This morning’s wedding held at the rustic Curradine Barns in Worcestershire has the most perfect blue and white Spode infused colour scheme going. Honestly it is so fresh and so pretty that it’s put me in a veritable Spring-like mood!
Emma and James put oodles of love and effort and time into creating the day of their dreams and it shows. I love the fact that they nicknamed their wedding theme ‘the bubble’- a take on their home which they affectionately call ‘the tat shop’. I’m telling you now if my house looked half as good as this duo’s wedding deco then I’d be telling the whole world about it. Everything has been carefully thought about from the centrepiece flowers sat in kilner jars to the place-cards and bits of embroidery dotted about their reception.
It’s always really lovely to see a groom who is super enthusiastic about his own wedding day attire and James really went to town on his bespoke suit from VSMONO; I’ll let him tell you more about it below. Suffice to say it complements Emma’s Jenny Packham frock wonderfully.
The Bride’s Fashion
Emma The Bride: As soon as we got engaged the lovely words of congratulations flooded in and amongst them were several comments about people’s excitement regarding my dress. I’ve trained in fashion and clothing design and spent the last 13 years working in the field… People’s expectations were high and I’m not going to lie; I felt seriously under pressure! After burying my head in the sand for a while I came to the conclusion: ‘Emma, this dress is for you to wear and enjoy and not for others, do not lose sight of that’.
Eventually after going into a wedding dress shop for my first (and last) fitting I must admit I found the whole experience uncomfortable; ironic considering I dress people for a living! I wasn’t a fan of having an audience and shop assistants fussing around me with veils and tiaras, I’m more of a hide in a changing room and mull on my decisions myself kind of a girl.
After trying on several princess worthy dresses that all made me look more like a little girl trying clothes on in mummy’s wardrobe than a blushing bride I left feeling a tad deflated. A good hour on Pinterest with a cuppa I eventually found myself repeatedly gravitating towards one dress in particular, nothing else spoke to me. I soon tracked it down as the Jenny Packham ‘Aspen’… And it was well beyond my budget!! Eventually I stumbled upon ‘Preloved‘ and realised there was one available locally for a fraction of the cost, I’ve worn several vintage dresses so a once used wedding dress is a spring chicken in comparison.
After speaking to its present owner Nat I found out there were several images online and she sent me a link to ‘Rose Of My Heart‘ – Rock My Wedding…. Amazingly there was the dress, photographed by our soon to be wedding photographer Chris Barber. Well if that’s not fated?!
My lovely bridesmaid Faye swiftly nipped me round to visit Nat and before we had even begun to fasten it up I felt so relaxed as I knew the dress hunt was over and I wouldn’t have to step into another bridal shop yay! Luckily for me my work friend Jan did all the alterations in return for a bottle of vino.
As the wedding was in September we weren’t too sure of the weather so I bought the Jenny Packham ‘Santorini’ ostrich feather wrap again for a bargain on ‘Preloved‘. The previous bride had totally forgot to take it on her big day and had left it in her wardrobe with the tags still on, I was over the moon to bag that beaut. As I loved the button back detail on the dress I didn’t want to wear a veil and risk hiding it, I really wanted a classic but ethereal feel and found a beautiful headdress company in Australia called ‘Bride La Boheme‘. I ordered their ‘Rosa’ Swarovski crystal headband from their ‘Etsy’ store.
The Groom’s Fashion
James The Groom: I had wanted to reflect in my suit choice, my own path of finding how to be comfortable in who I am. It had taken me many years to do this and Emma was a big inspiration in my life in finding that self confidence and also in feeling comfortable in expressing yourself through what you wear. So creating a suit, unique to me, meant a lot more than what it’s material worth was. I was a huge fan of VS MONO and after speaking with John Lancaster over e-mail and in person in Kensington, London, we got to work coming up with something potentially pretty cool!
It was an experience that meant so much to me, and Emma too and the end result reflected our passion for clothing personality and my journey to being comfortable in my own shoes. John is a master of his craft, no doubt and combines classic with contemporary perfectly. We settled with a blue herringbone fabric, fishtail trousers and a unique double breasted jacket. It was an honour to rock the f&^% out of his suit. I paired it with a plain white three panel Hugo Boss shirt, sleeve garters, white with black clasp Braces and ltd edition painted design Ted Baker Derby Brogue shoes. I’ve worn The Great Frog Rings for years, a staple for me. So of course they were worn on the day making me look much cooler than I really am!
