Horniman museum wedding by London wedding photographer Liam Smith
The Horniman Museum Wedding – South East London
The Horniman is a fantastic, unusual museum with beautiful gardens. It is close to where we live in Nunhead, and we had been on dates there at the beginning of our relationship. It has amazing views over London, a stunning conservatory for the wedding, and a stuffed walrus – what more could you want?!
We didn’t have an event planner, Horniman Museum weddings are co-ordinated by Suzanne James Ltd. and they’re amazing!
We wanted the day to be modern, stylish, elegant and fun – and personal to us. Rob is a keen minimalist, and the conservatory at the Horniman Museum is already a very beautiful space without any decoration, so we decided on a clean, white theme with a bit of forest green to reflect the beautiful gardens outside.
So tell us how y’all met!
We are an internet dating success story! We met outside Farringdon Station on a raining January evening, both of us feeling pretty fed up with the London dating scene and not particularly hopeful about the date – but here we are six years later! Rob proposed on the Champs-Elysees in Paris… on the start line of the marathon! He proposed, I said yes, my parents (who were there supporting) cried, and I went off and ran a marathon! Rob waited at the finish line with the ring! We were engaged for a year before getting married.
For the dress lovers
Charlie Brear, purchased direct from the designer at a sample day.
I really struggled to find a dress I liked. I wanted something really simple, nothing lacy, nothing strapless, nothing big, nothing sparkly… my bridesmaids were despairing as I hated everything in every shop we went into! After a lot of internet searching, I found the perfect dress on the Charlie Brear website, but it was completely out of budget so I discounted it. By chance, the next week she was holding a sample sale so I popped along hoping she might have my perfect dress… but it wasn’t there. On the off chance, I asked if they happened to have anything like it, and lo and behold, they found the exact dress hiding in the back! It was meant to be!
My veil is something of a family heirloom, having been worn by both my Mum and my Aunt at their weddings. It’s been in a plastic bag in Mum and Dad’s loft for about 30 years so I was amazed it survived in as good condition as it did!
Shoesy shoesy shoes…
I absolutely love LK Bennett shoes (http://www.lkbennett.com/), so I was always going to wear some at my wedding. I happened upon the perfect pair really early on – slightly sparkly, cream coloured pointed toe beauties! I realised on the morning of the wedding that I didn’t have anything ‘blue’, so I customised my shoes by writing ‘I do’ and our wedding date in blue on the bottom!
What about this Photographer we’ve been hearing about?
We found Liam Smith (http://liamsmithphotography.com/) on Rock My Wedding – we loved his modern take on wedding photos and his fantastic use of light. Liam did a simply fantastic job photographing our wedding. He is charming, friendly, unobtrusive – you won’t notice he’s there, but will be thrilled with the photos at the end! We chose Liam because of his eye for more interesting, modern photos and we were over the moon with the results. Our friends and family all loved him too, and whilst he blended in quietly for most of the day, he was also brilliant at organising whole group shots – something other photographers I’ve met have really struggled with. Book him quick for your wedding – you won’t be disappointed. – I didn’t even pay them, honest!
My Grandmother gave me a beautiful vintage bird-shaped brooch when I was 21, which she was given when she was 18 years old. I wore this in my hair as my ‘something old’, and also added some vintage combs from Lola and Madison on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/lolaandmadison).
My now husband gave me a Mӧbius necklace by Georg Jensen (http://www.georgjensen.com/en-gb) before the wedding to wear on the day. I picked up matching earrings from Debenhams (http://www.debenhams.com/).
Perfume/Scent worn on the day – any particular reason why?
I wore Florabotanica by Balenciaga, simply because I wear it every day and I wanted to smell like myself!
How did you kit out the bridesmaids?
I had decided I wanted dark green bridesmaid’s dresses, and naively thought these would be easy to find on the high street. Wrong! I was keen to avoid trying specialist bridesmaid shops, but resorted to doing so, thinking they would at least have dark green dresses. Wrong! Getting rather desperate, we eventually found perfect dresses in good old Marks & Spencer – lovely multi-way dresses which the girls have been able to wear again. They looked gorgeous!
