So today I have a special real wedding on the blog – one that’s very dear to my heart: ours.
We’ve posted the video in the past and used various pictures to illustrate different features, we’ve even had it featured in the wonderful Unique Bride Magazine. It took me a while to post this because, while it was an incredibly happy day, the pictures still make me sad to look at sometimes. My dad and I were extremely close and this was the last big family event before we lost him. At the time, we had only just found out about his illness, and so it was an odd day – wildly happy, laced with shock and fear and filled with an extraordinary amount of love. It’s hard to believe this was only back in August, and I’ll do my absolute best to do the amazing suppliers justice too.
Because it’s our wedding day, I don’t have a bride to hand over to, so I’m going to have to do the talking myself. I’m going to do things a little differently and write the story as I go, no introduction, no credits list. This is a story I really want to tell as thoroughly as I can, for myself as much as anyone else.
All the images in this post are copyright of Satureyes. We were so lucky to have Rick as our photographer as he rarely shoots weddings, he’s so busy being hired left right and centre for a whole host of huge clients. However, I’ve known Rick a while, he’s a dear friend of mine, and I desperately wanted a photographer I felt completely comfortable with and could be really frank with about how I wanted the wedding shot. Rick followed my military-esque brief to the letter, putting my whole family at ease in the process and making friends with everyone he talked to. In this set are also the last pictures anyone took of my dad as after this he lost weight very quickly and no longer wanted to be in any photographs – as you’ll see they were taken with such sensitivity and flair, they captured everything I loved about his spirit – and that’s a bonus you just can’t put into words.
The day began at my mum’s house in East Grinstead. My mum is an aromatherapist, so we used her clinic as our “getting ready” space. This was the perfect way to put me in a totally chilled out mood, with the lovely essential oils wafting around me.
While Rick photographed my Justin Alexander dress (a nod here to the perfect customer service at Love U Forever Bridal in Ashford) and Rachel Simpson Shoes (aptly named Hettie, which was my great grandmother’s name) the bridesmaids and I had our hair and make up done by Sam Pearce, a fabulous make-up artist with a real talent for bringing out people’s natural beauty, and lovely Lucy from Hair That Turns Heads. Lucy gave all the bridesmaids pretty plaits and me the big bouncy curls I’d been dreaming of.
The ladies you’re seeing in the above pictures are (L-R) my cousin Shelley (a bridesmaid), Rhiannon (joint maid of honour), me (Sara), my friend Heather and my cousin Ella (bridesmaid).
While we were all getting ready, John was nervously waiting for me, the venue was being dressed and the ceremony area perfected by the amazing Jennifer Sue Weddings, a hero of a stylist (I can’t stress this enough) who knows everything there is to know about weddings and vintage styling (I’ll get on to this later), accompanied by two of the most amazing friends I’ll ever have, Alfie and his beautiful girlfriend, Catriona. Alfie volunteered himself (inexplicably) for the task of on-the-day coordinator. I think this qualifies me to reference him for any job he ever applies for, Alfie is just amazing. He and Catriona worked their backsides off, not only styling behind the scenes and running around making sure everything was in place, but making sure the whole day ran smoothly. I have yet to thank them so publicly for this, and I’m ashamed to say, we haven’t yet managed to organise our thank you dinner. Nothing I do for these two in this lifetime will probably be enough to thank them, let’s just say that when they need a friend who’s going to go to the ends of the earth for them, that’ll be me – at the front of the line.
The venue, Kidbrooke Park, was special to me too. It wasn’t just a wedding venue to me – it was my old school. Having attended for about 13 years, it was filled with memories already and making John a part of that was like coming full circle.
Oh, and did I mention it was the hottest day of the year? Hence the impromptu fans and water bottles under every chair. It was so funny that we’d spent a year and a half praying for dry weather – and our prayers were definitely answered! We’d prepared so thoroughly for a downpour but had no idea what to do with the heat!
As the big moment approached to walk down the aisle (which involved a comical moment where our way was blocked to outdoor theatre we were coming in from by (I kid you not) a giant tree that had fallen across the door to the garden we were trying to get into, we suddenly realised that my dad was missing. It turns out as he’d missed the rehearsal the night before, he didn’t know where we all were. Luckily my cousin Ella ran to get him, saving the day. He showed up with a little “oh there you are” smile on his face and we prepared ourself to walk down the aisle to the sound of my brother, Yotam, playing the music to Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez on the guitar.
