ask favours (in lieu of presents - do you really need that Orla Kiely tea
set?) You’ll be humbled and amazed (we were) by how much good will there is towards people who are getting married, so harness that energy - get as many people as you can on board, feel the love, delegate. People seemed to thrive on getting stuck in and it really helped to bring the whole event to a crescendo, for everyone; kind of joint ownership of a kick-ass, community event.
Accompanied by pretty much every female relative I have (and there are loads of them) I tried on nearly every dress in Jay’s Bridal Boutique
, and fell in love with one that everyone referred to as “the princess dress”. Jay’s Bridal were brilliantly down to earth. They actually suggested that I buy the hoop and veil on eBay which I did and saved myself a fortune. The princess dress was not built for rug-cutting though, and seeing as my amazing sister runs a bespoke fashion label
I relied on her for an evening outfit. The brief was ‘Beyoncé meets Khaleesi (from Game of Thrones) and she nailed it.
Thom the Groom:
I’m a Yorkshireman at heart, so the idea of spending good money on clothes that I’d only wear once is utterly alien to me. This was the big excuse to get that tailored suit that
would last a lifetime. My friend recommended the sartorial ninja that is Bobby Garia
and I caught him for a chat and measure on one of his trips to the UK. The cloth, cut, fit and details were en pointe. It was under £600 for a top quality wool/cashmere, 3 piece with
two pairs of trousers - I won at suits! I picked great value, contrast colour, ties from Frederick Thomas
. The buttonholes were smashed by our neighbour, Jackie, with flowers supplied by Whittingtons
of Waltham Cross.
The pocket-silk was vintage and a present from our delicious officiator Neil Grainger. I shoe shopped from Church’s to Aldo and eventually picked a pair of Clarks’
(I know, right?) because they were the most comfortable pair of smart shoes I’ve ever worn and first dances don’t just dance themselves...
This was a tricky one but we were so chuffed with how Woolmer Green Village Hall
turned out. Neither of us are religious so a church was off limits. I (Thom) am an old hippy - nature is my cathedral but nature in October is a fickle wedding guest so we decided to book the biggest space we could afford and bring the outside in.
Early on, we read some advice about not trying to disguise the fact that your venue is a village hall and this was a godsend. The trick is to lean into it, and FAIRYLIGHTS - A TON OF THEM! We only had a few hours to put everything up, so most things were designed to be either hung from a beam or free-standing. Most of it was tree themed, including the actual tree we got married under, which is now in our garden. We had lots of twigs,
marshmallow trees for the kids and an "old man style" pub, The Green Man, complete with a sign, a bar (knocked up from old doors and a big bit of ply), vintage bar mats and personalised bar runners.
For the tables, Ayesha's amazing aunt sewed runners, to splash autumn colours everywhere. The centrepieces were pumpkins filled with flowers and we had multicoloured paper napkins. The placeholders on the tables were personalised glasses. These were 60p each from Ikea and decorated with chalk paint and sharpie. They doubled as wedding favours and saved us having to hire as many glasses. A favourite decoration was the giant T and E. Marquee letters were about £200 to hire, each, so we made these out of plywood, cork floorboards and giant sequins. They took 2 weeks of evening thumb-pain but they were really sparkly and therefore totally worth it.
Most of the flowers were done by my mum's incredible army of friends. We found the idea for the centrepieces on Pinterest and they just ran with it. The bridesmaids flowers were bought at The Range and cost £4 each. They now reside in our front room.
The Wedding Party
My sister is a ninja. She was my wedding style consultant and designed everything from the bridesmaids dresses
to the dogs' outfits. We loved the idea of giving my lovely bridesmaid (who are always cold) fluffy jumpers to wear so she designed the outfits around that with the skirts to reflect my own tulle bomb of a dress. She also made the mother of the bride's dress and included in the design the ribbon she put on my wedding dress which was a really nice touch. I made the bridesmaids headbands out of some ribbon I found at The Range, some "silk" autumn leaves I ordered from amazon and a glue gun. The little bridesmaid dresses were from Debenhams
. The dogs were our ring bearers so my sister insisted on making them their own outfits out of some 80s ties my dad was hoarding. It's possible we were all upstaged by the dogs. We're okay with this.
