Karen & Lee… Peace & Love (Part 1)


Adam here… Introducing the very first wedding from our last bunch of lovely real bride ladies, and first up is Karen who married her man Lee on June 1st.

If you are new RMW reader unfamiliar with Karens story then read no further!!! Firstly read Karens whole planning story right here. It’s a corker and a story this good should not be started at the final chapter! Talking of which… I will now pass the blog over to Karen for the very last time…

Karen: Hello, it’s been a while! 

When I last left you all, I was days away from the most surreal and wonderful day of my life. The day before however, was a complete mess of activity, emotion and co-ordinating as I suddenly realised that the to-do list was more than I could handle. The table plan, flowers, tan, nails and box packing all had to be done – so the arrival of my friends Liz and Neenah was an absolute godsend.


Those girls calmed me down and ran the wedding sweatshop with military precision before the arrival of the wonderful Colette from allwrappedupevents and Sophie from strangecasecollective who whisked it all away and worked their magic on the venues. 

The morning of the wedding started at 5am in maybe the most unexpected way… A text from one of my best friends – she was in labour!

Thoughts of the wedding melted away briefly and my thoughts were with Claire & her husband, bringing a new little life into the world, they had a huge day ahead and I was so excited for them both. (my second thought of course was to text Colette to rearrange the table plan). The sun was shining, I was surprisingly calm and we had a wedding AND a baby on the way. Best day ever already!


Still in our PJ’s, we descended on my parent’s house. My Dad took one look at us bouncing in and retreated to Morrisons for more champagne, it was all systems go. 


In Good Hands

There’s only one woman on earth I trust to take a pair of scissors to my fringe – my hairdresser of over ten years, Clare. So it was only natural that she did my hair for the big day. I didn’t want it too formal or structured, more ‘Bardot does Bridal’. I really don’t suit my hair up, so a more tarted up version of my usual party hair suited me down to the ground.


In the early days of searching for a veil, I fell in love with Sara Gabriel from across the pond – designer of a stunning range of couture veils. She couldn’t have been more helpful and was more than happy to ship the super-cute Emma half circle veil over to the UK. I paired it up with a very simple pearl and crystal headband from Glitzy Secrets


Warning: massive list of amazing make up products…
I’m incredibly lucky that my wonderful friend Neenah is an Account Manager for Estee Lauder, and offered to do my make up for the wedding. I knew I could relax and let her work her magic, to have me looking my best. 

A common debate between my online Bride friends (hi girls!) is what foundation to use, as a lot of light reflecting foundations look great in the day, but then awful when every drunken pal is pointing their iPhone at you on the dancefloor. The answer is HD! Neenah created a blend for me of Smashbox HD and Make Up Forever HD Foundations which meant it stayed put and looked perfect on camera. The ever faithful MAC Studio Fix (concealer and powder) finished off my base along with another magical combo of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze, Estee Lauder Soft Shimmer bronzer and MAC Mineralize blush in Love Joy. For my eyes she gave me a solid and lasting liner with Estee Lauder Doublewear liquid liner in black and Doublewear pencil liner in Onyx, MAC Opulash Optimum Black mascara with my favourite Chanel eyeshadow-duo in Taupe – Delicat. The whole look was topped off with Estee’s pure colour Crystal Baby lipstick.


My unfailing cosmetic brand loyalty didn’t stop there as I piled on my favourite scent Estee Lauder Sensuous and Chanel nail colour in May.


50s Dior

My dress must have been one of the biggest dramas of the entire planning process. The minute I wore my dress, based on a forgotten Christian Dior design from the 1950’s, I fell in love.


Then I wobbled. badly. You might remember that one. Thank God I got over it because I felt so special in my dress on the big day – As soon as I put it on I felt like a princess and loved spending the next 12 hours swishing about with my petticoats. 

It was perfect for me, pulling me in to show off my waist then flowing out to hide my little beer belly under all the skirts, while having some lovely detail on the top to give the illusion of me having boobs! It even had pockets to hide my hankie and lippy in. Amazing.


I knew I wanted killer shoes, so I went for a gorgeous pair of sky high strappy Miu Miu heels. My jewellery was all a lovely surprise from Lee on the morning of the wedding – some beautiful, understated sparkle! Knickers from Agent Provocateur naturally, and I managed to end up with two garters from the Mums. I have to say, Lee’s Mum’s 40 year old garter – complete with giant plastic cupid is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen.


