An elegant City of London wedding is just what the doctor ordered for a Thursday afternoon. I’m feeling the need for some refinement as the weekend draws nearer and this intimate but stylish affair at the Town Hall Hotel completely delivers, with elegance and sophistication in spades.
Mary wears a gorgeous Marchesa gown with the prettiest lace detail and which she describes as feeling light and comfortable, which can be hard to come across in a wedding gown. This particular dress looks like it was made for her though, and the way it sits and falls is simply beautiful.
The whole day has been captured by Sarah Gawler whose sensitive photography always captures light, emotion and special moments in a natural and totally unobtrusive way. I love everything about the portrait above – the framing is perfect and for me seems to sum up Mary & James’ day – lovely London, a truly happy couple and that feeling of intimacy only provided by a small wedding.
For once I’m at a loss with where to start when talking about Clara and Cedric’s achingly beautiful big day. I’m like a Catherine Wheel spinning off in a hundred and one different directions wanting to tell you lovelies about each and every one of the exquisite details that make up their destination Italian wedding.
I actually feel like I’ve scooped the jackpot this morning by being able to share this ‘I Do’ with you and by the time you’ve finished pouring over all the images I can bet my bottom dollar that you’ll be pinning them to your heart’s content too.
I love Clara and Cedric’s supersized wedding party and their equally slick sartorial choices; Clara’s veil and flower crown are particularly heavenly. And then there’s the romantic Italian courtyard set amongst the backdrop of a historic villa and bucketloads of sunshine. And by jove these two know how to kiss – their portrait shots are filled to the brim with passion and love and laughter.
Jodie and Donnie’s super luxe black tie affair in Yorkshire is the perfect soiree on which to end my real wedding adventures of 2013; yep folks this will be the last wedding I’ll be blogging this year though you can bet your bottom dollar we’ve got some corkers for you coming up next year.
And it is luxe; filled to the brim with beautiful details and exquisite tailoring which isn’t surprising given that Jodie is the editor of MR PORTER – a men’s style site that oozes sophistication for the savvy men in your life and Donnie is a session guitarist with the twinkliest eyes I ever did see.
They married in Jodie’s childhood back garden near the moors in Northern Yorkshire under a huge oak tree. I know, I almost died from delight when I first saw the photos…but wait it gets better.
Jodie was lucky enough to have a pair of gorgeous dusty pink organza floral sandals by Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti specially made for her when they’d sold out EVERYWHERE. Not only that but she also wore a custom veil to match her golden hued dress; how special is that!
I also adore the escort card Dinky car idea that Jodie created and the fact that they had a passage from Wuthering Heights read out during their ceremony – possibly one of my favourite books ever.
Oh and then there’s the escapade involving Jodie’s dad, a shotgun and a balloon.
Love On The Moors
Jodie The Bride: Like most little girls who have spent an incomprehensible amount of time imagining their wedding day, I had always had a particular setting in mind. For years I had envisaged a candle-lit, crumbling castle in some remote and other-worldly enclave of deepest, darkest Scotland – a Macbeth style setting of bracing winds, roaring fires and kilted hunks. The reality was though that once Donnie had proposed on the Yorkshire moors above my childhood village, only one setting really felt right, both sentimentally and logistically. Home.
Right from the start of us going out, Donnie fell in love with the cottage and it’s sprawling gardens and I obviously had a whole lifetime of memories there, so it just felt right. Mid-way between our home in East London and where we had met in Glasgow, it was also the place my sister had got married almost 18 years earlier. I wanted to make sure we did it a little differently for those that would be there the second time around, so we settled on the reception in a tipi in the main garden (rather ambitious considering Yorkshire weather) and a self-penned ceremony under the big oak tree my brother and I had climbed in and made a swing on as kids.
No Fuss Or Frills
Working in the fashion and beauty industry for almost 12 years, I had very set ideas about what type of wedding hair I liked (and perhaps more pertinently – disliked). I didn’t want anything too tricksy or ‘done’. No fuss or frills. I’m a lucky girl when it comes to the company I keep in the beauty world, so my hair and make-up was kindly done by two really good friends and amazing professionals – make-up artist Niamh Quinn and session stylist Zoe Irwin.
