Just a quick note from me to say it brings me great pleasure to bring you the wedding of lovely real Bride Sarah this afternoon – she has brought lots of fun and debate to RMW (including epic posts on changing your surname and whether or not to have a wedding cake) and her wedding to Callum is a great example of doing things EXACTLY how you want to.
It’s also Sarah’s Mum’s birthday today – so a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her and a massive congratulations to Sarah and Callum 🙂
RMW Real Bride Sarah: Knowing where to start my other posts was SO much easier than this one! I have sat down about ten times and just starred at my computer screen not knowing how to start, which is saying something because I usually have quite a lot to say. Trying to get out words associated with our wedding evokes so many overwhelming emotions – where do you start describing the indescribable? I can hear you all shouting “get on with it love”…so here goes I guess…
My dress was from Vera Wang at Browns, london. The dress is called Gemma, a strapless sweetheart mermaid gown with blush beading on the blossom hem, I decided to finish it off with a black sash to match my bridesmaids.
I went to my first appointment at Vera Wang with my parents with an open mind, I never had a clear idea of what I wanted and so tried all sorts of styles on, all of which were beautiful. However, as soon as I came out of the dressing room wearing the Gemma, I knew pretty instantly that this was the one for me, my dad’s face said it all!
My now husband bought me a beautiful pair of diamond clustered earrings and matching necklace for the big day, they were very simple, the dress was such a statement, I didn’t feel I needed to dress it up with anything else. Closer to the big day he also surprised me with a rose gold Paul Smith watch which unbeknown to him, matched the blush beading on the dress perfectly!
Oh the shoes… were Christian Louboutin off white satin pumps. I really liked the idea of the flash of (red) colour on the sole, when i went to try them on they were so comfy. They were also blue inside, so that was my ‘something blue’ sorted!
Curl And Texture
My hairdresser was Guy, from Westrow in Leeds. He travelled down to style the bridesmaids and my hair, Guy has cut my hair for years now and i couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone else on the most important day. We decided that my hair needed volume to balance the large hem of the dress and ended up trying lots of different curling and texturising methods. I was so pleased with what he created.
The make up was by a Bobbi Brown artist from Manchester called Colette, I really wanted a classic natural wedding look for myself and my bridesmaids, they really did look beautiful on the day.
English Country Garden
Now, I can’t pretend to know anything about flowers, so when it came to it, we decided that if we picked someone who had an amazing portfolio, someone who also knew the hotel and had a unique style we wouldn’t go far wrong. We met up with Anna of Bella and Fifi in Bristol, my mum looked after her little 6 month old son while we chatted about our colour scheme and overall wedding style;
English country garden is how it translated to Anna and we were happy with that. We told her that we wanted white-ish, cream-ish with a bit of pink flowers and told her to do whatever she thought would work. As designers ourselves, we always feel that the best work comes out when we have an open brief and it certainly seemed to work here – the results were absolutely stunning!
Elegant And Simple
We always loved the idea of an ‘anti-colour’ wedding and since Cowley Manor is such a vibrant place, we decided to go for it.
The bridesmaids all wore elegant yet simple black, strapless maxi dresses in contrast to my ivory gown with black sash.
The best man and groom wore tailor made suits by Davies & Son on Saville Row, grey brown with a streak of pale pink. Father of the bride, the grooms father and usher all wore Paul Smith black & white houndstooth suits. They all had pink shirts & pocket squares, black bow ties & chestnut brown brogues to pull the look together. We liked the idea that the men could wear a slightly different suit but the ‘English gentlemen’ look brought it all together.
Recommendations led us to Especially Amy, that and the fact that we were familiar with her work in the industry. Her images speak for themselves, there was no question Amy would be right for us, we trusted her completely. Everyone thought Amy was lovely, she chatted to the guests and really got involved.
The images she took were as though she knew everybody, she seemed to capture personalities somehow and always seemed to be there at the right moment! The images we received were absolutely stunning.
Rob isn’t a big fan of cake, or sweet things in general, but he is partial to a victoria sponge. Contemporary Cakes made us a classic Victoria sponge with strawberries and flowers for decoration, simple but perfect!
A Soul Six Piece
We had a 6 piece soul band called Soul Fiesta. They were recommended to us by the hotel, among many others… we both loved the idea of having live music at our wedding, We knew it wouldn’t take much to get our friends & family on the dance floor, but after hearing these guys perform we knew they’d be a hit! We weren’t dissappointed.
The band played our first dance which was ‘Wild horses by the Rolling Stones’. We both love a bit of ‘dad rock’ and really love this tune! The bands version was absolutely great.
Macaroons And Music
All our guests stayed at the hotel so we had the idea to put the favours in their bedroom at turndown. Our guests returned to their rooms to find pink macaroons and a wedding CD playlist that we had made, we thought they could listen to it in the car on their journeys home.
All In One Place
The most important thing about the actual wedding day was everybody that we both know and love were all there for us, in one place. I think you forget about that when you’re planning… It really calmed my nerves before walking down the aisle when I actually just realised, ‘it’s ok, I know everyone here’!
Every so often, I took a little moment and looked around the room at everyone, I got a little wave of happiness watching people have such a good time, I just thought, ‘We did it’!
…and then all of a sudden I was walking down the aisle. I say walking, I mean clinging on to Nick (legend of a friend) for dear life, heart-booming, knees knocking desperately trying to look composed. And then I arrived at Nick (the soon-to-be husband) and everything was silent and peaceful (which is strange as all our friends and family were belting out Oh Come All Ye Faithful!). And then Nicky (stick with me, this one’s the vicar) welcomed us, married us, advised, encouraged and teased us, prayed for us and blessed us. It was beautiful and poignant, faith-filled and glorious… then the ushers pelted me so hard with my home-made confetti, I thought I was going to fall over!
The rest is a blur of the people that we love, dressed in the colours that I love (oh yes, there was a dress code of “monochrome and metallic”), in the city that we love, celebrating…
I know it’s usually one of us from Rock My Wedding who leads into a real wedding, but those words from Calandre made for such a perfect introduction.
