It’s been a while since we shared a chic and contemporary city wedding on the blog but lovelies have we got a treat in store for you this morning. Rachael and Joe’s big day is the epitome of urban cool despite it taking place in the summer heat earlier this year.
There are dapper men in tailored suits, some of the photos of which are possibly my favourite ‘men getting ready’ photos ever to appear on the blog. There are also coral clad maids, a super simple and oh so elegant wedding dress and TWO pairs of wedding shoes.
Oh and there’s the epic walk down the streets of London and the short tube ride that Rachael and her maids took to the wedding ceremony at Swiss Church. I can only imagine that the anticipation of the journey and all of the well-wishers’ words of congratulations would have been truly immense.
And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there’s a Ceilidh dance organised by Joe’s parents no less. I so would have loved to have been a guest at this wedding.
Come on, let’s take a look.
Rachael The Bride: Our wedding took place at the Swiss Church in London on August 3rd 2013. We decided against a religious ceremony and instead chose a Humanist celebrant, which resulted in a ceremony which we feel was really and truly a reflection of us. Our celebrant, Rupert Morris was the most warm and creative writer who constructed a wonderful ceremony based on the many conversations we had with him in the process of preparing for the wedding.
We took the tube to the church and from the church to the reception. The reception was at the Tufnell Park Tavern pub which we chose for its informality and the team of Martin and Amanda were excellent to work with from the beginning. We are both real foodies and one of the most important things was for us to have amazing food that our friends and family would remember.
The dress! I loved trying on all the different styles available, but the number of beautiful and interesting styles out there became a real problem as I wanted lots of them and found myself quite confused in the end. I still have a David Fielden sample that I need to sell! Then I went back to my original, gut feeling, which was to buy a fantastic designer dress that I could wear again. When I found the Roksanda Ilincic ivory dress at Browns in Sloane Square, I knew it would be perfect.
I really struggled with the prospect of wearing a veil and I did look for a hair accessory but in the end decided against it.
Opals And Coral Shoes
I wore my engagement ring designed by Dorothy Hogg MBE; a friend of Joe’s family. A pair of earrings were bought from Whistles the evening before by Becky my bridesmaid as I’d forgotten about them, an opal ring that belonged to my late Grandmother and a bracelet which had been delivered to the hotel the afternoon before the wedding by Joe. It was from a designer called Samma and from the website Pour Porter. All of the jewellry I have worn since, and it reminds me of the wedding when I do.
I am a shoe person. I love them. But as a teacher I don’t get to wear the most interesting footwear on a day to day basis as I spend lots of time on my feet. So I bought two pairs, one for the ceremony and a second pair for the rest of the day.
The first pair were from Lauren Marinis, an Australian designer. Lauren was so kind when I emailed about UK stockists – because I couldn’t decide on the colour I wanted she offered to bring the shoes over to the UK and have them couriered to me whilst she was here in London on business. A very bizarre but fun experience on a drizzly Sunday.
The second pair were a pair of coral Alexander McQueen shoes that I bought not long after we got engaged and they pretty much determined all of the colour choices I made throughout the wedding. I just loved the pale coral colour.
I had my hair cut shorter about five months before the wedding and decided to go for simple waves on the day, after having an up do in my original trial. I never wear my hair up so it would have felt strange to do so on my wedding day. My make up stayed similar to what I would wear, using bronzes around my eyes but my lovely make up artist Kylie McMichael also added a coral lip which I adored and the (very well priced) Bubblegum lipstick from Miss Sporty has now become a staple of mine. I cannot speak highly enough about Kylie she was so accommodating and considerate, whilst also being a real witty addition to the proceedings in the morning!
Peonies And Flower Crowns
As we were in August we thought we would be too late for peonies and ranunculus, but due to the rain we were able to have some peonies which was lovely. However, we left a lot of the specific flower types up to Hattie Fox, the owner of That Flower Shop, as she is super creative and she had hit the nail on the head with the Pinterest board of colours which she set up after our initial meeting.
She completely understood what we wanted and was able to do something really alternative with what is a difficult space in the church; it being both traditional and starkly modern at the same time. Plus the dahlias and the colours. They were just amazing. She also supplied us with some loose flowers and wire which my bridesmaid Ella and I transformed into flower crowns on the morning of the wedding. A skill that was boozily honed on the hen do.
The flowers were transported from the ladder display in the church to the pub and the flowers were arranged in tiny jars and vases throughout the pub. We just wanted to add colour and life to the space really, and didn’t want to ruin the informality with huge centrepieces and organised displays.
