I love featuring barn weddings that are elegant and chic – as much as I love a wild and rustic thrown together look – it’s always lovely to show you just how versatile a wedding venue space can be – and Southend Barns is looking particularly stylish today. With minimal details and a clean colour palette of white and gold (albeit with lots of twinkling fairy lights) the finished look is just gorgeous.
Katie’s choice of styling for the venue is reflected in her form-fitting gown by Johanna Hehir and the gold sequinned Bridesmaids dresses. The group of sisters look so gorgeous. And talking of sisters, Simon’s very talented one, Kelly, did all of the flowers!
The lovely portraits of the couple in the rain should hopefully quell anyone’s fears of rain on their wedding day…what could be more romantic than a kiss under an umbrella in the pouring rain?
If we close our eyes, click our heels together three times and repeat ‘there’s no place like Koh Samui’ do you think we’ll be transported there?! I definitely think it’s worth a try. Especially if we get to immerse ourselves in beautiful blue ocean and feel white sand between our toes…hopefully, we’ll end up at The W Retreat, in the midst of Kelly and Andrew’s wedding…
The whole day reflected Kelly’s dress finding ethos – she wanted something with no fuss, that wasn’t traditional, and I think she looks gorgeous (as does the wedding). She’s also sporting an absolutely stunning bronze eye shadow – perfect for glamming up a beachy boho look.
when Lolly told me about this wedding… A groom called Adam wearing tweed and brogues I started to wonder if this might be a wedding delivered through time from the future and that I was, just like Marty McFly in Back To The Future 2, interacting with an older version of my own self… That’ll teach me to drink Gin before noon.
Anna and Adam had a beautiful unique wedding full of quirky, hand made details. The wedding took place at Dorset House in Bury, West Sussex. Anna looked absolutely stunning in her Maggie Sottero dress with fishtail plait. This wedding was captured beautifully digitally and in film by Camilla Arnhold.
Oh ho ho! We’ve got a corker of a big day to share with you this morning lovely people. Yep we have Choos and a pretty Rose bouquet and vintage cars and mint bridesmaid dresses and floral arches galore for you to pin and gawp over.
Laura and Michael married in Whittlebury and then decamped to a private field where they partied until dawn amongst reams of bunting, a pink bicycle and a beehive table plan. Yep an actual beehive table plan; it’s most definitely the first time I’ve heard of such a novelty and hopefully not the last because it’s pretty darn awesome!
For anyone not familiar with the phrase “Photo-bombing” allow me to explain… It is simply the act of getting yourself involved in someone else’s special moment without permission… A photographical gatecrasher if you will.
Apart from being an amazing wedding full of fun, laughter and love. Apart from being documented by the extremely talented (man crush moment) Mister Phill… Today’s wedding that was planned in Australia and staged in Brighton features possible the most extravagant photo-bombing moment of all time… See if you can spot it 😉
Friday is finally here, and with it we have a visual feast of a wedding for you.
Lindsay and Daryl married at the height of summer in a beautiful 17th Century House in the Brecon Beacons – it truly does look like a magical occasion.
With Martin Ellard’s images and Lindsay’s words, the sense of building anticipation that surrounds a wedding has been captured beautifully.
So please – get yourselves comfy and indulge in this sumptuous Welsh wedding.
Spectacular But Not Fussy
Lindsay The Bride: The venue was perfect from the first time we saw it. We wanted an outdoor and relaxed wedding, nothing too formal or traditional – and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Penpont had a touch of the spectacular without the usual fuss, and just getting married on a porch was so easy and natural. The porch just happened to be that of a 17th Century House set in a 2000 acre rural estate within the Brecon Beacons.
It’s tough to find a place outdoors to get legally married, and the fact that the porch was a licensed area of the venue meant that we could stand outside and read our vows, with our guests sitting outside too. All we needed now was the good weather. You can’t guarantee good weather, but we had picked the hottest day of the year – statistically speaking – so we gave ourselves the best possible chance.
We setup a giant tipi on the front lawn, ready for dinner and the reception. We also had games and bales of straw.
The surroundings were vast and open, yet seemed so intimate. We also loved that guests could camp if they chose, it added to the relaxed feeling surrounding the wedding. When the band arrived the day before and started practicing it all started to click into place and the atmosphere began to build.
Guests that were staying, either in the courtyard wing or camping, started to arrive and the night before the wedding ended up being a magical event of it’s own – sat on straw bales with the band playing, singing around the camp fire until the morning sun arrived.
A Classic Bride
I wanted classic vintage style with finger waves and a red lip. I also wanted to continue the relaxed feel with the bridesmaids having loose curls and flowers in their hair. My daughter Skye had something slightly different as loose curls wouldn’t have lasted long when she was doing kartwheels! She had a plait at the top of her head in a shape of a heart, also with flowers.
The make up was done by Farhana Ali, she did a beautiful job, I looked like the vintage bride I hoped for, with a bright red lip and black eyeliner. She also did henna on my feet, I always wanted it done and the wedding was the perfect opportunity. She free hand drew it and it looked stunning, a lovely addition and perfect for the honeymoon.
The Last Shop
I hunted high and low for my dress, I loved dress shopping, maybe thats why it took so long to find… Ironically I found it in the last shop, the dress by Mori Lee, was ivory fishtail with lots of lace and quite a lot of sparkle. I’m never one for a lot of sparkle, so it surprised me the most that this was the perfect dress.
I loved it, especially the back and lace cup selves. The dress had quite a long trail but easily clipped up with the bridesmaids help!
A Touch Of Tweed
Daryl wanted to wear something that combined country, vintage and a sense of occasion. His initial idea to tackle this was to wear a tweed suit. But tweed suits are a little hard to come by. Tweed jackets, sure, but the whole suit – no. Not unless you had one made – An expense which we didn’t think was worth it, especially given that suits would also be needed for The Father of the Bride and Best Man.
After looking online, Daryl found a forum talking about suits in London and someone suggested Suit Supply as a good value option, with a unique range. After checking out the website and loving the style, we went to London to visit the shop. Daryl walked in looking for a tweed suit but left with something entirely different – A blue cloth Italian style suit, which although not tweed, was ‘different’ enough to tick the right boxes.
