photography by Babb Photo
Designed by the groom (draws comics under the name Earthling Brains – http://earthlingbrains.blogspot.co.uk/)
We knew we wanted something individual but not slushy for our invitations, and as Joe draws comic strips as a hobby, he was keen to design them himself. He came up with an amazing pop-up design for the main invitations, each one of which we ordered in its component parts from an online printing site and constructed ourselves. I designed the information booklet, RSVP and cover and we put it all in gold envelopes to tie it in to the wedding colours. It took a lot of work, but we’re ridiculously proud of the way it turned out!
I know next to nothing about flowers, and Joe is pretty allergic to them (he didn’t have a buttonhole for fear of aisle-front hayfever), so the florist was given a vague description of the kind of loose, hand-tied, wild look I was going for, ballpark colours and a picture of the bridesmaids’ dresses, and from then on he was given complete creative control. Of all the wonderful suppliers we used for the wedding, The Urban Flower Company surpassed all possible hopes for me – the flowers were absolutely stunning. I had already had a meeting with another florist whose flowers I had been impressed with on a blog, but we didn’t click and I wasn’t convinced we were on the same page, so I changed supplier and instantly knew I’d done the right thing. Flowers weren’t the only thing I changed suppliers for when I felt it wasn’t right, and it’s definitely something I’d say no bride or groom should be afraid to do (deposit permitting!)
The Urban Flower Company – http://www.urbanflowercompany.co.uk/
I’ll go right ahead and admit that I fell headfirst into the classic trap of an unrealistic goal of bridal perfection. The bridal me in my head was a completely different dress size and body shape to the actual me, and this naturally caused quite a bit of wedding-dress trauma.
Having unsuccessfully tried on a few dresses elsewhere, I went the extremely talented Joanne Fleming in Brighton and asked her to make a dress made based upon her ‘Venetia’ design but with my own tweaks (a slightly longer skirt, full-length sleeves and a sweetheart bodice under the lace). This meant I wouldn’t get to try on ‘my’ dress until it was nearly finished, as I would be going by sketches and mock-ups, but by this point I was so over trying on any more different dresses (and I really hadn’t tried on that many). Stepping out of the changing room for my final fitting in Joanne’s creation, adding a pair of huge gold and crystal earrings Joe had bought me the previous Christmas and a pair of gold heeled pumps, I was a little overwhelmed with relief. I hadn’t had to lose any weight (as I had half-heartedly tried and failed to do), I hadn’t had to wear a giant corset, and I hadn’t had to change my vision. I had just had to find a damn good dressmaker.
Joanne Fleming Design – http://joanneflemingdesign.com/
Bride’s earrings, Maid of Honour’s necklace and Flower Girl’s headpiece – Accessorize
Bride – Carvela, Maid of Honour – Monsoon, Bridesmaid – ASOS, others bridesmaid’s own
On the day, I needed someone who could do both hair and makeup for six people without breaking a sweat, and, after cancelling a booking with a more expensive make-up artist that had a bit of a snotty attitude, I found the stupendous Justina Sullivan of Beautiful Brides. After being convinced my very classic-looking dress needed a classic up-do (another side-effect of my unrealistic quest for bridal perfection), I came to my senses and realised my hair looked best bobbed and down. Justina simply curled my hair and gave me a natural look with some dramatic cat-eye eyeliner that made me feel like a much more glamorous version of myself.
We’re both atheists, so it had to be a civil ceremony for us. That left us with finding a ceremony venue that could fit everyone, was pretty enough to keep me happy, and unpretentious enough to keep Joe happy (delusions of grandeur are really not his bag), all within close enough proximity to where we live. Stoke Newington Town hall fit the bill perfectly, and we knew we were looking for the sort of local pub we would like to go for a pint / Sunday roast for the reception. The Londesborough pub in Stoke Newington has got it all sorted when it comes to weddings – you give them your decorations and they do the rest. Their menu is one of the tastiest in town, their décor is exactly the kind of down-to-earth-but-trendy balance we were looking for and they have a wealth of experience in keeping brides and grooms happy. One of the things that really appealed to us is that they allowed us to have a varied menu of four or five dishes that the guests could choose from on the day, instead of your usual ‘chicken or veg’ fixed wedding fare.
We’d also like to credit the hotel that my family and I got ready at, as it’s opposite Stoke Newington Town Hall (I just walked across the road and straight into the ceremony when they were ready for me) and were absolutely amazing – The Rose & Crown (http://www.roseandcrownn16.co.uk/)
Ceremony at Stoke Newington Town Hall – http://www.hackneyvenues.com/stoke-newington-town-hall/
Reception at The Londesborough – http://www.thelondesborough.com/
Joe really wanted to make sure he was comfortable and as relaxed as possible on the day, so he wore his favourite brown suit. Like me, he wasn’t keen on the whole fitting process, and we had eight groomsmen (seven ushers and the best man), who, for both financial and aesthetic reasons, we had also asked to wear their own suits, regardless of colour. I did try for a while (unsuccessfully) to persuade Joe to get a posh new suit, but in the end he wouldn’t have been at ease, and he looked every bit the handsomest groom I ever did see on the day.
