Today's wedding was sent to me by the lovely, and incredibly talented, Eva from Eva Photography - and it is a beauty! Zoe and Ed planned a cool, stylish London wedding with a beautiful ceremony in Asia House and a laid-back, fun reception at The Anthologist, complete with bespoke cocktails and house music until the wee hours - that's my kind of wedding!
Zoe looks absolutely incredible in her vintage style dress from Hope & Harlequin, who create made to measure dresses from original vintage patterns - well worth checking out if you love a vintage vibe too. And keep an eye out for her amazing green vintage Gucci shoes - I am in love!
This is a perfect example of a laidback, personal and effortlessly stylish city wedding, so get those pinning fingers ready and enjoy! And if you're looking for a cool London wedding photographer do make sure to check out more of Eva's work.
Thank you so much Zoe and Ed for sharing your beautiful day with us! xx
HOW THEY MET
We have known each other since our secondary school days during the 90's. Ed is one of my brother's best friends, who at that time never felt he could ask me out - being his mate's little sister. Life took us in very different directions and several years down the line, after some changes in both our lives, we reconnected and it was then that Ed decided 'now or never' and asked me out by driving down to Devon (where I lived at the time) ahead of my brother (as they were both visiting for a holiday), so that he could take me out just the two of us. That was in May 2009 and we've been together ever since, getting married last year.
12 September 2015 - in brilliant sunshine, after the most amazing day out on the ocean orca watching and post several Dutch courage drinks (on his behalf), he walked me randomly down a jetty overlooking the water off Victoria Harbour, Vancouver Island, and proceeded to get down on one knee and ask me if I would be his wife. I was stunned, he was an emotional wreck, crying all over the place, and all I could say was maybe (having thought we weren't going to do the whole marriage thing). I of course then said yes, but couldn't speak for about half an hour due to the shock (so he got a few minutes peace and quiet, which is rare!). We then went to a cool little bar in Victoria and celebrated with a few glasses of champers, before heading back to see our friends who we were were staying with for a celebratory dinner, as apparently they had been waiting for when he'd finally pop the question. As had our families - Ed had asked my mum for my hand back in August so she was on the edge of her seat throughout our holiday in September waiting to hear any news!
THE WEDDING VENUES
We were looking for something non-traditional, basically anywhere unlike where I work and very different to what Ed had experienced before. The central focus was family and friends, laughter, great food and drinks and music - and for me personally to make the process of organising as easy and carefree as possible as eventing is my day job. We looked in the Berkshire area, where we live, but nothing fitted the bill, and nowhere would give us an extended licence to party post midnight. I started looking in London, my hometown and favourite place in the world, and came across another Drake & Morgan venue on a venue listing site for quirky venues. I finally hit on The Anthologist as we could have it exclusively, the price was right and the moment I met the event manager I'd been communicating with I knew he was the person to work with on our wedding and I wasn't wrong. Everything else followed from there, including Asia House which gave us the historical London location I wanted (as I love history) for the ceremony and some great photos out in the surrounding streets.
THE WEDDING STYLE
I’m not sure we had one. I knew I wanted to go vintage 30’s for the gown if possible and that I wanted a nod to the vintage style but to also to keep a contemporary edge – hence why London worked so well for us. The colours came naturally, green is my fave colour and gold added that Hollywood vintage 30’s feel. Pinterest, blogs and magazines then steered my ideas along with my fantastic suppliers as I was pretty open to any ideas. I knew I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible, having been in this line of work, I didn’t want the fun to be sucked out of organising our own wedding day. The most important thing was our friends and family being there and having a proper party.
Dress - Hope & Harlequin in Brighton - one of their 30's patterns customised to my requirements.
I knew I wanted a 30's style gown, it is one of my favourite style periods and I felt a sleeker gown could be more easily styled in a modern way. I loved dress shopping, although I had hoped I'd be able to find something more off the hanger, mainly due to budget. The dress was my real extravagance and one that my mum helped me with - a lot!
Thanks to one of my friends, who also has a love of vintage, I met with Martha at Hope & Harlequin. Their dresses were ideal for me, as they design from original patterns so I got the vintage dress I could actually fit into ( sadly true vintage was simply too tiny for me) and customised to my preferences. I loved every dress fitting with Martha, we had such a giggle and she is a total marvel when it comes to the design and making of beautiful dresses - not to mention the million alterations she made to my underwear to go under the dress!
