Hands up who wants to see the ULTIMATE London Jewish wedding? Set at an iconic London venue, with some of the city’s finest Jewish wedding vendors, and styled like an absolute dream, Lauren and Mark’s magnificent big day deserves to have praise HEAPED upon it.
Before we get to the gorgeous aesthetic of the wedding, we must acknowledge just how much this brave couple went through before the big day. Losing Mark’s mother shortly after their engagement was a terrible blow, and Lauren and Mark honored her memory in beautiful and moving ways.
Bride Lauren broke her foot, and so her dream of showing off glitzy heels in her stunning Suzanne Neville dipped-hem gown was replaced with a new dream of walking down the aisle in glitzy Converse, with groom Mark surprising her with his own matching pair.
The big day came together like a dream – a Midsummer Night’s Dream, to be exact, with an abundance of flowers, expertly arranged by Tony Marklew, culminating in the ultimate floral arch chuppah. Your eyes will pop out of your head when you see it. This was matched only by the stunning production by Outrage Events.
Of course, a Jewish London wedding was buzzing with incredible Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendors, including much-raved-about kosher catering by Food Story, sensational cinematography by the inimitable Imaginarium Cinematography, who will, incidentally, be joining me for a Facebook live chat tonight at 8pm GMT with… (drum roll) one of my all-time favorite photographers, Blake Ezra Photography, another much-loved insanely talented STG Vendor. Blake is widely known for being one of the UK’s top photographers, and the pictures below really do speak for themselves.
We’ll leave you in Lauren’s capable hands for the full report of the day – we’re sure you’ll be swooning (and Pinning) the whole way through!
How we met
Lauren, the bride: Mark and I actually met in 1991! We attended the same school when I was six and Mark was almost eight. Although he doesn’t remember me, I do remember him. It wasn’t until we were at his dad’s house when his mum had died, and got out all the memorabilia to look at, that we found an old Westwood 1991 school play programme and we were both in it! It brought the happiest of smiles to all of our faces during a very hard time. We have since watched the footage and we were standing yards apart on stage.
We finally came together almost three years ago when I was in Brasserie Zedel with my brother and his future wife. Mark and my brother go back a very long way. As fate would have it, my brother and Mark’s brother have also been best friends from the age of about 12, and even shared a ‘romantic’ trip to Marrakech together a few years ago.
Mark added me on Facebook the next morning, and the rest, as they say, is history. I knew from our first date that he was going to be the one. It was clear from the start that we shared a very special bond, and that even though our paths had tried to cross over 26 years ago that the timing was now right and that we were always destined to meet.
A historical venue
We got married at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in Kings Cross London. We love the history of the building, the high ceilings and exposed brickwork, and wanted a room with a bit of character. Mark is a sucker for a building with a plaque outside.
A whimsical theme
The theme for the wedding was Midsummer Night’s Dream/A Secret Garden, and the minute we saw the ballroom at the hotel, we knew we had picked the right venue to portray this. The exposed brick and the colours in the room really allowed us to play in any way we wanted, and the lights really bounced off the walls, evoking a sunset. Our production was managed by Ben Krieger of Outrage Events, a very old friend of mine.
It felt all the more special, as we already had a friendship, which made the whole process so easy and extremely fun from start to finish. He is a complete dream to work with. His ever-smiling face and welcoming nature made the entire build up and every meeting so enjoyable.
We could not have asked for a better evening. From our perspective it was absolutely perfect!
The name of the game from a production point was try and be different. We had a strict veto on purple up lights and white dancefloors! Ben did an amazing job of taking an already stunning room and highlighting the features. The flowers were lit perfectly, as was the stage, and because we used moving heads (around 40), when the party started it was like being in a club rather than a hotel.
Once piece of advice for anyone getting married is to take into consideration natural light in the room. Because it was a summer wedding, we chose to black out the windows to allow for more atmospheric light during the service and party.
We also made sure that we had fill speakers around the room as with the high ceilings, the acoustics can sometimes be tricky.
We built a bar next to the dancefloor, so there was no reason for anyone to leave during the party.
Everything, down to the tiniest detail, went exactly to time. This is a huge credit to Ben’s attention to detail, vision and hard work, which really helped make our dreams come true.
A Tree of Life, Disney-themed invitation
Once we had a theme, we knew that we wanted our invitation to be a unique and special design. As Disney fans, and in keeping with the theme, we decided wanted the invitation to look like a book. Like the opening of a Disney movie where the pages turn and it is ‘Once Upon a Time’.
