This morning’s wedding is a corker.
A floral, romantic, bohemian, peach coloured themed corker of a wedding that I guarantee you’re all going to fall in love with. Actually I’m feeling pretty darn smug that I got to blog this wedding I can tell you! Oh and there’s a bit of David Gandy gratuitous eye candy as well to keep you sweet…
Ellen & Ollie married at the very beautiful St Deny’s church before celebrating with friends and family at Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens. Ellen’s Sarah Seven dress is definitely up there on my list of top wedding dresses to appear on RMW and her bouquet is possibly my favourite ever – made by talented List florist Bloom Fleuriste.
I’m not going to give too much more away at this point but I will say that you need to check out the last image in the slider – it gives me goosebumps it’s THAT good.
Ellen The Bride: I must have had over 100 dresses pinned on my Pinterest board! Initially I wasn’t sure what I was looking for and just pinned everything that looked nice without thinking about what it would look like on me or feel like to wear. Then one day I stumbled across a picture just a picture of a dress that literally took my breath away. You hear people say all the time that you’ll “know the one when you see it”, and I was always sceptical but, truly, it was love at first sight (and at that point I hadn’t even tried the thing on)! Relaxed, boho, hippy, fairytale and vintage all in one. But wait… the photo didn’t specify the designer… there was no link to a photographer’s website… basically no way to find out where it came from and how I could get my hands on it every Pinner’s worst nightmare!
Days of googling got me nowhere and I’d all but given up trying to find it, when I happened to see the details of the same dress on my florist Hannah’s blog! Surely it was fate! I whooped with joy and hurriedly looked up the name of the designer Sarah Seven but my heart sank… a designer based in New York! I don’t give up that easily though and I managed to identify a single UK stockist Froufrou Bridal Boutique in Tunbridge Wells, Kent 165 miles from home. My family thought I’d lost the plot travelling so far just to try on a dress. I appeased them by trying on some dresses in a few local boutiques but nothing came close.. I didn’t feel like ‘me’ in any them. I wanted something unique and something I could dance and frolic in!!
Eventually I gave in and made the mammoth trip down South, but I am so glad I did. The moment I stepped into the FrouFrou boutique I knew I had made the right decision. Rows and rows of gorgeous dresses greeted me in their array of luxurious floaty fabrics and delicate details. The owner Gemma and her team made me feel right at home and confirmed I was definitely a Sarah Seven girl. Despite the fact they didn’t have the exact dress I had set my heart on in stock, I ordered it anyway definitely a risk. Eight weeks before the wedding I finally got to see the dress. The cream chiffon ‘cinderella layers’ and gold trimmed lace were everything I’d hoped for and as soon as I stepped into it I knew the risk had been completely worth it.
I wanted to add a bit of glitz to my look so bought some fabulous glittery gold heels a bargain from Nine West and a gilded gold and swarovski crystal belt, also from Sarah Seven.Gemma’s seamstress made me a bespoke single tier Cathedral veil and detachable straps for my dress using some spare material and I was delighted with the result.
I can’t thank Frou Frou enough for making my dress shopping experience so wonderful. If you are looking for a dress that you can relax in, dance in and still feel a million dollars in, this is the place for you!!
Sampling lots of delicious canapes definitely helped ease the stress of this decision. So many options, all so delicious. In the end we chose Lemon Zest as our caterer due to their relaxed, friendly approach and good value for money. They were really flexible with choices too. We chose an array of canapes (including duck filo rolls and guacamole tortilla spoons) which were served with our prosecco reception. For the main event we ate seared rump of lamb with parsnip dauphinoise and rosemary jus, which was perfect for the time of year. The food was presented perfectly and the potatoes were to die for.
For dessert we opted for a trio of jaffa cake cheesecake, strawberry shortcake stack and lemon tart. This was the perfect combination of summery flavours and was a massive hit with our guests. In the evening our caterers brought round barbecued pulled pork rolls and halloumi skewers. The food was accompanied by some fantastic wine recommended by our wineblogging pal The Graped Crusader.
Favours for our guests came courtesy of my dad Roy, who, as an award- winning apiarist, coaxed his many thousands of bees into producing the finest honey we’ve ever tasted, which was processed and jarred by way of an industrialscale operation established in their kitchen in the weeks before the wedding.
