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?

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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?

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

Utterly Wed: Joe & Louise

Joe and Louise were referred to me by the very lovely Anna from Bride & Glory, and I have to admit to being a teeny little bit over-excited when their consultation form came back detailing festoon lighting, mis-matched chairs and street food vans. When I saw that they’d booked the humble, hugely generous and ridiculously talented Ed Peers to shoot the day, I may even have let out a little whoop and a fist pump, and so I am beyond thrilled to be able to share their day in full today.

Although they’d booked me months before, I didn’t meet Joe and Louise until a few weeks before the wedding to walk through the day at their chosen venue of Huntsmill Farm in Buckinghamshire. Essentially Huntsmill Farm is a set of beautiful stone cottages providing holiday accommodation, but with a marquee available to hire from the relaxed owners and 360 degree views of sprawling English countryside, it also happens to provide a glorious backdrop for a relaxed, DIY wedding. Oh, and it has the most perfect tree to have a blessing under.

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See?

Their wedding day was a truly DIY affair, with this creative pair crafting all sorts of lovely pieces and getting their guests involved in a number of ways which you will read about below. There were also A LOT of suppliers coming in and out throughout the day as street food vans were a bit of a theme. We had no less than three vintage camper vans turn up providing coffee and scones before and after the ceremony, a mobile bar in the evening and wood-fired pizza for the late-night munchers. Pitt Smoked BBQ Co provided platters of pulled pork and wedges from their converted Airstream, and the photobooth was a black cab called Alfie! As such Joe and Lou made the very wise decision to hire an On The Day Coordinator (that would be me!) to manage all these arrivals, as well as completing the set-up and generally ensuring the day ran to plan. But that’s enough from me. Let’s dive in to this absolute treasure of a wedding, with a few words from the bride and groom themselves. Enjoy…

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Louise: My dress was a bit of a mish mash! The base dress is ‘Vera’ by Sanyukta Shresta but then I worked with them to design a series of bespoke overlays: a tulle skirt, a one-shouldered embroidered top, and a lace top all held together by a hemp silk belt. It was a risk but thankfully it paid off! The floral crown was by Rock n’ Rose and worked really well with the bridesmaids’ DIY-ed versions.

Joe: I wanted a less traditional suit that complimented the farm vibe. I opted for a mis-matched suit with texture. My blazer was from Oliver Spencer- it was the first thing I bought and I fell in love with it immediately. My waistcoat was a vintage find from a charity shop that I had repaired and tailored to fit me. My trousers and shoes were bought from Topman after I started having doubts about my original trousers. Although not an exact match, they did go with my waistcoat quite well!

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Louise: We had a few ‘must-haves’ when it came to our vision for the day: an outdoor ceremony by a tree, festoon lighting, and food trucks. We got all three! We also wanted everything to feel quite personal and centered around our guests.

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Louise: During the ceremony we’d asked Joe’s sister and my neice to choose readings for us. We had no idea what they were going to do and it was such a nice surprise on the day! We love that they went with songs- Beyonce’s Dangerously In Love and Method Man’s You’re All I Need.

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Louise: The decor and details… wow, where do we start? It’s probably easiest to break this down in to what we made and what we sourced… :)

We DIY-ed A LOT:

  • Tassels (we made about 1000 in total)
  • Scrabble place names (Joe collected these over a number of months)
  • Vintage Ladybird books chosen for each guest (again collected by Joe)
  • A giant string heart held together by nails on wood and made by my Dad and Joe. We wanted a piece of art made by our guests that we could keep forever
  • The chalkboard Plan of the Day made by Joe two nights before the wedding
  • Messages in a bottle for our 1-year and 10-year anniversaries (Thank you Sama for making sure this happened!)
  • Invitations- tea towels designed by Louise with illustrations by a friend, and wooden Save The Date magnets
  • Bridesmaid flower crowns which were DIYed, as well as the groomsmen’s boutonnieres.

