Claire Penn Photography

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Wiggle Those Toes.


Wiggle those toes – it’s Bride Siobhan’s top tip for making sure you remember all of the best bits of your wedding.

You know the feeling, those moments when you are so blissfully happy you want them to last forever, so you try to imprint them on your memory? I think toe wiggling would definitely help with that.

And to help bring back all those emotion filled memories, Siobhan and Ross have a gorgeous set of images from Claire Penn that truly capture the spirit of their day.

On a more superficial note – Siobhan is another Bride who did her own make up…she absolutely nails a red lip and nail combo. If any of you lovelies are thinking about DIY Bridal make up, make sure you check out of first beauty vlog here.

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Our Second Home

Siobhan The Bride: We are both born and bred in London, but my Mum & Dad are from Ireland. I have such amazing memories from going to Ireland every year when I was younger to Tipperary to our family home for Easter and Summer holidays with all my cousins and family.

In the 7 and a half years Ross and I have been together we have taken trips over to Ireland, with groups of our friends for long weekends and with my family, it has become a second home to him now too. After we got engaged we talked about what sort of wedding we wanted and we knew we couldn’t just settle for one day, so we knew we had to have somewhere we could have all our loved ones together for a weekend.

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Exclusively Ours

We thought Ireland would be so much fun and a great excuse for a mini trip for everyone. We found Kilshane House in Tipperary near where my Mum’s family are from, and the moment we started driving up the half a mile tree lined winding drive we knew this place was going to be special.

Add to that the fact you can hire the whole place exclusively for the weekend, there are 50+ rooms for most of our guests to stay in, an absolutely STUNNING reception room which used to be a church and we knew it was the one!! It also has the feel of a family home and we felt so relaxed from the moment we entered.

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Hollywood Glam

We are very lucky to have a very dear friend of ours Tom Cumberland who is an amazing hairdresser. He agreed to do mine and the bridesmaids hair for the wedding and was just out of this world. My hair is long, but very fine so doesn’t curl easily, I knew I wanted it different from just straight, and I don’t do up do’s, so Tom and I had MANY practice sessions at my flat until we got the perfect wave with heated rollers.

I did my own make up for the day as I wanted to look like myself, I went for a lesson with a make up artist at Fenwicks called Frey-ja Barker who uses all different brands and she went through what was best for my skin and how to apply.

I then added to that my favourite bits from Mac & Nars, like bright red lips and gold smoky eyes! I knew I wanted a stand out look as I’m not afraid to wear brighter make up, I wanted it to look quite Hollywood glam to go with the dress, I was glad I took the plunge and did it myself, plus now I have all the make up to use after!

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A Love Affair With The Aspen

A few months after getting engaged my best friend had a fun day out to try on a few dresses, I found a couple I loved so thought “this will be easy!”. Over-Confident – wind on 6 months and you have the pressure of actually finding the ONE dress you will wear on your wedding day, the one dress that needs to make you look stylish, beautiful, classy and sexy and that you can wear from midday until 4 in the morning (yes I said 4am!)

I must have tried on over 50 dresses, I was adamant I wanted it to be corseted and very structured, as the un-structured dresses wouldn’t suit me, I just didn’t like any of them on me! I then went to an amazing shop called Miss Bush Bridal in Ripley and among all the corseted big gowns they made me try on a Jenny Packham…SWOON!

Well what a waste of a year trying all the other gowns on, it suddenly all feel into place, then it was just a matter of which one. As soon as I tried on the Aspen, I knew it was the one. They do say that don’t they!? It was the most comfortable dress I have ever worn and I felt amazing in it…I am still having a total love affair with it.

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Very Special Accessories

I knew I wanted my wedding shoes to be really special, my amazing Maid of Honour Indi gave me a very big contribution towards them as a 30th birthday present, so I knew I could afford the Louboutins I really wanted. I wanted to be able to wear them again after so peep toed nude ones were perfect, the red looked amazing under the dress and matched my red nails and lips!

My veil was stumbled upon by accident; we went shopping for bridesmaid dresses and had an appointment at the fabulous Gillian Million’s shop in Teddington. It is like every girls heaven, full of the most beautiful jewellery and accessories you could ever imagine. She makes her veils her self, and it was so soft it was like butter in my hand, I had to have it. She does just the right mix of vintage and glamorous for her jewellery too so I brought myself a beautiful vintage bracelet from there.

My best girls had taken note of a necklace I loved and brought it for me for my birthday (so spoilt), and on the wedding day my mum gave me a beautiful vintage hair clip for after I took my veil off. I was even more surprised when I had a card from Ross on the wedding morning, which made me ball my eyes out (luckily before all make up was done) and with it a little box containing the most beautiful vintage art deco earrings, which I adore!

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Style And Sophistication

My beautiful girls wore a stunning strapless chiffon gown in purple made by Dessy brought at Jane Jordan in Kingston. We matched that with silver shoes from Next, a statement silver / diamante necklace from Accessorize UK and really cool silver nail polish from Nails Inc. They looked totally stunning, I was very proud!