Nick and Calandre married on a sunny Saturday at St Augustine’s Church, South Kensington, London.
The reception took place at one of my favourite venues – The Royal Exchange. And to show this venue off to it’s full fashionable glory, Nick and Calandre employed the services of Ann-Kathrin Koch.
Now, back to Calandre…
An Old Family Friend
The Rev Nicky Lee married us. He’s an old family friend, the vicar at our church and he and his wife, Sila, were our marriage prep couple on the Marriage Course. It was so wonderful to have someone who knew us so well marry us. Generous friends played the organ, organised the choir and headed up the worship band.
The ceremony was certainly the most important part of the day for us and received the most attention in our preparations. Our orders of service matched our deep copper invitations, beautifully done by Amadeo.
Then we all headed over to the City to The Royal Exchange. The overarching theme was vintage London glamour and the venue was perfect. In keeping with the theme, my mum surprised us with a vintage black cab for the day which was incredible!!
Last Supper bought all my ideas to life – we opted for incredible cocktails, champagne saucers, scrummy canapés and jazz jazz jazz. We really wanted the whole day to be all about our friends in relaxed yet glamorous atmosphere.
Cathedral Length Drama
I’m utterly spoilt as my dress was Vera Wang. It was the flowers cascading around the skirt and the dusty taupe sash that did it. And the veil. The cathedral length drama turned me from girl in a great dress to bride, in a second. I’d imagined vintage lace, drop waists and long sleeves but ended up in strapless and frothy, and utterly original.
Til Death Us Do Part
I love rose gold and so wore beautiful rose gold earrings from Monica Vinader which were given to me by my hens. I also wore my Oma’s engagement ring which I had re-sized by Sophie Breitmeyer who did my engagement ring and our wedding rings. I loved wearing something that connected us to a marriage that really lasted ‘til death us do part’.
What I didn’t know is that your feet don’t get sore on cloud nine so I wore ‘sensible’ LK Bennett snakeskin kitten heels bought in the sale before I even had a dress (the joy of having size 4 1/2 feet). Gorgeous. I’ll certainly be wearing those again, but only on special occasions!
Blush Blush Blush
My inner bride and I didn’t actually meet until I was walking down the aisle. So some pros had to help me out. A friend, Katie Service, from university did my make-up (with some prior assistance from Hannah at Love Lash).
So lots of the palest foundation ever made, heaped browns on the eyes and blush blush blush. Nicole from Headmasters in Fulham managed to convert my photos and hand-gestures into something elegant that was still looking great at 3:30am as we danced the night away!
Home Made Confetti
My mother’s family are Dutch and the wedding certainly captivated my inner florist. I wish I had done the flowers myself when I discovered the New Covent Garden Flower Market with a great variety of blooms, cheeky stallholders and the pleasure of negotiating.
As it was we had Jane Packer who created elegant and simple flowers – my bouquet (sandstorm and amnesia roses), the boys button holes (sandstorm roses), and baby’s breath garlands on the church kneeler and on the candelabras used for the supper. I was very clear on what we wanted and they executed it all beautifully.
I did, with help from my sister-in-law and Best Girls, make the confetti, which was a real hit! I went to the flower market, hunted down yummy yellow and coffeebreak roses, and dried them hanging off a laundry rack. Weeks later, we stripped them, crunched them and sprayed the leaves copper. I then made cones from the Financial Times and we stuffed metal boxes full of them. Brilliant photos resulted!
The girls also helped me to make a flower table to ‘float’ the table plan on. Bless them, getting on board with all my bonkers ideas! I’d seen it somewhere and, thanks to some of their creative genius, we made it happen. And it looked as good as I had hoped.
Glamorous In The Extreme
Oh the theme! I didn’t have traditional bridesmaids but decided to buy my two best girls dresses as gifts to say thank you for everything and to ‘rock the theme’! After a day of frankly depressing changing rooms, boring boring dresses, we happened upon some seriously sparkly numbers in Jigsaw. Two different colours, and glamorous in the extreme. If I’m honest, frankly jealous. The girls looked totally gorgeous.
Nick had six ushers. They all wore morning suits (either their own or hired) and then we hired them buff waistcoats from Moss Bros. They wore knitted skinny ties in either deep grey or copper (which also doubled up as gifts) that we had made by a sweet lady in deepest Hampshire. They seemed to go down a storm. Nick also treated his best man to some engraved cufflinks (ah, bromance!).
There was no question that Nick would wear anything other than a morning suit. But we had great fun finding a waistcoat, having the silk back changed and so on. Nick had a shirt made at a Suit that Fits as I couldn’t find a penny collar, double cuff white shirt anywhere. It was a little extravagant but such fun getting into the world of tailoring. And the treat was that I hadn’t seen the entire ensemble together until the day, although when walking down the aisle all I really noticed was his grin!
Having photographed a fair few weddings myself, and being a great photography lover, finding a photographer became, frankly, obsessive. After hunting and hunting and contacting quite a few, I happened upon Ann-Kathrin Koch’s work on RMW! The photoshoot was brides in a winter woodland, wearing cashmere sweaters, blowing glitter at each other. The light and atmosphere in the photos was simply tangible. A quick look at her website and a chat on skype and I was hooked.
The photos from our engagement shoot are breathtaking. I really wanted the pictures to be works of art where we happened to be the subject. And Ann offered even more than I could have hoped. Lots of reportage shots, lovely details and atmosphere. Ann is warm and funny, utterly unobtrusive but seemingly omnipresent! Deciding which pictures to put up on our walls is proving a near impossible feat!
The Last Supper
Nick and I are known for our love of cheese so what better than a ‘cheese-cake’ hunted down from the Fine Cheese Company, they have a huge selection of cakes to choose from. People are still talking about it and the pictures speak for themselves. It was, of course, Dominic at Last Supper that turned an interesting idea into a feast. After an Italian style supper of meat platters, delicious salads and the most extraordinary pasta anyone has ever eaten, for pudding he added figs, grapes, quince and yummy biscuits alongside macaroons and tiny heavenly chocolate tarts.
