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Modern and simple Grooms suit Spencer Hart

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Slate Grey, Single Blooms And Star-Spangled Shoes.

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American Bride Eileen has some seriously talented friends. Those amazing silver shoes she wears for the reception? Oh, just designed by a friend. The quirky menus printed on napkins? Oh just designed by ANOTHER amazing friend. The cute heart shaped confetti made from vintage books? Oh just lovingly hand cut by her family. Eileen is a lucky girl!

I love how she and Andy have incorporated UK and US themes into their day. The couple chose Stoke Place as their venue because of its grand American house feel, yet it definitely still retains a distinct air of British-ness. It really was the perfect place for them. This is a gorgeous wedding, so simple, elegant and timeless – and Eileen is so right, you don’t want your décor to upstage the actual love part!

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American Architecture

Eileen The Bride: Our perfect venue was Stoke Place in Stoke Poges. I knew immediately as we approached the beautiful manor house that this was where I wanted to get married. I am American and the architecture reminded me of Estate houses found in the Southern United States and that made it special for me. We hired the venue for exclusive use which meant we could celebrate into the early hours and our family and friends could stay there with us. It was absolutely perfect. Michelle Mehmi was our wedding coordinator and she, along with the amazing staff made our day completely unforgettable.

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Beauty Call

I was inspired by an image from the 1960’s for my hairstyle and I wanted my make-up to be more on the natural side and not too overdone. I wanted to look like me! My hair and make-up were both done by a lovely girl named Sophie. She was found through the make-up artist agency called Beauty Call. It is a great source because they locate make-up and hair artists that are close to your wedding venue – complete with a free trial in a location convenient for you. They were also able to provide an assistant who did my bridesmaids hair. They looked fabulous!!! The majority of my make-up was Bobbi Brown. I love her make up as it’s not too heavy but lasts the entire day.

For my nails, I went with Potato Fields by Essie. It is a great nude natural colour with a tiny hint of pink. My manicure and pedicure were both done by Cowshed in London. I just love it and threw in a massage too so I’d be relaxed on the big day. My perfume was “Woman” by Marc Jacobs. The rollerball size he offers is perfect as its small enough to fit in a clutch and can be applied throughout the day as needed.

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Beautiful Back Detail

My dress was the “Scarlet” design by Monique Lhullier. She is an American designer and I just loved how classic and timeless this lace design was. The front was simple and the “wow” factor was the cut out back. All wedding dresses that stick out in my mind from weddings past which I’ve attended – they have all had an amazing back detail so it was something on my radar early on in the shopping process.

I have to mention my husband’s amazing suit because he looked absolutely fantastic (I’m a bit biased). His suit and tie were from Spencer Hart and made me swoon when I saw him waiting for me at the end of the aisle. His look (along with our groomsmen) was completed with pocket squares from Burton.

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Royal Inspiration

I had so much fun shopping for all of the extra little pieces that would complete my look. Luckily my search began during the Diamond Jubilee festivities. I’ll explain. The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing a beautiful hat to the service of Thanksgiving being held at St. Pauls for her majesty, Queen Elizabeth. The rumours are true…we Americans love the Royals! I began my search to find where her hat was made in hopes that I could find the perfect milliner to make the birdcage veil that I envisioned for myself. That is how I found Jane Taylor. I reached out to her showroom and made an appointment to meet with her. She was absolutely lovely and made me the perfect veil to complete my look. I can’t decide which I loved more…the veil or the SHOES!

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Elzio Ciuffardi, a dear friend of mine, designed my shoes for our wedding day and they were just perfect. In the months leading up, we collaborated on sketches, ideas and he produced the perfect design. He even threw in a 2nd pair completely bling’d out with silver glitter for the reception!! My earrings were diamonds purchased by Andy and given to me just as I finished getting ready. He gave them to my Maid of Honour to give me before I walked down the aisle. They were stunning.

Finally, my silk cashmere wrap that I had in case it got cold was from J.Crew. They are opening in London in September and already have a UK website. Their wedding collections and accessories for brides and bridal parties are FANTASTIC.

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Classic And Fabulous

We were so lucky to have our closest friends stand witness as we got married. We had three bridesmaids and three groomsmen. My ladies wore J. Crew’s Lucienne dress in graphite grey. This fit perfectly into my colour palette which was muted pastels grounded in a mid-grey. I wanted something that looked shabby chic and their look to still be classic and fabulous in 15 years when we look back on the photos. I said before but J. Crew is fantastic for all things wedding! Their earrings were purchased by my wonderful sister-in-law in California (Hint to Brides: delegate, delegate, delegate)!!!

