We’ve shared some gorgeous weddings with bright colour schemes this week – and this afternoon’s marquee reception follows a similar vein. It’s not often you see a palette of red, white and blue, but it works beautifully. Helena has kept it from looking Wintery or Patriotic by throwing in lots of different shades of red, from soft pinks to corals and using gorgeous blue glass to lift the table settings. The wild, meadow picked blooms also soften everything and the whole effect is just lovely.
There are lots of genius DIY ideas to borrow too, the pin board table plan is very sweet and the photo booth with a hanging ribbon back drop is pretty awesome too! The couple were lucky enough to hold their reception at Simon’s family home, which meant guests could crash after the party in gorgeous bell tents. If you like this wedding, make sure you check out Jess & Sam’s wedding and Kate & Jack’s wedding featured earlier in the week, which had similar laid back festival style vibes. And the relaxed and fun photography comes from Dorset wedding photographer Paul Underhill.
There’s something utterly chic about a groom in a tux.
It’s not a sight we see much of at the moment with most menfolk either opting for Morning suits or for super swish modern day attire and personally I think it’s a bit of a shame for a man clad in black tie always makes me go a bit weak at the knees.
Adrian almost gives the lovely Amy a run for her money with his Dries Van Noten tux and shiny dress shoes and colour pop pink hydrangea buttonhole. I said almost because Amy is most definitely hot to trot in not one but two completely gorgeous bridal frocks and EPIC accessories. Just wait until you see her shoes.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Amy and Adrian’s wedding though is that every single guest ‘married’ the couple. Yep you heard right, their best man printed the vows the pair had written onto flash cards so that their guests could read them out in unison for the couple to then repeat back to them.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bride with as perfect skin as Lizzie has.
I mean you’ve got to see it to believe it folks…proof that it’s worth investing in the very best of beauty products in the run-up to the big day. Blimey, it’s no wonder that Sam looks as proud as punch to be marrying his girl with a complexion like that.
And no, I can’t stop there.
Just wait until you see the maids. Contemporary and gorgeous, I love how Lizzie wasn’t afraid to dress her best girls in the softest of ivories to make a real style statement.
But it was Lizzie’s heartfelt sobs as she walked down the aisle that gave me a lump in my throat. I so completely get that…all that emotion can be a difficult to contain. Just a little heads up for you there girls.
Oh and I forgot to mention…HOT groom alert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. So much passion smoulders throughout these photos that I’m afraid that my laptop is about to catch fire.
Best crack on then.
Lizzie The Bride: After looking for 6 months we found Maunsel House in Somerset. It’s near to Glastonbury, where we got engaged, and we fell in love with it straight away. The house is quirky, lived in, eccentric and has its own pub! There were no ‘rules’ or limitations and this allowed for us to really feel like it was our home for the weekend. The house is exceptional whilst being cosy and relaxed at the same time – a perfect venue for us.
Make-up wise it was important to me not to look dramatically different on my wedding day. I usually wear natural make up and nothing heavy, so I did my own on the day. However, I prepped! I invested in Kiehls products for months before so my skin looked its best.
My dress was from the Decades Collection at The Vintage Wedding Dress Company. For me, it was a risky choice due to its simplicity but it was my goal to be able to pull off a dress like that! I’m a fan of fuss free, classic styling and this dress is remarkable in its simplicity. Sam’s suit was from Sandro and his shirt and tie were from Mr Start Shoreditch.
I wore cream & gold Rachel Simpson shoes, matching the satin of my dress and they were the perfect height to be worn all day and night – sooo comfy! I found these at Fur Coat No Knickers where I also got the vintage brooch I used in my hair. As I was not having a veil I wanted a bit of sparkle in my hair as the finishing touch. The pearl bracelet belonged to a close friend who passed away two years ago; it was so special to have this as my ‘something borrowed’.
Subtle Romantic Tones
I had four bridesmaids all in white. I prefer subtle, romantic tones and grew to love the idea of us all standing out in white. The house is so ‘busy’ looking I thought it would be a nice balance for us to look natural.
Because we had so many ushers I felt strongly that we didn’t try and fit them all into one style of suit as they are all such different people, I wanted them to be comfortable on the day in their own choice of attire, I don’t like enforced ‘theming’ plus – anything goes at Maunsel!
