Anna Clarke Photography midlands wedding photographer

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Show Us Your Pins!


Hello there!

Excuse me if you think I’m a tad rude. I haven’t made an appearance on Rock My Wedding for a while and then all of a sudden I’m asking you to flash your legs… and in this weather too!

As much as I’d like to chat with you about 90 denier tights, I’m popping by today to launch RMW’s first ever Pinterest competition.


Not only is it starting to look a lot like Christmas, it’s also starting to feel a lot like winter and so we’re looking to the chilliest season of the year to provide the theme for our contest.

It’s very easy to enter; all that we ask you to do is to follow RMW on Pinterest and then create your own board called ‘Rock My Winter Wedding‘.

Then it’s time to cram your board to the brim with fabulous winter wedding inspiration. You can pin from absolutely anywhere that takes your fancy but we do request that you pin at least one image from the Rock My Wedding archives. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #rockmywinterwedding and mention @rockmywedding in your pins.

Hampton Court Christmas Wedding

The prize on offer is to join Team RMW as a guest pinner where you’ll get the opportunity to pin to your heart’s content on a subject of your choosing (within reason, of course. This is a family website after all…)

Anyone can enter the competition so don’t worry if you’re getting married in the warmer months. This is a chance for you to let your imagination run wild and embrace all that the season has to offer; sumptuous faux furs, glimmering candle light, roaring fires, bouquets of berries and showers of snow. You don’t just have to limit your images to w-days; we’d love for you to share images that others can use as inspiration for Christmas day such as table settings or perhaps a decadent new year party!

Snow wedding atHampton Manor

We’ve featured some magical winter wonderland weddings in the past such as Michelle and Richard’s stylish Babington House Affair captured by Especially Amy and Elaine and Darren’s romantic festive Hampton Court Palace celebration photographed by Brett Symes. Who can forget when Anna Clarke’s photos of Amy and Ben’s snowy day (that actually took place in Spring) or Becky and Tristan’s bright December candlelit bash captured by Mckinley Rodgers?

Bright December wedding at Forde Abbey

For those of you who haven’t yet joined the pinboard style photo sharing site, you really must. Pinterest is ideal for brides-to-be to collate all your ideas in one place together. It also makes you feel like you’re super creative, even if in reality you’re sat in front of the television watching EastEnders.

It’s easy peasy to pin to Pinterest from Rock My Wedding. If you hover over any of the images in our posts, you’ll see a ‘pin it’ option appear. If you’re in the gallery then there’s a snazzy ‘p’ icon that you can click on too.

Babington House Winter Wedding

There’s a little bit of boring legal stuff to take a look over if you fancy it. Please read the T’s & C’s here, and if you need a little help you can take a look at our own winter wedding board.

You have until December 15th to create your board. Make sure you pop back and post a link to your board in the comments section below.

So all that leaves me to ask is what are your favourite winter weddings from the RMW archives?

What elements would you include if you were getting married in the next few months?

You are more than welcome to comment below but it would be even better if you could share your ideas through a fancy pinboard.

Share the Pinterest love

Lauren C x

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You’re All I Need To Get By.

I love this wedding. With a ruddy big capital ‘L’.

For one, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bride with such a cracking set of pins as Sophie has. Trust me if I had legs like hers I so would have worn a knee length frock too.

She also has the sweetest bow hair accessory that I have ever clapped eyes on and her dress had lace sleeves.

Oh to have lace sleeves.

And I haven’t even got started on the pistachio coloured cake complete with vintage cake topper or the homemade bar or the flamingo wallpaper yet.

Sophie and Tom got married in June 2012 at Salem Chapel, an eighteenth-century dissenters’ chapel in East Devon, and their reception was at Sophie’s parents’ house and in the village hall next door.

All this wonderful gorgeousness was captured by the lovely bundle of fun that is Anna Clarke.

A Slightly Reckless Spending Moment

I found my vintage 1960s dress at Fur Coat No Knickers. It was only the third that I tried on but unbelievably it looked such a lot like the dress that I had in my head.

I was set on having something short and quite simple in shape as floor-length and lots of fabric isn’t really my thing. I fell in love with the unusual swing back and the wide neckline.

The brilliant ladies at FCNK had to do some major alterations as the dress was too small, and at the same time they made the V on the back deeper, which I loved too.

