Erica and Matthew had originally envisaged having a rural barn type wedding. But I have to be honest with you for a moment, I’m really glad they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rustic affair, but I love it even more when I’m introduced to a new venue, in a new part of town, one that I’ve never heard of before.
That’s exactly what Trinity Buoy Wharf is to me. It is a compete blank canvas. Essentially an old warehouse with nothing but a lighting rig, electricity and water supply. That’s right folks, not even a toilet!
The ceremony took place at Islington Town Hall and they hired a couple of Routemasters to carriage their guests from there to Trinity Buoy Wharf.
Here is the rest of their story…
A BLank Canvas
Erica The Bride: Though we were both probably naturally drawn to a rural barn type wedding, finding The Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London changed all that. Not only is it an amazing space and situation but having it in London, not too far from where we live and a place where there are plenty of options for accommodation seemed to make a lot of sense. The Chainstore is basically a big empty Victorian industrial building with London’s only lighthouse on the end, right on the side of the Thames, looking across the river to the dome. It’s used mainly as a general arts space for exhibitions and performances but it gave us the completely blank canvas we were looking for, plus the bonus of a 2am kicking out time. No toilets, no furniture – just a big rectangular space with electricity, water supply and a very nice lighting rig. We knew from the moment we first saw it that it would make an amazing location for our party. It’s a really attractive place and the other buildings on site are amazing – an American diner, ‘Container City’ and other lovely old wharf buildings – great for photos!
We hired a couple of old Routemasters to take us from here down to The Chainstore from Islington Town Hall. The journey was a nice breather from all the action and really was the best way to ship a load of people across London.
A Tomboy Bride
I was lucky enough to be able to call on the talents of two very special people to transform me from a bit of a tomboy into a bride. My sister Amy runs a beauty salon up home in Yorkshire so I was in safe hands in terms of make-up. Amy obligingly kept things quite simple and natural, and luckily the eyeliner and mascara even stayed in place through my tears during the ceremony – well done Estee-Lauder Doublewear! My good friend Naomi did my hair. It’s naturally quite curly so I wanted to make the most of this. Naomi simply pinned it up, tackled my wayward fringe and popped in a few sprigs of fresh waxflower.
I found my dress in Morgan Davies in Islington. It is the ‘Zambra’ dress made by Novia D’Art with a few simple alterations. I had spotted it in their window before my appointment and thought that the lace bodice and the deep V in the back were beautiful but I wasn’t as keen on the skirt. The brilliantly helpful Annalize reassured me that we could get it simplified, which sealed the deal. I’d been to quite a few places before I found ‘the one’ and enjoyed trying on lots of different styles but it always felt a bit like I was dressing up in someone else’s clothes. As soon as I put my chosen dress on it instantly felt right and I suppose the fact that it made my mum cry was a pretty good sign! The whole experience at Morgan Davies was great – their lovely staff made it very special not only for me but for my mum and sister too.
My shoes were a real treat and something that I will definitely wear again. They were handmade by Emmy Shoes in Islington and were easily the most comfortable I have ever worn. I’m normally much more at home in flats but I thought that heels would work better with the length of my dress. Before I even looked for the dress I knew that I wanted to wear coloured shoes and when Emmy suggested the Poppy style in watermelon I was smitten. I don’t really wear much jewellery so I kept things simple with a bracelet made of tiny pearls and a few fresh flowers in my hair.
Rich And Vibrant
We had such fun putting together all the different decorations for the reception and it was a really lovely way to include the talents of some special people. We didn’t have a strict colour scheme – we just wanted the decorations to be rich and vibrant to create maximum impact against the lovely white brickwork and exposed beams inside the Chainstore. Initially it was quite daunting trying to think of a way to make such a large, industrial space feel warm and intimate but a few fairy lights, hundreds of metres of home-sewn bunting, and a hundred or so large paper pompoms soon did the trick! A particular highlight was the knitted bunting that my yarn-bombing Granny made for us…something vey special that we will keep forever.
On a chance visit to Libertys I came across a small display of origami cranes in the haberdashery department and loved them. Several months and some sore fingers later we had ourselves seven hundred birds to hang around the room. It’s fair to say they were a bit of a labour of love but the results were well worth all the hours spent folding and hanging. With so much space to fill we wanted to create a comfortable lounge area. With the cost of hiring furniture being prohibitively expensive, we decided to hire a storage unit near the venue and then collect second hand sofas and chairs from eBay. We had initially planned to sell it all on after the wedding but we loved several of the pieces so much that they are now proudly sitting in our living room – a lasting reminder of a wonderful day! To give the caterers a space to store all the ugly, functional stuff that they needed, we made enormous folding fabric screens using handmade wooden frames, hinges and some cheapo fabric from Walthamstow market. Even though we were the ones who had imagined and created the look, it still took our breath away when we walked into the space after the ceremony.
My bouquet and the bridesmaid’s bouquet were made up by the brilliant Flowers N16 on Church Street, Stoke Newington. I wanted them to look relaxed and informal so I chose a mixture of favourites including anemones, ranunculus, dahlias, English roses, astilbe and nerines. They also made up the button holes using a mixture of Billy Balls and waxflower.
