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Gemma & James


Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

I am at a loss to what to say in this wedding graduate intro, other than every single one of you must read it. Even those of you who are long married, and jaded, and never read wedding graduate posts anymore: Read It. This post is a crazy involved tale,  Gemma & James got married in London, and had their reception in a spot where King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon once feasted for six days, for starters. But beyond that, Gemma just feels like my soul sister, and her wedding is one of those that I wish on a bone deep level that I’d been at (and not just because it was in London, which is my soul sister of a city). and I adore her non-white wedding cocktail dress. Because we all deserve to get married feeling like our fullest, most real selves, and clearly Gemma did just that.

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

I’ve been itching to send you a Wedding Graduate post for absolutely ages now, but an uncharacteristic shyness has been holding me back. Why would anyone want to read about my wedding? Then this morning I woke up and just thought to heck with it – so here goes…

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

James and I got hitched last October, after a year’s engagement. I spent that year juggling planning the wedding with training to be a primary school teacher and, in the last couple of months, starting my first teaching job in a challenging inner-city school. Yeah, who thought that was a good idea? I discovered APW a couple of months after I got engaged, and thank heaven I did. Before then I’d been buying the standard reading matter produced by the WIC and getting increasingly alarmed at the difference between the images I was seeing and our idea of what we wanted our wedding to be.

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

A little background, first. Growing up, I was never one of those girls who dreamed about getting married. In fact, my mum turned round to me one day (I think she was driving me home from college, so I must have been about 17) and told me that she didn’t think I would ever get married. “I think you’ll probably just live with someone,” she said. She may even have used the word “bohemian.” At the time, I agreed with her. Marriage? How bourgeois! But as the years passed, it looked like actually finding someone to marry in the first place would be a struggle – I had a couple of boyfriends, very short term, but despaired of finding The One (of course, I know that the concept of there being just one person out there for you is ridiculous, but give me a break, I was in my twenties). Then, out of the blue, I met James, my now-husband. He was wearing a welding mask and carrying a samovar at the time, both of which I took to be a Good Sign. In October of 2009 he proposed and I gladly accepted, and thereby proved my mum wrong.

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

My mum and dad were over the moon, and very generously offered to pay for the wedding. Lucky, lucky, lucky us! However, this meant I now had to start thinking about weddings, for the first time ever. Early on, I half-joked that I would like to get hitched in a forest. James’ face did not exactly light up with excitement at the idea. Gently, he explained that, as a Catholic, he wouldn’t feel like we were properly married if the wedding wasn’t held in a church. Now I am very loosely Christian, Church of England, used to go regularly when I was younger but stopped when I became a teenager and started valuing lie-ins above spiritual enlightenment. James doesn’t go to church either (except for Christmas and Easter), but once a Catholic, always a Catholic, I guess. As it mattered much more to him where we got married, I was happy to make that compromise (my mum did exactly the same for my dad, who is also Catholic, so there is kind of a family tradition!).

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

We knew we didn’t want to get married in Cheshire, where I am originally from, and I wasn’t keen on getting married in Belfast, James’ home town, so we made the decision to hold the wedding in London. We are Londoners, after all. Why would we go anywhere else? Also no travelling to far-flung places = more money to spend on important things like FOOD and WINE. It was the best decision we could have made, as we ended up getting married at St Etheldreda’s Church in Clerkenwell, which is one of my favourite parts of London. It was right by Smithfield Market, a big meat market that’s completely deserted at weekends – James and I took ourselves off there after the ceremony, and larked about with the photographer. The church dated back to the 13th century and I loved the sense of solemnity it gave to the wedding. We had singers, rather than hymns, who sang the Latin mass. Music is really important to both James and me, and having a ceremony that was full of music was so wonderful. It meant we could just sit and listen and contemplate. We were both astonished at how full of peace we felt during the ceremony – the nerves just seemed to melt away (though I did manage to mess up my vows – I put this down to excitement).

