Our wedding was on 11th December 2010. I’d always wanted a winter wedding. It’s my favourite season and it never even crossed my mind to get married at any other time of the year! Poor Johnny didn’t really have a say in the matter! I’m a London girl and was quite determined that we get married in London. Greenwich is my favourite place in London and Our Lady Star of the Sea is just gorgeous.
We had the reception at the Bermondsey Square Hotel, I grew up literally just down the road from the Hotel. Our caters Purple Grape were, in short, amazing. Nothing was too much trouble. They offered much more than just catering advice, they helped on all aspects of logistics at the venue. They decorated the Breakfast Table for us (exactly how I wanted it), set up the bar area, the sweetie table etc. Emily was brilliant – and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again and to recommend them.
A Bold Budget.
From the get go, Johnny and I decided that we wanted a small, intimate wedding. The ceremony and wedding breakfast were for the people that we really loved and that we wanted to share our day with. We set our budget at £10,000 and we were determined to stick to it. Quite naively I thought it would be easy to do, ha! What a fool I was! I now understand how people spend £30k plus. The little touches here and there soon add up but I’m very proud to say that with a lot of research, loads of forward planning and a whole heap of DIY, we came in at £11k!
In total, we had 33 people to the wedding breakfast. An absolute deal breaker for me was that we all sat around one table. I wanted everyone to see everyone else and for it to feel like it did at home at Christmas! I’m from a huge family and there were never less than 8 people around our dinner table – that was the vibe I wanted for our wedding. And, I’m happy to say, we nailed it. We didn’t want people to hang about watching us have photo upon photo taken, we spent about 20 minutes doing the group photos and then kicked everyone out in to waiting Addison Lee cars (saved half of what a coach would have cost) while we had the coupley pics done. The thought was that as these were being done, everyone would be enjoying mini pizzas, little burgers and roast beef and Yorkshire Puddings canapés with Kir Royales. However, the traffic in Greenwich was a nightmare and because I knew a short cut, we arrived before loads of our guests!!
Making it Mine.
My dress was from the Victoria Jane line at Ronald Joyce. I tried on 30 dresses in all shapes and from all kinds of designers… This was the part of the planning that I felt most disconnected from. I LOVE clothes and shopping but I just wasn’t that excited about dress shopping. I have a really strong sense of what I like to look like and what I like my silhouette to be, and a long white dress (or any dress for that matter) doesn’t really ever fit in to that aesthetic… However, once I tried Nirvana on, I felt completely comfortable and loved the simplicity of it. True to form however, I changed the top of the dress quite dramatically. It had a sweetheart neckline and one random strap that went over my right shoulder… I chopped this strap off and had the lady that did the alterations attach a piece of fabric (taken from the dress) to the middle of the neckline and cross my left collar bone and attach to the middle of the dress at the back. It gave it a modern edge, made it mine, and covered a scar from when I broke my collar bone falling off of a horse all in one go!
An Easter Egg At Christmas Time.
My engagement ring was the starting point of all of the other accessories. It’s not your average engagement ring! We found it in a little shop in a Roman town in Majorca while we were on holiday… It’s yellow gold with a rotating dice instead of a stone. Each side of the dice has four stones in, with every side being a different colour. I have purple and lilac amethysts and gold and blue topaz. I LOVE it. So, my earrings had to match and I found a lovely pair from Etsy. Yellow gold hoops with purple stones hanging in the middle.
I knew absolutely that I didn’t want a traditional veil. I look like a small child playing dress up when I put one on. I wanted a bird cage veil, they’re old school chic and when I tried one on at a wedding fair, it suited me perfectly. I scoured the internet and found a lovely lady selling exactly what I wanted for the princely sum of £33!
Next I had to find something to set the veil off. I looked for months and months for something to adorn my hair. In the end, I bit the bullet and had a head piece commissioned. Beth Morgan was another great find. We emailed back and forth, and job done – 4 weeks later I had a completely original and designed-by-me-head piece. I LOVE it. My Maid Of Honour and Brother christened it the Easter Egg! I’ll let you decide for yourselves on that one!
