I actually don’t even know where to begin with Ruth and Neil’s big day. Perhaps I should start by saying that I think this is perhaps one of my favourite weddings EVER to appear on Rock My Wedding. I should probably follow this up with the fact that I found this the hardest wedding to curate for these pages because I wanted to include every single image in the slider at the top here. So will you promise me that you’ll take five minutes to look at all the images below in the gallery. Pinky promise?
Whenever we’re sent a wedding by photography genius Mister Phill, we know it’s going to be special but this unique do is an absolute corker. It’s clear that Ruth and Neil invested so much time and effort into making their knot-tying uniquely them. There is signage, there is an epic order of service, there are hay bales and a very sweet bouquet that you would never have guessed was not made by a professional.
There are awesome speeches and truly immense supersized posters (I honestly went green with envy when I saw the posters). There are doughnut eating contests, passionate smooches, branded signage for different parts of the wedding breakfast. Hell even the pieces of paper slotted into the vintage typewriter were branded. These two thought of EVERYTHING.
And I couldn’t not go without wondering if anyone else thought that Ruth has a touch of Sophie Dahl about her? She so wonderfully channels the English Rose archetype in her beautiful dress.
I’m not sure where to begin with Rachel and Alex’s super stylish affair. There are just so many beautiful details and the whole day just looks so elegant and well styled but still very relaxed.
The best place to start is probably with Rachel’s divine Catherine Deane gown. The boned bodice creates such a beautiful shape and I’ll forever love the delicate fall of silk-chiffon. The Bridesmaids dresses are so pretty too – the perfect shade of pinky nude to add some femininity to the day without being too girly.
I think we’ll move on to the flowers next – wonderfully oversized, rustic bouquets, single stems in quirky metallic and glass vases and then there’s that hanging flower box…
Not to mention the art deco style wooden table numbers, the rustic stationery in grey, duck egg blue and gold, the mirrored table plan, the dapper Groom and Groomsmen in navy…it’s all just so stylish.
Not only is the wedding easy on the eye, but the atmosphere looks incredible too, from the champagne popping moment during the ceremony, to the marquee filled with dancing bodies at the end of the evening, this is a truly special wedding.
I swear if there’s ever a bride and groom that have smiled from ear to ear for the whole of their wedding day then it’s Lucie and Stuart. The pair married at Lucy’s parents’ super chic manoir in Puisseguin, France complete with a classic and elegant black tie theme.
And it looks as if everyone had an absolute hoot judging from the beams on their stylish guests’ faces.
Perhaps what I love most about this ‘I Do’ apart from Mister Phill’s awesome photography of the day is the time and dedication that Lucie put into the decor and styling of her wedding reception. Be it the spotty black and white paper wrapped lovingly around mini baguettes for each guest, the antique clocks set at the times that each event of the day was due to take place at or the glass window frames doubling up as an epic table plan…there’s something to gaze at in every photo.
And let’s not forget the flowers either; the little galvanised buckets filled with Gypsophila, Lucie’s Anenome and Peony bouquet and the sweet spotty feather and Gypsophila buttonholes for the boys. All just so lovely!
If you caught up with the blog this morning or checked into our Facebook page then you’ll be aware that this week is International Week on RMW. Hello and welcome!!
International week you ask? What’s that? Is it where we all dress up as parodies of countrymen from various nations (think berets and necklaces of garlic for the French, lederhosen for the Germans) and eat their national dish by the bucketload? (Did you ever do that at school?!)
No folks. It’s much, MUCH better than that!
International week is all about treating you folk to the most sublime, awe-inspiring and fun weddings from around the world. Yep that’s right, we’ve gone GLOBAL.
And why have we decided to do that then? Well I’m glad you asked…
It’s all because our Love Lust List, our handpicked directory of wedding suppliers, has gone international!
If you haven’t already found our Love Lust List – then where have you been?! It’s THE place to go to source suppliers who have the official Rock My Wedding seal of approval – lovely people who we know will help you create the wedding of your dreams.
And now, we’re proud to announce that regardless of where you might be marrying we can now help you find great suppliers from all over the world!
We thought we’d help kick the week off by sharing the RMW Team’s favourite past destination weddings…the ones that made our hearts flutter and our eyes get a bit wet.
The dashing duo that is Evy and Steve have long shared a real passion for wine. Where better then to hold their Civil Partnership than at the gorgeous Hotel Du Vin in Poole.
I love so many things about Evy and Steve’s big day that it’s difficult to know where to start. From the exquisite table settings, the sartorial decisions of both grooms (Evy I might have to fight you for your ruby red man bag!), through to the stationery and the Grooms’ Girls, every decision is quite literally the ultimate in sophisticated elegance.
And that’s not even the best bit.
The twosome arranged for all their guests to take part in an actual wine tasting during the Champagne Reception. How immense is that?!
Take it away boys…
Take One Super Stylish Registry Office
We chose the Guildhall in Poole because it is simply the best looking registry office we have ever seen. We didn’t really want a registry office ceremony but when we saw Poole Guildhall we knew it was the right place for us. The building itself is typical Georgian elegance and the beautiful restoration has been done to enhance the original building whilst encompassing its new use. The chandeliers really helped to sell it. The fact that it was also only a short walk from the reception venue also made it a really great choice. We booked a double slot at the Guildhall so that we didn’t have to rush or make way for other parties as we arrived or left the venue which made the whole experience feel much more exclusive and personal.
Our reception was held at the Hotel du Vin in Poole, which is located within a former Georgian mansion house and matched the style of the Guildhall perfectly. We chose Hotel du Vin because it is where we always celebrate special occasions. We had also gotten engaged at our local Hotel du Vin in Winchester so it seemed like an appropriate place to hold the celebration. The Team at Hotel du Vin in Poole made the whole experience completely stress free and the level of quality and service are second to none. The fact that they are an organisation that focuses on one of our main pastimes…enjoying wine, made it all the more appropriate to us as individuals and also helped to define the theme of the day.
Not So Matchy Matchy
Evy’s suit (Navy Blue) was from Jaeger for Men. Steve’s (Charcoal Grey) was from French Connection. We were very clear that we didn’t want to wear matching outfits on the day. We both like to dress well, but have very different styles.
We wanted to look smart and relaxed, so we opted for well tailored lounge suites that were comfortable and complemented each other. We also wanted to tie the colour palette for the day together through the clothes we were wearing, giving the wedding party a sense that we were coordinated without looking too put together.
