This will be the last wedding I feature on these beloved wedding blog pages this year. It’s been a year full of the most amazing real wedding features (that I’ll be revisiting before the year is out), but these particular nuptials are rather special. You see, I know these people. Aha. And they really are as cool as these photographs make out. A groom who plays sax at his own wedding? A bride who secretly arranges for the groom’s musical friends to play this as she walks down the aisle, jelly that looks like it’s being served on sandy beaches, vintage 78rpm records as favours (from the couples personal collection of over 25,000), and a bridesmaid who wears a dress that was made for the bride’s mum in the 1960s, guests that are way too cool for school? And that’s just the start!
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, James Melia
Matt and Annabel tied the knot on 22nd September this year at the Victoria Baths in Manchester (winner of the first Restoration series). I was honoured
to have been invited to this wedding, but the force of nature put a stop to that, so it makes my heart swell that I get to not only enjoy but
share these images taken by the mighty James Melia with you today. And I warn you, this is a loooooong blog post – it’s pictures a plenty. Pinterest lovers, you’re going to be a while.
Though many come very, very close, this is my absolute favourite wedding of 2012. Enjoy!
“Our style for the day was all about who we are, what we do and the sort of party we would like to go to. As Vintage 78 DJ’s, we’ve had a great opportunity to see, in person, an amazing selection of styles and types of weddings. From these and
from reading your incredible wedding blog, we had lots and lots of ideas, too many in fact, so had to whittle them down based on time, money and practicality.
We did all the event planning ourselves. Matt has had vast experience running events and together we had it covered. What was amazing was, that with a small band of dedicated helpers we created and decorated everything the day before the wedding. We really enjoyed the process of the setting up and seeing our ideas come to life. Although I love colour schemes and was particularly taken with this turquoise one one on Love My Dress, I decided that there wouldn’t be a specific colour and that I’d go for multicoloured everything from dress to decorations!”
“Thoughtful Flowers are a husband and wife team from Shropshire who grow all their own
flowers (250 varieties) in open fields with no chemicals, behind their
beautiful farmhouse. I particularly wanted dahlias and zinnias and on a
visit to Juliet I told her I wanted an explosion of colourful flowers
from a gramophone horn.
As soon as I saw her eyes up light I knew she
was the perfect person for this creation. I didn’t see the finished
gramophone horn display until I walked down the aisle and it was even
better than I imagined. As well as two bouquets and buttonholes we had
40 vases and containers on the dinning tables.”
“The car was a wonderful wedding day surprise from my father as I
was planning on calling a black cab. He was right to do this as it made
me feel really special and complete strangers waved and beeped at us on
the way to the baths.”
“As well as our own items, we borrowed the furniture for the gentleman’s drinking room from our dear friend Fiona from Rose and Lee Vintage Living. She dropped them off to us on her way to Italy on another furniture buying trip.”
“My stunningly beautiful, 21 year old daughter, Myfanwy
was my bridesmaid. I promised her Jimmy Choo’s for the wedding but
having tried on a multitude of shoes in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols
she decided they just weren’t for her. In the end she chose sparkly
ballerina pumps from New Look for the daytime dress and a pair of my
designer shoes from the 1980s for her evening outfit.
Myfanwy’s, full length, pale blue silk dress that she
walked down the aisle in was made for my mother in Singapore in the late 1960’s. The champagne coloured, 80s does 50s dress she changed into for
the evening was made for me when I was 21 in 1988. Both of these dresses
were adapted and brought back to life by Elizabeth Bethune…”
“We’re both avid collectors of all sorts of vintage ‘stuff’ with a
particular interest in the 1950’s and we made use of this in our wedding.
For example, I collect printed vintage table cloths so used these on
the tables, we used 78rpm records as table mats and favours in one, we
scattered 1940’s and 50s magazines around for people to read.