We sourced:

  • Festoon lighting which Joe put up the night before with groomsmen… and then rearranged at 1.30am that morning
  • Flowers from a local flower farm; bouquets made by the bridesmaids
  • Milk bottles which we borrowed from the sweetest lady we met at a local farmers’ market
  • Mismatched chairs from The Poppy Trading Company
  • Each and every supplier separately- no package deals here!

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Louise: There are a few stand out moments. I loved seeing Joe waiting in the field for our first look, and also seeing our guests contribute to the giant string heart. But then our last song of the night was really memorable- Joe and I had talked about what to play as the final song for months but didn’t end up choosing one. Our friends started singing Wonderwall a capella and convinced the DJ to play it- it was overwhelming as we had chosen 99% of the day, and instead this was chosen/given to us. A very special moment.

Joe: For me I loved it when Lou finally put her arms around me at our first look. Also it was a fairly overcast day until Lou started walking down the aisle and the sun came out as she came towards me! Sitting on top of the camper van was also pretty surreal- definitely a ‘spur of the moment’ moment!

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Louise: Our favourite part of the planning process was probably meeting some amazing people- we are so lucky to have found the best team/suppliers for the day. We couldn’t have pulled off the day without them. Also seeing everything come together on the day, and a few hours before – when everyone started arriving and it started to feel like “our wedding” had begun.. Sama was a massive help during this period too :)

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Louise: Our advice for other couples would be to research, research, research… don’t go for the first quote / supplier just because it’s easy. There are hidden gems out there, you just need to find them.  Also you’ll naturally always prioritise the big things during the planning, but make time for the smaller, personalised things too. They’re the parts you’ll remember.

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That last image is increds. If it were me I’d supersize it and hang it above the bed.

See? I told you it was a goodun’. Thank you so much to Joe and Louise, not only for allowing me to share their day on The Utter Blog, but for hiring me as their coordinator. I was a busy, busy bee that day, but thrilled to see it play out just as Joe and Louise had hoped- and I still am in awe of their creativity and general coolness!

A massive thank you to Ed Peers as well who I would work with again in a heartbeat. I get as much pleasure from looking through this set of photographs as I do my own.

So gang, what’s your favourite aspect of this epic day? And who can spot me making a Where’s Wally appearance in one of the shots?!

Sama xx

Credits

Venue: Huntsmill Farm

Photography: Ed Peers

Coordination: Utterly Wow

Coffee Van: Monkshood Coffee

BBQ Van: Pitt Smoked BBQ Co

Mobile Bar Van: CamperVin

Pizza Vab: Pizza of Dreams

Black Cab Booth: Alfie The Black Cab Photobooth

Dress: Sunyukta Shrestha

 

Wondrous Wedding: Frankie & Rob

Jeremy Freedman

When I started The Utter Blog I really didn’t know what it was going to lead to or indeed if anyone was going to read it! So when emails started trickling in from people who were, indeed, reading and enjoying, I was thrilled. What has surprised me the most over the last couple of years though, is the number of emails I’ve received from brides-to-be who have or are getting married at the wonderful Great Barn in Rolvenden, the place that holds the most fondest of memories for me as I, of course, was wed there a lifetime a mere 14 months ago.

I feel an instant connection with everyone who chooses to get married there; it’s a special venue and a bit of a hidden gem, so when Frankie emailed me last year to say that a) she was getting married there too and eagerly following my blog, and b) could I tell her a bit more about the lighting I’d hired, I obliged of course. Imagine my absolute delight then, when, 6 months later she posted a sneak peek of her wedding on The Utter Blog’s Facebook page. I emailed her IMMEDIATELY (after several squeals of delight), and now I’m very excited to share her day and brilliantly written report with you lovely lot.

