Now this folks, this is how you do a marquee-in-the-garden wedding. Laura and Will have, in my humble opinion, only gone and nailed the most perfect laidback garden wedding. There are lots of signs for cocktails (at last someone who loves the beverage as much as I do!), supersized balloons waving gaily from wooden fences, some epic ‘dance floor rules’ (lunges anyone?!), happy maids clutching white bouquets and one of the prettiest table plans I ever did see.
But perhaps my favourite part of the wedding, apart from the Choos and of course the loving is the table decor and marquee styling. It’s fresh, it’s green and by heck I’ve never seen anything like it before. There are ditsy, floral, mossy green napkins, cratefuls of blooms, oodles of sweet peas, blowsy hydrangeas and actual trees dispersed along the tables. It looks so modern yet so pretty at the same time and I adore it.
I’m hot and I don’t mean in a kick-ass, lip-pouting, boys-eat-your-heart-out kinda way. I mean in a slightly clammy, I can’t be bothered to do anything with my hair, I only want to wear a bikini state of affairs.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the heat and I’m also tickled by the fact that our fickle meteorologists are calling the current weather situation ‘a heatwave’. Funny, back when I was a wee one, this would just be a standard summer but perhaps that’s the mind playing tricks on me.
Any bride marrying in either June, July or August dreams of being blessed with glorious weather – I mean you don’t pay a premium for marrying at the peak of summer for nothing you know – but I think even the lucky couples of the last few weeks will be amazed at their own good fortune.
And so in homage to the sunshine, to the scorching days and the balmy nights, we’ve decided to dedicate this week to all things summer – a ‘Summer Scorcher’ themed week if you will.
To kick things off it seemed fitting to share an inspiration post with you – designed with the intention of helping you gorgeous lot with making your guests as comfortable as possible when things are HOT HOT HOT on your big day.
There’s nothing worse than going to an event, wedding or otherwise, and feeling uncomfortable in the heat. Your make-up begins to slide around and off your face, sweat starts to trickle in unmentionable and countless places and even something as simple as clutching your handbag feels as if you’re holding a ten ton weight.
But there’s no need to fret if you’re expecting the mercury to go sky high on your big day -there’s many simple methods and means to make sure that your guests stay cool without breaking the budget.
I’m sure that the vast majority of you will have already seen the programme/ fan combo but for those of you that haven’t it’s a fantastic way of amalgamating your order of service and a cooling device into one simple prop, plus you can DIY it too. Usually the bride and groom’s names are scrawled along with the wedding date onto one side of a supersized piece of card – I love the heart and shield shapes making the rounds at the moment – and the order of service is daubed on the other. Add a rounded stick and bob’s your uncle you’ve got a fan to boot!
If you’re looking to add an extra special touch to your festivities then it might be worth investing in some parasols for your guests too. Presentation is key so consider storing them in an old tea crate or a large wicker basket with a sign to encourage your nearest and dearest to take one. They also make for epic portrait shots or a handy screen if you’re a little bit shy but still want to give your new hubby a snog.
If you’re keen to take it that one step further – hell why not?! – then make like the RMW team and build a fort in the grounds of your venue. All you need is some sheets, a few blooms and a comfy rug and you’ve got yourself a shaded sanctuary where guests can relax. Plus it would make an immense photobooth when the sun goes down too!
Failing that slinging a hammock between some accommodating trees would almost make guests think that they were somewhere tropical and you can’t say fairer than that…
Consuming enough fluids on hot days is important at the best of times but even more so when alcohol is added into the mix. Make the non-alcoholic drinking process fun by introducing an interactive element for your guests. Building a lemonade stand complete with unique vessels, straws and miniature umbrellas and flamingos is one way of sparking your guests’ interests. Introducing the comedy factor through utilising unusual containers as a fridge is another – beer barrow anyone? I’ve even seen a vintage canoe used in the past too!
It’s not just strategic and considered pieces of big day decor that can make your guests more comfortable; it’s so easy to make simple tweaks to your menu so that your culinary treats can too.
Keep your nearest and dearest cool by offering sweet miniature lollipops alongside your savoury canapés at your drinks reception. If you’re after something naughty then I love these neon ice pops at the top here created from sprite and gummi bears would you believe it! If you’re after something a tad healthier try mixing slices of mango with yogurt instead. Finish by scrawling naughty phrases on the ends of wooden lolly sticks.
I love the ever popular DIY of freezing beautiful flowerheads and vibrant leaves into ice cubes as a way of pimping your drink. It’s worth investigating which flowers are edible so that guests can rest easy once the ice-cubes have melted. My favourite idea is that of using herbs rather than flowers for perfectly flavoured water – mint anyone?
It’s also worth considering serving small portions of ice-cream and sorbets in the evening when your nearest and dearest have raved (and sweated!) the night away on the dance floor. If you’re looking for something a little bit different but still refreshing try unconventional flavours – basil ice-cream is a particular favourite of mine.
Lastly, replace traditionally hot tea and coffee refreshments after dinner with iced versions like this cherry infused iced tea in a mason jar – perfect if your big day is a vintage rustic inspired affair. If you’ve got little ones attending or picky guests that drink neither tea nor coffee (like me!) then substitute caffeinated drinks for personalised bottles of old fashioned lemonade.
