Bridesmaids


ArticlesWeddings

I wanted my bridesmaids to look and feel like their best selves. Razan Alazzouni was my best chance at making that happen for them.

I have worked with Razan Alazzouni for more than 6 years. In that time we have built a wonderful friendship. I have so much respect for her aesthetic and work ethic. She continues to create dresses I love and make me feel exceptional. Most recently I wore one of her kaftans to Ascot (at the time I was hiding my pregnancy and it worked a dream!).

So I knew I wanted her to make the bridesmaids dresses. However I wasn’t sure what style to go with. My bridesmaids have totally different figures and styles, but I wanted them both to feel good. In the end I turned to my inspiration for all projects. Pinterest! I created a board with references of things I liked. Then I discussed with my friends what they liked from this and what would suit them. From these references Razan created the dresses. The bridesmaids had fittings in London and then the final dresses were shipped to us, which we had finishing touches (nip and tuck alterations for any weight changes) made to.  It was a fabulous experience that I cant recommend enough. I hope you will agree the results were stunning.

To find the shoes, I had a lot of fun at the Jimmy Choo Sample sale with my bridesmaids finding options. I think we got really lucky, they almost perfectly matched and were a steal.

On top of their outfits, I wanted to give my friends some goodies to say thank you for being my bridesmaids and also for them to use of the day. I settled on personalised raffia clutches from Rae Feather, their makeup for the day, hair pieces from Maggie Wu, ballet pumps for dancing the night away and a personalised jewellery set from Missoma.

I have to say a huge thanks to all the brands that helped me make this possible (through press samples and discounts). From beauty… Clinique, Givenchy, Nars, Laura Mercier, Tom Ford, MAC, Estee Lauder, By Terry and Laura Geller.

 

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Our Wedding


Party PlanningWeddings

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since we got married. Time seems to have raced by and I’m only now publishing my full wedding story here. I’ve covered all my choices and the reasons behind them. I hope it will be a full guide to how I planned and created my dream wedding. The wedding was also featured on Martha Stewart Weddings so you can see more there. A little version of my wedding video is also available if you want to see it.

The Plan

I always knew where I wanted to get married, but it’s a private home not a venue, so I knew it would have unique challenges, many of which I probably wouldn’t even foresee. Thus a planner seemed vital. I was never a bridey-bride so I thought I will find this easy.  I just totally underestimated how much time planning a wedding would take.  I knew exactly what I wanted style wise but I needed someone to help with logistics.  I was recommend @jennywrenweddingsandevents by a family friend and she was vital to the whole experience. My mother said, “Jenny isn’t a luxury, she’s a necessity”. She was so calm, organised and efficient. I will never forget seeing her driving a golf buggy one handed, holding a stack of chairs, still smiling. I can’t recommend her more. She’s the perfect planner. Always in the right place but never intrusive.  Apart from anything else, she enabled my mother and I to enjoy the day and forget about the practical things.

The outline of the wedding was to have a legal wedding service, champagne cream tea and dinner for only the closest family and friends on day one. Then day two was a wedding blessing for all our guests, a champagne tea, followed by a short break to change and rest and then a black tie drinks, dinner, dancing and fireworks. On day three there was a lunch for family, close friends and the ushers and bridesmaids and their families.

In order for the plan to work we needed to have marquees made to fit the different areas of the garden, to bring the garden inside. These were custom made in India and shipped over. We also used a stretch tent for over the blessing space. The marquees were a major part of pulling the wedding together and took a huge team and a huge amount of logistics to pull off. I do not recommend doing this custom approach unless you are ready for that.

The Dress

I felt we needed to sort out my wedding dress first. I wanted three dresses for our plan. For the main dress (day two wedding blessing and tea),  I dragged my poor mother all over London. Trying every brand. I didn’t really know what I wanted but nothing was hitting the spot. Having worn so many gowns and couture pieces for work I think I just wanted a dress that made me feel like a bride, rather than the biggest most extraordinary dress. Finally I stumbled across a dress on Pinterest from a brand I had never heard of. I booked an appointment at the showroom on a whim and I’m so glad I did. @lesposedigio ended up being the most perfect designer for me. They had the most luxurious fabrics (I found so many brands didn’t use 100% silk) and the skill to create what I wanted even though they didn’t make the design. They agreed to make me a couture piece and went to such wonderful lengths to make me happy. Even sending a seamstress to the venue the day before the wedding for a final fit. (They offered to come on the wedding day but I wanted to be with my family). I couldn’t recommend them more highly. I love the brand, their style and ethos. They will make any brides dream dress come true.

