I teased a photo of Emma in her amazing short short wedding dress on twitter as soon as photographer David McNeil sent over this wedding to me. Whoaaa, I literally had to share it with someone (well 12,000 someone’s) right away! I. Die.
“We got married in Bardsea (on the bay of Morecambe)” Emma told me. “It’s my parent’s village which is just such a gorgeous place near the moors and the beach. Even though we live in Camden and love it – we’re both down to earth and love being outdoors and away from the city, so it was a natural choice. We got married at Eden Lodge, on the outskirts of the village, which has recently been converted from a Edwardian home to a small, minimalist hotel in some AMAZING grounds. We got married in the hotel itself and then the reception was in a marquee in the grounds. It was the hotel’s first wedding and they were AMAZING. We can’t sing their praises enough. The staff were EXCEPTIONAL and really went above and beyond to make our day perfect.”
Emma’s amazing dress was a custom-made Suzanne Neville number. She explains, “I never thought Matt and I would get married. I knew we’d be together forever but we weren’t really the ‘marrying kind’. As soon as he proposed, I knew my dress would be something that reflected my character. I’m not a girly girl and I usually dress in biker boots and short skirts – so short was what I wanted. I wanted to feel like ME on the day not a BRIDE. I scooted through some websites looking for a short wedding dress and found one designed by Suzanne Neville. I fell in love but hunted for something cheaper that I loved as much. Anyway I didn’t. The dress was custom made for me at a crazy price. But it was the only one for me! I’ve been taking some millinery courses so I wanted to make something for me to wear. Obviously our wedding was near the royal wedding, so as a joke I designed and made a crown out of silk and fresh water pearls to wear. In the end I chickened out of wearing it as I was already so tall in my platforms but you can see me holding it in this photo.”
Now that I’m writing my final ever ‘Alice in Weddingland’ post I really don’t know where to start. I am now happily married and honeymooned, and it is the best feeling in the world. So I shall simply relive that amazing day with you, through this article, and hope that I can convey at least some of the magic that the day held for me. I hope you enjoy this final instalment: Alice in Weddingland got married!
We booked to stay in the hotel the reception was being held in for two nights, one night prior and then the wedding night itself. Our room was beyond gorgeous: champagne, chocolates and strawberries waiting for us on arrival, and a bed so big it took FIVE pillows to fill it up lengthways. There was also a lovely sofa, coffee table, and dressing table, which turned out just perfect for when Elbie arrived at 9.30am to do my hair and makeup. We had done a trial a few weeks earlier so we knew exactly what we were doing, and it took around two hours from start to finish. During this time Sassy from Assassynation Photography, Frank from Sassy n Frank videography and Andy from Cine8 all arrived and got to work filming my getting ready, and shooting my dress in all manner of positions around the hotel. When sassy disappeared with my dress I was of course a little nervous, but when I saw the pictures I knew it was all worth it! I put in a little ban – no photos or filming before my makeup had been done, because it had been an early morning for me, and a late night drinking with our friends the night before!
Although I didn’t have traditional bridesmaids, my two best friends Lois and Claire were with me the whole time while I was getting primped and preened from all angles. The helped me into my dress and garter, and even did up my shoes for me (I broke my foot three weeks before the wedding, so had to hobble around the whole day. Also, suddenly the gorgeous Irregular Choice red shoes Graham had purchased me as a present were so impractical I had to ditch them, and cram my swollen foot into a pair of red Ked plimsolls!)
Once I was all ready, and Graham had called me to say he was we set about orchestrating a lovely mini-shoot within the wedding day. Sassy had had the idea of photographing our first look (our reactions to seeing each other all dressed up for the first time) and thought where better to do this then in the reception room that had been dressed by our florist Miss Moles that morning? So, I limped up the spiral staircase that led to our ‘room in the sky’, and saw Graham standing by the window with his back to me. When Graham turned around it was such a special moment – he looked beyond adorable, and I knew then and there that I was making the best decision of my life by marrying him. We explored the room, taking in all the beautiful flowers, giant cupcakes, and sweetie buffet, as well as the photos from our engagement shoot that we had displayed on mini-easels around the place.
We then went to have our portraits taken. We decided to take these photos around the hotel. Lucky for us the hotel was filled with mirrored walls, chandeliers, and quirky old fashioned wooden phone booths so it made for a cute backdrop. It was so fun just messing around with Graham and our wonder team and it calmed me down quite a lot from the nerves I’d been feeling creep up on me all morning.
