I recently got a bit dissed on Facebook for listening to Chistmas songs in March (I didn’t realise that Facebook was monitoring my soundwaves to be honest… bit Scary), but If I want to get into a jolly festive mood a mere three months into the year then surely that is my perogative!
So, today I have decided that we will all share a bit of early holiday spirit. Please reach for your first mince pie of 2012 and perhaps a glass of mulled wine if the mood takes you (what do you mean it’s too early?). Now sit back, relax and indulge in Michelle and Pip’s Christmas feast, with all the trimmings…
Michelle and Pip married on 23rd December 2011 at Allerton Castle, Knaresborough – North Yorkshire.
All the imagery today is the unmistakable work of that flawless photographic husband and wife duo Lawson photography.
A Winter wedding
We chose Allerton Castle as we fell in love with it as soon as we walked through the door. We decided to get married at Christmas as we had so many summer weddings to attend and we did not want to step on anyone else’s toes. The castle was so perfect for a winter wedding and we felt that with the log fires and gothic interior it would feel dramatic but cosy on a cold winter’s day. It also helped us to decide a theme as we chose to go down the silver and white colour scheme that looks so wonderful at Christmas time. The events company Dine assisted us with the planning of the day.
My dress was Bardot by Caroline Castigliano. I knew that I wanted a vintage style and I love a little bit of glamour (what girl doesn’t!). I was quite adamant that I did not want a “meringue” and when I first started looking I also was quite certain that I did not want strapless. My best friend, and one of my four bridesmaids, Romina and I decided quite early on to have an afternoon searching as we both agreed that I could be quite fussy and deciding on a gown could be quite tricky. I only tried two shops; in the first I was trying lots of one shouldered column style gowns. Although many of them looked very nice, they did not have the correct look that I wanted. I also got a little fed up of the ladies in the shop not listening to what I wanted and trying to get me to put on all kinds of dresses!
When I went into Caroline Castigliano it was completely different. The stylist sat me down and talked me through the look I wanted to go for and explained the style of the dresses. The place had such a relaxed, quiet atmosphere and it was lovely to be able to see all the dresses looked after with such care and attention. I only had to try on two dresses before I found “the one”. As soon as I put on Bardot (even from the name I knew it was for me!), I felt cheeky, flirty and above all glamour personified. Romina had a huge smile on her face and I could not stop swishing my way around the shop. I did not want to take it off which meant, to me, that it must be a winner! Even when I realised I had chosen a strapless gown, I was not swayed, and it’s a bride’s prerogative to change her mind.
Accessorised To The Max
As I now had the dress I had the wonderful job of finding accessories. I love dressing up an outfit and this wedding dress was going to be accessorised to the MAX. I wanted to stay within the realms of Vintage Hollywood glamour to bring out the style of the dress. Etsy is the best place on earth for vintage accessories and this is where I found the bow headdress and marabou feather wrap. I did have a slight wobble with the wrap as at one point I thought it might have been one step too far but I am so glad I persevered with it. I always thought I wanted a birdcage veil but when I chose the dress I also fell in love with the Onassis veil that they gave me to try. I also managed to wear it right to the end of the evening do. The final touches were the elbow length gloves from Debenhams and studded pearl and crystal earrings from Glitzy Secrets. I swapped my earrings to some more elaborate drops (also from Glitzy Secrets) at night.
For The Love Of Shoes
I do love shoes and I had my eye on some gorgeous crystal Alexander McQueen stilettos. However as my dress was over budget I had to save some money somewhere so that my fiancé could sleep at night. I have always loved Vivienne Westwood and her Melissa shoes in pearl and red just complemented my dress perfectly, not too high, not too low, comfortable and smelt amazing.
