Alternative, Real Weddings
An Unconventional London Wedding with a Bus Tour
26.03.2013

RACHAEL&KIERAN-1296

Rachael and Kieran wanted to skip conventions for their January London based wedding. They spent the night before their wedding together, got ready together and had pre wedding drinks and photographs taken. A concept i totally love.

They had a tour of their favourite London spots on a Routemaster bus, starting with a drinks reception at their house in Battersea, they then held their ceremony at Chelsea Old Town Hall and moved onto their reception at Union Club, Soho.

Rachael looked so very beautiful in her Tiffany Rose maternity dress, fake fur shrug and purple shoes. While Kieran opted for a Hugo Boss navy three piece suit and floral Liberty print tie, they looked amazing.

I aodre the polka dot bridesmaid dresses, the illustrated table plan and that amazing Choccywoccydoodah cake.

Thanks so much to the incredible Marshal Gray for sharing his images with us today.

 

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The Proposal…. Kieran proposed whilst we were walking the West Highland Way in Scotland (a 95 mile walk between Glasgow and Fort William) in April 2012. We love the outdoors, beautiful views and long distance walking so it was very fitting that Kieran proposed during this holiday. It was a gloriously sunny day, we had made good time and we sat high above The Bridge of Orchy, a tiny hamlet we were staying in that night, enjoying the view when Kieran popped the question!

We were keen to get married fairly quickly and organised our wedding for the following January. A few days after booking our wedding we found out I was pregnant.  At the time we were rather blasé and decided to go ahead with the wedding, assuming that a wedding when I was over 8 months pregnant would be easy… It all turned out fine on the day, although our daughter Edith Scarlett Drake caught us a bit unaware and arrived 3 weeks early and just 3 days after our wedding! I think there is a chance that we have the record for the shortest ever honeymoon at 12 hours!

The Vision for the day…. As we were getting married in London we wanted to embrace the city and show it off to those travelling from overseas and other parts of the UK and also make it a fun and memorable experience for the Londoners (of whom there were many as Kieran is originally from Islington and we’ve lived together in Battersea for over 4 years).

We decided to combine some traditional London elements (an old Routemaster bus, a bus tour past the major London sights) with some places that mean a lot to us (Battersea Park for photos and Chelsea Old Town Hall for the ceremony, which are near to where we live) with a really fun and quirky venue for the reception, the Union Club, a private members club in Soho. We thought that the Union Club was much more special than a pub or restaurant and many people were really intrigued to see inside a private Soho club and it was a brilliant venue – we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

We also were keen to focus on having a relaxed and fun day rather than follow convention, so we spent the night before the wedding together at home, got ready together on the morning of the wedding, invited guests to our house beforehand for champagne, had the photos before the ceremony to take advantage of limited winter light, skipped some of the formal aspects of the day like receiving lines and favours etc but kept the fun bits like the speeches and the first dance.

The Planning process…. Once we’d decided on the venues (which took a while!) the planning process was fairly straightforward. We had a clear idea of the type of wedding we wanted, it was just a case of thinking everything through, compiling a monster spreadsheet and getting on with it, although it took a bit of organising as we were holding the day over 3 venues and needed to transport guests from Battersea to Chelsea to Soho.

I loved every minute of it and was so pleased to have the opportunity to do it. At times we wondered if it might have been more sensible to have postponed the wedding until our daughter was born but we’re so glad we hadn’t delay the wedding as it would have been even harder to make time for all the little details which helped to make the day special with a small baby….

The Venue… We wanted to start the day informally and give guests and friends as much time as possible to mingle so we started with a drinks reception at our house in Battersea for the guests coming to the ceremony. We were picked up from there by a beautiful old red Routemaster Bus, which took us to Battersea Park for some photos – we love Battersea Park and cycle through it daily so were so pleased that we had a gloriously sunny day and were able to have photos there.

From there we went to Chelsea Old Town Hall on the Kings Road for the ceremony, which was just beautiful and a short walk from our house, which was why we were particularly keen to get married there. We only had a small ceremony but lots of our friends who were coming to the reception met us outside the registry office and travelled with us on the bus to Soho.

We held a reception for 80 people at the Union Club, which is a private members club in a beautiful Georgian Town House on Greek Street, Soho. We loved the quirky decor, the attentive staff, superb food and the fact we could hire the whole venue.  All our guests loved it and we were so pleased we chose it- it felt special and very different from any other reception venue we’d seen.

The Dress + Accessories… I bought my dress from Cloud 9 in Cheam in Surrey, it specialises in maternity wedding dresses and I chose a Tiffany Rose dress (the Alaya short dress).

My accessories were a mix of old and new.  I wore purple shoes and a fake fur shrug, which I originally wore when I was a bridesmaid to Becky (one of my bridesmaids), who has great taste. The broach I wore was a vintage restored piece by Kelly Spence and was also a gift from Becky.  My head piece was from Ivory and Co, my bag from Accessorise and my lovely vintage lace clothes were from a Vintage Wedding Fair held at Battersea Arts Centre. I also had a pair of sparkly ballet pumps from Dune to wear for dancing later on!

Finding the dress…. I had my heart set on a vintage 1950s, short, clinched at the waist dress with a big skirt (think Madmen’s Betty Draper), which I thought would be fun but had to revise my expectations when I found out I was pregnant.  Unfortunately none of the vintage shops I’d been looking at could help with maternity dresses but the dress I chose was just lovely and was as near as possible to my original idea  – it had a vintage look and the short skirt was fun and had a good amount of ‘swishiness’!