You’ll see I’m also sharing some images from the set-up day before. Selfishly because it brings back such amazing memories from my own set-up day, but also because it eases you in to Frankie’s lovely tale of how her and Rob met. Enjoy…

All photography by Jeremy Freedman

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“Rob and I met at a work party (snore) complete with Cantonese buffet and late-night karaoke which, on paper, is a pretty classic way to meet your future spouse, except that Rob didn’t actually work at the same place as me so technically wasn’t supposed to be there! He’d done work experience with them in a totally different part of the country and had been given a special invitation to come along to the party in London as he’d done such a good job. He was a stowaway, essentially the only man in the room I didn’t know, and his smile knocked me out from across the room. Me being me, I tactically ‘ran into’ him and a colleague of mine at the bar who then introduced us.

We chatted for a little bit but didn’t really speak to each other much until we all got thrown out of the venue at the end of the night. We ended up walking to the night bus stop together with a friend of his who had had one too many shandies.  It was a bit awkward saying goodbye, and then I just watched him get on the bus without even a phone number, email address, carrier pigeon instructions… nothing. I thought I’d never see him again.

Of course in the age of Facebook, nothing is ever over. A few days later he was tagged in a picture by said drunken friend, so I went out on a limb and messaged him.  We then continued to message each other lots about loads of stuff including advice on where to live as it turned out he was moving to London! We then went on a proper ‘date’, he moved into a crazy house in Mile End with 10 housemates and two cats, and 5 years later we got engaged.  What I didn’t know at the time was that he actually hadn’t been planning to move to London at that point at all. But he went out and got a job, found somewhere to live, and moved here on a total whim all because of a girl he hardly knew that he’d met at a work party. Nuts. Classic Rob.”

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“We wanted our wedding day to be fun, informal, and personal to us. We had a small search area venue-wise as we needed to be as close as possible to Rob’s family home in Tenterden.  After visiting a whole bunch of different types of venues offering varying levels of essentially ‘package’ weddings, we went for the Great Barn as it gave us loads of flexibility and the chance to create a day that was ours. There were no stipulations about suppliers, no corkage fees… we could do as we pleased pretty much which felt brilliant. It also meant we could have the ceremony and reception all in one place which kept things nice and simple. PLUS we’d also found The Utter Blog along the way and followed the planning of Sama’s own wedding which massively inspired us and gave us the confidence to go for it!”

Jeremy Freedman

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“Our ceremony was short and sweet. I was utterly terrified of the whole ‘spectacle’, and writing our own vows just seemed to bring too much pressure with it, but we did add some personal touches. We asked my dad to sing for us. He’s a carpenter/builder by day and blues musician by night, so we picked a beautiful song by blues man Eric Bibb called ‘For You’.  It was amazing- I cried. Our friends’ 6 month old baby, Alba, loves music and also decided to ‘sing’ along during his performance which was mega cute! Then Rob very bravely said that he’d like to do a reading as part of the ceremony, the content of which wasn’t revealed to me until the ceremony itself. He chose a traditional Native American poem — it was such a good choice and beautifully read. Again, I cried…”

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“I’m a graphic designer — by default I like things to look nice, and so I had the most fun (and therefore stress) planning the overall look of the day. My style is a little bit eccentric, colourful and eclectic — I like to think of it as a sort of creative, organised chaos! I wanted to extend the feeling we have in our own home into the barn, to kind of welcome our guests into our new family home, offer them a seat at our new family table… that kind of thing.

As an extension of this idea I really wanted 100% wooden trestle tables but the shape of the space, and our budget, just wouldn’t allow for this so we opted for round tables with cloths. Pretty standard stuff, but SO efficient, affordable and actually more guest-friendly. In terms of seating, I opted for a mixture of mismatched dining chairs and lime-washed chiavari chairs, the combination of which looked SO brilliant. We also hired in a beautiful yellow chaise longue in mustard yellow from the lovely Jenny at Bellaboo and Beau for us to sit on during the ceremony (£50 well spent!), and I bought a 9m-long carpet runner so I could walk down the aisle bare foot. It was a bargain but utterly filthy when it arrived so we spent a weekend in the yard in Kent with a domestic carpet cleaner… the things I did for this wedding!

