RMW reader Nicola and her husband Jon had one of those weddings where there are so many details I love I hardly even know where to begin.
Nicola’s up-do with chunky plait, her pretty lace bolero and her bright orange manicure. The bridesmaids chiffon gowns, so sophisticated, so stylish. The delicate blue china and the country garden blooms. The way Nicolas father looks at her, a couples embrace behind a window pane, the joy of catching the bouquet…
I like the fact they didn’t just have a sweet table but an entire tuck shop… with scales and all. The tongue-in-cheek table names (who wouldn’t want to be a “foam banana”?), the glamorous future Mother-in-Laws, a game of table football….
And my most favourite thing of all?
The reason I gave this post this particular title.
It’s Friday folks and what better way to spend it than with a W-day that is bursting at the seams with fun, laughter and love?
With huge thanks to Dasha at Exhibit Emotions for making a super gorgeous start to the weekend.
Soft And Romantic
I found Emma, my make-up artist, on a recommended list of suppliers for Suffolk, and went to her house for a trial with my Mum and Grandmother. I instantly warmed to Emma. She is such a friendly, fun and open person, and it was amazing to have her there on the day – she really put me at ease and I felt so calm getting ready! She is a fantastic make-up artist and made me look beautiful. She really listened to what I liked, as well as making her own recommendations, and I was really pleased with the colour palette we went for – greys for my eyes, peachy/pink on the lips and cheeks and a natural coverage for my foundation.
It was the same with Anne, my hairdresser. I had a trial with Anne at her salon in Long Melford and knew I would be in great hands; she was calm, professional and such a lovely person. I hadn’t actually had the whole style done until the morning, because the plait was on order! I wanted a look that was romantic and feminine to go with my dress, and with whispy pieces of hair around my face to add softness, and the end result was exactly what I’d pictured.
The Last One
My dress was called “Dayton”, from Enzoani’s Blue collection, and I found it in Bride All wedding boutique in Exning, Bury St Edmunds I’d tried on about 8 other dresses in the shop, admiring several but not quite able to tell which I preferred. I’d put all my clothes on, and was about to set off to find my Mum and Sister wandering on the ground floor, when the assistant mentioned there was one other dress I hadn’t tried and which had been in the corner. It sounds corny, but the instant she did it up I felt teary and happy and started clapping my hands like an over-excited seal pup! It was the perfect mix of romantic, feminine, waist-defining, and with the detailing I’d been looking for. I was so pleased she’d thought of it before I’d left the shop!
The detailing and material are beautiful – embroidered lace underneath with a soft layer of tulle over the top, the tulle sweeping across the front of the dress in a wide criss-cross fashion. The sweetheart neckline and modified mermaid shape were ultra flattering and complimented my curvy figure. My dress also had a beautiful Swarovski crystal and pearl halter-neck piece that trailed down the middle of my back and which I wore for the evening; a real statement piece! The colour of the dress really struck me too – it’s not the usual ivory that you see on most dresses, but more of a cream/peachy tone that was perfect against my pale, English Rose skin.
Lust At First Sight
My shoes were lust at first sight! And I like to think they were meant to be. I’d seen Freya Rose’s shoes in my bridal magazine, happened to have a look at her website at the very moment she had announced a sale, and when I looked at the location, her offices were based in Islington’s Business Centre only 5 minutes on the bus from my office. I booked myself a private appointment and tried on her gorgeous, classic, ivory satin Margret shoe with its round court shape, and knew they would be the perfect match for my romantic, vintage-inspired dress. The shoe clips that she creates are divine, and I found it so hard to choose that I ended up buying two pairs! I bought the Beatrice clips for the evening, matching the more “glamorous” look I was going for – they were made of inter-woven freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal and matched in with the crystals and pearls in my hair, my bridal posy, and the halter-neck piece. The other clips for my daytime look were similar to the Blossom clips on her website, with a chiffon flower, pearl detailing in the centre, and feathers sweeping out to the side. Freya was so lovely, and is clearly extremely talented with an eye for beautiful materials and designs.
I felt very, very excited walking out of the Business Centre with my beautiful shoes and clips, all packaged in a pale nude-pink box with gold lettering and a pretty nude pink bag.
