Today we’re off to Valentines Mansion to revel in the intimate affair that is Suzannah and Dan’s wedding and by golly have you got a treat in store.
Suzannah wore not one but two beautiful vintage dresses for her big day – one of which was Chanel and both of which were inspired by her effortlessly stylish mum who turned up to her own wedding day in a lace mini dress and fur coat. I know; it totally rocked my world too.
But Suzannah was nearly upstaged on her own day by her adorable daughter Pearl who looks the sweetest little thing in her pink tutu. I’ll leave it to Suzannah to tell you the tale of what Pearl did when she saw her mum walking up the aisle.
And lastly the florals – so luscious, so bright, so absolutely perfect for a wedding in a venue called Valentines Mansion.
I’m positive you’ll agree.
Suzannah The Bride: We wanted a low key, informal, intimate, pared-back wedding with the ceremony and reception in one place. Valentines Mansion was really the only choice for us. I used the boating lake and lido in Valentines Park as a child and it had the aesthetics, convenience and familiarity required for our venue. It felt like a private party in a grand old house. Very importantly we could bring our own caterers and alcohol giving us total freedom of choice.
I rarely wear any make up save mascara and eyeliner so I opted for a smokier, heavier version of my usual look using a Stila smoky eye palette and nude lip gloss. I also used Benefit (high beam) and MAC blusher. I am hopeless at applying makeup so, Collette, my beautician friend did it for me along with my nails. My biggest inspiration is always my effortlessly stylish and individual mum who rocked her own wedding in a lace mini dress and fur coat (both of which I later had in my dressing-up box).
Both my dresses are vintage but neither were actual bridal gowns. I wanted them to be understated, hopefully timeless and perhaps one day heirlooms for my daughter Pearl. My dress for the ceremony was label-less but it reminded me instantly of a 1970’s Halston. It was rich cream in colour, pure silk with a ruffle detail and I customised it slightly with a pearl brooch, antique French lace and a corsage.
My dress for the evening was Chanel. It was a cashmere and silk cream knit with a subtle gold thread throughout giving it light-catching shimmer.
My vintage gold and pink shoes were picked up from San Telmo flea market in Buenos Aires several years ago when Dan and I went on an unforgettable holiday. I wore my antique diamond studs and gold necklace with a single pink pearl and diamond, a gift from Dan.
Dan’s pale blue suit was from Reiss as were his navy knitted tie and shoes. It was then taken in for a sharper fit. His shirt was hand-made to measure from Emmett. His Groomsmen all wore dark suits though, making it a nice contrast. Pearl wore a dusky pink tutu from H&M and a cream lace top from M&S Autograph. My brother James gave me away. His suit was from Aquascutum.
With a two-year old (Pearl) and 6-month old (Wilf) I just did not have the luxury of time so simple decor was really my only option. Having organised events and parties for my job I knew that relaxed hosts and guests who are very well-fed and watered as well as good lighting, are the key ingredients for a successful party. The wedding itself was stripped right back, all in one place, no transportation, no table plans, no bridesmaids, no favours. Music, drink, food and love were the only themes.
Valentines Mansion is a recently and beautifully restored Grade 2 listed Georgian Mansion making it, in my eyes, a lily that needed little guilding so I kept the decor simple and minimal.
We decorated with pearl fairy lights and festoon coloured lights. Our gorgeous hot pink circus letters were handmade to order by thingsbylaura. The step ladders picked up in junk shops belong to myself and my sister and are used as bookcases, ￼they had been painted by my mum fortunately in ‘his and her’ cream and blue and were the perfect showcase for the lights.
Flowers are my weakness and our flowers were from The Bloom Bar. I love Lisa’s displays which looked simple yet were so effective. I chose English hydrangeas for all the fireplaces as they were in season and in full bloom so we had every colour in the varying hues of pinks and blues. Fresh ‘sweet avalanche rose’ petals were scattered on the aisle and I had scented stocks on the staircase which included rosemary and mint.My bouquet consisted of cool water roses, dahlias, alliums, amaranths and scabious amongst other things.
Music played a huge part in our day from start to finish. Dan and I are crazy about Bruce Springsteen so as a reading we chose his song ‘If I should fall behind’ It includes the achingly lovely line ‘Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead, There ‘neath the oak’s bough soon we will be wed, Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees, I’ll wait for you, and should I fall behind, wait for me’.
For many years I have been a fan and friend of the magnificent Mr Michael Campari so I was delighted that he could sing at our wedding and he caressed everyone’s ears with a repertoire of classics. Michael sang ‘Feeling Good’ immediately post ceremony so we had a celebratory dance but we couldn’t conceive of doing a slow dance for our official ‘first dance’ as we wanted to get the party started and we both love dancing so post-speeches and quick dress change we kind of styled it out to a very up-tempo ‘Hallelujah I love her so’ by Ray Charles and it was absolutely brilliant fun.
It was extremely important to me to pay tribute to my beloved late Jewish father and my heritage so we had a hot salt beef bar and freshly baked bagels (from my local and much used bagel bakery) with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
My cake was covered in delicious edible flowers including violas, cornflowers, sweet cicely and it was lovingly made by a dear friend Lisa Ramberg. Lisa’s bespoke creations taste as luscious as they look. It was a light vanilla sponge covered in Swiss meringue and filled with raspberry mousse and crème patissiere.
I opted for a variety of comfort food and we didn’t have a sit down meal instead we had continuous canapés and bowl food throughout the evening as I just wanted to keep the food and drink flowing. My biggest fear was anyone leaving hungry or thirsty. The Golden Whisk is a local family run business and Katy cooks everything herself from scratch with real passion as well as overseeing it all. Her mum’s salt beef is mouthwatering.
My sister, Victoria, bought me as a wedding gift an incredible British cheese cake from an artisan cheese shop in Whitstable (Kent is a place of many happy memories) which was decorated with hops grown by my mum. Cheese on toast was an evening snack.
I worked for a long time in book publishing; we are both bibliophiles and our home is full of Penguin classics, so I had the idea of book invites and designed our invitations myself which were then expertly produced by a friend with the necessary skills. Our invitation was a Penguin Book entitled ‘Tying the Knot’ complete with geeky childhood ‘author’ photos of us on the back. We followed this theme with The Order of Service, entitled ‘The Wedding Day’. It had the day’s events, menu, readings and had a photo of the two of us (now grown up and together) on the back.
One of the most memorable parts of the day was Pearl breaking into
spontaneous rapturous applause as soon as she saw me walking up the aisle. It was such a magical moment I didn’t mind that she totally upstaged me!
As soon as I saw Sassy’s work I didn’t look elsewhere. I am wholly uncomfortable posing in front of a camera so I knew I didn’t want conventional photos. I wanted reportage, candid shots. She exudes natural warmth and originality and is a breathtakingly talented photographer. Her photos captured the spirit of our day and will be a precious enduring legacy by which to remember our wedding.