Is this the perfect English country Jewish wedding, or what? We are totally obsessed with Miri and Jon’s sweet sunflower chuppah — not to mention the bride’s epic flower crown (which she opted for instead of a bouquet) and the charming table centers in repurposed whiskey bottles strewn with fairy lights. It was all the work of florist Gabriella Shem-Tov, who crafted the perfect colorful arrangements to complement the festival vibes and idyllic outdoor setting.
We also love that Miri, a project manager at the British Library, and Jon, community development director for Masorti Judaism in the UK, crafted an ultra-personal egalitarian ceremony totally in step with their values, where they circled each other, exchanged rings, and both smashed a glass.
Don’t miss Miri’s beautiful writeup, or Marianne Chua’s luminous documentary-style photography… and whilst you’re at it, you won’t want to miss our amazing FREE online event for Jewish and Jew-ish Brides happening later today called, ‘The Secrets to an Unforgettable Jewish Wedding”. Sign up here if you haven’t already – I can’t wait to see you there!
How we met
Miri, the bride: We had been friends for a few years but then accidentally went on a date, and were engaged a year later!
We got married in the grounds of a hotel in Windsor called The Oakley Court. We were looking for somewhere with a lot of outside space and greenery, with a relaxed and festival feel.
The hotel was where The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed, and we snuck some Rocky Horror references into the wedding programme, but they were so subtle that very few people noticed!
We planned the wedding ourselves, but we did work with a fantastic wedding planner called Kate Robertson from about a week before the wedding and on the day itself. She was absolutely amazing, and coordinated with all of the suppliers from a few days before and on the day to manage set-up and the schedule. It meant that we did not have to worry about anything and could just enjoy the day with no stress.
Medieval Manuscript Invitations
I designed the wedding invitation based on images from medieval Hebrew manuscripts in the British Library. The designs were colourful, with birds and animals, flowers and gargoyles.
We sent the invitations out electronically via Paperless Post. The invitation designs were also incorporated into the chuppah programme and benchers.
Hair + Makeup
My hair and makeup artist Sarah Ashleigh did a fantastic job on turning my normal look into something a little bit bolder and more special that lasted perfectly all night. I wanted my hair to look wild and big, so that it would complement the flower crown. Sarah emphasised my curls and added a lot of volume so that my hair didn’t get lost behind the flowers. I dyed my hair red about three weeks before the wedding so that it could fade to a delicate rose-gold.
A Watters Dress
I had initially planned on having a dress made; however I ended up finding a dress (‘Aven’ by Watters) in a sample sale at London Bride Couture. At the time it did not feel like the dress of my dreams, but after the amazing in-house dressmakers customised it by removing the train and building up the back of the dress, I was really happy with it.
I borrowed a veil from my aunt; it had similar ivory tones to my dress and had little pearls along the edge. For jewellery I wore a gold pendant in the shape of a leaf, and I borrowed pearl earrings from my mum.
I didn’t have a bouquet, as I wanted to have my hands free and not be worried about losing it. I decided that instead I would just have all of my flowers on top of my head in a big crown. My amazing florist Gabriella Shem-Tov created the most fantastic crown, complete with fairy lights! Gabriella also made beautiful buttonholes and little floral circlets for the flower girls, which were adorable.
I wasn’t particularly picky about shoes as I knew that they wouldn’t be seen. My main priority was comfort, so I went for some flat Miss KG gold sandals from Debenhams.
The handsome groom
Jon wore a grey-blue tweed suit from Walker Slater, boots from Master DeBonair, a Liberty-print (strawberry thief) bowtie from Catkin Jane, and a hat from Laird London. For the ceremony Jon wore my grandfather’s kittel, that had been made by my grandmother. Although not the most stylish and much too big, it meant so much to us as my grandfather had passed away quite recently.
A Sunflower Chuppah
As we were having our chuppah on the riverbank under a big tree we wanted our chuppah to fit in with the environment, with a wooden structure and a lot of foliage, and bright pops of flowers. Jon’s father passed away a few years ago and we included his tallit in the canopy of the chuppah. Sunflowers had been his favourite flower too, which made the whole thing even more meaningful.
An Egalitarian Ceremony
It was really important to us that our wedding was authentic to what we wanted, with fully egalitarian chuppah. We circled each other, we both exchanged rings, and we both smashed a glass.
We had a lot of friends and family coming from different backgrounds and levels of observance, and so it was really important to us that everyone felt welcomed and knew what was going on. We had our family and friends reciting Sheva Brachot in English as well as Hebrew.
Our friend Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers facilitated our badeken and our Rabbi Roni Tabick from New Stoke Newington Shul helped us to create a ceremony full of meaning and personalised towards our geeky selves with references to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and The Princess Bride.
Pomegranates and Gargoyles
Instead of having a band or a chazan singing, we asked some of our friends to lead all of our guests in different songs as we walked down to the chuppah. It was so amazing walking in and listening to all of our family and friends singing to us together.
Jon walked down the aisle to the theme from Star Wars, our flower girls and page boys (with bubble guns) walked in to ‘Chim Chimney’ from Mary Poppins, and I walked down to the Romemu tune for ‘Ein Od/Barechu’. We circled each other to a ‘Lecha Dodi’ tune.
Whiskey Bottle Table Centres
We loved working with our florist, Gabriella Shem-Tov. Everything she made us from our brief of sunflowers, wild foliage, and pops of spiky purple was perfect. She even included the most amazing flowering artichokes in our chuppah.
We collected jars and single-malt whiskey bottles for the floral table centres. We decorated the whiskey bottles with fairy lights and had other fairy lights in jars around the outside of the marquee.
Our photographer was the incredibly talented Marianne Chua. We kept the number of posed photos to a minimum as we wanted to spend more time enjoying the day, and she captured every moment so brilliantly.
Our wedding was catered by Celia Clyne. The food was fantastic, with a big barbecue and chips for the main dinner. Instead of having a top table, we sat at a different for every course, which was great as we got to spend more time with more of our friends.
A Rocky Horror First Dance
Our band was the Creation Showband, and they were absolutely fantastic in creating an amazing atmosphere and getting everyone dancing. In keeping with the slight Rocky Horror theme of the day, our first dance was to ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’, leading into the ‘Time Warp’.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My main piece of advice about planning would be to know what to let go of, and to ask for help. We got married eight months after we got engaged, and while the planning process was stressful at times, we couldn’t have done it without the help of our amazing family and friends.
One of the best pieces of advice we received about the day itself was to make sure that we were really present in the moment throughout the day, to help remember everything.
Miri & Jon’s little white book
Photography – Marianne Chua
Venue – The Oakley Court
Wedding planner – Kate Robertson
Bride’s dress – Watters found and fitted at London Bride Couture
Bride’s shoes – purchased at Debenhams
Groom’s attire – Walker Slater, Catkin Jane, Laird London and Master DeBonair
Hair + Makeup – Sarah Ashleigh
Flowers – Gabriella ShemTov
Chuppah – The Happy Chuppah People
Catering – Celia Clyne
Band – Creation Showband
Ketubah – Josh Baum
Invitation – Paperless Post