Some of you may be aware that at traditional Jewish weddings, the couple enter the reception under an archway of hoops to the sound of raucous clapping and cheering. Juliette and Nick chose to enter their party with that tradition but they added their own personal twist: Nick was a university fencer so they alternated the hoops with fencing swords. Brilliant! I love it when couples take age-old Jewish wedding traditions and make them their own and these are exactly the kind of personal details that ‘grab’ me when I look through a submission.
Juliette and Nick’s ceremony embraced both their faiths (Christian and Jewish) in a truly beautiful way, and it made me smile from ear to ear when Juliette told me that in the run-up to her big day, she loved seeing the range of mixed faith weddings on the blog. She was inspired by how other couples had worked out ways to incorporate two faiths into their day in their own unique way. Helping interfaith couples plan a meaningful Jew-ish wedding was one of the big aspirations I’d had for STG when I originally set it up so I’m one very happy blogger!
So what else do I love about this wedding? Well for one, there are some AWESOME musical choices – make sure you listen to those YouTube links further down the post. There’s also a groovy gin cocktail bar by those cool dudes, the Travelling Gin Company and there’s beer imported from Brussels, as that’s where Nick used to live. And there’s an alternative to the traditional wedding cake made out of 20 kilos of cheese. That would have gone down VERY well in my house.
The venue is The Brewery and it gives this wedding an urban East London vibe that’s the perfect backdrop for a city-chic W day.
Photography today is by a much-loved STG-recommended supplier, Blake Ezra Photography. You can view more of Blake’s work and all his other STG weddings in his listing in my hand picked supplier directory, Smashing Suppliers.
how we met
Juliette, the Bride: Nick and I did the same masters at university. We actually met on our first day, in October, but the height difference got in the way of much conversation, and then we were in separate groups for the first term. We gradually became friends later on in the year, but we didn’t actually start going out until June. Cheesy music and gin may have been a factor in that. Once we started dating we were pretty much inseparable! We quickly realised that we both really enjoyed food, as well as politics and travel, and those things have formed the basis of our relationship! After completing our two year masters degrees, we moved back to London to work, and then in October 2012, Nick moved to Brussels for work. Up until about two months before the wedding, we were living in separate cities, and only spending weekends together, alternating between London and Brussels. That was quite tough and did add an extra pressure on planning — it was pretty tricky getting Nick to see venues! It’s great to finally be in the same place.
an urban cool London venue
Nick and I both grew up in London, and most of our friends and family are here. We never really considered getting married anywhere else. So we made a list of the things that we wanted: big enough, in budget, easily accessible, outside space but not too focused on being outside in case it rained (which it did!).
I actually found The Brewery relatively late on in my search, and we instantly loved the space. We particularly loved the exposed brick walls and beams in the roof of the main room, and the courtyard was great for an outside drinks reception. The venue was very flexible in terms of rooms we could use, the food options looked interesting, and we found everyone there incredibly helpful. Amelie, our initial coordinator was lovely, and Jayne, who took over from her a few months before the wedding, is an absolute star – she had endless patience for my questions and it was amazing to have her help particularly in coordinating suppliers in the run up and on the day. We also loved the history of the Brewery — it’s the old Whitbread Brewery, and was where the Speaker of the House of Commons used to keep his coach. As we both work jobs connected to politics that seemed very appropriate!
We didn’t use a wedding planner, but Jayne at the Brewery was amazing in terms of coordinating our suppliers beforehand, and sorting things out on the day. We also booked an MC, Steven, who ran the day itself, and Zoe, my hairdresser, took charge in the morning before the wedding. I honestly don’t think I could have got through the day without their help. But in terms of the planning, we did that all ourselves!
a wedding that reflected us as a couple
I didn’t have a theme as such, but we wanted to keep things relatively simple, and classic, but with a slight edge so it felt a bit more ‘us’. I was a bit stuck on colours at first, everyone expected me to have quite a pink wedding and I really didn’t want to! In the end, I decided I wanted sunflowers to be a key part of the day, they’ve always been my favourite flower, and they were my grandmother’s favourite flower too. I wanted to mix that yellow with another colour, and after some discussions with my sisters, we picked royal blue, as they thought they’d like dresses in that colour! So we went with yellow and blue, which I thought were perfect for the time of year.