The great thing about Maunsel is that its busy, fascinating backdrop provided the ‘décor’. Our name places where individually framed photos of everyone attending. If there was any ‘theme’ it was the use of coloured threads that we had used creating the text for our wedding website.
Our meeting with the lovely Dinah at Inspiration Wedding Flowers was very quick as, judging by her portfolio, I knew she would nail the brief. I liked the idea of gentle pale tones and it was important to include aromatic herbs and wispy Gypsophilia.
People say the aisle bit goes by in a blur but I have a very clear memory (mainly of me crying my way down!). Pulp’s ‘Something Changed’ was our reading as we felt it relevant for such a life altering moment. I’d always had an image of being surrounded by lots of candles when saying my vows and my wonderful mum had been out to car boot sales for months beforehand picking up little clear tea light holders – we had them lining every surface.
Crazy In Love
We stumbled upon Billy & Martine in a small pub in Totnes and adored their folk inspired cover versions of classic pop songs. I immediately knew I wanted them at my wedding (this was two years before Sam proposed). The two of them played during canapés and their bigger outfit played later. They made the party!
They played our first dance – The Cure, Close To Me and my highlight was Martine’s Jay Z Rap during their version of Crazy In Love.
We had tiers of cheese as our wedding cake which was later brought out with chutneys and crackers during the late night Hog Roast. We got it from the lovely Ticklemore Street Cheese Shop in Totnes, Devon, for local produce. We also had sweets in jars, which we had put in people’s bedrooms too.
Inspired By Us
Sam is a Graphic Designer so all our stationery was designed by us. We made the lettering for our website, which was inspired by the typographer Erik Spiekermann, and used the thread idea on invitations, tying up the order of service and hanging the table plan etc. All stationary was screen printed at BobEightPop.
When Sam proposed I made a promise to myself to remember what’s at the heart of all this wedding madness and that kept me chilled throughout. It’s all supposed to be fun! I recommend doing as much DIY as possible as that’s what guests commented on – how our personalities were really reflected in little touches here and there.
Exercise! Not only does it help with getting in the dress but it kept me happy and peaceful.
Yes, today we are in the capital city and we are venturing south of the river. Carla and Neil married at the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich.
Loads of really cool D.I.Y for you folks today. Carla made all of the bouquets from vintage brooches and buttons and the place settings that doubled as favours are a music lovers dream. I also love the idea of having video cameras set up on each table to record guest messages as an alternative to a guest book.
We’d been back together for just 18 months when Neil proposed by whisking me off to Rome for a surprise weekend away (we’ve known each other since we were 11 having gone to school together and had been an ‘on and off’ couple since first getting together aged 19).
Having both lived in London for the last ten years we knew we wanted to get married here. We chose the Trafalgar Tavern as it is a stunning building and it could fit our guest list of 150 people. We chose to get married on a Friday so that we would be able to spend the rest of the weekend with our guests, many of which had travelled a long way to be with us. The following day we invited everyone that could make it to join us again for lunch and drinks at the Bar Du Musee, also in Greenwich.
Fur Coat No Knickers
My dress was original, late 1950s found at the adorable Fur Coat No Knickers. I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted, other than I wanted it to be short. Once I started to think about it and did some research, I had my heart set on an original 50s dress. I tend to go for 50s style anyway and when my bridesmaid suggested we go to FCNK I was worried that I would fall in love with these original dresses and not be able to fit in them. Some of the people I contacted (vintage dealers and online boutiques) had suggested that at a size 12-14 it would be very difficult to find an original 50s dress to fit me. I needn’t have worried though, Emma and Laura at FCNK are like amazing, wedding-frock elves. They immediately told me that what I had been told was nonsense and that they found original dresses for women of all sizes.
I knew the moment I tried it on it that it was “a winner” – a lace, illusion bodice with a silk chiffon skirt, in a champagne colour. Over the course of several champagne-fuelled fittings, Emma completely re-worked the dress by changing the neck and then added a sash, boning and made a petticoat. They featured us on their blog, which was really lovely. FCNK isn’t just for those who love vintage; it’s for anyone who wants a wedding dress that is totally individual. The whole experience was wonderful.
Birdcage And Bow
I knew that I didn’t want a long veil and the FCNK girls suggested a birdcage with a large bow to match the sash on the dress. Jewellery-wise, I wore my grandmothers’ eternity ring and a vintage bracelet and earrings that I picked up from FCNK at one of my last fittings. These were gold toned and pearl to go with my bouquet.
