Inspiration

This has to be one of the loveliest rustic Winter weddings we've featured. A bold statement I know but you'll know exactly what I mean when you see everybody's beaming smiles. Although The Happenstance Bar in central London was the perfect modern restaurant to have their relaxed do, my absolute favourite part of this wedding is the portraits taken by Jessica Williams of our gorgeous couple at the ruins of a derelict church (now a gorgeous city garden in St Dunstan in the East). Firstly they look incredible in Justin Alexander and Marks and Spencer, and Olivia's bridal bouquet is something of dreams, but also how off the chart adorable are they giggling away. You just know they are SO in love and unbelievably happy, you can't help but smile with them and feel the love radiating from the page. Can we all just take a moment to swoon over Olivia's gorgeous mermaid locks too. Not jealous, not jealous at all.

The Dress

Olivia the Bride: My dress was a Justin Alexander gown from Daisy’s Bridal Couture. They were incredibly friendly and helpful as well as local to where my mum lives, so it was perfect. They have a select range and they give you free reign to pick out what you want. The reason we chose this dress was because it was fairly simply, and it was incredibly comfortable. It worked perfectly for a Winter wedding as the pearl and diamante centrepiece almost had a snowflake look, and it was so beautiful. As soon as I put it on, I was so comfortable, which was really important for me. They knew I really wanted some lace on the dress, so they very kindly added some Chantilly lace around the dresses centrepiece.

Bridal Accessories

My veil was also designed by Daisy’s Bridal Couture. They added Chantilly lace around the edge to match my dress. I also wore a hair pin that I had been given as a gift years ago from one of my favourite antiques/vintage shop just opposite Southfields Station, 243 Decorative Antiques. I had Pearl & Diamond Earrings from Swag Jewellers, Bentalls Centre, Kingston Upon Thames. Floating Pearl Necklace, Joulberry Bespoke Jewellery, Bridge Road, East Moslesey. My mum – Carry Read, chose both these pieces. She surprised me on the day with these. She knew I wanted to keep it simple and classy and both these pieces are just that. I love them! I had blue pumps from Zara. I wanted something a little different, and I thought something blue could be my shoes! I loved these from Zara, and I didn’t want to wear heels – I know, shocking! I’m already quite tall and I find them quite uncomfortable most of the time. As I mentioned earlier, comfort was key. What’s great is that I can wear these again and I think they worked so well with the dress. Just a bit of colour to liven things up!

The Venue

The ceremony took place at our Church, St Helen’s Church Bishopsgate in Central London. The reception took place at The Happenstance near St Paul’s. Finding the venue was one of the hardest jobs for us. Finding a location in central London that was close to our Church and wouldn’t completely blow our budget was tricky! My mum, who managed to sort so much out for our wedding was the one who discovered Will Breteau, the Social Butterfly for the Drake & Morgan Collection. Yes that’s his official title, the Social Butterfly! Having attended Church in central London, we had come across a couple of the restaurants nearby, and when we met Will he showed us The Happenstance, we signed for it there and then. It was perfect. It was a fun, open spaced and comfortable location and a little bit quirky, which was just what we wanted. Will was superb. He was so on it, and was so helpful with everything. We just loved meeting up with him for our food tasting and having him totally on board with whatever we wanted. The Food was probably the second most important part of the wedding (especially with Alex requiring Gluten Free options). So when we saw what menu options they had we were thrilled. It was SO yummy! We could give our guests some options to choose from, which we really wanted. For food, we had Chicken Satay Skewers in a peanut sauce or wild mushroom bruschetta to start, for mains we had three options, Butternut Squash Risotto (best risotto I’ve ever had), Steak & Chips (had to have a classic in there) and Thai Red Chicken Curry (something a little different). For dessert we had Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream or Winter Fruit Crumble. Every option was incredibly delicious.

Colour Scheme/Décor

We didn’t have a specific colour scheme in mind; we wanted everything to be fairly simple. We liked the rustic winter wedding look, but the reception venue we loved just as it is, so didn’t add to the décor there. Pinterest gave us some fun ideas, for example it helped me decide on flowers, the cake decorations as well as the idea to use a blackboard at the reception to have the table plan. Alex’s sisters very kindly and patiently sat and wrote out every single guests name on the board for us!

Flowers

Noelle Eyres was our florist. She attends St Helen’s herself and provides floral arrangements for weddings at the Church. She arranged all bouquets, the archway arrangement where we had the signing of the register as well as the flower arrangement along the chairs going up the aisle. Noelle immediately knew what I wanted, which was simple colours with a pop of dark purple in the anemonies, but a lot of green and rustic leafy bundles. She knew I wanted it to look as natural as possible. She basically just put it all together for me and it was perfect!

Cake

Darcy’s Delicious Cakes. We had to find somewhere that could make a Gluten Free Cake. This company was happy to create what we wanted without the Gluten Free aspect getting in the way! We wanted something simple, so three white tiers with some beautiful green leaves all around! We also wanted to go for a flavour we knew we’d love, and with Alex’s Cypriot roots, we had to go for a coffee & Walnut flavour. However, after all that, we didn’t even get a chance to have some. So disappointing. We were told it was really yummy though!

