The W-day of Em and Jon is without a shadow of a doubt the longest time I have ever spent putting a real wedding post together. Not only is Em’s report on the planning and details insanely beautifully written with more wit and honestly than you can shake a day-full-of-joy stick at it, the affair has more pretty, laughter and originality than I thought possible.
I cried through the entire process. Massive salty Blog Queen tears at the amazing brides we have grace these pages and how I thank my lucky stars each and every minute of every day that this is my job.
Em is a true RMW bride in every sense, an avid reader and the epitome of having her day exactly her way. She rocks a green plastic bracelet. She rocks a short crop. She rocks a red/orange nail. She rocks my entire world and then some.
Em and Jon found their photographers Erica and Christian from Christian Ward Photography on these very pages and I am prouder than a calorific fruity punch that even in some small way, we made this day happen like this.
Get your tissues at the ready folks, it’s going to be a multi-colour roller coaster of immense.
The Cornish Coast
Jon and I got hitched in August 2011 in the gorgeous surroundings of Lantallack Farm in Cornwall. Ours was a small gathering of close friends and family. We planned a light hearted, fuss-free day (or as fuss-free as a wedding can be) and as seems to be evidenced by the amount of shots of us with the giggles, we seem to have been successful in that endeavour! Most of our day was DIY’d and all of it was 100% Jon n’ Em.
Early on in the planning stage I yearned for an informal out-there-in-the-woods wedding, officiated by a friend, perhaps at sunset or a barefoot-in-sand ceremony. Then I woke up and remembered that no amount of Martha Stewart reading can turn an English gal American, and I’d better get with the programme. Jon and I both felt quite strongly that we only wanted the one ceremony, which removed anything Humanist-in-the-woods-with-the-official-bit-down-the-town-hall from the equation, so we set about looking for a venue-with-licence. Not such an easy task as it turned out. As ever, the trusty Alasdair Sawday website came up trumps with Lantallack – we visited, we were smitten and we went for it!
Sorry girls, I’m not a shoes kinda gal. I have huge, wide feet and am happiest in havianas. That said, I decided I wanted – nay needed – statement shoes in turquoise (my something blue, you see) and spent a brief period trying to hunt down a bold, peep toe with a mid height chunky heel. Nothing I found was very ‘me’ and the silk used for the Rainbow Club-style shoes frankly invited imminent disaster. Purely by chance on my lunch break I stumbled into a little shop in Covent Garden and – lo! – serendipity itself if it weren’t the most fabulous pair of quirky heels IN THE SALE. Made by Terra Plana, they’re fashioned out of recycled saris, wood and full on eco-approved other bits. And, they had a pair left in my size (a whopping 9!). Seriously the most comfortable pair of heels in the history of all heels, and I’m not just saying that – these have springy soles, baby!
Non Traditional Jewels
I have very short hair and feel like a muppet in anything girly. Flowers in the hair look ridiculous on me. Earrings make me look like a toddler with pierced ears. As the whole day was – to quote our dress code on the invitation “garden party formal, if you please, but no ties or hats. We don’t like ties and hats are scary” going a bit more casual worked fine. I ummed and ahhed about necklaces, but again, I don’t think I’ve ever worn a ‘traditional’ necklace in my life, so wasn’t quite sure why I should feel obligated to start on my wedding day! I found a brilliant necklace on Etsy which was essentially a tiny plant pot (with a seedling in it) but realising I may have pushed it just a teensy bit too far, I let fate do the work and it did not disappoint.
I wanted to incorporate things into the day that had significance for Jon and I and the jewellery was no exception. I’ve been knitting for eons and found a lady in Sydney who repurposes vintage bakelite knitting needles into bracelets. I emailed her to see if she could source any in greens, turquoises and oranges and a mere month later I was the proud owner of Em-friendly wrist-wear. I wore a few old beloved silver bracelets, a ring my grandmother gave me and struck gold when I found – two days before the wedding – two long necklaces which I looped round to make shorter in orange and blue. These were from a company called beadsforlife.org and they’re made by women in Africa from recycled magazines. They’re beautiful things and get reworn a lot! Oh how glad I am that I didn’t go down the pearls or diamonds route!
I love our rings. Love ‘em. Jon proposed to me in Croatia, on the rocks at sunset by our tent, after we’d cycled halfway across Europe and he did this WITH A RING HE’D BOUGHT EN ROUTE IN VIENNA. Frankly I’m still amazed I hadn’t twigged as we were living out of tiny bicycle panniers for nigh on three weeks and there’s only so many places you can stash a ring! He completely nailed it: industrial, bomb-proof steel with a diamond set in flush. Its the coolest damn ring I ever did see. Problem was, what on earth could we pair it with?! After contemplating travelling across to Cologne to choose bands from the same brand, we visited a jeweller in Norwich, where we’d lived for the first five years as a couple and there in the very shop we used to wander past and ponder our future nuptials, we found exactly what we were looking for.
