It’s always a good day when we hear from couples who loved used Smashing the Glass to plan their Jewish weddings — like today’s fab couple, Stephanie, an architect, and Darren, a retail director for Aspinal.
We’re so pleased that the bride was a loyal reader of STG in the lead up to her big day, even finding fantastic videographer Velvet Wedding Studio on the blog! He and photographer David Grant Simpson did the absolute best job of capturing the magic of the couple’s enchanted autumnal wedding (over Halloween weekend, no less!).
As an architect, Stephanie was focused on getting married in a beautiful space — and she ended up with not one, but two of them! With the chuppah at the majestic 19th-century Garnethill Synagogue and the evening party at super cool converted church venue Oran Mor, this wedding was basically non-stop architectural splendor.
We love how Stephanie and Darren decided to include a ceilidh in their big day as a way of honoring the bride’s Scottish background and providing some familiarity to balance out the novelty of the Israeli dancing for their non-Jewish guests. Good sport Darren even let Stephanie cajole him into putting on a kilt for the Scottish dancing!
Stephanie, who looked stunning in her Essense of Australia dress, will fill you in on the rest of the fantastic details…
How We Met
Stephanie, the bride: I never ever thought I would try online dating, but as time went on I just realized that it was now the ordinary way to meet someone and gave it a go. We both have stressful jobs, which can make it difficult to find time to date. I still can’t believe that I met my now-husband on Jswipe but I guess that’s modern day romancing for you!
So many people ask me when we knew we wanted to get married. About a month into the relationship after coming in from a night out with, Darren we were laughing about something and then told me he would marry me tomorrow. I know it was a passing comment after I made him laugh, but I guess in the back of our minds we both knew that we wanted to settle down. It sounds odd to many but I think when you meet someone in your thirties you have both already seen the world, been around the block and essentially are in a totally different mindset when you are getting into a relationship. Online dating is literally like modernâ€day matchmaking! I guess in a way you could say it was love at first sight, or love at first selfie.
Two Stunning Venues
The synagogue we choose is steeped with history and one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever known. Taking Darren there for the first time meant so much to me because I knew his jaw would drop when he saw the inside and he would feel such pride to be married in such a beautiful historical building.
The evening venue was in a converted church, located in the west end of Glasgow. The interior is painted by local artist Alisdair Grey and his work definitely ticked the “enchanted party venue” box. My whole family fell in love with the ceiling artwork.
An Enchanted Autumn Wedding
We chose to marry in October just due to availability of dates, but getting married in the fall can be really special as the sun sets earlier during chuppa time and the background is a mash of magical red and orange, orange leaves which can make for a setting equally as beautiful as the springtime.
We married on the weekend of Halloween; the magical, enchanted autumnal theme came about from that, really. Essentially this fits both of our personalities: we are night time people who love something a bit abstract in design. I couldn’t imagine myself in a room full of pink and white flowers, not that there is anything wrong with that style of wedding. I’ve been to many dreamy romantic springtime weddings and loved them, but I guess the rebel inside me wanted wild flowers and to avoid anything too whimsical. It’s important to do what reflects your personality and not what you think people expect.
As an architect I thought it would make me feel more spiritual to get married somewhere that had beautiful or historical features. Thankfully my husband agreed.
We didn’t use a wedding planner, as by the time I felt as if I needed one we were quite close to the date and a lot of elements had been decided already so I carried on without one, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it can become a big project to manage… especially if you’re having to reply to all the wedmin emails while still at work. It can be quite distracting. I don’t think I had a free evening or a lunchbreak for like 6 months…
In this instance we were having an out-of-the-ordinary but also Jewish wedding, so many of the tasks were bespoke in nature and required teams of people who had never previously worked together before to come together to create an Orthodox Jewish Scottish wedding in an alternative setting.