Accessories - No veil, instead I wore vintage 30's paste accessories from Etsy.
Jewellery - Necklace my father gave to my mother when we were children.
I chose my engagement ring and bought it from The Antique Jewellery Company - again vintage Art Deco design - Ed was too worried he'd pick the wrong thing. For our wedding rings, Ed bought a plain band that is made from a super strong silver look alloy as he works outdoors so needed something that could withstand getting battered and bruised. I selected mine from Aardvark Jewellery on Etsy, and they made a ring to fit round my engagement ring.
So my bridesmates as I called them were Sam and Laura. I didn't have bridesmaids in the traditional sense, but they decided to wear the same outfit. I basically let them choose as I couldn't pay for everything and wanted them to feel fab, not like they'd been made to wear something that didn't suit them. After months of trying to find gold dresses, we decided to look at green and pretty much straight away, they found a lace dress with a pleated skirt that matched the style of my train from Coast - thank God, as we only had about a month to the wedding!
THE FLOWER GIRLS/PAGE BOYS
We didn't have any - we were keeping things simple due to budget and the style of the overall wedding.
THE BEST MAN
The best man was Jamie, my brother and one of Ed's best friends. He wore a matching suit to Ed's from M&S. They wore Converse suede trainers in moss green and a sandy colour suit with matching ties from M&S.
We had seen one photographer we'd liked (via a list from our event manager), but they ended up not being available and recommended Eva to us. Then our amazing event manager from The Anthologist, Will Breteau, invited me and my mum to a wedding event at one of the other Drake & Morgan venues and we met Eva there. I fell in love with a wedding image she had taken in Poland of a couple up against a really brightly coloured backdrop which, as it turns out, was the exterior wall of a supermarket. I just knew from the images on show and from the fab person she was, that Eva was the photographer for Ed and me. I knew she would make Ed feel comfortable and that everything would be fun, also that she would hunt out the best city back drops to our photos... and she didn't disappoint.
Will recommended Ricky Paul, and they were the florist at The Anthologist at the time (which also meant I got their usual contract flowers included in the package). Again, I met them at the wedding event and loved Ricky. Like Eva, they were both so inclusive of my mum and were full of ideas. Plus nothing was too big or too small. When I went for my first appointment I met Amelia, the head florist, who was going to be looking after my wedding, and was made right at home with tea and cake in their upstairs meeting space above the workshop. Ricky Paul do some staggering displays so I was a bit worried my little wedding wouldn't really be big enough for them, but this was never the case. The attention they gave me, my wedding and all my changes of idea was insane.
I loved working with Amelia and felt so comfortable, I basically gave her a budget, the focus flower and an idea of style I wanted and let her do as she wished in line with what was available in the market at the time. In the end I went for hellebores in deep red and white, which was added to by deep red roses and then plenty of foliage. I then had foliage as central to the venue flowers - again keeping it simple, providing structure but also keeping costs down.
THE HAIR AND MAKE-UP
Another recommendation from Will. We chose Moira after meeting her at the wedding event and liking her personality, as well as the work she did with a vintage shoot that gave the classic 30's look without being too over the top - I wanted a fairly natural look as I'm not one for wearing a lot of make up. Moira was great fun, and again nothing was too much as this was an area that I changed my mind with a few times - so her cool patience and understand was a blessing.
Ed isn't one for puds, and we both love cheese, plus it helped to make up our evening buffet so a cake of cheese was the right choice for us. We went for the Classic Cheese Cake which the chef team at The Anthologist set up and dressed for us. I made the cake topper and the card saying what the cheeses were. I can highly recommend them as a supplier - super efficient, delicious cheeses and great service.
The Anthologist is a bar/restaurant so it was all part of the package, which was ideal for us as we got to pick restaurant quality dishes at their standard price. No mass boring catering at over inflated prices - delicious, classic food which our guests loved.
The Revue band and our own DJs.
