“WOW” was our first reaction to Erika and Marc’s fantastically floral real Jewish wedding at Northbrook Park. At a glance, the effect is overwhelmingly beautiful, and delving into each detail only serves to foster an even greater appreciation of just how much work, love and incredible taste went into planning the day.
Every last choice was simply bursting with personality, wit and charm, and expertly captured by photographer, David Morgan.
Before we get into the details (of which there are many that you’re definitely going to want to pin — and steal), can we just talk about how lovely Marc and Erika are as a couple? Their extraordinary personalities really shine, especially in the stunning wedding video, filmed by Story Catchers (go on – watch the video of Marc’s eloquent and heartfelt speech and try not to cry… spoiler alert, grab a tissue).
OK, so this is definitely a gratuitous use of all caps and exclamation marks, but we feel it’s warranted: THAT CHUPPAH!!!! Who else is dying of chuppah envy? We didn’t even know that was a thing, but there you go.
The entire day, including beautiful bride Erika’s stunning wedding ensemble (the bride wore a breathtaking dress by Rue De Seine), stuck to a highly detailed colour scheme and a relaxed, bohemian aesthetic.
Erika and Marc creatively crammed the wedding with quirky, clever touches, including an illustrated mini Erika and Marc on their stationery suite, “wedlibs” for their guest book (amazing idea) and personalised escort cards with thoughtful little phrases for each guest.
Erika writes so beautifully about her and Marc’s simcha that there’s no need for us to embellish, so we’ll hand over to her for the full scoop!
How we met
Erika, the bride: Marc and I met at Limmud Conference 2012 as we were both volunteering in the catering team to make it a more cost-effective experience. Most people find dodgy pasta in the Limmud dining rooms, but we found each other.
Choosing to get married in a beautiful country house at Northbrook Park
We chose to get married at Northbrook Park, a beautiful country house on the Surrey – Hampshire border. We wanted a venue which was pretty, intimate, could be adapted to our tastes and allowed the use of an external kosher caterer. Originally we planned on getting married near to my parents in Hertfordshire. However. after weeks of searching. we were left with four venues which were familiar to me through meetings held there for work. As we wanted somewhere special, we widened our search and fell for Northbrook Park with its stunning grounds, majestic peacocks and lovely gardens.
A fun, quirky, elegant wedding
We planned the wedding ourselves without a wedding planner. We didn’t opt for a particular theme, but we are both quite quirky so we wanted to incorporate lots of individual touches into our day. We also decided early on that as much as it was our day, we wanted all our friends and family to feel involved so we focused on a fun, welcoming, elegant wedding to remember.
“Erika and Marc” illustrated invitations
While making all the big decisions, I found my mind wandering to all the little individual touches we could include on the day and I kept making wish lists for all sorts of things whether they would be possible to incorporate or not. We loved designing, so we were creative with the invites, the table settings, signage etc.
We decided to have an illustrated invitation picturing us in our full wedding garb (although our guests didn’t know this at the time). We focused on the details such as my flower crown and Marc’s burgundy cravat and blue suede shoes, with the flowers painted to match the wedding flowers. We printed the invites locally and tied the three pages together using ribbons in our wedding flower colours. We finally sealed the envelopes with a sticker featuring an “E & M” logo within a ring of flowers, again in our wedding colours.
We decided to use illustrated “Erika and Marc” and flowers throughout our day incorporating them into all our stationery including place cards, menus, reserved seating signs, order of service, table numbers, benschers, wedlibs, sparkler tags, and wedding favours.
We created “wedlibs” for people to fill in, instead of the traditional message book. These included sayings such as “I love you both but I am really here for the…” which included spaces for our guests to be fun and creative. We enjoyed reading them all through after the wedding.
We also created personalised, individual escort cards with phrases like “Nice dress, Sue” and “Leave room for dessert, Marc” to accompany our guests to dinner.
In addition we liked including attention to detail so we decided that we would have confetti made in heart shapes in our wedding colours. We also had kippot embossed with the word “Love” and the kippot in three different colour combinations.
Relaxed, boho hair and glam makeup
My hair and make-up was by the lovely and creative Jo from Love Hair. When looking for a hair and make-up artist, I typed something like” boho hair” into Google and Jo’s website came up. When I saw “buzz words” such as cool brides, “relaxed but beautiful styling” and “a champion of the undone look”, I knew she was the girl for me!
I went for a trial and loved my beautiful makeup and fabulous hair styles Jo tried out. I went with a half up half down plaited style to tie in with my boho look and glamorous make-up.
