It’s a blistering heatwave here in London today and I am soaking up every last ray whilst working outdoors on my Macbook’s anti-glare screen (a must-have for any sun-loving blogger!). It’s a fabulous day, not only because I’m lucky enough to be working al fresco, but also because I have been immersing myself in every last detail of Simone and Micah’s brilliant Jewish wedding at a venue I’ve always wanted to feature, the V&A Museum of Childhood.
I love unusual wedding venues, especially museums and galleries (I got married in one myself) as guests can wander around, interact with the exhibits, and talk about the work with fellow guests which can be a great ice-breaker.
This wedding is full of wonderful details, like Micah’s father officiating the service, and a lively post-chuppah musical ‘Jew-down’ as Micah calls it (I LOVE that terminology!). I’m also obsessing over the centrepieces that included scattered confetti cut from illustrated editions of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit, to tie in with the children’s books theme, and desserts as canapà©s by Ben Tenenblat that were served during the after-dinner dancing.
Simone and Micah have written their wedding report together (well actually the vast majority of it is by Micah) and it’s wonderful to hear from a groom who had so much input into the big day — a trend I’m seeing more and more of. In fact, Micah had me at hello when he first submitted the wedding. He wrote:
I love a groom submission! Welcome to the Smashing family, Simone & Micah! (And thank you to the wonderful Enchanting Wood for today’s images).
How we met
Micah, the Groom: Simone and I spent our university days not meeting each other. It was only on our final day — in a chapel of all places — that my friend Rafi introduced us. He would go on to be my best man.
A literature theme of sorts
We didn’t really have a formal theme, but the colour scheme was grey and dark green, and children’s books were quite prominent throughout — we both love reading and Simone works in publishing, and the party was at the Museum of Childhood, so it seemed appropriate!
We didn’t have a wedding planner, but on the day we had the wonderful Jessie Schlagman in charge of all logistics and timings — she was at the museum from the early afternoon greeting suppliers as they arrived and making sure that everything, and everyone, was in the right place at the right time. We didn’t have to worry for a moment about anything, and would highly recommend!
Some lovely ideas for a literary themed wedding
We didn’t fancy a guest book, so instead created a guest poster of piles of books. Simone drew the outline and guests were invited to sign their names on a spine to create a memento of the day.
Nico Sensale, our talented florist, created table centrepieces that tied in with the venue, so that the flower arrangements seemed to emerge from children’s books. The incorporation of books in the design was particularly appropriate given that Simone works in publishing.
As well as the centrepieces, on the tables we scattered confetti cut from illustrated editions of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit, to tie in with the children’s books theme.
Hair + Make-up
Simone, the Bride: Adrienne Revan did a wonderful job with my hair, using gypsophilia to decorate a low bun — and it stayed in place all night despite some very enthusiastic dancing. She had visited my mum’s shop (Spice Way in Battlers Green Farm) at around the time we were looking for a wedding hairdresser, they got talking, I went for a trial and that was that!
My make-up was by Rebecca Selt, who is still at school studying to be a make-up artist, and was fantastic — I don’t usually wear very much make-up, and she hit just the right balance between natural and too much!
The bride’s dress
Simone, the Bride: I bought my dress at the first place I went to, a house in St John’s Wood with lots of wedding dresses for sale in the attic. I’d been hoping not to have to visit too many places before finding the right dress, but didn’t expect to find it quite so quickly! It was originally from Bellville Sassoon, and was extremely comfortable while also being unlike anything else I’ve ever worn (or will ever wear again!).
Simone, the Bride: I borrowed a clutch bag from a friend who had got married earlier in the year. I wore a pair of diamond earrings I’d received from our closest family friends for my Batmitzvah, and a necklace and bracelet from my younger brothers.
Bridesmaids and flower girls
We had three bridesmaids, Simone’s friends from university, who wore Coralie Beatrix dresses bought from Etsy. They all had the same colour but could wear the style that best suited their body shape, and the ordering process was so simple.
I have three nieces who were our flower girls, and looked very cute as they scattered petals down the aisle before Simone’s entry.
Choosing to have our ceremony in a very symbolic synagogue
We held our chuppah at the beautiful West London Synagogue, near Marble Arch. My parents married under the same chuppah, and my dad used to be a rabbi there — so the venue felt not only beautiful, but also appropriate.
Before the chuppah we both had a tisch for our closest friends, which was a great way to begin the celebrations and slowly ease ourselves into the excitement. Some friends and family members said a few words to each of us, and then I was danced to Simone’s tisch room, at which point everyone else took their seats and we had a private badeken.
