My dress was from Perfections in Worcester. They were very helpful and I didn’t feel rushed choosing my dress. I didn’t really want a ‘big’ dress and I had originally come to the shop to look through their Jenny Packham dresses. They were beautiful but when I tried on ‘Tish’ by Augusta Jones my mum gasped and my very philosophical sister said, “If I was going to design a dress for you it would be that one”. I value her opinion on clothes and style more than anyone else in the world so I was sold! I felt it was elegant and not too showy but the train made it formal enough for church.
I had my sister’s veil from Dragonfly in Cheltenham as my something borrowed. I hired the Jenny Packham Accacia III when I fell in love with it in a magazine. It was very sparkly and lifted my simple dress (plus I’m like a magpie, drawn to sparkly things!) but it was too expensive for me to buy. However, I found that Elegant Wedding Creations allowed you to hire head pieces and jewellery. It was an excellent, efficient service that allowed me to wear something that I felt was really beautiful, but usually out of my price range!
I bought my bracelet to match the headpiece from Notonthehighstreet.com, the designer was called ‘Anusha’. Andrew made me cry on the morning of the wedding by sending me an extremely beautiful Tiffany necklace I had spotted in Birmingham months prior to our big day.
The shoes were from Dune and were, again, sparkly! I liked the peep toe style and the silver colour matched all my other accessories.
I used the agency ‘Beauty Call‘. Parminder came and did a hair and make up trial about two months before the wedding and then arrived at the hotel in the morning to do my hair and make up and my bridesmaid’s hair. She used mac make up and I wanted my hair down without too much ‘poof!’
Hessian And Ribbon
The florist was called Sandra and her shop is called Ross Flowerhouse. I don’t know the area that well and visited several florists. Sandra was so enthusiastic and helpful when I was trying to explain the type of English Garden party look I wanted. I knew I was going to do my own lavender centre pieces covered in hessian and wrapped with a ribbon so I wanted the flowers to work alongside this. I wanted soft lilacs and pinks. She helped me pick ‘Memory Lane’ rose and worked some pale pink spray roses and ivy, and a touch of astrantia. I used this rose to attach to my lavender pots. The flowers in my bouquet also made up the flowers in the church and the top table centre piece. I bought my own wheat and lavender from Shropshire Petals and tied them with strings of pearls to the pew ends. My bridesmaid’s bouquet was green hydrangea with the spray roses and astrantia and the button holes were fresh lavender and the green hydrangea. The flower girls had little pretty buckets filed with natural petals to throw and I used sweet peas and hydrangea from my garden and my mum and dad’s garden in welly boots and pots to decorate the outside of the church
The best men were Andrew’s brother, Joe and his best friend, Matt. They had navy blue suits to match the uniform from Marks and Spencer. We bought them a tie and white shirt from Thomas Pink in Birmingham as their present. The staff there were so helpful and wrapped it all beautifully for us as well as demonstrating to Andrew how to tie a tie properly! My sister Jenny was bridesmaid and after two dresses, that just didn’t endup right, she ended up wearing a Ted Baker pale pink, floor length dress.
The flower girls were in pale pink dresses to match the roses too. They were from monsoon as were their little pearly shoes! The one little one had to stuff hers with tissue paper as we thought her feet may grow – she was very good and didn’t complain about it but later sneaked off with her mum and cam back in Peppa Pig slippers! They were pink and still matched perfectly!!
A Borrowed Belt
The groom was in uniform that was partly his and partly borrowed. He had to wear long johns underneath as the material is so itchy – as you can imagine he had a bit of a sweat on in July! His belt has been worn by several other Army guys now for their weddings and they are talking about all signing it and framing it!
Captured The Day
Our Photographer Chris Barber was absolutely brilliant! We got a lot from the initial meet and then the later engagement shoot. He put us at ease at the shoot and made us felt like we were just having a nice stroll (even though the canal and trading estate were perhaps not so beautiful!). Andrew, who is a five year old trapped in a 31 year olds body (!), loved playing the games and telling the stories that Chris used to get us to relax.
When I felt poorly on the morning of the wedding both photographers made me feel at ease and just got on with it without asking me lots of questions. They even made me look ok when I was feeling particularly green at that moment! They completely captured the day and really listened to what we had wanted.
The cake was from The Cheese Company in Cheltenham. Andrew is a massive cheese fan so we went and tasted and chose three tiers, plus heart shaped cheese, to make our cheese cake. I found a lady in Canada who made wedding toppers from felt and ordered bride and groom mice to go on the top of the cake. My dad bought port to be served with the cheese; a must when serving Army blokes!
The Last Action Heroes
We searched high and low for a good band and I came across the agency Act Sharp. Koser was really helpful and sent us several samples from different bands. We chose ‘The Last Action Heroes‘ in the end and it worked really well as there was a stage that used to be used for village shows that the band were able to perform on.
They were brilliant and didn’t miss a beat when Andrew decided to carry me on stage during our first dance! They got the crowd dancing but were laid back and didn’t stress when our timings went a bit awry.
We are both big Biffy Clyro fans and when we heard their cover of Rihanna’s Umbrella on Radio 1’s live lounge we knew it was a perfect first dance. The words mean a lot to me particularly and it’s a lovely chilled song. The band learned Calvin Harris ‘Feel so Close’ and went straight into that after the first dance to get the crowd going.
We wanted to do something for charities that are important to us so the boys had ‘Help for Heroes’ bands and the women had Alzheimer’s Society pin badges (my Grandad died from the disease a couple of years ago).
Bunting And Butterflies
I hired bunting from Bunting Queen to add my colours to the marquee and found very real looking butterflies on a link from the Martha Stewart website. I used both of these as well as lavender to bring my colours into the marquee (separate from the breakfast room). I kept my English Summer theme going with ice cream served outside from a trike by Churchfield’s. They were great and I think the kids, and me, went back for seconds. I used tea cups I had collected from second hand shops, and my Grandad had collected for me, and Andrew ordered wax and made them into candles. We put three on each table.
