I feel so incredibly privileged to be sharing this morning’s wedding with you lovely lot. For today’s bride has been a prominent and much loved member of the RMW community for some time now, offering up her creative thoughts and sharing her golden nuggets of advice in the comments section with both the RMW team and you gorgeous folks too.
So when we heard that Sama, of Utterly Wow fame, wanted to share her big day on our still-kind-of-polka-dotted pages we all squealed a collective ‘ahhhhhhh’ (yes even Adam!) and fought over who would blog it.
This wedding has style in abundance; from the festoon lighting, the rustic venue to the colourful and fun stationery and the mismatched maids to.. wait for it folks…’The Great Wedding Bake-off’; I defy you not to relish in every detail. I particularly love Sama’s off-white peeptoes and her beautiful Claire Pettibone dress which has a story that proves to me at least that if something is meant to be then it will happen.
And there’s sentimentality by the bucketload too; I’ll let Sama tell you about her beautiful floral crown herself. I promise that you’ll love it.
Without further ado then lovelies, I give you Sama….
Sama The Bride:Ahhh, the dress.
My beaded beauty was Chantilly by Claire Pettibone. The dress hunt was never going to be entirely conventional for me as I work at Blackburn Bridal Couture in Blackheath, London, meaning I didn’t have to ‘do the rounds’, so to speak. I’d always thought Chantilly was beautiful but we sold our sample shortly before I got engaged, so it wasn’t even an option when the dress search began. Instead I’d fallen in love with Luna by Jenny Packham, a blush pink sparkly number that I still like to stroke regularly in the shop. However my Mum wasn’t convinced, hoping, as most Mums do, that I’d choose something a bit more bridal, so despite my best intentions to ignore her I held off from ordering.
When we got Chantilly back in at the boutique, I tried it on more on a whim than anything else; it was considerably out of my price range and I’d been ruling out bias-cut dresses on the grounds that my stomach wasn’t flat enough. However, it felt amazing on and I pretty much knew instantly that it was the dress I wanted to wear the day I married Paul. Those beads can hide a multitude of sins!
Being a self-proclaimed ‘boho bride’, I knew I was going to wear a flower garland from day one. I’d originally envisioned fresh flowers, but when my Mum produced the wax flower garland she wore on her wedding day, the sentiment of wearing ‘something old’ was too hard to resist. In its original state it was a very thin, delicate crown of ivory flowers, so I enlisted the super-talented and super-lovely Sophie of Crown & Glory to give it a new lease of life. The end result was the most beautiful thing I could have ever imagined, and something I may even be able to pass on myself one day.
Other than that, the only jewellery I wore were rings left to me by my grandmothers, and a pale pink diamantine bracelet by Les Nereides which was a pre-wedding gift to myself.
My shoes were the Emilia peep-toe sandals by Juicy Couture, believe it or not, who I’ve only ever associated with velour tracksuits but who I now know make beautiful footwear! They were a bit of a last-minute purchase after the first pair (£15 nude t-bars from eBay that I painstakingly glittered up the heels of) crippled me at my first dress fitting. I love the Juicy Coutures now though; comfortable and versatile and just a little bit sexy.
And who doesn’t love a sexy shoe?
Va Va Voom
I’ve always loved doing make-up so decided to do it myself on the day. Being able to spend a ridiculous amount of money at the Bobbi Brown counter was a particular highlight of the wedding planning. I also decided to get eyelash extensions a couple of days before which wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, but do look fab in the pictures.
My hair, on the other hand, is the bane of my life. It’s a decent length but it’s very thin, meaning the luscious, boho locks I envisaged were an impossible dream. Step in the magnificent Cassandra Rizzuto who told me to stop being a negative Norman and used a mixture of clip-in and glued-in hair pieces for Cheryl Cole-style volume. I literally wish I could have hair like that every day. Sigh.
Cass also styled my bridesmaids to perfection with a mixture of tousled, braided up-dos and was a general dream to have with us in the morning. Calm, fun and ridiculously talented; hire her and your hair dreams will come true. Fact.
Green Fingered Goddesses
Gayle of Bloomin’gayles made the bouquets and buttonholes, whilst we DIY-ed the table flowers (ordered on the internet by me and beautifully arranged the day before by my Aunt Leslie).