He found tweed waistcoats online that worked perfectly, and I found ties in Topman that helped the navy and brown colour scheme go together along with a white shirt and brown shoes.
Simple And Elegant Jewellery
I decided against a veil as I found it took it away from the dress. So I went with a ‘very sparkly’ diamond head brooch. Jewellery was kept quite simple as there was enough going on. I went for simple diamond studs and very thin necklace. Shoes were a similar colour to the bridesmaids dresses, a light blush colour – not that you see your shoes!
My Bridesmaid, my sister Rebecca and Maid of honour Kelly, wore dresses from Debenhams.
We were in there one day not looking for bridesmaids outfits and came across them, they were perfect, the light blush colour, really floaty and slight ruffles at the bottom. They matched them up with coral strapped shoes. My daughter Skye wore a dress similar to the girls but was from Monsoon UK, it had a little sparkle detail which suited her perfectly.
Groomsmen wore a blue cloth Italian style suit with tweed waistcoats and brown shoes. My son wore a tweed suit from Marks and Spencer, I paired it up with braces and it looked delightful – not that he stayed in it for long!
Rustic and relaxed was the theme with a splash of fine china. I didn’t really have a colour, I really liked the colour blush and the bridesmaids were that, but as for the rest I had lots of colours.
We had lots of different colour vintage china and the table decorations were created by My Vintage Flower, they were perfect for our theme, fine china and wooden trunks engraved with our initials just like our wedding invitations. The centerpieces displayed beautiful flowers with lots of green and pink set in vintage tea cups and glasses.
Organic And Relaxed
The flowers from Blush were perfect, natural, just picked out of a field look. With moss, daises, mint and ponies taking center stage. My bouquet had the same flowers loosely tied with a little lace, very organic and relaxed.
Cloudy With Sunny Spells
Remember that we picked the date because it was (statistically) most likely to be the hottest day of the year? Well, I think that might have been the day before! It was sweltering, and left a lot of our guests considering their outfit for the next day. Many men even considering wearing Tshirt and shorts to the reception!
On the day of the wedding, however, I woke to find dark clouds covering the sky. Fortunately, the clouds broke and, while not as hot or as clear as the previous day, it didn’t rain and was in fact probably the most perfect weather we could imagine – I guess they’d say cloudy with sunny spells. It was dry and comfortable – and that was gorgeous!
The weather meant that we could get married on the porch and our 40-50 guests could sit outside. With a week to go before the wedding, we decided to get a harpist to play while we waited for the bride to arrive, and of course to ‘walk down the aisle’. It was a good decision looking back, as we only had live music the whole time.
I was 30 minutes late for the ceremony, which was quite a while seeing as I had been getting ready just upstairs in the bridal suite of the house! But no one had told me I was that late and so I was unaware. Apparently Daryl had a few comments about it as everyone waited for me to arrive!!
After the ceremony we had drinks on the lawn, peach bellini’s and canapes. We disappeared for a few photos before sitting down for dinner, drinks and speeches in the tipi. Dinner was delicious and everyone’s speeches were both touching and funny, exactly what you hope for I guess.
An Explosive Party
The evening reception was also held in the tipi where we had a band, a bar and a dance floor! It had been the perfect day but I really think we saved some of the best til last – our band, Hermitage Green, were incredible and really helped top the day. Everyone joined in dancing, singing and having the time of their life.
It all started with our first dance – ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford & Sons, the perfect choice. I think it surprised everyone when we started swinging around in circles! I remember feeling dizzy and my hairpiece falling out but most of all I remember everyone smiling and singing along.
Even the generator catching on fire couldn’t ruin the day. The power cut off for a little while and the band played a song or two acoustically while Daryl’s brother in law (also a fireman) and friend (that lent us the generator) got to work putting the fire out and getting the generator back up and running! Much to the band (and caterer’s) relief.
A Dessert Tower
Prickly Pear did the food and it was delicious, we had pate for starter – Daryl’s favourite. For our main course we had Beef with sweet potato mash, greens and red wine jus. I LOVE dessert and couldn’t decide on one, so we went for them all! We had a dessert tower with lots of mini delights, it was perfect and went down a storm.
The wedding cake followed the natural theme with a vanilla and chocolate sponge covered in fruit and flowers and topped off with a little mini bunting with the words ‘Hitched’ made by My Vintage Flower.
For wedding favours we went with scratch cards, we asked everyone to wait until we finish the speeches so everyone could scratch them together. It was a great finish to all the formalities and we had a few winners, nothing big though!
We decided to do a bring-your-own with drinks and also had a free bar and two cocktail drinks dispensers with Daryl and I’s favourite cocktails. We labeled them up and we wanted to see who’s would win, but to be fair they both went by the end of the night but I was drinking his too!
Our wedding invites were designed and printed by Colourbox. They captured the feel to the wedding exactly, it set the tone for what was to come. They were hand tied with ribbon like a little parcel, stuffed with note book confetti and sealed with a seal.
My advice would be don’t buy expensive shoes as you don’t see them! Also, choose an amazing photographer as they will capture every special moment for you to relive again and again.
For me one of the special moments was just dancing on the dance floor and looking around and seeing everyone we love have an amazing time dancing and laughing – wicked! Da’s favourite moment was the first dance, because it was funny and special as we got the band to play our song.
Also the day after the wedding we engraved our initials into a tree at Penpont, just like out wedding invites and table decorations, hopefully it will be there years to come.
Everything And More
Our photographer Martin Ellard from My Big Day Photos was outstanding. He captured every single detail and special moment. He was dedicated and stayed until there was nothing else to shoot. The final photos are magical, they are everything and more we’d hoped for.
The styling from My Vintage Flower looked wonderful – from the kids fun suitcase to the vintage bunting. Such a personal touch, it represented us totally.
Each centerpiece was original and unique for us, every piece of china was sourced to suit our relaxed and organic feel. The table looked magical with our personalised rustic tree trunks and old worldly books. We were really pleased with it all.