And then we have the hot hommes which granted is a tenuous link to the whole ‘Summer Scorcher’ themed week but we just couldn’t resist. For me there’s nothing that quite beats a gorgeous man in a clean well-fitting white t-shirt…or in black tie…or with his sleeves rolled up ready to get stuck into something…or even in a partial state of undress.
Ahem, let me rephrase that. There’s nothing that quite beats a gorgeous man.
You’ll see that Mr Gosling makes an appearance – good day to you Sir! Oh and there’s Eddie (personal fave of mine) and we couldn’t resist a snap of Jonny either. Don’t say that Team RMW don’t spoil you lovely lot.
I feel so incredibly privileged to be sharing this morning’s wedding with you lovely lot. For today’s bride has been a prominent and much loved member of the RMW community for some time now, offering up her creative thoughts and sharing her golden nuggets of advice in the comments section with both the RMW team and you gorgeous folks too.
So when we heard that Sama, of Utterly Wow fame, wanted to share her big day on our still-kind-of-polka-dotted pages we all squealed a collective ‘ahhhhhhh’ (yes even Adam!) and fought over who would blog it.
This wedding has style in abundance; from the festoon lighting, the rustic venue to the colourful and fun stationery and the mismatched maids to.. wait for it folks…’The Great Wedding Bake-off’; I defy you not to relish in every detail. I particularly love Sama’s off-white peeptoes and her beautiful Claire Pettibone dress which has a story that proves to me at least that if something is meant to be then it will happen.
And there’s sentimentality by the bucketload too; I’ll let Sama tell you about her beautiful floral crown herself. I promise that you’ll love it.
Without further ado then lovelies, I give you Sama….
Sama The Bride:Ahhh, the dress.
My beaded beauty was Chantilly by Claire Pettibone. The dress hunt was never going to be entirely conventional for me as I work at Blackburn Bridal Couture in Blackheath, London, meaning I didn’t have to ‘do the rounds’, so to speak. I’d always thought Chantilly was beautiful but we sold our sample shortly before I got engaged, so it wasn’t even an option when the dress search began. Instead I’d fallen in love with Luna by Jenny Packham, a blush pink sparkly number that I still like to stroke regularly in the shop. However my Mum wasn’t convinced, hoping, as most Mums do, that I’d choose something a bit more bridal, so despite my best intentions to ignore her I held off from ordering.
When we got Chantilly back in at the boutique, I tried it on more on a whim than anything else; it was considerably out of my price range and I’d been ruling out bias-cut dresses on the grounds that my stomach wasn’t flat enough. However, it felt amazing on and I pretty much knew instantly that it was the dress I wanted to wear the day I married Paul. Those beads can hide a multitude of sins!
Being a self-proclaimed ‘boho bride’, I knew I was going to wear a flower garland from day one. I’d originally envisioned fresh flowers, but when my Mum produced the wax flower garland she wore on her wedding day, the sentiment of wearing ‘something old’ was too hard to resist. In its original state it was a very thin, delicate crown of ivory flowers, so I enlisted the super-talented and super-lovely Sophie of Crown & Glory to give it a new lease of life. The end result was the most beautiful thing I could have ever imagined, and something I may even be able to pass on myself one day.
Other than that, the only jewellery I wore were rings left to me by my grandmothers, and a pale pink diamantine bracelet by Les Nereides which was a pre-wedding gift to myself.
My shoes were the Emilia peep-toe sandals by Juicy Couture, believe it or not, who I’ve only ever associated with velour tracksuits but who I now know make beautiful footwear! They were a bit of a last-minute purchase after the first pair (£15 nude t-bars from eBay that I painstakingly glittered up the heels of) crippled me at my first dress fitting. I love the Juicy Coutures now though; comfortable and versatile and just a little bit sexy.
And who doesn’t love a sexy shoe?
Va Va Voom
I’ve always loved doing make-up so decided to do it myself on the day. Being able to spend a ridiculous amount of money at the Bobbi Brown counter was a particular highlight of the wedding planning. I also decided to get eyelash extensions a couple of days before which wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, but do look fab in the pictures.
My hair, on the other hand, is the bane of my life. It’s a decent length but it’s very thin, meaning the luscious, boho locks I envisaged were an impossible dream. Step in the magnificent Cassandra Rizzuto who told me to stop being a negative Norman and used a mixture of clip-in and glued-in hair pieces for Cheryl Cole-style volume. I literally wish I could have hair like that every day. Sigh.
Cass also styled my bridesmaids to perfection with a mixture of tousled, braided up-dos and was a general dream to have with us in the morning. Calm, fun and ridiculously talented; hire her and your hair dreams will come true. Fact.
Green Fingered Goddesses
Gayle of Bloomin’gayles made the bouquets and buttonholes, whilst we DIY-ed the table flowers (ordered on the internet by me and beautifully arranged the day before by my Aunt Leslie).
Our wedding was a very joyful affair… as you can see by my gurning face in most of the pictures. Paul and I grinned at each other all through the ceremony, and although I wobbled during my speech when talking about my Gran, the only tears that fell were in the morning when my Mum presented me with my bouquet. I wanted lavish, vibrant, blousy blooms and it was exactly that- but so much better. Gayle is a green-fingered goddess and a delight to work with too. Thoroughly recommended!!