Jon’s suit was from A Suit That Fits and fit him it did. I’m so pleased he went down this route as apart from looking so darn handsome he’s now got, well, a suit that fits. My brother went with him and also got one made and both refused to share any pertinent details with me before the day! As a little gift Jon ordered domino cufflinks for Luke, his best man and my brother to match their shoes, which definitely deserve mention as the three of them (and Jon’s sister!) ordered customised Chucks. I must admit I was this close to doing the same thing… He also wore a pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather and all I remember was that I got really giggly when I saw him! *swoon*
Clean, Modern and Awesome
On the dress front, I knew going in that I wanted something clean, modern, not fussy, not lacy, not beaded. Actually, truth be told, I was honestly wondering if I could call up Michelle Obama and ask to borrow the Jason Wu dress she wore at the Inaugural Ball…! I was briefly seduced by the idea of wearing a tea-length dress (yes, Charlotte, the very same Justin Alexander number that you too love!), but in the end I realised a strapless, floor-length fitted fifties shape worked best on me. It’s important to realise that there are plenty of beautiful dresses out there, but (home truth time!) they’re not all going to be beautiful on you (yes, Justin Alexander, I’m talking about you, dagnamit!). You’ll go to plenty of other weddings in your life to see women for whom Jenny Packham frocks were just designed to grace so don’t get hung up on what doesn’t work for you, enjoy what does! For me a big part of that was the shop experience: I’m another Mamfii bride and can’t recommend them highly enough!
My frock stood out as being a combination of 50s elegance with casual, substantial twist: what Grace Kelly might have picked had she been a surfer chick, for instance (unlikely, yes, but let’s go with it…). Traditional-ish shape, for sure, but the fabric kind of felt like washi paper and it was all a bit skew-whiff, much like myself. I think we all knew we’d just nailed it.
The Extra Six Minutes
I did my own make up. A lovely (and patient!) friend dragged me into Space NK and sorted me out with Laura Mercier base products and a splendid blush and I then headed on down to Bobbi Brown for the rest. Laura sent me one of our ‘don’t hate me but…’ emails (in which we sheepishly admit to liking things that we think others will mock) and said she’d recently tried false eyelashes and – shock! – they looked cute! Heidi Klum gives a pretty good demonstration of how to do it without getting them everywhere, we followed her instructions to the T and yes, it was totally worth the extra six minutes make-up time!
We were done waaaay early on the morning and sat around for a good while drinking tea…
Jon and I spent a number of years living in Japan and so when we designed our invitations we used koinobori (koi carp windsocks) as a central motif. They’re so cheerful, bright and unusual and are said to bring luck (though, admittedly on children’s day….!). From this we started with our theme of turquoise and orange and I found some Amy Butler fabric that was bright and bold without being chinzty. One thing I didn’t want was for the day to start looking too ‘girly’ – it was Jon’s day too and I feel weddings have a tendency to get over-feminized.
Ha! I have to laugh here: right from the word go I was anti marquees. In my [limited] experience they always smelt a bit fusty and you can’t quite ever escape the fact that you’re in a, well, a marquee! When we realised that the giant teepee option we’d both become rather enamoured of was waaaaay out of our budget we came back round to the idea and took on the challenge to de-marquee the marquee!
Again from Etsy I found a pattern for a minature koinobori, so I made some and then I sized up the pattern to make huuuuge windsocks that we staked into the ground. They looked awesome, and when those Cornish gusts of winds got going they really looked amazing!
Mum’s a dab hand with flowers and she was one of the first people we asked to get involved. We hit up St Mellion Flowers (the wholesaler down the road from our venue) a couple of days before and whilst mum worked her magic with the ‘proper’ arrangements, Laura and I whipped up a couple of bouquets and filled jam jars with flowers of the same hue. I was keen to make a bolder statement as the country garden look, though pretty, just isn’t for me. By using more unusual, spikier flowers of the same type in each container, our flowers made a huge impact. I spent quite a lot of time researching in-season flowers and found that even the humble (and budget friendly!) chrysanthemum has a variety for every taste. Ours were stunning!