Our friend is also a tree surgeon so he gave us discs of wood to put people’s names on as name places. The venue was beautiful anyway and I really liked how you can put your own stamp on it. They gave us lots of advice on caterers, our hog roast etc too.
Some Friendly Advice
Don’t listen too much to other people as you can start questioning what you actually want. Make it a day that will make you happy.
Craig and Hayley’s wedding day took place at Wilton’s Music Hall, which by the way is A MAZE ING.
Hayley has given a very full and detailed report (And it’s brilliant – complete with engagement story involving Masai Warriors and everything) so let’s jump straight in…
All that is left for me to say is that the beautiful photography today is by Debs Ivelja.
Craig proposed in September 2010 whilst on holiday in Kenya at the beautiful Galdessa Lodge (very Wills and Kate I know… They copied us!) and he took me completely by surprise. We had been together for 5 years, living together for 4 of them, but there had been so many other romantic opportunities in the past; travelling through New England in the fall, a surprise trip to Paris etc. but he hadn’t come up trumps. I wasn’t worried as I knew it would happen eventually but judging by the history, I really didn’t think Kenya would be ‘our time’.
It was kind of fate I guess, we checked into Galdessa as part of our safari trip and discovered that we were the only guests that evening, lending itself to a very intimate and tranquil private dining experience. We were seated in a beautiful rustic open-air dining room alongside the river with the faint noises of elephants splashing in the distance. Craig had planned it for the following evening apparently but the setting was so perfect that he had to take the plunge there and then and asked me conversationally if the setting would be more romantic if he asked me to MARRY HIM!!……..What? I instantly thought this was a spur of the moment thing that he hadn’t thought through and my blabbering of “are you sure, are you sure you’re sure??” kind of ruined the peaceful atmosphere.
So out he pulled a piece of plastic wrapped in elastic bands from the depths of his wallet, my hidden engagement ring! (God know what customs would have thought if they had found it!) He explained that he’d asked my dad and had had it planned for so long. However, due to the unplanned perfect moment arising he hadn’t had time to put it in the box which was hidden in his shoe back in the hut. He had tried to go and get it (when he nipped to the loo, or so I thought) but he wasn’t allowed back there to get it without a Masai Warrior (spear and all!) due to roaming wild animals. So it didn’t go the way he planned, but to me that made it all the more perfect!
I then spent 2 days desperately trying to get signal to let everyone at home know, you can take the girl out of the modern world…
My dress was never really ‘the one’. I’m afraid to report that I suffered from major dress wobbles all the way up to the big day, a worry that I thought I was alone with – surely I should have been feeling ecstatic and totally in love with what is sometimes classed as the biggest part of a girl’s day. I have since discovered many girls go through similar anxieties.
Unfortunately, how I acquired my dress was probably the catalyst to my stress. I am a classic case of how not to buy a wedding dress!!
As soon as we were back from Kenya I began searching for wedding fairs and magazines to gain inspiration (in fact, I bought my first wedding magazine in Heathrow airport for the tube journey home, excited bride much?) I found an ad for a designer wedding dress sample sale taking place in a hotel in London and thought it would be a nice day out with my mum and sister to get the wedding ball rolling. What they didn’t mention was the hour and a half we had to queue to get in, although we’d booked a timed slot. By the time we got in we were all a bit weary and by the state of some of the dresses (tears, catches, make up stains etc.) I had no intention of buying one. However, as we were there and had waited so long I thought what’s the harm I’ll try a few on for fun.
I chose my permitted 5 dresses to take into the very communal changing room. Oh there’s nothing like seeing yourself in a mirror with post holiday weight, under bad lighting with mismatched underwear – PUBLICLY to make you feel wonderful trying on dresses, but ultimately it didn’t matter, I had no intention of buying one. I soon discovered the Grecian floaty style I thought I wanted did not suit me one bit! ‘urgh’ was the only word that sprang to mind.
When you go through to the changing rooms you are allocated a lady to help you in and out of dresses. My lady instantly knew the style I needed, structured and corseted body to hug in the waist. She then ran off and quickly came back with 3 dresses. That clever lady was right, immediately the first dress felt and looked better, but the material wasn’t right. Number 2 was a very expensive Chanel dress that even with the hefty discount was more expensive than our catering budget! Number 3 on the hanger looked terrible, so fussy and heavy, but it didn’t matter, it was only as a guide, I had no intention of buying one.
Then came the sharp in takes of breaths, I looked over and mum was refusing to look me in the eye in case of influencing me, my sister kept repeating how pretty it was. I took a walk around the room in it, the lights bouncing off the beading, the long train dragging behind and then I noticed eyes from the other girls and the whispers, I got close enough to hear one ask her lady if she could try it on after… NO! that was all it took!
I stood in front of the mirror unable to bring myself to this huge decision, how could I possibly buy a dress when I hadn’t been to a shop to try any on? But I kept having visions of me searching for months for similar but not being able to afford it.
So there it was, I had decided on a dress in the most ridiculous of settings, when I had absolutely no intention of doing so – the first thing I had done towards the wedding! There was no wedding date or venue yet! – and no exchange of purchase either… We had gone over it with a fine toothcomb, and there was no damage whatsoever. The only alterations it needed was the hem taking up and adding a bustle and a modesty bone (I had never heard of one of these before, they are brilliant!) Other than that, it was the perfect fit. I had purchased an Augusta Jones show customised sample.
But the coming months brought the anxiety, the ‘what if’ factor, had I done the wrong thing? Where was the champagne in the lovely little wedding shop? The special mother and daughter moment? The happy tears? I felt we had missed out on all of that. That coupled with the dreary winter, comfort food and pasty skin, the next time I tried it on I burst into tears – all that money wasted as at that moment in time I hated it.