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

Despite my absurdly generous parents giving us the money for the wedding, our budget was still tight and getting hitched in London ain’t cheap. Brilliantly, though, the crypt under the church was run as a venue by one of our favourite restaurants, the Bleeding Heart, so we hired that for the reception. The dinner was fantastic, we had an embarrassment of cheese later on for people to snack on (it is a French restaurant, after all), a jump-jive band, and the crypt itself was so atmospheric. Apparently King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon feasted there for six days on swans stuffed with larks and sparrows. I doubt very much that they had as good a time as we did. They certainly won’t have done as much jiving.

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

So far, so traditional. Traditional can be good, right? But in the run-up to the big day I spent an awful lot of time on the internet, and I think this may have made me a little crazy. I totally fell in love with the idea of a DIY wedding, and decided to make all the wedding stationery. To kick this off I went and learned to make stamps so I could hand-make all my save the date cards. They turned out beautifully, everybody said they were lovely, and they took bloody ages. AGES! So I quickly ditched the idea of making my own invitations in favour of getting some from the internet (and the ones I got, from Wedding Paper Divas, were gorgeous and much cheaper than anything I could have found in the UK).

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

Having blown most of our money on the important bits (church, venue, food, band), we had to get more creative with the details. After being horrified at the cost of wedding cars (£320? For a ten minute journey? Crikey!), I decided to just get a black cab to the wedding and James caught the number 17 bus. He was told by his Turkish colleague that anyone in Turkey who tried to get a bus to their wedding would be locked up as a madman! My cab driver was awesome, too – en route to the church, we passed one of the guests who was clearly completely lost, so after dropping off my dad and me the cabbie went back to pick up the lost guest. London cab drivers are awesome. One of the best parts of having the reception underneath the church was the fact that there was no faffing about with transport – the guests had some champagne after the ceremony at the Bleeding Heart, just round the corner from the church, then ambled down to the crypt for dinner. Simple, stress-free, cheap! My lovely friend Sally, who works for the Royal Opera House, did my hair and makeup (and made me feel like a film star) and I even got to have a trial in one of the dressing rooms in Covent Garden (which made me feel like a prima ballerina).

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

My other tips for keeping sane while planning the Biggest Day Of Your Life (TM) would be:

  • Know Thyself. Even if every single wedding magazine and website is telling you that you should wear a white dress, if you know that white just ain’t you then just wear something else. My mum persuaded me to try on some white wedding gowns, and in every picture she took I look either strained or just plain weirded out. Getting married in taupe and pink was the best decision I made (although red was very much on the cards as well… or possibly even leopard print). Same goes for: not having bridesmaids, favours, swanky wedding cars, dance lessons.
  • As Long As You’re Married At The End, It’s Been A Success. Everything else is just details. Pretty, handmade, carefully-sourced and beautifully-styled details, perhaps, but at the end, just details. The memories I cherish most are seeing tears in James’s eyes as I walked down the aisle, and saying our vows. Everything else is a blur.
  • Remember Why You’re Doing This. It’s not about the flower arrangements or table settings. Whenever I started worrying about chair covers, I’d take a deep breath and Remember. Helped enormously.
  • He’s Marrying You, Stupid. I admit, I did the bride-to-be thing of dieting and going to the gym more. But I didn’t go crazy and try and reinvent myself for the wedding. I was still me, but with (very slightly) more toned upper arms. I tried to have the attitude of “he loves me, so I’ve got to love me too”. It removed a lot of pressure that I didn’t even realise I was putting on myself.
  • It’s Fine To Feel Guilty. After the wedding, I felt terrible that I’d not spent enough time with our guests. There were some people that I said hello to and that was pretty much it. But after speaking to some friends, it was pointed out to me that people come to share the day with you not to engage you in deep conversation. They want to be part of your happiness, and that’s all. Oh, and to dance like loons – they come for that too.