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Clean Classic Palette

We wanted to create a fun atmosphere with a clean classic palette. We didn’t want anything too bold or bright that would upstage the event itself. As I mentioned above, we went with muted pastels and a mid-tone grey for our colour scheme also dropping in some brown that was picked up by the chairs as I didn’t want chair covers. I created a mood board early on in the process and went back to it several times in the planning process. I think I called it “Rustic Vintage Shabby Chic”. In hindsight, this name was a bit long but it highlighted what we wanted.

Executed To Perfection

Our flowers were executed to perfection by the amazing duo behind “Flourish and Green“. Liz Belton and Britt Dyer took my vision and ideas and produced the most beautiful floral designs for the bridal party bouquets, the groomsmen’s’ button holes, the back drop at our ceremony and for the centre pieces at dinner. My bouquet was a mixture of roses, spray roses hydrangeas and gypsophila. They wrapped gypsophila around the lights in the main dining room and filled large tea cups that Stoke Place had on display with our chosen flowers.

A mix of single blooms were placed into vintage bottles that I collected in the months leading up to the wedding and these were our centrepieces. I liked the rustic vintage feel of the individual bottles instead of a larger formal arrangement on the tables. It was a nice transition from the formality of the service into the party of the evening! I cannot recommend their work enough. The compliments we got on our flowers came all night. They were stunning.

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Ear To Ear Smile

I loved every minute of our ceremony. My friends later told me that I looked like Toni Collette in “Muriel’s Wedding” with the smile ear to ear I had walking down the aisle. I thought I was going to come out of my skin I was so excited to marry my best friend!

Our ceremony was a non-religious affair and contained everything Andy and I wanted to make sure it had elements of the UK and the United States. It was important to me that my bridesmaids stood next to me and Andy’s groomsmen next to him as it would in the United States and the registrar was completely accommodating. My brother and Andy’s father both did the readings. We asked that they find a reading of their choice so we would hear it for the first time on our wedding day. This way, they had the freedom to find something that they thought fitting for us on our special day rather than just reading something we gave them. It made it very special. Andy and I wrote our own vows and this just made the commitment that much more powerful for us – they were our own words and promises being made to each other. It was very special and also allowed me to vow my support of Andy’s obsession with Peterborough United!

Music was performed by Michael Roulston. He played the “Portuguese Love Theme” from “Love Actually” as I walked down the aisle and sang “Annie’s Song” by John Denver during the ceremony. After we were declared husband and wife, we exited to Queen’s “You’re my Best friend”. It was joy all around! A perfect ceremony.

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Cocktail Reception

We had a cocktail reception after our ceremony. Everyone sipped signature cocktails, wine and beer while mingling prior to dinner. Michael Roulston and Tom Manzi of “Dapper Dudes” played jazz standards from Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald which put everyone in a festive mood. It set the perfect scene for the party that would follow and allowed us to use more of the beautiful rooms at Stoke Place. Our reception after dinner was a party plain and simple. After “Here there and everywhere” which was our first dance by the Beatles, we along with our guests danced into the early hours of the next morning to music provided by Mark Van Den Berg from Mighty Fine Entertainment.

Lace Inspired

Our cake was made by Jordana Rickson of Petit Gateau and included Red Velvet, Carrot Cake and the more traditional fruit cake for our guests. She worked from a swatch of lace on my dress to pipe detail onto the classic cake design. Her attention to detail on the sugar flowers was also spot on. We enjoyed our two visits to her studio to try flavours and design our dream cake for our guests.

For favours, I was lucky to have napkins made by my friend Lisa Levis, designer of the brands “Ada Rose” and “Betty and Walter”. She is so talented and her napkins had her signature handwriting highlighting the menu for our guests. They came wrapped in twine with a simple tag with a thank you message from Andy and I. Shopper totes in guest rooms were made for out of town family and friends and were filled with welcome goodies from the UK and the United States. These were made by my friend Fiona Donegan, also a designer.

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The Intrigue Of An Invite

Stationery was of great importance to me in the planning process. I love how an invitation gives a sense of what your day will be like for your guests. Mark Mildren at Little Black Box IMA was able to perfectly duplicate a lace design using a swatch from my dress. Invitations introduced the grey and pale pink from our colour palette. He was great because he had all of the contacts to design, print and send us a finished product ready to be sent to our guests. His designs were also one of a kind which I loved.

