We did it our way

Carl and Jack surprised their guests with a nontraditional wedding that broke all convention

We have to confess to stifling a giggle as Carl tells us how he and Jack met for the first time. "It was a night like no other… actually it was just like every other," he laughs. "We met in the student union during Jack's first week of university; I was a second year and helping to run an LGBTQ+ evening with my best friend. Needless to say, I didn't take the stewarding role very seriously. Tom introduced me to an old school friend and her new quiet flatmate. I think I fell in love instantly… but to tell the truth, I can't remember."

Jack, on the other hand, retained enough memory from his first night out at uni to have noted 'Carl's big, brown eyes and his moves on the dancefloor'.

And despite Carl's epic hangover, a week of intensive dating followed by which time, as Jack quips, "Carl was trapped forever (in the best possible way)."

No wonder, then, that Carl took the initiative to ask Jack to marry him – indeed, this equality-minded couple got engaged not once but twice. "Being an Egyptologist, Carl proposed to me atop the western peak of the Qubbet el-Hawa in December, 2012," Jack remembers. "Overlooking the Nile's first cataract and suffering from severe vertigo and fatigue, how could I refuse?"

And while Carl had to wait a teeny bit longer (ahem, five years) for Jack to drop to one knee, at least Jack got the memo about an exotic location. "He finally popped the question in a car park on the outskirts of Bologna," deadpans Carl. "From then, Jack turned full groom-zilla and we got married in August, 2019."

We did it our way: Image 1

In keeping with their unconventional proposal style, the couple envisaged a 'London-flavoured, non-traditional' big day. As a fan of ruins in general (see the Egyptologist reference, above), The Asylum's artfully distressed décor instantly appealed and, ceremony venue sorted, the couple stumbled upon the nearby East Dulwich Tavern as the ideal reception venue. "The rates are so affordable and the staff are so friendly and accommodating," Jack explains.

We did it our way: Image 1

With such a fine duo of venues in the bag, the pair decided to keep their décor minimal, opting for two large floral arrangements composed of blue eryngium, succulents and eucalyptus to stand either side of the altar during the ceremony and glass bottles filled with fairy lights at the reception.

We did it our way: Image 2

Plant fans, both, Jack and Carl gifted each of their guests a succulent as a favour, and asked cake maker, Bea's of Bloomsbury to pick up this theme in the cake, a four-tiered, semi-naked design decorated with sugar-crafted succulents.

We did it our way: Image 2

On the day, the ceremony was performed by Southwark officiant Jenny. "She delivered the service with such sincerity and warmth,"remembers Carl. "Everyone commented on how beautiful her words were and how engaging she was."

We did it our way: Image 3 With Jack hailing from a large Filipino family, the couple decided their priority was to ensure that as many friends and family could join them on the day as possible, so they eschewed a sit-downdinner in favour of a packed lunch on the bus followed by a buffet served at the reception venue.

We did it our way: Image 4 The couple danced their first dance to Love You I Do, drafting in a friend, Marina, to choreograph a routine for them. "It took a few bottles of prosecco to build up the confidence to even rehearse it, but on the day we couldn't wait to do the dance," reveals Jack.The day was beautifully captured by Fiona Kelly. "Make sure you hire a photographer that can capture those special moments as they unfold without ever being conspicuous themselves," Carl advises.

Carl and Jack's contact book


Bea's of Bloomsbury


Ceremony venue

The Asylum Chapel



Fiona Kelly Photography

Reception venue

East Dulwich Tavern


London Retro Bus Hire