Get ready to be blown away by the seriously stunning Jewish wedding of Jessica and Ross. The pair, who live in Surrey, initially wanted to get married on Lake Garda in Italy, but opted to stay closer to home due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
In the end, they put together a one-of-a-kind wedding at Guildford’s Loseley Park that combined the very best of English countryside chic and Italian glam, and we are OBSESSED. From naming all our tables after favorite towns around Lake Garda, to playing Italian classical music, to serving Aperol Spritz followed by a four-course Italian meal for dinner, the Italian theme carried through the day.
Even Jessica’s exquisite gown stuck to the Italian theme: with the help of the wonderful team at beloved Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Mirror Mirror Bridal, she made it official in the ‘Capri’ gown by designer Gemy Maalouf, which she knew was the one even before she got engaged! The dress, featuring a V-Neck, A-Line style and plenty of intricate beading and 3D flowers, was an absolute knockout – and Shamel at Mirror Mirror Bridal “was an absolute angel in turning the dress into ‘my’ dress.” Don’t miss it in the luminous pics by Meg from Wild Fern Photography!
Another thing we love is that in lieu of a traditional gift list, Jessica and Ross set up a contribution found for their honeymoon with Prezola, since they didn’t need anything for their home but dreamed of an amazing honeymoon (they’re going to Thailand in January!) and loved the idea of having their family and friends be a part of it.
There’s so much more to say about this wonderful wedding, but we’ll let Jessica take it from here…
How we Met
Jessica, the bride: We met on Tinder almost 7 years ago in December 2015. It was the time between Christmas and New Year so were both bored at home with nothing to do so happened to be swiping. A couple of days after we matched, we met on a typical London rainy night on London Bridge. As we lived on opposite ends of London – Ross being in south London and me living in north-west London, it seemed like the only suitable place between us.
We walked along the Thames in the pouring rain trying to find somewhere to have a drink. I remember Ross ordering a vodka and diet coke and was horrified, but he still managed to charm me. (Now we can happily share a bottle of wine together, I’ve taught him well!) We spent the whole night talking, not wanting it to come to an end. We met again for our second date just two days later and have been inseparable ever since. We haven’t gone one day without speaking to each other since that first date.
We fell in love over a shared passion for good food, love of dogs, and travel. I certainly wasn’t a sports enthusiast, but we quickly fell in love nevertheless.
A Country House Venue
We originally wanted to get married in Italy, on Lake Garda where Ross’s family have a home and have spent many summers there. Ross’s mother is also Italian, so it also holds special significance to him and his family. As we got engaged in the middle of the first lockdown, our international wedding plans didn’t seem very sensible and didn’t want to ask our friends and family to travel during what was a very uneasy, unpredictable time.
After postponing once in 2021, we finally got married in June on the beautiful grounds of Loseley Park, a stunning estate in Guildford, Surrey. We were thrilled, in the end, that our venue ended up being in Surrey, where we both live and have built a home together. As I grew up in Jewish north-west London, and Ross grew up in Kent, it ended up being significant that our wedding was in our home county. I remember driving into the grounds, through the gates and down a long gravel driveway, we instantly knew it was the one.
The front façade of Loseley Park is so beautiful, with roses climbing over the old windows and stone archways. The owners of the estate have a Tithe barn just next to the house which is used for weddings and events, making it the perfect location for our dinner and dancing, but it’s the gardens that make Loseley park truly special and really sealed the deal for us. You enter through a stone archway into a beautifully manicured walled garden where we had our ceremony.
There is a wall completely covered in wisteria and whilst the rest of the garden is filled with hundreds of different flowers, which just make the setting completely surreal. The guests got to walk throughout the gardens down gravelled pathways, through beautifully scented rose gardens until the area opened up to what Loseley Park has coined, the ‘White Garden’. An idyllic sanctuary filled with white hydrangeas and a beautiful fountain. We were instantly sold and knew how special it was.
Inspired by Italy
We chose not to have a planner as I had a very clear vision, so instead, I took on every detail of our wedding, probably much to my mother’s disappointment – I didn’t let her do anything. I had been planning our wedding (albeit originally in Italy) on a not-so-secret Instagram mood board for many, many years, just pinning and saving aesthetics and images I liked. I absolutely loved every minute of planning our wedding, and actually found it to be incredibly easy. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Sometimes, I think I missed my calling and should become a wedding planner! I still look at wedding inspiration even though it’s over.
