Paris & Joe: The First Wedding Wobble!

Hello, hello, you collection of gorgeous people. Paris is back, and she has quite the wedding bombshell to drop. I’ve been racking my brains trying to think if I had any major wedding wobbles and I don’t think I did… other than the Miu-Whos of course. Anyone remember that saga?? I’ll let Paris take over from here, but if any of you have experienced a change of heart during your wedding planning experiences, then I’m sure both myself and Paris would love to hear!


It feels like forever since my last blog. What with a week in France for my first ever ski trip (no broken bones, hooray!), and then the most hideous chest infection which took two weeks too long to shake, I admit I haven’t had much time to sit down and write. On top of all that, I have had my first Wedding Wobble. And what a wobble it has been!

It all started while sharing a delicious dressed crab salad with Joe at our favourite Whitstable restaurant, the Lobster Shack. If you cast your mind back to my venue blog this restaurant was also a venue that we had considered. We tend to visit this place regularly in the summer, ever since Joe discovered it with some uni friends in his first year, and it does amazing fresh local fish dishes. This was an unusual wintry visit after a need for some shellfish to cure a particularly bad hangover.

So there I am, a mouth full of crab and enjoying the winter sunshine and the decorations left over from yesterday’s wedding (twigs wrapped with fairy lights and hanging jars – beautiful!) when Joe wonders out loud why we aren’t getting married here. And my immediate response?

“I don’t know.”

Cue Joe’s Dragons’ Den style pitch. It’s one of our favourite restaurants. We have lunched there for years. We will lunch there for years to come. It’s coastal. We are coastal. It’s old and rustic. It has a history. It feels right. For a person who struggles with indecisiveness this was turning out to be a less than relaxing lunch and the chance of curing my hangover was looking less and less likely!

My counter pitch went a little something like this:

You know that thing where you book something and pay money? Yeah, we have done that. The barn has a history. The barn is a blank canvas. And then I couldn’t think of much else. It turned out the barn didn’t have as much of an emotional tug on me as our little old lobster shack. Joe had planted a seed that began to grow and grow.

Since that lunch we revisited the barn. Joe didn’t play air guitar on the wonderful stage, which saddened me, and I felt like I was saying a final goodbye to the venue we had gotten so excited about only a few months before. When I really sat down and thought about it I knew in my heart that the Lobster Shack was “us”. Joe, as smug as ever, reminded me that when he first took me to the Lobster Shack he told me it would be where we married and that when we got engaged it was the first venue we saw together, on his request. In turn, I reminded him that he could have bloody well said all this approximately 3 months ago when we were booking a different venue.

The Lobster Shack, Whitstable

Our heart of hearts… the Lobster Shack, Whitstable

Not long after, we booked our second venue. And cancelled the first. Luckily, the barn had required a somewhat modest deposit compared to what was required to book the Lobster Shack so the budget hasn’t taken a massive beating.

For me, the barn will always be the one that got away. It feels right to be marrying at the Shack, I am happy with the decision and I have thrown myself into finding a place for my beloved floral arch. But oh the beams, and the high ceiling, and the orchard at the barn! Can’t I have two weddings??

Paris x

Jennie & Andy: Many, Many, Many Marquees…


Our wedding venue itself was an easy decision for us. We wanted low key, friendly and relaxed. We wanted somewhere that means something to us; somewhere we’ll look back on sentimentally for years to come. My Mum has a big garden attached to the house I grew up in. Easy decision.

What’s now proving just a little bit harder is deciding what exactly we’re going to put in it. There are many, many beautiful Pinterest images of tables set out on lawns underneath nothing but the stars and strings of fairy lights. This, however, is England, and we must be a little more realistic than that. England likes to rain. England especially likes to rain on the one day of your entire life you’d really rather it didn’t. A marquee it is then.

But what kind of marquee?

