Jennie & Andy: The Wedding

Hello Uttersons. Long time no see! Ahem…

I’m actually horrifIed at how long it has been since I last posted. Nearly a whole year. A YEAR!!! The shame. But let’s not dwell on that negativity. Change is a’coming. Good, exciting, positive change that is going to see things looking a little different around here. Behind the scenes, Utterly Wow has been undergoing a bit of a face lift and in a couple of weeks the new website will go live, with a new-look, integrated Utter Blog. I can’t promise weekly posts, but I will be blogging monthly. I’m not going to lie, I am SO looking forward to reconnecting again!

But for now, I left you all in the lurch regarding the beautiful Jennie’s wedding to Andy which took place last summer and was an absolute CORKER. Those who were following her wedding planning adventures will know how hard she worked and I can only apologise for making you wait this long to see the fruits of her labour.

From here on in, the words are by Jennie herself, and huge thank you to Rebecca Wedding Photography for letting me share her glorious images.

Enjoy…

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“The last few weeks before our wedding were packed with a seemingly endless list of crafts, tasks and booze runs. I’d love to say I got it all finished, but come the 6th August a significant amount of things on that list hadn’t been crossed off. I can honestly say that I didn’t miss a single one of those unfinished details on the day, even if they annoy me now!

I woke up on the morning of our wedding feeling astonishingly calm. The night before had been a frantic rush to finish getting everything ready. We had our rehearsal at the church arranged for 6pm, so we’d set half 5 as our cut off point where everything had to be done. We’d booked out the beer garden of the local pub, the plan being to eat, drink with the bridesmaids and say a romantic sunset goodbye to each other with Andy heading off to the bnb he’d be spending the night. Of course come 5.30 the flowers weren’t finished, we didn’t have a play list for the dance floor or exit music from the church, and Andy hadn’t even started to pack. The romantic, restful evening went out of the window, and we spent most of our last night as single people frantically trying to burn CDs, and dashing around the garden in the pitch black arranging tubs of flowers. Andy lost his phone, then his bnb keys (which didn’t resurface until one of our guests discovered them in the marquee the next day!), and it was nearly midnight when my Mum finally kicked him out the house.

ja_wedding_0019-2To wake up calm then, was a real surprise. Harriet our hair stylist arrived with her assistant Harriet (not confusing at all!) just after 6 and started getting to work on my maids. My maids did a very good job of not complaining all about the stupidly early start and seeing the girls have their hair braided, plaited and curled felt like the first real sign that the day was actually happening. While the first girls were having their hair done I finished off the wedding cake. Huge bridesmaids points go to Nikki who on the morning was armed with a hacksaw cutting up doweling rods to go in the cake. I think I was quite glad to have quite a few bits left to do, I think I’d have got nervous sitting around, but hanging signs on the gate, and fishing out knives for the cheeseboard kept me occupied until it was time to crack open the champagne.

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I’d made bags up for my bridesmaids filled with mini bottles of prosecco or vodka, chocolates, slippers, and silky Chinese dressing gowns from the market near our flat in Hong Kong. They wore these to get ready, and I love the pictures of us all sipping champagne in them. Oscar the cat also made a big appearance, much to the delight of Rebecca our photographer.

My dress (my beautiful, beautiful dress!) was Kristene by Claire Pettibone, in blush. I fell in love with the scooped back, the heart shaped lace train, and all the little tassels that danced around as I moved. It was the only dress I tried that made me both feel like me and feel amazing. I wore pearl studs given to me by my Dad in my ears for my something old, and my Grandma’s engagement ring as my something borrowed. My mum surprised me that morning with the most beautiful delicate white gold bracelet for my something new. I’d known from day one of getting engaged that I’d be wearing a flower crown on my wedding day. Bex, our florist, had made me a rose bud flower crown to wear and I absolutely loved it. My Mum hung it up in her conservatory after the wedding day and fingers crossed it seems to have dried perfectly so I can keep it.

What came as a surprise to me, and then Andy on the day itself was that I also wore a veil. I’d been determined that I wasn’t having a veil, but when I tried on the Kristene veil that matched the lace perfectly on my dress I was utterly smitten and ended up getting married in a ridiculously long veil. The unexpected veil turned out to be one of the things I’m most glad I did. Although I ended up carrying it (or getting Andy to carry it!) for most of the time it was on my head, it made me feel very bridal, and I love the shots of it billowing out around me.

