This venue in this feature is quite simply beautiful and it was super lucky that the amazing flower installation was in time for Eleanor and Richard’s wedding.
Eleanor and Richard married on the 3rd May 2014, holding their ceremony at the University Women’s Club followed by a reception at the Garden Museum in London. With a vision of a relaxed quirky day they made many choices that reflected their personality.
Eleanor donned a beautiful lace Paloma Blanca dress which she teamed with Rachel Simpson shoes, while her bridesmaids were pretty in lilac frocks. I so love the delightful florals, the look of the wedding meal and the atmospheric lighting.
Thanks so much to Christine Wehrmeier for sharing her wonderful images today.
THE PROPOSAL | Richard: A red herring weekend in Paris under the guise of seeing a ‘challenging’ avant garde guitar orchestra (a tough but believable sell!).
THE VISION | We decided reasonably early on that we wanted to have a London wedding, which dictated a number of other choices. Overall, we wanted the day to be fun, relaxed and quirky, and for it to feel true to us as a couple. We’re not religious, so we didn’t feel that a church wedding would be appropriate, but we wanted the venue/s to have character.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had an epic series of spreadsheets tracking our budget, timelines and basically everything we needed to organise for the wedding. We work for the same company, and decided about six months ahead of the wedding that we would start having lunch together once a week, to spend an hour going through the plans, and deciding who would do what the next week. This was really useful; it meant that we shared the wedding-related work pretty equally through the planning, and neither of us felt overwhelmed by what needed to be done.
BUDGET | Ours wasn’t a “budget” wedding; although we saved money where practical (e.g. DIY cake and favours, discounted dress, finding a venue which didn’t charge corkage or VAT, getting public transport/taxis to the ceremony instead of fancy vintage cars). We only plan to get married once and didn’t want the day to feel cheap; for our own benefit as much as for our guests. Our venues were pretty reasonable considering they were in central London. Our biggest expense was food and drink; we wanted everyone to be well fed, and we provided our guests with a free bar.
THE VENUE | We didn’t want somewhere which felt soulless or corporate, but lots of historical buildings in London have quite strict rules (e.g. finishing by 11pm, no red wine in case of spillages, no flexibility on catering options). We fell in love with the Garden Museum from the first time we visited; it is a beautiful building with tons of character, and it ticked a lot of boxes in terms of location, flexibility, price and outside space.
Unfortunately the museum isn’t licensed for wedding ceremonies, so we had to look elsewhere for the legal bit. We originally loved the idea of getting married in Old Marylebone Town Hall, but it was closed for refurbishments for the year. Westminster council’s website mentioned that they had granted a marriage licence to a public library as an alternative, which we loved the idea of, not least because the bride’s mother is a retired librarian. We did a websearch for the library, and found some beautiful looking pictures…which actually turned out to be the library of the University Women’s Club in Mayfair. This venue turned out to be perfect for us; it was a gorgeous room for the ceremony, with loads of character and natural light, and it was just the right size for the number of guests we had.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Eleanor: The dress was by Paloma Blanca; I felt that the romantic vintage lace look would work really well with our venues, and I loved the fact that it wasn’t too heavy, too tight or too long; all the better for dancing in! My shoes were by Rachel Simpson, via notonthehightstreet.com; I wanted peep toes with a mid-sized heel, and I loved the silver tones and glamorous art deco style of the shoes. During the course of the evening party I changed into some flat silver pumps from Next. My mum lent me a bracelet, and gave me a pair of earrings which matched. I found a simple necklace in Oliver Bonas which worked perfectly, and I bought a vintage style hair clip from ebay. My “something blue” was a simple silver ring with a blue stone, which I bought from Etsy.
Sam, my hair and make-up artist, was a great find; not only is she very talented, but she was a lovely calming presence on the morning of the wedding, chatting away to me, my bridesmaids, my mum and Richard’s mum as she beautified us all in turn. She also did an admirable job of covering up a giant spot which had decided to sprout overnight!