Ross The Groom: ‘I knew from the start I wanted an English gent look for me, my best men & ushers. We settled on fabric from Alfred Brown millers for our fitted three-piece suits. I went for grey ties, white silk pocket squares with a grey trim and cool 1 inch tie bars, brought online from a shop in the USA called The Tie Bar.

My shirt was from a traditional 60s inspired English tailors called Adam Sharner in Notting Hill and my shoes were from Loakes. My Mum had my granddads pocket watch put onto a chain and my Dad gave it to me as a present which I wore on the wedding day.’

Siobhan The Bride: They all looked really dapper and my hubby looked totally gorgeous (if I don’t say so myself!)

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The Right Photographer

We knew from the start having the right photographer was important to us; I really struggled to find any that really excited me in Ireland, or ones who did the reportage relaxed style we wanted. I was then looking on these polka dot pages one day and saw a fabulous engagement shoot from the even more fabulous Claire Penn.

I went onto her amazing blog and fell in love with every couple she photographed and knew I wanted her to photograph our day. Claire travelled down to London to meet us for our engagement shoot in Battersea Park and once again blew us away; we instantly relaxed around her and knew we had made the right choice! We were so happy she agreed to fly over to Ireland from her base in the UK and it was the best investment we made!

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A Relaxed Vibe

Our venue was so beautiful we let it speak for itself a lot of the time, we didn’t have a set theme as we wanted a really relaxed vibe for the whole weekend. But we did have different music for every section of the day, including for the drinks reception a CD with music by Vitamin String Quartet who play contemporary music like The Smiths, U2, Killers, Daft Punk and a particularly cool rendition of MMM Bop all on string instruments, we got loads of great comments on it.

The beauty of Kilshane House is that you can move your guests through the different sections of the venue at different parts of your day, we had our drinks reception on the lawn, we then had cocktails in the stunning glass conservatory before moving to the main reception room with its beautiful fairy lights and high ceilings. The tables had silver candelabras, which we had draped in green ivy, they were placed on mirrors with candles around the bottom. We went for a more rustic/vintage feel, with homemade banners and vintage suitcases to hold the photo guest book.

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Heart Shaped

As I knew the weather could be unpredictable in Ireland I wanted something that took my mind off the rain if it did happen. I found some Heart Shaped Umbrellas on a really cool website called Love Umbrellas. I got them for me and the bridesmaids in Purple and Ivory to match our colours. It only trickled a little bit on the day but the umbrellas really made us smile so it didn’t matter!

We brought a mini Instax Fujifilm camera and loads of props for people to take pictures and stick in our guest book, this was one of the most fun parts of the evening and the guest book is hilarious (you should see the drunken illegible messages and photos from after midnight).

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Purples, Pinks And Blues

I had a very clear idea of what I wanted for my mine and my bridesmaid’s bouquets. I wanted them to look quite dramatic, so I wanted mine to be only bright colours, incorporating the purple of the bridesmaid dresses and other dark pinks and shades of purple / blue. I asked for only large flowers, I wanted the purple orchids which looked amazing and large roses, I also knew I wanted long stems which would come out of the bottom of the silk wrap around.

The girls then each choose a white flower that they loved and had an individual bouquet made, so large Roses for one, Calla Lilies’ for another and Dahlia’s, again with long stems and ivory silk wraps, Michelle at Cashel Flowers did the most amazing job we couldn’t have been happier.

As Ross had pocket squares he wanted very simple boutonnieres, we decided on simple lavender with a silk wrap, they looked really cool and smelt gorgeous. We also had silver buckets with lavender plants dotted around different parts of the wedding, like the photo guest book table, card table and by the entrance.

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A Pre-Ceremony Guinness

We got married at stunning Holy Cross Abbey, it was actually the church in the town my Nana grew up in, so is really dear to my heart, it helps that the setting is also breath taking. There is a traditional Irish pub attached to the Abbey, which all the guests stopped into for a pint of Guinness pre ceremony!

The priest was an old family friend who actually introduced my Mum & Dad, he was winding us up the whole way along, pointing to the wrong words and generally making the whole church laugh, it really made it so much more amazing than we could have expected! Ross’ sister and my three brothers did all the readings, which made it extra special.

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A Beatles Tribute

Ross is a DJ, music is really important to him, so this was his forte! He is a huge Beatles fan and managed to find the most amazing tribute act called The Classic Beatles, they have even performed for the Queen and have worked with Sir George Martin. They are completely authentic right down to the accents and the stage banter.

They were one of the highlights of our night, everyone was up dancing and singing the whole way through. Our brother in-law even got up and played a guitar solo with them. They finished on a collaboration of Daft Punks “Get Lucky” and “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Bands” it was fantastic! He then found a DJ who really listened to what we wanted and played the best music until 2am, we were up dancing all night!