Invitations Designed by the Bride
I did the wedding stationery myself, as I use watercolors and Photoshop most days for work and have a great relationship with my printing company, so this was probably the most fun part of the wedding. I went all out with the stationery. I even made the benchers with my mum, who sourced the inside of the booklets from an Orthodox printer/supplier in Stamford Hill. We both stitched the printed covers together one long afternoon… My mum wants to start a company now, “bespoke birchonim”… watch this space!
The theme for all the stationery was a continuation of the enchanted autumn, leaves, Scottish thistles, and watercolors of other wildlife.
Hair + Makeup
I used Laura Grey Bridal as they were the only company who had availability so close to the wedding, but the girls were reliable professionals and we were all ready on time without a hitch. Everyone’s hair and makeup looked great.
An Essense of Australia Dress
Originally I had all these plans to rebel and have a grey dress made. Then probably 4 months before the wedding (to my mum’s relief) I found a gorgeous white dress at Islington boutique Angelica Bridal.
The Essense of Australia dress seems like a simple fishtail from afar but it up close you can see it has a beautiful Art Deco sequined lace top layer. It was also comfortable, which is another really important detail when you plan to be in the same outfit all day, dancing etc etc etc. So don’t be in something too tight, you don’t want anything distracting you from soaking in every single wonderful moment that is about to unfold.
In the end I just had my veil as an accessory, which I decided to make myself with lace and applique. This was mainly due to the time constraints that I had: having only 2 months till the wedding, it was too late to order bespoke. Sourcing vintage bridal lace applique is actually easier than one might think… just a note for anyone who wants to give it a go.
For the chuppah I sewed some applique on rose-tinted mesh fabric and made my sleeves, as nothing seemed to go with the dress that I had and I didn’t want a complete cover up. After the chuppah and drinks reception I removed the sleeves and wore my dress as it was.
My teardrop earrings I found on Ebay from a vintage shop. I would highly recommend Ebay for vintage costume jewellery if you are going for unusual accessories, the choice is amazing (especially in the European stores).
Anyone that knows me knows I’m a shoeâ€aholic, so I originally wanted to get Louboutins for the wedding. Then a few months before I realized with my 3-meter train, no one would actually see my shoes… so I saw the most beautiful heels in Aldo that I 1) would 100% wear again and 2) were a tenth of the cost. My advice would be, indulge elsewhere in the spectrum of wedding items… if you have a big train, just go for practical shoes that you will wear again.
The handsome groom
The groom, like most grooms, left most of the planning to the bride. Darren had one job, to dress himself for the big day, and like many grooms, he couldn’t event do that, so after leaving it to 6 weeks before the wedding I panicked and took him to Saville Row. We couldn’t find anything. Richard Smith Bespoke in Manchester then saved the day for us. We chose the fabric and cut and it was ready in a couple of weeks. Darren had the date of the wedding sewn within the lining of his jacket, which was a lovely personal touch.
Bridesmaids in Topshop
The bridesmaids’ dresses were the most stressful thing of all, even more than my dress. I think it was because I had an idea in my head that I wanted them to look like woodland pixies, nothing too grey or too girlie, while still appropriate for shul. My friends are great; they are all pretty open minded and were happy with the theme and colors, although as the day neared I think they were ready to kill me if I suggested another day of searching…
I went to every designer shop in London imaginable, and eventually in Topshop Oxford street I found the most perfect dresses in the eveningwear section. I bought them there and then and texted the girls and just said, “This is what you’re wearing; I hope they fit you!” Luckily they did.
I sent each ‘maid a glittery box in the post with shoes, clutch bag, a picture for their bouquet design, a lace cover up for shul, a “Scottish weather-friendly” furry poncho, and a little card thanking them for being my bridesmaids.
An Autumnal Chuppah
The chuppah design evolved from the general floral theme. It’s tricky in a synagogue such as Garnet Hill because the building is so grand that a massive chuppah would be competing with the architecture. So I bought some light copper fabric, and the florist decorated the sides in lovely autumn flowers and foliage.