In a slightly reckless spending moment I decided to have a change of clothes for the evening and bought a pistachio-green silk dress and some impractically high heels from Reiss. It was fun to change – like having a traditional going away outfit.

Hairbands And Veils

Fur Coat No Knickers also made my short bound veil and the bow hairband that I wore later in the day. The shoulder length of the veil seemed to go so well with the dress, and quite late on, in another spendthrifty impulse, I decided to have a hairband as well.

I’m really pleased that I did as it was so much easier eating and dancing and hugging everyone without a veil on.

I bought and returned two other pairs of shoes before settling on white, mid-height peep-toes by Rachel Simpson.

This was one of those wedding choices that I was stubbornly sure about. I didn’t want white shoes, I wanted them to be old, possibly gold – until I realised how perfectly a well-shaped pair of white shoes went with the dress.

They were incredibly comfortable too.

Smokey Eyes

My best friend Lara did my hair and make up. She always looks immaculately made up and I am a bit clueless about anything beyond eyeliner and mascara so I put myself in her hands.

We went to MAC one day, where I had a makeover, and we had a practice session or two before the wedding to replicate the look, which was fairly straightforward with smoky greys in the creases of my eyelids to make a soft version of the dramatic 60s eyeliner.

I didn’t do anything different with my hair, but it helped to have somebody else to straighten the back neatly for me! I should also thank the number of girlfriends who took it in turns to hold onto my lipstick and comb and regularly remind me to tidy myself up!

My Perfect Man

Tom wore a blue slim-fit Burberry suit, and apart from a sharp white shirt and a Burberry wool tie, he didn’t need any extras: he looked perfect.

A Profusion Of Blooms

The talented and generally delightful Abigail at Albert & Arthur made my beautiful blousy bouquet and the garlands that we had on several of the marquee poles.

In my bouquet there were peonies, British sweet peas (locally grown to Abigail in West Sussex), her own mint and sage, and Viburnum Opulus. In the pole arrangements were bombastic spray roses, hydrangeas, Viburnum Opulus, astilbe, more peonies, Abigail’s home-grown chamomile, and lots of herbs and foliage from our obliging neighbours’ gardens.

My mum and her friend made the table decorations with Sweet Avalanche roses that Abigail recommended and sourced for us (such a good tip of hers – they were like little sugary pink sculptures) and more pilfered foliage and herbs.

They put them in jam jars that I had collected and painted. Buttonholes were one of the wedding traditions that we didn’t feel very strongly about so we didn’t worry about those and splashed out a bit more on the other flowers instead.

Sugary Pinks

I didn’t have any bridesmaids and as we didn’t really want everything to be matching we didn’t ask Tom’s best men to wear any particular suit or colour.

The only part of the wedding that I had specific colours in mind was the village hall, which was such a funny-looking room that the decorations needed to be kind of over the top. I don’t think that elegant and completely tasteful would have worked in there!

I wanted it to look a bit camp and sugary so we had lots of pink, but everyone had a different plate (my mum and I collected them from charity shops and flea markets over a year or so) so there was some mismatching too.

Friendly Enthusiasm

We found Anna Clarke on a long Google search and loved the photos she had on her website. She had photographed a couple of weddings with a tone that made the pictures look a little bit old but without screaming vintage or looking too nostalgic.

I had a chat on the phone with her and was convinced by how friendly and enthusiastic she was, and even more so when she said that she didn’t stick rigidly to a particular style and to a certain extent let the look of the photos come naturally from the wedding itself.

We were also impressed by the fact that Anna’s husband Simon would come along as a second photographer: it really made a difference to how much of the day was recorded.

Grandma’s Fruit Cake

My grandma makes the best fruit cake so we had to have her make one for the wedding. And luckily a great friend of Tom’s sister is an expert homemade cake-maker and she did a wonderful job at icing the three individual cakes in pistachio-green, which I thought would go with all the flowers (and Tom didn’t want any more pink!).

She also got in touch with my florist without me knowing to arrange having the ribbon from my bouquet around the cakes and fresh peonies to decorate them. My mum found an adorable old cake topper too.

Love And Dedication

There were so many songs that we wanted played at the party that we had a DJ rather than a band. My brother’s friend played for the most of the night from a very long list that Tom gave him and a couple of our friends went on for the last couple of hours.

