Alma and Alastair married on Saturday May 3rd 2014, hosting a truly London wedding where guests walked between their three venues and enjoyed the green spaces. They held their ceremony at Blackheath Halls, where Alma walked down the aisle accompanied by a fiddle and Alma sang ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ to start the ceremony. They then moved onto The Fan Museum for afternoon tea followed by the Wine Vaults Greenwich for their party.
Alma was enchanting in her original vintage 1940s dress with an amazing shoulder cape, while Alastair donned tweed with a vintage hat. Oh so stylish.
Thanks so very much to Murray Clarke for sharing his wonderful photographs today.
THE PROPOSAL | Alastair: We were visiting the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland one weekend last March (2013). We took a ferry out to Inishmor for the day and when we arrived we went for a long walk along the impressive 100m high south facing sea cliffs. We were completely on our own out there, not another person in sight. It felt like we were on the edge of the world, as people must have truly believed once upon a time. We were sitting down on the edge of the cliffs looking across the ocean when I knelt on one knee and asked Alma if she would marry me. Her eyes widened with complete surprise, then filled with tears and she said, ‘yes, yes of course I will’. I was not intending to ask her that day (the ring was still being made at the time), but the moment just felt right, so I asked her.
THE VISION | Alastair: It was all about place (our home). We wanted our guests to share in our regular weekend pilgrimage from Blackheath to Greenwich – our special walk! The wedding invitation was a map of the route that I drew myself. It was all about celebrating the beauty of this part of London, its history, and its green spaces. Our families live across three countries (UK, Ireland and South Africa), so this was the first of our three wedding ceremonies. Our idea was to travel to celebrate with our families. Blackheath (our home) would be where we would hold our civil ceremony, Kilbeggan in Ireland (Alma’s family home) would be where we would hold our religious ceremony, and Cape Town (my family home) would be our earthly ceremony, in Kirstenbosch botanical gardens.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | The London wedding took a lot of planning to make sure all venues linked seamlessly. Planning started about 6 months before the wedding. Neither of us likes to plan too far in advance and luckily the venues we were interested in were still available.
THE VENUE | Alastair: The civil ceremony was in the recital room at Blackheath Halls, followed by drinks and delicious canapés at the bar downstairs; a walk in the park; afternoon tea in the Orangery of the Fan Museum, Greenwich; wedding breakfast at Davy’s Wine Vaults followed by music and dancing in the downstairs wine cellars/cocktail bar.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Alma: An original 1940s vintage dress from Ed Warehouse in East Dulwich. The gold jewellery was my own and my shoes were from Rainbow. Because we were walking from Blackheath to Greenwich, It was important that I had walking shoes and these were very comfortable! The shoulder cape was borrowed from a good friend of mine who has a shared interest in vintage style.
FINDING THE DRESS | Alma: I thoroughly enjoyed looking for my dress. I knew what did/did not suit me but I did not have a vision of ‘that perfect dress’. I gave myself three weeks to find a dress. Having a limited period of time meant that I focussed on the task at hand and bounded my search. I found my dress in a vintage warehouse in East Dulwich. Although it was not the correct size for me, my friends and I felt it definitely had potential. We did not purchase it there and then (which was sensible as we were under the influence of sparkling wine) and I pondered it for a few days. I returned the next week and bought the dress. The next task was to find a good vintage seamstress in London.
Luckily, I struck gold. I found Katie and The Gathering Goddess (in North Kensington). Katie and the ladies at the store were amazing. Not only did Katie do an impressive job in remodelling my dress, they are also very knowledgeable about all things vintage and I learned a great deal from them. All this and a lot of fun too! I loved it so much that I ended up buying a number of other items there including my clutch bag.
Alastair: I saw it for the first time as Alma walked towards me down the aisle. It took my breath away!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Alastair: I knew Alma would choose a true vintage dress, and I had a clue that it would be early 1900’s. I wanted to wear a bowler hat, so I needed to find something to wear with it. It had to be contemporary and it had to complement Alma’s mystery dress. My initial idea was for light summer tweed with vintage styling. It didn’t take me long to find what I was looking for – from Charles Tyrwhitt – I tried it on and it fit perfectly, and Alma liked it too, so I bought it. The accessories, other than the hat (purchased online at Village Hats), were not quite so easy. It took a while to find the right bow tie; it needed to be quirky but not garish, I eventually found the right combination of shirt and tie but it took some time and effort. I managed to find some nice tan coloured brogues at Pares in Blackheath and then to finish it off I wore my late grandfather’s gold pocket watch, which sadly did not work, but it certainly looked the business!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Alma: All the music at the ceremony was performed by friends and family.
Alastair: Alma’s old boss and good friend, Guy, accompanied her down the aisle playing the fiddle. Alma started proceedings and stunned her audience by singing unaccompanied ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ in traditional Irish ‘sean-nós’ style, followed by her sister-in-law playing the tune on a grand piano. A mutual friend of ours, Emma (who introduced us) read an extract from an essay titled ‘Walking’ from Henry David Thoreau. Next, Alma and her good friend sang ‘Caledonia’, a more up-beat folk tune, as a duo with guitar. Finally, Alma’s sister-in-law then played ‘When I’m 64’ on the grand piano during the signing of the register and Guy then led the bride and groom back down the aisle playing the fiddle.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Alma: I did not have bridesmaids, as such, it was not that sort of wedding, but I did have a number of willing friends who helped out a great deal.
THE FLOWERS | Alison at The Village Flower Shop in Blackheath did a great job at meeting our wish for a natural looking display of local wild flowers.
THE CAKE | Alma: My good friend Steffi made a wonderful, delicious allotment cake for us. Steffi writes a food blog where she posted the recipe and method.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Murray worked a double-act with his sister Alicia and together they captured the day perfectly, better than we ever could have imagined. Thank you Murray for capturing those memories and also thanks to Alicia!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We had pom-poms, fairy lights with little cut paper flower shades, tea-lights in Moroccan style lanterns etc. The dinner table was simply decorated with small informal flower arrangements in jam jars and small red hand written name tags pegged to wine glasses.
Top tip: If using pom-poms it’s probably best if you put them up the evening before as its quite time consuming on the day!
THE HONEYMOON | After three weddings in three countries… the honeymoon will have to wait until next year!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Alma: A few: 1) Arriving at the Halls realising that I left my bouquet at home… and my friend running back to get it (luckily we don’t live too far away from the venue and she was wearing comfortable bright blue trainers!); 2) Alastair lifting me off my feet when we kissed; 3) Walking down the aisle with Alastair skipping next to me, with my friend Guy playing the fiddle; 4) My friend, Teresa’s rap ‘A&A Hurray’ after the dinner.
Alastair: Seeing Alma when she walked down the aisle and then hearing her beautiful voice when she sang. I couldn’t quite hold it together!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Encourage your family and friends to participate and do as much of it yourself as you can (without stressing too much!)… it makes it personal. On the day, just let it happen.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
The Cake | Ginger and Bread
Canapes | Guy Awford
Alastair’s Hat | Hats and Caps
Flowers | Blackheath Village Flowers
Photographer | Murray Clarke
What a brilliant day, I so love the walk for all of the guests too.
Thanks so much to Alma and Alastair for sharing their gorgeous wedding with us today XOXO Lou