How many weddings have you been to that have featured a surprise ukulele performance… by the bride?! None, you say? Same here. But Amanda and Adam’s laid-back, ultra-personal day, which included just that, makes us wish we could’ve been there to see it!
We admit we were predisposed to adore this Jewish wedding, since the bride is none other than STG Blogging Bride Amanda, but take a peek at Steven Carter-Hewson’s fantastic photos and Filmmakers of London’s beautiful video of the day and we bet you’ll agree with us that this looks like one fun wedding.
It’s not just the ukulele performance (which even the groom didn’t know about beforehand!) that makes Amanda and Adam’s day stand out, though. Planned entirely by the couple (with a little help from our Facebook community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides and grooms – thanks for the shout-out, Amanda!), keeping things personal and involving friends and family were top goals throughout. And we love some of the touching ways this pair pulled that off – by inviting different guests to give each sheva bracha during the ceremony and having family members hold the poles of their chuppah.
The couple held their ceremony in Braxted Park’s gorgeous orangery and their reception in a marquee looking out on the lovely grounds. The couple wanted to complement their surroundings rather than overwhelm them with décor and not knowing much about flowers, Amanda wanted to make sure she found a florist who could take charge. Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Emma Sousa of Urban Flower Farmer was exactly that. Her subtle arrangements focusing on delicate greenery and occasional bursts of soft color, with candles and hurricane jars added to the tabletops for a little extra glam.
Now over to the bride, who looked so elegant in her champagne-colored Mark Lesley dress…
How we met
Amanda, the bride: I work in advertising as an account director and Adam works in financial services. We met on holiday in Israel back in June of 2014, so we’re coming up to 4 years together.
A Countryside Venue
We got married at Braxted Park. We really wanted a countryside venue that we hadn’t been to before and both the space and the staff were fantastic. The venue has a stunning old house, beautiful grounds surrounded by a walled garden, and the loveliest little converted stable rooms. We fell in love with it when we first saw it, and with it being close to Adam’s home town of Colchester, it meant that his grandma could easily travel to be with us.
Planning Guided by STG!
We didn’t want a specific theme, but we really wanted our wedding to feel relaxed rather than formal and to feel natural surrounded by greenery and spring flowers. We didn’t use a wedding planner and with our parents outside of London, Adam and I made almost all of the decisions ourselves.
I found STG to be such a great resource while planning. Being able to shoot out any questions, big or small and find numerous answers from a highly engaged community made all the difference!
Our invitations were designed by Liv & Luc, who happen to be a lovely pair that Amanda went to school with. They were completely professional throughout, took our brief, and provided us with 3 very different concepts. We loved the watercolor style and matched the colors to the bridesmaid dresses and ushers ties. Liv & Luc also designed matching menu cards and thank you cards so everything felt consistent.
Hair + Makeup by Friends
I was extremely lucky on the day to have my bridesmaid Anna doing my makeup and our fantastic usher Will doing hair. I trust them both implicitly and wouldn’t have had anybody else do hair or makeup on the day. I wanted makeup that looked and felt natural, but could last all day, through the kissing and hugging and inevitable jumping up and down. Anna made me feel amazing, adding browns and bronze smokey colors to my eyes and a touch of color to my lips for the ceremony.
With my hair, I wanted something that would give this “jeans and t-shirt girl” a bit of glamour and asked Will to put it up, away from my neck. It lasted through all of the Israeli dancing, even if it took me and a bridesmaid 15 minutes to get all of the pins out! I was so delighted to have these 2 close friends involved in our wedding as it made getting ready even more special.
A Mark Lesley Dress
I found my dress up in Leeds with my mum, my sister, and my mother-in-law. It was a Mark Lesley dress that we found at a small independent shop called Confetti and Lace and before it had even been done up at the back, I knew it was the one.
It fit like a dream and most importantly, I could actually walk in it! I also loved the champagne color, which felt a bit different, and the lace detail. I also found a beautiful lace top that matched perfectly, which I wore for the ceremony.
A Simple Veil
I also bought a veil from the same bridal shop but decided not to have any other hair accessories, as my dress and lace top were already quite detailed. My veil was simple and elbow length.
Originally, I had 2 pairs of shoes for the day: a gorgeous pair of Reiss heels and a more comfortable pair of gold wedges from Office. On the day itself, I couldn’t face the idea of the heels. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable for even one minute and I decided to wear the wedges from the start. They stayed on all night, despite being 4 inches high. I danced in them all night and most importantly, I didn’t find myself sinking into the grass during our photos! They matched the champagne color of the dress perfectly and I’m excited to take them with us on honeymoon!
The handsome groom
Adam did all of his shopping in Suit Supply near Savile Row for the quality, price, and the personal touch. He chose a navy blue suit and contrasting grey waistcoat and bought himself 2 shirts and a lovely pink tie, all from the same place. He bought a lovely pair of black shoes from Russell & Bromley and I know that he felt amazing on the day. He also managed to still look smart even at the end of the night! Before the ceremony, I sent Adam a pair of Mulberry cufflinks I had bought him, as well as a small memorial pin with pictures of his grandparents in, for him to wear on the inside of his jacket. Adam bought me a pair of lovely earrings to wear and a jar of pickles (which are my absolute favorite!).
