A Sri Lankan Sapphire.

Good morning peeps.

Today we have a mix of influences and a match made in heaven. Nat is Sri Lankan, Adrian is Irish and they married in London…

Prepare for some rich hues, a good dose of colour pop and enough D.I.Y ideas to shake a glue-stick at.

Photography today is by Anna Clarke and what a great job Anna and her husband Simon have made of capturing all of these colours, all of this joy and especially all of the love that just pours from this captivating winter wedding.

A Six Month Engagement

Adrian and I got married on 3rd December 2011, with the wedding service at my home church in New Eltham, London and the reception at Selsdon Park Hotel, South Croydon. So many of the church congregation I had known as I grew up came as well as helped at the service, and it was wonderfully personal having friends and family praying for us. We’d met in 2004 volunteering in Uganda and started dating five years later, flying back and forth between Dublin and Oxford, and neither of us wanted to delay starting our life together so kept our engagement under six months.

I’d always imagined having an outdoor tipi wedding but as our wedding was going to be in December, this was just a ridiculous notion considering British winter weather, so we opted for practical! There’s a part of me that still longed for the tipi, but on the day, absolutely none of that mattered once we actually got married in the church! Hotel receptions can sometimes have a bad rep, but we really needed somewhere where Adrian’s family from Ireland could stay at a reasonable price and that would be comfortable for our guests. The Selsdon Park staff were just so accommodating, even going out of their way to help us source a Sri Lankan caterer for our buffet meal!

Not A Bridey Bride

The bridal gown was the one thing I was quite nervous about, as I guess I’m not a ‘bridey bride’ and didn’t want to be like mutton dressed as lamb! I tried on a few dresses with a couple of friends and family and actually found the whole experience quite overwhelming. I rarely try clothes on when I shop in any case, so parading in front of mirrors and groups of people in a wedding dress was something else! This all sounds mightily ridiculous and dramatic, I know, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt like this!

Anyway, I decided to go alone to Ellie Sanderson in Oxford, tried on a few dresses and bought one then and there off the rack as it was on sale. They really made me feel comfortable and weren’t too pushy at all. The dress was ‘Carmen’ from the Stephanie Allin Bourdeax Collection and my test to see whether it was ‘me’ was jumping up and down in front of the mirror! The pleated fishtail part of the dress made me feel like I was wearing a sari and think of Sri Lanka – my roots! The dress didn’t exactly fit perfectly, so I took it to Pure Couture in Beaconsfield for alterations. They were just fantastic, changing the back from zip up to lace up flawlessly and adding organza straps for me!

Sri Lankan brides generally leave their weddings in a red outfit and as we were trying to combine two traditions in our wedding, mum bought me a beautiful red sari from London which I changed into for the evening reception and accessorised with gold heirloom jewellery. We’ll be having a small party celebrating our marriage out in Sri Lanka, where I will get to wear this sari again!

Highstreet Heaven

I bought a veil from Ellie Sanderson on the day I got my dress. The rest of my accessories were mostly from high street stores! I’d initially bought a headpiece from an online boutique, but when it arrived I realised it really wasn’t my style! So I ended up casually finding a lovely headband from Oasis and my bracelet from Monsoon! My mum bought me a gorgeous necklace and earring set from Debenhams which I wore on the day.

Sri Lankan Sapphire

My ‘something blue’ was my engagement ring created by my brother-in-law Tony. Him and Adrian sourced a Sri Lankan sapphire stone for the centre along with two non-conflict diamonds either side! The fact that it was created by family and has an element of Sri Lanka in it means the world to me!

Cutting It Fine

I was a bit last minute with my shoes, and bought them only a few days before the wedding from Rainbow Club. They were comfy and I loved that they were dyeable!

Family Fortunes

I was very fortunate to be marrying into a very talented family and my sister-in-law Paula did my mine and the bridesmaid’s make-up on the day and did such a fab job creating a natural but elegant look. One of my bridesmaids took me to Bobbi Brown for a trial to get an idea of what would suit me best on the day, as I rarely wear make-up and haven’t a clue! After scouring the internet for a hairdresser, I found someone who lived locally via Sam at Busy Beauty and after a trial, decided I’d have my hair half-up half-down with curls so that it wasn’t too overdone and the girls would all have side buns with a plait running along the back.

The girls thoroughly enjoyed having their hair put up in this style and the hair stylists themselves were really relaxed and very reasonably priced!