Our wedding was a very joyful affair… as you can see by my gurning face in most of the pictures. Paul and I grinned at each other all through the ceremony, and although I wobbled during my speech when talking about my Gran, the only tears that fell were in the morning when my Mum presented me with my bouquet. I wanted lavish, vibrant, blousy blooms and it was exactly that- but so much better. Gayle is a green-fingered goddess and a delight to work with too. Thoroughly recommended!!
A Little Bit Sharp, A Little Bit Sexy
I’m not a massive fan of the matchy matchy look, so wanted my bridesmaids (my oldest, oldest friends from school) in different dresses but the same colour palette. Oh, and I wanted them to look FIT which I think they totally achieved 🙂 The dresses were a range of purchases from French Connection, Oasis and ASOS, and they managed to bring coordinating pashminas on the day too- which was a blessing as despite the glorious sunshine it was a little nippy. Paul’s best man, Alex, wore a grey three-piece suit to match his, and along with Paul’s two brothers, they all wore burgundy ties from Moss.
Paul is a teacher so I’m used to seeing him in a suit. Having said that, it wasn’t a tails kind of day so we were after something a little bit sharp, a little bit sexy, and in my head, a little bit Tom Ford. In the end it was a charcoal grey Cerruti three-piece from Moss that had me swooning- which he accessorised with a Ted Baker pocket square and colourful buttonhole courtesy of Bloomin’gayles.
He looked stonkingly handsome.
Worth Every Penny
I began stalking Dominique Bader having seen her work on these very pages actually! Well, they were blue and polka dot back then, but you know what I mean. Dominique is a phenomenal photographer; her work is natural, timeless, real, crystal-clear and ridiculously romantic. We are so utterly thrilled with our photos, and as Paul said emphatically after we’d watched our slideshow for the first time- WORTH EVERY PENNY. And coming from the man who had initially become hysterical at the cost of wedding photography, this is high praise indeed.
The Great Wedding Bake Off
The Great Wedding Bake Off came about largely in a bid to reduce costs! My Mum was originally going to make a cake which we’d serve as dessert with cream and berries, but she had so many other jobs to do in the lead up we decided to open it up to our guests instead. Despite protests from Paul that “no-one would bother”, our cake table was heaving and the efforts people went to were just brilliant! It’s one of my few regrets that I didn’t get to fully appreciate the vast array of offerings at the time…
Meant To Be
I first discovered Kate Ruth Romey when I saw some amazing rustic invitations on another blog that were on pieces of hand-carved wood. When I went on her website I realised she was based in Blackheath where I work, so I felt it was ‘meant to be’.
I had a clear idea of what I wanted to say, but Kate designed me a really fun, modern, colourful invitation suite which really caught people’s attention. And I’d definitely recommend making your RSVP as interactive as possible. Bar one person I had all my RSVPs back by the deadline. Kate is super-talented and very patient; I’m very glad I found her!
I’m lucky to know lots of talented, musical types so we took full advantage of this during the day. A few years ago I’d sung at my friends’, Alice and Jeff’s, wedding, so they repayed the favour at mine, singing ‘You and I’ by Ingrid Michaelson during the signing of the register. Then my very cool Canadian cousin, River, entertained the crowds afterwards out in the orchard.
In the evening we had a freakin’ amazing band called Flood The Floor, who I’d booked purely because a) they were fit and b) they did a very funky version of Boom! Shake The Room. We started dancing during their sound check and literally didn’t stop all night.
We didn’t have a first dance at Paul’s request but I didn’t mind at all. I knew we’d have a drunken ‘last dance’ instead and asked the band to learn ‘Love Is In The Air’ which is the
end song from the greatest film of all time, Strictly Ballroom. As I’d hoped, Paul and I ended up in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by everyone and it was perfect. And being lifted up by friends to the sound of ‘Sama’s in the air’ was a pretty epic way to end the evening, I must say.
The Great Barn
The venue hunt was probably the hardest part of all as I had such specific criteria. I wanted a dry hire venue in Kent that was rustic, had character and didn’t charge corkage. The Great Barn was the perfect blank canvas venue- they literally give you the keys for up to a week and you can do what you like as long as you leave it how you found it!
