This has got to be one of the very most ‘Smashing The Glass’ weddings we’ve EVER blogged. Featuring our very own blogging bride Jennifer, a whole slew of STG Recommended Vendors – from Camilla J Collins, who did Jennifer’s fantastic hair and makeup, to Monica Vinader, who designed the bride’s gorgeous necklace, to childcare from Safe and Sound Events – and of course our own-brand Smash Glass pouch, we’re totally in love with this elegant day.
Jennifer, a photographer with years of wedding industry experience, and Charlie, a solicitor, obviously had some insider knowledge that helped them make their big day so epic – for instance, photographer Paul Toeman just happens to be a close colleague and friend of the bride – but nonetheless they report finding tons of inspo and guidance on STG, from choosing their music to crafting the ceremony.
We’re obsessed with the couple’s stylish, modern wedding trailer from another amazing STG Recommended Vendor Denee Motion, as well as their fab DJ Live from STG Recommended Vendor The Function Band, who got even the non-Jewish guests enthused about the Israeli dancing and kept everyone dancing right through to the end.
And the day was full of so many beautiful details, from the rose gold chuppah to the blush florals to the couple’s super cute hashtag #ballblatts, an amalgamation of their surnames.
If you want your wedding to be as memorable as Jennifer and Charlie’s, make sure you sign up to our FREE online event: ‘The secrets to an unforgettable Jewish wedding’ with our founder and editor, Karen, happening on Monday November 12 it’s going to be unmissable!
Now let’s hand over to the bride, who looked stunning in her blush dress from Leanne Marshall.
How We Met
Jennifer, the bride: Charlie and I met when we were 17 years old. We shared our first kiss on the tennis courts in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Six months later, I was cruelly dumped in the window seat of a coffee shop in full view of every school girl and boy in Highgate Village.
Ten years later, having successfully avoided each other – despite living in the same postcode – our paths crossed once again in the Steeles pub on Haverstock Hill. All it took was one misinterpreted pat on the knee for Charlie to think I was interested (again) and before I knew it we were on our second ‘first’ date.
One month later we went away on holiday together, where I essentially forced Charlie to be my boyfriend. Our history allowed us to skip those first few awkward months of dating. There were no doubts about where our relationship was going. We share such similar values and goals; it was as if we were meant to grow up apart to meet again at the right time in our lives.
A London Wedding
Our wedding venue was Dartmouth House in Mayfair. As we are both born and bred Londoners we wanted to find a venue in our home city. As I work as a wedding photographer, it was especially important to me that we found somewhere I hadn’t worked before. This was made a lot easier by the fact that we had a small wedding; I usually shoot big Jewish weddings!
When we saw Dartmouth House we knew it was the one, it has the perfect combination of elegance and timelessness without being stuffy. Walking around the venue, we could both picture all the different elements of our wedding happening there, we knew we’d found our venue!
Involving the Groom
In terms of theme, we didn’t really have one! We wanted our wedding to be elegant which is why we chose our venue and black tie dress code. What we hope we achieved with our wedding was a real feel for us as a couple, our sense of humor and how much we love each other.
Charlie and I planned our wedding ourselves as a team. Although it was stressful at times, I loved planning with him. I think a lot of grooms do not get to be as involved as they might like in their wedding day, and for me it was paramount that this was not the case. The fact that we planned every detail together showed at our wedding. Everyone said how ‘us’ it was.
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
Even before I met Charlie, I have been an avid follower of Smashing The Glass. Being able to access such a wealth of different Jewish weddings, written about by the brides themselves, is invaluable.
While planning our wedding, the articles about elements of the ceremony, wedding music, and the Q&As with suppliers and rabbis were so helpful. We found our ketubah designer on STG and also used Hebrewear for our kippot.
We really wanted our invitations to stand out from the usual style that we have seen. Event Bureau, who did our stationery, flowers, and design, were amazing at achieving this!
I had seen on Pinterest some wonderful invitations with tracing paper, and wanted to replicate this. Event Bureau created bespoke calligraphy of our names and an illustration of our venue, which we ended up carrying through in our signage and table plan. This was probably the closest we got to a theme!
Hair + Makeup
Having worked in the wedding industry for many years, I was very confident about my choices of suppliers. In terms of hair and makeup Camilla J Collins was the only choice for me; she is absolutely amazing at what she does.
I went for a messy, wavy half up hairstyle as I didn’t want anything too fussy. My makeup was pretty natural, with a glittery, smoky eye, some clever contouring and nude lips.