We kept the font similar to that of the Disney movies, and designed a logo with leaves, and vines going around it, as well as the border, which was also the logo for our Gobo which featured on the walls behind the band.
We liked the idea of the Tree of Life in Judaism, and what with the theme being Midsummer Night’s Dream/Secret Garden we wanted this idea to be the main feature on the inside.
Using sheer paper, we designed a tree with a foil leaves, so that you could still read the invitation through it on the following page. Big Day Designs did all of our stationery, and they were absolutely incredible. The final invitation was more than we had dreamed of.
Instagram-worthy hair and makeup
I knew I wanted the when it came to my makeup. I decided to use Nikki Wolff. I follow her on Instagram and she came highly recommended by many of my friends too. For my bridesmaids, I used Phoebe Taylor. A truly incredible artist who managed to do all six of them in just about four hours. A huge credit to her tremendous skill.
Two of my closest friends just so happen to be hairdressers, and so it was perfect to be able to have both of them in the room with me on the wedding day as we all got ready.
A Suzanne Neville dipped-hem dress
I have always known that I wanted my wedding dress to be from Suzanne Neville. My mother and sister-in-law booked an appointment, and I found the dress in the first hour of being there.
I always knew that I wanted something a little different, and was in love with the idea of a dipped hem. I mixed three or four different styles together, and we created my beautiful bespoke gown.
I couldn’t have been happier. It was duchess satin, with a straight-cut strapless top and the dipped hem I had always dreamed of. The belt was plain for the ceremony and then I switched to a beautiful design of Suzanne’s for the evening.
It was a very clean dress, which I don’t think people were expecting from me. My idol is Audrey Hepburn, and I wanted to emulate her elegance and class as much as possible through my gown. I had compliments throughout the evening, with people saying I reminded them of her, so I have to thank Suzanne and her wonderful colleagues for helping me make my dream a reality.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
I didn’t have any hair accessories, just a few beautiful pieces of jewelry my parents had so kindly bought me a few months before the wedding as an added treat. I will treasure them forever.
My father took me on a special father-daughter day before the wedding, where we took a trip back in time on the Orient Express. It was there that he surprised me with the beautiful diamond earrings I wore on the day.
You can break my foot, but you can’t break my spirit
I had a beautiful shoe that I found in Selfridges within ten minutes of walking into the shoe galleries. It was the only shoe I tried on. It was by Sophia Webster, a soft baby pink closed toe stiletto with crystallised heels. I always knew that, as I was having a dipped hem, it would be fun to add some color to my feet, seeing as you would see the shoes with the dress, unlike many other styles.
Unfortunately, I became some what addicted to the gym in the lead up to our wedding. I sadly broke my foot in two places kickboxing less than four weeks before the wedding, which meant I had no choice but to wear an ugly grey air boot cast on the day.
I made it work for myself, of course. With the help of my fabulous sister in law and maid of honor, we blinged it up with crystals and added some bows. I also managed to order some last-minute wedding Converse with pink crystals, Mrs Bloom down one side, the wedding date down the other and L & M on the pink laces.
Unbeknownst to me and with much secrecy between Mark and my mother, he had requested a men’s version (in black and white with clear crystals) for himself so that I didn’t feel left out. It was an amazing surprise, and we both danced the night away in our bespoke bride and groom trainers.
The handsome groom
One of Mark’s oldest friends, Gabriel John, is a tailor, so Mark wasted no time in enlisting him for his bespoke suit.
My bridesmaids were in mercury, so he had his designer add this into the lining of his beautiful three-piece suit. The suit had a rounded collar on the waistcoat, and peaked on the jacket.
Because of his work hours, Mark had to have fittings at 2am leading up to the day. I bought him cufflinks with the date and some other small details, as well as a pocket watch for the day.
He always looks handsome to me, but there was nothing like seeing my future husband standing under the chuppah looking so handsome looking at me.
Bridesmaids in mercury
I had six bridesmaids and they all wore mercury dresses. I wanted the color to work with the theme, but I wanted them to pick the style and design. My main concern was that they felt happy, comfortable and beautiful on the day.
The dresses were from David’s Bridal and were the Vera Wang White range. I told them the color and that they had to be long, but otherwise they all went with styles that suited them individually and they all looked absolutely beautiful.
