I Can Help You Find Your Dream Wedding Venue

So, completely brushing over the fact I haven’t blogged in about three hundred years (more on that later*), I just wanted to pop on today to draw your attention to a service I offer through Utterly Wow called The Venue Hunt.

Finding your wedding venue can be an absolute bitch. Fact. One of the first things you need to get booked once the planning begins, it can also be one of the first things to burst the just-engaged-bubble-of-love you’ve been bopping merrily around in for however many weeks. Agreeing on the type of wedding and venue you’d like, reeling at the expense, trying to compromise with parents and outside opinions, having your world crumble around you because you eventually find the ‘perfect venue’ but it’s fully booked until 2019… there are many, many hurdles to leap before you can finally circle the date on your calendar, clink glasses and say, ‘The countdown begins!’.

My perfect wedding venue- The Great Barn, Rolvenden.

My perfect wedding venue- The Great Barn, Rolvenden.

Of course, the key to finding your ideal venue is learning where to compromise. Your wedding venue is never going to be 100% perfect. It will feel perfect by the time your wedding rolls around because by that point you’ve completely forgotten what had made finding the venue so ruddy difficult in the first place and, of course, you’re about to have the Best Day Ever and are more excited than you ever will be in life, ever. I stumbled across The Great Barn fairly early on in my wedding search, but when I rang to enquire they didn’t have any availability on the April date I had in mind. It took a further month of endless internet research, venue visits and a tantrum or two before I realised that moving the date back 6 weeks to a lovely May bank holiday weekend instead really wasn’t the end of the world.

My 'if I won the lottery and could get married in a greenhouse' wedding venue- Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

My ‘if I won the lottery and could get married in a greenhouse’ wedding venue- Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

But back to those three little words that strike fear and loathing in to the majority of people who lead busy lives…. endless internet research. Finding a venue takes time, y’all. There’s a selection process that happens for every potential venue you come across that usually plays out in a series of questions. Is it visually appealing? Does it match my main criteria? How much does it cost? What does that include? Does it tick ALL the boxes? Is it available?  And of course, more often than not the website alone doesn’t have all this information. You have to download a brochure (or have one sent in the post); you have to call and enquire about dates and the finer details; you have to pack for a road trip and visit the bloody thing; you have to run it past whoever’s paying. And repeat ad infinitum…

My 'if I was having a quirky London wedding' wedding venue- Brunswick House

My ‘if I was having a quirky London wedding’ wedding venue- Brunswick House

This is where I come in. Believe it or not, I love internet research and am actually pretty good at it. I dislike how a whole day can go by hunched over the computer, but I enjoy problem solving, and I love uncovering hidden gems. I’ve also been immersed in the world of weddings for a long, long time now so I have great deal more contacts, insider knowledge and venue-finding experience than the average just-engaged person. If you are looking for something special in the south-east of England then, quite frankly, you’d be a fool not to hire me for your venue-finding needs.

So how does The Venue Hunt work?

Well, upon deciding that you could probably do with some outside help and making initial contact, I send you a pretty extensive questionnaire that covers everything I need to know- from budget and numbers, to whether you require wheelchair access and what you are drawn to aesthetically. Once this is filled in and back with me, I get to work doing the necessary research, drawing from the knowledge I already have and even visiting potential venues if time and distance allow.

As I mentioned earlier, there has to be some compromise when deciding on your wedding venue, and I’m able to glean from my questionnaire which criteria are essential and which are, shall I say, subject to negotiation. Once I’ve settled on 3-5 venues that I know tick most of the boxes, fit within your budget, are available on the date(s) you require and I think will excite you, I put together a detailed report listing each of the venues, along with its strengths, weaknesses, real wedding images, logistical concerns (if any) and my potential solutions. It’s then up to you to arrange site visits for those that appeal and make the final decision at your convenience.

And all for a bargainous £150.

But that’s enough from me. Here’s what a recent Venue Hunt client had to say when I sent her report over…

Sama, you’re amazing – thank you so much! We didn’t find any of those places when we were looking and honestly cannot tell you what a weight off our shoulders it is to have four such exciting venues to consider! It must have been very tricky searching for us and we really do appreciate all your hard work on this- I will definitely be recommending you to my friends when they start looking for venues!

