I'll be honest, I felt quite emotional preparing this blog feature. The bride, Chelsea, is a long time and loyal reader of Love My Dress. Chelsea writes her own blog, and I remember her first ever few comments she left on Love My Dress, then the fact she went on to win this engagement shoot competition with the super talented Lisa Jane Photography and Tiffany Grant Riley. Chelsea has even donated family photography towards my vintage wedding gallery project in the past and even my book!
So it really is with such pleasure that I'm finally able to share Chelsea's wedding with you today. Chelsea married her long-term love Chris on 17th March 2013 at Villiers Hotel in Buckingham. I'm so proud that she was able to gain so much inspiration from Love My Dress in planning her wedding and love the fact she found her beautiful original vintage wedding dresses from one of our much loved sponsors, Heavenly Vintage Brides…
"I got most of my inspiration from Love my Dress – I loved the personal feel it had. I guess i felt like it was more than just what was pretty and what wasn’t. For me, I think it was the vintage element that gave it that depth – when you’re talking vintage its inevitable that people will mention their family and history and Love My Dress really seemed to care about people’s stories."
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2013, Lucy Turnbull
"There were a few inspirations to helping us create our wedding. The venue, Villiers Hotel in Buckingham, used to be the old town hall and has history dating back to 1577 so had a real vintage theme to it and i always knew i wanted a vintage dress.
I’m someone who does live in the past a bit so that was always going to be a factor. I’m also obsessed with skulls, i always have been, but far from being gothic, i’m quite girly and i love pastel tones therefore our ‘pastel pirate wedding' theme was born."
"The reason I didn’t want a floral bouquet is i wanted a keepsake so i got a felt bouquet from Jennifer Rae with matching buttonholes for the men. I lost my Nan last year, something that really affected me, and on my bouquet i wrapped around some ribbon that read ‘You are my sunshine’, a song she constantly sang to me and i sprayed the bouquet with her perfume, it was the perfect reminder of her."
"I got my dress from Heavenly Vintage Brides. My friend and I got engaged around the same time and we were both talking about how we disliked modern dresses. I said I wanted to have a vintage dress and she was curious about the idea, something she hadn’t considered. It was about two years before the wedding so i had no plans to actually buy a dress yet but we decided to go shopping anyway as it might give us a feel of style etc. I always thought i would go for a typical 50’s dress as its close to my everyday style (although i did surprise myself by really liking some 20’s gowns) but when I tried on my dress, I knew i was in trouble, i was grinning like a moron!
I went back home and announced to my parents that i had found 'the' dress and we brought it that weekend. It checked every box for me, it was tea length (worked with my petite frame), lace (pretty!), had sleeves (march wedding), had a belt (slimming) and it wasn’t white making it feel really different.
I wore a necklace I got from Asos, at first just purchased so that I could try on the style with the dress before buying a ‘proper’ necklace. However I actually ended up loving it and keeping it and wearing it on my wedding day."
"We met at school at 16 (a drunken New Years party! Classy acts). When we were 18 we both decided to go to the same university as we didn’t feel that long distance would work for us. We ended up moving in together as a consequence (more for convenience I suppose than for anything else) but it made our relationship so much stronger and when we were 21, after already deciding the day we wanted to get married (our first anniversary after we both had finished uni) we went ahead and made it official and became engaged.
There was no proposal however Chris did go out and get me a ring, a black pearl (to represent my love of pirates of the Caribbean!). By the time we were married we had been engaged for two and a half years."