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So what else did we fill that big empty barn with? Myself, my bridesmaids, and Man of Honour made approximately 80m of bunting in my chosen colours of pink, blue and yellow with flashes of gold. We bought a bunch of cheap, papier-maché letters from eBay which we spray painted white and gilded gold leaf along the edges. These were used as table ‘numbers’, as a sign for the cake table and at the bar. We bought around 60 cheap, old books with nice coloured covers (again on eBay) to use as props on the tables and generally around the space. And my mum and my aunt hand-picked all the flowers two days before at Blooming Green in Kent, and arranged them all in jars for the tables and to hang on the back of the chairs.

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Lighting-wise, we hired light-up letters from the fabulous Amanda at Doris Loves. Then all other lighting we got from the amazing IA Sound and Light. We had festoon lights hanging in the main space and out to the marquee at the back of the barn which were surprisingly easy to hang and we only had a couple of breakages! We also hired in a bunch of floor cans to use in the darker corners of the barn, plus a few for the stage area with coloured gels. We also got a cheese-tastic DJ lighting package which, when we were setting it up, I thought looked RIDICULOUS but actually, when the lights went down were amazing!

In terms of other little details, I made fun bow ties for all of the men in different shades of pink, blue and yellow, along with matching pocket squares. And we painted Rob’s old guitar white and asked guests to play it and write messages on it throughout the day. What with everything else going on though, it wasn’t very well signposted so wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped! I also made little monsters out of socks for the kids table which went down a treat.

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Jeremy Freedman

I’m not a particularly ‘girly’ girl, so booking in to a more traditional bridal shop was never going to be for me. This, combined with the fact that my engagement ring and both of our wedding rings were all antique, meant I always knew I’d go down the vintage route.

I had been expecting to traipse across London, scouring through vintage rails for months on end, but when it came down to it all it took was one trip with my mamma to Annie’s Vintage, an amazing boutique in Angel.  Annie only has one rail of wedding dresses in her magical shop but it’s FULL of gems, all selected by her, and my-oh-my does she have an eye for beautiful dresses. I probably tried on about 75% of them and in the end I bought two! Lucky I did because the very bottom of my first dress didn’t survive me running around in the grass all day, so I’m glad I had a backup to change into for the evening!

Rob wore a tweed suit from Walker Slater. He bought it somewhat spontaneously when we were away for a long weekend in Edinburgh. Like Annie’s, the Walker Slater shop was just an amazing experience to be in- we loved it! Plus, at the time, we thought we were snapping up a one-time-only Scottish number but it turns out they have a store in London too so we actually could have got the exact same suit there… but we like to tell ourselves that it wouldn’t have been the same. He wore it with a checked shirt, brown brogues, some cycling-related cufflinks (Rob’s massively into cycling) and a slightly silly yellow bow tie that I made.”

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“Our most memorable moment was probably down to our friend, Sam, who bravely put himself forward to DJ in the evening and put together an awesome playlist full of songs we love, plus a few surprises. Not only did he basically choose our first dance song for us (a whole other story), he also put on a stonking last 10 minutes of the night. This included two ‘essential’ songs that we had asked for- Livin’ On a Prayer for the air-guitar players amongst us (and my mum who’s a massive Bon Jovi fan), and Man in the Mirror because we just love it (CHOOOOOOON). BUT the surprise moment was that he threw in Never Forget by Take That in between the two. After Bon Jovi, everyone was on a massive high and this resulted in a massive sing-a-long, lots of drunken arm waving, simultaneous gospel-style hand clapping, and me and Rob in the centre of a big circle of love high-fiving all our guests. It was drunken, it was awesome; we loved it.”

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“My favourite part of the planning process was actually the two days we spent in the barn prior to the wedding setting everything up. Ironically, it was actually the least stressful part of the whole thing, as finally everything we’d been chatting about for months on end was happening. We couldn’t squabble about it or change our minds on things; we were just getting on with it and it was brilliant fun!

