Good morning my friend.  You know, I was asked recently as part of this podcast interview whether I think I’ll ever tire of weddings.  You’ll have to listen to the podcast to get my answer of course, but my response had precisely this kind of wedding in mind when I replied to the interviewer.   Libby, a regular reader of Love My Dress, tied the knot with Derek in a tiny 11th century church that sits in the grounds of St Donat’s, a medieval church in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, where the couple later went on to hold their reception.

The couple chose the 5th of July 2013 as the date for their nuptials as it fell on the same weekend as Libby’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

There are lots of positive messages contained within this feature which has truly been written from the heart, and is longer than our usual real wedding feature, but then Libby took great care and time completing the questionnaire that we share with all brides we feature.  Settle down with a lovely cup of tea over this one today and take note – especially on some of Libby’s more important notes relating to wedding insurance.

Photography Copyright (c) 2013, Steve Gerrard

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Our main source of inspiration for our day was us. We wanted our wedding day to be personal, elegant, meaningful, unique, quirky and most importantly, fun – not, to use Derek’s term – a ‘cookie cutter wedding’.  We wanted our guests to feel comfortable despite the grand setting, which we were concerned might be overwhelming. We set out to incorporate all of the things we love: travel, adventure, books, stories, music, photography and Hollywood.

We both feel that we were born out of our time, so we always knew that we wanted a (loosely termed) ‘vintage’ wedding, though nothing too era specific as we didn’t want to look as though we were in fancy dress! Once we had chosen our stationary, which really inspired so much of the styling, we did end up with a sort of ‘theme’, something that we could tell our suppliers to help them to grasp what we had in mind for the day. This was: ‘A Vintage Literary Adventure’.

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Derek and I met in 2008, just two days after he moved to the UK! He was staying with an old friend of his from Canada who had already relocated to London and was directing a play here, and Derek tagged along to help him with the auditions. I was cast in the show and just before we started rehearsals fate stepped in, as the male lead had to pull out of the production and the director asked Derek to step in at the last minute and play opposite me.

 The show was set during a 1930’s depression era dance marathon, the rules of which state that each couple must dance or move constantly while maintaining physical contact with each other. We spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for a whole month, holding on to each other – and after that, well, we never let go!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“After flying half way around the world to find me in the first place, it was only fitting that Derek should fly the rest of the way to propose!! I was working as a singer in Australia in 2010-2011 and we hadn’t seen each other for 6 long months when he came out to visit me. He was armed with not only an engagement ring, but a Love Spoon, traditionally given by Welsh men when they propose, which he had carved all by himself! Seriously, goosebumps from head to toe when he presented me with that!

The love spoon was a complete surprise, but he gave it to me at the beginning of his trip and waited until the very end to propose…so I must admit it made me a tad suspicious! Especially when he started asking loaded questions about each place we were visiting and getting weirdly frustrated whenever we found ourselves somewhere really amazing if he hadn’t brought the ring! He finally proposed when we were all alone on the beach on Lifou, which is rather appropriately, one of the Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“We really wanted to enjoy our engagement, as that is the exciting part after all, and if you are going to spend the rest of your life with a person – what’s the rush?! So we didn’t make any immediate plans and I even accepted another 6 month contract abroad. We started viewing venues exactly a year after Derek proposed and in the end we were engaged for two years and three months, which was just about perfect for us.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“I grew up about half an hour from St Donat’s, but I moved to London 11 years ago. Derek grew up near Toronto in Canada and came to London in 2008. Therefore, we could have chosen almost anywhere to get married, but Derek decided that we should get married in Wales. 

There really was no contest once we had seen Donat’s Castle,  it was the last of the three venues we viewed and the only one that gave me butterflies instantly! It is spectacular, perched on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, with beautiful gardens staging down to a beach with the most breathtaking view of the Welsh coastline.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Although I have never been the kind of girl who dreamed about my wedding day, just about the only thing I had always known was that I wanted to be near the sea, where I always feel most at home.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“We had exclusive use of the castle and the grounds (so there weren’t any other weddings going on and there was no one picnicking or walking their dog on the other side of a rope!) and here’s the thing…it’s in Wales, so it is actually somewhat affordable! Plus we got married on a Friday, which helped a lot pricewise too. 

I must say it was the church which really sold us on this venue though. It is nestled in the shadow of the castle down a tree lined path, with no road anywhere in sight – it is like stepping back in time! We received the warmest welcome.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“We really wanted to enjoy our engagement, as that is the exciting part after all, and if you are going to spend the rest of your life with a person – what’s the rush?! So we didn’t make any immediate plans and I even accepted another 6 month contract abroad. We started viewing venues exactly a year after Derek proposed and in the end we were engaged for two years and three months, which was just about perfect for us.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

 “I found our stationer, Something Kinda Cute, via the blog of a wedding photographer who had photographed another wedding photographer’s wedding… I’m not quite sure why I was there, but the stationary caught my eye and when I looked up the company I found to my delight that they were based in – Cardiff!! I hadn’t in a million years thought I would find anyone unique and artistic in Wales!

The stationery is a key indicator to the style of your day, so a very important decision and we had been struggling to rein in all of our ideas and decide what we wanted. We thought we wanted something completely bespoke and I had tried to make a few designs myself, but in the end we decided it would be better to leave it to the experts. We ended up choosing one of Shell’s existing designs, but asked her to tweak it to make it personal to us. 

We would never have thought of using a hot air balloon on our invites, but upon reflection it worked perfectly as our whole relationship has featured so much travel and adventure and we would never even had met if Derek hadn’t made the big move across the pond from Canada. The caption on the invitation originally read ‘Their Biggest Adventure Yet’, which we changed to the more elegant ‘Their Greatest Adventure Yet’ and this became the theme to the day. It just made so much sense and felt at that moment like we were regaining control of our day and making it our own.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

My mum came across Beth at Forbesfield Flowers quite by accident and recommended I check her out. She has such a stylish shop and after chatting to her I knew straight away that she was on my wavelength and I would be able to trust her and work with her. Bless her heart, Beth was ever so patient with my long rambling emails trying to explain in layman’s terms what I had in mind, with dozens of images attached!

