I promise that what you’re about to see is truly epic. This folks is how to do a super cool, super fun, superfly wedding.
There are so many things that I love about this W-day that I’d be here until midnight listing them all, but I’ll just mention Los Desterrados playing ‘The Final Countdown‘ in the synagogue; pornstar martinis and chilli martinis as the cocktails of choice in the reception; an after-party stretching until sunrise, a Jenny Packham bride with her Vivienne Westwood groom… and I’ll stop now. You just need to see it.
And as fabulous as this wedding is, some of my favourite elements are the way in which Chelm and Jake personalised their Jewish ceremony — in particular what they did with their Sheva Brachot, and also their spin on the traditional circling of the groom.
They chose the Doodle Bar in Battersea (don’t you think it’s one of the best venue websites you’ve ever seen?) for their reception. It’s housed in an old dairy in Battersea, on the banks of the Thames and the adjoining space, Testbed1, where the party continued, is normally used as an arts venue. It’s an incredible warehouse space that Chelm and Jake and their very creative friends decorated with real pizazz and flair. I’ll let Jake continue with all the details – yes it’s our cooler-than-a polar-bear’s-toenails groom reporting the wedding today! He’s a real character – we need more groom wedding reports!
Jake, the groom: Friends of ours own Doodle Bar in Battersea and I’d visited the place several months previously and thought it was very cool – a bit of East London in Battersea! I asked my friend if there was any chance that it would make a workable wedding venue, and to my delight, he said yes – they’d already done a lot of parties there.
We had the reception at Doodle Bar and then the main party in the adjoining arts space, Testbed1. It was the perfect venue for us as we didn’t want a typical traditional wedding – a warehouse vibe is what we were after.
It was simply about having a great time, getting everyone down; laid-back; lounge suits, smart-casual, have a big party basically!
A JENNY PACKHAM DRESS WITH ANTIQUE ACCESSORIES
I had a real nightmare with my suit. I went to Liberty and bought a Vivienne Westwood suit that looked perfect, then had it altered by them and when I picked it up a few weeks before the big day it had vanished! I pulled a bit of a hissy fit and Liberty eventually managed to find a replacement Vivienne Westwood jacket and a pair of trousers that looked the part.
We got married at West London Synagogue in Seymour Place as it’s where Chelm converted. We had Rabbi David Mitchell officiate the ceremony for us. He got to know us quite well when Chelm converted as he had been there teaching us from the start for the whole year and a half. We got to know each other reasonably well and he said some amazing words. One of the best parts was replacing the normal Sheva Brachot with Brachot (prayers) from all our friends personalising it for us. Everyone came up and read their own bracha (prayer).
The other thing that was really nice was instead of Chelm doing seven circles around me, we did three around each other and then a figure of eight.
I loved the ceremony and it’s such a shame we didn’t get a videographer to record it all – I’m so gutted we didn’t. By far the best part of the wedding was the ceremony which I didn’t expect. I thought it would be the party but actually it was totally about the ceremony and being together – we have such an amazing bond – and you can’t get it back…
In the synagogue we had our friends band, Los Desterrados play. One of the main guys who runs it (Mark Greenfield) is an amazing percussionist. Drew’s the front man on guitar and we had another guy playing the keyboard. They were playing things like ‘The Final Countdown‘ before we came down the aisle. They kept it really light and fun. They played Biggie Small’s ‘Juicy‘ for me walking down the aisle and they played something more classical for Chelm coming down the aisle.
We used the chuppah from West London Synagogue which was a bit old and crusty but I quite liked it! The usual brass poles and a silk covering – looks fine from the outside but underneath it’s a bit manky and old. It was fine by us though!
We loved the industrial look of Testbed1 and we knew it needed jazzing up but didn’t want it to look like a typical wedding venue. We did everything ourselves and with friends, and the thing that I would definitely say about our wedding was that we pulled in favours from everyone. People are more than happy – we didn’t expect anything from anyone in terms of gifts, and we thought if people want to help out in terms of organising things that was what we wanted.
