The Love My Dress Summer Soiree ~ Part 1, Behind The Scenes

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Morning Peeps 😉 What has this week been like? Rain, rain and more rain. I definitely picked right week and indeed evening to hold the Summer Soiree last week. Talking of which, it’s about time I shared some of the near 1000 photographs that were taken on the evening with you 🙂

For those not in the know, The Summer Soiree was my first venture in to organising and hosting an industry networking event. Over 250 of the UK wedding industry’s finest travelled from far and wide to join me at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts for an evening of glamour and sophisticated industry chat. Wellllllll, I call it a networking event, it was really much more like a party. A chance for all those of us who work so hard, mostly for ourselves, rarely with any days off, to let our hair down for just one evening. To have fun and forget about the photo and video editing, wedding planning and latest product design for just a few hours and revel in the company of our peers; accomplished and new-to-the-scene Photographers, designers and their assistants, bloggers, stylists, dressmakers, and two very well behaved little girls, in dresses that were the same hue of pale blue pretty the party host was wearing 🙂

We all converged onto the Gateshead Quayside where the sun shone down on us warmly and reflected pretty twinkly lights back off the surface of the River Tyne.

Photography by Helen Russell & Katy Lunsford


Now listen. 1000 photos is a lot of photographs. And I spent most of last night trying to whittle them down to the few I wanted to blog. But it was HARD! So very hard. So, I have decided the best way forward would be to blog the images in 3 parts; ‘Behind-the-scenes’, ‘Setup/Guests Arriving’ and ‘Party Time!’ I’ll be publishing all 3 blog posts before mid-day today, to ensure you have a whole lunch time full of viewing pleasure 🙂

Thank you so much to the two ladies who worked so hard capturing these images, Helen Russell and Katy Lunsford – Brides please look them up now if you are still looking for a wedding photographer…

I would go as far to say, the evening has already become a little bit ‘legendary’. And I don’t mean that to sound pretentious either, I really mean it.  Indeed, it was something so special; the atmosphere was magical.  Making my way through the main function room in my gorgeous baby blue tulle dress and seeing all the guests delight at the evening unfolding about them filled my heart with happiness and satisfaction.  All the hard work had paid off.  I felt immense pride for the many suppliers who had supported me and transformed the blank canvass room into something of a vintage haven. Every last little detail had been considered.  It was perfect.


Many of us that evening had only ever been acquainted through Twitter and Facebook, and yet the evening had an air of a high-school reunion about it.  Old friends catching up, new friendships formed,  arms flung open on approach to the recognisable twitter handle printed out on the fancy name badges ; “it’s YOU!”, merry embraces, squeels of giddy delight as Twitter pals hooked up, laughter filling every crevice and corner of the spaces we were occupying and floated up along the river to join revellers of an all together different celebration.

Elaborate floral fancies met our eye level and made us gasp.  Twinking and sparkling every where you looked and vintage styling to make you swoon set the scene. The cool notes of a jazz trio performing on stage flirted with the warm summer breeze, before the Vintage 78 DJs got everyone into the mood with their glorious gramophone records.  A burlesque artist posed in feathers to be painted live, whilst another took to the stage to deliver an exquisite and erotic teaser dance. My guests were delighted. Oooh La-La!  Petals were strewn all over and the staff at the bar worked like hounds mixing cocktails (‘Baltic Bombshell’ anyone?} and serving champagne all evening.  

It was a brilliant night, as anyone there will testify.  The atmosphere could not have been better and I thank all and everyone who was present for sprinkling their own little bit of magic and adding to my memory of a party I hope continues to make people smile and giggle for a good long while yet 🙂


So us bloggers usually post the ‘behind the scenes’ photos after you’ve seen the main photographs. But I wanted to tell a story today and so it made sense to start that story at the very beginning.  These few shots here are me shortly before I arrived at the venue, but the rest of the images in this post show what was happening whilst 250 people gravitated towards Newcastle Upon Tyne and Gateshead via rail, road and air, on one extremely warm and sunny afternoon on 3rd August 2011…



We had comandeered the ARC Suite at the Malmaison (the top floor suite with amazing views of the River Tyne, and BALTIC right opposite) for the day.  It was a fabulous place for the team to spread out and get ready…

Never did a tray of kirby grips look so sexy…


The ARC Royal Suite at the Malmaison Hotel…

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The beautiful baby blue tulle creation that Dana Bolton of Once Upon a Time Design created especially for me to wear that evening…


The wonderful Emmy Scarterfield of Emmy Shoes customised a beautiful pair of Emmy heels for me to wear for the evening. Using tiny pale blue crystals, she decorated the T-Bar section of a pair of her ‘Crystal Pearl’ shoes, 3″ heels. I felt a million dollars in them.  I have the exact same pair of shoes from Emmy that I wore on my wedding day, only 4″ heels. I know, crazy…..! 😉

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 My headpiece was made to match my dress, by the incredibly talented milliner and headwear designer, Kat Swank. Kat lives in California, but is but a mere Etsy order away.  All her pieces are one-off and entirely unique. She crafts her designs from original vintage finds and can incorporate any element that may mean something special to you.  For example, Kat used pale blue accents in this headpiece as well as fabric cuttings from the dress and embellishments that were also used on the dress. 