And then ten days later…

I just wanted to let you know that we visited Hampton Court House on Saturday and completely fell in love with it – we’ve booked our wedding there for Saturday 5th September next year!

Ohh, it’s enough to warm the cockles of a cold, tired heart :)

If you know someone who could do with some help finding their dream venue, then please do send them my way. I shall probably be sitting in a corner patting myself on the back still, but I shall stop immediately to get hunting. I’m considerate like that.

Sama xxx

*So, erm, back to the fact I haven’t blogged in approximately three hundred years. It’s abominable and I don’t even have a half-decent excuse other than I’ve been busy doing Utterly Wow stuff, decorating my house and watching all five seasons of The Walking Dead. Expect a final 2014 post making all sorts of dramatic resolutions and promises that I will struggle to keep next week.

Material Things: My Christmas Wish List 2.0

Six weeks to go. And whilst I’m not feeling remotely Christmas-ey, I am currently having a bit of a spending crisis in which I CANNOT STOP BUYING THINGS FOR MYSELF DESPITE NOT BEING ABLE TO AFFORD IT. Recent compulsive purchases include a metal WOW sign for Utterly Wow HQ (how could I resist?), a couple of bits of clothing including this fit skirt, and an ex-disply Ciara O’Neill light pendant (also for Utterly Wow HQ) that was reduced from £275 to £95, and which had me turning my car back around as I was leaving Bluewater, having decided that I couldn’t possibly live without it. Needless to say Paul threw a slight paddy when he saw I’d spent nearly £100 on “a giant Christmas bauble” (his words), despite my protestations that it was “so Utterly Wow” (mine). What wasn’t utterly wow was the warm pink glow it gave off when switched on. The effect was more reminiscent of a brothel than a well-lit workspace, and whilst I took offence at the Christmas bauble comparison, I did cave in and take it back the next day.

However, I’ve spent most of my day off today perusing t’internet for other over-priced treasures that I feel will clearly make my life better when I own them, but rather than hastily purchase (see, I can be sensible when I want to), I’ve decided to compile my 2014 Christmas Wish List and see if other people will buy them for me instead.

I did marvellously well following last year’s Christmas Wish List, receiving nearly all of the items I’d requested, bar the Bookishly print. However, this year it’s becoming glaringly obvious that my tastes have got a little more, erm, expensive, so I’m unlikely to yield quite as good a harvest. But hey, there’s no harm in asking… 😳

TO ADORN ME:

1. One of the only affordable items on my list, I’m loving this gold-plated knot ring from Holly’s House. It’s always a little risky ordering rings online, particularly when the sizes on offer are either Large or Small, but at £30 it’s too cute to resist.

2. I’ve been craving a pair of classic black stiletto boots for a while now. They’re perfect for dressing up an outfit, whilst being entirely wearable for most of the year. I love the combination of suede and leather on these beauties from Kurt Geiger (£85).

3. Ever on the quest to grow my collection of two-tone jewellery, I need to own this Narrrow Stud Cuff from Whistles (£35). Need to, I tell you.

4. I’m not going to lie, the fur gilet both terrifies and inspires me. In my head I’ll look like Cara Delavigne, in reality I’m more likely to look like TOWIE’s Gemma Collins. Still, I’m very taken by this Latte Textured Faux Fur Gilet by Mint Velvet, but coming in at a whopping £109, I’ll be taking it straight back if I don’t look lithe and model-like. Which we all know is very unlikely indeed.

TO ADORN MY HOUSE:

1. I’ve been looking for the perfect cushion to complete the collection on my bed for a while now, and this Kelim cushion from Holly’s House (my new favourite interiors website) fits the bill perfectly. I love the block pattern and the colours tie in with the rest of the room perfectly. A little steep at £69, but it’s so pretty….