What I actually hated was me and my body and after a long pep talk with my mum, a few months of dragging myself to the gym, being careful with what I ate and the welcome arrival of spring, I felt so much better trying it on again. It felt like a completely different dress. I was back loving it again.
I still don’t think I felt absolutely certain until the day, that moment when my dad walked in the room and his eyes filled up and choked out the words ‘oh wow, I know everyone said it would be lovely, but that is really something, you are really something’ that is when I truly felt it was the one.
I decided early on that I didn’t want a veil, my dress was quite detailed at the back and short veils didn’t seem to suit me, plus with it all in one venue I didn’t feel the need to wear one. I did however want a bit of sparkle in my hair. Nothing to detract away from my dress but something to compliment an up-do. My hair is rather fine, and most clips and combs tend to slip out fairly quickly so it had to be a headband for security, I wanted it firmly in place whilst I was jumping around the dance floor! I found the perfect piece on Glitzy Secrets, it was exactly what I had been looking for. This then influenced the rest of my wedding jewellery.
I found a gorgeous vintage looking pearl ring at Spitalfields market, that I fell in love with. It looked great on my right hand, I know I was supposed to put my engagement ring on this finger for the ceremony but I just had to wear it. This inevitably led to me forgetting to take my engagement off and I hastily had to fumble it off and give it to my dad as I reached the end of the aisle.
My bracelet was a dainty pearl and crystal chain from John Lewis. I tried many bigger cuff style gorgeous creations but they all felt like your eye was drawn there first.
My earrings were also from John Lewis, I decided on small pearl and crystal studs. I didn’t buy these until fairly close to the day, I wanted to decide on how my hair was going to be first and in the end I felt small and dainty was the way to go.
I wasn’t going to wear a necklace, but then my friend suggested borrowing her tiny diamond necklace. It was perfect, it went with the tiny crystal detail in the earrings and also it was her 18th birthday present from all the girls. We have quite a close knit group of girlfriends who I couldn’t be without so it meant so much for my something borrowed to be a special item they had all played a part in.
Meant To Be
My shoes were meant to be! I had had my eye on Rachel Simpson’s Lillys for ages but at £150 I really couldn’t stretch to it, especially when I seemed to be going over budget left, right and centre. Then one day my friend saw a pair of size 4s in the window of her wedding dress shop reduced to £50! I almost fell off my seat when she called to tell me. I called the shop, put by their only pair, and was the proud and very happy owner 2 days later. They were the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever worn. They had just enough heel to give me the height I needed but not too much to make me totter! I could have skipped down the aisle in them… In fact I think I almost did.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend spending a fortune on wedding shoes, you should see the state of mine now. I’ve had them cleaned but they are ruined. I did consider dying them black so I could wear them again but I have decided to lay them in their final resting state with my beautifully boxed dress.
From the very beginning I had wedding nightmares (is this common?) mainly revolving around my planning or me being late or having a hideous dress (a black and red version featured, with full on princess cone hat – where that came from I don’t know!). However, the most reoccurring dream was that I hadn’t organised any hair and make-up and it was the day before the wedding and too late. In the end I became dangerously close to the dream becoming true.
I was struggling to make a decision, I didn’t want to book up loads of trials with lots of artists as that would cost a fortune. However, looking at websites is all very well but obviously, the majority of images are of beautiful people that would look good with no makeup on or had beautiful hair that styled perfectly. All I knew was that I definitely wouldn’t be doing my own make-up and hair, I’ve never been that great at doing it anyway and I could imagine the stress I could get myself into if it was going wrong. Unfortunately, my hairdresser wasn’t able to come out to me on a Saturday and the salon was too far for me to go to on the morning so that wasn’t an option. I fortunately then found Sam from Slap Artists in the nick of time. She did both hair and makeup and had styled many tv presenters and celebs so I felt confident about the longevity of the make-up.
I had my first trial where we tried a high bun and dewy make up, however I didn’t feel either was quite right. I am used to wearing bare minerals so the dewy makeup made me feel incredibly shiny and like it was all about to slide off. The bun also didn’t suit me as much as I thought it would either. I hesitantly explained all my concerns to Sam afterwards and she was very understanding, and kindly offered me a half price 2nd trial. She went out and bought some bare mineral products, combined with some of her other fail safe matte products and created a much more ‘me’ look, I was so much happier! Phew!
My hair style was actually decided on the day, originally I was going to have a ‘donut’ ring with a ‘sausage’ underneath creating a knot and roll effect. However, the donut wasn’t working for me so we decided to just use the sausage to create a vintage rolled style, instantly it was perfect. Somehow, it was the style I had in my head that I hadn’t been able to put my finger on.
My makeup was very subtle but I was so pleased with it, I’m so glad I didn’t go with anything heavier. I didn’t need to touch it up once. Looking back I may have liked to have add some eyeliner for the evening but at the time I really didn’t care one bit! I was having so much fun that my makeup or hair didn’t enter my mind at all. I think I only visited the ladies once fairly early on, so I just relied on others to tell me if I had smudged anything.
The Best Decision We Made
Our fabulous florists were the ladies from Scarlet and Violet, I knew instantly from walking into their gorgeous shop that I wanted them to do our flowers. Victoria was so knowledgeable and an added bonus was that she had worked at Wilton’s before so knew exactly what would work best, she knew the way the lighting fell, the colours that would compliment etc.
I wasn’t precious about types flowers, I knew I wanted pretty blousy colours, soft and romantic to compliment the walls and the flecks of colour on the gallery balcony and a bit of colour to stand out from our brown and cream stationery and favours, but without it being overpowering to detract from the beauty of Wilton’s. The rest I left up to the experts. And experts they are! I guess by not being so specific I could have left myself open to disappointment but I was truly in awe of every single petal on the day. Everything else had been planned so meticulously, it was nice to have a surprise actually.
My bouquet was a mix of roses in white, baby pink and lilac – gorgeous understated pretty. I had told Victoria that I wanted my bouquet to be delicate and soft, just like all the other accessories I had chosen, and they got it spot on!
