I can practically smell the lavender. Lucy’s wonderfully embellished gown (they are some of the best capped sleeves I have ever seen) and perfect beachy waves are so lush. It also turns out that she, and her family, are super clever. They arranged all of the flowers themselves. Yep. That stunning bouquet? She put it together herself. How flippin’ epic is that?
Cue absolutely epic wedding venue, it’s a church hall. Yep, you won’t believe it when you see it. This wedding is so up my street it’s untrue. There’s lace, kilts, immense flowers, an abundance of cakes and a whole heap of love. Felicity’s Annasul Y gown is divine and how effortlessly cool is Emma Boileau’s photography?
Katie and Gianluca are also affectionately know as ‘The Beans’; a nickname that they first used as a term of endearment for each other but which has stuck for nearly seven years. This gorgeous pair first met in 2006 at a friend’s birthday party and got engaged five years later on New Years Eve.
Just wait until you see what we’ve got in store for you today lovelies.
Blue skies and sunshine. The sweetest bridesmaids. An ultra-luxe BBQ and the lightest of Victoria Sponges.
And did somebody say Wang?
Yes folks. Katie wore the fluffiest, dreamiest Wang dress I’ve ever clapped eyes on.
A Secret Enchanted Garden
Katie The Bride: Gianluca is half Italian, half Austrian and has lived all over the world. I am half Turkish, half Welsh and a born and bred Londoner. We toyed with the idea of getting married abroad and in the end decided on a bit of countryside close to home and fingers crossed for the weather! We got lucky! Our wedding was on a beautiful sunny day in September.
We had our marriage blessing at a gorgeous tiny church in Colchester. A friend of mine, Victoria sang three songs in the church, one of which she had written for us. It was such a wonderful moment and her voice is truly stunning. The reception was held at Westwood Park, the one and only venue I went to see only three days after getting engaged. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the perfect place for us.
I wanted somewhere with a country feel and lots of greenery and flowers that wasn’t too far from London. We knew we wanted to have a marquee and lovely grounds. Westwood Park reminded me of a secret enchanted garden and was a great mixture of elegance and theatricality. It looked beautiful in deepest winter and in the sunshine, it was truly stunning. They had two dates left for the year so I picked one and got it booked. My parents surprised us with a beautiful vintage car to pick me up and then take us to the reception which certainly made those two journeys very special and memorable.
As an actress, I wanted a dress with a bit of drama. I saw a lot of pretty dresses that looked nice but none of them gave me much of a feeling. After three weeks of trying dresses in every wedding dress shop I could get to and not finding anything that bowled me over, my mum and I went to the one day sample sale at Browns Brides just to ‘look’. Being very bad at making quick decisions, there was no way I ever imagined I would get a dress in a situation like this.
However, after queuing for an hour and trying two very expensive dresses that weren’t for me, the lady brought me one more to try before leaving. I still wasn’t sure but as soon as I put it on, I knew it was everything I had been looking for. I felt like me in it, it was so delicate yet dramatic and made such an impact. It had the most beautiful mixture of materials, swirls of lace and tulle and from the back especially was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It also happened to be designed by the one and only Vera Wang! I walked out the shop with it twenty minutes later! It is such a beautiful creation and I’m so glad it found me!
I am a total magpie and so, after many a day spent browsing RMW pages, a particular vintage crystal Jenny Packham headpiece kept catching my eye and I knew it would really complete the look and match with the embellishment on the dress. Knowing, there was no room in the budget to buy it, in the end I managed to hire it on eBay for a fraction of the price and paired it with a simple veil I got for £10 on eBay that I wore in the church. My earrings and necklace were borrowed from my Mum’s extensive collection.
At 5 foot 11 and a half with a groom of the same height, skyscrapers were never an option for me but neither were flats. After a lot of looking, I eventually went for a pair of Vivienne Westwood silver piped court shoes with a small heel that were cool and comfortable and a little bit quirky.
Make up artist Hayley Barr came to do our hair and make up on the day. I opted for a natural look with big lashes and a loose side bun for the church, which I then pulled out into loose curls for the reception. Not being good at decisions, I mostly went for both options rather than deciding on one!
The Best Of Both Worlds
Flowers were tricky as I love lots of different types. I absolutely couldn’t decide between classy pink and white blooms or a mixture of colourful country flowers. After lots of changing my mind back and forth, lovely Liz of Blue Sky Flowers decided I should have both.
We had pink and white blooms for the church and then a mixture of bright colours for the reception to bring the marquee to life, which meant I got the best of both worlds. The bouquets and pew ends were subtle and gorgeous and then walking into the white marquee and seeing the burst of bright happy colours was a great moment.
Let’s Play Dress Up
My bridesmaids were my best friend (since the age of four) and my two sisters who are identical twins and rarely wear dresses or heels. I was so excited about getting to dress them up ad make them girly but wanted them to love the dresses too. The second dress I looked at turned out to be perfect on all three of them. They were a fairly neutral dusky pink with intricate silver beading and came from Debenhams. I loved their delicate vintage look and how they made the girls look like fairies.
Gianluca was dashingly handsome in a traditional morning suit hired from Moss Bros with an ivory Hermes tie his mum gave him as a gift. The Groomsmens’ morning suits were the same as Gianluca’s and hired from Moss Bros.
It Must Be Fate
Anna Hardy took our photos. I looked at lots of photographers work but Anna’s photos were so brilliant and artistic and made me laugh and cry. No other photos had moved or impressed me in the same way so I got in touch. She was sadly booked up for our date but then fate stepped in and she had a cancellation. I’m so happy we got her. She was lovely to have around and we love the pictures as a reminder of the day.