Bridesmaid’s Other Accessories:
I gave the bridesmaids silver bracelets with dark green pearls on the morning of the wedding, both from Vintage Stamp Jewels via Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/vintagestampjewels
Hair and make-up Artist
I found Sam White (http://www.slap-artists.co.uk/) on Rock My Wedding, and she was brilliant! From the make-up trial, where she dispensed skin care advice that has truly changed my life (really!) to the flawless job she did on the day, she was just fantastic. There is nothing that can faze her, she was super calm and organised, and has a tip or trick for absolutely everything you can think of! She listened really carefully to everything the bridesmaids and I requested, even changing my hairstyle at the very last minute! I would highly recommend her to anyone getting married, or indeed for any occasion – I’d like her to come and do my hair and make-up every day!
Chaps need to be smart too, Rob cut a dashing figure in a double breasted number.
Rob bought his suit from Leonard Jay on 72 Cheapside, where he buys most of his suits. In fact he recommends them so highly the father of the bride, the father of the groom and the bride’s brother were also kitted out in Leonard Jay!
On the morning of the wedding, I gave Rob Mӧbius cufflinks from Georg Jensen (http://www.georgjensen.com/en-gb/) to match my necklace and the bridesmaid’s earrings.
Your Florist, and details of why you opted for the flowers you went with…
Our lovely friend Wendy who owns our local florist in Nunhead (http://www.a-gflowers.co.uk/) kindly did the flowers for our horniman museum wedding. I wanted very simple, predominantly white flowers, and no roses. I didn’t win the roses battle with my Mum, but Wendy did put together beautiful bouquets with my favourite ranunculus, white tulips and grasses. For the table centre pieces, I’ve always loved gypsohilia, and this matched our green and white theme so we had lovely round bunches in mirrored cube vases.
To cake, or not to cake.
The first thing we decided on when we got engaged was that the cake would be a cake of cheese! I was keen to have some of my favourite Welsh cheeses included, as well as French Chaource as this was a cheese we discovered on our engagement in Paris. Amanda from Suzanne James Ltd. was kind enough to make this happen. We had five tiers, comprising Dorstone, Fougerus, Chaource, Perl Las and Hafod. I made two types of chutney to go with the cheeses – caramelised onion, and apple and hazelnut. In a moment of bride-DIY madness I was also going to make my own crackers but Amanda wisely advised me against it!
My ring came from a jeweller on Hatton Garden, and Rob’s was made from tungsten and came from Elma Jewellery (http://www.elmajewellery.co.uk/).
Suzanne James (http://www.suzannejames.co.uk/) did all the catering for our wedding, and they were simply fantastic. We had incredible canapés, and the wedding breakfast was Dorset crab salad, then slow roasted pork belly, and finally rhubarb and vanilla tart. Many of our guests told us it was the best food they’d ever had at a wedding – and we totally agree!
My Dad and I choose a selection of classical music to be played during the wedding breakfast – I’m a violinist in my spare time so it was important to me to include some of this in the day. Dad is a big jazz fan, so we put together a playlist of some fabulous jazz for the canapé reception. Rob and I were announced into our wedding breakfast to a soundtrack of ‘I want to hold your hand’ by The Beatles, and then John at DJ for me (http://djforme.co.uk/) provided the disco.
I designed and created all of the stationery. The invitations had a ‘tying the knot’ theme, using white card and dark green silk thread. I printed order of the day booklets, also in white and dark green. The table names were cities Rob and I have visited together, and the table plan was a dark green and white map of Europe. Each table name sign was the outline of the relevant country with a dark green heart for the city, and on the reverse we wrote the date we were there, and some facts about each city – our favourite restaurant, our travel tips, and so on. I printed menus for each place setting, also tied with the same dark green silk thread.
Did you provide wedding favours?
