That is exactly what Chess and John did in terms of creating their perfect wedding, no rules, no particular theme and a whole bunch of colour and love.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many cool hipster guests in one place, I want to steal everyone’s outfits for myself. As you would imagine, Chess looks beyond beautiful, her hair do is just lush! And John is perhaps one of the most dapper grooms we’ve ever featured. The hat, the buttonhole, the suit…..absolute perfection.
I really must mention the florals and decor, the bouquet is a blowsy rainbow of blooms and I love the inclusion of Farrow and Ball paint in a subtle nod to the colour scheme of the venue. The account is written by both the bride and groom so well worth a read.
This is going to be a pinterest pin-fest, I can feel it in my Blog Queen bones.
Chess: Our main aim was that our wedding would be as un-wedding like as possible. We didn’t want it to be pomp and pageantry, straight off the production line, wedding-by-numbers. We wanted a day of celebration that reflected our personalities with our friends and family at the heart of it all.
I was raised in the Nottinghamshire countryside and so chose Kula Tsurdiu’s boutique in the historic lace market. She uses special handmade lace from the last remaining factory in Nottingham. Over eight wonderful months my mum and I built a very close bond with Kula, Laura and all of the Kula Tsurdiu family. It was an incredible experience to watch the dress form around me with each visit. I feel very privileged to have had the experience of being a Kula bride. She is an extraordinary dress maker and truly sews love into each dress she creates.
John: I chose Walker Slater Tweed as I wanted to go for the country gent style and had seen they were recommended in The Chap magazine. The shop is run by a lovely man named Michael. Within minutes of walking through the door he had selected a jacket that fit perfectly so the whole process was unexpectedly quick. He did mine and one of my best men’s suits and we were both overjoyed by the results. Just don’t ask Michael to make the trouser ‘slim fit.’…nothing grinds his gears more.
Chess: The Riding School at Calke Abbey is an old brick building with big old beams. In the main house the wallpaper is peeling and plastered with strange caricatures, the rooms are filled with taxidermy and the main bedroom is as the last occupant left it; the bed piled with hunting trophies and walking sticks and a 60cm wide space for sleeping.
There are tunnels running through the estate so that Lord Hapur-Crewe could roam without having to talk to anyone. He apparently died after being bitten by a mole whilst out for a walk.
Calke Abbey and all its oddities was the perfect venue for us. Plus the hire fee paid will go into the maintenance and restoration of the building and gardens for the public to enjoy.
Honeysuckle & Castle told us about the colours of Calke being used by Farrow and Ball. We incorporated this into our scheme by making our wedding favors pots of paint and changing the F&B logo to our initials. We filled them with sweets, fortune fish, handmade hankies, stories about the bride & groom and tiny horses signifying the riding school.
We tied everything together with colorful flowers and ribbon which we had running down the table rows, streaming from suspended copper sprayed lampshade frames, and hanging down the wall for people to tie multicolored notes to. Helen and Sally were very good at managing all our crazy ideas. Regardless of how ridiculous our suggestions were they never said no, There was always a solution or a compromise to be had and they were always a phone call away should I find myself slipping into melt-down mode!
One of our first stipulations was that we do not have the standard wedding chairs in covers. To me they have always looked like they have not been unwrapped from their bags. Luckily we found Poppy Trading who stock a fantastic array of mish mash vintage chairs and wooden tables.
Glorious Twelve were our young, stunning fairy godmother florists!? Being family run and having a genuine passion for their work was an immediate selling point. They straight away ‘got it’.
When we told them about the Peregrine Falcon and the local ale we were having, they arranged for the peregrines feathers to be used in the button holes along with dried hops.
The flowers were show stopping, not least my stunning bouquet. We had 100yr old Victorian glass jars supplied by a local bottle digger lining the tables filled with the most incredible blooms. The garland that framed us during the ceremony was formed of fragrant eucalyptus and peonies.
I decided to pick the youngest of my family Lily-Rose and Lila Bell to be my bridesmaids. Glorious Twelve arranged flower crowns and pagan wands giving them real fairy magic.
The boys acted as our wedding security. I employed their group ‘Helluva Gang’ to make sure there was no funny business and that all the adults were on their best behavior.
We have many colourful and loyal friends and family. We didn’t want to single people out and so gave everyone a part to play in our big day. Everyone dressed brightly and stood out in their own way. They came as themselves which is just how we wanted it.
I had my mum and granddad walk me down the aisle. This meant a lot to me as mum and granddad were two of the most important people in my early life growing up. John wrote the music for us to walk down the aisle to which made it all the more special. Hearing the room filled with his music I felt so proud. He provided me with a grand entrance.
John: We wanted to write our own vows that represent what marriage means to us personally and make our own promises as opposed to using something widestock and non-personal. We wrote them together in a place we feel most comfortable, in a London pub over looking the Thames with a pint of ale.
Chess: When everyone arrived we had a Peregrine Falcon along with his handler proving them with information on the incredible bird. After the ceremony we had a maypole along with a live music and a ‘caller’ to provide instruction.
For the evening entertainment John’s old band came together under their new name ‘The Groomsm’n. My stepdad joined them for an incredible rendition of Whiskey in the Jar before I took his place to perform with John rather unromantic covers of Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way, Beyonce – I Kinda Liked it So I Went and Put A Ring on It and a Kinks / The Who mashup.
Black Pepper Mint worked to a simple brief; to bring everyone together. They created a menu of beautiful sharing dishes including parmesan polenta chips, tea smoked trout, wild mushroom pudding and pork crackling popcorn.
Our dessert was a real spectacle. Big versions of our motif paint tins complete with Calke green painted dripped down the sides containing jars of rhubarb and custard. These were filled with dry ice so that they bellowed mist when they were brought out.
For our vegetarian friends we decided to name and shame with bright orange dunce hats decorated like carrots with green ribbon simulating carrot leaves to tie under the chin and a sparkly green ‘V’ on the front. I’m not looking forward to the payback at their weddings!
We had beer from our local brewery Five Points in Hackney as our welcome drinks. They’re a living wage employer and reinvest part of their profits back into the local community so in using them we gave a little back to our area.
There was never any question that anyone other than Dale would be our photographer. He once took photos of John’s band and we so loved what he produced that when we heard he shot weddings we pounced on him.
We wanted to make the most of the incredible venue with fun photos of just the two of us. We didn’t want to single people out for staged pictures and isolate the other guests. We wanted everyone to be pictured naturally which Dale captured perfectly. He has a wonderful talent for capturing people’s personality in a picture.
The day went by so quickly I was worried I had missed out on things. Dale brought all the memories together for us with beautiful snapshots of the day and all our wonderful friends, helping us cherish our big celebration forever more.
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