I have to admit that as soon as I clapped eyes on Selena and James’ wedding, I immediately felt an affinity with this beautiful bride. For one, Selena was an October bride who woke up to gloriously blue skies and sunshine (like me) and for another she adores fruit cake as much as I do.
Sadly I think we’re in the minority on the cake front.
And when I saw the sweet dachshunds on James and Selena’s wedding stationery a little bit of me died and went to heaven.
And I haven’t even got started on the dress or THAT headpiece…
Selena The Bride: Even though we live in Shanghai, we weren’t tempted by the idea of having the wedding over in China – we wanted all our friends and family, who we only get to see a couple of times a year to be there, and loved the idea of a quintessentially English setting in the autumn, just as the leaves were turning and the nights were starting to draw in.
We got married at All Saints Church in Thurlestone – the local church in the tiny village on the Devonshire coast where I grew up. The reception was at Buckland Tout Saints, a beautiful Queen Anne country house complete with an Atonement-esque fountain and a sweeping staircase.
As my parents still live in Thurlestone, it also meant I could get ready at home, looking out over the bay, with the family dachshunds ambling around at our feet – much more relaxing than an unfamiliar hotel room.
I designed my dress together with Lova Weddings, a Swedish bridal label based in Shanghai, who I discovered after several months of fruitless searching in China, including a trip to the local ‘wedding dress market’ where I ended up trying all sorts of ridiculous meringue-style creations smothered in bling, cheap lace and even feathers in utter desperation.
Rather embarrassingly for a 30-year-old bride, the dress was heavily inspired by wedding dress worn by Bella Swann in Twilight. I wanted something very classic and understated, with long sleeves which I thought would be practical as well, given that it was an October wedding. However, there weren’t many long sleeved dresses around to draw inspiration from, until I saw the film and thought ‘that’s the one I want!’
My dress was a very simple, slim-fitting design, with an A-line skirt and a long train. The focal point was the back, which featured a cut-out lace detail and buttons running from the top of the dress down the length of the train. The sleeves were long and fitted, with lace cuffs that fastened with buttons. Lovisa, the designer, did such a great job, scouring Chinese factories in back of beyond for the perfect lace and making endless adjustments to the neckline and lining (I think I had around seven fittings in total!)
Being greedy, I also bought an off-the-peg ‘dancing dress’ by Miss Milne which was a twenties-style white satin slip with appliqué flowers on the skirt. I loved it almost as much as the ‘main’ dress and it was such a relief to jump around on the dance floor without fear of tripping up or people trampling on my train. I’d highly recommend the ‘second dress’ option, even if you don’t have a long trailing number – it’s a fun way to mark the transition from the more formal part of the day into ‘let your hair down’ mode.
Disney Princess (But In A Totally Good Way)
I ummed and ahh-ed about a veil, as this was going to be the only time in my life I’d get to wear one, and they look so beautiful in a church setting. In the end though, I decided against one as it would have covered up the focal point of the dress. It was just as well, as it was incredibly windy on the day, and a veil would have been a nightmare to keep under control.
Instead I opted for an embellished headband, but swiftly realized the pitfalls of wearing anything tiara-like with a bob hairstyle – you end up looking like Suri Cruise at a birthday party. Eventually, I found the perfect thing on Etsy a wreath of pearls intertwined with gold leaves which echoed the autumnal feel. I’m not sure I managed to completely avoid the Disney Princess look, though – my photographer said I looked like Snow White (in a good way!)
As a wedding present, James also gave me a necklace and bracelet by a London jewellery designer called Tamara Gomez who specializes in unusual rough (unpolished) diamonds, which I wore in the evening with my dancing dress.
I opted for a cheap and cheerful pair of white satin courts with a mid-heel and cute little grosgrain bow, which I bought in the sale from Faith at Debenhams. I also had a pair of pearly Weddington boots in reserve, in case of bad weather, but thankfully they weren’t needed.
The upside to having short hair was not having to worry about a complicated up-do and since all my bridesmaids wanted to wear their hair loose and relaxed we just got a local hairdressers, Nicholas, to do blow-dries on the morning of the wedding.
I decided to do my own make-up – having seen other brides come away with mask-like faces or a look that was so ‘understated’ that they were trowelling on their own eyeliner and blusher as soon as the make-up artist left! I booked a make-up trial at MAC, who were amazing, and came up with a gorgeous gold/copper/dark brown colour palette to suit the autumnal theme. I ended up buying pretty much all the lovely products they used, and they gave me a drawing of the finished look so I could recreate it on the day. Everything went smoothly, until it came to the falsies. I have the world’s puniest eyelashes, so going without was not an option, but my hands were shaking so badly I could hardly get the glue out of the tube!
Thank God for my sister, who stepped in with her non-trembly doctor’s hands to save the day.
Not One But Two…
James actually had two suits made by a local tailor – one in grey herringbone and the other in classic navy, and I didn’t know which one he was going to wear on the day, so our outfits were a surprise to both of us!
For his wedding present, I’d bought him a blue and white polka dot tie from Ralph Lauren Purple Label which would have worked with either suit, but looked great with the navy that he eventually chose. I loved the fact he went for some quirky braces over a traditional waistcoat, too.
The ushers all wore their own navy suits (apart from one, who turned up in tartan trews!), which they accessorized with ties from T.M Lewin, while James’ two best men wore ties from Ralph Lauren.
The ‘Accidental’ Florist
Emma Vowles, a local lady who’s known as the ‘Accidental Florist’ because she just fell into floristry, did our flowers and despite blowing the budget, they were definitely worth every penny. After spending hours Googling ‘autumn flowers’ and scouring the various wedding blogs (including Rock My Wedding!) for inspiration, I had an idea of the look and feel I wanted: lots of rich autumnal colours – golds, reds and russets – with berries and fruit, and Emma and her team really delivered.