Jon and his best man Luke are borderline obsessed with growing chilli plants, so we made buttonholes from hosta leaves, rosemary and chillis. We had to have a few gos to get the chillis – ahem – laying right (the process of which got Laura and me started on what would end up being the entire night spent in hysterics), but in the end they looked good and not that suggestive…
Mum and I (though mainly mum) spent the previous year collecting jam jars and making bias tape from the fabric I had collected as my ‘palette’. We sewed these on with some buttons to brighten up the jars. It was a time consuming job, but well worth the effort.
Laura, my head cheerleader, decided on her dress about twenty four hours before the wedding. As I only had the one bridesmaid I told her if she was buying a dress she should get something she liked and ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY would wear again, but otherwise perhaps we could put something together between the two of us? I hate the thought of wasted things and there seemed no point in spending for a one-time-wear (unless you’re the bride, that is!). She found a fantastic dress from Patagonia and I threw in a couple of my dresses to the mix. In the end she decided the Patagonia was a little too much on the casual side so opted for a dress I’d picked up in the sale (again, days before!) from Mango! Does it count if the ‘something borrowed’ came from the bride?!
Jon had the idea to fold a thousand paper cranes (another Japanese tradition to bring luck), which was fine for the first fifty or so then really did become a labour of love! The boys attached these to a rigged-up chandelier and they looked really dramatic! Mum made yards and yards of bunting in my beloved Amy Butler fabrics and I sourced a hundred or so paper lanterns in our colours which we fastidiously pinned to the marquee lining, one by one! Jon spent ages rigging up little LED lights inside each lantern, so as the sun went down we had the effect of lots of little fireflies flying about in the ceiling as they gently swayed in the wind.
Included in the invitation we put a little cut-it-out-and-stick-it-together model of the pair of us and we asked people to assemble Jon-bot and Em-bot and then take pictures of them in weird and wonderful places. There were prizes for the best entries! Most people got involved and we pinned up all the ‘entries’ for people to look over. Luke, our best man, got really into it and produced a storyboard montage featuring our 3D selves on a camping trip; my uncle managed to take a picture at 10,000 feet over the place where we got engaged; Jon’s cousin photoshopped us into some newspaper footage of the London riots, hawking some stolen electronics and my brother rebuilt the models with animation software giving us bubble space helmets. Creative genius or too much time on some people’s hands? You decide.
Full disclosure on the photographer: originally we weren’t going to have one. Quite simply we couldn’t afford it and we’d worked out that with our limited budget our priorities were the venue and the food. As luck would have it we came into a little windfall and decided to get our snaps done professionally. Phew! We found Erica and Christian Ward through these very pages and again it must have been fate as our date was pretty much the only one they had left for the season!
They were amazing and blended in so effortlessly, many of our guests didn’t realise they weren’t just guests as well! Their images are exactly the right blend of whimsical, retro and quirky without venturing too far into any of those categories! What I loved most were all the goofy moments captured on film: silly faces, collapsing into giggles. Our wedding album is full of mirth, merriment and so very us.
We had only a couple of kids at the wedding so we made them ‘press passes’ and gave them the use of digital cameras. It kept them distracted for a good portion of the day and we ended up with some fantastic snaps!
Martha: Eat Your Heart Out
Jon’s sister is a prodigy with all things culinary and baked us the most fantastic cakes (note the plural!) as our wedding gift. I collated all kinds of pictures of cakes (mostly courtesy of Martha) and asked Mim to produce something ‘a bit wonky, rustic, substantial and tasty’. We had a chocolate and raspberry, a carrot cake and a lemon and lime cheesecake-in-a-cake all decorated with fresh fruit and edible flowers. Every now and then I look at our photos and drool ever so slightly… You’ve seen the pictures now, so I’m not wrong, am I?!
Being of a waste-not-want-not mentality I was adamant that if we had favours they had to be worth bothering with. I decided to make some strawberry jam, and Jon had the idea to use the jars as place settings. Typically, although I make jam ALL THE TIME this batch took bloody ages to set properly. I’d like to say it was made with love, but the language coming out of the kitchen was neither feminine nor appropriate to anything wedding-related! Luckily the end result was yummy! I designed the labels using our koi carp motif from our invitations. They looked lovely and I’m pleased to report that only one was left behind! Result!
A Mix Of Music
A lot of our friends are musicians. For various reasons we decided against having a live band, so we asked the musically inclined to submit a themed playlist of a their choosing. We had all kinds from 60s female icons to 1980s disco to ‘Iron and Wine-ish’ and it worked pretty well! We’re not dancers at all, so music for us just set the scene and provided a superb background to all that chitter-chatter!