2. Now this is a bit of a sad tale… I have been coveting this Cox & Cox Wicker Cone Chair ever since it came out, but at £199 I just couldn’t justify making such an extravagant purchase. So imagine my delight when one came up on eBay; it was in Surrey so not too far, it was in great condition bar a couple of loose weaves, and it was being sold at a much more reasonable price of £80. I had to have it- but my finances were in dire straights that month and I hovered for too long. A few days later it was gone, and now it’s sold out on Cox & Cox too. I know, MORE FOOL ME. So whilst it’s highly unlikely anyone’s going to find it, let alone fork out £200 for one as a gift, it remains on my wish list… and I remain bookmarked to eBay hoping another one (0r something similar) will come up soon. Harumph.

3. My walk in wardrobe + this faux hide rug from Rockett St George (£70). ‘Nuff said.

4. I just love these Amish-style barn stars I’ve seen popping up all over Pinterest and house magazines. They look fantastic as a focal piece and I’ve eyed up just the right wall in my kitchen for one of these to hang proudly. There are literally hundreds on Etsy, but to avoid the potential duty costs (as most come from the US), I’ve found this Vintage Metal Star from Rockett St George (£39) which will do the job quite nicely.

So, er, yeah. The Regent Street lights haven’t even been switched on yet and I’ve already got a wish list as long as my arm. Materialistic? Me? Never.

So tell me Uttersons, does anyone else have a small spending problem at the moment? What are you coveting this Christmas?

Sama xxx

Utterly Wow’s Season of Love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred miiiiin-utes…

Any Rent fans out there? Sweet Lord of all the musicals, I loved that show. In writing the title of this post I just YouTubed Seasons Of Love and about a million gazillion memories from sixth form and University came flooding back. I don’t think there was a single person who came in to contact with me around that point who I didn’t inflict the soundtrack upon. I wanted to play Mimi. No I wanted to play Maureen. No, I wanted to play Mimi…

Anyway I digress. Today is all about Utterly Wow‘s Season of Love. I’ve been banging on about my fantastically busy first season, so today I thought I’d do a quick romp through the seven weddings I had the pleasure of being a part of this summer, sharing some pictures, telling you my highlights and giving supplier shout-outs to some of the fabulous folk I met and worked with along the way.

So diving right in, my season kicked off in style with the supremely elegant and stylish wedding of Sarah and Nic. The wedding was held at Sarah’s b-e-a-utiful family home in the Essex countryside, and Sarah and her extremely welcoming Mum had put so much thought and preparation in to the day, I was quite blown away.

sn1 sn2

My role was to coordinate the day  itself, as being a marquee wedding at home there was obviously no venue manager or anyone to take charge.  The marquee looked incredible- Sarah had really thought about every detail, from the ghost chairs and mercury glass vignettes, to the gorgeously branded stationery and over-flowing cheese table. Outside there were lawn games, a baby creche set up in the summerhouse and a fire pit for later in the evening. The weather was pretty wet so sadly the outside accoutrements didn’t get utilised quite as much as they should have been, but it was such a sumptuously inviting setting inside the marquee that I don’t think anyone minded.

sn4 sn3

Images by Claudia Rose Carter

The day ran without a hitch, the one memorable blip for me being a very excited lost Boxer dog that found it’s way on to site just before Sarah and her family left for church and had us all (the staff) running circles after it. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and with no-one appearing to claim him, we tied him up by the catering vans and looked after him all day. (I think one of the catering lads ended up taking him home, for which myself and Lenny the cat will be eternally grateful.)

Supplier shout-outs go to Claudia Rose Carter who was back shooting her first wedding since maternity leave and took such gorgeous, evocative photos, Talbooth Catering who were so slick, professional and a sheer delight to work with (and majorly came to the rescue with dog gate), and The Top Bananas, three musical entertainers on stilts who were fun and cheeky and simply brilliant.

~  ~  ~

Of course, Sarah and Nic were the start of what I’d dubbed May Madness; three On-The Day Coordinations back to back that had me head down and nose to the grind for a solid month. Next up were Joe and Louise, who’s wedding I’ve blogged in full already but still remains as one of my favourites from the season.

