Superb quirky photography, an eight week wedding-planning wonder and a breath taking story.
That is all I have to say folks.
Read on -it’s so worth it.
Oh, and Kate works for Wedding TV…
Kate The Bride: We got engaged on Christmas day 2011, and thought perhaps we’d get married in the summer of 2012 or 2013. Unfortunately, we found out in February that the cancer we thought my dad would get through was in fact terminal, and he only had 6 to 12 months to live. It was heartbreaking, and all thoughts of wedding were pushed out of our minds.
He started radiation therapy, and after a few rounds he asked if we thought we could pull a wedding together in 8 weeks, as he wanted to see us married, and he knew how much it would mean to me to have him there. As I work in the Wedding industry I knew I’d be able to pull something together, but the most important thing me was that my first ever love, my hero, my dad, would see me marry the love of my life.
Andy felt the same way, and so we quickly found a venue that was close by, which was essential for dad, and luckily it also had a profound effect on us all when we first went to look around – we all cried. So we got a last minute booking for the 11th May 2012 at Warwick House in Southam.
I’ve seen hundreds of wedding dresses through work – but I’ve always refused to try one on, I thought it would take away the magic of putting one on for the first time. It also meant that dresses were kind of a blur to me, there were too many, and I knew that every season I had a new favorite style… but now I had to pick one that I would have to live with the images of forever.
Because our ceremony was going to be at 5pm we decided to have an afternoon tea/Pimms knee’s up to get everyone in the mood before the ceremony, which meant not only would I see Andy, but he would see my dress. We’re not at all superstitious, so it didn’t bother me, but it did mean I had a handy excuse to get 2 dresses. I had 8 weeks to find 2 dresses and for 2 of those weeks I would be in the Cook Islands with work!
My tea party dress was such an easy choice, because I’d loved the Kitty & Dulcie range for ages, particularly the Pearly Queen, I ordered it and it arrived in 2 days! Beautifully wrapped – it was the best thing I’ve ever received in the post! (I actually put it on after my make-up trial and didn’t want to take it off). Having a short dress was the perfect way to show off my amazing shoes!
The first time I tried on a ‘ceremony dress’ I went to the The Wedding Club in Birmingham, knowing the service and the dresses would be amazing, which they were. I started with the biggest dress in the shop, because I’ve seen so many brides start off thinking they want something simple and then work their way up, but I thought ‘sod it’ give me the biggest one you’ve got! I felt amazing, but I could barely walk. After coming down in ‘grandness’ I settled on a more subtle but still quite princess like dress, but there was something nagging at the back of my mind, I wasn’t sure if I was just rushing into buying a dress because I felt like if I didn’t I’d go down the aisle naked. I had to go away on a work trip and my bridesmaid emailed me photo’s of me in the dress and photoshopped in my bridesmaids in the shape of dresses I was looking at for them, and it just didn’t sit right. It made me realise I wanted something more fitted – but would I look ok in something fitted?
When I got back from my trip, I was invited by Karen Taft from Benjamin Roberts to go down to their headquarters in Wales to try on dresses. My dad wanted to drive us down there, but it was touch and go if he would feel up to it, thankfully he did and we drove down early one morning. I’m so glad my dad was there, my mum isn’t much of a shopper, but my dad loved shopping so could put up with me trying more than a few dresses, and he cried each time, and took a million photos. The 4th dress I tried on was an almost fishtail dress, it felt quite tight and I wasn’t sure until I came out of the changing room and gauged everyone’s reaction, and then saw myself in the mirror. I knew I’d found the one. My first thought when I saw it in the mirror was ‘Andy would love this’ and ‘I look like a woman!’ We added a belt, and a lace jacket, and we took the dress home that day. Karen and her team of ladies made us feel so welcome, putting on lunch for us and taking care of my dad. It may not have been the traditional way girls find their dresses but it was a wonderfully perfect day for us. I did have to have the dress altered as I unintentionally lost weight – possibly the stress of everything. I found a local tailor called Stitches who altered the dress in 2 days for £40!