Unbeknown to most, my and Nick’s first date at university was to see Trouser Jazz, a hugely talented jazz band made up of friends from school and university. We asked them to play at our reception and they very very kindly did so as a ‘comeback gig’ Take That style, all grown-up and even better than you remembered. I think that was the icing on the cake and totally swept up the theme and bought it to life. Hugely sentimental to Nick and me and everyone thought they were amazing.
Why Don’t You
Our first dance was to Gramaphonedzie’s “Why Don’t You” which to our best man’s horror (sentimental old fool), held no great significance to us. Instead it provided a Peggy Lee jazz introduction where Nick whirled me around the floor like a pro (he’s got to have been secretly practicing) before we were hit with a wave of dance music and friends. Perfect song for the moment. And the best man will be pleased to know that it’s sentimental now!
A Supper Party
We wanted a glamorous but relaxed atmosphere at the supper. More like lots of little supper-parties really so we designated two people on each table to host, get the conversation flowing and the food dished out. We had around 180 people to the church and drinks then a select 100 stayed on for supper so it really was our nearest and dearest. Favours, therefore, weren’t really on the agenda – bit too weddingy!
Monochromes and Metallics
Both the church and the venue were glorious and needed absolutely nothing doing to them. Our guests were our decoration, all dressed to the nines in monochromes and metallics. It was even better than I had imagined.
Love And Joy
You can get married at any time, anywhere. The thing that makes it come to life are the people. We are blessed with such wonderful family and friends and having them all there was the highlight. It took my breath away as I walked down the aisle and I am still taking all the love and joy in.
Obviously, my mother was unbelievably generous but for us the day was about our faith, our creativity and our community.
Invest In Your Marriage
So, the best piece of advice that I can give is this – for every hour that you spend planning the wedding/doing wed-min, spend an hour investing in your marriage. It keeps you in good perspective and meant, for us anyway, that by the time W-day came around, we were more in love than we had ever been and ready for the adventure of marriage. People talk about your wedding day being the Best Day of Your Life. I’m not sure I agree. It’s better. It’s a celebration of the promise of all the days and years that are to come.
Ann told me that this is one of the most glamorous weddings she has ever had the privilege to shoot… and I can totally see why.
A perfect addition to our Fashion Week here at Rock My Wedding this wedding has it all. A fantastic venue, a gorgeous dress, some lovely individual touches too. The floating floral table plan is a corker.
Above all that, beyond the fashion and fabulousness there is true commitment, true love and true respect for what a wedding should stand for.
Joanne and Ronan married in the garden at Villa Pitiana in Tuscany, Italy.
I am so pleased to be able to bring you all a well deserved ray of sunshine this morning. Prepare for pinks and ivory, romance and relaxation and a plethora of rustic chic. And prepare too for 34 degree heat (not outside in the real world unfortunately).
Photography today is by Anushe Low. Pop your sun glasses on and we can begin.
I originally wanted a very plain Priscilla of Boston dress which I found online, however it could only be purchased in Boston in the US. My sister and I decided to have the full wedding experience and booked a day at Browns Bride in London.
Walking out with the dress on and looking in the mirror, I could for the first time imagine how my wedding day would be like, from the surrounding of the venue to the flowers. The Dress was the piece that connected everything for me.
High Street Accessories
I wore a pair of stone encrusted earrings from Monsoon and a pair of red peep toe shoes from Topshop.
We used a local florist. They provided me with a list of roses available in September. I picked the flowers and had them put into vase with water. We also had Mini Eden, Large Roses and Cala lilies. It was very simple. In my bouquet I had Sweet Avalanche.
Our photographer was Anushe Low, I was recommended her by David Jenkins, another photographer who had been recommended by a friend.
Food For Thought
The chef at the Villa made our cake, it consisted of a large Strawberry Mille-Feuille surrounded by smaller versions of the same cake. we had pre-ceremony and pre-reception drinks that consisted of Prosecco, Beer and Cocktails served with a vast selection of Meat, Cheese and canapés.
We hired a traditional Irish band, which played for 3 hours, then disco music played until 2am. Our first dance was to Snow Patrol, Chasing cars. This was the song playing on the radio when we had our first date.
I tailored made my menus, confetti bags and table settings to go with the rustic theme. My menus were wrapped in lace and string, my Confetti bags were made of burlap and wrapped in ribbon. The guest names were clipped on wine glasses with flowery heart pegs.
The flowers were chosen to blend in with the surroundings of the garden where the reception was held. Everything from the table name holders to the Sheppard sticks to the flower jars were picked to achieve the rustic look.
Under The Skies
A lot of my decorations were brought from the US. The paper parasols, Fans, paper bags for the biscuits and sweets were purchased from the US.
Our heart pegs and heart table holders were purchased from Cox & Cox and the sweet jars and retro sweets are from John Lewis. Our table numbers were borrowed from my nephew’s number blocks!
I’ve always wanted to a reception outdoors under the skies, my best memories have always been outdoors under the stars, this is the main reason why I choose Italy – so we would be able to have dinner outdoors.
The overall look of our wedding was perfect. The ceremony was meant to be held in the garden, but due to the 34 degrees heat, it was moved to the court yard, which turned out to be perfect. We were lucky that the venue’s beautiful surrounding required very little decoration.
If you are having an outdoors wedding make sure that the venue has an indoor option, and do not look at the weather forecast more than 3 days before the wedding, as the info is never accurate!
Ha! I love that the table numbers are a childs number block set… that is so cool.
The dress is amazing, the bride and groom look like celebrities… The light that Anushe Low has captured. The beautiful scenery. The outdoor banquet, the parasols, the pastel florals. All mind blowing. Every single element of this wedding ties in together so perfectly.