Festoon lights, food trucks, mis-matched chairs and so many personal touches getting setting up was to the wire, but the venue (Huntsmill Farm in Buckinghamshire) was so beautiful and guests loved every minute. I won’t talk too much about this day as you can read all about it right here, but Joe and Louise were such a generous, cool, sweet couple to work with, it truly was a delightfully creative wedding to coordinate.

JoeLou_361 JL10 JL13joelou_818 joelou_902

Images by Ed Peers

There were A LOT of suppliers involved in the day but my favourites were, of course, Ed Peers (photographic superstar and totally awesome human being), Alfie the Black Cab Photo Booth, (a photo booth… in a black cab- total novelty and had guests queuing all night), and the venue itself, Huntsmill Farm (gorgeous location, welcoming owners and lots of options and flexibility for a DIY day).

~  ~  ~

Before I had time to put my feet up it was on to Wedding #3, and from Buckinghamshire to Surrey I went, to coordinate the nuptials of Suzannah, a food writer for Good Housekeeping, and James, a television producer. (They met whilst both working on The X Factor! Love that story.) These two were SO. MUCH. FUN. and their wedding really reflected that. I had been booked to help set up the day before as well as coordinate the wedding day itself, and spent about four hours on the Friday up a scaffolding tower stringing streamers and pom poms across the ceiling of the pool house where the reception was taking place. Fortunately I had Suzannah and her bridesmaids on hand to help as well, and whilst we were all in pain by the end of the day (you try crouching on your knees/toes at the top of a scaffolding tower for FOUR HOURS), I think you’ll agree the pool house looked AH-MAY-ZING when it was all finished.

SJ3

This wedding just oozed fun and personality from start to finish. From the oversized paper flower backdrop Suzannah had made for the ceremony, to the doppelgänger place names, Bugsy Malone sing-a-long during the speeches and confetti canons for the first dance, I could tell that everyone was just having the best time. From a personal point of view, I was super impressed with the venue, Ridge Farm. Of course it helped that the weather was perfect, but it really is a fantastic place to hire for the weekend and throw a wedding/party and the team that worked there were friendly, helpful and flexible.

I’m DESPERATE to share their professional photos with you (shot by the brilliant Craig + Kate Photography), but as Rock My Wedding will be featuring this wedding in full very soon, I’m afraid you just have to make do with a couple of Instagram snaps for now. Sorry :(

~  ~  ~

So in June I mainly slept. Well, that’s not technically true. I worked my day job, did house stuff and made 30th birthday plans whilst, of course, continuing to prep for the rest of my weddings. July saw me hot-footing it up to the Peak District where I was oversee-ing the nuptials of Tess and Phil. Now Tess and I were actually at university together (she was in the year above), and when she got engaged back in 2012 she originally booked me to coordinate her 2013 wedding before an unexpected surprise came along in the form of a baby boy called Hudson. The wedding got put back a year, and my role grew as Tess juggled planning a wedding with becoming a new mum.

TP4TP2

Whilst I had little to do with the design of this g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s day, I’d been involved logistically for well over a year, so it was a joy to see this epic wedding weekend unfold. There was style aplomb thanks to a whole host of talented friends; Kate Halfpenny of Halfpenny London was a bridesmaid and made Tess’ beautiful bespoke dress as well as the bridesmaids’ skirts, whilst Tess’ sister-in law is one half of Florrie & Eve who made the floral necklaces. In the marquee, flowers were suspended from the ceiling, place settings were modern, quirky and perfectly branded, and there was delicious food in abundance.

TP1 TP6 TS-549

Images by Tom Oldham 

This wedding was packed full of talent, but special kudos has to go to Tom Oldham who heroically stepped in last minute to shoot the wedding when the original photographer had to pull out just days before, The Hog & Apple, another catering company who were über professional and generally awesome to work with, and Mowgli the band who were SO FRICKIN’ BRILLIANT I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch, enjoy and even have a little boogie. (A 90’s club classics/old school garage half hour? Yes please!)