Getting married was brilliant and definitely the best day of my life up to that point. However, being married is even more brilliant. I wish I could go back and tap my younger self on the shoulder and let her know that.

Gemma & James | A Practical Wedding

Photography: Randolph Quan (Note: he was the first photographer we met and we clicked with him immediately. At the end of the meeting James and I walked out of the coffee shop, looked at each other and said “He’s the one”, then ran back inside to tell Randolph he was hired. I don’t think he was expecting such a quick decision!)

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  • Erin

    I love all of this. Especially the dress, and jiving in the crypt post-ceremony. Congratulations. That is all :)

  • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

    What a stunning dress, and paired with those red lips? Woohoo! I also love the reminder of “he loves me, so I’ve got to love me too.” Sometimes that’s exactly what I need to hear when I’m stressed about how I’ve cried *again* or how I can’t make a decision (wedding related or not). He loves me too.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    Oh. My. Lord.

    IN A CRYPT?! I’m so in love with this wedding.

    And the advice. And you’re so gorgeous.

    • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

      Yeah the in a crypt part seriously has me swooning.

    • Ris

      I know you just said it, but I have to too.

      IN A CRYPT?!?

  • Jen M

    I want to eat this wedding, put it in my belly, yum yum yum.

    And seriously the “He’s Marrying You, Stupid” is such an important bit…must remember….

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    I love the transport methods — cab and train. We’ll be doing cabs and elevated train around the city on the big day. Many members of my family think we are crazy. But it doesn’t make sense to us to do anything else.

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      We got married in the suburbs, so we had to do a bit of driving. My mom drove me around to my appointments, then drove me over to the barn for the wedding & reception. It was all in one place; we didn’t need some giant limo to cart our wedding party around, just directions!

      At the end of everything, I had managed to consume a grand total of two glasses of champagne (BOO!), but my poor husband had been bombarded with drinks (“Congratulations, have a gin & tonic!”), so I actually hopped in my mom’s car and drove us back to the hotel, big white dress, fancy hair flowers, and everything. I kind of wanted to get pulled over, just for the fun of it.

      While fancy transportation is fun, sometimes simple is fabulous, too. :D

      • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

        practical transportation! how is this not something more of us have spoken about? i found arranging transporation to be among the most stressful bits of wedding planning. it took far too long for me to realize that good hostessing doesn’t mean providing transportation for every last guest (because they are grown-ups that know how drive, use public transport, look up directions in advance, and arrive places on time) and that i can travel like a normal person, even in a fancy dress (which is why my mom drove me to the ceremony site and my dad let us borrow his car to drive from the ceremony to the reception).

        • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

          YES, EXACTLY. Our wedding location was a little far from the hotel, and I fretted over getting a shuttle for guests for a long time. It finally turned out that we didn’t have room in the budget, so it was scrapped. I was worried about people drinking & driving, but everyone figured their rides out all on their own (shocker!).

          Another thing? Our wedding was on a Thursday evening at 5:30 pm– rush hour traffic. With a little note on our website and a reminder on the invitation insert, we reminded everyone to consider rush hour while making travel plans, and it was fine. No one was late, everyone figured out their own designated drivers, and I didn’t have to worry. All that stress– for nothing!

        • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

          I am actually super concerned about the whole transportation thing for our older folks. Our young friends will figure out Chicago’s public transit/cab system just fine. But the older ones (who mostly plan on driving in an unknown major city) — a good portion of them are from the suburbs or country. We tried to spell things out on the wedsite. But at a certain point, we just have to trust they are adults and will figure things out. Or ask.

    • Veronica

      Riding a double decker red bus to get married is my ultimate fantasy. Strike that, riding around on a routemaster with all our friends *after* getting married is my fantasy!

  • Geepuff

    “As Long As You’re Married At The End, It’s Been A Success.”

    Yes and thank you! After a weekend full of “helpful advice” from my very large, very southern family, I needed this, and the entire rest of the post. You’ve got a great head on your shoulders gal!

