Today’s real Jew-ish real wedding is a very special one and we’re ridiculously excited about it, as lovely Caroline and Robbie were one of editor Karen’s fabulous consultancy couples and to see their wedding come to life has been a total and utter joy! One of our favorite things about Smashing The Glass is the way we so often feel involved, directly or indirectly, in our couples’ big days, and this is particularly true today!
In fact, Caroline and Robbie were so delightful to work with, that they are one of 12 very special guests at our ‘Your Jewish Wedding Your Way’ Smashing Summit on the 31st January 2018 which we are SO excited for! Mindy Weiss, Monique Lhuillier, Ron Ben-Israel, Galia Lahav‘s Chief Designer, Duke Photography, Bruce Russell, Blake Ezra, Food Story, and a whole host of wedding industry superstars will talk live, covering everything (and we mean EVERYTHING!) you need to know to plan your Jewish (or Jew-ish) wedding your way. It’s going to be unmissable so make sure you reserve your (totally free!) front seat today here.
So onto today’s truly fabulous totally dreamy and romantic English country garden Jew-ish wedding! Caroline and Robbie, with so many international connections, could have tied the knot in many places, but chose picturesque Northbrook Park in Surrey, an area with family connections for the happy couple.
Beautiful bride Caroline absolutely rocked her bold, unique and jaw-droppingly gorgeous Liz Martinez gown, with its stunning plunge neckline and layers of fairytale tulle.
There were no fewer than three of our much-loved recommended vendors involved in Caroline and Robbie’s wedding. The Function Band, who created magical moments with their music and kept the party going into the early hours, Philippa Louise whose epic makeup skills brought out Caroline’s best features and Rabbi Paul Glantz, who worked with the couple to create the perfect traditional Jew-ish ceremony.
All of the delightful décor details and happy moments were captured by fabulous photographer Philippa James.
It’s finally beautiful Caroline’s turn in the spotlight on the Smashing The Glass pages – please give her a very warm welcome!
How we met
Caroline, the bride: Robbie and I met five years ago in Sydney, Australia. I was a backpacker on a year’s work and holiday visa, while Robbie was working there as a junior doctor for the year. We met completely by chance in a nightclub in Sydney’s famous Surrey Hills neighbourhood, and the rest is history!
We spent our first three years together traveling the world, including a few months’ journey on the Trans-Siberian Express through China, Mongolia and Russia, and living in Australia and South Africa. Two years ago, we relocated back to Robbie’s hometown of London and have been here ever since.
An English country garden venue
We got married at Northbrook Park, a gorgeous country estate on the border of Surrey and Hampshire in South East England. It is filled with romantic walled gardens and a beautiful Grade II listed manor house, complete with resident peacocks!
After the dust settled over the exhilaration of Robbie proposing, we eagerly rolled up our sleeves to start planning our special day. The excitement soon turned into a slight panic, as we didn’t even know on which continent to base our wedding. Being a transatlantic couple, there were almost too many options – do we get married in America or England, or maybe even a destination?
I wanted to be involved in every aspect of planning my own wedding, so the decision made was to have it here in the UK. The next factor to consider was if I wanted a city or country wedding. For me this was easy, as I had always wanted to get married outside in a garden or by the sea, so the second decision was made to look for a country estate. It was actually my mother who suggested looking in Surrey – the area has a special significance to my husband, as it is where his father’s family is from and where his grandmother currently lives, who he is incredibly close to. When we decided to look for a venue in Surrey, it just felt right!
After narrowing down the global location, the next big task was to find the perfect venue. This is when I decided to enlist professional help and called up Karen Cinnamon. After meeting us and listening to our ideal description, she found our perfect venue, Northbrook Park, which we booked immediately! We worked with Karen as our wedding consultant, which was instrumental in making our wedding happen. Many of our vendors came from blog posts we read on STG, or from Karen’s personal recommendations.
A romantic garden theme
I would say our theme was ‘sophisticated garden romance’. Neither entirely rustic, nor entirely formal, I tried to make it the most like ‘us’, which is a combination of the two.
We got the lovely romantic element from the gorgeous blooming gardens, peacocks, stunning manor house and color palette. I went with neutrals that you would find in a garden – nudes, champagnes, blushes, eucalyptus silvery/light green and an accent of bronze. We added in a bit of party glitz with a black-tie dress code, the band, staging, drinks and food.