For hair – I referenced a few pictures of Grace Kelly – in particular one I found on the Internet of her with Audrey Hepburn before an awards ceremony. I loved the simplicity of it – in shape and style and the way it presented her neck. I knew that it would give the full-length veil I wanted a really good drape. Overall I hoped to look completely timeless.
Make-up was really focused on the clarity and radiance of the skin, something Niamh is known for and spent the most time on. We had a couple of trials and ended up going for a very simple black eye shadow line on the lid and a deep rose colour on the lip- Laura Mercier Crème Smooth in Pink Dusk. She also introduced me to a very cheap yet brilliant new mascara – Colossal Volum Express by Maybelline – it’s brilliant! We added a little extra volume at the edges with a few Eyelure lash inserts.
It Fitted Like A Glove
Amazingly, I found my dress on the first day of dress hunting – a strangely common story amongst brides I hear. It was the second appointment of the day and I knew as soon as I put it on – mainly because of the look my mum and best friend Nicole had on their faces as I stepped out of the dressing room. Unfortunately I had just bought another dress by Manuel Mota on a whim at a Pronovias sample sale (never go to a sample sale for your first try-on’s is all I can say) so had the slight issue of having to sell that one off as soon as I got home.
My second – and final – ‘one’ was by the Australian designer Justin Alexander – someone I hadn’t heard of, as I had never really investigated any bridal designers before. I chose by how it looked and felt- rather than who it was by. For years I had envisaged wearing something devastating by Oscar de la Renta or Valentino, but the reality was they were either a) too expensive or b) didn’t suit me- or a combination of both. This dress fitted like a glove and really complemented my shape – pinching in and flowing out at all the right moments. I bought it from Angelica Bridal in Islington, London.
The veil- THE VEIL! I really surprised myself by deciding to wear a long veil (or Chapel length I quickly learnt was the proper name). The only issue I had was matching the colour of my dress (which was a quite unusual pale gold) to the tulle of the veil, as all those I tried seemed too white. I also wanted to it to be super soft silk tulle so it draped nicely and wasn’t too crisp. After a very long search I found the lovely Nicola at Halo & Co who blew me away by making the veil for me bespoke – matching the colour and the exact same lace of my dress by acquiring it from the designer.
It was stunning and I adored wearing it- even more so because of the work it took to get it. The shoes were another project. I had seen a picture on Pinterest of these gorgeous dusty pink organza floral sandals by Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti – but discovered that they were no longer in production. A few emails between some fortunately connected fashion friends resulted in the brand making them for me especially, which made wearing them on the day so much sweeter. They now take pride of place on my dressing table. I bought my crystal earrings from Kenneth Jay Zane at Net-a-Porter. At night I wore a feathered cream cape I found at Annie’s in Angel, London.
Shades Of Grey
I had five bridesmaids; my sister, three great friends from university and my oldest friend from the village we married in, Sarah. I never liked the idea of them all wearing the same dress, so I tasked them with finding their own with the brief of ‘long, timeless and in either greys or shades of grey and blue’. The process was actually pretty painless, as they all found their dresses within a few weeks of each other- apart from my sister who bought about six in total and wore two on the day – both by David Meister. Sarah’s was from made to order from Dessy, Nicole’s from BCBG, Baseera’s from Mignon at Bloomingdales (the US sites have so much selection due to their proms) and Mhairi’s from J.Crew.
Donnie’s outfit received a lot of my time and attention. Having worked in menswear for years I wanted to make sure both he and my dad looked like Hollywood icons! Donnie’s midnight blue mohair tuxedo was by Valentino – bought from MR PORTER. His shoes and bow tie were by Lanvin, and his shirt by Spencer Hart. Dad’s tuxedo was by Gucci, his shirt Turnbull & Asser and his shoes Grenson. I think they did me proud. My two gorgeous nephews wore tuxedos from Zara and J.Crew.
