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Fifteen Brides.

When I first heard about the Hen Party of wedding planner Kim Neville I immediately knew it was the perfect content for our gorgeous community. A unique theme (Oh I love a hen party theme..) and an amazing time was had by all. What more could you ask for from your “last” weekend out as a single girl?

Kim is actually getting married this Saturday (Go Kim!) and has kindly written all about the experience and shared some hilarious pics for us to feature.

And if anyone is thinking of replicating this 48 hours of pure unadulterated amazingness I just have one question…

Can I come along?


Kim Neville: My name is Kim and I am a control freak. I organise everything in my life down to the last minute detail, and planning our wedding has been no exception. I am loving every minute of it, but it is slightly akin to a military operation! So, when my gorgeous sister and I talked months ago about my hen night, I decided to relinquish all control and hand the planning reigns over to her, and my two best friends.

Hens On Their Hols.

To begin with, it seemed this was quite possibly the worst idea I had ever made… her preliminary search for “hen holidays” on google brought up the “eglu2rent” – an actual holiday home for actual hens; however as time went on it was quite cathartic having no control over any aspect of the day other than who to invite!

The one thing I knew is that the four of us were starting off on the Friday night in the best way possible, by seeing Take That at Wembley! An amazing concert, and my sister had made me my very own swarovski crystal tiara with the TT emblem on it, and a veil with my wedding date crystalled on to it – very lovely! I think I got off very lightly though as there was one poor woman there whose “friends” had made her wear a neon lycra leotard with a see through pac-a-mac over it, and L plates stitched on the back 🙁

After the concert we made our way, in a lovely limo with champagne courtesy of my fiance, to serviced apartments near Tower Bridge that were to become our home for the next two days. We opened a bottle of wine and chatted until the early hours feasting on a variety of cheeses and charcuterie that Sam had managed to somehow purchase without me seeing!

Quality Time With Mum.

On Saturday morning I was packed off with my Mum to the Athenaeum hotel in Mayfair for a hot stones massage which was absolutely heavenly; I think we both fell asleep during it and it was a really nice way for my Mum to be included in the celebrations.

We then met with the girls in the lobby, along with five of my other closest friends and we all spent a good couple of hours eating the most divine afternoon tea! I think afternoon tea is pretty much the best foodstuff; teeny tiny sandwiches, scones, mini cakes, need I say more?! We were all presented with a huge tea menu with actual samples of the tea leaves which we dutifully perused and then pretty much all ordered English Breakfast! And a glass of the champagne cocktail (rose & lychee – definitely stealing that one for the wedding!)

Once we had eaten so much we could hardly move, we all jumped in a cab and headed back to the apartment. I knew something was about to happen as they were all looking very sheepish, but I had no idea what…

As I entered the apartment, I saw the living room had been transformed and was full of hen party paraphernalia, streamers, balloons and bunting made out of hideously embarrassing photos of me from my younger days which had kindly been provided by my lovely friends.

Oh, and fifteen wedding dresses!

Dressed To Kill.

Yes, myself and fourteen of my closest friends were getting dolled up in wedding gowns (it was still 4 in the afternoon!) and walking through London to go cocktail making!! Once I had got over the initial shock (“we’re really going out in public like this?!) I was overwhelmed at how much effort everyone had gone to. Sam had been to everyone’s house to fit their dress (they were all ex sample dresses from her shop that she has no use for and usually sends to Kenya for the fabric and beads to be used for other projects) she had made individual hanger tags with their names on, a picture of a hen with a crystalled tiara on, and had even arranged for a professional photographer to come and snap away all afternoon. We had so much fun getting into our dresses and after a bit of dutch courage we were good to go. Sam then presented me with my tiara and veil again, and she had somehow managed to quickly change the “TT” logo to a K+C one – she is SO clever with crystals!!

A Police Escort

The walk to the station was hilarious; the traffic stopped, police cars sounded their sirens, tourist buses all looked on in amusement as fifteen brides walked down Tower Bridge Road and posed on Boris’s Bikes! It was so much fun.