Last Minute Changes
My usual hairdresser, Joanne, did mine and my bridesmaid’s hair. I am surprised she did not strangle me as I kept changing my mind even up to a few days before. I grew it really long so that I would have plenty of options. As the head piece and veil were quite dramatic I knew my hair had to be quite simple. I eventually went for a simple bun but with a fun quiff at the front for a little bit of that vintage feel. I am so glad I wore it off my face as I did not have to worry about it through the day, I am a terrible fidgeter and would have constantly been messing with it otherwise! My friend Becki, who used to work for MAC, did my make-up. I love smoky eyes and nude lips so this is what we went for; we made it dramatic with some amazing Shu Uemura fake eyelashes. It all stayed perfectly in place even when I shed a few tears in the ceremony!
Fiona from Firenze did the flowers. As we were getting married so close to Christmas we wanted everything to have a wintery feel. I know absolutely nothing about flowers and Pip knew even less so were a little bit clueless with names and seasons. Fiona was absolutely fantastic in interpreting our ideas and basically reading our minds! We wanted plenty of whites, sliver and grey with some green foliage. I also wanted the glamour theme running through with a little bit of sparkle in my bouquet and Pip’s buttonhole. For the centrepieces I knew from the beginning that I wanted silver candelabras as they tied in so well with the feel of the castle. They looked fantastic with the mirrors and tea-lights; I was blown away when I walked into the ballroom for the wedding breakfast. It all looked so magical and I don’t know how she managed to extract from our heads exactly what we wanted. I think she may be a genius.
I had four bridesmaids, my two best friends Romina and Alex, and my older sisters, Emma and Sarah, who are twins. I wanted to stay within the vintage theme for their dresses and I knew exactly the style of dress that I wanted them in, ¾ sleeves, full skirts and fitted bodices. The only thing that I could not decide on was the colour. As we did not have a particular colour theme running through the day I could have chosen anything. However, one afternoon, reading Heat magazine I spotted these dresses from theprettydresscompany.com. It was exactly the style that I had imagined. They only did it in black or aubergine and so after chatting with the girls we decided to go for the classic black. Boy am I glad I did as Romina had some exciting news that she was pregnant and would be 8 months gone by the wedding. It was a lot easier to find a black maternity dress that matched than an aubergine one!
We accessorised them up with black hair bows to match mine, again from Etsy, black gloves from Cornelia James and each girl wore slightly different black shoes to make each bridesmaid unique. We finished it off with seemed stockings and pearls. They looked so amazing and like they had stepped out of an Audrey Hepburn film. As we were near Christmas with lots of parties Pip and I decided to make our wedding a black tie affair. I wanted everyone to feel special; it’s not every day that people get to dress like this! We hired the ushers and best man’s dinner suits from Frank Bird in Wakefield. They added braces (I think so they could snap them on each other), they all looked so smart and complimented the bridesmaids really well. Our two nephews looked so handsome in their mini-tuxes. Casper was so sweet as he refused to take his jacket off as “he wanted to look smart all day”. We bought these from Roco Clothing. Our niece Imogen looked so cute in her dress and shrug from Monsoon.
A Snug suit
Pip wanted to feel extra special so we bought his suit from Ted Baker. It was the classic black slim-fit suit. He worked away for two weeks before the wedding and dined out each evening so it was a little snug with one week to go. I have never seen a man so determined in that last week, running, eating salad and refusing beer and wine! However it was totally worth it. The suit fit like a dream on the day and I have never seen him look so smart and handsome as when I walked down that aisle towards him.
Strutting Our Stuff
As soon as we started planning the wedding I was certain on one thing. We HAD to have Lawson photography. Laura and Pete had photographed Romina’s wedding where I was bridesmaid. I have never seen photos so beautiful and they manage to capture the essence of the day so perfectly. They make such an effort to make you feel comfortable on your day, as it is not easy having every moment snapped away. They fit in without being intrusive and Pete made me giggle so many times during the day. I am a bit of a poser but Pip is quite uncomfortable having his photo taken but even he was strutting his stuff for them like a professional model. Cue lots of hysterical laughter from me.
