The Wedding of Their Dreams

Ivi, a professional pianist from Kuala Lumpur, and Ben, a jewelry and consumer brand business owner from London, knew from their very first date that their souls had found each other’s counterpart.

Ben originally dreamed of a wedding abroad, but due to the pandemic, they looked closer to home. Not one for cookie cutter weddings, the traditional London hotels was not their destination of choice, however that all changed when they came across Kimpton Fitzroy London.

From the moment Ben and Ivi entered the hotel, they knew they had found their dream wedding venue. From the magnificent terracotta exterior façade, intricate opulent original features, stunning lighting and uber luxurious decorations, it was the perfect backdrop for their special day.

Now over to Ivi to talk us through their incredibly beautiful and emotionally charged wedding day.

Kimpton Fitroy Hotel
Kimpton Fitroy Hotel
Kimpton Fitroy Hotel
Kimpton Fitroy Hotel
Kimpton Fitroy Hotel
Kimpton Fitroy Hotel

How We Met:

In 2016, I took a sabbatical from my career in the City and worked for a stint as a fitness instructor, teaching high-intensity TRX classes at Heartcore Studios in St. John’s Wood in Central London.

Ben came to workout at Heartcore and took my classes for nine months before we started dating. I used to shout “Burpees! Burpees!” at Ben on a weekly basis. Ben jokes that he was the fittest he’s ever been when he used to come to my classes!

On our first date, we went for a post-workout brunch that lasted over four hours. We both knew there was something extraordinary between us straightaway. As cheesy as it sounds, it was no doubt that our souls had found each other’s counterpart. Ben says that he knew I was “The One” after that date.

We fell madly in love after a few months of dating, and we discussed how important being Jewish and having a Jewish family meant to Ben. Following a reflective period of soul searching and spending time with Orthodox Jewish rabbis and their families, I heeded what I now realise was a lifelong calling – to which Ben was the catalyst – to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Hand-in-hand, we spent the next three years undertaking one of life’s most demanding yet spiritually enriching journeys. Ben wholeheartedly embraced and deepened his connection to and observance of the faith he was born into.

On 18th February 2021, I completed my conversion to Orthodox Judaism and emerged from the holy waters of the mikveh, reborn a Jewess. On a day already overflowing with joy and jubilation, after making me my favourite Nutella crêpes, Ben got down on one knee and proposed. Less than three months later, we were married in the most stunning venue with just 15 of our nearest and dearest.

Watch Ivi and Ben’s wedding here:

London wasn’t our first choice… then we met and fell in love with Kimpton Fitzroy

We initially didn’t want to get married in London at all! Ben’s dream was to have a destination wedding abroad but due to the pandemic, that plan was not feasible. We had been to many cookie cutter weddings in Central London hotels and we wanted to get married somewhere outside of London. However, all of that changed when we came across the Kimpton Fitzroy London.

A Wedding Venue We Couldn't Resist:

Even though we were in the midst of a lockdown, our story has been a long journey and we couldn’t wait to finally become husband and wife. Constrained by the lockdown restrictions, we split our wedding into two separate dates: one date for the chuppah ceremony, whilst the later date was for an all-day party of two sessions of thirty guests in a marquee in our garden.

As soon as I came across Kimpton Fitzroy London, I immediately fell in love with its stunning interior, and the romantic yet unique look and feel of the hotel. We had visited a couple of other venues outside of London but none of them felt right. So, I gave Kimpton Fitzroy London a call.

From the very first telephone call with Jen Irwin, Kimpton Fitzroy London’s Commercial Manager who eventually oversaw all of our wedding planning – and who we are now so lucky to call our special friend – I immediately loved her enthusiastic and positive energy. Jen invited us for a tour of the hotel and we fell head-over-heels in love with the hotel (and with Jen!) straight away.

From the magnificent terracotta exterior facade to all the intricate opulent original features of the hotel, with stunning lighting and uber luxurious decorations, we knew we had found our dream wedding venue.

Having loved photography my whole life plus having had the privilege to work at British Vogue, I wanted something extraordinary and totally out-of-the-box for our wedding photos and videos, and I knew we would create lasting memories through stunning photos and videos set against the sensational interiors of the hotel.

Walking across the breathtaking marble lobby took us into the Palm Court, the hotel’s airy interior courtyard which became the perfect setting for the Bedeken ceremony.

When Jen took us into the majestic Ballroom, we were absolutely gob smacked by its splendour and beauty. I had always wanted an elegant and sweeping bridal procession and the Ballroom was perfect for the chuppah ceremony with its super high ceilings and extravagant spacious feel.

We also loved the hotel’s history – the architect of the hotel, Charles Fitzroy Doll designed the First Class dining room of the RMS Titanic, and the hotel is brimming with character and fascinating details which we love.

