Is there anything more inviting than a cosy pub on a cold, dark Winter’s evening?! Personally I don’t think so! And Karen and Richard clearly agree as they held their Winter Wedding reception in The Peasant Clerkenwell and filled with sparkly lights and candles it just looks so welcoming.
This is a wedding filled with glitz too, Eliza Jane Howell really is the go-to designer for gowns that just ooze Vintage inspired glamour, and Karen’s gown is no exception – the ‘Eliza’ has our eyes twinkling! We’re also big fans of the sage green Virgos Lounge Bridesmaids dresses, also with a rather lovely dose of embellishment!
Karen’s make up artist Laura Anne is one of our recommended suppliers, and she gave Karen a genius tip for wedding day make up, you’ll have to read on to find out what it was. But that shouldn’t be difficult as I LOVED reading Karen’s write up, it made me laugh out loud and I totally want to go and get cronuts and coffee with her now…
I HATE in-between weather. I like my Springs green and fresh, I like my Summers filled with blue skies and bright sunshine and I need Autumn to be crisp and full of burnt orange and mustard yellows. So I’m tired of this windy/rainy/mild/cold combination. Sort it out weather…
I’m ready for the icy blue skies of Winter, the sparkling glimmer of frost and a low full sun that barely seems to make it above the horizon.
With this in mind, we’re going Wintery this afternoon. We’re looking forward to actually needing to wear a scarf and a hat – rather than just thinking you need to wear one, then leaving the house and ending up a sweaty wet mess within five minutes, because it’s actually rather humid.
I love Winter weddings. There is just so much you can do in terms of decor and styling. Metallics, rich deep berry tones, icy blues and greys, ivy green and Father Christmas red…the colour schemes are endless.
Experimenting with lighting is a dream too – creating a space that looks cosy and magical is such fun. And then there’s the accessories…this is where amazingly pretty scarves, gloves, jackets and even capes can all be brought out…
I’ve stuck to a white, silver and grey palette for this afternoon’s post – hopefully it will ease you into the upcoming clock change and make you look forward to Winter.
And cool because, well, this is a winter wedding. Michelle and Richard married back in January (the whitest January on record!) at Babington House. They chose their venue because they could take over the whole place, stay the night and have breakfast the next day.
I’m guessing that the majority of you are all feeling a little bit sick of the snow right now. I mean it seems as if we’ve been living in the depths of Winter for, like, forever with the sun only really making an appearance this week.
But I have something pretty special for you this morning. Something that I can guarantee will make you fall in love with the white stuff again.
The beautiful Sophie and the dashing Renauld married in Chamonix, France with awe-inspiring mountains as the most wonderful backdrop. In fact The Alps were a huge source of wedding inspiration for the pair influencing everything from their paper pretty to their sweet favours.
And that’s not all…just wait until you see the berry hued train that ferried guests up the mountain. How about that for alternative wedding transport.
Come on folks, jump on board!
The Romance Of Winter
Sophie The Bride:We are both half French so our first thoughts of where we would get married was to look at France. I have always loved the romance and cosiness you feel in the winter and in particular as Christmas approaches. We choose Chamonix as we had visited there on holidays and were excited about the thought of sharing this place with all our family and friends celebrating over a week together. The beautiful snowy mountains were the perfect backdrop for our wedding.
We used Jody at Mont Blanc Weddings to source a lovely venue for us. We finally decided on Grand Hôtel du Montenvers as the spot for our blessing; it is so impressive as it is only reached by a vintage train which climbs the mountain to the glacier. The Grand Hôtel du Montenvers is a traditional building that is fully wood panelled with a warming wood burner and a grand fireplace; it literally bursts with character.
La Cabane where we had our reception is in contrast a modern log cabin with a very alpine feel, serving amazing food.
I wanted to have an overall natural look to my wedding hair and makeup. I had my hair styled in rollers by Le Salon for the big day. I also wanted a natural beauty look but with bold red lipstick so that it would stand out in our photographs.
I went to MAC for a makeup trial and bought the majority of my products from there in addition to my Dermatologica skin care. I had my nails done in the UK in a subtle pink shellac which lasted me for the whole week.
I tried on lots of wedding gowns but ended up returning to the first shop and the first dress which I’d picked out. I knew I wanted a lace dress and loved the fitted style of my Benjamin Roberts gown in Style 2228 which I bought from a lovely shop called Wedded Bliss in Southampton. I bought my shoes from Benjamin Roberts too which I loved as I felt they had a classic feel that matched my headpiece – an original vintage piece designed by Jo Barnes Vintage perfectly.