Glitter And Snowflakes
For the cake, we were not that interested in being particularly traditional. I have a massive sweet tooth and love cupcakes. My sister’s friend, who had made a few wedding cakes, was set the task and we were happy to let her have creative control over it. We had lemon, chocolate and carrot cupcakes finished off with a fruit top tier so we had something to cut. Leila created it with the same winter feel as everything else, lots of silver, glitter and snowflakes. They were delicious!
A Full dancefloor
Event Music provided our band and evening DJ. We really wanted live music in the ceremony as we thought it would be that little bit more special. Trio Vivo excel in traditional and contemporary music. We opted to have more contemporary songs. I walked down the aisle to Paul Weller’s “You do Something to Me”, it was beautiful. During the reception I even heard them play a Lady Gaga megamix! The pianist stayed through to play during the wedding breakfast. In the evening the DJ was bombarded with requests (usually from my sisters) and he played everything from Kate Bush to Bon Jovi. The dance floor was never empty and Pip’s uncle even managed to damage his Achilles with a rather vigorous Irish jig to the Pogues!
As I am a dance teacher I think expectations were high for our first dance. Teaching Pip to dance has been the hardest job of my career to date! We chose Starship “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” as we are both children of the 80’s and neither of us is particularly serious. It went down a storm and Pip managed to remember the whole routine, even throwing in a few extra moves.
The only part of the planning that was stressful was the favours. We had some personalised envelopes and we put lottery tickets in them. However, even though we were very organised and ordered them well in advance the company let us down and only just shipped them to us in time, the day before, and they did not send enough. It meant we could not put them on every place setting and had to get the best man to hand them out instead. Only a little problem in the grand scheme of things and by the day before I had gone past the point of caring as the company had let us down so much. We just thought if that was the only thing that was going to go wrong then it’s not too bad.
King Of The Christmas Castle
The castle is the most beautiful building and the way it has been preserved speaks for itself. I wanted people to be able to see the décor and the grand elements of the venue without hiding it behind mountains of decoration. I chose to accentuate the dark, gothic look through the use of hundreds of candles and tea lights. The florist helped with this by adding in fairy lights down the staircase and glass baubles dangling from the candelabras. All of the place cards and menus were created in white and silver (courtesy of my Mum) and my table seating plan was a wire Christmas tree from Ikea that was also decorated with lots of silver and white accessories.
The table names were the nine reindeer. Pip and I posed as reindeer in the theme of each one (quite difficult for some of them!), and we placed these in silver photo frames. We also had lots of fun decorating the Christmas tree the day before the wedding. We had hundreds of baubles in the same white/silver theme to complement everything. I had a sweetie table in the same theme with big LOVE letters that Pip sprayed silver. We bought these letters second hand from friends who had married the year before. I tried to stick with the colour theme through the sweets as well.
Relaxed And Merry
The wedding was just such a wonderful day full of glamour, sparkle, laughter and buzz. Think about the kind of atmosphere that you want to create and work from that. We wanted a Christmas, magical theme supported by the classic beauty of the castle. Above all we wanted our guests to feel relaxed and merry. Pick a venue that you love and don’t try and hide it but accentuate all the wonderful things that drew you to it in the first place.
My wedding felt special to me as Pip and I had shared the whole planning experience together. We made every (well most) decisions together and we enjoyed being creative and pulling together a particular “look”. We never felt the need to get stressed or worry about whether things would work as we were just confident that if we loved it, well that’s all that would matter. I would say get your groom really involved and ask their opinion about everything. I let Pip have lead over certain aspects and he was so engaged when he came up with an idea or a solution to a problem. Your wedding (and not just the day, but the whole preparation) should be a wonderful and joyful experience and you should do it together as you are making a commitment to doing things together for the rest of your life!
Venue Allerton Castle
Dress Caroline Castigliano
Suit Hire Frank Bird
Photography Lawson photography
Entertainment Event Music
Grooms Suit Ted Baker
Such a beautiful winter wedding, and such beautiful imagery.
Thanks to Michelle and Pip for sharing, and thanks also to Lawson photography for yet another ridiculously demonstration of camera based genius.
I defy anyone who won’t agree that Christmas has come ever so early this year…