A quick browse of the Internet reveals dozens of different choices of marquees, tents and structures, all ready to become mobile wedding venues. Tipi-style tents look like good fun, and I adore the sweeping billowing curves of a Sperry sailcloth tent. Or how about a yurt? We camped in a Mongolian Yurt while we were travelling so it’d be a great reminder of our adventures. An ex military tent is a tempting option, they have lots of character and vintage charm. I temporarily fell in love with Indian style Raj tents. They seem to bring a touch of classic elegance and romance, but is that really the feel we’re going for? We’ve looked at very modern stretch tents, and some that fit together like little space age pods. Considered everything from glamorous fully furnished rented luxury marquees to second hand tents we could buy off eBay.

Once you’ve decided upon a style, the decisions still aren’t over. Do we need a catering tent? What sort of floor do we want? Solid floor, coconut matting, or nothing at all? Do we want to hire lighting with the marquee, or are we going to sort that ourselves? Yes, we’re having our first encounter with the weight of decisions that come with a do-it-yourself wedding!

Faced with so much choice, just how on earth do you go about picking one? It’s not like visiting a hotel or a country house. You can’t walk in and look around. We’re working off measurements, floor plans, photos and imagination, and it’s not easy. I want someone to erect all these tents in my garden and let me walk in and have a wander around, let me imagine how the cake table will look, where exactly Andy can put up the bar, what it will look like at the end when the dance floor is full and my shoes are kicked off in a corner.

Vintage canvas tents from LPM Bohemia

Vintage canvas tents from LPM Bohemia

I think though, without finalising any details at all, we’ve found the style we want. I love the idea of a vintage tent. In my head everything looks a little bit like a 1940s village fete, all bunting and flags. They fit exactly with the idea in my head when we first starting planning a garden reception. These traditional tents from LPM Bohemia are speaking to me. I love the canvas walls, the guy ropes and the scalloping. I adore how pretty the flags look fluttering on top. I can just see bunting, or fairy lights, or something else pretty hanging inside. The measurements would fit into our space, the floor plans say they’ll seat about the number of people we think we’re going to invite. They’re the perfect shape for long trestle tables, we should be able to fit in the dance floor and, we think, even a stage. Guy ropes are a little bit of a risk (no one wants Granny taking a head first tumble over an unseen rope…) but they have so much more charm than the framed tent. I really, really don’t want the marquee to look like a pop up two-man tent we picked it up at the local camping shop. Yes, I think my heart is set on a traditional vintage tent.

I guess now we just need to commit to actually booking one!

Have you ever hired a marquee? Any ideas of what we should be looking for??

Jennie x

Jennie & Andy: The National Wedding Show- Yay or Nay?

Good morning all! I hope you had a lovely weekend. Down south it was lovely and sunny and spring-like- Paul and I are starting to venture back out in to our garden and doing a lot of thinking about how to bring it back to life after the long winter… including spending a flipping fortune on new fencing, yikes. But to the matter in hand… Jennie is back today with a ruddy brilliant post about her recent trip to the National Wedding Show. It’s a bit of a rite of passage for newly engaged folk, but is all the hype worth it? I wrote a little ditty on my opinion of wedding fairs a while back, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What’s the best wedding fair you’ve been to and why, I wonder…?


Last weekend I headed to London Olympia with my Mum and good friend Chantal to visit the National Wedding Show. I booked the tickets in a fit of excitement mostly because I was going to be a bride and that meant I could! After booking though I think we all had a touch of trepidation about the day. We’d heard stories of a packed out event, full of pushy sales people and the kind of tense atmosphere that comes when you pack thousands of women under one roof. So how did we find the event? Lets start with the good things:

