Relaxed non traditional wedding with first look at the Happenstance, London



Relaxed and non traditional wedding at the Happenstance, City of London

Zoë + Will


Are you ready to see one of the most beautiful and tear inducing weddings we have ever had the honour to photograph?

Yes? Then here we go! 

I do cry at weddings - no shame in it. Hopeless romantic that actually is not romantic? I get moved by love, affection and commitment of two people to each other.

Usually, is the exchange of vows that make me lose my carefully applied make up and thanks F that I can hide my face behind the camera.

Zoë & Will ‘s wedding at the Happenstance in the City of London got me from the start to finish- firstly Will’s reaction upon seeing Zoë  for the first time that day during their ‘first look’, then their entrance to the ceremony room together to the Arrival of Birds by one of my favourite bands The Cinematic Orchestra, followed by personalised and utterly beautiful vows, emotional and also funny speeches to the party in the evening. I simply cannot get over their love! 


And here is why the couple chose us as their Happenstance wedding photographers:

Jo and Raf were an absolute dream to work with. We chose JOASIS after a recommendation from a friend, and we really liked the urban settings and naturalistic feel to the photos. We also wanted someone who had worked with a diverse range of couples and wasn’t too tied to the kinds of traditional wedding photos our parents had! On the day itself they were great, achieving just the right balance of directing shots where needed and blending in the rest of the time to ensure we had a good mix of natural and posed shots.


See more photos and read about their wedding planning below.


Love story

We met at university - we were in a group of only 7 studying the same course so it was inevitable we would get to know each other. We were friends for a couple of years though before we started dating (we both had a bit of growing up to do first). After graduation we moved in together and it’s been pretty smooth sailing from there. Will proposed on a trip to New York after eight years together and we were married 11 months later.

The Happenstance as our London wedding venue

London was the place that felt most like home to both of us having lived there for five years, so that was an easy choice. We wanted a venue that was really relaxed and informal as that suited our general approach to getting married. We looked at quite a few venues before choosing the Happenstance. It felt right in terms of the decor and the general vibe, and we felt really comfortable with the way they would handle and support us leading up to the day. 

Zoë and Will were also first to marry at the Happenstance after they got their ceremony licence - how lovely! The ceremony was conducted by the team of registrars from Islington and City register office. This venue is also great for an easy access and laid on one floor. From there we could move only a few metres away to take group and family photos against historic gate at Patternoster Square, iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, gardens by local church, and the Angel’s Wings sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick. 

The Ceremony

We tailored the ceremony as much as we could to reflect our individual relationship and our views on marriage. We decided to walk down the aisle together having done a first look in private - it was important to show that marriage was something we were entering into together. We walked down the aisle to “Arrival of the Birds” by The Cinematic Orchestra which is a piece of music which has a lot of significance to the two of us. For readings we chose to steer clear of more traditional readings and went for a literary theme based on authors we both love - excerpts from “The Amber Spyglass” by Philip Pullman and “Thief of Time” by Terry Pratchett, as well as a poem called “What I Know About Love” by Neil Gaiman. Will and I both wrote our own vows separately and I think we were both worried that the other would outdo us! However there was a surprising amount of synergy between both sets of promises and it was nice to have the opportunity to formally promise to each other the kind of partner we would be.

Outfits & accessories 

My Irregular Choice shoes were actually the first thing I bought after we got engaged. I’d known for a while that I would want some really colourful and dramatic shoes as I was planning on having a shorter dress, and I spotted these after a couple of weeks of wedding planning. They ended up dictating our entire colour scheme! I designed my dress myself. As a bride in a wheelchair I knew I would need to make quite a few alterations to any dress I bought off the rack, and having spent ages looking online and not finding one I liked, it made sense just to get someone to make it for me! I wanted something simple but eye-catching so went with a fairly classic cut with a much more showstopping lace! It was designed to look right sitting down rather than standing so it was perfect for the day. My necklace was my “something borrowed” - it belongs to Will’s mum and was a gift from her father on the occasion of Will’s birth, so felt like an appropriate way to pay tribute to his grandfather. Will also had a pocket watch with a photo of him and his grandfather inside which I gave him as a gift. Will’s suit was only chosen a couple of weeks before the wedding! He actually picked his groomsmen’s suits first so then was looking for one which would match theirs but still stand out. We also had a mad flurry trying to find the right ties - sage green, knitted, and slimline is not a combination that’s easy to come by, so again these ended up being custom made.

