Every marriage faces its tests, but for Jenna and Nick, their dedication to one another was tested very early on in the relationship, when Jenna faced medical and family hardships – and Nick proved to be her rock, and a total keeper.
One conversion later, and Nick, now a fully fledged member of the tribe, and Jenna, said “I do” in front of their nearest and dearest. His moving wedding speech can be heard in the special stills video below by much-loved Recommended Vendor, Adams Photography, who also shot the wedding in full. Tissues at the ready, guys….
We love the romantic story about how these two chose their dream venue – going on atmosphere and instinct, which proved to be a magical moment in itself.
To mirror the venue’s ethos of ‘bringing the outside inside’, Nick and Jenna did exactly that, creating a bloom-filled décor scheme, with an abundance of delicate gypsophila, soft pink roses and a stunning tree-inspired table plan.
We’ll leave you in Jenna’s capable hands for the full recap, including a fortuitous find at David’s Bridal – clearly this big day was totally meant to be!
How we met
Jenna, the bride: Long-ish story! We met on Plenty of Fish! I basically was unsure, at first, about dating a non-Jewish guy, so I kept Nick a secret until I was sure it was something serious.
A week after Nick and I started talking, I was working on a film in Newcastle, and I slipped on some ice and really hurt my back. I flew back to London (barely able to walk) and went to see a specialist, who told me if I didn’t have surgery the next day, I could be paralysed. The following day I had surgery, and four days later my grandmother passed away.
I was left alone in my hospital bed in London, and Nick was a rock to me during that time. He was so supportive (be it over the phone) and we really got to know each other inside out. I understand it was not the most conventional way of dating, but once I was back on my feet, we met up and it felt like we had known each other for years. It just felt so right.
Six months later, I introduced him to the family. A few months after that, Nick came to me and asked me how I would feel if he was to convert to Judaism. I was really surprised by his question, but also felt a lot of admiration towards him. It was very important to Nick that when we were to have children that we are all on the same page and part of a family unit. Nick spent 18 months converting to Judaism, he learnt Hebrew, he had a circumcision (now that is commitment!) and after all of that lengthy process, Nick is now a proud Jew and I am, of course, very proud of him!
The long and winding road…
Nick and I got married at The Grove in Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire.
We wanted to pick a venue not too far from where we live, so that we could easily go back there on special occasions. The Grove was the first (and last) venue we visited. There is an extremely long, winding drive up to the hotel itself, which is breathtaking, and I remember the day we visited, as we were driving the sun was setting. There was the most amazing glow over the golf course and canal as we drove in, and both Nick and I instantly got butterflies in our stomachs. We hadn’t even seen the venue inside, but it instantly sparked a special feeling for us both.
After we had a look around the venue itself and the grounds, we were completely blown away. The attention to detail was exquisite, and the events manager instantly put us at ease, and was so helpful answering the list of questions I had compiled.
Nick and I decided to get married in November, so we particularly wanted a venue which was as stunning outside as it was inside. We assumed we would not be able to use the stunning grounds of the hotel, however the option was there if for some reason there was a warm evening in November. Yeah, right!
Becoming pals with Pinterest
We did not have a theme or a wedding planner. I am known (within my family) for being a huge lover of the colour grey. The majority of items (and walls) in our home are all different shades of grey and it is therefore dubbed ‘The 50 Shades of Grey House’!
After trying to decide on a colour that would match well with grey, we decided on a light pink, which we though would lift the grey, and also add a romantic prettiness.
While looking at ideas for our wedding, Pinterest quickly became my best friend and source for inspiration, however most people can have an entire ‘Wedding’ file on Pinterest and not one of their ideas will come to fruition.
The Grove have a theme throughout the hotel of ‘bringing the outside, inside’, so I decided to help use this as a loose inspiration. I really wanted to have a pretty, classic, romantic feel and all the emails, research and phone calls really paid off.
Our invitations were bespoke. We used a company that came round to our house with huge books full of previous invitations and save the dates that they had previously produced.
The variety and colour combinations were mind blowing, so it was quite a challenge to find something that we both agreed on. We really wanted to carry our thought process through every step of our wedding, so that when the invitations arrived, it gave our guests a snippet of what was to come.
A very convenient bestie
Luckily, my best friend (and bridesmaid) is a makeup artist to the stars! She was on hand to put me at ease and make me look my best. She also made my mum up, and I have to say, she has never looked more beautiful.
We did a trial a few weeks before the wedding, and it was so lovely to have her there for touch ups, too! Another makeup friend of mine (who was also a guest at the wedding) was also there to do all four of my bridesmaids. She was such a star too, and we all know each other, so we had so many giggles on the morning we were getting ready.
All of our hair was done by the fabulous Lucy Hart. She was such a trooper. In total she did six people, and was so cool, calm and collected. She made all of the bridesmaids’ hair slightly different and included amazing, intricate fishtail plaits.
Ring the bell – it’s the one!
After about a month of watching Say Yes To The Dress, and wishing that we had some amazing shop in the UK where there was a vast showroom of dresses by different designers, my prayers were answered!
