Good morning everyone. My oh my, what a busy last few days I've had! I'm in London to attend the White Gallery and visit various other designers. It's been an absolutely non-stop but brilliant few days. Given that I spend a lot of time working from home, it's always such a pleasure and so much fun to get to meet so many industry colleagues, and especially when a chance to view their new collections and discover exciting new designers (like this one) is up for the taking. Watch out for my White Gallery 2014 report on Love My Dress soon, as well as features on the other events and designers I have been visiting whilst in The BIg Smoke.
It seemed fitting that as I'm staying in Kensington during my visit, that the venue in this morning's real wedding feature just happens to be located nearby. Nic, a Paediatrician married Rich, an Accountant, on Saturday 5th October, 2014 at the Royal Geographic Society in Kensington London. I love how this wedding has been so thoughtfully photographed by Cara and Nye of Lillian and Leonard - their work never ceases to take my breath away.
“As Nic is Zimbabwean, we wanted to have a few touches that were a nod to Zimbabwe. The national flower is the ‘flame lily’ (gloriosa lily) and the colours with the time of year made us think of using a vaguely autumnal colour scheme. Other than that we didn’t really have a theme – we were mainly aiming for a relaxed atmosphere and picked things that we liked from the amazing weddings we’ve been to. We also knew that we wanted to invite children to come – there’s nothing cuter than children dancing at a wedding!”
Photography Copyright (c) 2014, Lillian and Leonard
“Rich and I met when we worked together in finance, before I went to medical school. In the 9 years we were together we had to live apart for 5 of them -3 for the first part of med school, and 2 for my foundation training in Liverpool. I was down from Liverpool for a weekend for Rich’s birthday and he was making a big deal about going out for dinner.
Rich was so nervous that whole week that I knew exactly what he was up to (or so she claims now!) but didn’t want to ruin anything. Rich had booked a pod on the London Eye and proposed when we got to the top…..and then we went out for an amazing dinner."
We were engaged for just over two years – we wanted to give our families (well Nic's family) as much time as possible to save up to come from all over the world. We also wanted to be living together again when we got married which meant waiting until Nic was back in London. She only got back 2 months before the wedding so the vast majority of the wedding planning was done in different cities."
“My dress was by Claire Pettibone and purchased from Blackburn Bridal. The team at Blackburn Bridal were fantastic, friendly and realistic. They didn’t show me lots of dresses I couldn’t afford and helped me to enjoy an experience I was pretty nervous about. Their tailor was lovely and did a great job making it fit perfectly."
"I was advised by everyone I spoke to that I shouldn’t go shopping with any pre-conceived ideas. I went to a few shops and just looked at whichever dresses took my liking (and a few advised by the shop assistants). A lot of dresses I tried on made me feel like I was playing dress-up and I didn’t feel like me.
I also wanted to be able to walk, dance and hug Rich and my friends and family without 3 feet of fabric in my way. It ultimately came down to 2 dresses, and while I found it difficult I just went by my instinct – how I felt while wearing it. I loved the way it flowed in the skirt and I felt like a bride but still like myself.”
"Quite a few of our friends have had a wedding website as an invitation, and to us it made more sense than paper invitations. After a look at available options, we went with Appy Couple in the end. They made us a bespoke invite app and website which we customised with our own story, photos etc. It also allowed us to organise a few other events in the run up to the wedding so that we got to spend as much time as possible with all our overseas visitors. A few of the guests had a few problems accessing the website, but that was more due to them being technophobes rather than any problem with the technology itself.
We didn’t see the need to print out lots of bits of paper seeing as everyone just tends to throw them away. One of the bridesmaids is an art teacher and whipped up the posters that we used for order of ceremony, timeline of the day, menus and a few little other bits. Another friend who is a graphic designer did a save the date which we sent via emails to everyone."
"All the bridesmaids picked their own dresses. They are all different shapes and have different taste in dresses so it was never going to work having the same dress. They also live in 2 different continents so finding something would have been a nightmare. I also quite liked the idea of them all being different and it worked with the relaxed and informal feel that we were going for. I gave them a very vague idea of colour scheme and they just went with it.
One bridesmaid (Susan – in gold) made her own dress! They all looked absolutely gorgeous."
The couple hired Andri Benson of Always Andri Wedding Design to assist them in planning their wedding.
“Andri did the hard leg-work whittling a list of venues down to 4 that we visited. We picked the Royal Geographic Society because it’s a fantastic building and we had access to the whole building, including the terrace. We wanted to allow people to mingle and move about. It also worked well with our love of travel and the various corners of the world that our guests were coming from. There was also a side room that we used as a kids room with lots of activities to keep them entertained while their parents enjoyed the party. The view of the Royal Albert Hall from the terrace was also a pretty cool selling point.”
