Don’t mind us, we’re busy picking our jaws up off the floor after seeing today’s stunning Jewish wedding portraits in the snow. Almost enough to make you rethink that summer wedding, are we right?!
When Mel, a project manager, and Mitch, who works in IT, first chose Chiko Photography, they were drawn to a photo of his with a couple under an umbrella in the snow. Who would’ve thought they’d get to recreate it themselves?!
This is also a special wedding for us because bride Mel was one of our blogging brides but not only that, Mel was also a founding member of our Club for Jewish Brides, and as such, she and Mitch were the very first couple to ever use our own-brand (and super gorgeous!) smash glass pouch for breaking the glass under their chuppah!
We loved following Mel’s wedding planning journey, and we’re so glad to hear that the feeling was mutual. Mel found several of her amazing wedding vendors through Smashing the Glass, from their incredible videographer, STG Recommended Vendor Denee Motion,to another much loved STG Recommended Vendor XS Showband, best known as pioneers of the wedding flash mob!
XS Showband provided entertainment throughout the day, but we can’t take our eyes off Denee Motion’s fantastic video of Mel and Mitch’s very own musical wedding flash mob, just before their ceremony started. They wanted a special surprise for their guests, something to make sure their day really stood out, and we think this more than did the trick. You’ve got to check it out for yourself!
Do also take a moment to read through Mel’s fabulous account of her planning and prep, there are some really useful tips and a generous helping of super advice at the end. Over to Mel now (and by the way we think she looks SO elegant in her lace fishtail gown by Stella York. . .
How we met
Mel, the bride: We met on JDate in 2013. After chatting for a while we met for a drink. Our second date was an eight-hour lunch! I thought if someone can keep me engrossed in constant conversation for that long without getting bored then I am on to a winner.
A Countryside Venue
We got married at Warren Weir at Luton Hoo. We always knew we didn’t want a central London wedding; we wanted something a little different.
After trawling the internet for venues in Hertfordshire and Essex, my dad suggested we look at Luton Hoo. Mitch and I instantly knew it was the one. Not only did the venue cater to our needs, it is set in over 1000 acres of beautiful grounds.
Mitch and I planned the entire wedding ourselves without the help of a wedding planner. Everything about our wedding was personal and was full of special touches.
Our color scheme was blush, sage, ivory, and charcoal. We didn’t have a theme as such, but I did design a wedding logo that featured throughout the wedding on invitations, stationery, cupcakes and favors.
Invitations Designed by the Bride
Our invitations were completely unique because I designed them myself. I designed our save the dates and really enjoyed the process so decided to design our invitations and all of our on-the-day stationery too. It made it so much more personal knowing I had created everything.
Like everything else for our wedding, we wanted something a little different so decided to go for a tri-fold invitation that opened out into a long portrait invitation. The first third was all the details about our wedding, including the date, time, venue, etc.
The middle third was all the additional information about directions and accommodation. The final bottom third was an illustrated map of the Luton Hoo estate, which Mitch found online and I then customized. The map was pretty useless as a map but it added a quirky element.
We had so many messages from people who said how much they loved our invitations, which made all the effort and hard work worth it.
Hair + Makeup
I’m not one for constantly being all glam. You’ll often see me with naturally wavy hair and a bit of eyeliner. Obviously, I wanted to look my best on the wedding day but it was important to still look and feel like myself.
For my hair, I went with a loose low chignon with gypsophila along one side and the back. I wanted a “messy but done” look. It was so elegant and suited my dress perfectly. My hair was done by Sam Anton. She has been doing my mother-in-law’s hair for years and I wanted someone who I knew and could trust. She did mine, my mum’s, and my MIL’s hair.
My makeup was done by the amazing Paula from Make-up & Beauty by Paula K. I’ve known Paula for a couple of years. She did my makeup when Mitch’s brother got married and for our engagement party. Not only is she an amazing MUA, she’s the most lovely person. On the morning of the wedding she was such a calming influence and made me feel so relaxed.
A Stella York Dress
My dress was from an amazing bridal salon called Brides of Berkhamsted. I visited a few other shops but nothing compared to them.
I chose a stunning lace fishtail gown by Stella York. I went dress shopping with an image in my mind of what I wanted. My dress was so similar yet so different to what I pictured. I knew I wanted lace and fitted, which is what my dress was. But I didn’t plan on falling in love with a relatively simple dress with no embellishment (other than a little belt detail) that was blush pink!
