Oh Genna and Seth, where to start? What a wonderfully cool and creative wedding these two had!
But we have to start somewhere, so what better place than with the venue design? This included effectively transporting a magical woodland into an urban, London venue – the beautiful One Embankment. You genuinely have to look hard to realise that the chuppah did not, in fact, take place in an enchanted forest. We are also seriously into those stairs leading to the chuppah – what an entrance!
The wedding was submitted by illustrious kosher caterer, Food Story, for whom Genna and Seth had nothing but glowing praise, and, being very familiar with their work, we have to agree!
Genna looked every bit the breathtaking bride in her astoundingly gorgeous Ritva Westenius gown, which was made just for her (and wow, it really shows), and STG Vendor Sensation Band entertained the crowd with a spectacular live music soundtrack, working very closely alongside the bride and groom in the run-up to their Big Day (that’s an STG Vendor for you!)
Genna and Seth did not see or speak to each other for a whole week before the wedding, and, literally surrounded by friends and family at the chuppah, were totally overwhelmed with emotion and excitement. We think this is an absolutely wonderful idea for those who possess the self control, and it clearly made the moment even more special and electric for them.
You can check out all the details below, including all the images by Earthy Photography, the moving, vintage-inspired movie by videographer, Mariage a la Mode, and beautiful words by the gorgeous bride, Genna.
How we met
Genna, the bride: I wouldn’t call this a romantic fairytale story… Seth and I have know each other for 15 years. We had a first kiss when we were just 14, then again aged 16, where I totally and utterly fell for Seth but the feeling wasn’t quite mutual.
Eight years then passed without speaking or bumping into each other, until we met again at a friend’s party. After an awkward conversation, and a lot of drinks, we set another time to go on a date, and the rest was history.
A chic London venue with perfect bridal entrance potential
We got married at One Embankment, under Waterloo bridge. The venue was very important to us. From day one, we were adamant we did not want to get married in a London hotel, as it did not feel true to ‘us’. However, I never realised how incredibly tough it would be to find a venue in London, big enough for 250+ guests, suitable for kosher caterers and available on Sunday.
When we walked into One Embankment, it was pretty perfect. It is a beautiful, empty wooden space, giving us the freedom to make it our own. There is a mezzanine floor with a beautiful wrought-iron banister around the room. It reminded me of a romantic Italian courtyard – not to mention the staircase made the most perfect aisle walk!
A secret garden festival theme
Seth and I are big festival goers, so a lot of our inspiration came from Wilderness Festival and Secret Garden Party. We knew that we wanted trees, and to move away from traditional flowers in the venue, making it our own secret garden.
We used a wedding planner, Philip Pleydell-Pearce, who was a total life saver. He made the build up so amazingly special and easy for all of us, and wedding meetings turned into long chats over bottles of wine; I couldn’t recommend him highly enough.
Our caterers were Food Story (who were unbelievable!) and Jo Woolfe from their team, who managed the evening, was also part of our wedding planning ‘dream team’.
Simple, elegant off-white invitations
Our invitation was simple and elegant. We used Ruth Kaye Design, who completely understood our style.
It was an off-white design with grey/green font. Along the bottom was our favourite quote quote by E.E. Cummings: ‘one’s not half of two, two are halves of one.’
An ideally placed makeup artist
I am lucky that my best friend is also the most talented makeup artist. Natasha Klipp did mine, my mum’s and bridesmaids makeup. It was amazing having such a close friend help me get ready, as not only did she create the most perfect look for me, but she kept me calm all day – I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!
Tash recommended Sarah Louise of Hair by Slo to do my hair, and she was absolutely brilliant. She created my dream look in about five minutes, and was so much fun to have on the day! They are an Essex dream team.
A classic, bespoke Ritva Westenius gown
I had my dress made at Ritva Westenius. I wanted something classic and elegant, which was surprisingly hard to find.
When I first visited Ritva Westenius, she had a silk pleated skirt half finished on a mannequin, which caught my eye immediately. I was lucky, as she did not know how she would finish the design, so I got to work with her to create the final piece, which she named the ‘Genna Trio’.
I had two tops: the first for the chuppah, which had a high neck and three-quarter-length sleeves made in tiny embroidered daisy with a pearl in the middle of each flower. This sat just above the top line of the skirt. I then designed a matching silk top to the dress that hooked onto the skirt for the rest of the party. It had no boning, corset or bra, as I knew being comfortable was key to partying hard.
Vintage diamond earrings
My only accessories were beautiful vintage diamond and pearl-drop earrings borrowed from my mum’s best friend.
My hair was in a simple pony tail for the chuppah and then taken down for the party.
Shoes to make Carrie jealous
My shoes were blue Manolo Blahnik à la Carrie Bradshaw, of course! You couldn’t see them under my dress, but I knew they were there. I brought white satin ballet shoes to change into, but I didn’t even notice my feet until the dancing had stopped and the music was turned off. The next day, I couldn’t walk, but it was all worth the pain!