Wedding Party Fashion

The Bridesmaids were in full length royal blue/purple dresses from ASOS. They were each given a cashmere scarf/shawl from Anthropology (the softest scarves ever) to keep them warm. The Groomsmen wore blue suits with white shirt and blue ties from Debenhams Suit Hiring. Alex’s suit was from M&S, including the shoes. His tie was from Elys in Wimbledon. We wanted a tie that was a little different from the ushers, and this worked well with the colour scheme for the groomsmen and Bridesmaids. He also had a fun little touch with his cufflinks that had little bunny’s on them from Etsy. My nickname growing up was Bunny – I know, how cute.

The Ceremony

This was the most important part for Alex & I. Having both come to faith in Christ we wanted everyone attending to know and understand why we were getting married. It might seem like we are old school, but for us and for our families, we wanted all our guests to know that we were getting married for God. To serve him through our marriage. So this meant that we wanted the focus to be on explaining what it means to know God, and what it means to be married for him. We didn’t want anything to distract from this. Our minister was so helpful in making this clear throughout the service as well as in his sermon. We chose the passage 1 John 4:7-21, which talks about how God shows his love for us by sending his Son to take on our sin and how that should lead us to love him and shapes how we then love one another. We had so many of our church family doing the readings and praying for us in the service which was so special for both of us to have that support from our friends and family. We spent a lot of time choosing songs and hymns that reflect our faith in the Lord. A bunch of wonderful friends came together to make the band and miraculously pulled together on the day of the wedding to have their first proper rehearsal the morning of. I walked down the aisle to an absolutely beautiful song, Hippola by Sigur Ros. We also had my good friend/ex-housemate and one of Alex’s sister ‘s, Martha; sing ‘His eye is on the sparrow’ during the signing of the register. We wanted something fun for the recessional, so we chose Justin Timberlake & Michael Jackson’s ‘Love never felt so good’.

Stationery

We had both our invitations (inspired by Pinterest) and our orders of service supplied by Coombe Stationers in South West London. On both we had a very simple design of some Trees (Christmas trees, without the decorations) on the front. We kept it simple and we thought it was perfect for our winter wedding!

Entertainment

At first, Alex and I hadn’t really planned on having much, but it just so happened that one weekend whilst visiting some of Alex’s family in Bath, we came across the talented Joel Grainger busking, who plays violin, but with a twist, he’s a looper! He very kindly travelled down to London to perform after our reception meal, and was just exquisite. For dancing later on in the evening, we just got some of our friends and family to put a Spotify playlist together, which meant there was bound to be something for everyone!

Transport

We were fortunate enough to have a friend of ours (who actually runs the marriage course with his wife at our church, which we attended) to drive myself and my mum to the church in his old fashioned London cab. He also escorted Alex and I too and from our photograph locations and reception venue. The Bridesmaids had the exciting opportunity to get in a massive people carrier (as there was 7 of them)! A friend of ours drove the bridesmaids, which was great because it just meant that we were all very comfortable because everyone knew everyone!

Photographer

Jess Williams was an immediate choice for us. Jess and I met at St Helen’s whilst she was in her final year of Uni. She also has an exceptional eye for photography. Alex and I were keen to have someone we were comfortable with and would be taking the kind of shots we like. Beautiful lighting, natural and just getting every detail of the day. Jess was hired. Having Jess there made me feel so relaxed and it just meant I had a good friend apart of the day that knew what I wanted and me. When we went through the photos I cried, didn’t cry on the actual day but definitely had a good sob when I went through the photos. They just captured how happy the day was and everything looks so beautiful! She was on the ball the entire time and was so incredibly friendly and lovely to work with.

Final Thoughts

Everyone involved was either family or close friends, which just made the day that much better. And if they weren’t friends before, they definitely are friends now, as we just loved working with everyone. My bridesmaids were so helpful and all the groomsmen took on their duties and were brilliant. So many friends and family flew across the world to celebrate with us (Cyprus, South Africa, Australia, America, just to name a few). Carry (Olivia’s mum) took on a huge job, and no matter what it was she was always happy to help with whatever. Her support and ability to get everything sorted just meant that we didn’t have to worry about anything on the day! A special shout out to our families Henrietta, Mihalis, Anna & Martha Santamas, Carry Read, Ashtyn & Daniella Peach – sister of Bride) who patiently helped us prepare for the day, it was just so wonderful to have so much love and support during such a special time for us. They sat through complaining that planning was boring, that we left table plans last minute, we couldn’t find a place to live till about 2 weeks before the wedding and moaning that we just wanted to get married. Despite all the effort and complaining and some tears, the day just flew by and we forgot about all the hard ‘stuff’ beforehand. A really happy day!

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Justin Alexander | Bridal Boutique: Daisy's Bridal Couture | Bridal Shoes: Zara | Jewellery: Swag Jewellers | Joulberry Bespoke Jewellers | Venue: The Happenstance Bar | Florist: Eyres & Wood Flower Creations | Cake: Darcy's Delicious Treats | Stationery: Coombe Sationers | Entertainment: Joel Grainger | Grooms Suit: Marks and Spencer | Grooms Tie: Elys | Cufflinks: Etsy | Debenhams Formal Hire: Debenhams Formal Hire | Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS | Bridesmaids Coverups: Anthropologie

Inspirational articles you may also find useful