We have a very detailed account from this afternoon’s wedding from both the bride and groom. RMW reader and regular commenter Charlotte (you may remember her as French Charlotte) is going to take you through her side of events first and then I am going to introduce you to Ben, the groom.
I hope you enjoy hearing both sides of this tale of love. We already brought your the super gorgeous engagement shoot, but if you missed it first time around, go check it out!
Photography is by the blissfully beautiful Dominique Bader.
Ben and me (Charlotte) got married in February 2012 at 12:00 at Nottingham Council House (which is absolutely beautiful). Then we had a buffet in The Cape restaurant. The theme of our wedding was spotty or stripy, we asked everyone to wear something to fit in the theme, and they (almost) all did, from a flower on a hat to full polka dot dress, it was great to see what people got to fit in the theme!
The dress for me wasn’t the most important; I found it really scary to have to go to a “proper” wedding dress shop! However I had a definite idea of my ideal dress: I knew that it was going to be a 50’s style dress, in my head it would also have stripes but wouldn’t be halter neck, it wouldn’t be “shiny” (I am a cotton girl at heart!), and most importantly wouldn’t cost the earth! So I googled away and found the Vivian of Holloway website, and noted the shop address as we were going to London that week for our engagement shoot with Dominique Bader. So on the morning of the shoot Ben and I went there to “see” the shop. Sales were on, I liked the simple cotton white one, Ben looked at me with proud eyes when I tried it on, so I got it! It did have a halter neck but I knew I could remove it easily so wasn’t put off.
A few months on and I started to have dress wobbles, so I tried it on again and talk with Ben how I could improve it and decided that I needed to add another petticoat, and I made a big bow belt. It’s after that the dress became mine.
Simple And Understated
The next thoughts were about accessories.
One: was I to have a veil or not? Being not a difficult thing to make, I searched for appropriate material and found some spotty lace in John Lewis but waited until the morning of our wedding to make my decision. I wasn’t sure but my lovely witness made the decision for me, it was hiding my hair so I didn’t wear it!
Two: jewellery. I did wear an amber bracelet that my mum bought for me a couple of Christmases ago, and I wanted some really simple earrings which I found, a week before the wedding in Primark! (Yes! One of those £3 packs!) And I really like them! I also wore a necklace that Ben bought for me few years back, it’s a little ruby heart .I like simple, understated jewellery so I didn’t want anything more.
You could have probably guessed my shoes are ‘Melissa’ by Vivenne Westwood. I know that so many brides wear them on their wedding day and the originality wears off (for those of us who spend far too many hours looking at wedding blogs); but it didn’t stop me from getting a pair as I think they are just so cute! (…oh and I got them second hand from ebay, bargain!).
No Birds Nests Please
I was really organised for so many parts of the wedding but for some others I left it until right the end! My hair for example… three weeks before the big day my mum phoned me asking what was going to happen with her hair (!) so I told her I would get a hairdresser coming to my hotel and she could have her hair done after mine. I don’t go to the hairdresser very often, I don’t even have one in Nottingham, so I googled hairdresser websites but all the ones I could see were charging a fortune to make your hair looking like a bird nest (not a look I was going for) and it was really only by chance that in mid-January I met the lovely Verity from a great vintage shop (Vintage Obsession in Hockley, Nottingham) and she knew exactly the right lady: Sarah from the Hairbarn (who was free on the 12th thank God).
I had my hair trial two weeks before the wedding and brought lots of pictures of different side buns with me. Sarah understood exactly what I wanted. In the end, my mum decided on the day before the wedding that she didn’t want a hairdresser anymore, so Sarah did mine and my sister’s hair – she was really fabulous, I couldn’t recommend her enough! For my make-up, I wanted to do it myself and I have to admit, going to Boots to spend a huge amount of money on beautiful make up was a great feeling; I enjoyed that part very much indeed!
Our photographer was the great Dominique Bader, who we found on, yes you’ve guessed it… Rock my Wedding! That really was the best decision we made and we hope you can see why in her photos. Indeed we knew that whatever decision we made the photos would look beautiful and that really put our minds at rest while planning the rest of the wedding. We absolutely love the shots, ones we will treasure forever, the only problem is I want to frame so many and don’t have enough wall space! Having such wonderful photos also helped the friends and family who were unable to make it to our special day to get a real feel of the day, one of my cousins even cried looking at them. Dominique Bader and her husband Samuel are such lovely people, we couldn’t recommend them enough!