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ja_wedding_0246After quite a relaxed morning, it seemed the time to leave came all in a rush. We sent off my Mum, then the bridesmaids, and then finally it was just me and my brother waiting to go. My uncle drove us to the church in a duck egg blue camper van, trimmed with some of my Mum’s handmade bunting. The camper, called Belinda, was a original with all its vintage quirks – a particularly special one being the sticky main door, which jammed with me and my brother inside as we pulled up outside the church and I almost ended up having to climb my way out through the front window! It was a surreal moment turning up to the village church where I’d gone to countless times with Primary school, in a wedding dress.

One of my favourite moments of the day was walking down the aisle. My Dad passed away a few years ago, so my big brother David stepped in and did the job of walking me down the aisle. After months of not being able to decide what we wanted for my entrance music, we finally picked The Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music.

Despite the rehearsal only the night before, me and David completely forgot how long we were supposed to wait after the last bridesmaids had gone to start our walk, and an attempted peep around the church door left us none the wiser. After a brief debate we decided we’d just have to go for it and hope we weren’t too early! I loved walking down the aisle, catching sight of so many faces on the way down, and then seeing Andy waiting at the end. He looked stupidly handsome in the pale grey three-piece suit he’d had made at a tailors in Hong Kong. He’d always sworn he’d get married in his converse, and he surprised me by wearing what are probably the first pair of proper shoes I’ve ever seen him in!

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ja_wedding_0396The service itself was exactly what I’d hoped for. My strongest memory is just of complete happiness, beaming at Andy as we said our vows. We had three readings; My Mum did the religious reading, then our friend Ed read ‘Us Two’ by A.A.Milne, one of Andy’s favourite childhood poems. For our final reading we’d asked our very talented friend Hannah to surprise us with a reading. She wrote the most beautiful, personal piece all about friendship (and red wine!). It was the only thing that actually made me cry in the service!

Our rings were rings we’d made each other at The Quarter Workshop in Birmingham. As we disappeared off to sign the registers Andy’s friend Tom sung Bryan Adam’s I’ll Always Be Right There, then another song he’d written for us. We came out of the church to Elbow’s One Day Like This. Outside the church we were showered with dried petal confetti – a labour of love resulting from over a year of diligent petal drying by my Mum!

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Another of my favourite parts of the day was the walk back to the house from the church. We surprised everyone with Street Three, a 3 piece jazz band, leading everyone back through the village. It was great fun to have people winding down car windows to congratulate us! The band played another set during the drinks reception, where we served ice creams along with Pimms, bubbles and “Horona”, Andy’s Dad’s very well received homebrew! We’d filled with front garden with hay bales, barrels, and a few garden games. We were whisked off down the lane for photos with Rebecca, and got back just in time to grab the last few of the canapés that we’d served instead of starters.

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Not long after our return we headed around into the marquee. Our MC, Darren, took a unique take on the entrance of the bride and groom, and got everyone going with an Icelandic chant before we came in! Coming into a tent packed full of everyone you love clapping and cheering for you must be one of the best feelings in the world.

We’d decorated the marquee with dozens of paper pom poms, meters of my Mum’s home bunting, and fairy lights. The furniture was all hired from Virginia’s Vintage hire company. We’d laid up the tables with vintage china collected by our Mum’s over the year, and our family friend Gilli had filled dozens of jam jars with flowers for us. For favours we made jumble berry jam for the ladies, and red onion chutney for the gents. Mum also (amazingly!) hand stitched personalised napkins for everyone. On the day we had Sama there to over see everything and keep the day running along. I’m so glad we had her there, I honestly didn’t worry about timings or keeping everyone fed and watered all day.

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Our caterers, Crumble Catering, served up a barbecue. Honestly the meal part of the day is a bit of a blur for me. I never thought I’d be one of those brides that doesn’t eat much on her wedding day, but I don’t remember eating much other than bread and butter! We knew from the start of planning that a top table wasn’t for us, and we love the feel of tressle tables. We’d sat ourselves in amongst a group of friends, with our families on tables close by. This turned out to be perfect for us, and was an amazing spot to laugh and cry our way through the speeches.