Our wedding rings were bought from the same jeweller that Neil got my engagement ring from, Berganza in Hatton Garden in London. My engagement ring is a 1950s, American Solitaire diamond ring. It was important to us that our wedding rings were of the same era so we went back to the same jeweller and over a period of several months both managed to find 1950s weddings rings.
Shoes To Choose
Erm. I had three pairs of shoes! I just knew if I had a pair of massive heels on all day I would have ended up taking them off! I wore a pair of floral pumps on the way to the venue (we both decided to walk from the apartments we’d rented around the corner) and through dinner. These were by accident though, I just saw them in my bag on the morning of the wedding and thought they were perfect.
For the ceremony and photos I wore a pair of huge Carvella heels that I found in TKMaxx. It was fate. When I took them to my next dress fitting, we couldn’t believe it as they were an exact match. Emma at FCNK removed the bows for me as we thought it might be a bit too ‘bow’ heavy and instead I added a metallic flower (old earrings from Greenwich market) to jazz them up a bit.
I also took along a smaller pair of nude heels from Next so that I could dance around like a loon later on without breaking my neck!
I Know What Suits Me
I was insistent that I was going to do my own hair and make-up for a long time. I saw it as an unnecessary expense and kept banging on about how I would know what suits me blagh blagh, but after I spoke to a friend who had done just that, she advised me to get a professional in!
I didn’t want a ‘vintage’ hairstyle or make-up, just something that looked natural and soft and well, like me! I emailed Kat at Rock and Roll Bride to ask for recommendations and she said that I should contact Elbie van Eeden. I had seen a wedding featured on RNRB that Elbie had done and I loved the look. I went for a trial and she just ‘got it’ straightaway. She just took a look at my dress and veil and then started styling. She created a fake bob with a sweeping fringe – I loved it!
Elbie also did the Mums and all of the bridesmaids’ make-up as well as mine. She was brilliant and I highly recommend her, she’s ACE!
We didn’t have any flowers as we both felt that whilst flowers are lovely, they wouldn’t last and so weren’t for us. Instead we looked into alternatives and what we could use that would be personal to us.
I made my own bouquet out of a mixture of new and vintage jewellery. I’d seen a tutorial online on how to make a brooch bouquet so I set to work quite early gathering pieces that I wanted to include.
I found items on eBay, at Greenwich market, Haynes Lane junk market (in Crystal Palace) and of course, some bits and bobs from friends and family all went into making it. In one bag of broken jewellery I had bought from eBay, there was a small photo in a frame of what looked like a Victorian child. I really wanted to use it but it felt odd to remove the photo so I added some aged card over the top of the photo and then stamped on our wedding date and our initials.
I started off thinking that I would make a jewellery bouquet for them too but when it came to it, the idea of sourcing more jewellery (it took ages to find things that would ‘go’) and then putting them together was a bit daunting. Instead, we opted for coloured buttons, which were a bit easier to find and assemble. To make them a bit more individual, I added a butterfly to each one. It was only by fluke but when I was sourcing brooches for my own bouquet, amazingly I got three butterflies the same.
I made one in green, one in purple and one in blue. It wasn’t designed to go with any particular colour scheme or theme, more just to inject a bit of colour into their outfits. I had such fantastic feedback about how unique the bouquets were that I’m now making and selling bespoke ones to other brides in my Etsy shop!
Star Wars Buttonholes
Again, we didn’t want flowers for the buttonholes and wanted to come up with something completely unique to us that we could keep, and that was a bit quirky and fun. As it was ‘buttonholes for the boys’, Neil decided to introduce his love of Star Wars into the proceedings.
Over a couple of bottles of wine we figured out how we’d do it and I bought some satin leaves from an online craft store and some small ivory flowers and pearls. We knocked them up in an evening using my trusty glue gun and some satin ribbon. We made one for Neil (Darth Vader) and then one for each of the best men (Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett), ushers (Storm Troopers), and both the dads (Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda).
Blue, Black And Purple
We had two best men, two ushers and three bridesmaids. We decided that we wanted all of the men to be in the same suit and found a great indigo-coloured, three-piece suit in MS. We also bought blue, black and purple floral ties and then asked everyone to wear brown shoes and a white shirt to complete the look.
