Yes, a Jewish-Caribbean Wedding in period fancy dress is actually a thing — or at least Emma and James have certainly made it a thing. Think ‘Pride & Prejudice’ meets Jimmy Choo. Think the Hora and Caribbean steel bands. Think jerk chicken BBQ with salt beef sandwiches for midnight munchies. Too good right?!
And it’s all such brilliant fun. Of course it’s not just the creative ideas and details that make a wedding awesome, it’s how much of a good time everyone is having and this bunch are having A REALLY GOOD time. All I can say is gutted I wasn’t invited!
With thanks to the ever lovely Amy Murrell from Especially Amy for submitting the eye candy.
How we met
Emma, the bride: We meet at a work summer ball, it wasn’t until 3am when we finally plucked up enough courage to talk to one another!
A weekend wedding at Cowley Manor, Cotswolds
We wanted somewhere away from London so our friends and family would stay over and make a weekend of it. We regularly go on holiday with friends in the UK and the Cotswolds is a favoured location.
The uniqueness of Cowley Manor made it the perfect venue; from the quirkiness of the downstairs rooms, to the grandeur of the building and splendour of the grounds and gardens — we knew it was right for us the moment we walked in.
A Jewish-Caribbean wedding and love for period dramas
We planned the wedding ourselves and played equal parts in the organisation, with a little help from the wedding co-ordinators at Cowley Manor. The brief was to have a relaxed, party with our friend’s and family and everything grew out from there.
We have been together for 12 years and wanted to ensure that the wedding represented us, our passions for stately homes in the English countryside, our love for period dramas, Jewish and Caribbean heritage and for all our friends and family to feel included.
We chose a laid back venue with exclusive use, and had a BBQ (with Jerk Chicken and lamb on fire pit) rather than a sit down meal, making it less formal so everyone could relax and have fun. We set-up lawn games as they are a cornerstone of our UK holidays and our dress code was ‘Garden party chic’, as who wants to spend a day in the sunshine wearing a suit?!
We opted for a DJ so we could play some old school tunes and soul classics with no obligations to dance – and our selection was a real crowd pleaser. The night was topped off with Salt Beef Sandwiches for midnight munchies.
A civil ceremony in fancy dress… and a separate Jewish blessing
We had a civil ceremony for our close family and friends and a Jewish blessing for the main event. What made our wedding totally unique was the way that we chose to separate the civil ceremony from the Jewish blessing, so the first time James saw me in my dress would be at the blessing.
James suggested dressing up in period dress (a real Mr Darcy) as he truly understands my love for all things ‘Pride and Prejudice’. We spent a great day trying on different outfits and hired regency period fancy dress including wigs from Mad World in Old Street. To set it off we included six additional close friends and witnesses to dress up with us as we took our vows.
The Mother of the Bride recently attended some art classes due to ill health – she drew a sketch of Cowley Manor which we used on the invitations. We felt really proud seeing them printed and to know that they were produced by a family member meant more to us. They were pale blue to fit in with the colour scheme and used silver foiling for a subtle elegance from The Foil Invitation Company.
Hair + Make-up
A Justin Alexander dress
I had been researching 50s dresses as I loved the style. The options were limited when it came to this type of dress, however I found a dress designed by Justin Alexander which fitted perfectly! A 1950s style short dress, champagne colour, lots of embellishment and beadwork. I knew I wanted something tea length, not white or ivory but wasn’t sure if the style would have suited my shape. As soon as I tried it on I knew it was the one! I bought it at Xquisite Bridal.
50’s style accessories
I wore a birds cage veil from Mia Sposa Cockfosters as I wanted something that would complement the 50s style dress. I also had a jewel hair comb from Not On The High Street, earrings, a bracelets from my bridesmaids and an engraved bracelet from James on the day.
Jimmy Choo heels
Given the shoes were fully on show due to the length of the wedding dress I couldn’t resist getting a pair of Jimmy Choo’s for the occasion. Mid height heels with champagne colour embellished with diamantes to die for!
The handsome groom
As mentioned above James looked like a dashing version of Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice for the civil ceremony. I couldn’t believe how elegant James looked in the full attire – sporting, pantaloons, breeches and white stockings!