After the chuppah there was a substantial kiddush for our guests. We’d both been fasting all day so we went straight to the yichud room where the caterer had left us a selection of food from the kiddush. Once we’d had a few moments to eat our fill without interruption we joined our guests in the main hall.
My dad married us. It’s a strange sentence to say out loud, but he’s the rabbi who knows us best and it made for a very special ceremony.
We had a beautiful papercut-style ketubah with egalitarian text, produced by Ardyn Halter. We wrote wedding programs explaining the marriage ceremony so that all of our guests would understand the meaning behind each aspect of it.
The chazan was a good friend of the family, Mark Finer, and musical accompaniment and a lively post-chuppah ‘Jew-down’ was provided by the Flying Pomegranates, whose set included klezmer and ladino songs.
Our florist was the talented Nico Sensale, my mother-in-law’s gardener. His approach was creative and thoughtful: he included flowers on the inside of the chuppah as well as the outside, so that those standing under it (us!) would also have flowers to enjoy.
A party at the V&A Museum of Childhood
For the party we chose the V&A Museum of Childhood. We loved the venue from the first time we saw it. Its high ceiling and patterned floor, interesting exhibitions and heart-warming, nostalgic subject matter make for a fantastic wedding venue. During the reception guests were free to wander round and interact with the exhibitions — which was great for kids and adults alike, and made for some fantastic photos.
At the entrance to the venue we displayed photos of the weddings of our parents and grandparents, as well as a series of photos from our own childhoods.
My brother Yoni did a wonderful job as our MC.
Live music… and a performance by the groom
For the party, we chose Metropolis. I highly recommend them. Their drummer, Toby Goodman, met with us before the wedding and discussed our wishes and needs. He really listened; it was reflected in the set list for the night and the way they performed.
Our first song was Frank Sinatra’s Young at Heart, which fit in with the venue’s theme of childhood. Similarly, our final song was We Are Young by Fun, which also provided an anthemic feel to our evening’s conclusion.
The band also put up with my cheeky request to perform I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book as a surprise…
Our fabulous photographer
Our photographers were Adam and Simon of Enchanting Wood. They were an absolute pleasure to work with. Considering how much time you spend with your photographers on your wedding day, that’s what you want! Simone met them at a wedding fair in Olympia and we had a practice shoot with them in St Albans a few months before the wedding so we could get to know each other a bit.
Ours was their first Jewish wedding, so we made sure that we’d briefed them thoroughly on what to expect, from the tisch and badeken, to the chuppah and mad Israeli dancing!
We didn’t have a videographer but a good friend who works in filmmaking recorded the chuppah and speeches for us, for which we’re very grateful — it all went by in such a blur, it’s great to be able to watch over it all at a more leisurely pace.
ASH Event Productions did the lighting at the venue. They’re familiar with the space and did a great job, including spot-lighting each of the tables.
Our caterer was Ben Tenenblat. The food was delicious and the presentation was immaculate. To save time at the end of the meal, we had dessert come as canapà©s during the after-dinner dancing rather than being served to the tables. A particular highlight was the lemon curd on shortbread.
A photo booth created by a friend
We really wanted a photo booth and were trying to figure out how to set one up ourselves rather than hire one, when our friend Eyal offered to bring the one he just so happened to have recently built and set it up in the entrance of the museum for us — we’re so grateful to them, and love looking through the hilarious photos people took throughout the night!
A surprise song
My family surprised us with a song in which all the words were about us! They circulated the words too so that other guests could join in.
It was important to us that we didn’t only have men giving speeches, so Simone’s bridesmaids gave a speech, and Simone also said a few words at the end of the night.
Advice for brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
Don’t eat too many canapà©s immediately before the Jewish dancing. I did. I felt sick. Remember there’s no ‘right’ way to do a wedding. What matters are your needs and preferences and those of your families. Just because other weddings tend to include something, it doesn’t mean you have to. Conversely, if you want something a little out of the ordinary — go for it. On the day, the more happy and relaxed you are, the more happy and relaxed your guests will be. So don’t stress about the small stuff — the day goes too fast for you to waste thinking about it!
Simone & Micah’s little white book
Photographer — Enchanting Wood
Venues — West London Synagogue and Museum of Childhood
Event Manager — Jessie Schlagman
Caterer — Ben Tenenblat
Florals — Nico Sensale
Bride’s Dress — Bellville Sassoon
Bride’s Shoes — Jigsaw and Converse
Bridesmaids — Coralie Beatrix from Etsy
Entertainment — Metropolis
Makeup — Rebecca Selt
Ketubah — Ardyn Halters
Lighting — ASH Event Productions
Hair — Adrienne Revan