I sourced plain white paper bags for each place setting, adding a card printed with each person’s name tied on in dark green silk thread for the place card. Everything inside the bag was homemade – I baked mini Welsh cakes for everyone (in the course of the wedding build up I made more than 300 – I don’t want to see another for a while!), and my parents kindly provided little pots of honey from their bees back home in Aberystwyth! Rob and I love food, but whilst I love cooking he is somewhat the opposite – so we created a book of our favourite recipes, and I printed and bound a copy for each person. Half the recipes were mine, half were Rob’s – with his mostly focussing on ready-made pesto and pasta! For the children, I made colouring books instead of recipe books, and their bags had colouring pencils, bubbles and other toys inside. Finally, a few months before the wedding my parents-in-law offered to fold 100 origami walruses for us – that’s not an offer you turn down, so in a Horniman Museum twist on the traditional Japanese cranes, we gave everyone a mini origami walrus as well (in dark green and white of course!).
The Horniman conservatory is so beautiful we didn’t feel the need to add much to it. So we stuck with white fairy lights, tea lights and of course the origami walruses. I also had personalised white wooden crates for cards and presents, a beautiful wooden guest book, a personalised cake topper and a screenprint of the UK in the same style as the table plan, all sourced from Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/).
Did you ‘walk down the aisle’ to a particular track or song?
I walked up the aisle to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3, and we walked back down the aisle together to the Smashmouth version of ‘I’m a Believer’.
Your vows were both personal and brilliantly funny. Would you like to share anything about them?
We wrote our own vows, and wrote them in secret so we didn’t know what the other was going to say until we were saying them in the ceremony! We kept the humour, with Rob (like a true lawyer) promising to take out the recycling when it is reasonably practicable to do so, and me promising to always bake his favourite banana bread, but with some heartfelt, tear-jerking moments too!
The readings were equally brilliant, I’m going to remember Einsteins letter for my own wedding! How did you choose them?
We chose a reading each, and also did this in secret so again we didn’t know what the other had chosen until the ceremony! Rob had my brother read “A letter from Albert Einstein to his wife, Mileva Maric” which set out some rather unreasonable rules Einstein imposed on his first wife. I chose “The Day The Saucers Came” by Neil Gaiman. Without knowing it in advance, we’d each opted for a mixture of romance and science – perfect!
Did you choose a ‘first dance’ track?
Our first dance was to Elbow’s ‘One day like this’. It’s a song that makes us think about each other!
What was your very favourite part of the day and why.
Siobhan: my favourite part of the day was the ceremony – it was one of the most emotional, happy, life-changing moments of my life. The ceremony is usually the more boring bit of a wedding when you are the guest – totally the other way round when it’s your own wedding!
Rob: My favourite part of the day was seeing Siobhan in her dress for the first time, walking down the aisle – she looked even more beautiful than she usually does. Of course, I also enjoyed my own exceptionally witty speech. I should add that my sister Jess gave birth on the morning of the wedding, but still made it to the ceremony with a new niece in tow, so that was pretty exciting too.
And ,on reflection, is there anything you might have done differently with foresight?
I might have left to get to the wedding slightly earlier – I didn’t realise the length of time it would take to have the interview with the registrar! Apart from that – no, the whole day was perfect.
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a Bride to Be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be? Readers love to read the ‘Words of Wedded Wisdom’ left by other brides…
Start any DIY projects as far in advance as possible. I made sure I had everything finished at least a week before the wedding as I didn’t want to be panicking and sleep deprived on the day, and wanted to spend as much time as possible with my bridesmaids and parents in the days before. Also, start looking for bridesmaid dresses early – I completely underestimated the run-in time for dresses which are made to order, it can be longer than for a wedding dress!
Did you visit any wedding blogs prior to your wedding, for inspiration and ideas? If so, please state which ones and tell us why these are your favourites.
I read a lot of Rock my Wedding (http://www.rockmywedding.co.uk/), and indeed found both my photographer and makeup artist there. I also found great alternative ideas on Off Beat Bride (http://offbeatbride.com/).