There’s nothing quite like a good English countryside Jewish wedding. And Kim, a secondary school maths teacher, and Josh, a quality manager, threw the absolute perfect bash at Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Hedsor House, which, despite being located conveniently just outside London, feels like it’s worlds away.
Family-run stately home Hedsor House ticked all the couple’s boxes: classic feel; exclusive hire for 150 people; rooms for the bridal party to sleep in, and ability to bring in a great kosher caterer. And if you scroll through the gorgeous images from Richard Galloway Photography, you’ll see that Hedsor could not have been a more perfect spot for Kim and Josh’s special day.
We’re in love with the couple’s exquisite lace effect chuppah (to match Kim’s lace gown!), supplied by Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor The Happy Chuppah People, which has held up by Josh’s ushers during the ceremony.
We’re also totally taken with the couple’s Jenga “guest book,” a custom Jenga tower with Kim and Josh’s names and wedding date engraved into each block, which guests could then write messages on. The pair plans to bring it out for a game every year on their anniversary – how sweet is that?!
Now over to the bride, who looked stellar in Stella York…
How we Met
Kim, the bride: We met online on ‘Plenty of Fish’.
A Stately Home Venue
We got married in Hedsor House in Taplow. We wanted a venue that was exclusive hire for 150 people which also had rooms for the bridal party to sleep in, and allowed us to bring in our own vendors, particularly allowing us to bring in a kosher caterer. We also wanted somewhere relatively nearby with a classic, classy feel and Hedsor House (being a family run stately home) ticked all the boxes.
Lilac and Navy
Our colour scheme was lilac and navy, and we planned and designed everything around that, including the bridal party outfits, cake design & flowers. We also created our own logo which went on the invitations, the website, the kippot, the place cards, menus and so on. We did not have a “theme” as such, the venue was so beautiful, and everything tied in together so nicely that we did not need one. We did not have a wedding planner, however the production company we used provided us with a day manager that was invaluable!
Invitations / stationery
Josh’s mother is an artist and helped us with the design which we then sent off to have save the date cards and invitations made, printed in navy with lilac writing. For the save the date cards, we then mounted them onto a lilac backing before sending, and for the invitations, we made matching lilac inserts with navy writing that we could update ourselves with RSVP dates etc. allowing us to send out a second wave of invites as and when any initial invitees RSVPed no.
Hair + Make-up
I did not want to search online for either of these (fear of the unknown!) so went with my friend who I have trusted with my hair over the years, and a friend’s recommendation for make-up who was excellent. They did the hair and make-up for the myself, the mothers and five bridesmaids.
Both provided multiple trials and guidance in the run up to the wedding; they also ended up being guests on the big day, which turned out to be an excellent idea because they were around to re-do my hair & make-up after the Jewish dancing ruined them both!
A Stella York Dress
I had two dresses. This was not my original intention, but again being able to change out of the larger ceremony dress before dinner/evening dancing after getting sweaty during the Jewish dancing was an excellent idea! My ceremony dress was an A-line, laced Stella York dress purchased from a local bridal shop who also created a matching shoulder cover for under the chuppah, and the evening dress was an off the shoulder mid-length prom dress style purchased online.
I wore two bracelets as my something new and something borrowed, a pair of sapphire earrings as my something blue and Josh’s grandmother’s broach that was incorporated into the bouquet was my something old. I also bought a veil and tiara from the same bridal shop as the ceremony dress.
Both were lovely – the bridal shop added diamantes to the veil to match those added to the dress, for extra sparkle, and for balance the tiara was quite small and understated. In hindsight, I wish I had gone for a shorter veil though, as people kept stepping on it as I left the chuppah!
I do not do heels! And one of the party favours were pairs of flip-flops so that other guests could join me in protest against being uncomfortable. I bought glittered Greek dance shoes and wore them the whole day.
The handsome groom
Josh wore a navy three-piece suit that was custom made for him and the fathers of the bride/groom. He also wore a lilac tie, buttonhole, kippah, and socks to complete the look. He looked so handsome and smart, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one swooning on the day!
I had two maids of honour, three bridesmaids and two flower girls. The maids all wore the same lilac dress with matching earrings and necklaces as gifts from the bride, with a pair of silver shoes of their choice, and the flower girls wore simple white dresses with matching boleros for the ceremony and floral headdresses.
Our favourite element of the ceremony (besides getting married of course) was the chuppah itself. We found a very minimal chuppah that could be held up by each of Josh’s four ushers and then decorated with our own choice of flowers on the day. We also used a kiddush cup that is a family heirloom on Josh’s side and the whole ceremony was repeated in Hebrew/English so that everyone present could follow.
This did make the ceremony a little longer but was appreciated by both our non-Jewish attendees and my Israeli family.
The ketubah itself was provided by the rabbi, however we have since had a border painted by Josh’s sister for it with lilac flowers to match our colour scheme.
A lot of the chuppahs we saw were very heavy looking with massive drapes or big glass pillars which we did not like. We finally settled on a lace effect chuppah by The Happy Chuppah People, to match my dress, which we found online that was light and held in place by our ushers during the ceremony, which was a nice touch.
Our Music Choice
We chose the music for the whole day using Spotify playlists which took us hours, but it was time well spent! Then we shared them with the production company to play on the day with a playlist for each stage.
For the reception, we went for instrumental/string versions of popular songs. For the ceremony, we had live musicians – I walked down the aisle to my favourite song, ‘Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera, and we also enjoyed some upbeat Jewish music at the end to embrace family members and walk out to.