If you are looking for something unique and your own design, Mark and his team are fantastic. They also provided our table plan, individual guest table place cards and our wedding order of service booklets for guests. This way the lace from my dress would be a running theme throughout the day. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at DIY so I was relieved to have all of this executed to perfection by Mark and the Little Black Box team.

The one thing we did make…or should I say, my fiancé, his sister, mother and niece made…was our confetti. I had seen a photo of old books punched in tiny hearts and knew I wanted this for our wedding. I went to Paperchase and got some pale pink paper and then we purchased a book on the Southbank in London (for £2!!!) which would become our confetti. We went through about 4 heart hole-punchers trying to get enough for all 136 people attending! Our nieces and nephews were our “Masters and Maidens of Confetti” who enjoyed handing out tiny envelopes of our heart confetti to our guests. They were a huge help! We over estimated how much to make and we still find tiny hearts around our flat 6 months on from our wedding! I had hearts all in my hair the rest of the evening and Andy in his suit…but it just reminded us what a wonderful day filled with love we were having!

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Food, Booze, Music And Photography

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your dress! Look for trunk shows, 2nd hand dresses. Focus that extra money on a honeymoon or some other area of importance. No one knows how much you did or didn’t spend…find something that makes you feel absolutely fabulous! Make sure you have enough to drink for your guests and amazing food followed by wonderful music. You want them to have a special experience and most importantly…tons of fun!

Invest in the photographer. Your wedding happens once. After you take off the dress and veil, sign all of your invoices and say goodbye to guests – you are left with memories and photographs that will remind you of how perfect the day was. We were very lucky to have a fantastic photographer, Eliza Claire, who took time to get to know us both and knew what story we wanted to tell on our special day. Her vintage technique in her photographs made for some absolutely beautiful prints which now hang all over our flat! It was important that she capture “moments” and not focus too much on posed images. She was fantastic.

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Soak Up The Love

Take a moment together to walk away, be alone as a couple and take it all in. Soak in all of the love that surrounds you on your day. Everyone is right – it flies by – so enjoy a few moments of quiet. After we exchanged vows in the ceremony, we were able to sneak away to a room and look out at the back garden where our guests were gathering to throw confetti. It was very special to see all of these people who had travelled from near and as far away as Hong Kong and California to see us marry each other…so special. Things will go wrong. It might rain. Your dress might not fall perfectly once you start moving in it. The speeches may go on too long. Don’t stress ANY of this – no one will notice as much as you – just have fun and enjoy the ride of GETTING MARRIED!!

Click here & view all images from this wedding

Venue – Stoke Place
Hair and Make-up – Beauty Call
Bride’s dress – Monique Lhullier
Veil – Jane Taylor
Groom’s suit – Spencer Hart
Bridesmaid’s dresses – J.Crew
Florist – Flourish and Green
Band – Dapper Dudes
DJ – Mighty Fine Entertainment
Cake – Petit Gateau Wedding Cakes
Favours – Lisa Levis
Stationery – Mark Mildren
Photography – Eliza Claire Photography

I love the silver sparkly shoes so much; I really need to get a shoe-designing friend ASAP. And how thoughtful to have ‘shopper totes’ full of goodies waiting for guests in their rooms!

Fabulous advice from Eileen and isn’t the photo of her laughing during Andy’s speech lovely?

Have a happy Friday everyone!

Lots of love,

Fern x

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The Ultimate Discovery.

The vast majority of weddings we feature on RMW come via a submission – usually from the photographer or the bride. Occasionally we will find something via blog stalking and very very occasionally we will discover something absolutely out-of-this-world by complete random accident.

The W-day of Annie and Navid was the result of one of those (particularly beautiful) random accidents. I was having me a mooch on my Instagram feed and someone who I was following had “liked” an image of a stunning blonde bride trying on the most ridiculously gorgeous Vera Wang gown. At the time I didn’t even know if the affair would be based in the UK but luckily for us it was and photographer Xanthe Berkeley agreed to have the whole fashion and floral extravaganza grace these polka dot pages after I got in contact.

There are some really lovely decor and entertaining-children ideas amongst the pretty and Annie (who works for Anya Hindmarch so is clearly stylish with a capital S….) made lots of the details herself, including the flower girl dresses and embroidered napkin favours.

