Photographers, Pen and Cam, from McKinley-Rodgers do classic elegant romance effortlessly, even the way they capture flowers perched in a mason jar is like something out of a modern fairytale.
Of course it helps when you are presented with an affair such as Ruth and David’s, a beautiful country garden estate, an abundance of sunshine and a bride and groom that positively exude the whole happy-ever-after.
Ruth’s floaty dress is to die for, and I am expecting plenty of Pinterest action for the coral colour scheme and fresh floral numbers.
And talking of florals….the blooms in general are deliciously dreamy…
HOW WE MET
Ruth, the Bride: David and I met at Manchester University – at a JSoc (Jewish Society) “Friday Night Fever”! We went out for a few months, broke up for 3 years, and then started going out again just as I was about to graduate. I moved to London, he stayed in Manchester for his PhD and, 5 years later, we got married!
FINDING OUR PERFECT VENUE
We did a lot of desk research for the “perfect” venue but many could not accommodate our needs. Essentially we were looking for a venue that wasn’t a hotel; allowed a kosher caterer; wasn’t too far from London; and could hold the number of guests we wanted to invite. Eventually, I started looking through the kosher caterers websites as they often post which venues they work in and found Northbrook Park that way.
The reason we ultimately chose Northbrook, apart from it being simply stunning, was that there was a great rain option. We didn’t want part of the room partitioned and a hasty change while our guests waited, we wanted something that felt purposeful and not like a Plan B. Northbrook had that – but we were thrilled that we didn’t have to use it in the end!
We ended up having a colour scheme, despite my not wanting one! The suppliers kept asking what our colours were and, eventually, we capitulated and fell on white, grey and coral. It did actually make our lives easier but we weren’t strict about it – we didn’t have a specific grey that the men had to wear; we didn’t want to overcomplicate matters!
OUR MAGNIFICENT WEDDING PLANNER
We hired a wedding planner, Andri Benson , who was just magnificent! She’s incredibly well-organised, friendly and very experienced. She even came with to a florist meeting, which was a godsend because it turns out that, despite admiring them, I can’t “talk” flower but Andri was able to translate my incoherent babblings into something productive.
BEAUTIFUL WEDDING STATIONERY CREATED BY A WONDERFUL FRIEND
Our invitation design was incredibly unique and we have Michael Rozenberg to thank for it! Mikey is a childhood friend of David’s and is a talented designer. We asked if he would design our wedding stationery as a present and it was one of the best things we did! It meant that our story was told throughout the engagement:
- the save the date cards featured both Dublin castle and the Turning Torso in Malmà¶ to link to our heritages, and Ales stenar – where Dave proposed
- the table name cards were called after our favourite restaurants and cafes
- everything had our “logo” – a ring encompassing 2 hearts. This is reflective of the necklace I wear everyday – the hearts are part of the original necklace and the ring is the one that David proposed with.
The way Mikey designed everything meant that we could also play around with it – we had the font, the specific colours and the images were all individual – so David was able to jigsaw together the cover for the benchers and make a few other pieces last minute too. Very useful!
We had everything printed at the Kisharon Print Shop – they have incredibly competitive prices, quick turn-around, the inset for the benchers, and are really friendly!
My dress was called Jacinda from the Watters collection. When I started looking for my dress, I had no idea what style, shape, length etc. I wanted so the first few appointments I made, I would just try on everything! I started to realise that I didn’t want anything too structured, complicated or heavy. We were planning a relaxed, informal, “pretty” wedding and I wanted my dress to reflect that. Belinda, David’s brother’s girlfriend, took me to Agape Bridal Boutique in Manchester – probably my ninth or tenth shop in total – and Jacinda was the first one I tried on. We both looked at each other and couldn’t believe it. I managed to find a stockist in London – London Bride Couture – who were incredibly helpful and even offered a 10% discount when I bought it! I love it’s effortless elegance, the delicate beading and the way the tuile strips float out when I spun around.
HAIR + MAKE UP
Andri sent me the names of a few hairdressers and I picked Jo at LoveHair – her style was the closest to what I was imagining: loose, pretty, elegant but not stiff. I went to her house for a test and we quickly found my style – a twisted, curly up-do with lots of texture. Jo was amazing on the day and was incredibly professional and friendly. I cannot recommend her more highly!
For make-up, I used Carrie Kaye who was fantastic! She’s my sister’s friend and has been a make-up artist for a number of years now and understood what I wanted despite my not being able to fully articulate myself (Pinterest was my saviour throughout this whole wedding process – I’m more visual than I thought previously!). The make-up was not over the top but elegant and lasted the whole night. I don’t wear much make-up usually and I wanted to look like me, but a really great version of me, at the wedding. Carrie completely understood that and I could not have asked for better.