A Little Bit Sharp, A Little Bit Sexy
I’m not a massive fan of the matchy matchy look, so wanted my bridesmaids (my oldest, oldest friends from school) in different dresses but the same colour palette. Oh, and I wanted them to look FIT which I think they totally achieved 🙂 The dresses were a range of purchases from French Connection, Oasis and ASOS, and they managed to bring coordinating pashminas on the day too- which was a blessing as despite the glorious sunshine it was a little nippy. Paul’s best man, Alex, wore a grey three-piece suit to match his, and along with Paul’s two brothers, they all wore burgundy ties from Moss.
Paul is a teacher so I’m used to seeing him in a suit. Having said that, it wasn’t a tails kind of day so we were after something a little bit sharp, a little bit sexy, and in my head, a little bit Tom Ford. In the end it was a charcoal grey Cerruti three-piece from Moss that had me swooning- which he accessorised with a Ted Baker pocket square and colourful buttonhole courtesy of Bloomin’gayles.
He looked stonkingly handsome.
Worth Every Penny
I began stalking Dominique Bader having seen her work on these very pages actually! Well, they were blue and polka dot back then, but you know what I mean. Dominique is a phenomenal photographer; her work is natural, timeless, real, crystal-clear and ridiculously romantic. We are so utterly thrilled with our photos, and as Paul said emphatically after we’d watched our slideshow for the first time- WORTH EVERY PENNY. And coming from the man who had initially become hysterical at the cost of wedding photography, this is high praise indeed.
The Great Wedding Bake Off
The Great Wedding Bake Off came about largely in a bid to reduce costs! My Mum was originally going to make a cake which we’d serve as dessert with cream and berries, but she had so many other jobs to do in the lead up we decided to open it up to our guests instead. Despite protests from Paul that “no-one would bother”, our cake table was heaving and the efforts people went to were just brilliant! It’s one of my few regrets that I didn’t get to fully appreciate the vast array of offerings at the time…
Meant To Be
I first discovered Kate Ruth Romey when I saw some amazing rustic invitations on another blog that were on pieces of hand-carved wood. When I went on her website I realised she was based in Blackheath where I work, so I felt it was ‘meant to be’.
I had a clear idea of what I wanted to say, but Kate designed me a really fun, modern, colourful invitation suite which really caught people’s attention. And I’d definitely recommend making your RSVP as interactive as possible. Bar one person I had all my RSVPs back by the deadline. Kate is super-talented and very patient; I’m very glad I found her!
I’m lucky to know lots of talented, musical types so we took full advantage of this during the day. A few years ago I’d sung at my friends’, Alice and Jeff’s, wedding, so they repayed the favour at mine, singing ‘You and I’ by Ingrid Michaelson during the signing of the register. Then my very cool Canadian cousin, River, entertained the crowds afterwards out in the orchard.
In the evening we had a freakin’ amazing band called Flood The Floor, who I’d booked purely because a) they were fit and b) they did a very funky version of Boom! Shake The Room. We started dancing during their sound check and literally didn’t stop all night.
We didn’t have a first dance at Paul’s request but I didn’t mind at all. I knew we’d have a drunken ‘last dance’ instead and asked the band to learn ‘Love Is In The Air’ which is the
end song from the greatest film of all time, Strictly Ballroom. As I’d hoped, Paul and I ended up in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by everyone and it was perfect. And being lifted up by friends to the sound of ‘Sama’s in the air’ was a pretty epic way to end the evening, I must say.
The Great Barn
The venue hunt was probably the hardest part of all as I had such specific criteria. I wanted a dry hire venue in Kent that was rustic, had character and didn’t charge corkage. The Great Barn was the perfect blank canvas venue- they literally give you the keys for up to a week and you can do what you like as long as you leave it how you found it!
Paul had very little input in the styling or planning other than to say he wanted a relaxed, fun day. As I was in the process of setting up as a wedding planner when we got engaged, I was already a blog addict and had fantasies of creating a colourful, eclectic, bohemian-inspired day with just a touch of sparkle.
Festoon lighting was an absolute priority, as were the paper lanterns which we arranged in a cluster over the dance floor. I love the natural linen tablecloths as seen on the American blogs, but they are SO expensive to hire so my clever Mum decided to make them herself- as she did the table runners which were a mixture of gold sequins, black and white stripes and burnt orange shot silk.
Flowers were arranged in a variety of pimped-up jam jars, and these very cool brown beer bottles which we collected from a local restaurant in Blackheath. I think they did pretty well out of us over the last year…
Bring Me S’More
We didn’t do favours- we had a free bar instead which, in my mind, is way more preferable!
We borrowed a dodgy khaki-green bar which was a prop from the local Am Dram society, and my clever, artistic Aunt Leslie (she of flower arranging fame) turned it in to a wood-effect, steel-topped beast which blended in with the barn seamlessly. And we hand-painted all the signs, drinks menus and table numbers which were littered about the place. Out in the orchard we had ribbons hanging from the trees, and in the evening a firepit was lit and s’mores were toasted (a North American tradition brought over by my Canadian relatives).
And I can’t not mention Van Dough, the wood-fired pizza van that turned up in the evening to provide the evening food. Absolutely delicious pizza and genuinely lovely owners.
Trust Your Gut
Our wedding was quite simply the best day we have ever had and people didn’t stop laughing or smiling all day. Weather-wise, May was appalling- it rained solidly the two days before the wedding and was so cold we had to order a last-minute heater. Yet on the day itself I woke up to sunshine and it was just glorious- a wedding gift from my Grandmothers, I like to think.
