Today’s real wedding is a very special one, because Carla and Alex won their incredible wedding photography through a competition on Smashing The Glass with none other than our fabulous Recommended Vendor, Claudine Hartzel.
Alex and Carla faced mishap after mishap when planning their wedding, including their original venue cancelling just 100 days before the big day. But, in a perfect example of how to cope with anything life throws at you, they soldiered on, creating the stunning London literary-themed Jewish wedding you see below.
We love beautiful bride Carla’s attitude, from her que sera approach to things going wrong, to her gorgeous Sottero and Midgley gown with hidden pockets (!) and her bride’s speech.
We’d also quite like to tuck into the divine-looking not-a-cheesecake cheese cake. Yes please!
The couple paid homage to their hometown, London, with lots of adorable little touches, such as riding between the venues on a classic London bus, and creating a London-themed postcard guest book, complete with a red postbox, created by the bride’s dad.
We’ll hand you over to Carla for the full story on her and Alex’s literary love fest! We’re sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.
How we met
Carla, the bride: We met at University. I was the only fresher to join the Jewish Society that year after signing up at the bunfight stall Alex was managing.
A historical Jewish venue
We chose Bevis Marks Synagogue because of its history and east London location. It’s a beautiful synagogue that reminds you that there’s more to a marriage than the wedding.
Since joining, we’ve felt incredibly welcome by the community and the wider S&P family.
All the staff at The Anthologist, our party venue, were amazing. It was great to see them dancing behind the bar enjoying themselves on the night. Louise is the event manager there, and she was amazing to work with.
A London, literary theme
We didn’t have a theme, we knew we just wanted a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony followed by a great party with all our friends and family.
In the end, we had a subtle London and literary theme because we’re both Londoners who love books!
We planned the wedding together, but had a lot of support from both sets of parents and our siblings. All our family were amazing and involved, but my mum especially so – she made planning and spreadsheets fun!
We spent the week before the wedding apart. It was tough, but I had an amazing few days seeing family and some friends and running a lot of last-minute errands for new ideas that popped into my head.
Portuguese tile invitations
We’re both fans of super minimal design, and were planning simple letterpress invitations. However, we literally stumbled upon Rose Paper Scissors on our way out of the Alternative Wedding Fair and saw something that caught our eye.
Our stationery had a Portuguese tile design, which we went with because we loved it! Carla builds websites so we decided to create our own to feature a Jewish wedding guide, and also a space for guests to submit songs they wanted to hear on the day.
Lasting airbrush makeup
Vanessa Chester did my makeup, and it looked as good at the end of the night as it did at the start of the day. I have fairly oily skin, so in the end, she used airbrush makeup on me which made such a difference.
I was set on having my hair down when I saw the dress, but after Victoria tried a quiff on me, I knew I’d look better with my hair up.
A wedding dress with hidden pockets
I thought finding a dress would be easy. Instead, I visited nine shops with my mum before I found the perfect one! We had so much fun though during that process, exploring London together and stopping at lots of nice little places for coffee and lunch, so perhaps that’s why it took so long.
I eventually found my dress in Brides of Berkhamstead. It’s a simple Sottero and Midgley design with a bateau neckline, hidden pockets(!) and sheer side panels. Their seamstress Dawn made some detachable sleeves which I wore under the Chuppah.
I wore a veil, something simple to complement the dress.
Several people complimented my earrings, and a couple more thought my £10 John Lewis earrings were family heirlooms!
I wore a corsage for the evening, with the same flowers used in the bouquet.
I chose the comfiest pair of shoes, as you couldn’t see them under the dress. I had a pair of sparkly Kate Spade Keds to change into to dance, but I forgot about them on the night.
The handsome groom
Alex wore a bespoke suit in navy with a light green lining from Dress 2 Kill, with a white shirt and navy grenadine tie.
He wore the cufflinks both he and his late grandfather wore on their Bar Mitzvahs. He had a new tallit (blue and white) for the ceremony.
Bridesmaids in Coast dresses
I had two bridesmaids – my oldest friend and my now sister-in-law. I just wanted them to wear a dress they liked. Six weeks before the wedding, we went to a few shops in town, and, thankfully, came home with two lovely dresses from Coast!
