Holly and Derek’s ski-inspired beachside ‘I Do’ is a real stunner of a wedding. It really is. In fact I’m not sure what to talk to you about first. Technically you wouldn’t think that a skiing wedding theme would blend so harmoniously with a seaside location but it really does. In fact they go together so seamlessly that it’s a wonder that no-one’s thought of this pairing before.
Anyhow Holly and Derek’s big day has stolen a little piece of my heart; their paper branding is fresh and original and so completely spot on…right the way down to their off-piste bar. I love their ethos of recycling and collecting every piece of decor for their wedding day and the fact that the community of Alderney rallied together to contribute to their day brought a tear to my eye.
And blimey when I say there are some cracking looking guests at this wedding I’m not ruddy joking. Everyone is smiling and joking and so flipping cool!
Holly The Bride:We chose Alderney as that is where we now live and have a house and business. I spent all my summers growing up in Alderney and now we run a pub/restaurant/ small hotel called The Georgian House. We chose to have the wedding at Essex Farm as it was beautiful location – overlooking one of many favourite beaches and was only place we could get a marquee set up big enough for what we wanted!
I wanted to keep my hair as natural as possible and also keep it simple. I don’t normally wear lots of make up and wanted to look like me walking down the aisle. It’s so hard to keep make-up looking natural whilst wanting it to last so it’s all about the foundation I think. A lovely hairdresser from Headmasters in London flew over to help with all of our hair and helped with placing my Jenny Packham Acacia comb in my barnet.
My dress was Tourmaline by Suzanne Neville and I bought it from Miss Bush in Surrey. I always knew I wanted something with long sleeves, a high neck, low back and some lace somewhere. Tourmaline didn’t look like much on the hanger but one of my bridesmaids picked it out for me to try – it was so simple so I didn’t think it would do it for me but it blew me away. As I live in the Alps in the winter and Alderney in the summer I really had only 48 hours to find my dress! But Miss Bush was great as they had several designers to choose from. The girls there made you feel welcome and special and were so helpful when organizing all the fittings and veil whilst I was abroad.
I’m not a huge shoe girl so didn’t want to spend a fortune on a pair of heels. Rachel Simpson had a really good selection to choose from with plenty of variety. I’m not particularly traditional so I opted for gold shoes so I could wear them again, as well as adding a bit of sparkle.
In the evening, I slipped on a diamante vintage waistband which was my Nana’s and which my mum had restored.
Derek had his best man and five ushers all dressed in kilts and made from various family tartans with tweed jackets. I had six bridesmaids wearing dye to order dresses by Ghost in Sea Green. I really wanted for each of the girls to feel comfortable in what they were wearing and in something that suited their individual shapes/tastes.
We didn’t particularly go for a full on colour theme, more of a mix of greys, sea/sage green, pinks and natural tones. Having a wedding in a marquee on Alderney was always going to have to be slightly rustic theme anyway with the resources we had for such a large wedding on such a small island so we embraced it! I didn’t want to spend money on things we wouldn’t have any use for again so we ended up using lots of recycled stuff! Wine bottles for the cocktails, painted tin cans and Hendricks bottles for the vases, oyster shells for S&P pots, and jam jars for sauces and chutneys. It actually worked really well and added to the look we were going for.
We bought rolls of hessian and cloth for the tables, we borrowed tables and chairs from the Alderney Week Team, we put down 80 sheets of plywood which we then sprayed to make a dance floor, we made our own bar, we borrowed sofas for our reception tent and borrowed a BBQ spit from a friend chef who owns a restaurant in London! The list goes on and it was just amazing how everyone pulled together.bIt was like our own mini festival.
The one thing we did decide to spend on was the lighting – I’d always wanted lots of Festoon lights as they give off a lovely light and feel to the place. They really made it. Of course nothing being easy on Alderney or things never arriving when they should we were missing 100 lightbulbs and had to get some couriered to a friend to bring over! Everything was a challenge but a fun one.
I’d never really dreamt of my wedding, but the one thing I always knew I wanted was hydrangeas if I was to get married on Alderney. They grow in abundance there because of the soil and they are everywhere you turn in August. Our florist went hydrangea hunting for us and we also decapitated my Mum’s giant pink hydrangea in her garden! We also had a selection of dusty pink and green roses and gypsophila.
We were married at the local church by two vicars, the usual one whose church it was and then a family friend that we know and love very well. The local minister started the proceedings and then our friend the Rev Anthony conducted the marriage ceremony.
We asked the island’s ukulele band to play during the canapés. Then we had two bands – a ceilidh band called The Timourous Beasties who led us for the first couple of hours and then a band that we know and love from the Alps called Bring your Sisters featuring another local legend from the Alps, Ben Westaway, who took us rocking through till the early hours. Our first dance was a grand march for the ceilidh which was a traditional and easy choice and then we had Canned Heat’s Going Up the Country as our second first dance. A song which brings many a smile and memories from days of old.
Our real passion is food! So the pressure was on. We used the pub we run to cater for us as they do a great deal of outside catering and knew exactly what we were after. We went hell for leather on the canapés which all had some relevance – Haggis, neaps and tatty balls; and chicken liver parfait cones served in a ski with holes carved out of it. All 10 canapes were amazing! We had champagne and Cidre Brut (local Brittany cidre – delicious!).
We had to think practically when it came to planning the rest of the meal as we didn’t have any ovens. For the starter we had Alpine cheese and charcuterie boards with Womble Tomato Chutney and washed down with either a Holly or Del Cocktail. One of our barmen from the pub is an amazing mixologist and created a Sangaree for Holly (wine, gin and elderflower) and a Marmalade Dacquiri for Del (his ski school is called Marmalade!); they were delicious yet VERY potent! For the main course we opted for local beef, chicken and pork. We shipped over this mega spit from our friend chef Adam Byatt (Saturday kitchen regular) which was absolutely perfect and achieved exactly what we wanted.
Each table received a mix of meat joints served with a green bean salad, lemon and herb new potatoes, and a yummy Italian Panzanella salad. Dessert consisted of wedding cake made from three different flavoured tiers and salt caramel truffles.
The invites were designed by a friend of ours, Simon Barrett at the National Grid Design Distillery in Australia. They were made to look like alpine ski passes and then there was a “piste map” which had all the events for the weekend and the map and locations of note for the island. The table names were named after pistes in Meribel. We had special piste marker signs made up by Snowshepherd – these were one of the best buys of the wedding and we still use them now for canapé plates! Our favours were seeds for bees more specifically Wild flower seeds which are good for the bee population.
Our photographer Helen Cawte was exceptional! She embraced Alderney and got stuck in. She was unobtrusive and lovely to have around and performed such a phenomenal job and captured the whole thing from start to finish. We could not have asked for better; in fact she’ll be shooting my sister’s wedding too.
Our amazing wedding team bought us a giant Womble carving as our wedding present which was carved by a local guy and is amazing. Our new home on Alderney is called ‘Womble’ House as it was owned by Eliza Bereford who wrote the Wombles.
Our wedding was everything we had dreamed of and more. We have had the most incredible response from it and seems to be one of those wedding people will talk about forever and a day. It was utterly ridiculous and wonderful.