A Serious Style Statement
Our wedding bands are from Cartier and the design is about committing yourself completely to one another. We also had the dates of our engagement and wedding day engraved on the inside of the bands. As a surprise for Steve I had the message “you are my happy ending” engraved. Although I am aware of the comedic value of this phrase, I chose it because the road to our wedding day hasn’t always been easy. That said, no matter what adversity we have faced we always find happiness with each other.
My (Evy’s) favourite accessory from the day is my ruby red Prada man bag. I always knew I wouldn’t be walking down the aisle with a bouquet so I wanted to make a statement about my style instead. I have a reputation amongst my friends as being somewhat a champion of the man bag, so I knew this would be the perfect accessory to finish off my wedding outfit. When we went shopping to look for a bag, I walked in to the Prada Store on Bond Street. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it so I bought and kept it in the top of the wardrobe for six months.It almost killed me not using it for that long. I have used it on a number of occasions since our wedding and every time I do it reminds me of our fabulous wedding day.
Evy’s shoes were from Gucci, I have been obsessed with Gucci since I was a teenager and there was no way I could get married in any other brand of shoe. They’re a classic black loafer. I know a lot of people who have bought special shoes for their wedding and then don’t wear them again I wanted to have things that I could enjoy for many more years and the classic style means they go with almost anything.
Steve’s shoes came from Hugo Boss and are black slip-ons. I went for something smart and classic so that I can wear them again and make sure we get to enjoy the beautiful craftsmanship of my wedding shoes for more than once. I love shoes and this was a really good excuse to buy some that I really liked.
The wedding party were all coordinated with our colour scheme of navy blue & charcoal grey to complement what we wore.
Our Grooms’ Girls wore charcoal grey dresses from Phase Eight that were heavily beaded on the collar and cap sleeves with Blue-ish beading. Because of the detail on the dresses, we decided to keep the rest of the outfit simple by accessorizing with navy blue bags from Debenhams and shoes from Marks & Spencer.
Our witnesses wore navy blue floor length chiffon dresses from Coast and silver shoes from Next. In order to tie their outfits in with the Grooms’ Girls I found some heavily beaded necklaces from All That Glitters in Winchester and the colors tied in really well.
My youngest sister wore a custom made gown in pale grey chiffon by Hollywood Dreams who are based in London but have stockists nationwide.
All the hair for our wedding party was created by Maddisons Hair Design in Poole. They did a great job of all the hair; however I must give special mention to the side buns worn by the Grooms’ Girls. All they had to work from on the day was a rather poor quality photo of a trial run that I did on two of the girls the month before the big day. I was overjoyed when I saw the final results. Hairpieces were added to give extra volume to the finished bun.
Our flowers were based on an idea we had had that came from our theme. We both love good wine and it is well know amongst our friends that we enjoy a glass or two on a regular basis. We chose the Hotel du Vin, not only because of the wonderful service we always receive, but because of their reputation for holding one of the best selections of wines available.
Because we based our wedding around the theme of wine we decided it would be amusing to have champagne buckets with white flowers frothing over in a dome shape. To achieve the look and shape, our florist used white Hydrangeas and Avalanche Roses interspersed with Chrysanthemums to create the look. Our button-holes were simple Avalanche Roses and were created by New Street Flowers in Poole.
One of the most important elements of the day was our photographer Mister Phill. We found him by mistake after mentioning to our venue events manager (Thomas) that we were struggling to find a photographer that fitted the style of photography that we were looking for. Thomas had seen Mister Phill at the Hotel du Vin a few weeks before and gave us his details. As soon as we saw Phill’s work, we knew it was just what we were looking for, creative, informal, unobtrusive and stylish. The finished result is perfect and has provided with the ultimate reminder of how wonderful all the elements of our wedding day were.
If I were speaking to any prospective bride or groom about what to spend your wedding budget on, I would say that your photographer is the most important investment you will make for your wedding. The day passes by so quickly that you barely have an opportunity to take it all in. By investing in a fabulous photographer, you can capture all the details that took so much planning but that you don’t even notice on the big day.
Having attended several weddings over the last few years where the wedding cake ended up in the bin, we were very clear that we didn’t want to present our guests with a slice of cake that didn’t get eaten. Following our four course wedding breakfast, we invited our guests to choose from a tower of boxed cupcakes that were various flavours so they could eat it with their coffee or take it home for the following day. The idea of the tower was that it should be high so you could see it form all the tables and the cakes should be arranged in a random order to give that exclusive patisserie feel that you see in stores like Fortnum & Mason or Ladurée.
Our cakes were supplied by Waitrose patisserie counter to order and came in five varieties:
The boxes were ordered from Amazon and then we personalized them with our wedding stickers and the grey ribbon we used elsewhere in our decoration.
Breaking The Ice
As we had themed our wedding around our joint love of a good glass of vino, we arranged for all our guests to take part in a wine tasting session during the champagne reception. This was a really fun experience and all our guests have said how much they enjoyed it. It also helped to get people to mingle within their tables and helped to break the ice before people were seated for the wedding breakfast.
In the evening, our guests were entertained by a very talented musician called Kieron Cox. We really wanted to have live music that made our guests feel comfortable enough to dance but also comfortable to sit and have a chat. Kieron played a selection on his repertoire that includes modern pop songs and re-worked classics to provide a wide set that had people up on their feet before the desert was even served! We found Kieron playing in our favourite wine bar so it seemed like it had to be him that provided our wedding entertainment.
We decided we didn’t want to have a first dance at the wedding as we didn’t feel comfortable with it. However, our friends felt very differently and arranged for Kieron to play Elton John’s “Your Song” about half way through the evening. It turned out to be a really lovely moment and it’s a song that has so much feeling to it. The friends were forgiven and I’m really glad that we did have our first dance in the end.
As we have already established, the theme of the day was wine and so it only seemed correct that the favours should tie in. We gave each of our guests a miniature bottle of our favorite pink prosecco from M&S tied together with a champagne cork that had been split with a 2012 50p coin to signify good luck. Each then had a hand written label attached to indicate who the favour belonged to. The favours were then arranged in table groups and acted as our table plan. This worked out really well as it got all the guests interacting before they were seated at their tables.
For the children, we provided the soda bottles filled with Jelly Belly jelly beans with the same decoration to tie in to the overall look of the day.