  • http://foxandtoad.com/blog Nadine

    Gemma, I love your dress! Also thank you so much for sharing your wedding grad post. I needed this reminder today after a week of trying to decide whether I would ever feel fancy enough for a long, white dress.

    • http://emuhleem.typepad.com Emily

      Nadine,

      Rock whatever dress you feel like! I always thought (as my mom did as well, apparently) that I’d wear this poofiest-dress-imaginable dress in fierce, ah-my-eyes white.

      Then I fell in love with a champagne/ivory, solid lace, trumpet style fitted dress. My mom had to condition herself to like it, I think. My grandmother didn’t even bother trying to like it (as it wasn’t white, therefore traditional).

      Do what feels right to you. Short, long, white, pink, lace, satin….it’s YOUR day. Wear whatever you and the fiancè will adore! That’s what it came down to for me.

      I put on the poofy dress and thought, “Oh look, my parents are throwing me one of those uber-rich kid sweet 16 parties.” Then it was time for “the dress”. My first thought was, “Wow. My fiancè is going to love this. It says exactly what we want–that we’re grown up and doing it on our own.”

      • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

        isn’t it nuts that in this age of black, red, and purple wedding dresses, that champagne/ivory is considered by some as non-traditional? i don’t have an eye for small color differences, and when my mom questioned my ivory lace over champagne dress because it wasn’t white (sounds a bit like yours, actually), my mind was blown.

        • http://emuhleem.typepad.com Emily

          I know! I didn’t see what the big deal was either. Where’d you get your dress, because they do sound very similar! I went the David’s Bridal route because all of the other boutiques were sooo expensive.

          • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

            David’s Bridal FTW! That’s where I got mine.

        • Leigh Ann

          Me, in the bridal gown store: “Do you have this in another color besides white?”
          Woman helping me: “This isn’t white, it’s ivory.”
          What?

      • http://fianceesarehumanstoo.tumblr.com/ fianceesarehumanstoo

        I though that about my dress too, because it was not what I was looking for, but when I tried it on I thought “Huh, I kind of look like a grown up. Wedding is a good day for that!”

  • Charm City Vixen

    Beautiful wedding, wonderful dress, and great advice!

    I’ve never felt that white was my thing either, so I’ve been dreaming of a black wedding dress… and then I got caught up in the WIC and started thinking maybe white with black details. You renewed my faith that all-black would be great for my wedding day!

    Thanks for the insight. And especially for “he loves me, so I’ve got to love me too.” I should probably write that on a post-it and attach it to my forehead at all times. And to my fridge. And my pantry.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      I had a friend do the black wedding dress a few weeks ago. WOW. It was especially awesome in the rain they had on the day, as she could run around in the rain with the photographer and not worry about water spots showing up in the reception photos!

      Rock what feels right. White is a hard colour to wear, and I had serious issues trying to figure out which white was the right one for my skin tone, so I wore silver instead!

    • Carrie

      Dude. A black dress could be totally gorgeous. I tried on an awesome one that was all black lace & ruffles. (The same dress is still being sold — DebShops.com, search for “strapless lace ballgown”.)

      If you’re dreaming of yourself in a black wedding dress, do iiiiiit.

  • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

    ok if we had cabs that looked like that, nobody would ever have to hire a limo. I mean I got a ride in my friend’s minivan, BUT, if we had cabs like that in northern virginia, I would have sprung for the fare instead of the free minivan ride.

    I’m trying really hard not to just be that american and say how charming your language is. But seriously. Also, any wedding featuring an embarrassment of cheese will always be a favorite of mine.

    Beyond all that, really wise thoughts, thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I noticed the car, too! I was even thinking that maybe I would have liked to rent fun cars for the day (and that’s the first time that’s even occurred to me!), but then I got down to the part where she said it was a taxi and I got a bit jealous of London’s fabulous cabs! Practical and pretty? Perfect.