Our first dance was to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’, which has always been a song of ours in a way. The lyrics are about that old thing of ‘all you need is love’ but also like a set of beautifully expressed vows of dedication.

Just to really up the sentiment we asked a friend to make a film of photos of us from the last six years, which he projected on the side of the marquee behind us while we were dancing. He timed it to the music and interspersed the photos with lyrics from the song.

The same friend was filming some of the day on Super 8 so we have all these other great documents of the wedding to go with the photographs.

Quiz Time

We didn’t have any favours as we were never sure of anything that everyone would want to have, but we did have a quiz during dinner and gave away a CD of tracks from the wedding to the winners.

A Homemade Bar

For me, one of the best parts of planning the wedding was thinking about, making and finding the decorations, and then bringing it all together in the week before.

As the wedding was at my parents’ house we were lucky that we could pretty much do anything we liked and we really went to town!

I wouldn’t know where to start with all the things that my mum and I did, but one favourite was the decorations in the village hall, especially the plates we collected, the big paper lanterns I made out of lampshades and pink crepe paper, the flamingo wallpaper from Cole and Son that I put in panels on the wall behind the top table and the banners I made with the help of a kind crafty friend.

The other highlight was turning my parents’ garage into a bar. A good friend of mine made us an actual wooden bar, and we covered the walls in photos of friends and family, and a selection from the stag and hen parties.

Leave Nothing ‘Til The Last Minute

I think our wedding felt special to us, and I hope to our guests too, because so much of it was homemade, involved friends and family, or had some other personal element.

Sometimes it felt harder to organise almost everything ourselves, but as long as you leave enough time and ask favours of people who won’t mind helping, you can do it and it’s really worth it. My main piece of advice about a wedding like that would be to do as much as you can in the months before.

Don’t leave decorating jam jars, printing photos, making place settings and table numbers or other decorations until the final week, as these can all be done in advance and there is so much more to do in the days leading up to the wedding than you think!

Boutique – Fur Coat No Knickers

Shoes – Rachel Simpson

Evening Outfit – Reiss

Florist – Albert and Arthur

Groom’s Suit – Burberry

Photographer – Anna Clarke

Did you see the flamingo wallpaper? How amazing is it!

I think I might have to purchase some for the downstairs loo…

On a more serious note, my favourite part of this wedding is observing the love that Sophie and Tom have for each other. It emanates from them, you can see it in their eyes and in the way they draw each other close into their own private world.

Congrats you two!

All my love Lolly xxx

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A Sri Lankan Sapphire.

Good morning peeps.

Today we have a mix of influences and a match made in heaven. Nat is Sri Lankan, Adrian is Irish and they married in London…

Prepare for some rich hues, a good dose of colour pop and enough D.I.Y ideas to shake a glue-stick at.

Photography today is by Anna Clarke and what a great job Anna and her husband Simon have made of capturing all of these colours, all of this joy and especially all of the love that just pours from this captivating winter wedding.

A Six Month Engagement

Adrian and I got married on 3rd December 2011, with the wedding service at my home church in New Eltham, London and the reception at Selsdon Park Hotel, South Croydon. So many of the church congregation I had known as I grew up came as well as helped at the service, and it was wonderfully personal having friends and family praying for us. We’d met in 2004 volunteering in Uganda and started dating five years later, flying back and forth between Dublin and Oxford, and neither of us wanted to delay starting our life together so kept our engagement under six months.

I’d always imagined having an outdoor tipi wedding but as our wedding was going to be in December, this was just a ridiculous notion considering British winter weather, so we opted for practical! There’s a part of me that still longed for the tipi, but on the day, absolutely none of that mattered once we actually got married in the church! Hotel receptions can sometimes have a bad rep, but we really needed somewhere where Adrian’s family from Ireland could stay at a reasonable price and that would be comfortable for our guests. The Selsdon Park staff were just so accommodating, even going out of their way to help us source a Sri Lankan caterer for our buffet meal!

Not A Bridey Bride

The bridal gown was the one thing I was quite nervous about, as I guess I’m not a ‘bridey bride’ and didn’t want to be like mutton dressed as lamb! I tried on a few dresses with a couple of friends and family and actually found the whole experience quite overwhelming. I rarely try clothes on when I shop in any case, so parading in front of mirrors and groups of people in a wedding dress was something else! This all sounds mightily ridiculous and dramatic, I know, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt like this!

