Real Weddings

An Ethereal Art Deco Wedding in Central London

Photography by Nina Wernicke.

Can tradition be honored and challenged simultaneously? Ali and Sam’s classic yet artfully unexpected wedding day provides potent evidence. 

Ethereal willow branches sprouted from tables with a covering of gypsophila, mimicking living trees against the breathtaking backdrop of a skyscape mural. The art deco architecture and rich tones of the venue illuminated a soft palette of layered white florals and the bride’s made-to-measure Le Spose di Giò gown. 

Following a civil ceremony at The Old Marylebone Town Hall, an elevated experience evoked wonder at the NoMad Hotel ballroom reception.

This London wedding was poetically captured by Nina Wernicke.

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wedding venues london

Our Story

Names / Alexandra Tillbrook & Sam Gill

Location / London, United Kingdom

Wedding Date / January 27th, 2024

Guest Numbers / 78

Budget / $100,000

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How We Met

We met on the dating app Hinge in London in May 2022. We both quickly knew we had finally swiped on someone special.

 

Our Engagement Story

Sam proposed in Paris in October 2023. It was in the evening just before we were due to go for dinner. Sam set up a neon sign on the balcony of our hotel suite which read “Will you marry me?”. Ali saw the sign before turning around to see Sam down on one knee. It was the perfect romantic proposal.

 

What we love most about each other…

Ali on Sam: I love that Sam makes me laugh every day and that he has such a kind and caring soul. He supports and shows up for me in a way that I did not know was possible before meeting him. He has made my life infinitely brighter, lighter and happier.

Sam on Ali: It’s hard to choose one as Ali has so many strengths. I love her honesty, integrity, her sharp mind and her quick wit – she also makes me laugh every day. She is also incredibly thoughtful and always puts others first. Ali inspires me to try to be the best version of myself!

The Setting

 

Wedding Location

We decided to have a short engagement period and settled on a wedding in January 2024. As we only had three months in which to plan the wedding, we kept it simple in London where we and most of our friends and family live. As January is not a typical wedding month in the UK, this meant that the suppliers we wanted were available on relatively short notice.

We opted for a civil ceremony at The Old Marylebone Town Hall, an iconic London wedding venue built over 100 years ago in Marylebone, London. Our wedding was held in the wood-panelled Westminster room which seats up to 100 guests. The entrance to The Old Marylebone Town Hall provides a stunning backdrop for photos, and luckily for us, London weather was on our side that day.

By having a civil ceremony, we were able to make the ceremony personal by getting friends and family involved, writing our own vows and playing the music we love during the ceremony.

We only looked at one reception venue for the wedding – the NoMad Hotel in Covent Garden, London. Before visiting, we had seen photos online of their events space and knew it was the perfect venue for a winter wedding in London.

The ballroom is dark and atmospheric and features a stunning mural around the room evocative of the sky. It was clear on seeing the ballroom that we could create something dramatic and beautiful in this unique space.

 

Aesthetic

We wanted the day to be intimate, personal and relaxed for our guests, but still to retain the traditional aspects of a wedding.

We liked the idea of holding the ceremony and the reception at different venues, with the ceremony representing the traditional part of the day and the reception one big fun party.

The Old Marylebone Town Hall has a timeless classic feel and has been relatively recently refurbished inside so is a beautiful setting inside and out for a ceremony.

The NoMad Hotel has a modern and luxurious aesthetic, so it was easy to build on that for the reception. We are also into our food and wine in a big way, so choosing a hotel which could deliver stand out F&B was perhaps the single most important thing to us.

 

Preparation

We both stayed with our families at the NoMad Hotel the night before the wedding. In the evening we exchanged gifts and letters with each other, which was a nice personal moment before the big day.

Ali got ready with her mum in the morning in her suite with a few friends and family popping by to say hi.

Sam got ready with his family. He met his groomsmen pre-ceremony for some photos and a quick ‘livener’ at a London pub.

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Photography

Nina Wernicke photographed our wedding. The thing that struck us about Nina’s work is how beautiful her images are. We loved her editorial style which combines a softness and elegance. From the ‘sneak peek’ of the photos we have seen from the day, Nina has not only captured beautiful portraits of us as a couple, but lots of of sweet intimate moments between ourselves and our guests. We were amazed at how she was able to capture so much of everything and everyone so beautifully and seamlessly on the day.

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wedding venues london

Style Notes

 

Reception Décor

The main feature of our reception decoration were the florals in the ballroom – see below.

We kept the ballroom tables quite simple otherwise, with individual menus tied with dark navy velvet bows and white table linen.

