Fall has arrived early on STG! If you’re already missing all the seasonal colourful leaves, chunky knits and spicy drinks, then settle in and relive the season with Frances and Rudi’s magically autumnal real wedding, captured by photographer Elegant & Wild.
Beautiful bride, Frances, wore an astoundingly stunning bespoke gown made by much-loved Smashing Supplier, Melanie Potro. The gown evoked echoes of Audrey Hepburn, and Frances looked like an absolute dream. We’re totally in love! We also highly approve of Frances’s choice to pair the dress with gorgeous, glittery gold heels.
Talented Frances was also able to harness her creative side, crafting the entire autumnal stationery suite for the wedding and even launching her own website selling her gorgeous products.
Melanie Potro wasn’t the only Smashing Supplier at Rudi and Frances’s big day. Amazing party band, Sensation Band, also played at the reception, even saving the day by keeping everyone entertained during a temporary mishap.
We also want to mention the beautiful, sentimental chuppah idea of using tallis from the bride and grooms’ respective grandfathers. The story behind this is so moving and it was a really wonderful way to honour generations of their families.
I’ll hand over to our gorgeous bride to tell us more. Take it away, Frances!
How we met
Frances, the bride: We have lots of mutual friends, we were friends on Facebook and knew each other from parties over the years, but in the end it was that good old matchmaker, Tinder, that got us together.
An appropriately named venue: Intercontinental on Park Lane in London
We got married at the Intercontinental on Park Lane, quite simply because it was central and big enough to hold 300 people. My Dad gave a nod to its significance in his speech, commenting on the ‘intercontinental’ nature of our wedding. Rudi’s family is from Iraq and mine from London, although prior to that Austria, Russia and Poland. We had guests from all over too.
An autumnal wedding theme
We styled our wedding around the season. It was autumn and the decor all came together quite organically and looked beautiful. Quite wonderfully, the following day, we met lots of friends and family from overseas for a walk and brunch in Hyde Park. It was a beautiful, sunny autumn day, which perfectly rounded off the weekend.
All of our lighting and production was done by Ruby J Events whose director, Lucie, was effectively our wedding planner.
Autumnal stationery made by the bride
I designed and made the autumnal wedding invitations, menus, table numbers and place names. My piece de resistance, our autumnal table tree, was created with the help of my best friend and one of my bridesmaids, Hannah, in coordination with the florists, who provided the base and all of the leaves.
I’ve always made intricate greetings cards for people, and making all these bits and bobs for Rudi and my wedding actually inspired me to launch a little pet project called Greetings, Comrade. I now have a website selling some cards and have done a couple of market days to sell them.
We also had a guide to our wedding ceremony made for anyone who was unfamiliar with the Jewish customs, and grace after meal booklets using the autumnal F&R motif that I had come up with for the invitation.
We used Tadberry Evedale for all of the printing. I know them well, having used them many times professionally over the years to print magazines, cards, invitations, and corporate stationery. They are wonderful people and their print quality is second to none.
We had our kippot made by Hebrewear, who made us beautiful suede kippot in four different autumnal colours.
We used Prezola for our wedding list, who were great.
Hair and makeup
I asked a friend of Rudi’s, Hannah Kreiger who is a great makeup artist, to do my my mum’s and my bridesmaids’ make-up. I’ve got quite long eyelashes, so didn’t need them, but Hannah is actually very well known for her amazing eyelash extensions. Hannah’s hairdresser did our hair.
A corseted Melanie Potro dress
My mum found Melanie Potro by searching online. Melanie is an ex theatrical costumier, who specialises in corsetry.
Melanie, mum and I spent six months designing my dress together. It had a beautiful vintage-style French lace top, which came off after the ceremony to reveal an Audrey Hepburn- esque, corseted 1950s dress with a huge, dramatic skirt and a big sash with a bow.
Melanie, along with my mum and bridesmaids, really made the wedding dress experience such fun and a real adventure.
Melanie’s attention to detail and kindness, generosity with time, happiness and ability to mold the dress, and the entire process, around me, was wonderful.