Our first dance was to Paradise by Coldplay, it brings back fantastic memories of seeing them at Glastonbury shortly after we got engaged. We hadn’t rehearsed the dance, but that made it more fun, they were lots of impromptu spins and even a dip! 

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A Five Course Feast

We wanted to make sure that our guests had lots of eat and drink all day. There were plates filled with canapés during the drinks reception, which guests enjoyed while sipping Prosseco or cocktails including Strawberry Daiquiris and Mojitos (my favourite!)

All the catering is done in house at Kilshane House, it was a 5 course meal, we had a goat cheese tart with beetroot to start, followed by carrot and coriander soup with pesto oil, then fillet steak with three different types of potatoes and vegetables, followed by crème brulee with mini Madeline’s and summer fruit compotes, followed by tea, coffee and petit fours, it was all delicious.

For favours we decided (knowing our friends and family) the best thing would be miniatures bottles of Irish Whiskey, Baileys or Jagermeister, we brought purple striped bags and stickers with our names, wedding date and ‘Thank you’ on them from Amazon, they looked great and went down a treat!!

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All Worth The Effort

As we were getting married in another country we wanted to give our guests as much info as possible so for our save the date we sent out an email that linked into a wedding website we created, it went down really well. We really struggled with our invitations, we couldn’t really justify spending lots of money on them, but also wanted them to reflect us and give our guests a feel of the wedding to come!

We then found this really great website called Paper Dates who did an invite that perfectly reflected the feel of our wedding, they were really affordable too. We even roped in Ross’ dad to help tie them all together with hessian string they looked great!

We created the table plan ourselves (with help from my brilliant Mum & Dad), we printed an individual Polaroid of each of our guests, we then put hessian string onto black card and used a red heart shaped clip to pin them on…It looked great and was a focal point of the wedding, a lot of effort but worth it!

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A Smooch And A Screech

It really was the most amazing day of our lives, we didn’t go OTT with little details but added our own personality to the wedding, the things people remember so much are how much fun it was and how much love there was in the room, not how many flowers or signs we had! I got loads of great advice, I will pass on my two favourite pieces…

Steal away for at least half an hour on your own with your new husband, we snuck up to our room with a glass of champagne for a smooch and a screech, we could also look out our window to see how our favourite people laughing outside, it was magical.

At any moments you really want to remember, wiggle your toes. I did it as I was saying my vows looking into Ross’ eyes, during my Dads speech and while on the dance floor looking around at how much love and happiness there was in the room, we felt so blessed!

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Click here & view all images from this wedding

Bride’s Gown – Aspen by Jenny Packham at Miss Bush Bridal
Shoes – Christian Louboutin
Veil & Jewellery – Gillian Million
Bridesmaid’s Gowns – Dessy at Jane Jordan
Shoes – Next
Necklaces – Accessorize UK
Nail Polish‎ – Nails Inc.
Groom and Groomsmen’s Suits – Alfred Brown
Ties, Pocket Squares and Tie Bars – The Tie Bar
Shirts – Adam Of London
Groom’s Shoes – Loake
Venue – Kilshane House
Make Up Tutorial – Frey-Ja Barker at Fenwick’s
Invitations – Your Paper Dates
Reception Music – The Vitamin String Quartet
Florist – Cashel Flowers
Band – The Classic Beatles
Photography – Claire Penn Photography
Second shooter – Jane Packard

‎What a stylish affair for a Friday!

Love the idea of stealing away for a ‘smooch and a screech’ with your new husband.

I think I want to move into Kilshane House.

Lots of love,
Fern x

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Karen & Lee… Peace & Love (Part 2)


Peace & Love (Continued)

As soon as Lee turned around (and burst into tears), I threw myself into his arms and planted a big kiss on his lips. After being told off by the Registrar ‘you haven’t got to that bit yet!’ we held eachothers hands and it was just me and him. This was our moment.


We chose three readings to add to the ceremony and three gorgeous girls to read them. Lee’s cousin Tara stole the show as the three of us hugged our way through her tearful reading from Les Miserables, followed by her sister Daisy & our mate Jess who both did us equally proud reading lyrics from What Is Life by George Harrison & an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.


As soon as it was over I wanted to rewind and live it all again. It was like I was floating in a bubble and couldn’t quite snap out of it to take everything in. For someone who initially questioned getting a wedding video, I am now eternally grateful to Papertwin for being there and capturing every moment of that ceremony (even the bit where I almost fell flat on my face as Lee and I dashed excitedly up the aisle). Those memories are priceless and we’ll get to live them over and over again. They also created a short trailer for us which has me in tears every time I see it, it’s such a beautiful account of our day.


Thank You For Being A Friend

Still in our bubble, we snatched some time away from the party for our couple shots with Claire Penn, she surprised us with 12” George Harrison and Lady Gaga records and we dropped into Probe Records next door to the venue for some photos. It was a lot of fun entertaining the bewildered customers as we made out behind the vinyl.