We were both so relaxed on the day and this was down to two things: 1- My amazing friends and family who got stuck in and helped set up (and take down), and 2- my friend Laura who I met on the UKAWP wedding planning course a couple of years ago, and who coordinated for me on the day. In the run-up to the wedding everyone was worried that I wouldn’t be able to relinquish control but I knew I was in safe hands with Laura running the show!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire an on-the-day coordinator if you are using a blank canvas, dry hire venue. The barn got turned from ceremony space to reception space seamlessly, the candles were constantly lit, the wine was constantly topped up, and any problems or questions people went to her, not me. Not to mention the million other things she was doing throughout the day.
But other than that, trust your instincts, choose good suppliers, kiss your husband LOTS, hug LOTS, laugh LOTS, and don’t spill pizza down your dress. Just sayin’.
Oh boy! Immense, right? Shall I leave you for a wee moment to pick your jaws up off the floor?
And can we just take a moment to talk about the florals. Talk about breathtakingly, blowsy, beautiful blooms, it’s no wonder that Sama shed a happy tear or two when she saw them. I for one will be pinning these bouquets to within an inch of their lives!
When I sneaked a peek of Sama at the weekend in all her glory on the RMW Facebook page, one of her friends responded with a comment that’s stayed with me ever since. She said, ‘It was the BEST wedding. Style AND substance’, and you just know that this statement encapsulates Sama and Paul’s wedding perfectly.
This wedding oozes style, creativity and charm but you can see from the beaming smiles on the faces of this gorgeous pair and all their friends and family it was so much more than that. There’s enough love in these photos to last a lifetime or two and this makes me very happy indeed.
Congratulations you two.
All my love Lolly xxx
P.S. If you want to see more and hear more from Sama herself why not check out her blog – Utterly Wow – here.
As soon as I read Iola’s musings about the sea mending the soul I was hooked. It was almost as if she was reading my mind and I instantly felt a connection even though we’d never met.
And then I cast my peepers over her glorious wedding; my jaw dropped and remained open for the entire time that I looked through her big day photographs. Because lovelies they’re beautiful. Full of love, laughter, passion and soul.
There’s oodles of DIY and amazing wedding decor – just check out the stationery and wedding favours – immense hair and florals, actual dancefloor rules, a monster of a wedding cake and genius centrepieces.
And have I mentioned just how beautiful Iola is? She and Steve are made for one another…
When I landed upon the image of these neon beaded beauties below, I was instantly transported back to my earliest days at school sitting with my playmates stringing simple wooden beads onto coarse woollen strands to make what can be best described as a ‘dog’s dinner’ (read tragic mess).
Obviously the epic bangles and necklaces below are of a far higher quality than my juvenile attempts – I would so rock one of these neon bracelets.
Anyone else care to join me?
The point is however, and I think I speak for most of us when I say that, it’s clear, even from an early age, that we like to adorn ourselves with decorative paraphernalia. Heck, we’ve been tattooing, crowning, encircling, festooning and garlanding our bodies since time began and it’s not likely to stop any time soon either.
It’s not surprising then that there’s a plethora of beautiful bridal jewellery out there. If there’s a day when a woman feels most inclined to bedeck herself with charming adornments then it’s her wedding day.
And whilst there is an abundance of style in traditional pieces, I love how the parameters of what constitutes bridal ‘jewellery’ are now far more relaxed meaning that there really is something for everyone.
My own bridal jewellery journey began when my future mother-in-law handed me her late mother’s prized diamond earrings when the boy and I were first engaged.
They are beautiful. Utterly exquisite. I even got quite emotional when she handed them to me.
You see, it meant the world to me that she decided to share something that clearly means so much to her. And whilst my boy’s grandma can’t be with us on the day, she’ll certainly be there in (twinkling) spirit.
Despite my renowned magpie-like behaviour towards anything shiny, I don’t really go all out on the jewellery front. Granted there’s my engagement ring, a couple of gold bangles and my dainty golden feather necklace but that’s about it. I reckon therefore I can push the boat out on my wedding day, what do you think?
So what are you lovely lot wearing on your big day?
Will you be appropriating some family heirlooms or sporting something more contemporary?
Or are you blinded by the dazzling array available to you? Can I help?
Walk this way…
All That Glistens Is…Gold
I’ve been a fan of yellow gold jewellery ever since I was young but I’ve always been aware that it isn’t everyones’ top choice.
Some of my friends for instance find it a little gaudy.
So, I’m thrilled to see that yellow gold is making a comeback both in the bridal universe and on the fashion runways along with golden semi-precious stones such as Beryl.
The glitzy stuff is back with a vengeance, folks.
I love the versatility that gold gives to the wearer, be it delicate and pretty or gritty and proud. It’s also incredibly flattering on all skintones, offering up a warmth that only improves with age. There’s nothing better than popping to an antique jewellers and holding patinated pieces rich with memories.
Stacking golden rings and bracelets is one way of bringing this metal up to date if you’re worried it’s a little old-fashioned for you. The contrasts in the different pieces will make the metals both interesting and edgy.
Alternatively if this is a little intense then choosing a filigree piece is not only romantic but subtle enough so that you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Plus your nan would be proud.
This concoction of images is a mixture of pieces that have their origins in or are influenced by tribal jewellery, nature and Eastern designs.
