We rarely feature hand-fasting blessings and this one is so so beautiful , conducted by Frances’s father in woodland it looks like a real life mid-summer nights dream inspired fairytale. The bouquet is something else, as is Frances’s vintage lace gown which dates back to 1900 and her choice to wear both an incredibly intricate veil AND a just-picked style flower crown. Why have just one statement headpiece when you can have multiple?
Frances and Parshin’s wedding was a real family and friends led affair, using the talents of their nearest and dearest meant the couple had not only one of the best days of their lives but also a lot of fun organising and planning the entire delicious celebration. Frances has included lots of detail in her report so please do take a moment to have a read, it’s well worth a butchers lovelies.
Frances The Bride: I have always aspired to have a vintage wedding dress, as soon as I stepped into Abigail’s vintage boutique I knew I would find my dress there. I absolutely loved visiting Abigail for fittings, she was so wonderful and it felt like a mini history lesson as she talked me through the dresses and their eras. I tried on about twelve vintage dresses varying in age from Edwardian to the 60’s. The dress dates from 1900-1908 and is made from blonde lace, the sleeves were the only part of the dress that had to be adapted as well as a few poppers added, but other than that it fitted perfectly. Abigail made me a silk slip to wear underneath it too. Originally I was against a veil as it is far too traditional for me, but as I stood there wearing the dress and looking around Abigail’s boutique I casually noted how beautiful a veil was sitting on a mannequin, Abigail placed it on my head and although it was from the 60’s it conveniently matched the dress. When I saw the look on my mums face I knew I had to have it. It is a Brussels lace (which is apparently quite rare) Princess veil with a beautiful lace skull cap. I felt privileged to have worn such a beautiful dress and veil that is steeped in so much history, I hope the woman/women that wore it before me had as much fun wearing it as it did! I opted for a pair by Irregular Choice shoes, they were so comfortable, I danced the whole night in them! I kept my jewellery simple only wearing my Great Grandmothers earrings and my engagement ring.
Sticking to the non traditional theme Parshin chose to wear a tweed jacket, with a matching tweed waistcoat from Topman Heritage and a tweed Moss Bros tie. Luckily Parshin has rather impeccable taste when it comes to clothes, sometimes dressing better than me, so he chose the suit himself as well as the bestmen and wo-man outfits. He teamed the jacket with a pair of navy khakis. He wore a pair of tan leather and suede brogues to finish off his attire!
We wanted to do something a bit random and quirky with our wedding stationary so our ‘Save the Date’ card was in the style of a postcard, which was an aerial photo of us laying on grass holding hands and luggage as if we were running. We got our photographer chum Tom to take the picture for us. Our wedding invites were tea towels by the Wedding Tea Towel Company. They have a rather large choice of designs you can chose from and make for a lovely keep sake. I know our mums plan to frame them and hang them in their kitchens.
Quinton House was our wedding venue, which is actually a private school! As soon as we saw it set up for a wedding we fell in love with it. It has such a lovely laid back welcoming vibe. It also comes with a most wonderful event planner named Jo who was just amazing. She was so easy going and open to our ideas. We were completely on the same wavelength and like all our suppliers I knew she wouldn’t disappoint! We embraced the idea of it being a really unique venue, in fact a lot of our guests described it as a hidden gem and had no idea it existed.
The Colour Scheme/Decor
We had about fifteen months to plan the wedding and the theme was a bit of everything! Boho, hippy, vintage, DIY, with a woodland feel to it. In the reception room we had bunting hanging from the ceiling, along with large gemmed hula hoop chandeliers. There were lots of DIY aspects to our wedding which included decorated jam jars filled with flowers dotted around the venue as well as vintage teapots and shabby chic furniture. My husband is Iranian and we decided to have a hand fasting and adapted Iranian blessing in the woodland area within the grounds after the legal ceremony, this area was decorated with birdcages (with LED tea lights inside them) hanging from tree branches, retro old school glass ketchup bottles filled with flowers hanging from colourful ribbon on trees, jam jars with LED tea lights and flowers, fairy lights as well as colourful hearts on sticks at the entrance of the woodland area.
