Today’s gorgeous bride, Michelle, has some seriously talented friends. The super cool wedding stationery? Oh, just designed by a friend. That gorgeous ‘brownie tower’ wedding cake? Oh just made by ANOTHER amazing friend. That beautiful piece of music played during their Jew-ish wedding ceremony? Oh just lovingly composed by a super talented friend of Michelle’s mother. Michelle is a lucky girl! But you can see that her and Ben have created all that love and given it back in bucketloads, not only from her report, but by the fact that almost 50% of their guests travelled from abroad, from countries including the USA, Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Russia, Germany, Iceland and many more — and this amazing detail is perfectly captured in their interactive ‘heart’ map that you just have to see…
I love how she and Ben have incorporated both Jewish and non-Jewish, and both British and Dutch themes into their day. They held their wonderfully inclusive wedding at the Amadeus Centre venue in Maida Vale which they chose as it’s by Regents Canal which also runs past their home in Camden. I’ll hand you over to Michelle now for the full report, exquisitely documented by the very talented Martin Beddall, and watch out for, amongst other things, the world’s cutest pageboy…
how we met
Michelle, the Bride: We met in Edinburgh at a house party as we were both coming to the end of our masters degrees at the University of Edinburgh. Ben had a week left in Edinburgh before he was set to move back to Amsterdam, and I was heading to London at the end of the summer. After a summer of travelling back and forth between Amsterdam and Edinburgh, Ben decided to take the plunge and move to London, and we both didn’t look back!
A blank canvas venue in our home town of London
We got married at the Amadeus Centre in Maida Vale. We chose the venue for a few reasons — firstly the proximity to the Regents Canal, one of our favourite places in London. We live in Camden near the canal and many a Sunday is spent taking long walks next to the water, either heading West which takes us past where the Amadeus is, or East to Hackney to visit my brother.
We also chose the venue as it would allow us to create the wedding of our dreams from scratch, which can be hard to find in London. It’s a beautiful blank canvas and you can do almost anything there from choosing your own caterers and florist, to all manner of lighting design. Not to mention no corkage!
The venue is also open until 2am, and we knew our guests would want to party until the early hours!
We also chose the venue because it meant we could chose whatever caterers we wanted to — and that meant we could work with the brilliant Sara and Martin of Tasting Plates. Ben and I are both massive foodies, so having really delicious food was absolutely pivotal to us — and Sara’s cooking didn’t disappoint. The food highlight for us and our guests were the incredible starter sharing platters Sara created – beautifully presented, and decadent piles of Bresaola, Aubergine, courgettes with salsa verde, Burrata, Tomato and basil, Parmesan and Grappa raisins, Rocket salad, Green and black olives, Roast butternut squash with chilli and garlic, Piedmontese peppers, artichokes and roasted fennel. Absolute show stoppers!
Involving one of my dearest friends in the wedding stationery designs
One of my oldest, dearest and most creative friends Rebecca Stern moved to Australia a few years ago, and as she has a young child, couldn’t fly over for the wedding. It was so important to me that she was involved in the wedding and the wedding stationary gave a perfect way for her to be all over our wedding.
Rebecca runs an incredible market stall, online shop (House of Bec) and now market in Australia where she sells the beautiful custom made spoons she creates herself. So I asked her to create a bespoke spoon for us and photograph it so that we could turn the photo into our wedding invite. She took some amazing images on her kitchen table which I then turned into postcard style invitations.
I ended up using her photography all through the wedding, from table names, drinks menus, to homemade confetti cones. Her creations are so beautiful, and it felt amazing to have her presence so strongly in the room, even though she couldn’t be there in person.