~  ~  ~

Wedding #5 was that of Katie and Luke, a pair of childhood sweethearts who were getting married close to their home in West Sussex. They’d found a beautiful setting to host their marquee reception; a clearing in the woods of a private estate that overlooked a lake. It really was picture perfect.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.40.04Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.38.06

Katie and her Mum had planned the wedding to a tee. So much so, I was handed a folder at our first meeting three weeks before the wedding that practically did my whole job for me! On the day itself I was on weather watch, putting together the finishing touches inside and outside the marquee, greeting suppliers as they arrived, lighting candles and making sure their well-laid plans fell perfectly in to place.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.39.31 Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.38.58 Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.40.54 Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.41.33

Images by Allister Freeman Photography

This was a classic, sweet, personal wedding hosted by a gorgeous family. Supplier shout-outs go to the lovely Allister Freeman who photographed the day, and Jay Marsh, a super talented musician who entertained guests upon arrival (and helped me retrieve numerous picnic blankets during a downpour!).

~  ~  ~

July went and August came, and my season was to culminate with the two weddings I’d been the most involved with. Lisa and Jon were up first. They were getting married at the Wise Wedding Venue in Kent- a fantastic space in the woods that boasts neon lights, swinging sofas, a treehouse and an enormous marquee ready to host the evening celebrations. It’s a large, blank canvas space, and Lisa and Jon hired me to design and style the day, as well as managing the wedding weekend itself. I’d seen this venue featured on a number of blogs in the past and was understandably way over-excited to get my creative mitts on it.

LJ-382

LJ-367

Jon wanted paper lanterns and lots of colour, whilst Lisa wanted twinkly lights and rustic romance, so I set out to create a colourful, fun, whimsical day that took a bit of bohemian inspiration from the gorgeous surroundings. There were hand-made wooden signs, a floral archway, streamers hanging from the trees, festoon lights, mis-matched napkins, rustic centrepieces and a hanging installation above the top table…to name but a few.

LJ3 LJ-511

Images by Laura McCluskey

Lisa and Jon were dream clients and I loved every second of working on this beautiful woodland wedding. And despite August forgetting it was supposed to be a summer month, the sun shone brightly all afternoon much to everyone’s delight! Lisa and Jon’s family and friends were oh-so welcoming and the day was made even more awesome by the super-skills of Laura McCluskey, the photographer who I’d so been looking forward to working with, and Cappy from White & Winsome who took the brief and delivered the most perfect flowers.

~  ~  ~

And last but soooooooo by no means least, were the simply glorious Tiffany and Bright, who booked me a year ahead of their wedding to provide design and styling assistance as well as coordination. Originally wanting a barn wedding, they’d decided to make the most of their budget by hosting the reception in a large, modern village hall set in the very pretty Essex village of Wickham Bishops… and this space needed filling!

TB1 Image by Rebecca Douglas Photography - www.rebeccadouglas.co.uk

The brief was colourful and fun; they wanted to incorporate a few rustic touches with a nod to Bright’s Ghanian heritage. So we lowered the vast ceiling of the village hall by filling it with paper lanterns and festoons. We used traditional Ghanian kente cloth as table runners and lined the walls with foliage-adorned wooden pallets. And the Bake-Off table was like nothing I’d ever seen before- we had to bring in an emergency trestle table there was so much cake.

Tiff & Bright's Wedding 0697 Image by Rebecca Douglas Photography - www.rebeccadouglas.co.uk Tiff & Bright's Wedding 1039

Images by Rebecca Douglas Photography

Tiffany and Bright literally laughed all day, and their family and friends danced their socks off all night. I was gutted to miss the magical, gospel music-filled ceremony as set-up was to the wire, but fortunately they’d hired the brilliant and truly lovely Rebecca Douglas to capture every second. Cappy from White and Winsome was with me again to create floral magic (including Tiffany’s lovely headpiece), and I also have to mention Tiffany’s dress- originally her Mum’s wedding dress and re-worked in to something entirely beautiful and bespoke by Charlotte at Wilden Bride London. You can see this wedding in full on Rock n’ Roll Bride very soon.