A Perfect Summer’s Barbecue
Food was a big priority for us and we had Talbooth Catering provide a wonderful barbecue and hog roast which couldn’t have been better for the summers day. It was all delicious, not that I got to eat much. I was too excited and the dress was pretty tight! Again, inspired by RMW, we chose a three tiered Victoria sponge with strawberries that was made for us by Elizabeth at Betty’s Bakery. It was delicious and just perfect for a relaxed summery day.
For entertainment we went for an evening disco and used BlackJack DJs who had done a number of weddings at the venue. The dance floor was never empty which was exactly what we wanted. Our first dance was to ‘Turn Your Lights Down Low’ by Bob Marley ft Lauren Hill. We both love the song and the relaxed vibe. I took off my shoes and we got everyone up on the floor dancing with us.
The Bean Theme
We had beautiful stationery designed and made for us by Sharp Stamp Design. They helped us to create the classical/theatrical secret garden look we wanted to tie everything together and went for a Bean theme with the table names as most friends know us as ‘The Beans’. Our name places were designed as bookmarks tied with ribbon and a little blue glass evil eye good luck charm to reflect my Turkish roots.
As well as the beautiful colourful flowers, we decorated the marquee with coloured balloons and colourful bunting that I made with my hens as part of my hen weekend. It was so lovely to have something we all made ourselves decorating the marquee on the day and brought back memories of a great weekend. We had tea lights inside glass jars decorated with lace and filled with beans and crystal table confetti.
Kiss Your New Husband…Lots
We had such a beautiful day that was so full of warmth and love in every way. We were surrounded by family and friends from all over the world and it was so special. I think we achieved the balance of formal and informal, relaxed and sophisticated that we were going for and we were so blessed with the weather.
My advice to brides would be to savour and enjoy every day of your engagement and every moment of your wedding. I adored all the planning. It was so much fun and then so lovely to surprise Gianluca with some of the choices I had made and see how much he loved them. It goes by so fast and it is truly overwhelming to see all your planning come to life and to be right there in the moment you’ve been thinking about for so long. Advice for the day; relax, dance talk to as many people as possible, celebrate your love and kiss your new husband, lots!
I love Katie’s wedded philosophy – not only to be right there in the moment but also to kiss your new husband…lots!
So much so that I’m going to smother the boy in kisses when I get home tonight; he won’t know what’s hit him.
Congratulations you two – you brought a whole heap of sunshiny joy to my morning.
All my love Lolly xxx
Chris and Ele instantly fell in love with Notley Abbey when they went to look around its wonderfully aged walls and were determined that this was the place for them. So much so that they didn’t view any other venues.
When you just know, you know, don’t you.
And I can totally see why they picked this beautiful venue. Exquisite gardens, sheep in the surrounding fields and a whole heap of history.
And that’s not all. Ele looks like a fairytale princess in her Lyn Ashworth gown and Chris looks as proud as punch to call Ele his wife. Their love for each other positively emanates from the photos below.
Just you wait and see.
Ele The Bride: I was torn between a Lyn Ashworth dress called ‘Scarlett’ and a Jenny Packham dress (which had always been my dream!) but after lots of deliberating I just knew Scarlett gave me loads of confidence and felt like something I could swoosh around in all day and feel comfortable in. Scarlett was a full organza skirt with bodice top and detailed straps, with a detailed belt.
I never thought I would wear a veil as every time I put one on I just felt like the corpse bride! In the end though when my dress arrived and the lovely ladies from Brides of Berkhamsted convinced me to try a full length simple veil it was like the icing on the cake. I kept my jewellery pretty simple as I didn’t want to overwhelm the detail on the dress and just opted for some drop earrings borrowed from my mum.
Shoes were also important to me. I knew I wanted something that I would get use out of again, so for me this ruled out white satin shoes (especially seeing as I knew I would be out on the grass during the day). In the end I found a perfect pair of sparkly Jimmy Choos which I felt were understated but special enough for the occasion. I also had a pair of corn flower and peach Vivienne Westwood jelly shoes (my sister, also maid of honour, had a pair to match!) which matched the bridesmaids dresses perfectly for the dancing in the evening. I also had a pair of peach Hunter wellies in case the rain came!
A Bevy Of Beauties
I really deliberated over my big day make-up. I got in touch with Nikki and she put me completely at ease and assured me that we could do a bridal look without being too bridal..if that makes sense. She was an absolute star on the day and even managed to help all of my eight lovely bridesmaids with their eyes which was great!
The team from Ciente in Berkhamsted did all of our hair, quite a feat with eight bridesmaids, and even managed to do my Dad’s! The girls had a selection of flowers for their hair if they wanted. It was important to me that everyone wore something that felt like them, so I didn’t ask for any particular hairstyles etc.
Beautiful English Country Flowers
One of the most important elements of the day for me was getting the flowers right. I researched hard for London florists prepared to come out to the country, but they all seemed beyond the budget
I stumbled across a website for Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire and fell in love straight away. Beautiful English country flowers, from a few miles up the road, that would be chosen the day before the wedding depending on what was looking best in the garden.
I met with Jo and she was honestly so helpful and understood everything that I wanted to achieve with the flowers, including my request for a ridiculously oversized bouquet and a big hanging pom pom for the ceremony! I adore dahlias so knew these would need to be a big feature.
When it came to decorating the venue, Jo and her team were a delight to work with and turned up on the day with an enormous quantity of flowers which were arranged around each of the rooms in a massive assortment of loaned vases, jugs and bottles. Just gorgeous!
It was very exciting a few days before the wedding going round the garden and picking the biggest most amazing dahlias for the centrepieces, and it was extra special knowing it was all home grown from just down the road. We kept the table centres fairly simple and opted for a variety of smaller displays and tea light holders.