Our tables were named after places my husband and I have lived, travelled and adventured in together as that has been such a big part of our relationship (see how we met!) such as Sydney, Cape Town, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seattle, London, New York, etc. We used lots of wild but modern floral displays, candelabras and tea lights to create more atmosphere.
Simple, elegant and romantic invitations
We used a template from Paperless Post (printed version), which we absolutely loved and customized to make it our own. We wanted something simple, elegant and romantic, and I was surprised at how many options there were available!
We chose one that had great fonts and a monogram of our two first initials, which we then used on all our printed materials to create a brand for our wedding. We now have them printed on our thank you cards and stationery – it’s like our own little logo!
A bold, unique Liz Martinez gown
I ended up going with the stunning Liz Martinez ‘Amy’ dress. It is the most unique dress I’ve ever seen, and was totally not what I thought I would wear! When I first started looking at wedding dresses, I knew I wanted an Israeli designer, but I thought I wanted a sleek body skimming cut. I ended up with a skirt with about ten layers of tulle, and a deep-v bodice that went past my sternum with intricate embroidery detailing.
I think, unlike most brides, I loved so many of the dresses I tried on it was very difficult to choose just one! But when I got in the Amy dress, I simply fell in love with it and how it made me feel. I felt like myself, but better and bridal. I’m so glad I went with the dress that made me feel the most special and the one I would never get away with wearing again!
Family heirloom jewelry and a magical bedeken
The style of the veil was actually the first thing I thought about, before the style of the dress. I wanted a two-tier cathedral length white veil (300 cm!) with a scalloped lace edge, which is exactly what I got. I had always dreamt about the magical moment in the bedeken when the groom veils his bride – to me this is one of the most beautiful and romantic moments in the entire wedding ceremony. I found a great selection of veils from Britten Weddings, all made in Bradford-on-Avon.
Because both my veil and dress were intricately detailed, I kept my jewelry rather simple, but the pieces I wore were incredibly sentimental. My mom gifted me earrings she made from some of the diamonds from my great-grandmother’s eternity band, which my great-grandfather had made for her. He was a diamond dealer, and the diamond in my engagement ring was also from him, which my grandmother used to wear. I love the stories behind these pieces and they are incredibly special to me!
The other piece I wore was a pearl necklace borrowed from my mom. It is a string of fifteen or so baby pearls on a gold chain, which she was given as a child by my grandmother. It is like a choker on me, but I adore it!
Beautiful nude wedges
The shoes were from the Stuart Weitzman bridal collection. I knew I would find something here, so I didn’t even look elsewhere.
Weitzman’s shoes are understated-cool and comfortable. What’s not to love? I went with a block heel, as we were getting married in a garden and didn’t want to sink into the grass, but it was still a black-tie wedding, so I wanted something appropriately chic.
I chose the Nearly Nude textured lamé sandals in silver, which complemented my dress perfectly. They were only 3.5 inches/80mm which meant I could dance the night away!
A glowy goddess look
This area was one that I was most excited for and thought a lot about. I love makeup, but I normally don’t wear that much, so I wanted a natural, glowy goddess look with a little bit of sultriness thrown in – because well, who doesn’t?
I wanted to look like me, but better, so I asked Philippa from Philippa Louise Makeup to help me out. We came up with a concept at the trial where we experimented with coverage, colors and skincare – something I wholeheartedly recommend doing!
We took into consideration my natural skin, eye and lip colours, and then played those up with light contouring and added in warmth. The end result was sunkissed (aka a lot of bronzer and highlighter) with a lightly smoked bronze eye and a pink nude lip.
When it came to hair, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted from the start. I normally wear my hair down, and I really wanted to feel comfortable on my wedding day so I went with my usual loose locks but with big loose waves. Plus, I love the look of flowing soft hair with a beautiful gown!
I really wanted to avoid looking too overdone, and I think this kept my look appearing balanced. I asked my normal stylist from Barber & Parlour (Walter De Marco) if he would do my wedding, as he knows my hair and what it will hold, etc., and luckily he happily agreed! We also did a trial, which was crucial not just to see what it would look like, but how long it would take to do the style.
The handsome groom
Robbie wore a cool dark blue velvet smoker’s jacket in lieu of a traditional tux. I loved his choice! He paired it with a white tuxedo shirt and black pants, but added in a bit more personality (something he is not short of!) with his bowtie and pocket square.