    • jennybegoode

      We’re having black cabs too! They’ve always felt really luxurious to me because of the space (bonus: no crushed dresses).

  • Mattingly

    just wanted to chime in and say this has got to be one of the coolest/ most beautiful pairings of Church venue and reception venue. our wedding and reception was in the Church sanctuary and accompanying basement/grounds, but we poor americans don’t have anything like the ancient architecture of england! very lovely. =)

    Many Years to you both!

    • meg

      I don’t know. We have some pretty excellent churches here. My parents got married in one.

  • Rebecca

    It’s been said already, but:

    “As Long As You’re Married At The End, It’s Been A Success.”

    – is my favourite line here too. I say it to people regularly when they ask how my planning is going, and they look at me strangely, or chuckle. Um – it’s a Wedding guys, you have a Wedding to get Married!

    Your beautiful dress has completely removed any questions I have about my dress too – I’d been contemplating just caving in and going with full length, and then I opened up this site and remembered why I haven’t done that. I love your dress!

  • Vmed

    This whole post totally rocks.

    LOVE your look, lady. movie star indeed!

    And as for catholics who stay catholic, I am envious that you have access to singers who know the latin mass. I will be in a choir performing the wedding mass in the extraordinary form this June – so excited!

  • http://craftosaurus.blogspot.com craftosaurus

    “… I’ve got to love me too.” Such wise words — thanks for sharing them and all the rest of the awesomeness!

  • Class of 1980

    That dress really suits you. Love it. And it’s true that no one expects deep conversations at a wedding. I think your wedding sounds fantastic in every way.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I was feeling bad about that just last week (9 months after our wedding)! I remembered a moment on our wedding day when I met the partner of a friend for the first time… I kind of stood next to her catching my breath for a second, then she introduced herself. I think I said something like, “Oh, hello.” and smiled big, then just walked away! I was feeling so bad that I’d been so rude to this nice girl 1. at my wedding, and 2. upon meeting her for the first time. But I sent a message to my friend and he said not to worry about it, that she had understood completely that there were lots of people there and I was kind of overwhelmed at the time. Lucky me, having such understanding guests!

  • marbella

    Brilliant post. Your dress is gorgeous, your hair and make-up amazing and love the groom’s suit too, very dapper! But mostly, you all just look so happy and like you’re having a whale of a time.
    I am a CofE Brit who just married my Irish Catholic husband in a Catholic ceremony, so this relates.

    • Morgan

      Can I ask how you both (Gemma and Marbella) went about this?? Technically, both my fiance and I are Catholic, but I was never confirmed (he was). It’s important to him and his family to get married in the church, but we’re not sure how to make it happen. Currently, he travels Mon-Th at least so the whole pre-marital counseling part will be tough (although, that’s the one part I’m all for!). Also, we don’t go to church regularly and we live together so I know there are a lot of hurdles. One priest from my fiance’s college (who is a bit younger and looser with the “rules”) actually suggested we get married outside the church this fall and then do it again in the church down the line when the logistics can work out.

      Anyway, any suggestions from the 2 of you who weren’t Catholic? Also, I’m in the US, but I have to imagine the “rules” are the same…

  • http://www.newlyla.blogspot.com AKP

    “Getting married was brilliant and definitely the best day of my life up to that point. However, being married is even more brilliant. I wish I could go back and tap my younger self on the shoulder and let her know that.”

    I adore this. What a beautiful post!! I love how you balanced the traditional and untraditional, and came out with something that just suited you so well! Congrats!

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    If you stay true to yourself, amazing things can happen. This is something I’m beginning to believe as we navigate this process and I think your wedding echoes it beautifully.

    And a crypt?!?! Husband-to-be is going to be sooo jealous.

    Congratulations on your smashing success of a wedding!! And on the most important part–the marriage!