A magical fairytale chuppah
Tony Marklew designed all of our wonderful flowers and the chuppah. It was Tony who came up with the idea of having a glorious arch coming over us so as if to emulate standing at the doors of our Midsummer Night’s Dream, our Once Upon a Time surrounded by candles and mist. We also had monkey vine entwined around the poles.
Honoring lost loved ones
Sadly, Mark’s mum passed away in January, just a week after our engagement. We therefore decided that we wanted the ushers, our fathers and his grandpa to have their button holes in yellow in memory of Gillian, her favourite colour and as I got ready in my bridal suite we too wore yellow robes.
I know for both of us our favourite part was just seeing each other for the first time in a week as I walked toward him for our public badeken. It was really a special moment for both of us.
Also to say that Mark’s mum died ten days after our engagement party after a very long battle most of her life.
Instead of buying a plain wedding band for the chuppah, Mark purchased for a ‘small fee’ his mum’s wedding ring, which is what I used under the chuppah as a nod to her.
It was very moving for all of us, as it was her ring that was used and had brought many happy years of marriage between her and Mark’s dad.
Music for music lovers
Mark and I are both big lovers of all things musical, so trying to think of songs for our entrances proved difficult. We had the wonderful Steven Leas as our chazan, so it was very important for us to be able to show off his beautiful voice in our choices.
Mark walked down the aisle with his dad, Alan, and his grandpa, Ronnie. They were followed by my mum Cara, and brother Matthew and then the bridesmaids. They all entered to Ellie Goulding’s How Long Will I Love You, sung with Hebrew lyrics by Steven.
Mark and I are big musical fans and so I decided to choose a song from one of our favourite musicals, West Side Story’s Somewhere, which Steven sang to a part of Lecha Dodi (I kept this a secret from Mark until the music started to play).
For our Sheva Brachot we chose all the tunes.
In terms of the party, this is where we really went to town.
We came in to Pete Tong and The Heritage Orchestra’s version of Right Here Right Now, performed live by the band. It was perfect with panning white spotlights until the beat dropped and we entered.
Mark and I love ’80s rock bands. One of our favorite songs is Foreigner’s Waiting For A Girl Like You, so it was the obvious choice for our very special first dance.
I cannot begin to thank or praise our wonderful florist enough. Tony Marklew is not only the kindest, most gracious and warm human we have ever met, he is also an incredible artist, a real visionary and a true ‘event imagineer,’ as he calls himself.
From the moment I met him, I just knew I had found someone very very special. I immediately called Mark to tell him how fantastic he was, and I was absolutely right. I was so excited to work with him and I couldn’t wait to get started.
When we decided on the look for our wedding and described it all to Tony, he really understood, in great, detail the vision we were aiming for and he did not disappoint.
When we received his packet and sketches we looked at each other in complete disbelief. We couldn’t quite believe we would ever be able to accomplish something like this, but with a little glimpse in to how his amazing mind works, we knew we could, and we were so excited to get going on creating our midsummer’s evening with him.
When we walked in to the ceremony room, we were overcome with emotion. We, and most of our guests, were absolutely speechless, blown away by the most incredible chuppah we, and they, had ever seen. It was absolutely magnificent.
The ballroom was stunning. The light just shining through enough to flow through the flowers, making it all really stand out. The colors were outstanding, and the top table canopy… well we had never seen anything like that in our lives, let a lone at a wedding. Our friends and family were in complete awe at how unbelievable it all looked.
We could honestly go on and on about how blown away we were by the entire evening. He made two people’s dreams come true and we can’t thank him enough.
Every little detail was thought about. The colors were bright, vibrant and full of life, which we wanted the night to represent. We had a mix of two high and two low pieces with one of the low ones featuring wooden logs surrounded by flowers, encapsulating a really old classic book, i.e Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gone With The Wind, The Faraway Tree, The Secret Garden, to name but a few. Some of our favourite childhood stories with stories that were close to our hearts.
Everything was just simply perfect.
Our fabulous photographer…
When it came to photography, for us there was no question. This had to be the wonderful Blake Ezra.
His bubbly personality, enthusiasm and happy face make him such a joy to be around, that it brings so much serenity and calm to any bride and groom on their big day.