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For desert we had a Great Wedding Bake Off, with the most amazing array of cakes and puddings baked up by family and friends. We were blown away by just how much cake was brought along, and were very happy to work our way through the left overs the next day! We had everything from sacher torte, fraiser cake, banana loaf, champagne strawberry and white chocolate cake to home made gin from friends that don’t bake. Andy’s Granny even came out of baking retirement with her famous flapjack, the left overs of which came with us on honeymoon! Later in the evening we presented the winners with bottles of prosecco and wedding bake off wooden spoons!

 

In the evening we served pizzas from The Tinderbox, the cutest little pizza van you ever did see, along with a big cheese board and a mountain of pork pies from the local butcher. We’d hired a photo booth from The Vintage Photobooth Company. It didn’t take long for the costume collection to be heavily poached from the dressing up area, and we have some hilarious photos of tigers, dinosaurs and the Mario brothers on the dance floor. The party spread out across the garden, with lots of our guests sat toasting marshmallows around the fire pit. My brother had spent months turning his workshop into a whisky bar for us. It became the perfect cosy retreat as the evening got chilly. We called it Derek’s Whisky Bar, after my Whisky loving Dad.

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ja_wedding_1379ja_wedding_1374ja_wedding_1381ja_wedding_1337We finished the night jumping around to Mr Brightside, then swaying our way through Champagne Supernova in an emotional circle on the dance floor. If I could have changed anything about the day I would have loved to have had a band to keep the dance floor full. Our last minute spotify playlist was not our finest musical hour and, despite several reassurances that the night didn’t need it, a part of me feels like the party never really got going without a packed dance floor. Other than that though, there’s very little I’d have changed about the day. We completely ran out of time to make any table names, the fruit I’d bought to decorate the wedding cake with rotted because we couldn’t fit it into the fridge leaving the naked cake considerably more naked than I’d ever intended, and the marquee was rather darker than intended because the generator proved too loud to switch on… but those are just the details. I love that we were able to get married in my little village, and having the reception at home was just perfect (even with the massive clean up operation the next day!). The feel of the day was everything I’d hoped for and more – So relaxed, so full of love and packed full of laughter. Three months on I’m still looking at the wedding photos on an almost daily basis!”

Jennie xx

 

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.”

Jeremy Freedman

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

 

 

Wondrous Wedding: Emily + Tom

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It’s a Wondrous Wedding Day! And what a treat I have for you in the form of Emily and Tom’s Moonrise Kingdom-themed nuptials.  Emily has her own little corner of the internet over at Me and My Polar Bear and got in touch straight away when I put out my rallying cry for weddings to feature. I have loved going through her beautiful images as taken by the very talented Debbie Scanlan– this is a truly personal, creative, laughter-filled wedding that is an absolute pleasure to share. I hope you enjoy…

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Tom and I met on the very first day at University (although he doesn’t remember!), almost exactly 10 years ago. I practically moved in straight away and we’ve been living out of each other’s pockets ever since!  We were married on Friday 17 May 2013 at Newby Hall in North Yorkshire. I grew up around Harrogate and so it was really nice to go back and be surrounded by family and friends in my hometown!

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My dress was from Fur Coat No Knickers just off Carnaby Street. The girls in there are absolutely amazing. They totally understood what I was after and I fell in love with my dress on my first day of looking.   I wore a necklace belonging to Tom’s Granny, who sadly couldn’t be there, with a sapphire in the middle, and my Grandma made me a lace garter! My mum also found me some pearl earrings on the morning of the wedding, which I have since acquisitioned!

My shoes were from Rachel Simpson (amusingly they were ‘Emily’ shoes), and Tom’s shoes were ‘Tom’ shoes from Grenson!  Tom’s suit was from Acne. Literally the first one he tried on! It was beautiful though, dark blue and slim cut.

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We had a string quartet during the ceremony and drinks reception (with my old violin teacher playing!) and I came down the aisle to ‘Moon River’. Mainly chosen because I thought it’d make Tom cry the most! We also had ‘Eidleweiss’ during the signing of the register because it’s a family favourite.

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Tom is really the creative mastermind behind the whole thing but we had already started discussing a potential scout/bear/fox theme (this may sound weird, but we have fox and polar bear soft toys that have played a rather large part in our lives…!) when we went and saw Moonrise Kingdom at the cinema. We were totally sold, and it became one of our main sources of inspiration.

