Ok lovely people, we are starting the week at TRULY EPIC on the wedding spectrum. So get ready…
The details from Russ and Sophie’s vintage circus themed affair have been styled immaculately. If you’re having a themed wedding – this one is a shining example of how to do it properly.
When I looked at the images from Shoot Photography, I was blown away by the stationery, décor and flowers – then I read Sophie’s report and realised the level of involvement she had with EVERYTHING and I was literally astounded.
Sophie ramps wedding décor up a notch so it’s only fair that I let the leading lady herself tell you all about it…
Only Grays Would Do
Sophie The Bride: It was really important for us that we should celebrate our big day at a venue that meant something to us. On that basis, when it came to choosing a venue there was only ever one contender; Grays Court, in fact we were so sure of this we didn’t ever look at any other options! We live a stone’s throw from Grays and since discovering the beautiful old house a few years ago have always considered it a very special ‘secret local’, enjoying many a peaceful bottle of wine there, tucked behind York Minster away from the city’s many tourist traps.
And, when one summers evening 17 years after we had met, Russ decided the time was right to pop the question, it felt absolutely right that he should arrange for to do it in Grays beautiful walled gardens, complete with a brass quartet playing Lionel Richie from the balcony above!
Pin Up Girl
When it comes to hair and make-up I have always loved the 40’s and 50’s ‘pin-up’ girl styling and wanted to incorporate key elements of these eras in to my wedding day look. I had a couple of make-up trials to gather some inspiration but decided that I would be happier and look and feel more ‘me’ doing my make-up on the day. I chose to keep my make-up simple and focussed on my eyes, long lashes, black liner and strong brows with a flash of pink Mac lippy.
I was keen to keep my hair looking fairly relaxed and natural and the amazing Abby at Bang Hair managed to create my vision, incorporating a loose victory roll twist which balanced my headpiece perfectly.
By the time the big day came around I had run out of perfume and couldn’t justify buying myself more so I borrowed my Mum’s Stella by Stella McCartney. A scent I used to wear years ago and still a firm favourite and it was lovely that it covered my ‘something borrowed’ too!
A Simple Bateau Neck Gown
I was determined that wedding dress shopping would not turn in to an arduous task for my mum, bridesmaids or I so did lots of research online and chose my perfect dress shape before I booked any fittings. Since I had also committed the cardinal sin of buying the bridesmaids dresses and my shoes before I had chosen a dress, I knew the dress was going to have to be pretty classic- there were already lots of colours, patterns and textures going on!
I went to one bridal shop, tried on 6 dresses and with my ideal shape confirmed in my mind I roped my sister in to measuring me and took the plunge ordering a simple bateau neck silk dress online. Just a few weeks later, after some serious pressing to remove the creases and some final tweaking to ensure my perfect fit, my dress was finished and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined!
The Perfect Pair Of Shoes
As I have mentioned, I bought my shoes before my dress, having searched endlessly for the perfect pair of fun, cute and appropriately coloured heels! When I eventually came across the shoes (Kiki by Kurt Geiger) I was overjoyed… until I realised they were last seasons and had sold out! Luckily after some conscientious eBay hunting I found a brand new pair in my size and snapped them up for just £40.
I trawled Etsy looking for the perfect headpiece and knew the 50’s style silk headpiece with chenille spotted veil was exactly right as soon as I saw it. It was custom made for me by the very clever Agnes Hart who runs her own millinery workshop in London.
I have never particularly been in to sparkly jewellery so when my Dad suggested he would like to buy my earrings for the big day whilst we were perusing a jewellery shop on holiday in France, a simple pair of turquoise studs with a tiny silver and turquoise bracelet fitted the bill perfectly and also ticked my ‘something blue’ box.
Small But Perfectly Formed
Russ and I were clear from the outset that we wanted to keep the numbers of bridesmaids and ushers small and uncomplicated. I asked my sister and sister in law to be my bridesmaids and my niece and nephew to be our flower girl and page boy. Russ’ ushers and best man were his 3 best friends.