The poor man at Mixology where we went cocktail making didn’t know what had hit him when he saw us all in reception, but he was such a good sport and the cocktail making class was amazing; we each got to make three cocktails and then design our own; although by the end of it I think some of the girls gave up actually mixing cocktails and just went straight for the gin!

Afterwards we went back to the apartment, ate loads of pizza, played Mr and Mrs and the girls gave me a book full of poems and pictures that they had created which was such a lovely memory; I count myself very lucky to still have very close friends from school, uni and work days, and they had all put so much thought into this lovely momento.

The Best Weekend.

I had also made little gift boxes for each hen that I gave them, which contained a “morning after the night before” kit, mini cowshed toiletries, a nail file, some sweets and a CD that I had made of all the songs that reminded me of the times I knew the girls from – some are friends from primary school, high school, university and beyond so it was so nice to reminisce about the great times we had all shared these past years!

The girls got dressed into lovely going out clothes, I had the bottom of my “wedding dress” cut off, and we piled into a cab and partied the night away in Piccadilly!

All in all it was the best weekend a girl could ask for; the perfect blend of grown up glamorous fun and a little hen night tack 😉 I can’t thank the girls enough, my sister in particular, for putting so much thought and effort into it; I will never forget it and am so glad that I decided to relinquish all control as I don’t think I would have done half as good a job if left to my own devices!

A Word From Sam.

So, as sister-of-the-bride and maid-of-honour, it fell upon me to plan the hen do – for the Queen of planning!

Given that my original search on Google for ‘hen ideas’ came up with eglu2rent I was not feeling over confident about arranging the frivolities! However, an evening with the other bridesmaids and a glass of wine did wonders, and the wedding dress idea started to come to life. After the relaxing and civilised massage and afternoon tea, it was decided that 15 hens would walk through London, wearing some of my ex-stock weddingdresses to a cocktail making class – there was simply no other theme more appropriate for a cocktail loving wedding planner, whose sister had an endless supply of dresses available! Mixology were fabulous. They immediately loved the idea, had no worries fitting us all in, and said they were looking forward to it! Once that had all been booked, I got Don Wales the photographer involved, as I knew that we would be far too involved in making cocktails to worry about taking photos!

It all went to plan on the day, got a lot of attention and gave us all a lot of giggles! Once the cocktails were done, and the slap up meal of pizzas eaten whilst playing Mr & Mrs amongst other games, the layered bubble hem of Kim’s dress was cut, train pinned up, and she danced the night away!

A Word From Helen.

Kim’s hen night was easily the best hen night I have ever been on! It was a privilege to share the quintessentially British afternoon tea with Kim and her hens before donning an incredibly beautiful wedding dress courtesy of Mamfii Bridal, and walk through London, Reservoir Dogs style, with 15 other “brides” ready to learn the art of cocktail making before dancing the night away. This weekend married tradition with 21st century tomfoolery, fun and friendship, love and laughter – all the things Kim & Chara represent!

A Word From Bex.

How does a feast of a hen weekend pan out when it’s for a wedding planner and organised by a Bridal retailer? – simples! Hors d’oeuvres of a civilsed afternoon tea at a top London hotel, a starter of 15 delectable wedding dresess (altered to our own sizes!!), a main course of a somewhat exhibitionist walk through London Town, over Tower bridge of 15 fully dressed brides, and a dessert of cocktail making classes with plenty of gin and a rather intimadated teacher! And of course the usual digestives and petit fours of some shandies in Tiger Tiger! I hope I don’t ever need to go on another hen, and I am glad I have had mine as I don’t think it could ever be topped!

The taxi shot?!

Priceless!!

And what a good excuse to wear your gown again eh?

A big thank you and a HUGE congratulations to Kim for her wedding this Saturday……

Big Best Girls Love

Charlotte xxx

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A Brighton Rocks Best Girls Affair.

Lovely lady and Rock My Wedding reader Rachie from a Chi Chi affair blog has kindly shared the planning and design ideas of her sisters fabulous Brighton hen do. It’s jam packed full of achievable inspiration and an abundance of D.I.Y ideas and as you know with everything on RMW, it’s not only applicable to W-day what we show on these polka dot pages…….use whatever you like for whatever you like!

