Well well well, where to begin today? I am enthralled and excited by these divine images and their accompanying story today. You’re going to totally fall for the art deco, gatsby style, teamed with gold, sequins and a lot of love.
WWW readers Claire and Matt were married on the 29th July 2016 at Belfast City Hall followed by a roaring party at The Empire Music Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A personal day surrounded by their loved ones was at the heart of the planning, alongside plenty of entertainment and brilliant tunes. They crafted a wedding which not only looked incredible but had a wonderful vibe. Every little detail was considered, from Jo Malone’s Pomegranite Noir scenting the room, to gold sequin table cloths, elegant stationery and a buttercream cake show stopper. There were some lovely moments, like the confetti bomb first dance and double decker bus transport laid on for guests.
I just adore Claire’s bridal look. She chose to wear Ruan by Modeca Bridal, with it’s low back and lace sleeves teamed with Roland Cartier heels, dreamy! Matt opted for a grey tux jacket, bow tie and contrasting black trousers, while the maids wore Ghost frocks. A stylish wedding party if I ever did see one.
Thanks so much to Emma Kenny for providing the incredible imagery.
THE PROPOSAL | It was the 31st January 2015 and Matt had a rare day off work, where he plays professional ice hockey. London was on our doorstep as we lived in Surrey at the time. Visiting all our fave spots (mostly bars and food joints) we dined in a restaurant overlooking St. Pauls and after copious amounts of cocktails, Matt begged to have his photo taken in front of the cathedral. As I snapped away, the bells chimed and Matt got down on one knee to pop the question. The rest they say is history…
THE VISION | We wanted our big day to be a party. That was the brief from start to finish. As guests at so many other weddings we knew what we didn’t want – the long ceremony, standing around waiting for the reception to begin and wedding music, how could we forget the cheesy wedding music. Although some might argue Bryan Adams ‘Everything I do’ makes a wedding ‘a wedding’, for us it was an absolute no go.
We also wanted our big day to be personal to us. It’s easy to throw money at a wedding, but it’s important you don’t loose the essence of who you are in the process. Working closely with trusted vendors was crucial.
Last but certainly not least, we wanted to spend our day with the people in our lives that we love and care for most, so intimacy meant everything.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | ‘Planning the wedding was really stress-free and easy’.. said no bride ever! In all seriousness being organised was the key to our success. My role was driving the vision, and coming up with ideas, and Matt was the approver or better still ‘the voice of reason’ – after all, someone had to manage the purse strings.
Within the first two weeks of getting engaged, I had the nuts and bolts of our wedding sorted – ceremony, venue, band and transport all booked. In fact, the first booking we made before we’d even confirmed the venue was the vintage red bus – when you like it, you like it, right?
Next we looked at the theme of the wedding. We wanted something that would naturally fit the style of the ceremony and reception venue. Pinterest and Whimsical Wonderland Weddings became my best friend and I would literally scour their websites each evening to find ideas we liked or just element of ideas, which could be turned into new ideas.
Our theme unfolded naturally as art-deco / classical with elements of great-Gatsby. Colour scheme – golds and creams.
BUDGET | Under £20K.
THE VENUE | We knew we wanted to get married back in Belfast as it’s where we met in 2013, but the thought of a hotel or country retreat was not tickling our fancy.
After scouring the city for locations we decided to have a civil ceremony in Belfast’s City Hall. The short, sweet and to the point ceremony is exactly what we wanted.
When it came to the reception venue, the party theme had to continue. Stepping away from a traditional hotel, we opted for a night club. But not just any nightclub. With it’s classic fittings and grand hall, the Empire Music Hall is one of Belfast’s most popular live music venues. Having started out its beginnings as a Victorian era church (where my grandmother attended as a child), this place oozed the class and quirkiness we were looking for in a wedding venue.
As with any alternative venue some people doubted our decision. And quite rightly so, they only ever experienced the venue as a night club. But in daylight, this former Church offered a wealth of opulent fixtures and fittings which complimented our theme perfectly.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Wedding dress – Ruan by Modeca Bridal 2015 collection.
Shoes – Roland Cartier.
Earrings – Jon Richard (Debenhams).
Veil – custom made.
FINDING THE DRESS | We got engaged in January and by February I had my dress bought. I knew what I wanted from day one, regardless of the designer or the season, this girl was wearing a backless dress with sleeves, and that was that.
My first and last stop was Forever Bridal Boutique in Belfast.
They have a fantastic selection of dresses and when I showed them the style of dress I liked, Leondra the shop owner selected three dresses that fitted the brief. After trying on the first dress, I didn’t need to try on the others – I had found my dream dress and with little effort.
Forever Bridal also have a very talented seamstress call Patricia who is absolutely amazing at what she does – she even hand-made the bow ties for our grooms party.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Suit – Kenneth Cole.
Shoes – Grenson (Matthew).
Bow Tie and pocket square – Custom-made.
Groomsmen – Black dinner suits from Next.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Ceremony:
Reading – Blessing of the hands.
Music – We booked acoustic guitarist Matt Jones who played a mixture of upbeat love songs with a contemporary feel.