And I swear – I have never seen a Groom look as ruddy happy as Navid does, his continuous beam could light up the world.

Oh and did I mention this was only Xanthe’s fourth wedding?!

I know.

I die.

All That Glitters

My shoes were Jimmy Choo and a very welcome birthday gift from the groom! I kept them on all day as I adored the way they sparkled and all the adrenaline meant that I never felt any pain!

Glamourama

My hair was by James at the Daniel Hersheson Salon (in Harvey Nichols), he was so good that my bridesmaid booked him on the spot at my hair trial for her own wedding a few months later. I made sure the hair trial coincided with my hen party so that I would have fabulous hair for the party!

For the Make-up I just googled “Mac make up artist in Suffolk area” as I have always loved and trusted anyone that uses Mac make up as it’s my favorite make. Luckily my search picked up Sophia Spalding who I used and loved and who calmed my nerves on the big day!

The Perfect (Swiss) Fit

I went for fittings in about 4 different wedding shops and completely fell in love with a Vera Wang Diana, but the price was way out of budget.  So I spent 4 hours on the internet searching for anyone that was selling theirs as I always thought it was pointless to buy something you only wear for a day.  I found a girl in Switzerland who was desperate to sell hers to pay for her honeymoon so I jumped on an easy jet plane and went to meet her and try on the dress.  It was a perfect fit, so we negotiated a deal that worked out perfectly for both of us.  I am planning on selling it on again so another bride can enjoy it as much as I did without the guilt! 

As we had a Civil ceremony in the morning I wanted to wear a more simple dress so I sourced some lace in Hong Kong and had it made by a very clever seamstress in London.  With the extra fabric we had left over I tried my hand and making the 4 flower girl dresses as I was having trouble finding any in an ivory colour to match my dress.  These turned out better than expected and I even got some people asking me if I would make theirs!

Designer For Less

My veil was also Vera Wang and was purchased with the dress as part of the price. The sash worn with the Vera Wang dress was from a haberdashery just off Oxford Street called macculloch and wallis a lot cheaper than buying it from the designer!

The Name’s Ford, Tom Ford

Navid wore a suit by Spencer Hart, which was modern and simple, exactly what we were after. His Tie and shirt were by Tom Ford as his mens collection was so amazing we had to have some element of his clothing in the outfit. I matched the tie tonally with my sash for the Vera Wang dress.

Lovely In Lace

The flower girl dresses were made by me using the left over lace from my first wedding dress, they were a lot of fun to make and saved a lot of money on these. I also cross-stitched each girls initials on the underskirt so that they could easily identify them and have something to treasure forever.

They kept them on all day and I have since been told that they play make believe weddings with them when their friends come over!

White On White

The flowers were installed by a local florist that the venue had recommended that I always think is wise as it will mean that they will know the venue well and how best to dress it. I was anally specific about what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I just wanted all white with hints of gyp so we went with white roses and hydrangeas.

Practicing On Primrose

Our lovely photographer was Xanthe Berkeley her sister is my friend from university and she just told me that Xanthe was keen to shoot our wedding so we met up to discuss. Xanthe was so excited and enthusiastic about it that I knew she was the one straight away! She kindly did a practice engagement shoot with us on Primrose Hill and both my camera shy groom and I were so relaxed that we knew we had made the right choice. The photos came out amazingly for that shoot and I turned them into a little book on trueprint.co.uk that I will now treasure forever.

I have done the same with the wedding photos, and all my guests kept saying how lovely she was which I think is also a very important factor. She is amazingly talented and every photo she took was absolutely stunning, we talked about the fact we preferred reportage which is what she specializes in so we were definitely a good match. We did a few formals just to keep the families happy but it’s the casual unposed photos that I am putting up in the house.

For my thank you cards I enclosed photos of each guest together with a photo of me and the groom so they will always have a picture from our wedding as I know not everyone will actually print out the photos.

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Working for Anya Hindmarch, she was my main inspiration especially the Bespoke Shop in Pont street, this is what inspired me to embroider each guests initials on their napkins to take home as their wedding favour. I started making items for the wedding a year before hand so that they were all done well in advance.  This included the embroidered napkins which got very complicated when I got the unable to attend but at least I have something to give them the next time I see them! 