As we have an allotment where we grow our own fruit and veg, we decided to try growing our own wedding flowers! Unfortunately, not a lot grows in February (even with the best will in the world) so last summer we went to speak to the old man at a local garden centre and he advised us what to do! We ended planting ‘early flowering’ tulips, daffodils, and crocus in wooden peach boxes covered with soil and straw…then hoped for the best! The tulips were a really pretty peach and really did look gorgeous, though this was two weeks after the wedding! The daffodils and crocus had better timing and by the night before the big day, I cut a good selection some ready to be tied up the next morning, but silly me, I forgot to put water in the vase where they spent the night! The result of this was that I had the smallest wedding bouquet in history of wedding flowers! But I couldn’t have cared any less as we had grown them ourselves (instead of getting as ones from a florist that had been grown abroad then imported) and I did have a pretty amazing bouquet of balloons for our portrait session! The balloons were later used by our sweet little bridesmaids and page boys to carry down the aisle. As for the buttonholes I made some flower brooches from blue felt and spotty pink buttons, so as not to worry about real flowers and put my own stamp on the male proceedings!
A Proud Moment
My witness Louise has got a great sense of style so I didn’t want to impose anything on her. What she wore was a complete surprise for me until she got ready on the day! She did me proud; she looked great in her white trousers and her so French beret! For our little bridesmaid’s dresses, we wanted them to be spotty so as to fit the theme and when out shopping late last summer Ben and I spotted the dress in the shop window of Next. The three girls loved them so that was sorted and we left our pages boys’ outfits to be sorted by their own mums, they looked really cute!
Something To Enjoy
We love cakes, especially homemade ones. However I don’t like icing! I really really didn’t want a traditional English wedding cake and well, I didn’t want a French style one either! I just wanted something we were going to truly enjoy. I was going to ask few people to bake us their speciality cake, I just had chance to ask Ben’s mum and the next thing I know four of her colleagues, Ben’s brother and a few of her friends had offered to bake one or more cakes! It was only a few days before the wedding that Ben decided that we needed to have lego groom and bride as a caketopper, and thanks for ebay and nextday delivery we got them just in time! Somehow he also managed to buy even more figures without me noticing (so we now have a vampire, a gangster, an alien, a sumo wrestler and an ice hockey player living on our bookshelf!)
In France it is part of the traditions to play a few games which include the bride and groom usually the day after the wedding, but I wanted it on the day! My sister was great and organised a few for us, a ‘Mr and Mrs’ style one, a ‘wedding musical chairs’ (twelve people played and each person who lost had to make us or give us something for the next year to come, for example Al the best man now has to learn the French anthem and sing to us in July to celebrate the French national day…) We also witnessed a France vs. England strength challenge which France won easily of course! It was important for me to have some French music as well as English, so for the evening playlist, we had just that, pinched from one of my sister’s friend’s weddings, kinda lucky we like the same stuff! Also in the evening the dressing up box went out and it was really funny to see everyone dancing around with their wigs on!
Our first dance was ‘All I Want is You’ by Barry Louis Polisar, we both liked it and as we didn’t want anything too romantic and cheesy for a first dance, so it was a good choice!
Jam For Everyone
As I said it earlier we have our allotment plot where we had a large quantity of fruits last summer so the favours were an easy decision, it was going to be jam! Plum, rhubarb and vanilla, rhubarb and orange, orange marmalade, apple and elderberry… we had a collection to choose from! Again we did a little research and found some spotty jam jar lids (from The Jam Jar Shop) then when filled with yummy jam we tied on some luggage tags to double up as table names. Everybody really like them!
I sewed 60 metres of bunting… I got a bit mad indeed but bunting made everything sooo pretty! (Yes we do have bunting in our living room, and if it was only me we’d probably have bunting in every room in the house). We made some origami games, in French and in English, I found it on this great French wedding blog : www.unbeaujour.fr, we were still folding them up with my cousin, my sister and my brother two days before the wedding! As we didn’t have any flowers on the tables, we bought some lantern from Ikea instead
our table plan was made from pictures (mostly silly ones) of our guests; we chose different children’s books as table names.