Like the moodboard above, many of these beautiful items possess a golden hue but it’s the shapes, patterns and the positioning of them on the body that really do the talking.
Looking at this bevvy of beauties, I can almost imagine myself on African Plains or in a Moroccan Souk which make these pieces perfect for those brides choosing to get married abroad.
More angular pieces look amazing with column bridal gowns and chainmail and leather accents are reminiscent of tribal dress. This look is all about impact!
We’ve also noticed jewellery taking inspiration from natural themes such as florals and botanics. No longer the preserve of bouquets and gorgeous centrepieces, sprawling flower-esque jewellery is popping up time and time again and is set to gain more momentum next year.
This look is all about taking the ‘best bits’ from bygone eras and combining it into a glorious mishmash of ultimate luxury.
Whilst vintage wedding styles have been leading the way sartorially, we’ve noticed this look is now also translating across to jewellery choices too.
Think of the geometric patterns of costume jewellery and the long strings of lustrous pearls of the Art Deco era together with the subtle 1950‘s elegance of Grace Kelly’s classic style and the glamour of old Hollywood movie stars.
For some reason I always envisage brides who opt for this kind of jewellery in swishing gowns of lace….but it doesn’t mean that you have to go down this route. Pearls and diamonds do tend predominate here though.
This look is feminine and subtle. Less is more and wearing more than two pieces is often too much. A beautifully crafted necklace, or a single brooch of sparkling round cut diamonds is what this look is all about.
Granted, choosing this ‘look’ can be less budget-friendly than some of the other styles pictured here but investing in key pieces of valuable jewellery means that you have something to treasure forever and pass on to your children and perhaps theirs too.
I think I first fell in love with colourful bridal jewellery when I saw Emily’s beautiful sapphire-coloured blue earrings earlier this year.
In fact, I was more than a little bit smitten with them.
They framed her gorgeous face perfectly whilst bringing her whole bridal look smack bang up to date to the 21st century. It was at this point that I was determined to give coloured jewels a chance and I haven’t looked back.
And I’m not the only one.
From opals to tourmalines and from amethysts to moukite, semi-precious stones are gracing the necks, ears and fingers of huge numbers of brides this year. THE hot colour of the moment, the current hue to be seen in though, is…wait for it…coral.
Here at RMW HQ we’ve seen everything from coral-coloured necklaces to coral bracelets and rings on both brides and bridesmaids alike. This hue looks fantastic on all skin types, is utterly romantic and often slips seamlessly into most colour schemes.
If you can afford to stretch the budget that little bit further, then can I suggest coloured diamonds. My favourite hue are champagne coloured diamonds – rather apt for a bride on her wedding day, no?
Alternatively, you could leave this blog post open at this point and cough suggestively at your fiancé whilst tilting your head at said computer screen before you leave the room on an ‘errand’.
What? You’re helping him with his wedding present to you aren’t you?
Make A Statement
Bold and chunky jewellery continues to feature strongly in bridal jewellery thus continuing the trend of the last two years.
Hurray! The RMW Team (yes, even Mr Gossip Girl) loves a bit of statement action on modern brides. We are however seeing more of a pared down approach compared to previous years.
Ladies, we’re talking bib necklaces and shoulder-sweeping gemstone earrings, wide cuffs and hefty cocktail rings all crafted from bold materials and striking colours. I love brides who have chosen to travel this adventurous route, it absolutely reeks of confidence and luxury.
A note of caution however. This look tends to work best on those brides that have chosen a simpler dress. Gowns already covered in pearls, sequins or other twinkly bits are statement pieces in their own right. Adding too much jewellery on top can make one look like an overdressed turkey and we wouldn’t want that would we…
I know the fashion of Emily and Pete’s W-day knocked your socks clean off so I’m guessing the reception is going to do exactly the same.
So much effort and time and love has gone into every single pretty detail of this garden affair it literally makes me bow down in admiration. And now the talented bride has her own new little business doing exactly that – making things with love. Go see her gorgeous website at Emily Carlill and see for yourselves….
The flowers. The cakes. The decor. The portraits…….
Looking Like Us
We knew the style of photography we liked so after looking at the photos on Dominique Bader’s website, I contacted her. We had a pre- wedding shoot with Dominique in March which was brilliant! We spend most of the day in various locations around Leeds getting our photo taken. The pre-wedding shoot was so good as it was lovely to meet Dominique and her husband Samuel before the big day, get used to having our photos taken professionally, but also to get an idea of what the photos would come out like – and I was so happy because they were beautiful and gorgeous but still looked like us. After that I had absolutely no worries about the wedding photos (I was actually looking forward to them!) The pre-wedding shoot was featured on RMW!
On the day, Dominique was so good, she started at 9am taking photos in my room, and was non-stop all day until about 8.30pm when we had our first dance. She took over 600 photos and I think they just say it all! Both Dominique and Samuel were professional, polite, friendly, considerate, and made our guest feel at ease when getting their photo taken. You can absolutely tell that Dominique genuinely loves her job and cares about the couple. I had a number of comments actually on the day about how brilliant and nice she was.
As for the photos, they are just perfect, really natural and tell the whole day from start to finish. I think she has captured it how it was completely – the style, the atmosphere, the people, and the feelings. I couldn’t have wished for anything better. Family, friends and colleagues who have seen them have actually said they are the best photos they have ever seen, and I have even told her that words can’t describe how happy I am with them!