The handsome groom
Seth kept his suit a surprise from me – he has pretty excellent taste so I was never worried. It was a made-to-measure suit from Spencer Hart. He had ‘S&G’ and our wedding date embroided into the inside lining, which was bright purple.
When we first saw each other, we both agreed we did not even register what the other was wearing. We spent the week apart before the wedding without speaking or texting. This was so incredibly hard, but made the moment I saw Seth and the chuppah extra special. It is so easy to get carried away with the dress, flowers, set up etc, and not being able to speak or see each other made us focus on what the day was really about.
Bridesmaids in dusty hues
I had two maid of honours and three bridesmaids, who were my cousins. I let them choose their own dress and style as I wanted them to be comfortable and love what they were wearing. I just asked them to stick to the colour palette of ‘dusty’ colors, if possible, and they all wore daisies in their hair. It actually worked out perfectly, and I loved the mix of their dresses – they looked beautiful!
An intimate and magical chuppah ceremony
The chuppah was the main focal point for us both, so the wedding venue and design really revolved around the ceremony. We wanted everyone to be standing, surrounding us, not seated in formal rows. Having everyone surrounding us and feeling part of the day was extremely important.
We built a canopy of trees around the venue, mezzanine floor arching around the stage, where Seth and I got married under a tallit (this was the same tallit Seth’s sister got married under). It was held up on four poles by my two brothers and Seth’s best men.
At the bottom of the staircase, my cousins and three of Seth’s closest friends held a rope covered in ivy to mark an aisle where Seth and I had our badeken. Although it was a big venue, it felt so intimate, being so close to everyone with no barriers or set seatings – you could really feel so much emotion in the room. It was a very special moment, it felt extremely spiritual and magical to have everyone by our sides.
An indoor forest dreamland
The venue was canopied by trees, so we kept flowers minimal. On the tables, we had tree trunks, fresh herbs (which smelled amazing), candles and wild daisies.
The natural wild look was carried into my bouquet, which was beautiful cascading greens with daisies and a few white roses. The button holes were herbs with daisies in them too.
Our florist, Christopher from Woodbrown London, is so extremely talented, he completely got the look we were going for and left us all totally overwhelmed with how beautiful the room looked. He turned an underground venue under Waterloo Bridge into an magical forest ‘dreamland’.
Straight into the dancing
After the chuppah we went straight into Israeli dancing. We wanted to keep the emotions from the chuppah alive, and being able to hug, kiss, jump, and dance with our friends and family straight after such an emotional ceremony was amazing.
Our guests also did not expect it, so it was a brilliant surprise for them, and it started off the party with an amazing energy!
A sensational live band
Our first song was Bob Marley I Wanna Love You. This is also the song Seth proposed to. We worked with Sensation Band to have a slow remix of the song for when we began dancing that then changed into the original version when all our friends and family joined us on the dance floor.
We were very specific about the music for the evening, and worked with Sensation Band to soundtrack our wedding with both their band and DJ. They were amazing, and kept to our dream list of songs – they absolutely smashed it, again I couldn’t recommend them highly enough! We made sure they all wore their own clothes which gave the night a more ‘relaxed’ feel and they were all ready to party.
A vintage videographer
We worked with Mat and Zoe from Mariage a la Mode who film on 8mm film stock on vintage cinecameras. We knew that we would never watch a four-hour-long video of the full wedding, whereas this would be something special we could watch again and again. We worked with them to create a beautiful 20-minute film that captured the day perfectly.
The bride’s speech
My dad, Seth’s best men, Seth and I all made a speech. My speech was only five minutes long, but on such a special day in my life there were some people, especially Seth, that I had to mention.
I hand wrote little notes on brown labels to every woman, that was put on their table place. I felt I had something special to say to every woman there, who had all had an impact on my life.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
My wedding build up was incredibly stress free, and I loved every part of it. I think, in the planning, you have to pick your battles. Make a list of three key features that mean a lot to you, and the rest has to be a compromize. A lot of work, effort, time and money goes into a wedding so it shouldn’t just be about the day, you should try and relax and love the build up, too! It is just as special.
Seth and I also had lessons with the rabbi and his wife, Deborah Leah from The Village Shul. We are not religious, but it was a tradition we both felt strongly about. These lessons completely changed both our views on marriage, and the day itself. We felt incredibly spiritual and connected to each other, and let the wedding stress fall behind us. We did not see or speak to each other for the week before, so all wedding worries and stress went away, and I was just so excited to see Seth’s face at the end of the aisle.
Genna & Seth’s little white book
Caterers – Food Story
Photographer – Earthy Photography
Videographer – Mariage a la Mode
Venue – One Embankment
Bride’s dress – Ritva Westenius
Bride’s shoes – Manolo Blahnik
Groom’s attire – Spencer Hart
Hair + Makeup – Hair by Slo and Natasha Klipp MUA
Flowers – WoodBrown London
Band – Sensation Band
Invitations – Ruth Kaye Design
Lessons with Rabbi – The Village Shul