For the Jewish dancing, the musicians were joined by a singer and the band played the traditional songs for that. For the dinner, we chose our favourite slow-tempo songs and for the evening dancing, our favourite up-tempo songs with an additional playlist dedicated solely to the final hour of music which we were very specific about.
We did not choose specific flowers, instead we ask the florist to select within our colour scheme. We had different bouquets for the bride, maids of honour and bridesmaids which were then cleverly reused by the florists as the floral centrepiece on the top table for dinner. There were four large arrangements, two at the entrance to the venue and two more at the entrance to the main hall, which was used for the ceremony and then turned around for the dinner.
The dinner table centrepieces were first used to decorate the ceremony (attached to the end of each row of chairs) and again cleverly reused by the florist. The groom and best men also had matching buttonholes and there were also flowers added to the front two posts of the chuppah – so lots of flowers! We were so impressed by our florists, they also provided lots of little bits that we hadn’t thought of, like a post-box for wedding cards, a runway for the ceremony and a table plan.
We cannot recommend our professional photographer, Richard Galloway Photography , enough! We were first steered down the path of well-known photographers in the Jewish community who obviously specialised in Jewish weddings and what moments to capture, but they were so expensive that we decided against it. Our main requirement of our photographer was to be invisible; we had been to weddings before where the day would be stopped continuously by photographers trying to manoeuvre people into the photos they wanted to take and got in the way.
Our photographer, and the second photographer he ended up providing, was so invisible we could not believe the incredible photos he had managed to capture. We did not have a videographer as many of our friends who have had one admitted it was nice to watch once but that was it and so probably was not worth it.
Food and Cake
Finding a caterer was easier than we expected, because there were only three kosher caterers that were on our venue’s approved vendors list (our venue said we could use whatever vendors we wanted for everything else, except for the food and dancefloor) and between the three we settled on Celia Clyne. We did insist on a food tasting which meant going up to Manchester, however we have to say that all the food on offer was so good that we could have trusted them without a tasting!
The service they provided on the day was also excellent, ensuring the bride had her own bottle of her favourite wine in a cool bag for her throughout the day and an open bar for the full ten hours for everyone else. They also kept the food going all day with reception food before & after the ceremony, dinner obviously, a small, tiered cake atop a cupcake tower (which again matched our colour scheme) and portions of fish and chips later on.
We went quite big on party favours in the end, or at least bigger than we initially planned to. There were baskets on entry of kippot, collapsible fans, and flip flops along with party bubbles to blow over the first dance. We also arranged for a second photographer group (again, highly recommended) who came just for the evening to take photos and put them onto fridge magnets with our wedding logo & date on that said “thank you for coming” for people to take home.
We had seen the idea of a more traditional guest book, but were worried that, like a wedding video, it was something which might be nice to look at once, but no more. Instead we bought a custom Jenga tower, with our names and the wedding date engraved into each block, and asked each of the guests to sign and write messages on the blocks during dinner. It’s such a lovely keepsake and we have now decided to get it out and play Jenga with it every year on our anniversary.
Once we had the bridesmaids dresses, to make sure everything matched we sent a swatch of the material to Swagger and Swoon, to get matching ties and pocket squares made for the boys.
We also had floral arches and a shtick for the Jewish dancing – the shtick was particularly fun and quite the spectacle for our non-Jewish attendees.
The bride most certainly did make a speech, completely unplanned and right at the end of the evening when I had fully taken advantage of the open bar situation! Fortunately, everything I said was out of pure love and gratitude for everyone who had helped make the day as perfect and memorable as it could be!
We went on a mini moon to Barcelona straight after the wedding which was perfect! The hotel was lovely, a recommendation from Josh’s parents, and it was 4 days which was just the right amount of time to be away straight after the wedding before settling in together as husband and wife. As wedding gifts, we then asked for contributions towards a “proper” honeymoon to Bali via Singapore a year later to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. Sadly, due to COVID this honeymoon has not yet happened, but we are crossing our fingers that it can happen soon!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Get a day manager! If you have a wedding planner then I imagine they will do this for you, but if not just get a day manager who you can give a list of vendors and timings to. You do not want to have you or anyone in your wedding party worrying on your big day. If you want to enjoy the day – get a day manager!!
Since we had eight women getting hair and make up done by one hairdresser and one make-up artist we were obviously running late. Advice: have a bigger team, or give the team you have a deadline that you as the bride want to be ready for, the rest can miss the reception if need be, or as a minimum get some of the reception food sent up so you’re not missing out.
KIM & JOSH’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Richard Galloway Photography
Venue – Hedsor House
Chuppah – The Happy Chuppah People
Bride’s dress – Stella York found at Forever Bridal
Bride’s accessories – Forever Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Roch Valley
Groom’s attire – J Tailoring
Groomsmen’s rental attire – Youngs Hire
Bridesmaids – Davids Bridal
Makeup – Makeup with Lauren
Florist – Seventh Heaven Events
Catering & Cake – Celia Clyne
Stationery/Invitation printing – Chiltern Foil
Kippot – Hebrewear
Guestbook – Stag Design
Colour matched ties and pocket squares – Swagger and Swoon
Production Team (music, day manager, lighting & sound, dancefloor etc.) – Creation Musical Services
Rings – Arlington & Co
Favours – Magniv Photo Magnets
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.