Today’s couple, Emma and James, were lucky enough to hold their Tipi reception at Emma’s parents...
Happy Monday everyone, I do hope you have had a wonderful weekend? I am currently enjoying the delights of a weekend away at Forest Pines. Nik and I have been lucky enough to enjoy some time away and it has been absolute bliss! I will be telling you more about it, in week or so. Today though we have the most amazing wedding to share with you and it’s one of my favs of the year so far. Lauren and Graham really went to town on their East End Wedding. They booked two of the most amazing east end venues, that automatically turned their wedding into a super cool event. Add in Lauren’s vintage Norman Hartnell gown (only the man who designed the Queens wedding dress) 3 very cool bridesmaids, a lot of amazing music and Lauren’s mum who learnt to walk again just so she could walk her down the aisle. An amazing wedding that I know you are going to LOVE, what an awesome way to start the week. Big thanks to Leanne Jade Photography for this wonderful images.
Lauren and Graham were married on the 14th of August 2016 in a ceremony at Wilton’s Music Hall followed by a reception at Stage 3, Hackney Empire. ‘We both work in music, and all the good times we have together and with our friends pretty much revolve around our love of music, clubs and festivals. Wilton’s Music Hall is a hidden gem tucked down an alleyway in East London where we live, our favourite gig venue and the oldest surviving music hall in the world. It’s got so much East End history and character, not the slightest bit bling, just a gorgeous faded beauty about it, the perfect backdrop for the day. We had 85 guests in the day, 120 at the reception. We booked the venue 12 months before, then properly knuckled down at the 6 months to go point.’
How they met
We met through mutual friends at our favourite club night Bugged Out at a (now sadly closed) nightclub called The End in London.
We chatted about it a few months earlier in the October and agreed it was something we both wanted to do. Lauren’s mum had also been poorly that year too so that gave us extra incentive, we went shopping for a ring shortly after. Lauren’s dad passed away when she was sixteen so Graham asked Ann (Lauren’s mum) for permission to propose while we were staying at her house up in Warrington at Christmas. Graham popped the question on Christmas day morning with just the three of us there in Ann’s living room, it was lovely and personal, tears all round!
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We’re very similar in that we’re both rather allergic to the commercial wedding industry, from the whole seat covers and coloured sashes epidemic. We agreed from the outset the stuff that mattered and the stuff that 100% didn’t. The biggest chunk of our budget went on the venue and catering, the band and the dress. We saved money by marrying on a Sunday, and on décor – a venue like Wilton’s with such natural character just didn’t need dressing. And for the transport, we opted to arrive in a black Hackney cab, in keeping with the East End theme.
Why did you choose your photographer?
Leanne came as a recommendation from a friend of the family who worked with her. We didn’t want the standard cheesy posed wedding photos, we’d both look so awkward! Leanne has a really cool, candid style, as soon as we saw her portfolio we fell in love with her work, we met up for a drink and hit it off straight away. Wilton’s is a dream backdrop for dramatic photos, but one of my favourite photos was actually of my bridesmaid Heather strutting past the kebab shop by my flat in Hackney looking fabulous. East London in one photo.
The dress was an original 1950s Norman Hartnell gown from Designer Vintage at Liberty. Normal Hartnell also designed the Queen’s wedding dress and coronation gown; if it’s good enough for Elizabeth…ha. Accessories – I remember Stelios who runs the vintage section in Liberty offering up some styling advice the day I tried on the dress, “Go for a contemporary shoe, a vintage heel will kill the look”, and he was so right! I found some mirrored Nicholas Kirkwood boots from Net-A-Porter that balanced the vintage dress out perfectly, and a floral hair slide from Anthropologie.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Graham’s suit was from House of Fraser on Oxford Street. He didn’t expect to find such a good fit on the high street but they had a great range. Tie was from Liberty, and Grenson shoes.
Bridesmaids – their requests were “ideally nothing backless, strapless, high-waisted or plunging please”… challenge set! I had the idea of a cape dress and came across a cool little French brand called LPC on Silkfred. With three black capes in tow the squad swiftly got named as “The Batmaids”.
Theme or Colour Scheme
It was an East End theme.
Peonies, roses, sweet pea
We knew our friends wouldn’t expect from us a “foodie wedding” or anything particularly traditional or bling, but they would expect us to bring the entertainment factor. We booked Old Dirty Brasstards for the reception (a brass band who play Prince, Beyonce, MJ, say no more), they also provided the soundtrack to our first dance – Human League Don’t You Want Me, we knew it would get everyone on the floor.
My favourite element of the day was Gilly Bean, the human jukebox – a ridiculously talented pianist with a mind-boggling repertoire of 10,000+ pop songs. Instead of wedding favours, we put post-it note pads in the middle of each table and asked everyone to scribble down their favourite songs of all time. Within 10 minutes the piano was splattered in a sea of multi-coloured request slips ‘Phil Collins Easy Lover’, ‘Meat Loaf Bat Out Of Hell’, ‘East 17 Stay Another Day’, Whitney Houston I Have Nothing, she even successfully delivered on “Mousse T’s I’m Horny”, ha, mass sing-a-longs all round, top memories.
Beef, via special delivery…
One carefully selected person on each table received a gold envelope on their seat containing a top secret mission. They had to report to the kitchen after starters where they were kitted out in chef’s hats and brightly-coloured aprons, before re-emerging to the tune of Be Our Guest carrying massive platters of beef, and becoming the head carver for the table. Thankfully they were all good sports and camped it up to perfection!
We enlisted our talented friends Cuan and Nadene as our Bakers-in-Chief. They made us a beautiful tiered Victoria Sponge, you should have seen the mathematical calculations involved in the ingredients measuring, we got regular photo updates via Whats App.
Peter Bowen Illustration
Lauren plays the piano and so played herself down the aisle! No keytars involved, just a pre-recorded piano instrumental of Band Of Horses’ No One’s Gonna Love You. And Graham, who is resident DJ at the club night Guilty Pleasures, played a special Guilty Pleasures set at the party.
Definitely having Ann, who is wheelchair-bound, learning to walk again in order to walk Lauren down the aisle was special. 12 months in training and she did it, stole the show, made the front of the local newspaper and everything!
Advice for other couples
If it’s a dry hire venue, book the caterers before anything else. We were pleasantly surprised by how much of the event the catering company takes responsibility for such as furniture hire, linens, all glassware, deliveries etc. It simplified a lot of the fiddly logistics we were expecting to have to manage ourselves.
We also booked a friend/colleague as ‘Stage Manager’ for the day who was in charge of the running order and ensured the relevant people were where they needed to be at the right time. This allowed us to spend time with friends and family without the hassle of managing the day itself.
Not descending into a blubbing mess! I (Lauren) am a notorious blubber, and that was the biggest fear leading up to the day that I’d be in tears walking down the aisle and end up ruining the make-up and photos, thankfully I held it together. Perhaps the best surprise has been the psychological shift that comes with being married, neither of us had anticipated it when we were so preoccupied with all the wedding planning, it’s brought a sort of happy, settled peacefulness, it’s a lovely bonding experience.