Paul had very little input in the styling or planning other than to say he wanted a relaxed, fun day. As I was in the process of setting up as a wedding planner when we got engaged, I was already a blog addict and had fantasies of creating a colourful, eclectic, bohemian-inspired day with just a touch of sparkle.
Festoon lighting was an absolute priority, as were the paper lanterns which we arranged in a cluster over the dance floor. I love the natural linen tablecloths as seen on the American blogs, but they are SO expensive to hire so my clever Mum decided to make them herself- as she did the table runners which were a mixture of gold sequins, black and white stripes and burnt orange shot silk.
Flowers were arranged in a variety of pimped-up jam jars, and these very cool brown beer bottles which we collected from a local restaurant in Blackheath. I think they did pretty well out of us over the last year…
Bring Me S’More
We didn’t do favours- we had a free bar instead which, in my mind, is way more preferable!
We borrowed a dodgy khaki-green bar which was a prop from the local Am Dram society, and my clever, artistic Aunt Leslie (she of flower arranging fame) turned it in to a wood-effect, steel-topped beast which blended in with the barn seamlessly. And we hand-painted all the signs, drinks menus and table numbers which were littered about the place. Out in the orchard we had ribbons hanging from the trees, and in the evening a firepit was lit and s’mores were toasted (a North American tradition brought over by my Canadian relatives).
And I can’t not mention Van Dough, the wood-fired pizza van that turned up in the evening to provide the evening food. Absolutely delicious pizza and genuinely lovely owners.
Trust Your Gut
Our wedding was quite simply the best day we have ever had and people didn’t stop laughing or smiling all day. Weather-wise, May was appalling- it rained solidly the two days before the wedding and was so cold we had to order a last-minute heater. Yet on the day itself I woke up to sunshine and it was just glorious- a wedding gift from my Grandmothers, I like to think.
We were both so relaxed on the day and this was down to two things: 1- My amazing friends and family who got stuck in and helped set up (and take down), and 2- my friend Laura who I met on the UKAWP wedding planning course a couple of years ago, and who coordinated for me on the day. In the run-up to the wedding everyone was worried that I wouldn’t be able to relinquish control but I knew I was in safe hands with Laura running the show!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire an on-the-day coordinator if you are using a blank canvas, dry hire venue. The barn got turned from ceremony space to reception space seamlessly, the candles were constantly lit, the wine was constantly topped up, and any problems or questions people went to her, not me. Not to mention the million other things she was doing throughout the day.
But other than that, trust your instincts, choose good suppliers, kiss your husband LOTS, hug LOTS, laugh LOTS, and don’t spill pizza down your dress. Just sayin’.
Venue – Great Barn Weddings
Dress – Chantilly by Claire Pettibone
Boutique – Blackburn Bridal
Hair – Love Your Hair
Flower Garland – Crown And Glory
Groom – Moss
Band – Flood The Floor
Catering – Tatlers Catering
Photography – Dominique Bader Photography
Pizza Van – Van Dough
Stationery – Kate Ruth Romey
Planning/Design – Utterly Wow
On The Day Co-ordination – Your Wedding Your Way
Furniture Hire – Academy Furniture Hire
Oh boy! Immense, right? Shall I leave you for a wee moment to pick your jaws up off the floor?
And can we just take a moment to talk about the florals. Talk about breathtakingly, blowsy, beautiful blooms, it’s no wonder that Sama shed a happy tear or two when she saw them. I for one will be pinning these bouquets to within an inch of their lives!
When I sneaked a peek of Sama at the weekend in all her glory on the RMW Facebook page, one of her friends responded with a comment that’s stayed with me ever since. She said, ‘It was the BEST wedding. Style AND substance’, and you just know that this statement encapsulates Sama and Paul’s wedding perfectly.
This wedding oozes style, creativity and charm but you can see from the beaming smiles on the faces of this gorgeous pair and all their friends and family it was so much more than that. There’s enough love in these photos to last a lifetime or two and this makes me very happy indeed.
Congratulations you two.
All my love Lolly xxx
P.S. If you want to see more and hear more from Sama herself why not check out her blog – Utterly Wow – here.