Again, it was a recommendation from Will to use Eight Ray Music, who are an agency with some serious musicians and bands on their records. This was a key element to our day, so we put more of our budget here and booked The Revue as a 5 piece. People are still raving about them a year later. They were flawless, from fantastic service before the day, to remixing our first dance and playing it live (not easy when it's a club hit 'Music Sounds Better With You'), the brilliant musicianship to the personality in their performance and to just being all round fab gents. I literally couldn't recommend them enough, they were worth every penny and had all our guests, young and old on the dance floor getting their groove on!
After the band, we re-visited our youth and hit the house vibe! All having been big clubbers we invited three of our friends, including my brother, to DJ for the rest of the night until the early hours. We literally couldn't walk at the end of the night as we'd danced so hard!
We always knew we wanted a bus, as it was going to be the easiest way to get our day guests from the hotel to the ceremony and then to the reception. We opted for a vintage green double decker to take Ed and the guests, while I jumped in a black cab with my sister and bridesmates. We then all got on the party bus back to The Anthologist and enjoyed a few glasses of fizz as we drove across the city.
We used AppyCouple.
We wanted to go electronic, as it was simple, interactive, efficient for me in terms of data collection, and it was more cost effective. I love AppyCouple; a friend of mine used it and it was so easy and looked great. We got great feedback on the website and how easy it was for our guests to use and find all the required info, even when en route to venues etc. Couldn't recommend enough!
We stayed at the Apex London Wall Hotel, as did most of our guests. I have to mention them as the quality of service was simply outstanding and exceeded all our and our guests' expectations. While I know we were a wedding party and therefore you feel you should be looked after, they went above and beyond in the extreme. I've stayed in some amazing hotels in my time, and I've never experienced such a consistent high level of service from every member of staff we encountered, staff who always came across as happy in their work, eager to help and talk to you (and who remembered their conversations with you and your guests) and generally wanted nothing more than to deliver excellence. Being in the industry myself, I know how hard this is to achieve and I was incredibly impressed.
ANY OTHER SUPPLIERS YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT?
The Photo Booth Guys - we had great fun with this supplier, the quality of their product and the customer service were second to none. There are many photo booths out there, and again we wanted something a little vintage and different in look and this supplier certainly met that requirement.
The Linen Hire Company - we only needed napkins from them, but nothing was too small. Again, fantastic service, very efficient and cost effective. They were very easy to work with and the quality of their product was great.
THE WEDDING MORNING
We both stayed at the Apex London Wall, our hotel for the entire wedding. We came up the night prior to the wedding with a group of our friends, so that we could be near to the ceremony venue the next day. I had the wedding suite so that I had space to get ready, and Ed stayed with my brother in another room at the other end of the hotel.
I woke up about 6.30am so that I could shower prior to my hair and make up artist arriving at 7.15am. My bridesmates, Sam and Laura arrived around this time too and my photographer arrived at about 7.30. We had ordered room service the night before, and my girls had ordered a bottle of champers, which was all delivered while my hair went up in rollers. I ate what I could and my friends helped to keep me calm with a glass of fizz and some nice calming techniques as I was quite on edge.
Other friends popped in quickly while the girls were getting their hair done, they did their own make up and my niece came by as it was her treat to have her hair done as I didn't have any official flower girls/bridesmaids. We had to be ready for a 12.10 departure from the hotel so my girls and sister had a bit of running around the hotel hallways and lift to ensure Ed and the rest of the guests had gone before I came down stairs, where I was welcomed by the hotel staff who wanted to wish me all the best as I left for the ceremony venue. Me, my bridemates and my sister then jumped into our black cab to the venue.
We went for a very simple registry office ceremony in a beautiful licensed venue. It was about 30 minuted long, and we chose the 'romantic' service and vows as they best matched the people we are and the feeling we wanted. My brother gave me away, and I think Ed was crying before I even stepped into the room. We were very lucky that our registrars were warm, welcoming, humorous and clearly took great joy from their job. It was simple and quick, but it was perfectly us.
We chose the reading from The Notebook, a reading called 'Our Family' and another called 'Love Isn't Perfect'. Ed's dad gave the first, and his two sisters the other two. We felt these best encapsulated how we felt, the truth of our relationship and how important family is to us.
I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived; I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.