I remember also Dominique telling me to try to not be nervous as I walked down the isle as there was no need because everyone who was there was there for us, not judging just really happy for us. I remembered this and it really helped.
Made With Love
When we first got engaged we knew that we wanted a relaxed garden party-style wedding as a glam hotel style venue is just not really us. Also, as a lover of sewing, knew I wanted to make bunting. However, this bunting then turned into bunting, place mats, napkins, cake topper, table clothes and runner, seating plan, place settings, table numbers, seat pad covers, cakes (and cake flags), kids party bags, gift bags, lanterns and pom poms……!
I started just after Christmas, and spent pretty much every evening and weekends (and sometimes mornings before work!) until the wedding cutting, ironing and sewing! For the bunting, we (or more accurately Pete!) did many calculations working out how much fabric and binding we needed to buy based on the size of the marquee. And I used to give a pile of flags to Pete each night to turn the right way round and poke the end out with a pencil while he was watching TV ready for me to iron and sew together.
We decided to also make placemats and napkins for everyone but, as we didn’t have a colour scheme, I just bought a range of fabrics that I liked, deciding on two blue, two pink, and two yellow fabrics that I thought looked nice together for placemats for each table. I also used custom labels sewn into the corner of each placemat to make them a bit more personal. All the napkins were the same fabric but I edged them in ric rac so they looked pretty cute.
I actually made two sets of bunting as the first set was really random, each flag being a totally different fabric; however, once I had made all the placemats, I was worried it looked too crazy and random so decided to make a second set of bunting with the same fabric as the placemats and napkins – I was much happier with this plus it meant we had loads to decorate the garden and the house with!
We even did our own table cloths and runners, getting two whole roles of fabric from Leeds market and working out the lengths for each row of table, cutting them and hemming each piece (which was a nightmare as they were so long!). I painted little wooden people to look like me and Pete for the cake topper and used left over scraps of fabric to make cake bunting, cake flags and table numbers.
We collected and washed loads of glass jars taking some to the florist to use for table flowers, and using the others to make lanterns – which Pete also did on evenings after work. My friend and colleague Rose, who is a graphic designer, made all our invitations which we absolutely loved – again, she got a very vague brief off us which included us saying ‘we like the retro screen print style of design but also maybe something pretty’ and what she came up with were perfect. Rose also did all the wedding stationery including table menus, cake labels and the list of names for me to use on the table plan (which also used left over scraps of fabric!)
For place names, we managed to get photos of everyone (mostly silly photos) which Pete converted into polaroids, printed on photo paper, and spent a few evenings guillotining. These were placed on top of the napkins and tied with twine. About a month before the wedding, I saw another wedding featured on RMW where the bride had made her own seat covers – I thought this looked brilliant and, having only a few weeks to go, emailed her to see if she would hire them to me. Unfortunately, she had to remove all the covers when she returned the seat pads to the hire company. So, even though Pete thought I was mental, found 100 pieces of foam on ebay, which I made covers for using spare bits of fabric I had at home, and any I could get from friends (even bed covers and unworn clothes!).
I did think at one point ‘what am I doing?’ but I’m so glad I did as they, surprisingly, took a lot less time than I thought, looked great and were much more comfortable for our guest’s bums! A few guests also took a matching set home for their own kitchen or garden chairs.
As mentioned above I made gift bags to put little presents in for friends and family who had helped with the wedding. As well as these, I also made similar style party bags for the kids and my sister bought a few little toys, sweets and bubbles to go inside them.
The final thing we made in the week of the wedding were the pom poms. I had found a tutorial for these on the internet and was so surprised to find how easy there were to make but how effective they looked. My sister and I spent an evening preparing them, and my dad (risking his life on the dodgy ladder!) hung them up the day before the wedding using nylon thread so it looked like they were floating – I think everyone loved these!
Other things we bought were candles which came in blue and yellow glass holders – they are same often used in bars so were pretty cheap but nice and colourful, and table trivia to keep our guest entertained throughout dinner. Making all the decorations took a lot of time, effort, and was at some times stressful, not knowing whether I was going to get things finished in time or if it would all look nice, but it was so worth it! I was so happy with how the marquee looked, and felt proud that it was a real homemade wedding with help from our friends and family, and everyone got to keep a piece of our wedding.
I have loads of requests since the wedding to hire our bunting or to make bunting and various other bits, which is brilliant. I love making things and it would be great to help other brides so I have decided to start up a little craft business – if any brides to be would like anything making or have a question about how I went about it, I would be love to help!
Good Enough To Eat
My mum made our cake. Fruit cake, it seems, is not the number one choice for wedding cakes these days, but I love it, especially my mum’s. She bought an 11 inch round tin (which is pretty massive) to make them in, and did a test run at Christmas, making two different types so we could taste test for the best one. As it happens, she ended up making two anyway, one for spare!
It was just a simple one layer round cake. I painted the little cake topper people and made cake bunting out of left over fabric scraps. We then asked the Leafy Couture girls to make a garland to go around the cake. I think it looked good enough to eat (literally).
Games And Treats
One thing we were certain about when starting to plan the wedding at the very beginning was making sure everyone had a really brilliant time. So, adding to the garden-party style wedding it was turning into with the marquee and bunting, we decided to get some garden games, and Pete’s dad also set up some inflatable games for the kids…which seemed to be loved by all!
