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.
Woooooooo weeeeeeeee WHAT A YEAR?! So 2018 was the first full year for Parrot and Pineapple, and I can hand on heart say it’s been ALL KILLER NO FILLER. I’ve absolutely loved every wedding that I’ve photographed. And, just as I planned for, they’ve all been different and unique in their little ways. But there’s been one over riding common theme – couples that just wanted to get married without any of the traditional patriarchal bull shit that is all too often associated with weddings.
Here’s a tiny fraction of the images that I took from all of the weddings I photographed. All of these images are my absolute faves. I got a little bit emosh putting this video together. Because these images are exactly what I set out to capture. Little moments. Joy. Strength. Love. Big fun.
Sit back, relax, hit full screen and most importantly turn up the volume.
When Charlotte sent me her enquiry and mentioned she was in Ibiza, I instantly knew I wanted to shoot her wedding. As a retired raver I do love a wedding that’s be planned with the intention of having a massive party at the end. I’m in my happy place on the dance floor, so shooting an Ikon Gallery wedding with all the colour and creativity that brings was a flippin’ dream. Charlotte and Ken got the best of both worlds with their wedding, a small intimate ceremony and delicious lunch surrounded by loved ones, followed by a big rave up with their wider circle. Read on to find out how they planned it:
How did you first meet?
We met on the first day of our last year at Medical school – I walked into the first lecture late and scruffy (dressed in cycling gear) and sat on the nearest empty seat which then broke! Not the discreet entrance I had hoped for! The broken seat happened to be next to Keni! We got chatting at the end of lectures, bonded over our common love for underground electronic music, Keni woo-ed me by teaching me how to DJ and I won him over with my homemade peach crumble!
What was the proposal like?
In Ibiza! At our favourite beach side restaurant and the ring came out with a pineapple tarte tatin! We had lots of sparkly wine to celebrate then went to Pacha. Sadly I was promptly thrown out of Pacha (I blame the sparkly wine) so Keni took me home then went back out and partied until 6am alone! The engagement story made him lots of party friends though! definitely our most memorable and special trip to Ibiza 🙂
How did you find planning your wedding?
Not too bad! I didn’t want a big wedding and had lots of friends who helped out so apart from the last few weeks it was all quite chilled and stress free!
What venues did you choose and why?
We chose Birmingham because it’s and where we met and spent the first year of our relationship and we have got a lot of happy/funny/ridiculous memories! We had the ceremony at Birmingham register office then went to Bistro Pierre for lunch with our immediate family, best man and maid of honour. In the evening we had a big party at the Ikon – an art Gallery just off the canal in Brindley Place. We chose the Ikon as we wanted an urban wedding and Ken loves art. We picked the date based on the exhibition at the gallery – Polly Apfelbaum Waiting For the UFOs – it was spacey, colourful and amazing!
What did you both wear? Why did you choose those outfits?
I wore a bargain dress from Coast – £99 in the sale! As we were having quite an informal and low-key ceremony I didn’t want a full-length gown and fell in love with my dress as soon as I tried it on! Keni wore a gorgeous suit from Paul Smith complete with waistcoat and tie.
What sort of theme did you go for with decor and styling?
As the exhibition at the Ikon only opened a few days before our wedding we didn’t know what it was going to look like so I suppose the theme was “surprise!”! So everything was a bit random and colourful and exactly what we fancied rather than sticking to a theme. My friend did the flowers and did an amazing job – the remit was modern and architectural with a pom-pom hydrangea bouquet and that’s exactly what she did with colourful gladioli and kalanchoes. My auntie made the cake which was decorated with my favourite flowers – daisies, sunflowers and hydrangeas.
What was your ceremony like?
The ceremony was short and simple which is just as we wanted it – I was so nervous even though it was only our immediate family!
What was your plan for the reception?
For the evening reception we wanted a great big party with a free bar, great music and a full dance floor until the very end! We started off with welcome drinks and canapés made by my lovely friend; then we had speeches with fizz; a caricature artist to capture some guests; live music then a DJ until 2am! The speeches and the first dance were my favourite bits – everybody all together laughing and having a great time!
What was your first dance song and why?
Earth wind and fire – September. We absolutely LOVE this song, we got married in September, and we knew it would make everybody want to dance!
Did you have any special entertainment? If so what was it?
Keni’s oldest friend Vicky Sun travelled all the way from Taiwan and performed the most AMAZING song that she wrote just for the day – it was about a cat a tree and it was perfect!