My bouquet was a mixture of roses, dahlias, anemones, ranunculus, rose-hips and seed pods with some adorable little crab-apples, finished off with a hand-tied velvet ribbon for my ‘something blue’ – I had planned to do the traditional bouquet toss at the end of the night, but in the end it was so beautiful I couldn’t bear to part with it!
The bridesmaids’ bouquets echoed mine, each was slightly different colour combination, while my little flower girl wore a beautiful waxflower circlet and carried the tiniest of posies. The ushers’ buttonholes were a mixture of beech leaves, bright red berries and sprigs of fresh rosemary, so they smelled nice as well as adding a pop of colour to the dark suits.
An Autumnal Colour Palette
We decided quite early on to go for complimentary, rather than matchy-matchy bridesmaids’ dresses, in different shades of gold to tie in with the autumnal colour scheme. One bridesmaid found a beautiful champagne satin maxi dress with beading in the Coast sale, and I had the other two, one in champagne chiffon and the other in a rich gold satin, made in the local fabric market in Shanghai, where I also picked up the faux-fur shrugs. On the day, I gave them all necklaces which I’d had specially made in Shanghai’s pearl market, a single pearl on a gold chain.
My little flower girl Lily wore an adorable ivory dress from Next, together with a feather cape from Monsoon – she looked absolutely cherubic.
My dad walked me down the aisle to ‘The Swan’ by Saint-Saens and had to remind me to slow down and glide gracefully rather than rushing it! I was surprised by how teary-eyed and emotional I felt walking towards James, but that evaporated when I was standing next to him – in fact, we couldn’t stop smiling and I even got the giggles during part of the service – not very respectful!
Memories Are Made Of This
For our photographer, we went with the lovely Kat Hill, who is an old colleague of mine from the dark days when we both worked as lawyers in London. Not only is she an incredibly talented photographer – the pictures speak for themselves – she is also one of the nicest, calmest people to be around and her dedication to the cause is immense. For our beach engagement shoot, she travelled down to Devon from London and back in one day, with ne’er a peep of complaint!
At the last minute, we also opted for a videographer, Andrew Brown of Memories on Film, who shot the wedding on a combination of Super 8 and digital film to give it just enough of a nostalgic touch without feeling dated. We’ve yet to see the finished video, but he was brilliantly dedicated and so unobtrusive that we hardly noticed he was there at all.
Mums Know Best
The cake – a traditional 3-tier fruitcake decorated with autumn flowers, foliage and conkers – was made by my lovely mum. Though I’m a massive fan of fruitcake, a lot of people (James included) aren’t, so we were amazed that most of it had gone by the end of the night – which might have had something to do with the amount of booze my mum ‘fed’ it in the run-up to the wedding. To supplement, James’ mum also made some of her signature carrot cake cupcakes, which went down really well.
Although it was an all-English wedding, we wanted to inject a little bit of the Orient, and what could be more Chinese than tea? We gave everyone individual packets of jasmine pearl tea from our local tea shop in Shanghai, which we customized with labels printed with our initials, the date and instructions for brewing.
We wanted a live band, but a lot of the recommended ones turned out to be based in London, which meant adding travel and accommodation to their already hefty costs – spending over two grand for a couple of hours’ entertainment just seemed crazy. After a bit of research online, we found a local act, Vanity who do a mix of rock, pop and more contemporary stuff like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, and were much more affordable. Despite a few sleepless nights worrying about off-key crooning and dodgy song choices, they were absolutely excellent and kept the dance floor packed all night.
One of the main reasons for choosing a hotel as the venue was to avoid the need for lots of decorating, but we included a few personal touches, inspired mainly by things I’d seen on wedding blogs, like a table plan made from a giant antique picture frame, and a cluster of old photos of our grandparents and parents at their weddings. We also had a fingerprint tree as a fun addition to the traditional guestbook, where guests could ‘leaf their prints’ in red, orange and yellow paint.
In the dining room, we had professional flower arrangements on every other table, and to save on costs we decorated the remaining tables, mantelpieces and window ledges ourselves with apples, conkers and glorious autumn leaves – it was meant to look as though we’d grabbed handfuls of the forest floor and scattered them across the tables. What we hadn’t counted on was how much of the stuff we would need!
It was a real family and friends effort in the end. James’ sister-in-law and my mum collected conkers from as far afield as Clapham Common and Germany. James’ mum collected leaves and preserved them in glycerine, while the (slightly wrinkly) little apples came from my parents’ back garden. The afternoon before the wedding was spent literally up a ladder, stripping stunning red Virginia creeper from the walls of my best friend’s house, which we also added to the decorations. My mum made the mantelpiece ends from foliage and berries clipped from the back garden.
We discovered the idea of using sheet music for the confetti cones from a wedding blog, and thought it would be a great idea to recycle old music scores from when my sister and I used to play the piano, which had that authentic ‘yellowed’ look. As the perfectionist in the relationship, it was James who ended up spending an entire afternoon painstakingly sticking together fifty cones, poor man…
We were really lucky to count a very talented illustrator, Amanda as one of our friends. She designed all our wedding stationery, including the order of service, table plan and place cards, to tie in with the autumnal theme: I absolutely loved the place cards which featured adorable little hand-drawn dachshunds, autumn leaves, conkers and pine-cones.
There’s a lot of pressure on brides to come up with a super-original theme, to style your day to wedding blog perfection, make your own favours, sew hundreds of metres of bunting etc. Living so far away meant we had to do most of the organizing remotely and couldn’t get as involved with the minutiae of planning. We relied really heavily on our families to do research and make decisions on our behalf – my mum, in particular, was an absolute trooper, even doing the initial venue scouting for us and coming up with a shortlist. Once I came to terms with the fact I couldn’t micro-manage everything, it was actually quite liberating.
That said, the week in the run-up to the wedding, when we flew back from Shanghai, was a flurry of activity and stress, and the weather, which had been fine, suddenly changed for the worse: it was miserable, grey and drizzling the day before, and the forecast was terrible – I went to bed worrying that the whole day was going to be a wash-out and our photos would all be ‘brolly shots’. On the morning, though, we woke up to a glorious, breezy autumn day with a picture-perfect blue sky. I was so relieved that all the little things I could have fussed and flapped about literally faded into insignificance.