The hotel was closed to the public during our wedding day, so we were thoroughly spoiled to have the whole space to ourselves. We truly felt a connection with the hotel and the people who worked there. There was no doubt in our minds that we had found our dream wedding venue.

All the Magical Details:

Ben and I stayed at the hotel the night before our wedding (in separate rooms!). One of my oldest friends Abi, stayed with me that night and Jen thoughtfully arranged the most decadent and spacious corner suite for us. We arrived at the suite to find that Jen had handwritten a lovely note with a chilled bottle of Champagne ready for us which we enjoyed before heading out to a nearby Kosher restaurant for my last meal as a single woman!

After a relaxing bath in the suite’s indulgent roll top bath, I woke up early yet refreshed, full of anticipation for the day ahead. Abi and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast delivered to our suite, put on some music on the suite’s sound system, and soon my makeup artist, hair stylist and bridal party arrived to get ready together. As the suite had a huge adjoining sitting room, there was an abundance of space for everyone to comfortably get ready in, with plenty of Champagne and delicious food.

Soon, the morning flew by and it was time for me to put on my dress. My three bridesmaids deftly tackled my dress’ built-in corset and the row of buttons which ran the whole way down the dress.

That moment when my dress and veil were on, and I had stepped into my bridal shoes whilst a bridesmaid handed me my bridal bouquet filled with my favourite cream roses and ranunculus, was truly an unforgettable moment. I felt so blessed – the only people my heart ached for were my parents. The absence of them made the moment even more poignant for me.

Our suite had beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows in the corridor with the most beautiful natural light streaming in. We captured some stunning photographs right in this spot.

At the same time, Ben was also getting ready in his Junior Suite and being attended to by his groomsmen. Soon, our four officiating rabbis (yes, we had four!) arrived and Ben’s Tish began, right there in his suite. Ben happily recounts afterwards that the boisterous and elated atmosphere of his Tish was one of the most joyous and unforgettable moments of his life yet!

Soon, it was time for us to head down for the Bedeken. I truly felt like a queen bride surrounded by so many that I loved dearly in such a stunning venue. As I took my seat on the bridal chair in the Palm Court, I could hear the singing voices of the men approaching and I was bursting with excitement.

By that time, Ben and I had not seen or communicated with each other for over five days. Ben has always been tall, dark and handsome (lucky me!) but when I finally saw him, with tears in his eyes walking towards me, in his Ermenegildo Zegna navy three-piece suit and tailored white shirt, my heart totally skipped several beats and the butterflies in my stomach were as fluttery as they were on our first date.

Getting married under the chuppah is the bride and groom’s holiest day of their lives, and our chuppah ceremony was very spiritual and filled with blessings. As we had only 15 of our nearest and dearest, some of whom had played a significant part in our spiritual journey over the past 3.5 years, the room was charged with an intense feeling of love.

As the bridal procession started, due to travel restrictions, Ben’s father (in Spain), Ben’s eldest brother (in Poland), my parents (in Malaysia) and my two brothers (in Singapore and Australia) were unable to come. In Ben’s father’s absence, Ben was escorted down the aisle by his other brother and mother, both carrying candles to light Ben’s way.

Jen escorted me via the back way so that I could have an impactful entrance through the imposing floor-to-ceiling double doors of the ballroom. As I gathered my thoughts with my heart beating out of my chest, two hotel staff opened the Ballroom’s double doors and I was completely stunned by the beauty of the Ballroom reverberating with the stirring singing of Eli Tamir.

I walked down the white carpeted aisle lined beautifully with lit lanterns and tall vases of white blossoms, escorted by my kallah teacher as well as the rebbetzin who is like a second mother to me, reflecting on the journey Ben and I have taken to get there. Seeing Ben wrapped in the tallit I gifted him on the day I became Jewish, with tears in his eyes, standing underneath the chuppah draped with soft peach-coloured sashes, adorned with white, blush and cream roses and plenty of lush green foliage, totally overwhelmed me and I too began to cry as I walked towards him and our new future. That is the moment I will never forget.

We made music a significant part of our ceremony as we wanted to fill the magnificent Ballroom with music to create an emotional and evocative atmosphere for our guests to enjoy.

Eli Tamir, our singer, has one of the most soulful and beautiful voices we’ve ever heard. Along with Eli, Leib Roberts played the piano and Lydia Alonson Perez played the cello. Having grown up playing the piano and the cello alongside years of listening to string quartet rehearsals led by my violinist brother at home, I knew that the combination of vocal, piano and cello is one of the most beautiful trios possible.

Eli, with his incredible talent, incorporated my requests for soulful arrangements, lush chords, rich vocal harmonies between Eli and Leib to create the mood we wanted. Leib usually plays on a keyboard, but having been blessed with playing on a grand piano since I was a child, we brought in a top of the range Yamaha grand piano into the Ballroom. There really is no substitute for the rich and powerful tones of a grand piano, and with Leib’s passionate playing on it, the result was enthralling.