Emma The Bride:As we wanted a small wedding with our nearest and dearest we knew it had to be somewhere reasonably local, so we shortlisted three venues. The first was uber trendy but we realised we weren’t trendy enough to pull it off, the second was utterly breathtaking and had the wow factor but something didn’t click for us emotionally and the third ‘Curradine Barns‘ had us at the ceremony room.
The moment we walked into that room we both envisaged getting married in there and just felt utterly at ease, you can’t argue with a gut feeling like that, we booked it immediately. From the preliminary meetings through to the day itself we are unable to fault a thing. The staff at Curradine Barns were understanding of our uber relaxed wedding ideals, no cake cutting/ bouquet toss/ receiving lines/ readings… We just wanted a good knees up with those closest to us and to say those words to one another, as little attention on us the better.
We based our entire decor on the theme- ‘the bubble’ AKA our home. We wanted to surround ourselves in all the things that feature in our home and reflected our taste; we always describe our home as a tat shop as it’s brimming with framed butterflies, domes, antlers, blue and white China, old sewing machines, antique cameras and vintage guitars.
James used his 1970s Mamiya film camera to take the black and white photos of the bridal party that hung from twine on the wall as you enter the ceremony room. Each table featured a hand carved log slice decorated with moss, butterfly domes and painted antlers, each centrepiece was handmade by James. The centrepiece flowers sat in kilner jars to replicate the jars we use in our own home for practically everything from flower vases to coffee and tea. James hand-drew the name cards and we used foliage from the floral centrepieces wrapping them in twine with the napkin and wedding favour cards.
We felt instead of traditional wedding favours we wanted to make a donation on behalf of all our guests to ‘The Dudley Special Olympics’ a group who we both volunteer with. For the top table we presented Lloyd of ‘Venue Dress‘ with a pair of painted fallow deer antlers and set him with the challenge of incorporating them into a top table floral display with lots of fresh blue and Ivory flowers. I hand made the linen and floral drop that hung behind the top table and we used our own Spode cake slice and glass cake stand that we use at home.
We really fancied the idea of using my white dressing table from our guest bedroom as a dessert table and again poor Lloyd was given the measurements for the drawer with the intention of creating a display of fresh flowers to fill it. All our favourite goodies were served in items from my China collection and included macarons (my addiction) and beautiful biscuits iced to look like the patterns on the plates from a lovely local company ‘Biscuit Lane’. The card/ gift basket was given to us by James’s sister after she acquired it from the spare room In the house she had recently bought, she knew it was right up our street. I lined it with blue and white toile de jouy fabric and hand stitched on an embroidery made by my creative pen pal Leigh Jennings of ‘In Twos and Threes‘ saying “How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it… So ta guys!” She used an antique embroidered tray doily to create it.
Leigh also embroidered the antique coaster with our names and the date on that covered the guest book. We used a wicker basket my mum used to pack me off to primary school with for cooking classes and we filled it with cones James made from antique encyclopaedia pages containing preserved rose petals. The illustration was drawn up by a fantastic illustrator who Leigh recommended called Rheannon Ormond, she incorporated my engagement ring and the flowers and butterflies from our decor into her design. James drew out the seating chart and I made the flower decor that lay across the top of it.
We were both OBSESSED with wrestling growing up and it featured as part of our friendship at school so we decided it would be funny to use wrestling finishing moves from our favourite era as the table names. It was both cost effective and much more enjoyable using items from our own home, we really hope it gave the decor a real personal feel and all that knew us would know it reflected us perfectly. Plus it was so much fun spending the time crafting together at home, the whole process from start to finish was an enjoyable team effort.
The Wedding Party
As our bridesmaids varied from 5-6ft tall and even one heavily pregnant we had to get our thinking caps on regarding their dresses. I had found the infinity dress concept on Pinterest and knew that would be ideal as each girl could pick their own style to suit their body type. I bought 2 waterfall hem dresses, 4 maxi dresses and 1 plus size dress from The Daint Yard and set to cutting up and cobbling them together to create something long enough to fit the taller girls and wide enough to accommodate Lia’s ever growing baby bump.