Anyway, I decided to go alone to Ellie Sanderson in Oxford, tried on a few dresses and bought one then and there off the rack as it was on sale. They really made me feel comfortable and weren’t too pushy at all. The dress was ‘Carmen’ from the Stephanie Allin Bourdeax Collection and my test to see whether it was ‘me’ was jumping up and down in front of the mirror! The pleated fishtail part of the dress made me feel like I was wearing a sari and think of Sri Lanka – my roots! The dress didn’t exactly fit perfectly, so I took it to Pure Couture in Beaconsfield for alterations. They were just fantastic, changing the back from zip up to lace up flawlessly and adding organza straps for me!

Sri Lankan brides generally leave their weddings in a red outfit and as we were trying to combine two traditions in our wedding, mum bought me a beautiful red sari from London which I changed into for the evening reception and accessorised with gold heirloom jewellery. We’ll be having a small party celebrating our marriage out in Sri Lanka, where I will get to wear this sari again!

Highstreet Heaven

I bought a veil from Ellie Sanderson on the day I got my dress. The rest of my accessories were mostly from high street stores! I’d initially bought a headpiece from an online boutique, but when it arrived I realised it really wasn’t my style! So I ended up casually finding a lovely headband from Oasis and my bracelet from Monsoon! My mum bought me a gorgeous necklace and earring set from Debenhams which I wore on the day.

Sri Lankan Sapphire

My ‘something blue’ was my engagement ring created by my brother-in-law Tony. Him and Adrian sourced a Sri Lankan sapphire stone for the centre along with two non-conflict diamonds either side! The fact that it was created by family and has an element of Sri Lanka in it means the world to me!

Cutting It Fine

I was a bit last minute with my shoes, and bought them only a few days before the wedding from Rainbow Club. They were comfy and I loved that they were dyeable!

Family Fortunes

I was very fortunate to be marrying into a very talented family and my sister-in-law Paula did my mine and the bridesmaid’s make-up on the day and did such a fab job creating a natural but elegant look. One of my bridesmaids took me to Bobbi Brown for a trial to get an idea of what would suit me best on the day, as I rarely wear make-up and haven’t a clue! After scouring the internet for a hairdresser, I found someone who lived locally via Sam at Busy Beauty and after a trial, decided I’d have my hair half-up half-down with curls so that it wasn’t too overdone and the girls would all have side buns with a plait running along the back.

The girls thoroughly enjoyed having their hair put up in this style and the hair stylists themselves were really relaxed and very reasonably priced!

To Bloom Or Not To Bloom

At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted flowers at all, because we were keen on not being too wasteful. But the package at Selsdon Park included flowers on the table, for which I bought the vases myself, and my old Brownie leader from church was going to do a few floral arrangements for the church and offered to do the bridesmaid’s bouquets as a gift. I love big open flowers, so we used gerberas throughout, and people got to take them home afterwards!

Dirty Fabulous

My super creative sisters-in-law Caroline and Kathy have their own vintage boutique in Dublin called Dirty Fabulous with a great slant towards all things bridal. Caroline made my brooch bouquets which were just perfect, (with the brooches coming from family and friends), and I’m so happy I have it as a keepsake!

Five Bright Colours

Adrian bought all the groom’s suits from a store in Dublin and the boys accessorised with their own waistcoats or jumpers as they wanted, which looked great! The bouttonieres were also created by my sister-in-law Caroline out of vintage ribbon, music manuscript and feathers, based on a few pictures Adrian had seen on wedding blogs. I loved that he took such an active role in the whole wedding planning, I’m very lucky! I wanted to have a vibrant look to the wedding, (probably still pining after that summer wedding idea!), so chose five bright colours which paired up the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Adrian bought the ties from a mix of charity and high street shops with different patterns so it wasn’t too formal.

