This month, if nothing else, has been one about gaining perspective, about working out what we want, or don’t, out of our married life together, starting with our wedding day but far beyond. Suppliers, ace life events and scary times have all made us pause (again) and re-evaluate.
Let’s start with our suppliers, most of whom we’d like to call friends too. We’ve been blessed in the most part with finding the most gorgeous, helpful, fun people to work with to make our little day just lovely for us and those who are coming along. Claire Penn took our gorgeous engagement pics (see blog post here if you missed them), Papertwin have helped us get used to a camera, Carmel who is making our origami flowers has added more options to her portfolio, Tez and Kate from Mr and Mrs Party Pants who designed and printed our invitations have helped us create a mini family recipe book with RSVP returns, Joanne and Pete at Hafod Farm have surpassed all expectations with their updated venue- now with marquee! And finally Julie from Vinomondo and who has just opened the very lovely Bank of Conwy Wine and Tapas Bar is extending our wine, gin and whiskey collection nicely.
As soon as Lee turned around (and burst into tears), I threw myself into his arms and planted a big kiss on his lips. After being told off by the Registrar ‘you haven’t got to that bit yet!’ we held eachothers hands and it was just me and him. This was our moment.
We chose three readings to add to the ceremony and three gorgeous girls to read them. Lee’s cousin Tara stole the show as the three of us hugged our way through her tearful reading from Les Miserables, followed by her sister Daisy & our mate Jess who both did us equally proud reading lyrics from What Is Life by George Harrison & an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
As soon as it was over I wanted to rewind and live it all again. It was like I was floating in a bubble and couldn’t quite snap out of it to take everything in. For someone who initially questioned getting a wedding video, I am now eternally grateful to Papertwin for being there and capturing every moment of that ceremony (even the bit where I almost fell flat on my face as Lee and I dashed excitedly up the aisle). Those memories are priceless and we’ll get to live them over and over again. They also created a short trailer for us which has me in tears every time I see it, it’s such a beautiful account of our day.
Thank You For Being A Friend
Still in our bubble, we snatched some time away from the party for our couple shots with Claire Penn, she surprised us with 12” George Harrison and Lady Gaga records and we dropped into Probe Records next door to the venue for some photos. It was a lot of fun entertaining the bewildered customers as we made out behind the vinyl.
What more can I say about Claire that I haven’t already – the sunshine and love just beam out of our faces in her photographs, and as we knew she would from the moment we met her, she has told mine and Lee’s love story better than anyone else we could imagine. I am so glad we met her, and so proud to now call her a friend. We returned to the party to find the dancing had already started as our buskers Rag Tag Misfits were bringing the house down.
Usually found playing to shoppers in Liverpool One, Helly and Andy rocked up and surprised our guests. We’d provided a load of percussion instruments in their guitar case so our friends and family could join the fun, they went down a storm.
Our table decorations ended up being a perfect jumble of old books, and flowers in crystal and pewter vases that I’ve collected from charity shops and car boots over the last 18-months, along with a mini-library table plan with it’s very own set of vintage golf clubs, book-page hearts and paper flowers scattered around the room. Everything that we loved, all thrown together in a perfect mess of us!
For favours, we had badges made with favourite movie quotes, song lyrics or little phrases that mean something to us. I have to confess, after spending many wrist-breaking hours with a Badge-It machine, I decided enough was enough and bought them from Awesome Merchandise with a little help again from Claire.
Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much DIY. Our mini-vinyl CD’s (a joint DIY effort between Thom who designed my stationery, me and Ian from Strange Case Collective) also sat at each place setting and provided the best soundtrack for dinner – putting the theme from The Golden Girls up against The Doobie Brothers was a musical masterstroke! Speeches were entertaining and emotional, as Lee, his best man Paul and my bezzies Liz and Phil all said a few words – with Margaret Cho, Kelly Rowland and HM The Queen all playing their part!
For place cards, I took inspiration from Rock My Wedding’s ‘Jar of Hearts’. Having already dished out the badges, we didnt include that part, but asked each guest to write their words of wisdom to be displayed on a big canvas and kept forever… there were some very touching and funny messages.
The cake was entrusted to my good friend and RMW regular, Sarah otherwise known as One Jolly Girl. Her ‘Nudist’ cake was absolutely delicious and looked amazing – a tower of decadent spongey, creamy, fruity joy just waiting to be in and around my mouth, topped off by little wooden versions of me and Lee, from Goose Grease, painted by Sophie at Strange Case Collective.