For the dinner day two, I wore a dress by @costarellos from the @theweddingclub1. It was a slow burner for me. I fell in love with it the more I saw it. It was perfect for this part of the wedding, so comfortable, light and a little (a lot) more sexy. I still adore this dress. I really recommend visiting The Wedding Club, they have a great selection of brands and alot of the more evening embellished options.

For the service on day one, I wore a Pronovias dress, much altered (from a long dress with a long train, to a pencil skirt) but with the same shoes as my main dress. With retrospect, I wish I had visited Pronovias first, they have so many dresses, literally every style imaginable.  It’s actually the best place to figure out your style even if you don’t end up wanting something from the brand. Originally I wanted a white wedding suit instead for this part of the wedding, but now I’m glad I didn’t do that because I can do it for our children christenings instead (fingers crossed).

The Shoes

Our wedding shoes were made by @manoloblahnikhq for us. I had three pairs for different outfits of the wedding. The brand came to me when they heard I was engaged and offered to do my wedding shoes, as they were in the process of launching their wedding line at the time. I created this shoot all about it.  I’m so grateful for all the care the team put into creating my perfect wedding shoes. It was a dream come true to have custom Manolo’s.  They had one of the pairs made out of my main wedding dress fabric, to make them a perfect match for my dress. They also gave Matthew his stunning shoes which you can see in all the images.

The Jewellery

Wedding jewellery may not be something everyone cares about, or has the budget to create but it was a lovely part of my wedding planning process. I wore some pieces that were borrowed from my mother, others that I inherited specifically to be worn on my wedding day, and finally one very special piece was made for me – the hair piece you see in the images here. It was made by a jeweller who we have a long family relationship with – Bastianello Arte. The piece was based on earrings my mother already had from them, which I borrowed on the day. The vine leaves represent good fortune. The piece was made to be worn in lots of ways, as a tiara, as a hairpiece (which is how I wore it), as earrings and as a necklace.

Getting Ready

My wedding hair was a bit of a saga. I had a real struggle finding a hairdresser to do my wedding hair. I have a lot of slippery heavy hair being mixed race. Lots of hairdressers I did tests with it just didn’t stay put. @freyadanso was the exception. She was also so lovely and calm to be around on the day. I really recommend Freya. She will be able to create whatever you need. Freya did my updo for the wedding blessing on day two.  I did my hair down for day one and  the evening of day two. I actually decided to fully shower and start again with my hair and makeup on day two between events, so that I didn’t have to counter pin marks in my hair etc. In honestly I probably didn’t factor enough time in for this, but I am still so glad I did it. I felt and looked new and fresh for the evening.

I did my own makeup for the whole of the wedding. I was quite nervous about doing it but I practiced and tested a lot of products in advance. In the end I think I instinctively knew I would want a little down time, on my own, on the day to gather my thoughts and doing my own makeup gave me that time. You can see a tutorial including all the makeup I used on my blog and YouTube chanel. Thank goodness I had the good sense to shoot it just after our honeymoon, because I don’t remember any of it now! Sadly I totally forgot to film the evening look, which I’m so sorry about, it was lighter with a slightly glittery eye. I thought of it as a bit of a fairy look.

The Photographer and Video

The first thing I found (since I wasn’t searching for a venue) was my photographer. I looked at a few film photographers because I knew that was the look I wanted, but I totally fell in love with @josevilla‘s work. He seemed to capture things not only beautifully but also in a more natural emotional way. His work didn’t seem forced or staged. I didn’t want contrived emotion and Jose captured beautiful images with feeling. I am delighted with his work. It was everything I hoped for. He was at every moment, ready and waiting. A true professional. It meant I could forget all about photos and let him work his magic. The last thing you want to think on your wedding day is “where is the photographer? they are missing this!”.

Originally I didn’t want a wedding video at all. I didn’t see the point. My mother totally talked me into it, and how wrong was I. The video is now of my favourite parts of the wedding. The gorgeous Georgie recommend Alex Hayes to me. He and his team were amazing. I just love my video, which can still make me cry. They do a fab trailer version which is a few minutes and you end up watching that version all the time.

The Flowers

The Flowers are a huge part of any wedding and with a name like mine you can hardly expect them to have been less! Setting the wedding in a garden meant that flowers where a huge part of the decoration. From cut flowers to areas that were planted. I wanted to use as many peonies as possible and keep to a strict white and green theme. @wedding_flowers_incornwall_ worked tirelessly with us to achieve the look we wanted. Their team completely understood and respected our style and the brief. Anna always understood it was about what we wanted and couldn’t have been nicer about making that happen in the most efficient way. I’m so grateful to her and I would work with her again tomorrow.