A simple but stylish veil
I wanted to keep to Jewish tradition and not wear any jewellery at all. I had a simple but stylish veil with satin trimming to match the classic nature of my dress.
Rudi and I found my engagement ring and our wedding rings in the independent jeweller Anna & Anat in Neveh Tzedek in Tel Aviv.
Gold glittery heels
I wore some cool, glittery heels from Lisa Kay.
I once played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz at school and my mum painstakingly made me some glittery red shoes for the part. While my wedding shoes were gold, not red, they peeked out from underneath my dress and reminded me of that childhood moment, which was nice.
The handsome groom
My handsome Rudi wore a suit from Tommy Hilfiger and shirt from Ede & Ravenscroft. His shoes were from Grenson. He, and all of our ten ushers, wore a tie and pocket square in autumnal-coloured Liberty (my favourite shop!) print fabrics, by Alice Caroline, which were hand made for us by Charlotte Trudgett, whose Etsy page is Charlie Buttons.
Rudi had his hair done by Mikaela Knops, who he has been going to for years.
Bridesmaids in burgundy
I had two bridesmaids: my little cousin, Izzy, and my lovely friend, Hannah. They wore gorgeous burgundy silk dresses from Phase Eight and gold shoes from John Lewis. Their bouquets were autumnal and complimented mine. Another excellent piece of work by Hayford & Rhodes.
Our emotionally significant chuppah
My mum and I designed the chuppah with our wonderful florist, Becca Hammond from Hayford & Rhodes. We asked our florists to decorate the aisle with autumnal leaves and candles, which made for a very atmospheric entrance.
Three of our four late grandfathers’ tallits were the centrepiece of the chuppah. Particularly painful and recent was the death of my grandpa Gerald, who I was incredibly close to and who passed away just weeks before the wedding.
We wanted them all to be watching over us, as were, I am sure, our two late grandmothers. Sadly, my father-in-law’s father’s tallit is lost somewhere in Iraq, so we were not able to use it. Although it’s absence was, in itself, a reminder to us of the history of our families and the significance of us coming together in peace and happiness.
Our Jewish ceremony
One particularly moving moment of the wedding for us was the Badeken. We only had a few people in the room: my fondest girlfriends and close female family members including my darling grandma Benita and my mum.
When Rudi was ‘danced’ into the room by his (slightly whisky-merry!) male friends, fresh from the Tisch (the groom’s reception that takes place prior to a traditional Jewish wedding), it was a very intimate and emotional moment when time stood still.
Another standout moment was when we were left alone in our Yichud room, which was guarded by my brother George and Rudi’s good friend Ben. While we are not religious, we really enjoyed embracing some of these lovely cultural traditions and incorporating them into our day.
We had a Ketubah, designed and handpainted by Josh Baum.
Walking down the aisle to Handel
Music is very important to Rudi, me, and our families. I walked down the aisle to Lascia Ch’Io Pianga by Handel, my favourite composer. The piece of music was actually my father’s suggestion. It was very moving.
We had autumnal posies scattered on all of the tables in elegant gold and glass pots (not all matching). Hayford and Rhodes also did the button holes. We also had floral designs in alcoves and, alongside tea lights, which the florist provided, on occasional tables in the drinks reception, which was where our table tree featured for all guests to look at whilst having a drink after the ceremony and before the meal.
Our fabulous photographer…
We had the amazing Victoria Dawe of Elegant & Wild. The images say it all. Victoria also provides an album, which is such a treasure to us now as a memory of the day.
Victoria also provided a photo booth, allowing guests to take jovial snaps of themselves wearing funny props.
We had a wonderful video of the day made by Aaron at Reel Weddings, which, alongside Victoria’s photography, was an invaluable investment providing some wonderful memories and moments that we were able to share with our guests after the wedding.
Fleetwood Mac for the first dance
Our first dance was I Need Your Love So Bad by Fleetwood Mac. My brother, George, who is a jazz pianist, played this for us. He accompanied our great wedding band, Sensation Band, through which we also arranged some klezmer players for just before the ceremony and a 10-piece band for the rest of the evening (not least the amazing Israeli dancing bit!)
