Find out her tips, tricks, and t- uh, advice below.
Lucy and John’s intimate pub wedding
Thanks for talking to us today, Lucy. Let’s get to it – spill the beans on your relationship with John. Tell us everything!
John and I are both accountants-
Erm, maybe we should skip to the end, actually…
John proposed over fish and chips on the three year anniversary of our first date.
How sweet! So tell us what happened next. What sort of wedding did you want to have?
From the very beginning, we knew we weren’t going to want to the more traditional day with a lavish ceremony and a big sit-down dinner. The idea of being the centre of attention like that never appealed to me – I wanted as few people as possible watching me stumble down the aisle!
John has always been the more social of the two of us, though, and he wanted a big event with just about everyone he had ever met in attendance!
Oh no! So what did you wind up doing?
We settled on the perfect compromise: a small ceremony and wedding breakfast (of fish and chips, of course) with just twenty of our closest family and friends, followed by a pub-full of all our friends and extended families from mid-afternoon until late at night. We had a small legal ceremony at the Mayfair Library, followed by a big celebration at the Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market.
That sounds ideal! How did you choose the venues you wanted?
The choice did pose some challenges at first – it fit none of the usual packages often offered by venues. But we were lucky enough to being getting married in London which has a lot of non-traditional venues to choose from.
The pub was actually a pretty early find; a beautiful setting and wonderfully friendly staff, it also had the added benefit that its location in the City of London meant it’s usually closed on a Saturday and so could be hired in its entirety. It also offered a lot of different rooms for different parts of the day: an upstairs dining room for a meal with our smaller party, the use of the market to spill out into for drinks, snacks and live music for our larger crowd and the basement
“speak-easy” style bar for a late night DJ and dancing.
The one thing it couldn’t provide was a marriage license. Since it was important to us that we did get legally married on our wedding day, we found the perfect small room at the Mayfair Library registry office for the actual legal bit.
Oh, lovely! How did you find splitting the day across two venues? Where there any tough logistics to sort out?
Not really. Because we had a small group at the full day, we could just book cars to take everyone else to the pub.
Everyone else?! What did you do?
We decided we wanted to make traveling to the pub a part of the day; we flagged down a black cab to travel between venues. It added a bit more London to our day – and we got some great photos!
How did you choose the date for your wedding?
The date of the wedding was actually quite easy – we took a poll!
We asked everyone we wanted with us for the full day for their availability over two months and picked the weekend that everyone could do.
That’s brilliant! There are so many things you can do with a smaller guest list that would be impossible with a fifty-guest wedding. It’s awesome that you embraced having a smaller guest list and got everyone involved. So, no problems with your date?
Not in picking it. But it ended up being a bank holiday. We thought that was a lovely idea at the time as it meant those traveling could spend a few extra days in London. But it had an impact on costs – both for the venue and accommodation for those attending. Of course, from now on it will continue to have cost implications, too – our wedding anniversary will forever fall on an expensive weekend for traveling!
Let’s talk about the costs. Did you have a rough budget in mind when you started planning your wedding?
Since we’re both accountants-
-the answer is obviously yes!
Ahead of planning our day, we spoke to a number of friends and family members about their spends to get an idea of what to
expect, but we did know we were probably going to make some savings – no sit down dinner for 100 for example!
Let’s talk about that. You said before you’d wanted a simple, small wedding. What sort of things did you decide against having?
It was very important to us early on that we didn’t want a lot of the trimmings associated with a big wedding day – we didn’t hire a wedding car for example. I had a bouquet but the venue spoke for itself and didn’t need further flowers or decorations,
so we saved there. We even saved by going to the registry office ourselves rather than hiring the registrar to come to a venue of our choice.
In the end we came in just short of our budget, which I think was something that reflected the simplicity we wanted in our day rather than skimping in any important places!
And what were the important places for you?
The details we did spend money on were our photographers: Bethan and John Jones, who captured the day so perfectly while just feeling like part of the family, and personalised invitations, since it’s the first thing that everyone sees of the wedding and we wanted them to reflect both us as a couple and explain the slightly un-traditional format of the day!
