Happy new year all! I am SO pleased that this is my first wedding of 2013…it’s a ruddy guddun’!
I am utterly in love with the effortless photography which comes to you courtesy of Sam Docker.
It’s a city wedding filled with a whole load of love, amazing flowers and a lot of dancing.
A Row Boat On The River
Caroline The Bride: Hello! This is Tristan and Caroline and our wedding was in sunny Bristol this October 2012. The church service was at St Mary Redcliffe Church, and afterwards we hopped in a rowing boat through the Bristol docks to our reception at Fifth floor at Arnolfini.
A Magical Vintage World
My wedding dress was a couture gown by Kate Halfpenny at Halfpenny London. Kate’s mews studio is tucked away and holds her vintage dresses she has collected over the years as well as her own designs, all of which are incredibly beautiful and unusual.
I fell in love with the colour and warmth of my dress and with the vintage panelled embroidery. It is a one-off and has been made using a traditional hand-turned embroidery machine in Derbyshire. It was formal enough for St Mary Redcliffe but the draped crepe silk bodice kept it soft and a little bit whimsical. I tried on a lot of very beautiful dresses, but this was the one I felt most myself in.
Having said that I had a second dress for dancing! I didn’t intend on having two dresses but it was a 50’s American chiffon with big beautiful ruffles great for swing dancing and very hard to resist. It was from the Elizabeth Avey Vintage Wedding Dresses in London and I will definitely be wearing it again!
I wanted to have a bit of our family history in what I wore and so I think I probably had more ‘old’ than ‘new! My mum had a kept a piece of voile fabric with simple embroidery around the edges which belonged to my great grandmother which became my veil. I had a pretty handkerchief for luck which was my grandmothers, and I wore pearl earrings which were my mum’s. So I had least four generations with me on the day! I also found little gold sequined 20’s clutch an amazing vintage fur shrug which kept me cosy for the boat journey.
My dress was so delicate I needed something really simple on my feet which didn’t detract from it, so I went for Rachel Simpson ‘Masie’ shoes in a rose Satin – they were low and super comfortable as well. For the eventing I needed a bit more dazzle and and went for ‘Mimi’ style in ivory satin, with a T bar and higher heels perfect for dancing the night away.
A Real Treat
I always go to Melanie Giles Hairdressing in Bath and Abbi Willis from Mel’s came over to our house in the morning to do our hair – she is brilliant and it was such a treat. I was a little worried about having my makeup done as I don’t usually wear very much, but Charley Brunskill uses gorgeous products and has a really subtle and natural style. All of us girls had a lot of fun the morning of the wedding – as you can see from all the rollers!
Under The Sea
Our incredible flowers were by the lovely Connie at Flowers of Stokes Croft. She is a florist in Bristol about 100m from our house that specialises in locally grown British flowers.
Having flowers which were local and seasonal was really important to me and from the moment I met Connie we realised that we felt the same about provenance and style too – we both love quite unstructured and unusual flowers with lots of contrasting shapes and textures. Each button hole was different – Connie used tiny succulents for some, paper moons for others, and different leaves to set them all off. For my bouquet we used succulents again along with autumn hydrangeas, alliums, leaves and fountain grass. The result was beautiful – it looked like it was from under the sea.
For the table clusters we collected a mixture of jam jars, milk bottles, kilner jars and old cut crystal vase, and didn’t overload them. I love random stems and variation in heights and textures. They were really eye catching and otherworldly.
The bridesmaid and flower girls were all soft tonal colours in cream, sage green and a soft peach. To keep them warm our nieces had tights but they all came out a little big and collected around their ankles and ballet shoes (a bit like Nora Batty!) which caused a lot of giggles as we went down the aisle!
The two best men and ushers all wore their own suits and we loved the individual look of everyone dressing to their own character. We also had our six nephews as mini-ushers handing out the orders of service with extra tiny button holes.
Seeing Each Other For The First Time
Tristan looked very handsome – he wore a tailored midnight blue suit and white shirt by Tom Ford, need I say more! He also carried his dad’s pocket fob watch and a handkerchief which I needed as soon as I started walking down the aisle! It’s a very emotional thing when you see each other for the first time in the church – I think Sam even managed to capture it!
Samuel Docker was our photographer. I am a keen photographer myself and so having the right style and person was really important to us. We were looking for someone who was going to capture the story of the day, but without being ‘in your face’, wearing a photographer’s pocket waistcoat and ordering the guests around!
A Real Gift
Sam was absolutely brilliant – he has a real gift for capturing light and the small moments and you can see from his photos his brilliant reportage style. He is very informal and used both digital and film which we loved. We wanted to record the little details, all the food, the stationary, the flowers, and people having a great time in a natural way. We also had a hilarious photo booth which produced some brilliant and some disturbing shots! Importantly, he is a lovely man, very relaxed and fitted right in on the day – to the point where he was almost invisible to us and the guests but he didn’t miss anything – and we were keen to get him to stay and party at the end which is always a good sign! Sam boxed and wrapped our photos beautifully and sent them to us when we got back from honeymoon, we were really lucky to find him!
