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

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

 

Just Call Me Cinderella?

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

…But this one’s slightly different.

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

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

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

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

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

Stunning image by Claudia Rose Carter

Stunning image by Claudia Rose Carter

More coming soon…

Sama xxx

* 12 readers is an understatement, obviously. Hopefully.

Utterly Wed: Charlotte & John

Way back in May of last year, I’d spent a lovely sunny Sunday at Port Lympne Animal Park with the family.  The Utter Blog was only a couple of months old, I was in the throes of wedding planning and Utterly Wow was a work in progress. As we headed back to the car, my phone buzzed with news of an email, and in to my life came a girl called Charlotte.

Charlotte was also in the early stages of wedding planning, had stumbled across The Utter Blog and spotted in me ‘a wedding twin’. After telling me a bit about her plans and venue hunting tribulations, she casually asked if I’d be interested in coordinating for them on the day, and after several squeals of delight from me (the first Utterly Wow booking!), I casually replied with a ‘Sure, I’d love to’. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fourteen months later, Charlotte and John were wed in one of the most thoughtful, creative, relaxed, personal, unique weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. And today I get to tell you a bit about it. Shall we begin?

All images by the awesome Assassynation

The Most Perfect Venue

When Charlotte mentioned they’d chosen a hippy commune in the Oxfordshire countryside as their wedding venue, I knew exactly where they talking about. I’d seen an amazing wedding held at Braziers Park on Rock n’ Roll Bride (coincidently the same blog post that had alerted Charlotte to this hidden gem) and had considered it for my own wedding before finding The Great Barn.

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Around 20 people live and work at this rambling, beautiful place, which consists of the main house, a large garden terrace, vegetable and flower gardens, a water garden with space for a marquee, a barn, a campsite, and a variety of ramshackle outbuildings. Wedding parties pretty much have the run of the place, including around 12 bedrooms on the first floor of the house. It’s a true gem of a venue for people wanting a rustic, DIY, bohemian wedding.

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A DIY Dream

Even though I was only coordinating for Charlotte and John, I remained in contact with Charlotte throughout the entire planning process, oohing and aahing as she sent me sneaky peeks of their home-made bits and offering up my tuppence worth when an opinion was needed. Not that it was needed very often- this wedding was Charlotte’s baby and she had creativity growing out of her ears.

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Together, Charlotte and John upcycled, restored and crafted nearly EVERYTHING that was used at their wedding. Ceremony benches were constructed from wooden pallets; picnic benches were bought from eBay and restored, old dog food tins were stripped and sprayed in shades of copper and gold; runners were made from pieces of lace; soft furnishings were packed up from their living room and transported to a corner of the barn. Perhaps the only thing that was hired in was the amazing light installation in the barn… but this wasn’t before Charlotte had bought and sold on a whole town’s worth of festoon lighting from eBay!

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The whole effect was a personal, hand-made, rustic dream, and I don’t think there was anyone there who didn’t appreciate the lengths Charlotte and John had gone to in order to create such a simple (in effect, not effort), beautiful day.

A Delight from Start to Finish

My role on the day was to manage and make sure the sequence of events ran smoothly.  The good people at Braziers Park let you set up in the days before so a lot of the grafting and decoration was already done, but I had a ‘walk through’ with Charlotte first thing, before the baton of responsibility was handed over to me and she was whisked away to get well and truly beautified.

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My morning was spent putting the finishing touches to the various ‘wedding points’ scattered around the venue. I set out flowers, greeted suppliers, laid out the wedding programmes, attached buttonholes, moved furniture and welcomed guests when they began to arrive at 2pm. I took a brief respite to enjoy the personal and emotional ceremony led by Christabel from One Life Cermonies, before the post-ceremony shenanigans began.

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As the rest of the day unfolded I moved more furniture, transported flower arrangements, cued entrances and speeches, styled the cake table (those cakes were something else!), topped up wine and water, directed catering staff, greeted the evening suppliers and was a general point of contact for any questions or concerns.

It was a truly wonderful wedding and a delight to coordinate from start to finish. Charlotte and John are a beautiful couple (with John making more than a passing resemblance to Robert Pattinson, don’t you think?) and I’m so so happy to have played just a small part in creating their dream day.

Charlotte wrote me a lovely testimonial which is over on the Utterly Wow website now, and for more beautiful images of the day courtesy of Assassynation, plus a full report from the bride herself, head on over to Whimsical Wonderland Weddings right now, where their day has been documented in two parts.

Amazing, no?

Over the next few weeks you may start to notice some changes around these parts. The Utter Blog is evolving now that I’m all gone and married. Utterly Wed will be a recurring feature but there’ll be many more as I start to blog more regularly. I plan to post more real weddings in general, as well as the latest trends and inspiring images from the world of weddings. But I’ll also be talking career-building as my little business grows, and lifestyle as I share my latest fashion faux-pas, beauty woe, or just simply want to share something from the heart. Not forgetting of course, the final part of the Operation Amazing Wedding jigsaw.

Will you join me, Uttersons? I do hope so…

Sama xxx