A Roving Wedding Through Three Unique Venues in London
â€śBe yourself and do things your way,â€ť says Gabriella Nassif of planning her July wedding to Sachal Majeed, a hedge fund analyst. The couple clearly stuck to this motto for their London wedding with 180 guests.
The UK-based pair threw a multi-venue celebration that kicked off with a traditional ceremony and string quartet at the Ritz London and ended with a DJ at a pub in Marylebone. The couple skipped traditions that didnâ€™t fit their fancy, like a first dance, but kept those that really made them swoon, such as cutting into a flower-covered, four-tier cake.
Gabriella, the co-founder of the public relations and communications firm MGC London, admits that it was a â€śstruggleâ€ť to figure out how to pull off their unconventional ideas. It was only after chatting with planner Liz Linkleter that they realized they could combine three visions into one day using a trio of venues. The day commenced in a gilded ballroom of the Ritz London, where an intimate guest list watched the pair exchange vows.
From there, the reception began at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, a spot Gabriella describes as a hidden gem for its natural beauty and farm-to-table food. â€śIt instantly transports you to a whimsical vineyard in Italy,â€ť she says of the venue and luncheon, which the couple hosted instead of an evening reception. â€śWe wanted the venue to be as impactful as possible in all its glory, which is harder to achieve in the dark.â€ť Itâ€™s there that The Gypsy Queens musical group jumped on chairs and tables to kick off the party, which continued at the coupleâ€™s favorite London watering hole, The Cavendish Pub. The night ended after a street party, dancing to disco funk beats, and plenty of Lebanese food in honor of the brideâ€™s heritage.
Gabriella says she had a very specific idea in mind for what she wanted in a wedding dress, so she commissioned Emma Victoria Payne to design her dream lace gown. â€śThe full experience of immersing yourself into the design process is so rewarding,â€ť the bride says. â€śWatching the dress start off as a toile and get better with every fitting was so incredible.â€ť
She carried a full bouquet of cream, blush, and yellow blooms, but admits she isnâ€™t sure of all the exact flowersâ€”she left all the details to her florist. â€śI gave Paul Thomas my full trust and left it to be a surprise on the morning of the wedding,â€ť she says. â€śI couldnâ€™t have dreamt of a more beautiful bouquet.â€ť
Gabriella kept her jewelry simple, wearing only a pair of diamond earrings from her mother and her engagement ringâ€”and, later, her wedding band. â€śI didnâ€™t want anything to take away from my ringsâ€”itâ€™s the one day you get to show them off,â€ť she says.
â€śWhen the doors opened for me to walk down the aisle, and I saw all the familiar faces, I was completely overwhelmed by emotion and couldnâ€™t help but burst into tears,â€ť Gabriella says.
The ceremony took place in the Ritz Londonâ€™s grand Music Room. Though the full celebration brought together 180 guests, the couple limited the ceremony to less than 100 to keep it intimate and family-focused.
The only recollection I have is us holding hands so tightly at the top of the aisle, and a grin so wide plastered on my face that my cheeks began to ache.
â€śThe only recollection I have is us holding hands so tightly at the top of the aisle, and a grin so wide plastered on my face that my cheeks began to ache,â€ť Gabriella says of the emotional blur that was the ceremony.
Gabriella describes the ceremony as â€śquintessentially British,â€ť fitting as the couple grew up in the same building in St. Johnâ€™s Wood. Oddly enough, though, they didnâ€™t meet one another until they were adults at a mutual friendâ€™s party. â€śWe grew up running in the same halls, playing in the same driveway, sneaking back in through the same fire escapes,â€ť Sachal says. â€śI feel tied to Gaby in a cosmic way.â€ť
As guests were transported to the reception venue in Richmond, outside of central London, the couple took a detour to an empty farm around the corner. Gabriella admits it wasnâ€™t fun at first to wander the grounds in her gown, but does agree with the photographerâ€™s vision that the photos were â€śmagical.â€ť
What better way to enter Petersham Nurseries? A wagon overflowing with blooms. Guests walked through aisles of fresh herbs and plants on the way to the reception, which took place under a trellis of bougainvillea.
Gabriella and Sachal opted for a luncheon as opposed to dinner so that guests could enjoy the full impact of the nursery in the daytime sunlight. They wanted to recall a summer day in Capri, Italy, so used this vision as the guiding inspiration for the lunch.
Gabriella took a few cues from Dolce and Gabbana advertising campaigns for the reception tables, which featured low arrangements of bright bloomsâ€”red, yellow, orangeâ€”and printed linens that echoed the Italian coast. Mismatched chairs gave it all a rustic touch without taking away the romance or sophistication.
The blue and yellow color scheme was inspired by the Italian coast as was the menu of Mediterranean dishes. The couple collaborated with the chef to come up with a meal that would reflect their favorites, including pizza and pasta while using ingredients from the property. There was also, says Gabriella, a lot of rosĂ¨ wine.
Knowing that their band, The Gypsy Queens, would be amping up the energy, Gabriella and Sachal included personalized tambourines at every place setting. â€śThe energy in the room was electric,â€ť Gabriella says.
Gabriella loved that her cousin, father, new husband Sachal, and his best man all made speeches. But she also had a surprise in store: She spoke too! â€śI had been writing for a few weeks but wasnâ€™t sure whether Iâ€™d have the guts to make it, so I polished off a few glasses of wine,â€ť Gabriella recalls. â€śIt was my chance to tell all my favorite people how wonderful I think my new husband is, and Iâ€™m so glad I mustered up the courage. It was such an emotional moment that weâ€™ll never forget.â€ť
The coupleâ€™s four-tier, Victoria sponge cake was lightly iced and covered with fresh blooms in burgundy, orange, and yellow hues.
â€śEveryone will have an opinion and it can all get overwhelming, so stick to your guns,â€ť Gabriella says of planning an unconventional celebration.
After the meal, the newlyweds and their guests were transported to Marylebone to continue the party at the coupleâ€™s go-to haunt, The Cavendish Pub. As a nod to Gabriellaâ€™s Lebanese-Egyptian heritage, the spot was decked out in Arabian Nights-themed decor that extended to the food: shawarma wraps and Lebanese mezze.
Gabriella also changed into a more dance-friendly dress.
The Gypsy Queens continued to liven up the group before they all went to the pubâ€™s second floor for a disco-funk get down with Soho House DJ Storm Mollison. â€śThe whole thing was magical,â€ť the bride adds.
â€śWe stuffed our faces with pasta and drank our body weight in wine whilst going through all the photos our friends took at the wedding,â€ť Gabriella says of their minimoon to Sardinia. A few weeks later, the newlyweds flew to California and rented a Mustang convertible to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. â€śWe didnâ€™t even think [the trips] were necessary, but now I couldnâ€™t imagine going back to work without that special time I got to spend with my new husband digesting everything that had happened.â€ť