Rachie: We decided quite early on that my sisters hen do would be in Brighton, its only a hour from where many of us live and some of the hens also had babies and were pregnant, so we didn’t want to be away too long. Helen (The bride and my sister) was planning her wedding in only six months so she had a lot to think about. My younger sister Victoria and I decided to make the hen night a surprise from start to finish so she couldn’t worry about where she was going, who was coming (or wasn’t) or what it entailed!

As soon as we finalised the location and the date, Victoria and I starting thinking about logistics and activities, I knew i wanted to do quite a lot of my own stylilng and provide some of the food to keep the costs down. So we decided to hire a (very funky!) house to stay for the Saturday night from City Pad. The plan was for the girls to take the train down to Brighton and meet me at the house. We would all then have a lunch, a wine tasting, get ready and play a few games, then go out in the evening in Brighton for dinner at Moshi Brighton, karaoke at Lucky Voice (amazing!) drinks and dancing.

The Stationery

I’m a big fan of paper goods and love my stationery, and I found this fabulous stationery designer from Etsy called Missprintdesign who designed and printed my invitations. They were such lovely quality and provided a really good service and we sent the invitations out as soon as we finalised the date. The rest of the correspondence was then done via email. The stripy invitations along with the location set the tones of the styling and colour scheme which were a kind of vintage seaside, Brighton Rocks theme.

I created a little box with a stick of rock in that we presented to Helen at the train station to tell her where she was going!

I used another vendor from Etsy called Max and Bella to design the pink and white stripy stickers, tags for the favours and the advice card. Again she was absolutely lovely and quick to deal with and postage was really reasonable from the USA. I would definitely recommend her.

All the signs and stickers were printed by me using Picnik.com which is a free photo shop website that is online. I love this website, it has a variety of fonts and effects and its really quite easy! (I promise!) I did buy the digital stripy backgrounds from Fayola at Etsy for $2. This is a great tip as Etsy has lots of printable backgrounds you can buy, and they really make your stationery look professional.

Activities

Activity wise at the house, I always think its nice to have an area where the guests give advice for the bride, so i set up an advice station for this. Its also a keepsake that the bride can keep for many years to come. We also did a Mr and Mrs quiz that the husband to be filmed on his iphone which i then downloaded to the laptop, This was really funny and we all had a good laugh at the answers. On other hen nights i have organised, I have put the answers on separate cards and you then ask the questions throughout the hen night – this works just as well! I had also asked her friends that live abroad to film a little message that we played. Other guests then bought gifts and Victoria made a box with items in representing health, wealth, happiness, love and fertility. This included items such as the good wife guide which everyone loved.

The main activity was a wine tasting that was conducted by a company called Thirty Fifty . I was conscious that we were quite short of time and it was also the middle of winter so this did have an impact on the activity we chose. – Thirty Fifty came to the house and brought all their equipment and the wines, Everyone really enjoyed the tasting and we even learnt something! As the tasting went on it was more and more hilarious (as you can imagine!) and we were all in hysterics by the end. I really recommend it.

The Food

I do love a dessert table and designed one around the seaside theme, with chocolate cupcakes with stripy wrappers, Mini Victoria sponges, doughnuts, popcorn, (popcorn holders from Ebay) marshmallow cones and candy floss. I was determined to keep some of the costs down so I had a baking day to make as much as I could myself.

We also had a lunch with mini sandwiches (with flags from Ebay) and sausage rolls. All of the fabric used for the tablecloths was from Ebay.

The Decorations and Favours

The main decorations in the house were the bunting and the balloons, and little bubble gum balls in glass jam jars. I made pinwheels using craft paper from Paperchase. (the tutorial is HERE) We also had favours that we took to the restaurant which were a little box containing a fortune cookie from Maple Mollys.

We all read out our fortunes at dinner!

I made little bags with chocolate chip cookies as a bedtime snack and then we had brown paper favour bags for the girlies to take home containing a stick of rock, and a wine charm. The girls also took the left over cakes home with them to eat on the way home!