To Bloom Or Not To Bloom

At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted flowers at all, because we were keen on not being too wasteful. But the package at Selsdon Park included flowers on the table, for which I bought the vases myself, and my old Brownie leader from church was going to do a few floral arrangements for the church and offered to do the bridesmaid’s bouquets as a gift. I love big open flowers, so we used gerberas throughout, and people got to take them home afterwards!

Dirty Fabulous

My super creative sisters-in-law Caroline and Kathy have their own vintage boutique in Dublin called Dirty Fabulous with a great slant towards all things bridal. Caroline made my brooch bouquets which were just perfect, (with the brooches coming from family and friends), and I’m so happy I have it as a keepsake!

Five Bright Colours

Adrian bought all the groom’s suits from a store in Dublin and the boys accessorised with their own waistcoats or jumpers as they wanted, which looked great! The bouttonieres were also created by my sister-in-law Caroline out of vintage ribbon, music manuscript and feathers, based on a few pictures Adrian had seen on wedding blogs. I loved that he took such an active role in the whole wedding planning, I’m very lucky! I wanted to have a vibrant look to the wedding, (probably still pining after that summer wedding idea!), so chose five bright colours which paired up the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Adrian bought the ties from a mix of charity and high street shops with different patterns so it wasn’t too formal.

The bridesmaid’s dresses were midnight blue Alfred Sung in five different designs that the girls and I picked to suit their particular styles, and I ordered them from the States via Joielle. I can’t begin to say how helpful Joielle were and they made the process so easy, considering I was ordering in sizes I didn’t know about from another country! The girls each had different earrings I’d bought from wandering around a number of shops and silver bangles, with matching court shoes from the Debut range in Debenhams.I bought material from an East London sari shop in the five different colours so that each of the girls would have a sash for their dresses and bouquets for a splash of colour and to co-ordinate with the boys. It worked really well in the church, as the wedding party didn’t know each other but knew exactly who to walk down the aisle with!

Splashing Out

Adrian hardly spends money on himself as he’s so conscientious and we decided together that if there was one time in his life that he should, it had to be for his wedding! I mean, guys can wear suits for years to come but the same can’t be said for the bridal gown! He went to Ede and Ravenscroft in Oxford one weekend when he was visiting me, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of choosing the materials and linings! I absolutely loved his outfit, he looked so handsome – three piece dark grey tweed suit, with dark blue lining to match the bridesmaid’s dresses and I bought him a pocketwatch as a wedding gift which he wore on the day. He’s an old man at heart!

Go Team Clarke

The photography was really important to us, especially since so many of my family were unable to make the wedding from overseas, we wanted to document the day well. I saw Anna Clarke’s bright yellow advert on RMW, and just had to click on it! We’d only met one photographer prior to contacting Anna, and had been a bit disheartened by the experience. Team Clarke (Anna and her husband Simon) were an instant hit! They were so easy to get along with, we loved their style and it felt as though they genuinely wanted to know about us, our relationship and wedding plans. We had wanted someone taking shots of the guys getting ready in the hotel and another photographer with us girls in my parent’s house, so it worked out perfectly and the two of them stayed up with us til the early hours of the morning!

They also did a photobooth with props for us, the results of which were hysterical! We couldn’t stop laughing when we saw the photos! Bottom line is, we had the best photographers who captured all the happiness and emotion of the day!

Cake Collaboration

My godmothers wanted to buy us the cake as a gift, so we decided on a Victoria Sponge as it’s Adrian’s favourite! After finding a few cake makers around the area of Selsdon Park, my godmothers visited a lady called Tracy from It’s All About Cake and she created the cake with red roses as decoration exactly like the pictures we’d given her! The cake topper was also created by Dirty Fabulous from vintage paper made to look like Sri Lankan palm trees!

In Sri Lanka, a particular type of fruit cake is served at weddings wrapped for people to take with them. My aunty made this for everyone at the reception and it was served with the teas and coffees!

We also had cakes, teas and coffees, before and after the wedding service, as it was a chilly day and some people had travelled far to get there so a cuppa couldn’t go wrong! My aunty made 200 cupcakes and it was just great for Adrian and I to greet everyone after the wedding itself, albeit crying our eyes out with joy but nevermind!

Vintage Hens

My hen party had been expertly organised by my bridesmaids with a 1940s theme, including everyone having their hair and makeup done and moving onto a swing dance class. Adrian and I both love swing music, so decided to go for a swing jive band called Goosebumps who we found online after listening to what felt like a million clips from different bands!

