If Sacha Segal (nee Green) looks familiar, you may be remembering her as one of the brides from the TLC programme Say Yes to the Dress (of which more later). Yet there were times when Sacha, who works at a chartered accountancy practice in Swiss Cottage, north west London, never thought she would be choosing a bridal gown. Sacha takes up the tale:
I was on and off of J-Date for about 10 years. I had a host of awful dates and no success in meeting a Nice Jewish Boy. At the end of my 30-something-year-old tether, I sent my last few “attempt” emails to a few guys I liked the look of on J-Date and, when no replies came, I quit. Then a hairdresser in Chigwell told me to download the Jewish dating apps. All of a sudden, after installing J-Swipe, I had seven matches and then seven dates lined up within a day.
Richard was the first date of the seven and, half way through, he said: “did you never get my reply on J-Date? Thought you were ignoring me,” when in fact his email was sitting out there in the ether in my closed J-Date account. So it was all beshert. Sparks flew — and I knew he was The One. Things moved fast and we were off to Mexico for a holiday within three months. After 18 months, he popped the question.
We wanted a traditional-style wedding and I loved the idea of getting married in London — we chose the Western Marble Arch, a modern Orthodox synagogue. We found a ballroom for the reception at the Radisson Blu Portman Square, around the corner, choosing it for its fabulous location and exclusive access to the Portman Square Gardens, for photos.
We used Supercooks for catering; they provide an amazing array of globally inspired food and traditional Jewish cuisine, with the option of Masorti supervision. There was a ton of hot and cold appetisers at the drinks reception — mini burgers, latkes, mini salt beef sandwiches, fish and chips, sushi and more. For the main meal we wanted to stay in keeping with our traditional Jewish wedding theme and went for what is now seen as the more old-school style of Jewish cuisine — chicken soup with kreplach, kneidlach and lokshen; roast chicken with lovely veggies and a trio of yummy desserts. There was, of course, a fish option — teriyaki salmon — and also minestrone soup and veggie options for the main. To top it all off, there was a gastronomic late-night buffet of desserts, with a chef making crêpes.
So, The Dress. Well — my mum and I were at a wedding fair, gazing at the gowns on the stand of the shop Confetti and Lace (based in Lakeside, Thurrock) and we got chatting to the manageress, Gill, who told us we would be fab on TLC’s brand-new UK version of Say Yes To The Dress (hosted by David Emmanuel, who designed the wedding dress for Princess Diana). There was a queue right there at the fair to audition and, after a little giggle at the fact the US version had been my favourite show for years, we thought: let’s go for it. So we did; got on the show — and the dress to which I “said yes” was nothing like what I envisaged for myself of course (lace and A-line) — it never is, they say.
This dress, by Sophia Tolli, an Australian designer, had a corset which gave me a fabulous shape. I ordered the dress two sizes smaller and in the nine months it took Sophia Tolli to make my dress, I lost two stone in weight. It was a stunning ivory, dropped-waisted gown, adorned with hand-woven crystal appliqué, with a full skirt in layers of organza and a large train and a veil with glistening crystals on its edges — I felt like a princess.
I had a panel added the top of the dress to cover my chest and shoulders and the dressmaker added crystal appliqué patterns — it was a work of art and became part of the dress. The whole experience, choosing the dress with my mum, sister and mother-in-law on the show was so much fun — and emotional, too.
In keeping with the colours of my flowers, my mum, Freda, wore a fuchsia pink, full-length fishtail gown, custom-embellished with crystals, and a hand-made fascinator; she looked amazing. My mother-in-law, Trudy, was glamorous in a full-length purple gown with sparkles.
My sister, Lysia Jaye, who was matron of honour and my niece, Monica Brielle Jaye, as bridesmaid, wore vivid burnt orange dresses, again with bespoke items to match — cloaks for the synagogue, fascinators, gloves, bags — all by Bob Holly, our friend and designer dressmaker from Ongar, Essex.
My nephew and pageboy, Hadleigh Jaye, matched the groom, ushers and groomsmen, who all wore mid-grey morning suits, Cadbury purple kippot and purple and orange buttonholes (suits were hired from Impeccable, Hatch End, Middlesex).
We hired an ivory Rolls-Royce Phantom to drive me and my mum round the corner to the venue, and Richard and me back to the Portman Square Gardens for photos — we had never been inside a car like this before — true glamour. The car did a few circuits before and after, for family — and even some friends managed to nab a lift from the driver, a talking point afterwards.
