When I asked Jo & Oli to descrive their wedding, they simply called it an “East End knees up!” I love that and think the description cetainly matches the party vibe of their wedding photographs from Rosie Parsons.
“We knew that we didn’t want a hotel reception (we couldn’t have afforded one anyway!) because we wanted to put our stamp on our day: we wanted it to be really about what we like: tea and cake; Rock n Roll; dancing and cocktails!” Jo explained. “I dragged my Mum around every hall in the East End of London before deciding on St Peters in Bethnal Green. It had so much character whilst being a blank canvas at the same time. It was really important to me to get married in the East End as I grew up in Stepney and we now live in Bow. The hall was within walking distance of the hall and traffic was quite bad along Valance Road that day so Oli and I got to ride to the hall in our Morris Minor and chat to our guests as they walked along!”
The ceremony was a very special party of the day and took place at St Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. “Oli isn’t Catholic so it was really important to me to make sure that the ceremony was as relaxed as possible while still being prayerful,” Jo explained. “I’ve know Father Tony for a while and knew that he would be able to put Oli at ease as well as perform a ceremony that would be personal and meaningful. Father Tony sat us facing our guests which made the ceremony more intimate and something we could really share with out family and friends. The ceremony was perfect and Rosie really captured our happiness as we left the church. We decided not to spend money on decorating the church due to our budget and the fact that it’s such a beautiful church, so full of character.”
“A lot of what we achieved was due to the help of family and friends, everything from the bridesmaid’s dresses made by Oli’s mum to the flowers by my bridesmaid’s mum to the catering and cocktails by my dad’s friends at Drinks Fusion. The search for the perfect dress was the most fun part of the whole preparation. I knew that I wanted a short dress because I wanted to be on the dancefloor all night: I’m really clumsy too so just knew that I would tear a long dress. As it turns out I somehow managed to slightly tear the scalloping at the bottom anyway – Oli’s mum to the rescue! I went to Melanie Potro with a specific idea about what I wanted and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with my dress. Going to see Melanie for fittings was so much fun. It’s so exciting seeing your dress being made from scratch, choosing the silk and lace and making the decisions. Melanie even out a little blue bow on my petticoat!”
“Oli and I love to go for afternoon tea (you can’t beat the Dorchester!) and thought that it would suit the hall which had an art deco feel. The vintage china was amazing – our caterer Jason spent a lot of time searching for the best in terms of quality and price – and was a real talking point with our guests as they arrived.”
“Oli and I had our own table which we felt was a bit different, although our nieces pulled up their chairs and joined us! The table names were made up of the record sleeves of our favourite singers and we had our favourite 50’s music playing throughout the afternoon tea. In the evening we had a huge buffet that quickly became the talking point of the evening as was the cocktail bar. Our guests drank over 400 cocktails!”
Jill & Justin are both huge music lovers and so they wanted this to be a big part of their day. “We love anything from jazz to punk to french new wave, and we knew we wanted music to be the theme in our wedding,” Jill explained.
“This was reflected in our wedding invitations, our table numbers, our choice in the amazing jazz band we got, our favorite DJs and the favors for our guests, which featured lyrics by the Beach Boys.”
The wedding was held at the John James Audubon Centre, a nature museum in Pennsylvania. This theme was also reflected in their day – from the bride’s amazing flower crown to the owl that was there to say hello!
Steve & Shelley’s Isle of Wight wedding had a post-war vintage and DIY theme. The couple were keen not to spend a fortune on their day and the theme really evolved quite naturally and organically from this idea. “We were conscious we did not want to spend a fortune on our wedding and the theme of ‘Post-War Britain’ fitted in nicely with our DIY wedding,” the bride told me. “Everything was done on a budget, a lot sourced from eBay, friends and family helped to make bunting and paper chain hearts for decorating the reception venue. Our favours were Thorntons chocolates wrapped in brown wrapping paper with blue butchers twine (eBay again) and a parcel tag attached with the guests name as a place card. I handmade the invitations which were a shimmery Union Jack postcard style with the invitation wording as a telegram, on the invitation we requested that guests attend in their interpretation of post-war Britain dress, and gladly the majority of guests did so!”
