When I spoke to Montreal Wedding Photographer Steve Gerrard about Rhiannon and Jack’s wedding, he said – “you are going to love this, it’s got RMW written all over it and top it off – there’s a *ahem* swearword-ing rainbow in it” (yes sorry, Steve is a bit of a ‘rock star’ and as such has got quite a potty mouth on him, but you get the idea).
Confident I thought… then I had a look at the images. And it’s all there, from the Suzanne Neville dress to the Sex And The City shoes to the blooming great big red bus to the some-how-bigger-than-a-bus cake (seriously check that bad boy out!!!), it just looks like a perfect day.
Even if you discount old Mother Natures brazen display of technicolour, we are dealing with something pretty darn special here folks. To top it off, Rhiannon is a massive, massive, massive RMW fan so we’ve made her day today – just as much as she is about to make yours. In fact when she heard that her wedding was going to be featured she said:
“AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY DREAM HAS COME TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
What a lovely story – everyone’s happy then! Grab a cuppa and dive in.
Rustic And Relaxed.
Our wedding was Thursday 18th August 2011 at St. Margaret’s Church Great Barr and then reception at Packington Moor Farm, Lichfield. Packington was the one and only venue we looked at, the week after we got engaged! We wanted something rustic, relaxed and somewhere that looked fantastic even without all the trimmings. It is a working farm with stunning scenery, farm shop and a beautiful honeymoon and guest cottage.
I’m In Love With Suzanne Neville.
I tried on so many dresses I lost count. I had always envisaged a vintage lace gown but every time I put one on I just didn’t feel anything. I was about to order a stunningly designed Beverley Williams 1950’s dress from Honey Cole Bridal in Staffordshire, when I noticed a new dress in the window as we pulled up. It was really simple but beautifully shaped. The shop had just received the new Suzanne Neville line and needed someone to try them on (of course I obliged, would have been rude not to!) Then I fell in love… with a designer. Suzanne’s dresses have the most amazing fit of any designer I tried (and that was a lot!)
I’m not a fussy, embellishment kind of gal, so I finally settled on ‘Nobility’, a fishtailed, button backed, beautiful neck-lined gown. The added bonus was that my Nan (who has early Alzheimer’s) decided it was her favourite and it didn’t matter to me that she couldn’t remember it afterwards; I knew she helped choose it. Plus my Mom cried (added bonus).
As the dress was so simple I wanted a full length veil, but refused to spend the £300 necessary to get one! Luckily, Honey Colel were having a sale and Bev, the owner, earmarked one with beautiful vintage crystals at the bottom. Now… I have a strange hang up about my head (it is physically quite large) so I tried on some head bands etc but felt really uncomfortable. Then I stumbled across a beautiful vintage hair comb from Liberty in Love and it had just the right amount of sparkle and didn’t draw attention to my melon head. SOLD.
I wore my Nan’s earrings, beautiful pearl and diamond screw ons and a stunning Topaz bracelet my Mom had bought for the day.
The Shoes That Carrie Wore.
I actually bought my shoes a whole year before my dress! I have a very unhealthy obsession with 1. Shoes and 2. Sex and the City, so it was therefore only right that my shoes were Manolo Blahnik ‘Something Blue’ like the ones Carrie wore marrying Big.
A Half Up Do.
I really wanted to look and feel like me on the day of the wedding. I don’t wear lots of make-up usually or have elaborate hair, so my hairdresser Chris from Harris And Gibbs created a half up do that was as natural as possible. Unfortunately for my hair, my dad had booked a convertible as a surprise, so a 30 min journey in the wind somewhat dishevelled my hair. But you know what? I didn’t care a bit!
My make-up was done by the genius that is Katy Messer from Make Up By Katy. She created a flawless, natural look (with no eyeliner on the bottom as I’m a crier!) and it stayed on all day and night; no touch ups required. Anyone reading this, book Katy… she is phenomenal and a damn nice lady!
Seasonal And Natural.
Jack and I are both English teachers, and as such, are swept away by romantic landscapes and nature! We both knew we wanted wild, naturally grown flowers that were in season and I stumbled across The traditional flower company, based in Uttoxeter Staffordshire when attending a wedding fair in Birmingham.
Sam, who owns the farm, grows everything herself and the best part is you get to go to her farm, walk amongst her beautiful paddocks and choose your flowers two weeks before; it’s a real hands on approach. We chose an eclectic mix of wildflowers for the table centres in china teapots. They were stuffed with herbs and smelled sensational. I asked for blue hydrangea and lavender in the arrangements, but apart from that I just asked Sam to do what she does best! My bouquet was one of my favourite things of the day (I have since freeze dried it!) We had blue cornflowers and lavender for the button holes (Jack’s a man’s man so I was told… NO pink roses for buttonholes) We also had vintage milk churns stuffed with flowers in the reception venue.
My Mom did the flowers for the church and they looked fantastic.
My Grandfathers Clock.
I am obsessed with all things Doris Day and chintz so where else would I go for Bridesmaid dresses than Vivien of Holloway? All my girls were very different shapes and sizes, but the shop caters for all ranges. My sister who was maid of honour had a flouncy purple petticoat and my other two bridesmaids (best friends) wore white petticoats underneath to give it a real 50’s shape. We had a flowergirl, Tanwen, and a Page boy, Jac who wore exactly what ‘Big Jack’ wore.
