Musicians and wedding industry professionals Tim Reynolds and Lauren Johnson of Next Level Music gave their guests something to remember at their winter wedding
How did you meet?
At a fellow wedding musician and mutual friend’s wedding in Surrey.
Tell us about the proposal.
Tim: Lauren had been away on a four-week tour in the US with Rick Astley and I had spent this free time fixing up the house so when she returned I could show her round our new home, then propose in the newly finished garden. Great plan, I thought, until I got booked for a gig in Egypt... for which the flight departed an hour after Lauren's flight arrived in London.
So I went to meet Lauren at Heathrow Terminal 5 to see her, before flying out. After an emotional, slightly awkard public reuinion, we settled down for a coffee at Costa and I started to show Lauren photos of the work I'd done on the house.
Rick Astley's lovely wife Lene came over to say hello, and later commented on how nervous I looked. When Lene left, I restarted my DIY photo montage and Lauren was a blubbering mess - she just couldn't believe what I had done for her.
I then explained: "I did all this so I could take you out to the garden and do this...", reaching into my suitcase and pulling out a wooden ring box, before getting down on one knee and popping the question. Through happy tears Lauren said yes. We sat together for a few more minutes before Lauren walked with me as far as she could towards my flight, then returned home on cloud nine.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
Winter wonderland, with a mauve and burgundy colour scheme.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
The Old Finsbury Town Hall in London - it’s such an incredibly beautiful place first and foremost, but also it’s one of the few remaining venues with no sound limiter, which was very important for us as musicians. Also, they have a licence until 1am and allowed us to bring our own caterer - letting us have our favourite food on our wedding day... a huge Indian curry banquet.
When did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
Lauren: I’d already picked out dresses to try but then spotted my dress on a mannequin and it just shone. I got into it and just seeing myself in the mirror brought tears to my eyes and I had a flash of Tim waiting for me as I walked down the aisle. I instantly knew it was the one.
I had probably tried on 10-12 dresses before finding my dress. I visited three shops in one day with my mum and sister and although all the dresses were lovely, they weren’t quite right. The day I found my dress, I had gone mainly to help my sister find a dress as she gets married in August 2020, so had no expectations at all. It really took me by surprise.
All the other dresses I’d picked out to try were left untouched and I stayed in my dress for almost two hours, trying different accessories and floating around in front of the mirrors.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
I had eight bridesmaids or as I called them 'bridesbabes' as I had one fabulous male friend as well.
They were mostly my best friends from uni or post-uni through work. In my line of work, when you work with another backing vocalist, you practically live together for extended periods of time and become such a unit. Some of my best friends are that because we have spent years working so closely together that we’ve become like siblings and it’s a beautiful thing.
My gorgeous sister was my maid of honour and she did an incredible job organising two unreal hen parties in Palma and London and just being an angel on the day. Then my littlest bridesmaid was Tim’s youngest sister, Izzy.
The majority of the girls wore a mix of TFNC London and Chi Chi London in pale pink and deep berry, my sister wore a gorgeous fully beaded golden and pink gown from a local dress shop and Joel wore an incredible pink three-piece suite with burgundy accessories.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
Lauren: My mum wore a custom-made stunning deep berry satin midi dress with detachable off-the-shoulder lace sleeves, which looked incredible on her. I’m so glad she went for something a bit more va va voom and less traditional as it reflected her personality perfectly. She really did look unbelievably beautiful.
Where did you find your suits?
Swatch to Suit in Soho. Rommel was super helpful and highly skilled in putting together an incredible bespoke velvet tuxedo jacket, shirt and trousers.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
We actually decided against spending a fortune on floral arrangements because although they look and smell lovely, our view is that they still end up in the bin at the end of the night and it seemed really wasteful.
From the start I was quite adamant that I wanted trees in the ceremony room. I wanted it to have a cosy and wintery feel featuring candles, but because of space restrictions we couldn’t make that work. Luckily, on a friend's recommendation, we found a wedding décor company (Dress It Yourself) who really were a cut above the rest. They were able to offer us wisteria trees that could be used as centrepieces on each round table for dinner and threaded through tiny twinkly lights to create the cosy feel I was after.
Walking into that room took my breath away, it was stunning. We used quite a few silk flower table runners which were draped over the piano and registrar's table in the ceremony and then re-used on the head table and edge of stage in the main room during dinner.This was a great way of saving money.
The bridal bouquet, bridesmaids' bouquets and buttonholes were fresh and looked perfect on the day. Lauren's was a mix of flowers, eucalyptus leaves and succulents in pale pink, white and berry and the girls had simple white hydrangeas with eucalyptus leaves to complement. Once the ceremony and photos were done, we put the bouquets in vases in the bathrooms to brighten the space up.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
We think the details really make a wedding. It's what makes a wedding personal and is a chance to reflect your personalities and relationship.
- We weren't keen on spending on favours as we find that they are almost always left behind after dinner and thrown away, but we found something that our felt fitted our budget and our sentiment on Etsy. They were seed sheets shaped in a little heart and attached to personalised cards with our chosen design, names, date of wedding etc. We loved the idea of it being an eco gift as we are both quite passionate about doing what we can for the environment and I think our guests appreciated that it was something a bit different.
- We used a company called Open Booths for our photobooth as we loved that the space was open. It seemed more inclusive and less removed from the party. They also offer some really great flower walls as backgrounds which again was a small detail that I feel added to the aesthetic of the room.
- Instead of the usual table plan, we made a fun boozy game called ‘Find Your Face, Find Your Place’ where a table was set up with shot glasses of sambuca, tequila and Jägermeister with passport size photos of our guests on top. They had to find their face, take their shot and on the back of the photo was their table number. Our guests absolutely loved it and got to keep the funny photos of themselves as well.