What a day, what a season… what a post! You can see more images, more supplier credits and even a client testimonial or two from these awesome weddings over on my website right now.

Bookings are coming in thick and fast for next year, so if you’re a bride or groom-to-be and think you might like some Utterly Wow assistance, be it creative, design, logistical or coordination- then get in touch!

A mega post calls for a ma-hoosive cup of tea, methinks…

Sama xxx

Bittersweet

Today marks something for me that could have been, but never was. It’s not something I’ve dwelled on too much since the start of the year- or I’ve tried not to at least- but it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking a lot about today, at the beginning of a week that, well, could have been life-changing.

As I said at the time, when it all happened I didn’t feel the need to mourn as such. It was an upsetting and traumatic time, of course, but those few weeks were such a rollercoaster of emotion and confusion that Paul and I never really had the chance to imagine ‘a life’. And certainly 2014 has been so jam-packed with 30th birthdays, a house move and a fantastically busy Utterly Wow season that I genuinely don’t know how I would have managed it all. I take comfort from the thought that our timing was just a little premature.

On the other hand, it’s only now that I can look back and truly understand the teeny tiny miracle that ocurred when our chromosomes united. It’s going to be harder for us now a tube down, and it makes me sad that instead of the ‘happy surprise’ we experienced last time, our next time is going to be fraught with early testing, anxiety and worry. We’ll try not to fret, of course, but I think those feelings really are inevitable given the circumstances.

So here I am, on a day that coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’ been quite different. I only remembered it because it’s my Mum’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mama Moomin!). The first quarter of the year wasn’t very nice but I had plenty to distract me through the spring/summer and I’m feeling good- if a little pooped. I’m allowing myself a pause today though, a moment to imagine what could have been this week, and a chance to ponder the question, “…What if?”. Rather ironically, my reflection couldn’t be more timely. I recently found out that October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, with the 15th October being a day in particular that people from around the globe are invited to light a candle and remember their loss, however great or small. It’s a bit cheesy and American but for once I find myself being appreciative of such a thing.

And finally, the title off this post suggests things aren’t entirely sombre, and they really aren’t. For this very morning, on a day that had been on my periphery for the last eight months, and several days early, my step-sister and her wife welcomed a much-longed for little boy in to the world.

ethan

Welcome to the world Ethan Thomas. You are beautiful and going to be very, very loved.

Sama xxx

Celebrity Wedding Dress of The Year?

I’m just going to come out and say it; I was a bit disappointed with Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress.

amal-alamuddin-wedding-dress-photo-people-coverDon’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely dress, designed and constructed by the magnificent Oscar de la Renta who regularly dresses the world’s most beautiful women. And Amal looks gorgeous because she is a gorgeous woman… but let’s face it, she’d have looked gorgeous if she’d wrapped herself in bog roll and floated down the aisle.

I quite like the lace, I quite like the off-the-shoulder straps reminiscent of my favourite Disney princess, Belle, but I think that’s my problem: it’s classic, it’s sweet, it’s safe… it’s just a bit Disney. I suppose I expected something with a bit more chutzpah from the hugely accomplished, internationally-acclaimed human rights lawyer who has fascinated the world by winning the affections of Our Sexiest Bachelor. Isn’t safe just a bit boring?

There’s a ridiculously long train, of course, as there always is with stupidly expensive weddings. She can’t walk around freely, but MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT, PEOPLE. Although, of course, it’s highly unlikely she actually paid for her dress which leaves me wondering- is this lovely, lace confection truly reflective of Amal and her personality? Is this what Oscar de la Renta would have designed for a strong, chic, dynamic and HOT 36-year old woman should she not have been such a huge public figure and much-anticipated bride to be?

Perhaps. Perhaps Amal knew exactly what she wanted to wear on her wedding day and this was it. Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong and am just being unnecessarily critical. Perhaps she loves Beauty And The Beast as much as I do. Perhaps I’ve got a little wound up about just how much exposure and media hysteria their wedding created last week. I’m thrilled that they’ve found each other and I’m thrilled they’ve tied the knot. Best of luck to them; they seem genuinely happy and in love. But to make the 6pm news three days in a row? To have Susannah Reid flown to Venice to report on the lead-up? To tout this perfectly nice dress as The Wedding Dress Of The Year?? (Good Morning Britain, I’m talking to you.)