Our catering ladies, Rubydoo who did a brilliant BBQ (those homemade sausages will be a talking point for years to come!) also recommended Indie Ices a local man, Mike Tattersal, who makes and sells ice cream from his trike, usually seen at farmers markets around Leeds. Not only is he a lovely man, he make the most amazing, award- winning, ice cream I (and I think our guests would agree) have ever tasted. He had even gone to special effort of making little E&P labels for the ice cream tubs.
We also hired a cask of ale from a local brewery; everyone loved the novelty of pulling their own pints! With Pete and his friends all being quite musical, we had one of the best men, Dave and his other friend Sam playing together in the early evening. They play country/folk/bluegrass style and are brilliant, and were totally fitting for our wedding. I think everyone really enjoyed it too – from the little ones to the grandparents. They even recorded a couple of songs especially for Dominique to add to our wedding photo slide show.
After Dave and Sam, we had TC & The Swingcats play. Being friends of ours, we have seen them a number of times, and are, not only lovely people but are the most fun and brilliant musicians who play western swing. As soon as we were engaged I was absolutely certain I wanted to ask them to play at our wedding, and they went down a storm.
When thinking about songs that we both liked it came about that we actually only liked songs which had sad lyrics, or in Pete’s case country songs which are more often than not about heartbreak – not appropriate for a wedding first dance! Earlier this year, we went to a 1950s’ night where TC & The Swingcats were playing. We had already asked these guys to play at our wedding but they had recently recruited a new band member, Em Brulee , to sing with them. Wowee does she have a voice! And such a brilliant personality. As soon as she started singing the beautiful words of Etta James’ ‘At Last’ we knew we had our first dance, and Em sang it on the day too!
As part of the decorations, I made place settings and napkins, these kind of doubled as favours as we told everyone to take them away if they wanted. Although there were six different fabric patterns, I made sure I use the same fabric for the reverse so families could have a matching set to use at home if they wanted.
For friends and families who had helped in the creation of our wedding i.e. reading at the ceremony, giving a speech, or making cakes, I made little fabric gift bags with a special gift inside so for all the girls who made cakes, I gave them some painted measuring spoons from Anthropologie, or for my best friends who organised the hen do, read at the ceremony and gave speeches I got them necklaces which had a nice message that came with them all about friends.
Making It Ours
I loved our wedding as, even though it wasn’t really traditional, or grand, or conform to how people usually expect a wedding to be, it was brilliant and gorgeous in every way. I remember just after we got engaged trying to describe to my mum and dad the type of wedding we were wanting, and could tell they were not too impressed – just because they only weddings they were used to had all been quite traditional or similar so they couldn’t imagine what we were describing or thought we should have something more than a ‘garden party’ or ‘BBQ’ as we had mentioned. I remember my mum even sending me links to manor houses, or dad saying he thought we should hire matching suits. It wasn’t until I sent them links to other real weddings of similar styles till they began to get it and come around to the idea. In the end, mum and dad loved the day as much as I did and are still going on about how good it was now! So, I would recommend not let anyone influence you on how you want your day to be, or feel like you have to conform to a certain ‘type’ of wedding or what others will expect, it needs to be right for the couple.
I love crafting anyway, but even if you don’t and want to have more of a home-made style wedding there is loads of brilliant people and companies who can help with this, bunting hire or vintage china hire etc. Also, ask around – you may have friends who have hidden talents who would like to help, or who may know people who are in a great band etc.
I recommend doing research – there are lots of different options out there – wedding blogs are the best tool! Looking at other people’s weddings can help you see the colours you might like or the style of wedding, or direct you to various other websites to buy accessories, decorations etc. I also found looking at real weddings featured on blogs really helped me to discover the type of photography I liked. We were so lucky to have found Dominique as she has really helped to capture exactly the look and feel of our wedding, and through the photos we can remember it always.
Advice for brides to be would also be – don’t do it all alone! I am really indecisive so always needed second opinions. For me too, Pete was brilliant, not only did he reassure me constantly, I couldn’t have got all the decorations done without him, he also sorted out the bookings of the main stuff too like the ceremony, marquee, bus hire, and drinks. There is a lot to do and think about, and there will always be friends and family who want to help. Doing it all yourselves, instead of with help from a venue or company, is hard work, and you have to think of silly details like table cloths or what size and number of glasses to order, or work out how much you think people with drink! But I would recommend it – this way, it can really be personal to you. Our wedding was so special to me as it was all planned, hosted and handmade by us and helped by people who we know and love. It was everything we wanted it to be: relaxed, fun, informal, and was all about sharing our day with family and friends.
I also think it really reflected us as who are. It was just perfect.
Sometimes you can look at a set of images and you just believe , believe in the fairytale, believe in the magic, believe in the happy ever after. And when photographer Dominique Bader’s submission email landed in my inbox I sure as hell believed in it all.
This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most beautiful affairs to have ever graced these pages, but for me – as you know, it’s never been just about the aesthetics… it’s about capturing a real life love story.
Emily and Pete were married at Leeds Town Hall with a reception in the family garden…. And this folks is a real life love story.