I found out about Kat via Giselle Scanlon’s brilliant ‘The Goddess Guide’ books – we’ve been in touch for a couple of years now and I have featured her work on Love My Dress a few times before now. Kat is an incredible designer to work with, I cannot recommend her highly enough…


My lovely gloves from BHLDN….


A quick peek out of the window at the Malmaison…


…and I see glamorous figures heading towards the BALTIC…

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 …and there are QUEUES waiting to get in!! My nightmares of no one actually turning up were dashed in an instang and I felt ELATED!  Swiftly followed by sheer panic that people were waiting too long to get in. Swiftly followed by Severin trying to calm me down that everything was OK!! I did a fair bit of faffing and panicking actually before I even got to the BALTIC!


I’ve said it before, but I must say it again, I simply adore Monsieur Severin Hubert. Brides needing a wedding hair stylist, please book him now via his ‘Hepburn Collection’ services… utterly brilliant.


This photograph means a lot to me – big love Sev 😉 xXx

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Vicky Rowe who owns Vintage Teasets and who has also recently become the UK reseller for LeLluxe Clothing, loaned the gorgeous flapper girl style dresses sported by the models/host girls. She also crafted these headpieces all with her own fair hand. They were even more beautiful and delicate in real life. Drop Vicky a line if you are interested in having our own bespoke headpiece made by this very clever and creative lady…

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I have to say, it feels a bit weird having so many photos of myself up here.  Enough of me already! 😉

Guest shots are coming up at 9.30am, followed by the 3rd and final instalment of iamges at 11am.

Lots of love everyone 🙂

Annabel xXx

Snaparazzi Photobooth Images are here

Unofficial/Guest photographs can be uploaded and shared via Wedding Tales.
Email Oli Wood
for the password!



Photographers – Helen Russell & Katy Lunsford
Film Makers – Mintyslippers
Venue – The Riverside Terrace Suite, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts
Catering/Canapes/Cocktails – Fresh Element
Overall Concept, Styling & Co-ordination – Me + Kim Groves
Hero Of The Day/All-Round-Handyman – My Husband {Thank GOD for him!}
My Outfit – Once Upon a Time Design + Emmy + BHLDN + Forever Vintage + Kat Swank

Stylists – Severin  Hubert of Hepburn Collection + Lisa Jones
Flowers – Bel’s Flowers + By Appointment Only Design
Calligraphy + Signage – Paul Antonio

Entertainment – It’s A Windup! {Vintage 78 DJ’s} + Fonix Music {jazz trio} + El Bucko {DJ}
Illustrator – Charlotte Thomson-Morley
Burlesque Artist in Feather Boah – Scarlett Daggers
Photobooth – Snaparazzi
Vintage Props – Vintage Style Hire + AVA Event Styling + Event Prop Hire + Chic-Osity
Vintage Style Dessert Feature –  AVA Event Styling
Additional Popcakes – Popcake Kitchen
Flapper Dresses on Models – LeLuxe Clothing, via Vintage Teasets
Models – Emma, Eve and Zoe, c/o Hauterfly Events 
Burlesque Performance Artist –Vicky Butterfly
Sound & Light Expert – JM Pro Audio
Stage Draping & Swagging – Amanda Hearn
Masquerade Masks – Samantha Peach + some of my own paper masks from Cox & Cox
Name Tags – Purple Peacock Stationery + Sugalily
Instax/Polaroid Hire Cameras –  You Snap
The lady with a pen documenting everything – The Wedding Reporter