Bridesmaid dresses were a real quandary for us, as I didn’t want to go down the traditional route. I had visions of putting them in stunning 1940s style matching dresses but when we walked into House of Fraser on our first ‘group’ shopping trip, we found a cream, lace shift dress. It was perfect and something that went with my dress as well as being something that the girls could wear again.
We then bought the same nude, Next shoes that I had found for me, for the girls too. We didn’t think that they needed anything added but the night before the wedding our bridesmaid, Jill, suggested she could make a silk sash for each of them. She had bought some fabric and when we mocked one up it looked brilliant so we were there on the morning of the wedding stood in a line, sewing a sash onto each of the bridesmaid’s dresses!
I also knew that I wanted the bridesmaids to have a headpiece rather than matching hairstyles or fresh flowers. I went to the brilliant Janine Basil with a picture of the dress and she made one of her heart headpieces into bespoke lace pieces.
Neil wore the same indigo, three-piece suit and tie as the other groomsmen and treated himself to a pair of brown, Paul Smith shoes. I also bought him a matching purple, silk pocket square as a wedding day present.
We came across Blink Photography on Rock and Roll Bride and got in touch with Emma based on those photos. Once we met her we knew her style and relaxed attitude would be perfect for us and she was an absolute star on the day. Everyone has been so impressed with the photos.
Cake Of Cheese
We chose to break from tradition and have a ‘cake of cheese’! We love it and our friends and family love it too so we sourced five different cheeses from an organic farm in Cumbria and served cheese with the evening food.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
I asked my childhood friend Emma to play the piano for us at the ceremony. She is a wonderful pianist and it was lovely for her to be able to use the stunning grand piano that was at the venue. For my entrance she played ‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree from Romeo and Juliet, ‘Feeling Good’ (the version by Muse) and ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ by Daft Punk while we were signing the register, and then ‘All I Do’ by Stevie Wonder when we walked out.
We were a bit unsure whether to have a DJ or a live band. The music was so important to us and we knew that if we didn’t get it right it would really upset us both! After attending some amazing weddings that had live music, we decided on a live band and we found Hold Tight. We booked them based on their set list but without even seeing them live which was a bit of a risk but it totally paid off. Charlie (the lead singer) was so easy to deal with in the run up to the wedding and on the night she and the rest of the band were incredible.
We ended up having to adapt the set times as the wedding dinner ran over but they just went with it, no fuss or questions. They did two, one-hour sets and even snuck in a surprise beat boxing performance from the saxophonist. It made the night. It was brilliant. I can’t recommend them enough. Charlie has an incredible voice and she and the lads were the talk of the wedding and made it really memorable.
The First Dance
We really struggled with this. We knew that we wanted to do a first dance but didn’t really want to spend the whole three minutes with everyone staring at us. Somehow, in the lead up to the wedding, we didn’t quite find the time to rehearse our first dance so decided to just ‘wing it’….
We’ve been together on and off for so many years that there were a few songs that people would have been expecting and then a few that were a bit more ‘leftfield’. In the end we decided on Moloko’s ‘The Time Is Now’ as it’s a song we both love and means a lot to us.
Trafalgar Tavern is a stunning venue and didn’t need lots of decoration so we decided to keep it simple, adding ivy to the magnificent staircase and placing lots of candles in all of the mirrored alcoves to create atmosphere.
Our recurring theme throughout the wedding was a cherry tree motif, which was a reference to where we first got together, Cherry Tree Cottage – a friend’s house. We included the motif on the order of service, menus and thank you cards.
We used 7” records for the place settings and created individual ‘Cherry Tree Records’ labels with each person’s name on it. This was one of my favourite things!
For the table centres we painted paper machè numbers gold and then inserted one of Neil’s old 12” records into it. We had 19 tables and all of the records were songs that we love.
Instead of a traditional table plan we used ‘escort cards’, scanning in the record covers from the table centres and digitally printing them with each person’s name and table on them.
For some subtle decoration, we had some hearts, C’s and N’s cut out of old vinyl records and dotted them around the venue. Using the records was a nod to our love of old vinyl and the importance of certain songs to our relationship.
Instead of a traditional guest book we had a couple of alternatives. We placed a handheld video camera on each table and asked the guests to answer questions like ‘Would you rather have sardines for fingers or cauliflower for hair?’ and ‘If you were stuck on a desert island, which one of us would you rather be with?’ We set up an old typewriter and made up some postcards with prompts like ‘Love Is?’ or ‘What should we do on our first anniversary?’ and asked people to write us a message. It was brilliant reading the messages and watching back the videos after the honeymoon.