The bridesmaid bouquets made me cry! They were amazing, the mix of colours worked wonderfully with their navy dresses. I would never have chosen myself to put the large golden Combo rose amongst their posies but it worked wonderfully – I simply love that rose now!
We had a little white rose wand made for Grace our niece and flower girl. She loved it, and it stayed in one piece for the majority of the day – even after her attempting to eat it!
The buttonholes were simple, pretty, white roses that looked great against the navy suits. I loved the eclectic mix of the bridal party flowers, all of them different but all tying in with the venue flowers. The talented ladies produced a beautiful hydrangea garland in the foyer area that just blew me away when I arrived. I stood there for ages admiring it that I actually missed the start of my entrance music! For the centre pieces Victoria suggested a collection of three pressed glass vases, I loved this idea. The soft spot lighting worked so well with the pressed glass. The flowers were tied in bunches with ribbon and she gave me paper bags so I could give the bunches out to our guests at the end of the evening. They loved this unexpected little extra and prompted some lovely thank you notes.
We also had some other pressed glass vases filled with prettiness dotted around, on places like the guest book table, the signing of the register table and the present table. The flowers they produced for our parents far exceeded my expectations, they were huge! The mix of flowers tied in with all the venue flowers and the box and paper they were wrapped in was kraft brown, which matched our stationery and favours, something I hadn’t asked for but looked like I’d planned. In fact the paper bags for the guests to take away the flowers in were kraft brown too. I can only put it down to Victoria instantly ‘getting’ everything from our meeting where I showed her all my stationery and ideas. I would really recommend taking some of your design samples along to show your florist, I definitely think it helped them bring it all together.
Lastly the cake, I had seen a picture of a plain iced cake with lots of roses in between the tiers that I had fallen for and our caterer had offered to make us a simple 3 tier iced delight with a mix of sponges. However, we then discovered that that many roses was going to cost an absolute fortune and became out of the question. So Victoria suggested a cheaper garland version using hydrangeas, again this was something that I wasn’t sure what it would look like until the day. But it was so pretty and much more in keeping with the venue and the other flowers. My original idea would have looked far too over the top against everything else.
They also left some individual flowers that our caterers placed on the canapé serving trays and around the cheese tower. This was a really nice added touch that I hadn’t thought of. I think Scarlet and Violet were probably the best decision we made and am so glad I trusted them to do whatever they thought best, I was after all just an indecisive bride that loved everything!
Five Dresses Fro Five Maids
I had chosen 5 bridesmaids, all of whom were different colourings and sizes so the hunt for the perfect dress wasn’t going to be easy, especially when I didn’t have fortunes to spend. I did consider putting them all in different dresses but I had seen a picture in my early stages of planning of a line of bridesmaids in identical knee length navy dresses that I had really loved, simple, pretty and something that they would no doubt wear again. Navy seemed to suit them all too, the blondes, brunette and red head, so the hunt began with that original picture in my mind. After a very long day shopping when I was about to give up I saw a Coast dress that I hadn’t spotted before (and I must have been in over 5 that day!), it was almost the same as the ones I’d seen in the picture, I couldn’t believe it. I tried it on and it was very flattering, I knew it would suit them all. Trying to source 5 different sizes of a limited edition Debenhams Coast dress was not easy but between a few of us we managed it, and whilst the blue cross sale was on too! Bonus!
Their dusk pink shoes came from Primark, for about £6 I think sshhh! My clever mum spotted these, and they went so well with the dresses – when you have 5 to buy for it really adds up so I was very lucky that we managed to save here. Picture my mum scramberling around Primark’s busy shoe department trying to source all the sizes they needed, I’m glad she sorted that part – I can’t cope with it on a normal outing.
Craig decided that he would like a navy suit too, so it naturally followed that my dad and the best man would too. We hired my dad’s and Rod’ 3 piece suits from Room Ten and were very happy with their services.
Although it was decided that both parties would wear navy I was careful from then on not to include any other elements of navy in the wedding. I really didn’t want the day to be defined by a colour. We didn’t have any official ushers but roped the bridesmaid’s husbands and boyfriends into helping out on the day instead. So I saved on suits there, all it cost me was a button hole and a thank you present each. A bit cheeky I know but they were more than happy to help out and were probably glad of having something to do.
Dapper Dickie Bows
Craig chose to have a bespoke suit made, again by Room Ten. He doesn’t often wear suits so it was a real novelty for him to sit down with the designer and decide where the pockets would go or the type of lining, lapel, pleats etc. he wanted. He even had the wedding date stitched into the lining. He wore this with a crisp white shirt and navy bow tie – Gorgeous!! In fact the bow tie was Craig’s idea, he decided he wanted all the male guests to wear bow ties. I loved the idea! It went so well with our style of venue too.And so there became the dress code – Gentleman Dapper with Dickie Bows
We did have to explain to a few people that we didn’t mean they had to go out and rent a full on tux, just a bow tie with their normal suit would do. I think once they all arrived and saw the other men in an array of bow ties they all bought into the idea and found it quite fun. I loved seeing them all look so dapper.
Craig also wore a pair of sixpence cufflinks that I had bought him for valentine’s day that year. I had managed to find a pair of 1947 sixpences (the year his nan and granddad married) that had been made into cufflinks. They were perfect for the wedding and he loved the sentimentality of it.
Our photographer was the very talented Debs Ivelja. Not only was her portfolio of work amazing, she was super lovely too. We met for a drink to chat wedding ideas and she showed us some of her work and instantly I knew I wanted to book her. Craig commented afterwards that we were just like two giggly excited girls discussing pretty things, but to me that that was probably why I wanted her to photograph our wedding, she seemed to get everything we were trying to achieve and I think it is really important to feel comfortable with your suppliers.
Debs went above and beyond what probably normal photographers do, sending me links to pretty things or deals and offers. She was always in contact, even whilst in the wilds of Africa – I was amazed!