A couple of hours later it was time for me to go wait for my wedding car in our room, and Graham to lead the guests down the seafront to the Town Hall. I can honestly say, those ten minutes I was alone in our room were ten of the most surreal moments of my life. The beautiful magnitude of what was about to happened to me was really sinking in, and I was so excited I couldn’t contain it any longer. When my Step-Dad arrived at the door to take me to the car I knew I was ready to get married, and I couldn’t bloomin’ wait!
We arrived at the Town Hall around the same time as the guests, and it was lovely seeing our loved ones in all their finery, mingling and getting excited to share our special day with us. I made a beeline for Graham, and we headed into the building to have our pre-ceremony meeting with the Registrar. A short while later, it was time for us to enter the room via a side door, as all our guests were already seated. Regina Spektor ‘Us’ played as we walked through, and I remember seeing everyone’s expectant and animated faces as we took our seats at the front. It was a lovely feeling.
We opted for a simple and modern set of vows, and the ceremony lasted around twenty minutes. When it was time to leave, an unorganised sort of receiving line formed, with each guest personally greeting us as they left through the door. This moment was one of the highlights of my day, as it was so unexpected and meaningful. We didn’t plan it but it was so nice to say “Hi” to everyone. We only had 30 guests so it didn’t take very long.
As the guests exited the building they were greeted by Hannah from The Tea Set, who while we had been actually getting married had set up a red vintage ice cream trike just outside the door. This was a huge hit with the guests, and I cannot recommend her enough. It was quirky yet practical, as everyone likes a little light refreshment! Also it fit in perfectly with our seaside theme, so I just knew I had to have it!
Graham and I were driven back to the hotel, and the guests walked back along the seafront. As we walked through the rotating doors of the hotel we were met by the staff greeting us as ‘Mr and Mrs Clark’ and with two flutes full of champagne. Lovely! Our guests started filtering in then, so we directed them to the 8th floor, where our reception was being held. We commissioned Lucy Ledger to design an A2 poster board that we displayed on a giant easel to pop by the entrance to the Chartwell Room, to point guests in the right direction. Although I don’t see how they could have missed the entrance, and there was a vintage apple crate full of glasses of Pimms right by it!
We had a Pimms and canapé hour, whilst we mingled with the guests and enjoyed everyone’s reactions to the little touches we had put in to make the decoration unique to us. The sun then came out, so Kat made sure us girls and Graham hit the beach to have some outdoorsy photos taken. This part of the day was super fun, and the difference natural light makes in a photo is phenomenal. We then all headed back to the Hilton, for the wedding breakfast.
We opted for a seaside themes buffet, and I must say there was an insane amount of food. I think we got through little more then half of it! We didn’t have a seating plan, but we needn’t have worried as everyone found a seat next to whomever they were talking to, and it worked out perfectly. At the end of the meal Graham and I made a small toast/thank you speech each, and I must say Graham’s utterly trumped mine! We then opened presents, drank lots of champagne, and cut our giant cupcake! Another highlight for me was throwing my bouquet, as I had no idea how competitive the single girls at the wedding were going to be! The action shot photos of this single event are priceless!
We had to vacate the room by 9pm, so at around 8.30pm some guests left, and the rest moved downstairs to the hotel bar with us. Queue a LOT of drinking and stolen cigarette breaks, until at about midnight when the night came to a natural close. (Apart from Sassy and Kat, whom I later found out went out and hit up my favourite Brighton nightclub until 4 in the morning!!)
All in all, it was quite simply the best day of my life. But don’t let me mislead you into thinking that it all went perfectly…the registrar kept calling me Elizabeth during the the vows, I got chicken satay allll over my one-of-a-kind Joanne Fleming wedding dress, and Graham was such a bag of nerves the whole day he didn’t eat or drink a thing!
You learn though, and I want to stress to you all, that it is the imperfections that make your wedding personal and unique to you. If you wanted a generic, perfect white wedding then you probably wouldn’t be reading Rock n Roll Bride right now, and it’s important to keep that in mind.
Remember what the day really means: is it a party for a party’s sake, or is it a party to celebrate the commitment you have just made to the love of your life? By putting everything into perspective you can minimise and bridezilla tendencies, and have the best day of your life.