The Handsome Groom

Lee has always been a bit of a sharp dresser, so I had no doubt he’d be looking amazing on the day. I was right, he looked dead handsome! I think he put as much effort into his outfit as I did with mine. It was a total secret until we saw eachother at the ceremony.

First stop was Savile Row. He had a bespoke, three-piece tweed suit made by Gieves & Hawkes with a very pale yellow dress shirt and yellow patterned tie, also from Gieves & Hawkes. He paired the suit perfectly with a pair of beautiful two-tone brown leather shoes from Loake Shoemakers. His yellow socks and cufflinks, were also Gieves & Hawkes.


Maids & Males

I knew I didn’t want typical bridesmaid dresses for the girls but it was tough finding the right look as I wanted them all to look stunning. I wanted a dress they’d all love and wear again. We had a few failed attempts at online decision-making before hitting the high street for a day of shopping. 

We found the perfect dress in Warehouse. Cute and flattering with a real 60’s vibe – exactly what we’d been looking for. The dresses were ivory, so for a little pop of colour, their feet became my ‘something blue’. I wanted sexy bridesmaids and thats what I got… legs legs legs! My male of honour Phil wore a sharp three-piece navy Daniel Hechter suit & Doc Marten shoes while my 20-month old nephew Oliver matched Lee in a gorgeous tweed set with chinos and baby brogues. Both boys wore matching bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie.


One of the most magical moments of the day for me was the arrival of the flowers. After spending months planning every detail of the day, the flowers were out of my hands and the final look was a total surprise. I’d worked with Dale and trusted him completely to create something special and unique – I loved the anticipation of not seeing his creation until the big day.

My flower choices were very personal to me and I wasn’t sure how they would look together. Of course, they were sublime. Built around a base of a huge white hydrangea, there were peonies, roses, ranunculus, daisies, lisianthus, astilbe and of course a little peep of willow. They were stunning and smelled like heaven.


Before I knew it we were all suited, booted and the beautiful cars chosen by Lee (a 1920s Bramwith and Daimler Landaulette) courtesy of classicweddingcars.org were waiting outside.

We were ready to go. 


I loved driving through town with my Dad, waving and smiling at everyone the whole way, I’m never one to shy away from attention and I felt like royalty. We arrived at The Athenaeum expecting to be greeted by the bridal party who’d left 15 minutes before we did… The first comedy moment of the day. They weren’t there! 

After taking a wrong turn and getting stuck in the one-way system, they came reversing up the road – cheering and waving – making a spectacular entrance about ten minutes later. It was hilarious and left enough time for me and my Dad to enjoy one last glass of champagne before we headed inside. 


Peace & Love

Our loose ‘books and music’ theme came naturally with the venues we’d chosen, but more than anything, we wanted our day to have a laid back, fun, retro vibe. We’re both strongly influenced by our parents in life, so we drew from their wedding days – working little details into our own day such as the colour scheme and flowers – while also reflecting our own personalities. The girls from Strange Case Collective had really gone to town creating our Chanel-inspired staircase and it looked fantastic, better than I could have ever imagined. I’d worked hard to plan the decorative touches, but I could never have achieved what they did. It was the cherry on the cake and the amount of work and love they’d put into our wedding day blew my mind.


We’d also left out a few little gestures for our guests, like a little chest filled with vintage hankies at the entrance to the library, to mop up any emotional tears (there were many) and also a little beauty box in the ladies toilets for touch ups and repairs – this is one gesture that doesn’t cost the earth but will mean the world to your girls when they need an emergency safety pin or spritz of hairspray. I totally recommend it.