What more can I say about Claire that I haven’t already – the sunshine and love just beam out of our faces in her photographs, and as we knew she would from the moment we met her, she has told mine and Lee’s love story better than anyone else we could imagine. I am so glad we met her, and so proud to now call her a friend. 

We returned to the party to find the dancing had already started as our buskers Rag Tag Misfits were bringing the house down.


Usually found playing to shoppers in Liverpool One, Helly and Andy rocked up and surprised our guests. We’d provided a load of percussion instruments in their guitar case so our friends and family could join the fun, they went down a storm.


Our table decorations ended up being a perfect jumble of old books, and flowers in crystal and pewter vases that I’ve collected from charity shops and car boots over the last 18-months, along with a mini-library table plan with it’s very own set of vintage golf clubs, book-page hearts and paper flowers scattered around the room. Everything that we loved, all thrown together in a perfect mess of us!


For favours, we had badges made with favourite movie quotes, song lyrics or little phrases that mean something to us. I have to confess, after spending many wrist-breaking hours with a Badge-It machine, I decided enough was enough and bought them from Awesome Merchandise with a little help again from Claire.


Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much DIY. Our mini-vinyl CD’s (a joint DIY effort between Thom who designed my stationery, me and Ian from Strange Case Collective) also sat at each place setting and provided the best soundtrack for dinner – putting the theme from The Golden Girls up against The Doobie Brothers was a musical masterstroke! Speeches were entertaining and emotional, as Lee, his best man Paul and my bezzies Liz and Phil all said a few words – with Margaret Cho, Kelly Rowland and HM The Queen all playing their part!


For place cards, I took inspiration from Rock My Wedding’s ‘Jar of Hearts’. Having already dished out the badges, we didnt include that part, but asked each guest to write their words of wisdom to be displayed on a big canvas and kept forever… there were some very touching and funny messages.


The cake was entrusted to my good friend and RMW regular, Sarah otherwise known as One Jolly Girl. Her ‘Nudist’ cake was absolutely delicious and looked amazing – a tower of decadent spongey, creamy, fruity joy just waiting to be in and around my mouth, topped off by little wooden versions of me and Lee, from Goose Grease, painted by Sophie at Strange Case Collective.


As we got up to cut the cake, my mate grabbed me and showed me her phone. Remember Claire I told you about? She had JUST given birth to the most beautiful baby girl. The whole wedding raised a glass to little Megan, it was a special moment. 


A massive party with beautiful people

A couple of months before the big day, you might remember that Lee and I had a bit of a reality check about the limited guest list. There are so many people that we love, and those people love to party – so we changed the evening venue. It was a GREAT decision.


We called another favour in and a friend turned up with a vintage double decker to transport our guests up the road. 

We arrived at Parr Street Studios and once again, the girls from Strange Case Collective took my breath away – 250 metres of paper hearts were strung from the ceiling, turning the former recording studio into a cathedral of pretty!


The Rag Tag Misfits were playing Ho Hey, the girls thrust a pramaretto (yep – still drinking them!) into my hand, ‘Pumping Iron’ was playing on the big screen (we couldn’t resist… and it was followed through the evening by ‘Withnail & I’ and ‘In Bed WIth Madonna’) and I had another one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments. This is EXACTLY what we had in mind! 


For our first dance, we’d tried to decide on various love songs or slowies from the huge list of music we’d already chosen, but nothing seemed right. Our second song was decided before we even got engaged, ‘Yes’ by McAlmont & Butler – but whatever way you look at it, it is not an appropriate first dance.


It was about a week before the wedding when we were in the car and one of our favourite songs came on, ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. We both looked at eachother and knew that was it. It was great to have an upbeat record to get the party started, the dancing didn’t stop until the early hours. 

I’ve never known a wedding DJ as brilliant as Paul from Wedding Jam, we knew he’d be great but he was the unexpected hit of the whole day.


Quality music from start to finish, guests didn’t stop telling us how brilliant the music was all night and they’re still talking about it now. He was a bit of a heart-throb too. 

As the night ended and we should have been drifting off to our hotel suite up the road, Lee and I ended up doing what we always do – carried on drinking!


It was very late but a few bars were still open and we ended up in a bar called La’Go. Just us, finally being able to sit together, relax and laugh about what a crazy day we’d had… although of course we drew a little bit of attention.


Let Your Hair Down

Many couples talk about finding time to spend together on your own, and its true – it was good to be alone finally, it feels like Lee and I barely saw eachother all night. But more than that, if I could give any advice, I would urge every Bride and Groom to let go of the stress, chill out and make their wedding day a real celebration of their love and happiness.


Lots of us obsess when we’re planning a wedding about the details and ensuring that we look perfect, and that’s fine. I loved every minute of that, but the most important thing I can share, is that once the day comes, put all of that to one side and enjoy yourself. 

Spend a little bit of money on having someone you can trust to decorate the venue and to be there on the day running the show like clockwork, so you can let go and just enjoy whatever happens.