I knew that all the girls would bring the obligatory hen night paraphernalia and I didn’t want to fight this, On the way out we did dress Helen up with the sash, veil , tiara etc and then hired a limo to go into town. Sometimes you do have to embrace the hen night traditions!! We partied the night away!!

My Advice

Organising a hen night is stressful and I don’t think there is any getting away from this. Try and be as organised as possible. You can’t please everybody and there will always be people who think its too expensive, too far away or the wrong date. As long as the majority is okay with it and you know the bride will like it then that’s okay.

Do try and be as organised as possible, Try and get everyone to pay upfront so you don’t need to worry about it on the day.

Do get an idea from the bride on what kind of thing she would like, who is coming and what her friends are like – If she is little miss shy and her mum and mother in law will be there, then a stripper and foreplay lesson may not be a good idea!!

Do have a loose theme in mind even if its just a colour scheme- it doesn’t have to be all tiaras, willies and pink!

Don’t try and cram too much into the day as the hens will naturally want to have a chat and laugh, unpack, relax etc.

Brides – please do remember that its tough to organise a hen night especially as the majority of your bridesmaids wont know all of the hens, Do offer help along the way if needed and don’t put too much pressure on them – they can only do their best!

Rachie xo

Huge thanks to Rachie for sharing her ideas and finds, and if any of you gorgeous lot are thinking of planning a similar best girls affair then make sure you send in your pics and stories, we love hearing about them 😉

Big Brighton Love

Charlotte xxx

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Cool Britannia.

Hello Lovelies, and a very BRITISH Monday to you all!

Remember our Next Top Model Competition the other week and our gorgeous winners – Rock My Wedding readers Gemma and Chara? Yes? excellent…..because here is the finished photoshoot result, a delicious selection of inspiration in red, white and blue. Initiated by Jo Kent at Something Blue PR and renowned wedding planner Kim Neville at The Pink Pumpkin they’ve got a whole lot of lovely to share with you folks.

And I’m thinking not only a fun theme for W-day but also a hen party or special birthday celebration ( I should know, I picked it for my 30th!). Look out for the girls magazine-worthy hair and make-up looks and chunky statement neck-candy.

We love.

Jo has written all about the experience for you gorgeous lot so make sure you sit back, relax and enjoy the pretty.

The Cool Britannia photo shoot brought together some of the best British bridal suppliers for a one-day wedding inspiration extravaganza in London. Covering all the key elements of a wedding from the gowns and hair styling to transport and table décor, the shoot showcases some seriously bold and bright eye candy for couples planning a city inspired wedding. Celebrating all that we love about Britain and a year of not just one but TWO royal weddings, 2011 is the year of all years to host an unashamedly patriotic occasion and be truly proud to be British!

The Hair and Make-Up

When it comes to hair artistry, there really is nobody like Severin Hubert at Hepburn Collection . Gracing the pages of Rock My Wedding on many an occasion, Severin is known as the King of hair and together with his partner Roz Edwards, they were the perfect duo to create a statement bridal look for our gorgeous models.

“I am a French romantic who has always admired and adored the royal family so for me being part of this shoot was a privilege. I wanted to add a little of that Je ne sais quoi to our Cool Britannia theme. Something not too obvious but fitting nevertheless. For Gemma, the dress was simple but elegant so I decided to keep the front very natural and off her beautiful face but at the back I wanted something that looked quite regal so I created three pony tails twisting each one into each other. A simple tiara fit for a princess fitted perfectly on the head. For Chara, her makeup was quite strong as was the dress with the red, so that gave me the go ahead to create something more dynamic but with a twist of vintage. I started with a pony tail and added a padding/donut for volume at the front on the side. Soft curl waves were made to cover the volume using the pony tail. With this hair style you can either leave as it is or go for it and add a real statement piece.”

Kate Messer is an internationally travelled make-up artist with more than 14 years experience and a track record of working with some of the biggest names in the beauty industry. The shoot was the first time Severin and Katy had joined forces but looking at their amazing teamwork, we’re certain it won’t be the last!