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After the ceremony and the miniature train ride (!!), we had dinner in PapaKata teepees and they looked absolutely incredible. As mentioned before, we had a loose Scout theme, and Tom designed and letterpressed ‘registration cards’ to use as a guest book (guests had to write a message and attach a polaroid picture!), as well as activity packs for each table, the menus and some amazing wooden signs.

As well as helping out with the letterpressing and printing, I was in charge of making the table numbers and bridesmaid dresses. We also had many many metres of nautical bunting and the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen from Twisted WillowOther than a giant wooden bear we found on eBay(!), we made most things between us, and had SO much fun doing it.

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I always knew I wasn’t going to be into chair covers or matching linen, we were mainly after a big party that was loads of fun, reflected all the things we love and didn’t cause too much stress along the way.  After dinner, we had a ceilidh which is one of the best decisions we made. Triple Scotch were absolutely amazing. Everyone was up and dancing and it was SO MUCH FUN. I literally didn’t stop grinning.

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There are so many favourite moments. The train ride, the decorated teepees, the speeches, the ceilidh… But I think the ceremony actually has to win.  I thought it was going to be a blur and fairly unremarkable, but it was amazing. The registrar was incredibly personal (despite having never met us before!), and there really is no feeling quite like standing in front of someone you love that much telling everyone you want to be with them forever.

My advice to others would be just do what you really want to; everyone else will come round.  We had the most amazing, special day, but I know that’s because it was completely ‘us’, we had so much fun and managed to include everything we thought was important. I literally wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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I’m sorry, I had to finish with some of those train ride shots again. How much fun did that look? And what smiles, what beautiful faces (Emily, you are simply gorgeous), and what a talented, creative pair. I particularly love Emily’s hair (effortless), the shots of Tom removing his glasses before kissing her (swoon), and that ‘Tom + Emily’ wooden sign… which I’m totally stealing for future weddings.

Thank you Debbie Scanlan for your wonderful photographs and thank you to Emily and Tom for sharing your unique day with The Utter Blog. I’m sure Emily will be checking in on this post, so if anyone has any questions regarding their suppliers/super DIY skills, then do ask. If you have a wondrous wedding you’d like to share with The Utter Blog then step right this way (and don’t be shy!), but otherwise… can we have some love for this beautiful pair?!

Sama xxx

Wanted: Your Wondrous Weddings!

The Utter Blog is evolving!

Let’s face it, the last 18 months have been all about me. My wedding plans, my business development, my favourite things… it’s been a narcissist’s dream. But I’m all gone and married now (nearly 4 months already!) and despite my best intentions I can’t continue to reminisce about my nuptials forever…

...Sigh. Image by Dominique Bader.

…Sigh. Image by Dominique Bader.

Ok so I will continue to reminisce about my nuptials for a while longer. But only sporadically. And only the bits that will (hopefully) inform and inspire other brides-to-be. See? Narcissism or niceness? You decide.

But it’s time to open The Utter Blog doors now to the wider world of wondrous weddings. I’ve featured a couple of stunning weddings in the past, such as this elegant Oxford affair, or this clown-officiated tipi party. And I’ve shared snippets of weddings from across the world wide web that have made me stop in my tracks, slap my thigh in delight and exclaim ‘Wow wow wee-wah!’, like this beaut, and all three of these beauts.

One of the aforementioned beauts.

One of the aforementioned beauts. Image by Renee Bowen.

But now I want more. I want to tell more wedding day stories- from the moment the bride and groom wake up to the last song of the night. I want to see beautiful, bountiful flowers, romantic ceremonies, knock-out dresses, DIY details and ingenious why-didn’t-I-think-of that ideas. But above all I want to see couples so hopelessly in love, they’re practically giddy. I want to see big smiles, belly laughs and moist eyes. And I want to share it all with you lovely lot.

So photographers, brides, planners, florists and guests: if you’ve been part of a wondrous wedding and think it should be featured on The Utter Blog, it’s time to get in touch. I intend to feature one wondrous wedding per week initially, so it needs to be something special. My definition of special may be different to your definition of special I know, but ultimately The Utter Blog is about celebrating love, style and personality… with a dash of bohemian flair.

You can read a bit more on the *brand new* Submit a Wondrous Wedding page up at the top there, but in the meantime I’d be grateful for as many shares, likes, re-tweets and elbow knudges as I can get. Know an awesome photographer? Tell them about The Utter Blog. Planned something special? Share it with The Utter Blog. Just married and want to share your bestest ever day with as many like-minded folk as you can? …You get the picture. (Send it to The Utter Blog.)