- Reading from The Notebook
RECEPTION STYLING & DECOR
We chose a venue that didn't require any styling, as it had enough character of its own. This was my mission, to keep it simple, and to not be clearing away my own wedding at the end of it. We utilised all the props the venue had themselves, and went with their florists which meant we go their contract flowers included in our package which was a great bonus. I made the place cards, table plan and menus by simply printing them myself and using gold glitter tape to run a border along the bottom edge. For fun at the table we used some photobooth props, a tad cliché but they work. Also, we have played a silly game of 'pegging' for years so all our guests got a peg and permission to get pegging their fellow guests. The aim being to peg people without their knowledge, highest points for most pegs or most outrageous pegs e.g. mother of the bride's fascinator! We had a few large confetti balloons for the kids, and made them entertainment packs of bubbles (always a winner for children), colouring books etc. My teenage niece got mini make up packs to take home which she loved.
We didn't have favours, we put the money into having cocktails for our initial reception drinks and finger food style canapés as we were working to a tight budget - our guests welcomed the free drinks, loved that they could pick from our customised cocktail menu and appreciated having food (which acted as our starters - another cost saving) to soak up the alcohol.
Being an event organiser I had a spreadsheet for everything, including the entire day's schedule. Our ceremony was at 13.00, and with travel to the venue we reached The Anthologist at about 14.30 for our drinks and canapé reception. We gave ourselves 1.5 hrs for photos - you always need longer than you think and your guests always need drinks during this part. We had speeches stood up at the bar, very informal and then called dinner at 16.45 for a 17.00 start. The evening reception then began at 19.00, with cake cutting at 19.25 and the first dance at 19.30. The first set lasted until 20.30, then the second set at 21.30 when we also served the evening snacks. The band finished at 10.30 and we went straight into the DJ sets. Last orders were at 01.00 and carriages at 01.30.
My mum opened the speeches, and was hilarious recounting stories of me and Ed and using props to highlight some of the 'joys' Ed has had with her as his mother-in-law. My brother as best man then gave his speech, full of jokes and lots of emotion and then came Ed who did his totally off the cuff without notes, and in his usual style which brought the house down. It was totally informal, stood round the bar area all in a circle facing all our close family and friends, enjoying laughs, memories and quite a few toasts!
THE FIRST DANCE
Our fabulous band did a live version of Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust, a commercial house classic from when we were in school/college. This was the song playing in the bus on the way home from a night out clubbing with our friends, and it was the first time we kissed - back when we were kids. We also wanted a first dance song that was uplifting, and that everyone could groove to.
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT WEDDING PLANNING?
The food and drink tasting!! Trying on dresses you'd never wear in a million years and having a good giggle about it with your girls!! Dancing all night long with the most important people in my life! The best advice I was given, was to take a moment during the day, step back by yourself and just watch. It all goes so fast, that just taking that moment meant I got to see people laughing, the children playing with the balloons, friends taking stupid selfies, my mum catching up with family she'd not seen in forever. It's the little moments you might otherwise miss. Oh and, if you're offered an engagement shoot or pre-shoot by your photographer - take it - it was the best thing we did and we got great photos as a result, and they are the thing that lasts.
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Pinterest, I used it sooo much!! London wedding blogs, I stole the whole leather jacket thing from a wedding I saw on a London blog - big thank you to that bride!! Magazines as well, but Pinterest and blogs were my main inspiration plus my suppliers, they are professionals after all and know what they are talking about. Always aim for what you want, but know when to bow down to experience and guidance from a great supplier as they only want the best for you.
THE BEST BIT
Goodness, too many but I think the first dance as we'd not heard what the band had done so this was the first time, and Ed and I had so much fun dancing and getting everyone else on the dance floor with us.
ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
I'd stop losing weight directly before the wedding, I couldn't really help it but my final dress fitting was a little while before the wedding and I'd continued to lose weight which did have an impact more on the underwear situation than the dress but this caused a lot of stress just before the day. My dressmaker kept telling me to stay as I was, but I think stress just kept the pounds falling off - shame that still isn't happening ;o)
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
Pick the top five things you want from your day, what YOU want and no one else and then aim to achieve those. Especially if working to a budget.
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