The bridesmaid’s dresses were midnight blue Alfred Sung in five different designs that the girls and I picked to suit their particular styles, and I ordered them from the States via Joielle. I can’t begin to say how helpful Joielle were and they made the process so easy, considering I was ordering in sizes I didn’t know about from another country! The girls each had different earrings I’d bought from wandering around a number of shops and silver bangles, with matching court shoes from the Debut range in Debenhams.I bought material from an East London sari shop in the five different colours so that each of the girls would have a sash for their dresses and bouquets for a splash of colour and to co-ordinate with the boys. It worked really well in the church, as the wedding party didn’t know each other but knew exactly who to walk down the aisle with!

Splashing Out

Adrian hardly spends money on himself as he’s so conscientious and we decided together that if there was one time in his life that he should, it had to be for his wedding! I mean, guys can wear suits for years to come but the same can’t be said for the bridal gown! He went to Ede and Ravenscroft in Oxford one weekend when he was visiting me, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of choosing the materials and linings! I absolutely loved his outfit, he looked so handsome – three piece dark grey tweed suit, with dark blue lining to match the bridesmaid’s dresses and I bought him a pocketwatch as a wedding gift which he wore on the day. He’s an old man at heart!

Go Team Clarke

The photography was really important to us, especially since so many of my family were unable to make the wedding from overseas, we wanted to document the day well. I saw Anna Clarke’s bright yellow advert on RMW, and just had to click on it! We’d only met one photographer prior to contacting Anna, and had been a bit disheartened by the experience. Team Clarke (Anna and her husband Simon) were an instant hit! They were so easy to get along with, we loved their style and it felt as though they genuinely wanted to know about us, our relationship and wedding plans. We had wanted someone taking shots of the guys getting ready in the hotel and another photographer with us girls in my parent’s house, so it worked out perfectly and the two of them stayed up with us til the early hours of the morning!

They also did a photobooth with props for us, the results of which were hysterical! We couldn’t stop laughing when we saw the photos! Bottom line is, we had the best photographers who captured all the happiness and emotion of the day!

Cake Collaboration

My godmothers wanted to buy us the cake as a gift, so we decided on a Victoria Sponge as it’s Adrian’s favourite! After finding a few cake makers around the area of Selsdon Park, my godmothers visited a lady called Tracy from It’s All About Cake and she created the cake with red roses as decoration exactly like the pictures we’d given her! The cake topper was also created by Dirty Fabulous from vintage paper made to look like Sri Lankan palm trees!

In Sri Lanka, a particular type of fruit cake is served at weddings wrapped for people to take with them. My aunty made this for everyone at the reception and it was served with the teas and coffees!

We also had cakes, teas and coffees, before and after the wedding service, as it was a chilly day and some people had travelled far to get there so a cuppa couldn’t go wrong! My aunty made 200 cupcakes and it was just great for Adrian and I to greet everyone after the wedding itself, albeit crying our eyes out with joy but nevermind!

Vintage Hens

My hen party had been expertly organised by my bridesmaids with a 1940s theme, including everyone having their hair and makeup done and moving onto a swing dance class. Adrian and I both love swing music, so decided to go for a swing jive band called Goosebumps who we found online after listening to what felt like a million clips from different bands!

It’s quite a gamble choosing a band that you’ve never heard perform before but the guys were great fun, they learnt a few songs that we requested and were pretty theatrical in style! We had so many comments from friends saying their boyfriends who never usually dance actually took to the floor at our reception!

Before the band played, we had two instructors from Swingland teach a short swing dance class, which filled the dancefloor with all ages and was just so much fun!

After the dancing, we moved on to the hotel bar where Adrian and a couple of his brothers played music and had a bit of a sing along sesh of old, new and Irish tunes! They’d brought over their guitars and bodhran from Ireland and there was a fantastic atmosphere with people from other parties joining in too!

Pencil Full Of Lead

For our first song we went for ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ by Paolo Nutini, played by the band! Awkward slow dance with all eyes on us wasn’t really our style, but random spinning around the dance floor was more like it! Loads of people joined in half way through the dance which was great fun.

Love Notes

Adrian and I were just so overwhelmed with our friends and family making such an effort to be at the wedding and wanted to make them feel as welcome as possible. The wedding may be about us getting married, but everyone there had played a part along the way and we wanted to share how much we loved them for that. So we decided to write individual notes to each of the guests, which I think took up the most time but it was so worth it.

Adrian created a threefold card template with the note inside, and we also included a charity pin to either the Motor Neurone Disease Association or Irish Cancer Society – two charities close to our hearts. We tried to use as much recycled paper as we could for all the wedding stationery and cards.