I have a lot of vintage jewellery I inherited from my great aunt Penny, a lot of it’s slightly broken so I could never wear it normally, but I wanted to use it as I wanted Penny to be part of my day. So I asked the beautiful Tash from Natasha Jane if she thought she’d be able to make a headband out of it. Within 2 days she’d created a beautifully simple yet statement piece, which I fell in love with immediately. She is an incredible talent! I know it’s the one item I own which I’ll certainly pass onto my daughter one day, I still look for an excuse to wear it now.
My bridesmaids bought me a beautiful pair of pearl earrings which I choose to wear over the pair I had lined up. For both outfits I finished the look with items from Crystal Bridal Accessories, which I ordered on line and they came the next day!
I left looking for a veil for some reason to the last minute, luckily local Wedding Planner Katie met me the morning before the wedding and we went in search for a veil. I settled on quite a long plain veil. I’d tried a few beautiful bird cages from Lily Bella Bridal, but something wasn’t working, and the dress needed a longer veil. The veil only lasted until the starter at the reception as I wanted to show off the headband again.
Two Dresses Four Shoes
I don’t wear heels often but I can walk in them, and I do love wearing them – so having 2 dresses was a fantastic excuse to have 2 sets of heels as well. I’ve loved Aruna Seth for a while and originally wanted some really sparkley shoes for the first outfit, but time was tight and then I saw these Coral ones with butterflies on and I fell in Love! They were fun and quirky and really replicated my fun & flirty Kitty & Dulcie dress. I couldn’t believe how many people commented on my shoes, even the men!
For my Ceremony look I went for Freya Rose, because they are just so well made, and stunning to boot! They were so comfortable I wore them all night, and danced… I danced a lot! I also had the matching handbag – which I now keep with my dad’s speech in. It’s something I can imagine keeping for my own daughters wedding.
Having had such an awesome experience of airbrush make up with Ana Ospina on a blog we did about eyelashes (long story), I knew I wanted that same flawless look. In my quest to find an airbrush artist I found Chloe McCall who was Birmingham based and an absolute star with the air-brush – as well as everything else make-up related. I wanted something quite different for afternoon and evening, and we went through several designs to find the right ones – she was very patient with me. The first look was quite focused on having strong eye make up, 60’s-ish to match the outfit, the second look was more natural, a bit more smoky eyed, romantic. She also made up my mum, who has literally no idea about make-up and who looked stunning!
I ended up with only 7 or so days to go to find my hairdresser. While out on an impromptu hen do (we had to cancel mine as my dad fell ill, and had to have emergency surgery in the night and I rushed to hospital to see him) we bumped into Cherry Conquer who had done our hair for a friends wedding. Not only is she absolutely amazing at hair, she’s also just a beautiful person inside and out, and although we got no time to do a hair trial, she still managed to create 2 hair styles for me – one of them in 10 mins (I over ran in the afternoon tea party! oops). The first look I wanted to re-create was a hairstyle I’d had done for our engagement shoot in Paris, down, curly soft – I’m naturally curly, something I get from my dad’s side of the family, though he was mostly bald – a trait I hope I don’t pick up – and he always liked it when I wore my hair naturally. I also had my Great Aunts voice in my head telling me “don’t just straighten you’re hair, you’ll look like everyone else, why does everyone want to straighten their hair these days?” – this was a women who religiously slept in curlers and dyed her hair auburn right up to her 98th birthday, so it just felt good to go with the curl. For the ceremony, I wanted it pinned up, something swept to the side and classy, but still with a curl in it – I just showed Cherry my pinterest page and she made sense of it all, somehow! She also managed to do all my bridesmaids too, and they all looked amazing!
Until I knew I was getting married I only really knew a few things about flowers. I knew I didn’t like carnations, and I knew I liked hydrangeas as they reminded me of a childhood playing in my Aunts Garden, and that I wanted the reception to burst with colour with large headed flowers that I didn’t know the name of.
Luckily I was in the safe hands of Brian from William Clarke Flowers who listened to my ramblings, and interpreted everything I said into English, and came up with some magnificent designs.
