American Bride Eileen has some seriously talented friends. Those amazing silver shoes she wears for the reception? Oh, just designed by a friend. The quirky menus printed on napkins? Oh just designed by ANOTHER amazing friend. The cute heart shaped confetti made from vintage books? Oh just lovingly hand cut by her family. Eileen is a lucky girl!
I love how she and Andy have incorporated UK and US themes into their day. The couple chose Stoke Place as their venue because of its grand American house feel, yet it definitely still retains a distinct air of British-ness. It really was the perfect place for them. This is a gorgeous wedding, so simple, elegant and timeless – and Eileen is so right, you don’t want your décor to upstage the actual love part!
Eileen The Bride: Our perfect venue was Stoke Place in Stoke Poges. I knew immediately as we approached the beautiful manor house that this was where I wanted to get married. I am American and the architecture reminded me of Estate houses found in the Southern United States and that made it special for me. We hired the venue for exclusive use which meant we could celebrate into the early hours and our family and friends could stay there with us. It was absolutely perfect. Michelle Mehmi was our wedding coordinator and she, along with the amazing staff made our day completely unforgettable.
I was inspired by an image from the 1960′s for my hairstyle and I wanted my make-up to be more on the natural side and not too overdone. I wanted to look like me! My hair and make-up were both done by a lovely girl named Sophie. She was found through the make-up artist agency called Beauty Call. It is a great source because they locate make-up and hair artists that are close to your wedding venue – complete with a free trial in a location convenient for you. They were also able to provide an assistant who did my bridesmaids hair. They looked fabulous!!! The majority of my make-up was Bobbi Brown. I love her make up as it’s not too heavy but lasts the entire day.
For my nails, I went with Potato Fields by Essie. It is a great nude natural colour with a tiny hint of pink. My manicure and pedicure were both done by Cowshed in London. I just love it and threw in a massage too so I’d be relaxed on the big day. My perfume was “Woman” by Marc Jacobs. The rollerball size he offers is perfect as its small enough to fit in a clutch and can be applied throughout the day as needed.
Beautiful Back Detail
My dress was the “Scarlet” design by Monique Lhullier. She is an American designer and I just loved how classic and timeless this lace design was. The front was simple and the “wow” factor was the cut out back. All wedding dresses that stick out in my mind from weddings past which I’ve attended – they have all had an amazing back detail so it was something on my radar early on in the shopping process.
I have to mention my husband’s amazing suit because he looked absolutely fantastic (I’m a bit biased). His suit and tie were from Spencer Hart and made me swoon when I saw him waiting for me at the end of the aisle. His look (along with our groomsmen) was completed with pocket squares from Burton.
I had so much fun shopping for all of the extra little pieces that would complete my look. Luckily my search began during the Diamond Jubilee festivities. I’ll explain. The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing a beautiful hat to the service of Thanksgiving being held at St. Pauls for her majesty, Queen Elizabeth. The rumours are true…we Americans love the Royals! I began my search to find where her hat was made in hopes that I could find the perfect milliner to make the birdcage veil that I envisioned for myself. That is how I found Jane Taylor. I reached out to her showroom and made an appointment to meet with her. She was absolutely lovely and made me the perfect veil to complete my look. I can’t decide which I loved more…the veil or the SHOES!
Elzio Ciuffardi, a dear friend of mine, designed my shoes for our wedding day and they were just perfect. In the months leading up, we collaborated on sketches, ideas and he produced the perfect design. He even threw in a 2nd pair completely bling’d out with silver glitter for the reception!! My earrings were diamonds purchased by Andy and given to me just as I finished getting ready. He gave them to my Maid of Honour to give me before I walked down the aisle. They were stunning.
Finally, my silk cashmere wrap that I had in case it got cold was from J.Crew. They are opening in London in September and already have a UK website. Their wedding collections and accessories for brides and bridal parties are FANTASTIC.