Demure And Dramatic
I knew that I wanted a more demure daytime look, and to save the halter-neck piece until the evening, so I opted for spaghetti straps for the daytime, with a short-sleeved lace and tulle bolero. I couldn’t find a bolero that I liked in the bridal shops I’d visited and managed to find a Polish company on the internet where I bought both my veil and bolero. It was a slight risk ordering online but they were perfect. My veil was elbow length and had tiny pearl detailing, which matched in with the pearls in my earrings and my Mum’s pearl necklace, and my bolero was so delicately embroidered, it set off the dress perfectly.
I saw some of Tigerlilly’s jewellery in one of my bridal magazines and fell in love with several pairs of earrings on their website, it was really difficult to choose! They are based in the US, and design their own pieces as well as designing bespoke jewellry too. In the end, I asked my jeweller to convert the chandelier earrings I’d bought into two sets and I wore the smaller pair for the daytime, and the larger pair for the evening.
I bought some pretty pearl hair pins and a pearl and crystal bracelet from Glitzy Secrets.
I absolutely loved my flower corsage – I’d spied it in a magazine and it’s a Charlotte Balbier piece. Her hair accessories are as beautiful as her dresses. I bought it from a great wedding accessories website.
Creating The Fairytale
Having decided that we wanted a civil ceremony instead of a church wedding, we began looking for a venue in a beautiful countryside setting, and with a licensed ceremony room that had character, history and atmosphere. My parents live in Suffolk and so I set about searching online for Suffolk venues, and stumbled across Butley Priory which was not at the time on the standard wedding venue websites. As soon as I saw the images of Butley I was instantly smitten, and even more so on seeing it – we only saw one other venue in our search as I already knew it was ‘the one’!
The Priory has a faded grandeur and vintage-chic feel which I loved, and was perfect for the romantic, fairytale wedding that I wanted to create.
At the front of the Priory is the beautiful ivory Marquee and this is where we hosted our BBQ reception. We had a lot of fun with our families decorating it the day before the wedding with bunting, fancy dress boxes, candles, purple uplighting. We adorned the bar with Cath Kidston floral oilcloth, a neon sign and star-shaped fairylights. We lined the lawn outside the marquee with lots of hay bales for people to sit on whilst they munched on crepes and pizza.
Suiting One And All
I’m not fond of traditional bridesmaidy-colours of pinks, greens and blues! I’d decided on grey quite early on to go in with the flowers and my dress, but it was quite difficult finding grey bridesmaids dresses, and especially one that I could convince my sister to wear; she is not keen on chiffon or satin! I stumbled across some grey dresses at Phase Eight that looked suitable, and we had a mini fashion show at home with my husband and parents, to show them about 6 dresses I’d ordered from various shops online! They all went for the grey one, hurrah! It was perfect against my dress as it had the same soft look; layers of a soft chiffon/tulle material over an inner layer, and with pretty Grecian straps.
Once we’d decided on grey for the girls, it followed that we’d look for grey for the boys and luckily nearly all the groomsmen already owned grey suits. We were thinking of hiring Jon’s but in the end we tried a few on and found a really great Daniel Hetcher suit in mid-grey, and a fab grey and soft pink stripe tie from Thomas Nash which complimented the suit really well. Our Dads and best man, ushers and master of ceremonies all wore the same tie, and we hired soft grey waistcoats for Jon, our Dads and best man. They all looked very handsome indeed.
Peaches And Cream
I found Rachel via a Google search, I was actually meant to have another florist but they let me down with a double booking, and I’m so glad they did! Rachel was such a pleasure to have as our florist; creative, professional, talented, and we worked out the scheme together at her house, both chipping in ideas for flowers and colours. I knew that I wanted an ivory and peach colour scheme with hints of blue and purple. I’d seen ivory and peach together in my magazines and thought blues/purples would go really nicely too as 10-20% of the palette. I knew that I wanted agapanthus, freesias, gladioli, avalanche and garden roses, and hydranga. Rachel had pictures of some arrangements in teapots that used lisanthius, veronica and asters which looked stunning, so we added those into the mix too. My bouquet was a posy of freesias, roses, lisanthius, mint, veronica and scabious, with interwoven pearls, and my bridesmaids had smaller versions. My husband’s and groomsmens’ buttonholes were simple ivory roses with ivy, and we added white freesia to Jon’s as it is one of his favourite flowers.