The Table centres were huge canderalbras from weddingdayhire.co.uk, with a huge burst on top of flowers like blue hydrenjas, Pink ranunculus, Apricot English rose, Blue Scabious, Coral Peony, Pink peony , Craspedia, Guelder rose and then Eucalyptus, rosemary and ivy for the green, which meant not only did they look amazing but they smelt it to. These flowers were then used for everything else as well. At the base of each candelarbras we had voltives with loose heads of the flowers scattered around, it gave the whole wedding a relaxed yet elegant feel.
The Groomsmen’s buttonholes and the bridesmaids bouquets were all individual to them, each reflecting their colour of tie/dress colour, and my neice was my flower girl who had a beautiful soft pink Pomander to match her dress. All the buttonholes and bouquets were wrapped in lace to really give that hand-made feel.
We also ordered buttonholes for some of our family and friends who had really been there us over the difficult few months. I loved it because everyone’s flowers looked so special and displayed how much love, care and attention had gone into them, and people wore them with such pride.
We couldn’t find anything we liked to hire for the guys within budget. After a huge search for a fitted vibrant Navy suit someone on twitter suggested Next, which I’d never have thought to think of, but they had the perfect blue suit for the guys. We could only afford to dress the 2 best men, and asked the other groomsmen to wear blue, and we gave them all different ties in the wedding colours, plus my brother embroidered handkerchiefs for them all with the wedding date on. My dad wanted to fit in with the guys, but wanted to get his suit from one of his favorite tailors instead, he also asked to have the light pink tie to match Isabelle’s (my flower girl, his grand daughter) dress, he looked ace.
The bridesmaids were more difficult to find dresses for than me. I knew I wanted them in different colours to keep with the vibrancy of the wedding but I had to find a style that would suit all of them and with two being 6’ tall and the other 2 being 5’2” tall it was going to be a struggle.
We found a company who had a flattering shape they were all happy with, but they couldn’t get them to us in time. So we searched the highstreet high and low for dresses but ended up getting them made by an amazing tailor called Karlusg in record time, especially considering one of my bridesmaids would only be back in the country a week before the wedding. They all wore their own shoes, and I gave them all tiny heart shaped necklaces from Crystal Bridal Accessories! I defiantly had the hottest bridesmaids ever!
One of the reasons Andy didn’t like the idea of a wedding was that he’d have to wear some horrible ‘penguin suit’ – ‘not at all’ I said and started showing him all the wedding blogs… “oh” he said “so we can do what we want” “of course”.
He first wanted a Great Gastby theme (his book of choice at the time) and I started to collect images for him. He ended up paring down this look, and decided on a vibrant Navy suit with a rustic waistcoat I found on line from tomsawyerwaistcoats.co.uk who not only do made to order but are UK based, which was lovely as it added something special to Andy’s look. He looked absolutely gorgeous on the day, and any excuse I can get I get him to put on the suit again.
In total we had 4 people documenting our day, but they are 4 of the most awesome people ever, as you can tell by their self portraits in the photobooth.
I met Lee Allen an at industry party, I talked to him because I was impressed with his amazing beard and I may have been a little tipsy! I know most people wouldn’t pick a photographer based on their facial hair, but hell why not! When I got back from the party I remember looking up his work and loving it. It was fun, cheeky, upstaged, unpretentious, but different, much like Lee himself. So when I got engaged he was one of the first people I let know, the kind of call that goes “I’ve got engaged, I don’t know when it’ll happen, but you and your beard had better be there with a camera”.
I also told him about my family’s situation and when we decided that we’d do it in 2 months, he was so understanding. I would call him with possible dates when looking at different venues, and he would call just to see how we were doing, if there was anything he could help with – he even put me in contact with the tailor who made my Bridesmaids dresses. I was incredible relieved to find out he was free on the date we ended up with.
He was more of a friend than a photographer.
I also wanted a photobooth and for that Lee managed to convince Chris Barber to come along too! AWESOME! This was a power house team – with awesome facial hair! Bow Ties! And Massive Grins! I’d staked rather more than a few of Chris’ weddings so this was just the best news ever!