  • The dresses. There are LOTS of dresses. Racks and racks of lace, satin and tulle. Miles of beading, embroidery and pearls. If you’re looking for dress inspiration, you’re bound to find something here. It was my first real chance to really get an idea of what wedding dresses are actually like, feel the fabrics, and see what they look like up close. I actually tried on my first wedding dress too – eek!
  • Goodie Bags! Call me shallow, but I do love a goodie bag. There’s something incredibly exciting to me about delving into a bag, not knowing what you’ll find, like taking home a party bag when you’re little. I am a real sucker for anything in miniature, even if that miniature thing is a sample-sized box of washing powder….
  • It’s an excellent excuse for a girl’s day out. We made a real day of it, going for afternoon tea afterwards at The Landmark Hotel (which, by the way, I’d highly recommend if you need ideas for wedding related celebrations. The food was incredible, and they even brought out a special congratulations cake for me). You’ll be faced with lots of little cake samples and shot sized cocktail samples to keep you going, and it’s a great place to try on hats and sparkly things. My Mum tried on some fabulous hats, and Chantal and I modelled some spectacularly blingy tiaras.
  • There are a lot of deals going on should be you be hunting down specifics. We’re not quite ready for any of this, but there were big discounts on photographers, wedding rings and dozens of wedding abroad packages.
  • If you time your day right you can catch lots of bridal workshops covering a range of bridal beauty tips from hair and make up, to how to walk in heels and how to avoid falling over on that walk down the aisle. The latter being something I didn’t realise I needed to be worrying about, but now causes me occasional shudders of dread!


Then there are the not so good bits:

  • There are, it is true, so many dresses to choose from. But, if you’re dreaming of a beautiful experience trying on your dresses I’m afraid you’re unlikely to find it here. You’re taken into a barely curtained off area to get into your dress. Piles of clothes are scattered all over the floor, and everywhere you turn women are being hoisted in and out of dresses. There’s a lot of bridal flesh on show, be prepared to see a lot of strangers in their knickers. I was yanked into the dress (which on closer inspection was rather marked with the various shades of foundation worn by the women who’d come before me) by a woman affectionalty known as ‘Tarzan’, which, needless to say, didn’t do wonders for my body confidence. You’ll show your dress find to your Mum and your maids in amongst a host of other girls in wedding dresses. The first wedding dress I’d worn in front of my Mum and not even a slightly moist eye.
  • It gets BUSY. I mean really busy. The morning was fine and we had plenty of space to browse, but by early afternoon it was become overwhelmingly heaving. There were long queues at every stall, and it was starting to get rather hot and uncomfortable.
  • A lot of the stands are rather similar, and after a while things begin to get repetitive. This isn’t the place to pick up inspiration for something a little different. There is a vintage area, but its small, and you won’t be picking up very many tips for DIY.
  • VIP tickets, aside from giving us all a lovely new set of nail varnishes, isn’t really worth the extra money. You’ll still only get a seat for the catwalk show if you get yourself to the VIP area 40 minutes before the show, and the bare minerals make over was booked out for the day even when we went in at 10am.

What did I get out of the day? Well I’ve learnt that putting cider into champagne flute does not make it a cheap bubbles option, and that having a veil on my head makes me feel very odd indeed. I came away with a shoulder-aching haul of catalogues, business cards and fliers, most of which on closer inspection at home turned out to be completely useless, and an intense sugar buzz from all the samples of cake and booze. On a more positive note, I brought away with me the names of a couple of photographers whose style I liked, and a better idea of the kinds of wedding stationary available.

My Mum and I.

Me, Mum… and our heaving goody bags!

I’d like to try a smaller, more local wedding fair, or maybe one of the vintage fairs that are touring the country. Does anyone have any experience of those? Were they inspiring? Did you get anything out of the day? The National Show was fun, but did feel a little soulless.

So would I recommend the National Wedding Show? Well, yes, but know what you’re getting into. It’s a fun day out if you’re starting out with your planning and still in the first throws of wedding planning excitement. Go early, wear something light, take a sturdy shoulder bag and book yourself something relaxing for afterwards.

Tell me about your experiences of wedding fairs and shows. Are there any you’d recommend visiting?