A couple of years ago my mum found my grandma’s wedding dress. Strangely it was a similar color and style as mine. With the wedding dress was her clutch bag. Inside the clutch bag I found a pale blue ribbon. It had faded a lot over the years but I knew I wanted to have it sewn into my dress, which I did.
Jewels and Pearls
My veil was also from Brides of Berkhamsted. It was a very simple veil with a scalloped edge with a few dangling jewels. It was fingertip length as I didn’t want to cover the back of the dress.
I wore a matching bracelet and earring set from John Lewis. Both had pearls, which I love, and a leaf design which was incredibly similar to my rings. So as soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect.
Converse and Dune Shoes
Comfort on the day was so important to me. I’m really not one for heels. I love the idea of them but my feet hate them! One of my very first purchases was a pair of limited edition Converse from Office. They were cream leather with a single blush pink stripe down the back of the shoe. They matched the color scheme perfectly and I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about not being comfortable. I bought them over a year before the wedding so it took a lot of willpower not to wear them before the big day. I’m making up for it now though — I wear them all the time!
For the ceremony I wanted something a little more elegant. Knowing I would take them off after the ceremony I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I found a lovely pair of block heel sandals from Dune. They were blush pink with a crystal rose design on the heel.
The handsome groom
I may be biased, but Mitch looked amazing on the day. He wore a gorgeous black suede jacket and black trousers from Hugo Boss. His shirt was custom-made by Tailor Made London. For a personal touch, Mitch got our wedding date embroidered under his collar. He wore black patent shoes from Hawes and Curtis.
Mitch and the groomsmen wore bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie. They were all a matching paisley design in colors to match our color scheme. Mitch wore blush, the groomsmen wore charcoal, and our dads wore sage.
Mitch’s socks were from Happy Socks in a paisley design to match the bow ties.
As a wedding gift I bought Mitch a pair of personalized cufflinks to wear on the day. I found a company called Sally Clay Jewellery through Not On The High Street, which was able to produce a custom design where they etched our wedding logo on to the cufflinks. I also got our special phrase and our wedding date engraved on the back.
Bridesmaids in Charcoal
My three bridesmaids wore mismatched charcoal dresses from David’s Bridal. Each of my girls are quite different in terms of style and shape so I was keen for them to choose dresses that they each felt comfortable in and would wear again. The only stipulation I put in place was the color and the length.
They ended up with three very different dresses but they complemented each other really well.
A Floral Chuppah
When we met with our florist we trawled through hundreds of chuppah designs. We wanted something simple and that would suit our style of wedding.
We decided to have our chuppah in the center of the room with guests seated around all four sides. It was so special to be surrounded by our family and friends during the ceremony rather than having our back to everyone.
We went with a draped chuppah with clusters of flowers on each corner, with ivy and roses coming down each pole. With our chuppah being in the middle of the room it was important for us to dress all four sides.
Ceremony Flash Mob
Our ceremony was really special. We decided to have our chuppah in the centre of the room so that we were surrounded by our loved ones.
I was so thankful my grandma on my dad’s side and Mitch’s nana were able to join us. Our other grandparents sadly were not there to share our day with us so I thought it would be a nice touch to display framed photos of them. We put the photos on a table in the ceremony before moving them to the main function suite so it felt like they were there with us the whole day. We also used my grandpa’s tallit as the “roof” of our chuppah, and I got married with my grandma’s wedding ring (which has no diamonds so is “kosher”), which I now wear on my right hand.
We also had a very special surprise for everyone. One that no one — not even our parents — knew about. From the very start of planning, we both agreed we wanted our wedding to be different. A day people would remember. After some discussions with our band manager, we decided to have a flash mob! This involved each band member taking part in a surprise performance just before the ceremony procession. We chose the song L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole as it is a song we love and one that everyone knows so guests could sing along. The only downside to this was that everyone involved in the procession missed it! But we’ve got the photos and video so that’s good enough for us.
A Handmade Ketubah
Not long after we got engaged, we attended a Jewish wedding fair where we met the lovely Tessa Samuels who is behind ByTessa. Tessa hand-designs some stunning artwork, including ketubahs. We always wanted to have a ketubah that we could display in our home. We chose a lovely circular design and personalised the text.
You Got the Love
My brother walked my grandma down the aisle and Mitch’s brother and wife walked his nana down the aisle. Mitch then entered with his parents followed by the bridesmaids. They all entered to Meheira, which is a song we both love. I entered to Boi Kallah to the tune of Hallelujah. I circled Mitch seven times to Boi B’Shalom.
The Sheva Brachot was sung to different tunes from musicals, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow from Wizard of OZ and Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof. Francesca from XS Showband was our chazanette and she did such an amazing job.