“The Orders of Service were also handmade, inspired by the ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ poster campaigns from World War Two. We had a simple non-religious service which included a reading from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams. The chapel was simple and perfect for our day, and we were the first wedding there in four years! We exited the chapel to a church organ version of Frank Sinatra’s Love & Marriage.”
“We had martini glass style table centrepieces (from eBay again) on the tables at the reception, filled with white and red roses.” Shelley continued. ” We decided on table names rather than numbers and chose British personalities from the 40’s & 50’s including Elizabeth Taylor (the ‘top table’), Vera Lynn, Diana Dors, Winston Churchill & Norman Wisdom! For the table plan I used a Union Jack flag bought from Sainsbury’s (around the time of the Royal Wedding, we were lucky that everywhere was selling all things Union Jack!) mounted onto card, with the relevant personality’s photos next to the guests seated at each table. We also had ration card style menu’s on the tables. Upon arrival at the reception venue and throughout the meal, we had Glenn Miller Band playing in the background. The evening buffet consisted of a candy buffet of traditional sweets, and a british ‘afternoon tea’ – scones, jam & cream, sausages on union jack sticks and sandwiches.”
“We didn’t want a traditional wedding. Steve loves his classic cars and I love the 40’s and 50’s fashion, so we went for Post-War Britain, an era where things were very much do-it-yourself and on a budget and the fashion was beautiful and women really looked like women! In all, we spent just over £2000 on our wedding, and we managed this because we hunted high and low for the best deals and friends and family helped wherever they could. No one seems to believe us when we tell them what we spent – but believe me it really can be done – it just takes a lot of time to source the bargains. Plus, Rock n Roll Bride was a big source of inspiration and ideas!”
April & Christian’s rooftop wedding was held at Aerial in Nashville and from the sounds of things it was a fun-packed wedding from start to finish. “The ceremony was on the rooftop in downtown Nashville right beside all the honkey tonks,” photographer Alex Bee told me. “The bridal party DANCED down the aisle to live music played by the bride & groom’s brothers. They really got into it! The bride’s entrance had the most tension/energy/anticipation that I have ever experienced at a wedding. The bride entered the ceremony to rising beginning guitar solo of “She’s the One” by Bruce Springsteen. Did I mention that they passed out tambourines & eggshakers & encouraged the guests to play along? It was really amazing! The reception was an epic rooftop dance party + karaoke.”
April’s dress came from Watters, but with the help of a clever dressmaker, she customised it to create her perfect gown. She also worked closely with designers to create her bespoke headpiece and jewellery items. The bride’s Mum even made the beautiful (and awesome!) bride’s bouquet, bridesmaid clutches and all boutonnières.
“I had a vision from the beginning that I wanted something wildly eclectic, but with a Nashville-esque retro vibe,” the bride told me. “I was a terrible shopper for dresses, etc. Nothing in any bridal store felt like “me”, so I ended up starting from scratch with artisans all over to put it all together. I have Etsy to thank for a lot of it!”
“For the decor, we wanted the rooms to feel homey – like a great vintage condo you never want to leave – but with the small twist that the interior of the venue have an outdoor/back porch feel (birdcages, grass, etc), and the outdoor space feel like the heart of the house (cake platters with overflowing flowers, a bookcase altar, and photo wall created with vintage curtains and antique frames). That vibe, mixed with a meticulously crafted playlist, and the special touch of karaoke, made our wedding just the kind of Rock n Roll house party we were looking for!”
“My top tip would be to work with people you know whenever possible, get ideas from everyone, and dont ever be afraid to ask – whether its about price, or some cooky idea you have floating around in your brain – there’s someone out there on your wavelength, or who wants to get there and just needs a little help! And whatever you do, make the wedding YOU. Embody yourselves in the event, and your guests (and you) will have an unforgettable time!”