He got custom-made bowties and pocket squares for all eleven of his groomsmen, and for himself, to wear on the big day from Mrs Bow Tie. In addition to his day job as emergency training doctor, he writes a medical blog, which is his real passion. He took the logo from his blog – an ambulance – and shrunk it down and made it into a recurring pattern so it would look like polka dots from far away, but his ambulances up close!
Bridesmaids in mismatched shades of champagne
I had ten bridesmaids – nine babes and one guy! I really didn’t want a matchy matchy look, especially with so many, so I asked them each to get their own dresses with guidelines. I also really wanted my bridesmaids to be comfortable in what they’d be wearing, so by letting them choose their own dresses I knew they would look and feel great.
I asked all the girls to get floor or midi-length silk or satin slip dresses, in champagne to nude. I made a Pinterest board with ideas and dress options they could actually buy which was super worthwhile, as most ended up coming from there. Although, I have to admit, I was nervous about how it was going to all turn out, but it looked even better in person all together than it did on my Pinterest board! They did an incredible job choosing them and each one looked the part.
As for my bridesguy – my best friend and flatmate from university – he wore a light-colored suit to tie in with the bridesmaids. Truly dapper.
A natural birch wood chuppah
I had seen many beautiful chuppahs on Smashing The Glass, which is where I drew my inspiration from. I wanted something understated and romantic, but not overpowering so as to fit in with the garden surroundings.
We went with a natural birch wood frame that the florists constructed, decorated with a few large clusters of greens and soft big blooms in the corners and loosely draped muslin cloth.
Our amazing, inclusive rabbi
We were so grateful to have been introduced by Karen to Rabbi Glantz. He was incredibly welcoming and accepting to my fiancé and I, which was a crucial competent for our Jew-ish wedding. From the moment we met him, it was evident that he wanted to make our special day just how we imagined, including the traditional Jewish aspects that were so important to me.
Rabbi Glantz was personable, relaxed and carried a great sense of humour throughout. My family and friends still haven’t stopped telling me how wonderful they thought he was during our ceremony- the most popular comment being that they loved how he explained the symbolism and traditions, creating an atmosphere of inclusivity.
A traditional Jew-ish ceremony
We had a mostly traditional Jewish ceremony and, as at least half of the guests were not Jewish, we wanted everyone to feel welcome to participate and understand the meanings behind the symbolism – and the Hebrew!
My mother created a beautiful wedding programme for guests to take, which explained every part of the ceremony, translations to the songs and blessings, names of the family members and wedding party, a schedule for the day, as well as some quotes and poems that had personal significance to us.
Prior to the ceremony, we had a bedeken in a gorgeous, sunlit room with all our female family members and close friends. To walk in and have all the important women in my life lined up to support me on my wedding day was an incredible feeling.
As guests picked up a glass of prosecco and walked into the sunken garden where the ceremony took place, we had baskets with folding fans for the ladies (we were lucky with the weather – a warm, sunny August day!) and kippots for the guys with instructions printed on the inside – ‘1. Place kippah on top of head. 2 Enjoy ceremony!’
We had seven friends read the English translations of the Sheva Brachot under the chuppah with us. We were surprised how seriously each one of our friends took their reading and delivered it with such love; it was a moment we will never forget.
Robbie and I wrote our own ketubah. The process of sitting down and discussing what standards we want to uphold in our marriage was an incredibly important step in getting our heads in the game for the big day and feeling the gravitas of making this commitment. We wrote it a few weeks prior to the wedding and it helped us to remember what this was all about, which really amped up the excitement.
My personal favorite part of the ceremony was circling Robbie seven times when I entered the chuppah. I couldn’t have anticipated how emotional it would be – I felt our marriage began from that very first moment we caught eyes as I moved around him.
A knockout hora
This was one of the most fun parts to organize, but also one of the most stressful as you’re choosing the songs that best represent you on your big day! We had a guitarist and saxophonist by the chuppah playing live music without vocals, which worked really well. The groomsmen, Robbie with his parents and the bridesmaids walked down to Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight (local Surrey resident from the same village as Robbie’s grandmother!). I walked down the aisle with my parents to my all-time favourite – David Broza’s Mitachat Lashamayim. The song gives me shivers every time!
We were introduced as husband and wife in the Orangerie to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Can’t Hold Us – the ultimate walk on song! The energy was so palpable it was bouncing off the walls. We continued to madly dance the hora for the next half an hour at least. It was by far the highlight of the entire wedding weekend! Later on, we shared our first dance to Everywhere by the Crystal Fighters – a beautiful song and they are Robbie’s cousin’s band, who we have listened to ever since we met!