  • Amy*

    I like that you gave yourself (and the rest of us) permission to feel guilty. I had a super small wedding (15 people, immediate family only) and still sometimes worry that I didn’t spend enough time with each person. Considering that the wedding was a year and a half ago, I should just let go of the guilt already!*

  • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

    Love the crypt. And the black cab. And the advice. And also oh-dear-lord I wish I were English so that I could someday rock an awesome blue hat like that one at weddings. American weddings seem to have a severe shortage of fantastic hats.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I know! My Spanish mother-in-law was so excited that we were having an outdoor wedding in the summer so she could wear a big hat! My partner was sad to have to tell her that she was more than welcome to do so, but that she’d definitely be the only one there who did, since we were having the wedding in the U.S. and Americans just don’t wear hats (usually). She didn’t end up wearing one, out of shyness, but I was kind of hoping she would.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      There weren’t hats at our wedding, but the fascinators worn by the Irish ladies were the talk of all of the American guests. My brother-in-law is getting married this year in Ireland and I finally have occasion to get a fascinator!!! Score.

  • http://fortheloveofbookshops.wordpress.com Erin Harwood

    Seven months after my wedding, I really needed to read that last comment about allowing yourself to feel guilty for not spending time with all your guests. I’ve been hanging onto that guilt for seven months!
    “But after speaking to some friends, it was pointed out to me that people come to share the day with you not to engage you in deep conversation. They want to be part of your happiness, and that’s all. Oh, and to dance like loons – they come for that too.”
    What a great friend to tell you that! Excellent post, and so well-written. Thank you.

  • http://theparanoidlibra.wordpress.com Paranoid Libra

    The words of advice here are awesome. Those last tips I think
    I might need to post in my cubicle at work, but then again I am less than 24 hours into engagement :) (best Easter present EVAAARRR!) so I haven’t had hit too much anxiety over that stuff…yet.

    My wedding planning matras will be “As long as you are married at the end of the day, it’s a success” and “He’s marrying you stupid!”

    And damn did you look awesome and blissed out of your mind. Congrats!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Yay! Congratulations on the “official” engagement!

    • meg

      Yeah! Congrats!

    • http://singingpilgrimdancing.blogspot.com Pamela

      Yes, congratulations!

    • http://www.theparanoidlibra.wordpress.com Paranoid Libra

      Thank you ladies. :)

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    “As long as you’re married at the end, it’s been a success!”

    Greatest advice ever! I tell my Brides this & some listen, some don’t. Those who listen, including myself, have much more fun at their wedding!!

    And I simply adore these photos. I feel like I’m looking at a vintage wedding.

  • http://emuhleem.typepad.com Emily

    Simply fabulous.

    My favorite (and most needed part of this) was:

    Know Thyself. Even if every single wedding magazine and website is telling you that you should wear a white dress, if you know that white just ain’t you then just wear something else.

    I tried on white dresses and felt like my skin looked 19 shades of eww. I settled on champagne (with ivory lace) much to the dismay of my grandmother. I’ve semi-stressed out about it since the purchase, but this is SO helpful and insightful. So thank you.

    Also, I’m super jealous about your wedding/the fact that you live in London! Went once in 2008 and it was heavenly.

  • http://www.thatbridesgotmoxie.wordpress.com Renee

    Love. Seriously, LOVE.
    How is it every morning when I come to APW, I think “oh, this is the best post ever!”
    I think it about every post, every day.

    So much to love and remember in this post.
    “As long as you’re married at the end, it’s been a success!” Amen, sister.

  • Michelle

    I think we’re all crushing on your fabulous Britishisms, Gemma, nearly as much as all the other gorgeousness floating around in this post . . . “James and I took ourselves off there after the ceremony, and larked about with the photographer” = LOVE.

    Congrats to you both!

  • http://thelittlefella.tumblr.com/ Jessica

    This is one of my favorite Wedding Graduate posts. Gemma’s bulleted list is exactly how I feel!