Bridesmaids in Blue
We had 4 bridesmaids, who were my 4 closest friends. They wore dresses from David’s Bridal all in the same color, but with slightly different styles. We had 6 ushers, including Adam’s best man, who all wore matching navy suits and pink ties.
A Simple Chuppah
We wanted to keep things really simple for the chuppah and I didn’t want to be surrounded by lots of flowers. The orangery at Braxted Park is already so beautiful that we simply wanted 4 poles and a tallis. We borrowed them from New North London Synagogue and were absolutely delighted to have my siblings and their partners holding up the chuppah for our ceremony. It meant so much to us to have all of our immediate family under the chuppah with us and to share it as a family.
Sheva Brachot by Family and Friends
We invited 6 of our friends and family to each deliver a sheva bracha during the ceremony, with the chazan delivering the final one. It was such a lovely way to include more people in our celebration and made it so personal for us. We were also so happy to have Rabbi Roni Tabick conduct our ceremony. He spoke so beautifully, explained each of the elements of the ceremony, and made it feel really inclusive.
We worked with a seller on Etsy to design our ketubah – we wanted something that we could put on our wall at the end of the day and found a beautiful watercolor design that matched the style of our day perfectly.
You Make It Real for Me
Cantor Jason Green sang for us at our chuppah and his beautiful voice really brought a sense of traditional judaism to our ceremony. He worked closely with our band (who had never done a Jewish wedding before) to make sure everything ran smoothly. We had a trio of keys, saxophone, and guitar for the ceremony, which was absolutely beautiful. Our first dance was James Morrisson – You Make It Real for Me, which we chose for the lovely lyrics.
We worked with the fantastic Emma Sousa of Urban Flower Farmer. She was fabulous from day one and helped to bring my extremely limited brief to life. She created bouquets and centerpieces that were full of foliage and light colors, using hurricane jars and lots of candles to create light.
We had a round top table, which Emma covered with a green half-wreath of foliage, matching everything perfectly. The buttonholes were pale flowers surrounded with foliage, and Emma even made 2 smaller ones for our nephews.
Our fabulous Photographer and videographer
We had the lovely Steven Carter-Hewson as our photographer and chose him for his unobtrusive style and desire to focus on capturing the emotion and story from our big day. He stayed well into the evening and worked closely with our videographer, Chris from Filmmakers of London, to capture the best bits. They were both absolutely fantastic to work with, and having done a handful of Jewish weddings knew what to look out for, without being very prescriptive over the type of shots they wanted.
Dessert Cheese Boards
We didn’t have a cake, but instead had cheese boards put on the tables after dinner. My one regret from my wedding day is not eating enough of the cheese because it was delicious! Our catering was fish and veggie and was done by Patrik and Camilla of The Event Catering Company in Essex. The portions were big and aside from making delicious food, they took all of the dietary requirements into account and made a number of different options where necessary. The staff on the day were faultless and the catering ran 100% smoothly. They were fantastic.
A Fab Band
We worked with the fabulous LDN Party Band, who were fantastic from start to finish. They had never done a Jewish wedding but offered us an innovative and fresh approach, making the evening feel more like a concert than anything. They really fit with our relaxed feel. Joe and the band learned and performed a fantastic Jewish simcha medley, as well as the music that the trio performed in the ceremony. They offered us a few request songs before the big day and played all of them. They absolutely welcomed me playing the ukulele with them and sent me sheet music way in advance to learn from. All in all, they were amazing, and Joe continued to DJ until way after midnight when the band packed up.
A Speech by the Bride
I had decided very early on that I wanted to make a speech and I actually only wrote it 2 weeks before. By then I had a really clear vision on what I wanted to say and when I looked around the room before I started, I instantly felt at ease, surrounded by our friends and family. Adam’s auntie Emma served as our chairwoman and did a fantastic and hilarious job of introducing speakers and generally putting people at ease.
A Surprise Ukulele Performance – by the Bride!
Later on in the evening, I surprised Adam by playing the ukulele. He had no idea that I had been learning in secret and I played along with the band to Paramore – The Only Exception. He was gobsmacked! We also had an impromptu beatboxing session that my cousin Jack performed with the band later on in the night! All of these surprises made things feel really personal to us, and we can’t wait to relive them through the video!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Please don’t try and do it all yourself. I ended up doing table plans 48 hours before the big day, because I hadn’t asked for help. I do recommend spending some time apart before the wedding. We did a full week apart, which made the wedding day really special, although I really missed Adam by the end of the week!
I also can’t stress how important it is to let yourself go on the day and let somebody else deal with anything that may go wrong. We were extremely lucky to have great front of house staff at the venue who dealt with all of the tiny changes to the day and meant we didn’t have to know about anything that may have gone wrong.
Finally, we chose not to have a huge number of formal photos. This meant that we could be at most of our reception, enjoy the food and drink and spend some time with people before dinner. It made such a big difference and hopefully meant that our guests felt like they’d at least seen us at the wedding!
Amanda & Adam’s little white book
Photography – Steven Carter-Hewson
Flowers – Urban Flower Farmer
Videography – Filmmakers of London
Venue – Braxted Park
Bride’s dress – Mark Lesley purchased at Confetti and Lace
Groom’s attire – Suit Supply, Russell & Bromley and Mulberry
Bridesmaids – David’s Bridal
Hair – William Hunt of Gielly Green
Catering – The Event Catering Company
Band – LDN Party Band
Ketubah – purchased on Etsy