Ruth and Ben lifted the curtain on a theatrical big day in the beautiful city of Bath
It was Ben Woods’ sparkling eyes and sense of humour that initially attracted the attention of marketing manager Ruth, although she describes her first meeting with him as a bit whirlwind. “Ben was rushing out the door to go to the opening of a new sports building (he’s an architect) so it was all rather brief,” she explains. “Luckily, plenty of after-work drinks and lots of banter meant we soon became good friends, leading to a picnic in the park for our first date.”
Photography by Shella Gozali (shelldemar.com)
For their September ceremony in Bath, the couple chose The Little Theatre Cinema (littleweddings.co.uk) with its unique Thirties architecture. “It gave us a flexible platform to make our day a little bit quirky and was actually only the second potential venue we viewed,” says Ruth. “We arrived... took one look at Screen 1 and booked it on the spot!”
Ruth and Ben took to the stage with a civil ceremony that featured readings from Ruth’s mum Maureen and Ben’s sister Ami, and a song performed by their friend Bethany. “Personal touches are so important and we were lucky to have so many talented friends and family we could rely on to help us create our day,” says Ruth.
To keep with the big screen theme, the couple commissioned friend and graphic designer Suzy Claridge to design invitations with old Hollywood-style fonts which were sent to guests with personalised cinema tickets (provided by The Little Theatre). Suzy also created film posters to go up around the venue. “They were a traditional movie-poster layout featuring the words ‘ Ben and Ruth starring in Mr and Mrs Woods’ in recognition of Ben’s surname,” explains Ruth. And as the 96 guests took their seats, the couple even showed photos of themselves travelling the world together on the big screen. “We wanted everything to be relaxed and fun – to reflect our own personalities!” says Ruth.
”After the ceremony, we held a drinks reception outside the screening room, serving champagne, beer and ‘canapes’ of popcorn and ice-cream which the cinema staff served from traditional usher trays,” says Ruth. “We even booked a busker band (Jess and Rob on 07894 348024) to perform background music while everyone mingled.”
”I knew I didn’t want a big meringue dress – I’m fairly petite – but I wasn’t very clear on what I actually did want,” says Ruth. So she hit the local high street with her sister and chief bridesmaid, eventually shortlisting five designs at La Boutique in Beckenham (laboutiquebridal.com). “My favourite Madeline Gardner dress (madelinegardnernewyork.com) turned out to be a style nicknamed ‘the Jane Austen’ by the shop staff, so I took that as a good sign – seeing as Jane had once lived in Bath herself.” Ruth’s bouquet by florist Zoe Jenkins (jonquilflorist.co.uk) featured ivory germini and gentiana. “I chose them for simplicity and colour co-ordination,” explains Ruth. “My knowledge of flowers is fairly limited so posh daisies seemed a good option!”
Choosing a signature colour for the wedding decorations proved easy. The moment Ruth spotted these vibrant bridesmaids dresses in the window of Coast (coast-stores.com) she knew the sapphire blue would make the perfect theme for their celebration. “That was it – colour scheme chosen there and then in Bromley Shopping Centre!” she laughs. "I also bought each bridesmaid a silver clutch bag to complement the dresses and personalised keyrings based on the Sex and the City ‘Love’ keyring."
Ben wore a grey made-to-measure suit from A Suit That Fits (asuitthatfits.com) with a blue jacket lining and sapphire blue tie. And the colour theming didn’t end there. “He also wore blue laces in his Ted Baker (tedbaker.com) shoes and blue cufflinks, one with the letter R and one with the letter B,” says Ruth.
After the ceremony, guests made the short walk to Italian restaurant Aqua (aqua-restaurant.com), a converted chapel, for the reception. To create unique place settings, the couple handwrote guests’ names on to circular blocks of wood Ruth’s dad had cut from his garden. “They were free, recyclable and a great keepsake for everyone,” says Ruth. “Some people have had them made into magnets.”
To add some movie-set sparkle to Ruth and Ben’s starring roles, Ruth’s brother Adam acted as master of ceremonies, using a clapperboard rather than a hammer, to make all the announcements at the reception.
Menu cards designed by Ruth’s friend Suzy featured the wedding’s other key theme – trees – and listed the couple’s choices of antipasti (including roast duck ciabatta toasts, prosciutto and bresaola), steak or seabass for the main course and lemon cheesecake.
Each table was numbered by a playing card taken from the suit of hearts – again, standing in blocks of wood from Ruth’s dad’s garden – and decorated in a simple, elegant style.
To celebrate Ben’s romantic proposal at the summit of Kilimanjaro, Ben’s cousin Emma created a fabulous cake made up of three layers – one fruit, one lemon, one chocolate. “The lower tiers symbolised the mountains made up in white icing with stones, shrubs and footprints around the edges, and we threw in a giraffe, hippo and zebra for good measure,” laughs Ruth.
Fun cake toppers showed Ruth and Ben reaching the top of Kilimanjaro – complete with a Union Jack bearing the words Just Married.
Each table was decorated with a simple, single flower. “We were going for sophisticated chic, effective but nothing too fussy,” says Ruth.
With all the tables numbered by a card from the romantic suit of hearts, Ruth and Ben were obviously the King and Queen of Hearts for the day. “We played cards a lot while were were travelling around the world together,” explains Ruth, “so it seemed the perfect choice for numbering the tables. Plus it was one of our top money-saving tips!”
Photography by Shella Gozali (shelldemar.com)Browse more real weddings for big-day inspiration