I have a confession to make. I was actually lucky enough to be sitting in the cafe opposite when this wedding was taking place at The Custard Factory last year and I was privy to all the brightly coloured fun and confetti as it happened whilst sipping on my hot chocolate. It looked just as gorgeous in real life as it does in the images below – all of which were magically captured by Lisa Carpenter Photography.
I love that Debra and Matt chose to do what their hearts desired on their wedding day be that raising a toast to each other during the ceremony or walking back down the aisle to “Footloose” whilst toasting cocktails with their guests. That’s what weddings are all about after all aren’t they – a celebration of love and having fun!
It’s been another momentous week at Rock My Wedding. I thought this afternoon I would take a tiny step away from wedding pretty to fill you in on the latest developments.
As I type this I am sat amongst empty Ikea boxes, empty Apple boxes, screw drivers, alan keys and those little wooden worm things that are the magic ingredient that stops all your new flat pack furniture from falling apart after 5 minutes. But more about that in a bit.
Firstly I am going to take you back a week or so to an event on Carnaby Street in London, organised by Lomography at which I was asked to speak.
The Loblography Event
You may remember that we worked with Lomography a while back during our retro week. We gave you lucky lot the chance to win some super snazzy Lomography film cameras and Lomography gave you the chance to win an engagement shoot organised by them and styled by Rock My Wedding. You can see the results of the shoot here.
Lomography organise loads of events throughout the year aimed not only at camera enthusiasts but bloggers too (As one interest can quite often be linked to the other in this day and age.)
Heidi from Lomography asked if I could attend one such event – a photography workshop in and around Soho followed by talks from some of the most successful bloggers in the UK. And yes, that is me nearly getting run over by a London cab – all in the cause of getting a good shot.
I was asked to speak about the transition that happened when Rock My Wedding became not only a blog but a fully blown business.
It’s at times like this that I feel so stupidly proud to be a part of such a brilliant little organisation. Of course I agreed to do the talk and started scribbling down some ideas for my power point.
A Quick History Of RMW
My initial scribbles illustrating the growth of RMW actually became the slides I used to illustrate my talk…beginning with how Charlotte and I met when we both worked at a company called epyx. Charlotte was planning her wedding with Mr O’Shea at the time and thought that the UK was lacking a top notch online wedding inspiration site…this was 2009 remember folks – there just weren’t many blogs around back then!
I didn’t even know that such a thing as a wedding blog existed, but as a graphic designer with a passion for new projects I agreed to come on board and before long RMW was created and launched.
We have had a bit of a rollercoaster ride since then. From a business perspective we have made some great decisions, we have also made a few mistakes along the way. I don’t think anyone can deny that it has been a massive learning curve. It has been a fantastic experience though.
In my talk I discussed that although it’s easy to think that RMW became a ‘business’ at the point when we started to make money, I think it happened later than that. I believe we became a ‘business’ at the point when our investors came on board. Only then did we have a complete skill set – the drive, ambition and ‘front-of-house’ skills that Charlotte and I possess married to the solid and experienced grounding in running successful businesses that our investors brought to the table. It’s a match made in wedding blog heaven!
I finished with a little bit on the future – I mentioned young Miss Gautier-Ollerenshaw’s appointment, the fact that we now have an official RMW HQ and I touched on a few little secrets that we have in the pipeline.
Now, I couldn’t possibly talk about the secrets here, anyone could be listening 😉 but I can talk a little bit about RMW HQ.
Rhubarb And Custard
So, RMW now has a permanent home at the Custard Factory complex in Digbeth. Digbeth is the closest thing Birmingham has to a Camdem Town – think converted warehouses with rough luxe decor and uber creative folk floating around the place 24/7.
Talking of uber creatives… It is also the home of a few members of the ‘Birmingham Massive’ an elite team of midlands based wedding suppliers. Literally on our doorstep we have Steve Gerrard, rock star photographer extraordinaire, the fantastically talented and award winning Emma Case and those phenomenally nice folks at Shutterbox Films. The Custard factory is also home to bridal boutique The Couture Company.
I think we will fit in well here!