I have to give a mahooooosive thank you to two people, Claire being one of them. She was one of my bridesmaids and my brothers lovely girlfriend, I gave her a list longer than my arm of decorative bits and bobs needed for the wedding décor. Although I wanted to source these myself it was rather tricky as I am in the middle of my nurse training and was drowning in a sea of essays and placements, so Claire sourced everything! From going to vintage wedding favours to buy a traditional school desk, spending hours replying to my emails, trawling Ebay to seek out over fifty vintage tea cups and saucers to cutting one hundred hearts out of colourful card! Amazing! The second person being Nicola, an old school chum and freelance stylist who at the last minute kindly agreed to decorate the woodland area for us! She spent hours putting it all together and I had no idea what it looked like until I walked into the woodland for the blessing, so it was such a beautiful surprise and our guests described it as looking magical and fairytale like.
Wherever we could we wanted to use and support local suppliers and I knew I found a little gem when I met with Alison at Field Gate Flowers. They grow their flowers on their own land and it was a pleasure meeting her in her idyllic summer house whilst chickens and hens freely roamed around the garden. I left it completely to Alison, I just gave her pictures of ideas I had and told her I was thinking of vintage pastelly shades and that was it, I completely trusted her and knew she would do a wonderful job. We had vintage teapots as centre pieces which were filled with rustic flowers by Alison (as if they had just been picked from the garden), placed on top of wooden slices with jam jars next to them. The table number was a wooden slice tied around a Nutella jar (a little nod to Parshin as he is a Nutella fiend!).
For the woodland blessing Holly swapped my veil for a flower crown made by Alison, it was absolutely perfect and beautifully made, I wore it the whole day and it stayed intact even when I was moshing late into the evening!
The Wedding Party Fashion
My beautiful Bridesmaids were my sister Lyndsay, Claire and Cath one of my best friends. I was very laid back and the only stipulations I gave were that they were comfortable, didn’t match, would wear the dress again and it was a vintage pastelly shade, ideally a shade of pink. I left the girls to go shopping whenever they fancied as I didn’t want them to feel pressured into buying something they didn’t if we went shopping as a group. So instead they sent me pictures of dresses they had seen and asked my opinion. It was rather spooky as Claire and Lyndsay chose very similar dresses from different shops and Cath opted for a completely different style which was great. Their shoes could be again anything they fancied, as long as it was a fairly nude shade and they were comfortable. I treated them to have their hair and make up done on the wedding day as a thank you for being my Bridesmaids. They chose their hair style as I didn’t want them to match, so Claire opted for Victory rolls, Cath a simple bun and Lyndsay pretty plaits put into a bun. They all looked beautiful!
We had two bestmen and one best wo-man! Mark, Chris and Sarah (who had come all the way from New Zealand especially for our wedding!). Parshin took both the bestmen shopping in Birmingham to look for suits, and they ended up getting the same suit as his although they wore a different colour pair of khaki trousers to mix it up a bit. Our best wo-man wore a blue polka dot dress by Yumi and a tan belt with a pair of tan brogues to match the rest of the best men.
The legal ceremony was in the ballroom (also where the school children have their assembly every morning and the headmasters office!) with candles lit around the room. I didn’t feel nervous at all or at any point of the day, I think because we have been together for over eleven years and it felt right to finally get married and be grown ups! I walked down the aisle with my girls in front of me and with my dad on my arm to ‘Orchid’ by Black Sabbath, a very special moment. It was so wonderful having all our loved ones with us in one room and being able to take our vows in front of them. I remember one of Parshins family members standing straight on at the aisle and saying rather loudly ‘you look soooooo sweet’ as I walked past him, which made me and my bridesmaids laugh out loud. The ceremony was short and sweet, with lots of laughter at all the right places. Parshin and I held hands through out the ceremony and when we took our vows, which I shall always remember, I will always remember Parshin struggling to get the ring on my swollen finger too which was actually really funny and happened to my parents when they got married! We walked down the aisle together as man and wife to ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’ by Led Zeppelin and we both let out a cheer and I waved my bouquet as we left the room.
