Isabel and Andrew got married at the iconic London skyscraper known as the Gherkin on the 6th January 2018. Their contemporary wedding at the Gherkin was captured by Douglas Fry Wedding Photographer with a short film made by Cherry Tree Films. Isabel told us all about their wedding, from the amazing proposal to the truly stunning big day.
We got engaged in Toronto on the 9th October 2016. We had travelled out there to visit a school friend of Andrew’s who now lives there. It was our first day there and we had gone for a walk to get our bearings and explore the area. Our friends had stopped to buy a paper, Andrew had ended up carrying the newspaper and a scratch card fell out of it. I picked it up and told him he had dropped it and he said, ‘Why don’t we do it, see if we’ve won anything?’ So I walked outside and he handed me a coin and I began scratching, one ring, two rings, three rings. ‘What do we need to win?’ I asked. ‘Just hurry up and scratch it!’ he said.
So I scratched the bottom and it read ‘will you marry me?’ I looked up from the scratch card and there he was on one knee with the ring of my dreams in a wooden box engraved with the day’s date. Our friends caught the whole thing in photos which had been perfectly planned with the CN Tower in the background. That evening we went to the rotating restaurant at the top of the CN Tower where our friends informed me that inserts in magazines/newspapers are actually banned in Canada so thank God I didn’t know!
Wedding at the Gherkin
The Gherkin is one of the capital’s most instantly recognisable landmarks. Created from carved glass to form a gherkin shaped structure, the tower offers breathtaking views right across London, and at 180 metres high it’s an impressive wedding venue.
Wedding Ceremony at the Gherkin
Our wedding ceremony was held at the top of the Gherkin at 3:30pm. The sun was slowly setting as we were married in front of 96 of our friends and family. We were played down the aisle by my sister-in-law and her dad on the violin and piano. Our ceremony included two beautiful readings, one written and read by my brother. Following the legal ceremony we had a blessing by my sister-in-law’s mother, who is a minister, which added a beautiful spirituality to our ceremony. Everything went perfectly to plan, although I struggled to get the ring on his finger when the time came!
Wedding Reception at the Gherkin
Our wedding reception was held at the top of the Gherkin. We had a three-course meal and speeches by the groom, father of the bride and four of the groomsmen, each thoughtful, witty and funny. We then headed to the dance floor where we performed a choreographed dance to ‘Blue Moon’ by Frank Sinatra, a beautiful song with significant meaning to my husband as he is a lifelong Manchester City fan! We had a meat and cheese station as well as a chocolate fountain in the evening, a photobooth and DJ that read the room phenomenally, the dance floor was full the entire evening.
Douglas Fry photographed our wedding. He was amazing, has a great sense of humour and fitted in well with our crazy family wonderfully. His documentary style photography was exactly what we were looking for. There were very few posed pictures, just beautifully natural images of our guests and us truly enjoying our magnificent day. He captured moments we hadn’t even realised had happened which was invaluable.
Cherry Tree Films were our wedding videographers who created this amazing short film trailer. They are a husband and wife team based near Edinburgh and are truly incredible at what they do. They stayed two nights prior to the wedding to ensure they got the perfect scene setting shots and they asked plenty of questions about our family and relationship to make sure that they included the things and people that were important to us. We get a four minute trailer, a ten minute highlights film and the full length films which will include all the speeches and dance in full. Our experience with Cherry Tree Films was amazing, I am yet to find anyone else who does what they do as good as they do it, it was definitely worth bringing them down from Scotland for our big day!
The Wedding Theme
We didn’t have a theme. Our bridal party was in black tie along with my ‘man of honour’ so my bridesmaid was in a black formal dress. We just wanted the day to be a formal event. We didn’t have flowers but had candles instead to really add warmth of the day. The building is so chic and modern, we just wanted our day to be a bit different from a standard wedding and not having a theme was a part of that.
I had a man of honour and a bridesmaid. My man of honour is my best friend and has been since I was about 14. He has been there for all the important moments in my life, when I moved to Dubai, when I graduated from college, when I moved back to London, when I graduated from University, when I relocated up North so it was important for him to be by my side on the biggest day of my life. We support each other through the different things that happen in life and help each other have a laugh through it. He is the kind of friend who loves spending time together even if that time is spent doing literally nothing. My bridesmaid was destined to be my best friend from the day our mums told each other they were pregnant. We have photos of us as babies, children, teenagers and now adults. She is the type of person that is always on for a catch up and there to listen. She has been supportive of everything I’ve ever set out to do and was amazing on my wedding day, she made me feel at ease and prepared things so I didn’t have to.
