An Autumn wedding that combines Old Hollywood glamour with iconic London cityscapes, a relaxed and personal reception with a sprinkling of rain like only London know knows how.
This wedding has such a perfect balance of glamour but with an effortless relaxed format. Inspired by the 1940s, this couple looked every inch the part with the bride in a dazzling Eliza Jane Howell gown and delicate Britten Wedding veil and a bouquet by Daisy Ellen Floral Design that echoed not only the season but the shades of burgundy to co-ordinate with a very dashing groom.
Victoria’s hair and make is up such a gorgeous timeless look, which I’m sure will serve as great inspiration for brides out there. After a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony at the breathtakingly beautiful St Etheldredas Church, the couple and their guests hopped on a gold London bus (who thought a bus could have a hint of glitz?) and took to the iconic areas of St Paul’s for a beautiful backdrop for their portraits with their photographer Louise Adby.
In contrast they chose the relaxed pub setting of The Happenstance in the city where they could indulge in good food and drink whilst adding personal touches to the day for their guests to enjoy such as a temporary tattoo station and a Krispy Kreme doughnut cake. We love how this story transitions through the photographs, and particularly the evening dancing images which just show how much fun was had right until the end of the night!
We got engaged in New York the week before Christmas after being together for 5 years and the bride, Victoria picked the ring the day after at Tiffanys and the big day was upon us nearly 2 years later.
We knew from the start that we wanted our wedding to be different from any we’d been to previously. London as a city means so much to us. For one, it’s where we met and fell in love! It’s such an iconic place, full of great history and beautiful architecture, so seemed an obvious choice when coming to plan the biggest day of our lives.
St Etheldreda’s Catholic Church absolutely took our breath away when we first saw it, so much so that it pretty much brought us to tears, after the first 5 seconds of being there we knew it was the place we wanted our ceremony to be. Tucked away down a private street, it’s a true gem in the heart of the city. When it came to picking our reception venue, we wanted to choose somewhere relaxed, that suited our style and that we could picture ourselves partying into the small hours. The Happenstance, a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral and its retro charm, was the absolute perfect place.
OLD HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR
We wanted there to be a truly vintage (without all the cliches) feel to the day, incorporating a style that was influenced by many bygone eras; from art deco, to the Hollywood Glamour of the 40’s and 50’s. The style would be an appreciative nod to those beautiful times without looking like fancy dress or a particular theme. The bride is a keen collector of all things vintage so many things from her personal collection were incorporated, from typewriters and old books, to vintage frames.
ELIZA JANE HOWELL BRIDE
My dress search wasn’t the easiest. Being only 4’10” I was always told by others that I should wear a short 50’s style dress with petticoats as it would suit my height. I didn’t fully know what I wanted when I began looking, but I knew I didn’t want that. I probably tried on every style of dress imaginable, but never felt good in anything or felt it was anything different from the norm. I then came across the designer Eliza Jane Howell, on one of many internet searches. I found local stockist, Teokath Bridal in Wimbledon who were fantastic in making me feel at ease and extra special when trying them on. They were having a designer day where I met the lovely designer Gill, who saw me in ‘Sibella‘ and said I looked perfect in her design. I said yes to the dress!
I wanted a classic, soft veil and found Britten Weddings on another internet scour. They hand-make their veils and the finish and customer service was fantastic.
My headdress came from an independent designer Impressions Of You Tiaras by Sonia Frances who I found at The National Vintage Wedding Fair. She hand-makes bridal headdresses from old vintage jewellery which meant everything is one of a kind.
I knew I wanted the pearly white Vivienne Westwood ‘Melissa’ shoes with bright red heart since I was a teenager. They gave the perfect quirky finish to my otherwise very grown up dress, not to mention they smell like bubblegum!
BRIDESMAIDS IN BIBA
The bridesmaids dresses are the first thing I bought when planning the wedding, before I even looked for my own dress! I knew I wanted a charcoal grey long gown, so I was so excited to find the perfect dresses by Biba. They were so elegant, I knew they would suit everyone and had a vintage glamour about them without looking like fancy dress that I loved.
Mine, the bridesmaids and my mums hair was expertly done by Goshka at Lipstick and Curls, who was so lovely and created the Hollywood waves I’d always dreamed of. All of our makeup was done by Mel Kinsman, an absolute pro who worked closely with me to perfect that classic vintage look and really went the extra mile to make sure we were all happy. The morning, with us all getting ready was a very chilled affair. I had a room at Malmaison in Charterhouse Square. There was no panic, no drama and it was a really special time for me with my Mum, sister who was Maid of Honour and bridesmaids, my sister in law and 2 best friends.
The Groom wore a tailor-made three-piece suit by Beggars Run in burgundy mohair, accessorised with brogues, Vivienne Westwood pocket square and a gold engraved pocket watch, a gift from the bride on the morning of the big day. Getting ready was a much shorter tale, of showering, getting suited and booted and heading to the pub with the groomsmen and dads.