As we got up to cut the cake, my mate grabbed me and showed me her phone. Remember Claire I told you about? She had JUST given birth to the most beautiful baby girl. The whole wedding raised a glass to little Megan, it was a special moment.
A massive party with beautiful people
A couple of months before the big day, you might remember that Lee and I had a bit of a reality check about the limited guest list. There are so many people that we love, and those people love to party – so we changed the evening venue. It was a GREAT decision.
We called another favour in and a friend turned up with a vintage double decker to transport our guests up the road. We arrived at Parr Street Studios and once again, the girls from Strange Case Collective took my breath away – 250 metres of paper hearts were strung from the ceiling, turning the former recording studio into a cathedral of pretty!
The Rag Tag Misfits were playing Ho Hey, the girls thrust a pramaretto (yep – still drinking them!) into my hand, ‘Pumping Iron’ was playing on the big screen (we couldn’t resist… and it was followed through the evening by ‘Withnail & I’ and ‘In Bed WIth Madonna’) and I had another one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments. This is EXACTLY what we had in mind!
For our first dance, we’d tried to decide on various love songs or slowies from the huge list of music we’d already chosen, but nothing seemed right. Our second song was decided before we even got engaged, ‘Yes’ by McAlmont & Butler – but whatever way you look at it, it is not an appropriate first dance.
It was about a week before the wedding when we were in the car and one of our favourite songs came on, ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. We both looked at eachother and knew that was it. It was great to have an upbeat record to get the party started, the dancing didn’t stop until the early hours. I’ve never known a wedding DJ as brilliant as Paul from Wedding Jam, we knew he’d be great but he was the unexpected hit of the whole day.
Quality music from start to finish, guests didn’t stop telling us how brilliant the music was all night and they’re still talking about it now. He was a bit of a heart-throb too. As the night ended and we should have been drifting off to our hotel suite up the road, Lee and I ended up doing what we always do – carried on drinking!
It was very late but a few bars were still open and we ended up in a bar called La’Go. Just us, finally being able to sit together, relax and laugh about what a crazy day we’d had… although of course we drew a little bit of attention.
Let Your Hair Down
Many couples talk about finding time to spend together on your own, and its true – it was good to be alone finally, it feels like Lee and I barely saw eachother all night. But more than that, if I could give any advice, I would urge every Bride and Groom to let go of the stress, chill out and make their wedding day a real celebration of their love and happiness.
Lots of us obsess when we’re planning a wedding about the details and ensuring that we look perfect, and that’s fine. I loved every minute of that, but the most important thing I can share, is that once the day comes, put all of that to one side and enjoy yourself. Spend a little bit of money on having someone you can trust to decorate the venue and to be there on the day running the show like clockwork, so you can let go and just enjoy whatever happens.
I genuinely don’t know what I would have done without Colette from All Wrapped Up Events – what a woman! It left us to focus on with the people we love most in the world around us, and the rest just came naturally. Our friends and family are all such fun, wonderful people it was the best day ever to just see them all having a great time and making new friends.
It was the happiest, wildest, most emotional day of our lives and we shared it with the best people imaginable. Boss. Nothing else mattered.
Peace & Love
And here is that film lovingly created by Papertwin.
It’s really hard to even describe what happened next without going back to the start. When we met Danny & Sophie (aka Papertwin & Strange Case), it was clear that we were going to become great friends and we did, very quickly. What we didn’t know was that even back then, Danny was hatching a plan. As the first wedding Papertwin had filmed, he wanted to do something special, and he managed to keep that plan a secret from Lee and I for the entire time.
Danny, along with Sophie and Claire contacted my Male of Honour Phil and organised the most beautiful and amazing surprise that has ever been staged. By anyone. Ever.
Earlier this month, we’d arranged to meet the couple for Sunday breakfast and the handover of our wedding video. We went along to our favourite little cafe to find them waiting outside, they hailed a cab – apparently breakfast wasn’t happening. A few minutes later, after noticing a suspicious looking camera we came to a stop outside Woolton Picture House, a beautiful old cinema in the Liverpool suburbs, on the steps outside were our families who had all come to join us for the ‘secret premiere’. We were gobsmacked.
Strange Case Collective had revived our beautiful paper flowers and heart garlands from the wedding day, along with some AMAZING movie posters. We stepped through the doors taking our retro yellow tickets (yep, tickets!) to find bucks fizz and sweets for everyone along with a stunning three tier cake from the legendary Laura’s Little Bakery.