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Wedding Planner & Stylist

No stylist or wedding planner. The styling of the ballroom table florals and candles was done by our florist, Pinstripes & Peonies.

 

Flowers

We had a white flower palette for the bridal flowers and the reception decoration for an understated and timeless look. Our florist, Pinstripes & Peonies, suggested white Ranunculus as the main floral. Ali had a small bouquet of white Ranunculus and the groomsmen, a single white Ranunculus buttonhole.

For the reception decoration, we liked the idea of lots of varieties of white flowers on the ballroom tables. Our florist packed lots of beautiful flowers down the center of each trestle table in bud vases, including white anemone, hydrangea and narcissus. Taper candles were added in black candlesticks for romance and to match the black centre of the white aneomes and drama of the room.

The main feature of the ballroom florals were huge willow branches which had been secured on each table and filled with gypsophilia to look like trees. These added a visually stunning and dramatic element to the ballroom and looked beautiful against the skyscape mural.

Bud vases of the same florals were dotted around the bar in the event space.

 

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Stationery

We used Paperless Post for the invitations. For the other items of stationery, we designed our own. We wanted an informal, but elegant aesthetic for the wedding stationery. Ali loves blue so we chose navy and pale blue as our accent colours. Ali painted a blue bow that we used as the motif for the wedding stationery, including it on the ceremony orders of service, reception menus and display boards. This allowed us to create a consistent aesthetic across the wedding stationery. We used blue stripes on the wedding menus and a handwritten font for a more informal feel.

Cake

We knew that we wanted to get the wedding cake from Violet Cakes in Hackney, London. This was not because Harry and Meghan got their wedding cake from there, but rather it was Ali’s local coffee and cake shop before she moved in with Sam. There were many mornings in the beginning of our relationship where Sam would cycle over to Ali’s and grab coffees and cakes from Violet Cakes on the way.

We had three tiers with the flavours: (i) salted caramel vanilla, (ii) Amalfi lemon and elderflower and (iii) coconut pudding.

The style of the wedding cake also suited the aesthetic of the wedding. The cake was decorated simply with vanilla buttercream and fresh white anemone flowers to complement the flowers in the ballroom.

 

Food & Beverages

We had a drinks reception when guests arrived at the NoMad Hotel from the ceremony venue. Champagne, cocktails and canapes were served. Guests really loved being able to order a negroni or a margarita during the drinks reception.

Following the drinks reception, we had a sit down three course dinner of scallops, Chateaubriand and a British favourite, sticky toffee pudding!

To soak up some of the alcohol after dinner, we had a snack table with our favourite crisps and sweets.

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Fashion & Beauty Notes

 

Bride’s Dress & Shoes

Ali knew that she wanted a classic wedding dress for the day to reflect the traditional aspect of the ceremony and a fun party outfit for the evening.

With only three months to plan, Ali was limited as to where she could get a wedding dress given the typical lead time. However, the Le Spose di Giò wedding dress shop in London was able to create a made to measure gown within the short period.

The appeal of the wedding dress was that it was classic and modern at the same time. The dress was a halter-neck mermaid cut gown in an off-white silk, with organza inserts and train. The halter-neck was made from tulle with large peals sown onto the tulle providing modern detailing to the dress.

Ali wore an organza veil in the same fabric as the train and a custom white cape from Safiyaa whilst outside, given the chilly winter weather.

Ali wore the Goldie white satin mules from Stuwart Weitzman. The pearl embellishments on the mules were a perfect match for the dress.

For the evening outfit, Ali wore a high neck mini cape dress in pale blue also from Safiyaa. The neckline was embellished with silver crystals to add a fun party element to the dress.

Ali wore the Gianvito Rossi Jaipur metallic leather slingback pumps in the evening, which feature an oversized crystal on the front to complement the dress.

 

Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories

Sam had the engagement ring custom designed by a local jewellery shop called Tomfoolery London in Muswell Hill, London. Sam knew that Ali loved cornflower blue sapphires and designed a beautiful large cushion cornflower blue sapphire set on a gold band with trilliant diamonds either side and underneath.

For the wedding rings, we each went for a simple gold band.

Ali wore a pair of Jennifer Behr pearl drop earrings with the wedding dress, and a pair of Swarovski silver and blue crystal earrings with the evening outfit.

Hair & Makeup

Ali had two hairstyles created by bridal hairstylist Viktoria Toth. The day hairstyle was a classic low bun with intricate detailing in the bun and a little bit lift at the top. For the second hairstyle, the hair was smoothed out and worn down in a sixties inspired look with back combing to add lift and slicked down sides, each hairstyle designed to work with the dress.