Our groomsmen were Andrew’s best friends. Some old, some new and some related. Each one knows him and us in a different way and from a different time but they are all amazing men and amazing friends who we can rely on with no questions asked. They are the most supportive and loving group of men you will meet and we’re lucky to have shared our big day with them by our side.
The Wedding Dress
My dress was a Sophia Tolli: Riona in ivory. It was beautiful and cost about £1,500. I bought the dress and then proceeded to lose 3 stone so it needed a lot of alterations, if not remaking! As we had now moved up North and the dress shop where I purchased the dress down south had closed, I used a lady called Anita from Special Occasion Wear in Hindley, Wigan to do my alterations. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this lady is a miracle worker. The dress wouldn’t even stay up when I first got it but by the time the wedding came it looked like it was made for me. As she has experience making dresses she didn’t flinch at the idea of having to perform severe alterations. She practically remade my wedding dress and charged me £300 to do so; she is the hidden hero of my day!
Again in a bid to have things a bit different I opted for no bouquet, no up-do and no veil. I had a personalised silk clutch instead of a bouquet that read ‘Mrs Calabria-Holden’ in ivory sequins from Emma Gordon London on Etsy for £55.65. I wore a sparkly hair band across my hair line as a hair piece and had my hair blow dried for £30 at Blow Dry Express the morning of the wedding.
Wedding Hair and Makeup
As aforementioned I just had a blow dry the morning of the wedding. Blow Dry Express opened the salon for my and my bridal party to have blow dries. My makeup artist was Mel Kinsman who also did the makeup for my Bridal party. I didn’t want the subtle bridal look, I wanted to look like I had makeup on and Mel happily obliged by adding a stronger eyebrow, a sparkly eye and a thicker eyeliner. She also applied my own eyelashes and lipstick so the look was exactly what I wanted. I felt beautiful and it lasted all day!
Best Parts of the Day
I think the best parts of any wedding are the speeches. It’s when you get to know the bride and groom more intimately because you hear stories and anecdotes from those that hold them dearest. So the speeches will always be a favourite part for me. Our first dance was particularly special as we had learned a choreographed dance from Donna through Wedding Day Dance UK. She assessed our capabilities, listened to our song and came up with a beautiful dance for us so we didn’t simply sway on the dancefloor, something that had been a stressful thought for us.
I tried hard to make our day stand out from the rest and was conscious that the venue may be a bit corporate for a wedding but with the personal touches that we added in the music, the table names, the programmes – which I designed myself – all made it a little bit special. I even designed personalised postage stamps to send our invitations out with so the little touches were important to me.
Most Touching Aspect of the Day
It may sound cliché, but the most touching moment from our day was just watching everyone enjoying themselves. The day took a lot of planning and hard work, which I did by myself as I am a control freak, so it was touching to see everyone appreciating and enjoying the hard work and money that had gone into it. My brother’s reading was also particularly touching to me, it was written and read by him and truly got the crux of our relationship. I am from Essex and my husband is from Bolton so the last line of the reading was extremely special to us, ‘ Remember one simple fact, a magnet is proof that north and south attract’ (this is the voice over for our wedding trailer).
The Wedding Cake
We didn’t have a wedding cake as the venue would charge us to cut the cake (‘cakage’!) and in our experience the cake doesn’t get eaten at weddings. Instead we had a chocolate fountain in the evening and a personalised Ferrero Rocher stand from VM Bespoke that held 100 Fererro Rochers for our guests to help themselves to. The food was amazing, the venue was so accommodating to a number of different dietary requirements, it was truly beautiful food. We had canapes, a three-course meal and food stations in the evening.
The Venue Decor
We had glass lanterns with candles as I wanted warm light throughout. We used a company called Lavendar Green who set up and moved the candles for us so they could double up at the end of the aisle and for table centre pieces.
The Wedding Favours
Our wedding favours were charity ones. They were Mind pin badges that doubled as place cards along with a card that said ‘a donation has been made on your behalf to Mind in celebration of the marriage of Izzy and Andy’. We were chuffed to see everyone in the evening had put their badges on and a number of guests came over to tell us how touched they were that we had chosen charity favours and had chosen that charity in particular. It was important for us to have that as part of our wedding celebration.
The Wedding Invitations
Our invitations were designed by me and printed online at Printed.com. I knew what I wanted and therefore set about making them myself. They were black and white and had a London skyline along the bottom. They were printed on pearlescent paper and we used a heart shaped hole punch to punch a heart through the Gherkin in the skyline along the bottom.
Advice to Other Brides-to-be
My advice to other brides would be – don’t get things just because that’s what is done at weddings. This is your day and is about you and your partner, make sure that is reflected in every moment that your guests are going to experience. Prioritise what things are worth the money for you as costs pile up quickly, video and photos are all you will have left in the end so invest in those first!