Finally, I could hear the opening notes of Something by George Harrison. I gave my Dad’s arm a squeeze and walked into a dream…


Venues – The Athenaeum & Studio 2 at Parr Street Studios
Brides Dress – Eternity Bridal
Brides Veil – Sara Gabriel
Brides Headband – Glitzy Secrets

Shoes – Miu Miu

Groom’s outfit – Gieves & Hawkes
Maids Dresses – Warehouse 

Bow Ties – Mrs Bow Tie (quote ROCKMYWEDDING for 10% off!)
Photography – Claire Penn Photography with 2nd Shooter Cassandra Lane

Video – Papertwin
Decor – Strange Case Collective
Planning & Co-ordination – All Wrapped Up
Cake – One Jolly Girl

Stationery – Thom Morgan
Cars – Classic Wedding Cars
Band – Rag Tag Misfits

DJ – Wedding Jam
Catering – Pickled Walnut
Flowers – Passion For Flowers

…And that is where we leave it for now. Make sure you pop back this afternoon for part 2… complete with a surprise ending that no-one could have predicted.

Adam ‘Cliffhanger’ Crohill.

Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

45 thoughts on “Karen & Lee… Peace & Love (Part 1)

  1. OMG remembering it like it was yesterday! You looked so amazingly beautiful when you pulled up with your dad kazza! Can’t wait to see more! Better wipe these tears and put on my make up! Xxxxxx

  2. Ahhhhhh! Love Love LOVE!!! I sure will be back this afternoon! from this post I see you have a lot of Clare’s in your life 😉

    I love all your personal details, the hankies are great! The decoration looks flipping amazing! Something we are pondering this very minute so I am pinning away and taking note. Wow! Wow! Wow! I just love these pictures!

    KAREN YOU LOOK GORGEOUS!! Total stunner! And that man of yours is pretty dapper too!

    x x x

  3. Oh Karen your words are so beautiful, I can feel all the excitement and nerves and happiness when reading it! It’s given me great big butterflies in my tummy! Claire’s photos are just stunning, you and Lee and all your guests look gorgeous as well! I will save the rest of my wonderment for Part 2, looking forward to it!

    Don’t be late people, make sure you’re back here this afternoon for another cracking read!


  4. Karen…you are just so gorgeous! I love the make up write up (secretly taking notes)And the channel staircase is something else!! I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story and you’ve spurred me into finishing mine! xxx

  5. Hi girls, oh it’s all coming flooding back (again).

    Thank you all for your lovely comments, Claire’s photos capture everything so beautifully.

    @Sazz it was boss when we pulled up and I saw your happy face!! 🙂

    @Stef there are literally HUNDREDS.

    @Adam – thanks for the ace intro. It’s been a blast being a Real Bride, I’ve loved sharing our story.

  6. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!
    Well you know how much I adored ALL the pictures from your wedding (Claire Penn you are too flipping awesome!!)
    So glad to finally see it gracing these fabulous pages 🙂

    Your write up is beautiful and that last bit had me welling up.
    You and Lee are such a wonderful couple (and Dave & I could see that from just meeting you guys once!) so full of love and happiness and definitely deserved to have the best day ever and by the looks and sound of it you did – and we’ve only got as far as your entrance!

    CANNOT wait for part two

    Which just leave me to say…
    …in your own words Karen you are HOT.LIKE.FIRE (seriously, you look absolutely stunning in these pics!) and Lee doesn’t look too shabby either! 😉

  7. I actually got goosebumps reading this! My own wedding is in less than 4 weeks, and your description of just before you walked into the ceremony gave me an idea of how I might feel on the day- how exciting and emotional. What a beautiful day so far; can’t wait for part two!

  8. Karen, you made me cry in work!!!!!!!! I love this, I love you, and love you and Lee together, your wedding was so so beautiful!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  9. Aaaaah I don’t want it to be over! It’s been the most incredible wedding to be a part of and I’ve made so many friends – not only Karen & Lee but the guys from Papertwin, Strange Case and All Wrapped Up. What a team. The tears are going to be flowing again this afternoon for sure. And to all the QBB girls *mwaaaaah*. Back for round 2 later…. Karen where are those complimentary hankies NOW eh? 🙂 xxxx

  10. I think this is one of my fave weddings I have seen in a long time, absolutely love love LOVE! its strange how images of people you dont even know can make you feel quite emotional isnt it!! … that must be the magic of Claire Penn you are Incredibly talented the moments you have captured .. my gosh… literally cannot wait to see part 2 🙂 xxx

  11. Simply stunning and the happiness and love is bursting out my screen, it’s completely infectious!

    Like the others I will save my best words for later (Nooooo this can’t be nearly the end *sulks in the corner*)

    Love you guys xxx

  12. So excited for part 2! Karen everything looks lovely especially all the little personal touches like the hankies. All I can say is WOW to the staircase! I want one. x


    I’m blubbing into my porridge over part 1, lord knows what i’ll be like this afternoon.