On the day itself the girls and I stitched one another into the dresses so everyone felt safe and secure and the end result ended up something that still gelled yet avoided any bickering over dress style. Everyone was able to express theirselves creatively as I left them all to choose their own style and I was happy knowing they were all comfy and happy with their final look as they chose it.
Instead of bouquets Lloyd made pearl bracelets with fresh ivory roses and pale blue hydrangeas,on the other wrist the girls wore bracelets I bought them that were handmade from antique spoons and engraved with their names.
We wanted the same kind of personality yet uniform approach for the groomsmen. We found these great blue tweed waistcoats sold by Marc Darcy London that instantly stood out. So all five of the groomsmen were kitted out with one with our simple requirement of it to be paired with a white shirt and whatever colour/style of trousers and shoes they liked. We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome, each looked different, yet clearly uniform groomsmen. The guys mixed it up with grandad collar shirts, skinny fit trousers, various colours for trousers, suit jackets, brogue and Derby shoes and other details. But it worked perfectly for us, as it did for the guys which was most important to us. We finished the outfits up with a Ivory rose and blue hydrangea button holes made by Lloyd of Venue Dress again tying them in with the bridesmaids nicely.
We really wanted to keep the ceremony short and sweet, we knew we both would no doubt be stuttering nervous wrecks reciting the vows and kept them to a minimum. My step father Max gave me away and as we decided against having a best man and maid of honour (we love them all too much to decide!), our joint best buds from school Faye and Diddy acted as our witnesses and my cousin Lee who has always been more like my brother did the rings.
Much to our surprise we spent the entire ceremony smiling and giggling particularly when James said “I’m tagging you in” when it was my turn to say my vows. The whole experience was relaxed and enjoyable and my face hurt by the end of it! Particularly as my grandad Arthur made his way up the aisle after the signing of the register to ask the registrar to present us with something… A bag containing Knitted bride and groom bears made by my nanny Joyce with flowers and outfits to match ours. You can’t go to a wedding without nan knitting a little bride and groom, although this is the first time I’ve known them make their way out whilst still in the ceremony room! It all added to the light heartened fun feel that we had hoped for.
We both always envisioned a wonderfully relaxed wedding and wanted this to translate to the food; we didn’t want anyone panicking which fork to use and feel intimidated by the cuisine. We also wanted to reflect ourselves and our personal food loves so ‘Galloping Gourmet‘ we’re really flexible with us to help us achieve this goal.
We also booked a rustic looking beer barrel filled with ice and Peroni and Estrella so the guys who preferred a nice lager could help theirselves.
We decided not to have formal speeches so James said a short thank you and my step dad wanted to say a little bit too before the evening went underway. The wedding cake itself was made by ‘Cals Cakes‘ aka my cousin as a wedding gift along with the cupcakes. We wanted something very simple and rustic to go with the venue and decor. For the evening the venue cut the cake into pieces and guests could help theirselves to this along with tea and coffee. They also supplied us with a wonderful popcorn machine which worked perfectly with the ice cream trike we booked serving vanilla, salted caramel, rum and raisin, raspberry and white chocolate ice cream and champagne sorbet.
We chose instead of having a buffet to have the wood fired pizza oven serving fresh to order pepperoni and vegetarian pizzas with boxes for the guests to squirrel away a pizza if they wanted more than just a slice or to share at their table. They even supplied pizza ingredients for my vegan friend Chelsea and gluten intolerant uncle. James makes all our pizzas from scratch and home so it just felt the most “us” of an evening menu option and everyone seemed to love the novelty.
For the dessert table we bought in colour coordinated traditional sweeties, handmade white chocolate drizzled marshmallows, beautiful cupcakes decorated with icing hydrangeas to match the flowers, edible flower filled lollipops, tonal “unicorn kisses” chocolates, macarons in pale blue, white and green, biscuits iced to look like Spode china, and chocolate lollipops.