We are at the age when friends are marrying- so in the last few years we had spent a lot of time in ‘vintage’ themed surroundings. Whilst I think this is beautiful, by the time we came to planning our wedding I felt I was after something else. Something fresh whilst being appropriate to the countryside. I’ve always loved the way Americans do weddings- all the details and little personal touches, so I was addicted to Martha Stewart’s website and magazine for DIY ideas and inspiration throughout all the planning.
To get little parts of Donnie – a total motorhead- into the décor, I sourced around a hundred 1960s and 70s Dinky cars on Ebay, sprayed them white and tied little escort cards on the wheels. This served as a table plan as such. I focused on a couple of colours and shades as a theme, but tried hard not to make it too matchy and just choose stuff I liked.
Grey seemed classic and pretty against the pale pinks of the flowers, and white always looks beautiful, whether its rain or shine. I used a grey silk chiffon as the table runners- bought on a big roll, cut loosely and draped a little to give some texture.
I sourced square crockery and brought this up from London, via the wonderful Daniela at Classic Crockery who has a lovely selection of XVII style ceramics for hire, as well as a huge archive of lace napkins and cut glassware.
Pinks And Pale Greens
I didn’t really consider the seasonal issues that would arise with flowers by having the wedding in the middle of September so I was pretty disappointed to learn that peonies and ranunculus would be out of season as I had always envisaged them in my bouquet. In the end though it really didn’t matter. I saw a picture of Blake Lively’s bouquet from her wedding to Ryan Reynolds and thought – that’s what I want.
The absolutely stunning floral designs on both the tables and bouquets were created by the gorgeous Wendy and her team at The Hedgerow, Threshfield. My bouquet was full of lovely washed out tones of pinks and pale greens using garden roses, dusty miller, pink jasmine and dusky protea, bound with a piece of pale double-sided velvet from VV Rouleaux in London.
The bridesmaids had mini versions of the same, bound with cream lace from Hobby Lobby. On the tables, our florist used my home props – funny little odds and ends plus a few of her own ornaments to create some beautiful rambling centre pieces using marble busts, books, terrariums, antique mirrors and bell jars.
Short And Sweet
With neither of us being religious, we decided to avoid churches and any religious readings in the ceremony. We had married legally 2 days prior, so that also meant we didn’t need any of the legal vows either. Instead we kept the ceremony short, silly and sweet by getting our Irish friend Eoin to conduct it, who had known us as a couple since we first met. We married under the big tree and a make-shift altar we had made that morning using a long piece of white chiffon which we nailed onto the trunk. It looked really simple and pretty.
Part way through the ceremony my bridesmaid Mhairi read an excerpt from Wuthering Heights- where Cathy is explaining her love for Heathcliff to the housemaid, Nelly. It’s quite a dark little segment but it’s such a special part of their troubled love story and it’s a book that has stayed with me since I studied it for A Level.
Our rings were, um, pretty different from each other! Mine was a classic diamond eternity ring we found at a local antique shop. Donnie’s was made by our friend and jeweller, Will, who works at The Great Frog – a bit of a legendary rock and roll jewellers in London. It was a pig skull design carved in silver (chosen, embarrassingly, as ‘pig’ is our nickname for each other – I have no idea why). Let’s just say Donnie’s not really the classic wedding ring type…
With Donnie being a musician, this was the one area I had to hand over to him to control (although I did try and wrestle it from him from time to time). I did however get to choose some of the piano music our friend and pianist John Tilley played before and during the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to Michael Nyman’s The Heart Asks Pleasure First – which was quite serious but to be honest this was the only serious part of the whole day and it’s a piece of music I have always loved since hearing it played by the man himself at Alexander McQueen’s memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral.
We have never really had a ‘song’ as such but we certainly knew the songs we both liked. Our friend Pauline Taylor is a stunning singer- really soulful and soft – so we asked her to perform our first song – Ray Lamontagne’s Jolene. A strange choice one might think in that’s it’s about an alcoholic down-and-out who is saved by his women – but we always liked the sentiment! Having been to lots of band weddings, we were keen to make it a bit different and so decided to do a little rockaoke for the first hour– asking friends to choose a song by filling out a little form over dinner. This meant people got really nervous and excitable – which created this brilliant atmosphere.
