Back garden weddings always look so cosy, warm and welcoming and today’s is no exception. There are so many things that I like about this wedding — the homely setting is perfect and I love all the budget-friendly DIY ideas from the quotes attached to the drinks straws, to the colourful photo booth / guest book idea, to the pashminas on hand to warm up the guests – so very thoughtful! Rachel and Davids’ families and friends look like a really lovely, happy group of people, and it’s an overall joy to view this wedding through the eyes of their truly fantastic photographer, Dominique Bader.
Rachel and David met when she was invited to his 30th birthday party by mutual friends. She didn’t know that there was a theme (1980s TV and films) and that he would be dressed up as Tom Cruise from Top Gun in a flight suit. The first thing he asked, after looking at her non-costume, was who she had come dressed as. Twenty minutes later she gave him a delayed response and did an impression of the car voice from Knight Rider. They didn’t stop talking from that moment onwards…
VENUE AND THEME
Rachel, the Bride: The wedding was at my parents’ house where I grew up. It was funny how Friday evening dinner at my parents also became about going to see the venue! The house has a beautiful garden so we simply went with a garden party theme and picked a colour palette of soft greens, whites and pale pinks. I think it’s good to have a loose colour scheme to help create a cohesive look, but one shouldn’t be too worried about it — guests brings the colour and in our case, my 4 year old nephew Theo decided to wear a Fireman Sam costume in pillar box red!
GARDEN PARTY THEMED INVITATION DESIGN
The invitation design process was the unique part! I was writing about design at the time and have always been fascinated by print. I also thought that the invitation sets the tone of the wedding and searched for a long time for existing garden party themed designs that felt right for us.
I ended up appointing Australian graphic designer Tabitha Bray (who I discovered through a blog) to design a bespoke floral motif and illustrated map. Closer to home, graphic designer Rebecca Leggett created the most beautiful calligraphy for the main invitation and printed the invitation suite in Dorset. Paperless Post might have been an easier route, but we loved the end result.
A CHAMPAGNE COLOURED JENNY PACKHAM DRESS AND VEIL
My dress and veil were by Jenny Packham – it truly feels decadent to wear one of her dresses. She uses the most gorgeous silk and beading and it just feels very special. I have pale skin and definitely found that champagne colour was the way to go rather than white. I was actually deciding between two of her dresses — one felt very 1930s and had intricate lace, but the other made me feel like dancing around the garden barefoot, so I chose that one. My veil also by Jenny Packham had a trim that matched the dress. It put us a little over budget, but a less expensive option I found had an odd fabric and I felt claustrophobic wearing it.
I’m a flats girl so I went down that route for my shoes — ballet slippers in the same champagne colour as the dress from John Lewis.
My two bridesmaids wore pale pink dresses from Topshop and bought some gold ribbon to create belts.
CEREMONY AND KETUBAH
I loved the signing of the ketubah before the ceremony and seeing David’s reaction when I came down the stairs. About half our guests hadn’t been to a Jewish wedding before and I felt that that the Rabbi was so inclusive when explaining the symbolism. It all felt very warm. I also welled up a bit when my brother did the blessings over the wine and challah before the meal.
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
David’s good friend Ben played a classical piece from The English Patient called Convento Di Sant’Anna. The piece is not especially challenging to play (or at least that’s what our talented friend – who studied at a renowned music conservatoire – told us), but it is beautiful without sounding sombre. Also, David vetoed Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ so we needed another option!
After the ceremony, we walked from the chuppah to the reception to “I do” by The Marvelows, which makes us want to leap around with joy. An LA photographer’s wedding inspired our choice.
THE DAPPER GROOM
David looked so great in a tailored suit from Cad & the Dandy. He wore a cotton blue tie that we got together a year before the wedding which looks the opposite of a ‘going to the office’ tie.
We both felt that it might be fun to build a chuppah. Friend and interior designer, Sarah Berry and graphic designer Rebecca Leggett helped us come up with ideas and we settled on silver birch trees with ribbons and olive branches. My mum walked past four silver birch trunks in a design agency window and brazenly asked if they could lend them to us. One of the funnier moments of the wedding planning was driving a van from Marylebone to Mill Hill with four dead trees in the back! Sarah and Rebecca constructed the chuppah and used moss and sandbags to weigh it down.
BEAUTIFUL NATURAL FLOWERS
The amazing Annie at Pollen Nation created very natural centre pieces, including avalanche cream roses, eucalyptus and even rosemary. She also used similar flowers to decorate the wedding cake. The marquee we chose had open sides so the garden was part of the dà©cor, which meant we could take a subtle approach when it came to the flowers which helped to keep costs down.