As well as doing my hair and make up, Camilla made my mum, step-mum, and sister all look beautiful on the wedding day.
A Leanne Marshall Dress
I was nervous about dress shopping as I am usually found wearing black, navy, or grey. I visited about five boutiques, and was becoming a bit wary when my friend found Heart Aflutter. It is a beautiful, small studio in Hackney (don’t be put off fellow North Londoners!) run by the delightful Cecilia.
At my appointment I tried on about 6 dresses and the last one was a white dress from Leanne Marshall. I loved the style but the shade of white did not suit me. Then my stylist told me she had it in blush. I hadn’t even considered not wearing white, but when I tried it on I knew it was the one.
The dress had everything I wanted, a plunging neckline at the front with satin bodice, completely backless with a chiffon skirt that had a split up the front. It was so light and easy to move in, which was my biggest requirement.
My only concern was that the dress would be too revealing for the ceremony, so I bought a Ti Adora lace top and my look was complete. I had the dress altered by the lovely Sheila Morris and she very cleverly sewed some of the excess skirt fabric into the v-neck of the dress, which I absolutely loved.
Rose Gold Hair Pins
I tried a long veil at Heart Aflutter and loved the drama of it, which surprised me! There was only one problem, the veil was single tier. This did not phase Cecilia; she arranged to have the veil made with two tiers and had the lace edging match my top.
My makeup artist, Camilla Collins, recommended Faye Cohn of Simply Faye, who makes bespoke bridal hair pieces. I got in touch with her about two weeks before the wedding and she made me a set of delicate, rose gold (of course) vine-style hair pins. Faye is fantastic, she fitted me in during the busiest time of year and made me something lovely that I will wear again and again.
In terms of jewelry I kept everything very simple. Charlie had bought me a Monica Vinader necklace for my birthday, which I saved wearing until our wedding day. I have lots of piercings in my ears, so I bought simple rose gold studded mini hoops from Galleria Armadoro, an online shop based in Greece. Their products are reasonably priced and shipping is super quick. I haven’t actually taken the hoops off since our wedding day!
Kurt Geiger Shoes
As my dress had a split in the front, I knew I wanted to have a statement shoe. I also knew I didn’t want to spend a fortune.
Luckily for me I found the perfect pair of electric blue shoes in Kurt Geiger, with a small(ish) heel, closed toe and crossover straps. I love them and will definitely be wearing them again. Charlie even matched his socks to my shoe color, which was a great touch!
The handsome groom
Charlie’s initial plan was to buy an off-the-shelf suit. However when it became clear he was struggling to find what he wanted, I suggested The Wedding Gallery. We visited together and I think I had more fun watching him try on suits than I did finding a dress.
Dom, the menswear stylist, was fantastic. He presented Charlie with so many options and ideas. I had seen a feature on STG with the groom in a white tuxedo, and I suggested this to Charlie. He was initially very hesitant that he would stand out too much, but when he tried on the white jacket he loved it.
From there on in, I made no more suggestions and left him and Dom to go to town designing Charlie’s Casely-Hayford suit. His shoes were from George Cleverly and his tie was purchased from The Wedding Gallery as well.
The first time I saw the finished suit was on our wedding day and I have never seen Charlie more handsome. I was so pleased he picked a stand out suit, as it was his day too and he deserved to shine just as much as me!
I chose not to have bridesmaids at our wedding. I have so many women who are close to me in my life that I did not want to choose between them. As we had a small wedding, I also did not want a huge procession. For me, the most important people in the procession (apart from myself and Charlie) were our parents.
A Rose Gold Chuppah
I knew from the moment we started planning our wedding that the chuppah had to be simple. We were blessed with good weather and were married in the courtyard at Dartmouth House, which is very ornate. We wanted a chuppah that would look like a part of the surroundings.
I had seen a simple rose gold chuppah on Pinterest (the bride’s second handbook after Smashing The Glass!) and asked Event Bureau if they could replicate it. With the help of the Happy Chuppah Company they created a completely bespoke chuppah that hadn’t ever been used before!
We kept it small, as we only wanted it to be us beneath the chuppah, and hung Charlie’s paternal grandfather’s tallis on the top. Alice (from Event Bureau) then created a stunning floral arrangement in blush tones with lots of greenery that sat atop the front right hand corner. When I saw our chuppah as I walked down the aisle, I was completely blown away.