Keeping Things Simple
We chose the Hotel Du Vin on the basis that we love the decor there and there was very little to do. We wanted our wedding day to feel like we had invited our friends and family along to our favorite restaurant for a really nice night out on us. Because of this we asked the hotel to keep the table dressing really minimal. With no table cloths (we hate dirty table cloths) to allow the candles and flowers to really stand out. We both loved the final result as it gave the room a really warm glow that shows through in all the photographs from later in the day.
We also wanted the favours, cake table and sweetie station to really stand out and by keeping it really simple and elegant, the quality of the various decorative elements really came though.
Elegance And Sophistication
The thing that made our wedding unique is that we formulated a very clear theme that tied in to our venue and who we are as individuals but without becoming slaves to the theme. When planning our day, it felt like we could have spent millions on all the little details but like most people we had a limited budget and wanted to make the most of it.
It’s important to keep in mind what people will actually remember and allocate your budget on those items first. For us, those things were good food, free flowing drinks and quality entertainment. Once we had those things agreed, the rest just fell into place.
Since the day lots of the guests have said how elegant and sophisticated they thought it was. Whilst that was the outcome we had hoped for during the planning process, I think it really came from the way that we focused on the things that were important to us and our guests and made use of our own skills to fill in the gaps.
This is the wedding of Emma and Oli…and it will make your actual day.
So much colour, so many laughs, so much joy. Like a cloudless blue sky filled with sunshine.
And Oli may have organised the most romantic proposal ever, seriously, he emailed me this:
“I designed a ring out of rare things I got from all over the world, like 40 million year old swamp wood, and a mamouths tooth and a meteorite found in America. I then hired a helicopter that I told her was a gift from friends, and flew her over a giant sign that said marry me!”
Yes. A ring made out of a meteorite people.
And I’ve included some images just so you can see how unbelievably awesome the whole thing was.
All of the wedding picture pretty (second template onwards) is courtesy of the ace Mister Phill.
We were married at St Peter’s Church, Wellesbourne with our reception held in Tee pees by a lake nearby on private property. The Tee Pees were our big extravagance – we loved them from as soon as we saw them online but it took a while to commit as we had over 150 guests which meant up to 4 tee pees which don’t come cheap!
After getting engaged I watched my first episode of ‘Don’t tell the bride’ and a few weeks later I went for my first visit to a dress shop to see what was on offer. The first dress she got out was the one I’d seen on… Don’t tell the bride. I continued looking but my heart was always on that one so it must have been fate! I knew I wanted something fitted – I’m quite petite so didn’t want to be swamped.
High Street Blooms
I wore a big flower in my hair. I’m not really a girly girl so tiara’s were out of the question! I went to Primark and shops like Monsoon and bought a collection. My hairdresser played around with how they would look and did a great job. I didn’t go for a veil either – I didn’t see the point when I knew I’d take it off as soon as we left church – I preferred to spend my budget on other things! I wore a pearl necklace that used to belong to my gran and found a cheapish bracelet to match in Debenhams.
Hot Pink And Pretty
I rarely wear makeup so this was a big concern for me. A friend told me about Bare Escentuals make up so I went to their store in Covent Garden and they did a make over for me. I love their products now and probably ‘do my face’ once a week which is a step change for me! I have really sensitive skin and their products are excellent.
I chose hot pink lipstick (to match our colour scheme) and the rest of my make up was fairly muted but I think my skin looked great. The local village hairdresser did my hair. As I’ve lived in London for 11 years I hadn’t used the hairdresser since I was at school but the lady I had was so creative and daring with the styles she tried which is what I was after.
The full bridal party was 9 in total – 3 bridesmaids, our 2 fathers, 4 ushers and the best man. The men hired black suits and we bought everyone a hot pink tie and pocket handkerchief. Oli and his brother (best man Matt) also had hot pink spats made which I was dubious about but they got a lot of attention! My bridesmaids work maxi dresses.
As my theme was non formal, relaxed, country style wedding I didn’t want formal bridesmaid dresses. I actually found the dresses on e-bay and they cost about £20 each and the girls still wear them today – I even bought myself one. They each had a hot pink bolero cardi to go with them from Monsoon. The mian theme was ‘colurful’ but the ties, corsages, cardigans and button holes stuck to the main concept of hot pink and yellow.
Oli had a suit made for himself and his best man. Black three piece suits whih he designed and got made by A Suit That Fits. The back of the waistcoat was hot pink silk which looked fab when the jacket came off and as mentioned above the spoats were an added bit of creativity on his behalf! Yes, he looked fab – he works in a creative industry so never wears suits and I actually prefer him looking casual but he did look great on the day so no 2nd thoughts when I got to the top of the aisle! Then again, I was blubbing that much I hardly noticed who was waiting for me – ha!
My mum, mother in law and their talented friends did all the arrangements for the church and the tee pees. I wanted wild flowers in old jugs and jam jars to give it a country fete feeling. I think they did an amazing job – we had flowers coming out of our ears! I bought the flowers from a flower market a couple of days before and then mum and co found all the foliage nearby – this saved loads of money. I got our local florist to make my bouquet, the bridesmaids wrist corsages and the button holes for the men.
I wanted bright bright colours and so mainly hot pinks, yellows and creams. The men wore sunflowers as button holes. I had peonies, sunflowers & roses in my bouquet. I really didn’t want ‘crafted, over complicated floral displays and was really pleased with what I got.
A Testament to Talent
Mister Phill did our photography – Oli knew him from his Uni days (Phil was his lecturer) and he’d done a wedding we’d been at just a few months before and loved the shots so there was no real debate really! Bearing in mind how many photographers there are, I have come across 2/3 brides through work here in London who have used or are considering Mister Phil which I think is real testament to how great his shots are.
He was with us for over 12 hours that day and worked his socks off! The pre wedding shoot was also great, I’d never have thought about having this but it certainly helped me become more comfortable being photographed and prepared me for the day.
Fun And Frolics
We had a live band who we loved and the dance floor was absolutely packed from about 9pm to 1am. The band also did the disco in between and played all the songs we’d requested – including ‘Jim’ll fix it for you!’ We just wanted everybody to enjoy the msc and there was a good mixture for all ages although the dance floor got a bit too raucous for the oldies later on – lots of drinking out of shoes going on.