The wedding ceremony took place St Etheldreda’s Roman Catholic Church on Ely Place, Farringdon, it is tucked down a small cul-de-sac behind Hatton Garden,and is one of the oldest catholic churches in England and has the most stunning stained glass window at the alter. Due to the history of the church and it being featured in Shakespeare plays, we had Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare as one of our readings. We had traditional church music with an Organist and Solo Choir vocalist, who was absolutely breathtaking.
The overall look was a wild but glamorous style with lots of personal touches thrown in. We put a lot of creative touches to the overall look of the day, making a lot of the decorations, from balloon tassels, cake flags, the table names, 73 spray painted vintage animals (that I trawled ebay for), dipped gold feathers, to name a few.
Our main focus, obviously aside from the getting married bit, was to be surrounded by those that love and care about us and to have a big celebration. We’re both really into music so included loads of little touches that reflected this, from a handmade table plan made from old vinyl that were spray painted and adorned with unique labels we created, to calling the tables after the names of some of the songs that mean a lot to us and represent love. We wanted the day to represent us completely and it was so important that our guests had fun.
FOLIAGE AND FLORALS
Our florist Daisy Ellen was absolutely fantastic in helping create our vision for the big day. The main colours were whites, grey, blush tones and deep burgundy red which would be incorporated with lots of greenery, feathers and succulents. The bridal bouquet had a wild yet elegant style with loose trails of ribbons and feathers. The tables were overflowing with wild table runners of foliage, flower filled lanterns, white candles and feathers with our vintage spray painted gold and copper animals dotted in the greenery. We wanted to create a dramatic look, with a very autumnal feel with glowing candles and a bit of eccentricity. We were very particular about what we wanted and Daisy perfectly brought our ideas to life and was so lovely to work with.
The food was created by the in house team at The Happenstance. We wanted to choose a not so typical wedding menu, including dishes like sirloin steak and chips, chorizo scotch eggs and apple tarte tatin, all food we love to eat ordinarily. Will, the event coordinator for the Drake & Morgan group, was absolutely fantastic to work with. He was such a professional throughout the whole process and made everything such an easy and enjoyable experience. We would recommend them 100 times over to anyone wanting to have their reception in London.
For the cake, again wanting something different, we opted for Krispy Kreme donuts. We bought the stand ourselves and ordered the donuts. We bought a beautiful personalised cake topper from notonthehighstreet.com and made some flags with donut based puns on. All of it was put together by the fantastic team at The Happenstance, and the donuts went down very well after our guests had had a few bevs!
As a couple we have a shared love of music so it was a very important part of our day. We created special playlists ourselves to play over the speakers during the drinks reception and dinner, and one of the most special moments of the day was being welcomed into dining room as the new Mr & Mrs to David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. After the dinner and speeches we had the brides dad and brother play a live acoustic set which was brilliant and gave another personal touch to the day.
We chose our DJ Joei Supernova as he specialised in Northern Soul and rock and roll, music we love. Richard Hawley’s ‘The Ocean’ was our first dance, and the party continued into the small hours with some absolute bangers from The Beatles, Elvis, The Smiths to 90’s R&B, Rihanna & Drake, Beyonce and finished with ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince.
Instead of the traditional guestbook we chose to have a photobooth during the reception where guests would stick the photo in an album and write a personal message to us. We’ve had so many laughs looking back through it all, as the photos get rowdier the writing gets less legible.
We also had a temporary tattoo station with vintage style Sailor Jerry tattoos that our guests could apply and be ‘inked’ for the evening. There were plenty of neck tattoos knocking about which lasted well into the week that followed…oops!
Our photographer was Louise Adby, a friend of the brides brother whose relaxed, informal style we loved. In such an iconic setting it would have been silly not to take advantage of the surroundings so we stole a few moments away from our dancing guests to have some nighttime shots on the Millenium Bridge in front of St Paul’s, with the lit London skyline as our backdrop.
Our videographer was a close friend Jesse Cleary who worked so hard to capture our day. She’s so wonderfully creative so we knew she’d do a great job for us.
We had so many wonderful moments to look back on including air guitaring with our guests to “Black Betty” and then both of us having a dance off to “Crazy In Love”. It all goes by so quickly, and the love you feel from everyone is so overwhelming and wonderful. It really was the best day of our lives
As a recommendation, we would just say that try, as much as possible, to stay true to what you want and what your vision is as a couple for your day. Don’t let the inevitable dramas and hiccups along the way take over your mind, just breathe, be confident in your decisions and support each other – it really will keep you sane!
Try to eat more, we found that we really didn’t eat much at all due to having our photos taken, generally chatting to everyone and Chris getting nervous before his speech!
Huge thank you to the bride and groom Victoria and Chris for sharing such a wonderful story and day, and for photographer Louise Adby for sharing the images.