When it comes to the wedding ‘first dance’ there are two camps – you either love it, or you loathe it. And I think it’s safe to say, without a shadow of a doubt, Stephanie and Ben loved it. Performing a seven minute long choreographed first dance routine, this pair absolutely owned the dance floor. It was the perfect excuse for Stephanie to buy a short and sweet Alexander McQueen number too.
Stephanie has written the longest real wedding report in the history of RMW time, so I’m going to let her tell you all about her big day, get comfy, it’s full of brilliant advice…
There’s something utterly chic about a groom in a tux.
It’s not a sight we see much of at the moment with most menfolk either opting for Morning suits or for super swish modern day attire and personally I think it’s a bit of a shame for a man clad in black tie always makes me go a bit weak at the knees.
Adrian almost gives the lovely Amy a run for her money with his Dries Van Noten tux and shiny dress shoes and colour pop pink hydrangea buttonhole. I said almost because Amy is most definitely hot to trot in not one but two completely gorgeous bridal frocks and EPIC accessories. Just wait until you see her shoes.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Amy and Adrian’s wedding though is that every single guest ‘married’ the couple. Yep you heard right, their best man printed the vows the pair had written onto flash cards so that their guests could read them out in unison for the couple to then repeat back to them.
As I sit here writing this post for you gorgeous lot I realise I have run away with myself.
You see this post was meant to be more of a discussion piece; instead it seems to have turned into a shopping list for the millions of bags that I’m currently coveting.
But I’ve taken the liberty of assuming that you won’t really mind feasting your eyes on the profusion of pretty that I’ve laid out for you below. Plus looking at a host of scrummy pictures might help to get your debating juices going – it’s a thought anyway.
And so to business.
Jewel-encrusted clutches, big-day purses, oversized pocketbooks and glittery miniature totes. You name it, I probably want it. Whilst shoes, for many of you, are your downfall, bags are my kryptonite.
They make me go weak at the knees and I break out into a little pony-stamping dance if I see a piece of leathery goodness and I can’t have it. I am such a drama queen.
But….somewhat surprisingly, I went bag-less on my actual wedding day. I just couldn’t be doing with holding the bouquet and then a bag on top. Instead I left my essential valuables in my room and gave my lipgloss to my bridesmaids to hold.
This wasn’t my best move…but that’s another story.
So I want to hear what you think.
Have you purchased a wedding day clutch or will you relying on an old favourite? Perhaps, like me you’re choosing to opt out of the big day bag scenario because the thought of it is too much to bear.
Either way I’d love to hear your arguments – both for and against.
And whilst we’re discussing the finer points, here’s some delectable clutches to have a look at.
I know. I know. I’m a broken record.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the fact that I love all things golden so I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to mix my bag lust with my favourite colour palette.
In my defense there’s something about glittery, sparkly hues that scream PARTY!
Be it an oversized clutch, a sequin encrusted pouch or a miniature boxed case complete with jewels there’s pretty much something for everyone here.
For those of who will be appropriating a bag on your big day…how big do you go? How big is too big? How small can you go before it all seems a bit pointless because you can’t actually fit anything in apart from your lippy?
FYI my favourite golden clutch here is the Bottega Veneta although I’d probably have to remortgage my house to buy it.
Admittedly you’d have to be a brave bride to opt for a huge bag in bright orange like this girlie at the top here. That said, I love a bride that makes a bold fashion statement on her big day.
I confess that this concoction of images is inspired by my current obsession with viburnum berries which take on an amazing metallically, petrol blue colour – hence the feathered teal clutch at the bottom. And then I just generally felt berry inspired (sorry I couldn’t resist!).
In all seriousness though there are so many evening bags in this colour spectrum that are available to purchase right now. I’m not sure whether it’s this time of year but it seems that all of my regular haunts are stocking clutches in reds, corals, oranges, yellows and pinks.
The world is your oyster my friends.
Don’t you just love the book inspired bag with the ‘once upon a time…’ inscription on the front. Perfect for the start of your new chapter together.
Feathers And Frills
….and studs and appliqué and mother of pearl and fur and tassels and pearls.
You name it, this board has it!
But when does so much become too much?
I’m in awe of the spiky number at the top here but I wouldn’t quite know how to hold it. For example, popping it under your arm is a definite no-no unless you want to spear yourself in the process.
I do love the frilly number in the middle too – perfect for a bride with a ruffled frock, it just oozes romance and could very easily be reused after the big day for other nights out.
Perhaps my favourite however is the circular tasseled bag and the feathered clutch which would suit girls wearing a 1920’s inspired frock on their big day. You can just imagine a fringed bride shimmying her way around the dancefloor to The Charleston whilst grasping one of these numbers.
This last moodboard is not so much concerned with the bag itself but rather your perfect recipe for its contents.