I was always very clear on what I wanted for the church and the bouquets – just plain gypsophila. This was partly to keep costs down, but also because I love it’s lacy, delicate, vintagey look and it makes quite an impact used alone, it really suited our setting and style. I was desperate for a flower arch and it ended up looking so beautiful and working so well with the texture of the bricks.

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“My dress was Sunset by Stephanie Allin and I first tried it on in her shop on Baker Street in London and then purchased it from her Mumbles store.  Choosing my dress was much more difficult than I anticipated. I honestly thought that it wasn’t the most important thing to me. I never expected to have the ‘this is the one’ moment, as I am not that kind of girl… but I thought that because the overall look is so much about the styling, picking the dress itself wouldn’t be as much of a challenge as it was.

I started my search being quite sure of what I wanted – to ‘look like a movie star rather than a bride’. I wanted an evening gown style dress, definitely not strapless, in a 1930’s deco style. When I tried on these dresses, however, I found them to be strangely frumpy and unflattering on me. 

By the third boutique, (which I visited alone, as I did much of my shopping – I recommend this as it allows you to take your time to figure out what you like best) I had decided to go back to the drawing board and say that I had no idea what I wanted and try on a range of styles. This was so helpful, as I discovered I loved styles that I had totally turned my nose up at before!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“When I visited Stephanie Allin’s London store, I had a funny feeling I might find my dress there. Hers had been the very first bridal website I had checked out well over a year earlier and it felt like I was coming full circle by finally trying her dresses on.  I can’t say that I would have necessarily picked out Sunset from the rail and I certainly wouldn’t have selected it from the pictures on the website or from The White Room, but with my new list of requirements it suddenly became an option.

The longer my best friend Alex and I looked at my reflection, the more possible it became that this could actually be the dress! It ticked all the boxes – oyster pink, tiered lace, fitted past my hips, layered silk dancing skirt and it looked incredible with my favourite veil, which matched perfectly! Most importantly it made me look good wearing the dress, rather than the dress looking good wearing me.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

After having made my mind up about my dress, I decided to try on another dress I hadn’t ever seen before as a wildcard – an absolute show stopper, which didn’t fit the formula at all.  This was a mistake, and the point that everything started to go a bit hazy. I became totally overwhelmed by the reactions and conversations going on around me and yes, I felt under pressure. I had become very concerned with having to impress every single person who was ever going to see a me or a photograph of me in my wedding dress and my mind was whirling with the idea that there was no way that anyone could ever top this spectacular dress.

I ended up doing something I swore I would never do and put down a deposit on that dress, after the first viewing. I came away feeling more shell shocked than excited and tried for the remainder of the weekend to feel satisfied with my decision. Unfortunately, doubt started creeping in, but the real panic hit me when I got back to London and started doing my sums. I just couldn’t afford the new dress.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“One day in the middle of all of this, I was chatting with a friend who said something so simple, which really resonated with me and suddenly made the decision so much easier: ‘which one do you imagine yourself walking down the aisle in?’ It sounds too simple to be true, but I knew the answer and it just made everything fall into place.  I realized, very profoundly, that I had to be true to myself on my wedding day – because I am the one Derek was marrying, with all of my quirks, insecurities and unique style and he loves me exactly as I am. I had to look like me and feel like me and for the first time in my life I learned to make the most of and appreciate the things that make me who I am, because Derek chose me and nobody else. I also knew without a doubt that the dress I chose was 100% the one Derek would prefer – and who else was I really trying to impress?!

Now, I really can’t believe I ever worried about what other people thought so much. I found overcoming my little dress meltdown hugely cathartic and I definitely overcame some totally unrelated, long standing issues in the process! I felt beautiful and confident on my wedding day, which is a very rare thing for me and feels bloody wonderful to say! I have absolutely no regrets about choosing Sunset and feel that I was exactly the bride I wanted to be. Plus, Derek’s reaction when I walked down the aisle was perfect: ‘Yeah…you’re hot!'”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“We are both massive bookworms, with a passion for well used words and wonderful storytelling, so we wanted to include this aspect of our personalities in the day. We collected lots of really pretty second hand and vintage hardback books in a selection of our colours and stacked them on the tables as a base for the flowers.

With the help of my parents (and my jam eating fiend of a grandmother!) we spent a year collecting over a hundred mismatched glass jars and bottles to put the flowers in and also bought larger mason jars from Ikea to be placed in the centre of each table on top of the pile of books.  

About five jam jars were placed as satellites around the books on each table and we also placed them on the steps up to the altar inside the church and still had enough to put tea lights in some for the evening. I bought reels of ribbon from Jaycotts in shade of blue, blush and gold (an ‘ombre’ of 3 shades of each so that they blended as tones rather than being distinct colours) and sat with my mum a month or so before the wedding tying them around the necks of the all jars. The swatches for these ribbons proved really useful, as I was able to show them to our florist to give her an idea of our colours and use them to help us choose a colour for my mum’s outfit.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“I also bought some navy blue ribbon to use to tie the napkins– which had to be a very last minute task which my mum and the girls were a wonderful help with, as we couldn’t collect them from the caterer until 3 days before the wedding! Another last minute decision was to buy the copper hot air balloon charms to thread on to the ribbon. The idea had been formulating in my head for a while, but I only decided that I HAD to have them a couple of weeks before the wedding. The only place I could find them was on Etsy and they just so happened to be located in Canada! I realised there was a strong chance they would not reach us in time and the seller, Bohemian Findings, was ever so helpful and changed the delivery address for me and sent them as a rush delivery across Canada to Derek’s sister so that she could bring them with her when she came!

I’m so glad we decided to go for it, because they looked amazing and our guests absolutely adored them and it became the trend for everyone to tie them around their wrists! We had such a wonderful day that many of our friends have kept them as lucky charms, which means the world to us.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

I am especially proud of our final balloon inspired item – the place names. I made all of the name cards in a balloon shape and used Derek’s favourite chocolate – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – to make the perfect basket!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“My little cousins, Caitlin and Roisin, wore the Estella Glitter Dress in gold from Monsoon. I had seen the Estella dress in Ivory on a number of flower girls featured on Love My Dress and thought that it would be perfect, but I was delighted to find that it came in gold too! They looked so gorgeous!  The flowergirls wore gorgeous gypsophila flower crowns on their heads, which even had a gold bow at the back (a lovely touch I didn’t even know about!) made by our wonderful Florist, Beth.

