When I first looked through these Jew-ish wedding images submitted by the legendary Laura Babb I was doing a little happy dance over every detail…
Smashing a piñata instead of a glass? SQUEAL! Derelict crumbling chapel for a Jew-ish ceremony venue? HOLY MOLY! Vivienne Westwood glittery red shoes? HOT DAMN! A colourful mariachi band ? WHOA! A DJ outfit called the Wedding Smashers WOW! I mean this wedding is just begging to be blogged on Smashing the Glass!
Aside from being an amazing day full of fun, laughter, heart and joy, and apart from being documented by the outrageously talented (read major photographer crush) Laura Babb, one of the things that I love most about this wedding is that the couple tried their hardest to source everything from local suppliers in their area of South East London.
These two also nailed it when it came to combining both of their cultures — they explain it in full detail below — but essentially they stayed true to their values and vision, and created a day where everyone felt part of the celebration. A pre-dinner talk by Rabbi Lionel Blue on mixed-faith couples was an impactful part of the day too.
And what else do I absolutely adore about this union? The fact that Missy and Yoni merged their two maiden names together to create a brand new hybrid supername for themselves as a married couple. Inspirational or what? They explained, “Having the same surname was important to us, but we knew from the start that it didn’t work for us to take one or the other name either, especially as we really believe in the idea of merging cultures and traditions. Luckily we both have one-syllable names so we decided to just put them together to create a hybrid supername – Higgsmith! From a very unscientific piece of Google research we believe that we are the only Higgsmiths in the world at the moment.”
These two are an STG couple through and through! Let’s hear all about their ‘I Do’ from them both.
KEEPING IT LOCAL AND KEEPING IT PERSONAL
Missy, the Bride, and Yoni, the Groom: We originally had our hearts set on the Battersea Barge, a static boat in Vauxhall, London as we could see the actual boat that we met on just down the river from it and we liked the idea of keeping to the boat theme in general. Our guest list ended up getting too big and six months before the wedding we were desperately looking for new venues on a derelict buildings website as everything else was booked up! We found the Asylum Arts, a de-consecrated crumbling church in the middle of Peckham and instantly fell in love with it. It was especially good for us as we live in and love South East London. One of the lovely things about it, apart from the beautiful setting was that you can use all your own suppliers and be really individual – something I was finding difficult with many venues in the wedding machine.
On the same day we went for a pizza at one of our favourite places in Deptford, the Big Red Pizza Bus and realised it was the perfect place for an after party. It’s a really individual space built around an old London bus with lots of room for dancing or sitting or even smashing a few more pinatas. We served pizzas and bruschetta for our evening food which went down really well.
A mexican / travel theme
We went teaching and travelling in Mexico ten days after the wedding and broadly had a Mexican/travel theme. We had bunting made out of old maps (hours of work by my dad and sister), the table place names were hand-drawn pictures of places that meant a lot to us during our time together, we found a lot of old globes and suitcases to dot around the place. Yon’s family surprised us with a mariachi band and singalong during the speeches which was one of the highlights!
VERY PERSONAL WEDDING STATIONERY
We sent save the date postcards with an image from our first weekend away to Prague. Prague means a lot to us, my engagement ring is vintage garnets from Bohemia which Yon sourced and had designed into a ring. The invitations were fun fold out maps in the travel theme with old fashioned train tickets slotted inside. We had a lot of fun choosing the designs which were put together by a friend who is a graphic designer.
A VINTAGE 1950’S LOOK
Nicky from vintage salon “Pretty Pout” came up from Brighton to do hair and make-up. I’d wanted a plain dress but show-stopping hair and she helped to create what I could only describe as a structure of 1950s inspired rolls. I absolutely loved and didn’t want to take out when it was all over. We went with 1950s hollywood-style eyeliner and red lipstick to match the shoes.
TWO FABULOUS DRESSES
My dress was from Ghost. I’d been looking at it online for ages and couldn’t find a vintage version of it. One day a couple of my bridesmaids and I popped in to John Lewis and tried it on and I knew I wouldn’t find anything else like it so I bought it with our engagement present gift vouchers – it only ended up costing us £40! In the evening I changed into a 1950s vintage day dress from House of Vintage on Brick Lane – I wore it to get legally married in at Lewisham Registry office the Tuesday before, it helps to change at the end of the night as it can be impossible getting across the dance floor in a white dress.
When I saw bright red glittery skycrapers from Vivienne Westwood called “Melissa” (Missy’s actual name) there could be no other shoe for me, despite not actually being able to walk in them for that long on the day and stealing one of my bridesmaids shoes at one point so that I could dance…
One of the thing I’ve loved about my friends recent weddings is the opportunity to get your best friends together and have an excuse to hang out more than you’d usually do when work and life takes over. My bridesmaids were all amazingly supportive and generous with their time in the lead up to the day. They wore dresses from vintage reproduction shop, Collectif – we decided on three styles so that everyone could choose something that they felt good in. Pretty Pout did 1950s and 1940s hair styles of their choice for them too, they looked absolutely beautiful.
A BESPOKE SUIT FOR THE GROOM
Yon had a bespoke suit made for him in a vintage style. He had our new surname embroidered in to the lining and went with a tan waistcoat and blue shirt. He chose tan braces and bow ties or neckerchiefs for both his male and female ushers.
