How to find and book your wedding entertainment

How to find and book your wedding entertainment

It doesn’t always have to be The Wedding Singer

If you were to believe every rom com you’ve ever seen, you’d believe that wedding entertainment was subpar and pretty poor, wouldn’t you? Embarrassing, balding DJs with whiny voices introducing songs for lovers to empty dance floors, or awkward bands comprised of middle-aged men who always wanted to be a rockstar but never quite had the pizzazz. Well, now that you have that visual – get rid of it. BIN IT. KONMARI THAT RUBBISH AND GET IT OUT OF YOUR LIFE. There are so many ace wedding bands and DJs out there nowadays that this is a thing of distant past and unnecessary future – you just need to know where to find such fantastic beasts. That’s where I come in. I’ve asked a couple of my favourite wedding entertainers to chat through the process of finding and booking wedding entertainment, both from a band’s side and a DJ’s side…

Ikon gallery wedding by Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography

What different types of wedding entertainment are on offer?

There’s loads of different types of wedding entertainment available out there – variety is the spice of life, after all – but they tend to fall into two main categories. These two main categories are bands and artists, and then DJs. They have similar effects – an amazing atmosphere, a throbbing dance floor and loads of energy – but they’re quite different vibes.

DJs play songs as you would listen to them on the radio, but mixed expertly and with the killer playlist compiling skills you can only dream of. (See below why it’s NOT just like creating your own playlist on Spotify!) They tend to play for the majority of the evening do, staying until they play the last song – mine would be the dirty dancing song (complete with an elbaorate lift), if you’re wondering – although this isn’t necessarily always the case. For example, if you have a cocktail hour in between ceremony and reception and you want to keep things fun, DJs can provide a super cool rooftop bar vibe.

Saxophonist plays alongside a DJ at a London City Wedding. Image by Parrot & Pineapple.

In comparison, bands cover songs live on their instruments. As Charlie from Heavy Beat Brass Band, a New Orleans style brass band, explains, they come in all sorts of varieties. “There are standard function bands that can play your favourite Funk, Soul, Rock and Pop tunes almost identical to the record. Then, there are more unique performers who try to stand out and provide an alternative to the standard wedding band. We’re the latter – as a New Orleans style brass band, we can play all your favourite tunes, but entirely on brass instruments. It’s all familiar music done in a fresh way.”

Although they aim for 2 x 50 minute sets in the afternoon or evening (with a break in the middle), bands are just as versatile and flexible with timing requirements. “We offer anything from the ceremony to the late night party.” Charlie says. “We can parade the bride down the aisle at 11:00am, then have her dancing on the bar at 11:00pm!”

What should couples be looking for when they’re booking their entertainment?

The Best Men, a Midlands-based wedding DJ collective, start off with some sound advice regardless of whether you’re leaning towards a DJ or a band. “It’s good to make sure your own tastes are catered for and that you avoid the cheese,” Arthur explains, “but also bear in mind the demographic of your guests and what will work for everyone too.”

If you’re looking for a DJ specifically, he then goes on to say, “A good DJ listens to the couple and plays to the room. We always sit down with each couple and have a long chat about their likes and dislikes to tailor their night to suit them, but the set is never pre-planned. The DJ should be able to think on their feet and read the room and shape the night as it goes on.”

Charlie has a hot tip on how to find an incredible wedding band, too. “When you’re looking for your wedding band or artist, you want to get someone who’s fun, engaging, unique and professional. Our top tip is to keep an eye out on smaller stages at festivals for some of the most interesting performers.” (Can booking festival tickets count as a wedding expense? I think it can!)

What are your top tips for getting people on the dance floor?

The Best Men pride themselves on being a non-cheesy DJ service whose purpose is to entertain the crowd and keep the dance floor packed all night – so I thought they’d totally be the men for the job. I was right! “We want to make sure your tastes are covered, but always make sure the songs are floor fillers.” Arthur says, “Having the skills and experience to read the room and adapt and steer the night to keep the dance floor packed comes from years of experience in mainstream alternative clubs. First and foremost we’re all music fans so we like to treat the wedding like one of our club nights, and not sticking to a rigid wedding playlist that seems to occur at lots of weddings.”

What do you wish all couples knew?

“Deciding not to have a DJ and make your own playlist can seem appealing on paper, but a set you pre-plan for your kitchen or car does not always translate to a diverse room full of people, and you have no capacity to adapt and change.” Arthur warns. “The last thing you want is frantically trying to make a new playlist on the night or people skipping songs on your device. Having someone with experience to shape the evening curated to your tastes is the key to success.” As personal curation is key, they also don’t offer out sample playlists. As no two weddings are the same, no two playlists should be either: “We are all about consultation, communication and listening to your needs. We cater for all sorts of tastes, funk, soul, indie, rock, metal and so much more so we firmly believe that there is no “one set fits all” playlist.”