Debs offers ‘beloved pre-wedding shoots’ I think this is a really good idea that really helped us relax in front of the camera. It gave us some lovely pictures for our guest book too. She also provides the added option of a photo booth style shoot in the evening, complete with a suitcase full of props and backdrop. Our guests took full advantage of this and had great fun, it also gave us a great image for our thank you cards.
Debs’ attention to detail was tremendous, from all the little elements of Wilton’s that she captured down to the gorgeous packaging of our photo disc. We were so over the moon with the photos; we absolutely love them and have the favourites all-round the house, desks at work etc. and they made very good Christmas presents for the family last year!
Originally I wasn’t fussed on having a videographer, I’d seen some pretty bad wedding videos in the past and the thought of them catching me with bad posture or worse was putting me off. I decided fairly late on in the planning to have a look into it anyway, and I discovered a different style than I’d seen before.
I found Reel Love Films who had not long set up their business so were very reasonably priced. When I got in touch with Frances she was so excited about filming at Wilton’s I knew she was right for us. Frances was so lovely to deal with and her attention to detail was amazing, even down to the DVD packaging – simply gorgeous! We hardly knew they were there on the day, our guests said the same – capturing every detail from afar.
When we sat down to watch the video we ended up watching it 3 times over, it was so lovely and absolutely captured the best bits of the day. Our highlight made people cry – even those that weren’t at the wedding! To say I’m glad we chose to have our day videoed is a complete understatement! I am so pleased we didn’t make the mistake of not capturing the best day of our lives in this way.
How many times have I watched the video now? Hmmmmm about 50 times!
Crackers, Chutney And Port
Our ‘sweet’ cake was a mix of chocolate sponge tiers with ganache filling and Victoria sponge – got to love a classic! Our caterer bliss catering produced this delicious creation and it was decorated by our florists.
We also chose to have a cheese tower, we LOVE cheese (who doesn’t, right?). This formed the evening buffet, which we accompanied with crackers, chutney, and port, hmmmmmm! We ordered the cheese from our local fromagerie in Highbury, La Fromagerie. They were so knowledgeable about what cheeses would work best together, and we had great fun tasting and choosing!
The entertainment was quite important to us and we really wanted live music for the majority of the day, and I think the venue deserved it too.
For the ceremony and celebration drinks we chose the talented Simon Jordan who is amazing on the violin and adapted some of our favourite songs to play during the ceremony. He then teamed up with a colleague and the pair played a collection of great tunes selected by us on the piano and violin during the drinks reception, this prompted some impromptu sing a longs from guests. Simon was great to work with, he welcomed us into his home and knocked out a few tunes on the violin to give us an idea. He is super talented and plays by ear, and he was very happy to learn to play anything we wanted.
For the meal we wanted some orchestral music with a twist, my friend’s brother Dean is a DJ and put together a compilation of popular pop and rock tunes played by orchestras. I have no idea how he sourced it all but we are eternally grateful, this was a real highlight for us and worked so well with the venue. It gave the meal a magical feel but also gave added fun with family and friends trying to guess the tunes they recognised. Imagine GaGa and Guns N’ Roses songs transformed by huge string orchestras – amazing! I have a feeling some of the younger guests turned it into a bit of a drinking game too… Dean also provided the evening music in between the bands breaks, he did such a professional job and got everyone up dancing. And to think I was considering using an iPod during this time!! Oh the things that could have gone wrong with that – another decision well made.
We found the decision of which band for the evening quite hard, I think it is imperative that you go to listen to a band live, this will really give you a feel for them, to see how the audience reacts – do they get up dancing etc.? We went along to see a fair few bands and finally decided on Roo Savill and her band. Roo has a gorgeous deep Amy Winehouse style voice and her band was made up of experienced sessions players, including a saxophonist and trumpet player. They put a funky twist to all the covers they played.
What I will say is that you cannot fully account for how the acoustics of a venue will affect the sound. When we visited Roo and her band they were playing in a hotel bar and the sound was great, however in a huge auditorium it did lose some of the wonderful detail of the music that they had worked so hard to create. Nether the less they were still absolutely fab and everyone had a good old boogie!! On the RSVPs we asked guests to name a song guaranteed to get them up dancing, this really helped us form our play list and also gave family and friends a bit of involvement in the day. We managed to work most of them in, either from the bands repertoire or in the list we provided Dean with. There were a few dodgy requests we chose to leave out, but hopefully nobody noticed!
Our first dance was Your Song by Elton John, it has always been a favourite of ours and just seemed like the perfect choice. We did consider changing it when Ellie Goulding’s cover was released and it became a hot favourite for many weddings but we stuck to our guns, it is such a beautiful song and Roo really did it justice.
We didn’t have a lot of budget left for favours so we opted for a bit of DIY action. I’d seen some really cute conversation starters on Etsy that I didn’t think could be that hard to make. I sourced some manuscript card from an online stationer, which we used to make the pockets. To each pocket we stuck little grey pearly heart buttons which I got super cheap from an Ebay store. Inside we slipped a typed question on cream card. Each guest at a table had a different question, such as:
What would your super power of choice be?
What was your favourite childhood game?
Who is the best celeb look-a-like at the table?
What is the weirdest thing you have eaten?
What was the last gig/concert/show you went to?
Share a memory of the bride or groom.
So only fun questions that might instigate a bit of a discussion, not that they needed it, but we did have a couple of tables where not everybody knew the person next to them so we thought it might be quite nice for them.
Fairly close to the wedding Craig spent an evening wikipediaring wedding traditions and discovered we weren’t adhering to many at all, so he decided he wanted give sugared almonds too! I conceded by compromising on plain white ones. Ebay became my best friend during the planning/buying stages! I managed to get the sugared almonds from an Ebay store for far less than I’d seen anywhere else. I also picked up some cute brown kraft boxes from there, which were perfect; these teamed with bigger grey heart buttons formed the easiest favours that went great with the conversation starters.
