Tammy the Bride:
My now husband proposed to me in the beautiful grounds of Amberley Castle in Sussex. It was my dream to be married there, however with so many gorgeous friends and an epic family we just had too many bodies to feed. So the hunt began. Living in London we thought we might go for the London Chic wedding and so I traipsed round the notorious Members Clubs but everything felt too shared (the members would still be propping up their bar) or glitzy (but not glamorous) and we really wanted some exclusivity. Finally, after thinking I just would have to settle and not have the castle wedding of my dreams we found ‘the one’. Hengrave Hall, Suffolk
. It was everything I had dreamed about and more. Classic, vintage, which meant my wishes of gothic fairytale had come true. We would have got married for the gardens alone but every corner of the Hall was exactly as I wanted. Guests could all stay on site in the luxurious four poster bedded rooms and sweet country style cottages. I was able to stay the night before with my bridesmaids and spend the morning getting ready in the most fabulous luxurious bridal suite.
Where most brides stress about hair and make up, I am super lucky that my best friend is an exceptional and established make up artist to celebrities (Jessica Blackman
) and my father’s partner has just started his own business as a hair and make up artist (Vitor Oliveira). Thus, Jess and Vitor with brushes and paint and hair pins managed to make me and the girls look like sensational stars on the day. Both Jess and I had struggled to meet for a rehearsal make over as were both in the throws of early pregnancy sickness so any meet ups had resulted in my lying on the floor or her only being able to complete a single style with my hair or make up but not both. She certainly pulled off my look on the day. I’m so lucky to have her as at 4 months pregnant I felt far from blushing bride. And to Vitor who made up four girls who never usually wear make up and who all felt really comfortable with what he did.
Having always had signature red hair I called my dearest friend in desperation having accidentally died my hair plumb three days before the wedding. She speedily gathered me into her arms within the sanctuary of Varley hair in Angel Islington and proceeded to banish the purple and return to my previous red colour – only better - making it more glorious and shiny so I ended up with locks only a princess dreams about. This was then done up by Jessica Blackman, on the day, who added material roses to replicate those on my dress and give me a more gothic and theatrical look. Anna also tackled the tangled nest which resided upon my daughter’s head. She refuses to wash or brush her hair so it was to my surprise that Anna’s magic fingers managed to brush and even curl her mop. The she went on to work that magic on my bridesmaids.
With such fabulous hair and make up I kept me scent simple, it’s the same perfume I have worn since a teenager and I didn’t want to start experimenting with smell just before the wedding. I wanted to smell like me. I do think smell is very evocative and emotive so it’s not something I ever change. Hands are also important on the day as people want to see your ring so I kept this simple with a French manicure to match the pedicure I had as a gift from my bridesmaid Phillipa Tabachow at the Sanderson Hotel. A real treat!
After Stephen’s proposal we decided that having known each other since we were 17 (and with my daughter from a previous relationship) that there was no point in a long engagement. Why wait?! We just hadn’t factored in that I might be four months pregnant on the day. Or that if you only give yourself 5 months to get married in a wedding dress shop is not your friend. In fact the wedding dress shop becomes your arch enemy as all will sting you with an express delivery free. You need a minimum of 6 months for them to order in the dress you have to have and then you’re paying for alterations on top of the dress cost (and in my case ‘need this pronto’ fee.) My first few fittings were successful and I fell in love with three dresses in total. All entirely out of budget and all racking up a fortune of additional fees. They did however all influence my final dress...
, London and The Tailors Cat
, Cambridge were the places my dreams started coming true in dress terms. Other shops just didn’t compare in terms of quality of fabrics or what they stocked. But all totally out of budget. I was very disheartened until my mother found this amazing boutique in Newmarket called Lara B
and there was THE dress. It was a size 16 and needed ‘pimping’ but it was there and within my budget. The lady who owns the boutique is awesome. She loves what she does which shows and was fantastically helpful. I ended up with a cathedral length veil and jewled belt which made the dress and I wouldn’t even have considered if she hadn’t mentioned them. Furthermore, everything was within budget.
Once purchased it was now down to my very own fairy godmother Linda Hadaway to pimp the dress and make wishes come true. Linda Hadaway has skills beyond your average seamstress. Her burlesque costumes are renouned and abilities as a sewing teacher sewing and wedding dress maker meant she was able to transform simple into decadent. Her work is exceptional. Little did she know it would be cut out. After turning a size 16 to a size 8 she then had to transform a size 8 into a pregnant size 10 adding and removing vintage lace and corsetry as she went, and not an eye lid did she batter. With a grin and a cup of (decaf) tea she made trying on my dress fun and exciting every time. When I was crying because I couldn’t fit into the shoes I wanted to wear she made me a second pair (just in case) adding vintage lace which matched the dress to a roomer pair of cream New look Shoes. She even removed diamante and added additional sparkle to the dress after finding that eh diamante didn’t have an exact match to that of my shoes (which you couldn’t see below the dress anyway). I searched ebay for a vintage cream fur stole and managed to win one. However as it turned out the sun shone for us and so I never actually got round to wearing it.