The bridesmaids’ and flower girl dresses were the very first wedding things we bought, I spotted them in our local Joules outlet store and knew the colours, patterns and styles were absolutely perfect for the fun, vibrant ‘vintage circus’ style we had in mind for the day. I found the bridesmaids shoes in the Dorothy Perkins sale and bought the little jackets from Monsoon UK.
The boys’ suits were off the peg from another high street store and their velvet bow ties were made to order by an amazing little company called Mrs Bowtie. Russ’ suit was made to measure and whilst we originally thought about choosing some off the wall fabric combinations we eventually settled for a beautiful black and white herringbone wool with a mustard yellow suit lining and striped waistcoat.
The vintage circus theme came about as a result of a brainstorm we did shortly after getting engaged. Our priority for the day was that it was fun, relaxed and very ‘us’ with an odd surprise thrown in here and there for good measure. I love interior design and our home is an eclectic mix of new and old put together with a sense of humour and these are things that we wanted to get across on our big day.
Regardless of what anyone says I really believe that weddings are a little theatrical, a performance for your nearest and dearest and we decided to embrace and play on this idea though our theme. The bridesmaids and flower girl dresses were the first things we bought and really helped to define the whole colour palette.
I bought additional dresses for us to cut up and use within the decor so elements of the scheme tied together. I got a little bit obsessed with perfectly round oversized balloons which I sourced via eBay and am glad I did as they proved a brilliant prop for our couple shots. One of the most successful elements of our decor was a custom made sign of our initials which sat on the fireplace in the ceremony room. I bought this almost a year before the wedding and had it tucked away in the loft before unveiling it on the big day. Everyone admired it and it also gave the photos some real wow!
Bright And Fun Flowers
It was really important to me that I chose a florist I had complete faith in given that this was one of the only details that would not be finished until the day and was completely out of my hands. With a clear style and colour palette in mind I contacted several florists before deciding to entrust the arrangements to Heaven Scent florists in York.
I wanted the flowers to be cute, pom-pom shaped and bright and having spent some time looking at bouquets online had a clear of idea of what I liked and what I didn’t. I had set my heart on pink peonies, little yellow craspedia, hydrangeas in pink and white and dahlias with white freesias. As peonies weren’t in season the florist suggested fuchsia David Austen roses, which despite my reservations were absolutely beautiful.
We also decided to incorporate yellow pinhead proteas to add texture and colour. Russ and I spent many a Saturday morning at a local flea market collecting the many oversized vintage coloured vases we used for the centrepieces which really anchored the eclectic look we were trying to achieve.
Intimate And Emotional
Despite being given the option of holding the ceremony outdoors we decided to squeeze our 80 guests in to a slightly too small ceremony room on the basis that we wanted the ceremony to be personal and intimate and make everyone feel a part of our vows. It obviously had the desired effect as lots of the guests commented how uncharacteristically emotional it had made them!
We chose a mutual close friend Cheryl to read ‘Marriage Fulfils The Love Two People Share’ by Glenda Wilm and my big brother did an amazing job of reading a poem by Daniel Harris called ‘Blessing Of The Hands’ a beautiful passage that had most of our guests reaching for their hankies! The ceremony was short and sweet and everything we had hoped for.
You’re So Cool
On a visit to Grays Court we had heard the antique piano being played and decided immediately that we wanted to find a pianist to set the mood for our big day. I booked a lovely guy called Antoine who covers the North of England and who agreed to play from our guests’ arrival until the end of the wedding breakfast- no mean feat! He was amazing and even learnt a classic piano version of Hans Zimmer’s ‘You’re so cool’ for us which I walked down the aisle to.
We also wanted live music for the evening reception but due to intimate the size of the ‘party’ room thought a big band would be too much. Our amazing photographers Jo and Simon of Shoot Lifestyle Photography actually recommended an acoustic singer called Just Ben to us and after listening to his voice via his website we were convinced he was perfect and got him booked. He did us proud on the night, involving our guests in his rendition of ‘Ho Hey’ by the Lumineers which we had requested he perform for our first dance. It got the party started and was so wonderful to see our friends and family, young and old up on the dance floor!
We also had a brilliant photo booth company from Harrogate which our guests absolutely loved and were fighting to get in to!
