What Shirley Did… Contemporary Cool. (Part 1)

We are starting the week off with something massive. It’s the wedding of one of our Rock My Wedding Real Brides.

Shirley has been sharing her W-day journey for almost a year now and today we begin the very final chapter.

Images are all by the hugely talented Touch Photography.

No April Showers

So here we are, almost 4 months after our big day in April and I’m finally able to tell you all about it and show you some of our amazing images. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and had one of the very few dry days in April!

A Bride On Foot

We got married at Burnham Park. This is the village hall in Burnham, South Bucks where we live. In fact we only live about 200m from the venue and this played a major part in our decision to have our wedding there. It proved invaluable on the day as ‘runners’ were sent back to the house quite a few times to pick up extra things which were needed or forgotten! It also meant that I could walk from home to the venue saving money on transport but also making it really personal. We got stopped by a few locals who wanted to congratulate me and also say how nice it was to see a bride walking to her wedding.

Cream And Strapless

I got my dress from a second hand bridal store called Berkshire Brides. This was the first ‘shop’ I went to, and I really only went for a look and to get an idea of what suited me so it was a huge surprise that I walked out about an hour later with my dress in hand! The dress was something I didn’t want to spend too much money on which is probably the opposite of most brides but I just didn’t see the point of spending thousands on a dress that I’d wear once.

I desperately wanted to be a Jenny Packham bride but after trying on a couple of her slinky numbers and feeling like I would be walking down the aisle in my best nightie, I came to the conclusion that it really wasn’t me. After that, I tried on all different styles (big ones, mermaid ones, straps, strapless, huge great pouffy ones!) and very, very nearly settled on a Benjamin Roberts number until Vivienne whipped out a cream strapless Marianna Hardwick (an Australian designer) dress with a triumphant ‘aha’! I’m not a crier but I definitely welled up when I tried this dress on and I didn’t want to take it off, so I figured it was ‘the one’! It was more expensive than I would have liked but after its been cleaned, I’m going to take it back for Vivienne to sell again, so I will make some of the cost back and that makes it affordable overall.

Let’s Face The Music

As dance is a huge part of my life, I also bought a second, short, dress for the evening so I could dance properly. It came from Oasis and was gorgeous but the week before the wedding I heard on the grapevine that my former dance partner was planning on throwing me in the air for some big lifts (we used to compete in the aerials category!). I got really worried that I was going to flash my knickers at all our guests. It sounds ridiculous now but I got really stressed about it. So on Easter Sunday after some intensive googling, I ordered a cream playsuit from Designer Desirables.

I’d never ordered or even heard of them before and after a frantic few phone calls to chase up the ‘next day’ delivery, I got the playsuit on the Thursday – 2 days before the wedding! I nipped round to my local seamstress Sarah (who I had primed ready for last minute alterations as soon as I’d ordered the playsuit as I knew it would be too long for me) and she worked her magic on it – 24 hours later (and less than 24 hours before I’d actually wear it!), it was finished and I went back to collect it.

I was so glad that I’d gone to all this effort despite it being stressful as I loved the playsuit on the day – it was comfortable, I could dance and it was still bridal enough.

Seed Pearls

As this was a second marriage for both of us, I knew I didn’t want a veil for our informal village hall wedding but I had my eye out for a gorgeous headpiece. I’d fallen in love with the Jenny Packham Acacia II headpiece but in the end it was too silvery for my dress and skin colouring so it was back to the drawing board. Whilst wandering around the National Wedding Show last October, I came across Victoria Allinson and tried on a few headpieces.

Victoria and her mum were so helpful and patient, suggesting many different styles and looks but the one that suited me the most was a seed pearl headpiece that was much fuller than I’d have gone for myself so it just goes to show that you should try on everything! Victoria and her mum Jayne were brilliant throughout the whole process and made changes to the design so that my creation was unique and balanced perfectly with my dress. I even took my dress down to Victoria’s shop so I could try everything on together to make sure it all worked. Victoria also made me a matching necklace as well. I thought matching earrings would be pearl overload so I ended up wearing my cousin’s wife’s diamond earrings which looked perfect. I added some Primark bracelets that I already had at the last minute on the day.

Style Over Comfort

I chose Monsoon shoes half price in the sale almost a year before the wedding. I had worn them around the house a little bit, but I never thought about wearing them for 6-8 hours to see how I’d cope! Boy do I wish I had!! By 5.30pm my feet were in agony and every step was an effort while we were having our portrait shots done. I really wanted to take them off but I knew if I did, then I’d never put them back on again and I needed them for our first dance so that my dress wasn’t dragging on the floor.