We decided, American-style, to have the bridesmaids and groomsmen coming down the aisle first – for no other reason than I wanted to build suspense! The bridesmaids wore fifties-inspired Flossy and Dossy sun dresses paired with pretty Doris Designs skirts in different colours. The groomsmen each had a tie coloured to match a bridesmaid’s skirt, so there was method in the madness. I have to mention here, that Wendy of Flossy and Dossy turned around those dresses in about a week. I’ve never seen anything like it – I had a last-minute whim, it paid off – and they looked stunning over the petticoats.
I had chewed poor Rick’s ear off about getting a shot of John’s face as I came down the aisle (partially for blackmail purposes) but I had just been joking around when I said I expected him to cry – that was a nice surprise!
As is the Jewish tradition, both of my parents walked me down the aisle, and my maids of honour Carys and Rhiannon held my train. Being extremely tall and beautiful (they are sisters – good genes) and standing directly behind me, I was relieved that my heels did their job and I wasn’t laughably short next to them. You’ll also notice that I was very reluctant to put down my beautiful bouquet by Pat’s Flowers in Hailsham. This was literally because I was in love with it. All of the flowers fit the brief so perfectly they might as well have come out of my own head.
We decided to have two ceremonies – a brief legal ceremony and the signing of the register, and a Jewish-style ceremony performed by a dear friend of mine, Tony, from my university days, who was the Jewish chaplain at the time. Our mums signed as our witnesses, and our dads signed the Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract). We also had a vintage-inspired floral chuppah (canopy) made from table legs, cloth and a series of complicated ropes and pulleys! As is part of the Jewish ceremony, you’ll actually see us go under the vintage veil for real (my great-grandmother’s veil) as we drink the wine and say the blessings.
The smile you see in the picture above is the smile I had for the rest of the day. I’ve never smiled quite so much in my whole life. My cheeks hurt like crazy the next day. Months later my dad asked me to “do the funny little smile you had on your wedding day”. I couldn’t. I think it was the first and last time my face will ever look like that.
After the ceremony we served Pimms & lemonade on the lawn with mini scone canapés from the Village Bakery in Groombridge doing the rounds. Jennifer Sue Weddings and her team had styled an exceptionally cute vintage tea room area, filled with stunning flowers from Pat’s Flowers in Hailsham, sofas from Doily Days and china from Vintage Floral Teas. It was a great place for people to get some shade, a cuppa and sink into some comfy chairs.
In the meantime, we went off and took all the family pictures. It was so sweltering hot that we all lost stamina (except for our photographer who was up for anything) after about an hour. I think the pictures we did get are ones that will be treasured forever though.
After the formals and refreshments, dinner was served in the marquee by Best In Tents on the lawn. My mum, Lorraine, was absolutely incredible – she pretty much single-handedly catered the event. She spent weeks beforehand baking and freezing, and everyone absolutely loved the food. The marquee was decorated by Jennifer Sue Weddings and her team (which included me at that point). Jen showed us how to hang lanterns and was absolutely brilliant, even providing the floral table runners to go over our lace tablecloths and getting things done at lightning speed and with perfect precision.
When everyone had eaten, the photo booth from Retro Me was ready in the tea room for us to use, which was so much fun. The team from Retro Me was fabulous, even giving us our pictures on disk to take home at the end of the night so we could look at the photos the next day!
Then came time for the dancing. We hired a Jewish / Kletzmer band, Shir, to play traditional Jewish and Israeli dancing music while people threw us around on chairs (as you can see, we look really happy about it). I have to say, the happiest moment of my wedding was when I saw my trouper of a dad get up and join in the dancing. When I think about how ill he was, it makes me so glad to think that he had that huge adrenaline surge and was able to join in with such gusto. Watching all my friends and family dancing and laughing together filled me with a joy that I can’t even describe. It was just heaven.
Our stunning cake was from Genuine Cakes – a victoria sponge decorated with roses. Unfortunately for us, the day was SO hot that we had to keep the silver cake drums in between the tiers to stop it all from melting. In fact, we had to go to extraordinary measures to stop any of the food from melting, the booze from boiling etc.
The speeches finished me off – I have them on video, but I think some things need to be kept private. John, my dad, my maids of honour, and John’s best man Todd (who we adore – he doesn’t feature enough here) gave such moving and heartfelt speeches. As you can see, there were lots of tears.
So there you have it folks – our big day. It’s been an emotional post, so if I’ve left anything out or if you’d like to know how to make any of the DIY items featured in the pictures, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
In loving memory of my father, Zvi Doron: 1953 – 2013 – we miss you every day