My cape was made and designed by Shay Harris which added to the winter theme. I finally added some sparkle with a beaded and sequined belt which was tied with ribbon also from Wedded Bliss.
Wintery Shades Of Grey
We went high street for our bridesmaids and groomsmen and set out looking for wintery shades of grey, cream and silver. My bridesmaids wore Amanda Wakeley dresses which I found on Very, they were a beautiful silvery/grey tone. We had to make some last minute adjustments to my sister’s dress as she was 6 months pregnant! My mum made the lovely fur capes to keep the warm!
Renaud had his suit made by a tailoring company in Salisbury called Regents Tailoring; we choose all the details together down to the lovely leather buttons.
We ordered the flower girls outfits from Monsoon and the Best Man, Father of the Bride and ushers wore suits from Next and ties from Zara.
We used a florist in the next town of Sallanches. We choose white roses, willow, ranunculus, white Christmas roses, white & blue thistles and freesias. For our garlands we used fir, willow, holly and red berries. We also put Christmas trees up in both of the venues which we decorated ourselves which added to the festive feel.
Our look was simply winter, enhancing the alpine look of our two venues. With the snow as our canvass we kept the colour scheme very simple with shades of grey, cream and silver.
During the ceremony we passed our wedding rings through our family and friends on a piece of ribbon so each person could touch the rings and send us good wishes.
My favourite part of the ceremony was during our exchanging of vows when our celebrant read a piece we choose together;
Please take each other’s hands, so that you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes to you.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, the hands that will join your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it, support and encouragement to pursue your dreams, and comfort through difficult times.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
My sister also read a lovely reading called ‘the perfect love, the perfect friend’.
Lastly we had Mollie King who sang three songs ‘Come Away With Me’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and ‘I’ll Be There’.
Eat, Drink And Be Merry
We hosted our drinks reception at Grand Hôtel du Montenvers to the soundtrack of a live traditional accordion player; he also accompanied the guests in the train down the mountain when he played some more familiar songs for everyone to sing along to.
La Cabane had an amazing choice of food so we went out to Chamonix in July to sample all the options and the wine too of course!!
We opted for:
Terrine of Leman Lake Fish and Crayfish served warm with a bisque
Veal filet with Rosemary jus, potato gratin and vegetables
Cheese platter de Savoie, grapes and walnuts
This was followed by a traditional French wedding cake called a croquembouche or “piece montee” which is a made from choux buns filled with crème patisserie, built into a pyramid and decorated with fine caramel and sparklers!
At La Cabane, Mollie King and Rich sang some Christmas traditional Buble/ Sinatra-esque tunes for our guests. Our first dance was At Last (Etta James version) and Renaud and I had taken lessons in the run up to the wedding so we surprised everyone with our moves!
We then kickstarted the party with a DJ who played a range of disco classics!
We designed all our stationery ourselves and took our inspiration from all the vintage ski posters found all around Chamonix. We commissioned a painting from someone we found online and Renaud designed the layout and fonts.
We then used this design for the backdrop of our table plan and we made magnets as our favours along with mini bottles of Amaretto. Our place names took a lot of time and love! With my parents we made mini skis from lolly pop sticks that had each guest’s name on them!
I’ll leave you with a final thought – make sure you plan some time into your day where it will be just you and your new husband, we took a carriage ride to our venue and had a treasured half an hour with just the two of us.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of attending two friend’s “winter” weddings, styled and planned around the inevitability that it will be chilly, the very real possibility it will rain…and hell, based on recent years maybe even snow.
As a bride there is some comfort in the inevitable I think, I know when I was planning my own end-of-May day it was very much a case of making a lot of plan B’s should Mother Nature decide to not bless us with blue skies and sunshine.
To get the best of both worlds then I guess you could aim for both, a secret ceremony in Sydney Australia and the opportunity to experience re-living some of those intimate moments in the frosty folds of the Peak District.
This is exactly what RMW reader Sophie and her husband Matt did last year, and as you know – I love something W-day that’s a bit unusual, especially when paired with a beautifully written account.
And this folks is beautifully written.
Besides, who can resist a bride in mittens?! Seriously, these should be the new accessory du jour.
And for all of you October through February brides out there, I have some wee questions at the end of this post that I wouldn’t mind you dropping me a response on in the comments section when you have a minute.
Sophie The Bride: When Matt and I decided to get married we knew from the start that we wanted something relaxed, intimate and fun. We also had a serious case of itchy feet, so when we were finally able to take a month off to fulfill our long-held dream of travelling around Australia we decided to combine the trip with a small and very secret wedding.
We got hitched on the shores of Sydney Harbour opposite the Opera House, on Halloween (our 9th anniversary) before celebrating with two friends who were in on the secret, plenty of bubbles and dinner overlooking Bondi beach.
