I am really excited to bring you this wonderful craft-filled wedding from over the pond in Conneticut, USA. Our gorgeous couple live in Brooklyn but got married in Connecticut after meeting at university six years ago. Sarah the bride designed so many creative elements of her big day including her stunning wedding dress (with Modern Trousseau), a wonderful ‘papercut-style’ chuppah designed with her very talented mum, our very own Smashing Supplier Jeanette Kuvin Oren, not to mention the beautiful table decorations, and exquisite letterpress invitations. Feast your eyes on their gorgeous day and take in all their lovely DIY details!
VENUE – CONVERTING A SIMPLE SPACE INTO A STUNNING RECEPTION
Sarah, the Bride: We booked my synagogue as the ceremony/reception venue. Being a traditional Jewish wedding, this was an appropriate locale. But don’t be fooled by a “lack of pizzazz” if your synagogue’s social hall isn’t as ideal as you’d like it to be. I had a vision, and was able to convert a large, relatively simple space into a stunning wedding reception. No one recognised the room once the decorations and lighting were set up. We also picked this location since we had a large guest list, and many venues would force us to cut our guest list in half (that wasn’t going to happen!).
The colour scheme came out through the process of seeing my likes and dislikes regarding dà©cor. I didn’t have a true vision until all the pieces began coming together. I knew I wanted neutral, timeless colours; so I stayed in the beige, tan, ivory genre. When I added gold to the mix, I thought we were set. It looked so beautiful and ethereal. Once I chose my bridal party dresses, the final colour came to be: “Dusty Shale,” a grayish seafoam/teal variety. It was a perfect medley of neutral, yet beautiful and timeless colours for a wedding.
Now this is a wedding that I seriously would have LOVED to have attended. It’s so different, so creative and incredible fun. I mean what could be better than a vintage tea party at London Zoo culminating in an outdoor Jewish dancing session and big party (not forgetting a drunken guest attempting to climb into the gorilla enclosure!)?
Just scroll down and you’ll see the bride arriving in a flower-bedecked Karma Kab, the groom arriving by canal boat, a seriously jaw-dropping vintage styled bride, a hand-drawn animal-themed ketubah, stunning photography by Steve Poole and David Klein that captures some of the most amazing Jewish dancing energy I’ve ever seen, and on top of everything this report is a little bit special as not only do we hear from Sarah, the bride, there is also a bit of commentary thrown in now and again from our groom, Ben. A Smashing The Glass first! The idea for holding their wedding at such an unusual venue was triggered by Ben proposing to Sarah in the Penguin Pool building…. aaaah, I’ll let Ben take over from here:
IMAGERY BY STEVE POOLE UNLESS OTHERWISE CREDITED
WHY WE CHOSE LONDON ZOO
Ben, the Groom: I proposed to Sarah at London Zoo as when she was a child she wrote to Jim’ll Fix It to ask him to let her into to the zoo’s penguin pool building. She loved the architecture as a little girl – that space age type of feel – and she was a bit besotted with the building. When I proposed to her I organised with the zoo to take her round and then led her into the Penguin Pool building and proposed to her in there.
We also knew that we didn’t want a party in a hotel or ballroom, and we ideally loved the idea of getting married somewhere outdoors, but finding an outdoor London venue that could hold 250 guests for both the chuppah and the party on the same site, and that could also incorporate a kosher caterer didn’t leave us with many choices. Luckily London Zoo ticked all the boxes and we chose it as our wedding ceremony and party venue.
Sarah, the Bride: We knew that we wanted to have a summer fete / vintage tea party feel and that really worked in the beautiful garden terrace where we held the chuppah and Jewish dancing. We were fortunate enough to have an amazing, sunny day and the space couldn’t have worked out better for us.
Lee and Gary married at the gorgeously opulent Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly, London. And when I say opulent, I’m talking a sumptuous neo-Byzantine Piccadilly haven with marble walls, decorative archways and a glorious golden mosaic ceiling.
And that’s not the only reason I’m excited to feature this wedding. You see I’m also totally in love with Lee’s couture dress and head piece which she designed herself. AND the fact that Le Gateau Chocolat, the big black transvestite opera-singer, with a penchant for being wrapped in body-hugging glittery lycra, performed at this wedding!
So here’s their story: Although this gorgeous couple are both Jewish, Lee (a former fashion designer, now a full-time mummy) and Gary, a barrister, are both, in their own words, “devout atheists”. Even so, both felt a need for some familiar cultural background in a partner and ended up finding each other on the Jewish dating site, JDate.
I’ll now hand over to Lee with all the delicious detail from the day:
VENUE + DECOR
Lee, the Bride: Gary, my then fiancà©, had been to The Criterion Restaurant before and knowing my love for art deco, thought I might like it. He literally thought of it the day after he proposed (which by the way completely flew over my head as he did it in his usual verbally subtle way!) We were on holiday at the time and arranged to see the venue a few days after our return over lunch. The moment we sat down and took the place in, we knew we needn’t look any further.
With such a beautiful venue choice, we didn’t need or want a theme or colour scheme as we didn’t want to detract from the beauty of the room with many other colours. Our floral and table layouts were fairly clean and simple too, with a combination of old school & clean modern – just how we like it!
Today you lucky readers get not one but two lovely grooms who together organised an incredibly entertaining (think confetti canons, swing band, full-on Shirley Bassey wedding entrance) and glamorous black tie wedding in the heart of London’s West End. Their story is full of phenomenal detail, useful tips, fabulous eye-candy and impeccable style.