What is your advice to other couples getting married? What would you do differently?
Biggest piece of advice is get a good photographer and I recommend Rowan! We almost didn’t have a photographer because of budget constraints but I am so glad we did – getting the photos after the wedding is so exciting, you get to see loads things you probably missed on the day and get to see all your guests having fun! Rowan’s pictures have captured exactly how the day felt and when I look at them I feel like I’m reliving the day which is priceless. Second biggest piece of advice is don’t stress too much about the little things ! There will be hiccups on the day and things that don’t go to plan – for us it was a forgotten ring pillow made by a family friend, smashed jars of pick and mix and some lighting that kept tripping out all the electric – BUT nobody noticed! Everybody was too busy having a good time!
What was it like working with me?
A joy! Rowan is relaxed and fun and loads of my guests even said they want to be her friend! If you need anything on the day or before Rowan is happy to help and is a fountain of wedding knowledge.
When Grace and Graeme told me they had a cat named Peggy Mitchell I was dead set on shooting their wedding. First of all, I love cats and secondly I love Eastenders. And who was the greatest character is Eastenders histroy? Only East End Queen GETOUTTAMAPUB Peggy Mitchell. Which is a fitting name for a cat owned by a couple who had a lovely East London wedding. The were a dream come true for me!
Scroll down to see all the photos and read how they planned their perfect wedding. They had eclectic bridesmaids in yellow, dried flowers, a couple of hundred green beer bottles, A DOG and Grace chose to wear her glasses (because as a fellow specs wearer it’s lovely to see a bride in glasses!).
What’s your love story? How did you meet?
We met back in 2011 when Graeme started work at the group of recording studios where Grace worked. After a year of hanging out and after-work drinks we got together after a fateful Elton John gig in 2012!
What was the proposal like?
Super laid-back. Grace was studying for her finance exams on a Saturday, and as soon as she got through the door Graeme proposed in the flat with Belle & Sebastian playing in the background. We hastily had a cup of tea then headed out for a celebratory dinner.
How did you find planning your wedding? Anything funny/interesting happen along the way?
We did nothing for about 6 months, then took it pretty steadily over two years. We knew from the start that we wanted to get married in London, and spent a long time looking at lots of venues, primarily in East London. We were trying to find a venue that would fit in our budget, was in a location we were likely to visit again, and would allow us a fun and informal party that was still felt a bit fancy.
We tried to plan things so that there wouldn’t be any last-minute stresses or too much to do at once or on the day. Dried flowers meant we had all the bouquets, button-holes and flowers for decorating the venue over a month in advance. Using beer bottles as vases meant that they could go in the bottle bank at the end of the night, rather than worrying about bringing lots of vases home at the end of the night, or hire collections.
We had a lot of fun getting through all the beers for vases in the couple of months leading up to the wedding. Anyone visiting our home in those couple of months could only drink beer, which I don’t think anyone particularly minded. We managed to finish the 120 with a couple of days to spare before the wedding. I don’t think we will be drinking any Biere D’or in the near future.
Which venues did you choose and why?
We chose Islington Town Hall for the ceremony and The Tab Centre in Shoreditch for the reception. The Council Chamber in the Town Hall is a beautiful venue, and we needed somewhere that could fit all of our guests for both ceremony and reception. The Tab Centre is a lovely old hall right in the middle of Shoreditch. It’s a not-for-profit venue and anything they make goes back into supporting the local community too which appealed to us, and being dry-hire we had the freedom to do what we wanted in there. We live in East London and knowing that we’d wander past the venues from time to time after the wedding appealed to us too.
What was your ceremony like?
The ceremony was a bit of a blur! The Council Chamber at Islington Town Hall is a beautiful venue so we didn’t need to do any decorating in there. We had a carefully curated selection of Belle & Sebastian songs playing while guests arrived, then for the ceremony music we had an acoustic band made from 4 of our friends. They are all trained musicians so the music was fantastic. We had one short reading by Grace’s sister Hannah- “That Still & Settled Place” by Edward Monkton. It spoke to us because we’re most relaxed and content when we’re together in our home in Plaistow. In an other slight break with tradition we had our Mums as witnesses, and Grace walked down the aisle solo behind her parents. For the music we had Blackbird by The Beatles as Grace walked down the aisle, then during the signing of the register we had When I Go by Slow Club and Fairytale Lullaby by Bombay Bicycle Club (a John Martyn cover), then Two Of Us by The Beatles as we left.