Strictly Come Dancing
Our First Dance was Eddie Cochrane – C’mon Everybody was our first dance. Neither of us wanted to sway uncomfortably round the dance floor to a slow song so we did a rock and roll dnce as we’d both had jive lessons a few years before! It was great fun but a bit stressful on the night as we had been practicing for a good 3 weeks beforehand! We both fell over at the end mind – which made for a good few shots!
The teepees themselves are stunning so don’t need too much decoration – especially when filled with wild flowers. But, Oli’s mum and aunt made metres and metres of bunting which we used to decorate inside and outside. A friend of ours also lent us lots of Chinese lanterns that we hung outside in the trees and oli’s dad handmade some tin lanterns to hang in trees. He did this by using old tin cans, boring heat shaped holes in them and then you just pop a tea light in when the sun goes down.
Plenty Of Bubbles
I can’t bear favours I’m afraid, I think they are a ridiculous waste of money unless you can get something really personal and unique. The day is really special to you and to your guests on the day but after that things like favours become redundant I think. I chose to spend the budget on fizz for the guests!
Personal Moments And Advice
I walked down the aisle with my dad to a Buddy Holly Song ‘Everyday’ It really reminds me of my dad and my granddad and it’ also a favourite of Oli’s too. He had two friends who sang it live with a guitar.
Our third song in church was from the kids film Bugsy Malone. Oli and I both love that film and loved the sentiment of ‘You give a little love’ and so the whole congregation belted it out and did Jazz hands too.
Keep the formal photo’s to a minimum – best bit of advice Phil gave us! We had a max of 8 shots and even that seemed to take a while. We love reportage photography anyway – it’s so dull looking at too many staged shots!
Ask people around you what they can help with – I think we saved so much money by using friends and family to do things – especially our mums as they were so keen to be involved.
We had a fish and chip van on the night which was very popular.
I work for a charity so as a friend of ours ran the bar and stocked it, any profit we made (£500) we donated to Cancer Research UK. We also managed to just charge £1.50 max a drink which was great – once the free fizz ran out. I hate it when guests get ripped off buying drinks at weddings.
Right you lovely people, it’s the first wedding of 2012 and boy have I got a corker for you…
That crazily talented chap Mister Phill shot my favourite wedding of last year, so what better way to start this year than with another tremendous Mister Phill affair? This time he is shooting with Nichola Rogers, and we find ourselves in the beautiful countryside setting of Oxfordshire.
Our first newly weds of the new year are Hannah and Damian, I’m going to pass you over to Hannah right now.
A Rare Moment.
We got married at Friars Court, Clanfield in September 2011. We had seen a few wedding venues but wanted somewhere that reflected what we wanted from our day – a place that was personal, informal and intimate. We instantly fell in love with Friars Court, a beautiful 17th-century stone farmhouse with gorgeous, sprawling gardens surrounded by a moat in the Oxfordshire countryside. It wasn’t just its rustic beauty that attracted us, but the potential to make it unique and special to us.
With so many nooks and crannies, there were many options for how and where to get married, but I had always wanted to get married outside and the rose arbour provided the perfect setting. It also meant a very long walk, across two bridges in heels(!) but this gave me time to take everything in and appreciate the moment – it was pretty amazing seeing everyone’s reactions, including Damian’s smile when I came into view from across the moat!
We were aware that we would be spending a long time in one place, as we had both our ceremony and reception at Friars Court, so we made full use of the venue, emerging from the house to confetti and cheers, having games and drinks on the lawns, and using the marquee and cosy Garden Room as indoor areas in the evening. With so much scope for personalising and transforming we initially felt a little overwhelmed by the task of planning the day, but this helped us to focus on the aspects that were important to us – being creative, surprising our guests, and having a rare moment of being centre of attention as a couple – and doing it all together definitely made it even more meaningful and memorable!
I had lots of fun trying on many different dresses – from big meringues to slinky, sparkly gowns – dresses that I knew wouldn’t suit me and I never intended to wear! It was a lot harder to make a serious choice, especially for someone who is renowned for her inability to make decisions – but I did know I wanted to wear something that I’d feel comfortable in and that reflected my character. So, I looked for dresses that were understated, slightly different to the norm, and subtly elegant.
Friends and family recommended bridal shops and I browsed online, looking both in London and back where I grew up in Bucks. The experience of finding a dress was also important to me – I wanted to enjoy this once in a lifetime shopping trip with my mum and sister, so the decision I made was also influenced by where I looked. Mirror Mirror, with shops in Angel and Crouch End – provided really fantastic, personal service helping me to think about the style of my wedding from atmosphere to accessories. In the end (after trying on numerous lace dresses!), I went for a simple but beautifully-fitted chiffon dress, Abaco by Pronovias. I loved the elegant neckline and the natural feel to it, but it was my mum’s reaction that really let me know it was ‘the one’!
As much as I didn’t have a clear idea of how I wanted to look, I strongly held on to what I knew I didn’t want – anything fussy, glitzy or bling! I had intended to just wear a few fresh flowers in my hair, but the dress needed a veil. I chose to wear the veil my mum wore at her wedding (cut and simplified to one long length at the base of my neck), and was very happy – both with the final look and the sentiment of wearing something given to you by someone you love. On that note… I also wore a pair of pearl earrings that my husband-to-be had given me for my birthday a few days before our wedding.
The Footwear Challenge.
Unfortunately, I’m not a shoe fan so finding wedding shoes that both looked good, felt good and allowed me to clamber over a bridge and down the grass aisle was quite a challenge! I went for classic Rainbow kitten heels in Ivory – and can now dye them green to match the grass stains I acquired! They didn’t last all night though, and I happily changed into a pair of cream flip-flops when all that mattered was being on the dancefloor with my friends.
Natural And Simple.
I was originally planning to do my own make-up, but was very happy to hand over to someone with far more expertise than me! Amanda Head is a professional stylist and make-up artist who has recently set-up independently, and offers excellent service and value for money.
She travelled to our hotel on the morning of the wedding to make everyone from my sister to my grandma looked beautiful, and was a very patient and reassuring presence – despite having glandular fever! I had a hair and make-up trial a few weeks before the wedding and Amanda listened to my request to stay natural and simple, whilst letting me know clearly what would work and what definitely wouldn’t! For my make-up she used light, rosy colours, that I wouldn’t have thought of trying, but that made me look fresh and radiant. My hair was pinned back in low, loose curls with a few cream roses at each side.