I’d taken inspiration from magazines and decided to have cream jugs as the centre arrangements, loosely arranged, surrounded by china teacups filled with roses and little vintage bottles that I’d collected over the months from ebay purchases, which served as bud vases. I’d found some pretty pastel-coloured French labels on Amazon and stuck them all onto the bottles. I added some parlane votive holders in between the bottles to finish off the look. With mine and Mum’s strawberry jams which we’d covered in blue gingham, and the hand-made menus created from Paperchase’s cotton rag paper with cornflower-blue flowers, the tables looked so pretty and romantic.
A True Professional
I’d seen some of Dasha’s from Exhibit Emotions photos before I met her and loved how they captured the emotion between couples, and how natural and effortless they appeared. We were looking for a reportage-style photographer who wouldn’t be intrusive on the day, and who would have a great eye for natural, unposed, beautiful shots, and Dasha certainly does – she is very talented. We instantly got on well with Dasha, she is fun, easygoing and relaxed with a great sense of humour and is a true professional.
We loved our engagement photography shoot in Rye that came with our package (Dasha is very flexible and will go anywhere as long as you cover travel expenses); the images that came back were so fresh and beautiful. All of our wedding photos are amazing – we’re so happy that she captured all the emotions and details of the day in such a beautiful way.
Dapper in Ivory Accents
I’d never seen Jon looking so dapper – he is normally a jeans and trainers man and doesn’t need to wear formal-wear for his work, so it was amazing to see him looking so handsome and smart! He even wore an ivory satin handkerchief, which we’d searched high and low for, and it really finished off his suit along with his matching ivory buttonhole.
Lost In 80’s Music
We love a bit of 80’s action, and are avid fans of Heart FM and Absolute 80’s, and we thought it would be fun to ask everyone to bring an 80’s accessory for the dance floor, to get into the spirit. We searched for 80’s bands on the Internet and stumbled across Lost in Music (who also do other decades but had an impressive list of 80’s tunes
They really made the night, pulling out all the tunes! They wore fancy dress too – all manner of wigs, flouro clothes, leg warmers and neck scarves, and were a hit with our guests who bopped along, dressed in their 80’s gear and random items from our dressing up box (big bird being the most memorable!) – the dance floor was constantly packed.
To take over from the band in between and after their last set, Jon’s good friend Kat Boyce (who used to DJ on Choice FM, does panto at Hackney Empire and is an all round legend) took over the decks and did us proud as our D.J. He came out with some brilliant tunes and very funny commentary, entertaining everyone. He has said he is up for DJ’ing if anyone wants to book him in between his panto performances!
Eugene, the pianist during our ceremony and for our reception drinks, was so talented and played beautifully. We listened to a CD of his sample pieces before booking him, and he was noticeably more superior to others we had listened to. We were quite particular and specified most of the pieces, and he was extremely accommodating, offering to practice our request for Madness “It Must be Love”, and the Star Wars “Cantina Band” for our signing and exit music. He is a lounge/jazz player and was very happy to play all of our Scott Joplin, Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter requests, mixed in with some Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder tunes. He really was fantastic and made our ceremony and the day very special.
I looked at several pictures in my magazines and online on cake-makers’ websites, and came up with a mixture of various styles and communicated them to Kate. Kate’s cakes looked fantastic in the magazines and were reasonably priced (I found that some can be so ridiculously priced), and I knew she would do a fab job.
I wanted to keep the cake simple and romantic and to pick out details from my dress, so opted for ivory coloured icing, with white pearl detailing, and lace and satin ribbon on each layer. As birds and butterflies were woven throughout all the details of the day, I asked if she could make some small white-icing butterflies. I’d seen a cake that had roses pinned on asymmetrically, so I asked Rachel if she could help me achieve the look, and she wired the roses onto the cake on the morning of the wedding, whilst I glued the butterflies on with royal icing!
We’d picked up the cake ourselves to keep costs down, and Kate had packaged the cake sturdily, putting dowels in to keep the 3 tiers secure. I found a gorgeous cut glass stand on the internet which we used to display it, and two ceramic white birds from one of my favourite shops in London – Caravan in Shoreditch. It looked stunning and tasted delicious. We chose to have buttercream, raspberry jam and sponge as we were serving the cake as our desert, but we also had a fruit layer as the top tier to take home and share with our families.