And once you’ve booked them – look after them! Charlie says, “If you look after the band, they will look after you! Sometimes after long journeys to exotic wedding venues, a bacon sandwich can go a long way to keeping our energy at 110%.”

relaxed fun wedding photographer


The Best Men are not your average wedding DJs – in fact, they’re about as far away as you could get. They’re a Midlands-based wedding DJ collective providing a bespoke, non-cheesy service for couples who love music and want their floor firmly filled. They’ve DJed alongside some super impressive names (hello Jarvis Cocker, Jamiroquai, Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys) – check out their website for more http://www.thebestmen.co.uk/


Heavy Beat Brass Band are a New Orleans style brass band, remixing modern Jazz and Pop with the sounds of a roaring Mardi Gras Band. Find their full repertoire list as well as videos, photos and FAQs on their website, and check out their latest adventures on Youtube: https://www.heavybeatbrass.com


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How to select your wedding rings

How to select your wedding rings

There’s just something so exciting about a wedding ring isn’t there? Sure, they started as a visible sign of a dowry, but (thankfully!) since then they’ve evolved with the times to become a symbol of commitment, love, and over-arching joy. In line with this shifting sentiment, cool wedding band styles are now much more readily available too. Where once upon a time, there were few choices to be had and even fewer questions to ask yourself, there’s now loads of options for alternative, stylish wedding ring designs. If you’re struggling with how to select your wedding rings – this is the blog post for you. 

How to select your wedding rings. Groom places ring on brides finger at winter wedding. Image by Parrot and pIneapple

That’s where Victoria comes in! She owns The Quarterworkshop, a studio based in the historical Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, where she runs – wait for it – how to make your own wedding ring workshops! Is that not just the most fun you’ve ever heard?! With such jewelled wisdom, I thought she’d be the perfect person to ask all my questions to: how to choose a wedding ring, what the different types of wedding rings are, and all the wedding band styles explained…

Victoria from The Quarter Workshop tells us how to select your wedding rings.

Do you have advice on how to select your wedding rings?

“Your wedding ring may be small, but it’s a pretty important bit of the whole thing – your wedding ring is the most lasting part from your wedding day, which you’ll see every day from that day onwards.

It will always be a reminder of the day, of your marriage, and of your partner, and to others it’s a symbol of your commitment to your partner and your marriage – so it’s important to get it right! For this reason, firstly I would say choose something that’s a true reflection of you and your own style. Often, when couples start looking in shops they are faced with a bewildering amount of choice, but they will often say to me that nothing really connected with them or felt right. Most of the rings in high street shops will have been machine made so they can seem a little soulless – that’s when they start looking for alternatives and find us!

Bride laughs and shows off new wedding ring to guests

Often, your engagement ring will play a role in dictating some of the details for the wedding band, such as what material it should be in – it’s best to wear the same carat and type of metal next to each other, as all metals have a different hardness.

Another really important thing to do it to try some on! If you have never worn a ring before or don’t know what will look and sit best next to your engagement ring, then the best thing to do is try them on, to see how they both look and feel. Also, have a look at images and what your friends have – it’s amazing how you can suddenly have feelings about how yellow you like your gold to be, or if you like very straight edges or softer curves!

It can also be a good idea to think about lifestyle as well. If you go to the gym a lot or work with your hands, it might be a good idea to choose a harder wearing metal. Alternatively, if you are going to take your ring off a lot, or if like the idea of it getting marked and developing a patina over time, silver can be a lovely choice as it will pick up lots of little surface marks along the way and grow to be full of character.”

 

Victoria has a really good guide on her website to give you an idea of how to pick your wedding ring; https://thequarterworkshop.com/designing-your-rings

What are the different styles of wedding bands?

“There are so many! In some ways a ring is so simple, but the variations you can get – especially if you are making it yourself with me – are endless. In the most simple of terms you have the following wedding band styles, explained:

  • A D shape is a very classic style of band, which is flat on the inside and curved on the outside.
  • A court shape, which is curved on the inside and outside, making  it easy to take on and off
  • A Flat shape, which has straight edges and corners  
  • Round or halo

However, if you’re making your own rings, you should think of these as just your starting shape. You can then sculpt, file or shape them, as well as leaving them how they are.

 

You also get a wide variety of metals for your wedding ring. At the Quarterworkshop, we specialise in precious metals: this means we use silver and the golds in red, yellow and white – both 9ct and 18ct.”

How to select your wedding rings - wedding rings being made on a workbench.

What should couples look for if they want ethical wedding rings?

“If you’re looking for ethical wedding rings, you can nowadays opt for fair trade materials to make your rings with – your jeweller will carry the symbol on their website. Alternatively, you can use recycled silver or gold to make your rings with!”