Not Too Serious
Many of our guests said that it was the personal details at our wedding that they loved (our vows, a ‘make-up and mishap kit’ in the ladies bathroom, a fancy dress photo booth, vintage style champagne saucers as opposed to flutes). We had so many lovely comments about everything that was hand-made we were really chuffed. For us it was about having a wedding that was totally ‘us’ and not taking it too seriously and having fun.
Our advice to any couples who are currently wedding planning would be:
Decide what is important to you both and work backwards from there (in terms of booking, there were keys things that were really important to us such as food, music, photography, personal touches and vows and once we had sorted those out everything else was a breeze!)
Go DIY to make it individual – we made all of the table centres/place cards/message cards and décor ourselves and it doesn’t have to be complicated, stressful or expensive.
Don’t think that you have to have a theme/colour scheme/traditional wedding. We didn’t have a theme or colour scheme just lots of bits and bobs that we loved. If it’s all personal to you, it will come together on the day and won’t matter that its not all magenta and black or ‘vintage summer garden party style’
Make sure you don’t get too caught up in the planning and forget to have fun. I am a detail orientated person and had to remember to take a step back and look at the overall wedding not just worry about the place cards or the order of service.
Charlotte and Jon were married early in the afternoon of Saturday 2nd July 2011 in Islington. Laura Babb was on lens duty, and captured the day with style.
This mornings bride Charlotte saw choosing the dress as a daunting prospect, but when you read about the dress she chose compared to how it looked on the day, you’ll start to understand the kind of vision she has. Daunted or not she wasn’t afraid to chop, change and adapt to make things just right. And the end result? The dress she always wanted. She need not have worried at all….
We wanted to keep as much of our wedding as we could local – so we married in our borough’s Town Hall (Islington), had the reception in a pub round the corner from where we live – the Tufnell Park Tavern, and sourced as many things as possible from local providers or folks we knew.
Neither of us wanted a church wedding, so the Town Hall’s Council Chamber offered us space, but also a really good balance of intimacy and formality: family and friends were able to sit pretty much all around us (thanks to its circular layout), while its architecture and decor (high domed ceilings, wooden panelling, and stained glass) gave everything gravitas without being overbearing.
My dress was from Fur Coat No Knickers. I found the idea of wedding dress shopping a bit daunting, I knew I wanted a vintage dress, and I knew I wanted knee-length and kind of 50s style sticky-out skirt, but that was about it. I wasn’t too bothered about whether it was white or ivory (or blue or green!)
The dress was the fourth one I tried on in the shop, and it was originally floor-length, but I knew that I wanted a knee-length dress with petticoats underneath, so with a lot of imagination and a huge amount of work from the team at FCNK it was transformed into what I wanted! The top of the dress is lace, the skirt is silk, and there’s an under dress as well as the petticoats. The neckline and back neckline (is there a word for that?!) were changed, the sleeves were changed, the waistline was changed – in the end it didn’t much resemble what it had been originally at all, other than the fabric. I love it.
I had an idea that I wanted to have blue as, for want of a better word, the ‘accent’ colour for my outfit. I definitely didn’t want white shoes I’d never wear again, and Jon was quite keen on a blue suit. So my dress had a navy blue velvet ribbon round the waist, and the petticoat had binding in navy blue and pale blue.
Pearls And Sparkles.
I didn’t want a veil – for similar reasons to wanting a short dress really. We got married in a registry office, and I would have felt overdressed wearing a long dress and veil. So I talked about it with FCNK and they came up with a brooch with pearls and sparkles on it that they sewed to a hair band, which was perfect.
I wore a single string of pearls that were my grandmother’s, and pearl earrings that Jon had given me (we’d both made secret visits to Hatton Garden before the wedding – I’d found him some cufflinks from the same shop, A.R. Ullman’s!). I also made a little clutch bag out of the off-cuts from my dress.
Searching For Navy.
I wore 3 inch heels, navy LK Bennett sling-back shoes with leather bows on the front. I spent months looking for navy shoes. Months and months. And none were ever really quite right. I’d seen the LK Bennett ones on the internet, but when I went shopping for shoes they didn’t have them in navy blue in any of the shops I went to around Oxford St, and they’d sold out on the internet. I tried not to get too stressed about it, and eventually found them on a random trip to Brent Cross. I can’t remember what I went there to buy, but I came out with my wedding shoes and pierced ears, neither of which were the intention.