On Monday we collected our keys and before long Charlotte, Lauren and I piled into the Volvo and headed up the M6 in search of some Swedish office based retail therapy. Once I managed to focus the girls’ attention on office furniture, rather than bud vases, soft furnishings, glassware and general pretty for the home/office, we made some executive decisions and now own some sleek new desks and a few chairs called Patrik.
After a little improvisation with the flat pack furniture (left) we actually got some desks built (right).
Next stop – the Apple Store. I think we made their day. I have never seen an Apple receipt as long as the one we left with. Charlotte was in flats for once and couldn’t actually hold the strip of paper up high enough to stop it dragging on the ground.
RMW HQ now has so much Apple in it that I am considering changing its name to “The Orchard”.
So, thanks to Lomography for a smashing day out doing one of my favourite things (photography, not getting up and talking in front of loads of people!) Thanks to The Custard Factory for making us feel so welcome and for giving RMW a permanent home and of course thank you to all you lovely people out there in blogland. Without your support over the last two years or so none of these other lovely things would have happened. We truly do know how lucky we are to have such a fantastic community.
P.S. I get the feeling that once we have settled in (bought a kettle, found somewhere to keep cakes etc) you will be seeing a lot more of RMW HQ… so watch this space.
For those of you that perhaps don’t know, Rock My Wedding is based in Birmingham – in the heart of the midlands.
This has often led me to believe that the midlands might well be the creative centre of the entire universe!
I jest of course, but actually – with photographers like Steve Gerrard knocking about and brides as creative as Becky… Perhaps I am actually on to something here?
Becky and Anthony got hitched at the The Old Library, part of The Custard Factory in Digbeth. If you think of The Custard Factory as Birmingham’s equivalent to Camden Lock and Shoreditch rolled into one neat, compact parcel then you aren’t too far off the mark.
Simple With A Gorgeous Twist
I always knew I wanted a ‘one shoulder’ dress. I have long arms and with anything totally strapless I always feel very gangly and like there is lots of flesh on show. The strap would be perfect to detract from this and break up the amount of flesh on show. Beyond that, I always thought it would be boho/grecian styley, I’m quite a simple, non-fussy girl so thought this style would be the one I’d love however, that is not what I ended up with at all!
I loved every minute of trying on dresses. I knew if I wasn’t having grecian then I wanted a sweetheart neckline and I still had to have my one shoulder. I thanked my lucky stars that my perfect dress was exactly that! The designer is Ellis Bridal and I got it from Wedding Belles of 4 Oaks, Sutton Coldfield. Mel and Claire own the shop and they were AMAZING! I’d visited so many shops/boutiques but they were a cut above the rest. And at the time, they were the only shop in the Midlands that stocked my dress. It just so happened that they ended up being lovely ladies too! So personal, patient and knowledgeable.
Getting married somewhere like the Custard Factory could easily over shadow all the details and so I wanted a dress that would stand out amongst all the quirks of the venue and surrounding areas. That’s why this dress was perfect. Simple but with a gorgeous twist.
A Cuff Full Of Pearls
I knew what I wanted and I couldn’t find it anywhere. In the end, it was made by a friend of a friend. A large messy cuff full of pearls… I was so pleased with the outcome! I had smaller versions made for my bridesmaids which doubled up as gifts. I decided on wether or not to wear my veil on the day. I’m not sure why I felt so uncertain about it. But I went for it and I’m so glad that I did, it just set off my dress perfectly. It was my something borrowed from a lovely friend (so lovely in fact that when Anthony dropped it on a candle and burnt it, she just hugged me!)
I wore a band in my hair, half pearls, half fabric flowers. I made my hairpiece myself (I am a designer and I made most (if not all) of the pretty things that featured in our day). I loved my hair piece, it really complimented my dress and fitted the style of the wedding. I always wanted to wear flowers, I’m not really a tiara girl. I made bands and flowers for the bridesmaids to wear as well.
Worn With Pride
I wore Vivienne Westwood, flat, gold, smelt like cherries with a big gold bow on the toe! Absoluteshoe heaven! I had seen these shoes before I even got engaged and knew that if I ever got married, they would be my shoes!I still smell them from time to time… I can’t wait for the summer to come round so I can wear them with pride again 🙂
Pale And Pink
I don’t wear much make up (I’m known for being a bit lazy in this area!) but I do love make up and wanted it to be perfect and I knew just who to call… Liz Bell. I have known her for years. She is a talented make up artist from Shifnal. Lovliest person and a pleasure to have with you on the morning of your wedding.