What did you both wear? Why did you choose those outfits?
Grace wore a dress by “Sweetheart” from a wedding outlet near Graeme’s home village in Yorkshire (Bridal Factory Outlet). I had been to a couple of dress shops, and found the experience a bit terrifying, as I’m not really one for getting dressed up. The outlet felt a lot more chilled out, and there was loads to chose from which you could buy off-the-peg there and then. A couple of married friends had also recommended the dress outlet, as it was where they had bought their dresses. I was pretty sure I would be having a good dance and flinging wine around by the end of the night, so it was important that my dress allowed dancing, and I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if it was a bit stained by the end of the wedding. I bought flat blue leather sandals and jewellery from a selection of Etsy shops. The sandals were super comfortable, which also enabled a lot of dancing, and I think having a bit of colour made my outfit look a bit more fun than classic white shoes. My hair and make-up was done by Anita Stevens, she was great! I knew very little about what I wanted, so she was fantastic at making suggestions, and I felt so glamorous once she was finished. Graeme wore a suit by Alexandre of England after a long afternoon of suit shopping on Oxford street with his slightly more fashion-conscious friend, shoes and accessories were from Ted Baker.
What sort of theme did you go with for your wedding decor?
We were going for a more informal, colourful theme than your classic high-end wedding. Seat covers were banned for a start. We used dry flowers throughout the venue and for the bouquets and button-holes, all coloured blue, purple and yellow. We spent the months prior to the wedding drinking 120 little green bottles of beer to put the flowers in on the tables, which actually worked out cheaper than buying glass bottles or hiring vases, and meant they could all go into the bottle bank at the end of the night. For favours we used succulents, adding to the green vibe of the venue. We went with rustic looking tables and decorated them with the flowers, succulents and fairy lights. The venue had coloured down lighters, so after a few bay trees and a giant light-up “MCALLEN” sign that’s about all the decorating we had to do! One of our favourite items was the guestbook and polaroid camera – we’ve been enjoying looking through the hilarious messages and photos after the wedding!
What was the plan for your reception?
Aside from feeding and watering everyone we didn’t have much of a plan for reception! Our caterers were PieMinister. We had a drinks reception with canapés on the balcony at The Tab Centre, followed by a main meal of pie and mash, after which Grace’s Mum, Graeme and his head groomsman Graham gave speeches, then it was straight into the party for the rest of the night. The most important thing for us was that we had all our friends and family in one place having a great time, and I think it’s safe to say we achieved that.
What is your advice for other couples getting married? What would you do differently?
I think my (Graeme) advice would be to try and relax and enjoy the day. Try not to focus on all the tiny details, and trust that you and your friends and family will have a fantastic time regardless of the colour of your napkins for example. If you don’t fancy running around on the morning of the wedding go for decorations like dried flowers that you can get well in advance. We were able to set up the venue the day before too which was incredibly helpful. I think my advice (Grace), is pretty similar to Graeme’s.
Only bits I would add, is that I’m really glad we spent the night together the evening before the wedding. I think you can feel quite stressed the night before about everything running smoothly on the day, and that all your guests are going to get there. I imagine we both would have felt a lot more stressed if we hadn’t have been together to chill each other out. My only other advice is about hair and make-up.
I had been in two minds about spending what felt like quite a lot of money on getting my hair and make-up done the morning of the wedding, as I don’t really do much dressing up. I’m so glad I did, as I felt super glamarous and fancy all dolled-up. To reiterate, I think dried flowers was a great move, my bouquet still looks lovely in a vase at home!
What was it like to work with me?
Rowan was fantastic! We didn’t appreciate before the wedding that you’re not just looking for someone who can take fantastic photos (which Rowan can), but it’s also really important that they can organise people and arrange great group photos without being bossy, blend into the crowd when needed, and generally be great fun and get along with all your guests. Rowan absolutely smashed it and all our guests have commented on how great she was and how lovely the photos are. She was also brilliant at finding little spots around the venue to take photos, for example some street art in a church yard near The Tab Centre, and a great big yellow door that went perfectly with the bridesmaids’ dresses, all without taking us away from the party for too long.
Kayti and Joe met at a big wedding, but opted for a very intimate London wedding to formalise their relationship. They didn’t tell anyone what they were planning, they just invited their mums over to stay and told them that morning what they had planned for the day! The element of surprise definitely added to the fun and romance.