Nick and I met with the lovely Linda from UNameIt to discuss our ideas — she made my Bat Mitzvah invitations! Again, we stuck with something relatively simple and classic, gold letterpress on a cream card. Linda came up with our JN motif, which we used on all of our stationary. She made our invitations, thank you cards and all the on the day stationary.
hair + make up
I literally could not have got through the day without the wonderful Zoe Norris who did my hair and Vickie Ellis who did my makeup. I had a trial with Vickie in January, and told her that I wanted to look like myself, but better, and she did exactly that! On the day, my make-up was perfect right up until the end of the night. Vickie also did make up for all four of my bridesmaids, both mums and my grandma. Zoe was with us from the start of the morning until I went in for dinner at the end of the day. She was totally in control of our schedule in the morning — great when I started worrying about when to head to the ceremony! She spent quite a long time following behind me and making sure my dress looked perfect! She was constantly calm and lovely, and created beautiful hairstyles for me, my four bridesmaids and my flower girl.
An Ellie Sanderson dress
My dress was Skyler by Augusta Jones, from Ellie Sanderson in Beaconsfield. I only went to three dress shops, although I’d done a lot of ‘research’ on dresses before I started looking! I quite quickly worked out that I wanted something quite fitted and that I didn’t want strapless. I actually tried on my dress in the second shop. I fell in love with the beautiful lace — the detail on the flowers is amazing, the back is stunning and I really loved the fit. I think I sort of knew as soon as I tried it on – I couldn’t wait to walk out of the changing room to show my mum and sisters.
But I was a bit worried that I’d found something too quickly and I wanted to look at a few more options so I booked an appointment with Ellie Sanderson, as they had lots of lovely dresses on their website and I knew they also stocked that dress. The girls there were so, so lovely, and helped me try on loads of different options, including Skyler, but it quickly became clear that I didn’t love anything as much — and I knew Nick would love it too. I chose to buy it from Ellie Sanderson because they made me feel so comfortable, and I loved every opportunity to go back there.
The only jewellery I wore on the day, other than my rings, was a pair of earrings that I inherited from my grandmother. It was really special to be able to wear something of hers on the day. Other than that, I didn’t really want anything to distract from my dress, and the beautiful lace detail. I wore a very simple elbow-length veil that I bought from Ellie Sanderson when I bought my dress, as I didn’t really want anything to break up the line of my dress. I spent ages trying to work out what to do with my hair — I knew that I wanted it up and that I wanted something to go in it, but couldn’t decide what. I’m not into overly blingy or sparkly things, and I equally didn’t want a flower crown or anything like that. I stumbled across Harriet Wilde’s hair accessories, and fell in love with them. I ended up with one large clip and three small ones, and they were just perfect!
heels to match my 6″7 fiancà©!
I knew I wanted heels, but, frankly, nothing was going to bring me up to the height of my groom — he’s 6”7! I spent a lot of time looking — I liked lace shoes but they didn’t go with my dress, and the lace at the bottom of the dress was so delicate that I needed to be careful of anything that could catch on that. I chose Rainbow Club shoes in the end, that were closed toed, and a bit sparkly. They are quite padded, and that really helped, as I ended up standing for about three hours — from once my dress was on until after the photos!
The handsome groom
We spent a while debating what Nick would wear, but concluded black tie, like the guests. Nick had a made to measure tux from Austin Reed that he’d got a couple of years before the wedding and only worn a couple of times, so we decided there was no point getting another one. Instead he chose a really lovely waistcoat from Favourbrook, and got a matching bow-tie.
His best man and the ushers wore the waistcoats, with royal blue bow ties from the Maids Men. We also had a mini waistcoat for my little page boy who was two years old and gorgeous! Our dads and two grandfathers wore the royal blue bow ties with cummerbunds which matched the waistcoats. My cousin, Tony, arranged for Nick to have a made-to-measure shirt, which fitted him beautifully (quite unusual at his height!). It has his initials monogrammed on, and it was really lovely!
I had four bridesmaids, my two sisters, Nick’s sister, and my closest friend. My sisters had no problem making clear exactly what their requirements were for dresses but they were so amazingly helpful in planning the wedding (with only occasional protests when wedding chat took over our whole lives…) that I was happy with that!
I decided that I wanted all the girls to be in the same colour, but that I wanted them all to wear dresses that suited them. My sisters and I picked royal blue, and then I took them to Maids to Measure, which we absolutely loved. I told them they could all choose whatever shape or style they wanted. Mum and I went back with my other two bridesmaids later on and in the end we ended up with two pairs of similar dresses. I think they all looked gorgeous! I was pretty relaxed about everything else (I think). They all chose their own shoes, hair, make-up and jewellery, although I actually bought them all jewellery on a ‘knot’ theme that I gave them the night before. I think they all wore that. I also had the most gorgeous flower girl. She had a dress from John Rocha at Debenhams, and a little bow in her hair. She was an absolute star, she loved her job and proudly marched her little brother down the aisle!
a ceremony that embraced both Jewish and Christian faiths
When Nick and I started planning the wedding, we knew that we wanted to do something that represented both of our traditions, rather than having a ceremony that excluded both. But we also realised that a blessing service that incorporated elements of Judaism and Christianity wouldn’t be legally binding. We wanted to do it all in one day, and so in the end we had two ceremonies. The first one was a blessing, under a chuppah, conducted by the lay preacher from our synagogue and the priest from Nick’s church. We wrote the ceremony with them and with our parents. It was really personal and really special.