From the moment he entered into my bridal suite, he made everyone feel so at ease, and we all felt so relaxed around him. I know that Mark’s ushers felt the same way. So much so, that half the time we didn’t even notice him and his team snapping away and because of that, the photos he sent the morning after as a glimpse into our day reflect just that and how natural we all felt around him. He does not miss a single shot, and not one memorable moment wasn’t captured.
We used Imaginarium Cinematography for our video. My brother used him for his wedding as have many friends. He really is fantastic and so it was the obvious choice. His entire team blended in so well that when we watched the trailer, we were amazed with some of the footage, because we genuinely didn’t notice them standing there. They are a complete dream to work with.
The best kosher caterer in town
When it came to the catering, we were lost for words! When it comes to kosher catering, there is only one in our eyes and that is Food Story. What they can achieve is world class, and our food was no exception.
Every step of the way, and right from the off, we felt like our wedding was really a personal affair for them, and it made us feel all that extra bit special.
It was such a lovely coincidence that Rebecca Belson, their senior event planner, and Mark already knew each other from Hanoar days, and it was so lovely for him to be able to work with her. He has told me since the wedding that he took great pride in watching what she has accomplished and become over the years, and it really was such a pleasure for him having her run the day.
When we attended the food tasting, it felt like a dining experience suited more to a Michelin restaurant than a food tasting. The attention to detail with the sign saying ‘welcome Lauren and Mark’ as we walked in, to the impeccable service and food throughout was outstanding.
The event itself ran so smoothly, and we certainly did not go hungry. People are still writing to us saying how fantastic the evening was and how full they still are. The espresso Martinis in particular were a huge hit. It was so lovely looking out to our guests and seeing all the different tables cheers each other when those came around.
I even had a lovely chuckle to myself when Rebecca appeared during our photos with a tray of chicken canapÃ©s just for me. (she knew they were my favourite and that the bride and groom rarely get to eat during photos)
It’s small things like that which made Mark and I smile and showed how much Food Story care.
The perfect party band
Having been to many weddings, and seen many bands, there is only ever one that continuously stands out for me and Mark, and that is Creation.
For the party, we really had faith in Creation Showband to do what they do best, but we did have a few selections ourselves. Our choices ranged from the poppiest of pop like Spice Girls’ Wannabe (as the hotel was the backdrop for their video) to Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond as this was Mark’s mum’s favourite. I even got on stage with my girls and did a rendition of Proud Mary while Mark was on stage with the men of his family doing an awful rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger.
We really put a lot of thought in to the music because we love a good party and wanted everyone to have the best time.
Everyone was up dancing, jumping, getting low, up on their chairs, even tables (during Hey Jude and dessert) as well as doing the conga across the stage with such energy during All Night Long that it was such a joy for us to watch all our friends and family having such a good time!
They didn’t miss a trick with the music, and played absolutely everything we wanted including the small touches we asked for.
With the wedding being almost six months to the day since Mark’s mum died, it was always going to be bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Inevitably, every speech was going to mention the loss that everyone felt.
The best man’s speech was amazing. Mark had his brother and his best friend, both of whom tore the house down and Mark’s self-esteem with it. It helps that one of the best men was a comedian before a drastic career change and joining the army.
Mark’s speech had ups and downs emotionally, but even when talking about his mum, he managed to keep it lighthearted, as there is no way she would have wanted people to have been down on her part. The fact that he started the speech by saying “this is how it’s going to work… I’m going to say something about someone that will make them question if I really like them or not… then say something nice to try and save it” set the tone for the rest of the speech.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Our only piece of advice is to enjoy it and to be relaxed. Do not sweat the small things, things WILL go wrong. We enjoyed every aspect of the build-up and tried not to let anything phase us even if there were some small hiccups. You only get one day, so make sure you take it all in.
We even took a lovely moment to stand at the back of the room, just the two of us during the dancing, so that we could look in on our guests and see what a wonderful time we were having. It was the most magical day and we wish every future bride and groom all the things we wish for ourselves.
Lauren and Mark’s little white book
Photographer – Blake Ezra
Videographer – Imaginarium Cinematography
Venue – St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Catering – Food Story
Production – Outrage Events
Bride’s dress – Suzanne Neville
Bride’s shoes – Converse
Bridesmaids – Vera Wang White purchased at David’s Bridal
Makeup – Nikki Wolff and Phoebe Taylor
Flowers – Tony Marklew
Band – Creation Showband
Stationery – Big Day Designs