Twobirds Bridesmaids were a complete dream to work with. It was really important to me that the dresses for the girls not only matched their personalities (there were eight of them after all!) but were something that they would genuinely want to wear again and again.
Twobirds Bridesmaids fitted the bill perfectly as each of the girls could personalise the style of their dresses exactly how they wanted them. We opted for two colours to complement their different skintones and styles, and thankfully ended up with half in one colour and half in the other which meant it looked even on the day.
We really struggled to find a tie that made Chris stand out but wasn’t too ott. We both agreed that something floral but not overly girly was needed. As the day approached we visited a tailor in south London whose suits weren’t quite right for Chris and his broad shoulders, but did mention that they could create bespoke ties.
I knew then that this was the way forward and in the end bought three of Liberty’s classic design prints – one for Chris, my dad and Chris’ dad. Each of the ties were different but complementary; I also used the material for Chris’ tie as the backdrop to the seating plan.
The boys had suits from Reiss and ties to match the cornflower blue that half of the girls wore.
A Friend From The Beginning
Jodie was a pleasure to deal with right from the outset. We knew we would have to act quickly with a bank holiday wedding to get a great photographer and meeting in one of our favourite London spots and seeing her beautiful work put us at ease straight away.
We did an engagement shoot near home in Angel and just loved the way Jodie felt like a friend from the beginning and didn’t ask us to pose for pictures but just snapped away in the background. We now have the most precious photo albums, including images of all of our loved ones that we will cherish always.
The Icing On The Cake
We deliberated over the cake for quite a while; it was the one item Chris and I really couldn’t agree on as he was adamant the cake had to have icing to be a wedding cake! I was veering towards a tiered Victoria sponge design but we just couldn’t agree.
Cue Rock my Wedding to the rescue.
I spotted a cake on RMW from Katja’s Kupcakes that had an intricate soft iced design which was so unusual and so I happily agreed to having an iced cake! Everyone on the day commented how original the cake was.
We chose tiers of chocolate, beetroot and raspberry and lastly white chocolate; it tasted delicious!
We wanted something traditional but quirky at the same time. We really loved the tiered designs on the ‘chunky’ side. Katja did some initial illustrations which were exactly what we were looking for and even drove the cake down from Cheshire the morning of the wedding!
My mum has always made the yummiest chocolate mars bar crispy cakes (not good for the waistline!) so she was a complete superstar and made ridiculous quantities in the kitchen in the days running up to the wedding for our wedding favours. We bought some Chinese noodle boxes and made some stickers with ‘Mrs P’s chocolate treats’ on them for guests to take home. They were all so popular we never had a look in but I’m sure they tasted great!
We saw Andre at a family wedding and thought he was absolutely amazing. When it came to music for the ceremony we wanted something which would be memorable but in the right way! Andre invited us to see him perform with his band at an event in London and they were so incredible we decided they would be perfect for the ceremony itself. My Dad and I walked down the aisle to the Ellie Goulding version of ‘Your Song’ and had Train ‘Hey Soul Sister’ and Bruno Mars ‘Just the Way you are’ during the ceremony.
Annie, one of my beautiful bridesmaids read ‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton, absolutely amazingly in the ceremony. It was one of our favourite moments and she deserves a special mention as she so nervous when we were getting ready in the morning!
We had a Jazz band in the evening – The Jazz Cannons – who got everyone up and dancing all night before the DJ later on.
Chris had two best men, both old school friends. We knew Dickie (one of the best men) was due to go out on duty to Afghanistan for his first tour with the TA shortly after the wedding. What we weren’t expecting however was that the army would decide to bring this date forward to the week before the wedding! One of our friends works for the BBC as a sports presenter and together with one of the bridesmaids arranged for the filming of a mini speech for Dickie – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when his little face appeared on the wall, especially after Chris had got so emotional talking about him in his speech!!
As Chris and I have been together for quite a long time (coming up for ten years now) and the songs we used to love back in the day all seemed far too outdated for our first dance. We opted for a classic ‘My Girl’ as it made us both smile when we heard it and knew we could shuffle along to it and look like we vaguely knew what we were doing!
The Finishing Touches
Notley is so gorgeous we wanted to let it speak for itself and didn’t want to go OTT with the décor. We did however make sure there were lots of fresh flowers dotted around the place and candles in the evening. Jo our lovely florist also brought along some ribbons for the covered walkways too.
Mum and Dad organised a surprise fireworks display for later in the evening which was amazing
We also created a homemade photo booth with a Polaroid camera which everyone enjoyed using and we now have a great guest book to flick through.
We made our own stationery designs, and used a local printers to get them all printed professionally. I was particularly proud of the table plan which incorporated the Liberty fabric from Chris’ tie and a bargain ornate frame with printed cards.
My top tip as a fairly (ok very!) indecisive person, would be to not give yourself too much time to plan. I found after the first six months I spent far too much time procrastinating and just wanted the day to hurry up!
On the morning of the wedding itself, I felt remarkably calm and somehow managed to get a good nights sleep. So take it from me, just relax and enjoy the day as it goes so quickly. It’s not worth stressing about the tiny details on the day as it is too late by this point.
Venue – Notley Abbey
Photographer – Jodie Chapman
Band – The Jazz Cannons
Dress – ‘Scarlett’ by Lyn Ashworth
Boutique – Brides Of Berkhamsted
Groom’s suit – Paul Smith
Maids dresses – Twobirds Bridesmaids
Cake – Katja’s Cupcakes
Florist – Green And Gorgeous
Hair – Ciente
So there we have it.