All these goodies were served in my blue and white China collection with little plastic scoops to pop the items into our personalised brown paper bags. The kids (and adults) demolished this by midnight, we were left with a couple of stray Bon bons. We hoped the evening food would create the excitement of a kids party but would be satisfying for more sophisticated palates. It was wonderful to see it all come together but I’m gutted to say we barely ate anything as we refused to leave the dance floor except once to sneak off for a cigar with our bridesmaids and groomsmen.
James The Groom: At the heart of it all, I’m a bit of a geek. A lot of a geek..It started with music, then a little later on, my levels of geek gained a love of photography. Although I would certainly not describe myself as any good at it, it doesn’t mean I don’t know exactly what I like when enjoying other peoples work. So when it came to photography for our wedding, it was probably the first thing I wanted to decide on as it meant so much.
Regardless of just wedding photography, the love of this man’s work all round lead me straight to him. Chris Barber. I’ve known Chris for many years, and have continued to be a fan throughout that time. His work is unique to him, recognisable, full of personality (both his and who he’s capturing), creative and very inspiring. So it just had to be Chris to capture our day, truly safe in the knowledge that when we’re old and grey, I’ll still be looking at his images loving the work he produced and honoured that we have him there with us! And mannn did he nail it!
Every image captured exactly what we wanted, and more. Having a photographer you trust, for me, is absolutely key. Someone you know that won’t just take some nice looking photos, but will also capture how you felt on the day, the moments as you experienced them. Be able to get across your personality, especially if you’re a tad socially awkward like us pair are! We have cringed a lot looking at posed photos, but Chris just has a knack of making you feel comfortable, even when it’s time for something a little more ‘posed'(strike the pose). Then when it’s time for natural, he captures the real magic. For a geek like me, seeing Chris work, and being part of the end results has been a genuine dream, couldn’t have been happier with that!
So how do you go about putting together a playlist, when you have a stupidly eclectic taste in music, and a record + CD collection topping 1000. That was my main concern, but all I know is that first thing on the list was to find a DJ that could be on the same page as us and not turn the evening party into a big cringe! We’d popped along to a wedding fayre in the heart of Digbeth, Birmingham, and there we spotted DECKHEDS. A husband and wife team, of Karl and Kate, and what drew me in was Karl’s use of records as well as a nice, modern + professional laptop setup. They covered so much of our music tastes, from early 2000s pop punk/rock of our teen years, to some fine northern soul. The best hip hop choices (and Karl mixes!) to classics we adore like Bowie. It was perfect, Karl and Kate are super professional and arrived nice and early to set up on time despite the long journey, with their super nice, professional equipment meaning it didn’t look like we’d roped in an uncle to play some agadoo off his ipod. It was just perfect. We loved their personality, made us feel super comfortable, as did our guests, resulting in a full dance floor all night right from the first dance which was exactly what we’d imagined. DECKHEDS was the absolute cherry on top for us, and to be honest we’re looking for an excuse to organise another party to get them back!
For the music during the day, I spent a goooood few hours creating a playlist of music we find ourselves listening to when at home in our bubble. In the end it suited our overall decor theme perfectly, as that was meant to reflect our home, so why not include the music we play as often as we can there too. It was great to have little nods of enjoyment from our family and friends when they heard something in the background they loved too. Music is a huge passion of mine, and I surround myself in it. So to see everyone enjoying the selections that mean a lot to us made it really special.
Photography by Chris Barber Photography
- Venue Curradine Barns
- Bridal Gown ‘Aspen’ by Jenny Packham
- Bride’s Cape Jenny Packham ‘Santorini’ Ostrich Feather Wrap
- Groom’s Suit VSMONO
- Entertainment DECKHEDS
- Caterer Galloping Gourmet
- Florist Venue Dress
- Bridal Headdress Bride La Boheme
- Bridesmaid Dresses The Daintyard
- Wedding Illustration Rheannon Ormond
- Bridesmaid Bracelets Mon Petit Chou Boutique
- Groomsmen Waistcoats Marc Darcy London
- Cupcakes & Wedding Cake Cals Cakes
- Marshmallows Mellomallo
- Unicorn Kisses Whimsical Cake Company
- Macarons La Dinette
- Ice cream Trike Barnaby’s Ice-Cream
- Edible Flower Lollipops Eat My Flowers
- Biscuits Biscuit Lane
- Embroideries In Twos And Threes