On a whim near the time of the wedding, my mum and I also bought enough sets of bangles from an Asian jewellery shop in East London for all the ladies coming to the reception to add a Sri Lankan touch, and they were set out at the drinks reception.

Keeping An Eye On The Purse Strings

I think the whole time during planning, Adrian and I were very aware of not wanting to spend unnecessarily, especially as the venue and clothing can take such a chunk out of even the tightest of budgets! So we involved family in the decor and tried to DIY our way through it!

The table decorations were a mish mash of things we liked – no particular theme or style! Adrian’s uncle over in Ireland chopped a tree into slices for our centrepieces, which the boys sanded down the day before the wedding! There were candles that I’d collected from various shops, my cousin sent over wooden elephants from Sri Lanka and a friend and I made pinwheels to go in the vases with the colourful flowers following a tutorial online.

The table numbers were made by my cousin’s wife Shehara who is fantastic with paper quilling and we also bought midnight blue and gold children’s bangles to use as napkin holders!

Entertianing All Ages

For the drinks reception, we hung polaroid-style photos that we’d printed at home around the drinks reception of everyone at the wedding which was a good talking point and another way we thought to make people feel as though they weren’t just a number!

We also had two large old maps of Ireland and Sri Lanka which were placed at the entrance and my mum, Adrian and I painstakingly tied ribbon in the five colours onto wooden stirrers for the drinks reception. Never have I seen so much ribbon! One of my bridesmaids had decorated a vintage suitcase and given it to me at my hen party, so we used that for people to drop cards into.

My brother-in-law Barry designed and painted our wedding invitations and they were perfect! There’s something very beautiful about hand painted invitations. He has his own website if you would like to see more of his work visit barryquinn.ie. Barry also made our table plan in a black board style and drew our finger print tree which we’d first seen on RMW. people seemed to love it!

For the kids we had disposable cameras with an I-Spy game that I had found online and wedding themed colouring books for the very small ones! Helped keep them entertained.

Choose Wisely

The ‘frills’ of the wedding day are obviously what makes the planning so much fun and gets your creative juices flowing! Sometimes mixing different styles together can work better than one particular theme, if that’s your personality! The wedding day itself can be so reliant on other people, ie. caterers, photographers, transport, so choose those that are friendly but professional and who understand where you’re coming from.

Use family and friends during your planning! We were blessed to have so many amazingly talented people around us and I found it a great way of getting to know Adrian’s brothers and sisters too. I think it’s also important to try and make things comfortable for your guests. Little things we thought of like hiring a London bus to transport people from church to venue really help I think.

But never forget what the day really means. Faith is important to myself and Adrian, and being married in my home church before God, surrounded by family and friends was simply amazing. Enjoy your wedding with your groom (it’s his day as well!), don’t overplan the day or you’ll feel stressed the whole time and miss all the fun! One of my highlights was an impromptu Backstreet Boys singalong that the groomsman did in the middle of all the very emotional speeches!

As much as I may have initially wanted that tipi wedding, ultimately on the day these things don’t change the fact that I was blessed enough to be able to marry my best friend on a day filled with many tears, much joy and great laughter that I will never forget.

Venue Selsdon Park Hotel

Dress Stephanie Allin

Shoes Rainbow Club

bouquets and Cake Topper Dirty Fabulous

Boutique Ellie Sanderson

Hair Busy Beauty

Photography Anna Clarke

Cake It’s All About Cake

Stationery Barry Quinn

Band Goosebumps

I know I can’t help myself when I see a groom in a hat, so here I go again… I love the edge of informality and fun that a simple accessory like a hat provides. It looks great for your ‘fun’ photographs and of course you can always quickly toss it to one side if you want some more formal shots.

I am also more than a bit enamoured by herringbone at the moment. Confessions of a fashion geek.

I am loving this Sri Lankan/Irish mash up! Love the wooden elephants, the impromptu sing song to bits and the maids and groomsmen with their colour co-ordinated accessories? It’s a stroke of organisational genius!

Muchos thanks to Nat and Adrian for sharing their big day with our polka dotted community.

By the Way – Anna Clarke is currently offering £100.00 off any wedding booking with a deposit paid throughout March 2012, so if you like what you see – go and grab yourself a bargain!