We created a
Gentleman’s Drinking Club in one room with a wind up gramophone to play
your place mat, decanters full of alcohol, alcohol printed tablecloths,
a chesterfield sofa and wing back chairs, 1950s Gentlemans magazines,
vintage chess, draughts and dominoes, rugs, throws and lighting and a
vintage decoupage screen. This proved to be a great hit as a hideaway on
“My father gave me away. He’d had his fourth knee replacement
operation just a few weeks earlier but ditched the stick and proudly
walked me down the aisle. He’s a great prankster and as we got to the
end he asked me, tongue in cheek, if I really wanted to do this and that
it wasn’t too late to go back!
Once I laughed and said no he then
turned to Matt and advised him that there was still time to run away!!!!
“I had originally bought a beautiful, pale pink, full length 1950’s dress from Hier Pour Demain
but only 8 weeks before the wedding I changed my mind about the length.
I was loathe to cut the vintage dress so started a hunt for something
suitable either vintage or new but not white, strapless or full length. I
was really keen on a Brighton based designer I’d seen on Love My Dress
but time was too short and as Matt and I were busy every weekend DJ’ing at other peoples weddings I couldn’t take the time out to get to
Then I came across a dress on Etsy and the photos made it look
like it could be the one. I took the gamble knowing I could sell the
dress on if it wasn’t right and it certainly paid off. It was just right
but did need some restoration. There’s the most amazing lady in the
North West who is able to restore vintage dresses and Elizabeth
made the necessary repairs and alterations along with a bespoke
petticoat. Lo and behold I had a perfect, silk, full circle 50s dress.”
dress looks very simple in design, v front and back and a full circle
skirt but is deceptively detailed. There’s tiny ruching at the waist and
shoulders, a tiny bow at the back and on the skirt there are three
areas of exquisite padded and quilted work accented with sequins. This
has a specific name but I can’t remember what it is. I’m 45 so didn’t
want to wear white and the bright colours and unusual print on this
dress made it special but also meant that I could wear it again. Another
friend, Kally, had made me a 1950’s sarong style dress to wear in the
evening but in the end the time flew by so quickly that I didn’t get
round to getting changed!“
“We’d been looking for years to find a suitable venue for our
wedding! We needed somewhere that could accommodate a wedding ceremony,
hold up to 250 people for a party, where we could bring in our own
caterers, and that had a quirkiness of its own, all located in
Manchester. And at a price we could afford. Not much of an ask! We’d
played at a Discover Vintage Fair in 2010 at Victoria Baths
before the roofs were finished and loved the place, so, when our friend
and blogger, Old Fashioned Susie told us in January 2012 that it was
opening its doors for weddings we were first in the queue to book a
Victoria Baths is a fantastic place with stained glass windows,
tiling, mosaics and glass roofs that literally make you gasp. We
envisaged our wedding to contain the unexpected and Victoria Baths
provided this already before we’d even brought our wedding plans into
it. Some couples are after a blank canvas to make their own but we
wanted something that already sang out that we could use for
“Upstairs at Victoria Baths, on the 360 degree balcony we created a fun place to let
your hair down with games we either made ourselves or from our own
collection such as egg and spoon races, hook a duck, splat the rat,
hoopla, giant pickupsticks, shove ha’penny, mini golf. We created a
beach bar with deck chairs and rafia umbrellas, beach balls, buckets and
spades, cocktail umbrella garlands, seaside lighting and tugs full of
all varieties of Crabbies…”
“Matt and I even played a few games of ‘Play
Your Cards Right’ at the beginning of the tea party. Guests had raffle
tickets in their teacups and we had the counterparts in a bucket. As we
called numbers and people came up to play, we introduced them to all the
other guests and told amusing anecdotes of them. This was a great way
to break the ice but nearly didn’t happen as I’d forgotten to learn how
to play it properly and had only a dim recollection of Brucie shouting
higher or lower. When my friend Bethany came round to do my make-up Ion
the day had to grab my laptop and look it up at the last minute!“
“There were three pools in total. The first class male pool we
used for the actual wedding ceremony which was a wonderful surprise for
guests as you had to climb down into it. We were married ‘at the deep
end’! The stunning Turkish baths were the star of the drinks reception,
the covered second class male pool and balcony was used for the party
and the female pool contained giant badminton and football and was a
great space for the children to let off steam. The wonderful staff at
the baths also arranged guided tours and guests were able to wander
round the entire building at their leisure.”