A David’s Bridal shop opened 15 minutes from my house, and it opened a few months after Nick and I got engaged! This was my first port of call.
Now, I am not a size 10 woman! I was having horrific visions of going into a bridal shop and having to be tied into a dress with an elastic band and made to feel awkward and embarrassed that I didn’t fit the standard skinny bride-style dress.
I walked in and didn’t know where to look or where to begin. They had a vast number of dresses in a large range of sizes designed by the likes of Vera Wang (naturally I tried on a few of these), Jenny Packham, Zac Posen, Oleg Cassini etc.
The third dress I tried on made me feel so beautiful! It fitted me perfectly, and having been slightly larger most of my life, I had never really felt that way. This dress instantly gave me that feeling. It was a white ballgown with a sweetheart neckline. I left the shop feeling there was hope, but wanted to try another shop or two just to confirm that this was THE dress!
Every other dress I tried, I found myself comparing it to that dress which was the confirmation I needed. A week or two later my mum and I went back, and even though I tried on some stunning Vera Wang dresses, I opted for a David’s Bridal own dress.
They have a lovely tradition at David’s Bridal which is that when you find your dress you and your mum (or whoever your approval party includes) rings a bell, and I can tell you it is a very emotional moment! It was a moment I will never forget.
Comfy kitten heels
Being 5ft 8”, I didn’t want to wear skyscraper heels, especially as Nick is 5ft 9”, so I opted for some tiny kitten heels, which were white satin peep toes, and they had a lovely vintage brooch on them. They were so comfy!
The handsome groom
Nick looks incredible in grey, and he also really suits pink. We initially went to a hire company, but decided, in the end, that actually, the cost of hiring was more than buying a suit.
Nick and his best man both wore a lovely suit from Marks and Spencer, and they opted for a satin style silver waist coat to dress the suit up slightly. It is really nice that he will have his wedding suit to keep, and hopefully wear at future happy occasions.
A meant-to-be bridesmaids’ dress
I had four incredible bridesmaids! Three of my bridesmaids were friends from school who I have known since I was 10, and one was my best friend from university. I was really struggling with finding a bridesmaids’ dress that I loved every tiny detail of. I was searching for inspiration on Pinterest, and I found an amazing grey gown with a split leg I was thinking “how on earth am I going to find a dress that I love as much as this?”
I was in David’s Bridal having some measurements taken, and the lady taking my measurements was asking me about bridesmaids’ dresses. I told her that I found this dress on Pinterest and she asked me to show her… The next words which came out of her mouth made my day!
She told me that David’s Bridal are the ONLY store in the world to stock this dress as it is White by Vera Wang! I almost fell over with excitement, and she immediately led me to the Vera Wang bridesmaids’ dresses.
I instantly started a Whatsapp group with all my bridesmaids and showed them the dress. Bearing in mind I had two bridesmaids in Newcastle Upon Tyne, one near Windsor and one in San Francisco, I had slight panic mode about how to orchestrate a fitting for all of them. Luckily, they all managed to come down to London or had their measurements given in to David’s Bridal and the dresses were placed on order.
It was very special to have my two nephews as page boys.
A pretty, whimsical chuppah
This was a labour of love! I like quite clean, neat lines, and decided to have a very straight, square, structured chuppah and thought we could make it really pretty with the flowers and candles and lighting.
After many discussions with our florist and chuppah designer (who turned out to also be our caterer) we decided on a staged chuppah with two steps. The chuppah had pink up lighting, and the corners of the stage were embellished with rose petals and storm lamps holding romantic candles. We also had some gypsophila on the steps to tie everything in, as the entire four bars of our chuppah were covered in masses of gypsophila.
It created a really whimsical, pretty look and when I had my first glimpse of it all I was blown away, as was Nick. My grandfather walked Nick down the aisle, and he said he was so blown away by it all (as he had nothing to do with the flowers or chuppah design) that he had to grab my grandfather’s hand!
Honoring lost loved ones
We had a few special touches on our wedding day. I lost my paternal grandmother five years ago, and she was very dear to me. She was such a special woman in my life, and I wanted to incorporate as much of her into the day as possible.
I had a thought of having a label sewn inside the lining my dress with her initials on it, and I tried to search the web for a company that specialized in this. After weeks of looking, I eventually found a company that sew bespoke messages, initials, dates, names etc onto a large satin label and you can choose the color of the embroidery.
My grandmother was Swiss, and her mother tongue was French. I always remember her singing to me and my brother in French and particularly remember Frere Jacques being a favourite. I wondered how I could include this on the label. In French the song says “Sonnez Les Matines” which means “morning bells are ringing” so I took that to be quite wedding related. I chose that line in French with my grandmother’s initials and the date of our wedding in blue embroidery and used that as my ‘something blue’! This company, Extra Special Touch, also made some handkerchiefs for my mum and dad with embroidered messages, which looked incredible, and they were both very touched by.