How to select your wedding rings

The Quarterworkshop is a studio based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, dedicated to sharing their craft knowledge to help couples make their own wedding rings together. They’re all about the hand made, and creating bespoke unique pieces using fine craftsmanship techniques. They’re the opposite of mass-produced, soulless bands – just like you’re the opposite of a mass-produced, soulless couple.  https://thequarterworkshop.com


Are you just getting started with wedding planning? You can sign up to my exclusive Club Tropicana to get the low down on everything you need to know when planning a wedding. Plus the first bonus is a free super useful guide on how to choose your wedding photographer.

Want to know more about my informal wedding photography?

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Collage of wedding ring images and text reading What to do when selecting your wedding ring

Pub Wedding | London | Josephine & Cosmo

Pub Wedding | London | Josephine & Cosmo

What’s your love story? How did you meet?

We met on Tinder in late 2015. I had been on there for about 2 years and was feeling very jaded and weary, but Cosmo had just joined and I was his second ever Tinder date! Unfair! We had our first date at a grimy pub near my office in Euston directly opposite the men’s loos which created quite the romantic atmosphere.. We couldn’t stop talking and stayed until the pub closed. Luckily our second date was at a much lovelier venue, Miss Tapas in Peckham, where we bonded over how much we love food. He moved in with me (from Crouch End to Peckham, quite the lifestyle change) in June 2017.

What was the proposal like?

We got engaged on Valentine’s Day 2018 in Amsterdam. We were staying in a fancy hotel there and had spent the morning in the spa, when we arrived back in our room he had ordered Champagne to be delivered and gave me a lovely Valentine’s Card – then I saw he was down on one knee with a beautiful custom Hattie Rickards ring made with diamonds inherited from his great grandmother.

How did you get started with planning your wedding?

We had discussed ideas for ‘if we ever got married’ before we got engaged, so were pretty clear on the fundamentals of what we both wanted. We knew we wanted it to be small, just family and close friends, local, and good food was the top priority. We are such foodies and it is the big passion we have in common, we love to eat out and cook so we had high standards for this. I had spotted Southwark Register Office before while going past on a bus and thought it was a lovely building, and so convenient that is was nearby. Once we had decided on that for the ceremony, we wanted to keep hassle to a minimum so basically looked for reception venues within walking distance of there – which narrowed the search considerably.

How did you find planning your wedding?

It was pretty easy to be honest. Neither of us are particularly ‘weddingy’ people, I am not one of those women who dreamed of a big white dress from childhood so had no fixed preconceived ideas of what I wanted. I think that is what stresses a lot o f people out, they are on a targeted quest for the ‘right’ dress/venue/etc when we were more open minded. Our family and friends were super supportive of our approach which meant a lot, we didn’t like quite a lot of the more traditional aspects of weddings (religion, spending the night apart before, father giving the bride away, changing names..) and nobody batted an eyelid when we said we wanted to do it our way. I found breaking it down into manageable chunks made it easier, I got pretty much 90% of my ideas from Instagram and did a bit of scrolling and list making on my lunch break each day rather than mega planning sessions. Quite early on we went to the Most Curious Wedding Fair at Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch – that was fantastically helpful for getting started wide ideas, and I’d really recommend going to a fair for anyone at the start of this process feeling a bit overwhelmed.

How did you bring your individual personalities and your values in to your wedding day?

I think by rejecting all the problematic traditions associated with weddings as mentioned above, a church would have been absolutely out of the question for us and while the registry office experience wasn’t perfect, when we were saying our vows it felt truly honest and real for us so that meant a lot. For me the biggest way I brought my individual personality in was wearing a bridal jumpsuit! Everyone got a real kick out of that and I absolutely loved it, it was white and lacy but also midi length and with pockets so a perfect balance between traditional and modern, and everyone who knows me knows I adore a jumpsuit so that was great. So many women were marvelling at me saying how brave I was and how they wished they could have worn a jumpsuit for their wedding which amazed me, it’s your day people!

I think the focus on food was another key way we put our personalities and values as a couple front and centre, it wasn’t about being glam or fancy but about hearty, delicious food shared family style on long tables, everyone being together and getting stuck in for a celebratory feast – that was the best part of the day really. And the cheese cake! We decided long before we got engaged that if we ever got married we would have a tower of cheese instead of a cake and that worked out amazingly (and allowed us to include a dessert course from the pub’s yummy menu). Having the cheese tasting at La Fromagerie to choose the layers for our ‘cake’ was one of the funnest parts of the planning process and everyone loved tasting the cheeses we had chosen.

Which venues did you choose and why?