Whilst we weren’t getting married in Italy anymore, it was important that we bring these elements into the day, so had the idea of having an Italian-themed wedding. These special touches were from naming all our tables after our favourite towns around Lake Garda where we originally planned to be married, to playing Italian classical music throughout our ceremony and reception, to serving Aperol Spritz followed by a four-course Italian meal for dinner.
From the Loseley team, the Head of events, Anna Simpson was our wedding planner on-site on the day and was an absolute pleasure to work with. She was there for any questions I had over the almost two years we planned our day. She also dealt with my meticulous planning and sometimes OCD, with ease!
Invitations / stationery
We used Minted, a US-based site for our wedding invitations, table names and menus. It was the only website I found which had the green/floral look we were going for. Even though they were based in the US, it didn’t cause any delays in getting the invitations sent to us. They also offered a printed envelope service which was so easy that when they all arrived, we just needed to stamp them and send them off. The design also came with a matching website, where our guests could RSVP, access our gift registry and find more details about the venue.
A Gemy Maalouf Dress
I had known, for many years, that my dress was called the ‘Capri’ and was by designer Gemy Maalouf at Mirror Mirror Bridal. Images of the dress had been saved countless times on my not-so-secret Instagram mood board and as soon as I got engaged, I made an appointment to try it on. I had even gone as far as to DM the boutique years before, just to find out how much it was.
I’m not very tall and have a curvy figure so I knew the most flattering shape would be V-Neck and A-Line. I knew I wanted to have some embroidery, beading and a floral element to it as well – but no glitter or sparkles, so this dress really ticked all my boxes. The bodice is totally embroidered with white beading, with little leaves and flowers sewn in, and trails onto what can only be described as an exquisite work of art, with 3D flowers and intricate stitch work sewn into a flowing organza skirt. I changed the original lining from a fishtail to an A-line silk underskirt, to suit my needs.
Shamel at Mirror Mirror Bridal was an absolute angel in turning the dress into ‘my’ dress. From reducing the length of the train, as it was incredibly long and I’m not very tall, to taking it in and making it fit me like a glove. I’ve never been more in love with a dress, and I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that I can’t wear it again.
Hair + Make-up
I’ve known since I was little that I wanted to do my own make-up on my wedding day. Not that I’m a makeup artist, but I’ve never liked someone else touching my face. My mother also did her own makeup for her wedding, so I liked the idea of carrying on the tradition.
I’ve always been good at doing my own look and know what looks good on me, so amped up my interest in makeup during the pandemic. After we got engaged, I took to TikTok to watch videos of creators teaching me the best techniques and ways to apply makeup to make it look flawless and last all day. I also spent a lot of time (and money) finding the best products for me, which took me the best part of a year and a half to find what I eventually ended up using on the day. Now, I have an amazing makeup collection to show for it, as well as enhanced skills. My friends now come to me if they need their makeup done for an event or wedding.
On the day, I took myself into our bridal suite to do my makeup, my bridesmaids came to chat and make sure I was calm. I had already done a couple of trials at home, so I knew what I was doing and, in the end, was thrilled with how it turned out.
My godfather, Daniel Hersheson did my hair. It was not only really special to have both him and my godmother with us while we were getting ready, but also really special for my mum to have her best friends with her too. Daniel also did my mother’s hair for her wedding in 1989, so it was a unique, full-circle moment to have him do mine too and have history repeat itself.
We did a small trial together 6 weeks before the wedding but I didn’t give him any direction on what I wanted and trusted him implicitly. I had gone back and forth between having my hair up, half up, or down before talking it through with him, but ultimately wanted to feel like myself so chose to have it down. It was a perfect choice. He created some gorgeous Hollywood waves that stayed in place all day. I’ve never felt so beautiful.
Accessories & Shoes
As my dress was the star of the show, I wanted to keep everything else really simple. Nothing in my hair, only earrings for jewellery and a simple veil. My earrings were from Carat London, and I found embellished flat shoes to wear on the day. I knew no one would see my feet and I wanted to be comfortable. Ross is only slightly taller than me, so I knew I’d be fine not wearing any heels. The shoes were so beautiful, albeit not designer, but I know I will wear them again.
My veil was my ‘something borrowed’ and was my best friend’s veil from her wedding (she was also my bridesmaid). It was such a special touch and so happy I got to wear it, albeit for about 5 minutes! It was so windy on the day, so it actually blew off my head as I got to the end of the aisle. I was so flustered that I didn’t put it back on so only have a handful of images wearing it!