Red Spots And Polka Dots
The bridesmaids’ dresses were one of many Etsy finds, and they were made to measure by a woman called Sheryll Raz in Tel Aviv. Her company is called Blush Fashion. Sheryll was another very helpful lady, who not only sent me three styles for the girls to try on and choose from along with fabric samples (they all wore a corally pink colour), but when one bridesmaid accidentally got her measurements slightly off Sheryll made a new dress, and allowed me to return the other one in double quick time! She was brilliant.
The girls wore a combination of Vivienne Westwood shoes and some other online buys. Their necklaces were a gift from me on the morning of the wedding and I bought them from Tiny Armour on Etsy.
The groomsmen all wore their own suit and a white shirt. We bought each of them a tie and a pocket square. The best men had paisley blue print ties with nautical print pocket squares. The ushers had blue ties with red spots and polka dot squares. The ties were from Zara and the pocket squares from T.M. Lewin.
A Saville Row Dandy
Joe decided straight away that getting married was a good reason to have a tailored suit made.
As a result he spent a lot of time researching tailors, fabrics and cuts, and eventually decided on a company based in Saville Row called Cad and the Dandy. We spent a very interesting afternoon in there discussing fabrics, and I was then sent away whilst Joe decided on cut with Michael Browne. His suit was beautifully cut and stitched, and is a piece I know he will treasure. He looked incredibly handsome, and I remember just being desperate to get to him as I walked down the aisle, the suit has to take some credit for that I think!
He bought a shirt from Banana Republic and his tie was by an American company called the Hill-Side and bought from Selvedge in Archway. His shoes were a pair of oxblood brogues from Barker on Jermyn Street. He also wore a Nomos Tangomat watch which was a wedding present from me on the morning of the wedding.
Craig And Kate
We met with several brilliant photographers whose work we had agreed we both liked before the wedding and I’m really glad we did. When we met Craig and Kate though we knew pretty much straight away as we simply felt that they were the kind of people we would hang out with in real life! They were interesting, funny and didn’t take themselves too seriously. And they were as enthusiastic about our controversial ideas for the wedding, such as travelling on the tube, where others had balked at the idea they saw the opportunity for some fun photos.
Our engagement shoot proved that we had made the right decision; we were basically able to have a fun day out in London, chatting away and getting to know them. By the time we made it to the bizarrely empty pub in which we met (a grungy late night pub called The Dolphin in Hackney) we felt really comfortable and they had managed to take some brilliant photos of a pair of rather camera-shy individuals.
Looking at the photos and our slideshow now it’s plain to us that we made the right choice. All of our friends have commented time after time on how wonderful the photos are and even the most manly of men have been brought to tears by the slideshow. Craig and Kate truly have a talent for capturing the unnoticed moments that create the narrative of a wedding day.
As I have already mentioned, we are big foodies but I used to run a food blog and cottage lemon curd business (niche, I know!). So I decided to go ahead and bake the wedding cake. It was a three tier carrot cake which although we left it unfrosted, included layers of cream cheese frosting, digestive biscuit crumbles and schmeared homemade cheesecake which kept it moist. We had planned to have pear and apple crumble layered cake and a chocolate and salt caramel layered cake, but we will be having those for our civil ceremony in November as we ran out of time before the August wedding!
We also had coffee cakes, chocolate cakes, some Victoria Sponges with homemade rhubarb curd (it had to appear somewhere!) and a Greek orange and honey cake made by both sets of mums.
Finally, I made a 10 inch cake with rainbow sprinkles and four layers of cake and frosting, that served as a birthday cake for my dad! Our MC Michael (a friend who is a music teacher and who has a wonderfully booming voice and wicked sense of humour) had everyone sing happy birthday to my dad before the speeches started, which was a really lovely moment.
Cake served as dessert and judging by the empty cake table, was a huge hit. I am not much for heavy, traditional fruit cake at a wedding (although I love it at Christmas) so we wanted something lighter, more fun and prettier! Since the wedding I’ve had a couple of friends ask me to create unfrosted layered cakes for their dessert tables and for parties, so I’ve decided to offer a selected number of dates for wedding cakes, beginning with a soft launch discount for Spring 2014 weddings which I’m really excited about!
The Red Hot Rockets
When we arrived at the pub we had a brilliant two-piece called The Red Hot Rockets playing rock n roll standards in the garden which worked wonders in getting everyone out into the sun and chatting with glasses of raspberry infused prosecco. They were really fun and they also looked seriously cool with their sunglasses and double bass!
