Whilst a year to 18 months is the ‘norm’ for couples planning their wedding, this couple, Laura and Dan were engaged and married within just four months. See… it is possible! There is certainly a benefit to being restricted with time as you go with your gut, it’s a whirlwind of excitement and you are limited to what is physically possible within that period – meaning no time for procrastinating. Laura says “We wouldn’t have done anything differently, even if we had had four years to plan. It was magical.” It certainly looks it, the day was beautifully captured by photographer James Melia.
Not being sticklers for tradition, Laura and Dan decided to hold a big breakfast for the all the wedding party on the morning of the big day “We figured that on the morning of your wedding, when your feeling nervous and excited, the thing you’d probably like to do the most would be to see your future spouse. We had homemade muffins, sausage sandwiches and lots of tea. It was a glorious day, the sun was well and truly out and everyone was downing bucks fizz. It allowed everyone to just chill out and eat before everything kicked off. It also meant Dan and I could have a minute alone together that morning to just…be.”
Laura found her dress in just one day “Once I had stepped into The Vintage Wedding Dress Company, I knew I would find something that was ‘mine’. I didn’t want to feel ‘trussed-up’- I wanted something I could move, eat and dance in and so the 1930s lace number was ideal. They were also a dream to work with and my short window of time was never a problem for them.”
This groom is definitely a keeper, the beautiful blue hued shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood were her wedding gift. “One of my bridesmaids, Anna made the flower crown and my bridesmaids gave me a beautiful delicate bracelet from Whistles on the morning of the wedding. As for the bridesmaids, I Initially wanted the mix and match look – but the bridesmaids were not down with that! In reality, it worked out for the best – a simple navy dress which they all felt amazing and looked incredible in.”
Excitingly, Laura booked Siobhan Drew for her make-up after seeing her work in Dashing Magazine [yay!] “She completely understood what we wanted (we are far from girly girls) and made us all just a more polished and smooth version of ourselves! We went to Sano hair salon in Angel on the morning of the wedding – which was such a good idea. We were out of the house, sipping bubbles and enjoying being out and about. It took away from the pressure of us all being in our little flat all morning, which could have resulted in us being far more stressed than necessary.”
“We had more of a palette rather than one colour or idea – mustard and navy blue were the over-riding colours, but I knew I wanted an eclectic mix of in-season flowers for the bouquets and decorations.”
I love that together with her bridesmaids they headed to New Covent Garden flower market to buy the wedding flowers at 4am a few days before the wedding! “Although this was one of my favourite things about our wedding in the end, it didn’t feel worth it at the time! We headed to the flower market with the intention of buying as many flowers with our limited budget as we could – we could have opened a florist with the amount we bought.”
Whilst most weddings have a few hitches, living next to Arsenal Stadium especially on the first home game of the season caused the road to be blocked off on the day, and where some brides may have panicked, I love how Laura and her friends and family took it in their stride [literally] and took a walk instead, now that is a true London Bride! “At first this seemed like a stumbling block and an annoyance, but once the day arrived and we had to walk down the street against the flow of these gunners fans, it was perfect. It’s a part of our weekly lives whether we like it or not, and getting so many happy comments from the lads was touching.”
Their ceremony was held at nearby St Thomas Church, Finsbury Park.
“I walked into the church to Iron and Wine’s ‘Love and some verses’ and we danced out of the joint to Frank Wilson’s ‘do I love you’ – it was a whole lot of fun to have everyone shimmy out of the church.” I love how you can just see them dancing down the aisle after saying I do!
As their day fell on one of the hottest days of the summer, the ice cream van proved to be a very popular choice! “We had an ice cream van for guests after the ceremony and boy, did it work out – a cool lemon ice lolly worked a treat for me. It was a complete crowd pleaser and helped tied people over until we sat down for dinner. We also hired two route masters to take everyone from the church to the venue, via some of the biggest sites in London. A lot of people had travelled to the capital for us and so we wanted to treat them to a mini tour on a open topped bus!” I love the idea of a more scenic route to the reception, everyone loves a little sightseeing when in London.