Also, know that if things do go spectacularly wrong, they make for funny stories once the day is over…My brother-in-law almost crashed the bridal car (a vintage blue Rolls Royce that my friend’s dad had very kindly lent us) when he was parking at the venue, but thank God apart from the initial shock no damage was done, and we’re actually able to laugh about it now. Just!
I think this is quite possibly the first dress we’ve had on RMW that has been inspired by Ms Swann’s fairytale gown and doesn’t Selena look gorgeous in it.
But it is Selena and James’ gleeful smiles in the church that really make my heart melt; you can just feel the love from here can’t you.
I also feel it’s really important to sit back and really think about Selena’s observations about the pressure on brides to have a super-original theme on their big day. Is this something you’ve felt over the course of your planning journey?
Take it from me, all that the day really should be about is you as a couple and the love you have for each other. Stay true to that and you can’t possibly go wrong.
We know that there is a lot of love for the kilt out there in the RMW community, so todays offering of pretty should certainly satisfy. We also have some really ace paper goods and some wicked DIY table names.
Fancy florals are courtesy of List members I Heart Flowers, Oh and a stunning bride in a stunning David Fielden number puts the icing firmly on the wedding cake.
Carmel and Adrian married last summer in Scotland on a farm half an hour outside of Edinburgh with a lakeside ceremony and a barn reception.
Carmel The Bride: I got my dress from David Fielden at the HQ in South Kensington. Although everyone told me that part of wedding dress shopping was to try on lots of different styles first, I knew what I wanted and what would suit me as I’m short and petite but I do have curves so I knew I needed something slinky and simple enough to not drown me. I looked at designers with that kind of style and started with David Fielden.
The cut of his slinkier dresses is unique to any others that I tried on in that they were an A-line cut with a slight fishtail, and suited me much more than the ‘straight down’ styles. When I tried it on David Fielden was actually in the store, which I didn’t realise until he came up to me and said: “Yes, that one.”
Tiny Treasure Trove
I got my veil and tiara from Luella’s boudoir in Wimbledon, a tiny treasure trove of vintage and handmade accessories that’s worth the trek! I knew I wanted a simple veil with a lace trim to complement the lace on the dress, and after trying on lots of pieces I went for a clasp in my hair as it really ‘lifted’ the simplicity of the dress and gave it a bit of glam. I was able to ask for a bespoke option to add lace and pearls to the clasp.
The shoes were the biggest faff of the whole wedding! As I got married outside I knew I couldn’t go for satin so I looked for aaaaaages before falling in love with a pair of brand new red louboutin patent heels at a vintage fair for just over £100. I couldn’t believe my luck, they were in my size and looked fabulous! But when I tried them on with the dress they were a bit too red, I felt I looked like noddy! I was unsuccessful in finding a subtle non-satin pair so finally found a satin pair from a wedding shop in Bristol, but again, they looked really weird with the dress. So, not wanting to tell Adrian that I was about to buy a third pair I quickly bought some cheap plain satin shoes online 2 weeks before the wedding. What I didn’t realise was that they were being made in Hong Kong from scratch!
I worked right up until 2 days before the wedding and the shoes arrived at the office 2 hours after I left. A colleague had to pick them up the next day, drive them to a friend’s house who happened to get the early train on the wedding day, who then met my Dad at the coach collection point, who then ran back to the B&B to give them to me – 15 minutes before I got in the taxi to the venue! When I opened the box I just started laughing – they had sent the wrong pair of shoes – kitten heel with a massive diamante heart! Somehow the B&B owner managed to rip the hearts off and I put the shoes on literally as I was leaving! It made me a bit sad to be so midget-like in all the photos – I really had planned to wear sky scrapers! At least it meant that I kept them on all day!
Big & Bouncy
I did my own make-up on the day as I’m hoping to train as a make-up artist at some point and felt it would be a good way to cut costs. I went for a trial with two of my favourite make-up brands: Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier. I found that adding a few individual false lashes made the look a bit more ‘special’.
I found deciding what to do with my hair quite hard, and wasn’t that happy with it on the day because I wanted it all big and bouncy, but perhaps my hair just isn’t destined to be that way! Nina at Bride to Be did my hair for me.
I wanted Red Roses
Whilst planning my wedding I went from being a passive admirer of a nice bouquet of flowers to looking up floristry courses I enjoyed it so much! For some reason I decided that I wanted red roses before I knew anything about the wedding. I don’t know why, but I’m just drawn to the intense red colour. As we got married outside on a farm I wanted the flowers to look striking but natural, and so I moved away from a traditional bouquet structure. I searched for a while to find a florist in Scotland who did the rustic/wild style that I wanted, and I finally found wonderful Sophie at I Heart Flowers through Rock My Weddings supplier directory – The List. Sophie totally got my idea and was happy to let me come up with some ideas, so we created the bouquets and buttonholes with a mixture of red, purple and white flowers with lots of greenery to give them a handpicked feel. The flowers we used were spray roses, nigella, gyposphillia, allium, lavender, eucalyptus, thistles and olive leaves.
I made the display flowers for the aisle and tables myself, ordering the same flowers as used in my bouquet and arranging them in teapots and jam jars that I decorated with ribbon and lace.
The bit I was most happy with, however, was the archway – with the lake being such a beautiful backdrop, I felt an archway for Adrian and I to say our vows under would ‘frame’ the scene perfectly. We bought a cheap self-assembly frame, some florist’s foam and got a big group of friends to help us attach flowers to the whole thing. When I saw it in place as I walked down the aisle it took my breath away – I can’t believe we managed to make it look like that!
Mix & Match
We knew early on that we didn’t want to hire traditional, formal wedding party outfits, so we mixed and matched things a bit. My two younger sisters were my bridesmaids and we managed to find some floaty red dresses from Debenhams that weren’t too formal. We decided that even though we weren’t hiring suits for the wedding party, we still wanted them to wear something to ‘tie’ them together, so we bought red kilt ties. Adrian then chose a dark blue suit to go with this. As a last-minute decision he also chose to rent kilts for his two ushers in homage to the Scottish location. I was given the dress for Lily, my niece and flower girl, and we puffed it up by putting a frilly tutu underneath that I picked up at the vintage wedding fair, and I bought a piece of red material to tie around it.