The bridesmaids wore sprigs of gypsophila in their hair, plucked from a bouquet that Rhys – Chauffeur, Bell Captain, Photographer Extraordinaire and MOH’s boyfriend – popped out and bought on the morning of the wedding!! (along with confetti…which we then left at the house!)

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

 

“The bridesmaid dresses were from Marks and Spencer!  I always knew for certain that I wanted them to be from the high street, short and not actual ‘bridesmaid dresses’, both because of the price and the look – but I kept changing my mind about everything else. I originally liked the idea of them each being in a different block primary colour, then having four different dresses all in a similar tone.

They are grown women so I wasn’t keen on them all matching and looking naff, plus they are all different shapes and sizes so I didn’t think I would find any one style that flattered them all. Other than sticking to a retro or vintage style rather than anything too modern, I didn’t want to dictate what they wore and really wanted the girls to choose their own dresses and feel comfortable.

We shared pictures of what we liked between us via a facebook group, but it was impossible for us all to go shopping together since one was flying in from Australia and another was on a world tour – plus it became very apparent that the girls honestly did not care what they wore and would have worn a sack had I asked them to!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Our photographer was Steve Gerrard  – officially the best wedding photographer in the country!! Steve has now relocated and is available as a *wedding photographer in Montreal*  We booked him before we had even paid the deposit on the venue. I have a sideline in photography myself and excellent photographs were hugely important to both of us. I found Steve at the same time as I found Love My Dress, when an ‘art deco wedding’ google search threw up this awesome wedding.

I looked Steve up and saw that not only did he have great technique, but great vision and artistry and both Derek and I were very impressed with the fact that he does not work to a formula, but adapts effortlessly to any situation he finds himself in. We were keen to have unique pictures, not ones that fitted into a particular time, fashion or fad.

We searched and searched, but didn’t find anyone else who lived up to the high standard set by Steve. After meeting him, we were convinced that this was the guy for us, extremely cool, but also a lovely family man very much in love with his own wife. He told us he understands the importance of the group shots as well as reportage style and he never keeps you away from your guests too long – everything we wanted! We were also touched by how helpful and personable he was – not your average super successful wedding supplier.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Not long after we booked him, Steve was voted Wedding Photographer of the Year at the Perfect Wedding Awards. Obviously I totally took this as a personal compliment to my taste 😉 Since then, I have come across a select group of wedding photographers whose work I love and keep a close eye on, but as fabulous as their photographs are, Derek and I couldn’t imagine anyone fitting in with the style and vibe of our day better that Steve.

He was just the right amount of cool, quirky and lovely. He was very discreet yet such fun to have around and managed to get everyone to do as he needed with a quiet word and a cheeky grin! We were thrilled with our photos as they were full of energy, life and soul and captured the emotion and story of the day rather than just being flat images; Our family and guests were blown away by them as most of them had never seen such impressive wedding photographs before.

We went up to Birmingham a month after the wedding and viewed our photographs on a big screen as an hour long slide show set to music. We laughed, we cried and we relived the whole day, which was such a lovely way to finish off our wedding adventure.

Hiring Steve Gerrard was worth every penny.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )


Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

I always intended to do my own make up. I would have been rather uptight with anybody else doing it – I know how I like to look and how to deal with my saggy eyelids and wonky eyebrows!! I also didn’t want lots of strangers around on the day and I’m so glad we didn’t – we girls had a right hoot getting ready at my mum and dad’s! I did, however, use the opportunity to revamp my entire make up kit! At least that way the money spent was an investment and I could use the make up again. I trawled literally every make up counter in London in a fruitless quest to find ‘the perfect foundation’.

I ended up right back where I started with the foundation I already owned (Mac Studio Fix liquid foundation in NW 20 – great full, matt coverage). BUT I discovered – the stippling brush!! I bought one cheaply from Boots rather than shelling out a fortune, but honestly, it worked wonders! It buffs the foundation into your skin and makes it look really natural and not at all cakey or mask like, as matt foundations can look when applied with flat foundation brushes or your fingers. Seriously – buy one!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Despite really having to battle with the make-up artists I met to convince them that I needed my trademark eyeliner flicks and glam, strong lips to feel like ‘me’, I learned heaps of amazing tricks on my quest, mainly from the make-up artists in Space NK Victoria and Covent Garden and Mac Covent Garden and Selfridges.

I learned how to create awesome cheekbones on my chubby cheeks by heavily contouring with bronzer, blusher and high-lighter, to get a ‘false lash effect’ by dotting black pen liner right into the lash line after applying brown gel liner with a brush and to layer cream blusher, translucent powder, then powder blusher to avoid it slipping off your face straight away.

I also came across some incredible products that I would highly recommend, the best being Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Primer – it has changed my life forever! It is like super glue, you won’t get any creases or greasiness and your eyeshadow and eyeliner won’t budge, no matter how weepy you get during the speeches! Nars eyeshadows are amazing as they are more finely milled, so they have a more intense colour and last longer than any other brand I have tried. I also used Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Palais Royal, which is lasting, glossy and comfortable and was exactly the plummy red colour I’d had in mind to go better with my dress and hair than a more traditional scarlet red.

Oh, and if you are doing your own make up, lay it all out in the order it goes on!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings ) 

“I’m not terribly confident with my hair and had wanted it done by a pro, but I find it hard to trust hairdressers and do not go regularly, let alone have anyone I know in Wales. I knew I wanted it swept up high and I had a whole folder of images of style I liked, but after a couple of disastrous trials, the second of which resulted in me looking like I had what can only be described as a croissant on my head, I realised that I wasn’t really comfortable having a stranger do my hair. While I was waiting for the final alterations to my dress at my final fitting I looked up some youtube tutorials for Audrey Hepburn/Grace Kelly hairstyles and that evening, two days before the wedding, I asked my bridesmaid Alex if she would mind giving it a go.

She had volunteered months previously and I trust her completely and I knew that as a dancer she would really understand that I would only be comfortable if my hair was tied so tightly my scalp bled! She did an amazing job on the day and wasn’t satisfied until every single strand of hair was in place. I was much happier with my best friend doing my hair than I would have been with any stranger and I felt and looked like ‘me’ on the one day it really mattered that I did. Plus my hair did not budge a millimetre no matter how wildly I danced!

