Simone & Tim’s big day is so pretty I’m not really sure where to begin. The feminine decor is just gorgeous – pale pink roses with fluffy heads of pink and white hydrangea, which match the hanging lanterns adorning the canopy of the marquee perfectly. Gold sequinned table runners. A dessert table filled with pastel hued treats that almost look too good to eat. The pair were lucky with the weather too, meaning that they could have an outdoor ceremony at their venue Middleton Lodge, and doesn’t it just look wonderful? Such a tranquil place to say ‘I Do.’
Simone looked stunning in a gown by British designer Lyn Ashworth – we love the pretty bolero, made using the finest French lace, it makes the dress that little bit more demure for the ceremony too. I love the honesty of Simone’s write up too, it’s full of advice and tips that you wouldn’t necessarily think of and I’m sure lots of you will find it helpful.
The whole day was captured by RMW favourite Sarah Jane Ethan, who never fails to make a wedding look even more beautiful.
Overall, we wanted the day to feel sophisticated yet fun, and to keep things elegant through simplicity. We got engaged on Valentine’s Day 2014 in Prague on Charles Bridge and had the wedding on August 22nd 2015, so we had over a year to plan.
Given the wedding was in Yorkshire and we are based in London, most of the planning was remote. The array of information available on the web, coupled with venue recommendations, helped me find quality suppliers. It was interesting to see some of the faces finally on the wedding day. It was definitely worthwhile securing suppliers early, even though I only really started making decisions in January 2015.
I am Brazilian-Czech and have lived a decade in New York City (where Tim and I met) prior to moving to London. I wanted to make sure that I bridged the different cultures of places we had lived. For example, “cake tables” in Brazil are extremely elaborate and include numerous trays of different types of individual sweets (typically 6 per person). I wanted to bring some of that feel and ordered traditional Brazilian sweets from a baker in London, which was supplemented by sweets my grandmother sent from Prague (as she is unfortunately too old to travel), and a macaroon tower (I did my MBA in France so got really into macaroons there). To accentuate the Britishness, I encouraged female guests to wear fascinators and hats, which was a new and fun experience for the Brazilians and Americans. We also obviously served Pimms at canapés!
In the run up to the wedding, Tim broke his wrist playing tennis with me, and I made it even worse by making him come to a “first dance” class immediately after the incident. It was only after the class, stopping at the A&E, that we confirmed it was broken. As a result, Tim had a cast on our wedding day. We managed to down play it and not let it ruin our day!
Cliché as it is, we did have one of the best days of our lives! Once the wedding was over, I definitely had wedding blues and actually missed having the opportunity to plan something of this size!
The Fashion & Accessories
Finding the dress was harder than anticipated; I probably visited around 15 boutiques in London. For me it was critical that the quality was high (i.e. soft lace) and that it was looser below the waste to fit my body type, without being a “puffy” dress. BOA Boutique was great from the perspective that it is outside central London and I felt the staff were more genuine and attentive. However. I was disappointed to be told after the dress arrived that there was hefty alteration fee! But overall, it all worked out and the alterations made it even more customised to my body. I loved the fact that Lyn Ashworth is a British bridal designer and that she has an impeccable attention to quality – she used Parisian lace on my dress. Tip: Find out about all hidden costs up front – but don’t compromise on the dress, quality matters!
We decided to pick a suit that was suitable for the Summer, that would make him stand-out from potential guest outfits (typically all navy suits!) and that would make Tim feel “special”, in the sense that his suit would not look similar to those he wears to work every day. As a result, we went for a lighter blue, with waist coat, matched with a pink, non-traditional, wedding tie. Cad and The Dandy were fantastic – the store is managed by young and trendy staff and designers, yet using the best quality fabrics on Savile Row. Therefore, we felt we were being traditional with an edge.
My mother in law Diane who lives in the area heard great things through word of mouth about Middleton Lodge – and we saw on the website that they had won multiple awards. As soon as we visited, we agreed that it was the place for us. We decided to hire the venue for the weekend – which involved having a barbecue for guests on Friday and the ceremony on Saturday. It was magical and all the overseas guests really appreciated seeing the countryside and being in a house with so much history. The staff at Middleton Lodge were extremely professional. We kept creating new experiences by moving guests around – which many really appreciated – we started ceremony in gazebo, stayed in lawns for canapes, moved into marquee for dinner and then into the house for first dance/cake cutting and then ultimately to the cellar bar where things got really fun and crazy! I had the T&S letters from the marquee transferred to the cellar and also projected a video with many cool images – making the atmosphere really fun!
My only advice to brides is to negotiate check-out times and have them in writing prior to paying any deposit!
I wanted a romantic wedding with soft neutral palettes, that was chic and minimalistic. Given the dinner had to be in the marquee (due to guest numbers), I wanted there to be some colour (soft pink, ivory and gold) to make it less boring – I would have originally loved ivory but it would be dull. I am not a huge fan of marquees generally – I describe them as “plastic bags”! I would encourage brides to reflect on marquees vs. interior salons, as marquees do add to costs given you need to decorate them. I had to get lanterns for example.