Planning our wedding
I planned my wedding myself with the help of my very patient mother and the opinions of my brilliant bridesmaids Remee, Lindsay, Susannah, Emma and Olivia. Oh and of course my fiancà© Ben! We didn’t have a particular theme or colour scheme. I wanted the aesthetic to be beautiful, whimsical and conducive to having a great time. For me the most important things were the food, the booze and the band.
hair + Make up
I put a post on Facebook asking for recommendations of great hair and makeup artists and a friend recommended Kasia Fortuna. I couldn’t recommend Kasia more highly. Not only is she amazing at what she does, but she is just the most calming, lovely person —just the sort of personality you want around you as you are getting ready for your big day.
I don’t wear a lot of makeup on a day to day basis, and I wanted to look like me (well a better version of me!) on my wedding day — and Kasia totally got that, so gave me a very natural look for my makeup. For my hair, we did a half up, half down look with big loose curls.
I had five gorgeous, amazing bridesmaids. They wore lovely pale pink multi-way dresses which I picked up on Etsy shop The Dainty Yard. Going for multi-way dresses meant everyone was happy as could choose a style that suited them and the colour look totally amazing in the pictures, particularly the ones of them in front of the pale blue doors of the Amadeus.
A Pronovias dress from Mirror Mirror
My dress is by Pronovias and I found it in the lovely Mirror Mirror bridal shop in Angel, Islington — also a stones through from the Regents Canal. The dress itself is strapless, but I’d imagined having little off the shoulder sleeves as soon as I started thinking about wedding dresses, and the very clever seamstress Ami at Mirror Mirror created exactly what I wanted from matching lace which could be clipped into the dress. This meant I had two looks for the wedding— a slightly more covered up look with the sleeves for the ceremony and reception, and then a strapless look for dinner and dancing.
Me and my mother nearly had a falling out over the veil! I had my heart set on a stunning floor length veil which she hated because it covered so much of the dress, and she was trying to convince me for a shorter veil, that I just didn’t feel had the same impact. Ami came to the rescue with an unusual mid length veil design she had done herself (it’s called the Ami veil!) that struck the perfect balance of not overpowering the dress, but still giving me that feeling of drama that I was looking for. She then made me a custom version to go with my dress that I totally loved.
I wore a sparkly hair comb which I found on an Etsy shop called Glamor by Design and simple diamond studs.
My biggest priority was that I wanted to be comfortable and I wanted to dance, so I went for a mid-height heel and a brand I know creates comfortable shoes — Carvela. I found the pair of sparkly, barely there, sandals on a shopping trip with my bridesmaid Lindsay to Liberty.
The handsome groom
I love a man in a tux, so Ben (who is from the Netherlands) wore a beautiful tuxedo and bow tie from Dutch suit designers Suit Supply and shoes from Hugo Boss. A quick trip to Gianni Capitanio on the morning of the wedding ensured his hair was picture perfect.
A Humanist ceremony with traditional Jewish touches
We had a humanist ceremony that we worked on with the very special Zena Birch (who also officiated this other wonderful Jew-ish wedding on Smashing The Glass). Over the course of a year we were lucky to get to know Zena, and she got to know us in turn — and she created the most perfect ceremony for us which combined a hilarious retelling of how Ben and I met and readings by my bridesmaids, Ben’s brother and my father. My favourite parts of the ceremony were laughing at the funny stories Zena had weaved into the ceremony, sharing our vows that we had written ourselves and of course watching Ben smash the glass. It felt really amazing to be being married by Zena who we trusted completely, and also felt like a good friend.
We were so lucky to find the wonderfully creative and very nice Victoria Clarke who runs Foxgloves & Glory who made our chuppah for us. She hadn’t built a chuppah before, but was really excited about the prospect and we shared a lot of photo inspiration with each other — some of which came from Smashing the Glass! I wanted something simple and elegant, but with a natural feel — and Victoria created just that. We settled on a 2m by 2m Silver Birch Structure, with each top-front corner decorated with blooms and trailing foliage. The feet of the Chuppah were planted with Delphiniums, Foxgloves and meadow flowers so it felt that the Chuppah had been planted in the ground. I totally loved it.
music for the ceremony
Amongst other songs we love, during our ceremony the very talented pianist Jennifer Carr played a piece of music that was written specially for Ben and my engagement by the composer, and good friend of my mother, David Earl. The piece is called Song Without Words, and you can listen to it being played by mother, who is a concert pianist, here.
flowers with a ‘meadow feel’
Victoria Clarke who runs Foxgloves & Glory did it all and did a marvellous job.