VEGETARIAN MENU + CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL ICING
Rare caterers served vegetarian food and the cake was made by Violet Cakes in Hackney. We ordered two large chocolate cakes with salted caramel buttercream icing, which they delivered on the day, and the florist decorated with flowers. A slice at midnight was yum.
ALL SORTS OF ENTERTAINMENT
David plays guitar and especially loves live music. We asked the Django Reinhardt inspired trio, Viper’s Dream to play as guests arrived and during the reception. The gypsy jazz sounded like a Woody Allen soundtrack. We then asked Amy Newton to sing covers from Adele to the Rolling Stones with her band. She’s my friend’s cousin and after hearing her play at my friend’s wedding, we just had to ask her. My friend Julian DJ’d afterwards.
DIY DECOR IDEAS TO DIE FOR…
Sarah and Rebecca came up with some fun, inexpensive options:
– We created a DIY photo booth by purchasing a couple of polaroid cameras from PhotoJoJo. Sarah and Rebecca then attached florist ribbons to create a colourful backdrop and we had a guest book for guests to paste their photos and write a message.
– We bought striped straws for the reception drinks and and Sarah typed and attached. funny and meaningful quotes to them from books we love (as well as a line from When Harry Met Sally).
– We thought a whisky bar might be fun so we set up a table with my great grandmother’s tablecloth and bottles of Auchentoshan Three Wood.
– My mum and I haggled to score 25 pashminas for the price of 20 from an Oxford Street stand for when guests felt a chill late in the evening. Sarah and Rebecca used my mum’s old picnic hamper to display them.
– Rebecca also made wooden wedding signage — she ended up using Tippex instead of paint as apparently it worked better.
– Rebecca designed all the table settings. We chose to name the tables after places that were important to David and I. With hindsight, it was a little random, so perhaps we could have indicated better why the places were important.
– My mum can do calligraphy so we sourced the place names and sheet of card for the seating plan from an art shop and she painstakingly wrote each name while I provided the snacks.
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
– Invite friends to be involved on the day and contribute their talents and expertise
– One of my main aims was to make our guests feel as comfortable as possible. This means don’t let your guests starve or feel cold or sit through uber long speeches.
– My Dad said he that he would be in charge of the weather and the wine. I was very worried about the weather — and yes, it did rain a bit as guests arrived. I recommend buying a few bright pink umbrellas from Ikea for guests if needed. At £2.50 each, they’re a bargain.
– To lower costs, not everything has to have a ‘wedding’ label on it. eg. a cake doesn’t have to be a ‘wedding cake’ and can just be a delicious large cake.
– You are unlikely to carry a handbag so ask a bridesmaid or someone at your table to carry your lipstick. I left mine somewhere and didn’t reapply the whole day and nobody thought I was wearing any makeup.
– We didn’t have budget left for a videographer, but our friend Audrey made a 10-minute short from her iPhone. The app she used created a fantastic Super 8 old film effect.
– Don’t have your wedding on the same day as a Wimbledon final. We were lucky that Murray lost last year and only won this year, since several guests (the groom included) would have had to miss the ceremony otherwise!
RACHEL + DAVID’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue — Bride’s home, North London
Photography — Dominique Bader
Bride’s Dress and Veil — Jenny Packham
Groom’s Suit — Cad & the Dandy
Bridesmaids Dresses — Topshop
Florals — Pollen Nation
Hair — Zoe Norris
Makeup — Victoria Eastman
Event + Graphic Design — Sarah Berry & Rebecca Leggett
Event Management/ Sound and Lighting — Peachy Productions
Catering — Rare
Wedding cake — Violet Cakes
Band — Viper’s Dream
Singer — Amy Newton
Marquee — 10×15
How catchy is “I do” by The Marvelows, the song that the gorgeous couple walked from the chuppah to the reception to? Awesome choice! I also love that Rachel’s mum noticed four silver birch trunks that would make perfect chuppah poles, in a design agency window and asked if they could be used for her daughter’s wedding. More often than not, if you only just ask, people are only too delighted to help. Some fab budget-friendly DIY ideas and advice from our beautiful bride too.
What great wedding songs have you seen / heard / had played at your wedding? Let me know in the comments below! Meanwhile thank you to the wonderful Rachel and David for sharing your beautiful wedding story with us all.