There are so many options, from the flowers themselves, to the colours, arrangements and styles, it was hard to know where to begin. Luckily we had Cindy Warne, a local florist who also got married at Friars Court, to help us decide. She was able to let us know what worked well at the venue, whilst encouraging us to let her know what we wanted.
Sticking to the natural, rustic style of our wedding I asked her to mix cream roses with garden flowers and foliage, in warm yellows and oranges. Cindy created stunning, delicately hand-tied bridal and bridesmaid’s bouquets – I loved the sprinkling of daisies she added for a unique twist! She also arranged yellow and cream garden flowers in small, hanging jam-jars to line the aisle – subtle yet gorgeous touches. Cindy also provided us with simple, cream rose button-holes and wired rosebuds for my hair.
We didn’t want to spend a fortune on flowers and didn’t feel we needed to, given we got married in a garden, but we did want to use flowers as centerpieces on tables and bring the outdoors inside to decorate our marquee for the reception. Cindy was brilliant in providing us with cut flowers and foliage to arrange ourselves on the day (well, my very lovely friends and family arranged on the day!) Small posies of flowers in jam-jars were placed in birdcages, and a neighbour’s generous offering of ivy cut the day before to drape around the cages finished the look.
Choosing the suits was probably one of the easiest and quickest decisions we made (such a contrast to choosing a wedding dress!) We both liked traditional tails in charcoal grey; Damian wore an ivory waistcoat and cravat and his best men wore grey waistcoats with green cravats, hiring everything from Moss Bros.
My lovely little sister was the only person I needed beside me as a bridesmaid, and this made choosing her dress a far easier task as we could focus on what she liked and suited her. Green was an obvious choice, in-keeping with the setting and feel of our garden wedding, and she looked stunning in strapless Grecian-style chiffon dress from Dessy. We used this green as a central colour to match to flowers, decorations and the men’s cravats.
Mister Phill is now a bit of a legend amongst our friends… he was Damian’s lecturer in cinematography at university, and is now a renowned photographer with a big business in ‘ex-students’ weddings that is rapidly expanding! It was lovely to already have a connection to someone who will share the most intimate moments of your day; however, Phill took the time to get to know us as a couple, meeting us for a pre-wedding photo ‘de-sensitisation’ shoot! Over breakfast, he asked us not just about our hopes for the wedding, but also about our interests, characters and lives together. This thoughtfulness and understanding translates through his photos, which provide not just beautiful images of the wedding, but document the story and process of the day – from solitary moments of morning nervousness, to the uninhibited joy on the dancefloor at the end of the night!
Phill was assisted by Nichola Rogers providing us with another perspective of the day and making choosing photos to print a very hard task! Having two photographers made it possible to record both Damian and I getting ready; Phill and Nicola synchronized their cameras so we could literally watch the day’s events unfold simultaneously – a really fascinating insight into that final morning!
The wedding cake was quite far down on our list of priorities, although we were looking forward to making decisions about the flavours!! We were very lucky as one of our best friends, Nyk Huxley, just so happens to be a patisserie-chef-in-training, and offered to make our cake as a wedding present! She did a fantastic job making us a beautiful, three-tiered, white-iced glory of a cake… comprising vanilla sponge, carrot and walnut cake, and a crowning tier of fruit cake – delicious! She also provided us with and constructed a phenomenal cheese tower, which was cut and eaten in the evening… who says you can’t have your (two) cakes and eat them?!
We looked into lots of different options for music and entertainment, and were overwhelmed by the number of choices! In the end we asked a string quartet from Oxford University to play during the wedding and drinks reception. They were absolutely wonderful, both in the lead-up to the wedding and on the day, arranging the songs we wanted during the ceremony and playing a mix of modern and classical music in the gardens. A beautiful accompaniment to the serenity of the day!
We wanted the evening entertainment to have a different feel, reflecting the atmosphere in the marquee as we focused on celebrating with friends and family. We had heard The Wedding Smashers DJ at a number of events before, and liked their energy and passion, as well as their old-school sounds! We gave them a playlist of music we enjoyed, but wanted them to do what they do best by judging the atmosphere and shaping the mood of the night – we were not disappointed! From dancing-with-dad cheesiness to a full-on mash-up, some of our greatest memories are dancing with our friends and family after the happiest day of our lives!
A Song that Defines You.
Damian and I have a few meaningful, yet highly embarrassing songs that punctuate our relationship over the last ten years – but none that we were willing to use for our first dance! It seemed like a big decision to make – a song that defines you as a couple – and we admittedly left it till the last minute to pick a song! However, we needn’t have worried…. the song that we did choose, ‘Tonight, Tonight’ by The Smashing Pumpkins, fitted the moment perfectly reminding us of growing up together, enjoying love and life, and not caring what anyone else thought!
Home Made Favours.
Practically we didn’t want to spend lots of money on a token gift, and it felt more important to spend time and effort creating something that we enjoyed and that would make our guests smile. Simple… we love food! We made jars of caramelised red onion chutney, and apple and tarragon jelly, which fitted with the English country-garden feel of our wedding and made for a tasty reminder of the day!
We decorated the venue ourselves, with the help of some very special friends, who helped us to add small, but personal touches to our wedding… home-made bunting, wicker hearts hanging from ribbon in the trees, a trellis of photos of our adventures together, and a ‘wish-tree’ on which to hang our wedding wishes! Jeffrey, from Friars Court, was also fantastic in helping us transform his venue into our own creation, whilst also providing endless reassurance and encouragement throughout the process.
Compromise And Sacrafice.
Organising a wedding was far more stressful than I anticipated, but this reflected how much it meant to us to have a day that everyone we cared about enjoyed and remembered us by. We quickly learnt that not everyone shares your ideas or expectations of the day, and whilst some compromise and sacrifice is inevitable (weddings are magical – your budget, for example, will disappear rapidly!), it is really important to hold on to what is important to you. For us, it was about the atmosphere and creativity of the day, rather than the quality or finish – although making things and seeing the effect when they all come together was really enjoyable!
As much as we were focused on everyone else having fun, we were also very aware that it was our day and we made sure we spent some moments together to take it all in, and excitedly say to each other ‘is this really happening?!’ We also prepared ourselves to be the centre of attention, which was quite a daunting task, but we enjoyed the day so much more for letting go of any last-minute worries or expectations. As a result we have really happy memories of our wedding, of the surprises and mishaps, as well as the bits that went to plan!