We chose the lyrics of “Mi Adir” to the melody of “Vehi Sheamda” for Ben to walk down the aisle to. For my entrance, I asked Eli for a soulful and wistful arrangement of “Boi Beshalom” to its original Hebrew melody with a minor key ending. “Eyshet Chayil”, which Ben has been singing to me every Friday night for the past three years, moved Ben to tears as I prayed fervently for our future during the seven circles.

The highlight of the ceremony was when Eli sang “Im Eshkahech Yerushalayim” just before the breaking of the glass. Perhaps it coincided with the recent unrest in Israel, or perhaps it was the other-worldly room setting or perhaps it was the intimate nature of the ceremony, Eli himself was holding back tears whilst singing it. Eli’s emotions only added to the poignancy of the moment. Most of us were moved to tears too.

As soon as Ben smashed the glass, the Ballroom erupted into cheers of “Mazal Tov’s”! Ben lifted my veil, took my hand in his and we stepped off the chuppah together as husband and wife. Everyone sang and threw confetti of rose petals at us as we were escorted back down the aisle by Ben’s brother and our rabbis dancing joyfully. That was by far, the happiest moment of our lives so far!

Knowing that I’m a pianist, after the chuppah ceremony, our lead photographer Christian O’Reilly from the incomparable Fire and Ice, surprised us as he directed the piano movers to move the piano into the hotel lobby, where they shot incredible photos and videos of us against the stunning backdrop of the marble lobby.

The night of the wedding, Ben and I stayed in the corner suite. We couldn’t sleep from the excitement of the day so we stayed up to enjoy the room. The next day, after a delicious breakfast delivered to our suite, we reluctantly departed. Every member of the Reception team helped us with our bags and walked us out of the hotel, sending us wholehearted congratulations as the new Mr. and Mrs. Green.

Our fondest memory of Kimpton Fitzroy London:

Kimpton Fitzroy London is an absolute rare gem – its glamorous opulence yet intimate warmth sets it worlds apart from the conventional swanky hotels a stone’s throw away in Mayfair.

However, what we treasured the most is the loving and caring way Jen and all of the hotel’s staff made us feel like royalty on our big day. We were met with smiles and genuine well wishes all day, we truly felt the hotel’s joy and pride of hosting us on the most special day of our lives.

Jen, an absolute professional who has been in the business of weddings for over fifteen years, made us feel totally cared for, guided and assured throughout. From the way Jen made the effort to dress to match our colour scheme to the way she fluffed my veil just before I walked down the aisle to the way she escorted me round the secret way so that I could have a longer walk down the aisle, truly made the day even more special. Her attention to detail, positive energy and genuine attentiveness is something we will always be grateful for.

We are still pinching ourselves that we had the privilege to get married in such a dreamy, extraordinary and luxurious venue. Kimpton Fitzroy London is truly one of a kind and it will eternally be special to us. We cannot wait to return to spend our first wedding anniversary there!

Creating memories that last forever

When a friend shared her wedding photographs a few years ago, I remember being captivated by how original and unique their photos were. When it came to choosing our photographers and videographers that could capture the beauty and essence of the hotel, I remembered them and called Christian O’Reilly from Fire and Ice.

When I showed Ben some of their previous wedding videos, Ben’s first response was, “Wow, they look like Netflix movie trailers!”. We were in awe of their cinematic feel and vivid imagery and knew that they would be the perfect team to showcase the hotel.

We had two photographers and two videographers from the team, led by Christian to cover both of our wedding days. For our chuppah ceremony, they had four cameras trained on Ben and I the entire time and they shot beautiful footage that we have watched on repeat since.

In addition to the beautiful photos and videos they shot of us with the piano in the hotel’s lobby, on the day of the wedding party at our home, all four returned bringing black out curtains to block out my piano room, four microphones to mic up my grand piano, and filled the room with haze with a haze machine! It was like being in a music video, I definitely had a mini Beyoncé moment.

They came up with the idea to record me playing a song special to Ben and I on the piano to lay over our wedding video. As my family weren’t able to be involved with the wedding due to the pandemic, I chose a classic Chinese love song from the 70’s by Teresa Teng that my parents loved (and which Ben can sing in Chinese perfectly to!) as a homage to my heritage and to my parents.

The end result of our wedding highlights video is beyond anything we expected. Having a song I played myself as the soundtrack against the footage shot on the day of our chuppah ceremony, made it even more meaningful. When I shared it with my family, my parents especially were overwhelmed with emotions.

The photos you can see here, too, surpassed all our expectations. It is our privilege to have Fire & Ice capture all the magical moments of our wedding day at Kimpton Fitzroy London so beautifully.

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