Suzy The Bride: I knew I wanted a vintage style dress as I wanted something different from the very white strapless dresses you often see. A friend at work suggested Elizabeth Avey’s boutique as she had found her wedding dress there. Elizabeth is amazing and the store specialises in vintage dresses, it has a real range of different styles from different eras. I almost walked out without finding anything when my mum spotted the dress just as we were leaving. Having already been a few different shops by this point and tried on quite a few dresses, I had sort of thought the magical feeling of knowing you had found ‘the one’ was a lie, but as soon as I put it on I knew I’d found it. It's an original 1950s dress, designed by Ronald Paterson whose archives you can visit at the V&A. As I’m so short it did need adjustments to the length, and I wanted to make the full length sleeves a little shorter to make it more modern. Satish Mal at Elite Alterations did all alterations, she was recommended by Elizabeth and specialises in altering wedding dresses. With the sleeves, length, and detail in the lace of the dress, I didn’t need many accessories. My something borrowed was my sisters Pandora bracelet with the charm she wore for her wedding on it. On my other wrist I wore a vintage pearl and marcasite bracelet found at Fidra in Brighton’s north lanes. I really wanted a veil, as it’s the only time you’ll ever get to wear one and I wanted to take full advantage of this! Elizabeth also stocks Joyce Jackson veils and the blush colouring of the full length one I chose fit the colouring of the dress perfectly, which also has a blush coloured tulle under the cream lace. My shoes, from Rachel Simpson, were also stocked at Elizabeth’s boutique, I knew I wanted blue shoes and the colour and style of these were perfect, they had a vintage feel and weren’t too high so I knew I’d be comfortable in them. I also wore a necklace by Tatty Devine in the evening; this was a gift from Andy that I found at my table place when we sat down to eat at The Peasant. I usually wear one of their name necklaces so loved this.
Andy the Groom: I wanted to achieve the classic ‘mod look’ for my suit, complete with tie clip, knitted tie, shortened trousers and loafer shoes. Finding a tailor that made genuine mod style clothing wasn’t easy, but the Victor Valentine tweed suit selection fitted the bill perfectly. After small alterations at Liberty the suite was ready to go. Trying to find a knitted tie in royal blue was also tricky, but I eventually stumbled on some in Sherry’s, a specialist mod clothing store in Carnaby Street. As the trousers were to be shortened, having socks to match the tie was also important to complete the look.
The Ceremony Venue
Some of Suzy’s happiest childhood memories are in Hampstead Heath and the surrounding area; and this has continued to be a favourite place for both of us and the area we now live in, so we always had in mind to get married somewhere around here. So as a basic starting point, we looked at the Camden Council website for places to get married in the area. The Hill Gardens and Pergola was listed, and when we visited there on our own for the first time, we couldn’t believe how special and unique it was. We wanted a small wedding (having only 50 guests for the ceremony and meal) and the pergola suited this perfectly, we could straight away picture how great it could be (providing it wasn’t raining!). What was even more satisfying was that people who had lived in London for years had never heard of the place, which gave it a secretive feel and made it seem more special and exclusive to us. The best thing about the venue was the uniqueness of the place, many people commented at the time and since how they had never seen anything like that before. The booking was made directly through City of London Council, it’s a public garden with different areas available to rent for weddings, and only a certain number of weddings can take place there each year. It’s a fairly new venue, and Yvette Hughes from the Council was full of helpful questions and advice in the run up, and set everything up for us on the day.
The Reception Venue
The reception venue was much harder to find. We knew we wanted the whole venue available to hire, and a traditional style pub with enough charm to match our special day. After what seemed like months trying to find the perfect place, we came across The Peasant in Clerkenwell, and were lucky enough that our wedding date was one of its last available two dates of the year! Nick Rouse at The Peasant suggested we went to view the venue just before a wedding party was due to arrive, so we were able to see just how special it could look. It had the relaxed traditional aspects we were looking for, but also the charm – with bunting, music posters on the wall, and a lovely bright room with large windows for dining. When we spoke to Nick on that first viewing he immediately came across somebody who knew exactly what he was doing, and what he could offer us, this put our minds at ease that we were in good hands.
The Decor & Styling
We didn’t want a really strict colour scheme, but as Andy supports Birmingham Football Club, we were keen to have royal blue feature. In terms of décor, we didn’t need to do too much to either venue. The Hill Gardens is beautiful enough without any additional help, the only thing we did was make some confetti cups out of paper doilies, and a friend made us some rose petal confetti. We brought some additional bunting and fairy lights to The Peasant, but other than that it also suited our tastes well just as it was. We did some other DIY touches, the tables were named after Birmingham players, so we made some cardboard football shirts as table numbers, and a table plan which matched this. We also made some activity leaflets to keep guests entertained at the tables while the food was arriving, they also ended up having fun with the scrabble letters and trays from their place names by swapping letters to make alternative words.
