Today on Ask The Experts, we are looking at a subject we haven’t covered before...
Today’s London wedding is super cool and super stylish. It takes place at the most stunning of venues and maybe one that you didn’t realise could be a wedding venue! The Barbican Centre in London is somewhere Anna and Benjamin fell in love with, the luscious greenery mixed with the modern edge, coupled with the fact that they could hold both their ceremony and reception in the same venue, sealed the deal for them. They kept the decor simple, not wanting to take away from the pure beauty of the building itself and added a stunning colour scheme of white and gold, mixed with lots of greenery and the super stylish geometric decor. The cake is my personal favourite, outstanding! Big thanks to Liverpool based wedding photographer Steven Rooney for the magnificent photos.
Anna and Benjamin were married on 10th March 2018 at The Barbican Centre in London. ‘We’ve both grown up and work in London so were really keen to find a cool London venue that wasn’t a typical wedding venue. We also wanted to find somewhere we could have the ceremony, wedding breakfast and party all in one space so we wouldn’t lose precious time travelling between locations. We viewed lots of hotels in London but as soon as we entered into the conservatory at the Barbican we fell in love with the beautiful tropical plants and greenery. It is such a hidden gem in the concrete jungle of the Barbican building and is such a surprise when you walk in. We had 85 guests for the day, which grew to 130 for the evening reception. I started really planning the wedding after my sister’s wedding in April 2017 so just under a year.’
How they met
We’ve been together for nearly 4 years. We met in a local bar in Bexleyheath which we both used to go to when we were 18 but never met each other at the time. Roll on 12 years later and that’s where it all began!
Tell me about the proposal
Ben had arranged for us to go to Jamaica for our 2nd year anniversary. He was very nervous going through security at the airport and at the time I wondered why he was acting so strangely. On our 1st day in Jamaica Ben asked me to get out of the pool to look at the view of the sea from the balcony where there was a lady standing with 2 glasses of champagne. All of a sudden he had this gorgeous ring in his hands but was so nervous he forgot to get down on one knee! Eventually he did a weird kind of lunge and I of course said yes. He then told me that he’d hidden the ring in my hand luggage on the way out there, so I’d carried the ring all the way to Jamaica without even realising!
How did you allocate your budget?
We started off with a spreadsheet to help us budget but after a while that went out of the window! We didn’t want to regret not doing anything but at the same time did loads of research to make sure we got the best deal that we could without compromising our vision of our special day. Where we could we tried to make things ourselves and not go silly with the spending.
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
The most important things to us on the day were the entertainment and that our guests had plenty of food and drink so this is where the big chunk of our money went.
Other than the flowers we decided not to go crazy on the decorations. We’d chosen the venue for it’s character and wanted that to shine through on it’s own without covering it up with loads of decorations.
How did you choose your photographer?
Steven Rooney was recommended to us by another photographer and we in turn could not recommend Steven enough ourselves! We went through his portfolio online and the video montage he had featured online blew us away. We loved the feel and look that Steven portrayed and loved that he managed to capture the fun and off the cuff moments of a wedding. It was exactly what we wanted and Steven didn’t disappoint.
My dress was from Dando London which I found at Dress Dreams Bridal in Sevenoaks. I wanted something timeless but with a modern edge to it that would also suit the surroundings of the venue. The back of the dress and the long train were the real wow factors and the fact the train was detachable meant I was able to dance the night away later in the evening. Ben had arranged a surprise gift for me the evening before the wedding which was a beautiful pair of diamond earrings that match my halo engagement ring.
The suit and bridesmaids
Ben’s suit was a complete secret to me. If he couldn’t see my dress then I wasn’t allowed to see his suit! He wore a navy big checked 3 piece suit which he got from Label Lab at House of Fraser. He paired this with a great pair of navy and black shoes from Russell and Bromley. Ben accessorised this all with gold cuff links and a gold pocket watch which was my wedding gift to him, as well as a champagne gold bow tie which matched the bridesmaids dresses which were from Ralph Lauren.
Theme or colour scheme
We decided that as the venue spoke for itself with all the luscious greenery, we didn’t want to distract from this so we opted for a simple white and gold colour scheme. W also wanted to draw on the brutalism of the building so decided to have touches of geometric features.
We got our flowers from The Wedding Flower Company who are based in North London. As soon as we met Cathy and Gayle at the venue we knew we’d made the right choice as they brought our vision to life. The florists helped me to choose flowers in keeping with the venue that included beautiful succulents, ranunculus and loads of foliage. As I only ended up having my sister and Ben’s sisters as Bridesmaids I wanted to include my best friends somehow in the wedding somehow. So instead of finding ‘something blue’ to wear I decided my seven best friends would be my something blue. So Gayle and Cathy made gorgeous white rose corsages with a touch of blue which all the girls wore.
