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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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 :(

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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