“Music is a massive part of our lives with vintage DJ’ing and Matt
being a saxophonist and full time musician, so the entertainment for
the day was especially important. First off, as said I surprised Matt
with the music for my entry. We had another friend Mark play a 1950s
Italian organ during the ceremony for the hymn ‘Give me Joy in my
Heart’. Kate had suggested that a good singalong always helped and this
went really well with our service. People saw the humour in a big man,
sitting in an empty swimming pool playing a very small organ.
signing we had more fun and arranged fo our friend, the DJ Dr Sid to
play our gramophones with an original SUN 78rpm recording of Johnny Cash
‘I Walk the Line’. We processed back down the aisle to ‘That’s my Girl’
by Nat King Cole. Just perfect.
Matt plays sax and flute in
the band Calaita and they had offered as a wedding present to play the
drinks reception part of the day which we had in the old Turkish baths. I
think the photos say it all and the music in these surroundings was
“Matt wore a suit from Reiss
that we found in the in the half price sale! Matt was reluctant to go
in as he was adamant it was a ‘skinny man’s’ shop but I persistent and
he was surprised at their range. Even better was the bright blue 80s/50s
style wool suit at half price. He also wore a brightly coloured tie from his favourite independent men’s shop in Manchester, Whipples, a pink flowered shirt from Alexandre on Saville Row.”
“We had a couple of ideas for guestbooks and in the end used them
both adding to the fun and slightly eccentric feeling of the balcony.
The first was a relatively common typewriter table which I decorated
with typewriter fabric and various things from around the house such as
old ink bottles, a decorative 1940s box of carbon paper and a wire
“The second guestbook table was created around a collection of
vintage, unused postcards we already had. I decorated the table with
souvenir scarves from Europe with the addition of kitschy Eiffel tower
and Blackpool tower models with various plastic souvenir fans. Posters
of maps and stamps on the wall, a decorated pot of pens and the ‘Write
us a Postcard’ table was created. The messages we received on postcards
are hilarious and risque as all saucy seaside postcards should be. We also had a photo booth in one of the poolside changing rooms complete with dressing up articles.
decorations had a vintage theme with 100 multicoloured pompoms, 120
multicoloured, bunches of balloons and a lot of crepe paper bunting
interspersed with ropes of fairy lights. With the multicoloured garden
flowers in informal vintage pots and vases on the tables and the 250
china trios it was a riot of colour which was what we’d been aiming
“I’m not very good at keeping secrets from Matt but this
was one I was determined to suceed at. Matt is a successful jazz
musician and I arranged for some of his oldest jazz friends to play me
down the aisle. Matt knew something was going on when a double bass,
keyboard, drumkit and saxophone were loitering in the corner of the pool
but he was impressed with my song choice of John Coltrane’s arrangement
of ‘My One and Only Love’.”
“Our photographer was James Melia.
What can I say? An absolute miracle. I really hate having my photo
taken and was not planning on even having a photographer! James
approached us in February and asked if he could be our photographer and
although I loved his work I still wasn’t convinced I could go through
with it. I told James about my dislike of photos and how difficult I
would be but he was still up for it. He suggested a pre wedding shoot so
we could get used to each other and asked us to think of somewhere that
Matt and I would be relaxed and comfortable in but that would be
That was when I hit on the idea of taking him to Camp Bestival
where we were Djing with the Shellac Collective. I was really happy
with the photos so didn’t worry at all on the wedding day. That’s not to
say I was easy to work with but James did a cracking job. Many of our
guests commented on what a nice chap he was and the photos are a
testament to his talent and reflect our day superbly.”
“My veil was made by my friend Sophie who makes some adorable head dresses.