We have talked a little bit about wedding transport recently at Rock My Wedding and I must admit that Rebecca and Chulanga’s choice of a Bentley S type would certainly have made it onto my top 5 wedding car list, if only I had seen it in time. It is simply one of the most elegant looking cars I have ever seen, and in that gun metal metallic finish it just looks awesome. I can so see myself tootling back and forth to RMW towers everyday in one of these beauties.
So, anyway – I’ve bought myself a lottery ticket!
It’s not just the car that is noteworthy here – the attention to every single detail of this rustic english country garden affair is staggering, from the recurrent Wuthering Heights theme to the bespoke yorkshire ale labels created for favours.
Rock My Wedding sponsor Eliza Claire seemed like the obvious choice when deciding who should capture all of this vintage inspired wedding pretty, and she has done a simply stunning job.
Oh, and of course then there is the teepee… But I suppose I ought to let Rebecca tell at least some of the story…
England Vs Australia
Chulanga was born in Sri Lanka and has lived in Zambia, England and Australia. I am a simple Yorkshire lass living in London! So when it came to deciding where we would get married the world was our oyster however we both love the English countryside and decided there was no better place to have our wedding than Yorkshire, not to mention it would make life easier for one side of the family to attend!
As family and friends would be coming from all over the world we decided to hire six cottages at Fountains Abbey for the long weekend where we would also host an England vs Australia International ‘Friendly’ cricket match and afternoon tea the day after the wedding. We also had an informal do the night before. In hindsight this was probably a step too far for me as I was somewhat exhausted from all the wedding preparations. Luckily I was so tired that I slept like a log and was fine and dandy for the big day.
Our wedding ceremony was held at All Saints’ Church, Kirby Hill, Boroughbridge – a beautiful, intimate, Grade I Listed church with Saxon origins. As we didn’t have any connections with the parish we had to attend the church twice a month for six months prior to getting married. This was quite an undertaking as we live in London but it was well worth it and it was the drives through the countryside every other Sunday that set the scene for our wedding and influenced us from the start.
The church was just the right size for the number of guests and we invited our immediate members of family to sit in the choir stalls so we were facing them during our vows. This made the occasion feel all the more personal and relaxed while retaining the formalities.
Following the ceremony we had the reception at Newby Hall and Gardens near Ripon – a magnificent, grand but homely venue set in formal and relaxed grounds. As we wanted the reception to celebrate the magnificent rural surroundings, the guests were welcomed at Newby Hall for a champagne reception on the terrace before we all walked down to the River Ure where we had a teepee set on the lawns – a tranquil setting with fabulous views and the most amazing backdrop of the Hall.
As quite a lot of the guests were staying in the Fountains Abbey cottages we arranged for a vintage bus to collect them and take them to the church and then on to Newby Hall. The bus was beautiful and I wish I had been able to join everyone on it but obviously that was not possible so we organised a gorgeous Bentley ‘S’ type to take me and my parents to the church.
Chulanga proposed to me on New Year’s Eve so I only had 8 months to find my dress. I never had an ‘ideal’ dress in mind so I really had to start from scratch with magazines and websites. Friends advised me to book as many appointments as possible and get trying on. This proved to be invaluable as many lovely dresses suited me but simply didn’t feel right on. To be honest I didn’t revel in trying on all the dresses and found it pretty stressful as I simply couldn’t find anything that floated my boat or was what I thought I wanted at the time. At the same time as dress hunting we were building a bigger picture of how we wanted the big day to be which was also important to bear in mind when looking for the dress.
I concluded that apart from wanting the dress to be beautiful, stunning and elegant it had to be suitable for a country wedding, timeless yet with hints of a bygone era (20’s/30’s), have a slight edge but be classic – quite a tall order!
Sixty dresses later I found two – typical! With only a matter of days to decide due to the order dates and with only a mild gut reaction I ended up writing a list of pros and cons for each dress.
I have to admit that I would not have tried on the dress I bought if it wasn’t for the amazing assistant at Vera Wang as the dress did not suit the hanger. Once it was on it was so comfortable and flattering and the simplest of detail gave it the twist I was looking for without detracting from the classic timeless style. I also never thought I’d end up with a Vera Wang dress which was a bit of a kick in itself!
One Dress, Two Looks
My veil was also from Vera Wang. I really liked its simplicity and didn’t want to have to look elsewhere with just two small samples of the material my dress was made of and only four months to go before the big day.
The dress had a tulle bodice formed of a length of material that also created a sash which could be tied at the front, back or side. I really liked the versatility of this as when I had been looking for a dress I had wanted an element of change for my outfit in the evening. I had considered wearing something over my shoulders during the day but due to the neckline of my dress this wouldn’t work. So I decided that during the day the tulle would be tied at the back of the dress to be in line with the veil and emphasise the section of tulle inserted in the bias cut train. In the evening I tied the sash at the side and held it in place with an embellished vintage 1920’s brooch which I bought from Eclectica in John Lewis.
I wanted the rest of my jewellery to have the same vintage feel and due to my hair being tied up I opted for long diamante earrings to accentuate the neckline and an art deco style hair comb to sit at the back of my head. Both were from Brown’s Bride. The earrings were by Andrew Prince and the comb by Debra Moreland is Paris.
I also wanted a bag (for my bridesmaid to carry those all important things on my behalf!). I did look for a 1920’s bag with some sparkle but they all looked a little drab and not wanting to settle for your typical ivory satin clutch I found a Wilbur & Gussie bag in Fenwicks which I love and I am pleased to say it has since accompanied me out on various occasions.
The Perfect Pair
Bearing in mind Chulanga’s height I couldn’t go higher than a three inch heel. I also wanted to carry on the vintage feel and have some diamante embellishment to the shoe – I definitely didn’t want a stereotypical satin shoe. After a quick look on websites and the high street and having been warned that diamante may click on the dress I was feeling pretty deflated before I stumbled across the amazing Emmy and found the perfect pair – ivory suede with a round toe and a diamante t-bar.
