Every now and then, something just wonderful happens; some out of the ordinary event or occasion that punctuates the normal, hum drum of daily life and rhythm of routine. Something a little bit magical that creates a unique and special memory and makes you smile with joy and a sense of disbelief that it could have all been quite so brilliant.
That something wonderful happened for me last Wednesday evening, when, after weeks of planning, lack of sleep, nerves, excitement and even a little anxiety, I was finally able to celebrate publishing my first, beautiful book, Style Me Vintage: Weddings, with 260 high-spirited party-going others, which included representatives from all over the UK wedding industry, my husband, daughters, close family and some of my best friends.
I need to say here, that the evening wasn’t about me – I’m really not that self centered (though give me an opportunity to dress up to the nines – I’m there with my boots blacked!) Last Wednesday evening was for me, all about celebrating a brilliant collaboration, the result of which is a beautiful book that I am so exceptionally proud of…
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2013, Ashton Jean-Pierre
In the 18 months which marked the advent of passing from the very first
phone call I received from my publishers, to my beautiful book finally going to print last month, I’ve pretty much lived and breathed this project. Writing a book is no lighthearted or easy undertaking – it’s serious business. Boy, could I tell you a thing or two now about how to become a published author that I didn’t have a clue about when I first set out (first stop, get a bloody good agent with a brilliant sense of humour – they will keep you sane, grounded and focused on the task when you’ve completely lost the plot through sleep deprivation – thank you most sincerely Rebecca Winfield!).
But, as anyone who follows my book will know, my first book which I’m so incredibly proud of was finally published last month (becoming an instant Amazon best seller – please pardon me for pointing that out!) and so last week was an opportunity for me to celebrate the success of the book with my nearest, dearest and all those brilliant people who contributed their amazing products and services to feature in Style Me Vintage: Weddings.
An event like this is simply not complete with out some of Vowed & Amazed’s giant letter light props!
I’m so thankful to all the people who made an effort to be with me at the launch last Wednesday, I really and truly am. Your company on the evening was excellent, and by Lord, you all looked fantastic! (I can thank the ‘glamorous’ dress code for that!). In all seriousness, I know for some of my guests that even getting there meant very long journeys, expense and time out of busy schedules – I’m always conscious of these things and therefore so touched when it is obvious how much effort people have gone to – thank you so very much everyone, your being there last week meant the world to me. And we didn’t half have some fun 🙂
Strike a pose…
Dress and feather shrug by Joanne Fleming, hair by Severin Hubert, Makeup by Kristina Gasperas
I always knew that to celebrate the launch of Style Me Vintage: Weddings, I wanted to host an event that was as glamorous and elegant as the book itself, and that reflected the design and aesthetic of my blog too. Love My Dress is a place I’ve always strived to be associated with glamorous, elegant and vintage inspired content, and a celebratory occasion so intricately linked to the book and my blog would need to be a chic affair! It is on realising this, that it occured to me – I’d really need to pull in the support of a professional event planner.
Lucky for me, it was around about that same time that Melanie Helen of Cranberry Blue Weddings
entered my life.
Oh Melanie. Where to even begin?!? Melanie Helen is a God-send! She is the epitome of cool, calm, collected and in complete control. Melanie took the lead in organising my book launch and together, we brought on board a crack team of suppliers, whose brief it was to create a beautiful and memorable evening, and for our guests to feel a little bit loved and looked after but most of all, to have fun and enjoy the party.
Paper poms decor by Paper Poms
I cannot rave enough about the people that Melanie and I worked with to make my book launch possible. It takes a very dedicated team to pull off such a successful event, a team who are talented, passionate and prepared to graft – the team worked like dogs in the run up to and on the day of the launch to ensure that every guest who attended had an absolutely brilliant experience.
I need to also thank my Mum Anne, Sister Camilla, Father in Law Charlie and Husband Phil who all assisted on the day setting up the venue and filling goody bags – sounds easy enough, not when you have thousands of promotional flyers to sort through, cakes to wrap in sellophane, tags to adhere to goody bags, furniture to move around and all the rest!
I don’t often post pictures of myself to Love My Dress, but the one below just there is worth sharing, because to me, it reflects just exactly how I was feeling when I arrived at Corbet Place (part of the old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane in Shoreditch) last Wednesday evening in advance of my first guests arriving. I had been exceptionally nervous about the launch – I’m not sure why, possibly the thought of getting up on stage and speaking to over 250 people was scaring me – possibly the sense that I was having to host an event for so many people and that I just wanted it all to be perfect – I don’t know.
What I do know is that as soon as I set foot in the venue, I could physically and emotionally feel all that anxiety literally melt away. It was such an awesome feeling. Seeing the familiar warm and friendly face, and trademark bow tie, of photographer Ashton Jean-Pierre brought a tear to my eye – it was time for a big hug and to start to relax and enjoy what was about to happen.