I persevered but the next day my feet were so swollen that I could hardly get my softest ballet pumps on and it took 2-3 days before my feet were back to normal. I love the way the shoes look in the pictures but I wish I’d gone for something lower and more comfortable! In the evening, I wore my battered but trusty dance shoes which were like putting on slippers.

Turquoise Maids

My bridesmaids wore dresses by Oasis in a beautiful turquoise blue. I wanted something that they loved but that they would wear again. It was a challenge to find something that would work for a 13yo and a 22yo but we managed it after getting the dresses altered by my seamstress. We looked at hundreds of shoes for them but nothing was the right colour or fit, so I ended up buying cream ones from New Look and matching their flowers to the shoes. I let them choose what jewellery they wanted to wear of their own, and also let them have free reign over their hair and makeup.

I felt Like Me

My hair was done by my usual hairdresser, Lisa. After a couple of trials of curls and waves, I ended up with a ‘pouffier’ version of my usual straight hairstyle. I was worried that this wasn’t bridal enough, but actually I was glad in the end because I looked and felt like me. While Lisa was doing my hair, her colleague Daniel did the girls and my best friend Liz’s hair. As well as doing a great job, he was apparently hysterically funny and had everyone giggling all morning.

For my makeup, I knew I’d need someone to do it for me as I’m not very talented in that area but after a disastrous trial at MAC, I was seriously disheartened. Fortunately my friend Pippa offered to do mine and the girls makeup. She used to work in film & TV doing makeup on set, and is now a freelance makeup artist so I knew I was in good hands. She gave me a natural fresh look with slightly more defined eyes – again I wanted to look like me so I didn’t want anything too heavy or thick. She made the girls and Liz look gorgeous too, so everyone was happy and as Pippa was also a guest at the wedding, she was on hand all day long to offer lipstick touch ups. She even repainted 2 of my nails while I was in the car talking to the registrar 10 mins before the ceremony!

Flower Balls

For our flowers, I’d fallen in love with the concept of flower balls which were contemporary and different to the normal flowers seen at weddings but the quotes I’d had were astronomical. So I decided to do them myself with the help of Liz and her step daughter who used to work in a florist. I ordered carnations en-masse from Nursery Fresh who were really helpful. Carnations get a bit of a bad press as an old fashioned flower but I thought they were a good alternative to peonies which were out of season, plus they were much cheaper and last for ages. If you’re doing your own flowers it can be a great way of saving money but don’t underestimate how much time it may take to prepare the flowers! We had to trim the stems, put them in water, fluff about 2000 carnations individually, sometimes more than once, to get the heads to open up, then trim to required length before they could be used in the flower balls!

It took 3 of us 2 days to do this immediately before the wedding. It was quite nice sitting in the sun chatting as we fluffed but not so much fun when it started to rain! And then we ran out of flower heads on the Thursday evening so I started driving around local flower shops trying to buy/source more carnations in the right colours. In the second shop I went to which was called Daisy Janes, the owner Jane was trying to help me when I just burst into tears with the stress of it all. She was absolutely fantastic, and ended up taking me herself to the flower market early on the Friday morning, letting me choose whatever I needed on her wholesale account, all so that I could finish off these flower balls!

The bouquets came from another local florist but they were expensive and much smaller than I was expecting so I ended up wishing that I’d ordered them from Jane. I got our vows printed on some orange ribbon by a local company which the florist then used to wrap the stems of the roses in. The buttonholes were cream roses to match the bridesmaids bouquets, except for Rog who wore an orange rose buttonhole to match my bouquet.

Suited And Booted

For the guys, we originally were going to have them wear their own suits but it turned out that everyone had a different colour – blue, grey, black, pinstriped! I couldn’t see how this was going to work, so we looked into hiring but that was so expensive that we decided to buy them all suits. We looked at lots of different high street retailers but ended up getting them from good old Marks and Spencer armed with a combination of a 25% off sale, buy 1 get 1 half price and a fistful of voucher codes. We couldn’t get everything in the right size at first, but Marks and Spencer were brilliant and told us to buy them anyway so that we could secure the discount, and then rang us as the right sizes came back into stock and exchanged at the original sale price even though they were now back to full price. That’s great service!

We teamed their dark navy suits with Thomas Nash burnt orange ties from Debenhams and I think the combination looked gorgeous. For my son, Ben, I got him some navy chino jeans and a turquoise, blue and orange check shirt from Next with some brown converse style boots (also from Next) which he declared were so comfortable it was like walking on air! It was important to me that he was dressed comfortably and wore something he would wear again rather than being constrained by the formality of a suit. He’s 7 and like all little boys, wants to run around which is exactly what he did (adding tackle slides to his repertoire in the evening when his friend arrived!)