Once we worked out the cost of hiring suits it seemed a better option to just buy the suits. We got our beautiful navy suits from Slaters in Birmingham: waist coat, trousers and jacket all for under £100 each…they even did free alterations! All of the groomsmen wore pocket watches that meant something: The best man wore his grandfather’s, Jack’s dad wore his father’s, my dad wore my Gransha’s; it felt like everyone was with us.
If I Know What Love Is.
Jack wore the same suit as the groomsmen and as he loves blue we found the exact same colour tie as my shoes… woo! He wore a vintage pocket watch I’d gotten him for our first anniversary inscribed with… ‘If I know what love is, it is because of you’. He literally took my breath away as I walked down the aisle to see him. I know we are all biased with our men, but I think he is the most handsome man in the world (Johnny Depp included :))
Our photographer Steve Gerrard is a legend. We wanted something fun, relaxed and artistic… dare I say it uber cool. It was important to us not have lots of staged shots. He was without doubt one of the best parts of the process; I urge anyone to book him. It was more like having a best friend at the wedding who happens to be a genius photographer. He even brought along his ‘fun booth’ where guests could dress up like crazy nutters and get papped. We also lucked out in being able to have Emma Case as our second photographer. I am not afraid of saying that I have since become a Steve Gerrard stalker and frequent his blog daily…
The Cake That Jacks Mom Built.
Our cake was the talking point for many of our guests and it was made by Jack’s Mom, my fabulous mother in law. She is so creative and just understood exactly what we were going for. The cake was around 4ft and contained four different cheeses, 3 different pies, a fruit cake and a whole lot of goat’s cheese! She had even surprised us on the day by baking our favourite quotes onto the side of the pies (how I’ll never know!) and even carved our initials into a piece of tree trunk to separate the layers. We served it with the Hog roast we had at night and it went down a storm!
Cut The Purse Strings.
We hired Engima String quartet to play in the church and during the drinks reception. They even wore four different Vivien of Holloway dresses! Our budget was pretty stretched by the end so we decided against a band. We really didn’t notice the absence of one as we had a fantastic DJ that kept the dance floor full late into the night.
Dead Ringer For Love.
Our first dance was a tough one. We have really eclectic taste so we decided on something that just summed us up: Meatloaf and Cher’s ‘Dead Ringer for love’ Jack is the biggest Meatloaf fan, so we just let our hair down and danced like loons.
For our favours we decided to make donations to three different charities that were close to our hearts: CRY (for my cousin Gareth who died suddenly at 21), STROKE UK (for my Dad’s twin sister, who had passed away a couple of years previously and Macmillan for my Gransha. Everyone received charity badges for the various charities.
Anyone For Tea?
In terms of décor we wanted to re-create an English tea party. I am not a fan of three course meals so we had a starter, then traditional afternoon tea all served on Vintage china which we hired from our florist. We had sugar cubes with pink/red hearts for the vintage sugar bowls, tiered cake stands etc and I bought a giant pack of cardboard spoons that we placed on the teacup and saucer which had trivia questions on it to break the ice. In terms of food, Packington really outdid themselves; it looked like the Ritz!
Our tables were named after our favourite authors and their books were left on the table held together with twine. We also had confetti stamped out of old books scattered on the table and mobiles made out of copies of Macbeth and Pride and Prejudice.
For our table plan, Jack and his Dad created a replica blackboard and hung it with our school ties. All the names were written in chalk and we even found a wooden apple for teacher’s pet! We also had an amazing sweet bar, also done by the mother in law, which went down well with our Rugby playing guests for some reason!
Our Day, Our Way.
We tried to add little extras to the wedding to reflect what we love. Rock my Wedding played a huge part in the inspiration of these (every morning I was logged onto RMW by 9am… more stalkerish tendencies… meeep)
We hired the traditional red bus and put a giant tub of Pimms and G&t on board, along with a basket of Welsh cakes to reflect our Welsh Heritgae (yes booze and cakes sums up my family).
Jack and I also put together personalised newspapers for the guests to read in church. It had articles on how we met, our engagement and trivia about the wedding party. We even mocked up some fake adverts that involved the wedding guests. My sister laboriously made lots of confetti cones and tiny flags that said ‘woo, hooray and yay’ on them.
What really made my day (and something you can often forget when you’re stropping over the placement of a teaspoon) was marrying the love of my life. My favourite part of the day (apart from when the Rainbow appeared!) was the ceremony; everything else was just a bonus.
To all other brides… It’s so easy to get caught up in the trivia of a wedding, when all that really matters are that the people who love you, are with you for that one perfect day and where imperfection only makes it more ‘you’. Yes, my hair went crazy and yes, I’m sure I was a sweaty mess on the dance floor, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. It was our day, our way.
Venue Packington Moor Farm
Dress Suzanne Neville
Accessories Liberty in Love
Boutique Honey Cole Bridal
Shoes Manolo Blahnik
Make-up Make Up By Katy
Hair Harris And Gibbs
Maids Vivien of Holloway
Quartet Engima String quartet
I make no apologies for the length of this real wedding report – there was no way that you could possibly miss out on this trove of pretty.
Those maid dresses are amazing, the bouquets are a feast of colour, and that little RMW Love Bug that makes an appearance is spot on too…