The register office was purely because it was in a pretty old building and very nearby to our flat, which we really wanted. That was a decision we made quite quickly at the start. Then the pub for the reception we chose because it was within walking distance of the register office, had a space you could hire for free that fitted our requirements in terms of numbers, and because they have amazing food. I came across them on Instagram where someone had shared a photo of a menu from a previous wedding at the Crooked Well – I immediately thought, wow that all sounds delicious. We went in for dinner there to check it out, they were immediately so welcoming and lovely, congratulating us on our engagement and offering us free prosecco. They seemed genuinely so excited to host us and to make it the best day possible, which was lovely. We looked at a couple of other venues where it was all ‘you can’t do this, can’t do that, this is only available at these times, you must do this and not that..’ and it felt like you were being treated just as a transaction to extract as much money as possible. The Crooked Well team were the opposite.

What did you both wear? Why did you choose that?

I wore a white lace midi length jumpsuit from Whistles bridal. The first thing I did when we came back from the holiday where we got engaged was google ‘high street wedding dresses’ as I am definitely not the big custom made meringue type, Whistles immediately came up as recommended in multiple places and as soon as I saw the jump suit I fell in love. I wear jumpsuits a lot, and it seemed appropriate to continue this on the big day! I went with one of my bridesmaids to try it on, and was explaining to the salesperson that I had just got engaged and this was the first outfit I was trying. As soon as it was on I just said ‘yep it’s the one’ and she was gobsmacked I could decide so quickly, but when you know, you know! Cosmo wore a blue three piece suit from Suit Supply, this was decided a bit later on once we had figured out a rough colour scheme for the wedding generally so he could fit in with that. He had some gorgeous deep burgundy patent shoes from Ask The Missus and I got some gold glittery mid heels from Office that were brilliant, I had an extra pair of flats from Betsey Johnson Blue to change into but never did as the heels were comfortable enough to dance in all night. Everyone absolutely loved my clutch bag from I Know The Queen, I found it in a wedding magazine and it was absolutely perfect, and tied the whole look together.

What sort of theme did you go for with your decor and styling?

I am not the most visually creative person so relied a lot on a talented bridesmaid who is and also trusting our suppliers to do their thing. I would say that is probably the main advice I would give here, find people like florists whose work you really like and then give them a rough brief and let them get on with it, they will probably do a better job than you and you’ll get a nice surprise on the day! My initial instinct was pale pink for bridesmaids dresses (millennial pink all the way, I’m such a cliche) with metallic accents, as I love rose gold. My bridesmaid encouraged me to remember that we were planning in the summer but the wedding would be in autumn when it was much darker and colder, plus she suggested working with the decor in the venue rather than against it which was a great tip. So we introduced a bit of burgundy into the colour scheme along with white, metallics and pink.

I had a photo album of Instagram screenshots and lots of different ideas, again great advice from my bridesmaid was to pick a couple of things and do them properly rather than trying to do everything – so we just went with flowers and balloons. We ordered lots of weighted bunches of beautiful opalescent and confetti filled balloons in a pink and burgundy colour scheme from Bubblegum Balloons to be delivered filled with helium o n the day which worked out amazingly and minimised hassle, plus lots of flower arrangements from the florist, with smaller ones along the centre of the banqueting tables and larger ones dotted around the venue. Our florist was fantastic and can’t thank her enough, Chanti Clark at Southern Wild based in Peckham – she was an absolute dream and is a true artist.

On top of this it just needed small details where I stuck with the metallic theme to bring it together – I bought loads of mixed gold tea light holders from The Wedding of My Dreams.com, little gold wire heart place holders from Amazon, then we just tied burgundy ribbon around the napkins. Our favours looked really cute on the table too, we got custom M&Ms from MyMMs.com in little heart shaped holders which I tied gold ribbon onto to pull together with the theme. We wanted a favour that everyone could enjoy, both adults and kids, and these worked out really well. If you can’t have M&Ms with your name on for your wedding, when can you?

What was your ceremony like?

The ceremony was short and sweet. At a register office you are pretty much churned through as quickly as possible, we were the last one of the day which made things a bit more relaxed. It was slightly stressful as there is no ability to really plan for the ceremony, you can’t get into the room in advance to rehearse or figure out where everyone will go, and you only meet the registrar five minutes before the ceremony so it was a bit of a panic trying to ensure she pronounced everyone’s names right. This is probably the one bit I would do differently actually, to get a celebrant in a licensed venue so that you can have more control over what is said, they get to know you, you can rehearse and practice etc.

We were only allowed one reading which my brother Phelim delivered beautifully for us, again it was one I found on Instagram! It was an extract from Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman which we liked because it wasn’t a traditional lovey-dovey romantic poem but more about partnership and sticking by each other in the adventure of life. Choosing the songs was fun, usually at weddings you have old fashioned hymns but we walked into Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, signed the register to Movin’ On Up by Primal Scream and walked out to Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac. When the opening bars of the Mac started playing right after the ‘you may kiss the bride’ moment was probably the best bit of the ceremony for me. It all felt very ‘us’ which was great.