Looking Good

Rog didn’t wear anything different from the rest of the guys – we decided that a bespoke suit was an unnecessary expense as he rarely wear suits for work and we thought the Marks and Spencer suits looked good on everyone.

Contemporary Reportage

Photography was our number one priority as Rog is a music photographer and so high quality final images were seriously important to us. We chose Ben from Touch Photography because we loved his mix of colour and black and white images, the contemporary reportage feel to his pictures and because Ben is such a lovely guy! Ben ended up doing a family photoshoot for us as well as our engagement and wedding pictures so we knew him pretty well by the time our wedding day arrived.

I hardly noticed Ben snapping away all day and he truly couldn’t do enough for us both, even driving us around the local area playing love songs on the radio and dropping us off at the pub for half an hour and then coming back to collect us later. Somehow he was still smiling at midnight! In the evening, one of the young photographers that Rog has been mentoring came to take some pictures in our photobooth – armed with some silly props that we’d made and others that we’d collected, he captured loads of hilarious images which our guests could then print out and stick in our guest book. If they wanted, they could also take a copy of any images home with them.

The Secret Of A Good Marriage

As well as our photo guest book, we also had a poster from Not On The High Street that people could colour and write messages on. I’d filled in the middle part to say ‘The secret of a good marriage is ….’ and then left the rest blank for our guests to complete. We got a variety of suggestions ranging from the loving to the ridiculous and it’s been fun to read all the comments. We’re going to get it framed and hung on the wall at home as a lovely reminder.

A Story Captured

Videography was also high on our list, and we chose the amazing Jeff Wood to record our day. I had fallen in love with the emotional story telling that comes across in all his wedding films, so we knew that we wanted him to film our day. We were not disappointed! Again, Jeff and his second camera man Aaron couldn’t do enough for us on the day and have done an amazing job on telling the story of our wedding day through the finished film.

The Magnets

Through Rog’s photography work, we knew an Acapella group called The Magnets. They have performed all over the world and you may recognise them from the ‘T-Mobile Welcome Home’ advert where they surprised passengers arriving at the airport. We thought it might be really fun to surprise our guests with an unexpected performance during our ceremony, and asked The Magnets if they could help us out. I’m sure they thought we were bonkers but they were up for the challenge and we planted them in between our guests on the day. None of our guests realised what was going on, and the look on everyone’s faces when they started singing part way through our first reading (my friend Chris who was doing the reading was in on the surprise!) was absolutely priceless. One of my favourite moments that Jeff captured was the looks on people’s faces during this part of the ceremony – we didn’t get to see many reactions until the film clip came through but it was all we had hoped for and was well worth keeping the secret for a whole year!

The Magnets also performed one of their own A-Z compilations during the signing of the register. These are songs by bands starting with the letters A through to Z and can be seen here. On the back of our ceremony program cards, we had spaces for our guests to write the answers to the name of the bands and this proved to be an amusing interlude while we were having photo’s taken!

We read out the answers during the speeches and presented the winner with a bottle of champagne and some chocolates. The Magnets also sang as we walked back down the aisle and entertained our guests as they were leaving the room. We can’t thank them enough for providing us with some unique entertainment, for going along with our crazy surprise and for squeezing us in between their Australian and UK tour dates. Thanks guys, we love you!!!

Venue – Burnham Park

Boutique – Berkshire Brides

Dress – Marianna Hardwick

Headpiece – Victoria Allinson

Maids – Oasis

Make-up – Pippa

Flowers – Nursery Fresh

Photography – Touch Photography

Entertainment – The Magnets

And that is where we leave it for now folks… But don’t worry – we won’t leave you hanging on for too long 😉


Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

35 thoughts on “What Shirley Did… Contemporary Cool. (Part 1)

  1. crying before 9am….

    everything just looks so beautiful and I love the magnets! I live in edinburgh so was already planning to see them at the festival over the next few weeks – this has just convinced me again!

    can’t wait for part 2.