Jennie x

The Portrait Project

I worked with Claudia Rose Carter on a beautiful wedding last year and think she’s a brilliant photographer. She completely and utterly has her own photographic style; it’s not your typical clean and shiny wedding photography, it’s a bit more interesting that. A little bit edgy, a little bit arty, a little bit moody and evocative… and very gorgeous indeed.

So when she put a call out on her Facebook page for willing subjects to come and be a part of a personal project she was about to embark on, I’d shot my hand up and volunteered probably a little too quickly than is deemed cool.

Hence I found myself in Claudia and her partner’s lovely home in Essex one chilly afternoon in February. We drank several cups of tea and waxed lyrical about various things industry related until it was time to pick up camera and take a few shots. I let Claudia very much direct me- it was her project after all- and although there were a few cries of “I don’t know what to do with my arms”, or “Shall I smile? I feel like I ought to smile”, it was actually very calming just to gaze out the window, not over think things, and let Claudia snap whatever she saw.

I like the final images the more and more I look at them. At first glance my natural instinct was to self critique and recoil in horror, but taking myself out of the equation I can see they are beautiful images. Very simple, very real, very raw. I like the use of light and shade, and the double exposure. I like how everything is a little bit off centre and imperfect. I like how I just look like me, flyaway hair, smile lines, lack of jaw-line and all.













All images by Claudia Rose Carter

Here’s a little bit from Claudia:

“I started the portrait project as an inspiration to step away from my wedding photography and be able to bring in new inspiration to the way that I shoot. My style on a wedding day is predominately photo journalistic, however I’ve always loved portraits and that aspiration to capture that one moment in frame. I’m shooting the whole thing on a Mamiya 645 medium format camera and, increasingly, only black and white film.”

You can follow The Portrait Project on Claudia’s blog. I was the first to take part (I told you- incredibly eager and uncool), but I’m so looking forward to seeing more.

What do you think?

Sama xxx


Paris & Joe: The Dress Search Begins!


I have officially died and gone to wedding dress heaven. Last weekend my best friend and Maid of Honour, Stacie, came with me to my first ever wedding dress appointment. Now, I realise that this may be just a tad premature being that the wedding is still eighteen months away, but I have been chomping at the bit to go to this particular boutique ever since I got engaged. It is the boutique that Stacie and I both walk past every time we go shopping in that city. We look in and swoon at the dresses, the brides and the oh-so-glamorous décor of the place. Being appointment only, we have only ever pressed our noses to the window and dreamt of the day that we will one day be part of the exclusive gang that get to actually go inside.

Well, that day has come.

My love obsession with this boutique was intensified when I realised that they stock a particular Pinterest dress that I had only gone and pinned about a hundred times. With that in mind, in the week leading up to the appointment we were like school children again, bubbling with anticipation. I think Joe found me unbearable.  There was one catch to this visit. My wedding dress budget currently stands at a fairly generous £2,000. The dresses in this boutique are not £2,000. The compromise? I have agreed to buy my dress second hand. Now hold that thought…

Inside the boutique.

Inside the boutique.

The experience in the boutique was everything I could have wanted and more. We were the only ones in the boutique and just pawing through the rails of beautifully detailed dresses was brilliant enough, let alone actually trying some on. I was allowed to pick five, which was probably for the best considering that I think I loved them all. Stacie chose one of the five, a lacey Lusan Mandongus number with a sweetheart neckline. We both agreed that it would be criminal not to try on the biggest, puffiest dress in the shop and so a rather large Allure dress was added to the rail. I then selected two Jenny Packhams, which later turned to three, and another Lusan Mandongus.

Dress inspiration

Dress inspiration

Wearing my most attractive nude underwear, the assistant carefully buttoned, zipped and tied me into the dresses. Getting into the Allure was downright hilarious as my feet could literally not find the floor for all the frothy tulle. Standing on one leg in heels, I genuinely thought me and the assistant would come tumbling through the curtain at any moment. Alas, the Allure was not meant to be as I could barely move. And as lovely as the Lusan Mandongus dresses were, I just didn’t feel I had the teeny tiny waist required for such tight fishtail dresses. I was sad to put them to one side.

