Meet the Wilsons!
Delighted to share this wonderful wedding featuring the most delicious fusion of cultures today. Are you ready? Meet the delightful Danielle of British-Asian, Zimbabwean, Croatian and Scottish heritage (oh yes) and handsome groom Martin of Nigerian (Yoruba and Igbo) heritage.
With their first wedding anniversary imminent, both religious, they wanted God to play a part in their day too and married on the 29th December in a Catholic ceremony at St. Edwards the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Golders Green followed by a reception at Hendon Hall, North London.
Featuring beautiful florals and so many elegant DIY touches from Danielle, they had a winter wedding with their nearest and dearest incorporating their love for the clean lines and bold colours of art deco ensuring that their cultures and especially Martin’s Nigerian heritage were also represented in the theme.
Oh and just wait until you see Danielle’s fathers reaction to seeing her in her wedding dress for the first time in the video featured below from their cinematographer Katie Tulip. and those vows. Priceless.
Allow the beautiful images from their talented wedding photographer and Nu Bride regular, Amanda Karen Photography to share the story of their day.
Over to Danielle!
We have been together 10 years, after meeting through mutual friends whilst at University. Martin is an Osteopath and was studying at the British School of Osteopathy whilst I was studying Business at LSE in Holborn. After a few years bumping into each other (2004-2006) we finally got together in 2007. We both come from a religious background so knew marriage was on the cards as it was serious, but also took our time finding our feet career wise and time flew as we were so happy.
Finally, during a long weekend in New York at the start of December 2015 (I am obsessed with New York and with christmas, so it was a dream trip!) we got engaged. Martin, along with the help of the staff and concierge at the hotel, booked a lovely meal at The Water Club – a members only restaurant docked on the East River. We were celebrating my recent promotion at work (so i thought) and in between courses, the Maitre’D offered us a view from the deck which was closed to other guests. As we arrived, I spotted a table with champagne in the corner and turned around to find him on one knee! He had very cleverly slipped his phone to a waiter so he filmed the whole thing. After some time alone celebrating, we re entered the restaurant to huge applause and a special dessert cart. A perfect evening, with views of my favourite buildings in the world, a gorgeous ring and a moment I will never forget.
On return to the hotel, he had arranged for an upgrade to a huge suite and had champagne and chocolates waiting for us, which just made everything even more magical. The only person awake at that time to tell our good news to was my sister, who had just given birth to my beloved niece a few days prior! (Nu Bride: What beautiful life events in one! )
As soon as we got engaged we knew it would be a year or so until the wedding, as I don’t believe in long engagements (maybe why it took him so long to propose!) so we knew it would be a winter wedding which gave us a theme already. Neither of us like being hot or enjoy summer weddings so this was perfect for us.
I have always loved winter, Christmas and art deco. Martin is not into Christmas so that came off the list! But we both like that 1920’s clean lines, bold colours, classy feel and I think we managed to create that vibe. As a couple, we don’t really wear patterns or like flowers/animals/butterflies/tartan/dots etc. so everything was quite simple, rich colours, but with elements of glam.
I have always been into art deco and Martin likes it too, so this instantly gave us a nice theme for the day. Ensuring that Martin’s Nigerian heritage and identity ran through every part of the day was so important to us and this is why the food, music and outfits reflected this.
I found my dress on the first day of looking. I had been an another shop and hadn’t found anything so we swung by a local shop on the off-chance. As I walked in, I saw it on the rail to my left and said to my sister – that dress is THE ONE! When we came back for the appointment that afternoon, I tried it on and it was just perfect. The dress is mermaid style with heavy symmetrical embellishment so was perfect for the art deco theme and suited my shape.
I customised it somewhat – removing a sheer section over the neckline to make a sweetheart style, shortened the bodice for better movement and added 4 inches to the bottom as I am 5ft8 without heels! The moment I put it on, my mum and sister cried and I knew that was it. I worked with Marina, the owner, to adjust it over 9 months until it fitted perfectly. I had a cathedral veil to go with it, a fur gilet to add glam and warmth, a hoop to add some volumes in the skirt and I added a jewelled headpiece from Ivory & Co. Hampden Brides were wonderful, supportive and reliable and I would recommend them, and their brand ‘Hollywood Dreams’, to anyone.
My mother-in-law helped me design and pick my traditional dress, which I changed into. Martin and I chose Gold and Navy as our main colours and she made me a beautiful fitted floor length gown in a sequinned blue fabric. I added the shawl and gele in the same fabric as Martin’s agbada and some lovely jewellery that was a gift from a bridesmaid to complete the look.
