The ceremony and reception, held in a converted barn in Essex, included custom favors, a lively color scheme, and two kinds of musical entertainment.
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Nyah and Thomas shared mutual friends throughout high school, but it took a senior year trip to Prague for them to officially meet—and their connection was immediate. "We had never really spoken before," says Nyah, "but we began talking and quickly realized that we had so many things in common. This made us wonder how we had never been friends before, [and] a few weeks after that trip, we started dating." Nearly nine years later, Thomas proposed on Christmas Day—with Nyah's family watching—as she opened a faux gift with an engagement ring hidden inside.
On April 20, 2019, ten years to the day after they officially began their relationship, Nyah and Thomas were pronounced husband and wife during a ceremony at Gaynes Park in Epping, Essex, where they celebrated with 110 guests for dinner (and another 40 who joined them for dancing). "We wanted to get married on this day as it was so special to us, and our wedding day could not have been a better 10-year-anniversary celebration," says Nyah.
They chose a color palette comprised of their favorite shades—purple and navy—then added gray and ivory as their accent tones. The duo's entire event was awash with personal touches: Nyah's twin sister calligraphed the invitations; the couple surprised their guests with custom caricatures at each seat; and a photo booth left the couple with an unforgettable guest book. Guests were asked to arrive around 12:30 p.m.—the last didn't leave until after midnight. "It was the most perfect day," says Nyah, "surrounded by people that we love."
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The couple decided to create their own invitations, drawing on the groom's background in graphic design and animation as a way to trim the budget—but they found it so satisfying, that they've since started their own stationery company. They incorporated their purple, navy, and gray color scheme into a chic design with a very personal touch: "The handwriting on all the stationery was done by my twin sister," says Nyah, "which we think looks beautiful."
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A two-day shopping weekend with her mother, future mother-in-law, twin sister, and two bridesmaids gave Nyah the chance to decide on a wedding dress shape—and try on eight different gowns before settling on her Essense of Australia A-line. "I loved that my dress was free flowing, delicate, and easy to put on," she says. "The main thing I wanted out of my wedding dress was to feel comfortable and not like I was in a costume." The illusion lace bodice had flesh-colored sleeves accented with corded lace; a matte tulle fabric with lace detailing over a satin skirt gave the gown a fluid shape. "After I purchased it, I was looking through my Pinterest boards," says Nyah, "and discovered that it was a dress I had saved several times!"
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Nyah complemented her gown with a headpiece from Bridal Star, a veil borrowed from one of her bridesmaids—"I caught the bouquet on her big day," says Nyah, "and she told me, 'You will wear my veil when you get married!'"—and navy blue Valentino "Rockstud" heels. "My shoes were my something new and something blue," says the bride. "They are elegant and comfortable with a hint of rock and roll. I loved being a little bit cheeky and breaking the rules with nontraditional wedding shoes." Her twin sister and mother followed suit, with pumps that coordinated with their own gowns.
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Thomas proposed to Nyah with a ring he customized for her at Vashi in Mayfair. "I saw this unique knife-edge setting that I had never seen before, and because Nyah loves diamonds and sparkle, I knew the diamonds down each side would be perfect," he says. "In the end, I went for a round cut diamond, as it would sparkle in the light the most." For his own wedding band, Thomas chose a family heirloom: The wedding ring that belonged to Nyah's late father. "My mom offered it to us a few weeks after we got engaged and said we could do what we wanted with it," says Nyah. "Tom is very honored to wear it, so the only adjustments made were the sizing and re-coating."
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Nyah asked her twin sister, Neshah, to perform the maid-of-honor duties, while her longtime best friends Georgina and Ruth served as bridesmaids. The women wore purple dresses with lace sleeves and pleated maxi skirts from ASOS—a decision made before almost any other. "The dresses were actually the first items purchased after the engagement," says Nyah.
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In the Navy
Thomas and his groomsmen wore navy blue suits from Moss Bros. "We were very particular about the shade of navy," says Nyah. "It had to be a darker shade of navy, but not so dark that it would look black in the photos." The groom also wore a gray waist coat to stand out from the other men, a Charles Tyrwhitt shirt, Louis Vuitton shoes, and a purple floral tie (also from Moss Bros.).
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A Magical Moment
The couple kept to tradition by sharing their first look as Nyah walked down the aisle; Thomas insisted Nyah keep all the details of her dress and accessories a secret so that he could be surprised in the moment. "She started to walk down the aisle and it was indescribable," he says. "It took everything I had not to burst into tears. It was like watching an angel coming towards you, and in that moment, you know that everything is perfect." It was a poignant moment for Nyah, too, who lost her father when she was 15; she was escorted towards the altar by her step-father as the gospel choir Desire sang "Over and Over Again."
