WWW readers Lucy and Gordon were married on Saturday 11th July 2015 at Asylum in London. Their priorities were singing, dancing, food and booze; the ideal recipe for a rip roaring party right?
There were of course pink peonies GALORE, fun décor and oodles of confetti. Lucy donned a sweet 1950s inspired frock with glitter Jimmy Choo heels, while Gordon opted for a navy lounge suit. Woah.
I have to admit I share bride Lucy’s loves. Peonies and gold shoes, you really can’t go wrong with that combo now can you? Lucy saw the wedding as the perfect excuse to buy both, and the result? A stylish, floral filled celebration, which is full of gorgeous ideas to boot.
Thanks so much to Assassynation for sharing these utterly wonderful shots today.
THE PROPOSAL | Sunday 12th January 2014
He pulled out a couple of Kinder Eggs, and I started unwrapping. I was quite keen on eating the chocolate, and Gordon had to pester me a bit to get me to open up the toy. I thought it was very odd that my toy was wrapped in tissues paper, but still nothing clicked until I unravelled the layers and saw that it was a Monica Vinader ring, which I had admired a few weeks earlier. Gordon took it from my hand, knelt down and proposed, watched only by a group of dogs, out for walkies. I was very surprised and glad, and sort shrieked/snorted my assent. Then we went for lunch and drank lots of champagne and enjoyed being the only people who knew we were engaged for a few hours.
Gordon took me off on a very long Sunday walk around Wimbledon Common. We have covered many miles in London and its surrounds, so this was not unusual. What was rather odd, was how agitated Gordon was, and how anxious he had been to book somewhere good for lunch. Normally a sandwich on a bench suffices. As Gordon’s running club is based on the common, I somewhat cynically put his jittery behaviour down to the wish to scope out a new race route. After a few hours, I jumped at Gordon’s suggestion that we sit down and have a snack: always magic words to me!
The next weekend we went to Bond Street to hunt for the real ring. We drank lots of champagne (again), tried on lots of sparklers, and I decided the shape and style I wanted. I chose a cushion cut diamond with smaller diamonds on the surround and shoulders. I then left the ball in Gordon’s court. He went to see Chris Randall at the Wedding Ring Workshop on Hatton Garden to order the ring. Gordon preferred this method as it meant he could choose the stone and be very specific about the design.
The Wedding Ring Workshop, as its name suggests, also offers a chance to make your wedding rings yourself, and Gordon and I did this a couple of months before the wedding. It was really good fun, and added a lot of enjoyment and sentiment to the buying of the rings.
There was quite a hiatus between the initial rush and the final rush, but I preferred this, as I did not want to dedicate my life to planning. Gordon and I don’t spend that much time together in the week due to work, so putting aside every weekend to wedding planning would not have suited us. I am a teacher, so tend to spend the holidays ‘sorting my life out.’ This meant that every holiday I would accomplish a raft of planning details, and then let things languish during term time.
BUDGET | Ever-growing!
THE VENUE | Ceremony: Asylum, Caroline Gardens Chapel, Peckham, London; Reception: Tanner and Co., Bermondsey Street, London.
I found Asylum by going through the list of approved venues on the Southwark Council website. We knew we wanted to get married in London, close to where we live in Brixton. We also wanted somewhere attractive, not corporate, which could hold around 100 people. This was not as easy as it might seem, and I looked at a look of conference-type rooms and hotels in the Shard! I often think that, as militant atheists, you miss out on good architecture when it comes to the major life events. Asylum, as a deconsecrated and crumbling chapel, was thus perfect. It is a beautiful and unusual location, which feels simultaneously traditional and unexpected.
THE VISION | To have lots of fun with our family and friends! We have been to hundreds of weddings over the years, so had a pretty clear idea of what we liked and didn’t like (Like: singing, dancing, food and booze. Dislike: waiting around for 1000 group shots and there not being enough booze).
I strenuously resisted the idea that there was an ‘ideal’ wedding out there, to which all should aspire and adhere, and set about choosing things I liked. We had no theme or motif, and simply relied upon the idea that if we chose things we already knew were to our taste, they would all go together. I saw the wedding as an opportunity to spend some cash on the things I enjoy: armfuls of peonies and gold shoes!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | As we had quite a long time between our engagement and wedding, the planning process was reasonably laid-back, with only a few panic-inducing pressure points.
We booked the venues and the photographer pretty much straight away. After that it was pretty much serendipity finding other suppliers. I read a number of blogs faithfully and booked things as I found them. Having quite clear ideas about our tastes and interests made this quite straightforward.
You can have your reception at Asylum as well, but we knew that food and drink were very important to us (and that we would not be bothered to contact hundreds of caterers), so decided to go for a restaurant instead. Tanner is a great restaurant, serving tasty food, which also has a big event space at the back. We fitted eating, drinking, dancing and table tennis into the space. The event staff at Tanner were really helpful and accommodating, both in the planning and on the day itself. The food was delicious and the booze tasty and copious!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress: Julia Cartlidge at Silken Stories, Congleton, Cheshire; Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Hat: A M Faulkner; hair and make up: Kelly at Lipstick and Curls.