Emmy reassured me that they could apply something to the diamante to prevent them from clicking the dress and it worked. Admittedly they were pricey but perfect and comfortable. They do make them for you so you need to order them well enough in advance. I just hope I can wear them again although I am not sure I can bring myself to have them dyed.
I found it very hard to find a stylist that was available at such late notice and didn’t have a website where all the models looked like they had been photographed in the 80’s!
I don’t normally wear a lot of make-up so I wanted to keep the look fairly natural but strong enough for photographs.
I had been growing my hair since the engagement. Luckily it was just long enough to be put up as there were three velvet roses on the back of the neckline of my dress.
English Country Garden
One of my old university friends, Rachael Teasdale, owns Flowers By Katie Wharram in Yorkshire so I approached her to do the flowers.
Despite the distance Rachael did a great job and the flowers were beyond our expectation.
We wanted the flowers to have an English country garden feel without being too pretty pretty. So using the organic palette that we designed with our stationery designer we came up with a selection of flowers; Hydrageas, scabious, dill, peach avalanche roses, peach spray roses, hypericum, snowberry, astrantia, delphiniums, vibernum, fountain grass, tree fern.
As the church was so small we didn’t want to over clutter the space and so kept it simple with one main free standing decoration positioned for all to see and then a simple, small posie of greenery and white flowers hung with natural twine from the finials at the end of the pews on the main aisle. We looked everywhere for a small, plain glass vase for each of the finials but they were all a bit tacky so we ended up using plastic travel bottles from Boots. No-one noticed and they were much more practical than using glass.
We then used artificial ivy along the front of the choir stalls with small fresh white flowers inserted.
For the teepee we had incidental posies in vintage glass vases on each table with ivy up some of the tent poles. We also bought some small vintage style glass bottles and used milk bottles decorated with cotton ticking ribbon to hold one or two stems on picnic tables outside the tent and on vintage French apple and pear crates in the chill out tent.
We didn’t stipulate that the best man and bridal party had to wear the same suit as Chulanga as we wanted it to be fairly relaxed so we let them wear one of their own. We did however buy the best man a matching shirt from Pink, an Armani tie and some vintage cufflinks by Jenny Knott for John Lewis.
I only had one bridesmaid which made life very easy. I was adamant to buy her a dress that she was comfortable in and would potentially wear again. We looked on the high street but as she is so petite everything drowned her. Finally we found a lovely flattering dress by Monique Lhuillier at Brown’s Bride. They had just started to stock them and only had a few samples to try on but we found the perfect one and there was a choice of colours. It was a strapless Dupioni pencil dress with pleated body and sash tie. As Chulanga hadn’t bought his suit at this stage we avoided colours that may clash and chose a sage green. I also bought her a vintage 1950’s brooch from an antique jewellery shop in Notting Hill for her to wear on her sash in the evening.
Modern and Relaxed
Chulanga loves his suits so he was really excited about shopping for his outfit. I also love a man in a suit so I was happy to go along and ‘supervise’. We did consider having one tailor made but whilst looking in the shops for inspiration we stumbled across the perfect one. A three piece blue suit from Armani at Selfridges. It is a really nice cut – modern yet the colour made it feel relaxed – perfect for a country do! Luckily when he went to buy it they told him to come back two days later when it would be in the sale so he managed to get it for half price!
Likewise he managed to get his shoes in the sale at Paul Smith – I suppose one of the advantages of having a wedding at the end of summer and leaving things to the last minute!
His tie was also from Armani and his shirt from Pink – he wouldn’t settle for anything less than the extreme cutaway collar which proved difficult to get our hands on but well worth it.
An Extremely Important Decision
We found it quite difficult to choose a photographer as it felt like an extremely important decision to make bearing in mind we would be looking back at the photographs over years to come. Having scoured numerous websites we knew that we wanted a reportage style of photography that had a relaxed vintage feel. We came across a few that we were interested in but so many had added extras such as cut off times, assistants and accommodation to name but a few. We appreciate that photographers need to cover their costs but when you’re managing a fine act called a wedding budget it was something we didn’t want to have to think about.
We then came across Eliza Claire. We loved what we saw online and arranged to meet her one evening. From day one Eliza showed a genuine interest in our plans for the day and shared in the excitement. She was always happy to help out and get involved with the details. We both felt immediately relaxed with her and I daresay I could have chatted to her all evening so it was really a no brainer. Included in the package was an engagement shoot which really helped to prepare us for the big day and there were no ‘hidden’ extras that we hadn’t budgeted for.
On the day Eliza was supportive during the ever so slightly nervy build up and I can’t say we really noticed her during the ceremony and reception as she quietly moved around snapping away at details and guests, capturing the atmosphere that we could reflect upon over the years to come.
Have Your Cake And Eat It
We both like traditional wedding cake but I always find that I’m too full to eat it after the wedding breakfast so bearing in mind how expensive they can be we decided to have our ‘cake’ as the dessert course.
Fortunately our amazing caterers, Yorkshire Party, were happy to accommodate us and produced a beautiful croquembouche with a crème anglaise filling and a caramel topping served with summer fruits and coulis. It was served on a beautiful vintage silver stand and decorated with flowers.
To be honest I once went to a wedding in France when I was 21 and that was where I first saw (and ate!) a croquembouche – I had wanted one ever since!
It did mean that we had to cut the cake before the meal so that it could be served as the dessert but as we had decided to let my dad do his speech prior to the meal so that he could relax and enjoy his dinner it worked quite well.
We also contemplated a cheese ‘cake’ as we are huge cheese lovers but thought that wouldn’t appeal to all. Not wanting to compromise on one of our favourite courses we opted for a cheese grazing table which was brought out after the meal for people to graze on throughout the evening. It really looked beautiful adorned with flowers and fruits and went down well with those wanting a nibble with their drinks. It was also cheaper than providing a cheese course for each person.