Styling

We were very lucky that the venue we chose had quite a distinct personality already, so this influenced our styling quite a lot. The Happenstance has a mixture of urban botanical and modern Scandinavian styling, so this carried through to a lot of our decor such as the cake and the flowers. We wanted to add a few personal touches as well as a bit of fun, so made up our table plan in Lego (the figures doubled as favours) which was a huge hit with our guests, and used champagne corks and wine bottles as our place holders and centrepieces.

Flowers

Greenery was a big priority for us - we wanted bouquets and arrangements to feel lush and natural without being over the top. As the venue had a number of large picture windows looking out onto Paternoster Square, we decided to frame this view with trailing vines and had a similar set up on the tables as they were long trestle tables rather than rounds. For my bouquet I used mostly green textural leaves with a few white flowers, and the groomsmen had buttonholes of rosemary and myrtle to match the bridesmaids. I also had a piece of lace from my mum’s veil wrapped around my bouquet as my “something old” which our florist Alana arranged beautifully. I knew I wanted to do something with my chair to make it feel more “wedding-y” but hadn’t settled on what that might be (a friend of mine had hers spray-painted gold but I still had to use mine for work so that wasn’t an option!). Talking to Alana she had a few great suggestions and ended up constructing an arrangement to attach to the back of my chair using the same kinds of foliage we had in the bouquets.

Cake

We had our cake decorated with figurines of our cat and two ‘angel’ cats that were big part of life.

Party and entertainment

We hired a pianist to provide music pre- and post-ceremony. I chose him specifically as he often busked in the Tube station on my commute to work, and the sound of his playing always brightened up my morning. Our evening band (Truly Medley Deeply) were chosen because we wanted a band with a repertoire more suited to the age range of our guests (mostly under 35s), and I loved the way they mixed loads of different genres and eras together. There’s nothing worse than a dead dancefloor so it was really important to get that right. Alongside music we hired in table tennis, table football and a selfie booth to make sure that our less dance-inclined guests could still have fun and socialise. We also gave all our day guests rocket balloons during the meal which resulted in major warfare between tables and really gave us the relaxed and silly vibe we wanted for that part of the day!

What was your favourite part of the day and why?

It’s really hard to choose just one part. We both really loved the first look and I think in general those moments where we could be together, just the two of us, were the most significant to us. But there wasn’t really any part of the day we didn’t love!

If you could impart any words of wisdom to a couple planning their marriage and wedding day, what would they be and is there anything you would do differently?

It’s very easy to get bogged down in details which, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty insignificant. What our friends and family remember from the day were the personal touches - the vows, the readings, the speeches - and the food and drink of course! I think if you get those right then everything else will just follow.


Hope you got inspired and this info will help you plan your wedding at the Happenstance or another venue that fits your style. We were chuffed to be part of this fabulous day and are looking forward to working with like minded and diverse couples who appreciate the value of photography in preserving memories of their big day forever. If you have a minute check photos from Zoë and Will engagement shoot we had a few months before in their local Bermondsey.


Inspo board:

Photography: Joasis Photography

Venue: The Happenstance

Wedding dress: designed by bride, made by Make & Mend Seamstress

Florist: Petal and Wild

HMUA: Zara and Nadia at Portraits Bridal 

Celebrant: Amanda Russell, Islington Registry Office

Cake: Creme de la Creme 

Music: Fabio Tedde, Truly Medley Deeply 

Shoes: Irregular Choice 

Hairpiece: Sarah Gorski

Groom: Suit Supply 

Tie: Bożenna

Watch: The Greenwich Pocket Watch Company

Favours: Custom Lego minifigures


This beautiful wedding was also featured on Love My Dress wedding blog!



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