"We made a few hundred paper cranes both in autumnal coloured paper and also from map wrapping paper which worked well with the venue – Andri had the fun task of stringing them up on the day."
“We don’t know much about flowers and apart from the general colours and the flame lily we didn’t really have much idea what we wanted. Jodie of Boutique Blooms was so enthusiastic about what we could do and she and Andri came up with the amazing arrangements that really made the rooms fit together. It was actually seeing the beautiful bouquets on the day that made it all feel real and exciting.”
“I didn’t have a veil because I wanted to use a cloak that my mum had made for my sister’s wedding around 4 years ago. She was only able to get the cloak to me a few months before the wedding but luckily I had remembered the colour correctly and it went perfectly with the dress – even the trimming somehow matched.
"Our photographers Cara and Nye of Lillian and Leonard are brilliant! We both absolutely hate having our photos taken and their calm manners made us feel so much more relaxed on the day. We also liked their informal style and that they prefer to take pictures from the sidelines rather than lots of posed shots.
Cara and Nye took us away from the crowds, for about 20 mins, to nearby Hyde park for some more romantic shots and not only are they some of our favourites, but we also loved having a few minutes to ourselves to take it all in. It was also great having pictures of each of us before the ceremony as Cara met me at the hotel and Nye headed to the pub where Rich and the boys were."
“Amanda Roberts and her assistant Shelley did both hair and make up for my mom, Jessie the flowergirl, all my bridesmaids and myself. I had a trial but everyone else just decided on the day what they wanted. I felt great and the make-up lasted the whole way through (no mean feat with the amount of dancing I did!).
It was a pretty long day doing hair and make-up for the whole big group, but we had such a brilliant time. Everyone looked the most beautiful versions of themselves.”
"As a gift, I got everyone matching dressing gowns from Etsy to wear as we got ready (including my mom). It made for a great atmosphere and some lovely photos. "
"I designed my own shoes from the ‘Shoes of Prey’ website. It was great fun being able to completely personalise a pair of shoes. I wore them in with a couple of pairs of socks in the weeks running up to the wedding but I still took them off and went barefoot as soon as the dancing started (I’m really not used to wearing heels).
I bought a couple of hairclips from Accessorise the week before the wedding and Amanda picked the one she thought would work best with my hairstyle. I had a necklace of my Mom’s and some earrings to wear on the day, but I actually couldn’t remember where I’d packed them when we were getting ready. My mom offered me the necklace she was wearing which actually had a small pearl pendant that her Mom had given her when she got ,so that worked out pretty well."
"Jessie, Rich’s niece, was the most excited flowergirl you’d ever see. She had a great time shopping for dresses with her mum – we gave her free reign to get whatever she wanted. She settled for a beautiful dress from BHS.
The boys (Conor and Jack, Rich’s nephews) got suits that matched the big boys from Moss Bros. We got their ties from eBay."
“My Dad accompanied me down the aisle – he was initially a bit hesitant about whether he was expected to walk me down the aisle because we were fairly non-traditional on most things. As traditions go it’s a lovely one though.
Our pianist friend, Warren, kindly offered to play for us in the ceremony and during the reception. We chose Pachelbels Canon for the march in, Claire de Lune for signing the register and to walk out we had Chopin – Waltz no. 1 in E flat.”
“We had two readings, both chosen because they’re sincere but not too cheesy; 'This day I married my best friend', and ‘I like you’ – which is a bit silly but we liked that. We didn’t want it to be too serious."
'This day I married my best friend the one I laugh with as we share life's wonderous zest, as we find new enjoyments and experience all that's best. the one I live for because the world seems brighter as our happy times are better and our burdens feel much lighter. the one I love with every fiber of my soul. We used to feel vaguely incomplete, now together we are whole.'
An excerpt from “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg;
'I like you and I know why I like you because you are a good person to like I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it's special And you remember it a long, long time You say, Remember when you told me something special And both of us remember.
When I think something is important you think it's important too We have good ideas When I say something funny, you laugh I think I'm funny and you think I'm funny too Hah-hah!
I like you because you know where I'm ticklish And you don't tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too You know how to be silly – that's why I like you If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag, then you are getting ready to jump HOORAY!
I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don't always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can't stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time
I like you because if I am mad at you Then you are mad at me too It's awful when the other person isn't They are so nice and oooh you could just about punch them on the nose
I can't remember when I didn't like you .