Then in stepped Jenny Packham to save the day. Oh my goodness those dresses are wonderful. I don’t think I have ever felt so glamorous! One of the dresses I tried was covered in tiny sparkly beads from head to toe. It was beautiful. Wearing one of the shops pairs of bridal shoes I walked toward the mirror and then took a rather large step back, despite having just been told that the one rule of wedding dresses is to never, ever step back. There was one downside to being the only ones in the shop – the audible crunch echoed as my shoe came down on the beads of a £3,000 dress. The dress crunched and so did my dreams of buying second hand as I realised that I was not the first or last to stand on a Jenny Packham (especially not after a few wines). Could I really be happy with a dress that was most likely damaged?

I heart Jenny Packham

I heart Jenny Packham

And so I learned three things from my first dress trying experience. 1. The dress will be a Packham. 2. My Excel spreadsheet is going to hate me. But not as much as Joe will. 3. I need to find a new favourite boutique.

Paris x


Paris & Joe: The Venue Hunt- Lost Weekends, Indecision, and The One


Let’s talk wedding venues. Once engaged we quickly realised that booking the venue was top of the priority list. By Christmas, in fact. And so the venue hunt began and we were suddenly a couple obsessed with trawling the internet for “the one”. If there is something that you should know about me it is that I cannot make a decision. Coupled with the fact that when I am forced, in very rare circumstances, to actually make a decision, I will mull over said decision until I eventually change my mind again. You can imagine Joe’s dread over the thought of choosing the venue then.

The process was not exactly organised. I read of couples having a block of weeks booked up with a shortlist of carefully selected venues. Our way consisted of three months of random viewings across Kent with no real goal of actually booking something. We had no criteria set out – something I now realise should have been part of initial discussions. But I think even we didn’t know what we were looking for. The first venue we saw was St Augustines in Westgate on Sea. The chapel is deconsecrated and so a non-religious ceremony is permitted. As lovers of beautiful buildings but not religious in any way, St Augustines seemed like a strong choice on paper. I was surprised to find that as I stood at the end of the aisle looking toward Joe at the other end, a lump formed in my throat. The chapel was absolutely stunning but there was little flexibility to have only the ceremony there and the reception packages were both pricey and simply not us. We quickly realised a ballroom reception was the exact opposite of what we wanted.

Onwards we went.

From that point we investigated countless options, feeling an almost impossible need to beat each and every last venue we had seen. Options that we visited included The Great Barn at Rolvenden (barn, dry hire, countryside), the East Quay Venue at Whitstable (one of our favourite restaurants, beach location, quirky), The Gallivant at Rye (sandy beach – big pull, great food, boutique style), The Great Conservatory at Syon Park (EXPENSIVE). We briefly flirted with a wedding abroad and I spent a whole weekend researching lemon grove wedding packages in Italy. When we realised that most of our guests would be unable to come, that idea was shelved along with the idea of getting married at our engagement location in Grand Cayman. And with long journeys out of the question, I sadly cancelled the viewing we had arranged of Polhawn Fort in Cornwall.


Clockwise from top left: The Lobster Shack, Whitstable; The Great Barn, Rolvenden; The Gallivant, Rye; St Augustine’s, Westgate-on-sea

Meanwhile, one of my bridesmaids who got engaged a few weeks after me had viewed a venue and then booked the very same venue on the spot without even a flicker of doubt. I started to wonder whether I would ever have that “the one” feeling. And so one sunshiney December afternoon we drove the hour distance through gorgeous Kentish countryside for our second viewing of the Great Barn at Rolvenden. With Joe playing air guitar on the barn’s stage I realised that maybe the right venue had been under our noses all along. All our venues had been unique, but the Great Barn was the only dry hire venue we had managed to find. There was the lure of the freedom the venue allowed. We could get creative and put our ideas and dreams into reality without limitation and the restrictions that packages can entail. Although we still hadn’t any hard and fast criteria for a venue, we knew how we wanted our day to play out and it felt like many venues didn’t fit with how we saw our day going. Dry hire removed this issue.