My face below shows me feeling relaxed and happy – and I have Melanie and the amazing, amazing events team and family members listed above to thank for that. Whilst they slogged it out all day setting up for the party, it meant that I had space to try to focus on relaxing and getting my head together – as well of course be treated to a rather glamorous makeover by the award winning makeup artist Kristina Gasperas and my favourite hair stylist ever, Severin Hubert – both of whom worked very hard for several hours prior to the show, also beautifying the glamazon’s that are Sophia, Ruby and Kirsty, the very beautiful models styled by my friend Zoe Lem.
I always felt that an event to celebrate the launch of a book that explores the history and fashion of weddings over the past 100 years needed to be pay homage to the books content, and so I was keen to bring on board elements of sound, style and decor that reflected the vintage nature of the book. The design concept of the evening was most important to me.
My wonderful friends Matt and Annabel of It’s A Windup! entertained guests with their beautiful 1930s picnic gramophones and 78rpm records, and Matt who also happens to be a superb jazz musician, played on stage with his jazz band, impressing me with his sax and flute playing skills.
As a backdrop to the evening and to provide a talking-point come focal-point, I arranged to have a silent black and white movie projected – I noticed lots of people stopping to read and giggle at the cheeky subtitles throughout the evening. The movie was Pandora’s Box, featuring Louise Brooks, one of the original 20s flapper girls, famed for her bob hair cut, and who you can just about get a peek of below…
The sounds perfectly set the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the evening. Simply beautiful old furniture and props were supplied by the adorable Kate Fletcher of Vintage Style Hire – who had the task of creating a styled area for the evening that would serve as seating for guests and double as an area to show case the book itself and add a general vibe of vintage prettiness.
Kate was assisted by Annabel of the Vintage 78 DJ’s, who set up a little typing table (guests typed messages on a typewriter all evening, you can see some of them here and here) complete with more pretty little vintage and antique finds – it meant we also had an area for my publishers to sell books on the evening to guests.
Just how gorgeous? Imagine walking in to your own party venue to see the room filled with all this amazingness? It really did take my breath away!
My husband Phil being there to support me was essential. Phil has been with me on this journey since the beginning. And to be perfectly honest, he became a rather neglected husband last year as I locked myself away to research and write and left him weekend after weekend to take on the role of child care, cooking, cleaning, you name it – he quite literally did it all, whilst allowing me all the necessary time and breathing space.
It’s not easy, trying to write a book, when you have children and a business of your own – and there were many (many!) stressful periods last year that at the time I found very difficult to work through. But my family are made of tough stuff, and I knew we’d make it through in the end, thanks to their unconditional love and support.
I loved my husband beyond words anyway, but I love him even more for helping me to fly and fulfil my dreams…
Paper poms hung from giant wooden antler chandeliers and decorated the bar and vintage props area. In fact, they were everywhere, but they looked AMAZING! Julia and her team from Paper Poms did a fabulous job of styling the event. I remember spending a good hour or so sifting through tissue paper samples to select the perfect paper pom colours. The elegant lighting provided by AC Disco really brought the poms to life – I lost count the number of people on the evening who asked where they were from. I can’t recommend Paper Poms enough. Julia also worked with me on the book shoot and you can find her styling in the 1950’s chapter.
Then there were the flowers, oh my oh my, the glorious florals. I still pinch myself that we were lucky enough to work with the immensely talented Philippa Craddock – one of the UK’s top floral designers and a kind and warm hearted lady who I had first connected with around Christmas time.
Philippa’s flowers filled the evening with floral prettiness in a way that, despite knowing how talented she was, just completely and utterly exceeded my expectations. Everyone was talking about the flowers. Everyone bar none.
When it came to styling and decor, I even managed to bring a few little items of my own along at the request of Kate from Vintage Style Hire – which included my vintage beauty case by U Old Bag!, via Ruby and Diva above, my beloved 1940s bakelite telephone below and my pretty pale green Roberts Radio…
My beautiful dress was made especially for the event by Joanne Fleming – being aware of my body shape and also taking in to consideration fashions of the past, we opted for a 1940’s inspired design in dark blue silk, which I found incredibly flattering. Jo made an ostrich feather shrug covered in tiny crystals that twinkled and sparkled in the beautiful light that bathed the venue that night. I felt like I’d stepped in to an old Hollywood movie set – I’m not kidding!!!
I knew I wanted to ensure my guests were served with some special bubbles and also some beautiful canapes – many of them will have come straight form work, or travelled a long way, and all of them went to great effort to glam up for the evening, so it was only polite I made sure they were looked after.
Enter the absolutely fantastic Kalm Kitchen. The best caterers in the world. Ever. I will never ever hold another event without working with them. I’d had experience of being at another event catered by Kalm Kitchen and knew that if I was going to do the whole canapes thing, I really wanted to work with them. The team, led by Jen Middlehurst, are smart, professional and creative.
