Real Bride Diaries: Michelle and Paul tie the knot

Bridelings, meet Michelle and Paul, who tied the knot on 22 December 2016 at the beautiful Old Finsbury Town Hall just by dreamy Exmouth Market, London.

Michelle walked down the aisle with her best friends, had her bridesmaid and two bridesmen by her side, and decided on a stag ‘do with her LADS mates as well as a hen do. I don’t think you need me to explain why these lovebirds are a stellar source of down-to-earth bride inspiration….

Here’s a little insight into their super fun, loving and thoughtful nuptials…thanks for sharing them with us, newlyweds!

Vital wedding details:

Old Finsbury Town Hall, Bloomsbury, London

22 December 2016

Michelle’s outfit:
California Bride in Blackheath, West Midlands

[Links at the end of blog post]

Now THIS is the kinda couple whose wedding you wanna be invited to. RSVP 100% YES

The Interview: When Down-to-Earth Brides met Michelle and Paul

Can you tell us how you got engaged?

Paul proposed on the morning of my 30th birthday in our flat in Camden. He had bought me a really pretty diamond necklace for my birthday and had chosen it because the layout of the stones had reminded him of his Grandmother’s engagement ring. So after I’d opened my necklace and he’d fastened it around my neck, he then got down on one knee and proposed with his late grandmother’s ring! Gush!

Was it a shock when Paul proposed?

Yes it was, we had only been together for 15 months. The boy was keen! Also he had never done any snooping or asking what kind of ring or wedding I might like.

I used to watch Don’t Tell the Bride and drop hints at what I did or didn’t like about the wedding and Paul used to change the subject which would make me think our wedding would happen years later!

What made you choose your venue and date?

We love London and have made a home here despite being from the Midlands and the North. Most of our friends are down here and we liked the idea of a less traditional inner city urban wedding.

We have both lived abroad and met whilst working in China, so we both have some brilliant friends overseas who we wanted to be able to invite to our wedding. We didn’t love the idea of them taking lots of time off work for a summer wedding so we thought getting married close to Christmas would be ideal so they could tie our wedding day into Christmas with their families. We decided to try to save up and got married on 22 December 2016. This gave us a year to budget as we got engaged on 30 December 2015.

We thought about our guests and what we could afford based on a year of savings. To save some pennies we decided to invite our immediate family and older friends to our ceremony and more London-based friends, aunts, uncles and cousins to our evening reception. This was a little controversial but it’s the only way we could afford to get married and have a large-ish wedding within 12 months of getting engaged.

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How did you find the planning overall?

I’m an organised person and naturally creative so I was keen to crack on. We had agreed on a venue, our number of guests and set our budget within a month of getting engaged.

I most enjoyed doing wedding tasks at the weekends, and preferred to work on it often rather than letting tasks build up. I also used wedding apps which I found helpful with prioritising and target deadlines.


  1. I used WeddingSpot for tasking, which was great at prompting us what to do and by when.
  2. I also used to Wedpics app which I had downloaded for a friend’s wedding the year before. I found this useful for uploading recommended hotels and transport for our guests. People didn’t really share their photographs on there though.

Did you spend a lot of time on DIY items for the wedding?

Yes, I was quite hands-on with collecting second-hand props or making my own things for the wedding, so there was always something keeping me busy.

We collected bottles and jars from friends and I had a jar and recycle bottle box at work where colleagues could contribute. I bought a lot of glitter from eBay, different shades and sizes of gold and copper to add to the jars to give them a Wintery feel. We lined the wedding aisle with the bottles with single white roses and added tea lights to the jars. These were scattered around our venue and up our stairwell. I’m so thrilled with how they looked.

I also bought a P ❤ M set and MR & MRS copper lights from Next, which cost around £13 per letter and were very effective.

My mum also made 150 festive mince pies for our evening reception which were served with mulled wine around 8pm. Our caterers were quite easy going and flexible. We also saved costs and we bought our own M&S wedding cheese stack, crackers and home made chutneys for the evening do rather than paying for a buffet.

Were there any elements of the wedding planning that you found stressful?

The few days before the wedding felt a little stressful, only because the flat was full of props and clutter and we had guests so were low on space!

The guest list wasn’t fun and felt quite cut throat, to make life quite simple we asked the following questions to make the yes, no and maybe lists…

  1. Have I/we known them over 5 years?
  2. Do we both know this person?
  3. Have we seen them in the last 12 months?
  4. Would we still be in touch with them if we left London and eloped?
  5. Do we want to say our vows in front of them?

I found this really helped us.

The thing we enjoyed most was the food and wine tasting with our caterers. We were invited to indulge in all sorts of goodness at their kitchen.

‘My best friend, who flew in for the wedding from Perth’

What are your views towards wedding traditions?

We knew we wouldn’t marry in a church as we aren’t a religious couple, so we decided on a humanist ceremony with our own personal vows.