Give Me an L…
Ahhhhhhhhh, my shoes. My lovely Husband treated me to my shoes! I teased that as he’d had such a deal with my engagement ring, that he could buy my shoes to make up for it, and bless him, he did! We went to the A.Mazing Christian Louboutin boutique on Mount St in London and while I swooned and drooled, Johnny sat in a chair and switched off. I’d set my heart on purple shoes. Not traditional, but neither am I! I tried on a pair of lovely 5in purple suede platformed peep toe beauties and fell in love. Twenty minutes later, we were sat in Pizza Hut! Me dying to get the shoes on and Johnny not quite sure how he’d just spent so much money in such a short space of time!
A Little Help From My Friends.
I am extremely lucky that my best friend is my hair dresser. My hair has been every shade of every colour, it’s been long and short and everything in between! I LOVE my short hair but wanted something that wasn’t going to look dated in 5 years. So I grew the undercut out a little and had it a very dark Audrey Hepburn brown.
Make up wise, I didn’t want anything “bridal” I wanted old school glamour. My make up was done by another amazing friend! I wear a lot of make up and enjoy the whole process of choosing what colour I’m going to wear every morning. I am very lucky to work at Rimmel’s Head Office and have a whole cupboard of pretty to choose from. It’s rare that I wear the same make up two days in a row so my wedding day make up was a big deal to me. Nicola listened to exactly what I wanted and did me proud. I had silver and greys on my eyes and a lovely vintage rose pink on my lips. She did such a good job. I couldn’t have been happier.
Fussy About Florals.
Again, I have a really good friend who is an amazing florist. I was really specific in how I wanted the flowers to look at the reception. As we were all on one big table, I didn’t need big centre pieces; instead I wanted lots of cubed glass vases breaking the white table cloth up. And they had to be low so that they didn’t obscure any views. Oh, and every vase was to only have one type of flower in. I didn’t really think about the colour scheme for the wedding – but I guess it was purple and gold broken up with pale vintage pink and white.
I’m a fussy mare and was really particular on the flowers that I wanted – nothing frilly or summer meadowy – it’s just not me. Tulips, neat and tidy roses and hydrangeas were the order of the day and they blew me away. It was like she saw the image in my mind. I think that the pictures, and emails and Gayle knowing me so well also helped. Again, I was adamant about my bouquet. I wanted the darkest purple calla lilies and nothing else. However, that all changed when I went to see Gayle and fell in love with giant oversize pearls! They really popped against the purple lilies and I was so pleased! Johnny and his best man had a purple calla for their button hole.
The Usual Suspects.
As we were such a small wedding party, we had just my best friend as Maid Of Honour and my 10 year old Niece as Flower Girl. Getting Tink’s (real name Daisy but I call her Tinkerbell!) dress was really quite difficult. We went in 5 shops before we found anything she remotely liked. She’s not your average 10 year old – she’s a little Mini Me! We found the perfect one in Monsoon, 7 dresses in!
My Maid Of Honour was also a bit tricky I really didn’t mind what kind of dress she wore, but I did want it to be purple. Sandra is 5’9, blonde with green eyes – the absolute complete opposite to me. We tried on some long dresses from the usual suspects but something didn’t quite work. Then, when she was at a wedding she saw a guest in a beautiful purple Karen Millen dress, but it was out of season… I went on to eBay and found someone selling a brand new dress in the right size at half the price!
The Silver Fox.
Now, my Boy is so laid back he’s practically horizontal! I knew that I wanted him in a light grey 3 piece, he wasn’t convinced! I kept quiet and so we went shopping… He tried on 3 suits in M&S, I cried at one and we bought it! Johnny is 6’3 and carries a suit off so perfectly. We went for a light grey (almost silvery) 3 piece and he looked as amazing as I knew he would (I did a little victory jig in my head) It didn’t need tailoring or adjusting an inch.
Johnny decided to buy a new waistcoat while he was shopping with his Best Man, FOUR days before the wedding! He felt a little too “officey” in the grey 3 piece! He wore a dark purple tie and white shirt. I have to say that walking down the aisle and seeing Johnny in his suit will be one of the memories that I’ll never forget.