A Personalized Ceremony
The ceremony was the most spiritual and important part of our wedding day. We wanted the ceremony to truly represent us as a couple. This meant a lot of strategic planning to make our vision come true. Both being members of Belsize Square Synagogue, we knew Rabbi Altshuler would marry us and Cantor Heller would sing in the ceremony. We met regularly with Rabbi Altshuler, and I loved how he emphasized that this was our wedding and we should do whatever we wanted.
I had a badeken and as well as Charlie veiling me, I veiled him in a new tallis I purchased for him from Jerusalem The Golden. It was such an intimate and beautiful moment for the two of us, especially as my father said the priestly blessing before we all prepared to walk down the aisle.
I did not circle Charlie during the ceremony as it is not something I personally felt comfortable doing. We both exchanged rings; however, I did let Charlie smash the glass on his own as it was something he really wanted to do, and I couldn’t deny him his moment!
After the ceremony we had yichud, which I am so pleased about as it gave us a few minutes alone to take in the fact that we were finally married.
We wrote our own ketubah and the incredibly talented Jennifer Raichman deisgned it. We also had a traditional Aramaic ketubah provided by the rabbi, so we had all bases covered. Charlie and I wanted an egalitarian wedding, which our rabbi was completely on board with.
A Jewish Barbershop Quartet
During the tisch and badeken, we had a little surprise for our guests waiting in the ceremony area. We had bOYbershop, a Jewish barbershop quartet, singing a medley of their more humorous songs about Judaism (have a listen to Only Jewish Cowgirl on Spotify). They then sang Samachti B’omrim Li and Erev Shel Shoshanim before the procession began.
Charlie and his parents walked to Los Bilbilicos, followed by my stepmother, best man, sister, brother, and mother. I walked with my father to M’herah, which bOYbershop prepapred their own arrangement to.
During the ceremony Cantor Heller sang Baruch Haba and Mi Adir accompanied by bOYbershop and once Charlie smashed the glass (in the STG pouch of course!), we had a lively Siman Tov & Mazel Tov medley for our recessional.
For the later part of the evening we had the amazing Function Band, who made the atmosphere at our wedding second to none. Everyone (Jewish and non-Jewish) threw themselves (sometimes literally) into Israeli dancing, and during the dinner we were all up on chairs dancing. I don’t actually know how anyone had time to eat!
Our first dance was to our song, Better Man by Paolo Nutini. The Function Band did the most beautiful acoustic version and I still go to bed at night thinking about dancing to that song with Charlie, with the biggest smile on my face.
Blush and Coral Flowers
I completely trusted Alice (Event Bureau) with the flowers. Our only brief to her was to have lots of foliage, greenery, and a few blush/corals. My bouquet was made up of Juliet roses, carnations, eucalyptus, eremerus, and stocks. Event Bureau also make a hand dyed silk ribbon for the bouquet.
The buttonholes were made of eucalyptus, blush rose, and blushing bride, all wrapped in a lovely twine. We had all of these flowers and more for our table centers, top table, and on the mantlepiece in the dining room. Our welcome board and table plan were also laden with flowers as well.
Our Fabulous Photographer…
Paul Toeman! I have worked with Paul for seven years and as I couldn’t photograph my own wedding, it was always going to be PTP! Every time I look at our pictures I am there again. Having Paul with me on the day was so emotional for me as we are not just colleagues but close friends. When he came to shoot me getting ready he said he felt like a proud dad and we both teared up!
I appreciate I am very lucky to already know (and work with) Paul. This may be biased, but he is one of the best photographers out there. His images are wonderful. The best thing about Paul is how much he cares, and it is genuine; he is the most calming, friendly, fun presence any bride could ask for on her wedding day.
The only choice in our minds for videography was Denee Motion. I work with them regularly, and they always seem to capture the touching moments, the laughter and tears, in the most unobtrusive way. They offer a really modern take on traditional wedding videography, especially with the wonderful trailers they make.
Every frame in our wedding video has been thought about and it is a joy to watch. I think a lot of couples are put off from getting video of their weddings because they imagine the final result will be a long video they will hardly ever watch. With Denee Motion this couldn’t be further from the truth; their videos are perfectly formed with montages set to music and all speeches and the ceremony in full.
We chose not to have a cake, as the dessert was so good at the tasting! We went with in-house catering from Harbour & Jones and they were fantastic. We were lucky that everyone was happy with kosher friendly, so we did not have to adhere to a “strict” menu.
The Function Band
We had the most fabulous DJ Live provided by The Function Band. They absolutely smashed it out the park! TFB had our guests dancing right through to the end.
