Well I think it’s fair to say Summer Scorcher Week has been pretty fabulous. We’ve had some gloriously sun-filled weddings from all over the world – Portugal, Ibiza, Australia…but today we’re back to good old Angleterre. Because it turns out, occasionally, we actually get some decent weather here too!
Zoe and Rich’s wedding is full of colour, smiles and fun. And lots and lots of sunshine. It really is one of the happiest weddings I’ve ever seen.
And the dress – literally made for Zoe. She looks every inch the Old Hollywood Starlet.
Zoe’s write up is fabulous, full of heartfelt emotion and lots of details, so sit back, relax and enjoy this gorgeous wedding.
A Yorkshire Countryside Affair
Zoe the Bride: We wanted our wedding to be a fun and relaxed day, a Yorkshire countryside affair where guests felt at ease and had lots of fun. I am from Leeds and Rich had always said it was traditional to get married in the bride’s hometown, so because of this tradition we never discussed doing it elsewhere. What made choosing our venue so easy was our agreement on not having a hotel. We agreed we didn’t want to buy a ‘package’ and both wanted something unique – a setting we could re-create our own Alice in Wonderland world.
We chose East Keswick Hall because of the amazing views, it sits in a tiny village smack bang in the Yorkshire countryside and if offered us a blank canvas. My Nanny also lived in East Keswick all those years ago so it felt familiar and meant to be.
A Beautiful View
Right from the onset we were keen to keep the budget as low as possible, this quickly eradicated lots of venues. We started looking at places we could make our own so when Rich found East Keswick Hall we knew it was the one almost instantly – it was the first and only venue we looked at. It allowed us to have a marquee without the cost, risk of bad weather and having to set up things like toilets.
The main clincher was the view, it is set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside with cows and sheep in the fields nearby it was perfect and exactly what we wanted. It had a large lawn behind it which we thought would be ideal for everyone to mingle, sip champagne and listen to our favourite music.
Gorgeous Long Hair
I always thought I wanted my hair up, but either way I never wanted it to look polished and hair sprayed so when my friend sent me a picture of Blake Lively at a premiere with Hollywood side swept curls I knew it was what I wanted. I’d also visited a beautiful bridal shop in Angel London and the woman in the shop had said to me, you have great long hair, show it off, show your kids that one day it was long!
Make-up wise, I’m not great at it and I don’t wear much skin make-up so I knew I wanted professional make-up. I visited MAC in Leeds and found Pam, who was very talented and had recently got married. Again, I didn’t know what I wanted as such so she just went to work in the trial and I fell in love. It was worth every penny I was so pleased and only retouched my lipstick in the evening.
Fabulous Fitted Fishtail
My dress was literally my dream dress (but I just didn’t know it), a fishtail style which was very fitted on top with a heavily detailed (beading and crystals) body, sweetheart neckline then masses of material from the thighs down which went into a beautiful long train.
I went to a designer wedding shop and found a completely different dress by the same designer. It was very white and simple (no detail) but I wasn’t 100% sure because it was £3,000. My Mum Helen is so generous and also loves to shop so when I had it on although she knew it was expensive she offered to buy it for me but my gut feeling was to keep looking. I then went to a shop in Leeds which sources one off pieces one year ahead of the current season, it’s called Abbey Wedding Warehouse.
The lady in the shop, Karen, was amazing, and you can only book an appointment once you know the type of dress you want and the designer. Karen told me she had a dress by the same designer but when I described the one I tried on she advised me she had a very detailed piece as 2013 was going to feature a lot of old Hollywood glamour.
I was hesitant but made an appointment anyway because I was intrigued. I went in and looked at loads of dresses pulling a few out to try but none really stood out. Karen then pulled out the Enzoani dress and it was just unbelievably beautiful in everyway. I never thought I would want such heavy detail but it seeing it for the first time made me fall instantly in love.
The intricate detail on the body was striking and it made me feel instantly amazing. I also never wanted a big puffy dress so this dress gave me the best of both as it was figure-hugging but then expanded at the bottom. I had also tried on several very figure hugging simple straight dresses but nothing made me feel special and I wanted to feel beautiful on my wedding day. Karen’s dresses are one-offs which means there was one dress in one size and it fit like nothing I had tried on before; it was like it was made for me. My Mum said it was perfect and it really was.
Old Hollywood Glamour
When I chose the dress the lady in the shop Karen told me 2013 was all about Old Hollywood Glamour so my dress was a year ahead of time. I absolutely fell in love with this theme so opted for old Hollywood curls swept to the side with a vintage headpiece. My dress was very detailed so I chose simple stud earrings. I always thought I wanted a long veil which swept the floor but because my dress was so fitted the shorter veil fell above my bottom and accentuated the dress beautifully.