I genuinely don’t know what I would have done without Colette from All Wrapped Up Events – what a woman! It left us to focus on with the people we love most in the world around us, and the rest just came naturally. Our friends and family are all such fun, wonderful people it was the best day ever to just see them all having a great time and making new friends.


It was the happiest, wildest, most emotional day of our lives and we shared it with the best people imaginable. Boss. 

Nothing else mattered.

Peace & Love

Karen xxx


And here is that film lovingly created by Papertwin.

THE END….. Well. Not Quite…

a postscript…

Well, as far as Lee and I knew that would be it. Our friends from Papertwin, Strange Case Collective and Claire Penn on the other hand, had other ideas.

It’s really hard to even describe what happened next without going back to the start. When we met Danny & Sophie (aka Papertwin & Strange Case), it was clear that we were going to become great friends and we did, very quickly. What we didn’t know was that even back then, Danny was hatching a plan. As the first wedding Papertwin had filmed, he wanted to do something special, and he managed to keep that plan a secret from Lee and I for the entire time.

Danny, along with Sophie and Claire contacted my Male of Honour Phil and organised the most beautiful and amazing surprise that has ever been staged. By anyone. Ever.

Earlier this month, we’d arranged to meet the couple for Sunday breakfast and the handover of our wedding video. We went along to our favourite little cafe to find them waiting outside, they hailed a cab – apparently breakfast wasn’t happening. A few minutes later, after noticing a suspicious looking camera we came to a stop outside Woolton Picture House, a beautiful old cinema in the Liverpool suburbs, on the steps outside were our families who had all come to join us for the ‘secret premiere’. We were gobsmacked.


Strange Case Collective had revived our beautiful paper flowers and heart garlands from the wedding day, along with some AMAZING movie posters. We stepped through the doors taking our retro yellow tickets (yep, tickets!) to find bucks fizz and sweets for everyone along with a stunning three tier cake from the legendary Laura’s Little Bakery.

It didn’t stop there, two seats were set up at the front for Lee and I with huge peace & love signs, popcorn and prosecco. The guests filed in a few rows behind, ready for the show to start – and the show, boy do these guys know how to make a wedding film. It blew us away. The whole experience was like re-living our wedding again, every emotion and feeling came rushing back as we watched it on the big screen with our families with us enjoying every moment. It was truly magical. It is impossible to express what this day means to us, and just how overwhelmed we are by the time, love and effort put in by our beautiful friends to do something so special. We can never thank them enough.

Of course no day with Papertwin & Claire Penn would be complete without capturing it on camera. They made most incredible heart warming, emotional film (only mildly spoilt by my sobbing minceface) documenting what happened. This is that day, in their words…

You can see images from the day on Claire’s blog here.


Venues – The Athenaeum & Studio 2 at Parr Street Studios
Brides Dress – Eternity Bridal
Brides Veil – Sara Gabriel
Brides Headband – Glitzy Secrets

Shoes – Miu Miu

Groom’s outfit – Gieves & Hawkes
Maids Dresses – Warehouse 

Bow Ties – Mrs Bow Tie (quote ROCKMYWEDDING for 10% off!)
Photography – Claire Penn Photography with 2nd Shooter Cassandra Lane

Video – Papertwin
Decor – Strange Case Collective
Planning & Co-ordination – All Wrapped Up
Cake – One Jolly Girl

Stationery – Thom Morgan
Cars – Classic Wedding Cars
Band – Rag Tag Misfits

DJ – Wedding Jam
Catering – Pickled Walnut
Flowers – Passion For Flowers

Click here & view all images from this wedding

Well, I hope you all enjoyed that peeps, what a beautiful account filled with little tear jerky moments (yes even for a boy!)

And what an ending… No words for that.

It makes me a proud wedding blogger to see our little Karen & Lee all grown up and married and making their own way in the world… With one hell of a lot of love and support from their family and friends to help them on their way.

We’ll miss you guys – don’t be strangers

Adam x

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Karen & Lee… Peace & Love (Part 1)


Adam here… Introducing the very first wedding from our last bunch of lovely real bride ladies, and first up is Karen who married her man Lee on June 1st.

If you are new RMW reader unfamiliar with Karens story then read no further!!! Firstly read Karens whole planning story right here. It’s a corker and a story this good should not be started at the final chapter! Talking of which… I will now pass the blog over to Karen for the very last time…

Karen: Hello, it’s been a while! 

When I last left you all, I was days away from the most surreal and wonderful day of my life. The day before however, was a complete mess of activity, emotion and co-ordinating as I suddenly realised that the to-do list was more than I could handle. The table plan, flowers, tan, nails and box packing all had to be done – so the arrival of my friends Liz and Neenah was an absolute godsend.


Those girls calmed me down and ran the wedding sweatshop with military precision before the arrival of the wonderful Colette from allwrappedupevents and Sophie from strangecasecollective who whisked it all away and worked their magic on the venues. 