The handsome groom
I knew Ross would always want to wear a blue suit. His favourite colour is blue and he always looks so handsome in it. A few weeks after we got engaged, we went to Italy to stay at his family home on Lake Garda. We had a few days of bad weather so decided to take a day trip to Verona where we went into the Boggi Milano store ‘just to have a look’. After that, we walked out with a suit! It was the easiest process. He wore a beautiful summer suit that was a gorgeous hue of blue that shone in the daylight. Luckily, Boggi has several stores in London, so over a year later, we took his suit to be tailored.
It was taken in, up, and every which way possible a suit can be tailored but ended up looking like it was made for him. He paired the suit with black leather Boggi shoes and a cream satin waistcoat, cravat, and pocket square – all of which I outsourced. The blue suit complemented the green and white tones so wonderfully, and we were so happy with the way it all came together. On the morning of our wedding, I gave him a Tissot watch to wear on the day, which had a dark blue face to match his outfit.
I had three bridesmaids, two of my oldest, dearest, and best friends and my younger sister. Very early in the planning stages I originally wanted them to wear sage green. Soon after, I realized that a soft light or dove grey would be more appropriate. I had touches of silver and grey embroidery in my dress and really wanted their dresses to tie in with mine.
As soon as I made this decision, it was like everything else fell into place. It was a natural decision to have all the groomsmen in silver ties and pocket squares to match the girl’s dresses. The flowers were tied with silver ribbon, and this even matched the silver accents on the tables in the barn.
The girls chose their own dresses from the US brand, Birdy Grey. I loved the colour and designs and they were all really affordable. The only issue was that the company were based in the US, they were non-returnable, and the girls were unable to try them on – so we ended up spending a lot of money on alterations in the end. I did, however, love how the colour of their dresses looked against the green of the flowers, the blue of the suits and how they looked with my dress.
We chose not to have a chuppah at our ceremony. Loseley already had a gazebo-type structure in their walled garden, and as we were having a civil ceremony on site, we needed to be married in one of their licensed locations. We did have plinths with flowers surrounding the gazebo, but it was so windy on the day they needed to stay on the floor to keep them from falling over. They nevertheless looked beautiful, and we moved them into the barn for the reception once the ceremony was over.
It was, however, important for me to bring some of my Jewish heritage and traditions into our ceremony, so I asked one of my best friends to officiate our smashing of the glass. I have known her for over 20 years and now lives in Israel, so she was the perfect person to bring this element of our wedding to life and made it so special.
Ross isn’t religious and was happy to make our ceremony as personal as possible and was excited to finally step on the glass as he had seen it done many times before. I specifically told the registrar not to pronounce us husband and wife or say ‘you may kiss the bride’ as I wanted all of this to be saved for the moment Ross stood on the glass.
She created a beautiful service, telling all our non-Jewish guests what this part of the ceremony signifies and even gave us a little memento which was a little glass jar, which has a blessing inside and little things to build a positive life together and create a Jewish home. She ended the service with a Hebrew blessing which gave the signal for Ross to step on the glass. The moment was so beautifully captured by our photographer and something I will cherish forever.
Music Choice / Entertainment
We had the Santiago Quartet (Buzz Music Group) play for our ceremony and during our cocktail reception. This was probably the one element Ross put his foot down in really wanting. It really added to the romantic vibe of the day and we were so pleased we had them. I worked with their music director, Cressida to create a playlist of Italian classical music mixed with some traditional classical wedding songs, and a few modern twists thrown in!
I walked down the aisle to ‘Kissing You’ by Craig Armstrong, made famous from the Baz Luhrmann adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Walking down the aisle was such a blur, I wish I could recall hearing the music more as it’s such a beautiful and emotional song. I wanted everyone to feel it as I walked down the aisle.
At a special request, the quartet launched into the chorus of ‘Enchanted’ by Taylor Swift, one of my favourite songs, and though he would never admit it, one of Ross’s too. They especially sourced the sheet music for us, and we were so happy to have it as part of our day. This played as Ross stepped on the glass and was our personal alternative to Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov.
We had the incredible The Collective Band for the evening who especially learned ‘Dangerously in Love’ by Destiny’s Child as our first dance. We didn’t have any Jewish dancing but that didn’t stop our friends and family from grabbing a couple of chairs for the hora anyway!