I have short hair, so just had it blow dried (but much bigger and bouffier than normal) at my normal hairdressers, Easton Regal in Clerkenwell. We were staying in the Zetter hotel the night before and the night of the wedding, which is bang opposite the hairdresser, so it was all very convenient. We just ran across the road after breakfast…
Fresh From The Garden.
Posies for me and my sister, and buttonholes for Team Groom, came from La Belle Vie, a florist just up the road. Sam and Sarah did a great job – we spent some time investigating flowers, so had a fairly good idea about what kind of flowers we wanted and they did exactly what we asked for. Keeping with the blue theme we had delphiniums, plus stephanotis and lily of the valley. Team Groom had some sage and rosemary leaves in their buttonholes as well as white flowers.
The tables were completely different…we’d settled on the idea of live, potted herbs (rather than cut flowers) on the tables. Jon’s mum is a fantastic gardener, and she excelled herself – there were plants growing in pots at their house for months before the wedding, and the terracotta pots and various green hues looked brilliant. However, that wasn’t the end of it. Beyond the original request, we’d largely left decor up to her, and I arrived at the reception to discover an incredible array of greenery and flowers.
We didn’t have the most formal of weddings, so we didn’t really have a bridal party as such. My sister was my bridesmaid. Or best-sister as I like to refer to her. She found her Eucalyptus dress on a trip home to Oxford – it was a white halterneck with a blue floral pattern on it, so a good match for my dress. She wore navy skyscrapers from Monsoon.
Jon also had a best-sister and she wore a navy blue dress from John Rocha. Team groom was a mixed group of about 12, so there was no uniform, but they all had a buttonhole so they could recognise each other.
Jon went suit shopping with his dad and found what he wanted after a trawl up and down Jermyn Street. True to form (although perhaps surprisingly for somebody who claims not to like shopping) he did actually drag his Dad into pretty much every shop on the street by the sounds of it. He finally settled on a navy blue three-piece suit from DAKS, which he wore with a white shirt, light yellow tie and matching yellow socks. He’s a pretty natty dresser much of the time, so has lots of smart shoes. He wanted to go for something fairly traditional (which probably surprised those people who are more used to seeing him in his utilikilt or an elaborate fancy dress costume).
A Friend Behind The Lens
As a friend, Laura Babb had already given us some really good advice about things to bear in mind when thinking about what we wanted from our wedding photos. We had seen some photos she’d taken (informally) at our mutual friends’ wedding, which we thought were great. We also had a look at the photos on her website to get a better idea of the style she uses, and we thought Laura’s approach would be ideal for our day: we wanted photos that would remind us of the day and how much we enjoyed it. By this point it was (pending Laura’s OK) a done deal from our side, but we also knew that since neither of us is particularly comfortable in front of a camera, having someone we would be relaxed with was fairly important.
My Mate Marmite
Call us porkers, but we had two cakes.
One was a fairly conventional (but beautifully done), three-tiered Madeira cake, iced in white by The Sugar Smith, with navy ribbons and sporting a logo that we’d used as a recurrent theme through the invites to place settings.
The other cake was a Marmite cake (OK, it was a massive chocolate mud cake, shaped and iced as a giant jar of Marmite but with our own wording). By way of explanation…
… Jon proposed to me on Primrose Hill over a late-night picnic of cheese and Marmite sandwiches. This was the culmination of a day of ‘revisiting previous dates’ that he’d organised as a surprise, including our second date, which had involved eating cheese and Marmite sandwiches up Primrose Hill. I hadn’t twigged at all that he was going to pop the question, even though we’d been to look at rings in Brighton a few weeks earlier. It turned out that he’d been back to Brighton on a secret mission to buy a ring I’d got a bit obsessed by, and then told me it had been sold (to someone else so I supposed), so I thought I’d probably be waiting for ages.
Anyway, we both really, really like Marmite. And we have a friend with a growing reputation for fantastically fashioned cakes, so we had our giant personalised paean to Marmite, lovingly and painstakingly crafted by our mate Gurvinder Phull – he’s awesome.
All That Jazz.
We had a jazz quartet playing in the pub garden during the afternoon because, luckily, it was actually a sunny day. Jazz Band Alvin Roy had put together a crack squad! He’s a friend of my dad’s (in fact, he was there at my dad’s recommendation), and he’d actually played in the pub a few decades earlier (when it had a bit of a reputation in London’s jazz world), so hopefully it was a nice return visit for him.