For our long dining tables we had runners of Assorted Vintage Decanters, small Cut Glass Vases and Vintage Portion bottles filled with assorted stems of seasonal flowers to dress the middle of each trestle. The colour pallet had a meadow feel — with pale pinks, blues, purples, whites and creams.
The bouquets had a similar meadow, relaxed, undone feel of beautiful colours combined in a relaxed, informal way.
our fabulous photographer
We wanted someone who would capture the day in a reportage/documentary style — and a photographer I work with in my professional life recommended Martin Beddall as the best wedding photographer he knew. Martin was brilliant to work with, he totally blended into the event, yet still managing to capture the most amazing moments of the day, with each picture telling a story.
A beautiful way to embrace all our loved ones who came to our wedding from all over the world
We had a very international wedding — nearly 50% of our guests were travelling from abroad and from all over the world — we had guests from the US, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Russia, Germany, Iceland and many more countries — too many to list here. We wanted a way to capture this at the event, so ordered a lovely map from Etsy shop Witty Hearts and some heart stickers and asked people to put a sticker on the country they had travelled from to be with us. We now have the map framed and up in our house — a little reminder that love travels, and how lucky we are to have so many good friends and family across the world who would travel to be with us on our special day.
a wedding cake made of a tower of brownies!
One of my oldest and dearest friends Katie Sheinman used to run a cafà© in Newcastle which amongst other things served the most incredible brownies. As soon as I started thinking about wedding cakes, I got the idea stuck in my head of a tower of her brownies, and floated the idea with her — and thankfully she said she would be up for the challenge! Katie totally spoilt us with three incredible flavours, and over 200 brownies — chocolate and strawberry, candied orange and cardamom as well as raspberry and white chocolate chip. Decorated with rose heads and with a little bunting topper kindly made by my friend Emma Wood of Emma Wood Textiles, I couldn’t be happier with our wedding cake with a twist, and along with other guests, kept going back for more brownies during the evening.
We had Groove Environment who we tracked down via Ear Candy Live. They were so much fun, got everyone onto the dancefloor and really kicked off the party. They played a mixture of funk, pop and good old crowd pleasers. One of the band then stayed and DJ-ed for us until the early hours of the morning.
Our first dance was to a song by the band Koop called Come to Me — a song that Ben sent me when we first met and he was living in the Amsterdam, to convince me to come and visit him.
Favours relating to our love story — and a wishing tree
We gave our guests a little bag of Stroopwafels, a typically Dutch cookie, to take home with them at the end of the night. They are one of our favourite treats, but also special to us, as we ate a whole load of them when we first met and were falling in love.
Victoria our florist also created a wishing tree for us — a Dutch tradition as a nod to Ben’s nationality – from beautiful living branches, which our guests could hang memories, wishes or advice for us on.
our advice to those planning now
Enjoy every single second of it! It truly is the best day of your life — so plan everything down to the T but on the day forget about your wedding spreadsheets, your running order and what is meant to be happening when, and just fully immerse yourself in it and have an amazing time.
Michelle and Ben’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Martin Beddall Photography
Venue — Amadeus Centre
Catering — Tasting Plates
Bride’s dress — Pronovias from Mirror Mirror
Bride’s hair comb — Glamor by Design
Bride’s shoes — Carvela
Groom’s tuxedo — Suit Supply
Flowers and chuppah — Foxgloves & Glory
Hair + Make up — Kasia Fortuna.
Bridesmaids — The Dainty Yard
Entertainment — Groove Environment via Ear Candy Live.
Stationery — House of Bec
Humanist celebrant — Zena Birch
Brownie cake — Katie Sheinman