- We used biodegradable snow confetti instead of regular confetti as I wanted to keep the wintery feel and knew it would look spectacular in photos, which it did.
- We also had personalised bibs/aprons made to protect our clothing from our curry dinner.
- Another personal touch that was a firm favourite amongst our guests was some entertainment led by Tim’s granny on the piano in-between dinner and the party. With our musical background and Lauren’s love of all things christmas, we thought it would be a fun idea to have a sing-along of some Christmas favourites which we named Gran-a-oke. We had a sign made which was stuck on the piano and lyric books which were handed out so those who wanted to join in. It was so much fun and completely unique to us and our guests got really involved.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
This might have been the most surreal moment of my life so far! It all feels like a blur when you’re doing it but at the same time all very clear as well. You walk in and see a few smiley faces, some with tears in their eyes, you hear the music playing, try to remember not to hold your bouquet too high. Basically all the things you’ve been told are running through your head while you can’t believe what’s happening.
Thank god for my dad who held me strong and got me to Tim as I was in sensory overload and got so emotional when I saw Tim waiting for me. My friends started cheering, which was really fun and created the relaxed atmosphere that we wanted.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We had a reading by Tim’s sister which had us both in tears, and three musical performances. These included The Bridesmaids Choir, singing Ain’t No Mountain and had arranged a flashmob of singers in the audience to join them half way through.
Our good friend Kate Threlfall Beaney sang and played a stunning rendition of Angel of Mine, a sentimental favourite of ours. Our guests started singing along with the choruses, harmonising in such a beautiful way. We were so incredibly moved.
Another friend, Vivienne Chi, sang her original song Hard to be Happy, which also had us in tears.
What was your most memorable moment?
There are too many to choose from but our entrance into the Great Hall for dinner was unforgettable. We found an instrumental version of Still D.R.E by Dr Dre and had our MC Søren introduce us. We were so happy and felt unbelievably loved and supported by all our friends and family as we walked through to our table.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Lauren: I think the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding was time. We were lucky enough to have a good budget, which we were able to make work but I was so busy with touring and gigging and I’m studying too, that it did become extremely difficult to find time to put into planning.
In the end I had to forfeit some other things, take a few days off work and put my uni work aside to put some long days into planning. There were several days where Tim and I were both sat with our laptops in the living room, sending emails and calling vendors for hours, but we got it done and all the stress was worth it.
Another challenge is relinquishing control when you’ve spent months and months planning every tiny detail. For a control freak like me, I had such a hard time allowing Tim or family members to take over jobs as I wanted everything to be perfect (which there is no such thing). In the end I had to as my poor little brain just couldn’t keep up anymore. It was much easier once I had shared the load.
What was the most important investment for you?
The main goal for our wedding was for it to be fun and reflect us as people so investing heavily in food, drink and entertainment was a priority. Luckily, we had access to the best of the best.
Our biggest outgoing was to our caterer La Freschco who offered a package deal that provided most of the alcohol. This allowed us to have a free bar for the entirety of the wedding, which we knew was sure to keep things fun and actually, everybody paced themselves really well. There were just great vibes all night.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls. We first heard this together at a NYE power ballads night. It’s held huge sentimental, romantic feelings for us ever since. We see a lot of choreographed first dances at work and most either go wrong or feel awkward. We wanted our first dance to feel warm, loving and genuine… and it really did.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had some absolutely incredible entertainment, as we put together three bespoke show bands made up of some of our favourite colleagues at Next Level Music, with a guest appearance from Rick Astley. We’ve always been proud of the music we supply, but hearing our bands on our wedding day has doubled our pride in our services.
Some DJs are great but you can’t beat the personal interaction that an experienced live band creates. We had men versus women dance-offs, conga lines, limbo and were made to feel like celebrities all because of the incredibly talented and experienced singers we chose to lead our bands.
So many of our guests remarked that it felt more like a concert than a wedding, which is just fantastic and we were so proud for our friends and family to see what we have worked so hard to create these past few years.
Did you have a wedding cake?
We chose not to have one and instead had a five-tier cheese stack on our evening grazing table provided by The Gourmet Dinner Lady. We had a Mrs and Mrs Reynolds sign made for that, which worked out great. We still offered our guests sweet treats by providing doughnuts and big cookies in the evening.
Did you have a custom hashtag for social media? If so, what was it?
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
We wish we'd known how how busy we’d be in the run up to the wedding in our own lives, with work and family. Even though we had most of the big things done well in advance, it’s all the little logistical things that really take the time - and there are so many of them to get done.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We had a minimoon straight after the wedding at The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell, where we held a small brunch for family the day after the wedding. We also went to our absolute favourite family-run country retreat Bethnal and Bec in Hertfordshire.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Think through the day before, the big day and the day after; walk through it step by step. Think about who needs to be where, what they need to have with them and what they need to be wearing. Tell them, then tell them again, then email them the information.
Also, definitely get an MC to run the day for you. We see far too many couples running around organising everything on their special day, so give all the information to someone responsible who’s not an immediate family member to allow you to enjoy your day care-free.
Steal their style:
Music: Next Level Music
Venue: The Old Finsbury Town Hall
Make-up: MUA Team London
Flowers: Meadows Florist
Photography: Kirsty Mackenzie Photography
Videography: Special Occasion
Evening videography: Theodore Swaddling
Suit: Swatch To Suit
Dress: Anna Sorrano
Daytime catering: La Fresh Co
Evening food: Gourmet Dinner Lady
Décor: Dress it Yourself
Photobooth: Open Booths
Minimoon: Bethnal & Bec