We see the ceremony is the whole point of a wedding; to stand up in front of the ones you love and declare your union. Thom reckons that a marriage is all about the couple but a wedding is about the guests. We wanted the ceremony to be a. Inclusive, b. Fun and c. Short. Don’t tell anyone...but we got legally married in a registry office, the week before the wedding (it’s cool, no-one reads this website, do they? ;) This not only saved us £750 (which meant more guests), it allowed us to make the ceremony whatever we pleased. We roped in our actor friend, Neil Grainger, and he DELIVERED! Neil set the tone by performing a specially bastardised version of Ice Ice Baby, Thom lowered it further by making a high-octane entrance (complete with attempted, mid-air, box splits) to the theme from 80s action tv show, Airwolf, and Esha brought the class by gliding in to a live version of Badly Drawn Boy’s The Shining, performed by our uber-talented friend Alfie Jefferies.
We had ours mums do beautiful readings. We did all the lovey-dovey stuff, dogs as ring-bearers, everyone had to sing Bill Withers Lean on Me (in lieu of a hymn), the vows included a promise from all the children present to look after us when we’re old, and then everyone had to sign as witnesses, on a massive marriage contract (hand-drawn by another silly clever friend, illustrator, Emma Levey - she also did our gorgeous stationary), whilst another friend, Paul Raj, brought the whole house to tears with a stunning rendition of Mirrorball by Elbow.
Finally, we funked and jived our way back down the aisle to Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly (of Course). It was ace. Although it was loads of work, we loved taking the bones of traditional wedding ceremonies and fleshing them out with whatever made us laugh, cry and sing with joy. Pretty much everyone said it was unlike any other wedding ceremony they’d ever attended and that’s a good thing...right?
Ayesha works at a music college so we cheekily borrowed all of the equipment for the PA and decks including stage lighting which makes a huge difference. We also somehow managed to get the college staff to perform as our evening entertainment. We both love music so we had a very long list of songs we wanted played which we shared amongst our band and 3 DJs. A highlight was the band doing a live version of the tequila song, complete with obligatory tequila shots.
Budget didn’t allow for canapés but we put out some nibbles to keep people going and made sure that the "starters" were on the table when people sat down. We were restricted on food choices because of the kitchen at the hall, so we had to go for things that could be kept warm on a portable burner ie. curries and stews. The main meal was amazing but the culinary highlight was the evening buffet. We had about 50 additional ‘dancing’ guests so we wanted to be able to feed them more and than just cake. We had an stunning array of cheeses, chutney (made by Thom's mum) and incredible sugar baked hams. People still talk about that ham...THAT HAM!
For cake we asked some of our favourite bakers (mothers and aunties) to bake us a selection. They were displayed on beautiful slabs of wood, from the University at which Esha studied and her aunt works. Three firkins of very fine ale were supplied by Tring Brewery
via The Beer Shop, St. Alban’s, the wine was booze-runned from France by Ayesha’s folks and we did free-flowing gin and rum cocktails.
We found our photographer online with a minimal amount of searching. She just popped up and I loved what I saw so we booked her. We know a lot of photographers but I HATE having my photo taken so I wanted to work with somebody who wasn't a close friend and I could have a professional relationship with. Sadly Alline from Beatrici Photography
is too wonderful to not fall in love with and we’ve basically adopted her as a full time friend. She captured us perfectly because she completely understood who we were and what we were about. I cannot recommend her highly enough. (Thom initially didn’t think we needed a photographer. Thom now freely admits that he was totally wrong. Thom agrees that Alline is the best.)