I’m pretty pale and wanted to maintain my skin tone but pink it up in an English Rose kind of way so I had soft blush and a beautiful matt pink lipstick. I have curly hair which is a nightmare at times and I am never happy when someone else does it… It needs to be pulled and poked to get it right so I did it myself. Simple up do with lose curls falling at the front.
Fun, Colourful And Unique
I was the Florist!I believe that typically, flowers are the most powerful element in creating a look and style for a wedding. I wanted a style that was fun, colourful and unique. Fabric flowers ticked all these boxes. I wanted them to be handmade because it meant there would be very few colour restrictions (in comparison to real flowers). Handmade also meant that they were completely bespoke to us. E.g use of Ghanaian fabrics to represent Anthony’s African heritage. The other benefit of fabric flowers is that they last forever.
Whilst I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t find anyone who could deliver it. So, I pulled together all the skills learnt from being a Graphic Designer, painter and general maker of things and decided to make the hundreds of flowers myself, by hand. It was a hell of a job but I loved every minute of it. I was so happy to have something totally unique for my day.
As my dress was classic but with a twist, I needed a bouquet that would match this. Therefore I used ivory colours for the classic and fabric, pearls and sparkly buttons for the twist. The centre of the flowers were buttons (I now have a very substantial button collection!). I fell in love with them; all the amazing colours, shapes and sizes and so decided to make 2 of my bouquets entirely from buttons. The table centre pieces were lots of fun. I spent months acquiring a collection of beautiful tea cups, teapots and jugs. The tea cups were both decorative and practical and the teapots were the perfect match for the flowers – quirky and fun.
Books, Brooches And Teapots
As we got married in what was once a library we thought it only right that we should have books. So, alongside tea cups, buttons and fabric, books were added to the shopping list. They were perfect for elevating some of the smaller teapots or tea cup candles. The button holes, corsages and bridesmaid hair pieces were all hand made by me again (slight control freak!) The bouquet was decorated with a piece of jewellery that consisted of two brooches which were connected by a string of pearls and a small heart shaped locket. Perfect to hold a photo of my Grandad who sadly passed away. I searched high and low to find the right piece to finish the bouquet off. It came all the way from Philadelphia and was worth all the effort.
If I wasn’t as mental as I am and I hadn’t handmade my flowers – I would have had hydrangeas. 100%. And I would have liked to have thrown some tulips in the mix somehow.
The wedding decorations were colourful and so were the bridesmaid dresses and Groomsmen’s ties. I bought the bridesmaid dresses from Coast, and the Groomsmen’s tuxedos were hired from Moss. We bought coloured ties and gave them matching button holes. I never thought I would end up with pink bridesmaids but they just looked gorgeous in them and my 3 little ones complemented them perfectly in multi-colours.
Anthony was clear that he didn’t want a traditional morning suit and that he wanted to stand apart from his Groomsmen. He did an excellent (although somewhat last minute) job of dressing himself. He wore a plaid blazer, black waistcoat, ivory shirt and tie and black trousers. The main feature of his outfit was his blazer. Although far from the norm, it suited our wedding and despite him buying everything from different shops, it all matched perfectly. The blazer was bought from mytuxedo.co.uk.
He looked very very handsome and I was so proud walking towards him down the aisle, knowing I was the one he wanted to spend forever with! (this fact still makes me smile from ear to ear… Lucky me!)
The Rock Star Life
If you have seen his photos before, I don’t know why you would ever choose anyone other than Mr Steve Gerrard! What a lovely guy! From the engagement shoot to the time he left our wedding at nearly 11:30pm he was amazing!
We knew our wedding style wasn’t conventional and so we wanted a photographer that was the same. He knows how to bring beauty out of the most unlikely of places so we knew he would have a field day with our surroundings. He shoots rock stars for a living and for that day, he made me feel exactly that!
What a legend!
We were privileged to have Ann-Kathrin Koch as our second shooter on the day. She allowed me to see what Anthony went through on the morning and the lead up to the time I walked down the aisle. So so glad I have his perspective of the day to look at as well as my own.