It didn’t stop there, two seats were set up at the front for Lee and I with huge peace & love signs, popcorn and prosecco. The guests filed in a few rows behind, ready for the show to start – and the show, boy do these guys know how to make a wedding film. It blew us away. The whole experience was like re-living our wedding again, every emotion and feeling came rushing back as we watched it on the big screen with our families with us enjoying every moment. It was truly magical. It is impossible to express what this day means to us, and just how overwhelmed we are by the time, love and effort put in by our beautiful friends to do something so special. We can never thank them enough.
Of course no day with Papertwin & Claire Penn would be complete without capturing it on camera. They made most incredible heart warming, emotional film (only mildly spoilt by my sobbing minceface) documenting what happened. This is that day, in their words…
Well, I hope you all enjoyed that peeps, what a beautiful account filled with little tear jerky moments (yes even for a boy!)
And what an ending… No words for that.
It makes me a proud wedding blogger to see our little Karen & Lee all grown up and married and making their own way in the world… With one hell of a lot of love and support from their family and friends to help them on their way.
Adam here… Introducing the very first wedding from our last bunch of lovely real bride ladies, and first up is Karen who married her man Lee on June 1st.
If you are new RMW reader unfamiliar with Karens story then read no further!!! Firstly read Karens whole planning story right here. It’s a corker and a story this good should not be started at the final chapter! Talking of which… I will now pass the blog over to Karen for the very last time…
Karen: Hello, it’s been a while! When I last left you all, I was days away from the most surreal and wonderful day of my life. The day before however, was a complete mess of activity, emotion and co-ordinating as I suddenly realised that the to-do list was more than I could handle. The table plan, flowers, tan, nails and box packing all had to be done – so the arrival of my friends Liz and Neenah was an absolute godsend.
Those girls calmed me down and ran the wedding sweatshop with military precision before the arrival of the wonderful Colette from allwrappedupevents and Sophie from strangecasecollective who whisked it all away and worked their magic on the venues. The morning of the wedding started at 5am in maybe the most unexpected way… A text from one of my best friends – she was in labour!
Thoughts of the wedding melted away briefly and my thoughts were with Claire & her husband, bringing a new little life into the world, they had a huge day ahead and I was so excited for them both. (my second thought of course was to text Colette to rearrange the table plan). The sun was shining, I was surprisingly calm and we had a wedding AND a baby on the way. Best day ever already!
Still in our PJ’s, we descended on my parent’s house. My Dad took one look at us bouncing in and retreated to Morrisons for more champagne, it was all systems go.
In Good Hands
There’s only one woman on earth I trust to take a pair of scissors to my fringe – my hairdresser of over ten years, Clare. So it was only natural that she did my hair for the big day. I didn’t want it too formal or structured, more ‘Bardot does Bridal’. I really don’t suit my hair up, so a more tarted up version of my usual party hair suited me down to the ground.
In the early days of searching for a veil, I fell in love with Sara Gabriel from across the pond – designer of a stunning range of couture veils. She couldn’t have been more helpful and was more than happy to ship the super-cute Emma half circle veil over to the UK. I paired it up with a very simple pearl and crystal headband from Glitzy Secrets
Warning: massive list of amazing make up products… I’m incredibly lucky that my wonderful friend Neenah is an Account Manager for Estee Lauder, and offered to do my make up for the wedding. I knew I could relax and let her work her magic, to have me looking my best. A common debate between my online Bride friends (hi girls!) is what foundation to use, as a lot of light reflecting foundations look great in the day, but then awful when every drunken pal is pointing their iPhone at you on the dancefloor. The answer is HD! Neenah created a blend for me of Smashbox HD and Make Up Forever HD Foundations which meant it stayed put and looked perfect on camera. The ever faithful MAC Studio Fix (concealer and powder) finished off my base along with another magical combo of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze, Estee Lauder Soft Shimmer bronzer and MAC Mineralize blush in Love Joy. For my eyes she gave me a solid and lasting liner with Estee Lauder Doublewear liquid liner in black and Doublewear pencil liner in Onyx, MAC Opulash Optimum Black mascara with my favourite Chanel eyeshadow-duo in Taupe – Delicat. The whole look was topped off with Estee’s pure colour Crystal Baby lipstick.
My unfailing cosmetic brand loyalty didn’t stop there as I piled on my favourite scent Estee Lauder Sensuous and Chanel nail colour in May.
My dress must have been one of the biggest dramas of the entire planning process. The minute I wore my dress, based on a forgotten Christian Dior design from the 1950’s, I fell in love.