"As we had a civil ceremony it allowed us to have a lot of freedom over our vows. Obviously there is the contractual stuff but we both decided to read the same vows, an adaption of the ‘I promise’ by Dorothy Colgan;
'I promise to give you the best of myself, to respect you as your own person, to grow along with you, to constantly realise just how lucky I am and to bring joy, strength and imagination to our relationship. Above all I promise to love you in good and in bad, with all that I have to give and all that I feel inside, in the only way i know how, completely and forever'"
"On each table the centre-pieces consisted of a trio of items. The first was a fishbowl glued to a painted candlestick which i had created myself and then filled with flying saucers. The second item was a painted mini easel on which we stuck postcards that we had on our fridge and the third item was a paper-mache skull obtained from Hobbycraft one Halloween which i had first painted either pink or blue and then used liquid chalk to write the table numbers on and decorate them.
Each table setting had a pink paper doily underneath and i used candy necklaces for napkin rings. We scattered pastel heart confetti on the tables too."
"I purchased a A knuckleduster handbag from Ebay…"
"I made the favours myself. I brought some small organza bags from Ebay, and within each bag i had the following poem:
'We all have those days when we feel a bit blue, but this bag contains things to help see you through,
An eraser to rub out mistakes with one swipe, A candle to light up the gloomiest night,
Cash when you feel your backs to the wall, a marble to make sure you don’t lose them all,
String to stop everything falling apart, and a hug full of warmth that comes straight from the heart.'
I filled the bag with a mini eraser, a birthday type candle, a penny, a marble, a piece of knotted strong and a fairground ticket type thing with ‘HUG’ written on it. I actually found these bags one Christmas time being sold at my local corner shop, the owner explained her daughter had decided to make them and i asked if it was ok for me to reproduce them for the wedding."
"We had two readings too. Alia and Aidan, dear friends of ours, carried out one reading. They’ve been together 10 years, a mean feat at 23, so they’re very similar to us as a couple. They read the popular story ‘The lovely love story’ which i just adored and got Chris as an anniversary present many years ago.
Our second reading was by my close friend, Rima. Its called the Union by Robert Fulghum and it spoke to me because of the fact that our age has meant we’ve spent a vast amount of our relationship looking to the future, at 16 marriage felt a long way away."
"I wore Vivienne Westwood pom pom shoes, brought for my birthday by Chris and then they had to be hidden away so i didn’t ruin them – hehe."
"My bridesmaids dresses were from For Her And For Him, brought when the site first opened so we got them at a discount and with free shipping. A risk but it paid off!
I also bought vintage 1940s and 50's pearl bracelets for each bridesmaid sourced from Etsy and Ebay."
"Our cake table was heaving! I wanted to have cake pops, i think they taste so good because the cake is so dense and a friend of mine said she knew someone who did them. I met up with Almas of Scrumptous Pops and her cake pops tasted delicious and then while discussing the wedding themes she said she may be able to develop a skull cake pop, i was so excited! We had so many people commenting on the cake pops at the wedding, they went down so well."
"We wanted a cake to ‘blow out’ as well (we didn’t want an awkward cake cutting pose so decided to blow out candles on the cake and make a wish instead). My mum said she would be willing to make us a small cake for that purpose however she ended up making us two, a red velvet one and a sponge one. On the cake table we also had a lot of sweets and macarons (from Marks & Spencer).
On our cake table we had paper roses made from vintage dictionaries which we brought from Etsy and various glasses all obtained from the Next homeware section (that place is lethal!). We had a memory table which i decorated with various pictures of the family, it was important to me for people coming to the wedding to get a real idea of who Chris and I are as people and our family are a big part of that."
"I was incredibly lucky to find Lucy Turnbull, she captured the wedding exactly how i wanted it to be seen yet in a way i could never imagine. We explained we didn’t want any posed pictures, just natural shots and the whole day we didn’t even seem to be aware of her or her husband, Chris, they were experts at blending in. They stayed really late into the night as well capturing some fantastic evening shots, we couldn’t recommend her highly enough."
"We looked at every venue within 30 minutes of our house, none felt right whether it was because of the venue itself or the staff we were dealing with (we were 21 at the time, there was a bit of snobbiness from some). Villiers Hotel in Buckingham was the only one that we actually had no idea of price as they did custom quotes, we stepped in and glanced at each other with a look of ‘clearly we can’t afford this but don’t let the manager know’.