For Chara I wanted statement lips so went for red, but I kept it matte and not too deep or blue so as to keep it bridal and less vampy! With such a bold lip, I kept the skin sheer yet flawless, neautral blush used to contour and a highlighted cheek. The eyes were a modern take on the 50’s flick but with a soft grey used instead of black and winged false lashes It was important to me that it looked modern and not like a recreation. I wanted to make this echo another era, not copy it.”

“On the lovely Gemma, I saw a classic beauty and so followed a more traditional bridal theme but with a romantic yet sexy edge. After giving her a smooth, creamy base I worked slates and topaz shades around the eyes, including lining the inner rims with a black/gold kohl. The cheeks were rosy and pinched and the lip was softly deepened with a glossy finish. Gemma herself gave me the inspiration for this look with her young, feminine features. I wanted to give her a look that was sophisticated and classic yet a little bit sexy. In a subtle way!”

The Wedding Planner

With oodles of experience in wedding planning and a long family history in the industry Kim Neville, Director of The Pink Pumpkin wedding consultancy knows everything there is to know about designing unique, show-stopping occasions. With a bold and beautiful theme in mind, Kim set to with planning the details for a sensational Cool Britannia wedding shoot and with the help of some seriously cool props and styling, added the finesse and finishing touches that makes a wedding stand out from the crowd. And boy, would this occasion make statement!

The concept for the Cool Britannia shoot was for an elegant day but with many quirky, fun touches. Red, white and blue was the obvious colour palette choice, and the union jack motif and regal designs throughout echoed the theme. There is no better location that London and once aboard our fabulous Routemaster bus we were able to shoot by some of the city’s most famous landmarks; even popping into the pub for a cheeky pint on the way! Overall the shoot was colourful, stylish and above all heaps of fun.

The Photography

A cool and quirky photo shoot requires cool and quirky photographers – and who better than the lovely Kate and Craig at Craig Williams Photography . Renowned for their artistic and creative wedding photography, Kate and Craig were the perfect duo to get some fabulously fun photos.

Jo contacted me and asked about shooting a Royal Wedding inspired shoot and when she mentioned the route master bus and a tour of London’s biggest landmarks, I was like “Hell Yeah!!”

“I wanted this shoot to reflect my style which is soft and romantic, and from the moment we got to the venue and met the awesome team involved, I knew it was going to be a fantastic shoot! I also had two amazing models to work with and getting escorted around London in a red bus to some of our greatest landmarks and taking pictures along the way is my idea of fun! This shoot for me is full of London romance without compromising on gorgeousness and glamour!!! I love the images and I hope you do too!!”

The Location

A Cool Britannia theme? Nowhere says British better than the Big Smoke and with the big royal wedding of William and Kate almost here, the location for such iconic shots simply had to be Westminster. From Westminster Abbey to Big Ben and the London Eye, we got the models strutting their stuff in front of every landmark in London’s most historic area resulting in some fantastic images. As the crowds of tourists and other photographers amassed to marvel over our models, we literally had to fight our way through to ensure Kate and Craig could get the best shots. To finish off the shoot before heading back to the venue, we even managed a quick pint in the Westminster Arms!

To transport us to all the sights on our little London road trip, the team from Routemaster Hire was a fantastic support and provided a beautifully restored traditional Routemaster which was the highlight of the day. No wedding in London would be the same without one of these buses and we had some seriously good fun aboard the bus!

The Venue

Located just steps from Tate Britain and with incredible views across South Bank, 45 Millbank is a Grade 11 listed building and ideal location for a London wedding. Home to the world-famous Chelsea College of Art, the venue blends Edwardian classic with a modern eclectic twist.

The Attire

Famed for her love of all things vintage and British bridal wear, gown designer Beverly Lister was on hand to style the models in gowns from her latest collection, inspired by a city look.

“With all eyes focused on the upcoming royal wedding, there is no cooler a place to be than London!  I chose clean, city chic yet romantic styles for the shoot.  The pillar box red satin of gown Scarlett pays homage to the red of double decker buses and phone boxes.  Rio, with its billowing skirt in traditional bridal silk is fit for any princess!  And Jane made me think of tea at the Ritz!  I chose an elaborate floral headpiece reminiscent of days out at Ascot.”
 