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Neither Derek nor I like the traditional Groom type outfit of tails, cravat, etc and instead he had his heart set on a sharp, Mad Men style fitted three piece suit. He really wanted one in grey and although I tried to gently encourage him to consider a nice bright navy, knowing it would look better against my dress and especially after we had chosen the gold bridesmaid dresses, I very much wanted him to choose what he wore, so I didn’t press the issue!

We decided he would wear a navy skinny tie and navy pocket square so that the colour would tie together the tones of our colour palette, and tan shoes – of course! He only tried on about four suits, as fitted grey three piece suits are much more difficult to come by than you would imagine! He narrowed it down to two, but didn’t feel there was any need to rush in and buy anything too far in advance.

Eventually, Derek decided on a lovely smart suit from Reiss and we went in to buy it about two weeks before the wedding. He tried it on one last time…and we realised that the entire back of the waistcoat and all of the trimmings on the suit were black! 

A word of warning for the boys*: Slim fit white shirts with cufflink cuffs are almost impossible to find!

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Derek wore map cufflinks which he bought from Posh Totty Designs Boutique on notonthehighstreet.com, one of which sported a map of Toronto and the other a map of London, to fit in with our travel and adventure theme. He wore a gold paisley patterned tie and matching pocket square from The Savoy Tailors Guild on The Strand . My gift to him on the morning of the wedding was a gold, full hunter Royal London mechanical pocket watch from The Watch Shop, which I got engraved with the date of our wedding and our little mantra ‘You, Me and The World’. It looked so dapper with his three piece suit on the day and really finished off the look; he has always, always wanted a pocket watch, so he was absolutely thrilled with it.

Not as thrilled as I was with my gift though…he bought me the most exquisite 50’s style black evening dress from Ted Baker’s Langley Court Collection – in the right size!! I had spotted it when we were out suit shopping for him, but never in a million years thought I would ever own it, I still can’t quite believe he went out and bought me such a stunning dress – two perfect dresses on one day!! It is like something Grace Kelly would have worn, I feel like Betty Draper in it – only with a happier marriage!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Unfortunately it is almost impossible to hire trendy suits for weddings – I guess that is why so many people stick to the conventional morning suit, tux or kilt formula! We definitely didn’t want to go down this route and hiring would have been really difficult and expensive anyway, with the Groomsmen arriving from Canada only a day before the wedding. We didn’t mind a mismatched look, so we asked the boys to wear their own grey suits – but if they were planning on getting a new one any time soon a slim fit grey three piece in the style of Mad Men was the look we were after! We provided the ties and pocket squares, which were from Marks and Spencer as well as gold coloured tie pins and cufflinks from Burton.

The fact the boys suits were all different was one of the main reasons we decided to have the bridesmaids all matching in the end – just so we had some cohesion and everything didn’t end up looking too higgldy piggldy. Derek’s sister was an honorary ‘Groomswoman’ so we asked her to wear a grey dress with blue accessories to blend in with the boys and the outfit she put together worked really well in the end. I bought her a gold and blue necklace and bracelet from Accessorize as a thank you gift to wear on the day.

There were no button-holes at all at Derek’s request – he has seen too many wilting gerbera’s to ever like the look of them!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“My Dad accompanied me down the aisle.  We walked down after the bridesmaids in a nod to the North American tradition, to an instrumental version of ‘How I love You’ by Rob Laufner, played by the irock guitarist, Luke.

We had the traditional Church in Wales vows, I honestly struggle to think of anything more meaningful and poignant than ‘…for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.’ And there is no mention of obeying anyone these days!!

We really wanted to make our service the most memorable and important part of the day, since it really is the only once in a life time part of a wedding. That said, we do not believe that a marriage ceremony should be solemn or serious and luckily fate brought us to the most joyful, friendly open minded church we ever could have dreamed of, who allowed us to do anything and everything we wanted to make our service as personal and jubilant as possible – and what a production it turned out to be!! We also wanted to make it a family affair so that we all share the happiest of memories, so we included a lot of people who are special to us.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“For our new testament reading, we chose 1 Corinthians 13, read beautifully by my Aunty and Fairy Godmother (yes, she brought a wand ;-)), Jayne. We realise that this is read at almost every Christian wedding under the sun – but that is because the words are perfect, so we thought why not?! Our second reading was ‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton read by our friend, Curtis, who was in War Horse with Derek… it would have been silly to think that a West End actor and puppeteer could possibly read a story about two dinosaurs ‘normally’, but I never expected him to go to such great lengths and effort!

He learned the speech by heart, made two fantastic dinosaur puppets to tell the story and had a box of props to use throughout! He did such a wonderful job and the church was full of laughter and applause!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Our last reading, right at the end of the service, was given by my cousin Brian and was the lyrics to a song by my all time favourite musician, Billy Joel, called ‘You’re My Home’. This was another easy decision, I loved including the work of one of my heroes in our wedding and the words were so utterly perfect for our story and our day.

We have moved around a lot and we both brought a lot of baggage with us into our relationship. My work almost always seems to take me away from home for long periods of time, while Derek has to rehearse for months on end and thus I become what I (not so affectionately!) term a ‘War Horse Widow!’ We do not own much and face an uncertain future, which can sometimes cause sleepless nights at our age, but when it comes down to it, we realise that we are blessed with freedom, spontaneity, love and a wonderfully adventurous and exciting lifestyle that many people secretly long for. We have each other and that is all either of us really wants in the whole world.

We get it. We get each other and we support each other and whether we are in each other’s pockets 24/7 or apart for months on end, we carry each other in our hearts and our love never wavers or changes. There are people who don’t understand how our relationship can possibly work, but those who know us know the love, trust, respect and understanding we have and have had for each other come hell or high water. These lyrics say it all and were so poignant and beautiful on the day and I felt really reigned in the atmosphere at the end of such a raucous ceremony and reminded everyone of what we were celebrating. My cousin (an award winning writer, doncha know?!) tweeked some of the place names in the bridge section to make them more relevant to us!