A boho beautiful Rue De Seine dress
I bought my wedding dress at Leonie Claire, Brighton, after an eight month search for “the dress”. I chose the gorgeous Chloe by Rue De Seine, a white long-sleeved sheer dress with all-over embroidery flowers and leaves and scalloped edges, teamed with a simple white silk slip underneath. Being a boho-style girl, I knew from the outset that I wanted a white, relaxed, pretty, cool, non-traditional floor-length lace dress with a train which wasn’t going to weigh me down. Also, I was attracted to detailed, stylish dresses by Australian and Kiwi designers, and I wanted something different from the norm, which Chloe was.
I visited vintage stores, designer wedding dress shops, traditional bridal boutiques, urban warehouses and even a designer in a church bell tower! It wasn’t until I tried on Chloe that I felt like I wasn’t playing dress up anymore. I was completely relaxed wearing the dress and didn’t want to take it off in the shop!
I originally went all the way to Brighton to try on another Rue De Seine gown I had seen online which was “visiting” the UK from New Zealand for two days only, although I would have had to sell my grandma to buy it so I decided to try on the more affordable Chloe and fell in love.
Simple but edgy, fashion-forward accessories
As my Chloe dress was so detailed, I wanted to have simple, beautiful accessories to finish off my outfit. I opted for a gorgeous handmade Luna Bea Bride hair comb made out of moonstone and 14k gold plated brass, which sat at the top of my simple, cathedral length veil.
I opted for minimal jewellery so as not to detract from my dress and decided that I only needed to buy earrings/ear cuff. I bought the Warrior ear cuff and feather stud earrings and mini ear cuff in gold by the brilliantly talented Phoebe Colman. I loved wearing them. My jewellery was beautiful, edgy and fashionable without being traditional and I liked the fact that I could wear it again and again.
Sky blue laser-cut Bionda Castana heels
My wedding shoes took a while to find. I originally tried to match my shoes to my dress and was getting nowhere. I knew I wanted shoes that I could wear again which were not necessarily bridal shoes. I also knew that I didn’t want to be taller than Marc so I could get away with a three-inch heel and that it was essential that they were comfortable to wear all day. Not too tall an order!
I discovered a designer called Bionda Castana and bookmarked their website. However I couldn’t justify the large price tag.
After weeks of sending back ivory, white and gold shoes, I googled Bionda Castana again and saw a website selling a sky blue pair of ankle tie, intricate laser cut Bionda Castana shoes in my size at a discounted price as they were the last pair in stock. I ordered them, they were the right height, didn’t cost the earth, fitted well and matched Marc’s blue shoes perfectly. It was meant to be!
The handsome groom in yellow polka dot socks
Marc chose a lounge suit as we decided we wanted a relaxed, informal feel on the day. The suit was from Impeccable, in Hatch End. It was navy blue with a subtle maroon and black Prince of Wales stripe throughout. Marc decided that he wanted a maroon cravat to match the stripes in the suit. He also chose a light-blue waistcoat as he wanted a colour that would stand out against the navy blue. To complete the waistcoat, Marc attached a solid, gold watch-chain which had been handed down to him from his great-great grandfather. Marc is known for wearing yellow clothes so he picked out a pair of bright yellow socks with dark blue spots to complete the look.
I was browsing for my wedding shoes online when I came across a pair of three-toned blue brogues, which matched the navy in the suit and the light blue in the waistcoat. It completed his outfit perfectly and everyone loved his blue suede shoes!
Our decadently decorative floral chuppah
I knew from the very beginning of our engagement that I would love a beautifully decorative floral chuppah. I absolutely love colour, lots of texture and creating a visual impact so I really wanted a special chuppah which had the “wow” factor that drew all eyes to the flowers, smells and natural beauty and showed off the skill of our super talented florist while tying in with our relaxed feel.
Noeleen, had never built a chuppah before, but as soon as I met her, I knew we were on the same wavelength and I had complete confidence that she would build something breathtakingly beautiful and brilliant. I knew I wanted birch trees for the poles and lots of flowers and foliage at the top and bottom of the poles.
After “pinning” lots of visuals on Pinterest, I gave Noeleen creative freedom to build the chuppah as she wished.
Noeleen looked at our “pins” and chose the colours which stood out from the boards. She chose lots of interesting textures and sourced many varied local blooms. She and her fellow florist Stephanie then started working on the chuppah at 8am on the wedding morning. When I saw it completed walking down the aisle I couldn’t stop staring at it in total awe. We had so many compliments from people saying it was the prettiest chuppah they had ever seen.