A Sprinkling of Pepper.
While I love a photo, he’ll quite happily take 100 photos of the same thing from 100 different angles! We looked and we looked and we looked. We left it for a while as it was really quite stressful and came back to it with fresh eyes. Best thing we ever did. We found Claire Pepper straight away. We looked at her portfolio holding our breath, there was not a single photo that we didn’t love. The photos are exactly what we wanted.
Now the cake wasn’t really that much of a big deal for us. We were just going to get a Waitrose/M&S jobby. Then I was flicking through a wedding mag and saw a cake that I loved! I got a voucher from my dress boutique for a local lady Joanna at The Yummy Cake Company. The cupcakes were to die for so we went along to have a chat. We wanted the cake to be served as dessert so we only needed 35 slices. We chose fruit (for the parents!) rich chocolate and lemon (my favourite!). I bought the 2 little Doves for cake toppers (a homage to my new surname) at a little shop in Bluewater for the grand sum of £10!
For our entertainment I really wanted a live swing band. I don’t think you can beat live music for getting everyone up on the dance floor, and I was right – it was packed all night and so many people said how much they loved them! We had an extra 75 people to the evening reception so I needed something that was going to get everyone moving! I found Clint’s Jazz Band on the web. I had a listen to their play list online (swing, Motown and a little of everything in between!) and squeezed them to fit our budget. They played a complete mix of music (including the Bear Necessities!) and didn’t let the momentum slip for a minute.
Months In The Making.
I spent months and months planning the decor. We wanted the over all feel to be intimate, candle lit and glamorous. We didn’t do anything in the Church except put 8 hurricane vases with huge church candles in down the aisle – they looked really pretty and as it got darker, made it really romantic.
I kept my eyes open for little bits and pieces everywhere I went, looking at everything with my “wedding glasses” on! I bought gorgeous dark purple petals, tiny gold cages, small gold and purple tealight holders from Confetti. I bought gold dishes for the masses of huge thick church candles to sit on from Morrisons. I had candle upon candle, all in different heights and in cream and purple – they looked and smelt amazing! Now when I burn them at home (because I have about 50 left over!) it makes me think of the wedding! I hired gold charger plates, and placed white linen napkins on top.
I have to admit to some idea stealing here – The lovely SnowQueen (Pippa Jackson) from the YAYW forum had small pine cones as her name place holders – I completely stole the idea and they looked fabulous! I also bought some cute little purple and lilac paper doves from Etsy and I couldn’t resist over sized crystals from good old M&S! They looked so pretty on the tables reflecting the candle light. All in all, the Breakfast table looked a treat and received lots of “oohs and ahhhs!”
I didn’t want a guest book so I made a guest tree! I bought some lovely gold twigs from Matalan and put them in to a hurricane vase with purple baubles. I left gold pens and old fashioned luggage tags in a basket next to the tree for people to hang their messages off. Reading them the next day over a cup of tea with a hangover was something I’ll not regret.
Ignore Raised Eyebrows.
Do what you want, not what the magazines and tradition tell you to. I had so many ideas that made people raise their eyebrows that I basically stopped telling people what we were going to do. As long as Johnny was ok with it, I did it! Make your wedding the day that you both want it to be. We had an absolute ball at ours and, if I do say so myself, so did everyone else!
By planning every aspect of their wedding meticulously, by shopping around and by getting down to a bit of D.I.Y Holly and Johnny Dove had the wedding that they wanted, and they also came in on budget. Well, almost!
I have one final really important thing to add – when contacting us Holly wanted to explain one of the more “random” photo’s submitted – a close up of the dress showing a sewn in piece of blue crested material:
“My fabulous big brother died 6 years ago and was an avid West Ham fan (as am I) so I had a piece of his West Ham football shirt sewn in to my dress. It was my Old, Borrowed and Blue and was my way of making sure he was there. The photo with me holding my glass up at the table is me toasting my ever absent but amazing big brother.”