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Let There Be Love.

It is simply incredible to hear that the vast majority of the planning for Ben and Nienke’s wedding was achieved in two weeks flat.

Getting married on the other side of the world to where you live is always going to present the odd logistical issue (understatement) and you have to admire this couples determination and trust that everything would be alright on the night.

Photography today is by the incredibly talented Anna Clarke of Anna Clarke Photography fame. She was assisted by her husband Simon, they certainly are a photographic team to be reckoned with.

Home Is Where The Heart Is.

We got married on 25th June 2011 in Leek Wootton in Warwickshire. It’s the village where I grew up and where my parents still live. We were married in the lovely old village church and then everyone walked down the road to my parents house where we had our drinks reception. We were very lucky that our lovely neighbours who live opposite my parents allowed us to use their garden to put up a big marquee, and so we headed over there for the wedding breakfast, meaning no driving had to be done at all during the day! That being said, another of the wonderful village neighbours drove me and my father to church (a grand 200m or so journey), and afterwards whisked Ben and I away in his amazing vintage Rolls Royce – he even dressed up as a chauffeur and surprised us with a bottle of champagne at the church!

Down Under.

We have been living in New Zealand for the past two years and that was where Ben proposed, during a skiing trip in the beautiful Remarkables of the South Island. Of course I said yes, we got incredibly excited, then almost immediately decided that we couldn’t possibly get married over here. And so began the trans-world wedding planning! Fortunately we were actually due to head back to the UK a few weeks after our engagement, so we managed to get most things sorted out during a quick fortnight back home (also, my mother is an organisation demon!). For that reason, we didn’t really have the option of looking around lots of places and sourcing different suppliers, we just had to get on with it! So….

Chapel Length Veil.

My dress was from Quello, a lovely little bridal shop in Kenilworth ten minutes from my parents house, and was by the Spanish designer, Rosa Clara. I think it was the second dress I tried on, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t that excited by it at the time, probably because it was 8 sizes too big for me and looked ridiculous! However, my thoughts kept coming back to that dress, and with good reason. The lovely ladies at Quello ordered me a dress in the right size, and managed to do pretty much all the alterations in the five days before our wedding when we were next back in the UK. Terrifying! They were amazing though, and I couldn’t have been more delighted when I finally got into my dress on the day. I had a little matching off the shoulder lace jacket which I wore during the ceremony and drinks reception, and a chapel length veil (because if you don’t wear a veil at your wedding, when else could you possibly wear one?).

Killer Heels.

My jewellery was very simple, a pearl and diamond earring and necklace set given to me by my mother, which had been given to her by my Dad’s mother, and a pearl bracelet. My shoes were tall! Ben is a lot taller than me (most people are) so I tottered around on killer heels for most of the day. I got the perfect pair in light ivory on a whim from Mi Piaci in New Zealand a few months before the wedding. The men hired their suits from Parkes in Royal Leamington Spa, and they all looked fantastic. My bridesmaids wore charcoal and ivory dresses from Forever Yours and managed to get them from local bridal shops scattered around the UK.

The Beauty Box.

Hair and makeup was a bit of a case of “who’s free on the day and is nearby” – being so far away I didn’t really have the opportunity to try out lots of places. I had been recommended The Beauty Box in Hampton Magna by a neighbour, and when I met Jacquie there I knew she would be great. She came over to my parents house on the day and did the makeup for myself and my mother, leaving us with a swag bag of all her makeup to return the following week so we could do touchups through the day as we wanted. I zoomed off to Classics hairdressers in Kenilworth first thing in the morning for a bit of time on my own, and they put my hair up in a loose chignon. I knew I couldn’t wear my hair down as I’m a terrible fiddler and would have had it in knots before the ceremony!

Champagne Picnic.