FINDING THE DRESS | Was a bit of a nightmare! I had a good idea at the beginning of what kind of thing suited my figure and my taste. I love Grace Kelly, and especially admire her wardrobe in Rear Window. I like an hour-glass shape, and knew that I wanted a shorter dress that was plain and elegant.
However, I got pulled down the rabbit-hole of wedding dress shopping, and ended up trying on about 50 dresses, and becoming more and more disconsolate with the results. I met loads of fabulous designers, who create lovely pieces, but it is also true that the wedding dress industry is driven by fashion and popular opinion. In the post-Kate Middleton world, there is an awful lot of lace out there or, at the other end of the spectrum, a lot of sparkle.
Wearing a short dress of course means that you have to have great shoes. Again, I tried on quite a few pairs, and had a few false starts. In the end I caved and went for the Jimmy Choos. They suited my dress and added a little bit of sparkle, while being contemporary. They were also very comfy and I kept them on all day and all night.
My jewellery was a gift from Gordon on the day.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Shoes: Hugo Boss; Tie: Fortnum and Mason; Pocket square: Thornback and Peel.
Gordon wore a navy lounge suit. This is the kind of thing he’d normally wear to work, so he decided to have a suit made, as he’d get a lot of wear out of it.
We did not choose matching outfits for the best man and groomsmen, but they all ended up wearing similar things anyway – boy uniform! We chose to have pocket squares as an indication of who was in the groom’s party, along with the button holes. Gordon ordered a number of fun pocket squares from Thornback and Peel, and the boys chose whichever one they thought suited them best, from Rockhopper Penguin, to can of sardines.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | As I am an English teacher, I felt quite a lot of pressure to choose good readings! Add to this the fact that you can’t include any religious references in a civil ceremony, and the task was a tricky one.
I just couldn’t find what I liked, so eventually went back to my original idea, which I had sketched out, and decided to see if I could get it made. I called Julia, who made my Sixth Form ball dress. Then followed a year of fitting, tweaking and squealing. This certainly isn’t a quick way of getting your dress, but if you have quite clear ideas of what you want, then I highly recommend it. Julia was amazing – both in her level of skill, and in accommodating me at weekends and evenings – and the dress fitted fabulously, and looked exactly as I’d hoped.
Once my fifties-style dress was set, I knew I wanted something on my head to finish off the outfit. I tried on quite a few veils, of different styles, but felt like a bit of a wally in all of them. Lots of people tell you that your wedding is the only time you get to wear a veil; I got into the habit of replying that there’s a reason for that! At the same time, a hair accessory didn’t quite feel bold enough to go with the dress.
I found Ann-Marie Faulkner online, and saw that she makes alternative veils. I went along to her studio in Stratford and tried a number on, but still felt stupid. Ann-Marie then suggested I try on a half-hat. I was a bit unsure, as I didn’t want to look as though I was wearing fancy dress. However, I loved the hat: it was elegant, unobtrusive, and fitted the style of my dress perfectly. I sent Ann-Marie some off-cuts of my dress fabric to cover the hat, and she found some knotted lace to lift the texture. It is a great piece, and one of my favourite things I bought for the day.
I ordered confetti from Shropshire Petals, as I love a bit of chucking stuff around at a wedding. I also love confetti photos, and this shot has indeed turned out to be one of the money shots of the day.
THE CAKE | Sponge and Cream, Brixton Village, London.
Initially, I had thought that the cake might be another DIY money saver. I love baking, and often make huge cakes for birthdays. However, as the wedding neared, I felt increasingly nervous and decided to order a cake.
We nipped round the corner to Sponge and Cream in Brixton Village. They have great flavours and are brilliant value. We settled on an Orange and Zucchini cake which was zesty and delicious!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Photographer: Assassynation; Videographer: Lauren Bensted.
Sassy at Assassynation was the third supplier I booked after the two venues. I love wedding photos, and knew that these would be one of the most important aspects of the day. I saw some photos from a wedding she had shot at Asylum, and was taken aback by the beautiful colours and light.
I eventually settled on:
‘The Confirmation’ Edwin Muir, read by Gordon’s dad, Chris.
‘The Good Morrow’ John Donne, read by my friends Beth and Viv.
‘love is more thicker than forget’ e e cummings, read by my brother, Peter.
We were really happy with the Southwark registrars’ service. It includes some valuable and meaningful messages about marriage, and is not too formal and legalistic.
For my entrance to the chapel, my exceptionally talented friend Lizzie sang ‘Ma Coeur s’ouvre a ta voix’ by Camille Saint-Saens. It was sublime: I don’t think the guests wanted the ceremony to start; they just wanted Lizzie to keep on singing!