  • http://arielgraphy.blogspot.com/ Ariel

    Yeah for a London Wedding!! We are also Londoners (Greenwich) but didn’t feel like we could afford to throw an international wedding in the city.
    Instead we flew to Cleveland and then San Fran, and then New Zealand, and back……..

    In the end, Greenwich would have been cheaper and I wouldn’t have had to invite my distant cousins who never get my name right and, in turn, whose names I forgot. And I could have actually slept in the weeks leading up to the wedding because I would have been in my own bed, in my own flat, in ou rown little bubble away from the family madness.

    Kudos to You!!! (and the make-up hair trial in Covent Garden…JEALOUS!!!)

  • Christine

    I love your dress! Please tell me where you got it (please, please!!!)

    • Gemma

      Thank you! I love it too (in fact, I wore it again the other day to go to a fundraising party – one of the benefits of not getting married in white, you get to wear the dress again!). The dress, wrap and hat are all from a shop on the South Bank in London called Candy Anthony: http://www.candyanthony.com/ . They’re totally lovely in there – when my mum and I went to pick up the dress, it was raining outside and we couldn’t get a taxi, so they let us stay after hours and fed us tea until a cab arrived.

  • Jannell

    Thanks for that last bullet point. I really needed to hear that.

  • http://www.cuteanddelicious.com miss alix

    i adore this post. i am certainly of the sisterhood of “never really thought about a wedding” until i found myself engaged. everything you wrote resonates with me. especially having a combination of very traditional elements and things that were more personal and non-traditional. you look lovely! and the dress is wonderful, i think a great color choice. just beautiful all around.

  • http://txtingmrdarcy.wordpress.com Txtingmrdarcy

    As a huge Henry VIII nerd, I LOVED the history about the crypt! I’m rather jealous that nobody ever feasted for 6 days in our ballroom. ;)

    This post is a print-and-keep for sure.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    What an insightful grad post. Thank you for sharing, Gemma, and congratulations on your marriage! You definitely looked like a movie star, and that dress appears to suit you so well.

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Okay, in my next life, I would like my wedding reception to take place in a London crypt. And I’d also like to be a redhead with an amazing figure. That’s not too much to ask, right?

    Congratulations, Gemma! Thanks for your joyous and wise grad post. :)

  • http://cobaltandblue.blogspot.com ML

    you effing LOOK like a film star. for reals, you are a beauty and a half.

    and your wedding looks pretty spectacular, too.

  • Ms Ditz

    Gemma, can I give you an internet high five for planning a wedding and being a first year teacher in a “tough” school? Because SAME HERE! So, *high five*. Not at all easy. I would imagine that starting any new job and planning a wedding would be insane. In a way, it is almost helping with my practical-ness when it comes to the wedding, because I seriously just do. not. have. time. to stress about the silly stuff.

  • http://www.librarisaurus.net Jen

    This is my first comment on APW (though I read it quite a bit) – I just had to jump in and say HOORAY! Lived in London for a bit and Bleeding Heart was one of my most favorite places, as was Smithfield Market – I used to work right around the corner. I can’t imagine a cozier, happier place to celebrate. Aces!

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    Everything about this was lovely, and it also gave me a little soul-sister moment of my own! I went to school in the UK and worked in a little cafe that was made out of a crypt (apparently this is a thing in England?) and I thought it was quite possibly The Best Thing Ever. When I told people in the states about it most thought it was bizarre and icky which I just didn’t get because it was so lovely.

    When I found out that this is where you chose to hold you reception I did a little “sit up at the computer and clap your hands in glee” thing. Pretty! With History! Convenient! Beautiful! Practical! Gorgeous!

    Loved it! Thanks so much for sharing with us :)

  • http://thecharitywedding.com Alicia @CharityWedding

    Her dress is gorgeous and I LOVE that she stayed true to herself and her hubby! Her words of wisdom were so true and something all Brides should read!