Martin looked at so many shops before concluding that no one had the colour and style he wanted – a rich wine/plum colour. We then found GBG Suits on Etsy and connected with the owner, Alex. Alex and Martin met in central London, where he brought hundreds of fabric samples and assured Martin that he’d be able to create his dream suit in time. Martin chose a wine coloured fabric and had a 3 piece suit created to his measurements. The suit arrived in lovely packaging within 10 days which was incredible. We made 2 slight alterations to the fit (lengthened sleeved and took in the back for a better fit) and it was then perfect!
Martin teamed this with a very high quality white shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt, a navy bow tie from Moss Bros and a silk navy spotted pockerchief from Massimo Dutti that I had given him a few years ago (his something old and blue!?). Martin had 6 groomsmen and decided that he wanted each to have special superhero cufflinks, and he himself wore Wolverine ones as he is a massive comic book fan and Wolverine is his favourite character. This added a fun and unique twist to their outfits and was a nice gift for them to keep!
For his traditional outfit, Martin had a few options made but in the end wore a beautiful Navy agbada – the undergarments were in a navy shiny fabric with beautiful finishing, and the outer navy fabric matched my gele and shawl. He teamed this with blue suede loafers from Dune, his hat, and sunglasses for the full look!
Our photographers Amanda and James, of Amanda Karen photography were calm, supportive, intuitive, captured our day with such beauty, style and grace and I would recommend them without hesitation. Someone told me to go with my gut on suppliers and we did with them and were absolutely delighted with the pictures and how they helped us on the day. Unforgettable and worth every single penny.
I met Amanda at a bridal show in Olympia. She was my first supplier decision and my best one! I connected to her instantly, she took a keen interest in the combined cultural event we wanted to host and I trusted her instantly. We met a few times at the venue in the run up, and on the day I cannot imagine what I would have done without her.
I also loved the gorgeous welcome box once we had booked, which included a helpful magazine, nice choccies and a personalised notebook. The arrival of our pictures digitally was swift, clever and professional and the beautiful engraved glass usb stick was stunning. A class act from the first moment.
Since my mum is a florist, our wedding flowers had to be good! I used Rebecca Joseph Events, based in Waltham Cross. Rebecca and her mum were amazing, creative and reasonable and I trusted them from the start. I wanted the burgundy of martin’s suit to be picked up in my bouquet only and his buttonhole was also extra special (plum calla lily, gold and burgundy eucalyptus and copper wire). I loved my bouquet, especially the grey balls and orchids! The bridesmaids had smaller bouquets with grey and light blush colours and the other 13 buttonholes used ivory sweet avalanche roses. I ordered 5 corsages (for my best male friend, both our mum’s, his older sister and my nana) which had a more floral feel due to some lisianthus.
We used Katie Tulip to capture our video on the day and we were really happy with her capturing of the day. We were unsure what budget we could afford for this part of our day but Katie was very reasonable, turned up on time, was pretty much invisible (which is exactly what you want on the day!) and the videos she gave to us were just perfect. They captured the energy, colour and love in the day, every single person has cried when watching it – myself and my mum certainly watch it weekly and still cry. We were overjoyed with her service and would highly recommend her.
Our religion is so important to us so we chose to get married at Martin’s family church – the same church he had been christened in, an altar boy in and confirmed in. This was special to us.
It is a beautiful church with high ceilings, beautiful stained glass windows and was decorated festively (I managed to get Christmas in there somehow!). We had months of meetings with the Priest in the run up to the wedding, and a number of sessions with the Deacon and attended a Catholic marriage course too, to prepare us for our new life together.
We chose 2 hymns that meant a lot to us, 2 readings, and 2 people to pray for us (my father, as he is a pentecostal minister, and a close friend who has known us from day 1 as a couple and myself for 17 years). I walked down the aisle to Arrival of the Birds from The Crimson Wing, and our bridal party consisted of Martin and his best man, 6 groomsmen, 5 ushers, 2 page boys, a flower girl and 5 adult bridesmaids. The service was very emotional and special to us and many of our friends had never experienced a church wedding.
After the vows, friends performed a few live songs that we had selected whilst we signed the register. We walked down the aisle to ‘R u Ready’ by Tuxedo which was a fun way to exit! We left out the front door and entered again to exit once all guests were ready and waiting with confetti. I got the confetti from Etsy and had handmade up the little glassine bags with a personalised sticker for the wedding. I made all the orders of service by hand which made them special too!