Marcus & Simone used some of my favourite wedding suppliers for their barn wedding in Gloucestershire, including Joanna Brown for photography, Fur Coat No Knickers for the dress and Severin of The Hepburn Collection for the bride’s hair. I love this! “I got a little frustrated at how little choice there is when it comes to creating an individual wedding, especially as I didn’t have that long to plan it (5 months),” the bride told me. “I found it easier to not refer to magazines and traditional wedding websites and preferred to take inspiration from Etsy.com, blogs such as Rock n Roll Bride and to go with my own ideas. I think it’s easy to get sucked into the wedding machine and things can become too fussy. My ethos was to try and keep it classic, stylish and simple.”
The laid back day started with the ceremony taking place outside in the glade of Cripps Barn. The bride didn’t actually realise the ceremony was taking place outside until she arrived in the morning! They were really lucky that it stopped raining just at the right time.
“We both work in Television and I laughed when Marcus told me that he had hired a Art Director and Lighting Director to help set up on the day as we had a relatively small, uncomplicated wedding. But both of them proved invaluable. We had festoon lights hung in the trees and around the outdoor fire pit. Sally Lock, the Art Director, provided gorgeous finishing touches inside and dressed outside with hurricane lamps and hanging pieces in the trees, taking all the stress off me on the day and giving it an extra special edge.”
“I was also desperate to track down a huge heart lighting piece that I had once seen at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club in London. However, during my search for it I stumbled across something even better: Giant (human size) light bulb letters. These were originally designed for a shop window display but are now hired out for events – they provided a great backdrop for pictures….even though our guests tried their best to move them around so they read S&M instead!”
“I always knew I was going to get a vintage dress and my wedding dress was actually the first wedding dress that I had ever tried on: I instantly fell in love with it. It originally had straps but the ladies at FCNK told me that they could amend it to make a strapless dress and fit boning into the bodice to give it a little more structure. They encouraged me to go and try on a few more dresses so that I could be sure that I wasn’t making a snap decision. I tried on a handful of dresses at a high end designer sample sale but everything felt very generic and nothing came close to being as unique as my vintage dress. We’re not sure of the original date of the dress but think it dates from the 1950’s.”
“The whole wedding was sort of ‘peacock vintage’ themed,” newlywed Stephanie told me. “We really managed to keep the wedding cost pretty low and spent less than $12,000! We was able to do this by making our own centerpieces, boutineers, corsages, invitations, and headpieces. We also used an older, less popular florist because I knew exactly what kind of flowers I wanted, and I provided the ribbon and feathers to her, leaving no room for error.”
It’s clear that Stephanie & Aaron did things their own way for their Atlanta wedding. They didn’t spend a fortune, but with a bit of hard work, created a wedding that looked really spectacular. They spent money on the things they really wanted but saved on (or left out completely!) the things they weren’t too bothered about. “We did not send save the date cards, we simply sent our invitations out a month earlier than the traditional time frame,” continued the bride.
“My wedding dress is from a wholesale website. My 100% silk, fully lined and boned wedding dress was only $230 with shipping! I had the purple ribbon sewn on after I got it. My reception dress was found by my mother a year before the wedding at a consignment shop. I had a few minor alterations done and bingo… I was dancing the night away. My shoes are from zappos RSVP brand and only cost $59! The peacock feathers are from several peoples collections and I did buy a few extra at a craft store. They just gave everything a universal theme and looked beautiful in the candlelight.”
The bride also made her own headpiece from from russian veiling and peacock feathers, and her jewellery was a vintage Swarovski piece from France. They also were able to get their dream car to transport them for a lot cheaper than a traditional wedding car rental place might charge. Stephanie found the pink Cadillac parked outside a party she was at one night. When she was leaving the restaurant she literally left a note saying, ‘Please call me, I have to have this car for my wedding day’.