The morning of the wedding started at 5am in maybe the most unexpected way… A text from one of my best friends – she was in labour!

Thoughts of the wedding melted away briefly and my thoughts were with Claire & her husband, bringing a new little life into the world, they had a huge day ahead and I was so excited for them both. (my second thought of course was to text Colette to rearrange the table plan). The sun was shining, I was surprisingly calm and we had a wedding AND a baby on the way. Best day ever already!


Still in our PJ’s, we descended on my parent’s house. My Dad took one look at us bouncing in and retreated to Morrisons for more champagne, it was all systems go. 


In Good Hands

There’s only one woman on earth I trust to take a pair of scissors to my fringe – my hairdresser of over ten years, Clare. So it was only natural that she did my hair for the big day. I didn’t want it too formal or structured, more ‘Bardot does Bridal’. I really don’t suit my hair up, so a more tarted up version of my usual party hair suited me down to the ground.


In the early days of searching for a veil, I fell in love with Sara Gabriel from across the pond – designer of a stunning range of couture veils. She couldn’t have been more helpful and was more than happy to ship the super-cute Emma half circle veil over to the UK. I paired it up with a very simple pearl and crystal headband from Glitzy Secrets


Warning: massive list of amazing make up products…
I’m incredibly lucky that my wonderful friend Neenah is an Account Manager for Estee Lauder, and offered to do my make up for the wedding. I knew I could relax and let her work her magic, to have me looking my best. 

A common debate between my online Bride friends (hi girls!) is what foundation to use, as a lot of light reflecting foundations look great in the day, but then awful when every drunken pal is pointing their iPhone at you on the dancefloor. The answer is HD! Neenah created a blend for me of Smashbox HD and Make Up Forever HD Foundations which meant it stayed put and looked perfect on camera. The ever faithful MAC Studio Fix (concealer and powder) finished off my base along with another magical combo of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze, Estee Lauder Soft Shimmer bronzer and MAC Mineralize blush in Love Joy. For my eyes she gave me a solid and lasting liner with Estee Lauder Doublewear liquid liner in black and Doublewear pencil liner in Onyx, MAC Opulash Optimum Black mascara with my favourite Chanel eyeshadow-duo in Taupe – Delicat. The whole look was topped off with Estee’s pure colour Crystal Baby lipstick.


My unfailing cosmetic brand loyalty didn’t stop there as I piled on my favourite scent Estee Lauder Sensuous and Chanel nail colour in May.


50s Dior

My dress must have been one of the biggest dramas of the entire planning process. The minute I wore my dress, based on a forgotten Christian Dior design from the 1950’s, I fell in love.


Then I wobbled. badly. You might remember that one. Thank God I got over it because I felt so special in my dress on the big day – As soon as I put it on I felt like a princess and loved spending the next 12 hours swishing about with my petticoats. 

It was perfect for me, pulling me in to show off my waist then flowing out to hide my little beer belly under all the skirts, while having some lovely detail on the top to give the illusion of me having boobs! It even had pockets to hide my hankie and lippy in. Amazing.


I knew I wanted killer shoes, so I went for a gorgeous pair of sky high strappy Miu Miu heels. My jewellery was all a lovely surprise from Lee on the morning of the wedding – some beautiful, understated sparkle! Knickers from Agent Provocateur naturally, and I managed to end up with two garters from the Mums. I have to say, Lee’s Mum’s 40 year old garter – complete with giant plastic cupid is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen.


The Handsome Groom

Lee has always been a bit of a sharp dresser, so I had no doubt he’d be looking amazing on the day. I was right, he looked dead handsome! I think he put as much effort into his outfit as I did with mine. It was a total secret until we saw eachother at the ceremony.

First stop was Savile Row. He had a bespoke, three-piece tweed suit made by Gieves & Hawkes with a very pale yellow dress shirt and yellow patterned tie, also from Gieves & Hawkes. He paired the suit perfectly with a pair of beautiful two-tone brown leather shoes from Loake Shoemakers. His yellow socks and cufflinks, were also Gieves & Hawkes.


Maids & Males

I knew I didn’t want typical bridesmaid dresses for the girls but it was tough finding the right look as I wanted them all to look stunning. I wanted a dress they’d all love and wear again. We had a few failed attempts at online decision-making before hitting the high street for a day of shopping. 

We found the perfect dress in Warehouse. Cute and flattering with a real 60’s vibe – exactly what we’d been looking for. The dresses were ivory, so for a little pop of colour, their feet became my ‘something blue’. I wanted sexy bridesmaids and thats what I got… legs legs legs! My male of honour Phil wore a sharp three-piece navy Daniel Hechter suit & Doc Marten shoes while my 20-month old nephew Oliver matched Lee in a gorgeous tweed set with chinos and baby brogues. Both boys wore matching bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie.


One of the most magical moments of the day for me was the arrival of the flowers. After spending months planning every detail of the day, the flowers were out of my hands and the final look was a total surprise. I’d worked with Dale and trusted him completely to create something special and unique – I loved the anticipation of not seeing his creation until the big day.