  • Leigh Ann

    Had the same experience with the dress. Tried on about 30 before I realized that I just didn’t want a “bridal” gown, and ordered a FABULOUS, glamorous flapper dress instead. Still, as I wait for it to arrive in the mail, I wonder if I should have gotten something more “bridal.” P.S. Where did you get your wrap? I need one to go with my dress!

    • meg

      NO YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE. You know what makes you look bridal? Getting married.

  • Veronica

    Faffing! I love that you said faffing! Out of all the Britishisms, that is one of my favorite and it’s never heard here in the US. Your wedding is pretty close to the London dream wedding I’ve had in my head for years. My husband and I met while at uni in London, but since we’re both American and were living in Texas when we got married, a London wedding just didn’t make sense. Reading your post has made me very jealous, especially of your photos at Smithfield market. One of the best places in the city, especially when it’s so deserted! And I wrote about this earlier, but I love that your husband rode the No. 17 bus to the wedding. As a London bus geek, I squealed a bit and then thought about what a great route the No. 17 is. Congratulations and thank you sincerely for such a thoughtful post!

    • anna

      Do I know you? I have this feeling we played football together at UCL…

  • http://marie-evelaforte.blogspot.com Marie-Ève

    I LOVE this wedding! Another one that makes me *slightly* (only slightly, because life is too short) regret my first instinct of marrying in a fab tea-length dress.

    • http://marie-evelaforte.blogspot.com Marie-Ève

      I mean, obviously, regret not having gone with my first instinct.

  • Courtney

    I LOVE ST. ETHELDREDA’S CHURCH!!!! Incidentally, the Latin Mass is really gorgeous on Sundays (if you’re a liturgy/Latin dork, or you just like hearing really pretty singing, it’s the prettiest Mass I’ve ever heard–all in Latin but with booklets so you can follow along). It’s an interesting church period, seeing as how it’s got this crazy history and St. Etheldreda herself is famous for being an awesome Anglo-Saxon queen, independent, educated, who founded a monastery on her own dower lands, where she ruled over men AND women as abbess. Congratulations on getting married in one of the coolest structures in the world. :)

  • Gemma

    Crikey! Thanks for all the lovely comments, folks.

    James and I just celebrated our six-month anniversary, and I have to say that I love being married a little bit more every day. Every now and then, he’ll say “hello, wife” and it makes me glow.

    I still haven’t changed my name, however…

  • Debbie

    I was reading your post after a google search on “non-white wedding”…

    My mum said the same thing.
    Not in a mean way, just as a matter-of-fact. “You’ll never get married”

    But I am now a few months away from a wedding. I wanted to elope. My “dream” wedding as a teen was not the white wedding, it was a quicky with the emphasis on the honeymoon after, and perhaps a big party at home after that.
    But (so many similarities) my man is Catholic and Italian and has been to and seen the whole big white shebang wedding thang and wants the same. Isn’t it usually the opposite? The bloke wants a quicky, the woman wants the big fuss?

    So I feel like I’m being swallowed by the big-white-wedding machine and your post is refreshingly different and much needed right now. Thanks.

  • http://spinningninny.blogspot.com Sarah

    I am so happy to find blog posts like this. After spending 45 minutes trying to google weddings that had non-white dresses, I was about to pull my hair out. I have very pale skin and just don’t love white, traditional wedding dresses. Much of the inspiration that I have found for dresses has been on the vintage section of Etsy. I am planning on having a bridal party, and I don’t know what I want them to wear, but I knew that APW would have some sage advice about my own personal wedding dress saga.

  • Charlie Wood

    Wow – what a gorgeous bride you are! And you have made me feel so much better about getting engaged, planning a wedding and doing my Primary PGCE all at the same time!
    Ours won’t be in uber-glam London, but in rural Devon – but congratulations on what looked like a totally and utterly lovely day x

  • Emmy Lou

    Fucking gorgeous! What a rock star wedding!

  • Alexandra

    So much awesome. Congratulations!!!