Cakes And Booze
We wanted cakes that would be eaten not just looked at, therefore we served cup cakes with tea a coffee. The cup cakes were amazing and with all thanks to the very talented Anna at Buttons Bakery, Birmingham. She really listened to us and reflected us in the cakes… In that she made them with alcohol!! They were amazing. Moist centres and buttercream icing dusted with glitter and in 4 flavours… Vanilla, Peaches & Cream, Pinacolada and Strawberry Daiquiri! Yum.
Loud And Constant Music
Music is so important to us and we debated a band but we decided that we just wanted music… Loud and constant! We had music throughout the day from a select play list during the wedding breakfast to a rocking party on the night. One of my bridesmaid uncles came out of retirement for the night to rock our play list until the early hours! He was awesome and played an extensive play list and knowing him made it all the more enjoyable.
I had a HUGE debate over what to walk down the aisle to. We aren’t particularly soppy people and walking down the aisle to something slow and moving would probably make me trip up with nervousness and not really mean a great deal to us. So, I walked down to Bill Withers, Lovely Day. It was perfect. I could actually cry thinking about it.
Upbeat And Lovely
We have a massive love for anything Motown and so we had no choice but to choose from this era. We had our first dance to The Elgins, Heaven must have sent you. An upbeat and lovely song that makes us happy. enough said 🙂
We went traditional (or what I believe is traditional) and didn’t get favours for the men. For the girls, I made fabric flowers corsages. They looked amazing as every girl/woman wore one. I was so happy! I love my bridesmaids but I love all the women that were there so I felt like I had 50 bridesmaids instead of 6). They either had a brooch back and a ribbon tie to use to adorn their flowers.
Bombs Of Colour
The versatility of the fabric was endless. I made what I have named ‘Flower bombs’. These were balls of ‘petals’ that hung from lighting rigging in the ceiling of The Old Library. It meant that at all times, during the ceremony, during the wedding breakfast and whilst we danced the night away, we’d be doing it all underneath these gorgeous bombs of colour. I made (when I say I, I was heavily assisted by my Dad) sign posts for two reasons. One, for the wedding experience to start from the outside and two, as a directional tool as we had a separate venue for our drinks reception. Again, these were made and the lettering was painted by hand.
We held our drinks reception at The Old Crown, Digbeth. One of the oldest pubs in the country and a great venue. We used old photos to create bunting to keep guests entertained during the drinks reception whilst we were away with the photographer. When the guests arrived back to the library they were greeted by the guest book table! Guests had three ways of leaving a message. A 50’s typewriter I’d found on eBay, a message on a postcard or to leave us a fingerprint on our tree. It was so nice to have so many interactive elements, people really had a lot of fun with it all. We also had dominos on the tables (in honour of my Grandad) I’d spent almost 10 months scouring the Midlands and ebay for vintage dominos to tie in with the tea cups etc. I thought they looked awesome but was so surprised when our guests actually opened them up and started playing them. It was just amazing, my Gramps would have been proud that I’d gotten my friends playing his favourite game.
They also got the opportunity to look at photos from our parents wedding whilst enjoying the scent from some of the candles that I had made – in teacups of course! These elements all tied in with the card box table. The card box was an old suitcase which was lovingly found for me by a very good friend whilst she was doing a car boot. My table plan was put onto a mirror and matched the wedding stationery. I also bought wooden letters to spell out Mr and Mrs Sappor to go on the top table. I’d seen this done at some other weddings but I wanted to put our own stamp on it so I sourced the letters and bought them as plain MDF and then painted and distressed them and decorated with the fabric flowers – again tying everything together.
A Wedding Is One Day
A wedding is special when it represents the couple. Our wedding did exactly that and we would advise any couple that are getting married to use these wedding blogs as a source of inspiration and the suppliers that are recommended/mentioned.
I think ultimately, never lose sight of what marriage is. A wedding is one day (an amazing spectacular one at that) but you are entering into a marriage and if you remember that throughout the panics and stresses that come with planning, then you will get through it because you know you have something truly beautiful and ever lasting at the end of it all. Also, stick to your guns and have the day YOU want.