We’ve selected our top wedding finds from Not On The West End, a website bringing together out-of-work theatre creatives from across the UK
With UK theatres closed as a result of Covid-19, Anna Saunders – who works as Deputy Head of Wardrobe for 9 to 5: The Musical – knew she needed to find a way to help other creatives in this tough time. After seeing her peers turn their talents into new businesses, Anna set to work making Not On The West End, an online hub that brings these new ventures together in one handy resource. “So far it has been a huge success,” she smiles.
Like the wedding industry, the UK theatre world has been hit hard during the pandemic, with closures and ongoing uncertainty making these trying times indeed. So, like a panto fairy godmother, we’re waving our magic wand and shining a spotlight on our top wedding products from the site.
Alexander James Bespoke, Alex Thacker
Alex Thacker, who started Alexander James Bespoke whilst working as Stock Manager at the Birmingham Hippodrome, found his way into bridalwear as a result of a happy accident: “An old friend of mine was getting married and couldn’t find her dream dress,” he explains. “The rest is history. I actually made her bridesmaids’ dresses and a matching tie and pocket square for the bridesman too.”
Alex doesn’t limit himself to bridalwear: bespoke menswear pieces are also part of his repertoire. “I started tailoring about three years ago after I reached out to a hand-craft tailor based in Birmingham who allowed me to spend some time in his workroom to learn first-hand and perfect my hand sewing skills.” This go-getter attitude has served him well, ensuring he was able to take the lockdown in his stride to make more fabulous creations.
Delfont Ink, Claire Delfont
“I remember seeing someone write modern calligraphy for the first time and was entranced by how beautifully simple it was and then just wanted to start myself,” explains Claire. Her elegant, bespoke pieces require a great deal of work, but for Claire, this is time very well spent: “I have found calligraphy incredibly calming and it’s well documented to help with mindfulness – so has paid dividends through quite an anxious time.”
Claire, who has worked for acclaimed theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh for 27 years, has won praise from a number of starry clients. Amongst her fans is Fleabag writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who summed up the intricacy of Claire’s work with her trademark flair: “If the devil is in the details, he has parties in Claire’s calligraphy.”
Jennifer Rowley Millinery, Jennifer Rowley
“My great grandmother was a milliner, my grandmother and mum taught me to sew and I’ve always liked hats,” explains Jennifer. “I love how a headpiece can completely transform an outfit.” Millinery isn’t Jennifer’s only talent: before theatres shut in, she was working as a freelance stage electrician for the West End production of Mary Poppins.
With such a long running family interest in design, it’s heartwarming to hear that the next generation is getting stuck in too: “I have been experimenting dyeing eco, sustainable fabrics with natural dyes using flowers, bark and vegetables. My two-year-old son loves to help collect the flowers and see how they make different colours. It’s great getting him involved.” Sounds like something Miss Poppins herself would approve of.
The Boho Bride, Kezia Morse-Wolfe
“I’ve always had an interest in bridal and in bohemian style, combined with a love for the beach and the sea. All my favourite things melted together to create The Boho Bride. When the pandemic hit (along with furlough and redundancy), I found I had all the time on my hands that I needed to make my ideas become a reality,” shares Kezia, who works as an alterations seamstress for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Kezia’s pieces show off her signature cool, relaxed style. Although the beach is in the brand’s DNA, we reckon these pieces could be styled just as beautifully for a rustic barn wedding as they could for a seaside ceremony. “Starting a small business in a global pandemic seemed like an unachievable task,” admits Kezia, who is grateful for the sense of community provided by Not on the West End.
Letters by Ange, Angela Wingrove
“I first discovered calligraphy back in 2016 whilst working on another show in the West End and practised daily during my dinner break,” remembers Ange. “I have fallen in love with wedding and event calligraphy ever since.” Ange has a knack for incorporating unusual materials into her designs, working with both wood and agate slices to create beautiful place settings and favours.
Since theatres closed, Angela, who is Head of Automation for Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre, has been busy developing her skills and now takes commissions for glass engraving on items such as whiskey tumblers, gin glasses and spirit bottles. “It’s a really fun and varied job and it allows me to be creative everyday,“ she concludes.
If you like what you see, check out Not On The West End’s Christmas market on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November. With discounts, prizes and even a ‘Cabaret in a Caravan’ livestream, this could be the perfect opportunity to nab some goodies for your wedding – plus some Christmas gifts while you’re at it – all for a good cause. Break a leg!