My very talented friend Faye created all of our wedding stationery, we are ever so grateful and lucky – I realise how much this saved us and also meant that we were able to create the most personal stationery that we could. Our save the dates were based on old admission ticket stubs and the invites were inspired by Victorian posters. We got some great comments when these were delivered. Faye painstakingly produced all of our table names, guest place names, orders of the day which were great, like mini theatre programmes and also the signs for the guest book, card box and photo booth etc.
But the best piece has to be the table plan (which is now hanging proudly in our living room!) again this was designed on an old Victorian theatre billing poster, which we then scrunched and tea stained to give an ageing effect and framed in a gilt picture frame. I did have a complete melt down about this when my dad pointed out that I had spelt a surname wrong a couple of days before the wedding (great timing Dad!) and after a few too many tears, a quick phone call to them to explain the mistake and all was rosey again. At the time it was like the end of the world, I guess the pressure had just built up and I cracked, very ridiculous I know. So even though it is still misspelt, hanging on our wall, it now serves as a funny memory proving that nothing is as bad as it seems and to sometimes take a step back and think logically. Nobody else would have noticed and they were completely fine about it, why I was worried I do not know!
We wanted to display pictures of our grandparents around our guestbook as a little dedication to those that couldn’t share the day with us but knew they would have loved to have been there and would have been immensely proud. I initially had a real problem finding suitable decorative frames, then I discovered eFrame. The frames were cheaper than ones I’d seen on the highstreet, very good quality and you could choose custom sizes too. I highly recommend them.
I think the beauty of finding a quirky, interesting building is that there is less need for decoration, it does the job itself. A blank canvas is all very well to express your creativity but it could end up costing a lot more than you may anticipate and take a considerable amount of time to organise.
A Bit Different
What made the wedding truly special – other than getting married to each other and sharing the day with our nearest and dearest of course – was the venue!
We always knew we wanted to get married somewhere a bit different, introduce our guests to somewhere they may never have been or even heard about and make it memorable for everyone. We also wanted the venue to special for years to come, somewhere we could spend anniversaries and special occasions and re-live it all again.
Craig remembered hearing a radio review on Wilton’s Music Hall a few months previously, I’m so glad his short term memory served him well on this occasion, normally it is shocking! We booked an appointment to view and as soon as we entered the building I got goose bumps, it was magical, spine-tingly gorgeous. We both knew it was the one instantly. We did view a fair few others just to be sure rather than going with the first place we looked at without considering anything else. However suddenly this wonderful place I had never heard of was everywhere – on the side of a bus, popped up on email in a Time-Out review, my friend’s Dad announced he was holding his trendy office Christmas party there – signs that we had to book!
Wilton’s in the oldest surviving grand music hall, dated mid-19th Century and is attached to an 18th Century terrace of three houses and a pub. It is a hidden gem located down a small alleyway in the old East End of London. It is such a unique building and it meant all the more to us with the knowledge that our money was helping to fund the restoration of such a beautiful and iconic building.
After featuring on a number of television programmes last year Wilton’s thankfully secured a grant from the SITA Trust to enable phase 1 of the restoration project to begin. We are so glad that they dug deep and saved Wilton’s which was set to close had it not have received the required funds. We now look forward to many years of attending shows, events or even just popping on a Monday evening to have a drink in the bar and listen to the live music they always put on.
We plan to send in one of Debs’ gorgeous wedding photos with our details on the back to bury in their time capsule under the restored auditorium floor.
If you take one thing from this post, make sure that you visit Wilton’s!
If you are one of those RMW readers who skips the text to focus on all the eye candy (you know who you are!) Then please, today if no other – just go back and soak up Hayley’s account in it’s entirety. There is priceless advice, some mistakes to learn from but also plenty of good fortune at every turn.
I am Hannah, and my husband is Digby, we met locally about eight years ago. Although secretly hoping that engagement may be on the cards (after seven years) Digby managed to surprise me completely with a proposal, in snow covered Edinburgh and a romantic stay at the amazing Witchery. 19 months later we were married on 30th July 2011.
Having spent the first years of our relationship in London, we made the big move out to the countryside where we both grew up, a year before the wedding, so it was fitting that we had a country themed wedding day.
The church was very near my parent’s house, a beautiful, tiny Norman church surrounded by woodland on one side and rolling hills on the other, St botolphs, Swyncombe. We packed 120 guests into the church for an intimate service. A blue and cream vintage 1960s bus then transported us and our guests to the reception which was at my parents-in-law’s beautiful home where they had erected a marquee in their field in Peppard Common.
Simple And Strapless
I knew that I wanted a simple strapless ivory dress, but did not think that I would want any detail. However, as soon as I saw and put on my dress I knew it was the one, beautiful lace with beading, scalloped edges and a small train. I found my dress in The Bridal Room In House of Fraser, Oxford Street. The designer is Augusta Jones and the style is Sterling. The bridal room were great, altering my dress as needed, and putting up with me popping in to try the dress on again and again with various accessories and relatives.
I went for simple, gorgeous, single drop pearl earrings and necklace that Digby had given me before the wedding. I added a gold tinted veil also from the The Bridal Room to my hair, but left the overall look natural as I did not want to take attention away from the dress.
I found my shoes before any other part of my outfit, they were kitten heel, ivory satin with knot detail over the toe, they had to be elegant but allow for a a night of dancing!
My lovely wonderfully talented friend Katherine Moor made me up in very natural pinky tones. I knew that I wanted to have a simple loose roll up do which my fantastic hairdresser Jenny Adore styled to perfectly tie in with the dress and theme of the day.
White Gdn in Henley produced beautiful bouquets of pink and ivory roses for myself and the bridesmaids, with adorable flower garlands for the little ones hair. They also did the button holes for the men.