There were lots of sweet moments to cherish in the ceremony – my little niece, flower girl, chattering away from the order of service during the vows was memorable, walking down the aisle to a soul funk song in a catholic church was funny too! The priest, Father Tony, had been practising hard learning Martin’s 4 Nigerian middle names and did a fantastic job during the vows which warranted a little clap. Whilst signing the register, my hoop came undone and the hoop and netting started to fall down so I was walking very strangely back down the aisle trying not to trip or let it fall off completely! Martin asked what was wrong and I told him my hoop had come off – needles to say he had no idea what a ‘hoop’ was or what I was doing wearing one! His sister and friends covered his hair in confetti which was funny at the time until we had to pick it all out for our couple photos!
We used Pinkwhistle Events. Temmy came on board in September to help us pull my vision together on the day. Our main request of her was to help with the food, decor and running of the day. Our venue was a dry hire as we wanted Nigerian cuisine so the room came as it was – Temmy was absolutely instrumental in making my vision come alive!
All went really well. She introduced us to our caterer and he was incredible – the best food we, and lots of our guests, had ever had. She also helped organise all the staff, crockery and cutlery hire, signage, timings and did a lot of the negotiations with the venue.
For the reception flowers, I wanted a grand feathery look so ordered large coned vases that I had spray painted Gold, and on top of each one sat a large floral dome-shaped arrangement with 15-20 long, real ostrich feathers in a mix of peach and ivory colours. This added drama, glamour and really set off the gatsby/art deco theme! The best idea our wedding planner had, was to create two large statement tables – each one with seating the key 20 people from each side of our families as the head table was just Martin, myself and both sets of parents.
Each was made up of 6 rectangular tables and were way more ‘glam’ than the other round guest tables. On these tables we used taller vases, bigger arrangements, more feathers, candelabra’s, some medium arrangements on the table in vintage glass vases and we used rose gold sequinned tablecloths for these 2 huge tables, whereas for the guest tables we used a blush satin. The charger plates for these glam tables were hired in and were glass with gold beading, and the guest tables were plain gold ones so this also added a special touch. For the head table, I wanted an array of long vases, small vases, candles, votives and tealights which gave a nice effect. The bridesmaids bouquet were also placed in vases to re-use them!
All table numbers and menu cards were printed in blush pearl card and mini easels held the table numbers. The favours were small gold boxes containing gold and ivory sugar almonds and we had hand tied these with ribbon and added the wedding sticker (that was also on the orders of service and confetti) on top. The table plan was handwritten by myself in white pen onto a large ornate mirror which created a nice effect and it’s now hanging in our hallways which is a special reminder of our day.
When guests arrived, we were serving one of 2 cocktails – mine was prosecco with elderflower cordial and Martin’s was winter pimms with apple juice. Canapés were served for a while before people entered the reception hall where we started with my Dad’s speech then dinner. It was buffet style so tables got called up one by one and we also had servers bring around Brazilian BBQ style skewers with special meats which added an interesting interactive element.
I finally want to mention our cake maker – her name is Natassja Lusengo and her company, The Indulgent Sugar Plum, was recently on Channel 4’s extreme cake makers! From the second I saw her instagram I knew she was the one for us – her clean lines, obsession with edges and the sheer height and glam nature if her design was right up our street. We had a consultation with her in October where we decided on a 3 tier cake. We tried a variety of flavours and loved them all but chose; Ferrero Rocher, cookies & cream with Malibu, and red velvet and Oreos! We drew the design with her and asked for a Klimt (as in the Artist!) style feel with gold leaf, burgundy and a dramatic chocolate shard on top. It was breathtaking and looked even better than we could even have hoped for and tasted sensational!
We had a live Nigerian band to play traditional songs during our reception which gave it authenticity and fun and we also had the entire bridal party change into beautiful traditional outfits that had been made to measure in Nigeria with the help of Martin’s mum and sister.
We both like drinking, good food and music and I feel these elements were key to our day and reflected us! We always knew we wanted to put on a free bar so did that, we also love flavoursome and spicy food so having the Nigerian cuisine gave us that and finally, having lots of music and until very late is totally ‘us’. We are night owls and knew we needed a late licence! The wedding was glam, fun and different and those things, we felt, reflected us as a couple!
Martin’s best man gave his speech before dessert and Martin’s speech was last – he didn’t write anything down but did a great job! After the speeches we cut the cake and had the first dance, after which we went off for an hour for fresh make up (for me) and the outfit change. The live band stayed until 10pm after which there was a DJ until 3am! We really enjoyed this part of the night as we could relax a bit and as per tradition, people ‘sprayed’ us with dollars which was great fun. We partied until the early hours and most of our guests stayed overnight so it was lovely to see everyone the next morning and say thank you and goodbye.