Gordon really enjoys belting out the hymns when we go to a religious wedding. We wracked our brains for a while, trying to think of a song that we could get everyone to sing. Eventually we chose Madness’ version of ‘It Must Be Love.’ My friend Lauren played it on the piano and we sang along with various levels of confidence and tunefulness. The guests really enjoyed this, and a number confessed that it was the first wedding they’d been to for a while at which they’d known the words and tune to the song!
We put together a Spotify playlist for the register signing and exit, but everyone was too busy chatting, cheering and clapping to hear anything!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Dresses: David’s Bridal; Shoes: Bridesmaids’ own; Earrings: Claudia Bradby via John Lewis.
My bridesmaids were my sister and my best friend. My sister lives up in Cheshire and my friend lives in Geneva, so shopping for them was a bit tricky! I ended up going around, trying on the dresses myself, and then sending them pictures. I probably tried on as many bridesmaid dresses as wedding dresses! I ordered from David’s in the end as they have a wide range of sizes, styles and colours. I was really pleased with the dresses, and thought they suited both girls very well.
THE FLOWERS | Bouquets and buttonholes: Flower Station; All other arrangements: DIY with flowers from New Covent Garden and vases and buckets from charity shops and pound stores.
We decided that floral arrangements were one place we could save a bit of cash. While I didn’t want to have fewer flowers, we thought that the informal nature of our venues meant that formal floral arrangements might have looked a bit out of place. I ordered the tricky bouquets and buttonholes from Flower Station, who are great value and extremely reliable. I already knew I wanted pink peonies, as these are my favourite flowers, so I sent them a few pictures and we were sorted.
For the decorative arrangements, Gordon and I hit New Covent Garden at 5am a few days before the wedding. I had already collected a vast miscellany of jars, vases and buckets from charity and pound shops. I made hanging jars for the chairs in the chapel, and Gordon took on the supply of these, seeing it as a jam-eating challenge! We had done a CG recce at Easter, so knew exactly who we wanted to buy from. We then loaded our haul into a cab, and took it back to our flat. Later on in the day, we had a flower arranging party with my sister, the best man and a lot of champagne. It was great fun and we were really pleased with the results. We also saved a massive amount of cash…
Sassy is simply amazing. She is kind, caring, know loads about weddings, and takes the most phenomenal photographs. Sassy is a really good director, in the best possible way. Even if you feel daft having your photo taken, she can tell you to drop a shoulder and raise one heel, and suddenly you look great! My friends and family loved her; in fact, my best friend commented the other day that she quite missed her!
Sassy also offers extraordinary customer service. The day after the wedding, when we were feeling a bit fragile and whacked, she put up fifty sneak peeks on Facebook. This was so enjoyable, and a great way of maintaining the wedding buzz. She also makes sure that receiving your photos in this digital age is an event, with lots of little treats and messages. All of the photos are brilliant, and we and our friends and family have enjoyed looking at them over and over again. I was very lucky to have a decent budget to play with, but even if I was on a shoestring, I would book Sassy to ensure that my memories were preserved thoughtfully and beautifully.
Our video was shot by my friend Lauren, with help from her colleague John. I love watching it, and would certainly recommend having a video. (You can watch this on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/135448567)
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We didn’t have a theme for our wedding, and just wanted to make everything bright and fun. Asylum is such a beautiful place that it doesn’t need much decorating and we just went for flowers.
We ordered lots of paper streamers and honeycomb balls for the reception venue. This brightened it up and brought in some fiesta feeling!
Lots of the wedding cake toppers we looked at were a bit naff, so in the end we bought two plastic velociraptors from the toy department at John Lewis. After all, they’re highly intelligent and work together – what a great message?!
Our table numbers were cardboard digits from Cass Art, which I painted gold.
Our fantastic stationery was created by my talented friend Sas, at Candelabra. I sent her some photos of Asylum, and she did a lovely line drawing, which graced our invitations, RSVP cards and orders of service.
THE HONEYMOON | Malaysian Borneo.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | It sounds odd, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the day so much. I thought I might be nervous or stressed, but in fact had the most fun day I’ve ever had. Thus my memorable moments are those when I suddenly realised that this was a super fun and enjoyable day: walking down the aisle and seeing everyone smiling, catching sight of Gordon’s nervous face, listening to the readings and speeches everyone had prepared so thoroughly.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | You already know what kind of things you like, and how you enjoy spending your time. Don’t imagine that a wedding has to be any different. At the same time, your wedding is not the final expression of who you are as a person. It doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’, it simply has to express what matters to you about getting married. In fact, some of the mistakes of the day (like when Gordon kept trying to put the ring on the wrong finger, and I kept snatching my hand away) are also the funniest, and those which you remember.
You can also decide which traditions you keep, and which you jettison. Gordon and I did a joint speech because it felt odd, after nine years together, for me to be sitting down, while he told everybody about me. Instead we took it in turns to tell the – highly edited – story of our meeting.