Of everything that we encountered, the most important part of the wedding for me was planning it with my husband – not only did I learn a few new things about him along the way (he is scarily skilled with a sewing machine!), but it reminded me of all the reasons we chose to get married!
There are lots of nice little home made pieces of inspiration here to help you lot kick start a super creative 2012. We have got a perfect outdoor venue which helps remind me that I love England as I sit here in the dark January drizzle and of course some of the most perfect photography in Weddingdom.
Hannah mentions at the end there that the most important thing for her was being able to plan every step of the way with Damian, who was involved from the start. I’d loved to have seen a little behind the scenes shot of our groom sat slaving over the old Singer… I guess sometimes Mister Phill doesn’t get every shot!
That means “part 2 for you…” and at that point I’ve exhausted my spanish vocabulary (which is pretty shocking as one of the words I used there was clearly English and another was a number).
Part 1 went down like free tapas on a warm Mediterranean evening, so now prepare for the entertainmnet, the celebration and the party.
Dan and Rommalee were married at Vejer de la Frontera earlier this year and the whole Spanish shebang was shot by Love Lust member Mister Phill, and rather uniquely reported by the groom, who we join once more.
Theses Aren’t Just Flower Girls…
We decided against bridesmaids but couldn’t resist getting our daughter Molly and her two cousins (Lauren and Daisy) involved as flower girls. Their dresses were actually skirts from Marks & Spencer that Romaleee loved so much, she had them converted by the same lady who made the adjustments to her own outfit. They also wore simple flower headbands made by Rommalee’s sister Etta
High Street Honeys…
Given our plan for a laid back wedding, we didn’t originally intend for the groom and the best men’s appearance to be themed in anyway but in for a penny, in for a pound and we all ended up going for a kind of ivy league/boaty style. All the shirts were from Next. Grooms shorts – Farah, hat – Debenhams, and shoes – Clarkes. Best Hombre Mats shorts – Ben Sherman, hat – Top Man and shoes – Ralph Loren. Best Hombre Jims shorts – Primark, hat – unknown shop in nearby town and shoes – Zara. I also wore a custom made wedding ring that I ordered from a Jewellers in Brooklyn.
I can’t say enough good things about Mister Phill. You’ve seen his photos so you don’t need me to tell you how good they are. But I will anyway. I’m really fussy when it comes to photography. I enjoy taking pictures in my spare time and the nature of my job means I come across a lot of great work in my day-to-day business. We checked out loads of quite mediocre and very uninspiring online portfolios before serendipitously stumbling across Mister Phills blog and instantly ending our search. His photos were technically brilliant, beautifully processed and they also captured the really important moments – the bits we knew we wouldn’t get to see and didn’t want to miss. And he doesn’t just take pictures. Each wedding that had been posted on his blog was not only well considered in terms of visual appearance but it was also accompanied by a superbly written and keenly observed narrative. As sappy as it sounds, Phill manages to make every couple feel a bit special, like theirs is the best and most exciting wedding he’s ever attended. He was undoubtedly the man for the job.
We met Phill a few times before the wedding and the more we talked, the more it became apparent that this was a man who loved taking pictures as much as his clients loved examining them. And he was up for a challenge too. When we booked him, our chosen venue was the barn in Corfe Castle and a less intrepid individual might have been scared off by the ridiculous change of location. We dropped the news into a conversation over dinner one night and he barely flinched. Anyway you get the message, we loved his work and we loved his attitude, we knew we were lucky to have found him. We booked him a ticket, gave him the GPS co-ordinates of the hotel and told him to leave his suit at home. Our next meeting was a couple of months and a thousand mile journey later, in the place we had chosen to get married. Phill spent every spare minute soaking up the new surroundings and reconnoitering the grounds of the hotel and the surrounding town to help build up the backdrop for the story he was about to tell.
We had really high, unreasonably high in fact, hopes for the photos of our wedding day and Phill still managed to exceed our expectations. Despite having to lug around his cumbersome equipment (sorry, I couldn’t think of any other way of wording it!), he proved to be extremely stealthy on the day of the wedding and if it wasn’t for an occasional glimpse of his newly acquired lightweight linen trousers disappearing up or down one of the many sets of steps around the hotel, we wouldn’t have known he was there (not until we forced him to have a beer anyway). We had no idea how much snapping he’d managed to squeeze in but we hoped that he would at least have recorded a handful of the days highlights. In fact he didn’t miss a single thing. Not after the encore anyway. We were eager to see the photos as soon as we got back but it was probably about a month before they were ready to be published. The wait was excrutiating but the anticipation and the build up to big reveal only served to intensify the impact when we finally got to see them. We were blown away by his stunning photos and the story that unfolded around them; all the things we wanted to see and then some. The people and places in the photos looked so good, so stylish and dramatic that it was hard to believe it was us. The post on his site was just as, if not more, enticing than anything that Rommalee had come across during her months of wedding blog browsing and it was ours! If it wasn’t for Phill, we wouldn’t be writing this for Rock My Wedding now and we wouldn’t have such a spectacular collection of beautifully composed words and photographs to remind us of our day. We love Phill.
Spongy Cream Delight
Ordered through the hotel and for a stupidly small amount of money, we had a traditional spanish cake (spongy creamy delight) from a small bakery in Vejer. It was plainly decorated with ribbon and rikrak that we took in our luggage along with a cake topper that we had custom made for us by a lovely lady in the states.
A Burst Of Entertainment
Spanish guitarist and flamenco dancers. These were also organised through the hotel and they performed, much to everyone’s amusement, in a few short bursts (and some interesting outfits) during the drinks on the terrace and in bewteen some of the courses of the meal. The music for the evening consisted of an itunes playlist played through a sound-dock that we packed in our luggage. I really enjoy my music and I slaved over the playlist for many late night hours but to be honest, I don’t think many of the guests were paying attention!
All I Want Is You
We had given this some thought in the months leading up to the wedding and narrowed the music down to four songs. We also decided that we didn’t want to find ourselves aimlessly swaying backwards and forwards (like a couple of teenagers at a school disco) in front of a crowd of people on our wedding day. Rommalee cut out an advert from a local magazine and next thing I know, we were in the function room of a local hotel with a pair of dancers quizzing us over our choice of music. We soon realised that nothing we’d shortlisted would suit the balmy rooftop setting where the dance would be taking place and went back to square one. Ten anguished minutes later and we’d settled on a song called ‘All I Want is You’ (by Barry Louis Polisar) which we’d liked ever since we’d heard it on the soundtrack of the film ‘Juno’. It didn’t have any deep significance for us but it was much better suited to the upbeat tone of our wedding and contained equal helpings of sentiment and humour in the lyrics.