The venue blew us away and Jean, the manager, was so warm and friendly. When we got a quote back it was the most affordable of anything we had looked at before, it was a no brainer!"
"The invitations were designed by Itty Bitty Bijou who custom designed a PDF invitation for us which we then printed off ourselves. The order of service programmes were designed and printed by myself. The table plan was created by my Mum. The menu’s were fortune tellers that were brought from DarlingGirlPaper on Etsy."
"I didn’t hire a make-up artist, though I admit it was a big risk. I actually don’t usually wear make up in everyday life so i have practically no experience in applying it! Luckily i went to Boots armed with £50 worth of boots points (collected over the whole engagement haha) and made sure I had someone talk me through applying a good foundation, it worked itself out. My hair was prepared by my bridesmaid, Vicky."
"There are a few things we broke tradition for at our wedding. For one we had a first look, where we saw each other before the wedding. The aim was really to give the chance for our photographer to get some pictures of us together as we didn’t want to leave the cocktail reception but it turned out to be one of the best things we did.
A criticism of the first look is that it removes a special part of the ceremony but it really didn’t. When Chris first saw me he burst into tears, as did I and we had time alone (well with the photographer) to hold onto that moment, to hug, to laugh, to talk excitedly about what we were about to do. The registrar turned up and said she had never seen such a relaxed scene before the wedding, Chris and I, our bridal party, the parents, all sitting down, talking, laughing, drinking. And it really didn’t remove anything from the ceremony.
Chris could hardly get out his vows for crying, everyone told us how it was the most emotional ceremony they’d ever witnessed.
"I didn’t want to be given away as such, the feminist in me was stubborn about that, but my Dad walked me down the aisle or rather nervously ran me down the aisle! Our soundtrack was ‘our’ song, the Wombats ‘Anti D’. Whenever I feel sad, Chris is always able to pick me up so when Anti D came out it spoke to me so much, Chris is my anti depressant. When Anti D came out it spoke to us so much, Chris was my anti depressant. The lyrics meant so much to us I spent 3 hours writing them on our chalkboard aisle runner."
"To cut a long story short one birthday, after a disagreement on whether it was ‘easy’ to buy people presents i challenged Chris to buy me a birthday present i hadn’t asked for already. He brought me a peridot ring, our birthstone…a stone i hate. However the moment i saw his ring the fact he thought of it himself made it my favourite ring. I then realised that i would love my wedding ring whatever it looked like because the sentimentality of it would always be more important.
I decided I wanted Chris and I to have matching rings, meaning we were going to have to have plain bands. I researched some different metals and fell in love with black zirconium. It looked different, modern, its also a strong metal, much stronger than something like titanium and i loved that symbolism. We ended up getting our rings from Geti, Chris getting an identical but thicker band than I. Inside they are engraved with our surnames and wedding date."
"We got complimentary ceremony flowers included in our venue package from Woodland Flowers. We were having non floral centrepieces and my bouquet was also non floral so when we went along to the meeting, I felt a bit awkward, obviously the point of giving something away free is you’re going to get some business. However they were really lovely, we purchased some thank you boxes for the mums and bridesmaids bouquets.
I didn’t really know much about flowers and when we went to the meeting i let them lead with suggestions. They suggested Norma Jean Roses for the bridesmaids bouquets which i agreed too however i felt a bit uncomfortable with the price, I’m such a coward at speaking up though. They must have picked up on how i felt though because I got a call later that day suggesting a cheaper bouquet option, babys breath with a single Norma Jean Rose in the middle."
"All food was supplied by the venue. We had canapés during the cocktail reception. For our main meal we had mozzarella and tomato salad followed by bangers and mash with a port wine gravy (my fave!). We didn’t have dessert as we had so many sweet things around anyway. We also had an evening buffet of a ploughmans lunch with a Spanish twist (so bread, pates, cheeses, etc but alongside Spanish meats)."