The first dance song was a difficult choice for us. Because I met Jon while we both worked at MTV, Jon was working for MTV Base, and so a lot of “our songs” were R&B/Hip Hop/Grime! Maybe not the best for a first dance, though we had a few on the decks afterwards! Jon also feels nervous about dancing whereas the dancefloor is my second home. So when we’d left it too late to practice Wham, “I’m You Man” after a few hilarious dancing/bickering sessions in the living room, we went back to basics and thought of songs we liked from films.
Jon suggested Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” from the Eponymous film, one of his favourites, and I’ve always loved that song too. So we made it “our song”. We managed to do a few shuffles and twirls at the right moments, and now it will always hold a special significance for us. We’ve been through some tough times together with Jon’s health, so the lyrics really stand true for us, and will do in the future going forwards. Marriage is very much about supporting each other and making each other stronger, and that message shines through in the song.
The Right Ingredients
I think the personal ingredients of our day were what made it special for us and I would recommend couples organising their wedding to take time to think about what reflects them individually, and as a couple, and to integrate those into the day. It sounds so simple, but it really made our day. For us this was several things:
We made the invitations, orders of marriage, menu cards and jams and it was really satisfying to have done those things ourselves. It also saved on cost too. We only had 4 months to organize our whole wedding, and I’m really proud of us for finding the time – the personal touch it added to our day was well worth the late nights.
As I’ve mentioned, we chose all the songs for our pianist, our band, and our D.J. had an impressive request list too. We also made our own playlists for the BBQ wedding breakfast and afternoon drinks on the lawn. It was great to be surrounded by songs we love throughout the day. Music is such a powerful, emotive thing, and as we hear those songs in the future we’ll be instantly taken back to our wedding day.
Jon is a natural joker and loves all things fun. He borrowed the dressing up box from work, full of random wigs, sunglasses, blow up dolls, rubber rings and snorkels, and we booked a photobooth to capture those fun moments – we now have an album full of images of our friends and families in their paraphernalia, with all their lovely messages, and it was great to see everyone letting loose on the dance floor and having fun with the blow up guitars and microphones!
Jon twisted my arm to have a table football in the marquee as football is a huge part of his life, and the boys loved playing in the evening.
Food For Thought
I am a huge foodie and BBQ’s have played a big part in my childhood growing up. Jon has the biggest sweet tooth I know, even waking up in the night and sleepwalking to the kitchen on occasion to raid the cupboard. We wanted a relaxed, informal, fun feel, but for our guests to still feel looked after, so we had a BBQ for our wedding breakfast, with our guests being served at the table, and a huge sweet shop (“Jon’s Tuck Shop”) for later in the afternoon and evening. Our tables were named after Jon’s favourite retro sweets – The Flying Saucers, The Flumps and so on, and we had a jar of each on the tables.
Pizza is Jon’s ultimate favourite ever food. Sometime in his distant student past he has been known to eat one every day of the week, so we absolutely had to have a wood fired pizza oven. The pizzas were delicious and we had so many comments from guests, and the team at The Proper Pizza Company were so friendly. They also dressed the serving area really authentically with fresh basil plants which I thought was a lovely touch.
Love Conquers All
My grandfather sadly passed away a few years ago, and he was always asking in an increasingly impatient tone “when are you getting married Nicola?!” Partly because he was not entirely favourable of cohabiting outside marriage, partly because he loved a good party. My Nanny told me that they had had their rings engraved with “Love Conquers All”, and it really resonated with Jon and I. We’ve been through a lot together and come through the other side, and it was the perfect inscription for our rings which I know my grandfather would have loved. Our jeweler, Patrick Wyatt, with a workshop based in Hatton Garden, has been fantastic throughout, sharing in our excitement and helping to design my engagement ring, and finally to have our wedding bands hand engraved.
Another general tip is to think of your guests too. It’s a long day for them and so we wanted to make sure that we had enough seating, enough good food, enough fun and entertainment, and enough wine, beer and prosecco! I think it’s nice to pamper your guests, especially when they have travelled for your big day.
Bridesmaids Dresses – Phase Eight
Band – Lost in Music
Pianist –Eugene Portman
Blooms –English Rose
Photography –Exhibit Emotions
Brides Jewellery – Tigerlilly
Brides Shoes – Freya Rose
Venue – Butley Priory
Love really does conquer all.
And coming up later…..
A very very serious survey.
Kidding. Couldn’t think of anything more boring for a Friday afternoon. We hope to make you laugh with our slightly immature sense of humour instead.
Big I Want A Big Chunky Plait Please Love