Presenting Charlie Brear's #FridayBride
Have the time of your life this Friday!
Sorry ladies, Patrick Swayze may not galantly appear to rescue you from being put in the corner this weekend, but Jemimah & Simon's wedding day will surely get you in the groove! Their Tropical Luxe inspired wedding day, as captured by Millie Benbow, looked an absolute blast!
Married in early July, this couple took on the theme of a vibrant Caribbean garden party with no agenda to strictly follow tradition. From 'Dirty Dancing' sing-a-longs to glass-smashing, personalised fortune cookies to mini pineapples, their day was filled with laughs and unforgettable moments. Set at the grand Royal Institute of British Architects in central London, tropical embellishments livened the 1930s art-deco venue. The creativity this couple used in designing a day that suited them while cleverly adapting traditional cultural aspects was exceptional, and ensured a day of fun with a sweet nod to their heritages!
Jemimah sought to find a dress that would compliment the stripped back and elegant vibe of her venue. She chose our chic and simple Chartres dress and paired it with her bright, genuine smile and bold flowers. The gleaming grins on this couple truly shone as the newlyweds oozed pure happiness on their gloriously unique day.
We owe it all to the wonderful Millie from Millie Benbow Photography for candidly capturing the beautiful and intimate moments shared throughout Jemimah & Simon's celebration.
How did Simon propose?
We organise secret dates for each other, where we only reveal the location about an hour before (and still keep the event itself secret). He arranged a secret date for us on a Friday in late October. An hour before he told me to go to St James's Park in London. I wasn’t really sure what to expect (would it be a picnic, weather permitting, or just a base to head elsewhere). When I turned up he was there with a giant red balloon and the second I saw that I knew! He wanted to propose there as my favourite spots in London are parks, so St James's is basically a happy place. And yes, he already had the ring – a beautiful 1930s art deco number (can you see a theme? We both studied History at university - adds up right?!)
Where did you purchase your dress & why?
Charlie Brear of course! I hunted around, pretty obsessively if I’m being honest. I was initially very inclusive in my dress search, wanting to look at all colours and types of dresses. I wasn’t convinced I wanted a white dress, but soon decided that actually when else can you wear a dress like that? I visited a few bridal stores before finding Charlie Brear online. I saw the dress I ended up getting on the website and instantly thought it was stunning. At Charlie Brear itself I tried on a few styles and was torn, but I maintained the soft spot for my dress and then made the final decision upon my Mum also saying she thought it was ‘the one’.
What was your best experience when trying on dresses?
I found the experience a bit stressful, in part because I looked so widely at the start and in part because lots of places make it quite difficult (it can take a while to get a scheduled appointment, some places were in very inconvenient locations and lots charge you just to visit). Charlie Brear felt very different and much more relaxed and fun – how it should be. My first appointment at Charlie Brear was the first time I started to feel at ease and think that I was getting close.
What would your advice be to other brides about shopping for a wedding dress?
Firstly give yourself plenty of time. I was on the six month cusp and, unbeknown to me, that was already cutting it fine. So if you can allow longer that's great. I also think it helps to think about what feel you want from the day and work from there. We already had the venue sorted and a sense of the theme re flowers etc, so I knew I wanted a dress that would suit the stripped back, elegant vibe of the RIBA and a dress that wouldn't overpower the wonderful colours of the flowers. This helped me choose between the two styles that I adored. Assuming that most people like and suit more than one style of dress, having a sense of the look of the day can really help you decide the style of the dress.
How did you feel after you had ordered your dress?
Relieved! One big thing ticked off the list.
What shoes did you wear?
I actually opted for some that I already owned. They were in good shape, so I set them aside and didn’t wear them for months until the day. I chose them because they were cream, a perfect height for what I wanted and very comfortable. You’re on your feet for most of the day and it’s a long day, so it was really important for me to not have painful feet.
Did you struggle finding the right lingerie for your dress & what would you recommend for other brides-to-be?
Yes! My dress was figure hugging and showed up any line. I went toJohn Lewis and tried on several pairs of seamless underwear and bought two, so that on the day I would have options. Charlie Brear recommendedMagic Lift-Its and they were brilliant.
Who did your hair & make-up and how did you find them?
Evie from Tori Harris Make-up & Hair. I found her online (I liked her style – not too made up). Evie was great – we got on really well and she helped keep my wedding jitters at bay. Plus she did my hair and make-up just how I wanted.
What traditions did you follow?