It’s quite a gamble choosing a band that you’ve never heard perform before but the guys were great fun, they learnt a few songs that we requested and were pretty theatrical in style! We had so many comments from friends saying their boyfriends who never usually dance actually took to the floor at our reception!

Before the band played, we had two instructors from Swingland teach a short swing dance class, which filled the dancefloor with all ages and was just so much fun!

After the dancing, we moved on to the hotel bar where Adrian and a couple of his brothers played music and had a bit of a sing along sesh of old, new and Irish tunes! They’d brought over their guitars and bodhran from Ireland and there was a fantastic atmosphere with people from other parties joining in too!

Pencil Full Of Lead

For our first song we went for ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ by Paolo Nutini, played by the band! Awkward slow dance with all eyes on us wasn’t really our style, but random spinning around the dance floor was more like it! Loads of people joined in half way through the dance which was great fun.

Love Notes

Adrian and I were just so overwhelmed with our friends and family making such an effort to be at the wedding and wanted to make them feel as welcome as possible. The wedding may be about us getting married, but everyone there had played a part along the way and we wanted to share how much we loved them for that. So we decided to write individual notes to each of the guests, which I think took up the most time but it was so worth it.

Adrian created a threefold card template with the note inside, and we also included a charity pin to either the Motor Neurone Disease Association or Irish Cancer Society – two charities close to our hearts. We tried to use as much recycled paper as we could for all the wedding stationery and cards.

On a whim near the time of the wedding, my mum and I also bought enough sets of bangles from an Asian jewellery shop in East London for all the ladies coming to the reception to add a Sri Lankan touch, and they were set out at the drinks reception.

Keeping An Eye On The Purse Strings

I think the whole time during planning, Adrian and I were very aware of not wanting to spend unnecessarily, especially as the venue and clothing can take such a chunk out of even the tightest of budgets! So we involved family in the decor and tried to DIY our way through it!

The table decorations were a mish mash of things we liked – no particular theme or style! Adrian’s uncle over in Ireland chopped a tree into slices for our centrepieces, which the boys sanded down the day before the wedding! There were candles that I’d collected from various shops, my cousin sent over wooden elephants from Sri Lanka and a friend and I made pinwheels to go in the vases with the colourful flowers following a tutorial online.

The table numbers were made by my cousin’s wife Shehara who is fantastic with paper quilling and we also bought midnight blue and gold children’s bangles to use as napkin holders!

Entertianing All Ages

For the drinks reception, we hung polaroid-style photos that we’d printed at home around the drinks reception of everyone at the wedding which was a good talking point and another way we thought to make people feel as though they weren’t just a number!

We also had two large old maps of Ireland and Sri Lanka which were placed at the entrance and my mum, Adrian and I painstakingly tied ribbon in the five colours onto wooden stirrers for the drinks reception. Never have I seen so much ribbon! One of my bridesmaids had decorated a vintage suitcase and given it to me at my hen party, so we used that for people to drop cards into.

My brother-in-law Barry designed and painted our wedding invitations and they were perfect! There’s something very beautiful about hand painted invitations. He has his own website if you would like to see more of his work visit barryquinn.ie. Barry also made our table plan in a black board style and drew our finger print tree which we’d first seen on RMW. people seemed to love it!

For the kids we had disposable cameras with an I-Spy game that I had found online and wedding themed colouring books for the very small ones! Helped keep them entertained.

Choose Wisely

The ‘frills’ of the wedding day are obviously what makes the planning so much fun and gets your creative juices flowing! Sometimes mixing different styles together can work better than one particular theme, if that’s your personality! The wedding day itself can be so reliant on other people, ie. caterers, photographers, transport, so choose those that are friendly but professional and who understand where you’re coming from.

Use family and friends during your planning! We were blessed to have so many amazingly talented people around us and I found it a great way of getting to know Adrian’s brothers and sisters too. I think it’s also important to try and make things comfortable for your guests. Little things we thought of like hiring a London bus to transport people from church to venue really help I think.

But never forget what the day really means. Faith is important to myself and Adrian, and being married in my home church before God, surrounded by family and friends was simply amazing. Enjoy your wedding with your groom (it’s his day as well!), don’t overplan the day or you’ll feel stressed the whole time and miss all the fun! One of my highlights was an impromptu Backstreet Boys singalong that the groomsman did in the middle of all the very emotional speeches!