The venue was so important to us. We were put off by some venues which took a weddingbynumbers approach. We wanted somewhere characterful, elegant and, importantly, somewhere that felt genuine. Other musthaves were indoor space for 100 for dinner, room for a live band in the evening and stunning outdoor scenery. It feels like we looked at every wedding venue within a 20 mile radius of our home in Sutton Coldfield, and my family’s home in Worcester, over a period of 4 or 5 months! Nothing quite had everything we were after. We decided to look further afield and visited Kelmarsh Hall on a sunny day in January. It gave us such a warm fuzzy feeling that we signed up almost immediately. Kelmarsh is perfect for couples wanting to stamp their personality on a venue but also be guided and assisted in the process by professionals who have experience of what works. Recommended (but not imposed) caterers, flexibility to bring your own drinks and decorate the venue how you wish, an amazingly efficient coordinator on hand to help plan everything it ticked every box.
We got married in St Deny’s church, just around the corner from the hall. It’s such a stunning, secluded church built with marble allegedly taken from buildings of ancient Rome. The service was wonderful. I was shaking like a leaf walking down the aisle and we both got quite emotional during the vows but that made it all the more special. There was a cringeworthy moment where my heel got stuck in the train of my dress as I was walking down the aisle with my new husband. I was stuck fast for a few seconds (but it felt like minutes!) and no-one quite knew whether to laugh or not!!
It seems there’s nothing my wonderful mum can’t do! I showed her some ideas I had for the cake and she decided then and there that she was up for the challenge. I’m not a massive fan of fruitcake, so after a couple of practice runs she came up with the perfect tier trio …deep breath… a red velvet layer with cream cheese filling followed by a carrot cake layer with lemon curd filling, both resting atop a fluffy Victoria sponge with jam and cream filling, all topped off with sweet white frosting! It was heavenly! Hannah our florist added the finishing touches with some beautiful peonies and foliage making it fit in perfectly with the floral scheme.
When we heard Richie Phillips playing a version of Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” at a Kelmarsh open day, we knew he had to play at our wedding. Super talented, Richie has a great voice and some mad guitar skills. He uses a loop pedal to layer rhythms and melodies, so he can sound like a full band. At our request, he learned Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap for me to walk down the aisle to and it was just perfect. He then played during our drinks reception and we lost count of the number of people that said how good he was. Top bloke, too. For any Midlands dwellers, he plays regularly on Tuesday nights at the Horse & Jockey in Congerstone, Leicestershire.
In the evening we wanted to ramp it up a notch… Ollie has sung in bands in the past and that’s how we met so it was only natural for us to have a live band but since Ollie’s bandmates had been on ushering duty during the day, we thought we’d give them the night off and outsource the entertainment! The Wild Boys are an 80s party band that we found through some intensive googling and listening to demo tracks. They play loads of 80s pop and rock hits, from AHa! to Whitesnake, but their rendition of Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling was what sealed the deal for us. They’re a 5/6 piece band (with keyboards) and they have a full, authentic sound and bags of energy that’ll surely get even your most reserved, overfed guests onto the floor and dancing! There were some serious shapes being thrown by family & friends all night!
Styling & Stationery
All of our wedding stationery and web graphics were by Ollie’s sister, Pippa Curnick. She’s best known for children’s book illustration but turned her hand to designing the cutest, coolest wedding invitations ever. Designing them from scratch meant that we could have whatever we wanted (within the realms of practical possibility!), and Pip depicted us and our venue (with a guest appearance by our cats) in a playful, spirited style which was a running theme for our entire day. She also designed labels for our favours and painstakingly crafted our table plan from an old mirror we found in an antiques shop, which we boarded and chalkpainted.
Ollie’s parents supplied a fully stocked sweetie trolley, which they made and decorated themselves. Ollie’s dad being a joiner and his mum into upholstery, it really looked the part. Needless to say, our smaller guests ensured that it didn’t stay fullystocked for long.
We also made use of an old sash window from our house, by removing the glazing and tying pieces of string across for guests to hangup Polaroid photos of our day.
We didn’t have a ‘theme’ as such. I wanted the flowers to be the focal point for most of the design and Hannah definitely achieved that. Our dining tables were decorated with vintage gold and silver candlesticks and candleholders. Some of these had been gifted to my parents when they were younger by my late grandmother, others I collected from antiques shops and charity shops during the months leading up to the wedding. We also dotted photos of our family members’ weddings in vintage frames around the hall, which gave our guests something to talk about and reminisce over. The flowers were the focal point for most of the design, bringing a pop of colour with coral accompanied by lighter pink, nudes and plenty of foliage.