It was quite hard to select songs for the ceremony but with the help of our rabbi, chazanette, and Smashing the Glass, we were able to choose the most perfect songs.
Our entrance song to the party was I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas and our first dance was Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran which has always been “our song.” The final song of the night was You Got the Love by Florence and the Machine. Mitch and I stood in the middle of the dancefloor and everyone circled us. It was such a special moment and the perfect end to the perfect day.
Flowers in Pink and Ivory
We had a mix of blush and ivory roses, genista, hydrangeas, carnations, gypsophila, and mixed foliage, which matched our color scheme perfectly. I don’t know much about flowers, I just knew what colors we needed. Alex from Alexandra’s Florist was so helpful and created the most stunning chuppah and bouquets.
Once we had decided on the flowers, I told Liz from Wedding Venue Decorators who was able to produce table decorations that matched perfectly.
Our fabulous Photographer…
Our photographer was the incredible Chiko Photography. Photography was high up on our priority list so it was one of the first things we booked.
Chiko was recommended to us by Mitch’s cousin. When we first met Chiko we instantly knew we wanted to book him for our wedding. He was the nicest person and completely got us as a couple. His work is outstanding and he creates the most stunning photos.
One of my favorite photos of his was of a couple under an umbrella in the snow. Little did I know that we would actually be able to recreate that photo ourselves as it snowed on our wedding day.
On the day we had two photographers: Chiko and his colleague Jo. They were both amazing and were more than just our photographers. It was like they were our friends who were taking photos for us. They both had a constant smile on their face so it was clear to see they were having a great time. It isn’t just a job for them; they clearly love what they do.
Our videographer was the amazing Denee Motion. I was never sure of the idea of having a videographer but Mitch was adamant we had one. It was only after watching my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s wedding video that I realized we should have one. And I do not regret that decision for a moment. Denis and Uri were an absolute dream to work with.
I discovered Denee Motion on Smashing the Glass. We also asked Chiko if he could recommend anyone. Sure enough, he recommended Denee Motion. We watched loads of their videos on Instagram and Vimeo and loved their work. We arranged a meeting with Denis and booked on the spot. We trusted our instincts and were not disappointed in the slightest.
For anyone who isn’t sure about whether to have a videographer as well as a photographer, my advice would be to go for it. If your budget allows, then book a videographer. Photographs tell a lovely story, but a video adds another dimension. They also blend in really well on the day and you don’t even notice they’re there!
We opted for non-offensive catering provided by the venue. Mitch and I aren’t kosher and most of our friends and family aren’t either. This meant we couldn’t justify providing a fully kosher meal for everyone. Four of our guests were glatt kosher so for them we bought in specific meals from Hermolis . None of our guests commented on the fact there was no meat served; the food tasted so good it didn’t matter!
Anyone who knows me knows I love cake. So it came as no great surprise that I wanted a cake at the wedding. Rather than a traditional tiered wedding cake we went with cupcakes in a range of designs to suit our color scheme. We used a small company called I Love Cupcakes based in North West London. They produce only parve and fully kosher cakes so while we didn’t provide full kosher catering it meant all of our kosher guests could enjoy the cakes too.
A Fab Band
Music was one of the most important elements for us so was the first thing we booked after our venue. We booked XS Showband who were absolutely incredible. They provided all the music and entertainment throughout the day: we had a female singer for the chuppah with keys and saxophone, a saxophonist playing during the drinks reception, the music throughout the meal and evening, and, of course, the flash mob just before the ceremony started.
They were an absolute dream to work with and helped create a day to remember. So many of our guests commented on how amazing they were and a few have since asked us for their details.
Since being together, Mitch and I have been referred to as M&M and naturally have an affinity to M&M chocolates. It wasn’t difficult to decide on what our favors should be; personalised M&Ms. A week before the wedding we took a trip to M&M World in Leicester Square to purchase M&Ms in colors to match our colour scheme. We went with a range of designs including our names, wedding date, hashtag, and images of rings, champagne, and hearts.
We purchased some small glass jars from Confetti and filled each with M&Ms. We then stuck stickers with our logo on to each lid. It was a labor of love but so much fun. And they looked amazing. There were probably much easier and cheaper favors we could have chosen, but ours added a personal touch which our guests loved.
Quirky table numbers
Rather than opting for plain table numbers we went for something a little different. Using the same style as the rest of our wedding stationary I designed table numbers which showed images of us at the age that represented the table number, i.e. table 1 showed photos of us aged 1, table 2 showed photos of us aged 2, and so on. We got a bespoke order printed by Printed.com — they were able to print the design on A5 foam board which meant they didn’t wilt during the evening and we can keep them as a momento.