My wonderful mother in law with the help of her friends did all the flowers in the church and marquee, as well as table centre pieces. To name a few of them we had, delphiniams, ammi, scabious, larkspur, cosmos, roses, fennel, foxgloves, which set the whole country flower tone for the wedding. My mother in law had also planned her garden to perfection during the year so that it was in full bloom and even colour coordinated with the colours of the wedding. It really did look absolutely beautiful.
Baby Pink and Pearls
The theme was a country wedding with Ivory and pink colours. I had the best bridesmaids, my two sisters. They supported me through the whole wedding process, organising me the most brilliantly fun hen weekend in Bath.
I wanted to find dresses that my sisters both loved, we were not sure that we would ever find dresses that suited them both, but we eventually found gorgeous, baby pink silk dresses in Coast, these were finished off perfectly with pearls. The two little bridesmaids are my cousins beautiful children. We found their adorable dresses in Monsoon, they also has the most fabulous sequined shoes which my cousin found.
The Males in the wedding party, including page boy Fred hired their outfits from The Wedding Centre in Marlow, some had their own suits.
A Touch Of Tradition
Digby wore a traditional morning suit with pink tie and ivory button hole. Digby and local guests arrived at the church on the Bristol MW Bus ‘Royal Blue.’ I broke with my traditional lases faire time keeping and was near enough on-time! I walked into the church and my nerves melted away when I saw Digby standing at the alter smiling at me!
Natutral And Informal
We chose Caro Hutchings to take our photographs. Having seen her work at a friends wedding, we were convinced that her photos would fit with the natural informal theme of the day. We were not disappointed; Caro really captured the happiness of the day and we have beautiful photos to remember the day by.
Simple And traditional
My talented Auntie Val made the ivory Cake. I knew that I wanted a simple traditional white royal iced cake which after a discussion, my auntie designed and was more perfect than I could have imagined. Square, two layer with one layer fruit and one layer chocolate Madeira – yummy! My mother in law put some of the flowes from the garden in a little vase on the top which finished it perfectly.
Flip Side Jack
I had only one band recommended to me when i started asking around. Flip Side Jack who are a local band including some of my old school friends. They were wonderful, going with the flow of the evening and playing covers from the last four decades which got everyone up and dancing all night!
Son Of A Preacher Man
Not being huge music fanatics, or the best dancers, we did not know whether to have a first dance that we danced alone. Following much deliberation, we decided go with one of my favourite songs that we could have a fun dance too, then get everyone else quickly on the dance floor with us! Dusty Springfield, son of a preacher man was the song that we choose.
Country Flower Garden
To fit with the country theme, we had the reception drinks in my grooms parents beautiful country flower garden, the weather was brilliantly sunny and the champagne and elderflower cordial flowed. The canapés were amazing, Paul Clerehugh from The Crooked Billet brought to life our vision of a vintage garden tea party with scones and mismatch of tea cups, crossed with lavish canapés and a sea food bar including oysters and king prawns and thanks to my farther in law we had a locally brewed beer station with a giant pork pie and piccalilli.
Within the gorgeous open sided marquee that overlooked the valley were more country flowers, vintage stepladders, milk churns, pales, Victorian celery vases for the table centrepieces and tinted uplights. The fabulous food by Paul Clerehugh continued in the form of a wedding breakfast for which, on entering the marquee, guests had a choice of three delicious options for each of the three courses. He supplied the kids with the most beautiful hampers full of picnic food and games to keep them occupied.
Lots of flowers were always all around, hay bails, tea lights and luggage labels as name places were all other touches that added to the feel of the day.
A Few Surprises
My brother in law, Barty, was crucial to the organising and running of the day and added in a few surprises that added a unique touch…… Following the vintage bus, with Digby being a keen golfer, a white ribbon adorned golf buggy arrived to take Digby and I as well as the bridesmaids and page boy along to the reception which was great fun.
Later on in the evening, when the dancing was well under way, in came a pink wheelbarrow full of ice, glowsticks, indoor fireworks, cocktails named after the ushers, spirits and shot glasses which were popular with many of our guests!
A pink wheelbarrow full of booze and fireworks? Well, that’s a new one on me… I love how proud Barty looks though upon presenting his treasures to the guests.
The rustic country theme works perfectly for a marquee reception and Hannah and Digby got their vision spot on. I don’t often mention the food but it looks to me as though The Crooked Billet did an amazing job too.
Rachel and Neil tied the knot at Fingask Castle, Perthshire in Scotland. We know how popular a bit of tartan is on Rock My Wedding so prepare yourself for a little celtic indulgence.
We have lots of nice D.I.Y touches for you today as well as some beautiful couple shots. Rachel and Neil managed to escape the masses for a private picnic before returning to the party.
Photography today is courtesy of the scottish sweetness that is Candysnaps.
I got my dress from Anne Priscilla Bridal in Glasgow city centre, the designer was Augusta Jones. I heard many people on our wedding day refer to the style as “vintage-inspired” and it had a fantastic long train.
As all my bridesmaids live in Ireland, I had taken my “honourary bridesmaids” (Glasgow friends) dress shopping with me. We had been to a couple shops and I had already found “the one” but just wanted to make sure I got all the trying on of dresses completely out of my system! So just to humour myself we made an appointment with Anne Priscilla Bridal – I also stupidly lied about my budget and told the lady I would spend up to £2000!!
There were lots of beautiful dresses to choose from within my “budget” and I narrowed it down to about 4 to try. I hadn’t really paid much attention to them and certainly hadn’t fallen in love with any from the hanger but as soon as I had my dress on and I turned and saw the back I knew I loved it. I’m sure the girls could tell from my face and I could tell from their gasps and squeals that it was perfect and definitely “the one”! And thankfully it was within my real budget! (More or less!).