Adrian and his best man had their suits made at King & Allen, a fabulous tailor we found out about from another wedding on Rock my Wedding – they are based in London and do fittings in the upstairs of various pubs. By having no overheads and getting the initial suit made abroad, you get a £2000 suit for around £600.
Adrian didn’t enjoy the accessories shopping trip, but I convinced him to wear his suit to Selfridges so that we could pick the right shoes and shirt, as finding the right shoes to go with a blue suit is trickier than it looks! He went for some brown brogues from Paul Smith and a crisp white shirt from Pink. I gave him some map cufflinks on the day from Ellie Ellie at notonthehighstreet.com with the location of where we met and where we got married on each one respectively.
Fun, Natural & Stylish
Oh, we just love our photographers! I started researching photographers in Scotland and made a list of a few to meet on our first trip up in Edinburgh, but the week before I was browsing the photographer list on Rock My Wedding (as you do) and fell in love with the photography of Pen and Cam (McKinley-Rodgers). I was looking for a natural, reportage style photographer and what I loved about Pen and Cam’s shots were that they were not only beautiful, but every single one made the weddings look fun, natural and stylish with not a cheesy shot in sight! The fact that there were two of them, they were prepared to travel to Scotland and they offered a photobooth and a pre-wedding shoot as part of the package sold it for me. So on a whim we booked them before even heading up to Scotland without meeting them, and we are so happy we did.
We went to Hampstead Heath for the ‘beloved shoot’ which was a great way to get to know them and the way they take photos. I loved the day, but Adrian found the whole posing-for-photos-whilst-hugging-on-a-log scenario pretty awkward. Let’s just say this isn’t one for the men, but is completely worth it. We got a great photo of me giving him a piggy back that even Adrian quite likes!
For the photo booth I bought some red velvet, made some bunting out of map paper (a huge theme of the wedding) and sought props from friends and the drama department at school. I also got the DT department to make some hand-held signs that I painted with blackboard paint for people to write on. The photobooth photos make us laugh every time we look at them!
Adrian’s Aunt Susan is fantastic baker and she made the cake for us. We didn’t want anything too traditional, so we used rough palette white icing on each of the three tiers and we covered it in dried lavender, olive leaves and rosemary. We went for layers of chocolate, lemon and marble cake and they were de-licious! I spent ages painting two wooden dolls I bought off Etsy to look just like Adrian and I to put on top!
The entertainment was really important to us and I spent about a year trying to find the right bands. Again, we didn’t want to go down the traditional wedding band route so I looked at South American bands as my Dad is a percussionist and I’ve been brought up around Afro-Brazilian and Latin American music. After an agonising search I finally found a 5-piece salsa band called Mojito through Warble Entertainment. Most of the musicians were from Cuba and taught us some salsa steps during their set. It was amazing watching all of our guests dancing salsa! For the ceremony we were outside and there was no PA system, so we needed to find something that was loud enough to be heard across the wind and my friend suggested uillean pipes – much softer than bagpipes – think the Braveheart soundtrack! I found a renowned player in Scotland who happened to play with a Celtic duo called ‘Gold Ring Duo’. With Adrian being from Northern Ireland and the wedding being in Scotland, the Celtic jigs played between them on the pipes, tin whistle, harp and bouzouki fitted the atmosphere perfectly. We also had a singer and guitar duo to perform background music whilst we ate, but the most memorable entertainment of the evening was performed by my Dad!
At the end of the Father-of-the-Bride speech my Dad switched from a hand-held microphone to a hands-free Britney styled one and told everyone that under each table was a bag full of plastic coloured tubes, or ‘boomwhackers’. Each colour and plays a different note when hit against something. My Dad then proceeded to choreograph a musical sensation amongst all of the guests, with me playing the beat on a bin! Many of our guests still tell us that this was the highlight of the wedding. My Dad, Adrian Wiggins uses the boomwhackers as part of his percussion-based team-building company and is now taking the boomwhacker interactive workshop to other weddings across the country – if you’re looking for unique and affordable entertainment that all of your guests can get involved in, do check out his website www.bigbeat.biz
Higher & Higher
Adrian and I don’t really have a song, but the one we would consider to best fit this category is either ‘Where the streets have no name’ and ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ by U2, which aren’t exactly wedding appropriate songs! Adrian is not a dancer so was dreading the first dance – we even considered not doing it but this displeased a lot of people! The song we went for came on the radio one night and made me dance around my kitchen with a massive smile on my face, was upbeat and not cheesy so we went with it – Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson. I tried many a time to get Adrian to come to a salsa class with me or a private dance lesson but he succeeded in avoiding it. 3 days before the wedding we were heading to bed at about 3am on the day before Adrian drove up to Scotland with all the supplies. I suddenly realised that we hadn’t even tried dancing to the first dance song so I quickly put it on his iPhone and we danced around the bedroom in our PJs, laughing our heads off with me telling Adrian ‘stop using your knees so much’.
As I decided to make almost the entirety of the wedding by hand, the favours were included in that! I originally wanted to make jam but after seeing it done so many times and always wanting to be a bit different I chose to make ‘dulce de leche’ (a toffee flavoured condensed milk sweet sauce from Latin America) instead. This fitted with the Latin American theme (we met in Peru, we had a salsa band and my Dad did a percussion set) and was really really yummy. What seemed like a simple process of buying and filling jam jars with boiled condensed milk became a week-long nightmare of trying to pour a sticky, molten liquid into 110 tiny jars. My friend Polly came to stay with my for a week before the wedding to help with the last-minute craft projects, and even this nearly sent her packing! It was worth it though – they went down well and is something I haven’t seen done before.