No. Not in my books. That accolade would go to the lovely Fearne Cotton, I reckon. For having the chutzpah to wear something cute, unique and oh-so pretty that represented her in every way, and for pulling it off with effortless aplomb.

fearne

Disagree? Who (or what) would win your Celebrity Wedding Dress of the Year?

Sama xxx

 

 

Rug Love…. (And a Little Tour of my Living Room)

Since moving in to our new home back in May, I’ve been lusting after a Berber-style rug for my living room. Berber rugs, souk rugs, Beni Ourain or Moroccan rugs; whatever you call them these shaggy, modern-bohemian must-haves have been popping up all over Pinterest and interior blogs for some time now. A sheep I may be, but as I like to imagine I’m a cool, modern bohemian living in California as opposed to a fairly normal suburban girl living a couple of miles from the Dartford tunnel, and as I have a major girl crush on interior style icon Emily Henderson, my desire to have a Berber-style rug adorn my living room floor had become almost obsession-like.

This is Emily Henderson's living room. Isn't it beautiful?

This is Emily Henderson’s living room. Isn’t it beautiful?

Sadly, they’re not the most affordable kind of rug to set your heart on. Particularly if it’s a genuine vintage hand-made-by-a-tribe-in-North-Africa kind of rug that you’re after. These bad boys could set you back anything from £500 to £1500 for a particularly large one like the beauty in the picture above. And I had a budget of £300 max.

I spent months looking for the right one. From high street shops such as John Lewis and West Elm (too expensive), to online interior havens Cox & Cox and Rockett St George (too expensive), to the Turkish and North African sellers on Etsy (way too expensive)- there are lots and lots of Berber-style rugs out there, I just couldn’t bear to part with £500+ which is what I needed to spend for a 5′ x 8′ rug, the minimum size I was looking for.

My search eventually led me to overstock.com, a US retail site selling everything from furniture to jewellery and watches. Oh and Moroccan-style rugs. Lots in fact- particularly of the large diamond trellis design I was after. I can’t recommend this site enough. Not only is the layout and navigation brilliant, but nearly all the products are reviewed (thank the Lord for reviewers!) and the total price including taxes, duty and shipping is all calculated at checkout. £151.84 this bad boy cost me, and it arrived within 7 days.

Wanna see my rug?

IMG_0365

Now the reason it was such a ruddy bargain is because it’s not wool. Nor, I doubt, is it hand-made by a tribe in North Africa. The synthetic fibres do have a slight sheen to them (as mentioned by a couple of reviewers), but my-oh-my is it soft. And the best thing about it is that it doesn’t shed. AT ALL. Oh, and it’s flippin’ beautiful. Want a couple more gratuitous rug/living room shots?

IMG_0394 IMG_0368 IMG_0382 IMG_0389

Look at me with my freshly-plumped cushions and interior design books casually hanging out on the coffee table. Emily Henderson eat your heart out… *Has coughing fit from snorting too hard*.

With the addition of my absolute babe of a rug, our living room is seemingly complete. What I’m not showing you, of course, is the view from the sofas which is embarrassingly BLAH.
IMG_0384 IMG_0385

Urgh. Hello television and empty beige walls. We are yet to paint this room and whilst it will stay light I would like to go a bit brighter I think; a warm white perhaps. It’s only a small room, and whilst I love drawing the curtains and lighting the candles at night (the addition of the rug makes it feel super-cosy), white walls will make the room feel bigger and let the various pops of colour sing throughout the day.

So what else remains on my shopping list for this room? Well I’m after some sort of sculptural or home-made wall art for the space above the television, I think. A stags head but not a stags head, if you know what I mean? (I always feel that once Sainsbury’s and Wilko’s start churning out their own versions of a trend, it means it’s been overdone.) Then in that corner between the door and the sofa I need another small occasional table, with some sort of lamp, another plant and a fun, bright piece of art on the wall above. I’d also really love to replace the Ikea floor lamp in the alcove corner with something a bit cooler. And just generally fill the space with meaningful knick-knacks and pretty ‘vignettes’… I could go on.