What was your plan for the reception / party?

We wanted everyone to just be very relaxed, well fed and have a good time, both adults and kids. We had about an hour and a half of mingling with canapes and bubbly which was great as we got to walk around and chat to everyone. We had a few little personal touches and activities dotted around which were a bit of an afterthought but actually made the day for me. We had a polaroid guest book, an idea I got from my florist as traditional guest books are a bit boring and with 30 guests we would have filled about 2 pages of one. I found an old wooden frame in my dad’s garage, spray painted it gold and looped clippy fairy lights around it, and propped it up with a polaroid camera – everyone took a photo, signed it and clipped it on the frame. It looked so cool and the adults and kids alike had fun messing around with the camera. I put together a little activity box for the kids with colouring books, glow sticks, bubbles, temporary tattoos etc which was good to have on hand and I hope help ed the adults relax a bit. We also had coasters on the table from The Wedding of my Dreams.com again which had a space to write on advice for the newly married couple – we put little pots of pens on the table and lots of people filled these out, reading them through after the wedding has been such a wonderful treat and they are one of the highlights for me. We are putting them along with the polaroids and some prints of our fabulous photos into a big scrapbook.

Dinner was delicious, we had a bunch of different starters from aubergine, mozzarella and pesto salad to crispy salt and pepper quid which everyone shared, then beef wellington and salmon wellington f or the main course, the theory being everyone would choose between the two but they were so delicious most of us had a bit of each! Then we had chocolate tart for dessert, before cutting the cheese cake which everyone helped themselves to throughout the night. The speeches were another big highlight of the day for us, we spread them out with a couple before dinner and a couple more between the main course and dessert which worked well. We started with the father of the bride and then one of my bridesmaids, then the best man and then Cosmo and I each gave a short speech. They were hilarious and moving and one of my favourite memories of the day.

If you had a first dance, what was the song and why?

It was Two Doors Down by the Mystery Jets. We have very different tastes in music and the closest we have come to a serious argument is debating whether Blur or Oasis were better (obviously Oasis, to anyone with sense..) but one of the few bands we both like is the Mystery Jets. We discovered early on that we had both been to the same Reading Festival before we met, when I would have been about 15 and Cosmo 20 (awkward) and both saw the Mystery Jets at the same time. Later it was then the first gig we went to together, and I remember at the time listening to this song and thinking it would be a good wedding first dance! The music at the wedding was very basic, we just had an iPod plugged into a big speaker. This is the one fault of the Crooked Well, the sound system was a bit rubbish, but everyone had drunk enough by that point to really go for it on the little dancefloor and I am really proud of our playlist. We had enough old classics on there that even my dad was cutting some crazy shapes.

What is your advice to other couples getting married? What would you do differently?

Number one advice would be follow your instincts, do what YOU want. The only things I regret about our day were the instances where I went against my first instinct and felt under pressure to do things because I ‘should’. Rely on your close friends and family to help, you won’t be able to do it all by yourself. Have a talk early on with your partner about the bottom line, what are the top 3 major dealbreakers for you with the wedding (ours was small, local, good food) and this will be a good focus point for you as you’re surrounded by millions of suggestions and ideas. The only thing I would do differently is use a celebrant instead of the register office, that whole experience in the planning stage was a bit stressful and it would have be en worth spending a bit more money to choose a person that you really like and tail or making your ceremony. Go to a wedding fair early on, don’t expect to make any major decisions there but get inspiration. Keep some form of visual record, I tried P interest but couldn’t get into it so kept a photo album on my phone of visual inspiration and shared it with my bridesmaids so they could share ideas. Buy a wedding planner book, I got one from Paperchase for £16 and it was super useful, lots of room for notes and checklists, folders to keep loose papers and invoices etc. Be really clear on the day if you want people to actually do important jobs, we said ‘ok us hers can you do this’ and none of it happened, be specific and say to individuals ‘you are in charge of this!’.

What was it like to work with me?

Amazing! Hiring you was the best decision we made (aside from marrying each other..). Whole process was perfect from start to finish, and the photos are INCREDIBLE. Everyone on the day commented on how fab our photographer was, one of our guests is a semi professional photographer so brought her camera to the wedding, but said she quickly put it away when she saw how great you were! We wanted fun and informal documentary style photography, and said from the start we both can’t stand those weddings where everyone has to stand around for 2 hours while the couple has an extended photoshoot with loads of moody black and white portraits. You gave excellent and efficient direction so we got all the group shots we wanted quickly, keeping everyone’s spirits up in that freezing garden when they all just wanted to get inside, and the photos you got of me and Cosmo together are just perfect – not staged or posey, but perfectly capturing how we really are.