Why did you choose Tower Hamlets Registry office?
Tower Hamlets Registry Office is down the road from our flat and it’s where our daughter was registered. With this being a secret low-key wedding we wanted somewhere that had sentimental value.
What’s your love story?
We met at a wedding! Kayti was best friend to the bride and the most drunken bridesmaid ever! Joe was friends with the groom and wasn’t exactly sober either. Neither of us remember much from that night, but tried to piece it together in the pub the following weekend. There was no proposal! We booked an appointment with the Registrar to see how we go about getting married – next thing we know, we’d booked a ceremony for 29 days later!
What did you both wear?
Joe wore his “interview” suit and Kayti wore an ivory lace dress from Phase 8. Kayti had had the dress for years and actually worn it as a guest to another wedding (which in hindsight was probably not a good idea!). For the ceremony Kayti wore a stole she’d worn for the wedding we met at, and had a gorgeous (fake) fur coat to wear outside – picked up from Hoxton Street Market for a bargain £25. It was only the bridesmaid – our one-year-old daughter, who got a new outfit : )
Did you want any particular style for your intimate London wedding?
There wasn’t a theme as such – but the styling was quite vintage. Kayti’s a big fan of a brooch, and had a lovely vintage one her Nan left her and also wore a similar one from Joe’s Granny. A winter wedding, close to Christmas – meant we could go big on furs, gold and glitter! The flowers were recycled from a baby gift we got when Esme was born – a bouquet of bibs! Brown felt and gold ribbon were used to make the “petals” and wrapped in gold tissue paper. Our wedding cake was a selection of our favourite cakes and cronuts were displayed on a beautiful vintage cake stand we’d had for years and never used!
What did you plan for your ceremony?
Like us, the ceremony, was laid back, stress-free and relaxed. We decided not to tell anyone and just invited our Mums – who were our witnesses. Joe told his Mum a few weeks before the wedding to book her in, but Kayti was a bit more sneaky – she got her Mum down to London on false pretences and didn’t tell her till she was here. As the wedding was so close to Christmas, we knew we’d be seeing lots of family and friends over the festive period, so knew we’d have chance to celebrate with everyone. We loved how relaxed the ceremony was – neither of us felt nervous at all and could just be ourselves. We had no readings – the ceremony was short and sweet (like Joe!). The favourite bit for both of us was our daughter breaking into song half way through our vows!
Did you have any music?
We are both music fans so went big on the tunes. Whilst the guests were waiting for the ceremony to start we played Be my Baby by the Ronnettes – this was Joe’s late father’s favourite song. Kayti walked down the aisle to You’re So Cool from the film True Romance, a film we are both a big fan of. We signed the register to our song – one of the lesser known David Bowie hits – Absolute Beginners. After the ceremony, we went back to our flat for cake cutting and champagne drinking before we went out for lunch. Joe was in charge of the music and did a cracking play list – which included some of our favourite songs, to name a few – Pulp – Something Changes, Hot Chip – One Life Stand and The White Stripes – Hotel Yorba (our daughter’s favourite song!).
Would you do anything differently to your intimate London wedding?
We wouldn’t do anything differently! We loved it! There was no compromising, no arguments, no worrying about budget…and this was all because we kept it a secret and had no guests. For us both we wanted the day to be special, but our main objective was just to be married. It was about us and no one else. We appreciate it’s not for everyone and would hate to encourage any family arguments, but this suited us and we wouldn’t change a thing!
What was it like to work with me?
We knew from the get go we would blow most of the budget on a photographer. We contacted the photographer who our friends used at their wedding (the one we met at), but unfortunately she wasn’t free that day and recommended Rowan. We took one look at her website and knew she was the photographer for us! She was a pleasure to work with – given there were only five of us at the wedding, we were worried it might be a bit awkward with a stranger there. But there was no need to worry – we all totally fell in love with her. She was brilliant to work with – she even managed to take photos of our daughter actually looking at the camera – something we’ve failed to do for 15 months. And my god – she made us look so cool! We are both really pleased with every photograph – we think the photos were even more important to us – not only something to remind us of our special day, but because we decided on a secret wedding – something to share with all our friends and family so they could see what we got up to.
