I was so thrilled when the talented wedding dress designer, Sally Lacock, alerted me to Jessica & David’s unbelievably beautiful and creative Jewish wedding. I’m almost at a loss as to where to start when talking about it — I’m like a New Year’s Eve Catherine Wheel spinning off in a hundred and one different directions wanting to tell you about each and every one of the exquisite details that make up their Yorkshire Dales wedding (and it’s actually the first time I’ve featured a wedding from this corner of England (NB. Please submit more from this region!)
We’ve got floral crowns, a highly personalised ceremony, a patchwork chuppah made by all the couple’s friends and family, sewn together by the groom’s mum, and decorated with Yorkshire wild flowers, fantastic music choices, the smiliest bride I’ve ever seen, a “Balkanistic” boogie dance band, beautiful wild blooms, a jukebox filled with 100 of the couple’s favourite songs that guests played between sets and throughout the weekend, tipis, personal touches, and not surprisingly, it looks as if everyone had an absolute hoot judging from the beams on all the guests faces. Every picture is wonderfully happy and fun-filled and smiley and exactly what a wedding should be.
Bride Jessica’s report is a joy to read, and Alex Brenner‘s images will make you feel all warm inside and put a lovely big smile on your face. Without further ado I give you one of Smashing The Glass’s most immense weddings yet. Jessica and David, I take my hat off to you…
Searching for an outdoor, relaxed venue
Jessica, the Bride: We both live in London, but North Yorkshire is where I am from, and because we didn’t want to get married in some “anonymous” countryside hotel or venue somewhere outside of London we had no connection to, it made sense to look for places in Yorkshire.
The Bivouac was the first space we saw, we wanted to get married outdoors and have a very relaxed, joyful day where no one would feel out of place. And we loved that our entire wedding party stayed overnight on the Saturday evening before the wedding and the wedding night, in the huts and yurts owned by the Bivouac. We had pizza and wine for the girls in the bar, and the boys went to the local Masham brewery. Then on the Monday after the wedding we had a huge breakfast with everyone. It was one of the best decisions we made. Our actual wedding breakfast was in an enormous Kata tipi, from Tipi and Kata.
A theme loosely based around stories
Dave and I both studied English literature, we met at the university theatre and we both now work in arts and media, so stories was loosely our theme. Our wedding invitation, which was illustrated by my incredibly talented sister-in-law Miriam, was styled like a storybook, with a tree blooming and growing through seven pages folded in a concertina style — we have been together seven years and we got married on Sunday the seventh. The table names were our favourite book characters, from Jo March to William Brown to Phineas Fogg. The favours were vintage and second-hand books which we choose specifically for each guest, with personalised bookmarks, that was a massive undertaking.
An Edwardian-inspired dress by Sally Lacock
My dress was an Edwardian-style lace dress from Sally Lacock. She is just the most wonderful vintage-inspired designer, it was everything I wanted, pretty and laid-back, not too “princess”. Sally herself was a joy, there were a few places where the emphasis is on “transforming” the bride. I wanted to look like myself, only on a really, really, really good day, and Sally made it so.
Groom style — his outfit was organised just two weeks before the big day!
Dave actually only picked out his suit two weeks before. We can both tend to be quite disorganised and inevitably a lot of things about this wedding were last minute but I think that added to the spontaneous atmosphere! He bought the whole outfit from Fat Faced Cat vintage in Camden Passage, from the grey suit, to the navy knitted tie, to the Rupert Bear waistcoat. His mother Anna, who is a herbalist, made his gorgeous corsage.
Bridesmaids in yellow and gorgeous flower crowns
My bridesmaids were my sister Miranda and my best friend Alice. We actually originally thought of them wearing pink, but we loved the yellow TwoBirds dresses so much we had to pick them. They wore beautiful flower crowns from Blooming Yorkshire.
We spent a long time planning our ceremony, more than practically anything else. We don’t have a lot of Jewish friends, and we wanted to make sure the service was very meaningful and accessible for people watching, as well as for us. So we spent a long time studying the progressive service and we went to marriage classes at our synagogue too. We decided to split up the seven circles to make sure I walked around three times, then Dave did, then we went around each other. Our readings, which were from Dave’s father, my mother, my sister and Dave’s brother, were each on subjects they picked that came from their own interests, so for example Avi (Dave’s brother) is studying anthropology so his was an anthropological text, my sister’s was a reading from Margaret Atwood.
Our chuppah was made from pieces of fabric sent in from all the guests, who sent a small square with their RSVP. Some embroidered our initials, some sent in floral patterns, others from beloved jumpers or from children’s dresses. My bridesmaid Alice embroidered the tree from our wedding invitation onto her piece of fabric. Dave’s mother Anna stitched together all the pieces into a beautiful patchwork chuppah which is now hung on our living room wall. The structure was built in the pouring rain by the best men and my brothers-in-law the day before from local timber, and decorated by my friend Maret with local wildflowers from Blooming Yorkshire.
Music for the ceremony
We had a slightly unusual processional — our chazan sang Lecha Dodi to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.We had the traditional Siman Tov u Mazel Tov at the end too, but some of the most memorable moments was when we were signing the ketubah, the chazan sang Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu, a song we loved when we went on Taglit together, and one of our witnesses, Olivia we met on that trip with her husband, and the other song was Consider Yourself from Oliver, which was a huge surprise for me. We went to see the musical just after we got engaged and Dave had always joked he would have that as our first dance, because of the lyrics about being ‘one of the family’. So all the pictures of us signing the ketubah are me laughing so hard.
handpicked wild flowers
Jane Corbett from Blooming Yorkshire was our florist, bringing our lemon yellow, pink and peach ideas to some kind of coherence. The blooms are all grown in her massive wildflower garden and she brought buckets for us to put in jars all over the chuppah space, and the tipi tent. She also made the gorgeous bouquets and flower headbands.
A quiz and games during the reception
During the reception, where we drank Black Sheep ale (from the local brewery) and had cocktails, is we had games like lemon jousting and guess the sweets in the jars. Also, I’d love to give a mention to Ali, who was Dave’s best man, who ran an incredible pub quiz during the wedding breakfast.
Wonderful photography by a fantastic friend
Alex Brenner is a good friend of ours and a highly-sought after theatre and performance photographer. We were so grateful he agreed to do our wedding. Some of the photos were also taken by Dave’s half brother Lawrence, also a really talented photographer.
We had the Baghdaddies, a “Balkanistic” boogie dance band, and they were absolutely amazing, as you can see from all the insane sweaty dancing. They play klezmer but also a mash-up of lots of originals and other hits, and they have gigged all over the country, including with Bellowhead at the South Bank. So go and see them even if you don’t have them at a wedding! They learnt several klezmer songs just for us, the Hora went on for at least 20 mad minutes, and we ended up dancing outside on the terrace with them carrying their drums and instruments out into the moonlight. That was one of the most perfect moments for me.
We also had a Betterdaze jukebox filled with 100 of our favourite songs that guests played between sets and throughout the weekend.
Later we had a bonfire until the early hours and some of our wonderful friends played Dylan, Oasis and the Beatles on the guitar as we drank champagne from the bottles. And that was equally magical in it’s own way.
Jessica & David’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Alex Brenner
Venue + catering — The Bivouac, North Yorkshire
Bride’s dress — Sally Lacock
Groom’s Attire — Fat Faced Cat
Bridesmaids — twobirds
Flowers — Blooming Yorkshire
Entertainment — Baghdaddies
Jukebox — Betterdaze jukebox
Tipis — Tipi and Kata