Since getting engaged, I’ve become a bit obsessed with floristry. I initially started looking in bridal magazines and florist shops for wedding flower ideas but a lot of what I saw was a bit samey, old fashioned and not very ‘me’. I dreamed of a wild, trailing countryside look that would fit in with the faded glamour of Kelmarsh Hall. I found our florist Hannah when we attended an appointment to view another venue on the morning of her wedding. The flowers were gorgeous and so unusual. I enquired about them with the venue organiser and she explained that the bride had arranged them herself – I was in awe!
A few months later I was searching for florists in the area when up popped Hannah’s website featuring her beautiful wedding and flowers – she had set up her own floristry business! I visited Hannah a few times to discuss my ideas. She and her husband are such lovely people. We’d sit down and browse through the flower encylopaedia, sipping coffee and munching on biscuits. Her passion for wild natural floristry really rubbed off on me and I found myself inspired to look for new and unusual blooms for my home after every visit. On the morning of our wedding when Hannah arrived with the flowers, I was blown away. Every arrangement Hannah created exceeded my expectations. My bouquet was the biggest, most creative explosion of flowers I’ve ever seen.
The table displays helped bring the whole look together and brought me to tears. She came up with the most wonderful whimsical combination of Coral Charm peonies, Quicksand roses, Avalanche roses, Jana spray roses, Sweetpeas, Amaranthus Hypercium berries, Snapdragons, Stocks, Hydrangea, Veronica Scabiosa pods, Astrantia Foliage – Thlaspi and Eucalyptus phew!! Hannah also made me a beautiful floral crown that was just the perfect complement to my dress. I would recommend Hannah to any bride. Her style is so beautiful and she tailors her approach to match your requirements you can trust her 100% to deliver what you hope for and what’s more you will make a great friend.
The Wedding Party Fashion
Ollie’s pocket watch was another antique find, inspired by my obsession with Peaky Blinders.
Ollie and his Dad, who was also his Best Man, wore matching three piece suits made to measure by Reiss. I happened to stumble across a picture of David Gandy (all in the name of wedding research!) wearing a Reiss suit that had the right look to complement my dress, so Ollie and his Dad were promptly booked into Reiss in Birmingham, wielding printouts of Gandy’s getup and instructions for the staff to work their magic! The Reiss service was excellent; Matt & Elliott at the Birmingham branch talked us through the 17 step process, selecting fabrics, cuts, buttons etc. and took detailed measurements to ensure a good fit. There was a second fitting once the suits arrived in store, from which some final adjustments were made. We were really impressed by the end results. They weren’t quite Gandy, but close enough!
We had something personal in mind for our wedding day transport. My uncle is the proud owner of a 1949 Rover 60 Sports Saloon. When he discovered it, it was being used as a chicken run and in a pretty poor state! He has transformed it through years of meticulous restoration into a stunning classic car that he maintains in immaculate condition. It’s since starred in no less than 18 family weddings so we were so grateful we could carry on the tradition. It lent a real classic feel to the day, and definitely looked the part parked up on the sweeping Kelmarsh driveway.
I’ve left the best until last! The first thing I looked into when starting planning was wedding photography. I used to work part time for a wedding photographer when I was at college so I had an idea of what I was looking for (i.e. I was bloomin’ picky!). Mainly I wanted someone who would feel like a guest to us and that would deliver naturallooking shots and capture the mood of the day, without staging endless group shots or cheesysmile portraits. Chris Barber’s work stood out very early on as being fun, natural and creative. We met up with him for an informal chat in the pub and knew right then that he was our guy.
Our engagement shoot (which we’d recommend doing, just to get used to having a camera trained on you ahead of your big day) felt like we were mates just goofing around in Digbeth. On the day, Chris and his assistant were topnotch, striking a perfect balance between idle banter to put us at ease, and professional direction that made us sure we were in safe hands. We knew before we saw the photos that they’d be amazing, but they exceeded all expectations. Returning from honeymoon to a set of 730 Barberpieces was like reliving every moment of the day, in multimegapixel HD. Every time I see them I smile. I wouldn’t change our pictures for the world.
Photography by Chris Barber Photography
- Bridal Gown & Veil Sarah Seven
- Bridal Boutique Frou Frou Bridal Boutique
- Venue Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens
- Florist Hannah at Bloom Fleuriste
- Catering Lemon Zest
- Groom’s Suit Reiss
- Ushers Ted Baker
- Stationery Pippa Curnick Illustration & Design
- Day Entertainment Richie Phillips (guitarist & vocalist)
- Evening Entertainment The Wildboys (80s party band)