Both of our families were there — including some of my family from the states who had flown over for the wedding — and everyone mucked in to bring the space to life. After planning it for the best part of 18 months totally on our own it was really nerve-wracking waiting to see if the vision we had in our heads was actually going to turn out OK in reality. Of course when you’re setting everything up you don’t really have much of a chance to think about it, but when the last few flowers were being put in place and we did a final sweep of the floors and looked at what we’d achieved, it really was such a brilliant and emotional feeling and it was amazing to have shared it with our families and close friends.

For that very reason, if you can face it, I would 100% recommend a ‘DIY’ wedding. It’s stressful and infuriating at times, but SOOOOO satisfying to see it come together and see how every person in that room had contributed and made an impact on how the day will be.”

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Ahhhh, it just brings everything back! I remember feeling that mixture of satisfaction, elation and anticipation when we did the final floor sweep having prepped the day before, the spontaneous drunken song that had our guests surrounding and serenading us at the end of the night, and, of course, that beautiful barn and setting which really does provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxed, fun, DIY wedding.

Thank you Frankie for getting in touch and allowing me to share your beautiful day on here. It really does feel right to do so, and I hope my readers have enjoyed your write-up as much as I have putting it together! And, of course, a huge thank you to Jeremy Freedman who took such lovely photos.

Happy Wondrous Wedding Wednesday everybody!

Sama xxx

 

 

The 30 Tell-Tale Signs I’m About To Exit My Youth

Yup, tomorrow I turn 30. Bye bye twenties, hello eye wrinkles and conversations about bin collections.

I’m alright about entering the fourth decade of my life, I think. I’ve always looked forward to being a ‘proper grown-up’, and am excited about what my thirties may bring. But for every time I’ve practised saying my new age out-loud (does anyone else do that in the run up to their birthday?), I’ve thought of another reason why, actually, I may have emotionally reached thirty some time ago…

So here are thirty ways (see what I did there?) in which I’ve been feeling a little more ‘mature’ of late. It’s tongue in cheek, of course, but I’d be very interested to know if anyone can relate… or if I’m just thinking way too much in to this. I may regret hitting ‘Publish’.

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Image by Ari Seth Cohen

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

1. On the high street, I’m not entirely sure where I belong any more. River Island and Topshop (once staples of my wardrobe) feel way too young and trendy 99% of the time. I’m not quite ready for M&S, whilst Dorothy Perkins has the tendency to be a little mumsy. Which is slightly disconcerting seeing as half my wardrobe is from there.

2. Cheap fashion no longer appeals. Whilst I used to think, ‘Woohoo, I’ve got £20- I’m hitting Primarni and New Look!’, I now consider the ‘more affordable’ end of the high street cheap and nasty and try to avoidSadly my £20 doesn’t get me very far in the shops I’d like to be spending my hard-earned cash in, like Whistles or Reiss.

3. I feel I should whisper this one, but John Lewis is now on my clothes shopping circuit… namely for brands such as Mint Velvet and Somerset by Alice Temperley. However, purchases in these concessions are rarely afforded (see point 2).

4. I have never and don’t think I will ever embrace body con.

5. Ditto crop tops.

6. I never thought I’d say it, but whilst there was a time when I lived in heels, I’m now way more comfortable in flats. I still love a heel for a night out, sure, but they have to be on good quality, well-cushioned soles and not a millimetre higher than 4 inches. I don’t do platforms.

7. I’ve found myself venturing back in to Clarkes. Frequented as a child for the foot measuring machine and the shoes with the key in the sole, I’m back aged 29 and 364 days- this time for the cushioning and the comfort.

8. I’ve dubbed my go-to weekend outfit (turned up skinny jeans, converse, tshirt and long cardigan) ‘school-run chic’. I don’t do a school run.

LEISURE

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

9. A bit like the high street, when it comes to magazines I’m not entirely sure what I should be reading. Once a magazine addict getting through 2 or 3 a week, I now steer clear of my old favourites and those aimed at ‘young women’, such as Company, Grazia and Glamour. If I have a long train journey I’ll occasionally pick up a copy of Marie Claire or Red… but I often find myself staring longingly at the covers of Good Housekeeping and Psychologies instead, wondering if I’m old enough to buy them yet. (Until now the answer has always been No. Who knows if I’ll feel differently tomorrow??)