I have lots of these with birds, butterflies and flowers on that I
regularly wear to gigs and events. Take a look at her web page and Etsy
store for lots of lovely things.“
“I’d not heard of Chie Mihara shoes until I came across them on Love My Dress. I searched their online store and am now a convert. Shoes with a hidden platform that mould to the shape of your foot and are supremely comfortable – sounds good to me.”
“A great friend, Bethany James Davies
performed miracles with my make up and was responsible for Myfanwy’s
hair and make up. She was also a guest on the day so was on hand to
repin my veil. She even provided me with a lip-brush, mirror and some of
my chose lipstick in a little container for touch ups during the day.“
“We chose to have a Humanist wedding on the day as it
gave us complete freedom to have whatever we wanted in the service. We
found Humanist Celebrant Kate Gee on the web and after meeting her and finding that she too
is a jazz musician, knew that once again we had found the perfect
person to create our wedding ceremony. Kate suggested some web sites to
look at and gave us a book and then we met her again to talk about
From our discussions and incorporating those elements that we
knew we wanted, Kate crafted a wedding service that was very personal
and special to us. A few tweaks by email and we were sorted. Kate came
over to the baths on the day before the wedding to run through things
and even helped us out with our decorating – this lady can fluff
“Kate had people laughing all the way through, cheering, clapping,
you name it. She even made our guests shout out in unison, ‘We Do’ when
asked to invite us over for dinner now and again! it was really great
fun and our guests commented on how special our ceremony was.
(Kate told our story in a very special way. I hadn’t come across a
Humanist wedding until we played at one last year at River Cottage. I
thought they were to do with hand fasting , candle lighting and broom
jumping – we had none of these! I wondered whether LMDB would be
interested in Kate and I putting together something for readers about
humanist weddings from both the celebrant’s and the bride and grooms
perspectives as there’s so much to say?)“
“We decided to read our own readings as we wanted to
speak them to each other as well as to our guests. Matt chose ‘Oh Tell
Me the Truth About Love’ – WH Auden and I read ‘To My Dear and Loving
Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672. I said in the preamble to mine
that love was as old as the hills and our feelings are not a modern
phenomena ie even love is vintage!
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.”
“Kate, our celebrant, wrote about how Matt and I met and read this
as part of the beautiful wedding service she crafted for us. Below is an
excerpt from the service…
“In the beginning there was jazz and drink and disagreements. So where to start with Matt and Annabel?
It is down to Ajuni (who has flown from Switzerland to be here)
that Matt and Annabel met. Ajuni had invited some friends, including
Annabel, out into Manchester for birthday celebrations and they had all
decided to go to a well known jazz club, Matt and Phred’s – the home of
all sorts of unsuitable, unsavoury musicians. Well into their evening, Annabel was still convinced that she
wasn’t a fan of jazz, but that she was rather a fan of the free drinks
that the bar staff had been serving them all night. Only this time when
she went to the bar to pick up their cocktails, she was asked to pay!
Unbeknownst to her, a certain club owner was now sat at the bar too.
Annabel was investigating as to why the drinks weren’t free, and Matt
sidled up, asking ifthere was a problem. In return, Annabel said
something like, ‘I don’t know who you think you are but go away!
As Annabel went to sit down, the musicians were nearing the end
of their set. In a moment of slow recognition, Annabel realised that the
chap playing kit was Dave Walsh, who, she had asked to tutor her
daughter Myfanwy on drums, and who had stopped teaching on account of
him apparently going on a world tour! The unsuspecting Dave came off
stage and was accosted by Annabel and her outraged accusations of world
tours not normally including dingy jazz joints. Matt somehow spied this
interaction from the bar, and again waded in with the line, ‘Is this
woman giving you grief,’ followed by Dave admitting defeat and saying
that he rather deserved it. Yet again, Annabel told Matt to go away.
that, ladies and gentlemen, was the start of a beautiful relationship.
Both Matt and Annabel continued their discussions/arguments and as the
club was shutting, Matt uttered the immortal lines ‘Would you like to
carry this argument on elsewhere?’ And they proceeded to the Press Club –
an all night drinking hole notorious for its sticky carpets and warm
Matt and Annabel’s initial meet
was feisty, fun and an energetic exchange of their beliefs, ideas and
desires. Yet Annabel knew when she got up some three hours later to go
to work that she had met someone incredibly special.”