The colours were so vivid and different from a lot of the pretty pastels I had seen at weddings and wedding fairs. There were twinkling lights enhancing the white-draped chupah, with oriental orchids, gerberas and ivy trickling down all from corners and flickering candles at the bottom — absolutely magical. The ballroom was dressed in the same fashion, colourful flowers set against white tablecloths and twinkly dance floor and candles on every table — it was a dream, all made possible by the XS Showband production team and Alexandra Florist.
We all had flawless Younique make-up, applied by Lysia — even my 83-year-old Nanny, Miriam Shelkin, my mum’s mother, looked more youthful and stunning than before. Our wow-factor hairstyles were created by Brendon Smith of Oliver Cole hairdressers in Chigwell, Essex — they stayed put no matter the amount of crazy dancing to XS Showband.
Following the initial fun-filled Israeli wedding music set on our entrance, they continued singing soul and funky classics all night and some up-to-date R’n’B bangers too — it was a dinner dance and our family and friends really went for it on the dance floor.
All our planning had come together. It had taken a year of very hard work, hours and hours on the phone and visits to venues, wedding fairs, catering planning, filming sessions and more. Despite all the small hitches and stress, the end result was well worth it. There was lots of fun along the way too — so it wasn’t all stress — and I would call it a good kind of stress. The toastmaster, Howard Robbins, and his wife and assistant made sure the day ran smoothly from start to finish.
Despite the planning, there were plenty of surprises. Richard sent a gift to my room while I was getting ready — pearl earrings and a bracelet and a romantic little note. My Dad, Laurence, decided stop his father-of-the-bride speech mid-flow, get on the stage and perform a song about my “dating woes”, to the tune of my favourite Amy Winehouse song, Valerie. It was an epic performance, ending with the story of how I met my Prince Charming, Richard and how proud my Dad was — so funny and emotional.
We are a bit of a singing family and the next surprise was a performance by Monica, my 11-year-old niece, of Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. Monica was so brave to sing in front of 250 people and brought tears of happiness to everyone’s eyes. Monica and Hadleigh went on to lead bensching.
The wedding would not have been complete without Sacha The Bride singing too. As mentioned, Amy Winehouse is my inspiration — I adore her. So my special song performed to my husband was Our Day Will Come — I changed the lyrics to “Our day has come” and ad-libbed a few bits to personalise it.
For honeymoon, we spent four crazy days in Vegas and packed in some adventure with a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. We then went on a seven-day cruise around the four major Hawaiian Islands. We rode horses on a fruit plantation, gazed in awe from the ship at the erupting volcano Kīlauea, snorkelled with tropical fish and even experienced a pod of dolphins that surrounded us on a boat-trip.
My strongest memories of the day are my Dad’s proud face when he saw me coming out of the room to greet him at the hotel. And all our families’ proud faces when they first saw me in my dress and my handsome groom, Richard. Also, Richard’s reaction to seeing me for a moment in the bedecken room was so touching — lots of tears from everyone. I also remember my tearful grandparents’ faces at the chupah. We are so grateful to have had my elderly but still young-looking and fabulous grandparents with us.
Rabbi Sam Taylor’s words about us and our future were so meaningful. It felt very holy that our relationship was being sanctified that day, in the most stunning Orthodox synagogue, with such rich Jewish history and next to historic Marble Arch too. Not many people I know have been married in a synagogue; many of them chose to do everything under one roof. Being married in a synagogue was a tradition our parents had followed and one that felt right and special to us. The Western Marble Arch has an ambience that is so uplifting. This was enhanced by the voice of our chazan Yoav Oved, who brought almost the entire congregation to tears.
A word from the groom, Richard Segal, a sales executive at a media company in Shoreditch, London:
I am used to being casual — I love a pair of jeans and sometimes even the odd Iron Maiden T-shirt (yes, I am a secret rocker). I do wear smart clothes for special occasions but the wedding attire — tails, cravat and waistcoat — was unlike anything I have worn before. I loved it, though. Sacha chose the colours and style well and I felt very distinguished, like a real groom, ready to marry my lovely bride.
The thing I remember most was seeing my beautiful wife for the first time in the Bedecken room, a vision of beauty that took my breath away. The speeches were brilliant and the surprises, with my Bride singing to me and Monica and Laurence also with their amazing performances, made it the best day of my life — one I will never forget. Sacha and I want to say a special thank you to our wonderful parents for all their hard work, love and help in making this most amazing day ever. We love you guys.
Steve Mason, Im-art Photography
Anthony McCutcheon, video, Spotlight Weddings
Younique by Lysia Jaye @LysiaLovesYou