Isn’t Ele’s bouquet simply gorgeous…and how about those eight beautiful bridesmaids. They are the most perfectly girly entourage you’ve ever seen.
And I well and truly take my hat off to any woman that picks not one, not two but three different sets of footwear for her big day. Ele you were well and truly prepared for whatever the weather.
All my love Lolly xxx
Paola and Darrens’ wedding is bursting with colour…and love. It’s literally spilling over.
The flowers are stunning and I’m loving the coordinating blooms, lips and nails. Breathtaking.
What I love most about this day is the joy that went into planning it, the months of collecting pieces and the dedication put into the cakes (wait until you see the cakes!). There is something very personal about it and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Breakfast By The Thames
My wedding was on a sunny Saturday, 11th August 2012. My name is Paola and my husband is called Darren. We live in Walton so married in my local church, St Erconwalds and then we had our wedding breakfast in the amazing Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington by the Thames.
A Happy Ending
I bought my dress from a shop in Weybridge called Surrey Brides (a shop I used to look at every day on my way to school!). The designer was Benjamin Roberts. I knew I wanted a lace dress and as soon as I put it on I immediately loved it – it felt pretty and dramatic at the same time. I must admit, it was also within budget so with the two put together, it was the dress for me!
For any brides that have a panic when the dress they order comes in, and think that they don’t suit the dress anymore, ignore the reaction! When my dress arrived for my first fitting, I still loved it but didn’t like myself in it anymore and was convinced it didn’t look as nice as I wanted it to.
Apparently this is completely normal. The next time I went I took my cousin, Gabi who was also one of my bridesmaids, and she completely put me at ease! Take people that can be excited and help you feel positive about your decisions. I still don’t know why I freaked out – I absolutely loved my dress and once Deborah at Surrey Brides had all the fittings made to suit my shape – I was more than happy with the result.
The Perfect Pair
I worked in Teddington at the time and I kept passing this beautiful shop filled with vintage accessories so I made an appointment with Gillian Million and found a stunning head piece that I bought before I found my dress. I then had a pair of earrings, a bracelet and small brooch made to match. I defy anyone not to find something amazing to wear in Gillian’s shop.
With all the money I had spent on my dress and accessories, I knew I wanted a simple pair of shoes so Kurt Geiger provided the perfect pair. I then bought a pair of shoe clips off ebay.
Intense And Bright
I wanted a hairstyle that was relaxed and down, so simple curls were what worked best. My hairdresser was recommended to me by my make-up artist. I love make-up and so this was the perfect excuse to have myself done up.
I like intense eyes or bright lipstick. Another of my bridesmaids, Marisa, has a friend who is a make-up artist and Kate came to turn me into something fantastic! It was a lot of fun for myself, my Mum and the bridesmaids to have their make-up done by a professional.
A Single Rose
The wonderful Jo Butler at Jo Butler Flowers in Teddington provided the flowers and they were prefect. Vintage roses with bright cerise roses to off-set the more subtle colours.
I had a bird theme running throughout the day so I bought bird cages for the centre pieces that Jo filled with the same flowers as my bouquet, which were then placed on hardback books. I had 2 large bird cages to decorate the church and venue that Jo decorated too. I decided to have a single rose for each of the bridesmaids and my maid of honour, and I think it looked really pretty.
A Flash of Pink
I didn’t want a colour scheme so I bought the gold bridesmaids’ dresses from Marks and Spencers and the groomsmen were bought blue suits to match Darren’s. The maids were given brooches to fit on their belts and the men were given Paul Smith ties and pink socks!
Vivienne And Paul
Darren loves all things British so it had to be a Vivienne Westwood suit! He looked so handsome in it and along with the Paul Smith tie, tie pin, pink socks, brown Barker shoes and pocket watch, he looked perfect and I think he was really pleased with the end result.
Exactly What I Was Looking For
When I saw Rebecca’s portfolio I knew she was the photographer I was looking for! And she was absolutely amazing – she really captured the day. We met with her a couple of times before the wedding, and on the day she was so warm and unobtrusive; she even popped over to where Darren was staying to capture some photos of him when he was getting ready and nothing was too much hassle.
A Piece Of Cake
My aunty made an Italian cake and I decided to make the rest so I had a table of cupcakes, cake pops and normal cakes. It was a bit mad the week before and I was icing cakes the Friday night before the wedding, but it was worth it.
My brother had a 30 minute DJ set which was really fun and then the brilliant Wedding Smashers took over for the rest of the evening .
When Darren and I first met we discovered we had a mutual love for Ryan Adams – he’s really special to us so we chose ‘I Love you but I don’t Know what to Say’ and our good mate Paul, who I went to school with, choreographed the dance for us and made us look good. He also choreographed a group dance so my mum, dad, friends and family all got on the dance floor after the first dance to join us in a flash mob which went down really well.
Badges and Bulbs
For favours we had terracotta flower pots filled with flower bulbs for the women and for the men, a miniature bottle of whisky or vodka. We weren’t going to have any favours but then these came within budget and I’m really glad we went with them. We also had some really cool badges made for everyone that I bought from etsy.
The Landmark is an incredible venue but you do have to hire everything in and I made much of the decorations myself. I decided on the bird theme so for 10 months I just kept collecting things that would be nice to use. Etsy, Cox and Cox, ebay and charity shops were the best places for me.
Go With Your Gut
I think making the day as personal to you as you can, and going with your gut is a good starting point. Make the time to enjoy the planning process so it doesn’t get stressful nearer the day. Ask for help when you need it and enjoy it!