“Matt proposed to me 6 months later on a very wet camping trip to
the Lake District. We had returned to Manchester for the evening as
Matt was playing for the opening of a new bar and we were having to race
back to the campsite as it closed its gates at 10pm. Once back at the
tent, Matt, all suited and booted brought out into the field his
portable wind up gramophone, and started playing Nat King Cole ‘When I
Fall in Love’. Other campers were shushing the music but then Matt got
down on one knee and proposed at which point lots of tent zips could be
heard opening with fellow campers congratulating us! We were engaged
for 6 years before we finally married.“
“For the tea party we had our friends, ‘Litmus Strings‘ who play
incredible versions of famous Manchester tunes such as ‘Love Will Tear
us Apart’, ‘Wonder Wall’ and ‘This Charming Man’. All the players are
members of the Halle Orchestra so really are the real thing!. The
quartet played acoustically which sounded fantastic in the main room and
was something totally different for people, bringing smiles all-round.
Once again it was unexpected to hear Manchester tunes from a classical
After the speeches another friend of Matt’s
who he’s worked with for over 25 years came and played for us. Jerome
McMurray is a Brooklyn born half Haitian, half Sioux Indian Jazz and
Blues singer/guitar player. He calls himself an entertainer and that’s
exactly what he did. At 70 years old he’s lost none of his sparkle and
he’s singing better than ever. Matt picked up his sax and “sat in” for a
few tunes which went down great.
Time for the vintage DJs. Our friends from the Shellac Collective
had come from East Anglia and DJd for the first part of the
evening. Instant success and everyone stated dancing straight away.
Classic blues, “RnB” and Rock and Roll. Keith who teaches Lindy Hop and
swing got everyone involved and taught some lucky guests the moves.
“We didn’t want a traditional cake and hit on the idea of having a
giant, three tier pork pie instead. Then of course there was the
decision of should it be made in Lancashire or Yorkshire! James Melia
suggested a pie maker near his hometown who made pork pies to feed 160.
The pies were baked at 6am on the morning of our wedding and once again
James helped out by collecting them on his way over to us (told you he
was a great guy).“
“One of the main reasons for having the wedding at a
venue where we could bring our own caterers was our friend Robert Owen-Brown, currently head chef at Manchester’s riverside restaurant,
the Mark Addy. Robert is renowned for creating dramatic dishes and
producing great food in spectacular settings and we’ve been to many of
his fantastic gourmet nights over the years, including a Burns night
where he carved a four foot deer’s head from lard, a medieval feast and a
magical Narnia inspired evening.
The deal struck with
Robert was we had to completely trust him, let him take total control
and that the food would be just as much a surprise to us as to our
guests. We had a couple of meetings with him where he made long notes
and looked through our collection of 1950s cookery books. It’s true to
say that we’ve never seen a spread like it.”
“In the afternoon tea party we had beautifully made sandwiches and little fancy cakes, great pots of tea and we went all the way with the 50s theme with champagne saucers and 200 individual bottles of Babycham for the toasts. Another friend surprised us on the day by turning up with boxes of her cupcakes adorned with records and gramophones.
For the evening buffet, dramatic is an understatement with wonderful hams, barbecued chicken the best savoury mousses we’ve ever had, a seafood selection to die for including a live crab pot where you could fish for your crab and have it cooked in front of you, a quirky roast selection with a huge carved Spam spit roasting in the shape of a pig, a roast pigs head plus all the usual roasts done to perfection and the best cheese selection we’ve ever seen. I believe there were some wonderful vegetables but it really was a bit of a meat feast. Then there was desert, with huge piles of profiteroles, lots of jelly and Robert had even made a beach to fit in with the swimming pool setting, back dropped with a deck chair. He produced edible sand and sea, bags of deep fried apples to look like chips, lots of jelly castles and pink shrimps. Wow! Not only did it look impressive, it tasted divine.“
“After the evening buffet at about 8:30 it was straight on with the main act. Bo an incredible bass player whose credits include playing with Gill Scott Heron had brought his band and played an amazing selection of soul and funk tunes which set the room alight. Matt again “sat in” which was cool and for a real treat Franny Eubanks (Manchester’s answer to Muddy Waters) came, sang and played his harmonicas. He stole the show.