As much as I may have initially wanted that tipi wedding, ultimately on the day these things don’t change the fact that I was blessed enough to be able to marry my best friend on a day filled with many tears, much joy and great laughter that I will never forget.

Venue Selsdon Park Hotel

Dress Stephanie Allin

Shoes Rainbow Club

bouquets and Cake Topper Dirty Fabulous

Boutique Ellie Sanderson

Hair Busy Beauty

Photography Anna Clarke

Cake It’s All About Cake

Stationery Barry Quinn

Band Goosebumps

I know I can’t help myself when I see a groom in a hat, so here I go again… I love the edge of informality and fun that a simple accessory like a hat provides. It looks great for your ‘fun’ photographs and of course you can always quickly toss it to one side if you want some more formal shots.

I am also more than a bit enamoured by herringbone at the moment. Confessions of a fashion geek.

I am loving this Sri Lankan/Irish mash up! Love the wooden elephants, the impromptu sing song to bits and the maids and groomsmen with their colour co-ordinated accessories? It’s a stroke of organisational genius!

Muchos thanks to Nat and Adrian for sharing their big day with our polka dotted community.

By the Way – Anna Clarke is currently offering £100.00 off any wedding booking with a deposit paid throughout March 2012, so if you like what you see – go and grab yourself a bargain!


Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

20 thoughts on “A Sri Lankan Sapphire.

  1. What a totally dreamy wedding! Although there are tons of beautiful details, I think the most beautiful thing is that it’s really obvious they didn’t get swept away in the whole, “We’re having a wedding” thing…I know, they clearly DID have a wedding, but I think what those photos show is a marriage and a fantastic family life.

    Anyhow, deep and meaningful bit out of the way…lets get onto the wedding shizzle…!!!!

    Where are Nat’s pj’s from please? They remind me of my primary school summer dress which I used to lurve…I would dearly adore some red gingham pjs with a cute collar like that! As well as a coat hanger with my name on in gems! Oooo that would be nice to get of the wardrobe everyday…

    How freaking cool is the girl doing the mother of the bride’s hair…she looks like she’s the fifth member of Little Mix…

    And, I am loving all the flat caps…Ryan Gosling in The Notebook much?! Erm yes please!

    And finally, the dress. As soon as I saw the shot of Nat and her dad walking down the aisle, Thierry Henry popped into my head – those curves are complete and utter ‘va va voom’ and I am green with envy…damn you boyish torso…



  2. Gorgeous!! Love the bridesmaids colour sashes. You can tell the Groom is totally besotted! Just beautiful!

  3. Grooms suit = amazing. Brides dress (and that figure!) = amazing. Whole wedding is amazeballs! Looks like a great day with lots of gorgeous personal touches.

  4. @ Pamela – nail on the head. This is so clearly a marriage focussed on exactly that – Getting married, being in love and starting a life together. The fact that it is also damn pretty is a bonus for all of us in inspirational blog land 🙂

    Im not an expert on gingham pj’s anyone know where our Pamela can get some?

    @Hazel – So true, the sashes are a great way to pull your maids and groomsmen together with some unity.

    Can I also just mention the grooms polka dotted pocket square – I missed it first time around and usually we jump on anything with polka dots. Suffice to say, I like it. A Lot.


  5. I want to print polaroid photos like that for our marquee but I haven’t been able to work out how. Any ideas? Love the maps, the dress, the suit, the photos…… Gorgeous!

  6. Um… goodness, what a knock out wedding.

    @Lizzie – ha ha ha that made me laugh, I was thinking the same thing though – how do I get my boy figure to look like THAT?!

    I love the colour and the detail and those portraits…..perfection.

    Charlotte xxx

  7. I think my favourite shot has to be the one of the groom having a cup of tea! I’m afraid that’s going to be me on my day!

  8. What a stunningly cool couple! Yep agree with Pamela on how the wedding was so them and not a big day extravaganza.
    And I am also a sucker for tweed, have worn a lot of tweed this winter as well as elbow patches. The only thing I am missing is a pipe and flat cap.

    x x

  9. oh and disposable cameras on BOGOF at boots right now. Not pretty wedding ones but regular ones that both boys and girls would be happy with.

  10. this is my fave wedding ive seen recently on RMW and thats saying something because all they wedding are beautiful!!! xxx

  11. Oh do love that photo where he’s cupping her face in his hands – I went a bit unnecessarily gooey. And I love the one where her mum is putting on her veil.

    Georgeous cake – looks so delicious. And lucky bridesmaids – what great frocks!

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