Sometimes at RMW HQ we come across weddings where the bride has a dream book of wedding contacts. And this is definitely one of them.
Jenn literally has a plethora of talented friends and family around her who helped create her wedding vision.
Which, by the way, was classic English, meets rustic, meets bohemian, meets quirkiness – and I think it’s fair to say that together they definitely achieved it.
Jenn’s beautiful gown was worn by her Mum AND her Grandma on their wedding days. With a bit of love and care from the wonderful ladies at Agape Bridal, it was reborn for the third generation of the family.
Jenn and James married at Liverpool Cathedral (obviously THE perfect location for an epic cathedral length veil) and held their reception in a barn at Owen House Farm which had previously never been used as a wedding venue.
The lucky couple witnessed the Daniel family transform their ‘shed’ into a truly unique and beautiful venue – knowing that they would be the first couple to use it.
Jen The Bride: My Dad has been an Anglican Minister for almost 25 years now and in 2004 he was made a Canon of the Church of England for his years of service. This ‘qualified’ James and I to marry at Liverpool Cathedral.
James proposed to me at the top of the bell tower of Liverpool cathedral. After we were engaged we visited the cathedral’s chapel for a moment of peace and fell in love with it. The decision to marry there was very easy and obviously my family were delighted.
My wedding dress was also my Mum’s and Grandma’s wedding dress. My Grandma married in the 1930’s and wore a dress made of 2nd world war parachute silk. My late Great Uncle was in the RAF during the war so sent the silk for her to get the dress made.
When my Mum married in 1979, being an accomplished seamstress, she made her own wedding dress on top of the parachute silk underskirt of my Grandmas. She used cream silk crepe, as the original dress has yellowed with age. A professional dressmaker helped her fit the bones of her dress, but she sewed every stitch herself. Overall it had a slightly ethnic, romantic style.
For my gown, my Mum and I went for a wedding dress viewing at Agape Bridal Boutique. Mum asked whether Agape had ever made bespoke wedding dresses. The answer was that they hadn’t thus far but were very open to the idea. We explained my vision to one of the designers, Alex Donovan.
Alex produced three design options she and dressmaker Karen had come up with. Karen and Alex had clearly appreciated my slightly bohemian and romantic personal style. What Agape accomplished for me was not only the fulfilling of a now three generation long legacy but they created a dress that was true to who I am and that I felt simply wonderful in. My dress is the first vintage bespoke gown the Boutique has ever made.
I asked two of my oldest friends and James’s sister to be my maids, but I couldn’t bear the thought of dictating to them how to dress. It felt just wrong to me (personally) to tell them how they had to look, on a day that was important to them as well.
In terms of colour, my favourite colour is deep red, but I love all shades of reds and plums and pinks. So I suggested a gradient spectrum of everything from deepest red to the palest pink. We piled all of our mutual ideas onto Pinterest. Their dresses were from Ted Baker, Wtoo Maids and bespoke by Agape.
We were so, so fortunate to have my sister in law, Anna Potter, of Swallows and Damsons in Sheffield as our florist. My bouquet was spectacular. A wild array of a variety of red roses (Piano rose and David Austin), dark berry astillbe and deep red peonies, which thankfully were still in season. It was big, bohemian and wild, but still classic and structured.
We had a number of really special contributors to our wedding ceremony. I asked the choir I teach if they would sing one of my favourite John Rutter choral arrangements at our wedding. They couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. The students sang ‘The Lord Bless You And Keep You’ by John Rutter and had me in tears at the altar.
We also asked my old singer teacher and now friend and her husband, Kate and JP, who are both professional opera singers, to sing a duet during the signing of the register. The sound reverberating around the walls of the chapel and even into the cathedral was epic.
I had commissioned a musician contact of mine with sourcing and arranging a band back in October 2012. We had a seven piece jazz set up – sax, drums, piano, double bass, acoustic guitar, violin and vocals. The style of music got every age up dancing.
In the evening we didn’t want a cheesy run of the mill DJ, and were recommended a more retro alternative in Vintage 78 DJ. Matt Nickson is a saxophonist and has vast experience as a professional musician. He and his wife Annabel DJ a broad selection of records, including old shellac 78rpm discs and the music ranges from the 20s through to the late 50’s.
My brother, Dan Potter, illustrated a personal ‘logo’ of a tree and two birds for use across all of our wedding stationery. Dan has drawn for the boutique Collard Manson in Sheffield, designed the logo for Sheffield Antiques Quarter, and recently the album and single artwork for the Fratellis. I have always been so proud of him for his work and was over the moon he agreed to draw for us.
I’m glad to say that the majority of my crazy visions came to life and that our guests felt valued and welcomed. But there were also countless occasions where I really lost sight of what was important, and that really is that I got to marry my best friend, who patiently bore by my side as I drove myself mad over this one day. But I don’t regret my efforts, because James got the wedding he wanted too.
James Melia and Jo Bilham have been an integral part of our journey to getting married. From meeting James for the first time to our wedding day he has been a calming, cool influence who helped us to feel ourselves. I’m particularly grateful to James and Jo for managing my stresses on the day so well! And of course for the stunning photographic memories we have.