Louise Lunn did my, my sister, Alex, and my mum’s make up. I met Louise when I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding in December 2011 where she did our make-up. I had a trial a few months before the wedding and she was brilliant – knew exactly what I wanted and what I would suit, and had the most amazing make up box I have ever seen! Louise also worked with a local hairdresser, Jenny, who did my sisters and mum’s hair. I don’t like my hair to be too ‘done’ so I decided to do it myself, but Jenny helped me with the hairpiece as it was a bit tricky to pin in! They were lovely friendly ladies and made us feel very pampered and beautiful.
I definitely didn’t want a veil but wanted something for my hair. In the run-up to the wedding I looked around at lots of beautiful wedding blogs to get ideas. I came across an American blog which featured a bride wearing the most beautiful headpiece made from Doloris Petunia on Etsy. I love Etsy and had previously looked for accessorize on here as I love handmade stuff but had never come across anything like this. I contacted Courtney of Doloris Petunia, sending her pictures of the dress, and telling her about the style of the wedding, and she designed and made a custom piece, posting it all the way from California!
My dress was Jenny Packham Joy from Poppy Bridal Shop in Darlington. I really didn’t enjoy wedding dress shopping, I knew I didn’t want anything too big and structured, or without straps (which I found quite limiting!). Just something pretty and relaxed, beautiful but understated. A lot of the shops I went to, the dresses were quite traditional, strapless bodice-type things with like a thousand buttons. These just looked ridiculous on me! Not only were they huge (the look not helped by the bulldog clips the dress ladies use to pin me into them) but they were just not me.
I had seen a few Jenny Packham dresses in other shops prior to visiting Poppy and they had stood out due to them being a totally different type of dress. It wasn’t until I saw Joy though that I thought wow – I need to try this on! I loved it! I loved the colour: platinum, not the usual white, I loved the fact that it was simple in style but massively detailed at the same time, and the vintage 1920s feel. It was the first time, after trying on, what feels like, a million other dresses, this felt right. Clearly being mine, as well as my mum’s favourite, and my friend Alexis saying ‘it is very you’ – the dress was sold!
The Perfect Nude
I rarely wear heels so was always planning on wearing flat sandals. However, because the dress design meant that it was not possible to cut the dress to make it short enough for flats. So I had to go for a little heel. I actually initially looked around for gold wedges as I thought these would be more comfortable. I bought so many different pairs, none of them quite right: either the wrong colour or they just looked too chunky for the dress. It was only about a week before the wedding that I found the nicest nude-colour shoes in Aldo. The worked perfectly and I managed to wear them all day (with the help of Scholl Party Feet!)
Hand Picked And Wild
We went to a vintage wedding fair in Harrogate back in October 2010, were we met Sarah from Leafy Couture. She was so lovely and again, knew exactly the style were thinking about. I don’t know much about flowers and didn’t have any specific types in mind, we just knew we didn’t want anything too structured and matching. Our brief, when we met up, was pretty much this: ‘we just would like it to look colourful and wild, as if they have just been picked out of a field’. I also showed Sarah and the girls my dress and told her what colour bridesmaid dress we had and left them to it.
The months before the wedding we saved our jars, scrubbing away at the labels, and borrowing my friend’s dishwasher until we had enough of various sizes for the table flowers, which we delivered to Otley where Leafy Couture are based.
I never worried about the flowers, I was truly confident the Leafy Couture team would do a great job, and the totally did. The marquee looked amazing and my bouquet was so beautiful.
A Unique Style
We had strictly no colour theme and no matching! Although, there were at some points in the planning/creating process I did start to panic about the randomness and if it was going to look too crazy! The colours of the wedding just ended up being the colours of the fabrics that I liked the best and used in the decorations.
As far as the bridal party goes, the only thing we matched were the men’s M&S ties – and this was just to highlight them as the wedding party really. The best men, Dave and Si, both have such unique styles and look great as they are so we just said for them to wear what they wanted; I especially loved Simon’s elbow patches! Our dad’s just wore their own grey suits to tie in with Pete.
My sister’s bridesmaid dress – well, this is another story all together! I randomly popped into Coast when I was in town one lunch break and saw this dress. I thought it was lovely, the colour was beautiful and the sparkly bits would go nice with my dress. There was a size 8 and size 16 left in the sale. With my sister, being very petite, I decided to buy the size 8 thinking we could take it in if needed and if she liked it. I emailed her a picture of the dress and she really liked it. However, little to my knowledge then, she was pregnant and waiting for a few weeks to give us the good news, worrying now about the dress I had just bought not fitting! Long story short, after finding a larger size in a different store, Alex’s baby still grew bigger than we though and the even bigger dress got too tight! But, all was fine as we managed to find material that matched and a seamstress added an extra panel in the back. I think there was more worry over the bridesmaid dress than there was my own, but she looked gorgeous.
The Cool Cowboy
Pete bought his suit from H&M, and only got his shirt about a week before the wedding after buying and ruling our various other floral shirts. I love the way Pete dresses; his style is a bit different to the norm and, as a lover of country music sees himself as a bit of a cowboy. His wardrobe consists of hundreds of checked shirts, which is why, even though we were after a floral shirt (as it’s a bit more wedding-ey than checked) they all looked a bit weird until he found this one from Paul Smith which looks great especially with his braces.
Pete, although he likes the clothes he wears, never really puts a lot of effort into how he looks, but manages to pull it off every time! He looked so brilliant on the wedding day, really cool and smart in his suit and, best of all, he still looked like him.