We decided to choose more esoteric music for the ceremony including a beautiful song called Baibaba Bimba by a Japanese band called the Tenniscoats, who Jon knew from our time out there. It is one of favourites, but now neither of us can listen to it without getting a bit teary!
We loved the idea of a photo booth, and in the DIY spirit that seemed to have defined the wedding, Jon and my brother built one from old computer parts and a plinth from bits of wood. Jon bought a software package which he customised with our koi carps and the font we’d used. We had people take their pictures, print them out, stick them in our guest book and write us messages. Needless to say the photos got somewhat more ‘loose’ as the evening wore on….!
I almost fell off my chair when I was quoted table linen prices, so I nipped to Ikea to buy their cheapest of the cheap calico from which we made table cloths and Waitrose did us proud with simple napkins and their glass hire service. We put in the labour of love with gingham ribbons and sprigs of rosemary to make it all a bit more interesting, but by the time we’d loaded up the tables with flowers, place settings, cootie-catchers, carafes of wine, bottles of water, flatware and glasses, you couldn’t really see much of the table cloths anyway!
I know from reading all the RMW posts and discussions that food often gets a bit of a back seat, but in our case it was one of the most important aspects of our day and we wanted to get it right. The Round Kitchen were highly recommended and were beyond super. We asked if we were able to have informal sharing platters rather than traditional courses, as again this is something we loved about eating out in Japan. Sarah and Lucy seemed as excited as us about this concept, designed a fantastic menu and lunch was an epic affair! If you’re Cornwall-based, try your luck – they’re culinary wizards!
On the drinks front (which I know has also been a recent discussion on the RMW boards) we sourced everything ourselves. We kept the menu to the basics, but made sure each drink was a good ‘un. We picked Cornish real ale, local still cider, our favourite lager, nostalgic soft drinks and I was incredibly fortunate to get some advice on the wine from a very knowledgeable co-worker. It was his suggestion that we decant the wines into carafes (which both looked nicer, gave the wine a chance to ‘breathe’ and stopped any potential half-bottles all over the place!). We served bottles of water with infusions of lemon verbena and mint and iced rooibos tea.
I’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again – shop around and think outside the box. By asking people in the know, we benefited from better deals and better products! We’re fortunate that our friends and family seem uniquely equipped to organise weddings, so if you have friends with talents, ask them! I’m not exaggerating much when I say that we saved as much as we spent by doing things ourselves: we really did have a limited budget and just grafted for the six months before the big day to get it looking the way we wanted!
Make time to eat, if that’s what you love. Make time to dance, if that’s what you live for. You’ll want to remember the things you love, so take the time to! Enjoy the day, enjoy each other, catch up with your loved ones, celebrate love, life and happiness and don’t sweat the small stuff. That’s the point, right?
As an end note to all this, you’ll notice in the photos there are umbrellas galore. The heavens opened in the morning and we (and by ‘we’ I mean the ever perky Nicky and Lucy, who run Lantallack) had to quickly assemble seating and move flowers from Wisteria Walk (outside) to the Cart Barn (inside) for the ceremony. I haven’t mentioned this before, because it really didn’t matter.
In the end it was magical, comfortable and even romantic with all that driving rain. And, anyway, the clouds cleared in time for lunch and then the only reminder of the bad weather was the mud adorning the bottom of my dress! Who cares, though, right? This is England, after all and at the end of the day all that matters is that we both said ‘I do’ at the appropriate time!
Venue: Lantallack Farm
Caterer: The Round Kitchen
Photographer: Christian Ward
Brides Gown: Mamfii Bridal (Essense D1032)
Cakes: Miriam Nice
Labels, Artwork and Invitations: MoshiBoshi
Grooms Suit: A Suit That Fits
Grooms shoes: Converse
Mr O’Shea happened to ring me half way through completing this feature, asking me what I fancied from Tesco (Yes, my husband does the vast majority of our supermarket shopping, regards himself as a throughly modern man because of it – I personally think it’s because if I’m not there I can’t fill the trolley with fifty eight glossy magazines…) Ahem, I digress. Anyway, I answered the phone all teary and unable to speak properly:
James: What on earth is the matter?! are you ok?!
Me: Well I’m just doing this wedding…and it’s so beautiful…(sniff, hiccup a bit)…and there’s a swing….can we please please have a swing?
James: Charlotte, you are crying over the fact you want a swing? where do you suggest we put a swing exactly?
Me: Um…in the kitchen? I can swing from the ceiling as you cook the dinner you thoroughly modern man you….
Huge massive unbelievably humble thanks to Em, Jon, Erica and Christian for making my week a particularly gorgeous one.
Big Tears Of Joy Love