My shoes were John Lewis – simple and beautiful. I added blue diamante ‘I Do’ labels underneath. Because the dress was so detailed I didn’t want to overdo the jewellery so I kept the look simple.
A Pastel Colour Explosion
The suits were from Burtons in Oxford Street, where store manager Andy sorted us with an excellent deal! The ushers, dads and two best men had a great day all trying the suits on then going out drinking afterwards around the pubs in the area. We opted for a colour explosion rather than tying everything together with one colour – again we both agreed immediately that we wanted a ‘rainbow’ wedding so choosing the wedding party attire was easy.
The groomsmen wore pastel coloured braces and navy bowties. The bridesmaids each wore a different coloured pastel sweetheart knee length dress (blue, green, lilac, lemon and coral), they all had peach heels and a matching multi-coloured bouquet which was a mini version of mine. They wore their hair in low side buns. I didn’t want them to have matching jewellery so they all felt comfortable and weren’t too ‘matchy’ and my new sister-in-law Bells wore her late Grandmother’s necklace which I thought was really special because she was greatly missed on the day.
Love In The Sand Dunes
The theme was love, fun and laughter – a bright happy pastel rainbow wedding. Rich proposed during our eight month round-the-world travelling adventure. We were two thirds of the way through the trip and had found our way to Jericoacora in North East Brazil; a beautiful sandy village on the coast filled with gigantic powder white sand dunes, beautiful fresh water lagoons and no roads.
After Rich proposed on the very top of our favourite sand dune we quickly began filling our days discussing the type of wedding we would like and both agreed we would want a church service with a cool party afterwards – with the focus being relaxing and enjoyable for everyone who came.
An Informal Atmosphere
We wanted there to also be lots of colour so a fun and informal atmosphere was created. We had a marquee lining erected in the hall which was just beautiful. We then had 14 table dressed in cream linen each with the vintage candelabras, wild flowers in old jars and candles. Our table plan was a large antique rose gold mirror which we wrote out the tables in gold pen. Rich’s Dad Chris is a teacher and he brought an old, paint-covered easel which finished it off a treat!
We had a 12 foot cake table which was filled with vintage cake stands (including ones my Dad Keith had made from scratch from plates we and Rich’s Mum Jan had sourced and hunted for over the year). We had a huge champagne-style glass filled with marshmallows, old glass jars filled with sweets and a couple of candelabras with pastel coloured candles. It was truly a colour explosion ready to eat. The top table was a large oval because we wanted to be able to chat to everyone rather than sitting in a big long line.
Flowers Scooped Up From The Garden
I was very calm when it came to the flowers because I don’t know a lot about them, I did know that I wanted a mixture of pastel colours which looked they had been scooped up in a garden – this was the exact brief I gave to our florist. She did an amazing job. I literally couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful bouquet. Every colour was the colour of my bridesmaid dresses! We also paid for the church to pull together beautiful cream pew ends.
The centrepieces – we collected old, vintage style candelabras from various second hand and charity shops and online auctions. We then spray painted them antique gold. Originally we were going to do multi-coloured candles on each table to project the colour theme but the cream candles looked beautiful on the table so we opted for them.
In the centre of each table we had a very large square mirror plate upon which sat the candelabra with something on each point which carried from old jars and vases with single wild flowers or jars with candles inside. Each table was unique and no two tables were the same, whether that was the style of glass jar or the colour of the flower.
Until My Last Breath
We were married in the same church as my Mum and Dad married over thirty years ago, so it was already an incredibly special place in my hometown Leeds. All I remember is getting to the church and being astounded at the number of people crammed in. People were sitting right up to the back and were all staring whilst we organised the running order of the bridesmaids, my little nephew Jack who was the cutest pageboy and my niece Betsy Bo our beautiful flower girl. My best friend Erica who was also my bridesmaid comes from a very musical family and she recommended her sister Stella to sing at the wedding so the ceremony started with a welcome and then Pie Jesu sung by Stella. It is such a beautiful song and makes me feel emotional so I had trouble holding my tears back even right at the very beginning.
When it came to the vows I was completely overwhelmed by what Rich was saying to me and as I looked deeply into his eyes I was overcome with emotion, love and excitement at having met my soulmate, declaring my love and commitment in front of our best friends and family and saying I’d be his wife forever. It sounds so cheesy but it is completely true. It was my favourite moment (albeit trying to stop myself crying) and something I will remember until my last breath.