We had speeches before the main meal so that we could get everyone sitting down and the speechmakers didn’t have to wait too long before getting stuck into the wine! We’d worked out the menu with a lot of help from the pub, and the food was fantastic. We had barbecued lamb, fish and lots of different salads. The kitchen team at the pub did a great job and front of house managed to co-ordinate feeding a lot of people very well, and everyone commented on how brilliant the food was.
Pudding was cake and strawberries and cream. Later in the evening we had Melton pork pies and chicken and ham pies from Jon’s neck of the wood (loosely speaking) and cheese from Cheeses in Muswell Hill (a fantastic shop run by Vanessa, the really lovely cheese-expert). Our friends Gerred and Hannah (who run the Smashed Up Soiree nights in London) did the honours on the wheels of steel, with all the kit, and roping in a few other willing friends for the occasional guest slot…
Last Minute Choice.
We picked our first dance song the morning before our wedding, so you couldn’t really say it was a significant tune! We hadn’t had time for dance lessons or anything – I had an idea that we should learn to foxtrot but it didn’t happen, so our A-frame shuffle was to I Melt With You by Nouvelle Vague.
We did spend a lot of time choosing the music for the ceremony, though. We spent a lot of time listening to classical music, but we had to make sure that there were no religious references so it was quite difficult. Jon’s got a bit of a thing about traditional English music, so in the end we had Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis’ before the ceremony. We got really stuck on the entrance music (not wanting to be too clichéd or grandiose – at one point Jon had his mind set on a brass band), but eventually inspiration hit and we got Gerred to edit an excerpt from the theme from The Princess Bride. We both rate Labi Siffre very highly, and played ‘Watch Me’ whilst we signed the register, and we walked out to Movin’ on Up by Primal Scream – a nice blend of triumphant and celebratory.
Flavours For Favours.
The herb pots from the tables doubled up as ‘favours’, which seemed to go down really well: when Jon told everyone they could help themselves there was an audible gasp from the guests – and we’ve had loads of messages since from people telling us about how the plants are doing and what they’re cooking with them!
We arrived after the wedding to find that a hit squad had decked out the place with flowers, balloons, and the table settings. Jon and his dad had made a board to display wedding photos of our parents and grandparents. Finding pictures of my grandparents was pretty difficult as both sets got married in wartime, however we did find an original menu from my paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1917 (featuring such culinary delights as glazed tongue and a clear soup of an unknown flavour).
Jon and his dad also put together the boards for the seating plans – with diagrams of where the tables were traced by me (I did have a bit of input!). After coming up with all sorts of silly ideas, we decided to name them after characters in The Princess Bride. It was quite revealing to see who got the references to Vizzini, Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen (hopefully they didn’t take it personally) – and the kids seemed quite oblivious to the Dread Pirate Roberts sign on their table!
A Team Effort.
The best thing about the day was getting married, which was brilliant! I couldn’t stop grinning like a loon the whole way through the ceremony, even (especially?) when Jon was having a prolonged lip tremble. The only-just-runner-up thing was seeing so many family and friends all together in one place and all (seeming to and hopefully) having a good time.
I think the most frequently repeated comment we’ve had on our day was that it was very “us” – which we’ll take as a compliment! We had tried very hard to put the emphasis on our guests (the people who one way or another, over the course of our lives had all contributed to making the day possible), to source as much as we could locally or from known smaller suppliers (who consistently proved that bigger isn’t necessarily best), and matching the formality of the ceremony with a fun celebration.
Our families and friends rallied round and took on some of the jobs and generally made our lives much easier. We will always be grateful to them for that!
If we had a few bits of advice to pass on to anybody else (we have!), it would be to say: work out really early on what’s sacred to you, fence that off and make sure it happens, and you can work around everything else. If you can do it early, just get it done. Be prepared to make little changes as the whole day’s plans evolve. And relax and enjoy – each other, your guests, the day, and the memories.
Being a bit of a foody chef type (only in the comfort of my own home mind!) I think it’s really cool when couples opt for herbs in place of more traditional floral choices. The tables had a really homely rustic feel with brown paper and terracotta, and the fact that the guests could help themselves tied in well with Charlotte and Jon’s ethical approach – nothing was wasted.