10. I no longer buy Heat magazine every week, scour the Showbiz section of the Daily Mail website, or generally give two hoots about celebrity gossip. And for someone who was once OBSESSED, that’s saying something.

11. Gone are the days of drinking three nights on the trot á la my university days.

12. Ditto necking two bottles of wine and suffering a ‘slight headache’ the next day.

13. I’ll still dance your Nan off the table, but only if it’s to pop music, and preferably nineties pop music OR what is now lovingly referred to by everyone over a certain age as ‘old school club classics’. I’ll be having none of this dubstep malarkey, thank you.

14. I don’t actually know what dubstep is. Nor can I differentiate between artists such as Sam Smith, John Newman and James Blake. (Athough the latter point can more likely be attributed to the fact I no longer devour celebrity magazines.) I do actually still listen to the ‘young’ radio stations but my grip on the music scene is fast-fading.

15. If I was in this year’s Big Brother house, I’d be the third oldest there. (WTF?!)

16. I have no desire whatsoever to go on a Club 18-30 holiday. Nor will I be allowed to very soon.

17. Given the option of going home from a night out early, or partying late and crashing at someone’s house I’d choose the former every time. Nothing beats your own bed and shower.

HOME LIFE

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

18. I no longer feel like a fraud when referring to ‘my husband’.

19. Making my house a home is fast becoming my favourite hobby.

20. We’ve taken up gardening. I say ‘we’, I mean Paul’s taken up gardening…  I mainly shout directions from the back door but I am interested.

21. Last week the arrival of a compost bin was considered an ‘exciting delivery’.

22. Same with the steam cleaner the week before.

23. …And a dust buster the week before that.

24. I have food shopping down to a fine art. I menu the whole week, know the aisles like the back of my hand, and group my purchases on the conveyor belt in to their designated bag categories: Dry, Chilled/Frozen and Fruit/Veg. Uh-huh. No-one be messin’ with my conveyor belt.

PHYSICALITY

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

Image by Ari Seth Cohen

25.  My body is ageing. It’s subtle but noticeable in that my skin is drier, I seem to grow a new freckle or mole every day and I bruise more easily.

26. I own a Ped Egg.

27. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve physically changed in the last year, or because I feel older, but I hardly ever get ID’d any more. Seeing as I’ve legally been allowed to drink/smoke/gamble/play the lottery for twelve years plus, I’m actually enjoying this recent development… but ask me in a few years time and I’m sure I’ll feel differently!

28. I no longer seem to be able to bend down or stand up without saying “Ooof”.

29. Nor can I bend back in to bridge. Although to be fair this was always tricky and thoroughly awkward to watch.

30. And finally, erm, how can I put this… It’s become apparent that my pelvic floor muscles aren’t quite what they used to be. Last weekend I went to a BBQ with a trampoline in the garden. Three bounces in and I had to scurry off to the toilet, and I HADN’T EVEN BEEN DRINKING. I’ll say no more.

Mature or practically senile? I’ll let you decide. Tomorrow I’m heading down to Kent to have my first taster menu experience with my Ma, and getting thoroughly sozzled on Saturday when we throw open our doors for a birthday/housewarming bash chez moi. Much fun is going to be had; I’ve bought a swingball set and everything.

These amazing images are all from Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog in which he spends his days photographing the fabulous, style-confident older women of NYC. LOVE.

Sama xxx

 

Just Call Me Cinderella?

So listen. I know I’ve just come back from a self-proclaimed blogging sabbatical and that I’m not the most regular of bloggers. I know that I have a tendency to be a bit self-obsessed, and that since getting hitched I may not write about weddings as widely or as thoroughly as I used to… But there’s this thing called the Wedding Blog Awards. It’s a fairly new awards bash thrown by the people at Wedding and Wedding Flowers magazine. If you’re a general wedding blog fan you may have already heard of it. Hell, you may have already voted for it, in which case you’re really not going to want to hear another voting plea…

…But this one’s slightly different.