I hated trying on the veil whenever I was in a shop – it felt so restrictive – so I just borrowed my sister’s. I wore my diamond stud earrings, passed down from my Grandma and at the last minute I borrowed a pretty bracelet from my friend (thanks Lainie!). The dress really spoke for itself and didn’t need much embellishment so simple stud earrings and a thin bracelet were perfect.
Again, this was fate. I had checked out a few shoes on the John Lewis website and dragged my younger sister to the shop on Oxford Street. The first pair I tried on were the perfect pair: the heel isn’t too high, they have a cut out on the side, they’re peep toe (great for summer) and they have a little bit of shimmering lace around the toe. Simple, understated but really pretty and, most importantly, super comfortable! I even got compliments from strangers in the shop when I was trying them on.
One of the best things about the ceremony was that it was outside! All week and even on the day, the forecast was for rain but not a drop fell.
My favourite part of the ceremony was looking out at all our friends and family – I’m so glad we faced them! I would have missed some beaming smiles and hilarious tears had we been facing the other way. Our rabbi spoke from the heart and even incorporated a WB Yeats’ poem into his speech and my rabbi and chazan from Dublin did sterling jobs!
We asked our florist, Grace and Thorn, to build our chuppah. We hoped the ceremony could be outside so we wanted something to reflect that and match the surroundings at Northbrook Park. They’d never built a chuppah before but we showed them a photo of a birch chuppah on Pinterest and they ran from there!
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
We all walked down the aisle to Mitachat l’Shamayim by David Broza – a beautiful song which talks about “one complete unit together perfect and great”. I don’t remember what the trio played afterwards but we were danced out by our friends and the happiness was palpable!
THE HANDSOME GROOM
Dave’s not a big fan of wearing suits but he looks amazing in them! His brother and best man, Josef, came to London one weekend to help him find his outfit. I think they went to 7 different shops but it was already at number 3 that he found “the one” – a beautiful Ted Baker suit from Selfridges. He doesn’t need to do much to be handsome and he looked phenomenal on the day. He wore a white shirt, a crocheted coral tie and a white handkerchief in his breast pocket.
Our dads and brothers wore grey suits and coral ties – crocheted ones for the brothers, silk ties for the dads.
BRIDESMAIDS AND OUR GORGEOUS FLOWER GIRL
My two sisters were my bridesmaids and I didn’t know what they were going to wear at first – they have such different tastes and styles. After a lot of internet research and 4 or 5 different appointments, we came across The Dress Consultants. I loved the styles that they have, particularly the Amsale dresses. I don’t think you can get Amsale anywhere else in London and they were just what I was looking for – simple, elegant (you get the drift now!). Miraculously, my sisters chose the same dress as their favourite but one preferred long and the other short – perfect! The dress came in coral – what more could I ask for?!
My 2 year old niece was our flower girl – she had just learnt how to walk but hadn’t yet mastered throwing petals but she was the star of the show!
Grace and Thorn did a wonderful job. We asked for a lot and they delivered on every level. We had:
- small jars of flowers hanging off the sides of the aisle chairs at the chuppah
- the chuppah dressed in white with flowers at the top corners and bases
- the men had buttonholes – with Dave’s being coral where the others had white
- the bridesmaids’ bouquets were similar to mine but a bit smaller
All had a mixture of flowers but included ranunculus – one of my favourite flowers.
The table centrepieces were a mixture of different jars of flowers (some re-used from the chuppah aisle chairs so not to waste) and each table also had a different pot of herbs – basil, rosemary, thyme, lemon-thyme. These were offered to the guests as favours at the end of the evening.
OUR AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHERS
I still cannot get over how we found McKinley-Rodgers, our photographers. I was looking through my wedding Pinterest board and clicked on a link for a bouquet to find out what the flowers were and it took me to their site. I started to look through their pictures and thought they’d be perfect for us but presumed they weren’t UK based. When I saw that they were, I emailed straight away and pencilled them in for our date. We met them initially for an engagement shoot and we knew we’d made the right choice. We fell in love with Pen and Cam immediately (we bonded over a shared love of cake) and, despite both David and myself being rather awkward in front of the camera, they managed to put us at ease from the get-go.
All our guests loved them and they managed to put everyone at ease. They didn’t mess around with the family shots – we got through them quickly and efficiently which meant we could also enjoy the canapà© reception!