Not Girly Or Cheesy
Planning the general décor for the wedding was where I really found my groove – I enjoyed it so much that I’m currently planning my own event and wedding styling business! First of all I wanted a theme that was rustic, stylish but not girly or cheesy. I went with travel and maps because Adrian and I met travelling and Adrian has more than a normal fetish for maps. I designed the wedding invites to be made up of a letterpressed invite on Kraft paper, a luggage tag with key information and a postcard with a fill-in-the-gap/madlibs style rsvp to encourage creative responses from our guests. I outsourced the printing and letterpressing to Phylecia Letterpress Boutique used travel style stamps on the postcards and lined the envelopes with map paper I found after scouring second-hand bookshops for map paper. I even went a bit nuts and designed a hand-drawn, pop-up map of Edinburgh on which I highlighted accommodation and our favourite cafés and bars! You can see more of the wedding stationery on the Phylecia website here.
The travel/map theme continued in the orders of service which I designed to look like a luggage tag covered in map paper, and which my graphic designer uncle Joss designed the inserts for.
We filled the barn and the trees with pom poms and asked my friend Catrin who runs Calon, a company who sell items made with vintage fabric, to make the bunting . We placed flowers in jars all over the place and paper wheels on the barn walls. Instead of a sit-down dessert we had a sweet and buffet table which was the length of the barn! As well as friends and family, Lovecrumbs provided the cakes along with the scones we ate after the ceremony by the lake. They even made me some wheat-free red velvet cupcakes as I’m wheat intolerant.
Fun, Personal & Creative
I think what made our wedding unique was something which Adrian I discussed right when we first got engaged – that we wanted our wedding to be fun, personal and creative. I had most fun thinking up different ways to get everyone feeling involved in the wedding day, here are my favourites:
When all the guests got onto the coach to be taken to the venue they were each handed a flapjack wrapped in a crossword we made about ourselves with a mini pencil.
Instead of a traditional seating plan which shows who is sitting where, I made a more interactive version! I found and printed a photo of each guest’s face and stuck it to an (airmail) envelope which was suspended from a log I found in Hampstead heath by a ribbon and bulldog clip. The result looked like a weird contemporary art installation rather than a seating plan, and there were a lot of raised eyebrows from the staff when we started suspending a big log from the barn roof! Above the log was a sign saying “find your face to find your place” – once you found the envelope with your face on it you opened it to find a photo of a location – you then had to go and find your table by matching it with the photo.
Inside the envelope each guest had a hand-made badge with their name/nickname on it.
Each table had a pinboard on an easel with the country photo and a photo of each person sitting on the table.
Each place setting was a blank paper frame that guests could doodle inside – each table had a tin can sprayed white filled with pens and pencils. We have some great and some worrying doodles to fill our photo album with!
Each table had a ‘fun bucket’ on it which not only included sweets, playdo, fortune telling fish, handmade paper fortune tellers, but also a fun get-to-know you activity: an envelope containing an interesting/funny statement about each person on the table – everyone had to guess who it belonged to and sparked some interesting conversations!
The boomwhacker drumming session.
We served Mojitos whilst the salsa band ‘Mojito’ placed and each had a red straw with a black moustache attached – it made for great photos!
We had a humanist ceremony which meant that we could choose any songs and readings we wanted – we had a Dr. Seuss reading read by 5 friends and a choir assembled last-minute to sing ‘Happy Together’ with the guests.
Adrian and I spent about a year planning the wedding and I would do it all again in a heartbeat – soon I hope to do so for other brides!
When I first saw the photographs of the “Boomwhackers” I thought that perhaps Carmel and Adrian had hired some kind of futuristic Morris Dancing troupe to provide the evening entertainment… But to be honest the boomwhaking team building drum percusssion thing sounds even more fun than Morris Dancers from Mars.
fun, personal and creative – that is what Carmel and Adrian set out to achieve, and I’m proud to say that with a little bit of help from RMW that is exactly what did.
Lydia and Jack got married on Rock My Wedding home turf… The good old Midlands. The service was in Gornal Wood at the church Lydia had known all of her life.
I love a wedding with an urban feel and this one certainly has that, but in there amongst the concrete we have the green pop of fields and the blue pop of Jack’s suit. The colour and vibrance jump off the screen and little details like the hanging hearts and paper lanterns really shine through
I am also loving the trees that were brought into the reception venue. A little bit of outside greenery invading and breaking up the stark lines of internal space… Just call me Kevin McCloud.
Lydia The Bride: Jack and I did the whole venue search for our reception, and wanted to go for a place where there was enough space for around 180 guests whilst not costing the earth. We ended up choosing a secondary school, which I was slightly concerned about, as I didn’t want my wedding day to be like having a school dinner! However, the school is a brand new building with a wall full of large windows overlooking a nice green view, with lots of light and space; the risk certainly paid off-phew!
My dress was a Maggie Sottero number called Darlene which I purchased from Go Bridal in Birmingham. I always thought I’d go for a lacy style dress, but as soon as Darlene was on I thought ‘this is the one’ and, much to my amazement, it was only the 2nd dress I had tried on! I tried on lots more dresses all different styles after it, but, in the end, went back to Darl. I loved the little floral design to the side of the dress and the roche effect that gave. I decided to have some cap sleeves attached just to give it a bit of a unique feel.
I felt my dress had all the bling that I wanted to have, with the beaded diamantes on the top half of my dress. I decided to go for some simple pearl earrings, which I borrowed from one of my bridesmaids, ones that she had worn on her wedding day. I wore a simple pearl bracelet. I decided to skip the tiara as my hairstyle was already quite detailed. I wore a long veil, which provided some entertainment for the day when it decided to fly out of my air when we were having photos taken outside. This ended with Jack and our photographer sprinting for the veil across the school car park. It was all very funny.
I’m 5ft 11ish, and decided to listen to my mother’s practical advice for my wedding day and went for a cute pair of Kurt Geiger kitten heels. They were nude in colour, and were very comfy which was a great help when walking down the aisle, as some would say I’m rather clumsy.
