A stylish London Wedding set at two galleries…
When planning their wedding day, Anna and Sam threw away the rule book and removed the worries of standard wedding traditions; keeping their day relaxed and stressfree. For them it was important to celebrate and share things that were important to them as a couple – good food, drink, and ceilidh – a nod to their uni days together in Edinburgh.
With a sunshine deckchair fabric aisle, two gallery venues, colourful paper crane wedding decor and a gin garden party reception – their day was stylish, modern, and fun!
Over to the couple to tell us more…
Anna + Sam…
How did you meet and get engaged?
We met in our first year at Edinburgh University – we lived on the same floor in student halls. We didn’t actually start dating until I moved down to London to do my Masters though, and met Sam for an exceptionally boozy night in a largely empty cocktail bar.
Ten years later, Sam popped the question on a Sunday morning whilst we were on the sofa absent-mindedly watching ‘Steve Bagshaw’s deadly 60’. As I said yes, Steve was chasing an Aardvark. It was exactly the kind of unfussy proposal I’d wanted – left to his own devices, Sam would have come up with something a lot more elaborate.
How would you describe your day?
It was full of joy. Every photo I have of the day is everyone smiling, laughing and having a good time. We’d done away with a lot of the standard wedding traditions, which meant we both felt really relaxed and were able to spend time with everyone who’d come to see us. Our wonderful wedding co-ordinator Laura from Devine Bride made sure everything went super-smoothly, and, best of all, the sun made a special appearance for us (in between solid rain on Friday and Sunday).
How long were you planning it for, and what was the best bit?
We had roughly a year to plan our wedding. The best bit was definitely visiting the potential venues on our shortlist – there were some pretty cool ones, and it was great to be able to have a nosey around. A close second was the food tasting. We went to a lot of restaurants in the name of research.
How was your day unique to you?
As we were the last couple in our friend’s group to get married (and therefore had been to many weddings in the preceding years), we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted.
At the beginning of the planning process, we sat down and looked at a list of wedding traditions and crossed out all the ones we didn’t want – Sam and I walked down the aisle together (no way was I doing that by myself!), the ceremony was nice and short, we had no posed photos, no cake, no first dance. We did have rather a lot of drinks (Sam’s hobby), some incredible food (my hobby), and a ceilidh which everyone really got into.
Wedding Venue + Reception :
Originally, we wanted to have the wedding and the reception in the same venue, but then we fell in love with a venue that only had availability from 18:00. The South London Gallery was perfect: their function room was a blank canvas, but had doors on to an amazing ‘sculpted’ courtyard which we could use. It was really cool, and felt real ‘London’, and very much like us. Best of all, it was a 10-minute cab journey from our flat and was Uber-able for all our guests.
For our wedding venue, we went for something close-by – the Dulwich Picture Gallery. As our ceremony was so short, the Dulwich Picture Gallery was perfect: we were able to have drinks on the lawn in their gorgeous gardens before jumping on a Routemaster from https://www.redroutemaster.com/ to our reception venue.
Both Sam and I have ‘photo faces’ and are generally uncomfortable posing for photos, so posed photos were never high on our list. But we did want someone to document the day (and get one or two good shots of us). Dan from Story & Colour was perfect for this. I’d read an interview with him online where he talked about working with photo-shy couples and really liked his documentary-style photos. On the day, Dan was great – we got some photos of us we absolutely love (and didn’t notice he’d taken), a real sense of the day, and some hilarious photos of everyone ceilidhing
Venue and Wedding outfits:
As our wedding was quite informal, our outfits were, too.
I visited a few wedding dress shops with my two bridesmaids, but didn’t really feel comfortable in anything I tried on. I ended up going to Gormley & Gamble (a tailor rather than a specialist wedding-dress tailor) on Saville Row to have a dress made. I knew we’d understand each other when she said ‘I don’t really do frills and lace.’
I left the choice of what to wear up to my two bridesmaids, I wanted them to be able to wear their outfits again. They ended up getting navy tops from Jigsaw, and single colour skirts from Etsy. As a nod to the day, they also wore origami crane earrings!
Sam and his wedding party had seersucker jackets made by a London tailor, and wore colourful chinos.
Sam was really keen to have loads of origami cranes, which I ended up making over the course of several months with my bridesmaids and willing guests.
Once we had the cranes, we had to figure out how to display them without leaving marks on the wall of the South London Gallery. We ended up attaching them to 10 metal poles (which we had made by a local metal works) with double-sided sticky dots and magnets.
The cranes with magnets also doubled as our guest book – we asked guests to choose their favourite crane, write a message on it and stick it on a metal sheet.
We also bought some miniature origami cranes from Etsy to put in glass milk bottles to go on tables.
For our ceremony at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, we went for a simple idea with maximum impact, as we only used the room for a short period of time: we bought a length of double-deckchair fabric online, which served as both the aisle runner and ceremony backdrop, and was easy to pack up after.
For the reception, we had cocktails on wheels: G&Ts, Pimms and elderflower mocktails from the Travelling Gin Company. The boys were incredibly relaxed, and their drinks were so good we (almost!) ran out of gin! Plus, drinks served from a vintage bike can only ever be a win.
Food was a huge part of our day and came from the wonderful people at the Social Pantry. The caterers attached to the South London Gallery went bust shortly after we signed our venue contract, so we suddenly found ourselves with a dry-hire venue. On the plus side, we got to choose all our own wine, but it also meant a lot more planning than we’d anticipated. After lots of online research, getting quotes, and a few tastings, The Social Pantry ended up top of our list – the food was amazing (people still talk about the desert we had), and the staff were great.
We went for Paperless Post – cost-effective, practical, looked great and was environmentally friendly.
Bridal Hair & MUA:
There’s not much you can do with my hair, so I styled it like I normally would. I also did my own make up after having a tutorial at the Bobby Brown counter at John Lewis. I don’t wear much make up on a daily basis, and still wanted to look like me on the day.
Music & Entertainment:
We always knew we wanted a ceilidh. It was a nod to where we’d met in Edinburgh, and it’s a great way to get everyone on the dance floor. Our main criteria was finding a band that could play in a small set-up because the venue wasn’t that big, with an experienced caller who could teach people the steps quickly. We listened to a lot bands online, and tried out a few at ceilidhs in London, and ended up going with Ceilidh Factor, who were absolutely fantastic on the day and kept everyone dancing to the very end.
What are your favourite details of the day?
We absolutely loved our ceremony aisle runner, and the left-over cranes that our wedding co-ordinator had decorated the plants and bushes with at the reception venue.
What was your budget?
Do you have any advice for couples currently planning their wedding, for either the planning or the lead-up?
Focus on what’s important to you, rather than what tradition dictates. And if you’re at all worried about the running of the day, get a wedding co-ordinator – Laura was a godsend, from running the day to decorating our venue for us (and taking everything down after!).