Every real wedding plan starts with location, and for Illana and Bradley the celebration had to be in London. Illana grew up in Preston and Bradley is from New Zealand and, since many friends and family were travelling long distances, the capital was a logical meeting point. Beyond the practicalities, it also felt like the right place: “London is where we met and have made our home and many friends, so it felt right to hold our wedding here,” says Illana.
While they looked at lots of venues, Sunbeam Studios stood out for its fabulous light-filled spaces and its flexibility. This Edwardian former car showroom in W10 had all the components they wanted. Illana says: “We looked at a lot of places but it was really important to us to be able to celebrate the day in one place, with no travelling between venues. Sunbeam Studios has a great mix of spaces and were also very flexible about letting us introduce elements that were important to us. This included allowing us to serve the special beer Bradley had brewed for our wedding day!”
Illana and Bradley had incorporated Art Deco elements although, as Illana puts it, “nothing over-the-top”. The glamorous white interior of Sunbeam Studios created a neutral backdrop that worked brilliantly with their restrained theme of navy with peach accents. Illana’s choice of wedding gown, a glamorous Jenny Packham design with Deco-style crystal trim certainly fitted the theme. Her bridesmaids wore chic navy short gowns, while Bradley’s groomsmen wore navy blue suits, with smart bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie.
“Sunbeam Studios were very flexible – they even allowed us to serve the special beer that Bradley had brewed for our wedding day”
The incredible flowers were from local florist Scarlet & Violet. Illana says: “They were amazing to work with. I asked them for peach peonies and the florist explained that she’d have to let them fade from their natural pink to get the colour I wanted. This meant her ordering them four days before the wedding, but the final result was wonderful”.
Bradley – a graphic designer – created the stationery, including wedding invitations, signage and table stationery. As a keen baker Illana, took charge of the cake. She says: “I wasn’t going to let anyone else make my wedding cake! It had a lemon tier and an orange tier and with buttercream icing”.
Canapés were followed by a wedding breakfast, all created by the in-house catering team at Sunbeam Studios. Guests mingled in the main hall and garden and then stayed on for dancing into the night. Illana says there were many high points: “One was actually getting married. We’d each written our own vows, and although we’d discussed this in advance neither of us knew what the other was going to say so there was a wonderful element of surprise”.
“We’d each written our own vows and neither of us knew what the other was going to say, so there was a wonderful element of surprise”
Then there was the pleasure of having so many friends together – including all those who had travelled long distances to be with them. Illana says: “Just seeing everyone who had come to celebrate our day with us was wonderful”
Illana and Bradley’s advice to other couples is to set the theme, but don’t overthink things. “Don’t spend too much time on Pinterest. You see thousands of creative ideas and it’s easy to go crazy making things. We loved personalising our celebration, but also recognised that no one is going to notice all the minute details. They are there to be with you and that’s what matters.”
Real wedding sourcebook: Illana & Bradley
Venue: Sunbeam Studios; sunbeamstudios.com
Photography: Annamarie Stepney; annamariestepney.co.uk
Flowers: Scarlet & Violet; scarlet-violet.myshopify.com
Bride’s hair: Georgiana Teers from The Bridal Stylists; thebridalstylists.co.uk
Groom’s suit: Kenneth Cole at House of Fraser; houseoffraser.co.uk
Groom/groomsmen bow ties: Mrs Bow Tie; mrsbowtie.com