Sarah the Bride:
Sam proposed out of the blue on Christmas morning 2015, outside the sweet shop that we used to meet at when we were teenagers. He had a ceramic Robin ring (as they are my favourite bird), and a promise to replace it with a diamond once he’d checked I liked the ring he had in mind (which I definitely did)!
We started looking at venues but knew we didn’t want anything too traditional and we wanted somewhere that already meant something to us both, which isn’t easy to find in central London with a guest list of 200 people... We had fallen in love with Wilton’s Music Hall
years before and had been to several concerts, gigs and events there, but they didn’t have any availability for 2016 as they don’t do many weddings and the dates book up quickly. We continued our search but quickly realized nothing would compare to it and the day we happened to be there for a history tour, they mentioned they had had a cancellation for a Saturday wedding in August so it felt like fate and we jumped at the chance, even though it left us about 6 months to plan everything! Luckily Wilton’s does a lot of the work itself so we decided to focus on the music which Wilton’s is so well adapted for and have a vintage Champagne Charlie theme for the invites and stationery in keeping with the history of the building.
I had bought Sam tickets to see a brass band at Wilton’s before he’d proposed and we thought it suited the venue so well and wanted something a bit different so the first thing we did was hire New York Brass Band
for our evening entertainment and they gpt everyone up dancing and really made the day. We also had a saxophonist and pianist playing on stage during the welcome drinks which helped set the mood, and had an amazing string quartet playing in the church so our love of music was well represented.
The second thing we booked was our photographer, Chris Barber
, who had photographed my cousins wedding which we’d both been really impressed with. We wanted someone who could do the venue justice and we knew the photographs would be so important to us as one of the only things you actually get to keep.
Finding a dress with less than 6 months until the wedding was a bit of a challenge but as soon as I walked into Catherine Deane
I knew I was in the right place, and their shop was just around the corner from the venue so it felt like it was meant to be. I went with lightweight, flowing separates as I wanted to be covered for the church service, feel comfortable all day without having to bustle up a dress and I wanted a different look for the evening (when I changed into a Gemy Maalouf
overlay top). I also didn’t want to spend money on a dress and not be able to wear it again and I actually ended up wearing my Catherine Deane body and lace top on honeymoon in Santorini with a different skirt!
My bridesmaid Lauren is a fashion stylist so we were really lucky that she helped advise on my dress, find the bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen’s finishing touches and tie everything together on the day as I felt everything suited both the church wedding and the vintage venue perfectly which wasn’t an easy task.
With Wilton’s being a dry hire venue, the organization involved in turning it into a successful wedding venue was significant, but both the Wilton’s staff and Marie-Laure at Easy Gourmet Catering
were fantastic. They helped set everything up so it looked perfect and made sure everything ran smoothly on the day, and the food and drinks were just what we wanted. We had a carved ham on the balcony instead of canapes, baked camembert (my favourite cheese) as a sharing started and then roast chicken for our main course which one person from each table was chosen to help carve. This was Marie’s idea and was a really nice touch as no one knew what they were being asked to leave the room for but all got into the spirit with aprons and chefs hats! We had another 50 people arrive for our evening reception which started with a free flowing cocktail hour so we chose a hearty buffet of brick lane bagels in the evening, and couldn’t decide between the tower of cheese that Sam wanted as our cake and the more traditional Konditor & Cook sponge cake I wanted so decided to go for both!
We were so lucky to be able to get married in Wilton’s, a venue that meant so much to us already, and I love the fact that we can visit in the future for events and that we are now part of its history too. I had wanted a winter wedding but the venue was the most important thing for us so had to go with the only date they had. I was petrified that we wouldn’t get everything sorted in time when we took the cancellation but in hindsight I think you will always use the time you have and I’m glad we had 6 months of stress and planning rather than a year or more. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the finer details but at the end of the day only the big things matter and actually the less time you have, the less chance there is to focus on the smaller things.
We were very lucky to have help from friends and family with the planning along the way which also helped keep costs down. My legendary cousin Neil did all our stationery designing which helped set the tone for the whole day, and my other lovely cousin Abby helped with the buttonholes and church flowers which I’ve since dried and displayed in our house as a reminder of the day!
Some of our family weren’t sure about the ‘alternative’ nature of the venue when we first showed them around but we knew it represented us and our love of London, music and history and in the end everyone was won over. It was such a happy day full of love and laughter and despite it ending up being one of the hottest days of the year, with no air con or outside space at Wilton’s, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. I think you have to accept that you can’t have control over everything and there are bound to be some hiccups along the way but all you will remember are the best bits. As I said in my toast at the wedding, the only thing that makes a fairytale is a happy ending - and we definitely got ours.