Groom’s attire… Hugo Boss navy three piece suit (he loved the waistcoat!) and a floral tie from Liberty.

The Readings + Music…. My brother played me down the aisle to Bob Dylan ‘Make you feel my love’ – Kieran is a huge Dylan fan and wanted some of his music to feature in the ceremony. My brother played us out to All You Need is Love.

We chose Khalil Gibral’s On Marriage as a reading, which was read by one of our best friends Amy Lincoln. We loved the idea that a marriage is made stronger by remembering and embracing the fact that you are both individuals.

Beautiful bridesmaids… I had 4 beautiful bridesmaids. Becky and Becky wore fantastic navy and white polka dot, 1950s dresses with clichéd waists and big skirts (with fabulous red petticoats) – basically the style of dress I would have chosen for myself had I not been 8 months pregnant! Michelle and Charissa, who were also both pregnant wore slightly more forgiving dresses in matching navy and white polka dots and all four wore bright red stiletto heels. All of the dresses were from Vivien of Holloway Road and the shoes were from Marks and Spencers.

The Flowers… We opted for simple but beautiful white flowers throughout – with bouquets, button holes and a garland which lined the length of the Union Club staircase. The flowers were done by our friend Anna Day who co-runs the Flower Appreciation Society (who were recently featured in the Independent, see: http://www.independent.co.uk/property/gardening/a-cut-above-how-ellie-and-anna-became-experts-in-lacy-ammi-english-lilacs-and-witchy-hellebores-8483773.html?origin=internalSearch

The Cake… The cake was one of the first things we chose and we knew in advance that it was likely to be from the wonderful Choccywochhydoodah as I had long admired their cakes!  We had great fun choosing the style of the cake and the flavours with Kieran’s dad David (he and I both share a great love of cake and all things sweet).

Your Photographer…. Choosing a photographer was one of the hardest things we did as we knew we wanted someone with a quirky and individual style and initially couldn’t find anyone whose style we liked. After lots of googling and looking at wedding blogs we came across Gary Lashmar (aka Marshall Gray) and loved his style of photography, which captured perfectly the look we wanted.

The Details + Decor…. For the champagne reception at our house, my Mum did a sterling job scouring charity shops for vintage champagne glasses and original Babycham glasses for all our 40 guests and sourcing stylish white plates and bowls for canapés. Our friend Amy who works for Transport for London made us a bespoke “London bus” poster with the route of our routemaster bus!

For the reception, we had a number of decorative details that we loved putting together and were helped by our talented friends. We named our tables after our favourite books and used the book covers and old London Pride beer bottles to make the table name holders.  A good friend and relative of mine is an illustrator drew a wonderful literary themed table plan for us (each table was displayed as an open book with guests names on one page and a quote from the book on the other page), surrounded by images inspired by the books.

We had framed black and white photos of our parents and grandparents weddings displayed at the reception. This also inspired us to put together two huge black and white photoboards with photos from all the many weddings we’ve been to over the years and lots of other photos of our friends, including with us as children, which everyone seemed to enjoy looking at.

I love sweets and rather than provide favours we organised a sweet buffet, which was a real hit! We bought far too many sweets at Makro, lots of glass jars, some pink and white stripped bags and lots of scoops.

The Honeymoon…. We originally wanted to go to Greenland but had to scale back our aspirations with a baby due 3 weeks after the wedding and opted for a cute and isolated National Trust cottage in Dorset instead. However 12 hours into the honeymoon I went into labour and we hot footed it back to London. The National Trust have very kindly said we can go back and continue the honeymoon later this year and we are going to Singapore and Malaysia for  our ‘proper honeymoon’ in July for one of our Best Men’s wedding.

Memorable moments… Walking out of Chelsea Town Hall to lots of cheering from our friends and family. Stopping the traffic on Albert Bridge so we could have our photo taken in the middle of the bridge. Having lots of people take photos of us in Soho as we walked from the bus to the Union Club. Feeling very lucky to have such a glorious day surrounded by everyone we love.

Advice for other couples… Planning does pay dividends, as does having wonderful friends and family  – we spent lots of time carefully planning the day (especially as it was spread over 3 venues) but then handed it over to our bridal party who took control of everything and ensured it all ran smoothly so we could relax and enjoy the day.

Credit where credit is due…

Photography: Marshal Gray

Reception venue: Union Club, 50 Greek Street, London www.unionclub.co.uk

Bride’s Dress: Cloud Nine

Bride’s Headpiece: Ivory and Co www.ivoryandcotiaras.co.uk

Groom’s Outfit: Hugo Boss suit (www.hugoboss.com) and Liberty tie (www.liberty.co.uk)

Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Vivien of Holloway www.vivienofholloway.com

Cake: Choccywoccydoodah www.choccywoccydoodah.com

Flowers: The Flower Appreciation Society www.theflowerappreciationsociety.co.uk

Hair: Teamworks, Battersea teamworkhair.co.uk

Transport: www.routemasterhire.com

Ahh just wonderful, i love the whole ethos behind this wedding day. Thanks so much to Rachael and Kieran for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today, and congratulations on your new arrival :-) I hope you get that honeymoon soon :-) XOXO Lou

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