Our favourite moment of the day had to be the dancing into the reception! The ceremony was over – we were married and photos had been taken! Everyone had had something to eat and drink and we had taken a moment to catch our breath after seeing our reception room had taken it away! We proceeded in (my parents, his parents, bridal party, then us) to two songs that we had chosen and it lifted everyone’s spirits, was very joyful and fun and just felt like the start of the celebration part of our day!
Martin has never been a fan of first dances and has always found them pretty awkward to watch so wasn’t too keen on doing one. After some convincing, he chose the song himself and the words were beautiful so we’re glad we did it. The absolute best moment of the wedding was our dancing in for the first time – my parents, then his parents, then the bridal party and then us. It went on for 30 minutes and was just filled with joy!
Challenges and Triumphs
Usually, you would have your traditional wedding on a separate day so our first challenge was combining the two in one day! We were glad we did though as we felt very strongly that we wanted all our friends and family to get the true Nigerian experience, and they truly did – through the food, the dancing in, the outfits and the live band.
The second challenge was the time of year – people are often away between Christmas and New Year so getting RSVP’s was tough. We also had some people who turned up for the sit down meal who had only been invited as evening guests so at the last-minute, we had to squeeze another 2 tables in and shuffle some things around! The beauty of a buffet, however, is that it was easier to have additional guests.
The final challenge was making sure we had enough light for our photos as 1pm was the earliest time we could have the ceremony given that 8 women needed hair and makeup that morning! We were really lucky with the weather and had a crisp, bright and sunny day and are so happy with our photos. As with any wedding, keeping to the timeline was tough but as a couple, we are quite relaxed about timings so it worked out in the end and we were glad of the late licence!
We went off around 7pm for a complete outfit change and re-entered the reception again as a crew and this created a huge buzz which was nice. We also had a small traditional ceremony a week before that to complete the elements of the wedding process with his family and mine which was really lovely and special to us and his family.
Triumphs were the weather, the amazing food, the outfits, the decor and theme and the music. We are also really happy we provided a free bar as this led to a relaxed, fun and long night. We are also delighted that we got married in a church that meant something, had my Dad pray over us and really had a meaningful service to start our marriage in the right way.
Top Tip To Other Couples
Don’t skimp on your photographer and videographer! The day goes so fast and it feels like an out-of-body experience so having suppliers who you like and trust to capture your day for you is priceless. You will be looking at/watching the memories made for decades to come so it’s worth every penny to invest in someone whose work and style captures you as a couple.
Second tip (if I’m allowed one!) would be to start with a thorough and realistic budget so you can plan financially, and split up the tasks so you can both contribute to your special day.
Photographer: Amanda Karen Photography
Cinematographer: Katie Tulip
Venue: Hendon Hall
Dress: Hampden Brides // https://www.facebook.com/hampdenbridesbridalshop/
- Headpiece – http://www.ivoryandcotiaras.co.uk/
- Rings – Eidel Precious bespoke wedding set (3 carat champagne sapphire with 1 carat worth of pave diamonds) https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/EidelPrecious
- Bridesmaids jewellery sets: https://www.etsy.com/uk/transaction/1213013206
- Bridal clutch – Accessorize
Shoes: Ted Baker
Makeup: Fiona Nwandu
Hair: Kay & Kompany http://www.kayandkompany.com/
- Suit – https://www.etsy.com/shop/GBGSuits
- Bow tie – Moss Bros
- Shirt – Charles Tyrwhitt
- Pockerchief – Massimo Dutti
- Shoes – Aldo for day outfit, Dune for trad outfit
Bridesmaid Outfits: Each bought their own featuring dresses from Adrianna Papell, Quiz and Amanda Wakeley
Flower Girls outfit: Monsoon
Groomsmen Suits: Paul Smith
Pageboy outfit: Debenhams
Cake: The Indulgent Sugar Plum – https://www.facebook.com/Theindulgentsugarplum/
Flowers and Décor:
- Flowers- http://www.rebeccajosephevents.co.uk/
- Decor – various as detailed above
Food: King Solomon’s Catering – http://www.kingsolomonscatering.com/
- Zazzle for invites
- Vistaprint for save the dates and thank you notes
- Order of service homemade
- Customised sticker – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/StickEmUpLabels
- Photobooth – http://www.pictureblast.co.uk/
- DJ and live Nigerian band