For favours we dished out various Vejer de la Frontera fridge magnets from local gift shops. What can I say – we’re a classy couple!
La Vida Loca
We’d always wanted a bright colourful wedding to help encourage the guests to get into the party spirit and to contrast with the all white backdrop provided by the Vejer de la Frontera skyline. The hotel were unable to provide much in the way of decorations so this was left entirely down to us. Rommalee found some simple (but hopefully) effective ideas for DIY tissue paper flowers and cardboard birds and then we picked a bunch of vibrant colours to bring them to life. These were scattered around the venue together with various bits of signage (place settings, table plan and table names etc) that used the same colours and theme from the wedding invite and were displayed in bespoke wooden stumps made by my dad. To help provide a focal point and backdrop for the ceremony (and the head table later on in the day), we made some bunting (adorned with the meaningless but awesome and ever so slightly Spanish influenced Ricky Martin lyric ‘Livin La Vida Loca’) that was strung up between a couple of bits of bamboo. We also bought some colour themed glass paint and sploshed it on some cheap tealight holders from Ikea for additional decoration in the terrace bar for the evening doo.
As well as all the visual fluff, we provided a few little bits to help keep people entertained throughout the day. Hand-made moustaches courtesy of RMW, goody bags for the kids (with loads of stuff collected by Rommalee and tied with ribbon in hand decorated paper bags), 3D glasses with love heart vision by American Paper Optics, a photo wall featuring at least a couple of photos of each guest from over the years, and a personalised hand drawn guest book fingerprint tree.
A Hugely Rewarding Experience
Although it wasn’t necessarily something we would have chosen to do, the DIY ceremony really helped set the tone for the day. Much more informal than your usual church service, we injected quite a lot of humour (without being inappropriate or irreverent) into the wording and it also gave us the opportunity to say some much more personal and heartfelt words to each other. It wasn’t in the least bit legally binding (we’d already done that back in England a couple of weeks previously), but it was completely unique (apart from the bits I stole from the internet) and very special to us.
From our point of view, hand making all of the decorations was also a hugely rewarding experience. I would never, in a million years, volunteer to do it again but I’d definitely recommend it to others. The venue didn’t really need any decorations, it was beautiful enough as it was, but the little touches we added enabled us to put our own stamp on the occasion. The fact that we’d invested so much of our own blood, sweat and tears just meant that the results were even more satisfying.
Other quick tips:
Don’t do anything for the sake of it.
Don’t try to keep everyone happy.
Don’t let children play near cactus’.
Don’t let the bar staff choose your round of shots.
I honestly have nothing to say. Ok that was a lie, I have lots to say but I’ll try to be succinct. I think at this point we all know that Dan has done Rommalee proud by writing one of the most enjoyable accounts ever to grace our blue polka-dotted pages. The wedding is an absolute gem, and Mister Phill? You are the daddy.
Quote of the day/week/year:
Dan…”it was completely unique (apart from the bits I stole from the internet).”
This afternoon we feature a wedding report written by The Groom. And He has a LOT to say! So just before I hand you over to Dan I should just mention that additional testosterone has been thrown into the mix courtesy of Mister Phill with his manly (and genius) camera work…
Hi, I’m Dan. I guess you’re probably more accustomed to reading reports from the brides but I enjoy telling stories and I helped out a fair bit with the preparations for the day so Rommalee thought I’d probably be equally well qualified for the job.
I proposed to Rommalee back in 2009 and to begin with, we didn’t really know what we wanted from our wedding day. Although I was keen to get married and liked the idea of a party, I was quite indifferent towards the details of the event at that stage and didn’t give it much thought. We originally booked a beautiful venue overlooking Corfe Castle in Dorset but began having second thoughts when the costs started escalating, the guest list got out of hand and something that was supposed to be a celebration started turning into a big headache. That was when we decided to scrap everything we’d planned so far and relocate the wedding 1000 miles away in Vejer de la Frontera, the small hilltop town in Southern Spain where I had proposed to Rommalee a couple of years previously. We thought that by having a hotel as the venue for our wedding, we could forget about everything and let them take care of all the details whilst we put our feet up and cleverly avoided all the stress.
Putting On A Good Show
We were fools! Not because the staff at the hotel didn’t pull their weight, in actual fact they were amazing, but because we hadn’t anticipated getting so completely sucked into the whole experience. At some point we realised that if we were going to ask our family and friends (many of whom had young children) to trek all that way to be with us on our wedding day, we had better put on a good show for them. We wanted the occasion to be informal and to represent our personalities but we were also keen to make sure that the day felt like a proper wedding, despite the relaxed surroundings. This was going to be especially challenging after we were informed that a legally binding ceremony was out of the question (due to endless amounts of red tape) and that we would have to concoct our own service! So that was when Rommalee started pouring over the wedding blogs and I started to quiver under the weight of the ever growing to-do list. I’d heard friends talk about how stressful and all-consuming wedding planning can be but I didn’t really understand what they were talking about until it was too late.
Hand Made Decorations
A few busy months later and we were starting to make some progress. Dress sorted, rings chosen, photos printed, order of service written and moustaches cooked. It all began to take shape. We still wanted to keep the cost down so where possible, we hunted for DIY solutions to all of our wedding puzzles. A graphic designer by day (yes another one!), I was given the task of designing the invites and accompanying stationery for the day. The decorations were all hand-made and the majority of the initial preparation was done at home, mostly by Rommalee who spent many an evening sat in front of the telly folding tissue paper, cutting twine and bending wires. It seemed to take every spare minute of our time in the weeks leading up to the wedding but eventually came the day when we packed all of the props into a couple of boxes and posted them off to the hotel in Spain. We were finally able to relax. Sort of.