I’m ready and waiting and more than a teeny little bit excited.

Sama xxx

 

Real Wedding: A Juggling Officiant for a Gorgeous, Music-Filled Day

It’s Monday, it’s nearly November and it’s frickin’ freezing outside, so to warm you up and put a smile on your face, I am thrilled to share with you today the beautiful wedding of my dear friends, Helen and George.

Helen has written an epic and fabulously detailed write-up for you, so I shan’t waffle on too much. This is a wedding that features a juggling officiant, shameless posing, Cheshire cat smiles and an awful lot of leaping around like loons.  Enjoy…

All images by Richard Davenport from Soulbird Photo.

The Proposal

“George and I met through our sisters who are best friends. George’s sister, Fran, was watching a student film I had made at Uni and George asked who I was.  It was a kind of spoof soap opera where I was like Sharon from Eastenders– I don’t think he could resist the short skirts and my amazing acting ability (ahem). We ending up meeting for a blind date under the clock at Waterloo. We moved in together 6 months later. And 5 years later, George took me on a surprise trip to Venice at Christmas and proposed. It was a total surprise and unbelievably romantic.”

“We didn’t want to wait that long to get married. Before we got engaged I had sent George details of a venue that I had found in Stratford Upon Avon called Talton Lodge. George was brought up in the area and it was about 10 minutes from his house. It was totally on impulse that I sent it over to him, and, without telling and knowing he was going to propose, he phoned them to see if they had any space in 2012. They only do about 8 weddings per year and were totally full. Luckily, after we got engaged we contacted them again and they had a cancellation, so we went to see the venue and booked it straight away for the 1st September 2012. This gave us about 8 months to organise it.”

The Ceremony

“The ceremony was really important to us. We wanted people to actually enjoy it and remember it rather than perhaps seeing it as a barrier to the free bar and party.  We saw it as the start of our day and it was important that it was really personal, colourful and fun to set the tone for the rest of the party.

We didn’t have any readings, instead choosing to fill the ceremony with song. My mum was worried that no one would sing; luckily my university friends who all did Drama pretty much doubled as a full voice choir and everyone singing loudly and joyfully is one of my favourite memories of the day. We asked friends of ours to perform two of our favourite emotional songs, ‘Moon River’ and ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story which were amazing and beautiful, and for the ‘hymns’ we chose Buddy Holly, the Kinks and the Beatles to kick off our married life.”

“The best choice we made for the whole day was stealing an idea from George’s Dad. He had married his god-daughter a few years ago in the US and had been ordained via the good old internet to perform the marriage. We wanted to use this idea and have someone personal to us to perform the ceremony. It was important to both of us that we had someone who actually knew us to talk about us and oversee our vows. Now this is a big choice, but both on total gut instinct the first person we thought of was our friend Frank. We are very close friends with Frank and his girlfriend Laura, and one night over dinner at their house we asked him if he would marry us. After shock and hysterical laughter from all sides he agreed to do the deed. Now I would love to say it was all carefully planned and we meticulously went through all the details with Frank… but to be honest we left Frank to it, and, apart from writing our own vows (ahem, the night before) and stealing the ring exchange dialogue from the Humanist website, Frank wrote all the jokes and joy into the ceremony itself. We made totally the right choice; he was brilliant, hilarious and moving in equal measure, and in all the pictures you can see everyone is smiling at all times which is exactly what we wanted.”

The Dress

“Unlike most girls (so I hear), I had never really thought about my wedding dress seriously before I got engaged. I literally had no idea what I was looking for. Now, being a wedding dress sceptic, I never thought I would try a dress that would make me say ‘this is the one’ and get all teary and emotional; after all ,that would be a bit too- well, girlie. But then it happened…oh no.

Me and my mum went to a bridal shop in York. When you are trying on dresses you need a brilliantly honest shop assistant and I found one in this shop. I picked some dresses out and tried them on and she was like – “erm no.” Then she brought in 2 -3 amazing frocks that looked like nothing on the hanger but perfectly suited my body shape and taste. The one that I chose I just absolutely loved. Fadella by Cymbeline is a silk corset underlay which hugs at the waist, and a beautiful and very expensive lace overlay with little tiers of lace all the way down. Simple but beautiful. It also echoed the layers of lace on my mum’s wedding dress which I thought was a nice touch too.

