Sian the Bride:
I started off doing the typical bride thing by spending far too much time on Pinterest
and ages trawling round wedding fairs (with a pretty overexcited mum and sister/maid of honour) but just found the whole thing far too stressful; especially as the styles that I thought I wanted didn’t actually suit me very well at all!
In the end my mum booked an appointment with Nell A’More
, a boutique bridal shop in the village where I grew up (and my parents still live), and everything just fell into place as it was such a relaxing environment, and the girls at the shop were super helpful, knowledgeable and just generally all round lovely. I ended up going for an ivory halter-neck lace tulle dress in a fishtail style (Sophia from the Nicki Flynn range) with embellishments and lots of bling and beading; it was quite a complicated dress (with 8 layers!) and we therefore used a local seamstress, Louisa Ruthven, to do the alterations. Louisa was recommended by Nell A’More and had previously specialised in costume design, including work for the Royal Opera House, so I knew the job was in good hands!
My grandma (Dad’s mum) had kindly offered to pay for the dress, but at 90 years old we sadly knew from the time that we started to plan the wedding that she wouldn’t be able travel to London. The girls at Nell A’More helped arrange a special fitting so that my grandma could see me wearing my chosen dress - which ended in a big teary 'dress moment’ in which we knew we’d found the one!
Having previously been part of wedding parties where Joe's hired suit trousers were a good foot too long, we knew that for our wedding we’d have to buy the suits. We made good use of Topman's
personal shopper service to choose and tailor the skinny suits, and we decided to keep things clean and simple with white pure cotton slim-fit shirts and brown brogues. Joe and his groomsmen had a great day out suit shopping, not least because Topman provided pizza and beer free of charge (which we’d totally recommend to any grooms-to-be!) The groomsmen had grey ties (a surprise find in BHS), while Joe had a grey tweed bowtie from Jack Wills
. Joe is a graphic designer and he also designed and commissioned a custom fabric in a stag print, which his mum Julie made into pocket squares for all his stags, which we thought was a really cute touch and tied all his boys together.
We knew finding amazing venues in central London would be a challenge, but we had our heart set on city wedding as we knew that, unless we got married in the city in which we decided to set up home, anything else just wouldn’t feel ‘us'. When Joe first moved to London in 2010 he lived a short walk from the Union Chapel
in Islington, and Sian had also worked on a church conservation project there. We had both also been to the chapel together before for gigs and agreed it was one of our favourite spaces for to see bands as it was such a beautiful and atmospheric space. We were also really keen to have a church wedding, so when we found out we were able to get married there, that sealed the deal! The Dead Dolls House
was very close by (a convenient 4 minute walk for wedding guests) and was an amazing quirky space with pretty black and white hand-drawings all over the walls, and 3 separate floors, which gave us the added bonus of separate rooms. That allowed us to have the boozy party we wanted, while allowing quieter spaces for older relatives and friends with young children to chill out and still have a great time.
Karen, the minister at the Union Chapel, was really great and met with us several times to help us pull together the service that we wanted. Our friend, Daisy gave a reading from The Velveteen Rabbit and Joe’s mum, Julie, gave a scripture reading. The chapel’s organist, Kerst, spent ages learning our favourite songs on the organ and played them as intro music while guests arrived. The whole ceremony really felt unique and personal to us.
We had recently bought a place in Walthamstow, north London, so in keeping with the casual vibe, Joe decided to get ready with his groomsmen (dad and 2 best men) and niece at our flat and then get the tube to the chapel. We had arranged for a vintage white London taxi to collect me and my dad from the hotel in which I was staying with both of our families and then take Joe and I to our wedding hotel at the end of the night. London Wedding Taxis
were great and super accommodating when we ended up staying a bit later than planned in the evening for drinks and dancing! We would definitely recommend them.
Joe hates strong colours – he’s definitely been referred as Groomzilla on several occasions...and so we kept things really simple – peach, olive greens and whites to compliment the bride and bridesmaid’s dresses. As both venues were so beautiful and full of character, we knew we didn’t need to decorate much. I had previously considered doing the flowers myself but I’m so glad I didn’t as I’m a complete amateur and Jenn did an absolutely amazing job. We originally found her through her Instagram account
(previously as Brixton Flower Club) and from the first meeting through to finish she was so helpful and really assisted us in refining our ideas. We gave her a pretty vague brief (apart from Joe’s colour rule!) and she absolutely nailed it, keeping it soft and pretty and spring-like with lots of flowering bulbs.
In terms of decor, we wanted to keep it stylish and pretty but also casual and fun, and as our wedding was on the day of the Grand National, we had mini plastic horses for table settings each with a guest’s name attached to it. The winner was treated to a bottle of bubbly on us! Joe designed the ‘Save The Dates’ and wedding invitations by hand, as well as the seating plan and other wedding stationery and we had chosen a simple black and white theme (in a similar style to the drawings in The Dolls House).
The Wedding Party
My sister, Hannah was my maid of honour and having the natural ability to look stunning in anything, we found her dress really easily - a peach slim fitting high-necked dress, again from the Nicki Flynn range at Nell A’More. Joe’s niece, Zarah, was an adorable flower girl and for her we picked an ivory party dress from Monsoon
, paired with a cute white cardigan and a floral headpiece made of baby’s breath. Hannah and I wore matching strappy rose-gold sandals from Accessorize
which had peach and diamante jewel detailing. My mum lent me a gold bracelet for the day which had previously belonged to her mum, my grandma, and this was my ‘something old.’
We put a lot of time and research into finding a wedding band as it was really important to us. Our wedding band Chartz
provided the music when the downstairs bar turned into a dance floor in the evening. They really delivered and everyone commented on how amazing they were; we would highly recommend them!
After lots of back and forth, we took the plunge and decided to go for beer pong on the second floor of the house (which went down a storm!), along with an espresso martini bar and DIY photo booth with a polaroid camera. We also used our favourite records (one that reminded me of Joe and vice versa) as guestbooks.
The Dead Doll’s House did all the catering in-house and it was absolutely flawless. Our guests arrived to cocktails, prosecco and canapes and after the speeches in the downstairs bar, everyone split into three dining rooms upstairs where food was brought to the table on giant sharing platters, which meant everyone got to try a bit of everything. We also had sliders and fries in the evening (to soak up some of the cocktails!) as well as a pork pie and cheese wheel cake accompanied by crackers and chutney, which was provided by Luke at Brompton Food Market
. The events manager at The Dolls House, Arianne, was superb and had many meetings and tasting sessions with us to make sure we were happy with everything.
Photography was supplied by Jess Soper
who was recommended to us by a friend. We met for the first time for a cup of tea in a tearoom back in Essex and she was so lovely, smiley and genuine, we knew straight away that she’d do a great job. She was such a professional - always in the right place at the right time, but never intrusive - and was a pleasure to have around all day, helping to create a casual, relaxed environment with lots of laughter. We really wanted some candid, natural shots of everyone enjoying themselves and she did not disappoint - Joe and I both hate being photographed and the images are better than we could ever have hoped for!