A Yorkshire Feast
We wanted our wedding breakfast to be a slant on a hearty, traditional menu, making the most of some amazing local produce. In the end we settled on a mini Yorkshire ploughmans to start, followed by individual steak and ale pies and a jam roly poly pudding to finish. It was delicious and there were clean plates all round!
We had a simple evening buffet of bacon butties and local cheeses served alongside the amazing rainbow wedding cake my sister in law and bridesmaid Krissy had made for us. Our smartie jar favours doubled up as place names and I tied them in to the theme by decorating them with little animals I had sprayed gold and added pipe cleaner collars to! We also provided the wine and fizz for the reception, meal and toasts, having sourced it during a family holiday from an amazing little vineyard near Bergerac in France.
A Typography Obsession
I have a bit of an obsession with typography and printed media so our wedding stationery was always going to be my baby! Having covered Graphic Design within my uni course I have a good understanding of photoshop which I put to serious use when it came to designing all things printed for our big day! Russ and I wanted the build up to our wedding to begin from the moment our save the dates dropped on our guests doormats and started as we meant to go on by wrapping these in bright, stripy sweetie bags and sealing them with gold stickers complete with circus animal stamps which I bought on Etsy.
I went on to design little 3D carousels featuring Russ and I to sit within our wedding invitations which my Dad, who runs a printing company printed and die cut for us. I scanned some of the fabric we were using for bunting and applied the floral pattern from this to all of our stationery which worked really well. I probably took on a few too many projects but had a very clear idea of what I wanted and often just couldn’t find what I had in mind ready to buy.
Details Of My Dreams
So when I decided on bow-backed stripy chair covers, a vintage carousel as a cake topper which coordinated with our theme, gold glitter-covered table numbers, gold animal balloon weights, a stripy spotty, floral cards box or 100 metres of perfectly coordinated bunting incorporating fabrics from the bridesmaids dresses, I had little choice but to get busy and with a committed friend or two make the finishing details of my dreams!
I’m pretty sure Russ thought I’d lost my marbles when I informed him I would be making the perfectly round multi-sized, multi-coloured biodegradable confetti complete with glassine envelopes and hand stamped with balloons but I really loved knowing every detail was just right and seeing all of the hard work being appreciated and enjoyed by our guests really put the icing on the cake of our big day.
My vision for our illuminated table plan was brought to life by my dad who spent several hours drilling through my artwork and poking LED fairy light through hundreds of holes! It might have driven him to distraction but everyone loved it and it is something Russ and I will always display and treasure!
A Celebration Of Love
Remember your wedding day is all about you, your love for one another, your taste and what makes you happy- your guests will enjoy whatever you choose because they love you! Don’t worry about pleasing or impressing anyone and don’t feel like you ‘should’ do this or that because it is expected of you. Concentrate on enjoying every moment and having an absolute blast.
A wedding is a celebration of love so throw caution to the wind and party! Finally, whatever you do, choose photographers you trust with your life and are completely and utterly comfortable with. Because once the confetti is brushed out of your hair and your dress has gone to the dry cleaners, amazing photos are absolutely the best mementos of your amazing day and all the special people and memories that made it perfect and made it yours.
It goes without saying that we literally can not recommend the incredible Jo and Simon at Shoot Photography strongly enough and thank our lucky stars that after much research and blog searching we found them. It’s fair to say we are in fact a little bit in love with them both. Happy planning all!
Brides Shoes – Kiki by Kurt Geiger
Headpiece – Agnes Hart
Bridesmaids Dresses – Joules
Groomsmen’s Bowties – Mrs Bowtie
Hair – Abby at Bang Hair
Circus Marquee Letters – WestVintage Trading Co.
Florist – Heaven Scent Florists
Pianist – Antoine Robinson
Guitarist – Just Ben
Photo Booth – Booth Revolution
Venue – Grays Court, York
Photography – Shoot Photography
Isn’t it AWESOME.
And if this is the effect of being a little ‘theatrical’ with you wedding planning, then I say run with it.
Sophie’s lovely Mum looks very glamorous too.
Congratulations to Sophie and Russ and to all of your family – your wedding was on a whole new level.
Lots of love,