Overall what swayed me was its simplicity and this is something that I knew George would love as well – he ain’t into frills and flounce and it was important to me that he liked the dress too. I felt absolutely amazing in it and couldn’t imagine wearing anything else – which is a sign it was definitely The One!”

The Suit

“We decided that we didn’t want the men in matching suits, and George wanted to wear something a little different to the traditional grey.  He likes his clothes quite fitted and as he is quite slight, it’s difficult to find a nice suit that doesn’t look like he borrowed it off his dad.  He looked for a vintage suit– there was talk of powder blue at one point (!)- but ones in good condition are quite hard to come by. So under the supervision of me, his sister Fran and the voice of reason Chris, Fran’s Boyfriend, he went for this blue River Island suit, with a white shirt and great purple tie from Reiss. The shoes are the great triumph – vintage Paul Smith from a local retro shop where we live in Stoke Newington and he totally loves them.”

The Venue

Talton Lodge is an organic farm and we held the ceremony on the lawn of their manor house and then moved over to two huge festival-style tipis in their Victorian walled garden for the reception.  When we initially saw the venue and met Olivia and Barney who run the place, it encapsulated everything we both wanted. It was relaxed and informal, and the fields and tipis gave it a festival vibe whilst still being an undeniably beautiful English Country Garden.

It was the people that made the place and we knew in Barney and Olivia’s hands we weren’t going to get stressed out or ripped off and would be allowed to do exactly what we wanted. On the day our gut instinct was totally right and they paced everything from the hog roast to the bonfire totally perfectly without asking either of us one single question! We can’t thank them enough.”

Décor and Styling

“We did have a budget for the wedding and we spent most of it on the venue, booze and food. The best way to spend it, I think! So in the end, we only had a small budget to spend on décor and styling. Luckily for us, Talton Lodge is so beautiful it didn’t actually need too much help to make it look good. 

We did, however, have to ‘wedding-up’ the two giant tipis. George and I wanted to make the decorations ourselves. We tried to make some pom poms and when experimenting at my mum’ s house we didn’t actually have any tissue paper so had a go with newspaper instead. It looked great! Much to my mum’s horror (she came round eventually) we decided to make all the pom poms out of newspapers, collected from my work. We chose two sizes – the Daily Mail and the pink Financial Times. We strung loads from the ceiling in the dancing area and they looked amazing!

For table décor, we went with wild flowers from our florist’s garden arranged in Golden Syrup cans and mini milk bottles by two talented friends, tea lights and floral table runners from H&M. Each place setting had a luggage label with a name hand-stamped by me, a sprig of Rosemary from the mother-in–laws garden and a UNICEF charity favour– a vaccination for a child. Favours annoy the heck out of me, I really hate them, they are totally pointless – everyone should do charity favours!!”

Best Bits

“It was literally the most fun I have ever had in 24 hours. I couldn’t pick out one best bit; there were several amazing points. One great moment was walking back from having our photos taken by the house and then walking into the field where we were having our reception. All our guests were stood there drinking champagne and blowing the bubbles that we had given them instead of confetti– it was just magic.

When we were planning the wedding we had a lot going on. We were living in rented accommodation while George was renovating our house, he had just set up a new business, I was just starting my new job, we moved house the week before into a building site with no kitchen or shower… Needless to say it was a preeeeeeety stressful time and we really didn’t want any more stress, thank you very much. I am not sure we really planned that much stuff, we just kind of decided things and then did them. The doing bit was my favourite; I loved hand stamping the name tags, collecting my mini milk bottles, making the wedding play list was really fun, and the order of service. We had a picture quiz on the back which we found hilarious. I don’t know if anyone else did…”

Words of Wedded Wisdom

“The best advice would be to remember that your wedding should tell your story. To us it was really important that our wedding was really personal and held true to everything that we believe in and included all the best people in our lives. Then try to put all those people at the centre of it- how can you make it as fun and easy for everyone– let people wear what they want, give the kids some colouring books and have a free bar… I think that’s pretty much all bases covered!

One last random thing is buy vintage wedding rings. We had a day out at an Antiques Fair at Alexandra Palace and bought the most beautiful rings that have history and stories behind them making them even more special.