Lady with the huge beehive – Stacie Stewart 😉


Soiree Write-ups

  1. This is soooooooo funny! Sent in by Photographer Chris Barber, who were the most entertaining guests on the evening.
  2. I adore this review of the evening by Aisling of the Any Other Wedding Blog – thanks so much Aisling! I loved partying on with you into the wee hours, you were a hoot.
  3. Film makers Mintyslippers wrote about their experience documenting the whole evening (and day preparing) on film. By the way, you can see the teeny tiny teaser film here. 
  4. I love this honest and fabulously written account of the evening from Miss Bush Bridalwear owner, Emma Meek.
  5. The gorgeous Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams wrote about the evening. Michelle is a regular contributor to Love My Dress and responsible for most of these pretty bridal inspiration boards.
  6. One of my official photographer’s Katy Lunsford looking simply divine.
  7. Blogger Anna And The Ring tells us who was wearing her favourite dress.
  8. Photographer Neda Larodi-Blake writes about her experience as a guest. 
  9. Photographer Chris Hanley captured these stunning images. 
  10. The Archibald Photographer looked to have had lots of fun with Lindsay Fleming Couture 
  11. The Snaparazzi photobooth images are online for all to see.
  12. My amazing Illustrator Charlotte Thomson-Morley wrote about her road-trip up to Gateshead where she painted a live model, Burlesque dancer Scarlett Daggers, on the evening of the Soiree. Amazing!
  13. Kate Fletcher from Vintage Style Hire whose gorgeous props helped decorate the evening, shares her photobooth images.
  14. Dress designer Linda Davey of Dresses At No. 9 blogged about her time on the very glamorous Quayside that evening.
  15. Charlie from the Fifties Weddings Blog talks about the fun had on the night – thanks Charlie! ;))
  16. Blogger {and gorgeous Bride-to-be} ‘Love Audrey’ blogs about her evening – I am so glad I met this lady, she looked divine.
  17. The gorgeous Elizabeth from wedding blog Bridal Musings shares her experience. Thank you Lizzy! 😉
  18. Madison from The Pastel Pirate Wedding Blog also wrote about her excitement, what a delightful writeup, thanks so much!
  19. And one of my fave Bloggers Anna of Anna & the Ring blogged about THAT dress (no, it wasn’t mine!)
  20. Love My Dress {and hair, and makeup} hehehe! Thank you Joanne Linder at Vintage Twee
  21. A most fabulous glamorous make-over for the evening!
  22. Mr & Mrs Lawson, along with Tobiah Tayo and his beautiful wife looking absolutley beautiful
  23. Blogger ‘Only Gorgeous Weddings’ recounts her Cinderella Night
  24. I adore these photographs, espesh the ones of you Jay – Thank you, people of Blue Sky Photography
  25. Photographer Paul Joseph describes his view of the evening – thanks Paul, I love those booth pics
  26. Accessories Designer Nicola from Silver Sixpence in her shoe wrote of the fun she had, and need to change to ballet flats by the end of the night  (GOD I know that feeling!)
  27. Bride to be Becca, and Miss Pickering Protoge, spills the contents of her goodie bag.
  28. Online wedding giftlist company Zankyou blogged about their visit 
  29. Stationery Elle of Elle is for Love wrote about the process of preparing to attend the Soiree – this is such a fun blog post!
  30. Wedding Designer and Co-ordinator Andri of ‘Always Andri’ wrote about her experience.

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

28 thoughts on “The Love My Dress Summer Soiree ~ Part 1, Behind The Scenes

  1. What a perfect way to wake up – these photographs are just stunning, every little detail has been captured perfectly. Really beautiful. I wanna come next year!!!!!!

  2. How very lovely you look, I am so excited to see the results of all the dress design planning. What wonderful pictures and I can not wait to see more later. Everyone must have had such a sense of atticipation getting ready. Next time a red carpet? You all looked like stars!

  3. These are amazing, I’m now even sadder that I couldn’t make it – look forward to seeing the rest. The Baltic must have been blown away – I doubt they’ve ever hosted and event quite like it! Katie Pask

  4. My fav piccy is of you (last few set) looking directly at the camera! Fabby to see the pre goings on and of course, staying at Malmaison ourselves, have to say wow what a room!!
    Looking forward to the next! xxxx

  5. So glad you had such a lovely time. You look stunning and I’m even more sad that I couldn’t make it now! See you at the next one!

  6. Absolutely stunning photography that shows of one AMAZING event and what was even better was that it was held in Newcastle, yay!!!
    Can’t wait to see the rest xxx

  7. Yay! Been looking forward to seeing these. You’re doing Newcastle a great service with these photos – it looks so glamorous and such a beautiful setting, makes me want to go and visit and spend an evening in those amazing hotel baths! Looking forward to the rest (you have made me late for work eek!) Cathy 🙂

  8. You look stunning Annabel, absolutely no-one could argue with that. After all that hard work you deserve to revel in it! 🙂
    Now hurry up and show us the rest, everyone in the blogosphere will be jigging around with me waiting!!!

  9. Oh wow, I am loving reliving this moment over and over again, you are right it is so lovely to see this evening unfolding as a story from the very beginning. So many of us have our own to tell (ahem) of ‘before the party’, so it’s really very special to see your own as the party host. You look beyond stunning Annabel in these images, as you did in ‘real-life’ and remained looking all night. For which I hate you slightly. He he. Only kidding.
    Can’t wait to read/see the rest xxx

  10. Awe its so lovely to see behind the scenes, as we were all preparing, so were you ! The lovely Sev did an amazing job!
    You look divine, absolutely divine in these shots.
    Its like being there all over again…. fabulous

  11. These images are gorgeous…..oh it all looks wonderful….you did an amazing job Annabel…well done you honey…so much work goes into making something look this beautiful….I adore the flowers and you look really lovely…. cant wait to see part 2 ….janey xxxx

  12. Thank you so so much for your lovely compliments and comments. This was my first time acting as the event Stylist and Planner and I bloody loved it!!!!
    Don’t worry though, I’ll leave the experts to doing this from here on. I might have another go next year though ;)))
    Much love all,
    Annabel xXx

  13. Annabel, you are so beautiful! The party was absolutely stunning, judging by the photos – the styling and effort you put into it – amazing!

  14. You are absolutely right when you say the night was legendary, i loved every minute! You looked abosolutely gorgeous, i sooo want those gloves!!!! And bejesus the hotel room, :O

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