    Claire, as ever, these pics totally rock and its so lovely finally reading your write up former Swaley!!! LOVE it!

    So glad your day was so awesomly amazingbaseballs and still in LOVE with the Chanel staircase and your tiny doll waist in the dress

    Loads of love and happiness to you both xxxxxx


    Can’t you and Lee just keep repeating this every year? Go on. It’ll be boss.

    It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of this amazing day and work alongside some incredible people. We will never forget creating all the touches for your day and loved every minute. Who’d have thought a “Giiiiiiirls, can I have this Chanel staircase?” joke conversation would have turned into a reality. It has to have been one of favourite pieces of work to date.

    Here’s to part two.

    Peace and Love <3

  15. Also thanks for all the lovely comments about the staircase. I still have all the flowers at home and one day, my boyfriend is going to turn up and I will have used them all to cover the entire house haha.


  16. Oh Karen.

    I sit here with my hand over my heart beaming like a proud mother. You are gorgeous woman…from your Sara Gabriel topped head to your sparkly Miu Miu toes! And Mr Lee looks top dollar too. There are so many beautiful details that it’s impossible to name them all but I’m loving the cut crystal vases, Lee’s emotional facial expressions, your beautiful portraits with your daddyio and the sweet hankies.

    I can’t wait for everyone to see part two!

  17. Oh God, thank you everyone for your lovely comments. It was the BEST DAY EVER!

    @Sophie – I have one in my kitchen. It looks boss.

    @Claire – I have no words for what these photos and your friendship mean to us both. you totally nailed it!

    @Lolly – Haha I love my Daddy Cool. My Mum will be fuming that he stole the thunder in Part 1. The crystal was all a labour of love and many hours in charity shops, they’re now sitting in @Charlie’s house ready for her Cardiff Castle wedding next month!


  18. Ah reading this brings it all back what an amazing couple you truly are amazing!!! Was a privilege to be part of the day and to work along side such skilled suppliers made my job so much easier. Amazing amazing amazing!!!

  19. @Colette – you were amazing. So glad you were such an important part of the day and didnt even bat an eyelid at a 7am “OMG WE FORGOT THE GOLF CLUBS!!!!” x

  20. TOTALLY BOSS. You and Lee did RMW proud girl.

    Bring on Part Two instantly please.

    Also, Estee Crystal Baby is J-Los ‘go to’ lipstick.


  21. What a fabulous moment to notice that the beach I’m sunning myself on has wifi(!)
    So glad to have caught your stunning wedding. Congratulations Karen – it’s an absolute triumph! X

  22. WOW – what an amazing, itching to have a look through part 2 now! The Miu Miu sky-high heels are my fave – a woman after my own heart, I certainly need those in my life. I also love the modern take on wedding hair, the ‘Bardot-does-bridal’ look really suits you and the ’60’s vibe


    (capitals means I am shouting, LOUDLY.)

    Also dropped a comment on part 2, very sad there isn’t a part 3 🙁

    Although I do have a “real bride” shoot idea up my sleeves so will look forward to seeing you all soooooon!!!!!

    Charlotte xxx

  24. @Charlotte – Ooooooooooooooooooooooo you’ve got me all intrigued now!
    Very excited!! xx

    @Karen – god, I LOVE your dress!!!! seriously, it is quite possibly THE best dress ever! So, so very glad you got past those wobbles!


  25. @Karen – I’ve had a few dress wobbles recently and just reading that you did too has made me feel a million times better! Your dress is to die for… I love everything about your wedding! I’ve also commented on part 2 before part 1, i got too excited and couldn’t stop to comment i had to read on straight away! xx

  26. @Charlotte – love you you mad head. Lets get this show on the road im having withdrawal already!

    @Jackie – @Becca will remember my total freakout that I can now talk about. It was all about the taffeta. I decided it was all wrong after seeing flash photos of other taffeta frocks. I actually cried real tears because it would ‘look like a shell suit’. Im thoroughly ashamed of myself. Its totally bloody gorgeous, even now lying on too of the wardrobes covered in filth! Xx

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