Over all our wedding was really ‘us’. Everyone had a lovely time; my sister even said it was the best day of her life after her son’s birth! We really did it our way, even if sometimes we had to fight for our decisions. On the wedding day I asked Ben to be in charge so I didn’t have to worry about anything or make any decisions at all, I would recommend everyone to do that!
Also you should check Rock My Wedding every day as it is, in my opinion, the best wedding blog around. Having all my family and friends in another country it was a great support to see what other brides did every day, I truly couldn’t have done it without it!
Try to enjoy every minute of it as it one of the only times you’ll have all the people who care about you in the same place at the same time. It’s an amazing feeling to know every single person in the room!
Thanks Charlotte!! (your £10.00 cheque is in the post). And now for a little rarity on these blue polka dotted pages…
I know that our (let’s face it mainly female) RMW audience love it when we get to reveal the male perspective from time to time, so it gives me great please to now introduce our groom Ben:
It may be ever-so-slightly controversial to all the brides who read this blog (and rather refreshing if there are any like-minded grooms or grooms-to-be who read it) but my view is that weddings shouldn’t be all about the bride, in fact, I find it rather insulting to be honest. Weddings are about the joining of two people, so, when it came to our wedding preparations, we both did all that we could (each), down to the smallest details.
So… my suit. It may not have been as flamboyant as Charlotte’s gorgeous dress but in it I felt like a million dollars. Living in Nottingham and being very proud of that, it had to be a Paul Smith, and as soon as we had booked the ceremony and paid the deposit over the phone on the first day of the summer holiday (I’m a teacher), we went to the poshest shop in town (Flannels) and bought that suit. A few weeks before the big day I brought the suit back to have it fitted by the in-house seamstress. Back in no time, it fitted like a glove, well… like a suit, but you get the idea.
The Famous Stripes
I also bought a Paul Smith shirt, you know the one with the double-cuff with his famous stripes on the inside (no? Wrong audience I suppose). Well, it was and is lovely but didn’t suit me like a ‘skinny fit’ does, so I went to John Lewis and found one by Calvin Klein instead. Not wanting to do overkill like a matching tracksuit, and not fancying the leftfield designs of Paul Smith shoe collection (or a price tag I could justify paying for my feet to wear), I ended up buying a pair of thin and pointy brown shoes by Ted Baker. Comfortable and stylish fit – just the ticket. My belt was in the River Island sale at a whopping £6 and the cufflinks were my favourite pair and what I thought was right for the international occasion: mini coopers with Union Flag roofs. So the tie didn’t clash with the stripy ‘penguin’ socks with the colours of my team, Doncaster Rovers, I opted for a spotty number from Next. I think it worked well.
For my accessories, I did think about the tiara option but as it is the bride’s day (ehum), I decided to just go for the watch on its own. Nothing really special (teachers aren’t made of money), just the one my Dad bought for me when I graduated.
In terms of trying to make myself look beautiful, there wasn’t much chance of that happening so a shave a few days previously (neither of us like it when I’m clean-shaven, in case you wondered if I had forgotten) and a bit of VO5 wax in the morning was all I could muster, too many other things on my mind, like re-writing my speech at 5am, as I had forgotten to print it out and bring it with me! Oopsie.
Wear What You Like Day
For the ‘groomsmen’, like the bridesmaids, we wanted them to wear whatever they wanted and felt comfortable in, and definitely not all looking like me. Why would I want that? Makes me think of school uniform, and also, one less thing to worry about. I was happy that Charlotte didn’t want her girlfriends to be wearing all the same dresses too (they weren’t the bridesmaids anyway) as although it is tradition in Britain and many other countries, and I am as proud to be British as you get, I feel it takes away the individual beauty of each woman, inside and out if you put them all in the same thing when they are adults, what compliments one’s figure rarely does for others, plus they all thought it was a very bonkers British thing to do, so that was the end of that.
On the other hand, our ‘real’ bridesmaids, my niece and two cousins were overjoyed to be wearing the same thing as each other, pale pinky peach autumn dresses with big black spots on from Next went down a treat. We were lucky in a way actually as we saw them late last summer and got them on a whim and it was a good job we did as we never saw them again – must’ve been popular. We just had to trust the mums’ judgements to predict the size the girls would be when the wedding came round. For the page boys, my nephew and Charlotte’s, we just briefed the mums to go for smart and spotty or stripy if possible and both were chuffed with what they wore. I say this, Elias, Charlotte’s nephew was only seventeen months so didn’t really have much of a say in the matter.