Andrew, originally from Australia, is an Operations Director for a boutique London creative agency, and Elliott is a Client Relationship Manager for a global investment manager. They met in Melbourne, whilst Elliott was traveling for work, and the rest, as they say, is history.
With their wedding being very much a joint planning effort (and boy was there a lot of planning), the account of their double groom w-day is recounted in both their words:
AN EXCUSE TO THROW THE BEST PARTY WE COULD IMAGINE
Andrew + Elliott: As well as being a celebration of our Civil Partnership we always wanted our day to be a celebration for our friends and an excuse to throw the best party that we could imagine. For a venue, we imagined a lavish stately home [with Andrew being from Australia, he had always had the grand notion to have a lavish party in a stately home or palace (somewhere older than the 225 years of his colonised country)], but in keeping with the idea of it being a party for friends we were also adamant that we wanted a Central London location so that guests didn’t need to plan accommodation or travel. Free from needing to marry in a “place of worship” we also wanted the ceremony and reception in the same venue so that there was one less travel logistic for our guests and us.
The problem we faced with a lot of the Central London properties available was that they were either sterile, were just another banqueting room in a grand hotel or were private member clubs with dominating dà©cor that would stop any chance of us adding our own personal touches. We started with a list of over 30 properties that could accommodate 100 guests. We researched via the web and various venue guides and then shortlisted around half a dozen that seemed to meet most of our requirements.
Off we trotted to spec out the various venues on the shortlist after work or on weekends. Several we wrote-off without even entering the building, others were excluded because of silly charges and inflexible terms and conditions. One, in particular, we rather liked but we didn’t gel with the event planner — her creativity extended only as far as suggesting neon pink lighting because this was a gay event! We were becoming slightly worried that our expectations were too high. We started to reconsider the stately home alternative. We unconsidered it again and armed with a bottle of wine we sat down and spent another evening reconsidering venues that we had previously ruled out (thinking we should at least go and inspect them as we were only reliant on photos from the web). A late addition was One Marylebone, which a good friend of ours had recommended.
WOWED BY ONE MARYLEBONE
We went to see One Marylebone one wintery evening after a stressful day at work, and apart from being wowed by the beauty of the building we immediately hit it off with Alicia, their fabulous event planner. We’d barely taken our coats off and already her suggestions were filling us with inspiration. We knew there and then that One Marylebone was the right venue — as an event space it was new enough that we would be original, as a venue it is awe inspiring and needs little additional decoration and, above all, we knew Alicia would make our day into what we wanted it to be!
This has to be one of the most original and ‘true-to-themselves’ weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing about. It’s a very small affair with the bride and groom, Shiri and Yariv, inviting just 20 of their closest family members out for brunch and then surprising them with a chuppah! And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the ceremony took place on a bustling New York street corner! How incredibly atmospheric must that have been? The chuppah itself is very special but more about that later.
Shiri and Yariv met in New York City several years ago. When they met, Shiri was living in London but spending most of her time in the US on business. She was single and didn’t have much of a social life so used JDate as a platform to meet interesting people. That’s how they met. He took her out for dinner at one of his favorite haunts, a restaurant called Taboon, and the rest is history.
VENUE & THE IDEA FOR A ‘SURPRISE WEDDING’!
Shiri the bride: Our ‘surprise’ wedding took place at Taboon, the restaurant Yariv took me to on our first date. It’s a beautiful yet unassuming Mediterranean restaurant in a neighbourhood of NYC called Hell’s Kitchen. Their menu is full of delicious twists on Israeli dishes and carefully chosen Mediterranean wines. I don’t have to tell you the magical memories the site of a couple’s first date has — I remember that night as if it was yesterday.
Yariv and I return once a year on the date of the night we first met, and that year, halfway through my Haloumi salad (and a few glasses of Chenin Blanc), the idea of having an intimate surprise wedding at Taboon took over my imagination. We had been together for 3 years and really wanted to start a family, but not before sealing the deal under a chuppah. Our families were going to be in town that following Thanksgiving, a few months away… the idea took on a mind of its own!
Thankfully Yariv liked the idea as much as I did. He’s a very modest, low-key guy and the thought of not having a big hoopla wedding sat very well with him. We booked Taboon and very slowly started calling our close family members inviting them for “brunch”.
REVEALING THE SECRET
Uncovering the purpose of our get-together was one of the most exciting moments of our lives. We’d been keeping a secret for what felt like an eternity and our guests had absolutely no idea. Some thought we might announce our engagement at the “brunch” (that’s right, we weren’t even officially engaged) but nothing more.
Once the appetisers were cleared, Yariv & I stood up to toast the occasion. When Yariv announced that we would like to invite everyone to be part of our chuppah just before dessert, the energy of the room became electric. Everyone cheered, our mothers had tears in their eyes and the guests’ excitement was something indescribable.
The Rabbi who wed us is a superstar. He’s a young Chabad Rabbi of a small (yet growing!) congregation in our neighbourhood. When we came to him asking whether he would marry us in a non-kosher restaurant he looked perplexed. We assured him no meat would be served, he took a minute to think about it and said “how about the nearest street corner?” A surprise wedding on a bustling New York street corner? We loved it!
And so did our guests. They stepped outside on a windy but dry day, the men wearing napkins on their heads because someone forgot to buy kippot (!). Four of our male guests held the chuppah poles, the backdrop was the usual hustle & bustle of the city, taxis and buses honking as they whizzed by, a FedEx guy even stopped to watch the show… you get the picture. I will always remember every detail.