We originally planned to have a Ceilidh as Joe’s parents had one at their wedding and we have been to lots of Ceilidh’s and Burn’s night suppers as a couple. As well as this we hoped for lots of unorganised dancing later in the evening and Joe’s brother’s band, The Zetland Players, were scheduled for the headline set! Eventually we realised that most Ceilidh bands wanted to do about 3 hours and we just didn’t have time, but luckily Joe’s parents came to the rescue.
As a group of teachers and career students (me, Joe, his brother, his mum and dad, lots of his friends) it didn’t seem ridiculous to imagine that with a bit of training, someone could learn to run the Ceilidh with some recorded music. So, off went Rita and Tim (Joe’s parents) to see some old friends one of whom is a caller and offered to teach them the tricks of the trade, in time for the wedding and over two days they came up with five dances for us. When it came to the day Tim was quite nervous, but it was wonderfully manic. All the teachers kept having to shush each other to listen and it all ended in a tangled whirl of limbs and Scottish music. It was perfect.
Love Is A Shelter
As readings we had Joe’s friend Lucie read from The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. This is a lovely children’s book which is quite philosophical and the central message of the section we chose ends by saying, “what is essential is invisible to the eye” which we felt was quite romantic.
My school friend Mark then read a poem we studied at school together by Carol Ann Duffy called Anne Hathaway about the relationship of Shakespeare and his wife. Bits of it are a bit risqué so I wonder who picked up on the “diving for pearls” reference! Finally our friend Jared read Presence of Love by Samuel Taylor Coleridge which is just deeply romantic and explains that love is a shelter and a safe place to reside.
We had the most wonderful Alexandra from Bijou Bride who coordinated our day and she was really fantastic. Plus she managed an unruly gang of lads in the morning who were our ushers and her decor assistants!
In the church we left it up to Hattie and her wonderfully creative team They came up with the ladders and little vases in the apse at the end of the church, and we had succulents in pots lining the aisle. We also had homemade orders of service in the church which we had edge painted in turquoise, magenta, coral and navy and covered in gold leaf to brighten up the seats. My mum and I spent a day on those which was an interesting experiment of how to get it right!
At the pub we used table runners painted by my mum, ribbons tied in all the trees and paper honeycomb balls strung up on the arbour at the back of the garden. Really simple things like tealights in jam jars also really helped to make the pub feel celebratory whilst also keeping it informal. Hattie’s flowers were also used throughout the pub.
Alexandra was truly indispensable in helping me organise this beforehand and in setting up on the day. She also set up the dessert table, the cakes were laid out on platters that belonged to my Grandmother and given height from old Grocer’s Manuals which had belonged to my Grandfather.
Try To Eat Lots Of Cake And Dance As Much As Possible
You can’t do everything! Unless organising the wedding is the only thing you are doing at that moment in time.
We had a wicked combination of jobs, part time masters work and essays, PhD applications and new job applications and interviews and then we were taking trips to New Covent Garden where I hoped that by process of osmosis I would suddenly be able to put flowers together and to tie bouquets!
So we delegated. Sometimes to family and friends and sometimes to wonderful, creative, experienced people like Hattie and Alexandra. This meant I was then able to focus on the things I really wanted to do such as design and make the invitations, trial and make the cakes and spend time sorting through things in my Grandmother’s house with my mum.
Without a doubt, throwing a great party that everyone really enjoyed was one of our top priorities.
We had a lot of random bits and pieces that made up the day and made it feel like our wedding and then we also had lots of fun and more traditional things that we’re pleased we did like have a Fuji Instax camera with our guest book and the numerous speeches that made everyone laugh and cry!
Essentially our advice would be to look at a traditional wedding, then have what you want and don’t have what you don’t want. Oh, and try to eat lots of cake, and dance as much as possible!
Venue – Tufnell Park Tavern Club
Gown – Lambton by Roksanda Ilincic
Boutique – Browns Bride
Florist – Hattie Fox at That Flower Shop
Make-up – Kylie McMichael
Maids – BLUSH Fashion
Bands – The Red Hot Rockets and The Zetland Players
Groom – Cad and the Dandy
Cakes – The Unfrosted Bakery
Wedding Co-ordinator – Alexandra at Bijou Bride
Photography – Craig + Kate Photography
Personally I think Rachael’s advice ‘to eat lots of cake, and dance as much as possible’ is not only relevant to weddings but to Life in general. There’s not much that can go wrong if you bear this mantra in mind.
Wouldn’t you agree?
All my love Lolly xxx