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Nyah and Thomas scheduled their afternoon civil ceremony for 1 p.m. in the Orangery at Gaynes Park. They included two readings: Tom's sister, Laura, traveled from New Zealand to participate by reading William A. Peterson's "The Art of Marriage," and Nyah's cousin, a professional actress, read "Yes, I'll Marry You," by Pam Ayers. "This was perfectly performed and had everyone in stitches during the ceremony," says Nyah.
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The New Mr. and Mrs.
Guests threw colorful petals in shades of purple, gray, and white as the newlyweds exited the ceremony to Ella Eyre's "Came Here for Love," performed by the gospel choir. "We love the energy and uplifting nature of this song and that it's nontraditional," says Nyah. After the ceremony, guests moved to the property's walled garden for cocktails and canapés—including Thai fish cakes, mini fish and chips, and sliders.
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So in Love
During the cocktail hour, the bride and groom, their families, and the wedding party relocated to another area of the property for formal portraits. "Gaynes Park has the most beautiful long driveway with stunning views across Epping Forest and the London skyline in the background," says Nyah. "Both the ceremony and reception were held at Gaynes Park, which made the whole day feel so much more relaxed."
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At 3 p.m., after cocktails, the couple hosted a two-hour "wedding breakfast" in the Mill Barn. They sat guests at 10 round tables and one long head table, each set with traditional silver flatware and ivory linens. "Thomas and I have always had a love for rustic barns with touches of modern features," says Nyah. "Our future dream home would be an old converted barn, and that is what we wanted for our wedding day."
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A Look Back
Since Nyah and Thomas were celebrating their 10-year anniversary on their wedding day, they incorporated a bit of their relationship history into their seating plan. "Each year of our relationship represented a table, and we hung them all up on a frame so that all of our guests could see how our relationship has grown over the last ten years—and how much we have grown."
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Up in the Air
Florist Luke & Lottie created high centerpieces supported by a trio of white twigs for an elegant look that allowed guests to see each other across the table. Burgundy ranunculus, pink roses, and astilbe were a colorful contrast to a selection of fresh green foliage.
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A cascading centerpiece on the long head table was accented by tiny vases, each holding a single bloom. Behind the couple, a floral arch hung with ivory cheesecloth created a romantic backdrop for the newlyweds' seats.
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Nyah and Thomas decided to splurge on custom favors, hiring MK Caricatures to create one-of-a-kind likenesses of all of their guests; they were framed and presented at each seat (they also served as place cards). "We both wanted to do something different, as we wanted them to be more personal," says Nyah. "Over three months, Thomas and I worked extremely hard to find a photo of every single guest attending the wedding. We then sent them to Michael who drew a mini portrait of each guest." Though sourcing the images was no easy task, it was worth it: "All the favors were so realistic and we received the most incredible reactions from the guests when they saw them!" says Nyah. "This was exactly what we wanted!"
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For dinner, Nyah and Thomas decided on a four-course meal from Galloping Gourmet that included a starter of smoked salmon; a surprise course of lemon sorbet; a choice of roast chicken or vegetable Wellington for the entrée; and a dessert trio of sticky toffee pudding, a triple-chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, and a fruit crumble with custard. They also served a four-tier semi-naked cake with crème frosting, offering a choice of vanilla, chocolate, or lemon layers. After the meal, speeches from Nyah's mother, stepfather, and sister, the best man, and Thomas inspired laughter and tears. "By this point we were running a little later than planned, but on your wedding day you just take everything as it comes and enjoy the moment," says Nyah.
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Their First Dance
After dinner, the event team flipped the barn into a space fit for an evening of dancing, setting up an LED dance floor from Mediterranean Occasions and making room to accommodate both a live band, ViVo, and a DJ. For their first dance, Nyah and Thomas asked the band to perform "Just You and I" by Tom Walker. "We felt such a strong connection to the lyrics and we also liked that it was a fairly unknown song at the time," says Nyah. "Unfortunately for us, a few weeks before our wedding this song became incredibly popular, but we still loved hearing it on our special day."
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Photography, White Stag Weddings
Venue, Gaynes Park
Event planning and Catering, Galloping Gourmet
Flowers, Luke & Lottie
Videography, 3 Cheers Media
Calligraphy, Neshah Hines
Cake, Karen's Cakes
Rentals, Mediterranean Occasions (dance floor)
Bride's gown, Essense of Australia
Hair, Jazmin Lanyero
Bridesmaids' dresses, Asos
Groom's suit and menswear, Moss Bros.
Favors, MK Caricatures
Photo Booth, Fotoauto
Engagement Ring, Vashi
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