We were still on a high when we got back to winter in the North. We hadn’t had a professional photographer on the day, so when my friend Tracey Campbell of Campbell’s Flowers suggested a post-wedding shoot as a way of capturing some special keepsake photographs we could treasure we knew she was on to something.
It sounds strange as someone who chose to get married in sun-drenched Sydney, but I’ve always loved winter, especially the crunchy frosts and twinkling lights of Christmas. We also thought it would be lovely to have some wintery shots as a contrast to our summery wedding day ones. So we opted to organise the shoot quickly and make the most of the season.
We decided to brave the bracing weather and shoot in the Peak District. Matt hails from Derbyshire and as we met and now live in Sheffield it’s a part of the world we love spending time in, so it meant a lot to us. As a massive book-geek it also appealed as part of my favourite book Jane Eyre is set there- a novel we also took one of our wedding readings from.
The Peaks also influenced our colour themes and choice of flowers. Inspired by the way they come to life with rolling carpets of heather in late summer Tracey and I decided on a purple theme for the bouquet, Matt’s buttonhole and arrangement.
I’ve long been a fan of Tracey’s vintage, cottage garden style of design and knew it was a look that would work perfectly with my dress. I also loved that she champions British blooms and works closely with local suppliers. After a consultation in her girl haven of a workroom we had picked pale pinks to compliment the purples and settled on a wild, straight from the meadow bouquet to really work with the rugged beauty of the Peaks and moors. We also choose a cascading style of bouquet (Tracey tells me it’s a bit of an upcoming trend for next year) as it felt gloriously informal and reflected the flowing nature of my train.
In the end the floral designs featured lavender, vintage-look pale pink Sweet Avalanche roses, lilac Memory Lane roses, pale pink veronica, purple lisianthus, white aster and ferns along with the purple heather that inspired them to represent Derbyshire and eucalyptus for Australia. Antique-look lace and purple ribbon finished everything off perfectly.
Getting the chance to get dressed up again in our finery was a total treat- I think I’ll always be looking for any excuse to wear my dress again! It was a 1940s French Mousseline gown from Abigail’s Vintage Bridal with the most amazing train. I’d always known I’d wear a vintage wedding dress- I just love the romance of wearing a dress with history and other bygone love stories attached. As well as stocking the most gorgeous collection of dresses Abigail worked wonders with alterations, lowering the bust-line to suit my height and transforming the full-length princess style sleeves into cute cap sleeves better suited to tropical climes.
On the day of the shoot I teamed it with a Coast faux fur shrug to ward off the chill and add a wintery feel as well as my wedding shoes- retro-look teal peep toes from Topshop, although my leopard print wellies did make a cameo appearance! Matt wore his Topman suit and tan brogues by Poste.
Our photographer for the day was the incredible Jess Petrie. I’d seen her work before and been blown away by the beauty of it and the way she manages to capture brides’ emotions. As I’ve never been that comfortable in front of the camera I was a bit nervous about the shoot, but Jess really helped us feel relaxed from the start and enjoy it.
After doing my own make up for the wedding it was so lovely to be pampered by a professional before the shoot. The lovely Jenn Edwards suggested we kept the vintage, old-school glamour look that I loved, but tied in the colours with the flowers and wintery look of the shoot. So the postbox red lips I wed with were transformed to a deeper, almost berry hue. Jenn also created pretty pin curls in my hair, which sadly got blown out into a more windswept style when we braved the blustery weather of the heights.
Not only was there more than a bit of breeze, but snow had settled across the area we shot in (mainly at Surprise View in Derbyshire), despite a winter sun shining- the result was a slightly eerie, ethereal beauty that summed up everything we love about that part of the world. It couldn’t have been more perfect, and gave the shoot a bit of a Wuthering Heights meets Snow Queen vibe as Jess worked her magic.
The whole experience of the shoot from planning with Tracey and being pampered at the start to the amazing photos we will always treasure was so special and something we will always remember. It really was the best (early) Christmas present we could have hoped for. I can’t recommend it enough to other brides out there- runaway or otherwise!
The tangy crisp air, the crunch of leaves under foot, the myriad of colours in tree canopies above, the first frost and… the new Autumn/Winter collections in the shops. FYI, Charlotte and I are obsessed, I tell you, with the latest Kooples collection.
Seriously though, I love Autumn for each and every one of the glorious attributes that I’ve listed above. But I love it even more because it means that one of my favourite seasons…Winter…is on the way.
I’ve never been to a winter wedding and it’s not something we see a great deal of here at RMW HQ either. This makes me sad because if executed properly, a winter wedding can be an utterly glamorous and elegant affair.