Atmosphere was one of the most important elements for us and TFB completely understood that and blew us away. Every single guest at our wedding said how incredible they were and how much fun they had.
Charlie and I felt that one of the best ways to allow our sense of humor to shine through was in our wedding signage, which Event Bureau did the most fantastic job of designing. As our venue was on Charles St, we had a fake street sign reading ‘Charles and Jennifer Street’ which we hung outside of the venue and which we also used for photos.
Our cocktail menu played on the fact that we dated not once, but twice so we named our two wedding cocktails ‘Do You Remember The First Time’ and ‘Second Time Lucky’!
We struggled for a long time to come up with amusing names for each table until we finally realized a play on words was the best solution. So our tables were named, ‘One In A Million’, ‘Two Become One’, ‘Three Times A Lady’ etc. I like to think this had our guests laughing as they walked into dinner!
About half of our guests were non-Jewish (essentially all our friends), so with the help of Event Bureau we wrote an infographic for the ceremony, which Alice beautifully designed with hand drawn illustrations of the chuppah, the ketubah, cups of wine and the smashing of the glass. We used the kippot to create (what we hope) was a moment of amusement, inscribing them with ‘I Went To Jen & Charlie’s Wedding & All I Got Was This Tiny Hat’.
Honoring our grandparents who are no longer with us
We wanted to honor our grandparents who are no longer with us at the wedding in a very personal way. All along our top table we had framed photographs of each of our grandparents’ weddings in between the flowers in rose gold frames. Our parents and grandparents who were there were incredibly touched by this (as we hadn’t told them of our plan) and in a way we did have all our grandparents with us on our wedding day.
Both our parents contributed to our wedding, so we felt it was only right for our fathers to have a welcome speech each! My sister also made a speech and a toast to absent friends.
I of course made a speech; there was no way I was letting our wedding happen without it! During my speech I actually read from my teenage diary, with all the typically angsty details of how I fell in love with Charlie (the first time around) and how he broke up with me. I can remember looking up and seeing everyone crying with laughter during that part.
I also wanted to personally thank our suppliers, as they are my friends; it wouldn’t have felt right to leave Charlie to do that.
Charlie’s best man Hugo spoke and had everyone in absolute stitches, thankfully he kept the embarrassment to a minimum.
Charlie’s speech was incredible. I have to say we had an advantage in the bank of material from our past time together, which he also utilized. After Charlie and I had broken up, I sent him a heavily expletive laden message (not my finest moment) on Facebook. When he then messaged me again ten years later to ask me out, he was confronted with this awful message. So, naturally, he had to read it at our wedding. He cleverly substituted each swear word for ‘Mazel Tov’ and I don’t think I have laughed as much in my entire life! Charlie also said some very touching and romantic things, which of course had me (and everyone else in the room) in tears.
Minimoon in Provence
We went on a wonderful minimoon after the wedding to Bastide de Moustieres in Provence for five days and it was bliss! We are currently saving for our honeymoon, which will be next year. We would like our honeymoon to be a once in a lifetime experience!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My biggest piece of advice to avoid stress on your wedding day is to have a professional MC. We had Jamie Paskin and he was incredible. Not only did everything run perfectly to time, he made sure that all the little (and not so little) details were taken care of.
He made sure our witnesses were in the right place at the right time and he even arranged my veil for me just before I walked down the aisle. He had done his research and knew who every member of our wedding party was and did everything from telling each speaker when their speech was coming up, to making sure myself and Charlie were ok at all times.
Dance with as many people as you can! It brings me so much joy to see in the photos and video so many moments with almost all of our guests where Charlie and I managed to get a dance in with them.
Jennifer & Charlie’s little white book
Photography – Paul Toeman Photographers
Videography – Denee Motion
DJ Live – The Function Band
Hair + Makeup – Camilla J Collins
Childcare – Safe and Sound Events
Jewellery – Monica Vinader, Simply Faye and Galleria Armadoro
Venue – Dartmouth House
Bride’s dress – Leanne Marshall and Ti Adora purchased at Heart Aflutter
Bride’s shoes – Kurt Geiger
Groom’s attire – Casely-Hayford and George Cleverly purchased at The Wedding Gallery
Design, stationery and flowers – Event Bureau
Toastmaster – Jamie Paskin
Cantor – Paul Heller
Quartet – bOYbershop
Chuppah – Happy Chuppah Company
Ketubah – Jennifer Raichman
Tallis – Jerusalem The Golden
Kippot – Hebrewear
Rings – Posh Totty Designs
Honeymoon – at Bastide de Moustieres