Jazz, Swing, Soul And disco
We found it hard to decide whether to opt for a DJ or a band. We wanted a band but we were slightly wary about finding one online as it is quite hard to judge the quality via a few demos on the internet. It was also difficult to find a band within budget – however we discovered that if we went just over our budget and into the next price bracket there were a lot more bands to choose from for just a little more than we had planned on spending. This transpired to be invaluable and probably the best extra couple of hundred pounds we spent as we discovered the amazing Sophie Garner and The New Breed.
Sophie’s voice is amazing and they have a brilliant repertoire from Jazz and Swing to Soul and Disco. This was perfect for us as at the time of booking as we had not decided what sort of music we wanted. They are also wonderfully relaxed and created a fantastic party atmosphere. They got everyone dancing and had lots of compliments from our guests.
We had also wanted to have some fireworks. This was mainly because Chulanga proposed to me on New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen amidst the craziest firework demonstration we had ever seen. We soon found out that fireworks are very expensive to say the least so we decided to opt for a more subtle approach and set off some Chinese lanterns (the bio-degradable type) just before supper. This created a pleasant interlude between the band’s two sessions and they were great for both the adults and the children not to mention unbelievably affordable.
As so many of our friends and family have children who we love to see, we made the executive decision to invite the wee ones from the onset. This meant that we also needed to provide some entertainment for them during the day so we laid out croquet and jenga which seemed to keep them as quiet as could be. There were also colouring books and crayons on the tables together with Magical Menagerie Punch Out Animals.
All Of Me
We didn’t have a particular song we wanted as our first dance and so opted for a classic which Sophie could sing and would appeal to all ages and we could look back on in future years and still appreciate. The song was All of Me which has been sung by so many famous people including Frank Sinatra.
Sophie sang it amazingly and everyone joined in on the dance floor before the party set off with a swing.
I wanted to give all the ladies something romantic and as my Dad was born in Haworth I could think of no better favour than a copy of Wuthering Heights. Fortunately while we were visiting family in Australia I discovered that Penguin Australia published the book in the original 1935 iconic look. This was great for the vintage feel although it did mean that the in-laws had to bring 50 copies in their luggage! I wrote a personal message in each book before tying some fine black and cream ribbon around the book and inserting a sprig of heather to be in keeping with the Yorkshire Moors.
For the men we contacted a local brewery and bought blank bottles of Yorkshire Ale (ginger beer for the few non-drinkers among the men!) which we personalised with a label that had been designed by James Roeni our stationery designer. We also bought a cask of ale for the bar.
James Roeni also did a fantastic job of all our stationery. We met him at the Wedding Show in Birmingham and loved his eye for detail and unique stationery. As we wanted the invite to set the country vintage feel for the day and tie in our travels around the world he was a perfect choice to do everything from invites to table names, menus and order of service. As a result we ended up with a stationery package of our dreams.
Our invitations were quite an undertaking and really set the theme for the day. The invite itself was based on a 1940’s postcard of my grandparents house in Yorkshire. To top it off the postcard I found had actually been sent to my mum by dad before they had got married. We also had a rsvp card with one of our photos of New Zealand on the front which James gave a vintage feel. There was an additional information sheet which was arranged like a traditional botanical plate with an image of Chulanga’s favourite flower Frangipani on the front. Also there was a vintage ‘ticket’ inviting people to afternoon tea and a cricket match on Sunday upon which we combined a couple of poems we had found about the game and its roots – great for a bit of English, Aussie and Lankan banter! To top it off each invite was bound with a page torn from a copy of Wuthering Heights and held together with a ribbon and a luggage tag.
As well as the vintage, Yorkshire, English country garden theme we also wanted to share our 7 month trip around the world so along with using one of our travel photographs for the rsvp card we named each table after a different place we had visited. The table name cards were pegged out on a piece of rope at the entrance to the tepee and a corresponding card was held by a heart shaped tag in a vintage bottle on the tables. James gave all the cards a vintage feel and we wrote personal anecdotes on the back of each. We also put a ‘travel log’ on each table which contained the menu and a few replica postcards for guests to write personal messages. Luggage tags similar to those used in the invitations were tied to the back of the chairs with different coloured ribbons so guests knew where to sit and we used my mum’s old suitcase for the guests to leave their cards in.
James picked a lovely handwritten blue font which gave the text a personal feel. He also used the strapline ‘I will follow you around the globe’ on some of the stationery which pulled it all together and was really sweet.
A Blank canvas
The tepee took a lot of decorating as it was quite literally a blank canvas. I had spent a couple of months leading up to the big day buying decorations online as I found some items were as cheap to buy as they were to hire. The tepee was due to go up on the Tuesday giving us plenty of time to decorate it but due to high winds Papakata were delayed and we were unable to get cracking with the decorations until Thursday. Fortunately there was family on hand to help out.
We hung Mexican picados, 3D paper garlands, bells and balls and hanging glass tealight votives for from the tent poles together with hearts of all shapes and sizes with satin ribbon from the front of the tent.
We used vintage French apple crates as tables in the chill out area and Papakata provided scatter cushions and reindeer skins for the chairs and floor. Papakata also provided fairy lights which were wrapped around the tent poles surrounding the dance floor which worked really well with the disco ball.
Due to the weather being an unknown we also hired some vintage blankets which we stored in a large wicker basket so people could keep warm. There was a fire inside the tent which proved to be invaluable not only to keep warm but also for toasting marshmallows in the evening. We also put some blankets over straw bales outside so they could be used as seating. It proved very tricky to find straw bales and in the end we contacted a local stable and enquired as to where they bought theirs. Luckily they led us to a local farmer who was happy to supply and deliver some bales. We did however have the painstaking task of fireproofing the bales not to mention paying for them to be taken away after the wedding.
We decorated the tables with some vintage crockery which we hired from Add Vintage. Each guest had their own cup and saucer and side plate which added some lovely colour to the tables aswell as being put to good use for tea, coffee and cheese. We also hired vintage glass candlesticks, champagne saucers and lace overlays for the tables.
Go For It!