London Pub Wedding Photos

London Pub Wedding Suppliers

Outfits:
Bride – Whistles , I Know The Queen and Office
Groom – Suit Supply, Hawes and Curtis

Wedding Squad Outfits:
Ties –  Hawes and Curtis
Bridesmaids –  Asos and Reiss

Florist: Southern Wild

Venues: Church Street HotelSouthwark Register Office and The Crooked Well Pub

Decoration / Styling: Flowers from Southern Wild  and Balloons from Bubblegum Balloons

Cake maker: La Fromeragerie Marylebone

Stationery: Papier

Asylum Chapel Wedding | London | Lou & Nick

Asylum Chapel Wedding | London | Lou & Nick

This wedding. THIS WEDDING. oh my days if Carlsberg made weddings, they’d be this wedding. It was an absolute dream – mega cool couple who I could hang out with for days, two epic venues (The Asylum Chapel and Brunswick House) and a gaggle of guests who know how to party hard. It was a dream come true. 

How did you first meet and what was the proposal like?

Met at university in Farnham, Surrey. Nick studied a degree in Fine Art Louise studied a BA in Journalism Friends and fellow housemates, set about dropping hints there might be a certain something. One drink led to another one night in October (20/10/2005), they hit it off.
Fast forward 7 years, and Nick, proposed to Louise over a bowl of butternut squash soup at home. The rest is history!

How did you get started with wedding planning?

Things changed from small humble ideas to quickly being swept away with the whirlwind of wedding planning. We started with a small catchment area in mind, south London. And knew we wanted to get married in somewhere that truly reflected us. Asylum Chapel at Caroline Gardens was immediately on our wish list. But, even (what we thought was) far enough in advance we weren’t successful with our date. Back to the drawing board. After searching for venues high and low, we went back to Asylum on the off-chance that our wedding date had magically become available. It had! We were in luck. Now to find a reception venue.

This is where things got a little tougher. We mentioned humble beginnings, well we had our hearts set on a relaxed pub setting with good food, great beer in a homely environment. Turns out that was pretty hard to come by. Especially in London, in close proximity to the ceremony venue. We were conscious of commuting across London, losing valuable party time to travelling. It was then that we came across Brunswick House.

We’d seen it previously but for some reason had struck it off the list. But we were seeing it with new eyes. It seemed to be worth checking out. We took a day trip to visit the house one Saturday when it was open to the public, and were immediately taken by its charm. Stuffed full of eclectic paraphernalia (open antique house where everything’s for sale), this old Georgian town house was perfect! Three floors of jam-packed character and unique spaces to spend our wedding day in. We’d found the bases for our day. Now to add the special touches!

 

 

 

 

 

What venues did you choose and why?

Asylum Chapel. The most charming battered-out old shell. It’s got such a distinct patina lending itself to an atmosphere that was bang on. On the day, the sun shining through the stained glass was just magic. Beautifully distressed and abundantly atmospheric, why wouldn’t we choose it?

Brunswick House: This large Georgian house is steeped in history and grandeur but also has a relaxed homely quality that we were looking for. It felt a befitting space, special enough for a wedding with its interesting and eclectic environment (a patchwork of bits and pieces from all eras) which had a similarly beaten-up/worn-in quality. It also offered an interesting, inventive seasonal menu served from the connecting restaurant. Finally, the cellar rooms at Brunswick House were the hidden gem. A vaulted undercroft which provided the sort of cloistered setting we were after for the party. The different nooks allowed guests to involve themselves in the mix of things on the dance floor or break away for some chill time.

What did you both wear? Why did you choose those outfits?

Nick wore: Jacket YMC, Shirt YMC, Trousers Cos, Shoes Nike Air Max 95’s, Badge One We Made Earlier (Bespoke Design)
Lou wore: Bespoke Jumpsuit: Joanna Roberts Bridal Shoes – Heels Vagabond – Trainers Air Max 95’s Bag Vintage Fur collar Reiss, Necklace & Earrings Aliquo, Designs Headpiece One We Made Earlier (Bespoke Design)

What sort of theme did you go for with decor and styling?

Relaxed, autumnal, playful. We didn’t really have a theme, it was just an attitude that we want to bring to the day. An atmosphere.
We wanted to stay clear of trite cliches like the plague 😉
The invitations were a springboard for a few design touches throughout the day, tho ugh. The same colours continued through to design the table plan, patterns used on one of the cakes, and the lanyards we had instead of place names.
Flowers by Edie Rose: As orange was a key colour, we wanted this to feature in the bouquets and displays. From the celosia to an abundance of physalis, offset by sage tones predominately brought by eucalyptus. The autumnal array of flowers both captured peoples attention due to the vivid colour but also their fragrance. Louise’s bouquet was everything she wanted, adding that orangey splash of colour to her outfit. Bunches of eucalyptus tied to chairs in the isles, big display features in the chapel at Asylum. These were transported to Brunswick and used to decorate the reception. Centrepieces were made up of a selection of similar flowers to the bouquets a s well as pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and tones.