We flew over to Spain a week before the wedding so that we’d have time to acclimatise to the 30ºC heat and take care of all the preparation that couldn’t be done from home. To our dismay, the boxes hadn’t arrived and it was another four nail-biting days before they turned up and we could enlist the help of some unsuspecting friends and family to help fluff up the tissue paper flowers and string out the cardboard birds. Because the restaurant and rooftop terrace were well used areas within a small but busy hotel, we weren’t able to get in to decorate until the morning of the wedding so all that was left to do the night before the wedding was for me to finish off my speech and for Rommalee to keep me topped up with Brandy to aid the creative process. I don’t drink brandy and in retrospect, that wasn’t the best time to start experimenting with it.
Down To Business
We woke up at 7am on the morning of our wedding to the sound of Molly (our 18 month old daughter) playing in her cot and to a view that is difficult to put into words. Thankfully we had our brilliant photographer on hand so you can see for yourself. I felt terrible but there was heaps of stuff to be done so after we’d demolished some coffee and pastries in the hotel restaurant, it was straight down to business. The grandparents took charge of Molly and we, together with the help of our generous (and extremely tolerant) guests, started stringing up the decorations at lightening speed. It was 11am before we were done and that left Rommalee only a couple of hours to take care of her own decorating. I’m guessing that’s not very long by most bride’s standards but then most bride’s aren’t used to going about their daily routine with a squirming toddler in one arm. Rommalee had the luxury of both arms (and a talented sister) for this exercise and breezed through it with time to spare.
To summarise in words; Mat and Jim (the best men or best hombres as they were known for the day) led the guests, in the scorching midday sun, from the fountain outside our hotel up to the spot we had chosen for our DIY ceremony. We followed 10 minutes behind and then the ‘service’ commenced with Mat reading the lion’s share of the words and Jim stepping in to deliver the readings. We smooched, everybody cheered and then we sauntered back to the hotel for drinks on the terrace. We took pity on Rommalee’s dad and the best hombres and decided to get the speeches out of the way before the meal so that they could sit back and enjoy the amazing grub. A traditional roll-up-smoking Spanish guitarist was joined by some flamboyant flamenco dancers to serenade the guests as the wine flowed and the food disappeared. The cake was cut and the party drifted up a couple of flights of stairs to the terrace bar where a gentle breeze provided relief for the sun-baked guests and the stunning view provided the perfect backdrop for our lazy evenings entertainment. Myself and Rommalee were petrified before our ambitious first dance but to our surprise and delight, we pulled it off without a hitch. Only to find out that Mister Phill was downstairs utilising the servicios at the time and that we had to do it all again. The second performance signalled the end of our official duties for the day and the start of our night. We drank (enthusiastically), we danced (badly) and we partied (carelessly) with our family and friends until the bar ran out of wierd coloured drinks and our legs could stand no more. I think there’s a certain kind of intense relief and happiness that’s reserved for couples who’ve reached the end of their wedding day without any major hiccups or catastrophes. And we were definitely feeling it that night as we almost literally fell into a deep sleep with big grins fixed our faces.
Perched On A Hilltop
Hotel La Casa del Califa is in a town called Vejer de la Frontera in southern Spain. Vejer town is perched on a hilltop with spectacular views of the Andalucian countryside and is made up almost entirely of white painted buildings lining steep cobbled streets. La Casa del Califa is a mish mash of eight separate (wonky) buildings, some dating back to the 10th century, with colourful Moroccan inspired decor, extremely helpful staff, and a restaurant that serves some of the tastiest food we’ve ever come across. Having visited both the hotel and the town over and over again during our eight year relationship, the area had a certain magical feel to it and seemed like the obvious setting for a romantic wedding. We realised that the long distance planning might raise some issues of it’s own but we were happy to make a few compromises in order to secure such a unique venue.
Fit For A Princess
In keeping with our non-traditional approach to the wedding and because she wanted to contrast (and not be camouflaged against) the all white back drop of Vejer, Rommalee wanted to wear something with a bit of colour. She tried the whole dress shopping experience with her mum and sisters but didn’t find anything that fit the bill and eventually fell in love with a dress she found online. It was actually a bridesmaids dress and wasn’t quite as grand as some of the other options she’d considered but it was her favourite colour and it seemed to suit the location perfectly. Unfortunately it wasn’t current season and proved extremely problematic to track down but Rommalee knew what she wanted and it was going to take more than a few dead end links and an entire atlantic ocean to stop her getting her hands on it. She finally tracked down a store in Orlando that still stocked the dress and that was that; a few alterations from a local dress maker later and it was fit for a princess.
Rommalee wore a white gold chain with a pearl from John Lewis (a gift I gave her after having Molly) and a pretty old ankle chain donated by her friends for the ‘something borrowed’. The flower in her hair was an Organza Clip from Acessorize and her wedding ring was custom ordered from Baroque Jewellers in Brighton where we’d bought her engagement ring a few months earlier.
Gnarly Cobbled Streets
The brides shoes were Gold loop sandals from Next . We knew that our wedding day would involve marching up and down some gnarly cobbled streets so Rommalee chose something flat as well as a little bit dressy.
Spring Time Beauty Queen
Rommalee wanted to avoid the chic traditional up-do (FYI – I have no idea what that is) but really wanted to try something different for the day. With the expert help of her sister Hadley, she styled her hair into a messy side-bun for the ever-so-slightly more formal ceremony and restaurant parts of the day and then let it all down for the evening. Rommalee doesn’t wear much make-up and knowing how hot it was going to be, she wanted something light and natural. She based her look on the Spring Time beauty queen article in the ‘how to’ make up section on RMW (you know the web address!) and did it herself.
Blooms, Brollies And Brooches
This was one of the few areas where we knew we were going to have to compromise. Communication with the florist was restricted to emails through the wedding contact at the hotel so we decided to keep it minimal, just a bouquet for the bride and mini posies for two of the flower girls. Rommalee found some nice ideas and emailed a picture of what she wanted but somehow ended up with an entirely different looking set of flowers! They weren’t what we asked for but they were still nice and we certainly weren’t going to get hung up on such a small detail. I doodled some button hole designs for myself (the ‘gringo groom’), the best hombres and the fathers (padres) and these were turned into hand-made brooches (and miniature works of art) by the very talented Zoe at Love from Hetty & Dave. Knowing how intense the sun could be at that time of year and not wanting the mothers to feel left out, we gave them ornate paper parasols from Brollies Galore to provide some shade for the day and to add another splash of colour to the proceedings. We contacted all the other female guests and put together an additional order on their behalf so that nobody was overlooked. Apart from the gents who just had to man-up and deal with it!