Feasting your eyes on Igor Demba’s photographic delights or rather works of art is always a treat but when you combine this with the creative talents of Sally and Ed on their big day then you’ve got all kinds of awesome.
This beautiful pair married amongst May blossoms against the traditional English backdrop of brick courtyards and picturesque grounds. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, a hot tub, a dash of French lace, a splash of Mediterranean colour and a dollop of Bond Girl theming action makes it into the mix causing you to double take.
And it works. Truly folks it does. It seamlessly and harmoniously flows together like it was always meant to be.
But I’m not going to reveal any more at this stage; instead I’m going to leave this to Sally who so eloquently tells it her way. Grab a cuppa and make yourself comfortable…this one’s a corker.
Sally The Bride:It was my mum that suggested Yeldersley Hall. A quick recce confirmed it was the perfect place for the beautiful but fun, unstuffy sort of wedding Ed and I were after. The red brick courtyard and picturesque grounds reminded us of our uni days at Girton and we started to imagine a college ball kind of party, with guests wandering from one interesting little area to another…
With several rooms, a marquee, various outside spaces and self-catering apartments at our disposal for three days, we decided to set a bank holiday date and invite our guests to make a weekend of it. The reasonable price, lovely owners and pretty village church a couple of fields away sealed the deal. Also there’s a hot tub, which should be compulsory at all weddings I think.
I decided to do my own make-up, stocked up at MAC and got a bit obsessed with YouTube tutorials. After a lot of experimenting I ended up keeping it quite subtle, painting my own nails and swerving false eyelashes and fake tans in favour of a stress-free morning getting ready with the girls.
Hair was another story as I’m useless at styling my own. Thanks to Harriet from local salon The Lounge I had a tousled up-do to make the most of my low-backed dress, embellished with little braids and a couple of deco-inspired pins from Glitzy Secrets. She was great to have around as we got ready, effortlessly rollering and pinning the bridesmaids’ and my mum’s hair too.
Edwardian French Silk
Having tried on lots of nice-enoughs, I was happily resigned to not falling in love with a wedding dress (apart from a certain Temperley number which would have been amazing to dance in but was just too pricey). I thought I’d rather find an adequate bargain than blow the budget on something I’d only wear once so, after snapping up a Jenny Packham dress at a sample sale for a few hundred pounds, I was feeling pur-etty smug. Then I found (cliché approaching) The One…
My best friend took me to an atelier she’d heard about just off Portobello Road, “just for the experience”. Jane Bourvis draped me in various constructions of antique lace, the last of which felt particularly amazing: a scallop-edged slip made from a vintage pattern in French silk, overlaid with lace that had already been down the aisle as an Edwardian wedding veil.
As well as being a proper craftswoman Jane is a styling genius (her shop is a magpie’s nest of costume jewellery, feathery headpieces and lacy works-in-progress) and tried several additions before we settled on a full-length veil and embroidered sash. I’m not a big shoe-girl, so was happy to find some bargainous, comfy strappy heels in a similar faded gold colour.
(I’m now selling the Jenny Packham dress here – bargain-happy brides-to-be please have a look!)
We Heart Spain
Finding the perfect set of mismatched bridesmaids dresses was one area of wedding planning I (and my helpful sister) went a bit mental over. I do a fair amount of art directing in my job and had set my heart on a very specific palette of colours.
We love Spain and tried to inject a bit of Mediterranean colour into our English May setting of green fields and frothy blossom. The bridesmaid dresses set the very loose colour scheme of blues and greens, tied together with pops of vibrant red. In the planning stages of the wedding I found myself saying ‘pops’ more than was strictly necessary; I’m pretty sure this is mandatory for brides.
The sales director Sarah was really helpful, sending us samples to try on, suggesting different styles from their archives and even throwing in lengths of the overlay lace so we could make a matching dress for my baby niece. It was so exciting to see it all come together on the day – the girls looked gorgeous. We also had a very sweet flower girl in my cousin’s little daughter, who ably armed the guests with paper cones of confetti.
Ed had a grand total of three best men and six ushers, distinguished by matching ties and bright red buttonholes. We loved having such a big wedding party as they were a huge help on the day and are all very dear to us. I thought Ed looked extremely dapper in his Thomas Pink shirt and tie, Paul Smith brogues and the petrol blue suit we had made to measure at Gresham Blake in Shoreditch. When it comes to clothes shopping we rarely push the boat out, so putting his outfit together was a really fun one-off.