Wedding processional – Can’t Help Falling in love’ Juliana Chahayed version.
Wedding recessional – Florence and the machine ‘Dog Days’.
Music – As guests arrived our acoustic guitarist Matt Jones jammed in the corner. Everything from Calvin Harris ‘ Feel so close’, Kings of Leon ‘Sex on Fire to Born Slippy got the guests in the party mood.
Meal: I found a fantastic playlist on Spotify ‘Jazz Covers’ that fitted our theme. We played it during the meal, and in between the band setting up. Everything from ‘Drunk in love’ ‘Like a prayer’ ‘We found love’ as jazz covers.
First dance: You got the love – Florence and the machine. We hired a Dublin based band called ‘Upbeat Generation’. Funk, soul, disco and everything in between, the dance floor remained full the whole night.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I asked my sister and best friend of 25 years to be my bridesmaid by sending them a big bunch of flowers to their workplace. They had no idea I was popping the question.
When it came to their dresses ‘Ghost London’ was my one stop shop. They have a beautiful selection of ‘Dye-to-order’ dresses so I opted for Salma Dress Oyster in Cream. If it was good enough for Madeleine Swann in Spectre, it’s good enough for my bridesmaids. I also loved the fact that Ghost provide a service where you can send your dress back to have it dyed a colour of your choice, meaning they can get the use of their dress beyond our special day.
On the day, I gave of my bridesmaids a gift box with a personalised make up bag and bracelet (from Not on the Highstreet).
Our cute little flower girls (Delaney & Luna) wore dresses and shoes from the kids section of Monsoon. Their dresses matched the lace on my dress and they looked dreamy.
THE FLOWERS | Our flowers were provided by the lovely Hollie from Rosehip and Berry. This girl is super talented and is taking the florist industry by storm in Northern Ireland.
Throughout our relationship Matt always sent me cream roses, so it was a no brainer to have them as part of our floral arrangements. I am also a huge fan of foliage as it is an organic and cost efficient way to beef up the botanicals and spread out your flower budget. Together they helped create a dreamy, romantic setting which softened the venue.
As well as the bridal party bouquet, we chose floral garlands for the ceremony room and stage surround at the reception venue. Foliage was also used to dress the cake and other props.
To continue the art-deco theme, our tables had beautiful gold urn centre pieces which Hollie sourced from LA (the lengths your florist goes to, to deliver on brief).
THE CAKE | Gillian from the Little Cupcakery NI made our wonderful cake. We had a three tier semi naked cake with Strawberry & Champagne, Lemon & Poppy Seed and Vanilla with salted caramel, all finished with vanilla semi-naked buttercream on the outside – it was absolutely divine!
In fitting with our great-Gatsby theme we also created a ‘Sweet-easy’ table with a selection of cupcakes, handmade marshmallows, retro sweets and cake.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We booked lifestyle photographer Emma Kenny to capture our big day. This girl is ah-may-zing! She got the brief, she got us and most importantly she got our big day. Our photos are everything we wanted and more, with a mixture of candid shots, styled images but most importantly the magic and fun of the wedding itself.
We also had a second shooter Johnny Frazer, as there was so much to capture on the day. Both Johnny and Emma were like guests at the wedding, there was no bossing people about to capture photos and they literally went with the flow.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Stationery: Working with my friend who’s a designer we opted for an art-deco theme in gold, creams and nudes – matching the colour of the bridesmaids.
A year before the wedding we sent all our close friends and family a ‘save the date’ beer coaster – the coasters we had left over also doubled up as beer mats on the day so it was a win-win!
We kept the design of our invitations the same as the save the date, along with all other stationery on the day itself. We also designed a running order of events to make sure guests knew what was happening and when. In addition, we made menu cards for each place setting with a little note saying thank you to the guests for joining us for our first meal as a married couple
Transport: With half of our guests travelling from England we decided to show them the sights of Belfast by giving them a tour of the city on an old vintage bus. This not only doubled up as transport to our reception venue, but bought us a bit of time to get our photographs taken.
The bus was numbered 77 so we re-branded it to 74 – the number Matt plays in ice-hockey. On-board we had a special playlist of all our favourite music, along with tins of vodka and coke, gin and tonic, Pimms and beers – the party was most definitely getting warmed up.
Table Décor: I started collecting table props for our wedding pretty much after we got engaged. At the time H&M home section had beautiful range of ‘art deco’ and smaller vintage candle holders of various sizes. Over the course of a year I managed to collect a multitude of items, which helped deliver the dreamy glow I was after.
I dressed the tables with a beautiful gold sequence overlay and sourced champagne saucers for the toast (instead of standard champagne glasses). Little details such as hiring plates with a gold trim, also brought our theme to life.
We were lucky that our venue had a beautiful stage, but instead of leaving it empty we put our cake table up there, on a gold sequence table cloth. Looking back, the table stood out and added a pop of colour to match our theme
Table names: We wanted to surprise guests so we printed embarrassing photos of them on polaroid prints and presented them in cork screws which doubled up as name holders. I sourced the corks from eBay and the company printed our names for the wedding – it was a nice personal touch, which guests could then take home as a keepsake.