We found that some suppliers outsourced items so we hired the furniture, toilets and generator directly in order to cut out some costs. Admittedly it made more work for us but every little penny helped and to be honest once it was all sourced and ordered it was done.
It really is your day so you should do whatever you want and don’t worry about what others may think. Hopefully you will only have one wedding day so in my opinion you should go for it. We paid a lot of attention to detail and made sure everything linked together from the page of Wuthering Heights wrapped around the invite to the copy of the vintage style book as the female favours; the blue handwritten font on the invitations to that on the labels of the male favours. It all worked in harmony and everyone noticed and complimented us on what an amazing job we had done. I even managed to find vintage salt and pepper pinch pots for each table.
A superb detailed account there from Rebecca, it seems there wasn’t a single part of their big day not considered and thoroughly thought through – both in terms of styling and from the point of view of being the “host” of an amazing party.
I imagine that Rebecca and Chulanga’s guests felt very well looked after… sort of wish I was a guest at this wedding.
Or, better still, I would liked to have been the Bentley driver.
Aside from talking about being married this week, I couldn’t help but start by sharing this story with you… the story of why I chose my dress, and I guess lots of other decisions in my own planning.
In a way this post is cathartic… my love/hate relationship with my dress has been well documented on here through various articles. I live vicariously through the selection of glamorous and elegant dresses we post about, with lace, beading and relaxed style, but in a way I feel like I have finally come full circle and made peace with my choice.
I’m not going to talk too long about the mistakes I made in my dress (the short story is that it was too long and the skirt was too big to do anything sensible in, so consequently when I wasn’t triping over it, Pete was standing on it. The lesson? It’s no fun wanting to throttle your new husband on your wedding day ;)! )
The moral of the story? Always walk around in the dress before you buy it. In my case, I don’t think anything would have stopped me buying that dress and you’ll see why later, but if I hadn’t spent all my alterations appointments in a tiny seamstresses shop which was (and I jest not,) about the size of my skirt width, I would have realised it was too long. Stood still in my heels it perfectly met the floor and I was paranoid about it being too short, but it took me about three steps up the aisle to realise it was too long – very bad timing. Don’t forget you need to be able to walk ‘hands free’ – holding the dress up isn’t an option with your bouquet in one hand and the other in your fathers arm.
However, getting back to my story, there were many reasons why I chose the dress I did but this is the first, and perhaps the most powerful… I fell in love. With this image.
I still love this image, to this day. It still speaks to me in the way it did back in the Christmas of 2007 when I first clapped eyes on it – I had asked my best friend Jess to pick me up a copy of InStyle Weddings (from which the above image is taken) on a trip to the US and she gave it to me for Christmas that year. I had just got engaged and was devouring every posible snippet of wedding inspiration and information possible, when I flipped only a couple of pages into the book and saw it.
I think the dress is a Vera Wang, although I might be wrong. I fell in love with it’s elegance and simplicity. I loved the shape, the buttons, the way the neckline fell at the back, the bodice that showed off her tiny waist and the full skirt. It was chic, no fuss or frills and elegant. It’s not just the dress that I love, but the scene. At a time when I wanted so badly to get married, showing off the ring was something I could only dream of doing. And in that moment, I guess my fashion destiny was decided.
There was one other dress I fell in love with when planning… the dress worn by Liz Hurley to wed Arun Nayar. Being the celebrity she is, Liz wore three dresses that day, but the one she walked up the aisle in was my favourite. Of course, I loved the shredded silk ruffled skirt, but it was the bodice I loved, that dropped waist again and all those overlapped and interlaced tiny little pleats of fabric, creating detail without fuss or beading – which although I love now, in the bridal collections of 2007/8 was nowhere near as lustworthy and beautiful as it is today.
*My folded and filed, ripped out page of Hello magazine that covered Liz Hurleys wedding in March 2007
There were of course, other reasons for me choosing my dress. I sometimes think it’s because of a lack of inspiration at the time… after all, wedding blogs were in their infancy then and although I read Style Me Pretty before I was even engaged, (like a few of you on here!) looking back, I don’t think I could honestly say the inspiration wasn’t there to have a more relaxed and casual affair. I guess I just thought I wasn’t cool enough.
Another reason was cost. I can’t pretend I didn’t have my head turned by deisgner collections at the Designer Wedding Show and in magazines, BUT in my mind I always knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a dress that was for one single day. There were many dresses that I didn’t even take down off the rail in boutiques because they were more than I wanted to spend, and I didn’t want to fall in love with one. My own dress was by far the most expensive I liked, and I had only just resigned myself to paying so much when the shop refurbished and put it into the clearance sale at half price. I got lucky.
*A Selection of the images that inspired me when I was planning and contributed towards the wedding I chose. Some of them are pages lifted directly out of my planning scrapbook, some are cropped from those pages to prevent me from sharing them all! Although each image isn’t exatly what I chose, they all played a small part, from the hairstyles and accessories, to the back jewels, the pink maids to the colours in that jewel brights bouquet and the peony theme on my bouquet page.
And how do I feel about my dress today? Well, a couple of weeks before our 2nd anniversary, Pete and I actually got around to choosing the images for our wedding album. Almost 24 months later! And flicking through the images, I felt happy for the first time, I fell back in love with my dress. After almost 2 years of looking at different weddings every day with my RMW hat on and 2 more before that in planning my own, it had always been too easy to fall in love with another wedding, so different to mine. But just as soon as I fell in love with one, another more beautiful one came along to replace it and the last one was erased from my mind. Charlotte and I often say now that although we find something new nearly every week that ‘we wish we had had at our wedding’ those things are passing phases and in reality if we went back, perhaps we wouldn’t change very much at all.
Now when I look back, I got exactly what I wanted, and if I were doing it again, but for the first time, I’m not sure I would make different decisions. It is always so easy to change your mind with the benefit of hindsight but when you’re planning a wedding that is all about the two of you, you have to trust your gut instinct. Now I have my very own favourite image, not of a celebrity or faceless bride in a gown I love, but me, about to leave to marry the man I now call my husband.