My mum was responsible for all the reception flowers and we were so thrilled with what she did. We enlisted the help of family and friends in collecting hundreds of glass jars for the table centres and mum filled them with a colourful mix of more of my favourite flowers. She used big, scruffy garden roses from David Austin and colourful anemones, ranunculus, clematis and Billy Balls. She even made a stop off on her drive down to London to collect buckets full of dahlias, snapdragons, hydrangeas and herbs fresh from the beautiful cutting garden at Catkin, Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire.
Intimate And Intense
One of the loveliest things about the Council Chamber at Islington Town Hall is that it is circular so all our family and friends were surrounding us as we said ‘I do’. We kind of struggled to find the right reading. We didn’t want anything too mushy nor anything that could sound overly pretentious and obviously it was important that we both liked and understood it! We settled on Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Hour’ and asked my oldest friend to read it. It was short but lovely and it felt really special not just because of the poem itself but to have included a very good friend in the ceremony. We didn’t have any live music in the ceremony but I came in to a piece called ‘The Gallant Weaver’ by James MacMillan, we had M Ward’s version of ‘Let’s Dance’ during the signing of the register and left to Vetiver’s version of ‘The Swimming Song’. I’m not sure how much people actually listened to the music during the ceremony but we were really happy with our choices and it was nice to share them with our nearest and dearest.
Music was always going to be a fairly big part of the day (as a couple of musicians) and we were sure from the off that we could cobble together a band from family and friends for later on at the reception. But for the afternoon we hired the Gold Diggers – a New Orleans-style brass band who play popular covers – and our opera singer friend Katie sang a beautiful song by Faure just before dinner. We had spent a long time putting together playlists for throughout the different parts of the day so there was always something on in the background between the live music.
After dinner the band made up of Matthew, his best man/brother and a few friends provided the backing for several people to get up and have a go at singing, including my sister, Matthew’s sister, and of course, there was me! It was such good fun and some of the best pictures and nicest memories come from this part. Unusually I suppose, we didn’t have a first dance – Matthew was playing in the band and I was leaping around with friends so that avoided the potential awkwardness and we were both happy with that (Matthew was particularly relieved). Later on in the night two friends DJ’d taking the party into the wee small hours.
We found our caterers Handmade Food by doing a google map search for outside catering within a few miles of Trinity Buoy Wharf. As soon as we walked into their relaxed Blackheath Deli we knew we’d struck gold and a couple of homemade sausage rolls and bacon sarnies sealed the deal! The team at Handmade Food were brilliantly helpful and friendly from our very first email. With so much delicious seasonal British fare on offer it was tricky for us to come to a decision about exactly what we wanted to serve our guests but we eventually decided on what they described as a ‘rolling feast’ – a seemingly never-ending parade of big dishes to share, from salads and homemade breads to terrines and wild mushroom risotto cakes, finishing with the most delicious beef stifado (plus a cheeky tiramisu for pud!).
It was potentially disastrous but one of the culinary highlights of the day was an 80 pint batch of homebrew that Matthew and friends had concocted in our cellar two months before the big day. In keeping with the homemade feel of the wedding, we hand stamped small luggage labels for each of the beer bottles. Needless to say, the free beer didn’t last long, and those brave enough to try it even lived to tell the tale!
Our invitations and tableplan were designed by the lovely Anja at Anja Jane and Coffee at Wood Street indoor market in Walthamstow. Anja was a real pleasure to work with. We went to her with a few vague ideas about how we would like our invitations to feature some bunting, flowers and some element of Trinity Buoy Wharf. All we had to do was email her a photo of the venue and she came up with the lovely design, which also featured on our tableplan. We loved the results so much that we ordered a larger print of the image from the invitation to frame as a keepsake. We hand stamped all the place names and I made little flags using scraps of patterned paper and fabric for the table numbers.
• Take a few minutes away as a couple during the party to take in what’s actually happening. Having all your favourite people in one space isn’t something that happens very often.
• We know it’s not always for everyone but we absolutely loved having lots of small children at our wedding. Watching them bust some moves on the dancefloor was a real highlight!
• Get a great photographer. We struck gold with Nick Tucker who not only took amazing photos but was a real treat to have around on the day.
• Even if you don’t fancy doing everything DIY, have a go at making some part of it yourself. We found it amazingly satisfying!
Did you actually see the flowers on the tables?
And what an epic party.
The attention to detail in this wedding is completely awesome. Did you also actually see the seating area Erica and Matthew created? A few sofas and some plants and you’re transported to a comfortable living room. This is why I LOVE a blank canvas. They thoroughly made the space their very own. So unique and so…them.
Absolutely epic* day and I hope it has filled you with inspiration and the courage to perhaps seek out a similar blank canvas for your day.
I’m off to master the art of Origami Crane making.
*I am aware that I have used the word epic twice in this very short space. But it’s true. Totally epic.