The average cost of getting married in the UK is now £27,000, with the figure in London reaching £38,000, according to Bridebook, a wedding planning website. When Yosi and I decided to get married, we wanted to create a day full of fun, happiness, creativity and personal memories to cherish. Eventually, though, we had to face the figures and decide: how much could we afford to spend?
I had read of cash-strapped couples who had managed the whole affair for a miraculous £250 — dress, suit, rings, bridesmaids’ dresses from eBay and charity shops; food by friends and relatives and so on.
At the scale’s other end is possibly the world’s most expensive wedding: when Russian billionaire’s son Said Gutseriev wed Khadija Uzhakhova in Moscow in March, the dress cost $1.2 million and the wedding a cool billion dollars. When you hire Jennifer Lopez, Sting and Enrique Iglesias as the entertainment, it does not come cheap.
No offence to the bargain-basement brigade or to the supremely extravagant, we felt there was a middle ground we could tread. We would have to pull in a few favours to create the wonderfully whimsical wedding we wanted while not breaking the bank, but we were surrounded by willing talent.
There was also the question of faith. Yosi is Jewish; I am inclined towards Buddhism. We considered having a rabbi and a Buddhist nun (nice feminist touch) jointly presiding over the ceremony under a chupah in a temple.
On second thoughts, Yosi’s dad, Sam, would not have been too happy about that. So we compromised with a register office.
Next up was the reception: we wanted it to be outdoors, so it felt as if we were in the countryside (where our hearts are pulling us) but easy for our London-based friends and family. Yosi remembered the sea scouts field where he had played sax for someone’s wedding. It was by the river near Ham and I found it magical too. I could imagine his saxophone resonating around the woody clearing. So we had a venue. But anyone who has planned an outdoor wedding will know, you have to work out the practicalities. Like — how do you feed 50 people in the middle of a wood? How do you shelter guests from the unpredictable English weather? And that is not even getting to the issue of loos.
We were anxious about the food and drink, until we found Sugar & Spice. Our friend, PR supremo Hannah Kapff, used them for events and rated them highly. Clemmie Underwood, Sugar & Spice’s owner, put on a taster session for us at her firm’s kitchen in Battersea. We wanted Asian-inspired food (Yosi was born in Bombay; I was born in Sri Lanka) but the caterer does offer other options. We pared the taster menu down to canapés of tandoori fish tikka on kebab sticks; patties stuffed with peas, mango and herbs and bread stuffed with spicy mash potato. Mains included Keralan fish curry.
We had a tasting session at Majestic Wine, too, which provided free glass hire and delivered the champagne, cava, wine and soft drinks directly to the site.
For the reception, we needed a tipi — and we found Katah Tents, attracted by its website and reviews. Edd from Katah met us on-site, measured up and checked the facilities for safety, access and so on (we needed a separate generator). Owner Andrew Venables reassured us our tipi would weather any storm (and heaters would keep guests warm).
On the day, I wore my Alice Temperley dress (brand new but from an eBay store specialising in the designer), while Yosi had splashed out on a gorgeous Richard James suit.
By then we had no budget left for a Bentley, so Yvan Rahal, our best man, picked us up in his VW Passat, which he and girlfriend Yvana had festooned with cow’s parsley (engaging with the country theme).
We were half way to the register office when Yvana turned to us and said: “You did remember the rings... didn’t you?”
Oh no — the rings! We had forgotten the beautiful bespoke bands — mine of rose gold, his platinum, made by Kamil Maheem of Orient Jewellers, Hatton Garden. A mad dash back to scoop them off the kitchen table and we made it to the register office with one minute to spare, calm down and make our grand entrance.
My beautiful bouquet of white peonies, like the table decorations, had been kindly made by friends Becky Edwards and Anna Trowbridge, who are studying floristry.
Anna’s husband, Ian, a brilliant photographer, snapped the wedding party as we sailed by ferry from Twickenham to Ham on the other side of the river and captured other key moments throughout the day.
Sam, Yosi’s dad, made a special Jewish blessing, which went down a storm, as did the speeches. In fact, the ring incident apart, everything went to plan, Sugar & Spice’s feast was followed by beyond-amazing cakes by Sefakor: the main one being three tiers of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry sponge, with cascades of berries and rose petals. There was even a wheat-free one for me — Tunisian orange and ground almonds.
As the sun set on the Thames and dusk fell, the ambient lighting rigged up by Katah came on, turning the trees around the tipi red, green and purple in turn. Inside, the entertainment began, care of Blag, our friends Michael Pinsky and Dave Morgan, playing their animated gypsy jazz.
Finally, Yosi’s band, the Viski Collective, revealed their night’s special secret — a rendition of Ebony and Ivory with Paul McCartney’s lyrics changed to “Beverley and Yosi living in perfect harmony”. The highlight had to be Yosi’s dad Sam singing his repertoire, including I Did It My Way. Just the song to sum up how we approached organising our wedding, which was everything we dreamed it would be and more.
And not forgetting, it was glued together with family and friend’s generous offerings — and a lot of love.
sugarandspicefood.com; 020 7978 4008
Katah Events 01865 699101, katahevents.com
Cakes: Sefakor Amedewonu,