And as much as I love that image, when I think of everything that means, the dress is not important.
Welcome to part 2 – I guess that means we have about 50 moments left to get through this morning so lets jump straight back in…
A friend of my aunt’s baked our cake – two tiers of chocolate. I sourced ribbon from VV Rouloux in London that matched the colours of the wedding and posted it to her. I didn’t get to taste any (how did that happen?!) But I am told it was a fabulous chocolate cake – it certainly looked fantastic. Planet Flowers provided some bright pink hydrangeas to decorate.
As our service was in a garden, we chose Apollo String Quartet, in which a friend from school is the cellist. It was fantastic to have a personal connection and they were outstanding on the day, particularly as the weather was erratic and they (and their precious instruments) were outside. They are very talented musicians with an extensive repertoire, and apparently a sideline in groom psychology as Dan has commented often on how they helped him get through the 30 minutes I kept him waiting. At night we had The Elliot Murray band, another personal connection through my mum. They were outstanding – a great selection of music and the dancefloor was filled from start to finish.
I Want To Rock Your Gypsy Soul
This was a bit last minute. Dan and I love music, but don’t have a particular song. We went for Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” for the first dance, which is a gorgeous and chilled song. We are not great dancers, and in the end there was an element of body popping to entertain the crowd as we panicked at the attention towards the end of the song. The fact that the song is quite short was a blessing!
Pick Up A Penguin
For each guest we chose a Penguin recycled classic. We picked them with each guest in mind and had a special bookplate put inside to commemorate the day. Our stationers supplied the bookplates in the same style as the invitations. A lot of our guests have told us how touched they were to receive a specially chosen book, and we have warned them that we’ve kept a record and there will be a book quiz at some point! For the children, we set up plant pots in the wedding colours (an Ikea find!) filled with small games and toys to keep them occupied but also give them a wee treat. I remember witnessing one child whack her sister across the head with the bat-and-ball set we included, so apologies to both the sister and the parents!
We had the fantastic assistance of 88 Events, who we brought in at the last minute but who couldn’t have been more helpful and lovely to work with and despite having only a month or so to help us with the wedding. They hung white paper lanterns throughout the barn, and arranged beautiful chairs, napkins and hurricane lamps. Sheila at 88 Events was incredible at knowing, within minutes of meeting us, what we’d like – and she was spot on. Her team were fantastic on the day, and we really felt we were in a safe pare of hands. We made the table numbers ourselves out of papier-mache numbers from Hobbycraft, painted in bright pink to match the décor. My dad made stands for them – he’s a bit of a DIY legend. Our stationers supplied the menus for each guest, however I uncovered a secret love of DIY crafts and spent the two weeks before the wedding hand-making stamped place settings and orders of service. I ordered wooden stamps from Paper Source, a fantastic US-based stationary and crafts store that I used to haunt when I lived in San Francisco.
Choosing Every Element
The best thing about our wedding was the ability to choose absolutely every element of it ourselves, with no restrictions. Our venue came as an empty shell, and we had the opportunity to work with some extremely talented wedding suppliers who could not have been more inventive, stylish and helpful. Our caterers, 88 Appetite Direct, were awesome and we’ve had many comments about the quality of the food. From tuna sashimi and haggis canapés, an excellent wine list and fantastic team of people on the ground who provided cheery, seamless service on the day.
This morning we have Mark Niemierko sharing his top Luxe Wedding trends and a bit of insider information with us to round off our planning week.
Luxe isn’t something we cover very much on Rock My Wedding, we definitely appreciate that Luxe isn’t an option the majority of people have, but if you should win the lottery during you planning then Niemerko’s your man! Mark is well established as the leading high end wedding planner in the UK, works in New York and Paris too and his Facebook page is completely jaw dropping – it’s well worth heading over for some style inspiration.
But for now, have a little read through here, enjoy the images, and make sure you comment below, we have a little question for you all to discuss this afternoon!
So Mark, which classic trends will we see resurfacing in 2011 and how will they be brought up to date? I think we are going to see a lot more tradition coming back, with the Royal Wedding coming up. Royals are typically traditional.
Ceremonies will be grander and I predict church services will also be more popular.
What’s the one Luxe aspect of a wedding couple should consider splashing out on in 2011? Guests. Spoil your guests as much as you can. Put them up in 5 star accommodation for the whole wedding weekend. Arrange for a chauffer driven car to get them there.
Have pop up hair salons at the hotels for female guests to get blow-outs prior to the ceremony. And naturally welcome gift bags in their rooms with an array of refreshing treats to revive them after their journey.
Keeping your guests happy ensures they will enjoy themselves, creating a great atmosphere, which ensures a memorable wedding day.
Which are the three trends you are getting asked to include all the time right now? My couples don’t want their wedding to be like any other. The time when you use to have 3 separate parts to your day (typically ceremony, drinks reception followed by dinner and dancing) are over.
Couples are requesting I break their day up… perhaps serving dessert in another room, have a “nightclub” after party separate to the dinner.
…even after-party games rooms!
Have you got any fashion predictions for us for 2011 Luxe brides?
For 2011, my top fashion prediction is the fitted lace dress. We are also seeing lots of embellishments from bows to beads.
Not forgetting colour, designers from the likes of Oscar de la Renta to Vera Wang have had hints of blues, greens and pinks in their dresses this season.
Mind Blowing eh?
All images courtesy of the Niemierko Facebook Page except for the last three – from the Vera Wang Spring/Summer 2011 collection. If you want to HOWL laughing, head over to the Niemierko blog… we particularly love Marks acerbic wit in his Love it/Hate it features.
Ok, so we have 2 questions for you on this last Sunday in January….
If you could (or indeed have) blown the budget on one aspect of your wedding, or have one fantasy wild card spend… what would it be on?
And do tell us what your favourite aspect of planning weeks has been – if you have spied something you want to use or loved. I can’t wait to see the results of all this inspiration as you guys send your weddings in throughout the year!