See, I don’t want you to genuinely vote for me. Ok, well I do want you to genuinely vote for me, but I’m not deluded enough to think that I deserve to win or that I even can with my 12* readers and my distinct lack of wedding-related content in recent months. But I reeeeeeally want to go to the party. I like free champagne. I like dressing up. I’d like to meet for real the various people I talk to regularly on social media. I want to eat a cake pop.

The thing is, I’ve met the nice people at Wedding magazine several times through my job at the bridal boutique. My own wedding was featured in Wedding Flowers magazine last year. There may even be one or two people who have heard of Utterly Wow by now… but this lil’ ol’ blog o’ mine (woah, apostrophe frenzy) is still fairly unknown. So my somewhat skewered reasoning is that by encouraging you lot to vote for me, I’m going to get on the very outer rim of the judges radar, and I may, MAY just get an invite to the Do.

So what’s in it for you? Er…. I’ll be honest, not a lot. This is an entirely selfish request that benefits no-one but myself. HAVING SAID THAT, if I were to get long-listed you can guarantee you’d see a fair few more posts from me over the coming months as I make some pathetic attempt to appear like a good blogger. And f**k it; if I were to get an invite, I’ll take one of you ‘orrible lot as my plus one. Fancy it?

BLOGGERS-MPU

If you want to help Cinderella get to the ball, then click on the link above to head to the voting page. It will take some effort and a minute out of your day, but I’ve had it on good authority that karma of the positive kind will come to those who vote, so…

In the meantime have a look at Sarah. I coordinated her wedding to Nic last month and their photographer, Claudia Rose Carter, has recently shared some images from the day on her blog. Doesn’t she look like a movie star??

Stunning image by Claudia Rose Carter

Stunning image by Claudia Rose Carter

More coming soon…

Sama xxx

* 12 readers is an understatement, obviously. Hopefully.

My Blogging Sabbatical (Or That’s What I’m Calling It Anyway)

Shall we just, erm, skim over the fact that this is my first post in two months? Mmm? Let’s not dwell on my sudden disappearance from the blogging world and my distinct lack of effort to even say Hi/check in/write more than 140 characters on Twitter. We just won’t mention it. Like, ever again.

No we won’t.

It’s all been a bit of a blur, truth be told. May Madness, I was calling it to anyone who listened. I’d thought April was busy but May took multi-tasking to a whole new level, let me tell you. Here’s a little taster of the last 8 weeks…

Praise be to the solicitors- we’ve moved!

Hello new house; Utterly Wow HQ; fish eye living room; just call me Carrie Bradshaw

Hello new house; Utterly Wow HQ; fish eye living room; just call me Carrie Bradshaw

We completed on 2nd May- the Friday of the first May bank holiday weekend and a date Paul and I had cheekily suggested (it was sooner than anyone had previously mentioned) but one which everyone amazingly agreed to. Now as everyone who has ever moved home before knows, it takes up a teeny weeny bit of your time and can be just a leeetle bit stressful. Our move went surprisingly smoothly, despite the various ‘I HATE PACKING’ tantrums I pulled which may or may not have involved the stamping of feet. On move day itself I took on the role of Project Manager, Communications Officer, Cleaner, Furniture Placement Director and Cat Care Assistant, whilst Paul, his Dad and his brother took on the less enviable role of Removals Men. They did a sterling job, and by 5pm we were in our local pub, ever so slightly delirious and toasting to this huge, beautiful house Paul, Lenny and I have somehow managed to acquire.

Of course, what follows a house move is a couple of weeks of trying to make that house a home. We’ve spent every spare second and day off at Ikea/Homebase/B&Q/insert appropriate home-ware store. Paul has bought useful things like furniture and power tools. I’ve impulse-bought light pendants and throws and have ended up taking much of it back. We’re at the stage now where everything is unpacked and pretty much has a place to live. The house is by no means finished- in fact we haven’t even got started- but as an entirely liveable space with faux wooden floors and neutral walls, the doing up and general home improving is going to be a long and gradual process. Whilst we’re not thinking of this as our Forever Home, we do intend to be here for a long while (possibly up to 20 years- crikey!) so it’s comforting to know that there’s no rush to do anything.

