Real Weddings

London Gin Distillery Wedding

Budget: £10K

Wondering how you can have a stylish, urban London wedding that's under £10K? Bex, who works in Branding and Dan, an Art Director did just that. They chose to keep it real with a registry office ceremony followed by a reception in a gin distillery and they've shared tips and advice with us from their urban wedding.

How did you guys meet?

We met via Tinder back in 2015. Dan and I were messaging and he was struggling to come up with ideas for an ad campaign he was working on, so I thought I’d see if I could help. The ideas were probably rubbish, but he used it as an excuse to ask to take me for margaritas in return.

Tell us your engagement story…

We got engaged in Amsterdam in May last year. Dan made several attempts to propose throughout the day but bottled it every time. Finally at 11.30pm after a litre of red wine, he popped the question as we left the restaurant. Neither of  us really remember the rest of the evening, apart from that there were margaritas involved!

Where did you get married and why did you choose your venue?

We knew we wanted to keep things local to where we live in East London and were keen to have the ceremony in either Stoke Newington, Islington or Hackney Town Hall as they’re so beautiful, so once we found the party venue we chose the nearest one which was Hackney.

Our goal was to find somewhere we could just have a good party with our friends and family, but that felt a bit more special than a local pub. 58 Gin Distillery ticked all the boxes! Approx 100 people attended.

How did you Keep it Real?

We organised the wedding within 6 months of getting engaged, contacting  over 40 venues in north London as we attempted to find one that was both available and not ridiculously expensive with crazy hire fees and minimum spends. We also tried to focus on what mattered – all our family and friends having a good time by saving enough budget to put behind the bar! We avoided wedding fairs and anything traditional or ‘wedding-y’ as much as possible! Although my outfit ended up being far more wedding-y than I intended!

Ceremony – we had already had our legal ceremony with our close family in October, so we worked with an amazing celebrant Hannah Jones to create something unique that reflected our personalities. It was full of funny stories and non-cheesy vows. So many people told us afterwards that it was the most personal ceremony they’d been to, which was lovely to hear!  We also signed a Quaker style commitment certificate (that Dan screen printed) that our guests also signed as ‘witnesses’ – it’s now framed in our living room.

Traditions – Dan and I decided early on that we wanted to do things a bit differently, having been to so many weddings over the years. There’s nothing wrong with traditions of course, but we felt they weren’t right for us – particularly as we wanted to avoid being the centre of attention as much as possible! So there was no sit-down meal (we opted for canapés and a grazing table buffet featuring our favourite foods instead), no cake cutting and no first dance (although the final song of our live band set became an impromptu “first dance” as the crowds parted and suddenly everyone was watching us dance together!). Dan and I gave a little welcome speech together near the start of the party, and then Dan’s best man and both our dads did short speeches, which were lovely.

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?

Tom Beynon – We love our photos! Tom truly captured the day in such a real way – his documentary style is exactly why we chose to work with him. We wanted to focus on capturing the main moments of the day so Tom met us at the town hall avoiding all the ‘getting ready’ type photos, and we kept the group shots to the bare minimum. We chose Tom because of his documentary style and we’re really not ones to pose, so we took a walk from the town hall to a few locations where Tom captured some of our favourite urban shots.

Did you have a cake?

One of my best friends Annie Carolan of Petit Rouge Kitchen made us an amazing brownie tower with her signature brownies, and she made minis in 6 different flavours that we chose (including jammie dodger and chocolate orange) that sat on copper platters around the edge. Brownies are my absolute favourite and Annie bakes incredible ones, plus we’re not keen on traditions, so it made sense to ask her to make this for us!

How did you pick your flowers?

I love flowers but it seemed so wasteful to spend thousands on something that can’t be used again. After contacting over 10 florists for quotes, I decided to use Botanique’s off the shelf wedding flower package as I didn’t want anything elaborate. My simple white bouquet was £75.

They also did some small bottle arrangements for the few tables we had in the gin distillery, and provided dark green foliage to decorate the bar and grazing table. We added copper string fairy lights from Amazon that cost £20 and it looked really effective amongst the copper distilling pots that were attached to the counter in the venue.