Venue: Landmark Arts Centre
Boutique: Surrey Brides
Dress: Benjamin Roberts
Head Piece: Gillian Million
Shoes: Hurt Geiger
Flowers: Jo Butler Flowers
Bridesmaids: Marks and Spencer
Grooms Suit: Vivienne Westwood
Photography: Rebecca Photography
Entertainment: Wedding Smashers
Bridesmaids: Marks and Spencer
Grooms Suit: Vivienne Westwood
So people…a wedding flash mob! Absolutely essential to make any wedding a success.
Didn’t you love all the little touches? The badges, the socks, the roses? And how ruddy dapper is Darren’s suit!
I would love to hear what you think.
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.
Brogues And Button Holes
The Groomsmen wore burgundy and cream polka dot Vintage bow ties by Peckham Rye. Ollie wore a Vivienne Westwood suit from John Anthony clothing, teamed with Crockett and Jones tan brogues, a Vivienne Westwood shirt, braces from Mr Porter and a vintage amnesia rose button hole.
A Chance Meeting
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)
Boutique – Beautiful Bridal Boutique
Hair – A’Courts Hair Salon
Shoes – Next
Grooms Suit – Vivienne Westwood from John Anthony
Photographer – Lucy Davenport
Live Music – The Brightside Band
Venue – Larmer Tree Gardens
Florist – Ena’s Florists
Cake – Fox’s Cupcake Co
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.
Love and wishing tree dreams
What do Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin and Vivienne Westwood all have in common?
Well… Apart from all being fairly super swanky designer type people, they also all feature in Elio and Carly’s big day.
Simple And Elegant
I always wanted a bespoke gown and as soon as I found Joanne Fleming’s website I knew that she was the designer for me. Lace was always my fabric of choice as it has such romantic connotations and I envisaged something very simple and elegant. As I immersed further into the planning of my dress I felt like I wanted to create drama for the ceremony so that is where the concept of the two-in-one dress was formed. For the ceremony I had a tulle overskirt that fixed over the simple lace dress beneath, the silk tulle was so light it created an almost cloud like affect especially in the very windy weather! One guest commented that it was so light it looked as though fairies had created it. I loved it so much I almost didn’t want to take it off for the evening.
My evening look allowed the beautiful lace to shine and also gave me the perfect dress for dancing! I loved the versatility of the dress – that I could wear two completely different looks without changing. I could not recommend Jo enough, everything felt so special even down to the labels in her dress. Jo is as amazing as her dresses!
Crystals And Jewels
I wanted the dress to take centre stage, therefore I kept the accessories really simple. I had a full length two tier silk tulle veil with scatter crystals created by Joanne Fleming to match my dress. I wore a pair of my mothers diamond earrings as my ‘something borrowed’ and a Dior bracelet that as my ‘something old’ as it is really delicate. For the evening I wore a jewel embellished sash to create a different look.
Because of our height difference (I’m 5,3” and Elio is 6,5”) heels were a must, I was greedy and opted for two pairs. I had surprisingly comfortable skyscraper Christian Louboutin Fifi’s in gold for the day. In the evening I swapped for a pair of Vivienne Westwood x Melissa Lady Dragon’s in as an extra ‘something blue.’
Natural And Understated
I decided early on that I would do my own hair and makeup and as a trained beauty therapist I used the money I would of spent to enhance my own makeup kit, I knew what I wanted (natural and understated) and I enjoy what I do so it allowed me time to relax and have some time to myself whilst my bridesmaids and Mum went off to the hairdressers.
Dainty Metal Baskets
I wanted the flowers to be a feature of the wedding and my florist was AMAZING! I had a very strong vision of what I wanted to create and I was able to take this to Jo McNamara and let her create it. She was so passionate and excited about our wedding and I felt completely relaxed with her. With everything else so neutral the flowers provided an injection of colour and Jo sourced beautiful pastel blooms to tie everything in.
For my bouquet I wanted to incorporate my Rosary beads as they are really important to me, Jo was able to wrap them around my long stem lilac roses. Elio wore a button hole with a matching rose. For the bridesmaids they had pale pink bouquets and the flower girls carried dainty metal baskets with hydrangeas and roses weaved in. The centrepieces at the reception incorporated all of the bridal party’s flowers in tightly packed arrangements placed in the glassware I had provided. I had set up the day before so thought I knew what to expect but when I turned up on the day the flower arrangements had transformed the venue and completely blew me away. Her attention to detail is amazing and I particularly loved the pearls she had threaded through the bear grass. After the wedding we followed a family tradition and took the leftover flowers to the graves of family members who weren’t there so they could be part of the day.
We chose soft pastel colours (pink/lilac/peach) and I knew early on that I wanted a blush or a nude colour for the bridesmaid dresses. Luckily the highstreet was full of choice and I managed to find the bridesmaids dresses from Anushka G in House of Fraser. I loved the pearl detailing on the neckline and the Grecian shape was very flattering. For the younger bridesmaids I found their dresses in Debenhams and as I bought them on an event weekend so they were an unexpected bargain.
The groomsman sourced their suits from Next as we wanted something modern and there wasn’t much choice in the rental shops if you deviate from the traditional wedding attire but it worked out costing only a little more and they could keep the suits! They teamed the suits with white shirts and black skinny ties to complement the Groom. I fell in love with the old-fashioned pageboy outfits on the Little Bevan website so Max wore Ivory knickerbockers with a Peter Pan collared shirt and cummerbund. He was not to be out done on the shoes and we were able to hire their black patent, buckled pirate shoes… adorable! (He might not think the same when the photos resurface in his teens)
Elio wore a Hugo Boss suit teamed with a silk knitted tie. I bought him a pair of Alexander McQueen velvet slippers as a wedding gift and he rocked them with his suit. They were part of a box I put together for him to open on the morning of the wedding. I did my own spin of something old (Samuel Johnson Dictionary that was over 200 years old as Elio used one of his quotes for a piece of Graphic design) something new (shoes) something borrowed (his late Nonno’s cufflinks) and something purple (it’s his favorite colour so I put in a pair of pants!) Elio was keen not compromise on his style and I think he looked gorgeous!