Our friends helped us to arrange all the sound systems and all the lighting. We also borrowed loads of fairy lights from a friend and we bought tube lighting, a million tea lights, little bits of glassware from vintage shops that we put tea lights in.. there was literally candles and decorative lighting everywhere.
The caterers were amazing. Granted they weren’t kosher but the guy who runs the place is Jewish and he made it ‘non-offensive’ ! He runs Street Kitchen and it’s basically like a caravan that drives around and does lunches / brioches / stews… warm hearty yummy things. What with it being February we wanted something warming so we had a few different options: a noodle and chicken dish (vietnamese style, like a chicken pho), and lots of stews. There was a kitchen and a hatch and everyone queued up , grabbed something and sat down at the tables to eat.
My sister did the flowers and my brief to her was simply to make it look like someone had walked into the countryside and picked a load of flowers out of the meadow. That was the look we were going for. Not fussy or put-together.
Chelm, the Bride: A friend also recommended Penny Beckett and she had some really great ideas! I fancied small and scented for my bouquet and button holes. In terms of the ceremony my only request was no roses and definitely no hydrangeas. The chuppah was so ornate it really didn’t need flowers and my sister in law made hand ties for the end of the pews.
As we were having the party in a warehouse we really weren’t sure what to do ab out florals in there, buy Penny lent us 12 massive olive trees which were gorgeous. On the tables we placed narcissus in the bottles and jars that I had been collecting from my friends. Ivy surrounding the candles with some eucalyptus also thrown in there somewhere too.
We had drinks like Peach Bellinis, Pornstar Martinis, Chilli Martinis and Cucumber Martinis for the reception. All fresh and clean feeling. On top of that people ordered from the bar whatever they fancied – so there was nothing forced upon them – and of course we picked up the bill at the end of the night!
Blake Ezra is an old friend – I’ve known him for 12 years and he was just amazing. He really looked after us. He said. “I’ll be with you until 6am if you want.” Granted he’s a friend but I think he does that for everyone.
A couple of weeks before the wedding we went to the West End and the City and took some photos around some old buildings and it happened to have been the weekend when it snowed – they came out phenomenally. He got some great shots. The idea with that is he gets to see what we’re like on camera and he gets to see what and when are our best moments!
At the party we didn’t have a band, we had a DJ friend of ours playing old school and funk and Mark from Los Desterrados made a CD with all the Jewish songs at the beginning. We also had an after party
My father-in-law has a mate that runs a couple of dodgy really seedy underground bars round the back go Tottenham Court Road. It was the perfect venue for our after-party and whoever wanted to continue the party withour worrying about parents was very welcome! Although there were a couple of oldies there, they were the kind of oldies that didn’t care! It was a real laugh and I think Chelm and I must have left at 4.30am leaving everyone to party on!
Try and make it for you and your friends and not let your family take over. So often I see people stressed out because their families are making their own wedding again – it’s what their grandparents did for their parents… Also for us, it was all about pulling in favours. Everything all in (food, drink etc) was well under £12,000 for 200 guests as so much was provided (with love) by those we knew
Also definitely book a videographer. We didn’t and I can’t tell you how much I regret that decision. I’m particularly gutted to not be able to watch our very special ceremony ever again.
Photographer — Blake Ezra Photography
Venue — Doodle Bar / Testbed1
Catering — Street Kitchen
Bride’s Dress — Jenny Packham from Ellie Sanderson
Bride’s stole, veil, earrings + antique opal hair brooch — Ellie Sanderson
Bride’s shoes — Prada
Groom’s attire — Vivienne Westwood from Liberty
Groom’s shoes — Harry’s of London
Entertainment — Los Desterrados
Hair — Ross Davies, Real hair Chelsea
Make Up — Niedien Biggs, MAC
Flowers — Penny Beckett from Crossways Nursery and the groom’s sister
Rabbi — Rabbi David Mitchell from West London Synagogue
Obsessed with this wedding. OBSESSED. What an incredible celebration and I think the biggest lesson to learn from Chelm and Jake’s W-day is don’t plan it like a wedding, plan it like a party! Thank you to this wonderful pair for sharing their story and to Blake Ezra Photography for alerting me to, and capturing, this fabulousness.