My flower choices were very personal to me and I wasn’t sure how they would look together. Of course, they were sublime. Built around a base of a huge white hydrangea, there were peonies, roses, ranunculus, daisies, lisianthus, astilbe and of course a little peep of willow. They were stunning and smelled like heaven.


Before I knew it we were all suited, booted and the beautiful cars chosen by Lee (a 1920s Bramwith and Daimler Landaulette) courtesy of classicweddingcars.org were waiting outside.

We were ready to go. 


I loved driving through town with my Dad, waving and smiling at everyone the whole way, I’m never one to shy away from attention and I felt like royalty. We arrived at The Athenaeum expecting to be greeted by the bridal party who’d left 15 minutes before we did… The first comedy moment of the day. They weren’t there! 

After taking a wrong turn and getting stuck in the one-way system, they came reversing up the road – cheering and waving – making a spectacular entrance about ten minutes later. It was hilarious and left enough time for me and my Dad to enjoy one last glass of champagne before we headed inside. 


Peace & Love

Our loose ‘books and music’ theme came naturally with the venues we’d chosen, but more than anything, we wanted our day to have a laid back, fun, retro vibe. We’re both strongly influenced by our parents in life, so we drew from their wedding days – working little details into our own day such as the colour scheme and flowers – while also reflecting our own personalities. The girls from Strange Case Collective had really gone to town creating our Chanel-inspired staircase and it looked fantastic, better than I could have ever imagined. I’d worked hard to plan the decorative touches, but I could never have achieved what they did. It was the cherry on the cake and the amount of work and love they’d put into our wedding day blew my mind.


We’d also left out a few little gestures for our guests, like a little chest filled with vintage hankies at the entrance to the library, to mop up any emotional tears (there were many) and also a little beauty box in the ladies toilets for touch ups and repairs – this is one gesture that doesn’t cost the earth but will mean the world to your girls when they need an emergency safety pin or spritz of hairspray. I totally recommend it.

Finally, I could hear the opening notes of Something by George Harrison. I gave my Dad’s arm a squeeze and walked into a dream…


Venues – The Athenaeum & Studio 2 at Parr Street Studios
Brides Dress – Eternity Bridal
Brides Veil – Sara Gabriel
Brides Headband – Glitzy Secrets

Shoes – Miu Miu

Groom’s outfit – Gieves & Hawkes
Maids Dresses – Warehouse 

Bow Ties – Mrs Bow Tie (quote ROCKMYWEDDING for 10% off!)
Photography – Claire Penn Photography with 2nd Shooter Cassandra Lane

Video – Papertwin
Decor – Strange Case Collective
Planning & Co-ordination – All Wrapped Up
Cake – One Jolly Girl

Stationery – Thom Morgan
Cars – Classic Wedding Cars
Band – Rag Tag Misfits

DJ – Wedding Jam
Catering – Pickled Walnut
Flowers – Passion For Flowers

…And that is where we leave it for now. Make sure you pop back this afternoon for part 2… complete with a surprise ending that no-one could have predicted.

Adam ‘Cliffhanger’ Crohill.

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RMW Rates – Claire Penn Photography

Claire Penn Photography

We are really pleased to welcome Claire Penn Photography to The Love Lust List. The Rock My Wedding directory with a difference.

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You can find Claire Penn Photography in our North West and National Photographers category.

Check Claire Penn Photography out and remember if you are looking for vendors and suppliers with the RMW seal of approval, the Love Lust List is only one click away via the ‘Find A Supplier’ tab in the header section.

  • Claire Penn Photography

    t: 07729 282519
    e: hello@clairepennphotography.com

    About Us

    Creative, romantic wedding photography with a touch of vintage style. My work is mostly documentary, capturing moments as they happen, paired with some gorgeous kick-ass portraits of the two of you to give you the best of both worlds. I work with creative couples who love life and appreciate beautiful, wedding photography. I’ll blend in and capture the day as you remember it, as well as some bits you missed! I’m Cheshire based and available throughout the UK and Europe.

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What Karen Did… Found Her Inner Marianne Faithfull.

Good afternoon lovelies,

This month has been quite productive in the planning stakes and I was all geared up to share the latest with you, but that went straight out the window when I saw the pictures from our engagement shoot with Claire Penn.

Lee and I are so in love with them I just had to show you all.

We took a drive over to Chester last month to drop into one of my favourite second hand book shops. Of course, as books and music will be featuring heavily at our wedding, it was the perfect place for our engagement shoot.

One Man And A Little Lady

I’ve shared our story with you before, but now’s a good a time as any to tell you a bit more about Lee and I.

We met through mutual friends almost a year before we got together. When we eventualy did, it was during that first date, when he presented me with a little gift that my heart became his forever – it was the legendary movie Three Men and a Little Lady. We talked and talked for hours and when the evening was over, neither of us could wait until the next time, and the next time, and the next time. That first flush of love for me has to be one of the most exciting, rollercoaster experiences ever. Nobody had ever come into my life and turned it upside down the way Lee did, and falling in love with him was very easy.