I wanted my theme to be woodland-esque and fairytale and a bit weird. Think Angela Carter and so the colour scheme didn’t emerge until I had stared collecting things over the Christmas break. Habitat had a sale on their material Christmas trees and so I bought 10. These were white initially but they then ran out and only had green and gold. As my shoes were gold I thought this might work and searched the sales for Christmas decorations which could be hung on these trees in silver, gold and white. But more romantic than Christmas. Also at this time I was in Miss Selfridge
and they had these gold maxi dresses which were only £55 so within my budget. They weren’t necessarily the thing that my bridesmaids would choose to wear but set the colour scheme in stone. My flower girls then wore gold Monsoon
dresses with cream cardigans. Trying to persuade my fiancé to buy a gold tie was not easy. He didn’t really understand the need for a colour scheme and if he had his way table decorations would have been a wooden spoon in a metal mug. However, the week before the wedding he finally succumbed and bought himself and the ushers gold ties. I think they tied the whole thing together! The groomsmen were a ramshackle bunch and my daughter’s godfather threw the whole thing by wearing red trousers. Damn him!
The Button Flowers
Flowers die so I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on something that would then be wasted. Buttons last forever! When my Nan died she left me a box full of buttons. I always wanted to include her in my day and this seemed the prefect way. Anotehr friend had had a button bouquet when I was pregnant with Phoebe Rainbow and so I looked up how to make one. Initially I had wanted to make myself and the bridesmaids button bouquets but anyone who has tried to plan a wedding and make things when in the throws of morning sickness will know it’s not easy. I managed to make mine but the bridesmaids went without, aside from Phoebe. My darling husband and bridesmaid Cath dedicated evenings to help me make the button holes for the groom and ushers. On each table there was a tiny vintage bottle with the person’s name, red hearts, and a message from us inside. These same bottles were filled with button flowers and placed on the registrars table to tie everything together.
Our close friends gave beautiful readings and friends in New Zealand wrote a hilarious poem. My darling friend Helen read Habitation by Margaret Atwood whose verses mean much to me for many different reasons. It’s really lovely to hear the words of friends and family on the day and to feel the love all around you. It meant so much to my husband and myself to choose two special people to be our witnesses.
Our first dance was going to be to a Smith’s song but we finally chose Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper because it is personal to us. To be honest this was the low point in the day for me as I freaked out and wish we had had time to pre rehearse something as then I wouldn’t have felt so exposed and nervous. My husband and his friends DJ so we hired the PA recommended by Hengrave Hall but brought our own decks and a series of different people brought the dance floor to life. We had to include songs for our daughter so ‘Life is a Highway’ from the movie Cars was played much to her delight. Lester Brown and Jim Faircloth then brought to life their own jazz versions of Bob Marley in the library with a trumpet and piano duo which brought the Hall down. And as I missed it, due to putting Phoebe to bed, they had to play again later in the eve. And again they got everyone on their toes dancing and smiling even when I thought the eve was spent.
Hengrave Hall have their own catering company but it was nice to go to a tasting and decide what we might want to eat. We decided on a Cheese wedding cake as this could then be served with bread and biscuits at the end of the evening when people were peckish and alcohol needed soaking up. The cheese was inexpensive and came from the Cambridge Cheese Company
who were super helpful and it was down to my daddy and Vitor to decorate it with fruit to give it a wedding twist. Lightning McQueen also gave an appearance in cake form courtesy of Asda so Phoebe could cut her own cake and enjoy a slice of her hero with her friends.
From a life before children I had sent Stephen a card from Amsterdam with two children on it and had always joked they were us and so we based our invites on these characters. They are called Jip and Janneke and our Save the Dates had the basic wedding characters with the actual invitations showing Jip and Janneke dressed for a real wedding. Our thank you cards were a stunning photo by our fabulous photographer Harriet Gill (whom I fell in love with after she photographed my friends wedding) at Weddings Vintage
. Not only does she capture the atmosphere and love but does so with taste and elegance. She is a delight to have around and I was privileged that she was free as she has a very busy schedule.
Along side our message in a bottle place names, we added wedding favours which were a little bag filled with seeds and a worry doll. We wrote a little note that explained why but to summarise they were a little piece of me and a little bit of Stephen. He is a born worrier, but fortunately for him I was able to hypnotise him into calmness on the day as I am a hypnotherapist (you can find me on the General Hypnotherapy Register website under Tamsin Cornish if you’re London based). This also helped with his pre speech nerves which were resolved in one quick session so that his wedding speech was a sensation and he could relax and enjoy it.
If I was going to give any advice to other brides out there I would say that the bits you end up remembering are not the bits you think you will. My daughter had said she wanted to walk down the aisle with her new cousins yet on the day she insisted on being carried. I had fantasised about walking down the aisle solo to meet Stephen yet I needed the support of my two fathers so I didn’t topple down the stairs holding Phoebe. She then remained held throughout the ceremony constantly muttering ‘I’m hungry’ as she had seen the sweet jars scattering the tables. You can’t plan for these things.
The most important part of the evening was my vows and I felt so filled with love looking into my husband’s eyes during the service. The day goes by so fast as people have come from far and wide to celebrate with you and I felt I was only having snatches of conversations with those I loved so I would say that one should expect this and it doesn’t matter – don’t feel guilty - people understand. This is why breakfast the next day was so awesome as I actually got to have proper conversations with people over a Hengrave Hall fry up.
I might add that you should ask friends for help as this makes them feel more part of the day rather than doing everything solo. It also passes the time more quickly when you are making things at home. Definitely, use a good photographer as this is the way the day remains with you forever. See if you can use mine as she’s fab. And finally, when things seem fraught and stressful (there is a lot of prep for just one day) keep remembering that it is your loved ones and the one you love that will be there to celebrate and just want you to be happy.