  2. Shirley I love your dress and jewellery AND shoes! (think I may have to steal the shoes definitely!) can’t wait for part 2 Lucy x

  3. Wow Shirley, I can’t believe you made those flower balls – they look spectacular!

    Gorgeous outfit (dress, shoes, jewellery, hair – whole ensemble!), very much looking forward to part 2! x

  4. What a beautiful wedding! I love the idea of the poster – what was it called or what seller was it from? A really lovely keepsake. x

  5. Eeeeeeek, everything looks so beautiful! Shirley, you’ve done an amazing job! Romantic and modern and beautiful and fun. Can’t wait to see the reception photos xxx

  6. Yea to seeing Shirley’s wedding at last – I thought about it the other day funnily enough and we’ve missed you! Absolutely fantastic, can’t wait to see the rest and gush some more!! xx

  7. If Part 2 does not contain some amazing flying through the air/dancing/playsuit photo’s then I want a refund. Actually, it’s mostly the playsuit i’m excited for.

    Gorgeous lady! what a beautiful day you had. You look stunning!!

    ADORE the flower balls, I’ve been waiting to see how they’d turn out since you first posted about them last year! I want to have a go!! although I have no idea how to be a ‘fluffer’ – sounds like a dirty movie.

    Do you think it’ll work with Daisy’s or Crysanths? I’m excited to have a little try now. xxx

  8. Shirley is a real inspiration. Her priorities with this wedding were all slap bang where they should be.

    I LOVE the surprise entertainment element, reading this has prompted me to get my finger out and book ours. Squeeeeeeee! I too can’t wait to see the jumpsuit!

  9. OMG! The Magnets surprise was incredible! At first I got goose bumps and then I cried 🙂 what an amazing treat. I have got to play that video again! Can’t wait for part two, this is all looking lovely x

  10. Shirley I am so happy to see your big day up here!! You look absolutely amazing and radiant! The photos of your daughter crying gave me a right lump in my throat, how sweet!!

    You put so much hard work into your big day and it really paid off and looked amazing, those flowers are to die for!!
    You are one of the loveliest ladies I have met and I wish you all the very best in the future…even though I know we will all keep in touch anyway.

    I can’t wait to see part two! xxxxx

  11. Shirley, you look absolutely gorgeous! I love that headpiece, and am now contemplating having my hair cut into a sleek and shiny bob!

    I’m glad that it all worked out with the flowers in the end, because they are so effective. I now plan to wear my wedding shoes for the rest of the day, because I think I too might need to check I can manage them for that long (it is totally not just because I want to!)

  12. Thank you for sharing your day Shirley, I’ve really enjoyed reading all about it. I love your flowers and am looking forward to the next installment, I can’t wait to hear about how your first dance went and also hoping for some pic of the lifts with your former dance partner!

  13. I don’t think I have seen floral ceremony decor like this before but I really like the big displays along the aisle floor, were these in pots of some kind?

    Gorgeous wedding!

  14. @Emma/Angela – Aren’t The Magnets brilliant? – they’re all such lovely guys too. They invited us to go see them again when we were back from honeymoon and gave us all massive hugs.

    @Lucy/Kitty/anyone else who’s interested – I’m selling my headpiece if you’re interested in it. Shoes have already been sold unfortunately!

    @Hayley – the poster was from NotOnTheHighStreet – I think there is a link to it in Part 2

    @ComeWhatMae – thank you honey. Its stressful trying to pull the whole decor together but I was chuffed with how it turned out. Glad you like it too!

    @Karen – I do believe there is a pic of my playsuit in Part2, but no pics of me flying through the air! The flowerballs work with chrysanths or daisies (I actually did a trial with chrysanths early on in one of my blog posts if you look back) and are also good with gerberas. You need a reasonably big flower head otherwise it gets expensive to fill the balls. For info, I used 9cm, 14cm and 20cm balls and they took roughly 25-30 carnations for the 9cm balls, 55 heads for the medium and about 70 for the large ones. For the 2 balls on the pedestals (I made the pedestals too which are also for sale if anyone is interested) they took about 120 heads. The fluffing does sound rude (we had many a giggle about that) but basically involves teasing out the petals from a tight bud to a fully opened flower head. Hope that helps!

    @Phillipa – thank you sweetie. Deciding where your priorities lie and therefore where your money goes is probably the hardest (and most important) decision to make in wedding planning. We blew ours on photography and videography mostly, and tried to save on everything else, but everyone has their own priorities.

    @Alex – Ohhhh thank you! I do hope we keep in touch, you’ve all been such an amazing support to each other over the last year. I’m looking forward to seeing how our lives all progress and who has the first RMW baby! 🙂

    @Amy – no lifts unfortunately honey – Herbie (my old dance partner) was under very strict ‘pain of death’ instructions not to throw me up in the air!

    @Rachel – the flower balls on the aisle were just in little circular florist dishes that were taped onto the oasis balls. We then lifted these after the ceremony and they became the table centrepieces (Rachie did this while we were having canapes and pictures done)

  15. I have been waiting to read your report forever and of course it doesn’t disappoint!!! Such beautiful pictures and I just adore all the details that you worked so so hard on. It all looks absolutely fantastic!