‘When you look into my eyes
And you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
It always comes as a surprise
When I feel my withered roots begin to grow
Well, I never had a place that I could call my very own
But that’s alright my love,
‘Cause your my home
When you touch my weary head
And you tell me ev’rything will be alright
You say use my body for your bed
And my love will keep you warm throughout the night
Well, I’ll never be a stranger
And I’ll never be alone
Where ever we’re together that’s my home
Home can be on London’s Southbank
Blackheath’s early morning dew
High up in the hills of Toronto
Home is just another word for you
If I travelled all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There’s a roof above and good walls all around
You’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home.'”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

After we had said our vows and were making our way to sign the register with our darling mums as witnesses so that their signatures live on forever on our marriage certificate alongside ours and our dad’s names, I gave my MOH Gemma a little wink as she was due to sing a couple of songs accompanied by the guitarist. However, as I turned my back I had the surprise of my life as a male voice I did not recognise piped up acapella with the first few lines of ‘Stand By Me’.

I swung round to see him stood up in the middle of the congregation and as the song progressed he was joined by more and more singers who eventually walked down the aisle to the front of the church to perform for the congregation!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

For every email I had sent to the band and the rector organising the music for the church, Derek had called them back and told them to ignore me! One of my best friends from drama school, Nathaniel, now runs the West End Gospel Choir { http://www.westendgospelchoir.co.uk/ } and Derek had contacted him without my knowledge and organised for them to provide a flash mob for us!! It was the best surprise of my life, emotional, uplifting and oh so theatrical!! We had chosen ‘Stand By Me’ together as one of the songs for Gemma to sing, as we think it is the ultimate love song and what a relationship is really all about, but I had often said how awesome it would sound with more singers and that is when Derek had come up with his plan!

They also sang ‘Kiss The Girl’ from The Little Mermaid, which is Derek’s favourite movie and means a lot to us (and yes, we are fully aware of the resemblance!!), which was a really brilliant surprise for me and all of our friends! Rhys captured the whole thing on video and I am so happy to have such a wonderful memory to treasure forever – my reaction is hilarious!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

My cousin Thomas played the organ for us, despite flying in from his placement in the Netherlands the day before and having a Uni assignment due in that very day! We chose very well known hymns which people would recognise and remember from school, as there is nothing worse than that dreadful drone you hear in churches when no one knows what they are singing! The first was the moving and beautiful ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’, which for me was a reflective moment singing about what I believe is the true essence of any religion or wedding ceremony, expressing our desire to live a better life as better people, always making the right choices in our life together.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

We also had the rousing and jubilant ‘Shine Jesus Shine’, which is just a great sing! We needn’t have worried, our friends and family did us proud singing out loud and strong and we received so many comments that no one had ever heard singing like that in a church before. I couldn’t help but gaze around me, beaming at the congregation and soaking up the happy happy atmosphere! We walked out to everyone singing ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles… something Derek had once whispered to me early on in our relationship.

The guitarist had left after he had played his entrance music, due to the confusion of the added flashmob – so I gave Gemma a loaded nod and she started the singing and lead the whole congregation in singing us out acapella! They raised the roof and were just awesome – we got outside the tiny church a long time before they were due to finish, so we decided to go back in and dance in the aisle while they serenaded us!! It was perfect! So uniquely, personally, perfectly US. Our photographer told us that out of the more than 200 wedding ceremonies he had attended, ours was the best. And of course we believe him ☺”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Derek had always had his heart set on designing my engagement ring, even though he knew I would have liked to choose a vintage ring myself, because he is an utter romantic. He had the ring made by a bespoke jeweller in Cambridge who will remain nameless. He provided them with a perfect brief and even some pictures for reference, but unfortunately they did not meet this brief. If you look at their website, all of their rings actually look the same, so their claim to be a ‘bespoke’ design company is somewhat far fetched.

I wore my ring as it was for over a year, but it was a contentious issue, mainly because I felt so guilty that he had spent so much money on something that just wasn’t perfect. Eventually, a friend of mine recommended we visit a jeweller that her sister used to work for, Marmalade, an independent jewellery shop in Chiswick. Simon is an absolute dream. He dealt with us with sensitivity and understanding and impressed us enormously with his expert knowledge.  We purchaesd our wedding rings from Marmalade as well.  I cannot bang on about them enough, if you are planning on shopping anywhere near London, make a trip to Marmalade for all of your jewellery needs!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

We realised, as we were discussing both the wedding and whether or not we should relocate to Canada for a while, that a mother lives for the success of her children. Derek’s mum did not want us to change our plans for her benefit, or have anything other than the wedding day we wanted and we needed to do everything we could to make her happy and proud and give her something to look forward to. This tragic turn of events had a profound effect on everybody involved and made us reassess our handling of many circumstances.

For me, it allowed me to realise that I desperately wanted to marry Derek. I had no reason and finally needed no reason other than I wanted to.

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“My mum is a stylish lady and like me, likes doing her own thing, so she found sourcing her outfit quite a challenge as she did not want to wear the typical Mother of the Bride ‘uniform’ as she put it. We visited a few stores which stocked traditional outfits, but found they all looked like they were made out of sweet wrappers – you know, like the foil the big purple quality street comes in?! And she certainly didn’t want to wear a lampshade style hat! I tried to encourage her to try mix and matching pieces from the highstreet, but she was really concerned that a guest would arrive in the same outfit as her! I guess she started to feel a bit like I did when I was choosing my dress – she has one daughter and she wanted to feel special on her wedding day!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Eventually, she asked me to have a look and see whether ‘the lady on your blog thing’ could suggest anyone for MOB outfits! So I had a little look on Love My Dress and the only suggestion that came up was Jane and Marilyn. I’m so glad that it did! Their dresses are stylish and elegant and not at all frumpy and you can have them tailor made in a range of colours. So we made an appointment with them and found it very funny that I was travelling to Wales for my dress fittings and mum was travelling to London for hers! Jane was wonderfully helpful and patient with us and ever so chic.

My mum and I had a really lovely shopping experience, she tried on a range of styles and took a number of fabric swatches with her to mull over while we had lunch in the sunshine by the Thames. My mum was so thrilled with her outfit (delivered in a gorgeous ribbon bound box – always a delight to receive!) and she looked absolutely gorgeous on the day! The buttery gold colour we chose blended so well with the bridesmaids and she looked like her – elegant, fashionable and classy – not like some imitation of something someone somewhere told her to be.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“I bought a small basket, again from Amazon, to make a mini hot air balloon to use as a place to leave cards and Dr Bob’s ended up attaching the balloon to this as well – it looked really effective!