The hora was epic and it caught the considerable non-Jewish crowd by surprise. Everyone got so stuck in – my husband nearly got knocked out by thrashing his head on the ceiling! I think that says it all.
I chose bouquets, buttonholes and table centerpieces with greens such as eucalyptus, rosemary and olive, paired with delicate soft full blooms in white and the palest shade of pink.
To keep it romantic and not too formal, nor too rustic, I steered clear of ferns and traditional flower varieties.
Grace & Thorn florists in Hackney helped me conceptualize my vision and were great to work with. For table centerpieces, we did half in high vases and half in low wreaths around large hurricane candles and a few large wild bouquets around the bar.
Our fabulous photographer
We fell in love with the documentary-style photos from our friends’ wedding last summer, so we approached their photographer, Philippa from Philippa James Photography.
Philippa is one of the nicest and most friendly people I have met, which is incredibly important to have around you on your wedding day! I had only met her very briefly once at our friends’ wedding, but when I called her up we ended up speaking for over an hour, so I knew we would work well together! She kept me relaxed before the big moment, and she kept all (eleven!) groomsmen in line for our group photos!
We had a delicious four-tier Victoria sponge naked cake filled with vanilla sugar syrup, buttercream and a summer fruit preserve. It was decorated with edible flowers, fresh fruit and icing sugar from Vanessa at My Little Shop of Cakes in Guildford. I wanted something to match the summery vibe, not overdone with loads of icing but still delicious and most of all pretty!
Our caterer was Tapenade based in Weybridge, who were a joy to work with and delivered the most professional service and delectable Mediterranean food.
A perfect moment
We were lucky enough to have The Function Band entertain us the whole day long. After seeing them at a friend’s wedding earlier in the year, we booked them the very next day. Where do I start? The moment that every guest is still talking about is when they sang Gangsters’ Paradise and everyone got up on their chairs singing along to every single word – and it was only during our starters!
As I stood on my chair laughing in hysterics, as I couldn’t believe the more conservative older family members were not only singing along, but knew every verse, I looked around the room and took it all in – a moment in time that seemed to stand still and one that I will always remember. The party pretty much continued like that until we left the venue after midnight. Since then, two friends of our have booked them for their wedding! Best. Decision. Ever.
I gave floral kimono dressing gowns and perfumed candles to all of my bridesmaids, and personalized passport covers and luggage tags to my two maids-of-honor with their new initials- they both got married just months before my wedding!
Not a dry eye in the house
The speeches were extremely important to my husband (his all-time favorite part of a wedding) and they did not disappoint. My father, my husband and his two best men all made the most incredible speeches I’ve ever heard. Each speech was about twenty minutes and held the audience captive. You could feel how much time and energy went in to each one, they were truly like professional performances – especially Robbie, whose joy in life is public speaking. We were all blown away!
I was particularly touched by my father’s speech. He spoke about what it was like to have a daughter and his style was to direct his speech at the fathers/fathers-to-be in the room, but it touched every person there. I didn’t see a dry eye in the place.
Vintage-style single-use cameras
We had vintage-style single-use cameras on every table for guests to use during the dinner and party. It was such a fun surprise when we got the prints in the post, and also gave us another perspective of the night!
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
Put simply – focus on the big things, and let the little things go. Everyone says it, but that’s because it’s true. If you have time towards the end of planning to fit in smaller details, then by all means, but don’t stress yourself out to get every single little thing done. Guests won’t remember what favors you left on the tables, but they will remember the vibe of the day. Focus on being happy and creating a fun atmosphere – that’s all that really matters!
We felt like we had most of our wedding still to plan with only six months to go. We got everything done with time to spare, so don’t panic if you find yourself in the same position! Six months is ample time to build your perfect wedding day (and Karen reassured us of this too). The only possible exception to this rule is venue and band.
If they’re available, don’t think twice about booking The Function Band!
Caroline & Robbie’s little white book
Photographer – Philippa James
Music – The Function Band
Makeup – Philippa Louise
Rabbi – Paul Glantz
Venue – Northbrook Park
Bride’s dress – Liz Martinez
Bride’s shoes – Stuart Weitzman
Bride’s veil – Britten
Hair – Barber & Parlour
Groom’s attire – Hackett and Mrs Bow Tie
Flowers – Grace & Thorn
Caterer – Tapenade
Cake – My Little Shop of Cakes
Invitation – Paperless Post
Rings – Cartier
Ketubah – Contemporary Judaica