Our friend Iain – known for his insanely tune-less singing voice – got up first to break the ice as it were by singing Vanilla Ice’ Ice Ice Baby. It was so funny. A few songs later and Paolo Nutini (who Donnie plays guitar for) got up to sing Prince’s Kiss. He blew us all away and strangely enough nobody was that keen to get up and follow that! At 10pm two DJ’s took over- both good friends who delivered two amazing sets. The dance floor was hoatching all night.
Potent French Martinis
We served a lovely light prosecco with raspberries for welcome drinks in the garden with the option of a nice cold bottle of Brooklyn beer (one of Donnie’s favourites) for the guys. We did the same for toasts and speeches, which we decided to do pre-dinner in order for the speakers (including myself) to relax and enjoy their dinner. For the evening bar we served some rather potent French Martini Cocktails- one of my regular tipples. Oh and Jaeger bombs. Obviously. From elegant and classy to raucous and rip-roaring in one quick shot.
Nicola at Figs Catering provided the prettiest, tastiest canapés (apricots in bacon, brie and strawberries, goats cheese and caramelized onion bruschetta’s) followed by the heartiest dinner of achingly tender steak and Guinness pie with mash potato and gravy. This was then followed by a lovely, light syrup sponge with custard. Proper, Yorkshire grub delivered in a very timely, no-nonsense manner! She and her team were brilliant. At 10.30pm they served fish finger sandwiches on bloomer rolls. Delicious and very welcome after several hours on the dance floor.
Love In Literature
When it came to favours for the women, I roamed what felt like the nation’s entire second-hand bookstores and car boot sales for lovely old copies of books that meant something to me from my time studying English Literature at Glasgow University – where Donnie and I had met. Tomes I looked for in particular were those by the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and F Scott Fitzgerald.
Fifty-two copies were found in total – three of which were unearthed the day before the wedding! Close call. For the men, a friend at a drinks company I had worked with kindly supplied me with 50 very cute half bottles of Donnie’s favourite Scottish whiskey, Talisker. It being a very Scottish-heavy guest list, needless to say many bottles got emptied right there and then on the night.
Stationery and décor was where I really spent a lot of my time and attention in the build up to the wedding, and was where I got most of my enjoyment in the preparations. I’ve always been pretty crafty so I couldn’t wait to get going on the invite and save the date. A very talented designer friend at MR PORTER helped me design the invite – which was based on the a fashion show invitation by Dolce & Gabbana which featured these stunning illustrated floral designs in a little bound booklet.
I wanted all the information to be in one place- so everything from the dress-code (we opted for black tie/eveningwear to make it feel special and eliminate men turning up in their work suits) through to directions and parking were all designed into the pages of the booklet. I found the dove grey, lace-lined envelopes on Etsy – handmade and shipped from the US.
I also made 160 giant tissue and silver mylar tassels by hand for the backs of all the chairs – which was a real mission but we got there in the end and had a few good girly days making them the weeks before the day. I also sourced lots of different centerpieces for each of the tables- both antique and new.
Matalan’s home department was a brilliant tip I was given by another bride and I sourced some great pieces here – from simple glass candlesticks to the silver domed bell jars and the engraved candles. I also spent a lot of time on great ribbon which I stocked up on in one of my all-time favourite craft emporiums – Hobby Lobby. Sadly for us Brits this wonderland is only in the US, so if you are heading there before the big day make sure you plan a visit and take a big empty suitcase with you. It’s genius.
The main thing to remember is to start to let go the night before the big day. By then you can’t really do anything to make a big difference to the day so try to abandon your responsibility and have fun with your guests. I found this really hard to do.
If you are hosting- make sure you plan the clean up properly. Its amazing to get married in your family home but this does mean you have to think about every single element – from toilet roll and electric cables right through to blowing the candles out before you got to bed and closing the tent. Make sure you rope some friends in to help both closing-up and cleaning up the next day. Even better pay someone to come in and do it. I was so fixated on the day itself I completely forgot about the after-math which meant we spent a good 4 hours stacking glasses and clearing tables the next day before going off on honeymoon – all with a hideous hangover. Not very glamorous!