It must have been lonesome then Even if it was the 999th of July Even if it was August Even if it was way down at the bottom of November I would go on choosing you And you would go on choosing me Over and over again .
And that's how it would happen every time.'
"The ‘guestbook’ poster was made as a present by a close friend Cato (whose mom made the cake), who did an amazing job creating a very personal piece of artwork.'
"Our idea of food was based on the fact that we didn’t want a sit down dinner, and we liked the idea of a different kind of buffet. We were worried it was a bit unusual but Lodge Catering understood what we were going for and even went further and made it better. We had different ‘stations’ with curry, burgers and fajitas, where people got to choose what they wanted and have as one of each or mix and match, as well as fish and chips and risotto being served by circulating waiters. All in all people seemed to love it and there was certainly nobody left hungry.
Our dessert bar was made by Sweet and Eventful. They made us a bespoke array of desserts. We sat down to discuss what sort of things we like and then a couple of weeks later, they sent us an amazing sample taster box which was delicious. The display looked incredible and there was so much food that even with people taking bags filled with treats home, we still got to take loads home (our neighbours were pleased)."
"Our favours were the desserts on the dessert bar. We provided bags for our guests to take some treats home with them.
We used cushions, tables and little bits of decoration that we had from our own home to make the rooms feel a bit more cosy. We hired a few extras from a prop shop that Andri found. The candles lining the aisle were reused around the rooms afterwards and gave a great atmosphere."
"When we reflect on our favourite moments of the day, mine has to be the 20 minutes we had to ourselves in the park. I also remember standing on a balcony area looking down and seeing everyone in the same room – it felt great to have everyone we loved around us. Rich says he knows it sounds corny but his favourite moment was when he saw me coming down the aisle. Also catching up with a number of friends I hadn’t seen for some time, including a friend who flew in from the USA just for the wedding."
"For our first dance we chose ‘I got you’ by Jack Johnson. We didn’t have time to have dance lessons and we don’t think we could have carried off a choreographed dance, so we chose to do the ‘hug and sway’ and call for reinforcements at the first reasonable opportunity. The Jack Johnson song came out in the summer before the wedding and was perfect."
"For evening entertainment, we hired Party Down via Melisima Music. I had never actually heard the band before the wedding, but Rich went to watch them play a gig at Leadenhall Market in central London in the week before Christmas, and everyone was having such a good time the decision was very easy. Mark Pearson was great – he rang us to run through what it was we were after during the course of the evening, and the band provided an iPod with a spot-on playlist to play between live sets.
They even learned the song we wanted as our first dance and the atmosphere was fantastic the whole night. They also brought some blow up guitars which the kiddies and adults alike all loved."
Words of Wedded Wisdom…
“Hire a wedding planner! It was definitely the best thing we did considering what a nightmare it could have been planning it while living in different cities. It would have made our precious weekends together all about wedding details. We both loved the planning process and Andri kept us excited about it the whole way through. However, while you might not need someone to help you plan the whole thing like we did, we would strongly advise you to think about getting someone to help you with the last few weeks or even days. The week before the wedding was spent catching up with our families. We went out with them doing the tourist thing in London and it meant we really weren’t stressed about any of the details. We have no idea if anything went wrong at any point during the day because it if did, someone else dealt with it. The whole thing ran like a well-oiled machine.
If you can’t bear the idea of a wedding planner, then we’d say think of the things that you’re likely to find stressful and either delegate them, or get rid of them altogether. From experience we thought that the stressful or annoying things were the seating plan, waiting for food, picking bridesmaids dresses, and going from one venue to the next. So, we chose not to have any of those problems.
Finally, the best advice we had was to consciously step back at various points during the day (when together or on our own) and look around and try to take it in. We did that and it was very much worth it. "
What a lovely day, and I love how you have so kindly and passionately shared your experience with our readers Nic – thank you so much.
I hope you have a really lovely morning and that Monday turns out to be a great start to your week.
Photographer - Lillian and Leonard
Wedding Planner & Designer – Andri Benson of Always Andri Wedding Design
Venue - Royal Geographical Society in Kensington London
Brides Dress - Claire Pettibone via Blackburn Bridal
Cloak – borrwed
Shoes – self-designed via Shoes of Prey
Grooms Suit - Debenhams + shirt from Thomas Pink + tie from Austin Reed
Bridesmaids – their own dresses
Flowergirls - BHS
Florist - Boutique Blooms
Cake – a friend
Entertainment - Party Down via Melisima Music
Rings – Hatton Garden
Catering - Lodge Catering
Wedding website - Appy Couple
Hair and make-up Artist - Amanda Roberts
Dessert Bar - Sweet and Eventful
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