What were the most important things you wanted to get right when you started planning your
The most important thing for us was that our day would be simple, easy and laid-back, more like an afternoon spent with your mates in a pub than a wedding. I’d been a bridesmaid three times before I was a bride myself (proving the old proverb wrong!) and knew how much detail could go into planning a wedding and how the details (and the cost!) could cause a lot of unnecessary stress and tension. I knew I didn’t want that for myself. Instead I wore a very simple dress, stood up in front of those I’m closest to and promised to be with my man for the rest of my life. Then we went to the pub.
How wonderfully British.
So how did you find organising everything? Did you do it all yourselves?
I’d say we did organise the whole thing ourselves but that’s a bit of a cheat since we made sure that there was only the minimum necessary to organise.
The venue was fantastic and the staff very supportive and prepared – they made the day run so smoothly and then our lack of details did the rest. The flowers couldn’t be late, for example, because there weren’t any. The father of the bride speech didn’t fall flat or run long because there wasn’t one – instead we had “open mic” speeches in which anyone that wanted to say something could and anyone that didn’t want to didn’t have to.
I should say though that I’ve been to many wonderful weddings that have included all of these details and they have been made all the more beautiful for it, they just didn’t suit us as a couple.
The day you had seems to suit you perfectly as a couple.
The stress-free nature of our day was very representative of us as a couple! We definitely made sure that it could be as laid-back as possible.
The fact that we were lucky enough to have our day in London was also very fitting – it means a lot to us, both together and apart.
Is there anything you’d do differently now, with perfect hindsight? Any parts of the day that didn’t go as planned?
I honestly loved every part of our day – I’d do everything exactly the same.
There were a few things that didn’t quite go to plan-
I knew it!
-but nothing that any amount of pre-planning could have prevented.
…ah. Like what?
There was a wonderful moment when I arrived at the registry office and found that my groom was still outside, rather than safely out of sight.
It all worked out fine – after the taxi came to a hasty halt. And we got a good story out of it!
Was there anything you had worried about in the run-up to the wedding that you needn’t have?
Most of my concerns running up to the day were about timings and in every instance I needn’t have worried. The London traffic wasn’t too heavy, the ceremony didn’t run long, the transport was on time…
If there’s one thing I regret, it would be worrying about all of that instead of realising that all will be well. And even if it isn’t, you’ll have something to talk about!
That’s really good advice. Let’s finish on a high note – what was your favourite part of the day?
It has to be watching John manically giggle his way through his “solemn” vows!
Another not-as-planned moment that makes a good story!
I’d never want to change that – it was unexpected and it was perfect, and it gave us all a good laugh.
And what would you encourage other couples to do when they get married?
Think about a non-traditional wedding.
The format of our day meant I got to spend the more intimate parts with the people we’re closest to, and the laid-back nature of everything made it a relaxed, enjoyable day. We’ve had a lot of compliments from our guests about how there were no expectations or timetables, just a great place, lots of food, drink and music, and having a good time with friends.
What to steal – and what to avoid!
- Communicate with your partner! It’s important to compromise and work out something you’re both happy with if you have different priorities for what you want to spend your money on or what you want the day to look like. It’s a special day for both of you and you should both love it.
- Remember this is a day about you and your partner – you don’t need to work down a checklist of ‘the proper way to have a wedding’, just do what you think is fun. If that means running into the street to flag down a taxi in your wedding dress rather than pre-booking a fancy car, do it!
- Look into all your options. Getting married at the registry office is less expensive than getting a registrar to come to you, and the buildings are often beautiful – and already decorated! It’s worth looking into what’s available, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Think about having a smaller day guest list; it affects the atmosphere of the day as well as your budget. Leaving off all the second cousins and great aunts and just inviting the people you really want to be there to witness your ceremony will make the day more meaningful. (And the ‘our venue only takes twenty people’ excuse is great if anyone tries to blag an upgrade…)
- Pick the day of your wedding without checking if it falls on a holiday weekend; it won’t just raise the price of the day itself, it’ll always impact the cost of celebrating your anniversary, especially if you want a romantic getaway.
- Worry when things go against the Pinterest-perfect idea you had for your wedding. As long as you’re willing to roll with the punches, something unexpected like your partner laughing in the middle of their vows might actually become your favourite part of the day – maybe even because you wouldn’t have chosen it to happen.
- Spend the lead-up to your wedding worrying about things you can’t control. Traffic might slow people down. Guests might get ill. Embrace it, laugh it off, and know that, as long as you end the day married, nothing’s gone that wrong.