Joanna The Bride:
I felt pretty clueless when starting out in the wedding planning, it all felt a bit unfamiliar and overwhelming! But as a couple we knew we wanted something that was fun and personal, where we could feel ourselves.
Because we have a lot of friends and family, it was important to us that everyone could be there for the big day. Having a big guest list can make things pretty expensive so I was keen to keep the cost down on my dress and accessories! I got my dress from Wed2B
in South London, which is a bridal warehouse type shop. It’s great because you don’t have to book – you can just turn up and try on the dresses they have off the hanger. The dress I went for wasn’t at all what I expected (or what most of my friends expected either), but I ended up falling for it because it’s simple, fun and I loved its shape. What was also great was that their dresses are in a normal high street dress sizes so it fit pretty perfectly straight away (no need for a wedding diet, which is good as I have NO self control when it comes to food) and we could take it home that day for only £450. The only alteration needed was it being shortened which my mum and friend very kindly did for me. I got my jewellery with one of my bridesmaids at a Swarovski
stand in Stratford Westfields.
My shoes were an impulse purchase at Stansted airport (which nearly made me and my friends miss our flight, whoops) – I saw them in Dune
and loved them because they’re sparkly. I actually ended up with 3 dresses eventually – one for signing the register the day before (a white crop skater dress from eBay) and the other to change into to leave the wedding in (a short white dress also from eBay, accompanied by chunky silver sparkly trainers).
For Andy, he also didn’t want to spend loads of money on his outfit, so chose a midnight blue Kin suit from John Lewis
and then some brown shoes from Marks & Spencer
. Our overall colour scheme was navy blue and mustard yellow so we ordered some cool mustard ties and pocket squares for Andy and the ushers from a company called ‘No Drama’ on Etsy
The venue initially presented us with a bit of a challenge – it was important to us that we were able to create a close, warm and fun atmosphere but with a big guestlist. So initially most of the venues we were drawn to weren’t big enough, but then we came across Swan Wharf
in Hackney Wick and it was great.
It has a big capacity for guests and has three different rooms and an outside yard, so plenty of space for people to move around in. It has a cool shabby chic urban vibe and is versatile so you can transform it in whatever way you like (though this does require quite a bit of work).
Our wedding probably couldn’t have happened without our friend Frances who was our ‘creative director’ of the wedding and helped us create (and install) all the decorations for the big day. The colour scheme was navy blue and mustard yellow, with flashes of white and coral. Beyond that we had different themes for tables, which we then reflected in how we decorated the rest of the venue based on different things that me and Andy like, including the Beano (my mum made a load of Dennis the Menace bunting!), Tin Tin, Music, Blues Brothers, Books, Chelsea and Asterix & Obelix. We also put some giant garden games in the yard outside in the ‘chill out zone’ including Archery, Jenga, Hoopla and Connect 4.
Our main flowers were done by Kirsty Jean McIntyre
and they were gorgeous – I don’t know anything about flowers so she was really good at helping me decide what I want and what would match the wider style of the wedding. She talked me through different bouquet and buttonhole shapes and styles so we could make a decision on that, let her know our colours and then she took care of the rest. We were delighted with the result. Kirsty also made us some lovely bouquets as thank you presents for our mums and our designer Frances. We didn’t have table arrangements as we used different props to match the themes on the tables, but we hung and placed flowers in beer bottles around the venue. These flowers came from a farm near where I grew up called Sussex Flower Farm.
I don’t know how many hours I spent trawling the internet looking for dresses for my bridesmaids but I eventually found two designs that worked from Rare London and Yumi (House of Fraser
). They looked great on the girls and it was a big relief when I finally found them! Shoes wise I just gave them the colour specification of nude/dusty pink and then they wore their own. As a bridesmaid present I bought them a rose gold 4 stars necklace from notonthehighstreet.com, which they wore on the day. Rather than getting the groomsmen to hire or buy a suit for the day we got them to wear a suit they already had, as close to navy blue as they could manage.
The ceremony was really important to us – we are Christians and love music so wanted to reflect both these things through the service in a way that everyone could feel comfortable with. We tried to make it as personal as possible. We had 3 songs performed in the ceremony; one by my brother and cousins (a mash up of Kiss the Girl, Couldn’t Love You More and Boom Clap) – this was definitely my biggest tear-jerker moment! Then Rather Be by Clean Bandit and ‘Lord I Need You’ both performed by some of our close friends who I (Jo) often do music with. This was really special too as we’ve now almost all sung at each others’ weddings.
Our final ‘hymn’ was 100 Miles by the Proclaimers which was great fun and there was an impromptu reprise of this at the end of the night when me and Andy ran through a tunnel they’d made to wish us on our way. Another surprise musical came during the speeches when me and my band, Mockingbird Band, did a mash up for Andy of a load of his favourite songs, finishing on Three Lions – Football’s coming home.
Our main entertainment was our amazing band in the evening that was put together by our friend Joe Bunker
, who is a professional musician. It felt particularly special because the band was made up of some of my school friends who have gone on to be musicians, which was really nice to have them there and they were absolutely brilliant and everyone had a great time dancing the night away to their tunes.
We were really excited by our canapés and desserts as they were done by a social enterprise that is very close to our hearts and do the most amazing products. Luminary Bakery
is a social enterprise that gives opportunities to women in East London who are from vulnerable backgrounds to gain training and employment. We love the work they do and also LOVED the dessert table they made – with 5 large and beautiful cakes accompanied by salted caramel brownies and blondies. Luminary Bakery also provided the canapés of focaccia, mini-quiches and goats and caramelized onion tarts.
For our main course we wanted something fun, quick and easy so went for wood-fired pizza from The Mobile Pizzeria
. This worked really well with the venue as they set up outside and all they need is some power and their van, which doubles up as a wood-fire oven. It looks great for the guests to see and tasted delicious.
Pretty much everyone we’d spoken to in the run up to the wedding had advised us not to scrimp on the photographer as the photos are what you’ll have to remember the wedding by for the rest of your lives, so this was probably the aspect of the wedding we were most picky about. We found our photographer, Story + Colour
online and loved his style. He was great to work with both in the run up to the wedding and on the day itself and we were so happy with the end result. He captured the day perfectly.