It’s always very plain to see when a couple is creative by nature, and never fails to make for an aesthetically gorgeous wedding.
Makeup artist, Amy, and presenter, Adam’s wedding was, in addition to making a lifelong commitment to one another, about two things: making friends and family feel loved and looked after, and making everything around them beautiful.
Both objectives were achieved and then some! This was particularly evident in the advice to couples at the end of this post – words of wisdom that showed a deep consideration for others.
The ceremony was totally tailored to Adam and Amy, with music being the most important and prominent element – we got the chills reading about it!
Armed with the perfect color palette of pastel-pretty flowers, two-tone fabrics and metallic gold accents, the couple created a clean, chic wedding wonderland, complete with an absolute stunner of a five-tier cake.
Beautiful bride Amy went bespoke with her beaded, two-tone gown, and played an instrumental role in the design, along with Elizabeth Todd, literally bringing her dream dress to life.
Photographer, Paul Toeman, captured the details and emotion of the day with the glorious spread of pictures below, and Amy wrote the incredibly eloquent account of all the action. Take it away, Amy!
A venue with history
Amy, the bride: We booked The Pillar Hotel, a kosher venue in Hendon, north-west London for 30th June 2016. We needed a venue that was close to my parents’ home in North London, as my father has final stages Parkinson’s disease.
We could have booked any top London hotel, but we couldn’t see the point in making an experience about love without the people we love being there, so a small hotel in Hendon it was!
Ironically, this particular venue used to be a convent, and so it was no ordinary hotel. The room we chose to have our ceremony in, was in fact the room where the nuns used to pray, and so the walls of exposed brickwork, arches and ornate windows were all steeped in history, spirituality, prayer and love.
Making everything around us beautiful
I believe it was Elsie de Wolfe who said; “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful — that will be my life” This epitomises our wedding. We didn’t have a theme, just that everything should be beautiful, elegant, warm in ambience and welcoming. For us, sometimes pushing a theme can become contrived and can, in turn, take away from the meaning of the day.
As there was no function room large enough to house 100 people for a sit-down meal and a dance floor, we built a clear-roofed marquee in the courtyard, which was then swagged with two-tone fabrics and chandeliers, which mimicked the boxed invitations we had hand delivered to the majority of our guests.
We brought in wide rectangular tables, and sat between 10-20 people per table which were covered with flowers and candles from top to toe, taking care not to make our arrangements so tall they would obstruct anyone’s view or ability to socialise. We even placed small silver and gold boxes of wedding themed trivia questions on the tables which were a big hit.
A trusted fellow makeup artist
I didn’t want the hassle of doing my own makeup on my wedding day, and the only other celebrity makeup artist I would trust is my good friend Nikki Woolf. I knew with her she would make me up just as I like, and I don’t even recall checking myself in the mirror once she was done!
A bespoke beaded dress
Being a second wedding, I chose not to wear only ivory or white, but instead had a two-piece made in two-tone which coincidentally tied in with the colorings of the marquee and our boxed invitations.
As I love one-off things, I worked with a designer to create a bespoke dress. My corset was nude, and was covered in crystals and pearls with a vintage pattern, which the beader had made especially for me.
The stones draped over my shoulders and up onto my neck. I matched the corset with a full A-line ivory skirt and long train to pick up the ivory in the pearls. Elizabeth Todd in Chiltern Street, W1 is a designer wedding dress boutique and an expert in corsetry.
The handsome groom
Adam chose a bright royal blue suit and had a bucket waistcoat made by Alterations Boutique in Marylebone, who also tailored a shirt for him. He wore a gold Alberts’ chain on the waistcoat, which had a chamsa with a purple stone to commemorate his late grandmother’s favourite colour.
My two little cousins were my flower girls. Their dresses were from John Lewis, but they honestly looked couture, and I love seeing the bridesmaids match the bride.
Our page boy was Adam’s nephew, who I’m not sure was even a year old. I was a very proud aunty buying him his first real pair of shoes which were ivory satin and dressing him in a proper linen suit with waistcoat and bow tie, all of which came from Debenhams.
The ring was tied to his trouser loop with a piece of ribbon by my husband, and he was unbelievably well behaved.
A moving, musical ceremony
I spoke to Steven Leas, the chazan from Central Synagogue which has a great emotional significance to me. He had actually sung at my first wedding, and I expressed concerns to him that I didn’t want to hear the same voice singing the same melodies under the chuppah this time around. He said he understood, and Adam and I were to visit him at the schul. We sat and talked in excess of two hours, working out different melodies for the sheva brachot.
To our wedding, he brought with him four musicians, three children and the full seven-piece male choir from the synagogue, along with the conductor. His son, 12-year-old Jonathan, sang Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud as I walked down the aisle for Adam to greet me half way and perform an open bedeken.
Adam and I had not seen one another for a week in the lead up to the wedding, nor had we spoken, and Adam had posted to me a different card each day, so when we were reunited, it was extra special.
Steven and his choir sang the sheva brachot to the melody of I Dreamed a Dream and some of the “Phantom of the Opera” tunes also, to which his operatic voice lends itself so beautifully. This brought my mother-in-law to tears as we stood under the canopy listening to him in awe.
It was, quite simply, magical.
We had our ceremony room covered in flowers and candles. I don’t personally like to see a lot of greenery in floral arrangements, and so the emphasis was on large head avalanche roses, which are my favourite flowers.