It Was Down To Us
On the morning of the wedding, I got up early (to do my speech) and got half-dressed ready for the arrival of the wonderful photographer Dominique Bader and her husband Samuel, who took a few snaps of me getting sorted. It was then a little manic as I left my wife-to-be in the trusty hands of her sister and witness (what we call the ‘Maid of Honour’) and headed down to the reception venue, The Cape (a South African wine bar) along with a few of Charlotte’s girlfriends and my Best Man, Al, to set up what hadn’t been done. It may seem a little odd and possibly even crazy for some of you reading this but being ‘our’ wedding, it was down to ‘us’ to do it and set it up how ‘we’ wanted it, even if I was to be married within a few hours.
Charlotte had been researching (mainly on this blog) for over half a year and we’d made 260 double-sided bunting triangles, well, Charlotte had, as I wasn’t allowed near the sewing machine, plus everything else (home-made jars of jam; embarrassing photos taken from facebook and from sources I can’t reveal for the ‘table plan’; tissue paper pom poms to, well, fluff up a bit and dangle from the ceiling, and so much more). I can say it now but at the time I was in a bit of a confused state but hid it well with my ‘game face’, I think. I left with the venue half-finished and my brother and the others making the finishing touches, but did have the large balloons pulling me along, thanks to The Cape for letting me use their helium after our postal gas supplier let us down.
The First Meeting
This was it, the big moment was about to happen as I stood outside our hotel (The Lace Market Hotel – superb btw) waiting for my bride. Yes I was going to see the dress before the ceremony so Dominique thought it would be nice if we could have our own ‘first meet’ moment, just the two of us instead. I had seen the dress before (and even paid for it I think) but when I was tapped on the shoulder and turned to see Charlotte, I couldn’t believe how phenomenally beautiful she looked. We then spent the rest of the time before the ceremony letting Dominique work her magic, and I hope you agree that she did a pretty good job!
All You Need Is Love
With the opening part of The Beatles’ ‘All You Need is Love’ being the French national anthem, and The Beatles being rather English indeed (and a song we both like), there wasn’t much discussion needed when choosing the entrance track. The ceremony itself then went in a flash, with a little tear here and there. The readers did a fab job and the bridesmaids and page boys just loved their balloons (yay!) and before I knew it the ring was on my finger and we were married, walking out, in front of the eyes of Robin Hood amongst others(!), to Edith Piaf’s ‘L’hymne a l’amour’ (Hymn of Love).
Off to The Cape and the fun really began! Anglo-French mingling, a few speeches, delicious food and wine, oh and copious amounts of champagne. Some great party games ensued, including a France-v-England battle of strength and stamina, but I won’t dwell on that (ehum).
If It Hadn’t Been For Cotton Eye Joe
For the final part of the usual formalities, our first dance was as we wanted and as everyone else probably expected. Completely unrehearsed and natural, we had a great time doing a bit of everything: romantic stuff, cotton-eyed Joe, hand clapping in the air running round in circles and a bit of jiving. Lots of fun.
Finally, my advice to any groom would be to make your wedding whatever you want it to be. Get involved, don’t just leave it to your future wife, it isn’t just her day and plays straight in to the stereotypical roles before you’re even married. You don’t have to spend every penny you have, we didn’t have much but just got our priorities sorted in our heads straight away and did lots ourselves. Good company, good suit (joke), best photographer, wonderful memories.
All the very best, Ben.
Venue The Cape
Dress Vivian of Holloway
Suit Paul Smith
Photography Dominique Bader
Yeah, I love it when we get a groom with a view… And it would appear that Ben has a bit of an eye for fashion too. Rocking the Paul Smith like nobody’s business.
Ben and Charlotte had a beautiful engagement shoot and the wedding has even managed to exceed that.
I love the loose theme of spots and stripes, the relaxed approach, the D.I.Y and the RMW philosophy of ‘Your Day, Your Way’ shines through and makes me just a little bit proud to be a wedding blogger… And I’m not even quite sure why!
So, what do you love most about this wedding folks? There is certainly a LOT to choose from… and you can’t all choose the balloons!