To all you lucky ladies (and men!) planning your wedding day – enjoy it! The day itself goes so quickly, so make sure you enjoy every part of the process, because it wont last forever. And finally, I’d like to say the biggest thank you of all to Mrs Rock n Roll Bride herself: my wedding would have been a million miles removed from the day that it turned out to be if it wasn’t for you. I hope you know how much you mean to Graham and myself.
Laurence & Gi’s low-key and informal wedding had me smitten as soon as I laid eyes on those flower head garlands! To me, they totally sum up what I adore about this wedding – leaving your stresses behind you, having fun and creating something personal and beautiful. They had a very small wedding with only a few guests and the really put their all into creating something wonderful. “I didn’t have a focused inspiration in mind to be honest, but I did have a clear vision on how I envisaged the vibe of the wedding, so I wrote down in my notebook ‘Young, Easy, Relaxed with a little bit of Attitude!'” explained Gi. “I wasn’t quite sure on what I wanted, I was very open-minded with my imaginations. I didn’t want a cliche wedding with too many guests and too many formalities, there wouldn’t be enough for intimacy.”
“Going with my heart is the only thing I follow. I wanted this event to be real and beautiful, a place with a natural beauty yet also earthy and humble. I didn’t want my guests to just join us for the wedding day only, I wanted to treat them to a long, relaxing weekend together, well away from their stresses of London. A little low-key, summer afternoon garden wedding as relaxing and charming as it can be, where everyone can just be themselves and look awesome. And of course making sure there’s enough ice to keep your drinks chilled.”
I am totally loving the Barbies and mini rubber ducks used in the decor (!) and hand-drawn personalised illustration placecards. It’s the little details like this that make this intimate wedding so beautiful.
Gi wore a dress by Ralph Lauren which perfectly complimented the laid-back, bohemian vibe of the wedding. Her tiara was by Andrew Prince and veil by Sarah Morgan Bridal. The flower head garlands that she and her bridesmaids wore were created by their florist, Charlie of The Real Cut Flower Garden, a company that specialise in growing their own flowers and foliage in the English countryside.
“We grow glorious old-fashioned and unusual flowers and foliage and create beautiful seasonal bouquets which can be delivered from our gardens to your door,” they say. “Ours are flowers for anyone who appreciates gardens, a long way from standard florist fare. Wedding flowers are a speciality, glorious natural arrangements for any situation, whether you’re getting married in a cathedral or a field.”
Unlike in England, in Scotland you can legally be married in an outside ceremony. The photos of this part of Claire & Doug’s day in particular made me fall in love with this wedding. The celebrations were held at Inver Cottage Restaurant on the banks of Loch Fyne. Claire explains, “We went on our first family holiday to Strachur last year and when we stumbled upon Inver Cottage Restaurant on the banks of Loch Fyne we fell in love with it. We love all things seafood. It was during this holiday with our 9 month old daughter, Maggie, that Doug proposed. Directly across from Inver Cottage at the ruins of the old castle Lauchlan. The only place for our wedding ceremony was at Inver Cottage. We both hated the idea of a formal wedding but wanted to share the day with close family and friends and do it in a personal and well thought out way.”
Instead of a traditional wedding dress, Claire opted for a dress by Dessy, who specialise in bridesmaid’s dresses. “I tried on a variety of ‘classic wedding dresses’ and hated every one,” Claire told me. “I had cut out an image of a dress with a bateau neckline and pockets and instantly fell in love with its laid back yet elegant appearance.”
With this she wore shoes from Dune, a vintage-inspired headpiece from Jenny Packham and carried a Lulu Guinness handbag, shaped like a pair of lips! “Since studying at art school and making handbags I have always loved Lulu Guinness. I own at least 20 of her bags and have met the lady in person. She is very 50’s glamour and I knew that was the look I was after. Rather than having a bouquet of flowers I splurged on a classic lip clutch bag of hers.”
The ‘flowers’ were hand crafted by the bride, her Mum and some of the bride’s willing students (Claire is an art teacher.) “The pupils were especially good at the button flowers,” she explained. “They made my daughter Maggie’s bouquet for me and I love it. All the fabric was vintage scraps I have collected. The buttons, beads and pearls came from my Gran’s collection and a couple of friends Mums.”