Alexandra from Alexandra’s Florist was exceptionally patient with me. She visited me at home on numerous occasions, and a lot of email exchanges were sent throughout the night to make sure we got it exactly right. I am a fusspot and she knows it, but we are friends too.
Our fabulous photographer
Paul Toeman was our photographer, and was remarkably accommodating. He understood this wasn’t to be a wedding where people should need to pose for pictures, but to capture the emotions of the people in the room.
When looking at wedding photographs, I often look at the faces of the guests rather than just those of the bride and groom, and Paul recorded this beautifully.
A five-tier cake
We opted for a five-tier bespoke wedding cake. Each layer was a different color with gold piping to mimic the shape of the crystal chandeliers which hung above. Of course, there were avalanche roses made of icing which sat on the top layer.
Perele made our cake for us and it was not only a striking centerpiece, but it was also delicious.
A filling feast
We had masses of hot food, sushi, cooked tuna steaks, fresh salmon, ciabatta sandwiches, flavoured scones, home-made jams and around 11 desserts all served with champagne and peach Bellinis.
Not forgetting fruit smoothies and strawberry and elderflower ice lollies, which were handed around as the dancing progressed.
We insisted to our caterer Arieh Wagner there were to be three-tier tea stands for every two people for each course. We would never allow anyone to leave our home not feeling well fed and watered, and our wedding was to be no exception.
As a large number of guests attending our wedding were now obviously much older than the first time we both married, we decided to hold a tea dance, but this was no ordinary tea.
We chose a band that both the older and younger generations would enjoy listening and dancing to, and booked a favourite of Ronnie Scott’s, a jazz band, called the Mississippi Swamp Dogs . They were experts at reading the room, and knew it was important to us that the music be loud enough to enjoy, but not so loud that people would need to shout to be heard by one another.
My 99-year-old grandmother, who could no longer see or hear properly, and had become exceptionally unsteady on her feet, danced all afternoon and well into the evening, and told my mother with an enormous smile “I just wanted to see if I could dance again”.
We used imagery from a Kabbalistic painting for our table plan, menus and benchers. We wanted something different to the usual intertwined initials of the bride and groom, and of course something beautiful, that people would want to take home with them.
We had our Sheva Brachot recited in Hebrew and then in English, so that we could include at least 14 men, instead of seven, in an attempt to involve as many people as possible in our day. We had their names printed inside the benchers too. We were delighted that when we glanced around the marquee at the end of the wedding, that they had all been taken home.
Instead of escort cards, we placed succulent plants in ivory painted plant pots, which had little flags reading ‘take me home’ handwritten by me in gold pen. I woke at 4am every morning to spray paint plant pots in ivory and tie coffee coloured silk ribbon and name tags around the rims. Adam printed the name labels, and we stuck them onto brown luggage tags. We also found heart-shaped tea strainers for the ladies as additional wedding favours.
We worked hard to ensure there was no such thing as a ‘bad table’, as everyone was to feel welcome and comfortable at our wedding. This marquee was our virtual beautiful home and we were the host and hostess.
We had decided to put a slightly different spin on our speeches. My father wrote a ‘father of the bride’ speech, but was unable to read it, so a former employer of mine with whom I still have a very close relationship read the speech on his behalf. The toast was to our guests, and we asked they remained seated whilst Adam and I raised our glasses to them.
Adams brother was best man and spoke beautifully.
Adam, of course, responded, but not how one might think. As a surprise even to me, he had re-written the lyrics to the Macklemore song Thrift Shop and mentioned every single guest at our wedding as a thank you, before proceeding with his actual speech, where he asked our guests to join us in singing happy birthday to my cousin whose birthday it was that day, and also asked everyone to raise their glasses to my parents’ oldest friends, who were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary.
Although our wedding was, of course predominantly our day, the emphasis really was on having all the people we love in one room and making them feel special.
Gifts to one another
On our wedding night, Adam and I each presented one another with a wedding present which neither of us knew the other would do. I had booked us a surprise honeymoon to Rhodes and handed him a gift bag with a bottle of factor 50 suntan lotion and the plane tickets in an envelope.
Adam handed me an enormous box which I unwrapped to discover our first dance lyrics Over and Over Again by Nathan Sykes, framed with a caption which read: “Forever dancing, always in love”.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
- Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. Remember to inject your own personality into your wedding day. Most people take inspiration from others, but remember, most of your guests have been to many weddings before yours, so don’t feel the need to keep up with nor outdo everyone else, or adhere to the usual blueprint. Make your day a day to remember for the right reasons, and if you love an original idea from a friend’s wedding, remember to ask them if they mind you borrowing it for your day. These things are sacred to people.
- The devil really is in the detail. Check out things like room temperatures in advance of your day. A room blasted with freezing cold air conditioning, or a room which is sweltering hot can make it uncomfortable and ruin the best-laid plans. These are the things your guests will remember.
- Be considerate and think of your guests. Keep friends together where possible, and if not possible, then place them nearby one another. Make sure you place yourselves and your top table somewhere everyone can see you and feel included. While this is your wedding day and time to shine, be mindful not to allow your guests to feel unimportant to you.
Amy and Adam’s little white book
Photographer – Paul Toeman
Venue – The Pillar Hotel
Bride’s dress – Elizabeth Todd
Groom’s attire – Alterations Boutique
Hair + Makeup – Nikki Woolf
Bridesmaids – John Lewis and Debenhams
Flowers – Alexandra’s Florist
Caterer – Arieh Wagner
Cake – Perele
Band – Mississippi Swamp Dogs