A Charming Gift
I wore a blue john necklace which Neil had bought me for my 21st birthday. I did quite fancy wearing mums pearls but I knew Neil would love it if I wore something he had bought me, plus it doubled up as my something blue! I also wore my granny’s ring which I inherited when she died which was my something old. I wanted something quite simple for my hair and decided on a beautiful hair comb with butterflies and diamantes from Melle Cloche (Glasgow). I also wore my Pandora charm bracelet – another 21st birthday present, which is full of charms from loads of people who mean a lot to me and I had a lovely new addition of a wedding cake charm from Neil on the morning of the wedding.
My shoes were a bit on the boring side! I went for flat sandals with pearl and diamante details from Office. I did really fancy some nice heels with a peep toe but I can’t wear heels for the life of me! And I ALWAYS end up bare foot regardless of how comfy my shoes are so I knew I needed to go for flats or I’d be tripping over my dress at the ceilidh!
I had a couple of hair trials with the lovely hair and make-up artist, Helen McEwen, as I wasn’t quite sure what kind of look I wanted to go for. Because the back of my dress was so beautiful I didn’t want to obscure it by having my hair down but Neil didn’t like the look of any of my trial up-dos! And obviously I wanted him to think I was absolutely gorgeous! So I ended up going for loose curls swept round to the side.
Neil also likes plaits so I asked Helen to put a small plait in too. I just wanted really natural looking makeup and Helen managed to do that perfectly! I don’t wear a lot of make up normally and didn’t think I’d feel comfortable with a “full face” but Helen made me look gorgeous (if I do say so myself!!) and I didn’t feel like I was wearing any make-up and I received plenty of make-up and hair compliments, though I liked Neils best when he said I looked like Kate Winslet in titanic haha!
Relaxed And Unstructured
Our florist was the lovely Elaine Parker from Posing Petals, Glasgow. She did an amazing job!! I think the brief was something along the lines of – I wanted it to look like I might have done it myself! I had a picture of a bouquet I really liked and told her I trusted her to make it look lovely but didn’t insist it had to be identical to the picture – I didn’t want to cramp her artistic freedom! And I absolutely LOVED the bouquets, she did a fantastic job.
Because we wanted the whole wedding to be quite relaxed, we didn’t want anything too structured for table centres and I really liked the idea of having small posies of flowers in jam jars, quite rustic looking, again, like I might have done it myself. Elaine did a fantastic job here too, she tied all the jars with natural raffia and some had little wooden hearts tied on too. They were gorgeous and were really the look I was going for. And most of them disappeared with the guests at the end of the night which was great!
The button holes were really simple with a Scottish theme, so some had heather and some thistles and Neil had a bit of freesia in it as there were freesias in my bouquet. She also made lovely gerbera wrist corsages for my Glasgow girlies as a wee thankyou to them for all their help and support over the past year.
Flower Of Scotland
The two best men and usher wore kilts, which were hired. They wore flower of Scotland as it was the closest tartan to Neil’s Dads, ancient MacDonald tartan. As I had four bridesmaids, we couldn’t afford to splash out on proper bridesmaids dresses. Again, I wanted something quite relaxed, Grecian and a bit floaty and colours we liked were dusky pink or aubergine. Thankfully, one of my bridesmaids, Sarah, found the perfect dresses in HM. They were exactly the colour and style that I wanted but nowhere near the price I would have paid in a wedding shop.
The Handsome Groom
Neil also wore Flower of Scotland kilt but he had a different coloured tie and sporran so I could easily identify him! We knew we wanted to go for kilts as Neil’s parents are Scottish and he doesn’t feel comfortable in a suit. I think he looks very handsome in a kilt – but then I would think that!
Special, Natural Moments
Our photographer was Caroline Weiss from Candysnaps in Glasgow. We had a look at a few photographers’ websites before getting in touch to meet with a few. We really loved Caroline’s reportage style – we didn’t want to spend the day being positioned into loads of fake shots and we knew she’d be able to capture lots of special, natural moments for us. She was also really easy to get on with and we thought she would be quite unobtrusive and go unnoticed by most of the guests – which proved to be true as most people who we’ve shown the professional photos to have said ‘oh, I don’t remember her being there/taking that photo!’. And she really did do an amazing job – we LOVE the photos! We’re going to have a really difficult time picking the ones we want for our album.
A Trio Of Cakes
We don’t really like cakes with royal icing so we knew we would go for 3 individual cakes. We just had to decide on our favourites… Neil and I made a chocolate cake and a victoria sponge and our lovely friend Heather made a delicious carrot cake, which received loooooaaads of compliments! Because we’re quite handy in the kitchen we didn’t think it would be too much hassle just to make them ourselves and I think most people don’t mind too much how a cake looks as long as it tastes yummy! And we certainly saved a lot of money making them ourselves!
We both love a good ceilidh and we think a live band makes all the difference. We went to see our band Sporran Again at an event they were doing and we really liked their style – they play quite traditional ceilidh music for the first half of the song then break into a bit of funky rock! They were fantastic and very good at describing the dances, as only about half our wedding guests knew how to ceilidh. They also received lots of compliments on the night! They also put on a disco section while they were having a break and a disco after midnight just to cover everyone’s tastes!
Neil actually recorded a song for our first dance – it was a cover of “landslide” by Smashing Pumpkins. It’s one of our favourite songs and it was lovely that he made it that little bit more personal by playing and singing it himself.
We made a donation to Mary’s Meals, a charity that was special to Neil’s Grandma. We also had a photobooth in the evening so people could stick photos into our guestbook – all photo strips were printed out immediately in duplicate so everyone had a handful of fun photos to take home!
Because we had hand made a lot of things including the cakes, all our stationery and had painted and decoupaged bottles for the tables with maps of some Scottish islands (as this was the theme for our tables), it was so special to receive compliments on the day as we felt that our hard work had really paid off!
I love the song landslide by The Smashing Pumpkins, and a personalised recording would make not only the perfect backing for a first dance, but also a perfect present for your loved one. I may even have a little tear in my wedding bloggers eye today.
Thank you Rachel and Neil for sharing your big Scottish day with the RMW kilt appreciation society 😉