"Our first dance was ‘For lovers’ by Pete Doherty and Wolfman. This was a bit of a selfish choice really haha. We had played ‘our’ song for me walking down the aisle and so when we were thinking of the first dance we kinda drew a blank.
We did want to choose one though because i had this big fear of whatever the first song was to be played people would just make us dance to it anyway. My favourite band is the Libertines but none of their songs are really first dance appropriate so this was the compromise."
"Actually it was surprising! I had chosen my music for the whole day, everything was planned to the last detail but the one song that wasn’t chosen was the LAST song. As the evening drew to an end the band announced it was their last song and could all the guests please come and link arms around Chris and I. By this time i was much more relaxed than our first dance too (maybe to do with alcohol? Hehe) and they started playing wonderwall by Oasis. Of course EVERYONE sung along and it just felt such an amazing moment to end an amazing day."
"I always knew i wanted a live band, I’d only ever gone to one wedding where I considered the entertainment good and that was where they had a live rock band. I went over to Warble Entertainment, looked around, listened to tracks and fell in love with the Indie Killers. Booking them was the best decision i made about the wedding. A live band brings an atmosphere that a DJ could never receive."
Words of Wedded Wisdom….
"Make it about you and your groom. We’ve had so much positive feedback from our guests about how well they feel they know us now. That’s what a wedding should feel like. Don’t be afraid to do something alternative if you feel that its going to reflect the real you.
I’ve read this on nearly every blog post on Love My Dress, but in the run up to the wedding adopt your ‘zen’ state, there’s really no point in feeling stressed. We mislaid some wedding decor before the wedding, i woke up on the morning of the wedding to heavy snow and a photographer coming from Cornwall, we couldn’t get the rings on during the ceremony, I laughed through everyone of these things (which really isn’t me) and everything was perfect."
"I also decided to do a speech, something I started to regret about 10 minutes before I was due to speak. I’m really glad i did it though, it gave me chance to thank the parents and my bridesmaids which was really important for me to be able to do directly, and also say a few words about the most important person in my life, my new husband.
Something I’m really excited about is we made a memory box at the wedding. We designed wedding ab libs for people to fill out which we put in a box which i then filled with little mementos from the wedding and its something we’re going to open on our one year anniversary.
The things I would have done differently were SOO minute. I would have had more cake pops, they went down too well. I would have had the photobooth in a more prominent position. I would have brought a bigger canvas for our fingerprint board, i didn’t expect people to get as involved as they did. We had a setup where for dinner the guests were seated first and then we were announced into the room as husband and wife. All the guests went and got seated and then we realised Chris’s nan had gone to her room for a nap, his dad had to go across and fetch her, we were waiting in the bar area for about 15 minutes. This whole time i was DYING to go into the room and see people’s reactions to the decor. I’d been planning it for two years but i didn’t get to see people’s faces as they stepped through the door, in hindsight i would have had Chris and I seated first."
Chelsea, I cannot thank you enough – you've made me so happy, I feel that I've been a tiny part of this wonderful life journey of yours and its so rewarding to see you looking so radiant and in love in your wedding photographs – thank you.
Readers, I'd love your feedback on this special wedding. You might always want to pop over to Chelsea's own blog to see how her honeymoon went! And you may also wish to visit our 'Heavenly Vintage Brides' pages.
With much love,
Photographer – Lucy Turnbull
Venue – Villiers Hotel in Buckingham
Wedding Dress – Heavenly Vintage Brides
Brides Shoes – Vivienne Westwood pom pom shoes
Brides Hair Accessories – Ivory and Co
Grooms Suit – Formality Formalwear
Bridesmaids – For Her And For Him
Felt Bouquet – Jennifer Rae
Cake Pops – Scrumptous Pops
Entertainment – Indie Killers
Rings – Geti