Light & Lovely
I met lovely Jo in House of Fraser in Birmingham. Lovely Jo spent hours with me and taught me all about how to put my make up on properly and what shades suit my skin colour, the lot. I went with Bobbi Brown makeup on the day and it was just right for me. It lasted well, and felt light and lovely. I had my hair done by wonderful Zoe at Zaks hair in Kingswinford. Zoe couldn’t help enough, and wanted me to be fully happy, following my nonsensical explanation of what I wanted very well!
Simple White Roses
Flower wise, I spotted a bouquet a few months ago when I rwas eading one of RMW‘s posts and fell in love. I had simple white roses, with a tinge of green around the edge of the petals that matched my bridesmaids’ dresses. The bridesmaids had the same but their roses had a tinge of light pink. My florist insisted that it’s always nice for the groom’s button hole to be different to the best mans and ushers. I went with her advice and Jack wore a big white rose, roughly the size of a planet, with a hint of green. The others all had white roses with a hint of pink to match the bridesmaids. We went for a more economical option for the flowers at the venue. My mom and me took a lovely trip to Morrisons on the Friday morning before the wedding on the Saturday, and bought them out of gypsophila, roses, and lots of mixtures of flowers. My mom’s lovely friends did the flowers in church, which consisted of white roses and gypsophila. All quite simple, but looked beautiful.
Lively Blue Suits
The ushers wore a grey suit that we hired from Greenwoods. We found them to be very organised and helpful, much more so than what we were! We decided that Jack and his best man would wear a lively blue suit from Next with the ushers wearing ties, which complimented the blue. It was a bit of a risk, as we didn’t really know what it would look like until the day itself, but it ended up working well. My 3 bridesmaids wore a minty green, knee length dress from Debenhams. It was a cheaper option but they looked stunning. The whole theme was meant to be ‘rustic’ but that ended up going out of the window when I found other colours I liked. However, it all seemed to work, thankfully! I had my two handsome nephews as my gorgeous pageboys. They definitely stole the show with their cute blonde hair, blue casual trousers, shirt and waistcoat combo from good old M&S (plus cheeky red converse). They looked adorable!
Jack looked perfect! The blue really suited him, and he felt pretty swarve. He combined it with some brown brogues from schuh. The blue mixed with the brown, his lovely auburn locks and his cute face made him the most handsome bloke I’d ever laid my eyes on.
A Chuffing Good Photographer
Photography wise, we went with the talent that is Chris Barber. Being a regular reader of RMW, we spotted him on there, and fell instantly for his photographic skills, and the vibe he goes for. He made us feel so relaxed which we appreciated as we were a bit nervous about what poses we would have to do and how unlike ‘us’ it might be. However, it was all au-natural, and he just told us to be ourselves which included a good old game of charades, hoorah! Chris captured every emotion expressed during the day, and his photos told the story of the day perfectly. We always find something new that we love when we look through our wedding photos, and say each time how thoroughly happy we are that we went with him and how he’s a chuffing good photographer.
School Of Rock
If i’m honest, I just copied a cake that I saw on RMW. My mom’s friend, lovely Di, made our cake(s) for us. I took some photographs in of the kind of cakes I like the look of, and we decided which one to go for. When I went to pick it up the Friday before the wedding, she had made three of my fave cakes. The one I wanted, which was a 2 tier, flower stencils, white ribbon, sponge cake, along with, a country feel victoria sponge cake, and a huge, beautiful iced fruitcake for those who prefer the traditional fruit cake. What a gem!
For entertainment, Jack asked some of his friends that he used to be in a band with when they were teenagers to lead the show and they definitely pulled it out of the bag. They rocked the theatre in our school venue, filling it with crazy dance moves to the likes of Mysterious Girl (obviously!) and a bit of One Direction, mixed in with some other tunes. We loved it, t’was a lot of fun.
Love On Top
I’m not the most romantic person in the world, and sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable with it all. However, I do like to strut my funky stuff on the dance floor, as does Jack, so we therefore decided to ‘show off’ our amazingly (limited) dance moves extravaganza. We had our first dance to Beyonce’s ‘Love On Top’, just because we really like the key changes she does at the end of the song! As we were in the middle of some of our finest moves of all time, my little nephews came and joined us. It made our jig, and although we weren’t exactly having an intimate dance we both felt so happy within that moment.
Our favours were produced by a friend of Jack’s, lovely Lynn! She’s a chocolatier in Northumberland, and she hand made two delicious chocolate truffles for each of our guests!
An Eclectic Theme
Due to our reception being in a school, I was keen on getting lots of decorations just to make it a tad more ‘wedding like’. Through a contact, I ordered some silver birch trees for inside the venue. They brought the massive hall space together, and added something special to the venue. They also matched the inside of the venue with the big green view that was visible through the glass wall, bringing the outside in (sort of!)! Nora Noelle is a dress maker, and we asked her to make lots of cute decorations for us including stuffed material hearts and birds, as well as some doily bunting. She was amazing, and we were so happy with these decorations, we highly recommend her (her website is currently under construction, but you can email her here). This really added to the venue, and definitely put a ‘Lydia stamp’ onto the school. On top of this, my amazing sister-in-law made 50 metres of beautiful bunting, which fitted perfectly across the windows in the venue. We had an eclectic theme for our tables, with different vases, flowers, sweets, lanterns, sticks with hearts, going on. I loved seeing it all scattered around and it added more loveliness to our day.
Crazy, Manic & Hard
Prior to getting married, we had both been warned about how crazy, manic and hard it is to plan a wedding. We both didn’t have the time to get too worked up about it all so we took on more of a relaxed approach. Jack says that 90% of wedding-related stress is self-inflicted and you can help yourself massively by focusing on having a good time with people you love rather than making sure everything is completely perfect. I think as long as you don’t automatically think ‘stress’ in planning a wedding, and don’t get swooped into the current of ‘Argh, this is going to be so difficult’ and actually enjoy the process, it makes for a calmer and more joyful wedding. I wasn’t thinking about the mix match in colour scheme on the wedding day, or the fact that we were sitting in a school for my wedding venue, I just looked around, and saw everyone enjoying themselves, I had my husband next to me, and to me, it was all perfect.