Classic And Fabulous
We were so lucky to have our closest friends stand witness as we got married. We had three bridesmaids and three groomsmen. My ladies wore J. Crew’s Lucienne dress in graphite grey. This fit perfectly into my colour palette which was muted pastels grounded in a mid-grey. I wanted something that looked shabby chic and their look to still be classic and fabulous in 15 years when we look back on the photos. I said before but J. Crew is fantastic for all things wedding! Their earrings were purchased by my wonderful sister-in-law in California (Hint to Brides: delegate, delegate, delegate)!!!
Clean Classic Palette
We wanted to create a fun atmosphere with a clean classic palette. We didn’t want anything too bold or bright that would upstage the event itself. As I mentioned above, we went with muted pastels and a mid-tone grey for our colour scheme also dropping in some brown that was picked up by the chairs as I didn’t want chair covers. I created a mood board early on in the process and went back to it several times in the planning process. I think I called it “Rustic Vintage Shabby Chic”. In hindsight, this name was a bit long but it highlighted what we wanted.
Executed To Perfection
Our flowers were executed to perfection by the amazing duo behind “Flourish and Green“. Liz Belton and Britt Dyer took my vision and ideas and produced the most beautiful floral designs for the bridal party bouquets, the groomsmen’s’ button holes, the back drop at our ceremony and for the centre pieces at dinner. My bouquet was a mixture of roses, spray roses hydrangeas and gypsophila. They wrapped gypsophila around the lights in the main dining room and filled large tea cups that Stoke Place had on display with our chosen flowers.
A mix of single blooms were placed into vintage bottles that I collected in the months leading up to the wedding and these were our centrepieces. I liked the rustic vintage feel of the individual bottles instead of a larger formal arrangement on the tables. It was a nice transition from the formality of the service into the party of the evening! I cannot recommend their work enough. The compliments we got on our flowers came all night. They were stunning.
Ear To Ear Smile
I loved every minute of our ceremony. My friends later told me that I looked like Toni Collette in “Muriel’s Wedding” with the smile ear to ear I had walking down the aisle. I thought I was going to come out of my skin I was so excited to marry my best friend!
Our ceremony was a non-religious affair and contained everything Andy and I wanted to make sure it had elements of the UK and the United States. It was important to me that my bridesmaids stood next to me and Andy’s groomsmen next to him as it would in the United States and the registrar was completely accommodating. My brother and Andy’s father both did the readings. We asked that they find a reading of their choice so we would hear it for the first time on our wedding day. This way, they had the freedom to find something that they thought fitting for us on our special day rather than just reading something we gave them. It made it very special. Andy and I wrote our own vows and this just made the commitment that much more powerful for us – they were our own words and promises being made to each other. It was very special and also allowed me to vow my support of Andy’s obsession with Peterborough United!
Music was performed by Michael Roulston. He played the “Portuguese Love Theme” from “Love Actually” as I walked down the aisle and sang “Annie’s Song” by John Denver during the ceremony. After we were declared husband and wife, we exited to Queen’s “You’re my Best friend”. It was joy all around! A perfect ceremony.
We had a cocktail reception after our ceremony. Everyone sipped signature cocktails, wine and beer while mingling prior to dinner. Michael Roulston and Tom Manzi of “Dapper Dudes” played jazz standards from Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald which put everyone in a festive mood. It set the perfect scene for the party that would follow and allowed us to use more of the beautiful rooms at Stoke Place. Our reception after dinner was a party plain and simple. After “Here there and everywhere” which was our first dance by the Beatles, we along with our guests danced into the early hours of the next morning to music provided by Mark Van Den Berg from Mighty Fine Entertainment.
Our cake was made by Jordana Rickson of Petit Gateau and included Red Velvet, Carrot Cake and the more traditional fruit cake for our guests. She worked from a swatch of lace on my dress to pipe detail onto the classic cake design. Her attention to detail on the sugar flowers was also spot on. We enjoyed our two visits to her studio to try flavours and design our dream cake for our guests.