The good thing about working in the wedding industry is that I know that wedding videos aren’t what they used to be, and I knew I’d want one. I was incredible lucky that Maria from Studio 1208 contacted me after finding out about our situation and said they were free on our date. If you look at their body of work, you can see why I was blown away by this stroke of luck! They kick butt!
What’s more, Maria & Nick are without doubt some of the most beautiful and kind people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the industry. We had a quick meeting the night before the wedding at our house, and we fell in love with them and felt completely at ease with having them around at the wedding.
What I loved is that my guests all fell in love with my photographers and videographers. They had such constant energy and beautiful positivity throughout the day. I can’t stress enough to any potential bride to make sure you meet your photographer before you book them. They will create the one thing (apart from your wedding ring & partner) that last forever. You’re children & your grand children will look at these pictures! They are important! When budgeting, really they should be top of your priorities, your dress you’ll wear once, and a good photographer can do magic, no matter what you’re wearing, or where you are. Trust me, Lee took our engagement photos in car park in Birmingham, cause it was peeing it down, and we only had an hour to do it in, and he managed to capture just how in love we are, and Love is what a wedding is about.
Keep It In The Family
As soon as I got engaged I had a note from my Brothers God Mother, Sheryl, asking if she could make my wedding cake. She had no idea what she was getting herself in to! Sheryl’s known my parents since they met on honeymoon, 40 years ago, and her daughters are like sisters to me, so I loved that we could keep it in the family!
I knew I wanted something that was actually quite simple from the outside, quite elegant, but when you cut into it there’s an explosion of colour, and I always knew it wouldn’t be fruit cake, I hate fruit cake, I wanted sponge with plenty of icing and butter cream.
Pinterest came in very handy and I sent Sheryl some pictures, she started to practice straight away with colours, and it turned out perfect – 5 layers of differing colours to match the Wedding theme in each tier.
A friend of ours also offered to make us cake toppers, which was also amazing in the time frame we had, though worryingly when she asked me what colour Andy’s eyes were I didn’t know (they are oddmix of blue/green & brown). Mini Andy was posed with his beloved guitar as he would be playing it at the wedding and mini kate had a super 8 camera, which I love and we also gave out at the wedding for guests to make their own films!
It Must Be Love
For our afternoon tea party we had a really lovely local big band troupe play, who my mum and I had spotted playing at a festival in Leamington some years before. They had played at my dad’s 60th as well, so they’re almost like our family band now. They also played me down the aisle with all the guests singing along to “It must be Love” and literally danced us back up the aisle after the ceremony to “Dancing cheek to cheek”.
Evening entertainment was the biggest headache of all. Music is really important to us both, we wanted it featured throughout our wedding. We had lyrics from Jeff Buckley in our vows, and my brother read the first 3 versus of the Wedding Song by Bob Dylan in our ceremony – “I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun”, so we weren’t happy just to have a random DJ set in the evening. We looked into bands and struggled to find one in budget, or even one that we could justify extending our budget to. We wanted rock’n’roll but to us that didn’t mean just covers of Killers or Kings of Leon, it meant Johnny Cash, Neil Young, The Black keys, Jack White, with a few kitsch covers for fun.
We had started a Spoitfy playlist the day we got engaged, we sent this list to the DJ supplied by the venue, who was lovely, but didn’t have even half of what we wanted. Luckily as a gift one friend bought all the music on our list and put it on a disk for us to use on the day, there were so many personal tracks on there, and as it was put together by us so it was perfect in the end.
Andy felt too nervous to do a speech, and decided that he would need to be holding his guitar to do one, and so he put together a little band, with his dad and one of his best men, and rehearsed a few songs secretly in the weeks leading up to the wedding. In between his very small but beautiful speech, they covered “Into the Mystic” ‘Subterranean Homesick’ Blues (one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs) and then a rousing rendition of “All you need is Love” by the Beatles – and I fell in love with him all over again.
Into The Mystic
It was tough to pick, and we did have Into the Mystic picked, before Andy decided that he wanted to sing it at the wedding, so we went for The Flamingo’s – I Only have Eyes for you, which is a song which has a real spookiness to it, and one we’d often dance around at home to. We followed it by Shirley Ellis The Clapping song though, which is a song my dad used to sing to me as a kid, it’s one of those songs people don’t know they know, but everyone seems to love.