What was your ceremony like?

Beautiful (if we do say so ourselves). There’s no lighting in the chapel, other than candles, so we were heavily reliant on the natural light pouring in the through the stained glass. Lucky for us, we were greeted with a sunny autumnal day. With a warmth in the air, and the sun pouring in to the chapel it was filled with a gorgeous hue.

It felt very special to be in a place so full of history and character. We fell in love with the venue immediately, and as we previously mentioned it almost didn’t happen for us. Being able to get married in such a stunning place was incredible. Walking into the chapel was such an uplifting, awesome experience. Our wedding song was Flee by Mechatok, and despite the name it’s so incredibly euphoric. Everything went blurry except for Nick and it was a real moment. Walking towards him, eyes fixed. I’ll never forget it.

 

The speeches were also very special. Nick found our friend, Tamala’s speech such a surprising yet special touch. I’d asked Tamala to read Bob Marley’s poem ‘He’s Not Perfect.’ Despite the name, the words mean a lot to me and I really want to do some thing for Nick on the day. “Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” It says everything in such a beautifully simplistic way. I asked Tamala as we have been friends for as long as I’ve known Nick – 13 years. My course mate at uni and Nick’s house mate in halls, she was an instigator in bringing us together and I’m so very thankful for that.

Secondly, our friend Jude read ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum. Having read through a lot of readings and been present at many weddings it was hard to pick one that truly represented us. But the words of this reading really rung true for us. And there was no better person than Jude.
Other touches that really set things off for us were the bubbles instead of confetti, we weren’t sure if this would work but it did and was so fun! The registrar, Ricardo, was an absolute star and really helped to set the tone: not too serious, fun yet special. And that was important! Balloons, the bouquet toss! The jazzy sax and guitar was also so great! We wanted this element and our talented friend David (Jude’s partner) made this happen for us. So thankful! There were countless things!

What was your plan for the reception?

Delicious food. Good wine. Laughter. Fun. Dancing. More drinks. What more could we want?
The food was much needed after a number of glasses of Prosecco and some super tasty gin cocktails. Sitting down at the head table and drinking in the setting was pretty opulent yet comfortable. There’s a sense of being at home at Brunswick, having all your friends and family over for an extra special occasion. That was the kind of feels we were hoping for.
When time came for the speeches, there were a few nerves. Up first was me, followed by Nick, my sister (best woman), my Dad and then the best man. Doing a speech was important to me, as was it to ask my sister if she wanted to say a few words. Fuck tradition.


When it came to planning what we wanted for the party, music was big on the agenda. From the music at the ceremony, to the evening’s music – there was a certain feel w e wanted to bring with the music we chose. When we were planning the party, we asked each other what would be the best case scenario music-wise. Having been to many a sweaty Hipsters Don’t Dance (HDD) set, they were top of our lists. But wedding DJs, they aren’t. On a wing and prayer, we ping them an email and to our surprise they were in. A simple request, tun up and play our favourite music. The dark cavernous cellar rooms of Brunswick were made for this night, an amazing sweaty night was just what we’d hope for. Nick’s shirt was drenched and we didn’t stop dancing. The BEST night EVER.

 

What was your first dance song and why?

Aaliyah – One in a Million.
Nick: “Because she really is one in a million. Louise that is. Not Aaliyah.” Slow, sultry R&B flavours nailed the brief.

What is your advice to other couples getting married? What would you do differently?

Advice: Stay true to who you are as a couple. Don’t be swayed by wedding cliches. Don’t feel as though you have to make compromises you won’t be happy with. Enjoy it. The planning and the day itself go by so quickly, so drink it all in.
Do differently? Nothing. That would compromise how in love with the day we are.

 

What was it like working with me?

Frighteningly easy. Like an old friend. Or an adopted adult child.
A woman who knows her shit, is fucking talented and a joy. Thanks for documenting t he day and being there to the bitter end. Love a gal who can party hard.

 

Intimate Asylum Wedding Photos

Asylum & Brunswick House Wedding Suppliers

Outfits:
Bespoke Jumpsuit by Joanna Roberts Bridal Accessories
Head piece bespoke by One We Made Earlier (Emma & Rob)
Bridesmaids: Silk Fred , Topshop,  ZaraJigsaw, Whistles , Reiss and & Other Stories
Groomsman: WeekdayBurton  and ASOS

Florist: Edie Rose Designs

Venues: Asylum Chapel  and Brunswick House

Cake maker: Caked Patisserie

Transport: Bus from London Retro Bus Hire 

What to consider when dressing your wedding squad

What to consider when dressing your wedding squad

Picking out bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s outfits is, in essence, a pretty weird idea. There’s probably no other scenario in which you would instruct your best friend, a fully grown adult, on what to wear, and especially no other scenario which is as emotional as this! You want to get it spot on, and I want to help you get it right to minimise your wedding stress (that’s the aim, and photography’s the game.)