My other favourite moment was our first dance. It was to our very special travelling song So High by John Legend. It was magical and at that moment we were the happiest most in love people on the planet. Rich introduced me to John Legend on our round the world adventure and I cannot believe I hadn’t listened to him before. We were in Vietnam on our way to tubing and were crammed into this tiny minibus with 4 other peoples. I can literally close my eyes and feel the heat from the sun, the air blowing through the windows whilst watching us wind round mountain tops on some of the scariest roads I have ever seen. But something about that eight hour journey was magical and it was being with Rich on our trip, listening to John Legend’s voice.
Afterwards we both agreed that So High was so perfect because we were high in the sky on those crazy roads, together, having fun, free and in love – so it was really special to have that as our wedding song. For the evening reception we hired a DJ who played all our favourite songs and our best mates Tom Vicary and Tony Bazelle got on the mic (unplanned of course).
Help-Yourself To Cake
I wasn’t initially crazy about having an expensive cake, especially because we opted for dozens of help-yourself cakes for our dessert. But I became addicted to looking at cakes on Pinterest and found a quirky vintage pastel cake which I just fell in love with. Rich’s auntie Sue found a local wedding cake designer who re-created our dream cake – at a colourful, pastel themed wedding a white cake just wouldn’t have worked!
My friend Sheryl from Fairy Caking was amazing at re-creating some of the other cakes I found on Pinterest (the amazing rainbow cake and pink frilly cake) and she also made mouth-watering glittery cupcakes to die for! As guessed arrived they were offered his ‘n’ hers vintage sweetie bags, pimms, champagne or soft drinks. We also had a vintage style popcorn machine and lots of lovely canapés from M&S.
Inspired By Travels
Following on from the travel theme we had a variety of pastel coloured luggage labels tied with ribbon around each wine glass. Some guests later tied them to their wrists as they danced the night away. For table names – as we’d travelled the world for eight months from January 2011 – September and Rich proposed to me at the top of a sand dune in Jericoacora, Brazil in August so we decided to name our tables after our favourite places and naturally the top table was the very place Rich proposed – Jericoacora. We used our own photographs for the pictures. Our invitations were passports with vintage luggage RSVP cards.
Sneaky Cuddles With Your New Husband
Advice – To make a budget and stick to it (it’s only a 12 hour day which goes quickly so ig you are saving for a house deposit or something else the wedding shouldn’t take over that), book your dream honeymoon, relax, enjoy the morning of the wedding with your mum and bridesmaids drinking champagne with your favourite music on and enjoy every single minute of the day itself making extra special time for sneaky cuddles and kisses with your new husband (don’t forget about him! I kept looking at Rich during little moments throughout the day thinking wow, you’re my husband I am so lucky!)
Make sure you give guests little surprises on the day; it is tempting to tell guests what they can expect but everyone loves a good surprise – our day included; vintage buses for the guests, a vintage popcorn machine, staff handing out old-fashioned sweetie bags – blue for boys and pink for girls. When the cows came out to say hello – in the run up to the wedding the cows hasn’t really been around but on the set-up day and the day itself they came out for photographs, a perfect Yorkshire countryside backdrop. They even ate all the bows we tied to the fence which surrounded the lawn!
We had a ‘kissing corner’ – straw bales in a hidden corner for guest wedding smooches, hot Fish and Chips straight out the fryer – we have had so many compliments on the fish and chips and even received a thank you card from guests saying they had never tried curry sauce with fish and chips so it was a new experience and they loved it!
And finally, a mankini – yes that’s right, Rich has a great group of mates who made him wear the Borat mankini on his stag, during Rich’s speech Rich pulled it out and passed it on to Alex Taylor who is getting married next – it has already been worn by their friend Raj and it will be handed down to each stag once the current stag is married.
Venue – East Keswick Hall
Dress – Enzoani at The Abbey Wedding Warehouse
Bridesmaids – Wedding Dress Online
Bridesmaid shoes – H&M
Groom and Groomsmen – Burton
Florist – Leonora Rose
Vintage China – Felicity’s Vintage Tea Party
Vintage Cars – Adel Cars
Vintage Buses – Yorkshire Heritage Bus Hire
Wedding Cake – C and E Cakes
Cake Table Cakes – Fairy Caking and The Yummy Yank
Fish & Chips – Fish and Chip Catering
Popcorn machine and Chair Covers – Love Sweet Love
Photographer – Richard Skins
Stunningly gorgeous isn’t it?
The multi-coloured pastel theme works beautifully for the Bridesmaids and how amazing that the florist matched the colours without even seeing the gowns! Keeping things as a surprise for guests on the day is also a great idea, who doesn’t want to be greeted with goody bags full of sweets, popcorn and a Vintage Bus?!?
There is definitely more Blake Lively about Zoe than just the hair! What a handsome couple she and Rich make.
And how lovely is the story behind their first song?
Lots of love,