Statement accessories by Cherished and Vivien Sherriff (all available from Evangeline Rose Bridal) completed the styled look.

The Flowers

In charge of creating the striking floral displays and bridal bouquet was the very talented Fulham based florist, Euphoric Flowers . With the philosophy that life is so much better with flowers in it, Euphoric Flowers is owned by partners Simon Nickell and Victoria Taberer-Bond and has earned itself a well deserved reputation as one of London’s finest florists.

Our inspiration for the “Cool Britannia” shoot had to be red, white and blue, because nothing says britannia more than the colours of the Union Jack! But how do you do that with flowers? If you think of wedding flowers, the most popular and classic are roses, but not in blue! Then we thought of dyed roses and that inspired us to create our retro style arrangements using a red and white combination and spicing it up with a shock of blue that’s bound to attract attention. Are they real? Yes they are and, you can get them all year round!”

Stationery and Favours

To set the tone for the theme we needed stationery that was colourful and fun yet had a regal element. Renowned for their bold, vintage inspired stationery, Dottie Creations was our number one choice.

We love designing and styling all things vintage so it was a thrill to be asked to come up with a stationery design based on red, white and blue British styling. For us ‘Cool Britannia’ conjured up images of the Union jack (for which we’d already created a stationery design), jubilees, street parties and bunting.  For a royal wedding we knew we had to glam things up a bit so we incorporated our own little take on the royal coat of arms and added a monogram designed around the couples initials to mimic a royal cypher. As finishing touches, the bride and groom place settings had their own crowns and the tables were named after royal palaces illustrated by etchings we had created from vintage postcards. To give everything that extra wow factor we accessorised with royal blue satin ribbon, all fit for a Queen!”

The Cake

Essex based Fancy Nancy are renowned for their fabulous and fun cake creations and director Juliet Sear created a masterpiece for the shoot.

This was the perfect theme to have fun with. Working with the classic red, white and blue straight off the union jack, we created a kitsch, jaunty and fun cake design inspired by a street party decoration idea using red white and blue stripes, polka dots and florals. We used some of the elements from our latest range in Harvey Nichols to commemorate the royal wedding including our Vivienne Westwood inspired mixed colour roses to decorate the top tier and create a super cool cake that’s fun yet stylish.

 The lovely Royal Wedding biscuits were designed designed by The Biscuiteers to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. From bouquets to bubbly, The Biscuiteers have a stunning array of wonderful wedding-themed biscuits for you to choose from. And if you’re looking for something really different, they can work with you to create a bespoke collection.

A HUGE thank you goes out to all the suppliers who very generously provided all of the photography, props and styling for the shoot. It couldn’t have been have achieved without them and these guys really do rock when it comes to weddings!

Production/PR: Jo Kent at Something Blue PR

Wedding Planner and Receptions Stylist: Kim Neville at The Pink Pumpkin

Photography: Kate and Craig Williams at Craig Williams Photography

Venue: 45 Millbank

Bridal Gowns: Beverly Lister

Hair Accessories: Cherished and Vivien Sherriff at Evangeline Rose Bridal

Shoes: Evangeline Rose Bridal

Hair: Severin Hubert at Hepburn Collection

Makeup: Katy Messer at Makeup by Katy

Routemaster Bus: Route Master Hire

Stationery and Table Favours: Dottie Creations

Flowers: Euphoric Flowers

Wedding Cake: Fancy Nancy

Royal Biscuits: Limited edition collection at Biscuiteers

Vintage crockery: Idyllic Days

Ivory Damask table linen, Baroque Platinum glassware and Kings cutlery: Jones Hire

Special thanks must also go to the fabulous models and RMW readers Chara and Gemma who both braved the cold weather to make the shoot such a huge success!

Make sure you drop us a comment on any themes, colour schemes or London lovely that is tickling your fancy this January Monday….

Big Red Bus Driving- Pint Pulling- Westminster Rocking Love

Charlotte xxx

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