The Barbican is so amazing in itself that we decided to not go crazy with the decorations. The main decoration that we wanted to get right was the flowers. They created beautiful plinths with huge flower arrangements for the ceremony.
Instead of pew ends we chose giant white balloons with ivy leaf string, which we got from Bubblegum Balloons.
We then decided to have long banqueting tables instead of round tables for the wedding breakfast which Cathy and Gayle decorated beautifully with geometric terrariums, vintage gold vases all overflowing with flowers and tea lights. We had a fairy light curtain which lit up as the dinner went on into the evening and then the Barbican turned on all the fairy lights in the conservatory. It looked really magical.
Searcys were the caterers at the Barbican and we had so many amazing compliments on the food. For the starter we had black pepper crusted tuna, followed by a slow cooked beef and finished with a delicious gin and tonic cheesecake which we’d asked them to make especially. The meal was finished off with white and gold macaroons.
For the evening we had a street style food station which was very much needed after the drinking and dancing!
The wedding cake was one of the first things we ended up booking. We found Katie from Malarkey Cakes at a wedding fair in Canary Wharf. She knew we wanted a white and gold cake which featured geometric details. She created a four tier cake which was exactly how we imagined it. The layers were purple haze, raspberry ripple, lemon drizzle and a fabulous rum and coconut cream which was a nod to us having got engaged in Jamaica.
To entertain the guests as they arrived, and for our ceremony music, we had an acoustic duo called Alex and Suzy who we found on Alivenetwork.com. They also entertained the guests at our cocktail and canapé reception. For the wedding breakfast we decided to go for a pianist called Charlie Myers who we also found on Alivenetwork. Then for the evening entertainment we were lucky enough to have a live band called The Fix who we found on Bands for Hire followed by a DJ from Sound Bookings
Who supplied the stationery?
Our stationary was from Cartalia who we used for our invites, wedding breakfast menus, table plan and cake and cocktail menus. On all of these we went for a white card with gold geometric foil
We decided to make a few things ourselves for the day.
Instead of having traditional place names for the wedding breakfast, we decided to print polaroid pictures of each guest and have their name at the bottom. After hours and hours of Facebook stalking we managed to find the funniest photos of everyone. I then made little white and gold tripods to stand these up at each place setting. Everybody thought their pictures were hilarious and it also helped to break the ice between guests who didn’t know each other that well.
We made the doughnut wall ourselves. After much research online we just couldn’t find one big enough (Ben loves doughnuts!) so we decided to make a huge one ourselves!
For the guest book and cards table I hung old photographs of both our parents and grandparents on their wedding days and on the wall behind I printed off lots of different quotes and funny memes on marriage and relationships, framed these and decorated them with flowers.
My favourite moment was walking down the aisle and seeing Ben for the 1st time. He looked so handsome but so nervous and it gave me the giggles! I walked down the aisle to the Proclaimers ‘500 miles,’ Everyone thought it was a hilarious choice and it brought a smile to everyone’s faces, although I must say the acoustic duo we had played the slow acoustic version and the words are actually really romantic!
During my Dad’s speech he invited Ben’s Dad, Terry, to join him at the mic and they had prepared a speech together to surprise us both, that definitely brought a tear to my eye.
As the wedding breakfast was winding down and our guests were in the full swing of getting drunk and enjoying themselves, Ben and I sat back and had a moment to ourselves just watching everyone have fun and knowing they were there for us was the most amazing feeling.
We finished off our evening with an after party at The Ned, and walking through the hotel into the underground bar was also really fun all dressed up in our wedding outfits!
Advice for other couples
Don’t stress about anything and enjoy every moment. I can honestly say I loved every minute of planning our wedding and you have to enjoy these moments just as much as the day itself.
Stay true to yourselves as a couple and don’t be swayed into anything you don’t want to do. Remember it’s your day!
So many people had told us to make time for each other on the day and try and be together throughout the day so you have the same memories together. We did this as much as we could and these little moments together were the most amazing thing to share together.
Things may go wrong but don’t get upset or let anything bother you, at the end of the day you’re marrying your best friend with all your favourite people around you and that’s all that matters, everything else is a bonus!
Steven is a Liverpool based wedding photographer covering weddings all over the UK and Europe. Steven has been photographing weddings for 12 years and is known for his creative and modern style.