Favours: You can’t have a party without a shot, so our favours were just that. We sourced mini bottles of jaeger and packaged them up on beautiful gold bottle holders. We also bought shot glasses from Ikea and challenged our guests to down at shot when we were cutting the cake.
Keeping the kids occupied: We had a total of seven kids attend the wedding, ranging from 3-10 years of age. From experience, kids can sometimes take over a wedding reception so keeping them occupied was important to us. Each place setting had a personalised quiz book and a disposable camera with a list of pictures to capture. The kids played with the cameras, long after the film ran out. Another win win for us.
Other décor: We created our own photo guest book and with a suitcase full of Gatsby themed props, a polaroid camera and blank guest book – guests got creative with their well wishes. Most of the props doubled up as outfits for the dance floor, later in the evening
We also had a cigar bar, as its very much a tradition in both our families to enjoy a cigar at weddings. We chose a mild J Cortez cigar so that those who don’t normally smoke them could enjoy.
Table plan / entrance sign: I absolutely loved the variety of signage at weddings, which I found through researching Pinterest. Given our art-deco / Gatsby theme I hired a vintage gramophone and gold framed chalk board to welcome guests to our venue. We also hired a gold framed mirror which we got a local chalk artist to script our table plan on.
Special scent: I’m a big fan of Jo Malone so decided to spray the reception room with ‘Pomegranite noir’ room spray. It’s not overpowering and accompanied with our flowers, gave off a beautiful scent.
THE HONEYMOON | Good morning Vietnam! We spent two weeks exploring South Vietnam. Flying into Hoi Chi Minh city, we stayed explored the city, before retreating to an island for three days and finally staying a week in a 5 star resort. The country, people and food was out of this world and we can’t wait to return.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | We were meant to bring the whole bridal party for wedding photos but decided to go on our own. It meant we had lots of time together and we even stopped by in a local ice cream shop for a ‘poke’ (that’s ice-cream in northern Ireland).
The weather leading up to our wedding was a downpour of rain. Even the day prior to our big day, Belfast was living up to it’s name as the wettest city in the UK. But on the day of our wedding we had a freak heat wave and the sun beamed all day. Unfortunately this meant the poor guests on the bus had to cut their journey shot as it was so warm on the bus.
During the speeches my dad couldn’t hear a thing Matt’s dad was saying (see speech image).
During our first dance, we surprised guests by letting off confetti canons to officially get the party started. The confetti was gold (obviously) and the kids absolutely loved it. It also meant we had beautiful and different shots of our first dance
We hired a magician called Rodd Hogg. He calls himself Northern Ireland’s only Pickpocket magician and had a lot of fun stealing and returning watches from our guests, with a few tricks that would put dynamo to shame.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Budget tracker: From the outset we used a budget tracker. Numbers on Mac has a really great template which you can populate with guest names and numbers, budgets and vendor contacts including what has been paid and when. Trust me when you pay for things so far in advance, you’ll have forgotten by the time the wedding comes around, so keeping this budget up to date should be your number one priority. Vendors are super busy and don’t always get it right.
Mood boards: If you have a clear idea of what you want, pull together a mood board of images on a document or PowerPoint and share with your vendors during your initial meetings with them. It means everyone has a clear idea of what you want from your big day.
Running order: I work in events so I know how important a running order is. I pulled together a master time schedule and shared it with all vendors prior to the wedding. Most hotels will advise you on timings but because we were getting married in an alternative wedding venue the onus was on us. I had the timings worked out that we were actually ahead of schedule (when does that ever happen at a wedding). It actually meant Matt and I had some time to enjoy a drink just the two of us, before guests started arriving.
Candles: Many brides want to light their venue with candles. Never did I think I would be a pro when it comes to burn time and brightness of a candle. I wanted the room to glow from 4pm until 12am. We sourced Ikea for bigger candles, which were also quite cheap but if you need an abundance of tea lights, amazon offer a great range of 8-10 hr burn tealights. I also recommend opting for the ones within the clear plastic holder as it emits a brighter (I know, I know).
Patience: Have patience not only with each other but with your vendors. I found that although I had been a year and a half in the planning, vendors are only really concerned about your wedding within a couple of weeks to the big day. Remember these guys are super busy, particularly in wedding season so don’t expect answers straight away.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Emma Kenny
Make Up | Stevey Lennox
Flowers | The Rosehip and Berry Floral Studio
Catering | French Village
Wedding dress / bridesmaids | Forever Bridal
Cake | Little Cupcakery NI
Videography | Moon Monkey Productions
Vintage bus | Allens Belfast Bus Tours
Cars | Ds Executive Service
Vintage props | Innocent Chaos
Chalkboard and mirror signs | Ebony and Ivory NI
Reception | The Empire Music Hall
Music | Upbeat Generation
Guitarist | Matt Rutherford Jones
Magician | Rodd Hogg
Thanks so very much to Claire and Matt for sharing their super special wedding with us here today xo Lou