One of the best things, though, is their short video. We didn’t want a 3 hour film that no-one would ever want to sit through but Mckinley-Rodgers offer a 4 or 5 minute video which captures the highlights but most importantly the mood and atmosphere. They microphoned each speaker, filmed certain clips and put it all together in an incredibly moving way.
CATERING AND DESSERT
We wanted a ‘meaty’ wedding and, in our opinion, it is difficult to have a pretty, tasty, parev cake, so we chose to have a fabulous dessert from our caterers, Philip Small, (instead of wedding cake) and absolutely no one was left hungry after the feast they had put on!
We wanted a good band but we were not willing to a) spend a small fortune on it or b) willing to put up with some of the simcha bands requests. Some insisted on outfit changes, stages, specific lighting… We wanted a band who could play some Israeli music, some contemporary, some stuff in between and not be divas. I don’t remember how, but I found Ambassador and they were more than we could have hoped for. Geoff, the band leader, was so helpful and friendly and unlike other band managers who I found pushy. He organised the trip to play at the chuppah and our friends are still talking about the Israeli singer for the simcha dancing! He was amazing! They really got the crowd going and had a really varied yet contemporary repertoire. They didn’t require a stage (thankfully – Northbrook’s Orangery isn’t huge and that would have taken up a lot of dancing space) and were really reasonably priced.
Our first dance was Moondance by Van Morrison. We didn’t want anything too slow and soppy but something we could actually dance a bit to. And it really was a marvellous night for a moondance!
PHOTO BOOTH FUN!
We had a photo booth with vintage props. The reason we went with Just Pose for the booth was because our guests could get unlimited prints – most companies only offer 2 prints (one for the bride/groom, one for the friends – but what happens when people go in the booth in a group? Who gets the print then?). They also had cool props (no big wigs etc) and had someone manning the booth the whole evening and getting people to stick one copy of the photos into a book. That was a bit of a surprise to us – we hadn’t thought much about the book – but we love it now!
A MOVING SPEECH BY THE GROOM’S MOTHER
One of the most moving parts of the evening was the surprise speech Sonja, David’s mum, gave. She had told us that she wanted to say something but she wouldn’t say what. We were a little concerned about what she was going to do but we need not have been.
It turned out that 34 years ago, almost to the day, when Sonja and Awi (Dave’s dad) got married, Awi’s mum presented Sonja with a gold locket. Sonja was passing this on to me with a caveat – I have to pass it on to our first-born son’s wife when the time comes.
The most amazing part was how much our family and friends enjoyed themselves. We had been warned beforehand that the day will get away from us and will be over before we know it – so make sure to take time to be in the moment. David was really good about doing this and it meant that we’d just take a few moments out to stop and savour everything. Our Swedish and Irish family friends taught each other to say “cheers” in their native tongues (and get quite drunk along the way!), our friends ensured we were the centre of attention and our whole team (photographers, make-up and hair stylists, florists, band, wedding planner, caterers) all worked together seamlessly to ensure everything ran smoothly and to the highest degree possible.
The night ended with a sparkler send-off. The perfect ending to the perfect day. Oh, and Northbrook Park has a gorgeous lodge for the bridal couple to stay in.
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
- I would definitely recommend a wedding planner – you don’t want to have to think/care about anything on the day apart from having fun!
- All the work you put in is worth it – research, meet suppliers, get advice from trusted friends but find your own groove. I can’t tell you how much Pinterest helped!
- Have comfortable shoes (I bought a pair of Flossys for when I tired of heels but I actually went barefoot in the Orangery – I loved their stone floor!)
- Try not to get stressed over it – it’s just a day and it’s the marriage that counts. A friend said to me that he hoped that it was the saddest day of our lives – there are so many more amazing things to look forward to!
- Have a really good rain option if you’re thinking of having it outdoors.
RUTH + DAVID’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photographer — McKinley-Rodgers
Wedding Planner — Andri Benson
Venue — Northbrook Park
Catering — Philip Small
Bride’s Dress — London Bride Couture
Bride’s Shoes — John Lewis
Make up — Carrie Kaye
Hair — Jo at LoveHair
Groom’s attire — Ted Baker
Bridesmaids — The Dress Consultants
Florals — Grace and Thorn
Entertainment — Ambassador
Stationery — Michael Rozenberg
Printing — Kisharon Print Shop
Photo Booth — Just Pose
Sparklers — FireworkCrazy.com
Kippot — Cool Kippahs
Ketubah — Etsy