Tell me about your catering

Salt and Honey – one of 58 Gin’s recommended caterers. Tamsin worked really hard to create a menu that fitted within our tight budget but that still lived up to our expectations. We had:

  • a range of canapes including sticky honey glazed sausages and butternut squash arancini with kimchi dip
  • Grazing table including cheeses, charcuterie, beetroot cured salmon, ricotta stuffed peppers and homemade bread

How did you get everyone up on the dancefloor?

We had an amazing acoustic band – fronted by Italian singer Nixo who we had seen do a Frank Ocean gig at XOYO in Old Street a few months before. I messaged him on instagram to see if he’d play our wedding and he agreed! We  also put together a Spotify playlist of our favourite songs to get people dancing between and after the live sets that was played through the venue’s sound system.

How did you choose to decorate your venue?

We were lucky in that the exposed brick arch, low lighting and massive copper gin distiller provided a distinctive backdrop for the party so we didn’t really add much more!

Any tips for saving money?

One way we saved money was on transport:

  • We got Ubers to the town hall, and from there to the gin distillery
  • We asked our guests to make their own way between venues – our friend Julie led about 30 of them onto a bus that happened to go directly there. They definitely got some funny looks from the driver and other passengers!

Also on outfits:

  • Dan wore a suit he had made in Vietnam last year – after looking into hiring one, he felt the money was better spent behind the bar to help everyone enjoy the party! He did buy some new boots from Dune, which he’s worn again since
  • My top and skirt was a one off sample outfit that I found in the first shop I visited – The Bridal Boutique in Bristol. I absolutely loved how unique it was and it just so happened to fit perfectly. It was a fraction of the cost of the few brands who are making separates at the moment! I bought a longline corset bra from Ultimo (found online for £20) to wear underneath as the top is very flimsy and see through.
  • My shoes were forest green velvet sandals from LK Bennett in the sale and I wore my All Saints leather jacket that I’ve had for years
  • A close friend did my hair as I didn’t want anything elaborate (we practiced once the week before!) and I got ready at home with friends

Last for invitations we used With Joy to send e-invites and manage the guestlist and RSVP’s as opposed to printing anything. I could customise almost everything on the website, which included info on how to get there, where to stay, timings for the day etc. It’s free to use and so good!

Would you do anything differently?

No! I remember feeling quite frustrated with how inflexible so many pub/bar/’wedding’ venues were with timings and having to have a specific package that couldn’t be altered. They felt very impersonal and ‘cookie cutter’ which we knew we definitely didn’t want. Then we found some amazing dry hire venues in East London that offered flexibility but would have blown our budget before we’d even begun to organise anything else. Once I found Tag Venue there were quite a few more flexible/DIY options, which is where 58 Gin was listed.

REAL moments

  • Walking from the Town Hall to London Fields taking photos on the way – so many people shouted congratulations and ‘you must be freezing!’
  • Taking a moment before we entered the lit-up gin distillery to look at all our friends and family inside together having fun – they all cheered when we walked in which was so lovely and a bit overwhelming!
  • Carmen at 58 Gin was amazing – every time Dan or I had an empty glass she swiftly replaced it! She and her bar team also made a delicious hot gin and apple cider welcome drink to warm everyone up
  • Nic (our singer) interacting with the crowds on the dance floor – it was amazing to see everyone dancing and having a good time


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Photographer: Tom Beynon Photography | Venue: 58 Distillery | Bride’s dress: The Bridal Boutique Bristol | Shoes: LK Bennett | Florist: Botanique  | Hair: | Make up: Molly Nicholas MUA|Rings: Ryan Nelson | Catering: Salt & Honey Brownies: Petit Rouge Kitchen| Entertainment: NIXO | Transport: Uber


Gaia Hudson

Written by gaia_bkir

Founder of Brides Keeping it Real and mum of two little ones, Leon & Ada. Passionate about providing a supportive online community for brides and grooms who want an achievable, uncomplicated wedding planning experience.