FINDING THE DRESS | Eleanor: I bought the dress from Mirror Mirror in Crouch End, which happens to be about fifteen minutes’ walk from where we live; very handy! It was actually the first wedding dress that I tried on, though I tried on about twenty different dresses over the course of the day. Although I loved some of the other dresses I tried, my mind kept wandering back to that first one, and the fact that it was a sample meant that I got it at a great price. My mum and one of my bridesmaids came with me, and we all finished the day with cocktails and dinner; great fun!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Richard: I had a bespoke three piece suit made by Cad & The Dandy. I had scheduled a couple of tailor appointments on Savile Row for the novelty factor, never expecting any would actually be my final choice. I was surprised to find that as relative new comers on Savile Row a bespoke suit from Cad & The Dandy proved competitively priced compared to other tailors and that they offered a friendly and professional service that was miles away from the stuffy reputation of some places and were very open and adaptable to getting the kind of cut I was after. I also bought a new pair of Barker shoes, which needed wearing in a few weeks in advance, but were absolutely perfect on the day. I ordered a suit for my best man that broadly matched the one I was having made from Suitopia. Not only did it provide the entertainment of trying to measure someone for a suit, it also meant it was quick to order with lots of options and the minimum of trawling round lots of different shops.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Richard: We selected a couple of pieces which two friends read during our ceremony. First was a Philip Sidney poem called ‘The Bargain’. Second were the lyrics to a Jake Thackray song called ‘To Do with You’. We didn’t opt for any live music during the wedding itself and instead agreed a playlist of music for the lead up to the ceremony and over dinner. Eleanor is part of a small but enthusiastic choir at her workplace, so she asked her singing colleagues to provide a choral accompaniment to the pre-dinner drinks reception in the garden of the museum. Finally we asked three friends to split the DJ-ing duties for the evening party, which proved to be a stroke of genius. Although we gave them some guidance as to what we’d like to hear on the night, they each had their own distinct style (family friendly/80’s/Indie) and the dancefloor was never empty.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Eleanor: Our bridesmaids were my sister, Kate, and Isobel, who has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. They decided early on that they wanted to be in matching dresses, which meant we had to find a colour that would work for both of them (no mean feat considering that their colouring is very different; one pale-skinned redhead and one brunette with olive skin). We settled on pale purple as a tone which would look great on both of them. We started off looking on the high street, but there was nothing in stores that was quite right, so we decided that a specialist was the best way forward. We found Dessy dresses at a bridal shop called Get N Hitched in Enfield, near to where our parents live. The bridesmaids both loved their dresses, which fitted perfectly and looked gorgeous.
Both bridesmaids were fantastic throughout the planning and on the day itself (surprising me with a new dressing gown and speedy decoration of the hotel room while I was in the shower), and the hen party that they organised (complete with vintage style makeovers, a cocktail-fuelled barge cruise round London canals and some frankly ridiculous dance moves) was the best I’ve ever been to, though I might be a little biased.
THE FLOWERS | We didn’t have really set ideas about what we wanted for flowers, other than wanting arrangements which were seasonal and looked wild and rustic, rather than structured and formal. We found Scarlet and Violet on a wedding blog, and once we visited their shop, we were convinced that they were the right florist for us. Vic had loads of great ideas, and found creative ways to work to our set budget without compromising on quality. We loved the flowers that arrived on the day, and the blooms that Vic used worked in perfect harmony with the Garden Museum; in fact, one of our guests said that the bouquets almost looked like they had been picked from the gorgeous garden of the museum. Our guests also really appreciated the fact that they could take the table arrangements home with them in craft paper bags specially provided by Scarlet & Violet.
THE CAKE | Eleanor: I’m quite keen on home baking, so we decided early on that we would make our own wedding cake as one way to save a bit of money. Although it meant that we missed out on the fun of cake tasting, it was a great project to take on. I’d made fruit cakes for Christmas before, but had never attempted a tiered cake, so it definitely felt like a challenge.
My family very kindly bought me a one-day course at Cakes 4 Fun in Putney for my birthday, which I found invaluable; I learnt how to stack cakes in a way which would be structurally sound, and the course also included a lesson on making sugar roses. I made a two-tiered cake for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary party last September as a practice run; my theory was that if this went horribly wrong, we’d still have plenty of time to order a wedding cake from a professional! To avoid too much work and panic at the last minute, we decided that all three tiers would be fruit cake; these were made in February from a Lorraine Pascal recipe, and I iced and decorated the tiers in the weeks before the wedding (having the long Easter weekend in April proved very useful!).