Two sets later with an interlude of more 78rpm DJing and it was time for the cheesy wedding disco. (had to be done!) Dr Sid kindly obliged with all the classics such as ‘Ooops Upside Your Head’, ‘High Ho Silver Lining’ and we all finished the night with a mass version of the ‘Hokey Cokey’.
Reading back over the music it sounds amazing that we put this together but it’s what we do and we loved every second. It all fitted in perfectly around the other mad stuff that was happening.”
“We had been planning a first dance to Frank Sinatra ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ but again changed our minds and danced when
the mood took us whilst Jerome was singing ‘It Had to be You’. We went with the moment and it worked.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom…
“Make it fun for the guests and have fun yourself! Don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan – the guests will never know the difference. I had a really bad hair day (all my own fault) and we forgot to do the charleston and lindy dance lessons. Nobody knew about it all until now that is! There’s no such thing as perfect. Also, nobody is offended if you don’t get the chance to speak to them.
Oh, and the day goes really quickly so savour every moment.
Love My Dress features a huge variety of weddings, both photographs and commentary and was an invaluable source for our wedding. In fact,
it’s a community of brides past, present and future and I still read and enjoy the posts despite the fact that I’m now a Mrs.
The blog is a great blend of real weddings, advice, inspiration, ideas an d thoughts from a huge variety of people who care enough to write.”
Wow, wow WOW!!!!!
What can I add to this? Pretty much nothing, except, I think, a little mention for Matt and Annabel’s fabulous wedding invitations!
“We wanted to make the invite different and with the help of friend, Jeff MacCormack I think we did. A spinning wheel invite. Jeff work really hard to get the right feel and we think the results were brilliant. We tried to save money by cutting them out by hand. Big mistake. Matt took three days to do this and cursed me all the time so if you want one of these please pay the extra to get it die cut!”
The spinning wheel!
Well, that just leaves me to say a huge, huge very vintage thank you to the adorable Matt and Annabel (Annabel, thank you *so* much for your very kind words about Love My Dress) and to thank photographer James Melia for so kindly allowing me to feature his images and work here today.
Matt arranged all the music his own wedding – if you’re interested in hiring Matt and Annabel to lay at your wedding, or if you are interested in
something unique for your special event, contact email@example.com or go to www.mattnickson.com. And if you’d like to hire Matt and Annabel to spin some shellac at your wedding or special event, pop by their Vintage 78 DJ website and drop them a line. I highly recommend!
Please, show this wonderful couple and our last wedding of 2012 some love in the comments box below. Thank you so very much.
With all my love in the world,
Photographer – James Melia
Venue – Victoria Baths
Wedding Planner/Stylist – the bride and groom! Vintage 78 DJ // It’s a Wind Up!
Dress alterations by Elizabeth Bethune
Brides headdress – Imogens Imagination
Bride’s shoes – Chie Mihara
Bride’s accessories – Imogen’s Imagination
Groom – Reiss suit + Two tone brogues via Barkers
Bridesmaids dress – vintage, made for the bride’s mother in Singapore in the late 1960’s
Florist – Thoughtful Flowers
Wedding pork pie cake – Bolstermoor Farm
Entertainment – Litmus Strings + Shellac Collective
Make up by the amazing – Bethany Jane Davies
Vintage props hire – Rose and Lee Vintage
Food by renowned Manchester legend – Robert Owen-Brown
Bar – Craig at Local Wine Company
Balloons – Premier Balloons
Chair and Table – Dale Event Hire
Ceremony – Kate Gee
Invites by the genius that is Jeff MacCormack