Then I wobbled. badly. You might remember that one. Thank God I got over it because I felt so special in my dress on the big day – As soon as I put it on I felt like a princess and loved spending the next 12 hours swishing about with my petticoats. It was perfect for me, pulling me in to show off my waist then flowing out to hide my little beer belly under all the skirts, while having some lovely detail on the top to give the illusion of me having boobs! It even had pockets to hide my hankie and lippy in. Amazing.
I knew I wanted killer shoes, so I went for a gorgeous pair of sky high strappy Miu Miu heels. My jewellery was all a lovely surprise from Lee on the morning of the wedding – some beautiful, understated sparkle! Knickers from Agent Provocateur naturally, and I managed to end up with two garters from the Mums. I have to say, Lee’s Mum’s 40 year old garter – complete with giant plastic cupid is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen.
The Handsome Groom
Lee has always been a bit of a sharp dresser, so I had no doubt he’d be looking amazing on the day. I was right, he looked dead handsome! I think he put as much effort into his outfit as I did with mine. It was a total secret until we saw eachother at the ceremony. First stop was Savile Row. He had a bespoke, three-piece tweed suit made by Gieves & Hawkes with a very pale yellow dress shirt and yellow patterned tie, also from Gieves & Hawkes. He paired the suit perfectly with a pair of beautiful two-tone brown leather shoes from Loake Shoemakers. His yellow socks and cufflinks, were also Gieves & Hawkes.
Maids & Males
I knew I didn’t want typical bridesmaid dresses for the girls but it was tough finding the right look as I wanted them all to look stunning. I wanted a dress they’d all love and wear again. We had a few failed attempts at online decision-making before hitting the high street for a day of shopping. We found the perfect dress in Warehouse. Cute and flattering with a real 60’s vibe – exactly what we’d been looking for. The dresses were ivory, so for a little pop of colour, their feet became my ‘something blue’. I wanted sexy bridesmaids and thats what I got… legs legs legs! My male of honour Phil wore a sharp three-piece navy Daniel Hechter suit & Doc Marten shoes while my 20-month old nephew Oliver matched Lee in a gorgeous tweed set with chinos and baby brogues. Both boys wore matching bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie.
One of the most magical moments of the day for me was the arrival of the flowers. After spending months planning every detail of the day, the flowers were out of my hands and the final look was a total surprise. I’d worked with Dale and trusted him completely to create something special and unique – I loved the anticipation of not seeing his creation until the big day.
My flower choices were very personal to me and I wasn’t sure how they would look together. Of course, they were sublime. Built around a base of a huge white hydrangea, there were peonies, roses, ranunculus, daisies, lisianthus, astilbe and of course a little peep of willow. They were stunning and smelled like heaven.
Before I knew it we were all suited, booted and the beautiful cars chosen by Lee (a 1920s Bramwith and Daimler Landaulette) courtesy of classicweddingcars.org were waiting outside.
We were ready to go.
I loved driving through town with my Dad, waving and smiling at everyone the whole way, I’m never one to shy away from attention and I felt like royalty. We arrived at The Athenaeum expecting to be greeted by the bridal party who’d left 15 minutes before we did… The first comedy moment of the day. They weren’t there! After taking a wrong turn and getting stuck in the one-way system, they came reversing up the road – cheering and waving – making a spectacular entrance about ten minutes later. It was hilarious and left enough time for me and my Dad to enjoy one last glass of champagne before we headed inside.
Peace & Love
Our loose ‘books and music’ theme came naturally with the venues we’d chosen, but more than anything, we wanted our day to have a laid back, fun, retro vibe. We’re both strongly influenced by our parents in life, so we drew from their wedding days – working little details into our own day such as the colour scheme and flowers – while also reflecting our own personalities. The girls from Strange Case Collective had really gone to town creating our Chanel-inspired staircase and it looked fantastic, better than I could have ever imagined. I’d worked hard to plan the decorative touches, but I could never have achieved what they did. It was the cherry on the cake and the amount of work and love they’d put into our wedding day blew my mind.
We’d also left out a few little gestures for our guests, like a little chest filled with vintage hankies at the entrance to the library, to mop up any emotional tears (there were many) and also a little beauty box in the ladies toilets for touch ups and repairs – this is one gesture that doesn’t cost the earth but will mean the world to your girls when they need an emergency safety pin or spritz of hairspray. I totally recommend it.
Finally, I could hear the opening notes of Something by George Harrison. I gave my Dad’s arm a squeeze and walked into a dream…