My parents had forgotten I had asked them to look into balloon providers in the local area for me, so we hired Dr Bob’s Balloons two days before the wedding to provide the ‘Up’ style balloons and attach them to the basket that my dad helped me make, on the morning of the wedding.

This was more expensive than I had anticipated, but was totally worth it and the staff at Dr Bob’s Balloons (their actual real life job is playing with balloons all day!!) were amazingly helpful with such a last minute commission and matched our colours absolutely perfectly! The finished result was epic! The balloon looked so amazing with the sea in the background and everybody loved it – it was brilliant seeing our guests climbing in and out of it all day and all of the awesome photo’s they took!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“I had also spent the last year collecting decorative ivory, gold and copper picture frames. We had so many! We put one or two frames on each table filled with my photographs of places that are or have been special and meaningful to us, also keeping them relevant to the people who were sitting on the tables.

We would never have considered using hot air balloons as a theme and even after we had chosen our stationary we never expected them to feature quite as heavily as they did. But more and more, our inspiration buzz words became ‘adventure’ and ‘travel’ and they just fitted perfectly, especially as they have that vintage fantasy quality about them.

We also loved that we hadn’t seen them featured in any of the (six million and twelve) weddings I had read about online!! The large hot air balloon we used as a sort of photobooth was really born of the desire to do something different. I was eager to include things to keep our guests occupied if there we any of those awkward hiatuses that often feature at weddings (which it turned out, there weren’t!), but I didn’t want to go down the route of giant garden games or the run of the mill photobooths.

The problem with researching every wedding under the sun is that you are put in an almost impossible position trying to come up with a truly unique idea! As far as I know we did it a few times on our day – please don’t burst my balloon if you know otherwise!!! I had been thinking about making a ‘standee’, but wasn’t quite sure how I would paint the perspective of the hot air balloon, so I started thinking about how I could make an actual balloon and basket people could get into. Everyone thought I was mad and although I did I let their scepticism delay me a little bit, I was determined to see it through!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“The number one rule from early on had been: No chair covers. Our venue only provided hideous, padded, fold up chairs (well, it is a school after all!) and you were expected to pay extra to hire your own chair covers. So I started looking into hiring limewashed chiavari chairs, but found that most companies only hired them for the full weekend. That’s when I had the brainwave to attempt to contact the girl getting married the following day and see whether she would be interested in going halvesies!

The venue forwarded on my email and to my delight, it turned out that she shared our loathing of chair covers had already hired the very same chairs we were interested in! Of course she was more than happy to split the cost and we ended up hiring the very chairs we wanted for 50p less per seat that the chair covers would have cost!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

*We divided our speeches up a bit, so that my Dad, who was incredibly nervous bless him and Derek’s best man, his brother Colin, could get them over with before dinner and Derek would say his before dessert. My Dad’s speech was simple, beautiful and moving and brought a lump to everyone’s throat. Derek’s speech had the whole room in floods of tears! It was the most intensely heartfelt speech I have ever heard. He had been a bit concerned about his speech in the run up to the wedding, because he felt under pressure to be entertaining or funny.

When he asked my advice, I told him not to worry about that, to say what he wanted to say and to speak from his heart. It was like there was no one else in the room. His speech was raw and impassioned without a touch of fakery or forced sentiment and the way he spoke touched the core of every person present. I won’t share any of the specific details, but I think the photographs speak for themselves! Let’s just say he p*ssed off a lot of the men that day, who joked that they would never be able to live up to his speech when their day comes!

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“My awesome Mum made the bottom layer of the cake and my brilliant cousin Bethan made the rest of it and put it all together! Neither of them had ever made a cake on that scale before, but the whole thing was a raging success and our guests are still talking about it now! I had showed them pictures of what we had in mind and Bethan seriously came up trumps with the decoration, even if it was leaning more than a little bit – it totally added to the charm!

Derek was taking bets as to when it would fall during his speech (it didn’t!)!! It was a joy to see literally the whole thing gobbled up and people still wanting more – when does that ever happen at a wedding!? We really didn’t want to spend silly money on a professional cake that no one would look and at no one would eat, so we did it our way and everybody noticed it and LOVED it!  (Plus, it cost pennies.)”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“When Derek and I eventually started venue hunting and thinking about the type of wedding we would like, we also had to face up to the inevitable question of budget. We never intended to spend an excessive amount of money on our day and worked to keep costs down as much as possible, but weddings are intrinsically expensive and a profound sense of guilt began to creep over me. It felt incredibly irresponsible to spend such a large amount of money on one day when we could use that money to change our lives and invest in our future.  I started questioning the relevance of marriage today at all – especially for us since I wasn’t becoming a Mrs or changing my name.

I became confused about whether to go ahead with the wedding, but just as we began to enquire about the possibility of deferring the date to give us more time to think about things, we received some shocking and devastating news.

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Derek’s mum had suffered a seizure in Canada. In June that year we learned that she was suffering from brain cancer – and it was the kind that can’t be treated. She was given a year to a year and a half to live. Dealing with news of this magnitude was incredibly difficult – there is nothing that can prepare you for how best to support the man you love when his heart is broken. We were now faced with a new and challenging perspective to wedding planning. I initially felt very guilty thinking about it at all and felt that we should put it off all together for the time being…but we soon realised what a morbid decision that would be.

Life is short and you never know what is around the corner, the rug can be pulled out from under your feet at any moment, so you have to work to fill your life with wonderful experiences and stories to tell, to fulfil every desire and wish no matter how insignificant or illogical it feels.  And so, as we ploughed forward with our wedding planning, we were conscious of certain practical matters that we were not able to ignore, we would of course be buying wedding insurance, but we were faced with the very real possibility that should anything happen to Derek’s mother in the weeks immediately preceding the day of our wedding, we would have no option but to cancel or postpone. However, most wedding insurance does not cover ‘pre existing medical conditions’.

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“It is disgraceful really, if you have a sick parent, or if you or anybody involved with the wedding is suffering with a serious illness at the time of booking the wedding, you stand to lose everything you have paid should anything happen to them that forces you to cancel. This time was undoubtedly the most stressful chapter in our wedding planning journey.