We chose a string quartet to play while we walked down the aisle as my grandmother was a cellist. This was my way of having her with me on my special day, and we also had a memorial table for our loved ones who are no longer with us. This was embellished with a framed poem, a floral bouquet and some candles.
Our ketubah was absolutely stunning! We found an incredible lady, Ruth Mergi, who does stylish artistic ketubahs and as soon as I saw one, I was sold. We loved that after our special day we could frame it and it looks like artwork. It was laser cut and so beautifully designed, but quite fragile.
My favourite part of the ceremony had to be the giving of the rings. I finally got to look my future husband in the eye and say I do! Such a special moment.
Hold my hand
Our processional song (played by the string quartet, City String Ensemble) was A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. This song has great meaning for me and Nick, and it sounded incredible. Our recessional song was God Only Knows by The Beach Boys – we just love that song!
As we were introduced as Mr & Mrs into the room, our band played Hold My Hand by Jess Glynne and believe me… I am glad he did!
Our first dance was You’re My Best Friend by The Once. People don’t really know this version, it’s quite folky! We loved that it was meaningful to us, but also a much more romantic cover than Queen.
We opted for a band called Supatight. They are a funk a soul band and really got the crowd up and moving.
Bringing the outside inside
My mum and I met a few florists who were all fabulous, but a little out of our budget. We then met a fabulous lady called Alexandra who was so helpful. Nothing was too much. I had some ideas in terms of the chuppah and aisle and table centrepieces, but I also had an idea in keeping with The Grove’s theme of ‘bringing the outside inside’ of having a large blossom tree made from which to hang the table plan.
Alexandra experimented and sent us loads of photos along the way, and on the day, it was incredible! We had a large grey pot filled with stones, and a large birch pole. She also made this huge canopy out of various twigs and blooms. They then hung individual lists of our tables with the guests’ names (in keeping with our invitations and supplied by the same company who made our invitations) from the branches of the tree with a silver organza.
The flowers surrounding our chuppah were all gypsophila, and we had four balls of gypsophila sitting in large flute vases standing on glass plinths down either side of our white carpeted aisle. The vases were also surrounded by candles.
The button holes were a pink sweet avalanche roses with a silver leaf attached.
We also used the balls of gypsophila, which were in place down the aisle on the tables during the dinner and added some similar centrepieces with white hydrangeas and sweet avalanche pink roses. Mine and the bridesmaids’ bouquets were made entirely out of a variety of roses which gave a pretty vintage feel.
Our fabulous photographer
We looked at a few photographers but as soon as we found Adam, we were blown away by his photos. We felt they really captured the emotion of the day, and that was really what we wanted. We met up with Adam a few weeks before our wedding at The Grove, and discussed certain aspects which were important for us as well as looking at particular areas with and around the hotel to get the best shots on the day itself.
Adam also explained to us that he was experimenting with recording the audio of the speeches on the day, and wanted to offer us a video which included the photos from our big day with a song of our choice (we chose our processional song “A Thousand Years”) and the speeches over the top. We were so chuffed with the finished result.
An ice-cream bar
We dabbled with a cake pop tiered cake, but in the end, decided on having an ice-cream bar. Our caterer was so incredible. We used Philip Small Caterers and Party Planners who are also an event planner so he is very experienced and helped us along every step with ideas and hints and tips to make our day as spectacular as it was.
The canapés, starters, main courses, desserts and cocktails were all to die for! Philip really listened to what we both like, and incorporated every whim we both had.
Nick’s speech was so amazing! I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. It was so heartfelt, and he really opened himself up to everyone, which was amazing.
My grandfather is known in our family for writing odes, and he wrote a lovely one about me and Nick – that was very special!
There were two huge screens up in the room we were having dinner and the speeches in, and I was feeling sick with embarrassment wondering what was going to be shown. My dad showed a video of me as a child dancing to Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion, which was (just as I imagined) highly embarrassing! Then my brother got up and started talking, which I was not expecting!
He works for Global Radio and had arranged a video to be made for me and Nick with messages wishing us well from the likes of Emma Bunton, Jason Donovan and Mark Wright. That was funny, special and something we will never forget!
We also had a photo booth from OMG! Entertainments, which everyone had so much fun in! It had a huge queue outside, and they provided us with a guestbook which they stuck the photos in and the guests signed a message to me and Nick next to their photo.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
If I could give any other brides out there some advice, it would be to stress as much as you like while organising your big day, but on the day itself you have to sit back, enjoy the champagne and let all of your hard work pay off!
Also, pick your battles with the parents… some are not worth it!
Jenna & Nick’s little white book
Photographer – Adams Wedding Photography
Venue – The Grove
Bride’s dress – purchased at David’s Bridal
Bride’s jewellery – Etsy
Groom’s attire – Marks and Spencer
Bridesmaids – White by Vera Wang
Flowers – Alexandra’s Florists
String quartet – City String Ensemble
Band – Supatight
Caterer and Party Planner – Philip Small
Invitation – Simcha Invitations
Ketubah – Ruth Mergi
Embroideries – Extra Special Touch