We then had an introduction from Pete, who explained our ceremony and particularly the Jewish traditions, and then the blessings over the wine. This was followed by three readings from, Song of Songs, Romans and Nicole Krauss ‘The History of Love’, and then we had the traditional Christian exchange rings and vows, except that we added ‘I am my beloved and my beloved is mine’ to the start of the vows.
This was followed by an address from Father Kevin, and then a version of the Seven Blessings that Nick and I wrote ourselves, read by two of our closest friends. We had a candle lighting ceremony, where both of our mums took a candle and lit another, larger candle, to symbolise the two families being joined together, and we concluded with the smashing of the glass. It was really beautiful, really special, and a little bit overwhelming!
We left the ceremony with our families, and then went immediately to have our interview with the registrars, and then a short, but lovely, civil ceremony in another room, while all our guests got a drink! Our grandfathers were the witnesses, and it was really special to see them sitting together, signing the register.
And then, one of my (many) highlights of the day — as the registrars handed the certificate over to us, the Brewery staff appeared with glasses of champagne and canapà©s for us. It was amazing! I chose a carrot and goats cheese macaron, which were incredible. I even managed a few sips of champagne before Nick and I went to have photos taken.
We wanted to keep the chuppah very simple. We chose a simple white canopy from Chuppah Hire, and then Annie, my wonderful florist, decorated it with gorgeous bunches of flowers and trailing leaves. I thought it looked absolutely beautiful, and was exactly what I wanted.
musical-inspired music for the ceremony
I love musicals, and wanted to include that somehow, so my bridesmaids walked in to Can you feel the love tonight from the Lion King played by the Estilo string quartet. My parents walked me down to Tonight from West Side Story, and when I reached the chuppah, I circled Nick to Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.
Nick chose the piece of music that we exit-ed to, which was Palladio by Karl Jenkins. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing this all on our video — I can barely remember hearing the music!
We spent quite a long time thinking about our first dance, for two reasons. One, Nick and I have totally different tastes in music. He likes hip-hop, and I’m more into pop. I did manage to convince him that Eminem might not be quite appropriate for our first dance! Secondly, the height difference… We chose Rather Be by Clean Bandit, a song which we both love, and the band played a beautiful acoustic version for us.
As Nick works in a job that is going to require us to move around the world at some point, the lyrics seemed particularly appropriate. We also had a last song, which was American Pie. We got everyone on the dancefloor, Nick and I, with our families and the bridal party were in the middle. Everyone was singing, it was amazing!
Embracing Jewish wedding traditions with an added personal twist
The whole day felt very personal, and very appropriate to us. We were keen to mix tradition with things that we really liked. When Nick and I went into the evening, we entered through an arch way of hoops, which is pretty traditional, but these were interspersed with fencing swords as Nick is a keen fencer — it looked great! A lot of our friends and Nick’s family had never encountered Israeli dancing before, but it really helped to set the tone of the evening, kicking the party off with an intense 20 minutes of dancing. Everybody got involved and they all told us how much they loved it!
flowers and decor
I found flowers very difficult to deal with, because I don’t know a huge amount about them, and I found things quite difficult to visualise. Once I had chosen sunflowers, and knew I wanted to stick a yellow/blue/cream theme, I left most of it to Annie, from Pollen Nation, who was wonderful. We discussed what I wanted, nothing too structured, or formal, and she was so enthusiastic, it was easy to leave it all in her hands. She had such wonderful ideas, such as the little sunflowers attached to the huge staircase in the venue. She included things like yellow and cream roses, craspedias, and lots of trailing green leaves. I wanted lots of candles, so we had alternating table centres, half hurricane lanterns and half candelabra. The hurricane lanterns were also our aisle decoration, and the candelabra were used for our civil ceremony as well. It was all absolutely beautiful!