Our florist was Augustus Bloom, we wanted to find someone local to the area, and who did natural looking arrangements. We didn’t want a colour scheme with the flowers, but instead just loads of different bright flowers and colours which included sunflowers. Gus did this perfectly, and loads of the guests commented on how beautiful they were and how well the colours suited The Peasant. The flowers were one of my favourite things about the day; I’m still amazed at how beautiful they were when I look at pictures of them, and I dried and kept my bouquet which still makes me smile every time I look at it.
The Wedding Party
We wanted royal blue ties for the groomsmen and dresses for the bridesmaids and suit for the bridesman. I had two bridesmaids and one bridesman who wore a suit in a similar blue. The bridesmaid dresses were more difficult to find than my own dress! As the girls had different shapes, heights and styles, it was tricky finding something which suited them both and was the right colour. We eventually came across the dresses in Dorothy Perkins, they were quite plain but the perfect colour, we added some ribbon around the waist from John Lewis, and the girls were also able to customise them with accessories for them to suit their own style, as with everything with the day, I was keen things complimented each other but weren’t really matching. The best man and the groom’s father had matching grey suits and brown shoes, with the same royal blue knitted tie as the groom and bride’s brother.
We had two readings at the wedding – one by sister of the bride and the other by an old friend of the groom. Both readings were song lyrics from songs that mean a lot to both of us, by Elbow and Peter Doherty. A special, although nearly disastrous moment, was one of the witnesses being late to the ceremony. As the time to start got closer, there was no sign of him, then just as Suzy was about to begin her walk down the aisle, he arrived after being lost, much to everybody’s amusement. It meant the wedding party had something to joke about for the rest of the day, and was a moment nobody, especially him would forget.
At The Hill Gardens, Yvette provided some speakers we were able to plug a phone into and chose a spotify playlist to play. We used the same playlist whilst we were eating at the Peasant. For the party after the food, we hired the DJ Catfight - recommended by the venue. He was kind enough to meet us in person before the day so we could discuss song choices which was good, as he wasn’t a stranger on the day. We wanted an indie disco theme for the music with none of the traditional cheesy wedding stuff, and he did not disappoint. All of his choices were excellent, and even left his decks to come and have a dance with you and the guests for some songs – which was brilliant fun!
The transport from the ceremony to the reception was also great entertainment for everybody. Hiring a retro London bus may not be the most original idea, but everybody loved it, and it is such a nice way of keeping everybody together. The guys from Traditional Travel were great too – they even made a detour to pick up an elderly guest struggling with the walk to bus from the ceremony. The driver also carried Suzy’s dress train from the bus to the reception, was raised lots of smiles and made for some great photos.
For the ceremony we ordered some simple cakes and canapés from Marks & Spencer. We wanted some food after the ceremony as having been to other weddings, we knew this is always the bit you start to get hungry! We also had prosecco and beers for the guests. A real strong point for The Peasant was the ability for all guests to order their food on the day, and them then freshly preparing it to such a high standard. As we wanted Pimm’s on arrival, they even arranged with the groomsmen to phone before we arrived so the drinks would be made fresh. We were able to offer three choices for each course: squid, pork belly or goat’s cheese to start; Sea bream, lamb or butternut chilli as mains; and banana & pecan or chocolate tart or tiramisu. We also had evening food; simple but tasty things like bacon or fish finger sandwiches, pizza and chips. The cake was ordered from Crumbs and Doilies, who have a store in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street. It was two delicious tiers, the top, Raspberry Ripple and the bottom Raspberry Chocolate. Suzy made our cake topper out of wooden peg dolls, we wanted a bride and groom topper that reflected us, particularly our height difference, and couldn’t find many affordable choices.
We always knew we wanted a photographer who would be able to capture the moments that a more traditional wedding photographer wouldn’t think about getting. We wanted less staged and more spontaneous images, and a work friend recommended Mary-Anne to Suzy. We were so happy that she did. We were so pleased by not only the quality of her work, but also her approach to her work and how well she was able to feel a part of our wedding. We would recommend her to anybody we ever knew getting married, she was as perfect as you could wish for.
Firstly, record the speeches! Even if you don’t have a wedding videographer, make an effort to record the speeches. Even if it is a phone on the table with a microphone, the speeches will always be unique, and it is so important to have a record of them. Secondly, when planning, do lots of research get lots of ideas – but make sure the wedding is your own. Aim to get as many elements of your day that are unique to you as possible, those are the parts you will remember the most.