A magical Jewish ceremony
It’s a cliché, but the ceremony was magical. I don’t think we stopped beaming once.
We loved everything about it, but our favourite part was when our dads opened the ark, and we were able to take a moment and say a short prayer in front of it.
Learning to dance
Our first dance was Natalie Cole’s This Will Be (An Everlasting Love). We love the song, it wasn’t too long and the words were perfect.
We had a couple of dance lessons a fortnight before the wedding just for fun. We learnt so much about dancing to music with our fab teacher, Ruth of Start the Dance, and just felt really confident larking around on the night.
White peonies and a lot of foliage
Amelia at Ricky Paul flowers was so helpful. I knew I wanted white peonies at lots of foliage, but aside from that, we just went with whatever she thought would work.
Our fabulous photographer
We were so lucky to win our photography thanks to Smashing The Glass! Claudine is full of energy and has the most amazing eye. We learnt so much from her on our engagement shoot, and then she captured everything perfectly on the day. We’d been to very few weddings ourselves, and Claudine was also a big help when it came to timings.
Going out for a few minutes at a time to take some photos was lovely, as it gave us some private time together.
My dad’s friend Karen filmed the day. She’s such a lovely lady to have around and we can’t wait to watch what she captured.
A cheese cake
We love cheese and port, so decided early on that we’d have a cake made of cheese by West Country Cheese Company instead of a traditional cake.
After we cut it, the venue cut the cake up and served it with fruit, chutney, crackers, bread and port as late-night nibbles. We designed some silly cheese puns and put those in frames alongside some chalkboard labels, so people knew what they were eating.
My brother saw Truly Medley Deeply perform at Winter Wonderland and messaged me immediately to say we had to have them at our wedding! They take the best parts of songs and turn them into themed medleys, like a Motown medley or a gangsta rap medley. They had us dancing all night.
A personalised postbox
My mum suggested postcards instead of a classic guest book. Cue our parents seeking out London-themed postcards a week before the wedding.
My dad made the postbox, and it still sits proudly in our living room.
The bride’s speech
I made a speech. Women stay silent throughout the wedding ceremony, so it was really important to me to have my say at some point! I really wanted to thank certain people and publicly talk to everyone about Alex.
Grooms – practice your speech! Definitely make sure you film yourself and watch it back, as it really helps to find where you stumble or pause, and allows you to hear it as the audience might do. I found my speech became a lot shorter once I listened/watched it back!
Travelling in London style
We took everyone from Bevis Marks to the Anthologist on a vintage London Routemaster bus, which was so much fun.
Everyone really enjoyed it, and Claudine got some really good photos of guests and us having a laugh on it.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
A wedding should be all about happiness. Life’s too short to waste time being stressed out!
Over the course of our planning, the invites needed to be reprinted due to a printing error (with just seven weeks to go), my wedding shoes were thrown in the bin by the cleaners at the office (two days before my dress fitting), Alex missed half his stag, due to food poisoning, and our original venue was sold 100 days before the big day. And on the big day itself, I ended up with a glass of prosecco over me!
None of it mattered – even after finding out we had no venue, we were relatively calm, knowing that our ceremony was still going ahead, and we’d all just drink prosecco in the street afterwards to celebrate if we had to! And amazingly that glass of prosecco didn’t leave a single stain on my dress!
Getting married is a serious act, and you should never forget its importance. The party is a celebration of that act and if you have the right people around you it will never not be an amazing and special day, however you decide to spend it.
Carla & Alex’ little white book
Photographer – Claudine Hartzel
Venues – Bevis Marks Synagogue and The Anthologist
Bride’s dress – Sottero and Midgley purchased at Brides of Berkhamstead
Bride’s accessories – John Lewis
Bride’s shoes – Kate Spade
Groom’s attire – Dress 2 Kill
Bridesmaids – Coast
Flowers – Ricky Paul
Cheesecake – West Country Cheese Company
Invitation – Rose Paper Scissors
Band – Truly Medley Deeply
Bus – London Routemaster bus
Dance lessons – Start the Dance