A CEREMONY WITH A MIX OF JEWISH AND SECULAR VALUES
When it came to our ceremony we tried to include everything that we believed in and leave out anything that we didn’t understand or didn’t agree with. As our ceremony was a mix of Jewish and secular values — broadly a Jewish structure with humanist content – we tried to honour both of our cultures the best we could. Our Rabbi was amazingly accommodating and creative and that made it much easier for us to create something that really spoke to both of us. We said secular vows that we wrote ourselves in Hebrew and in English, and asked family members to create 7 blessings for us inspired by the Sheva Brachot. We also had our vows put together in a ketubah-style document to sign as part of the ceremony and added a blessing for equal marriage over wine.
Yoni’s best-woman, artist Rutie Borthwick, put our chuppah together for us as a surprise with help from Yoni’s family who have been making paper cranes for years – our only brief was “colourful and special” and we were so delighted with the result.
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
Yoni’s usher, Marc Finer, is a cantor, and we walked in to our ceremony to him singing Erev Shel Shoshanim and Dodi Li. In the de-consecrated church the ambiance was perfect for acapella singing. Melissa’s bridesmaid and singer Carly Bond sang Moon River for us during our contract signing which was beautiful and relevant as we’d met on a boat on the river Thames. We walked out of the ceremony to Crawled out of the sea by Laura Marling for a bit of fun.
Yoni’s usher Aprylle Stuart is a props maker and created the pià±ata for our take on breaking the glass: bashing a colour-filled pià±ata with sticks at the end while bridesmaids set off confetti cannons. It really added a lot of fun to the ceremony after our teary personal vows.
OUR INCREDIBLE PHOTOGRAPHER
One of the things we really wanted to invest in was photography. We met through it (Yon was taking pictures for a band on the Thamesis Dock Boat) and wanted to make sure we had amazing pictures for memories. We searched around a lot and eventually found Laura Babb who was absolutely outstanding, we couldn’t recommend her enough. She takes beautifully personal photos that are fun and quirky and really captures the detail and emotion. The support that she gave us in the planning and engagement shoot made it much easier to enjoy the day without feeling self conscious or having to chase people around on the day to get them in family shots. She also runs things like a facebook group for like-minded couples to ask advice or recommendations – a godsend when people you actually know are a bit fed up of talking bunting.
We tried to use as many local South East London businesses as possible, which lead us to choosing Mike and Ollie as our caterers. They run a legendary street food stall at Brockley and Deptford markets and forage a lot of their ingredients locally. They were superstar caterers and dealt superbly with all the emergencies and run-overs in time. Our “food tasting” consisted of us going to the market and stuffing our faces with mackerel wraps on a bench.
FLOWERS FROM COLUMBIA ROAD MARKET
Bridesmaid Anna got up at the crack of dawn and raided Columbia Road flower market for the flowers. The bridesmaids created a little pop up florists while we were getting our hair and makeup done and made bouquets for themselves (which turned into table flowers), for me and for our young nieces. They also made buttonholes for the ushers.
HOME-MADE PRE-DINNER COCKTAILS
One of my bridesmaids, Drew, made the pre-dinner cocktails – lavender infused gin and earl grey drinks, herself, and also supplied all the wine from the company she works for, She even ran an informal wine tasting at her house for us which was really fun.
We chose bee-friendly seeds with a funny picture of Victorian dancing people which we could customise with our names and date from Wildflower Favours. We liked the idea of lots of flowers growing after our wedding and obviously it’s important to save the bees! Yon had little whiskey bottles engraved with a quote for each of his ushers, and jewellery for the lady ushers. I arranged to have floral dressing gowns made for my bridesmaids to get ready in – weddings are a good excuse to buy presents for the people you love.
Our First Dance was Inner O by Dems, it has a fun break down at the end so we could invite everyone to the dance floor to celebrate. A DJ friend had asked the band to record an intro especially for us which was really cool. We hired The Wedding Smashers for our evening DJs and couldn’t recommend them enough, especially as they stood firm in the face of requests from my mum for Love Shack…
A family friend of Yon, Rabbi Lionel Blue, spoke before dinner about mixed faith couples – his speech was incredibly special and one of the highlights of the day, along with the performances from Yon’s family that were truly something else. My favourite part of the day, after the ceremony, were the speeches – I love a good speech and everyone who spoke did us proud.
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES & grooms
I find it a bit difficult to give advice as we had a mix in the lead up from “make sure everyone else is happy” to “It’s your wedding, do whatever the hell you like” and it can all be a bit confusing! I think in the end you have to make value judgments about your day and make sure everything you do works with how you intend to go forward in life as a couple – for us that meant making sure that our cultures were merged fully in everything we did, which took a lot of thought, but was so worth it.
MISSY + YONI’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Laura Babb
Ceremony Venue — Asylum Arts
Reception Venue — The Big Red Pizza Bus
Bride’s Dress — Ghost
Bride’s Shoes — Vivienne Westwood Anglomania / Melissa
Hair + Make up — Pretty Pout
Bridesmaid’s Dresses — Collectif
Groom’s Attire — Moss Bespoke
Caterers — Mike and Ollie
DJ — The Wedding Smashers
Chuppah – a collaboration between artist Rutie Borthwick + designer Mike Kann
Stationery — Destill
Flowers — Columbia Flower Market