    Cannot wait for part 2 (and I’m relieved that rmw conveniently waited for me to return from honeymoon to post your report!)


  16. @Shirley – I spoke to soon and then went back to re-read your October post! Looks fab with crysanths!! Defo gona give it a go x

  17. So happy to see this posted and such a honest and brilliant write up – I agree Shirley you are such an inspiration to brides planning their wedding. All your hard work truly paid off – everything looked so gorgeous and it was such a happy day! Glad to see you posted about all the trials and tribulations too – it’s very refreshing!

    I didn’t know that your vows were written on the ribbon –such a gorgeous idea and the colours all looked so beautiful on the day – as did you and the whole family!

    So happy to have been a small part of it!

    Rachie xo

  18. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Ruddy gorgeous! That picture of Ella almost started me off again, but I held it together because I’m in public this time 🙂
    I can’t stop looking at the hyacinth picture-I just love it!
    Bring on part two and the dancing pictures!!
    Much love xx

  19. I have been really looking forward to seeing your wedding Shirley as I think our colour schemes are quite similar. It didn’t disappoint! lots of ideas I hope you don’t mind me stealing 🙂

    Congratulations X

  20. Shirley, those flower balls look amazing, loved them so much I had to go back to your post to see how they are made, like Karen I may have to have a go at that! 😉

    Thanks for sharing your story with us all and congratulations on what looks like a wonderful day.
    You look stunning in the pics & definitely can’t wait to see the playsuit – how cool is that, a bridal playsuit! I am a teency bit jealous! 🙂


  21. Shirley! You look so pretty! And like most people have mentioned, I love the aisle decor and the pictures of Ella are so moving.

    And I know the shoes were a pain (literally) but they do look so swish, I am very jealous of your bargain hunting abilities.

    Can’t wait for part 2 (no I haven’t peeked!)

    Charlotte xxx

  22. @ Shirley…first RMW real bride baby of our group will most definately not be me love!! However, we may be the first to have a vasectomy?? Hahaha! xxx

  23. Love it Shirley! Lovely write up, especially lovely photos and some lovely looking people! You both look super happy and gorgeous, can’t wait for part 2 😀 xxx

  24. SHIRLEY!!!! What a brilliant write up. I have really enjoyed reading all about the planning of your wedding and now we are treated to this, thanks for brightening up my Monday of moping.

    Firstly, I love your house, especially your boudoir. Agree with t’others about the shot of Ella, so super sweet. Your pics are fantastic, your figure I am so envious about and I love your accessories.

    I hear you about the shoes. On Friday I ordered myself a second pair (shhhhhh!) ‘cos I am convinced my ‘proper pair’ are gonna cause some damage!

    Those flower balls really are something else and if I had the time, patience or creativity to do it I so would, but I don’t! They really make your ceremony stand out.

    Loved the ‘surprise’, again, another really nice touch.

    Can’t wait for part two, glad to hear Adam aint keeping us hanging on too long. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  25. @karen – definitely give it a go, theyre easy to make.

    @rachie – trials and tribulations are part of everyone’s wedding day – sad but true! I hope that it shows that even when things go wrong (and I haven’t written about everything that went wrong!) that it doesn’t stop you from having a wonderful day. The vows on ribbons were really difficult to sort out, but I loved the way they looked.

    @sarah – copy all you like lovely, orange and blue is an amazing combo! I may have some bits n pieces to sell on at cheap prices if you’re interested?

    @everyone else, thank you for all your kind gorgeous words. I’m sitting here with a huge smile on my face!

  26. Shirley, I’ve seen a few pics before but just to say again how fantastic they are, how fab you all looked and what an awesome day you had. Loved your colour scheme and the stylish way you tied everything together. Look forward to the final part. 🙂

  27. Oh I just love looking at these pictures again…. And the balloons look fab!! I is buying me some helium tomorrow 🙂 can’t wait for Part 2, you and Rog just look so beautiful and happy xxxxx

  28. Shirley you ROCK MY WORLD!!!

    I’ve not been well for the last couple of days and unfortunately not because I’ve got the first Real Bride Bun (still waiting on that to happen!) but this has definitely put a massive smile on my face!

    That first picture of you by the painting was the first WOW of many for me!!!

    You are one heck of an amazing lady and have been a rock to me and the other real brides through the whole process! Roger, Ella and Ben are very lucky to have such a lovely Wife and Mum!

    Bring on tomorrow and part two!

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