I also knitted up some little pouches that I placed chocolate Easter eggs in as I didn’t want to ignore the fact I got married at Easter but I didn’t want to use it as a main theme.  I also wanted to make sure that everyone felt welcome and in the mood to celebrate for the day so I made some “Welcome Packs” that were placed in everyone’s hotel rooms.  These consisted of a little Jute Sack I made (that was supposed to look a bit like a barrel of hay to bring in the country feel) filled with my mothers home made Bullace jam (a favourite of my late fathers) and a vintage handkerchief for the weepy moments!

Also Anya does great press events and really knows how to entertain in a fun youthful way.  This prompted the DIY photo booth that I knew would keep the kids quiet and amuse the adults and would result in something a lot more interesting then a few signatures in a guest book.

Three Fruity Tiers

Our Cake was from Patisserie Valerie as this has always been the vendor of choice for every birthday we have ever had together. We love their recipe for light sponge with seasonal fruits and cream so we wanted to share this with our guests. We needed a show stopper as it’s an Iranian tradition for female guests to dance around the cake with a knife whilst the groom offers the money for it so it needed to look and taste good! We went with a 3 tiered Square Cake with White Chocolate sides, it was yummy but I only had a small bite of it in the end!

Pop Culture

For evening entertainment we went with a DJ as Navid and I aren’t really concerned by live music, as we never go to concerts so it seemed silly to spend a big chunk of the budget on a live band so we just had cheesy pop and a few Iranian songs to keep it lively!. The DJ was from Dreamwave events.

Wrapped Up In Love

Our First dance was “Wrapped up in Love” by Jennifer Hudson, we wanted something upbeat and not soppy or mushy as we are not those kind of people so something lively and fun reflected our personalities better. We never rehearsed so it was very natural and after a few bars we just invited everyone else to join in on the fun on the dance floor!

Four Ceremonies

As my groom is Iranian and Baha’i I wanted to incorporate this into the wedding so that his family and friends felt as comfortable and welcome and enjoyed it us much as my English side.  The first half of the day was typically British with a church wedding and afternoon tea, which included the use of my mothers beloved tea set collection, which she had spent the last year trawling through charity shops and jumble sales to find. 

Then at 4pm we celebrated with a Persian Ceremony which included a Sofreh, this is a spread that contains food and traditional items to share in the new life and each item has a symbolic significance eg, the eggs for fertility.  Ladies from the congregation are also asked to come up and “sweeten” the marriage by rubbing large sugar cones over the married couple’s head that is protected by a cloth. 

It is a really beautiful ceremony and has audience participation that I think always makes it more interesting for the guests.  One of the comments from our guests was that they “really felt part of the wedding, rather than just being a witness”.  After this we began the Baha’i ceremony that included religious prayers and readings and the signing of the Baha’i wedding certificates.  All in all we had about 4 ceremonies in the day so we really felt married by the end of it but they were all very different, so we didn’t’ bore our guests! We even started the day with a civil ceremony at 12pm for close friends and family as this was our only legal ceremony and meant that I had an excuse for another dress!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff and a month before the wedding, close the book on new ideas/projects as you will run out of time and just work on what you do have already planned.  Oh and take at least a week off work, you will need it!  Also start with the planning as early as possible, also delegate jobs to friends and family for the actual wedding day eg. Give a list of the formal photographs you want to an usher and bridesmaids so they can help rally the guests for these as the photographer won’t know who’s who.

Brides Gowns – First Dress (final images) – Made to measure by Jane Cameron janecameron19@googlemail.com, Second Dress – Vera Wang (Pre-owned)

Brides Shoes – Jimmy Choo

Make-Up – Sophia Spalding

Cake – Patisserie Valerie

Grooms Suit – Spencer Hart

Venue – Hengrave Hall

Photographer – Xanthe Berkeley

I am going to have to write quite a lot at this end bit too because I could have waffled on forever and a day during the intro.

Um…how cool are those twine wool table numbers doo-dahs? and how about the photo booth/guest book? kind of incorporating Adam’s DIY from Friday but with a fancier frame. I also have a lot of love for Annie’s best girls in alternative shades of blue and I think she needs some kind of award for making all of those flower girls dresses and favours all by herself.

And four ceremonies? four? And still looking fresh as a daisy at the end?…. Also any wedding that has a press on tattoo gets my vote – hours of entertainment.

And the dress. Good Lord the dress.

I think I might need a lie down.

Big Discovering Awesomeness Love

Charlotte xxx

P.S You can follow me on Instagram @rockmywedding, be warned though – I don’t just post W-day stuff, sometimes it’s just a picture of my Mum’s cakes or my most recent on-line purchases…

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