From H&M and Office.
The parts of the ceremony that stood out the most for both of us were the music played as I came down the aisle and as we signed the register, which was written by Joe and performed by some of our friends, and the readings by members of our family. We split the readings between a sincere one – Friendship by Julie Bielicki read by my sister, a silly one – I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clark read by my uncle, and a slushy one – Let Me Put It This Way by Simon Armitage read by Joe’s father. It was so special to have friends and family involved in that way.
Joe and I have lived together in North London for a few years, and it really feels like our home, although neither of us have family here. I also didn’t grow up anywhere near where my parents now live, so the tradition of getting married near the bride’s family home didn’t apply.
A good portion of both of our families are more than a little London-phobic, something we were sensitive to from the outset. After trying to find somewhere ‘neutral’ that we could get married (i.e. north of the M25), we realised that the only thing worse than getting married somewhere that meant nothing to our families was getting married somewhere that also didn’t mean anything to us. So we hatched a plan to make The Big Smoke work for the London-phobes. We would assign a hotel for guests on the northern outskirts of London that had a whopping great car park and hire a big red vintage Routemaster bus to transport the guests from there both to the ceremony and on to the reception. It became a real talking point of the day, and the ride on a vintage London bus made a great feature of the whole London experience for our families.
I didn’t expect to find this aspect of planning the wedding as difficult as it was. Gold was always going to be a feature – I like gold (the colour that is, I’m not overly fussed about the precious metal). But I managed to make choosing the other colours as complicated as possible, by wanting my bridesmaids to each wear different colours / dresses that I thought they would feel comfortable in, with a bit of lace on each to tie them in with my dress – four bridesmaids, four matching colours that they, me and Joe had to all like, and that fit the autumnal wedding / lace vibe. It ended up as a berry colour, forest green, navy blue and midnight blue and I was so pleased with the way it turned out. Terrifyingly, as the bridesmaids were scattered around the UK, I didn’t see the dresses side-by-side in the flesh before the wedding day; they’d all been ordered online separately. The relief when I saw them together was huge, it was exactly what I’d hoped for – all the girls looked like themselves, but beautifully matched.
Linea at House of Fraser, Whistles, H&M and Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis
We can’t speak highly enough of Laura and Alice from Babb Photo Ltd. Their photos somehow manage to convey the atmosphere of the wedding perfectly. We’ve been unable to select a few for our wedding album from the hundreds of beautiful photos Laura supplied, as they’re all just too lovely. We chose Babb Photo after seeing Laura’s photos on wedding blogs, and we knew we wanted the kind of documentary-style photos she specialises in taking. As well as having a wonderful eye for a good shot, she was such a helpful and calming influence on the day and I’m not sure how we would have done without her.
Babb Photo Ltd. – http://www.babbphoto.com/
Marks & Spencer, decorated with fresh flowers and a personalised cake topper by Miss Cake via Not on the High Street – http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/misscake
The Londesborough pub is already full of great décor touches, and so didn’t need much more than the flowers, but we added crepe paper flower garlands and shiny gold bunting, all of which we made ourselves (in quite a few all-night crafting stints). Having also designed and made the invitations, and designed the menus and label stickers for the favours ourselves, there was quite a bit of an unintentional DIY theme. I had my heart set on giant gold letter balloons, and as we had our own playlist for the music, we used those to fill the empty space in the pub’s DJ booth
The wedding disco was one of the things we’d both been looking forward to the most. Music is a huge part of our relationship, and we couldn’t wait to plan the ultimate playlist for our friends and family to enjoy. We probably worked harder on that playlist than on anything else for the wedding, and it paid off; the dancefloor didn’t empty all night. We’re both pretty self-conscious when it comes to either dancing or public displays of affection, and so went for a bouncy indiepop track (051107 by Standard Fare) for our first dance, to which we both flailed separately around the dancefloor like we would if we’d just gone out dancing at one of our favourite club nights.
Music for the ceremony written by the groom and performed by groomsmen Mike Cox (in a band with the bride and groom – http://earthlingbrains.tumblr.com/), Rico Lowson and Stuart Harrison (in his own band – http://modelrailwayexhibition.bandcamp.com/)
Music for the disco was a Spotify playlist compiled by the bride and groom – https://play.spotify.com/user/hannah1350/playlist/6GmtULJ1j9DmVaBubWgIbc?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open
Trust in your own tastes and abilities, and don’t get swept up in the pressure of what others expect of you. Some of our family members had fixed ideas of what should and shouldn’t be done in a wedding, and when you value their opinion it’s difficult to not let this influence you too much. We knew we could put together a wedding that was unique to us and that everyone would enjoy, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – trust yourself to do it!