I also customised a Lego version of us under our Chuppah made by the brilliant Julie at Heart of Bricks and added a doily veil to “me” and a Blu Tack kippah for “Marc”!
Our religious ceremony
For our ceremony we asked a good friend of ours, Roland Brandman, if he would be our chazzan and we were delighted when he accepted. The ceremony began with Roland singing a classical piece of music called Caro Mio Ben. He sang without a microphone and filled the entire room with his beautiful tones. This was the perfect start to our ceremony and made it very special for us.
A contemporary string quartet
We also had a string quartet that played as we walked in. I chose One Day Like This by Elbow and Marc chose Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley. We then had Roland singing during our ceremony. We had so many compliments on Roland’s singing and nobody could believe that he wasn’t professional
Wild, whimsical and natural floral arrangements
I first discovered Noeleen and her company The Basement Florist on the wedding blog Mr & Mrs Unique. I saw her flowers and loved the fact that her designs included wild, whimsical, natural arrangements and that she worked with berries, feathers and lots of different textures.
We both loved Dutch 15th Century floral paintings and we decided that the table flowers would be presented in stylised vases, similar to the look of these paintings.
It was easy to get carried away with having flowers everywhere, but in the end we settled on a wild bouquet with ribbons for me to carry down the aisle, textural, large button holes for the bridal party, several long and low statement vases dotted around the venue, natural displays for the tables and a “curtain” of carnations with glass baubles attached to the end of each row, each holding a tea light to light up a walkway.
Our fabulous photographer…
For the photography, we decided that we wanted a reportage/photojournalism-style photographer who would really capture the moments on the day. We chose David Morgan due to the high quality of his work. The fact that he had shot lots of Jewish weddings before was a real drawing point. In particular, we loved the images of the Israeli Dancing and how he had captured everyone joining in, enjoying themselves.
Our videographers were the amazing Pen and Cam from Story Catchers. I originally saw their work on Smashing The Glass of another wedding at Northbrook Park and felt that they had really captured the essence of that couple’s wedding day. I subsequently visited their website, saw more examples which I loved and decided there and then that they were right the videographers for us. They were really warm and welcoming and an absolute pleasure to work with. They made everyone feel at ease and you weren’t aware of their presence.
All the guests loved speaking with them and the films were captured in a magical, unobtrusive, natural, fun way. The stunning videos that we received are one of our favourite mementos of the entire wedding.
Giant garden games and a colouring-in canvas
We decided to have lots of entertainment to involve our guests throughout, so we arranged giant garden games and I created a giant colouring in canvas. We had an open photobooth so we were not restricted on numbers of people who could be snapped together and the back drop was designed to match our flowers and overall style.
After all the dancing, we served Pimms and champagne ice lollies courtesy of our caterer Ben Tenenblat, for the guests to cool down and finished the evening off with a sparkler exit.
Popcorn bags and a donation to Cardiomyopathy UK
During the reception, we had sweet and salty popcorn favours for guests to enjoy with their cocktails and canapà©s. I designed the popcorn bags; each complete with the ribbons in our wedding colours and a tag; which either said “thanks for popping by” or “all because Marc popped the question” on one side and our E & M logo and wedding date on the other side.
In addition to the popcorn and with all the money being spent on the day, we decided it was appropriate to donate money to charity. We have personal experience with cardiomyopathy and decided that we would like to make a donation to Cardiomyopathy UK.
As a thank you, they sent us pin badges featuring their heart logo, which we attached to cards and put at each person’s table setting. We were not sure if people would wear the badges (due to not wanting to ruin their outfits) but lots of people could be seen sporting the hearts.
Marc’s sister created a fabulous sweet stall and all the sweets were in our wedding colours which were popped into personalised sweet bags.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
If I could give one piece of advice it would be stay true to you.
I was provided with lots of recommendations/reasons for choosing certain suppliers even if I didn’t feel they were that in tune with us and our needs and was advised to proceed with them, due to experience/knowing the venue/value for money etc. However, each time I ignored this advice and found suppliers who “gelled” with us, I found I built the best relationships, trusted them implicitly and they delivered beyond our expectations on the day and afterwards.
Erika & Marc’s little white book
Videographer – Story Catchers
Photographer – David Morgan
Venue – Northbrook Park
Bride’s dress – Rue De Seine purchased at Leonie Claire
Bride’s jewellery – Luna Bea Bride and Phoebe Colman
Bride’s shoes – Bionda Castana
Groom’s attire – Impeccable
Hair + Make-up – Love Hair
Flowers – The Basement Florist
Caterer – Ben Tenenblat
Lego chuppah – Heart of Bricks