Sarah and Somit’s Hackney Town Hall wedding took place on the hottest weekend of last year – and there is nothing more glorious than London in the sunshine. Sarah and Somit fused their cultures by starting their day with a traditional anglican church ceremony, followed by a very exciting Dhol drummer procession along Colombia Road to their Hindu ceremony at The Tab Centre in Shoreditch. Their family and friends came together at Hackney Town Hall for the mother of all wedding receptions, with mountains of delicious food, plenty of big laughs and general high jinks.
What’s your love story?
We were introduced through our friends. Somit’s school friend Peter had married Sarah’s friend Sian from sixth form college. We originally met at their wedding in July 2010, but it wasn’t until we went for dinner with Pete and Sian at Brawn on Columbia Road the following February that we got together. When I (Sarah) arrived, I didn’t know the area and so Somit had jumped out the restaurant and helped me out the cab on the corner of Columbia Road and Ravenscroft Road. It was after that night that the rest was history!
Later that year in September, Somit moved to Hong Kong for his job and so the future of our relationship was threatened. We stuck it out though, and by February 2012 I had found a job and moved out to Hong Kong to join Somit. We lived in Hong Kong for a year and half and travelled to Japan, China, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand until Somit was accepted to study for an MBA at Berkeley in California. It was in July 2013 that we flew to California, but after 3 months I had to return to the UK as she didn’t have a visa to stay in the States. But…. if moving to Hong Kong hadn’t broken us, neither would this. I secured a job in London that allowed her to be travel with work to California and eventually spend 6 months there in 2015. We both moved back to London in 2015 and moved to Hassard Street near Columbia Road.
The proposal happened in July 2016, after a cycle ride along the Canal Somit popped the question on Primrose Hill and I said yes! But the surprise wasn’t over yet, in Regents Park Somit had organised all our friends and family to be there for a summer picnic to celebrate our engagement. It was one of the most happy day we’ve ever had (apart from our wedding day since!).
Where did you get married and why did you choose those venues?
We wanted a fusion wedding which combined an traditional English church wedding and a Hindu wedding and we agreed early on that we preferred to have the two ceremonies on the same day, rather than prioritising one over the other. We also agreed early on in our planning that we wanted to get married in East London – which is where we live now and met on Columbia Road. Naturally having two ceremonies and a large Indian wedding we knew we would need multiple venues.
Our parish church was St.Peters Church Bethnal Green which is located at one end of Columbia Road, and the Shoreditch Tabernacle Baptist Church (the Tab Centre) at the other. As soon as we’d visited the venues we had this vision of a procession between the two venues accompanied by Indian Dhol drummers which would result (we hoped) in a fun transition between the two cultures. As it so happens, we met at Brawn, restaurant on the corner of Columbia Road and Ravenscroft Road and so the route for the procession would take us past the location that we first met.
In the early stages of planning our wedding we sat down in Victoria park on a Saturday morning and each wrote down the top 5 things that were most important to us. We both agreed that having all our friends and family that we wanted there was our priority. So we wanted a reception venue that could host more than a hundred guests and that would be grand enough for the occasion. Hackney Town Halls Assembly Rooms is a large, bright space to host our wedding breakfast and we fell in love with the art deco bar area just off the dance floor.
What look and feel were you trying to achieve? How did you go about it?
Our colour themes and decor for the wedding developed from our choice of flowers. The orangey colours of Marigolds are common in India and you often see strings of marigolds. Taking fusion to heart, but wanting a classic look for the church wedding Sarah opted for orange ranunculus with white peonies for our church wedding and marigolds for their Hindu ceremony. At the Tab Centre, we wanted a beautiful backdrop for our Hindu ceremony and liked the idea of introducing strings of marigolds that often find in Indian weddings. We found Daisy Ellen Floral Design our florist via the Rock My Wedding Blog and she absolutely nailed it! We loved the flowers on the day and we so happy with the backdrop for our ceremony. We also liked the fact that the orange colours against the white dress, and Somit’s green suit also looks like the Indian flag!
Our bridesmaids wore blush and we carried the combination of oranges and pink colours through to the Tab Centre for our hindu wedding. On the backs of the chairs we hired from Dress It Yourself, we tied lots of colourful orange and pink ribbons to bring some vibrancy to the hindu ceremony, and we tied bunches of orange and yellow flower arrangements which my Mum created to end of the rows.
On the corner of the street where we met we decided to get an A-frame blackboard to we could mark the spot where we met and it all began. Somit in particular wanted balloons so we bought giant orange and blush helium balloons from the Giant Balloon Company . We also had these in the Tab Centre for our hindu ceremony to fill the space up to the high ceilings. It had been a mini heatwave in the week before our wedding, and so we knew the walk from the church up Columbia Road might be hot. We ordered Kulfi ice creams from Taj Stores on Brick Lane and our ushers handed these our to guests along the way.