And we haven’t even got started on how much kinder a soiree held in the colder months can be on the pocket.
Some of you may already be aware of the wintery inspiration shoot that I styled in December last year which was photographed by the lovely Ann-Kathrin Koch. I confess, the inspiration shoot was a self indulgent affair, it meant I got to ‘scratch an itch’ that I’d been longing to creatively explore for some time.
However there are so many other wonderful interpretations of the winter wedding theme out there that I just had to share them with you. The following moodboards are a cherry-picked selection of my favourite images…honestly I was like a kid at Christmas curating them all for you.
Hopefully they’ll inspire you too…
We Scream For Ice Queen
Shorter days and darker nights lend themselves perfectly to chic black tie events with grooms in tails and romantic brides in slinky ice-queen style dresses lit up by soft candlelight.
It’s worth looking for inspiration in the great outdoors too when making sartorial choices for your big day. Winter whites and layered gossamer textures are reminiscent of voluminous snowdrifts; they just scream elegance whilst keeping you warm too. Accessorizing with glitzy, metallic heels are the perfect way to finish off such a look – it’s almost like having beautiful icicles on the end of your feet.
Think outside the box when choosing your bouquet. Wintry posies of evergreen branches and berries such as fir, wild pine, aspen twigs and tree nuts swathed in natural fabrics such as hessian offers a seasonal alternative to conventional blooms.
If the weather is kind enough to allow you to have photographs outside then we recommend dressing for the elements. Choosing a luxurious cape or a furry hat will mean that you stay cosy and fashion-focused all at the same time. If you don’t want to cover up your beautiful dress with a cape then opting for a gown with long sleeves is a happy alternative.
Deck The Halls
You may have noticed that I’ve included a few wreath images in this particular moodboard. Granted, folks, they are a weak spot of mine but there is a solid reason for this indulgence.
Allow me to explain…
A seasonal wreath (and this applies to any month of the year) hung at the entrance to your venue is a wonderful decorative touch that not only pays homage to Mother Nature but also signals to your guests that the party starts here.
I love that the old customs of protecting woodland and tree spirits by bringing branches indoors has been passed down the ages to our modern society today. Try arranging snow-dusted branches and eucalyptus in tall vases to hint at a Winter wonderland without becoming too Narnia-esque.
You can also reflect the textures of the great outdoors by using soft palettes of greys, mauves, off-whites and ivory tones. Choosing these colours will add a sophistication to your nuptials without veering too far into winter wonderland territory.
Darker winter evenings also allow you to make a statement out of your entrances in other ways too. Why not garland doorways with fairy lights or place votive candles and oversized storm lanterns down steps and along paths to double up as essential lighting whilst looking pretty all at the same time.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly decor, filling glass jars with seed heads, fir branches and cloved oranges not only looks gorgeous but smells amazing too. Alternatively go foraging in your local parks and woodland for pine cones and string them up as festive bunting around your venue.
With the right elements, your winter soiree will overflow with decadent wintry textures and gorgeous rustic details; it’s all about bringing the outside in.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Because that’s what winter is all about right?
If there’s an upside to the darker nights and the freezing temperatures it’s that it allows us to feast!
We’ve got to keep our fat stores up, you know!
With decadent dining comes the most divine tablescapes bedecked with candles, crystal stemware, beautiful centrepieces and a little bit of mistletoe.
For the ultimate wintery tablescape, line candles along the length of of your table and keep main overhead lighting low. Go to town on your table linen by opting for metallic tablecloths to reflect flickering candlelight or layer up different swathes for material for a more textured look. Finish off the look by slotting placecards into pinecones for a touch of festive glamour.
Continue the theme by greeting your guests with mulled wine and hot chocolate as they arrive to warm them up from the chilly outdoors. Serving wintry cocktails such as Eggnog along with roasted chestnuts (on an open fire…) at your drinks reception is a wonderfully festive treat.
Lastly why not wrap baubles in fabric reflecting your colour scheme to hand to each guest as a favour to remind them of the day. You could even use them as an alternative to a guestbook by asking your nearest and dearest to write words of advice on them and hang them on your very own Christmas tree.
So what do you think? Have I seduced you into hosting a winter wedding or are you firmly and irrevocably a summer bride?
Perhaps you’ve already chosen to be a beautiful ice-queen bride…bravo for you! I want to hear all the details…
In the meantime I am desperately hoping that it doesn’t rain on my big day. I must be the only bride that is hoping that the sun stays away at her wedding. Instead I would like a smouldering low-lying mist to hover over frost-bitten ground.