What would you pack?
Having learnt from experience I strongly recommend that any bride keep a pack of tissues as close to her person as possible. If you’re anything like me then you’ll blubber your way down the aisle all the way to the speeches and then some more if you’re lucky.
Take it from me it’s best to keep some tissues on hand.
If you want to stay ahead in the style stakes then investing in some pretty paper for this purpose is the way to go. I wished that I’d come across these equestrian inspired tissues for my own big day; aren’t they gorgeous?
Any girl worth her salt knows that a perfectly applied lip is the keystone to a glamorous look. It makes sense then to not only include your favourite lippy and blusher but also a cutesy pocket mirror too – I’m in love with this mirror from Depeapa.
Hairgrips are handy too if you’re planning to go all out on the dancefloor. Make them glittery and fun or kitschy cute to ensure you look your very best.
And lastly, a girl can never have enough pocket mints – you want to make sure that you’re minty fresh for your new spouse don’t you?!
So many things I love about this wedding… But let’s start with an outrageously gratuitous picture of the shoes… by who else other than McQueen. 😉
Loving The Low Back
The dress is Darling by Jenny Packham from The Taylors Cat, Cambridge. I actually set out looking for a lace fishtail dress, and thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but after trying on loads it just wasn’t me. I’ve always loved Jenny Packhams designs but didn’t think they would suit me… but in the shop I couldn’t help but try on at least half of the Jenny packhams they stocked… I loved the low back of the dress and the timeless shape, I just didn’t want to take it off.
I also brought the Valencia Stole from Hope and Grace its vintage glamour went perfectly with both the dress and the theme of the day. It also came in very handy as it was freezing on the shore of Rutland Water.
I’m not big into sparkle so as the dress had a detailed waistband I wanted to keep the rest to a minimum. I wore simple pearl drop earrings and a vintage 1920’s Rolex that has been passed down to me (my something old)
Sage And Gold
I love my shoes!! Alexander McQueen 14cm heels in Sage Green with gold skulls… I’m not a fan of “normal” wedding shoes that won’t get worn again, plus I’m short so the height came in handy for photos. The reception was in a field so it did dawn on me when I was buying them that they possibly weren’t the most practical but they turned out to be very comfortable and kept them on until the dancing (and drinking) made it a little unsafe!
Nothing Too Formal
I did my make-up myself; I didn’t practice before hand although I had planned to (!) but just went with it on the day.
My hair was done by Becky from David William Hair, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, I didn’t want anything too formal or what I feel is typical wedding hair.
I like the simple elegance that comes from using one flower on mass so for everything other than my bouquet we used gypsophilia, I love the cloud-like nature of the large bunches. My bouquet was made of entirely white peonies, as they have been my favorite flower for as long as I can remember.
We did all the flowers ourselves from bouquets to buttonholes and centerpieces. All the flowers were brought from an online wholesaler called Nursery Fresh Wholesale FLowers and on Friday afternoon my bridesmaids and I got arranging with the 40 or so bunches that had been delivered. On the Sunday we sent lots of guests home with bunches of gypsophilia and the rest is still alive and decorating my mums porch.
I wanted complete control of styling the day and didn’t feel that what I envisioned was hard enough to require a florist, and after all they wouldn’t have been able to raid the barns for the last minute addition of old milk churns like I did!
I wanted to keep the colour scheme as white and neutral as possible.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were all from Mango and brought for £28 on sale. After we found them I found the cardigans by accident when walking past New Look and they added the perfect pop of colour against the neutral backdrop.
All the suits including the grooms were hired from Cadge Menswear St Ives Cambridgeshire. We had a very fun afternoon playing dress up Dom where I made him try on every possible suit and tie there was and then settled on these suits as they where the right shade of unshiny grey! I had never wanted the boys to be too formal I wanted them to be comfortable… and as you can see by some photos a couple fell asleep in them on the bus! Mission accomplished!
Working as a chef I rarely see Dom in anything other than whites and I had never seen him in a suit until our wedding, which made it all the more memorable. His suit was the same as all the others but we brought him shoes from Ted Baker, and he wore his great grandfathers pocket watch, which went perfectly with the day.
We wanted the photographs to capture the fun of the day, keeping formal shots to an absolute minimum. After meeting Mandy from Dottie Photography (and ken the pug), eating custard creams and talking about vintage dresses I knew she would suit us perfectly. The pre-wedding shoot was great as it allowed us to get to know her and get past any awkwardness; we left feeling 100% confident about using her and couldn’t wait for the results. I would recommend everyone tries to do a pre-wedding shoot as it really puts your mind at ease. On the day Mandy and Julie fitted in perfectly as if they were our friends and have captured the smallest details perfectly.