After our hindu ceremony, we needed to transport our guests to Hackney Town Hall for our reception. We opted for a London red bus from Traditional Travel – a somewhat institution now for London weddings. Our guests absolutely loved it, and it made for perfect photos.
Our Table Plan we create our selves – a world map was perfect to represent our the journey our relationship took around the word, and for the table names we choose the street addresses of every where we lived, from Hassard Street in London, to Robinson Road in Hong Kong to Cherry Street in America. The table names themselves included a series of photos of us in each country.
On the tables, we bought and created lanterns using terrariums bought from La Redoute, and added small cactus and strings of fairy lights. Our friend Casey made some beautiful origami elephants in orange and pink.
Our favours were homemade too, Sarah’s Mum created traditional favours for the girls which consisted of a hand sewn bags tied with ribbon, containing 5 sugared almonds to represent Happiness, Health, Long life, Wealth and Fertility. For the boys, we made small origami spice envelopes using original Bengali newspapers from Kolkata and we filled them with Somit’s Mum’s Garam Masala spice mix (a family secret recipe!) Our cake was handmade by Somit’s Aunty Pishimoni. The flowers on the cake were all sugar work and took more than 6 months to make – it was absolutely incredible!
As Hackney Town Hall is so large we also hire Kentia Palms to help decorate the hall and make it feel more intimate. As we live right by Columbia Road, we hired palms from a couple called Vicky and Pete who have a stall on Columbia Road Flower Market. They were brilliant and delivered and collected the plants from the venue for us meaning we didn’t have to worry about a thing.
Tell me about your ceremony!
Our church ceremony was relatively traditional. Our Vicar Heather Atkinson was wonderful and created a relaxed and joyful ceremony. Sarah wore gold and diamond jewellery gifted to her by Somit’s Aunty, purchased from P.C. Chandra in Kolkata.
Our hindu ceremony was swift 50 minute cut down version of a Hindu Begali wedding ceremony. The Bengali Hindu wedding is an elaborate ceremony rooted in Vedic tradition. Every step signifies a different aspect of life that we will experience as a married couple. Sarah wore a traditional Banarasi Silk Sari purchased in Kolkata and was adorned with gold and jewelleries gifted to her by Somit’s Mum and Aunties.
In Hindu Bengali wedding it is tradition for the mother in law to gift her new daughter in law a gold bangle, mine was from P.C. Chandra Jewellers in Kolkata (this jewellers is somewhat of an institution in India). The best moment had to be our impressively Sarah’s Dad chanted in sankrit having had no preparation or practice at all. Everyone was so impressed.
What was your first dance and why did you choose that song?
Our first dance was to Jackie Wison’s, Higher and Higher. We choose the song as it was one we’d danced to a friends wedding soon after we got engaged and we loved it. As neither of us were amazing at dancing, Somit arranged for us to have lessons before the day. Jess at Start the Dance was amazing, and so patient. In just 3 one hour lessons we had a whole routine including a lift, and a bollywood dance section.
Our fondest memories in the lead up to the wedding were our dance lessons. It was such a welcome break from the planning and organisation, and was so much fun! We practiced outside in our carpark until 10pm every night in the lead up to the wedding.
What advice do you have for other couples?
Our advice to other couples would be, that if you have a vision of what you want to achieve, stick to it. Our families weren’t always sure of what we had in mind, and we managed suppliers and logistics to manage (I even wrote a 24 page guide for our suppliers and ushers to follow on the day!) but the effort and personal details you add are worth it on the day. We were so happy that our guests were having a good time , and that was what mattered to us.
And finally…what did you think of the photography?
We were so happy with the photos of our wedding, so much so we haven’t been able to cut them down! Rowan was recommended to us by a friend and we immediately fell in love with her warm, reportage style.
The way that Rowan engages with clients is extremely professional, from the detailed descriptions of what to expect, how to prepare and what to consider, but yet she balances an personal approach which is essential to get to know her. We were touched by the little surprises she gifted us in the lead up to the wedding. On the day Rowan played the role of a third bridesmaid! Always on hand with a glass of water or calming words she was a massive support on the day, and integrated into the day like one our peers. We couldn’t have expected or wanted more. Thank you!