For the mean time though, I’m doing snow-angels with Lenny in my dream of a rug and wondering why I didn’t bite the bullet and make the purchase earlier. I will, of course, be sharing my progress as I attempt to make this house the eclectic, fun, modern bohemian home I’ve always dreamed of.

Who’s in for the (very slow because we have no money) ride?

Sama xxx

Selling On The Dress of Dreams

I think it’s time.

I know, I know- how could I? Why would I want to get rid of the most beautiful dress I will ever own? Don’t I want to get it out of the wardrobe once a year and put it on/ dance around the landing/ do the ironing in it/baulk at how it no longer fits? Might my hypothetical future daughter want to wear it herself one day? Does money mean more than memories??

Hmm.

SP-0004 copy

My beautiful Chantilly dress by Claire Pettibone. Image by Dominique Bader.

From the moment I chose my dress Paul was petitioning for me to sell it once the wedding was over. He even made a joke about it in his speech (which went down a treat, annoyingly). The idea didn’t fill me with horror, but I also wasn’t sure if I’d want to. Consequently in the months that followed our wedding I had a handful of brides-to-be contact me to find out if I was willing to sell my dress but I always politely declined. It felt too soon and made me feel bizarrely disloyal to this beautiful silk and chantilly lace creation that had made me feel so, so beautiful and special.

But I have to admit something’s changed now. Our wedding was 15 months ago and I’m relieved to say I no longer mourn it’s passing. Our brilliant, happy, laughter-filled day is securely locked in the old internal memory box, and there are visual reminders throughout our house- from the shot of me and my bridesmaids on my office shelf to the polaroid guestbook that has taken up formal residency on our coffee table.

My dress, however, resides in the spare room wardrobe, forgotten and unloved. I’ve put it on twice since the wedding day and both times it’s made me feel a bit sad; sad that I’m never going to have the chance to wear it properly again and sad that it’s now too tight. This is not a dress that’s had it’s day. This is a dress that is clean and sparkly and wants desperately to have its moment in the spotlight again. And who am I to begrudge it of that opportunity?

So the decision’s been made; she’s up for sale. (I can’t keep calling her ‘it’, she’ll get the right hump). I’ve had a chat with her and she’s excited. Of course, whether there’s a bride-to-be out there who wants to buy her is another question, but I know that Claire Pettibone has quite the following and Chantilly is one of her most sought-after dresses, so here’s hoping this lil’ post will reach the right person.

SP-0368 copy

The glorious Chantilly back. Image by Dominique Bader.

I shall let you know how I get on and as and when she leaves Hextable for pastures new. As well as this blog post, I’ve also put ads on Sell My Wedding Dress and the Undress section of Rock My Wedding- so it may be interesting for those considering selling their own dress which medium I have the most luck with. Please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about sizing/price etc.*

In the meantime I’d love to hear from you- would you/could you sell your wedding dress? Did you buy your dress with the full intention of selling it on after the wedding day, or does the idea fill you with horror? For those who have said goodbye to their own Dress of Dreams, which website/shop did you sell through and how long did it take?

A big wave to everybody from me to thee as well. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have lots to catch up on having just finished my Utterly Wow 2014 season, but for now I’m enjoying a well-earned breather. I’m massively looking forward to getting back to regular(ish) blogging though.

Lots of love to all!

Sama xxx

*In putting the RMW link on I’ve noticed they’ve temporarily closed their Undress section due to persistent scammers. I was actually immediately approached by a scammer after submitting my details to Sell My Wedding Dress. The profile picture of a young pretty girl was quite convincing but sadly the fact ‘she’ wanted to buy the dress immediately without trying it on or asking questions, the random story of how she was deaf, in a wheelchair and buying it for her cousin, and the fact she could only pay by PayPal made it pretty obvious she/he was lying out of her/his arse.