I knew I wanted a dessert table from day one but it was what was going on it that I couldn’t decide on! Looking through all the examples on American blogs just kept making my list bigger! I love the buzz they create, especially as they aren’t very common over here yet and there is literally something for everyone. We also added a cheese station onto one end of ours, which proved very popular.
We had four cakes baked by a local coffee shop (Johnsons Butchers Old Hurst Cambridgeshire), as I am obsessed with their carrot cake. Carrot, Cappuccino, Lemon Drizzle and Victoria Sponge. We also had macaroons, fondant fancies, vanilla cupcakes and strawberry cupcakes from Waitrose entertain… at one stage we were going to make all the cupcakes but about 2 weeks before we realized we didn’t have any time to and although Dom’s a chef and I bake a lot the pressure was too much and we gave in and brought them… I’m so glad we did this as we were so busy the two days before I have no idea how we would have done it all to a standard we were happy with.
We hired The Redfords to perform with an acoustic duo during the drinks reception and then full band after the meal; we booked them after watching two YouTube videos of them and never looked back. They were so good and kept us dancing barefoot long into the night.
Not necessarily entertainment, but good fun was the 1960s double decker bus we hired from London Heritage to transport all the guests to and from the ceremony.
Jumping Up And Down
We had planned to have our first dance to Paperweight by Joshua Radin but on the day decided against doing it, as being the center of such silent, camera flashing attention is not us…we have a lovely routine we can always do at home on our anniversary!
Instead the band got everyone on the dance floor surrounding us and our first dance was everyone jumping up and down dancing, it was perfectly in keeping with the aim that it was about family and friends coming together as one, and most importantly much more us.
We went back and forth on favours mainly because I wanted them to be personal and homemade, in the end I found a picture of test tube favors and fell in love with their simplicity. We weren’t sure what to put in them but I wanted something a bit unusual and came across a method for making mint honey. They where so simple and cheap to make and the honey tastes really good. I also wrote a favorite recipe on the back of the tag that the honey could be included in.
A Blank Canvas
I didn’t want the reception in a pre-made venue; I wanted a completely blank canvas. Our marquee was the starting point and who knew there were so many options out there! Luckily I came across Nick from Fairytale Marquees who was really helpful and even came back on the Friday night to make sure all the ropes were tight enough as the wind was especially strong.
Rooms Inside Rooms
I had so many ideas for creating outdoor living spaces (read taking all furniture from my mums house, our house, and anyone else I could think of) but the wettest June in 100 years had other ideas! So I took some of the furniture and created areas in the marquee. I attached ends of fabric behind the furniture to make them feel more like separate rooms.
We also created a photo-booth guestbook in a corner of the marquee using a digital camera, a mini photo printer, a stack of props and a sketchbook. It was so simple to create and cost effective compared to hiring one, another bonus was that it was there all night so there is evidence of the last men standing at 3am and everyone at the picnic we held the following day.
We filled 200 jam jars with candles to line the pathway, folded 2000 paper doilies to make the garlands for the chair backs and I spent many many hours shouting at my printer when making the invitations that were designed by a graphic designer friend of mine Hanna Benjamin. Using the same type and graphics I also designed an I spy game on the back of all the menus to be played with disposable table cameras, these have provided some of the most unexpected and funniest photos as well as acting as an ice breaker along the tables.
We hired all the miniature rose bowls, julep cups, tea light holders and two large candelabras from the lovely ladies at Wedding Day Hire. I spent ages wondering around their Aladdin’s cave of a showroom and they were both incredibly helpful.
Event styling and management is actually what I’m passionate about and I have been following various wedding and event blogs including RMW long before we got engaged, I’m now certain this is what I want to do, even if it’s just part time to start with…watch this space!
A Family Dinner
We wanted to create the atmosphere of a large family dinner which was the reason for 3 long tables, no top table, planned speeches, cake cutting and in the end first dance as we didn’t want to break up the natural momentum of the evening… which ended for us at 1:30 and for the last few standing gin in hand at 3.
We also had a picnic brunch on the Sunday, this meant we could see everyone again, thank people for coming and continue the celebrations. I loved this almost as much as the day before and would suggest that if you can do something the next day it’s well worth it, and takes the pressure off making sure you’ve spoken to everyone enough the night before.
We chose to spend money on food, band and photographer. The food was obvious as Dom’s a chef so we couldn’t not have amazing food! Sam from Cambridge Dining Company did an amazing job looking after us all on the day while Chris and Alex prepared and served the exceptional food from a small catering tent on a hill. People are still commenting on the quality of the food served.
What made our day truly special was that we only invited 70 close family and friends, and by the end of the bus ride and cocktails everyone new everyone else. I was also incredibly touched that 12 members of my family made the journey from Canada.