I soon discovered however that John Lewis’s event insurance policy featured no clause about pre existing medical conditions, and on contacting them, we were assured, reassured and guaranteed that yes; we absolutely could insure our day in this way! The event insurance would cover the ‘big things’ – the reception venue, band, catering and the photographer.

We paid on the phone there and then! The relief was enormous, it was the most euphoric moment after a month of sadness, stress and disappointment to realise yes, we were getting married and we all had something to look forward to!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“At our crazy performance of a wedding we had a flashmob, a puppet show, a hot air balloon, a sea view, a 14th century castle, an epic tear jerker of a grooms speech, wheelbarrow races, handstand races, breakdancing, a crazy party with a rocking band, beautiful bridesmaids, both sets of our wonderful parents, stark raving bonkers guests and the sun shining from dawn til dusk. It’s almost impossible to pick one favourite moment!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Two months on, my favourite thing is that I often receive random texts from my mum saying she still can’t get over what a happy, beautiful day it was and she wants to do it all over again! My parents have done so much for me since the day I was born and they helped us beyond measure with the wedding, so it means the world to me to have made them proud and happy and to have given them a memory to cherish forever. It proves that all the hard work and the expense really were worth it and our wedding was exactly as we hoped it would be.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“In the evening I wore a silk appliqué on velvet millinery leaves floral headpiece made by the fabulous Ashley from With Love from Bobbin, which was inspired by the gardenia’s that Billie Holiday wore in her hair. Even though I wouldn’t say we had an era specific wedding at all, I think the biggest nod ended up being towards the 30’s, though in a florals and lace kinda way, rather than glitz and glam. I already had a vision of what I wanted in my mind’s eye when I came across Twigs and Honey online and fell in love with their range of accessories.  I wasn’t keen to buy a headdress online, especially since I was trying to match a very particular shade of Oyster Pink! So, I went with my mum to the Something Kinda Vintage Wedding Fair in Cardiff Bay to try to find the perfect piece.

The fair was held  last March and we went for fun than anything else, but I was secretly hoping to find a headdress as I seemed to be banging my head against a brick wall searching for one! It was there that I met Ashley, and although she didn’t have anything on display that looked remotely like what I was after, she was lovely and enthusiastic and it seemed like fate that she split her time between London and Barry (5 mins from my parents!), so I decided to make plans to meet her and chat about my ideas. We met in my favourite bar in Covent Garden and hit it off straight away! She said another bride had told her that their meetings were like therapy and that is absolutely how I would describe them too! I poured out all of my wedding ideas to someone who was in the business of design and weddings and who was genuinely interested and enthusiastic.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“It was that evening, for the very first time, a sneaky little voice far, far in the back of my mind whispered ‘you know what, this might just work!’ I am rather reluctant to say this, as all of our favourite suppliers were totally awesome in their own special way… but Ashley of Bobbin might, just might, have been my very favourite person to work with. She would meet up with me wherever and whenever, even coming to my parents house late at night two days before the wedding to make some final adjustments, our meetings always involved wine and she never got fed up of me picking over the slightest angle of a leaf, or wanting to extend the length by a millimetre so it reached the exact point on my head I had in mind!

Ashley had had never made anything like this before, but totally understood my vision and I honestly think the headdress turned out completely perfectly.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Our first dance was to ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz. This song came out the year we got together and was played everywhere at the time and it quickly became ‘our song’. The words ‘There’s no need to complicate. Our time is short. This is our fate, I’m yours’ really struck a chord with me when we went through some testing times early on in our relationship and I think they sum up love perfectly – it doesn’t need to be complicated if you don’t want it to be. We haven’t looked back since.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Of course there are things that I would have done differently. I am dreadfully disorganised and an utter perfectionist – the worst combination! I wish I had finished everything sooner so we could have enjoyed the week before more. I wish I’d put down my bouquet once in a while! I wish there had been flowers on the table with our family’s wedding pictures – and that the vintage camera had been the right way up! It’s hard not to go over all the little things that didn’t quite work out, but Derek made a really good point two mornings after the wedding when I was working myself into a little ball of anxiety because I had been a bit late – ok very late – to the ceremony and I thought I had ruined the day. He said “Someone out there gave us everything we had ever wished for on Friday, don’t mess with karma by finding fault now.” As usual, he found the perfect words at the perfect time and I just remember that phrase every time I start to think about all the silly little things I would have changed.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Words of Wedded Wisdom…

“There is no such thing as the perfect dress. There are hundreds of beautiful dresses that will all look amazing on you and you just have to choose one of them. Of course this is true, but the part I didn’t realise is that once it is the day of your wedding, and you put on your chosen dress, and you arrive at the ceremony as a bride…that dress BECOMES the perfect dress. It is now YOUR perfect wedding dress and forever will be.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Think about your guests! Your wedding will only be the amazingly successful day you want it to be if they have a great time. Our fabulous, crazy guests 100% made the day what it was. Give everyone a plus one – believe me, it is so, so worth it. Spend a lot of time thinking about your seating plan – split friendship groups in half put them on the same table as like minded people – match make your friends!!

Provide some quirky little details to keep everyone interested, especially if your venue doesn’t have a lot of nooks and crannies to explore. If you get this balance right you don’t even need to go down the route of giant garden games etc…!”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Book your photographer first and plan everything else around the budget you have left. Nothing can describe the feelings you get when you see your photographs back for the first time and you get to relive the day. The photographs are your memories and the only thing you get to keep forever from a day that rushes by far too fast. You really must book the very best photographer you can find – don’t underestimate the amount of time you will actually spend with them on the day and the monopoly they have on the way you remember it. He/she is the most important booking of your day and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

The couple with their photographer Steve Gerrard below…

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

“Nobody will care about your wedding as much as you. This is a sad, but true fact. Don’t blame them, just stick to sharing your details, dramas and concerns with the people who are genuinely interested and try not to bore the people who are not – nobody loves a bridezilla!  On the day, let go, relax and enjoy! Relinquish control. After quite a stressful build up, on the morning I was totally chilled and not at all nervous, ready to enjoy my day! I really didn’t want to be one of those brides who presents their bridesmaids and groomsmen with 3 A4 pages of instructions for the day (what on earth do those lists say?!), however if there is anything you need anyone to do – tell them, they’re not psychic! We were so busy having a lovely old party on the morning of the wedding, we totally forgot that we didn’t have a plan… or know what the time was… and ended up being a tad late. Having a plan is a good idea (having a party is a better one ;-))

Derek says: ‘After your wedding day nothing will change in your lives. You will still be going to work every day, living in the same flat, paying the same bills, drinking the same wine and eating the same eating cheese. BUT you will have the honour of calling her your wife and for that reason alone it is completely worth it.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Wow!

