Before we get started, we need to present today’s bride, Clelia, with a medal for THE most Smashing The Glass-obsessed bride ever to grace these pages. Clelia took an extraordinary amount of inspiration from the blog, including sourcing almost every vendor and having one of our past real brides, Lauren, create her incredible chuppah design.
Helping Jewish brides to plan their weddings is exactly what Smashing The Glass is all about, and Clelia embodies our spirit and ethos and then some! Thanks for making us such a huge part of your journey, Clelia, we are truly honored.
Now back to staring at wedding pretty and getting inspired, which is what we’re all here for. If you’re a fan of adorable monkeys and meerkats (and if you’re not, who even ARE you??) you’ll love today’s into-the-wild venue, London Zoo. We’re SO here for Clelia and George’s animal kingdom selfie competition – what an inspired way to make the most of such a unique venue!
Clelia and George were full of gratitude for the way their loved ones came together to help make their dream day perfect, and it really shows in the images and Clelia’s moving writeup. We’re all also totally behind Clelia’s words about body positivity and self love, and are so grateful to her for sharing her feelings on this.
Famed photographer, Laura Babb, and her partner in crime, videographer Peter Wilbourne, did an outstanding job of telling the story of the day through their stunning spread of images and Peter’s cinematic wedding video. We feel like we were there in person!
It’s finally Clelia’s well-deserved and long-awaited turn to take over the blog for a post. Take it away, Clelia!
How we met
Clelia, the bride: We met in a car park in Northampton when our colleague, Richard, offered to drive us both back to London. Instead of awkward work chat, I asked George every question in the Proust questionnaire.
When Richard dropped us off at a north London tube station, George asked me out on a date. I introduced him to long haul-holidays, he introduced me to beans on toast and football. I agreed the kids would support Spurs, he agreed the kids would be raised Jewish and proposed under Tower Bridge, a few meters from where he’d first seen me in the office.
A wild venue
We got married at the London Zoo. It was important for us to get married in the heart of the city we call home, but we wanted to also be surrounded by nature. George made it clear early in our relationship that monkeys had to figure in our all life events.
I actually got the idea for the zoo from STG – seeing Sarah and Ben’s Jewish wedding there a few years earlier, and when we visited, we just fell in love with how magical the place feels. Our guests loved it.
Doing it our way
We chose colours early on, as it was one thing we had in common: blue & white, for Israel, Greece (George’s family is Greek Cypriot), and Spurs (George’s main religion).
Apart the zoo, our wedding theme was really to represent our journey together, and we used this idea in everything: the save the date, the table plan, canopy design and so on.
As per my post in the Smashing The Glass Facebook group, I couldn’t have planned my wedding without STG.
Invitations designed online
I designed our save the date on Canva, while stuck in an airport in Botswana (for a work trip – not a safari, alas).
Our invitation was very simple, also designed on Canva, but I spent a lot of time customising our website (and got provided with hilarious material from our wedding party). We asked everyone to introduce themselves in the form of ‘I like/I don’t like’, like in the movie, Amelie.
Our wedding website was designed by Riley & Grey (using the STG discount code!).
The London Printers – Tom and his team did a great job printing our table plan, invitations and programmes.
Natural-look hair and makeup
Pamela Wrigley and her team did all our hair and makeup. I found her on STG, and she did an amazing job. I asked for a natural look, and it was lovely.
Feeling fabulous in the perfect dress
I used to live in Angel, London and would walk down Camden passage everyday and walk by this bridal shop, and tell myself I’d come here if I ever got married.
By the time I got engaged, I’d recovered from an eating disorder and put on weight, putting me in the overweight category. I thought I’d need to go to a plus-size shop, but luckily, as a size 16, I didn’t need to. I remembered the shop (Angelica Bridal) and found my dress in five minutes. It was an ESSENCE dress.
This may deserve a separate blog but I I was disheartened when I got engaged by seeing so many images of the same tall and thin brides. Almost as soon as I got engaged, I was assaulted by Facebook ads selling me weight loss and pre-wedding diets.
I knew that I’d have to do some real work on myself during my 18 months engagement, to feel comfortable in my body on my wedding day.
A few things helped, including:
– a online course in self love through taking selfies: the idea is to make peace with pictures of yourself. For one month, every day, you take a selfie, and practice acceptance through self portraiture. It really helped me like the photos of my wedding.
– For 12 months, I created an Instagram account and only followed body-positive accounts. Seeing women who look like me really helped me (as opposed to always seeing only the same models).
– Exercise! I exercise a lot and often, it helps me keep my sanity. I do not use it as a way to control my body shape, but it helped me on my journey to acceptance (and sanity).
– Have a photographer you trust. I cannot tell you how much I adore Laura Babb, who’ve I only met for one day. She makes gorgeous joyful pictures and I trusted her completely. I don’t love every single picture of myself, but I love seeing the happiness in every single one, the love she captured, the colors (and of course the monkeys).
Heartfelt accessory choices
My witness Coline made me a beautiful veil, she also made me a garter.
I wore a beautiful hair piece that I purchased on Etsy.
My Star of David necklace was a 10th birthday present by my grandfather, Simon, who passed away seven years ago.
My shoes were Jimmy Choos (that got ruined in the mud, if anyone knows where I can get them cleaned, please let me know!).
The handsome groom
George got a suit at Suitsupply.
He wore an engraved tie pin I gave him as a present for our wedding as well as some cuff links that open up (and contain tiny love notes) – both found on Not On The High Street.
Bridesmaids in navy
I had seven gorgeous bridesmaids; they wore a beautiful long navy dress from Etsy.
George’s groomsmen got navy ties and the best woman (who had given birth two weeks before our wedding) surprised us with beautiful navy dress, bought especially.