Our guests then walked straight into the woodland area for the blessing whilst I had my head piece changed by Holly. We looked into booking a Humanist to do the ceremony but it cost more than hiring a legal registrar, so I thought it would be lovely if a family member conducted it and my dad was the first person I thought of as I knew he would do an amazing job and wouldn’t let me down. He spent weeks reading books, researching the internet and writing drafts of the ceremonies and even bought a beautiful leather book to read it from on the day. We also sought advice from Parshin’s parents with regards to Iranian traditions for the Iranian blessing and Parshin’s mum even looked for sugar cones whilst holidaying in Iran to bring back for our wedding to be used in the blessing. I walked into the woodland area with my mum on my arm, as my brother James played ‘Embryonic Journey’ by Jefferson Airplane on his acoustic guitar. It was rather a magical moment and one of the only times I felt a little tearful. Our first blessing was our adapted Iranian ceremony where we sat on chairs and had a white sheet held above our heads by my bridesmaids and Parshin’s best wo-man as my mum ground sugar over our heads and onto the sheet to symbolise a sweet marriage. The sugar was rather hard to grind and at one point my mum bashed the sugar cones together so hard a chunk came off and a cloud of sugar went past us, our photographer Hannah got a great picture of me looking up at the sheet uncertainly as I saw this big lump of sugar above Parshin’s head, but it was all good fun and made us all laugh! After this, with the sheet still above our heads, James passed us a glass pot full of honey which we dipped our little fingers into and fed to each other at the same time to again symbolise a sweet marriage and life together. The sheet was then taken from above our heads and we stood for the hand fasting ceremony. We had a long thick plaited ribbon in an array of colours (which I made, each coloured ribbon had a meaning), wrapped around our clasped hands as my dad read out the most beautiful words. As I looked up I saw lots of smiling faces as my dad asked everyone to send us love and good wishes.
Because we had a few hours of free time before the evening guests arrived we hired several lawn games and put picnic blankets out so guests could chill out and catch up. I’m so glad we did as there was lots of laughter and fun and I heard there was lots of cheating going at the croquet!
In the evening we hired a Mariachi band, which was a surprise for our guests! They knew we were having a band but we kept the genre a secret. They were awesome! We had our first dance to ‘Hotel California’ by the Gypsy Kings with our guests singing along to it, they also played a set outside too as the weather was still beautiful in the evening! Lots of people danced and sang along to the pop songs they played. It was so much fun and I definitely recommend the band!
To cut costs we made our own DIY Photo booth over seen by our talented Photographer chum Tom. Again poor old Claire spent hours sourcing my long list of props including nursey props, pipes, magnifying glasses and stick on moustaches which went down well as lots of guests kept them on for the whole evening! There was often a big queue for the booth and Tom took over one thousand pictures filling a whole memory card!
When the band finished their sets it was time for DJ Dad!! To cut costs even further we hired a PA system and created our own play list of songs. My Dad (DJ dad) Parshin and I spent hours creating our own play list which was hours of fun! We also asked our guests to choose two songs each so we could incorporate them through out the day. The last song played was Frank Sinatra ‘My Way’ and then ‘Grease Lightning’ was played right at the very end as our guests made arches with their arms which Parshin and I ran through and out of the building as we shouted goodbye.
We had a Pimms and lemonade reception as well as pink cloudy lemonade for the non drinkers. Drinks were served from jam jars and had stripy straws, and guests could help themselves to more from a retro glass jar drinks dispenser. We had scones and clotted cream served with strawberries too.
The main meal consisted of an indoor picnic! We had large hampers on each table and inside were various goodies such as cous cous, potato salad, salads and home made rolls to accompany our BBQ’ed burgers and chicken. It was so delicious!
The dessert was our wedding cake which had three tiers and a combination of our favourite types of cake. Traditional fruit cake on the top tier, carrot cake (Parshin’s favourite) on the second tier and chocolate fudge cake (my favourite) on the bottom tier. After we cut the cake it was cut into slices and arranged on beautiful cake stands and served with cups of tea and coffee served in vintage crockery. Our cake topper was hand made using wooden pegs by my mum! She spent hours making them in such great detail, hand sewing the outfits, even making a hem and collar for the grooms jacket and a pair of earrings for the bride. It is such a lovely keepsake! My beautiful sister, Lyndsay, spent many an hour researching vegan and gluten free cake recipes as desserts for our guests who had specialist dietary requirements. She made an array of rather tasty vegan and gluten free cakes and goodies, they were so good I had non vegans asking for the recipes! She even found out how to make vegan clotted cream for the scones!?!
We chose Hannah from Casey Avenue because she isn’t your usual run of the mill wedding photographer, taking natural and quite simply beautiful photos! I felt like I’d known Hannah for years and had complete faith that she and her second photographer Jess would capture our day beautifully. And quite frankly they did! I loved the ideas and suggestions they came up with, laying in the confetti was so fun! We’ve had so many compliments on the photos too.