We had flowers all around the ceremony areas, as well as decorating all the tables throughout the various receptions and different spaces at the location. Anna also created large standing displays, the mantlepiece displace over the fireplace, flower crowns for the flower girls, an orchid hair piece for the evening for me, button holes for all the ushers and a flower collar for our ring bearer, Matthew’s dog Poppy.

We had two kinds of tables for the dinner reception, round which were made around large fig tress (planted within the garden already) and long trestle tables. All the flowers by @wedding_flowers_incornwall_ were green and white. The main focus was around figs, peonies and hydrangeas. We did a test table in advance of the wedding and I really recommend the process. It helped us iron out a lot of the issues. Table One varied only slight with green water glasses and bamboo cutlery.  Jenny and Anna also arranged for ribbons on all the chairs, candles within the trees and garden, and many many more small decorative details for the wedding.

The Bridesmaid's and Flowergirl Dresses

I only had two bridesmaids. I’ve never really been one for an entourage, but a good bridesmaid can be the greatest gift of calm, helpful friendship, just when you need it. That said a bad one can ruin your planning process and day. So I strongly recommend that you hold off asking anyone until you have come down from the engagement high and have had some time to think about what you want. My bridesmaids wore custom dresses made by any friend and designer Razan Alazzouni. We tried to create a silhouette for each one that was flattering and elegant for their body and style. I thought they both looked beautiful but I hope they felt they did.

Our flower girls wore smocked dresses made of similar fabrics to my main dress and veil. A mikado silk with organza silk smocked over the top by hand. I commissioned @smockedfrockswiltshire to make the dresses specially. Her workmanship with these difficult fabrics was lovely.

The Food and Drink

The food was more than I could have imagined! Chef @czarneckigregory and his team flew over from South Africa to create the food for the three days. They went above and beyond to create a beautiful and delicious culinary experience at every moment of the wedding. Nothing was too much for them. Their attitude, work ethic and skill is exceptional. Gregory wanted to use a lot of local produce and seasonal specialities to create a unique menu for us. We had skype calls with him before he arrived to discuss our ideas but broadly it was down to him. I can’t wait to have a chance to eat Gregory’s delicious food again @waterkloofwines restaurant in South Africa.  It really took the wedding to another level.

Matthew and I had quite clear ideas about what drinks we wanted to serve during the different moments of this wedding weekend. Starting with @pol_roger for the champagne. Then only @waterkloofwines Rosé for during dinner and finally cocktails over dancing. We also had a late night table with marshmallows, cognac and whisky around an outdoor fire bowl.  There was also a huge wheels of truffle brie for people to nibble on all night.

The Cake

I’m still obsessed with my wedding cake. I think it was a combination that just worked. The cake itself was layers made by @maisonladuree one tier was a pistachio layer, another was rose, lychee and raspberry. It was delicious! I ate so so much of it over the wedding weekend. On top of the cake we had sugar peonies made by the incredibly talented @donnajanecakescornwall . They were absolutely life like. I have kept as many of the flowers and petals as possible in a box for the future. They were little works of art and store very well if you keep them cool and dry. So you could use them again on a christening or birthday cake in the future.

Calligraphy and Paper

From the invitations to the table plans, calligraphy really mattered to me. I think it can be so beautiful when it’s done well, and so awful when it’s not. I ended up using two artists. Open Ink Stand and Cellar Door Calligraphy. Both were amazing. Open Ink Stand did our invitations, information cards and RSVP notes (her work is honestly beyond beautiful), while Cellar Door did the table numbers, place cards, table plan, menus and addressed the envelopes (as she was based in the UK she was great for last minute needs and changes, she was also great at following the style started by Open Ink Stand).

The invitations, menus and service sheets etc were printed by the amazing team at The Walton Street Stationary Company.

As save the dates, we had white match boxes made with white matches inside. They said the wedding date and our names on one side and ‘what a match’ on the other.

Entertainment

After dinner on day two, we had a series of things to entertain our guests. A large firework display (which I was super picky about – I only wanted white, not coloured fireworks) which was so stunning, black jack and roulette tables, a 12 piece Sinatra band and after midnight a preloaded jukebox (we asked all the guests to choose a song they wanted on their RSVP card). At the same time there was a large fire bowl with drinks for those less likely to dance.