Meadows And Hedgerows
Luckily we have several green-fingered family members who offered to help us out with the flowers. After a disastrous trip to the flower market (I’d gone rogue and managed to order about a billion cornflowers, which arrived stubbornly unopened) my aunts saved the day by adding to our stock from their own gardens and did an amazing job of making our bouquets. Unstructured and meadowy, with bright accents and lots of grassy foliage: just what I wanted.
Ed’s mum and sister arranged the church flowers – delphiniums and dahlias swelled with armfuls of cow parsley and beech leaves from the hedgerows. My mum and dad had made ingenious pew ends, tying silk lilies-of-the-valley with green ribbon and fastening them to copper hooks, and brightened the windowsills with pots of white calla lilies tied with raffia. We used more silk flowers and ribbons to decorate the spiral staircase and various nooks and crannies back at Yeldersley Hall, and for the tables my aunts arranged fresh flowers in blue/green jam jars and cut glass vases which mum had helped us collect.
The Scent Of Love
I remember the ceremony as a jumble of moments: hearing the bells as we drove towards the church, meeting my bridesmaids under the blossoms outside, walking with Dad down the aisle, feeling so happy and excited as I held Ed’s hand and approached the altar, not quite aware of the individual faces around us so much as a general impression of colour and music and love. It was probably the singing that did it.
Mum and Dad are teachers at my old high school so we had the incredibly talented school choir there to make Amazing Grace and Jerusalem even more emotional. Dad and I walked down the aisle to The Scent of Love by Michael Nyman, a piano piece Ed associates with me as it’s the only thing I can still play by heart. Our family friend the music teacher played it far better than I ever could, accompanied by one of the girls on violin.
I hope we did a good job of personalising the service. The reading we found seemed pertinent to us: Patagonia by Kate Clanchy. We wrote the prayers and my uncle read them out beautifully, ending with The Wedding Prayer by Robert Louis Stephenson. The choir sang Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones while we signed the register, followed by I’m Yours by Jason Mraz with a surprise accompaniment by my lovely dad and his guitar. Ed and I snuck out from ‘back-stage’ to watch, then left the church to a recording of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
The Violet Jive
After getting thoroughly pelted with confetti we left the churchyard in my father-in-law’s swish Tiger Sunbeam, which he’d spent weeks getting brideworthy for us, zoomed around the country lanes in a happy daze, then met up with Igor for some photos around the village. Joining our guests back at the Hall we milled about the gardens to the strains of the fantastic Osmaston wind band. As dusk fell the candlelit gardens came to life, including a den we’d decked out with cushions, throws, lanterns, hookah pipes, trays of mismatched tumblers and my mum’s devilish selection of spirits. These came in handy during the speeches which, with three best men and a comedian-bridesmaid, were brilliant and numerous!
For months our slowly shrinking to-do list had contained the ominous words ‘first dance’ and come the day of the wedding, they were still there. We never quite got round to brushing up our skills with a lesson or two, or even an awkward practice session, so when the time came it was freestyle all the way. A slow dance at this point just wouldn’t have been us, so we went for Do You Love Me by The Contours, hit the floor and shook our moneymakers. I’d dispensed with the outer layer of my dress and recycled my veil as a flouncy stole, which ended up wound around Ed’s head.
After that The Violet Jive kicked in with Long Tall Sally, our guests rushed the dance floor and stayed there all night. Strangely but accurately described as ‘a retro swing sound with feverish Latino curves, hip hop head nods and a cool dark alternative twist’, the band was one of the finds of the wedding. Steve’s a very cool front man and great to deal with; I’d definitely recommend them to anyone after something beyond the usual wedding band.
The Red Olive
Food and drink was something we felt was worth going to town on, so we were excited to meet Charlie of local caterers par excellence, The Red Olive. He and his team completely nailed our brief of homely-served food with a Spanish flavour. Guests had tapas-style canapés in the sunshine, including a carved Serrano ham with figs, honey and ciabatta, whilst chicken and marinated lamb were roasted in a rotisserie on the patio. These were later served with grilled salmon and sea bass, salads, paella-pan roasted potatoes, aioli and salsa verde. The front of house team were sweet and efficient and Charlie was also a big help in coordinating the running order of the day and making sure it all went to plan.