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We’ve both known Christine for nearly ten years, as we worked with her before she gave up the day job to become a full time photographer. We knew straight away that she would be the perfect choice; we felt very lucky indeed to be good friends with someone so talented. On the day itself, she was a marvel; she captured the things that we loved about our wedding without any fuss, as well as some lovely little moments that we weren’t even conscious of her documenting.
Not only were we blown away by the beautiful photos that she took, but she also came to the rescue when the photo-booth company that we had hired cancelled our booking the day before the wedding. Christine was able to bring a Polaroid camera and selection of brilliant props, which worked out to be much more versatile than a photo-booth would have been; we have some hilarious pictures as a result, including a particularly precious one of the bride’s father throwing some rather interesting shapes on the dance-floor in a bright pink wig.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Our favours were three home-made cookies in a gift-bag; each cookie type was a different recipe, which represented some of our favourite flavour combinations. Although it was a bit manic making around 300 cookies in the week before the wedding, the favours proved very popular with our guests; none were left behind, and we had lots of compliments the next day.
We knew that both of our venues would be beautiful without needing much in the way of decoration, but we were incredibly fortunate that the Garden Museum happened to have a stunning installation of flowers hanging from the ceiling at the time of our wedding. This added a wow factor which our guests absolutely loved; one said that she felt like she had wandered into a scene from “Alice in Wonderland”.
We were also lucky to be able to ask some talented friends to help with some of the other details. Our friend Chris designed a fun, quirky invitation, which we ruthlessly re-purposed for all of our other printed materials (up to and including cookie labels and thank you cards!). Our friend Helen designed and hand-made our beautiful and unique table plan, which became a real talking point amongst the guests.
Our caterers, Food Events, were fantastic; they were really supportive throughout the planning process, and delivered all of the catering to an exceptional standard with military precision on the day itself. We particularly appreciated their suggestion of having a buffet-style “dessert table” rather than individually plated desserts; this meant that our guests could tuck into a selection of different options (including the wedding cake), and also helped us get the evening party started sooner than would have otherwise been possible.
THE HONEYMOON | We took a day at home straight after the wedding to rest before a long journey to Vietnam. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on the beach at Mui Ne for a couple of weeks and then spent a busy and brilliantly fun few days in Ho Chi Minh City before flying home.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | So many! We booked a routemaster bus to get everyone from the ceremony venue to the reception venue, primarily because this solved a logistical problem and would fit in with the central London locations. However, the journey proved to be really fun, and Christine was able to get some fantastic photos.
Walking into the Garden Museum together ten minutes before the guests came in for dinner was quite magical; the room looked so beautiful, and it really felt like our months of hard work had resulted in something even better than we could have imagined.
The morning after the wedding was also special; we chose not to stay in a hotel on our wedding night, so waking up in our own flat and going through all of the cards and Polaroid pictures was a lovely way to start married life.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | The best bit of advice we were given was to delegate as much as possible to our wedding party on the day. Our immediate families, bridesmaids and best man all took responsibility for one area (e.g. catering, flowers, hair & make up), and we sent each of them a briefing email the day before telling them what we needed them to do and when, along with any relevant supplier contact details. This meant that on the day itself, we were free to fully enjoy the day without worrying about what was happening. It also meant that the duties were split out, so no one person spent the whole day trying to do everything.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Christine Wehrmeier
Florist | Scarlet & Violet
Caterers | Food Events
Ceremony Venue | University Women’s Club
Reception Venue | Garden Museum
Hair & Make-Up | Sam @ Slap Artists
Lighting and Sound | Glo Productions
Bus | Ensign Bus Company
Rings | Dot Jewellery
Cake Course | Cakes 4 Fun
Groom’s Suit | Cad & The Dandy
Best Man’s Suit | Suitopia
Thanks so so much to Eleanor and Richard for sharing their wedding story with us XOXO Lou