Whilst everything up until this point had been very Italian and romantic, the evening brought out our 90’s side! The band played 3 sets, the middle of which was an acoustic set to play some classics including Fleetwood Mac. Between sets, we wanted to hear some of our favourite songs, which included RnB crowd pleasers like ‘Let me Love You’ and some pop bangers including ‘You Drive Me Crazy’ and ‘Overprotected’ by Britney Spears – another personal touch we had a lot of fun including, and our guests loved it too.
I found our florist as one of the recommended vendors from our venue, but after meeting Kate from The Gorgeous Flower Company, I knew it was meant to be. As it turned out, she worked alongside my late grandmother’s best friend, so it was incredibly special to have her work on our wedding flowers – it really made me feel like my grandmother was there with me throughout the whole process. Kate and her team truly went above and beyond for us.
After having a meeting very early on discussing the colours and theme we wanted, I made Kate a very detailed mood board (I clearly have a thing for them) and told her I wanted it to feel almost like a midsummer night’s dream.
For the ceremony, as we got married in a garden, it wasn’t necessary to have too many flowers, but I wanted us to be surrounded by different levels of flowers and foliage. As it turned out it was too windy on the day for the arrangements to be on their plinths, but they looked stunning, nevertheless. We had tons of eucalyptus, white hydrangeas, white peonies, roses, and sweet peas as our main flowers with some jasmine thrown into my bridal bouquet. The bridesmaids had simple posies of white gypsophila, and the buttonholes were eucalyptus with little ivory spray roses.
I wanted my bridal bouquet to be quite small and took inspiration from Pippa Middleton. I didn’t want anything too overpowering as there was so much floral embroidery on my dress, I knew I wanted it to be quite simple so as to not distract from the dress itself.
I had seen a seating plan mirror on Instagram and another friend of mine had used it as their welcome sign, so I knew I wanted to do something similar. I bought the tall standing mirror from Dunelm, which had a beautifully curved frame, and sourced a vinyl sticker with our names to stick onto it. Little arrangements of flowers were at the base and acted as a little ‘selfie’ moment for everyone as they entered the gardens. Now it’s the perfect keepsake and one of my favourite things in our home.
The gardens of Loseley are stunning so I wanted to carry on this really ethereal, fairytale feel when our guests walked into the Tithe Barn for our dinner reception. This of course meant hundreds of candles placed throughout the room, with a canopy of golden fairy lights falling across the ceiling. I even took it upon myself to buy even more candles and hurricane lamps from Ikea a few weeks before the wedding – never let a bride-to-be go to Ikea alone! The central beam in the barn was completely covered with all of our wedding flowers and acted as a central point to display our beautiful cake as the guests entered the room.
The wine glasses and chargers were edged in silver and tied into our colour scheme so well and reflected the flickering candlelight so beautifully. We had a mixture of arrangements where some of the tables had giant white candle sticks adorned with floral arrangements with large church style candles in the centre. At the base, the larger arrangement was surrounded by little votives of flower buds, more tea lights and long ivory tapered candlesticks. The table names were displayed in silver easel frames, which are now used as keepsakes which we gave to our family with our wedding pictures inside.
The room was totally transformed, and I will never forget the feeling of walking into the barn before all of the guests and crying at the sight of my vision coming to life. It was truly breathtaking, and I will forever be grateful to Kate and her team for making that dream come true.
Photographer and videographer
When booking the big things, venue, band, and photographer, I knew that I wanted a very specific look to our images. I ended up finding Meg from Wild Fern Photography from stalking other venues on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her editorial style. We got to talking even before we had found a venue or a date. There is a brightness to her images that I was instantly drawn to. I loved how her brides never looked too staged or static and captured some great candid moments.
We did an engagement shoot with her 6 weeks before our wedding. It was a great opportunity to get us used to being in front of the camera but also enabled us to get some images of just us, being ourselves, not in suits or fancy dresses, and most importantly, with our cocker spaniel, Gnocchi. Meg was such a fun person to be around and just made sure we were always laughing which was captured in many pictures of us throughout the day.
We had Harry from Momento Media as our videographer. We originally didn’t want one as didn’t feel the need, but now we’re so thrilled we did and have something to look back on for our day. Harry was such fun and really kept me at ease during the morning. I was a little stressed about the weather, so I took myself off into another room in the morning for some alone time, calm before the storm and he just sat with me, chatting, and ensuring I kept calm. After the morning, he was completely stealth! I barely remember seeing him much, other than during our couple photos, which is exactly what you want from a videographer. He captured so many candid moments and was such a pleasure to have him as part of our day.