We knocked a lot of traditions on the head actually; I walked down the aisle with my best friends, I had a bridesmaid and two bridesmen, I didn’t wear a veil and we asked friends to prepare speeches. We also mixed friends up on the seating plan deliberately.

THE Squad

Did you go down the traditional hen and stag do route?

Paul did, he had a boozy stag do in Edinburgh. I bent the rules slightly by having a beer-fuelled stag do with my male friends LADS LADS LADS! And also a fun time hen do with the girls and my GBFs.


Michelle, how did you feel walking down the aisle?

I only got butterflies when our song started to play, but I wasn’t particularly nervous, just excited to see my groom!

What was your most memorable moment?

I loved our ceremony, it felt private and personal, exactly what we had wanted.

We had a singer play as our evening guests arrived and Paul sang an impromptu song with her which was perfect. It was Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy.

How did you find your dress, and what was your experience like?

> TOP BRIDAL BOUTIQUE RECOMMENDATION: I found my dress at my second appointment, and is from California Bride in Blackheath, West Midlands. Most dresses are at least a third off as they are designs from the previous season.

I had been with my mum at both appointments. We both loved the colour and shape of the lace and tulle fish tail number I went for. I knew I wanted to add some winter sparkle and had been searching for a vintage cape or something to dress over it. Nothing.

Then we bought a sequin floral dress from a sample sale and removed the flowers and mum and I added them to the top of the dress to create the detail it needed for that ‘vintage’ look I wanted to create.

What are you going to do with your dress now?

I want to sell it on. I love the idea of someone else getting married and having their first dance in that dress! I’ve advertised on

Dreamy Exmouth Market at Christmas

Michelle, can you list your top tips for brides-to-be?

  1. Numbers: Start with your number of guests. I don’t think it’s realistic to budget plan without knowing how many people you’d like to feed.
  2. You first: Decide as a couple what kind of wedding you want before your friends and family add their opinions and influence.
  3. Transport: Think about transporting guests and making it as easy as possible for people who might not live locally. Our invitation was full of info with suggested hotels, websites etc. We couldn’t be bothered to do a website.
  4. Squad size: Consider the size of your bridal party, this can be a huge expense and you really do only want your best friends around you on the morning of your wedding.
  5. Shoes! Brides, wear comfortable shoes, or take back ups.
  6. Plan enough time for your hair and make-up: I went to a hair salon in Walthamstow Village to get my hair done. This might have been the most stressful part of the whole wedding and bridal experience as it took two trials and five hairdressers to curl my hair in the period 50s pin up style I wanted. I’d planned one hour for my hair on the morning of the wedding, which caused issues as it was a two-hour job.
Bridelings, listen to this wise lady

Paul, do you have any top tips for grooms?

  1. Paul says relax: Remember to try and relax on the big day. I felt like I had to help make it perfect for my bride but it’s your day too! You have people there to do all the last-minute things; so relax.
  2. Grooms, get involved! Don’t be afraid to get involved with creating the decor for the wedding. My bride collected a lot of glass jars/bottles that needed covering in glitter. It was actually fun doing this together.
  3. Speech tips: Make sure you have your speech written down and with you. There’s no harm in referring to your notes during the speech, otherwise you might say something embarrassing. Not like I did that or anything!?!
Paul’s speech: Tumbleweed-free-zone

Would you recommend any of your suppliers in particular?

I’d recommend our photographer Vicki Wilkinson, she totally captured day without being forced.

I’d also recommend my make up artist Agnes Wild who was wonderful. She’s my talented cousin who’s worked in film and TV make up for over a decade but it moving more into Bridal. Her email address is:

Can you describe your wedding in three words?

Michelle: Personal, Precious, Timeless
Paul: Perfect, Magical, Beautiful

Does it feel different to be married?

I don’t feel very different just very proud we are married. It’s lovely to call Paul my husband, I say it with pride. I’m also very flattered he decided to take on my name as we have both decided to double barrel our surnames.

M&P-117 copy 2
Two names are stronger than one

Would you recommend getting married?

Yes. Best. Feeling. In. The. World.

Michelle and Paul: Super fun thoughtful love

Michelle and Paul, thanks so much for sharing details of your beautiful day with us and inspiring us to challenge those wedding traditions that so many of us struggle with. You fill us with motivation and gooeyness!

Your photos speak for themselves; your day looks full of fun, happiness, love and good vibes from all your loving family and friends…we heart the Alderson-Legeres!


Venue: Old Finsbury Town Hall
Transport: Michelle arrived in a white London cab
Make-up:  Agnes Legere
Dress: California Brides, West Midlands
Photography: Vicki Wilkinson Photography
Videography: Union Wedding Videos

Bridelings!  If you’d like to share your down-to-earth brideling story, please get in touch! Email: or get in touch via Facebook.

Much loves,
Jojo x



Posted by

I'm a 32 year-old newlywed bride, living in London. I recently got married (July 2016) and am here to spread wedding joy and worldly wedding advice to fellow bridelings who don't want their weddings to take over their lives. Let's laugh (nervously) in the face of bonkers wedding planning!

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