London, it has to be said, is my favourite place on Earth. I lived there for 12 amazing, amazing, AMAZING years, and I miss it every single day, no lie. So when I see a wedding that’s not only trés cool and modern and shot exquisitely by one of our directory babes, Joanna Bongard, but also has that sweet London magic then, yeah, it’s being featured.

This is Jo and Mark’s beautiful brewery wedding that took place last autumn in Hackney…

“There was no theme,” began bride Jo. “Our reception venue The Brew-shed at Crate ticked all of our boxes so we just added some extra lighting and some foliage. We went for quite a relaxed style; we didn’t really have a vision and we just went with our favourite things.”

Their ceremony was at Islington Town Hall. “We loved the circular space – it means the guests are all really close and there aren’t any bad seats or ‘sides’. We actually picked the after-party venue first, and so Islington Town Hall made sense as it meant we could all just hop on the overground (we like trains).”

“Our reception was at Crate brewery because we liked the idea of organising a ‘piss-up in a brewery’, and we knew the bar would be well stocked. The team at Crate were super relaxed about how we could use the space, too. Both venues were next to the Olympic Park in Stratford, which was special to us as we met working on the London 2012 Olympics. Before the ceremony, we went out with our brilliant photographer Jo and took some great shots around the park and by the canal. They’re some of our favourites from the day.”

Jo looked sparkly stunning incred in her Watters Lenora dress, saying “it was in the first shop I went to and met my main criteria – comfortable to dance all night in, and not restricting so I could eat all the pizza and drink all the beer.” Yes, girl!!

Mark wore a Ted Baker suit with a Harris Tweed waistcoat from ASOS and shoes from Berties. His best man wore the same suit, and going for the fittings was a laugh, they said.

The bridesmaids all wore Monsoon‘s navy buttercup dress. “The girls tried on more bridesmaid dresses than I did wedding dresses!” said Jo. “It was hard to find something that they all felt comfortable in, but when we found this they all looked absolutely amazing!”

“There’s no doubt that weddings are an expensive gig,” said Jo, regarding the budget. “Our priorities were great food, great DJ and great photographer. The venue came free with a minimum spend on booze, which was a win-win situation, and we also saved on the cake, snacks and decorations, which we organised ourselves. The flowers came from the groom’s sister’s friend, and were brilliant!”

And yet more money was saved with DIY, Jo explained. “We raided charity shops for large antique-y looking photo frames, then glued wire mesh to the backs and filled them with old and new photos of us with all of our wedding guests. Every person there was special to us, so it was nice to have our memories with them on the walls for everyone to see. We also made pick-and-mix bags as wedding favours for the guests, buying huge bags of Haribo off the Internet and then getting the family together the night before to pack them over a couple of bottles of wine, which was a real highlight!”

For their first dance, Jo and Mark ended up picking three songs that meant a lot to them as a couple. “Our DJ, Doug, mixed them together brilliantly, and even though we were a bit nervous about hitting the dance floor on our own, it’s a good way to get the party started, and you’re only there a few seconds before you can beckon on a few good mates. We chose Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks (we watched Ray Davies perform this at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and it’s become an unofficial anthem for us), Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen (we went to see Bruce in Hyde Park. We couldn’t get tickets so sat outside the fence!), and Twist & Shout by The Beatles (at the same gig, Paul McCartney joined Bruce for the encore and sang this. The venue cut the power halfway through the song as they’d overrun their curfew!). We walked up the aisle to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which was Jo’s dad’s favourite song. We went a bit leftfield for the other ceremony music with the theme tune to Test Match Special, Chariots of Fire, a bit of Fleetwood Mac, and Africa by Toto. Why not.”

Favourite moment of wedding day? Jo said there were lots of highlights. “The photo shoot by the park in the morning, the rainbow at Hackney Wick station, the brilliant DJ set from Doug who tackled our eclectic playlist with ease, and the Colin The Caterpillar cake, which got absolutely destroyed!”

The best bit of the planning, said Jo, was “all the food and drink related bits! We did a beer and wine tasting at Crate. They were really helpful, and we spent a couple of hours trying all of their amazing brews and making sure we’d have options for everyone. We also spent an afternoon with the team who’d be making the pizzas, and a good 30 minutes on a bench in Victoria Park sampling cakes and donuts from Percy Ingle bakery where we got our midnight snacks to keep everyone going until the last song.”

Jo and Mark end with this advice: “Weddings don’t have to be stressful – be organised, but don’t let it take over your life. You should enjoy the day, and not feel zapped and stressed by the time it arrives. If you don’t go for a sit-down meal, you don’t have to worry about a table plan and who sits next to who! Your wedding day is just a stepping stone, you’ve got loads of good bits to come!”


Photography | Joanna Bongard Photography

Ceremony venue | Islington Town Hall

Reception venue | Crate

Bride | Watters

Groom | Ted Baker

Bridesmaids | Monsoon

Cakes and donuts | Percy Ingle

Favours | Pick-and-mix Haribo