I had been to a Quill workshop at The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker long before we got engaged and, even then, I thought what a lovely place it would be to get married. A few weeks after we got engaged we planned a pub crawl around lots of lovely pubs I knew around the Highgate/Hampstead area; I already knew this pub was the one, so we went there first thing in the morning. After seeing lots of beautiful pubs that were a variety of too small, too dark, weirdly laid out (and a fair few drinks later!), Darren agreed to go with my original favourite and we booked Islington Town Hall there and then (and then I was nearly sick..!).
Anyway, back to the pub. Sam and his team made it the most stress-free process ever; they were always on-hand to answer questions, food could be whatever we wanted and all we had to do was drop off our decorations the day before the wedding and they put everything up (and took it all down!!) for us. The pub itself is really pretty and hardly needs any decoration, but the best part is the layout. The pub just flows really well - there's the main bar for lingering, the large function room for dinner and (once the tables are cleared away) dancing and there's a smaller room off to the side for chatting.
We had hefty homemade sausage rolls and scotch eggs as canapés instead of a starter - there aren't any photos of them...I can only assume because they disappeared at breakneck speed! They were absolutely amazing and I'm so glad my friends saved me one to scarf down with a glass of prosecco. For mains, we had sharing plates of barbecue beef brisket, corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad and THE MOST AMAZING mac and cheese. Seriously, I think of it often. We had our wedding cake for pudding, made by my friend Anika and her sisters of Love Rosie Cupcakes. I cannot recommend them enough; not only the cakes absolutely beautiful to look at, but they were delicious too. We had a three-tier sponge with passionfruit curd and buttercream as well as a rich chocolate ganache cake and a winter spice cake with salted caramel drizzle - everyone told me the winter spice one was the winner. I only managed to have a mouthful of someone else's so I'm already planning a first anniversary cake do-over next year! If you have a special occasion coming up, please please look them up; they are beautiful, delicious and reasonably priced. We also had a pork pie from the Ginger Pig and cupcakes from Love Rosie for later in the evening.
While it was a bit of a squeeze to fit 61 people into the room, we just about did it and I really loved the fact that everyone was elbow to elbow and people were leaning over to talk to the people on the next door table. I did a small speech when everyone had sat down, before the food came out, and when I stood up and I looked at everyone we love squashed together like that it was simultaneously overwhelmingly emotional and totally hilarious.
During the canapé reception and after dinner, while the dining room was being cleared to become the dance floor, we hired John Crampton to perform. He's an awesome bluegrass singer and instrumentalist and recordings just don't do him justice - Darren saw him play at a beer festival and it fit perfectly with the day.
The room was the perfect size for dancing; big enough to fit everyone, but small enough that if lots of people left the dance floor, it wouldn't seem empty. We thought about hiring a band but it's such a big expense and trawling through the thousands of 'wedding bands' online just seemed like an arduous task, let alone agreeing on a band between us! In the end, we put together a Spotify playlist (you can listen to it here if you like, because I happen to think it's a really great party playlist, just don't put it on shuffle or it will not make any sense at all!) and I'm SO happy we did - we asked everyone to RSVP with a song and then put together a playlist that effortlessly segued between sets of '80s classics, garage and all the songs my girlfriends and I have 'got low' to over the past 10 years! I loved being able to run over to a friend or relative, knowing they'd requested the song, and have a little boogie with them. I didn't leave the dance floor for 5 and a half hours and listening to the playlist at work or in the car just makes me so ridiculously happy.
In the end, our wedding cost a lot less than the UK's average and this is 100% down to the pub - there was no hire fee, food was reasonably priced (and we skipped starters and 'puddings' in favour of canapés and cake), we had an open bar, but drinks were charged at the standard price, and we hardly spent anything on decorations as the pub was pretty enough by itself!
All gorgeous, wonderful, amazing photos by Joanne Crawford.