You may notice there’s a House To Home category in the Pleasure section in the menu bar. I intend to fill this category over time with house-related posts if you lot don’t object? House tours and Before and Afters and that sort of thing…

Release the doves- Wedding Season has begun.

The Tope Bananas; I do; creative crafters; streamers from hell

The Top Bananas; I do; creative crafters; streamers from hell

One of the reasons I really pushed for us to move at the beginning of May was because my first full wedding season was kicking off with three Big Days in a row starting at the end of the month. I was a little apprehensive about taking on three in succession, but as each enquiry came in with tantalising details of what sounded like completely unique, creative, glorious weddings, I just couldn’t say no. And whilst I spent an entire month surgically attached to either my emails or Excel, these completely unique, creative and glorious weddings were totally worth it.

We had performers on stilts, a disco in a shed, torrential rain, glorious sunshine, vintage ladybird books, sequin runners, a Bugsy Malone singalong, champagne saucers, food trucks, camper vans, a cheese table to end all cheese tables, three b-e-a-utiful brides and a stray dog. Yeah, I said a stray dog. Whilst I suspect all three are going to be snapped up by the big boy blogs, I shall be doing my utmost to share all three wedding reports in full once the professional photos are ready. I’m a lucky wedding planner.

Oh yeah, and an anniversary…

A room with a view; tourists; the ridiculous bathroom; industrial chic at The Big Easy

A room with a view; tourists; the ridiculous bathroom; industrial chic at The Big Easy

Of course, in the midst of all this Paul and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. It was the Sunday after my first wedding, and left to the very last minute (as I was just a tad busy and Paul isn’t chemically engineered to plan these sorts of things), I got ideas way above my station and booked a room at the Corinthia hotel in London. Whilst we live less than 20 miles from central London, our nights in the big city always end with McDonalds and the last train home. It was lovely to dump our bags and spend the afternoon doing the tourist thing, wandering through St James’ Park and down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. This was all to do with wanting to stretch our legs of course, and nothing to do with me not liking the first room we were given and having to kill an hour or so until our replacement room was ready… ahem. But what a replacement room it was! A view of the the London Eye rather than a dingy back street, more floor space and a palatial bathroom… even I surpassed myself with my negotiating skills.

The Corinthia really is an incredible luxury hotel, and whilst a room for one night cost nearly as much as a package holiday for one week, we both agreed it was worth it. The location is perfect (a few minutes walk from Charing Cross), the service flawless and the spa is the best and most decadent I have ever experienced (…even though Paul was witness to an unfortunate incident in the male changing room involving a naked man being completely rubbed dry by what we could only assume was his ‘man-servant’.) But we couldn’t stay in the hotel all night, so we eventually headed out to Covent Garden where I continued the decadence by deciding it was a Prosecco-only evening for me, and we gorged on lobster and mountains of meat at The Big Easy. It was the perfect celebration.

Of course, I had imagined writing at length about our first anniversary; perhaps a What Marriage Has Taught Me post, or a look back at the day itself. But is there really much to say after a year? Marriage hasn’t taught me anything yet (jeez, we’ve only just got started), but I can tell you that I like it. I guess I do feel a bit more secure- it is rather lovely to know that the man you love has vowed to look after you FOR EVER- but I think the overwhelming difference is that I feel so much older. I’m sure this has everything to do with turning 30 in less than a month, moving in to our ‘family home’ and purchasing a compost bin in recent weeks, but being a married woman is a definite factor in this too. Thankfully I don’t snigger every time I refer to ‘my husband’ anymore… but nor have I quite got used to my married name.

But enough about me, HOW ARE YOU?? Is anyone still there or has my ‘blogging sabbatical’ caused a mass desertion? I feel like doing a register, or a number call which was always my favourite. I’ll start…

1!

Sama xxx