The Flowers & Décor
For me, this was the most critical area. Flowers and décor is where your personality and taste can be expressed. I had not properly appreciated how pivotal it is to have an amazing wedding florist and stylist. I had originally found a florist who was extremely unresponsive and luckily I decided to bite the bullet and find someone new. That is when I found Jane – she was absolutely excellent and to some extent took the role of a wedding planner. We had regular calls, she sent me images based on our conversations, and was always very transparent about cost implications. On the day, she really managed to execute on my vision. Her team were extremely professional – worked diligently and quietly. The hanging flowers in the staircase were spectacular! Tip: A wedding stylist might be much better than a wedding planner!
The Wedding Party Fashion
My mother in law took care of the flower girls, Ellen and Lacey – who did a great job walking down with my sister (maid of honour) Gabi. We did not have official bridesmaids as it only adds complexity and colour coordination is not my thing – plus the attention should be on the bride and groom. Tip: Feel free to keep it simple and decide not to have official bridesmaids – it gets complicated picking who to choose and just adds an extra burden on coordination – taking attention from the bride and groom!
Originally we wanted to do it in the Church 5 minutes away, but it was already booked (one year in advance!). We had the ceremony at Middleton Lodge in the garden gazebo – weather permitting! As a result it was intimate and stunning to be in a garden. This made the logistics very easy for the guests and ensured that champagne bubbles could reach them quickly after the ceremony. We decided to limit to two readings as not to bore our guests. My mother in law Diana red “When I am 64” and my friend Mercedes was supposed to read the Art of Marriage. Funny enough, things got lost in translation when I told Mercedes she could modify the reading, and she interpreted it to be a speech – so yes, she decided to interview close friends and family and share with us the pillars of a strong marriage – Tim and I (and all the Brits) were confused at first and no one knew how long it was going to be. Thank God the registrars were understanding and went with the flow. They also said some great words.
We love the violin and wanted a romantic feel that matched the setting during the ceremony – I found Kate in a wedding magazine and once I enquired she sent us a CD with over 70 of her songs, which was really helpful to pick songs. During canapes we had a magician go around and do tricks with groups of people and break the ice – my father is also good at magic so they collaborated at times which was neat! We then had Rushmore who played acoustic during canapes, and two “dance” sets after dinner. The best decision we made was to get a saxophonist as part of the band – he was excellent and really pumped up the crowd by mingling with the dancefloor! We also had a photobooth after dinner – people really enjoyed getting dressed with cool props. The booth looked really nice from a decorative perspective and the best is that we got a book with everyone’s photos and messages.
The Food during canapés and dinner was all through Middleton Lodge – the quality was great. We offered three options per course (which we had to pay extra for but thought was worthwhile) – we had to get choices prior to wedding so we did a Survey Monkey which made it easy to manage. As said before, we made the cake table a real feature – it looked amazing!
The first thing I looked into was the photographer as they really get booked out quickly – contacted many and visited many sites and fell in love with SJ’s portfolio and style – which makes photos look lighter. SJ was great – she made us feel extremely comfortable and mingled well with the crowd to get some good shots. We are extremely pleased with the results. My only tip to brides is to take time to think of places that you want photos and structure the group photos. Even though SJ suggested this, we underestimated the effort and as a result it got a bit chaotic at times figuring what group photos to take etc.
For me having a videographer was a bonus so I looked for one that offered good value. Lovell Film offer this.
We ordered two stamps, one with our monogram (that was on our invite) and the other with our address. We used the address one to put on our outer wedding invite envelopes – the monogram one we used to stamp on circular stickers which we put on top of mint tinned boxes I bought while travelling to Singapore. We left the tins in people’s bedrooms.
One tip I would give brides is to get 25% extra invitations printed – there is always that extra person you need to send an invite to for politeness (even though you know they won’t come…) and some invites do get lost in the mail (especially internationally)!
For the seating plan, I designed it myself in powerpoint and then had it printed in a print shop – only cost me 20 pounds!
Photography by Sarah-Jane Ethan Photography
- Brides Gown Lyn Ashworth
- Boutique BOA Boutique in London:
- Wedding rings Tiffany’s
- Veil/Headpiece Jenny Packham
- Florist Decor/styling: Jane at Wedding & Events
- Venue and Caterer Middleton Lodge
- Cake Maker Burnett for cakes
- Macaroons Robineau Bakery
- Truffles Art in Sugar
- Groom/Groomsmen Cad and the Dandy at Savile Row
- Wedding Planner Ana at Middleton Lodge
- Stationery Letterpress
- Ceremony violinist Kate Chruscicka
- Magician Jonathan Paul Magic
- Band Rushmore
- Booth and T&S Letter Coco Luminaire
- Videographer Lovell Films
- Makeup Hillary Whitham
- Hair Richard at BE Premiere