Ali’s makeup artist, Alessandra Macism, created a beautiful classic bridal look with a soft neutral palette, pink lips and cheeks and a small signature flick of eyeliner.

 

Groom’s Attire

We wanted to keep the groomsmen attire simple and classic and consistent with the bridal outfits.

Sam wore a navy Hugo Boss suit and white shirt, with a pale blue Hermès tie, a Brioni pocket square and cuff links with a small blue sapphire as a nod to the engagement ring. We asked Sam’s groomsmen and our dads to also wear navy suits with white shirts and gave each of them a blue Hermès tie as a memento of the day.

“The ballroom is dark and atmospheric and features a stunning mural around the room evocative of the sky.”

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The Details

 

Transport

We used executive chauffeur services to transport the groom and bridal parties.

 

Honeymoon

We headed straight for some winter sun and spent 8 days in Dubai and Mauritius. We particularly loved the One&Only Le Saint Geran hotel in Mauritius which provided the perfect setting for our honeymoon.

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wedding venues london

“The willow branches filled with gypsophilia looked like trees and added a visual and dramatic element to the ballroom standing beautifully against the skyscape mural.”

Wedding Songs

We were keen to ensure that the day incorporated our love of music. Ali walked down the aisle with her dad to the recomposed version of Vivaldi’s Spring by Max Richter.

The playlists we created for the ceremony were mainly 70s and 80s music, including some of our favourite songs: Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac), Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Paul Simon) and I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince), played at the pivotal moments in the ceremony.

We created an electronic / dance playlist for when our guests entered the ballroom for the wedding breakfast, with Adore U and Delilah (pull me out of this) (Fred Again) to bring the energy level up before we made our entrance to the ballroom. We chose Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police) for our entrance song as a nod to Sam’s parents who had this as their first song.

The first dance was to Never Too Much (Luther Vandross).

Entertainment

A jazz duo and an illustrator were our entertainment for the drinks reception. We liked the idea of having some form of interactive entertainment during the drinks reception and found an illustrator through the entertainment company, Blank Canvas. We really loved the playful style of the illustrator.

For the evening’s entertainment, we had an 8-piece live band through LDN Entertainment recommended by our wedding coordinator, By Chenai. The band was absolutely fantastic and we could not recommend them highly enough.

Readings

A friend read an introduction into our relationship at the beginning of the ceremony, which we thought would be a fun light-hearted way to kick the ceremony off. We had two further readings read by a friend and a family member – First Meeting, by ASJ Tessimond selected by Ali and lyrics from a Bob Dylan song, Shelter from the Storm, selected by Sam. We also wrote our own vows.

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Our Advice

 

A memorable moment…

We loved it all, but the most memorable moments have to be the excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, and the ceremony itself. It felt very meaningful to have such a personal ceremony.

 

One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…

There was not too much time for worrying as it was ‘all systems go’ when we decided to plan the wedding in three months. However, Ali probably spent too much time before the wedding worrying about the guest experience, whether everyone would attend, accommodating guest preferences etc. Ultimately it is your day and everyone is there to celebrate you and have a great time.

We had a clear idea of what we wanted for our wedding day and which suppliers we wanted to use, so we did not hire a wedding planner. However, we did enlist the services of By Chenai (usually a full-service wedding and party planner) and her team to provide on the day wedding coordination.

This was the best thing that we did – it provided us with huge peace of mind knowing that there was a professional team executing our vision for the day seamlessly. It also meant that our guests could enjoy the day without having jobs allocated to them!

Sources of inspiration…

Finding the wedding venues for the ceremony and the reception was our main source of inspiration as each has its own aesthetic that we could build on. This made things a lot easier, rather than starting with venues which need complete transformation to look like a wedding.

Our amazing florist, Pinstripes & Peonies, knew the events space at the NoMad Hotel and created stunning and dramatic floral arrangements which perfectly complemented the space.

In terms of the details, Ali looked at weddings on social media to find inspiration for the wedding stationary and the bow details that we used throughout the wedding.

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Our Contacts

 

Ceremony Venue / A Day To Remember

Reception Venue / The NoMad Hotel

Wedding Stylist & Planner / By Chenai

Photography / Nina Wernicke

Bride’s Dress / Le Spose di Giò & Safiyaa

Bride’s Shoes / Stuart Weitzman & Gianvito Rossi

Wedding Rings / Tomfoolery London

Hair / VST Hair

Makeup / Alessandra Makeup

Florist / Pinstripes & Peonies

Cake / Violet Cakes London

Stationery / Paperless Post

Catering / The NoMad Hotel

Gift Registry / Wedding Present Co.

Entertainment / Blank Canvas Entertainment & LDN Entertainment

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