My other younger brother is a music producer called Stray. He played a dance set of some of Rudi and my favourite party tunes towards the end of the night and also the song we chose for also our last dance, which was Pstereo by Emilie Nicolas.
I accidentally left my sash in the room in the hotel in which I got ready. Nobody had remembered to bring it down in all the madness of getting dressed. I didn’t want to go onto the dance floor after the ceremony, where all the guests were waiting for us, without it and so Rudi and I had to wait for our friend Nic to run around the hotel trying to find it.
The band, Sensation Band, was amazing, keeping the guests dancing for what was probably only ten minutes but which felt like an age, while it was found. You can never plan for things like that!
My dad is an amazing orator and a bit of a poet, and his father of the bride speech lived up to his high standards of public speaking. I’ve had many comments since about how funny it was.
Rudi’s speech was very moving and, again, lots of people commented on it. The best men, Dave and Alex, gave an excellent speech too. We had seven of our family and friends reciting sheva brachot, and a good friend, Jonny, to coordinate this.
Scented candles as favours
I had four types of scented candles made by Karen Thompson, who I found on Etsy. Each had a different Liberty print wrapped around them and had a sticker on top with a message from us. We left these on each of our guests’ table places.
I had a stamp made with the words, “please use this bag to take a posy of flowers home with you. With love, Frances & Rudi xx” surrounded with autumn leaves, which I hand printed onto brown paper bags that were left on each table (we designed the flowers for the table in mind of this, requesting pre-tied posies that were easy to grab at the end of the night).
Our signature cocktail
Our good friends, Roisin and Edmund, who own three award-winning cocktail bars in London called Nightjar, Oriole and Swift, kindly designed us a cocktail for the night, which they named “Never Let Me Go”. They liaised with our caterers so they could hand out cocktails to guests on arrival in the reception and we printed signs with the name of the cocktail, surrounded by autumn leaves, and positioned them around the reception room.
Food and desserts from two different cultures
The catering was designed to reflect the dovetailing of our two, different cultures – Sephardi (well, actually Babylonian!) and Ashkenazi. We had a mixed mezze for starters with all sorts of middle eastern treats and then a European main course and apple strudel and a well-loved dessert in my family, passed down by my Austrian grandmother, called Pischinger Torte.
Advice to brides and groom currently planning their wedding
Do invest in a good videographer and photographer, someone who a friend or family member has used and on whom you can rely.
It’s worth getting a professional master of ceremonies – ours kept us in check on the day.
Although a big fat Jewish wedding takes a lot of time to plan (we squeezed ours into six months, which I would say is the minimum amount of time to allow if you do want to incorporate a lot of production and details), the process should definitely be enjoyed.
That said, don’t worry if you have tricky moments, be that with caterers, venues, or family. It’s very normal (apparently!) and everything comes out OK on the day. Answering questions for this blog has been a nice reminder too!
Frances & Rudi’s little white book
Photographer – Elegant & Wild
Videographer – Reel Weddings
Wedding planner – Ruby J Events
Band – Sensation Band
Venue – Intercontinental on Park Lane
Bride’s dress – Melanie Potro
Bride’s shoes – Lisa Kay
Groom’s attire – suit from Tommy Hilfiger, shirt from Ede & Ravenscroft, shoes from Grenson, tie and pocket squares in Liberty print fabrics by Alice Caroline and hand-made by Charlie Buttons
Bridesmaids dresses – Phase Eight
Bridesmaids shoes – John Lewis
Wedding rings – Anna & Anat
Hair + Make-up – Hannah Kreiger
Groom’s hair – Mikaela Knops
Flowers – Hayford & Rhodes
Music producer – Stray
Stationery – designed by Greetings, Comrade and printed by Tadberry Evedale
Ketubah – Josh Baum
Kippot – Hebrewear
Signature cocktail – Nightjar, Oriole and Swift
Favours – Karen Thompson
Wedding list – Prezola