But don’t worry. Firstly, banish any ideas of the horrendous scaremongering photos you’ve seen on instagram – no crinoline here, unless it’s what you want. Nowadays, there’s loads of amazing designers out there who are creating outfits which perfectly bridge the gap of bridesmaid with still being on trend. With that in mind I chatted to Joanna from Bowen Dryden – creators of the INSANELY HOT Badass Bridesmaid collection which will basically change your life – about how you should dress your bridesmaids.

Bride groom and wedding party pose for a group photo at The Asylum in London.

How much should clients budget for their wedding party outfits?

“Wow, that totally depends on how much you have to spend! Firstly ,think about how many people you have to dress (bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and pageboys) and whether you are getting contributions from anyone else. Alternatively, are they paying for themselves?

I would also consider the kind of outfit you want to wear, as this will impact your overall clothing budget. Do you want to go bespoke and have a dress designed especially for you? Is there a particular bridal shop you have always wanted to experience? Ask these people their minimum charges and see if you are comfortable with the answers. If you are, then tell them a bit more about the way you want to feel on your day and what you need to wear to achieve that feeling. Similarly, if you have no idea at all want you want and need some help, then ask their advice. If they get what you are trying to achieve then they are your people. If not then thank u, next.”

And that’s a double whammy from Joanna – as all those questions you need to ask of yourself when shopping for your dress and setting your budget are good questions to ask re: bridesmaids’ dresses too. Do you want them to wear custom made outfits? (more on that below). Do you want them all to match? (More on that below too. God, I’m good to you.) Is there a particular shopping experience you want with your squad? How do you want them to feel?

4 bridesmaids wearing yellow stand against a yellow wall

Is there any expected etiquette on what you can and can’t ask your wedding party to wear?

“Not in the Bowen Dryden book! If you all like it then it is appropriate and probable pretty awesome too. Brides do not need to wear a white dress unless they want to. If they want to wear a black trouser suit or a bikini a la Pamela Anderson then do it. Feeling confident, beautiful and like the best possible version of yourself is the aim of the game, and it’s the same with your partner and bridal party – wear what you want!

 

But please, from all the bridesmaids around the World, consider the style of your party. If your best friend hates blue and wearing dresses, please be a babe and don’t ask her to wear a blue dress. Could she perhaps wear a green jumpsuit instead? She is going to enjoy your day so much more if she doesn’t feel self conscious and like her Mum has dressed her.  There will be less crying emojis on the WhatsApp group too.”

 

This is SUCH an important point. Of course, your bridesmaid or groomsman will feel super privileged and honoured to have been asked to be a part of your wedding day – but that doesn’t mean they suddenly lose their own autonomy and owe you their life. You’ve asked them to be part of your close-knit team because you value them and everything they bring to your life, so your outfit should celebrate them by making them feel comfortable and confident! This may mean chatting to them about what they’re happy with, and letting them know what you’re envisioning to gauge their reaction.

What should you recommend if your wedding squad are all different shapes and sizes?

“Embrace it and celebrate the people you love and want in your bridal party. I love the eclectic look of people wearing what suits them and what they enjoy wearing at weddings! You could get your squad to wear different outfits in the same colour, or colour palette, or outfits of the same garment in different colours. It looks awesome! People will look and feel happy – this is why our Badass Bridesmaids collection was created. It is a collection of bridesmaids separates that allow each person to wear a style and colour that suits them and their shape and look amazing.”

Bride and bridesmaids huddled together at a wedding. Image by informal wedding photographer Parrot & Pineapple.

What would you want all couples to know before they start thinking about their wedding party outfits?

“This is really important. Not everyone has to like your outfits (other than the people wearing them). It is impossible to please everyone, as you are not a puppy – not everyone will love your choice, but neither should they! Your Mum is unlikely to dress the same as you on all the other days of your life so it is unlikely she would choose the style of your dress too. Your best friend who dresses like Barbie and you who is partial to Tank Girl are unlikely to choose the same bridal look. AND THAT’S JUST FINE! Therefore please do not choose your bridal outfit by committee, as the choice should be your own. It does not mean that they all won’t cry or think you are the most beautiful creature in the World because they will. They are there because they love you and this will not change regardless of how you’re dressed.

 

You will all look beautiful. Keep to your vision and work in your magic and you will look amazing. Find someone who will work with you not against what you want and it will be fantastic.”

 

I mean, if Joanna ever decides she’s done with bridal design, I’m up for her going into politics with that rousing battle cry…aren’t you?

 

Found this useful? Then click here to check out the other blogs in my wedding planning advice series

And pin this image to your pinterest board to remember it for the future

Tips for dressing your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Images by Parrot & Pineapple.

 

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