A group-effort chuppah
My accountant (not Jewish) husband took upon himself to build it, bought the wood and worked out a design.
Lauren Beadle, STG’s Real Bride, made the canopy with pictures of us and our family.
Beautifully decorated by our florist Steph, the chuppah was just stunning.
A liberal ceremony
Our wedding programme was designed especially to explain Jewish traditions. Using infographics, we designed something that explained the spirit of our liberal ceremony. I am really happy with how it turned out.
Shir covering the classics
Shir played a klezmer version of Sweet Child O’ Mine for George’s entrance!
Flowers for charity
Steph Merton from Charity Florist did our flowers and they were really incredibly beautiful. She also made my bouquet for the registry ceremony, held two weeks before, which was stunning.
Her work on the chuppah was just one of the most beautiful that I have seen.
Steph and her team of volunteers work for free, which means that all proceeds went to our chosen charity (Mind). For our wedding, we were able to donate 1700 pounds to Mind.
She is a retired florist, so of course an expert, and will take you to the wonderful New Covent Garden market to choose your flowers, which is in itself a wonderful experience.
Our fabulous photographer and videographer
I fell in love with Laura’s photography from the moment I saw her work on STG. She’s also one of the most client friendly, professional and organised suppliers I have worked with. I love the pictures she made of our wedding, plus it was really fun going around the zoo with her in my wedding dress.
Peter Wilbourne, Laura Babb’s husband, and partner in photography, also made a short video clip
Two cakes and a cheese cake
We had two cakes and a cheese wedding cake (because why not?).
The first cake was actually a macaron tower from Laduree. The second cake was my favourite patisserie from Laduree, made into a beautiful wedding cake (a plaisir sucre).
We also had a cheese wedding cake from La Fromagerie, which the zoo actually served as a huge cheese platter, but that didn’t change anything about the taste.
Ampersand did our catering and did a great job. We didn’t do kosher food but offered a fish course for our more traditional guests.
Our wines were hand selected by our friends at Lea & Sandeman – very important for French people!
Traditional klezmer music
Can I just say how wonderful the music and dancing was, and how much all our guests enjoyed it, Jewish and non-Jewish. The led dance set is just wonderful to learn new dance, and you also have all your traditional hora dances.
We also had a photobooth, and…. meerkats, which were brought for our guests . Of course our guests also had the time to enjoy the zoo, which made for some pretty fun pictures with animals.
We organised a selfie competition with animals for our guests. My cousin Nathan managed to get one with a monkey on his head!
For favors, we had some little chocolates with our wedding logo and some greek almond cakes, traditional Cypriot favours called Pastitsia.
A Honeymoon fund
Prezola was great to set up a honeymoon fund for presents. We would like to go to Argentina in January!
I get by with a little help from my friends (and family)
Perhaps one of the nicest things about the day for me was that my family from Paris had come, including my grandmother who has MS and hadn’t travelled for years.
In terms of family and friends, I was so lucky: My friend and witness Coline made my veil and garter. My sister in law and her husband are semi-pro photographers and took beautiful pictures at our registry ceremony. My mother in law organised Greek cake favours.
My mum helped lots, finding suppliers and coming to appointments. She also got zoo animals finger puppets and keyrings as favours AND 100 blue and white umbrellas in case it rained. She also put up with me as I went bridezilla a few times.
My husband’s groomsmen helped set up and take away the chuppah, rented a van to take everything from our home to the zoo and back.
Our wonderful best woman (and husband) did an amazing speech with an amazing idea to steal – their speech had a bingo of funny pictures of George and his defining looks over the years (including some hilarious pictures of his long-haired days).
My sisters (bridesmaids) did a great speech, welcoming George into the froggy sisterhood in law and threw me with my childhood best friend Mathilde. My bridesmaid, and best friend, Laura, was just incredible on the day, having everything under control and just being her amazing self.
My cousin Dorothee and her daughter, my flower girl were my cheerleaders and just made my day even more special.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
One thing I want to stress for any bride who may get overwhelmed is, unless you are planning a wedding in under six months, you actually have a lot of time.
Be organised: spreadsheets, to-do lists and reminders in your calendars will help you feel more in control. The more time you have, the easier it will be. There’s a lot you can do in advance, and often they are happy breaks in your daily routine.
It doesn’t have to take over your life. Between my engagement and my wedding, I travelled to 27 countries in North America, South America, Africa and Asia, and moved to Panama for six months. I told all my suppliers that I was very busy and always travelling, and they all were very accommodating. I was able to do a lot over the Internet and by email.
Practicing gratitude, really helped me savor the day. I couldn’t believe I had so many people I loved in one room, and they were just so wonderful, and made the day so beautiful.
Finally: enjoy your tasting. You really will not get to eat on your wedding day. (And ask your mum to freeze some wedding cake! My mum did, and I am eating it as I am writing this – no kidding)
Clelia & George’s little white book
Photographer – Laura Babb
Videographer – Peter Wilbourne
Venue – London Zoo
Bride’s dress – purchased at Angelica Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Bride’s accessories – Etsy
Groom’s attire – Suitsupply and Not On The High Street
Bridesmaids – Asos
Hair + Makeup – Pamela Wrigley
Flowers – Charity Florist
Catering – Ampersand
Cakes – Laduree and La Fromagerie
Wines – Lea & Sandeman
Band – Shir
Photobooth and DJ – 1 entertainment
Rabbi – Paul Glantz
Canopy for chuppah – Lauren Beadle
Ketubah – Ketubah and Judaica
Registry list – Prezola
Stationery – Canva and The London Printers
Wedding website – Riley & Grey