Cute and Casual Tooting Wedding: Ben & Helen

Foden Photography

December 10, 2014

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Ben and Helen had a casual wedding in Tooting. “We wanted to throw a wedding for our families as much as for us, to celebrate life and love and enjoy a special day together”, Helen said. “It was important to us to celebrate all the years we’d already had together (and all the ups and downs, joy, growing up and hard work in that!) rather than acting as if the wedding was the start. So that was part of the message on our invitations, and we got the Registrar to frame the ceremony that way in her welcome – a celebration of 8 and a half happy years and the witnessing of our next step together.”

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The ceremony was held at Merton Registry Office and their reception at Tooting Tram & Social. They got the tube between the two! “We threw out any of the traditions that didn’t suit us, and built our day from the ground up to make sure it was personally meaningful”, she continued. “Traditions we ditched included the top table, cutting of the cake, fancy tired wedding cake, bride given away by father, bridesmaids, best man, receiving line, just men doing speeches. We included lots of creative and soppy details, and prioritising fun! Guests say they were still feeling the love and humming the tunes weeks later! Our venue was an old tram shed turned gig venue – a stunning reclaimed industrial space with gorgeous natural lighting, chandeliers, industrial piping and vintage tiles.”

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Helen wore two dresses, both from Etsy. The first was a casual lace dress from the 1950s and from BackBayou Vintage and cost just £40! With it she wore a homemade petticoat which she made using the instructions on this Rock n Roll Bride tutorial! The second was made by Ouma. Her homemade bouquet was also unique, made from feathers and an apple.

“I already had my wedding dress when I found the Ouma one (via a link on Rock n Roll Bride!) I couldn’t get it out of my head so I knew I had to get it. It was more expensive than my main dress but my kind work friend Mary persuaded me to go for it, and gave me a gift of some money towards it, so I decided to splash out. I am so happy I treated myself, I felt absolutely incredible in it. The bodice made me stand up straighter and the massive tulle skirt made me waft and twirl around our party like a happy princess. I wouldn’t have imagined a dress could make me feel SO good.”

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“I would describe our wedding as heartfelt, relaxed, eclectic, autumnal, creative, London and fun”, Helen continued. “The styling was based on the colour green (inspired by my wedding dress buttons and Ben’s favourite colour) and some modernist retro elements, without having a rigid theme. We added gently quirky creative details.”

“I dumped out twenty brightly-coloured tins of hot and spicy harissa paste – in order to use them as cool holders for wooden cutlery on each table. I considered keeping the carrier bag of Harissa, but calculated that would take up a full freezer drawer and I’d be chipping lumps off for the rest of my life if I was ever to use it all, so I am afraid I binned it.”

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“I also did all the wedding flowers. I wanted my bouquet to be in keeping with the green theme with some round green shapes to echo my dress’s buttons, but with autumnal notes also. I wanted a small posy with an unusual shape, so it wasn’t too girly and traditional. I used a dried seed Christmas decoration, flowers, berries, free ivy cut from the roadside (!), a granny smith apple stuck on the end of a piece of coat hanger, and pheasant feathers. I wound striped ribbon round the stems, as a subtle link to my striped reception gown, and glued the same ribbon on the jars for the wedding flowers. I’d recommend that any couple try doing their own flowers if they fancy it and aren’t going for a very formal look. I have no experience of flower arranging, but was able to learn some useful tips from a couple of YouTube videos. I made a prototype first – that was essential to try out the look and learn how to do it nicely.”

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“Our biggest expenses were booze (to treat our guests and make the party really jolly) and food. We love Lebanese food and wanted to share our love of food with our guests. It was a really good option for a wedding reception, a wide range of interesting, flavourful foods but not spicy for fussy guests. We used Meza in Tooting. They don’t have a website but are worth a mention because they were terrific.”

“Our venue was also amazing and saved us money! By having the wedding in a bar on a Sunday with just a minimum bar spend rather than paying for venue hire, we managed to save lots. Also by picking somewhere visually stunning already, we didn’t need that many decorations. We also saved on our cake because we had an absolutely enormous, and very delicious, black forest gateaux from a local bakery in Tooting rather than a fancy wedding cake (only cost us £100 for 100 servings). We wanted an informal dessert cake rather than something elaborate, and we just asked guests to dig in and enjoy it rather than waiting for us to pose for first slice pictures.”

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“Finally, we saved money by only booking our lovely photographers for four hours, to cover the wedding ceremony and half of the reception. Although this was a canny money-saving option which I would still recommend to those on a tight budget, it would have been better to have them for the full day. The photographs are stunning, and they mean so much more to us than we realised beforehand that they would.”

“I also really wish we could have had a videographer”, she concluded. “The whole day whizzes by, and re-living it afterwards with a video would have been such a joy. However I would advise other couples to at least get someone (a friend or whatever) to record the speeches. When ours finished we were both sad we hadn’t recorded them, then Ben’s sister surprised us by saying she had on her phone as she remembered feeling the same about hers afterwards!”

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