We also had some beautiful venue decoration from the Wedding Lounge. They provided the giant light canopy hanging from the ceiling, the beautiful candelabra that were at the ends of the aisles and later by the cheese, as well as some soft furniture and some uplighters. It all made such a difference to the look and feel of the room.
our fabulous photographer
I think I booked Blake Ezra before I even had a venue! I knew already that I wanted him to take our photos, and we were thrilled with the results. We’ve had so many compliments on the photos, they are just so overwhelming lovely. He’s so great at capturing the moment, and his posed photos of Nick and I outside are incredible as well. We also had a videographer, Charlotte Armitage. She was recommended by Blake and it was great to have a team who worked so well together on the day. We can’t wait to see her film!
delicious food by the Brewery
We partly chose the Brewery on the basis of their exciting and innovative menus, and as a couple who love food, we were very happy with that decision! We started with seared sesame encrusted tuna, with avocado and wasabi puree, or courgette, sun blushed tomatoes and ricotta roles for vegetarians, followed by sea bass, or a kind of aubergine parmigiana, and then there was a chocolate and salted caramel brownie for dessert. All our guests really enjoyed the food, the Brewery provide such high quality event food that it was a real highlight.
A ‘cheese’ cake rather than a traditional wedding cake
I am more of a savoury person than sweet, and we decided to go with a ‘cheese’ cake, rather than a traditional cake. It was particularly appropriate as we actually got married on Shavuot. The cake was amazing! We had 20kg of cheese from Paxton and Whitfield, and people absolutely fell on it! The Brewery presented it really beautifully, with lots of lovely grapes and things, and served crackers and chutney too. There was a small amount left over — we’ve got a good block of cheddar in the freezer!
With the speeches, my dad gave an opening speech before dinner, and then after dessert Nick and his best man spoke. But then my sisters, as Maids of Honour, also gave a speech, and I said a few words as well.
We had an amazing band, called Hand Fulla Soul. I actually know one of the vocalists from my time working on musicals at Leeds University, and I bumped into him at a wedding fair just after we got engaged. I then saw a video of his band performing and thought they would be perfect. They were, they were amazing. They played for our Israeli dancing, plus two sets during and after dinner, and then DJ’d later on. The dance floor was packed all night and our guests loved them. I have to say that dancing, in my wedding dress, to a live version of Gangsta’s Paradise was a real highlight of my night!
lots of fun ideas for the alcohol!
We opted to pay corkage and bring our own alcohol which was a lot of fun. Nick’s uncle provided the wine, and Nick and I imported the beer from Belgium, as he was living in Brussels when we got engaged. It was from a very small beer shop/bar in Brussels that we loved. We then organised the Travelling Gin Company to serve gin cocktails both at our drinks reception and after dinner. They made excellent (and fairly potent) cocktails, served from two bicycles!
advice to other brides and grooms
One piece of advice I wish I’d taken — ask people to get involved more. I really didn’t want to burden people with too much, but actually people were really happy to help out when I asked!
Work with suppliers who you like, and who make you feel confident. We had one supplier who never quite seemed happy, and kept throwing up difficulties. In the end, we switched about three weeks before the wedding, and the stress of doing that was totally outweighed by being sure that they would provide what they’d promised, and working with lovely people. Other than that, everyone who we worked with was just great, and I don’t think I’ve thanked them all enough for making our day so special.
Do things your way — but keep everyone else on board. Our wedding was really personal, particularly the chuppah ceremony. Although it was obviously important that the day was what we wanted, we were also very careful to discuss it all with our parents, and talk it through with our grandparents beforehand. Everyone felt totally bought into the day, and that was really important to us.
Take a bit of time out during the day. After Blake took some posed photos in between the ceremony and dinner, someone sat us down in a small room, gave us a glass of champagne, and left us alone for 10 minutes. It was wonderful to just talk about how amazing the day was, and catch up having not seen each other since the evening before! We also decided to have a final song, and then to leave with Blake and take some photos, while other people did long goodbyes. After the photos, we went to our hotel room, and opened the champagne they had left us and talked about how amazing the day was. I didn’t want it to be over!
Juliette & Nick’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Blake Ezra Photography
Venue and catering — The Brewery
Bride’s dress — Augusta Jones from Ellie Sanderson
Bride’s hair accessories — Harriet Wilde
Bride’s shoes — Rainbow Club
Groom — Austin Reed and Favourbrook
Ceremony music — Estilo string quartet
Reception music — Hand Fulla Soul
Flowers — Pollen Nation
Venue decor — Wedding Lounge
Cocktails — The Travelling Gin Company
Chuppah — Chuppah Hire
Hair — Zoe Norris
Make up — Vickie Ellis
Cheese — Paxton and Whitfield
Stationery — UNameIt
Videography — Charlotte Armitage