For the blessing James looked amazing, funky but chic. Wearing Hugo Boss light blue trousers, navy jacket and white shirt. Dark blue bow tie, navy braces, brown suede shoes with blue laces.
I asked five of my closest friends plus my sister to be my bridesmaids — six in total. I surprised them all at the end of my hen do by giving them each a handmade Will You Be My Bridesmaid invitation. The design was a cut dress on a wooden hanger with a blue ribbon matching the theme. There was lots of screaming, jumping for joy and tears of happiness. I then lead them through to a room which had various 50s style dresses in cornflower blue and navy from Chi Chi London. I bought various sizes so they could all try them on there an then.
The Jewish Ceremony
As a multi-faith wedding we wanted to ensure everyone felt included and Rabbi Anna did a great job. We had a Jewish blessing underneath a tree which was decorated with coloured lanterns to match the theme. We used James’ Tallit (bought by James’ grandparents for his Bar Mitzvah) held up by James’ cousins, and drank from James’ grandparents kiddush cup.
Our music choice
As we had various parts to the wedding, this enabled us to have a variety of songs.
For the Jewish blessing outside:
For the Civil ceremony:
- Sebastian – Adrian Johnston (as our 2yrs son is called Sebastian)
- At Last — Etta James and music from Pride and Prejudice
- Pride and Prejudice opening music by Dario Marianelli
- Georgiana – Dario Marianelli
Tucked away in a barn on the outskirts of Bath is Flowers By Passion. We met with them and they interpreted our vision for simple elegant bouquets.
Floral selection quicksand rose, cappuccino rose, apricot lisianthus, mother of pear rose, supper bubbles spray rose, blue hydrangea, blue delphinium, scabiosa, brunia, dusty miller, cornflower, white stocks, acacia foliage, olive foliage, berried eucalyptus.
Our fabulous photographer and videographer
Our photographer, Especially Amy, was recommended to us by the team at Cowley Manor. Amy has a long history with Cowley and after checking out her portfolios we met in a pub in Kings Cross to get into the details. Amy knew instinctively what we wanted, as we are over the moon with the way Amy captured the special moments on the day.
Amy recommended Gorgeous Films which was great as Gary knew Amy so they worked very well together on the day
Cupcakes with E & J initials theme blue and white and vintage ice cream bike by Chilli White — which went down a treat!
Our First dance was the Horah.
To reflect my Caribbean heritage we hired a Steel band for reception as we just loved the relaxed summertime feel that the music gives you. We opted for a DJ in the evening.
For favours we had sweet jars with a mixture of love hearts purple ones, drumsticks, refreshers and lollipops.
A surprise from bride’s dad
My dad surprised us on the day by turning up in his MGB GT classic car. It’s been passed down three generations of the family, and it meant so much to us for it to be there. I used to spend hours watching Dad renovate and restore the little red car, which reduced me to tears when the surprise got revealed!
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
- Try and get the most of the build-up and planning, its all part of the fun and the day its self will fly by
- Create a spreadsheet — Excel is your friend
- Ask bridesmaids and ushers to help with planning beforehand, not just on the day
- Give the ushers and best man clear instructions (via another spreadsheet) — without direction they will be like lost puppies
- We planned our wedding in 5 months, both in full time jobs and with a 2 year old, so it can be done without the expense of a wedding planner.
- Don’t stress on the day if things don’t go according to plan — no-one will know and just relax and enjoy it!
Emma & James’ little white book
Photographer – Especially Amy
Civil Ceremony Photographer — Jonny Donovan
Venue – Cowley Manor
Bride’s dress – Justin Alexander bought at Xquisite Bridal.
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Bride’s accessories – jewel hair comb from Not On The High Street and birds cage veil from Mia Sposa Cockfosters
Groom’s attire – Hugo Boss
Bridesmaids’ dress – Chi Chi London
Hair – Sheena’s Wedding Hairstyles
Make-up – Make-up by Jodie Hazlewood
Flowers – Flowers By Passion
Invitiation – designed by the bride’s mother and printed by The Foil Invitation Company
Vintage ice cream and lawn games – Chilli White
Regency period fancy dresses and wigs – Mad World
Videographer – Gorgeous Films