Our wedding was 100% us and during the planning process we did get a fair few worried looks, confused and unsure faces but on the day everyone loved it and understood why we didn’t want a lot of the traditional ‘wedding’ elements. Doing so much ourselves was time consuming, especially the week of the wedding, but I loved being able to put so much of us into the day and make it as unique as possible.
If you remember our Dirty Pretty Things engagement shoot post then you will recall how Steph and Chris’s W-day plans sounded completely and utterly out-of-this world amazing.
And you know what? it was. Unbelievably so.
It’s no secret that I’ve been looking forward to posting this one-of-a-kind W-day since photographer Guy Collier let us have a sneak peek a few weeks after the event as there is not one element I don’t love, from the sexy shoe candy ( McQueen people McQueen!) to some of the most unique and delicious paper pretty I have ever seen.
Steph is a Rock My Wedding bride in the truest sense of the word and if you want “doing it your way” inspiration then it’s right here folks, Steph and Chris knocked it clean. out. of. the. park.
Best Face Forward
My make-up was by the legendary Katy Messer of “MakeupbyKaty”, who also acted as my Best Woman, rock and all round wedding advisor. Her years of experience and talent as one of the leading industry make-up artists were on hand to create an edgy yet elegant bridal look that made me feel my utmost confident as I prepared to walk down the aisle.
My hair was styled by Cassandra Rizzutto who not only created a style that suited perfectly, but provided the most incredible sense of calm throughout the whole preparation and stayed right up until the last minute before the ceremony.
The dress was sample of Cymbeline’s “Dubai” . It replaced a Jenny Packham dress that I bought originally and decided didn’t suit me; and is now available here on this very blog, so it was really important for it to be right.
I had already tried it on in several boutiques, but the fantastic ladies at Blackburn Bridal adapted the style to created a plunging back that dramatically altered its whole look, and more importantly satisfied my need for a bespoke element.
The Venue was an obvious choice when we realized it was set in a sheep farm – the perfect location to become the new Mr & Mrs Woolley!
The Angora shrug was chosen to fit in with our wool theme, and was eventually found on Portobello after trawling vintage shops and markets for one that complemented my dress.
I wanted to include some personal elements in the accessories so I made a corsage of lace from my mum’s wedding dress and vintage family jewellery, with my parent’s photographs as a memento and tribute to keep with me throughout the day. The stag brooch and diamond hair pieces were also inherited which enabled me to add that one-off feel to the look.
Show Off Shoe Candy
The shoes were Alexander McQueen, real snakeskin with the trademark swarovski crystal embellished skulls and 5 inch heels that remained proudly on the dancefloor! I literally swooned when I saw them and knew that they would be the perfect finishing touch.
My seamstress wasn’t happy that they towered above my original shoes (it wasn’t just the dress I got wrong first time!) but I was more than happy for them to be on show.
The Natural Selection
In-keeping with the general theme we wanted our crew to look natural, with just a hint of co-ordination. My blossoming sister, Kate, proudly gave me away in a gorgeous silk dress from Mamas & Papas, accompanied by Best Woman Katy in her own stylish LBD from Oasis. They wore bolero’s from Phase Eight but apart from that, they rocked their own individual style as we worked the gravel catwalk!
The groomsmen had complementary tie colours, and all wore cuff links by the Grooms favourite designer Paul Smith.
During one of our (countless) visits to spitalfields market we stumbled across the charming Roberto and his stunning suits. He dressed Chris in an immaculately tailored pure wool 3-piece suit so he truly was a sheep in wool’s clothing… (sorry!).
Chris then complemented his Paul Smith shoes with purple socks and laces, and Paul Smith cupid heart cufflinks that proved you can take the boy out of Nottingham… but you can’t take the Nottingham out of the boy.
One of McQueen’s beautiful designs, Sarah Burton, Creative Director at the McQueen fashion house.
We have some H.O.T gossip.
Or at least hot as of yesterday folks.
Apparently word on the (fashion blog) street is that the design house of the late great Alexander McQueen has been chosen to create Madam Middleton’s fabulous W-day frockage.
No. We are not kidding you.
Can you imagine?
Sarah Burton, the new creative director of A. McQueen’s place of pretty and nominated designer of aforementioned Royal threads is said to have “been chosen for the discretion afforded by her relatively low profile, as well as for her alternative take on elegance” *
The fashion house have since firmly denied claims.
Well then. You know what?
If the rumour’s true we will actually die.
Please please humour us lovelies and tell us in the comment box below what YOU would like to see Katie wear come April 29th. Rebecca and I would LOVE to read your thoughts and style ideas this dreary Monday.
I’m thinking feathers. And backless. And some kind of amazing train that is so long it takes twenty five maids just to carry it down the Westminster ailse……
Big If I Were a Princess I’d Be Rocking McQueen Love
* As per the Telegraph, read the rest of the article here.