After a date at foodie favourite St Johns Restaurant and the incredible food they experienced, it was an obvious choice for Laura and Dan to hold their reception there “For us, our venue was a no brainer, we knew that St John could provide all that we could have wanted: amazing food, delicious wine, a blank but beautiful canvas and space big enough to throw some shapes in. We thought it’d be way out of our budget, but they were incredibly accommodating and they made the day for us.”
“Like most brides, I am addicted to Pinterest but had to reign myself in. We wanted the look to be very relaxed, with simple touches and spending money on the things that were important to us. Paper goods for me were important – I am a stationery whore- and so asking our friend Zoe to design the invites for us was an obvious choice. She’s amazing to work with and produced an invite that set the tone for the entire wedding. There also ended up being a bit of a ‘sea’ theme – Dan loves the sea and we were engaged whilst crab fishing in Anglesey – and so fake pirate tattoos seemed like the obvious choice for favours.”
“To keep a relaxed theme, we did away with silver service and instead had a family style meal. Large, heaving platters of food were brought to every table and guests acted like a little family to divvy up the bounty. It was a complete feast and everyone tucked in- our guests who knew no-one on their tables to begin with, were suddenly gnawing on the same leg of lamb. Dan also has a penchant for an eccles cake being a northern lad, and St John make the best we’ve ever eaten. At about 11pm when the alcohol was kicking in well and truly, we had St John bring out plates of cheese and eccles cakes, along with the gooey-ist brownies. These fueled people for another dancing marathon. We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake, instead asking ladies in our families to bake their specialty or favourite cake for us. So delicious and so personal.”
“As cheesy as it sounds, we just wanted a day that reflected us- a flippin great party that was mega fun and were people could be treated. We ended up having a free bar- not something we had planned for – but it made people feel so special that it was worth spending our budget for.”
You may have noticed a lot of these guests sporting tattoos in the evening, this was all part of the fun… “My favourite little touch were the fake tattoos. I was stuck for a favour and didn’t want to spend much money (who likes sugared almonds!?) and in letting my mind wander down the ‘sea’ themed path, I stumbled upon ideas of pirate’s tattoos. We had them made – three different designs – and as soon as people sat down, the bags were ripped open, water glasses and napkins were out and tattoos were applied liberally. It was amazing to see all our friends and families working together to put these silly things on. It sat perfectly within the day, continuing with the fun and relaxed environment we had aimed for.”
“Everyone thinks their friends are the best – but ours literally are. We couldn’t have done any of it without them. They made our day so memorable, and so incredibly fun. The dance floor action was unlike any I had ever seen, and those friends who kindly DJ-ed chose the best selection of tunes for us – northern soul, Motown, classic pop and some brilliant 2002-2003 indie classics.”
“Our first dance was Bob Dylan’s ‘if not for you’– a song that we’ve held close to our hearts since we started going out.”
Is this not the best ‘dad dancing’ you’ve seen? Very well captured by James…
“The best piece of advice given to us was the set aside time for planning meetings – maybe a few hours each week where you could catch up and make new decisions, otherwise your life and down time gets taken over by the flippin’ wedding! You end up not having any quality time with the person you’re about to marry – you merely become planning partners, so try to keep the wedding stuff separate from real life. Also, don’t hold onto ideas or themes or schemes too tightly. You realise when it comes to it, your venue isn’t lacking in anything when you’ve got a room full to the brim of your favourite people.” Here here Laura, couldn’t agree more with your wise words.
Huge congratulations to the lovely Laura and Dan and big thanks to James Melia for sharing his amazing work, I feel all chilled out after writing up this one – though admittedly I do now want to throw some serious shapes on the dancefloor [aka my landing]…
Photographer: James Melia / Wedding Dress: The Vintage Wedding Dress Company /Bridal Shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood / Bridesmaid Outfits: Coast /Groom’s suit and shirt: Cad and the Dandy / Ushers bowties/tie/pocket squares: Fox and Brie / Hair: Collette at Sano / Make-up: Siobhan Drew / Flowers and Flower Crown: Arranged by Bride + Bridesmaids from New Covent Garden Flower Market / Reception Venue + Food: St John Restaurant Smithfield / Cakes: Homemade by family / Stationery: Zoe Barker