Hugging Polar Bears
Tristan’s sister Imogen and her husband Sam made our fantastic wedding cake – we wanted something simply designed which would go with our Indian Thali food – and we got quite a creation! It was a spiced fruit cake with cardamom, rose water, figs and apricots, drenched in rum and covered in pistachio marzipan. Yum! We served it with spiced Indian Chai and Sam carved two hugging polar bears out of solid white chocolate which sat on top.
Bridging A Generation Gap
We had the fantastic Swing Ninjas, ‘the Gentlemen of Swing from Brighton’ – a five piece band including a Helicon, Saxophone, Double Bass, Clarinet and Guitar. Their music is really inclusive, worked well for all generations and really got everyone dancing and smiling.
Our first song was ‘Accentuate the positive…eliminate the negative’ by Ella Fitzgerald which is a bit of a mantra for life. You get what you focus on and if we can keep positivity and humour in our marriage and in our lives, we will be happy campers really. We shocked everyone a little with our first dance as we learnt enough moves to hide the mistakes we were making and it seemed to work quite well!
Wedding favours can be quite intimidating, with people ‘out-favouring’ each other at their weddings! We didn’t want something that would end up in a draw, or be thrown away, so we decided on British Bumblebee friendly Wildflower Seeds. They will hopefully help to ‘do a little good’, were simple to organise, and will be beautiful way to remember our day once the flowers are grown. We can’t wait to see them in people’s gardens. We put the seeds in school dinner money envelopes and they doubled up as our table place names.
A Beautiful Blank Canvas
The venue was on the top of the Arnolfini art gallery which has an incredible 360 degree view across Bristol. Inside it was a beautiful blank space which is exactly what we were after. We loved filling it with fun things but the challenge was that even with 180 people the space was so big! We ended up with different areas for eating, a bar, and a kids play area (bean-bag carnage!) as well as the photo booth and drawing walls. We used cotton twill dust sheets for the tables, tea lights in jam jars or in brown bags and a mixture of eclectic fringed lampshades hanging from the ceiling with ribbon to make it all a bit cosier. We hung huge lengths of white festoon lighting which gave a beautiful light and lots of atmosphere.
The Next Chapter
First and foremost our wedding was so special to us because of all the people who were there supporting us and wishing us well in our next chapter in life – it’s a cliché but it really is an incredible and humbling feeling the response you get from your family and friends.
We both wanted some history and family in our day and that was reflected in everything we did – for example to make our wedding bands we melted down my great grandmothers wedding ring along with a gold christening charm bracelet I had from growing up in Hong Kong. They were made into one gold ingot and then cut into our two rings. Tristan wore his father’s fob-watch, and we were in his family church.
Food is a huge and important part of our lives (Tristan was a chef for years and Co-founded pieminister) and we wanted something that would be fresh, vibrant and interesting but easy to get right. Wedding food is so often hit and miss (and over priced) – so we had the Thali Café in Bristol who have a great team. The food was utterly delicious and great for big crowds. We had traditional South Indian city snacks as canapés along with bubbly for the reception and then everyone sat down to a Thali plate with Subji, Mutter Paneer, Tarka Dahl and Kerelan salad with Mango and lime. On each table was a Tiffin (Indian stacking lunch boxes) so people could choose from Goan Fish Curry or Mogul Chicken Curry. On the side we had delicious Kashmir chilli oil, poppadoms, pickles and chutneys. For drinks we put big bottles of Kingfisher on all the tables along with wines that go great with curry, the Red was Piggy Bank Wines Chilean Syrah (50p from each bottle goes to charity) and the white was the Wine Society’s Cotes de Gascogne. For pudding we had chocolate praline and stem ginger Kulfi (Indian ice cream) with Chai and Masala coffee.
Our advice is to use what you’ve got – as we were in Bristol we made the most of it (for example transport by rowing boat!) there was no point trying to have a country-style wedding in a city, weddings have a life of their own, so we found that rather than having a set idea of how we wanted everything, it worked well to take inspiration from where we were and keep an open mind.
Our main advice is to keep things simple and do what feels right to you – we organised our Wedding in 6 months and it was perfect timing and helped to kept thing in perspective – I couldn’t spend a year getting the table settings perfect for example! the most important thing is to bring everyone together in one place to celebrate – the rest will fall into place.
Photography – Samuel Docker
Venue – Arnolfini
Brides dress – Halfpenny London
Brides shoes – Rachel Simpson
Hair – Melanie Giles
Flowers – Flowers of Stokes Croft
Grooms suit – Tom Ford
Entertainment – The Swing Ninjas
Food – The Thali Café
Told you it was a guddun’ didn’t I.
How much do you love the lampshades and how they were used to create an atmosphere and add a more comfortable homey feel to a really large space. Very clever.
I also love how through their choice of wines, the couple were able to give back to charity. How perfect.
Are you having something old on your day? Will you have a few generations with you walking down the aisle? What a comforting and wonderful feeling that must have been.
Now I’m all warm and fuzzy.