I was completely speechless after I’d read through Libby’s questionnaire, and then I felt compelled to share this little Facebook page update last night – a few words that written by Libby that made my heart leap and sing.  And I’m going to have to repeat them here, just incase you haven’t seen them;

Love My Dress was definitely my favourite (blog) and the one I read the most thoroughly. First of all the ‘Love My Dress Style’ is right up my street and the whole blog is a gorgeous, glamorous, lacey, sequined, luxurious land of a bygone era that I would love to live in forever…but, my favourite thing about Love My Dress is that its heart is in the right place.

Of course I understand that its main function is to advertise and sell services and products, but it never feels like that. It feels like it is all about spreading inspiration and camaraderie between real people. It opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and gave me the confidence to have the wedding I wanted. There is such a lovely spirit of positivity and artistry shared by all of the writers, readers, advertisers and contributors featured on Love My Dress and it is full of inspiration to dream big, create and support each other.

I think in this day and age, it also reminds us WHY we still believe in marriage and weddings, something I struggled with after my husband proposed. After reading so many couples varied stories I realised that marriage is still relevant, love and romance and whimsy are vital to our lives and that simply WANTING to be married and to pour all of your energy into planning a one off, joyous, beautiful day to celebrate with all of your friends and family is a good enough reason to do it.”

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Thank you Libby, thank you so very, very much for reminding me that what we do via Love My Dress really does make a difference.

This is such a gorgeous wedding and such beautiful photography too – if you love the images as much as we do, we encourage you to visit photographer Steve Gerrard’s website.  We know Steve and he’ a really great guy and we never hear anything but positive feedback and adoration for his work!

You can also see more Stephanie Allin brides on Love My Dress here.

Please, let’s show lovely Libby some thanks for taking the time to share such wise, passionate, funny, heartfelt words and the full glorious story of her wedding day with us all – I know for a fact it would make Libby’s own heart skip a few beats if you did.

With much love,

Annabel

Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Photographer – Steve Gerrard
Venue – St Donat’s Castle
Brides Dress – Sunset by Stephanie Allin
Veil/Headpiece – Stephanie Allin
Brides’ shoes – Haversham by Miss KG by Kurt Geiger
Bride’s accessories – Bobbin (headpiece work in the evening)
Groom’s Attire – Reiss
Bridesmaids – Marks and Spencer
Flowergirls – Estella Glitter Dress in gold from Monsoon
Flowers – Forbesfield Flowers
Cake – The bride’s Mum
Entertainment – irock
Rings – Marmalade
Catering – Town and Country Catering
Stationery – Something Kinda Cute
Balloon Hire – Dr Bob’s Balloons

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Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure! (Weddings )

Annabel/

Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, two daughters Eska and Leanora and three dogs. If she's not being a Blog Queen or practicing her photography, you'll find her fighting her way through a renovation dust cloud as she and her family transform their forever-home.

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19 thoughts on Stephanie Allin, Travel, Balloons And Books For A Vintage Inspired Literary Adventure!

  1. Wow! What an incredible story, and what a beautiful wedding.
    As a stationer it’s nice to hear how important stationery was for Libby and Derek. All of the details are wonderful and create a lovely setting for the wedding… it’s one of those blogs I could read, and read again, and then read again later!
    Congratulations to a fabulous couple 🙂

  2. I never usually leave comments but I want to say thank you so much to Libby. I had tears in my eyes reading this. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful bride (and dress) so to hear about Libbys own struggles on that front is so inspiring and heart warming. I’ve really struggled with the whole bride thing and it sometimes feels like other brides are going around in a separate beautiful world that you don’t belong to.
    So many points resonate with our planning. Our big day is this Saturday and this most has given me some much needed Dutch courage. Thank you!

  3. I’m so glad to hear that! That is exactly the reason I shared what I did. It always seemed like I was the only bride in the world experiencing the odd hiccup or panic, although I knew that wasn’t true! Have the most wonderful day on Saturday – and enjoy being a bride – it’s AMAZING! xx

  4. Thank you so much Libby for this thoughtful write-up. We are also planning our wedding with some hiccups in the background but it has made me even more determined to make it a day for everyone to remember…
    Derek’s words at the end bought a tear to my eye… you are one lucky lady!

  5. I’m really pleased to have helped in some small way… I filled out my questionnaire with the intention of real brides, living in a real world reading it. Weddings are often not all smooth sailing, but this doesn’t tend to be written about, which can be rather alienating. I wanted to do my bit! But I must say, I LOVED planning our wedding and on the day all of the people we loved were there and the sun shone from dawn til dusk (it was the first day of the heatwave in July!!), which was all we ever wished for – all we kept saying is ‘this is so much more than luck!!’. Have faith, your day will be everything you ever dreamed of and so much more – because of the hiccups, and because it will be real.

  6. That was our seating plan! All of the tables were chapters inside! It was my wonderful husbands idea and made for us bespoke by the fabulous Shell at Something Kinda Cute, along with all the rest of our stationary 🙂 x

  7. What a stunning wedding! One of my faves yet on LMD, her dress is divine, but loved reading through all the details and experiences (quite teary) and have been reminded of how important insurance is too. Will be booking John Lewis after this. Congratulations Libby and Derek and thanks for all the amazing advice!

  8. Wow. Just wow. Easily the loveliest, most heartfelt, most beautiful wedding I’ve seen. I hope that your mother in law enjoyed the day and that you’ll look back on having that special time with pride and happiness.

  9. So cool! Love the decor to the bone. Beautiful mix of colors and tones! Bride and groom cool so chic and romantic! The bride is really gorgeous.I should say the photographer captured it very well. Wish you all the best!

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