Getting our flowers done was again a bit of a guessing game, as we weren’t able to meet any florists in person. My mother’s a whiz with flowers, and so we decided that we would do all the decorations for the church, house and marquee. We ordered a massive pile of flowers from our local wholesaler, and with the help of a near army of women from the village (who were all amazing), and my mother and sister-in-law, we transformed the church on the Wednesday before the wedding. It was a brilliant day, all helping out and with a little champagne picnic in the church gardens to break up the work, we were laughing the whole day long. The church looked fantastic, but with all the flowers for the house and marquee to be done the day before the wedding we worried if we’d bitten off more than we could chew. The garage was full to bursting with roses, alstromeria, freesia, stock, lisianthus, ferns and tens of buckets! On Friday afternoon my maid of honour, mother and I made all the table decorations whilst chatting away and sipping wine, and it really set the scene for a wonderful weekend. As we knew the wedding day itself would be busy, we handed over responsibility for the bouquets and button holes to Fiona of Inspired Elegance, who matched the flowers beautifully with those that we had already prepared.

Divide And Conquer.

Our photographer was the wonderful Anna of Anna Clarke Photography. We met her only 4 days before the wedding when we had our “engagement” shoot. She instantly put us at ease, and we knew that we’d have a great time with her on the day. She came with her lovely husband Simon who shoots with her, and the two of them divided and conquered to capture the day in beautiful relaxed photographs. As this was going to be the first time we’d seen many of our friends since moving to New Zealand we didn’t want to spend half the reception having photos taken, and Anna and Simon were great in understanding that. We decided to have a relaxed lunch with the entire bridal party together before the ceremony and Anna and Simon used that time to make sure we got all the slightly more formal photographs that we might want.

Attack Of The Munchies.

We decided against a traditional cake as neither of us are that fussed about them, and felt that they often don’t even get eaten at weddings. Instead, we opted for some tiered cheeses, which we served as an extra cheese course half way through dancing later in the evening. It went down incredibly well, was completely devoured, and certainly settled some late night munchies! It was all organised by our fabulous caterers, The Chopping Block, who provided absolutely fantastic food, drink and service throughout the entire weekend.

Let There Be Love.

We knew early on that we wanted a live band, and listening to The Fabulations on their online jukebox knew that they’d be perfect for us. They got everyone up and dancing, including my octagenarian grandparents, with a brilliant mix of motown, funk and soul. Our first dance song was chosen the day before our wedding! We’d actually chosen something different quite some time before, but the band contacted us nearer the time saying that they didn’t think they could do it justice and were wondering if there was something else that we’d like instead. We forgot to reply, and suddenly realised with 24 hours to go that we didn’t have a first dance song. We quickly chose Let There Be Love, not for any particular reason other than us both liking the song!

Miniature Favours.

For favours we wanted something that our guests could enjoy on the night. We ordered lots of miniature glass bottles and my father spent a day decanting port from our two university colleges into them. They went down a treat with the cheese later in the night.

No Theme As Such.

Our decorations were all pretty simple – white flowers, candles and a simple thistle and ribbon on the napkins. We didn’t really have a colour theme as such, but if I had to describe it, it was probably ivory, charcoal and sage. Four our table plan I collected photographs of our parents and all our grandparents and arranged them amongst the table plan on a large board as our guests entered the marquee. Our grandparents absolutely loved it and it was a nice reminder of those grandparents who couldn’t be with us on the day.

Party On.

To make the most of our time back in the UK we organised a more relaxed hog roast and bar the following day, again in the marquee. The sun shone on one of summer’s warmest days, and it was great to relax with all our guests and some extra friends recounting tales of our wedding day before we left for our honeymoon that evening.

Forget About The Hiccups.

We had the most amazing day and will always remember it as such. It doesn’t matter that the toilets broke, and that a stranger parked in the space we’d set aside for the wedding car! Don’t get too hung up on all the little details and stay calm if things don’t work out quite as you’d planned. In all probability no-one will even notice anyway, they’ll be too busy looking at the two of you. and having a brilliant time.

Boutique Quello

Dress Rosa Clara

Shoes Mi Piaci

Maids Forever Yours

Hair Inspired Elegance

Make-up The Beauty Box

Bouquets and button holes Inspired Elegance

Photography Anna Clarke Photography

Catering The Chopping Block

The Fabulations The Fabulations

I think Nienke showed tremendous vision (and nerves of steal) to go for a dress that she only tried on once and was 8 sizes to big. I think we can safely say that gamble paid off though.

I love the table plan, I love the car – it reminds me of Gumdrop – anyone remember Gumdrop? Just me then….

If they managed all this in two weeks, I imagine that Ben and Nienke could probably organise world peace in a little over 3 months… anyone got a contact number for NATO?