There’s a lot to love about this man. There’s the big stuff, like he’s one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. He’s also full of so much energy and enthusiasm it’s infectious, I love that about him. I love the little things too, like when I’m driving back from getting a takeaway he’ll reach over and feed me prawn crackers. You know, the things that matter.

Marry Me?

A year after that first date we’d booked a winter mini-break in North Wales. There’s something a little odd about semi-deserted seaside towns in the winter, but you can’t beat that clean, fresh (cold) air.

We’d booked into a lovely quaint hotel, and after a few hours of exploring the local area with Lee being in a bizarre, slightly grumpy, mood, he suggested we head back to the hotel to change before meeting my friend Debs for a drink. We got back to the hotel and before I knew it, he was on one knee holding a cleverly disguised little box. Tears and champagne flowed as we drifted along on our little cloud of happiness. We spent the rest of that day (and a while after) wrapped in our own special love bubble – like we were the only two people on earth. I know that sounds cringey but I’m sure a lot of you know exactly what I mean.

All You Need Is Love

That, along with all the plans I’ve shared with you in previous posts, brings us pretty much up to date. So, I’ll snap out of my soppy little memory lane trip and return to the engagement shoot.

I’ve mentioned before that we’re both pretty influenced by styles and music from years gone by and when deciding on our colour schemes, we took inspiration from our parents weddings. We want the wedding to have a vintage feel, but when I say vintage, we’re not talking 50’s chintz, we’re talking 60’s & 70’s rock and roll – Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Beatles. We wanted the engagement shoot to have a similar look. Claire definitely got that retro feel spot on and there’s even a few pics where she captured a bit of a Mick and Marianne or George and Pattie-esque moment.

Lee and I went a little overboard (well, I did) and filled the boot of the car with old records, bongo drums and all kinds of props, as the plan for later on was to head to an orchard just outside of Chester and set up the second half of our shoot there. Time ran away with us, but in the end, it didn’t matter that when we got there, we left the bongos in the car – because every photo is perfectly us and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All we needed was us!

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

The shoot was so much fun, I want to do it all again. We had a great day, and completely re-arranged/trashed the good people of Bluecoat Books wonderful shop. Digging out favourite books (Hitchhikers Guide & Gone With The Wind are two of my all time faves), clambering on stools (That’ll be you Claire) and providing entertainment for the other customers. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jane for being so welcoming to us. Next time any RMW readers walk the Chester city walls then please drop in and say hello.

If any of you are undecided about an engagement shoot, I’d definitely recommend taking the time to get to get to know your photographer and have one. It can be quite daunting, and the uncertainty of how you are going to look when you eventually appear on camera is sometimes a stress for us brides. I’m sure Claire got sick of me emailling her asking “have I got mince face?” “do I look like Ru Paul?” “Do I look like The Grudge girl?” (I think she must have edited most of those ones out). It’s so worth it in the end and I’m glad we did one.

The best advice I can give, is just to relax and have a laugh. Let your shoot reflect you as a couple. During our ‘gazing lovingly’ photos, we were actually giving eachother loads of abuse, in turn coming up with the worst insults we could think of. It made us forget that Claire was there, snapping away. It’ll also be a bonus if you find a really cool Citroen H Van parked up round the back too.

We’re so lucky to have Claire, she knows us so well already and I think that shows. She’s captured us perfectly and we couldn’t ask for more. We’re excited now to see what she does on the wedding day.

I think timing is important too, but pick a time that’s best for you. We decided to have our shoot fairly early in our engagement compared to a lot of couples. We thought it would be nice to have time to enjoy these photos, without them being quickly overshadowed by what are undoubtedly going to be epic wedding pictures. We can use them on our wedding website too, when we finally get round to making one. I know a lot of couples have their shoot nearer the wedding for different reasons, more of a pre-wedding practice run and that too has its benefits – what are your opinions on the timing issue?

Pretty Naughty

Before I go, I have to mention last week’s amazing Pretty Naughty. I tell you what, the Rock My Wedding team know how to throw a cracking party. The venue was perfect, the styling was stunning, the runway show was fantastic, there were some fab freebies, including a naughty garter from Beautiful Bird Creations and I met some gorgeous people… Hi Pamela!

I also got to meet my lovely fellow RMW Real Brides for the very first time – they’re such a great bunch of girls and their other halves are a lot of fun. It was the first of many get-togethers for our new little group of mates.

Thanks again to Charlotte, Adam and Lolly for being such perfect hosts and throwing the party of the year. I’m afraid I was very naughty and whipped a pair of knickers off the washing line on the way out… they’re currently winging their way back to RMW HQ with a note saying i’m very very sorry/slapped wrists.

Peace & Love

Karen xxx

p.s. Smoking is bad for you. Don’t do it.