I found Laura Babb our photographer on twitter of all places, she had made some funny tweets about being left waiting for quotes by wedding vendors that I could relate to, so I checked out her website and was blown away by her work. I couldn’t believe it when she said she was available! What convinced me that she was the one for us is her dedication to her clients and her business, full up with flu and barely able to talk Laura called me to confirm my email enquiry, which proved she is a lady of her word!
She not only made two very camera shy people feel at ease in front of the lens but her and her lovely second shooter on our big day (her future husband Pete) felt more like friends than strangers. She also has a habit of sending chocolate with the packs she sends out which is always a winner in my book! We could not be happier with our beautiful photos.
Elio’s Mum always makes the most amazing cakes and neither of us are keen on icing so she created a larger to tier version of the cake we always have for our birthdays. White chocolate cigarillos with a syrup soaked sponge, topped with fresh fruit… yum!
We love hip-hop but it is not a genre widely catered for; also we didn’t want to alienate our guests by having music that they didn’t recognise. I searched high and low for a compromise. In the end we settled for chilled out J Dilla beats and our favorite hip-hop artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def intertwined with RnB classics on an iPod during the reception drinks and meal. For the evening we managed to find a band that played a set list that included Beyonce, Outkast and Estelle with a twist that catered for everyone! The Chandeliers brought along percussion instruments that our guests loved playing and got everyone up on their feet!
Our priest allowed us to have John Legend, Stay With You read whilst we signed the register so in keeping with our love of hip-hop we chose Common – The Light as our first dance. We had always loved the song and the words have become very poignant after Elio’s accident so it was an obvious choice.
As Elio is of Italian heritage we decided to create homemade Limoncello which we bottled and labeled ‘Limoncello Di Trapani’.
As the favours were alcoholic we also had a sweetie table for the children and those who prefer not to drink.
A Labour Of Love
The wedding décor was a labour of love that I spent months collecting and putting together. I wanted to incorporate things that I could use again in our home and represent our style, it also meant I could justify spending a little more on some pieces. I was heavily influenced by a lot of American weddings I had seen online and knew I wanted the emphasis to be on old-fashioned romance and elegance. I focused on collecting mercury and Venetian glass pieces such as our table plan written on a mirror and mixed them up with glass heart vases and crystal tea holders and silver mint julep cups.
We were able to hire candelabras and I bought crystals and hand threaded each crystal to create a chandelier affect, it wasn’t the most exciting of wedding tasks but I think the outcome paid off, especially on the two large candelabras we had at our entrance. The venue had a smaller barn for dancing and I wanted to ensure it still felt part of the styling so I draped tulle in pastel pink and lilac through the beams to soften the room and to add a bit of sparkle I hung a crystal ‘Love’ sign at the entrance to create a focal point.
As I studied English Literature at University I also included a few nods to my favorite authors. At the end of our order of Service I used the quote ‘Reader, I married him’ (Jane Eyre) and I included a selection of romanticist poets including Keats in a bundle of books I displayed with the wishing tree.
Not to be left out our puppy Dante sent a message in the best mans speech and we found a Westie silhouette to display in the smaller barn so he be part of the day without fear of him chewing our shoes!
Another feature was our desert table, I have a massive sweet tooth so one option would never be enough, instead we opted for a selection of deserts including our wedding cake and cheeses.
Elio sustained a head injury two years ago and as a Graphic Designer he wanted to put his own stamp on the wedding somewhere. He suffers from terrible fatigue and his concentration is affected, (he even fainted during the wedding!!) but throughout his rehabilitation he worked tirelessly to create the table names using our favorite ganster films that we liked to watch whilst he was recovering. They might not be the most romantic of names and it was difficult to decide who would sit on ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Departed’ tables but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. For me each postcard personified the struggle and determination Elio showed to fight back to health.
Ultimately we wanted our wedding not only to represent our love for each other but also use it as an opportunity to thank all our family and friends for all their love and support throughout Elio’s recovery. Planning the wedding brought a bit of happiness during a very sad time and the fact that it was able to happen at all was the best blessing of all.
Dress – Joanne Fleming Design
Headpiece – Amanda Wakeley
Band – The Chandeliers
Florals – Jo McNamara
Photography – Laura Babb
A really beautiful story of love, determination, strength and staying strong in times of trouble.
I’m sure you all join me in wishing Elio and Carly success, hapiness and good health as they start their future together.
So here we have the final part of the final chapter of Laura’s journey to become The Bedford Wife.
So far we have all ooh’d at Mrs Doubtfires dress and those legs… we have aah’d at the bouquet and the confetti… and we’ve chuckled at Laura’s unique grasp of language.
You will be glad to hear that we have more of all of these things in part 2, but throw a few Woohoo’s into the mix as the party moves towards the dance floor.
The Meet And Greet.
We did a receiving line outside the church – something that always happens at the Irish weddings I’ve been to. It gets the ‘hellos’ and ‘how are ye?’ out of the way early doors and you’re sure to catch everyone.
Meet Me By The Bridge.
And so we headed off to the venue – St Mary’s College at Durham University. On the way, however, we went down to Prebends Bridge and wandered around by the river so that our photographer, the talented Phil Smith, could take some pictures of us benig a bit, well, natural. Cue a load of Japanese toursits turning up and taking pictures of us. Surreal, but hilarious.