And if you are stressing out, just remember George’s favourite line throughout the planning process: ‘We are only having a massive party– what could possibly go wrong??’ I hate to admit it, but in retrospect he’s right…”

* * * * * *

It really was such a joyful, relaxed day. Frank the clown officiant was a delight and made the ceremony so much fun, and I genuinely can’t think of a more perfect or well-run venue than Talton Lodge.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Helen and George for the free bar and can assure them it was very well utilised by all.  I, in particular, took advantage of the free-flowing Prosecco.  So much so, I was asleep on a bench by 9pm and completely missed the Ceilidh, bonfire and night time merriment!  There are pictures to prove it which I shan’t be publishing.

Thank you also to Richard from Soulbird Photo for allowing me to share these awesome pictures, and for taking this shot of me and my best buds looking like the cast of Shameless…

Brilliant, no?

Sama xxx

A Real Wedding: Vintage Splendour at Exeter College, Oxford

Hello Uttersons, and welcome to a new week on The Utter Blog.  ‘Tis truly autumnal today, but to warm us up I have a very special treat for you in the form of a real wedding.  Oh yes- too exciting, I know!

That poser beauty on the left?  That would be my step-sister, Charlotte.  And the dashing chap on her right is her brand spanking new husband, Colin.  With Colin recently completing his PhD at Exeter College, Oxford, they were lucky enough to use the chapel and stunning surroundings to get married, and a truly wonderful, emotional day was had.

I’ll let Charlotte take it from here…

All images by Viveash Photography.

“Colin and I met at University, both studying the same course, and then became best friends after living and studying together in Paris.  Once we got home from Paris we started going out.  Colin proposed seven years later; he surprised me with tickets for the Eurostar one weekend, and proposed in front of our University there.

My dress was Femea by Cymbeline.  I chose it in one afternoon as it is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen, and for some reason seemed to suit me!

“We had a four-person choir from Exeter College. The music was as follows: ‘If ye love me’, by Tallis for the Introit; the opening to ‘Zadoch the Priest’ by Handel for my walking down the aisle; ‘Sheep May Safely graze’ by Bach for signing the registers. (I can’t remember the name of the music we had to leave the chapel!)  We had a reading from ‘Song of Solomon’, and were lucky enough to have a poem especially written by our favourite poet (who also happens to be one of our dearest friends), George Knott.

The day was always meant to be a celebration of love, and friendship; a bringing together of all the amazing people we are lucky enough to know. We wanted to create an atmosphere where our family and friends would feel comfortable, happy and loved. In terms of the aesthetics, we didn’t have to think an awful lot; the venue did that for us! 

We made our own beautiful table flower decorations using hired vessels and flowers from Green and Gorgeous (DIY brides section); they also provided my beautiful bouquet, wrist corsages, buttonholes and a pedestal for the chapel.  We hired a marquee from Cascade Events and used bunting from Beautiful Bunting to decorate it. We also bought an old typewriter for people to write their messages to us.

“I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day; getting ready was really fun, the ceremony was touching and empowering and wonderful; the speeches were perfect; the dancing was fantastic. Every time we looked round, we saw all of the people we love smiling, chatting, dancing, and having fun, which was amazing!

Of the planning process I loved choosing the flowers from Green & Gorgeous, as they’re grown in such a beautiful garden; the pre-wedding shoot with Becs Viveash (our amazing photographer); spending time with the lovely people at Blackburn Bridal, especially my lovely seamstress, Jan, who just made me feel so special and is such a wonderful person (she even sewed my late mum’s locket into the fabric of my dress!).

My advice for other couples would be enjoy the planning, and being engaged, and everything. The decor is really a minor detail, so if you stress about that, you might miss out on what engagement, and marriage, is really all about. Take time during the day itself just to look at all the people you love and enjoy them all being gathered in one place.”

Sage advice, Charlotte.  And as a guest and bridesmaid, I would second the beautiful flowers and setting, AMAZING speeches (both funny and incredibly touching), and some serious dance moves- mainly by Charlotte and her dance partner, Andreas.

Thank you for sharing your oh-so-happy day, Mrs Clark!

Any words for this lovely wedding, dear readers?

Sama xxx

A Winter Wedding at Cooling Castle Barn

Thank the Lord, it is Friday.