Food and Cake
The amazing chef Sophie at Loseley park did all our food and it was nothing short of spectacular. We had a meeting to discuss what we wanted before our tasting, as Sophie had agreed to create a completely bespoke Italian menu for us. At the cocktail reception, we had a circulation of seven Italian-inspired canapes, including delicious truffle arancini balls, and Caprese skewers as the guests sipped on Aperol Spritz while strolling through the gardens.
For dinner, we had a traditional four-course Italian feast, which was also written in Italian on the menus. The antipasti were bruschetta with heritage tomatoes, followed by pan-fried Gnocchi with pesto, a little nod to our dog who is also called Gnocchi. For the mains, we had supreme of lemon and herb chicken with a summer vegetable risotto, and dessert was our favourite – Tiramisu! The Italian wines we sourced ourselves, a white Pino Grigio from Lake Garda, and a bold red Chianti.
For our cake, we went with one of Loseley’s recommended vendors, Designer Cakes by Elle. Very early on we did a tasting and chose 4 tiers of 4 different flavours. We decided to go with traditional crowd pleasers, of Victoria Sponge, Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Lemon Drizzle. The cake was semi-naked, covered in vanilla buttercream and adorned with cascading peonies and roses – it looked completely stunning – and tasted even better!
Wedding List / Registry
We decided to have a contribution to our honeymoon as our gift registry with Prezola. We didn’t need or want anything for our home but wanted to go on an amazing honeymoon. It was really special for all our friends and family to contribute to that and we’re so excited to have an adventure and make some special memories.
We had our friends take part in our ceremony, in addition to officiating a smashing of the glass, two of our best friends wrote their own special reading during the ceremony. The welcome mirror was an added little touch I absolutely loved.
During dinner, we had the patio doors open to let the summer air in but to also allowed the kids who attended our day to go outside and play if they got bored between courses or speeches. Loseley had garden games set up for them and we got some great images of them playing and having fun.
The night before our wedding my mother gave me a locket on a blue ribbon to tie around my bridal bouquet. Inside was a picture of my late grandmother and grandfather, so they would be with me as I walked down the aisle. It was the most touching gift, and I was so emotional when she gave it to me. It was an unforgettable, personal touch that I will cherish forever.
I started planning our honeymoon soon after we got engaged. We spent a long time working with travel agent Kuoni in curating our perfect trip. We spoke about what we liked doing, most of which included food, so Thailand seemed like the perfect destination. They put together a 3-week itinerary for us to travel across Thailand which also included a special stay at a resort in the Golden Triangle where we get to bond with elephants. We go in January 2023 and are so excited. Also, it is something to look forward to, so the wedding celebration is not over too soon.
Advice to other couples planning their wedding
Don’t stress. I often hear from friends, and friends of friends, that wedding planning is stressful, and it really doesn’t need to be. Being decisive as possible will really help the process. If you are constantly unsure, and unable to make decisions, it will really set you back. For example, if you don’t know what flowers you want, take a step back and ask the following: What don’t I like, are there any colours I do or don’t want? What have I seen at other weddings that I like or don’t like? This way you can start a process of elimination and the beginning of it all coming together.
If your husband is just along for the ride, let him be! He will of course be there for the big decisions, like the food and choosing your band, but if he’s showing little interest in what wine glasses to pick, or what the flowers look like, don’t sweat it!
Enjoy the morning as much as possible. I spent the whole morning worrying about rain and it really set me back from enjoying time with my friends and family while getting ready. It’s a time I will never get back again and one of my biggest regrets.
The day goes by so fast, you will come away from it thinking it was such a blur – so if you’re thinking about possibly not getting a videographer like we were, don’t do it. You’ll want to look back and remember – sometimes the pictures aren’t enough.
JESSICA & ROSS’ LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Wild Fern Photography
Bridal Boutique – Mirror Mirror Bridal offers £200.00 for accessory purchases over £400 to all members of Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club
Videography – Momento Media
Venue – Loseley Park
Bride’s dress – Gemy Maalouf
Bride’s accessories – Carat London
Groom’s attire – Boggi
Bridesmaids – Birdy Grey
Hair – Daniel Hersheson
Flowers – The Gorgeous Flower Company
Band – The Collective Band
Quartet – Buzz Music Group
Catering – Loseley Park
Cake – Designer Cakes by Elle
Stationery/Invitation – Minted
Wedding Registry – Prezola
Smash The Glass Pouch – Smashing The Glass Etsy Shop or join Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club and get one for free!
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.