Rocking out on the Great Barn stage

We spent the entire journey home excitedly discussing food, signature cocktails and entertainment. I had images of huge chalkboard signs with our drinks and food menus, hay bales in the orchard, homemade decorations packing out the vast barn and all of our friends partying the night away in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Within a few days we had emailed Joan at the Barn to confirm our date and pay the deposit – our venue was booked and all I could feel was relief. For me I felt that one of the hardest decisions had been made and a huge weight had been lifted. We had a date, a place and the wedding planning process could fully begin. I think Joe was just pleased we wouldn’t be spending any more weekends trekking to far- flung places across Kent!

So over to you, has anyone else found the venue hunt as hard as I did? It would be great to hear some of your own experiences of the finding “the one”.

Paris xx

Jennie & Andy: A Proposal and a Ring Story


Hello again! Things are getting exciting around these parts, this past week our ideas seem to have started coming together, and we’ve narrowed down some of the details we really want. For the first time I can really see our day when I close my eyes, and Andy’s getting really into planning which is fantastic. But, before we get into the juicy wedding planning details, I’m going to go backwards a little bit and tell you a story; a story about a proposal and a ring. A story that takes place in Russia, about 900 miles from Moscow…

It was a freezing snowy day last November; I don’t think the temperature got above minus 15 all day. We’d spent the morning exploring beautiful onion-domed churches and sliding around on icy roads, bundled up in six layers in an attempt not to freeze. It only took me until lunch time to have had about enough of the feeling I was about to lose my fingers to the cold, and I’d started dropping hints about heading back to the hostel and hiding out in the warm.

Instead, in a move that seemed a little cruel at the time, Andy insisted we got in a taxi and drove out of town to the border between Asia and Europe. It was a remote place, edged by forest and just a few miles from the Ural Mountains, and on such a cold day, we were the only people there, a line on the snowy ground marking the place where continents meet.

We stood together on the Asian side of the border, getting ready to jump across into Europe. Then, taking me completely by surprise, Andy got down on one knee in the snow, said some beautiful words, and pulled out a little red box.

With the most enormous, ridiculous grin on my face, I said yes.


Of course, I’m sure you’ll be wanting to know about the ring! I was never the type of girl who knew exactly what engagement ring she’d want. I’d always had strong ideas about rings I didn’t like, but I found it very hard to pick upon any I actually did like. In fact, the only ring I’d ever seen I would confidently say I’d be happy to have on my finger cost about the same as a small country manor! I have to give Andy full marks for bravery for picking out the ring himself, and I’m so glad he did. I know this is terribly gushy and cheesy, but somehow he managed to find the perfect ring for me, when even I didn’t know what my perfect ring was!

The ring itself is a beautiful delicate diamond covered band, with a single diamond in the centre. I have no idea how he managed to find it in Hong Kong, where the engagement ring style follows the principle of more being most definitely more. It’s delicate, dainty and so, so pretty. At first I was worried about it. Surely dainty, elegant rings are for dainty elegant ladies? I would never have thought that was me. I had fears of fat fingers highlighted against its slim band of white gold, and I was absolutely terrified I was going to break it! Now (sorry, soppiness again!) I can’t imagine anything else.

Post proposal, photo-ooth happiness.

Post proposal, photo-ooth happiness.

How he managed to get the ring and keep it a secret for over two months of travelling is beyond me! Our luggage was shared between us in two, rather grubby, dusty, held-together-with-safety-pins backpacks that had seen better days. To this day I have absolutely no idea where Andy was hiding it, or how he managed to smuggle it half way around South East Asia, right around China and the length of Russia. I’d seen those bags unpacked and repacked so many times yet never caught sight of this little red velvet box.

I guess sometimes its just best not to ask!

Jennie x