Oh, I should probably say what Adam was wearing, no? He went for a mid-grey suit from TM Lewin, a shirt the colour of an overcast sky and a tie from Victoria Richards (where Jon Snow buys items to decorate his neck). Walker wore the same. We were adamant we wanted lounge suits and we didn’t anyone to be too fancy-fancy/feel like they were auditioning to be an extra in a period drama.
Strike A Pose.
Our photographer, Phil was ace – he supplied a pop-up photobooth studio where our friends and family posed for hours with a mini blackboard writing us messages (hilarious/sweet/genuine/witty/rude) and posing in ridiculous positions – err, like the human pyramid some of my schoolfriends attempted. Thanks, guys. A couple of friends, who’ll remain nameless (NICKY AND EUSEBIO) seemed to turn the studio into, well, their own personal photoshoot space – I particularly enjoyed the shots of them straddling a chair backwards and ‘Vogue-style’ hands. We laughed our backs off the next day looking at them all.
We spilled out into Mary’s stunning gardens where Event Durham (the University events team-people – and I must say, they were an ABSOLUTE PLEASURE to deal with from start to finish – utterly sliky and professional and organised – the real stars of the day – AND OUR MASTER OF CEREMONIES WAS CALLED MUSTAFA GUNN! Say it out loud. What a finishing touch. What a guy.) had set up tables. Garden-party gloriousness ensued. We drank Pimms with stripey straws. It was unreal.
The Gifts And The Gab.
We had speeches. They were t’riffic. We gave out presents – silver bracelets from Stella and Stokes for the girls, a tie pin for my brother, whiskey for our usher Matt and a framed ordnance survey map for Walker (there was a story behind it. It was perfect for him).
Stop. Refuel. Go!
We ate. We had bread and olives and fancy oil followed by a fancy fishcake with mustard-seed creme fraiche and buttered spinach, Northumberland lamb shank in a spicy Morrocan tagine-y type sauce and cous cous and lemon tart with vanilla icecream. After many food-related agonies, we went for what we wanted. No regrets. Everyone loved it – or said they did, anyway – and who’s going to say otherwise? It was bloody delicious.
And then the events people turned the room around for a party. We danced our first dance to Sam Cook’s Wonderful World (it was that or Winehouse’s Cupid…but it was a bit raunchy…and then she died) and then the band – the wholly brilliant Troubleshooters got underway. We first saw them in a working men’s club in Fenham and, despite the less than salubrious venue, they were unreal (I’m running out of positive adjectives here – apologies). They did two forty-five minute sets and were impossibly brilliant. Our DJ, Marky J, kept everyone going in between with a mix of anything and everything – Northern Soul, Motown, 80s classics (I remember running across the dancefloor towards Bedford at one point squealing ‘PAUL SIIIIIIMON!’), err, Lady Gaga…Later, we had sausage sarnies and wedges, as well as our cake (made by Mrs Addy, a customer of Adam’s from the milk round he used to do as a young ‘un).
The verdict? Um, well, the whole day surpassed every expectation we’d had. Not because of the dress or the shoes or ‘feeling like a princess’ or any of that crap which ultimately – let’s face it – boils down to nothing. We had a super day because we (well, I like to think) were true to ourselves – we had a relaxed ceremony in a beautiful church and venue that meant something to us with everyone we wanted there.
The Right People.
So my advice to y’all is this – and it’s not original but it’s TRUE and that’s exactly why so many people say it. Enjoy your day. Do it the way you want to (within reason – there’s no point in doing it ‘your way’ if it’s going to confuse someone you care about or make them feel pushed out). Make time to have a deep breath and take it all in. Because, all in all, it’s only 18 hours at the very most of what will (hopefully) be a very long life together. And while all the frivolous stuff is fun, it’s really not very important. Be true to yourself, surround yourself with the right people and you’ll have a belter of a day. You can’t fail to.
Thanks for all the comments and support. It’s been a blast.
And so I’m signing off – for the last time – as Mrs Bedford xx
Suit TM Lewin
Shoes Vivienne Westwood
Photography Phil Smith
Make-up Sarah Southwell
Flowers Wild and Wonderful
Favours Stella and Stokes
Entertainment The Troubleshooters
Mrs Bedford certainly has the knack of telling a good story.
I don’t think there is much left to say apart from a big old thank you to Laura and Adam for sharing their journey with the Rock My Wedding community. It has, as Laura proclaimed at the end of her report, been an absolute blast.
Laura was our vintage-inspired Real Bride. Laura’s stories have kept everyone at RMW (and all you folk out in Blogland) entertained from the very start of her blogging days. But, like all stories, there has to be an end (Boo!) in the form of a massive vintage inspired W-day celebration of love (Hooray!)
Get ready then (cup of tea/coffee and bourbon/custard cream) for the final chapter, a chapter which is promising to be the best one yet…
Capturing the images on this most special of days was left in the capable hands of Phil Smith.
Bedford and I were married on the Saturday 30th July 2011. Never before have I experienced such an overwhelming outpouring of spontaenous love and affection and generosity from the people I am blessed to be able to call my family and friends. It was the happiest day of my life. Yes, I AM the cliche.
But I suppose I should take you through the whole thing step by step? Go on, then.
The day started early, with a slightly foggy head from the night before. On Thursday night we’d had a rehearsal at the church, Our Lady’s – the church where I’d made my first holy communion and confirmation. Crikey. Bedford and I sauntered in, blase and excited. I left shaking like a leaf. I had no idea we’d have to say the vows. Walker, the best man, spent most of the rehearsal laughing at the shock on our faces.