We spent the night apart and didn’t see each other until we were just outside of the ceremony venue. We mostly did this though because we loved the idea of building anticipation and we also thought there was something lovely and symbolic about spending the night before with our respective family and friends from before we met – a real marker of the change that was about to happen. For example, I went for a walk with my Dad after dinner, which is one of our ‘things’ we do together and it felt really special to do that one last time before I went off and created a new family unit. As with Jewish tradition, we were both walked down the aisle by our parents, although this was a slight bend of tradition too, since Simon is not Jewish. Besides that we didn't follow anything else.
How did you feel walking down the aisle?
I actually danced down the aisle! We opted for UB40’s, 'I’ve Got You Babe,' and as I walked through the door, with sunshine cascading into the room and a sea of smiling faces, I just felt euphoric.
What was the funniest moment of the day?
We basically laughed the entire day – most of the photos are of us with huge grimaces! Everything seemed hilarious. The speeches were particularly funny. Simon also surprised me during a photoshoot by showing me that he had both our names stitched into the collar of his jacket - it was incredibly cheesy and cracked me up..
Take 5 with this week's #FRIDAYBRIDE
1. Don’t sweat the small things, but don’t forget them either – while they’re not essential they make the day personal.
2. Don’t assume you ever have to do anything – it’s your day, make it what you want and don’t get bullied into someone else’s vision.
3. Avoid giving away too many details beforehand. It’s really nice to see everyone surprised.
4. Wedding favours on the tables are great conversation starters.
5. If you're getting married in the UK, choose a location that works for all seasons. You don’t want to have to stress about something you cannot control.
Did your wedding have any quirky or unusual features?
Neither myself or Simon are religious or traditional, so we didn’t feel we had to do anything. At the same time, my background is Jewish and Simon’s dad is from Trinidad. So while we were not subservient to traditions, we had these wonderful cultures to borrow from and adapt. On top of the steel band, which was a bit more unusual, we had Jewish dancing and I smashed a glass (usually the man smashes the glass). I also have a love of China (lived there and studied Chinese) so we made sure China had a role in the form of bespoke fortune cookies with our own personal messages to all the guests. We were quite worried that all of these different themes and influences might look like an Eton Mess – fortunately they all came together really well. Finally, we made our guests sing a song, which really got the party started – it was 'I’ve Had the Time of My Life' and my Sister and Simon’s best mate led the song. Everyone loved it! It was incredibly cheesy and basically the best ice breaker.
Who took your fabulous wedding pictures?
Millie Benbow. Millie works with her partner Jo and together they are an amazing team. We Skyped with them before and instantly got on really well. Rather than seeing them as just our photographers, they felt like fabulous guests who really added to our day.
Did you find organising your wedding an easy process?
I found organising it quite straightforward as I organise events as part of my day job. In fact, it was really nice organising an event for myself where I was fully in charge and did not have to ‘market it to the public’ and ‘find sponsorship’! The only bit I found a tad challenging were the opinions – I never realised quite how many opinions people have about weddings and how strongly they feel about them, down even to what shoes I should wear.
What will you do with your dress now?
It’s at the dry cleaners right now! I thought about dying it a different colour, but it’s really too beautiful to alter.
If you could do it all again what would you do differently?
Honestly we loved it all and wouldn’t change anything, except potentially the people who carried us on the chairs during the Jewish dancing (they basically dropped us, so they would have not been hired if it had been a rehearsal!). Oh and we didn't get a videographer, partly because we were spilling over budget. We slightly wish we could see a video that captures some of the sounds of the day.
What are you and your husband’s best memories of the day?
Where do I begin? From the moment we entered to the end of the night we had a fantastic time. It really is amazing having all your friends and family in one room. We were particularly surprised by how much we enjoyed the ceremony part. We hadn’t given that loads of thought until a few weeks before and then we went into overdrive trying to ensure the readings were really personal and added in the song, alongside the smashing of the glass. We really made it our own and it was also really upbeat. Looking across the room and seeing everyone from your uni mates to your Aunt singing the 'Dirty Dancing' theme tune and all for you was just priceless.
Dress Chartres by Charlie Brear
Ceremony and Reception Venue Royal Institute of British Architects
Photographer Millie Benbow
Rings Berganza for the engagement ring, an independent jeweller inHatton Garden for our wedding bands.
Music Big Sand Steel Band for the drinks reception and the Wedding Smashers for the dancing (DJ Henry)
Florist Westwood Design
Caterer RIBA’s own
Cake Supplier Made by friend
Hair and Make-Up Evie from Tori Harris Make-up & Hair
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