For favours, I was lucky to have napkins made by my friend Lisa Levis, designer of the brands “Ada Rose” and “Betty and Walter”. She is so talented and her napkins had her signature handwriting highlighting the menu for our guests. They came wrapped in twine with a simple tag with a thank you message from Andy and I. Shopper totes in guest rooms were made for out of town family and friends and were filled with welcome goodies from the UK and the United States. These were made by my friend Fiona Donegan, also a designer.
The Intrigue Of An Invite
Stationery was of great importance to me in the planning process. I love how an invitation gives a sense of what your day will be like for your guests. Mark Mildren at Little Black Box IMA was able to perfectly duplicate a lace design using a swatch from my dress. Invitations introduced the grey and pale pink from our colour palette. He was great because he had all of the contacts to design, print and send us a finished product ready to be sent to our guests. His designs were also one of a kind which I loved.
If you are looking for something unique and your own design, Mark and his team are fantastic. They also provided our table plan, individual guest table place cards and our wedding order of service booklets for guests. This way the lace from my dress would be a running theme throughout the day. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at DIY so I was relieved to have all of this executed to perfection by Mark and the Little Black Box team.
The one thing we did make…or should I say, my fiancé, his sister, mother and niece made…was our confetti. I had seen a photo of old books punched in tiny hearts and knew I wanted this for our wedding. I went to Paperchase and got some pale pink paper and then we purchased a book on the Southbank in London (for £2!!!) which would become our confetti. We went through about 4 heart hole-punchers trying to get enough for all 136 people attending! Our nieces and nephews were our “Masters and Maidens of Confetti” who enjoyed handing out tiny envelopes of our heart confetti to our guests. They were a huge help! We over estimated how much to make and we still find tiny hearts around our flat 6 months on from our wedding! I had hearts all in my hair the rest of the evening and Andy in his suit…but it just reminded us what a wonderful day filled with love we were having!
Food, Booze, Music And Photography
You don’t have to spend a fortune on your dress! Look for trunk shows, 2nd hand dresses. Focus that extra money on a honeymoon or some other area of importance. No one knows how much you did or didn’t spend…find something that makes you feel absolutely fabulous! Make sure you have enough to drink for your guests and amazing food followed by wonderful music. You want them to have a special experience and most importantly…tons of fun!
Invest in the photographer. Your wedding happens once. After you take off the dress and veil, sign all of your invoices and say goodbye to guests – you are left with memories and photographs that will remind you of how perfect the day was. We were very lucky to have a fantastic photographer, Eliza Claire, who took time to get to know us both and knew what story we wanted to tell on our special day. Her vintage technique in her photographs made for some absolutely beautiful prints which now hang all over our flat! It was important that she capture “moments” and not focus too much on posed images. She was fantastic.
Soak Up The Love
Take a moment together to walk away, be alone as a couple and take it all in. Soak in all of the love that surrounds you on your day. Everyone is right – it flies by – so enjoy a few moments of quiet. After we exchanged vows in the ceremony, we were able to sneak away to a room and look out at the back garden where our guests were gathering to throw confetti. It was very special to see all of these people who had travelled from near and as far away as Hong Kong and California to see us marry each other…so special. Things will go wrong. It might rain. Your dress might not fall perfectly once you start moving in it. The speeches may go on too long. Don’t stress ANY of this – no one will notice as much as you – just have fun and enjoy the ride of GETTING MARRIED!!
Venue – Stoke Place
Hair and Make-up – Beauty Call
Bride’s dress – Monique Lhullier
Veil – Jane Taylor
Groom’s suit – Spencer Hart
Bridesmaid’s dresses – J.Crew
Florist – Flourish and Green
Band – Dapper Dudes
DJ – Mighty Fine Entertainment
Cake – Petit Gateau Wedding Cakes
Favours – Lisa Levis
Stationery – Mark Mildren
Photography – Eliza Claire Photography
I love the silver sparkly shoes so much; I really need to get a shoe-designing friend ASAP. And how thoughtful to have ‘shopper totes’ full of goodies waiting for guests in their rooms!
Fabulous advice from Eileen and isn’t the photo of her laughing during Andy’s speech lovely?
Have a happy Friday everyone!
Lots of love,