Someone Like You
We decided to go to ballroom classes and do a first dance. A friend of mine who is a professional singer performed a personal favorite song, Adele’s Someone Like You and we learned a classic waltz to it. When I first suggested the idea to Darren it was met with “no way,” but I was amazed at how into it he became!
On the day of the wedding he made me go upstairs in the venue and practice one last time 15 minutes before we were due to start… which is hilarious seeing as he hates dancing. Watching our video, it makes us cringe with embarrassment at how cheesy it was, but learning and performing the dance together was a bit of bonding and meant so much to us at the time. So all in all worth the fun.
A Fab Florist
Our florist was amazing, and she was really open to all my ideas for non-weddingy flowers. She had loads of great ideas; after the chuppah she brought down all the flowers and collected out bouquets and wove them around the hall and top table to give it a bit extra for the evening reception.
Our Fabulous Photographer and Videographer
We chose our photographer, David Grant Simpson, after meeting his lovely wife at a wedding fair. Our videographer I actually found on Smashing the Glass, and he was brilliant, I think we had the video in like 3 weeks, which is unheard, of so if you are impatient, use Velvet Wedding Studio.
A Cake with Real Flowers
Our cake was a simple, beautiful Victoria sponge decorated with real flowers from a local kosher bakery in Glasgow. The caterers for our evening meal were En Croute. We are limited in Glasgow as there is only one kosher caterer to cater for the number that we had, but they were super easy to work with and everyone, with all dietary requirements from vegan to gluten free to diabetic, got exactly what they requested.
A Ceilidh and a Kilt
One thing the groom was not so enthused about was my suggestion to have part of the wedding as a ceilidh… and for him to wear a kilt. It literally took me 10 months, from the day we were engaged to the week before our wedding, to convince him to wear a kilt for the ceilidh part of the evening. In the end, he and my brother did a change and impressed all our guests with their highland flings.
Anyone who has been to a ceilidh before knows it’s the best way to get a mix of old and young all together on the dancefloor, and it’s so much fun. Growing up we all did it as mandatory in PE in school, so it really brought back a bit of nostalgia. We had a real mix of Jewish and non-Jewish guests, so the combo of ceilidh plus Israeli dancing worked a treat, fusing both cultures.
A Honeymoon and a Minimoon
Our honeymoon is yet to be (August this year!). We have spent the last year planning an epic 16-day trip to New York, Miami, Disney World, and finishing up in the Caribbean. In a way it is nice to wait and have something to look forward too.
The weekend after our wedding, though, I booked a minimoon to Brussels, which was dead cute. We did chocolatemaking and beer tasting and just walked around the city. It was nice to get away immediately after all the drama, so if you can’t do a long-haul trip straight away I would suggest a romantic minibreak instead.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My advice to brides would be to have fun getting ready on the day with your girlfriends, as it will settle your nerves. Don’t get ready alone, or do your own hair and makeup unless you can do it easily. Try to start celebrating from when you wake up in the morning. The day only comes around once a lifetime.
All in all, my greatest wedding advice would be to just do you. If something feels like its not you, don’t do it. There are so many different types of weddings, all beautiful. No one is going to judge you if you do things differently; all your guests are there for you. You are there for you – so if you want a 6-foot cake, have one! If you don’t want a cake, don’t have one. If you want to design all your own wedding stationery, do it! If you want to send an email invite or a link to a website or do all 3, do it! You’ll never (hopefully) get this chance again, so just make sure that the day is a reflection of you and the groom. Everyone else will love it regardless.
Stephanie & Darren’s little white book
Photography – David Grant Simpson
Videography – Velvet Wedding Studio
Venues – Garnethill Synagogue and Oran Mor
Bride’s dress – Essense of Australia purchased at Angelica Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Aldo
Bride’s accessories – Ebay
Groom’s attire – Richard Smith Bespoke
Bridesmaids – Topshop
Hair + Makeup – Laura Grey Bridal
Flowers – Cosmos Floral
Catering – En Croute