Where possible, everything was personalized. I designed a logo that included our initials and the date in our color scheme. We included our logo on our cupcakes, all our stationary, and wedding favors. For an extra touch, we also had our names and logo projected on to the backdrop of the band’s stage and the dancefloor. Rather than standard text inside our kippot, which we ordered from Hebrewear, we decided to include the phrase “what a lovely cupple” which people really liked.
As is customary these days, we had a wedding hashtag. One of my bridesmaids works in marketing so she was naturally my go-to to help me come up with a hashtag. We vetoed a few options before agreeing on #LoveIslinTheAir (a play on our last name). We created a Snapchat filter and put signs up to encourage people to use the filter and share photos using our hashtag.
For a bit of fun we had a selfie mirror for guests to enjoy in the evening provided by Mirror Image Events. Our guests were able to take their photos home as a little souvenir. Each photo was also stuck in a book and our guests were able to write messages to us. This made a great alternative to a traditional guest book.
A white wedding in spring
Spring is my favorite time of year so I always knew I wanted a spring wedding. Jewish festivals meant April and May weren’t really options so we went with March, thinking it would just be starting to get warmer and leaves would be starting to grow back on the trees. March 2017 had lovely weather so we were hopeful for the same for our wedding day.
We actually had the complete opposite. The “Beast from the East” returned the evening before our wedding. We went from hoping to have a typical spring wedding to having a white wedding. Luckily, Mitch and I and our close families were staying at the hotel the night before so getting to the wedding wouldn’t be a problem for us. It was everyone else we were concerned about. What if none of our suppliers or guests were able to get there? There would be no wedding.
Despite the adverse weather, every one of our guests and all the suppliers made it without an issue. And the snow meant we had the most incredible photos. I was freezing cold in my strapless gown, but it was so worth it.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
When planning, my biggest pieces of advice would be:
- Spread the load — don’t try to plan your entire wedding in a month (even though you’ll be super excited when you first get engaged). It’s not realistic.
- Share the load — don’t try to do everything yourself. Chances are your fiancÃ©/fiancÃ©e wants to help with planning. Get family and friends involved too.
- Trust your instincts — if something feels right then go for it. If you visit a venue that meets your needs or you meet a supplier you love or you find your perfect dress, don’t waste your time trying to find “something better.” Trust your instincts.
- The bigger picture — it is so easy to get caught up in the little things and some things may stress you out. Try to focus on the real purpose of the day — it’s not about having the best caterers or the biggest venue or trying to please others. It’s about celebrating your marriage and the love you and your husband/wife share.
On the day itself:
Don’t sweat the small stuff — planning a wedding you get so caught up in the details and on the day you naturally want everything to go smoothly. If something doesn’t quite go to plan, often you won’t even know about it or you won’t actually care. We had a guest that just turned up on the day uninvited (yes, you read that right). It got sorted. We had a couple of guests who called on the morning of the wedding saying they couldn’t come. Replacements were found. We were running late after the ceremony. It didn’t matter.
Take a step back — at points in the day, take a step back and take everything in. Look around you. Everyone is there for you.
Spend time with your new husband/wife — at some point during the day, make sure you separate yourselves and take some time out together to take everything in. Even if it’s just a minute or 2. The day will be over in a flash and will soon just be a memory.
My biggest piece of advice overall is to enjoy it. Enjoy planning the best day of your life. Enjoy the day itself surrounded by your loved ones. Enjoy the start of your married life together.
Mel & Mitch’s little white book
Photography — Chiko Photography
Videography — Denee Motion
Band — XS Showband
Venue — Warren Weir
Bride’s dress — Stella York purchased at Brides of Berkhamsted
Bride’s accessories – John Lewis
Bride’s shoes – Converse purchased at Office and Dune
Groom’s attire – Hugo Boss, Tailor Made London, Hawes and Curtis, Mrs Bow Tie and Happy Socks
Bridesmaids — David’s Bridal
Mother of the Bride — Mary’s of Enfield
Makeup – Make-up & Beauty by Paula K
Flowers — Alexandra’s Florist and Wedding Venue Decorators
Cupcakes – I Love Cupcakes
Favours – M&Ms and Confetti
Selfie mirror – Mirror Image Events
Ketubah – ByTessa
Kippot – Hebrewear
Kosher food – Hermolis
Stationery — Canva, Creative Invitations and Printed.com