For dessert our families contributed their best home baking to a help-yourself table, coordinated by another cousin’s daughter who really should be on Junior Bake Off. It looked so professional I had to make sure everyone knew who to credit. Our wedding cake was made by (wait for it…) my mum, decorated with silver leaf and an intricately painted sugar magnolia, and tasted as amazing as it looked. Instead of favours we gave individual pressies to our nearest and dearest, to say a special thanks for all their love and help.
We carried on the Spanish vibe with Freixenet for the toasts, and boosted the bar a barrel of Skinner’s ale (my surname, haha) and an unending supply of Ed’s infamous rum cocktail, all very kindly supplied by his mum and dad along with the wine. Later in the evening we soaked up the booze with hot ham and mustard baps, fruits, cheeses and homemade pickles from Ed’s mum.
I’ve Been Expecting You…
The number of times I’ve typed ‘mum’ and ‘sister’ writing this post gives some idea of the huge role our families played in putting our wedding together, from the miles of coloured paper circles laboriously stamped out and stitched into garlands for the marquee, to the Mr & Mrs Owl piñatas (a pun on Ed’s surname, haha) that my sister made for Sunday morning fun.
Although I made a conscious decision not to spend every spare moment of our engagement making things, in the end there was a fair amount of DIY involved. We collected and painted jam jars, printed and bound our own orders of service and decorated them to echo the beautiful tiles behind the altar. The wedding invitations were postcards designed by a talented friend to look like an old Spanish travel poster, and preceded by a very silly save-the-date film we made on holiday in Seville. And, having discovered the venue was once home to the woman who inspired Ian Fleming’s Bond girls, there was only one possible theme for the table plan…
For Ed’s pressie I outsourced the DIY to good old Etsy, filling a custom-made wooden box with a letter to read on the morning of the wedding and lots of bits and bobs significant to us, including a pair of rings made of cypress and oak, inspired by a novel extract we’ve always liked.
Sunshine, Babies and A Game Of Footie
After a week of rain and gales, waking up to glorious sunshine on the morning of the wedding was something I’ll never forget. The day was full of special moments, undoubtedly crowned by my sister-in-law going into labour just as her husband finished his best man’s speech, delivering a healthy baby boy and returning from hospital on Sunday morning to show him off to everyone! She is my heroine.
That was just one reason it was great having the place for the whole weekend. Our mates stuck around for a Sunday game of footie, tennis, hot tub and fancy dress fun, and it gave us a bit more time to spend with everyone. On the other hand, catering for a second day without a caterer was a much bigger undertaking than we’d realised (thanks again, families!) and given the chance I’d maybe think twice. Then again, it was a lot of fun…
Squeeze as much fun out of the preparations as you can – we got our folks together for a frankly unnecessary ‘wine-tasting’ night, for example, which was a hoot. Delegate the honeymoon to the boy. And don’t forget the ‘pops’.
I came across our photographer Igor Demba on this very website. He is a brilliant and beautiful man. Not only can he tell a cracking story with a camera, he also made the perfect guest (in fact, several family members assumed he was one) and really went above and beyond for us, arriving a day early to scope out the location and capture our Friday preparations and wedding party BBQ. So thanks for the memories, Igor, and some of the sweetest dance moves Ashbourne has ever seen.
Special thanks also to Archers Mark for videography. For those after a more interactive music option Rockaoke is a blast, and anyone looking for loveable wedding stationery should definitely check out our friends at Pocket Typewriter.
Venue – Yeldersley Hall
Dress – Jane Bourvis
Catering – The Red Olive
Hair Accessories – Glitzy Secrets
Hair – The Lounge
Maids – Nancy Mac
Band – The Violet Jive
Stationery – Pocket Typewriter
Photography – Igor Demba Photography
So what do you think? There’s some pretty epic dance moves right at the end there right?
And I’m loving Igor’s double exposures of all the party action too – it’s like you’re getting two stories for the price of one.
Congratulations you two – let this be the start of an awesome adventure.
All my love Lolly xxx