I wasn’t laughing. I woke up the following morning and my knees were shaking. I was lying vertical in bed and my KNEES were SHAKING. Not good.
Pale And Interesting.
And it wasn’t last-minute doubts, oh no. Don’t be silly. I’ve never, as I famously said very emphatically to a friend when slightly tipsy, felt so-very definite about ANYTHING in my WHOLE ENTIRE life as marrying Adam. Good job, really, given that we’re now wed. It was the whole spectacle of the event that I was nervous about. Walking in heels. Wearing a pale dress against my pale Paddy skin. The stress-induced spot the size of Mount Vesuvius that was steadily forming on my face. Brilliant. Thanks, stress hormones! Love you!
Last Minute Plans.
So we went to St Mary’s College on Friday morning. We had a God-almighty freak out about the band’s PAT test (advice? Get it sorted. Check it and check it again. Boring thing likes insurance and PAT tests are important. Who’d have ruddy thought it?) and the table plan (I’d bought fancy fabric to cover up the block of wood Walker had transported from his wood business. It looked bloody awful. We ended up using upholstery tacks to pin the tables cards on and a big sign that read ‘Seek And Ye Shall Find Your Seat’. It started to look pretty good.)
I Get By With A Little Help…
It was at this point that I realised how much I love my friends. And family. It was about the time when Adam’s dad was putting his two-hundreth gingerbread man favour into an appropriately-coloured stripey paper bag (blue for boys, pink for girls, like DUUUH) that I realised just how awesome my ‘new’ family are. Everyone lent a hand, from our mums checking the place settings with military precision, to Walker nailing the hen-do-manufactured bunting above the top table.
The Important Things In Life.
A quick pint in the pub with my nearly-husband and best friend Alex, and Al and I headed back to Washington, leaving Durham to suffer from the arrival of a 200-strong Angle-Irish contingent of wedding guests. I don’t think it’s recovered yet…
And so the wedding day dawned…
Gnome Is Where The Heart Is.
The shoes? Vivienne Westwood. I particularly like the snaps of them in the garden with my dad’s gnomes in the background.
A Journies End.
The dress? I’m about to reveal a dirty secret: I’m not very interested in clothes. Shopping for them makes me feel all hot and bothered – and this might be a bit strong – a little bit toxic. I know, I’m a freak. Well, after another almighty-freak-out, I was delighted with it. It was the result of a looong search, documented on these very pages, that took me from the high street to a vintage boutique to a local dressmaker with a scrawled doodle on the back of an envelope. It was short and simple and I felt like ME rather than the prow of a ship (anyone else get that in a long wedding dress? No? Just me, then), which was what the whole thing’s about after all, isn’t it?
Angel Of The North
Make-up – I was bloody lucky. Adam’s sister, Sarah Southwell, is a professional beautician and make-up artist. I know – talk about landing on my feet. She is truly amazing and I would recommend her to anyone of a West Yorkshire persuasion who wants to look and feel wonderful on their wedding day. I’m not just saying this because she’s now a relative. HONESTLY, she’s ACE. And it was mint to have a proper gossip on the morning to take my mind off all the stress.
Wild And Wonderful.
So we had a manic morning – who doesn’t? But all in all, it was grand. I had my hair done at a local salon after my hairdresser fell through at the (relative) last minute. Joanne my hairdresser was ace. “Err, can it look a bit messy and just, like, a bit pinned up?” I am fairly clueless with hairstyle-related stuff. She did a super job. The flowers arrived from Wild and Wonderful in Houghton-le-Spring. I’d asked for peonies which had looked a bit shabby when Kay from the florist had contacted her suppliers, so she went for big cabbagey roses instead. They were lovely.
The car – a red Riley – was generously lent to us by a farming friend of Adam’s. Richard, the aforementioned farming friend, volunteered himself as driver and was very much the dashing chauffer in his linen suit. One of the best moments of the day was realising we had a few minutes to spare and having a whiskey with Richard (who’s fairly deaf) and my father (who’s also fairly deaf). The door was a bit dodgy and Richard had to shoulder-barge it shut. The gauges were all wonky and it looked like we were doing about 15 miles an hour when we were actually powering along the A1 at 60 mph.
The Get Out.
And all of the neighbours came out of their houses and waved us off. And Norma from next door told us to have a lovely day. And I got a bit choked.
And so began the whole ‘I-am-massively-MASSIVELY-overwhelmed-by-everyone’s-goodwill-and-kindness’ thing which continued all day. It absolutely blew me away. But instead of being a big emotional wreck (as I’d feared I would be), I just felt ridiculously happy. And chilled. I was so serene I could have been a bloody swan.
It was all very odd and unexpected.
Anyway, so we arrived and the ceremony commenced. I tried to take in everyone on the way up knowing I would be euphoric and giddy on the way back down. I saw Bedford. I gave him a big grin. He winked. All was well with the world. Our lovely Uncles did the readings. Fr Sean delivered a nail-on-the-head sermon. We sang some rousing hymns. And soon enough, we were wed. I’d previously wondered how ‘the moment’ would feel. Would it be like someone had waved a magic wand? Not particularly. It was like putting the final piece into a jigsaw puzzle. Really obvious, but satisfying.
Dress Mrs Doubtfire!
Shoes Vivienne Westwood
Photography Phil Smith
Make-up Sarah Southwell
Flowers Wild and Wonderful
So… Good so far? Quite the page turner isn’t it? Well that’s all your getting folks, at least for now. At Rock My Wedding we love leaving you wanting more ;).
I promise you won’t be waiting too long though. But this afternoon is dedicated as per usual to our current crop of Real Brides. So pop back later on for today’s second dose of Real Bride inspiration the RMW way.