As well as the laid back and crafty vibe of the wedding, it also had a distinct water and erm…fish theme! The couple put together a number of personal touches to craft the laid back wedding of their dreams. “Our wedding invites were handmade messages in a cork topped bottle. Maggie inviting every guest to the marriage of her mummy and daddy. Using the water beside the venue as inspiration.”
“I grew up with memories of going to the seaside and eating fish n chips from newspaper wrapping and wanted this for ours with a modern twist,” Claire said. “So we bought a few newspapers when Kate and Wills got married for the photograph and headlines, then doctored it by superimposing our faces, and Maggie’s on top of the image of their balcony kiss. We changed the headlines so that we were the headline news of the day and got it printed locally. We then made these up into 50 paper baskets for our “fish suppers” to be served in (even asking our local chippy if we could have 50 of the paper trays that they use as the template shape.)”
“Carrying on the fish theme and to add some decoration to the table I handmade 50 clay hanging fish as favours. I made these by going into school at weekends and using the ceramic room there to add glazes and to kiln fire. Each one is different and marked with the date of our wedding on the back. Each name tag for table seating plans was stitched on and embellished with vintage beads and buttons to carry the vintage craft theme.”
The entertainment the couple laid on was also quite unique. Firstly they had a friend who plays the guitar serenading their guests outside, and secondly (and again, channelling Claire’s inner art teacher) they asked their guests to contribute to a painting for the couple to then take home. “While photos were happening was a couple of local artists from Fyne Studios where there and our guests were invited to add to a painting of our day that we could take home and have forever. It was perfect. Our friends and family painted Inver Cottage, the ruins of the castle, and what was happening on the top, and underneath the water, continuing fish theme. Maggie added the rainbow. We finished off the painting by adding two hearts over Inver Cottage.”
Anna-Maria & Sakhi had a low key, intimate wedding at The Savoy in London. A small ceremony was followed by a lunch at the hotel with only their closest friends & family in attendance.
Anna-Maria wore a beautiful dress from Traffic People which she’s only decided on wearing that morning, talk about laid-back bride! Her headband was from H&M and her cute vintage-inspired gloves and amazing feather cape were from ASOS.
For wedding rings, both the bride and groom wore claddagh rings – a traditional Irish ring that is given as a token of love or in the past was often by worn as a wedding ring. Sakhi’s ring was bought from Ireland whereas Anna-Maria’s was a family heirloom. “My Dad is from Connemara which is where the Claddagh ring is believed to originate from, so it was a way to tie in my Dad’s heritage,” Anna-Maria told me. “The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).”
Clare & Paul’s fabulous seaside wedding had a whole lot of DIY love and the bride told me all about it, “I had such a fabulous time organising our wedding. I usually work as a community artist and I often work on exciting glittering and decorative carnival costumes, so this was an opportunity for me to bring some sparkle into our day!”
“Paul and I wanted our wedding to be special to us and to reflect our personalities and our interests in art and music. I wanted to be part of the designing and making of as many different parts of the wedding as I could. We love colour so when my daughters chose their ivory and black beautiful dresses I added hot pink and red to the mix. Although there is so much to do and you can go on a mad spending spree, we set a budget (which we slightly exceeded – oops!) but I loved every minute of it.”
The wedding reception took place at The Hayling Island Sailing Club in Portsmouth. “Our guests arrived on a red double decker London bus,” Clare continued. “My two daughters and my niece were my bridesmaids, they had their hair in Audrey Hepburn inspired buns with beautiful orchids and Gloriosa in their hair to match our bouquets. I wore an Ian Stuart asymmetrical dress. We arrived at the ceremony in Trevor Howard’s (Brief encounter) beautiful red alvis sports tourer and a candy pink london taxi!”
When I first saw Clare & Paul’s wedding, my eyes were immediately drawn to their incredibly unique table numbers, crafted out of vintage books. I had to know more! Can you believe the bride made these herself?! “We used paper cuttings from vintage books to decorate our table plan and our table numbers,” she said. “We scattered plectrums around on the table with our names and the wedding date on. I made a huge table plan using a large frame I had resprayed and cut out leaves and origami roses made by Paul. I made my table numbers with a set of 7 vintage books in which I made little scenes of Paul and my life! My shop on Etsy ohlalovely is selling/taking commissions for these books if anyone wants some made.”
Incredible huh? I don’t know about you, but I’m off to check out Clare’s Etsy store right now!