First up, apologies that I have been so quiet this week.  A last-minute acting gig meant I was working in one form or another aaaaaall week, so I just haven’t had a chance to blog.  I am OFF today though (yay!) and have a first on The Utter Blog for you, in the form of a real-life wedding…

Lauren and Lewis are ‘sixth-form sweethearts’ who were married on 5th December 2010 at Cooling Castle Barn in Rochester.  We were actually all at school together, so it’s an absolute pleasure to have them on the blog, but for now I will hand over to Lauren…

Lewis and I met in sixth form at school. He was the cute boy that used to hang out in the common room and I have to admit I always had a soft spot for him. I guess we just naturally got together and 5 years later he popped the question. It was Christmas Day 2008 and we were exchanging stocking fillers in bed when he got down on one knee (which was quite difficult in bed) and pulled out a stunning princess cut diamond ring. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

All images via Danni Beach Photography

Being a curvy girl, I already had a good idea of what dresses I should be avoiding but I was pretty clueless on what would suit my figure.  I made an appointment at Confetti and Lace in Lakeside Shopping Centre and all I had was one cut out from a magazine that I happened to like. To my surprise (and what I believe was a touch of fate), they happened to have the exact dress in the shop and it was in my size too! I couldnt believe it. I did try on other dresses but as soon as tried on Sabelle by Maggie Sottero, I just knew it was the one and no other dresses compared. Even to this day, I havent had a dress wobble and would choose my dress again. It had everything I could have wished for; a sweetheart neckline (essential for the larger bust), a gorgeous beaded bodice which held me in, and a full taffeta skirt with lace and ruffles. It was perfect.

I chose to wear my Mum’s veil that she had worn on her wedding day. Not only did the vintage lace match the lace on my dress perfectly, it also meant a lot to me, to wear something that my mum had 30 years earlier. I also wore a gold necklace that had been worn by each female in my family for the last 100 years. I originally didnt want a necklace to detract from the dress but to wear a piece of jewellery that had been passed down the generations was something I felt honoured to do and I think it looked perfect.

Lewis and I had always been slightly ‘anti’ the traditional groom attire and preferred the more relaxed look of a smart suit.  However, when Lewis went to try some suits on, it became clear that this didnt feel enough for him.  He felt like he was going to work.  We had a re-think and decided to go for traditional tails and headed to Austin Reid at Bluewater. We chose a pale gold colour for Lewis and a champagne colour for the two best men and the usher. There were a few problems with the suits due to the heavy snow, meaning I spent the day before the wedding getting trousers turned up at the local dry cleaners but this was hard to avoid and was no-ones fault but Mother Nature’s!

Ever since I watched the film ‘Father of the Bride’ as a child, I had this vision of a snowy wedding day. I am the kind of girl who gets overly excited about Christmas adverts in November, cold winter days and of course fairy lights- lots and lots of fairy lights! This led to us having a December wedding and me being able to put my vision of a winter wedding in to action.  Never did I imagine that my dreams of a snowy wedding would come true and the day would actually be set in a backdrop of 6 inches of snow!

I wanted the day to feel warm and cozy as well as having that winter magic feel. I was lucky that Cooling Castle Barn had already decorated the barns with Christmas decorations which consisted of lots of fairy lights and large Christmas trees in each of the barns . For all the extra touches we had the help of Laurie from Cherry Tree Events who shared the same vision. With a little help from her team, Laurie provided us with stunning bouquets, button holes, chair backs, hurricane lamp centre pieces and the floral arrangements. I could not sing her praises loud enough. When I saw the barns on the big day I was overwhelmed with how my vision had come to life.

All images via Danni Beach Photography

My advice to other brides-to-be would be relax and enjoy the journey starting from the engagement! I loved being engaged and I think it is sometimes easy to turn into a bridezilla and forget to take time out from planning and spend time just being in the moment.  For me, the most memorable part of our day was standing in a field of snow after the ceremony. Although we were having our photos taken by the fabulous Danni Beach, we felt completely relaxed. We chatted, laughed and the whole situation felt like we were part of a Narnia film. It was utterly magical and this is a moment I dont think I will ever experience again.

The pictures in the snow are absolutely my favourites- so serene and yet so dramatic!  And isn’t Lauren just a beaut? Although don’t be fooled… behind that gorgeous face is a filthy sense of humour.

Thank you for being the first real wedding on The Utter Blog, Lauren and Lewis!

Go on, leave some love…

Sama xxx