I fell in love with cake pops ages ago, they are just so tiny and cute and delicious! I made some myself at Christmas, but was strictly forbidden from trying to fit in making 130 the week before my wedding, and so luckily the beautiful Shuaav.com stepped in, and made cake pops in our different colours for everyone, she even made me a few spares so I could have a midnight snack in the bridal suite (actually turned out to be a 4am snack).
Warwick House told us we could do anything but knock walls down, which is brilliant as although it’s a beautiful building as it is, you can really make it your own. I had a tonne of ideas, but time wasn’t on my side, and I was so lucky to get help in the form of Kirsten from The Little Wedding Helper, who took my ideas and managed to put them all together on the day, with the help of Rosie from allwrappedupevents who bought all the amazing tea sets for the tea party, and who constructed a ridiculous amount of Pom Poms.
We both love films, and so set up a room with lots of old posters adorning the walls, and a projector showing Charlie Chaplin & Buster Keaton films, a stand full of popcorn, and vintage movie books from the 60’s which a friend found in a loft house he’d moved into. I also hired a lot of furniture from a local antiques centre, so the room had a vintage divider between the photobooth and the cinema. The rooms lighting was kept magic by using old gas lamps and putting in battery operated candles inside, we also hired a ‘love’ sign from Vowed & Amazed, which ended up being part of the most amazing photos of the day. The whole idea of that room was for it to be somewhere to escape to. It got worryingly popular because of the dress up photobooth too.
We continued our ‘film’ theme in our table plan, where we took posters from great romantic/funny films ‘Have to Marry a Millionaire’ and my bridesmaid, who also happened to do our invites and is an amazing graphic artist managed to photoshop all the actors and replace them with our guests names, popped these in an ikea frame and it looked so ace we’ve now got it hanging in our dining room.
Instead of a guest book, we got a blue guitar, took out the strings, and asked our guests to sign that in white marker, knowing it would look ace hanging up in Andy’s office. I think it’s important to think past the wedding, buy things or make things that you’re likely to use again or be proud to hang in your home, otherwise it could be a massive waste.
Take A Moment
To other brides I’d say make sure to take a moment out on the day, after the ceremony before the reception, go and have 2 minuets to take it all in with your new husband. We did and we just kissed and kept saying “wow, we did it, we actually did it” it was the first and only moment we had alone all day and then our intrepid photographers and wedding planner found our hideout, busted.
Don’t feel bad but you won’t spend the day with the people you see all the time, you’ll probably spend it with your friends/family you rarely see – and that’s fine. Everyone wants your attention, and those that you’ll see the next day will understand.
Also don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t compare your wedding to anyone else’s. If you’re getting married for the right reasons, the colour of your table cloth, the angle of or the shape of flags/pom poms/balloons/bunting etc hanging on the tree outside that people will only see if they stand out in the rain will matter, honestly. It’s only the beginning of your story together, should it be the best day of your life – yes, but only your life so far.
What made our wedding special to me, apart from marrying my soul mate and gaining the best husband in the world, was that I got to share that day with my family. My dad was my world to me, and he was there to give me away, and he gave the most wonderful speech, had the room in stitches, but that was my dad, despite going through a very dark time, he had us all laughing. It would be the last time my dad would see some of his friends and family, and so to be able to give him a day so full of love and laughter, to be able to light up that darkness, and to fulfil his wish to see me married to Andy, was what made the wedding day even more special.
Dress 1: Kitty & Dulcie
Dress 2: Benjamin Roberts
Shoes 1: Aruna Seth
Shoes 2: Freya Rose,
Boutique: The Wedding Club
Headband: Natasha Jane
Make-up: Chloe McCall
Hair: Cherry Conquer
Photogrpaher: Lee Allen
Film: Studio 1208
Cake Pops: Shuaav.com
Venue: Warwick House
Thank you Kate and Andy so much. A very emotional tale of love and a big day that you can be suprememly proud of and will no doubt remember with much much fondness for many many years to come.