A friend accidentally released one of the giant balloons that were tied to the chairs, which floated up to the top of the tipi, right above the fire. It blocked the smoke flap, which meant smoke began to fill the room. My dad – in typical Yorkshire manner – simply got up, walked into the house and came back with his shotgun. He fired the balloon down, without even so much as a warning to all the guests who were midway munching through their steak pies. It was hilarious. My favourite picture of the whole day is one John took of him after he’d done it. He looks so happy with himself!
John was just the greatest guy to have there on the day. So many guests remarked on how charming and unobtrusive he was. And the pictures speak for themselves. One of the best moments of the day was when we went up to the moors with him in the classic car and took some shots of the scenery – it was just so peaceful and stunning. I’ll always remember it.
Jemma and Ollie married at Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset this summer. Their wedding was all about the personal touches from twinkling fairy lights to imports from Thailand. There are vintage roses, peonies, birdcages, a killer Vivienne Westwood suit and games.
So sit back and feast your eyes on the gorgeous images below captured by Lucy Davenport.
Oh, and please can more brides hold their dresses up? You can never see too much shoe. Ever.
For my hair, I wanted a simple vintage look to show off the detail on the back of the dress. I bought Some hydrangeas for my hair from Etsy and finished my look off with a vintage brooch cuff, also from Etsy and some simple vintage droplet earrings from Beautiful Bridal Boutique.
My flowers were from Ena’s Florists and were a mix of soft Bombastic vintage roses, Sandblast, Amnesia roses and Peonies.
Our photographer was Lucy Davenport. We actually met on holiday after the engagement!
Coconut, Strawberry And Vanilla
Our cake was from Foxes cupcakes. We had a top tier and a selection of cupcakes that were a mix of lime and coconut, strawberry and cream and vanilla with soft butter icing with vintage rose and pearl decor…yummy!
Florence And Funk
We had Bob Povey playing funky house with Cass on the bongos which was fun and a great way of getting people up to boogie! We also had The brightside Band playing jazz funk. Our first dance was to Florence and the machine’s ‘You’ve got the love’.
Our favours were tiny peuter buddahs in bird cage favour boxes imported from thailand. We travelled there many times and Thai people consider them lucky!
We had a few special items in our décor including a handmade wishing tree and birdcages filled with silk flowers and fairy lights. Our card box was a vintage suitcase. We also had a vintage steamer trunk dress up box. These were collected from car boots and ebay. The candy bar sign and photo booth were both handmade and from Etsy.
Our wedding was full of individual pieces that we put time into making. It was the personal touches like the Buddhas and the photo booth collection that made our day special.
Contrasting Colour Palettes
My advice would be to go with your heart. Research around online to find colour palettes to contrast your bridesmaids and flowers (sometimes colours you think won’t work and they really do when you get them together)
So there you have it folks. I love Jemmas advice on being adventurous and trying things that perhaps in your mind won’t work but when put together in reality look better than you could ever have imagined.
I’m off to meditate after all this talk of Buddahs.
Well, ladies, this is a little heads up for you. The online Fashion dynamo retailer we all know and love, Net-a-Porter are soon to launch, Mr Porter, the mens store.
For those of you a little disinterested, (yes we know, this is a wedding blog) the reason we’re telling you is because we think if your future husbands are as stylish and savvy as you beautiful ladies are, there’ll be a literal stampede to find out what’s in vogue for their big day fashion choices.
More and more Grooms are opting to inject a bit of personality into their wedding day outfit and where better to find some sartorial tips and style advice than with those in the fashion-know. AND, no hoards of shoppers to compete with, tricky sales assistants or weekends ruined with shopping. We don’t know a guy who doesn’t love the convenience of online purchasing delivered to his door.
Right now you can sign up to be a Founding member of Mr Porter and get…
Exclusive access to the site before it launches to the public
Complimentary shipping on all purchases made during this period