On a practical note, Jen and her team were also superb at overcoming obstacles such as the lack of an area to prepare hot food on the evening. Cold canapes were prepared on site whilst people partied instead and they were beyond and I mean beyond delicious;
* Jerk chicken chargrilled wrap with mango and lettuce
* Rare roast beef in mini Yorkshire puddings with horseradish cream and flat leaf parsley
* Mini Peking duck pancakes with plum sauce
* Parmesan pastry with basil and sun blush tomato mascarpone and rosemary crisp
* New forest blue on crisp malt loaf with roasted pear chutney
I really do want to rave more about Kalm Kitchen – they were amazing, who else serves canapes like this and in pretty vintage bird cages? They are creative, professional and very slick. I highly, highly recommend them for anyone looking for a caterer for their own event.
The beautiful Michelle Kelly below their, who styled the decor and detail in my book…
The delicious cupcakes were provided by the inimitable Charlotte White of Restoration Cake. Charlotte is smart, funny, great company and bakes great cakes. I think I actually love her. Huge effort went in to creating cupcakes featuring the Style Me Vintage branding; hours to bake, 30 seconds to decimate.
Charlotte also baked a cake especially to show off her skills at the event. How beautiful is this?
The beautiful Sophia St. Villier…
The speech didn’t prove to be half as nerve wracking as I thought it would be – I can’t remember quite what I said, though I know what I wanted to say was a massive thank you to all the many suppliers and designers and of course photographer Joanna Brown and my publishers who made the book the beautiful product that it is…
My little girl Eska enjoying the fun…
My beautiful little Leanora danced the night away and was in a world of happy. She rather stole the show in her pretty sparkly shoes too!
A most AMAZING photobooth was had, thanks to The Photo Emporium – but more on that later today!
The following images are Copyright (c) 2013, Allora Visuals
I was so excited to finally meet Kate Halfpenny, one of my wedding dress designer idols! Here she is chatting to Zoe Lem, right…
Those of you who already own Style Me Vintage: Weddings might want to turn to pages 157 and 158 to see the beautiful couple below on their wedding day – this is Maria and Nick from Studio 1208!
The beautiful Elizabeth of Bridal Musings…
Representatives from my publishers, Anova Books….
Corbet Place is a rather ‘unassuming’ venue from the outside, so we
wanted to ensure the entrance was styled and made to look pretty – helping to set the tone for what guests could expect to see inside the venue itself. Huge thanks to that clever creative team over at Eagle Eyed Bride for the giant balloons and Brian Kirkby Flowers for the beautiful flowers…
Of course, I can’t forget to give a huge shout out to all the brilliant collaborators I keep referring to who made the book an actual reality. I have blogged about them already here, but I wish to pay a special thanks to them again now;
Photographer – Joanna Brown
Styling – Zoe Lem
Styling & Decor – Pocketful of Dreams
Props/Style Advisor – Kate Fletcher of Vintage Style Hire
Hair Stylist – Hepburn Collection
Makeup Artist – Amanda Moorhouse of Lipstick & Curls
Photoshoot Assistants – My Husband Philip, along with Lizzie Jones of Wedding Yurts and Leyla Seydo
Scent Specialist – Lizze Ostrum, aka, Odette Toilette
Vintage Manicure Specialist – Sharon of MInnie Moons
Models – the beautiful Claire, Sarah C, Ivana, Tahuonia, Gia and Rebecca of Zone Models
Venue – Dalston Heights (with special thanks to Ricky)
and Anova Books
Artcadia, Berinmade, Beautiful Bird Creations, Belle and Bunty, Tyler Branch, Blush Floral Design, Charlotte Casadéjus, Eliza Claire, Emma Case, The Couture Company, Candy Anthony, Cherished Vintage, Christopher Currie Photography, Circa Vintage Brides, The Cotton Candy girls, Cutture, Dana Bolton, Lisa Devlin, Doris Designs, Dottie Creations, Edwina Ibbotson, Elizabeth Avey, Emily & Jo, Emmy Shoes, Freya Rose, Fur Coat No Knickers, Steve Gerrard, Harriet Wilde Shoes, Heavenly Vintage Brides, Hetty Rose Shoes, Sheena Holland, House of Istria, HT Headwear, Jo Barnes Vintage, Joanne Fleming, Katya Katya Shehurina, Lila, Lucy Marshall, Luellas Boudoir, Anneli Marinovich, James Melia, Graham Morgan, Olofson Design, Madeline Bride, McKinley Rodgers, Paper Poms, Rosie Parsons, Ed Peers, Poppy Children, The Real Cut Flower Garden, Vicky Rowe, Sally Lacock, Shoot Lifestyle Photography, Rachel Simpson Shoes, The State of Grace, Studio 1208, Nick Tucker, Unforgettable Vintage Brides, The Utterly Sexy Cafe, Victoria Millésime, Vicky Trainor, Vintage Fur Hire, Vowed and Amazed and Zoe Clark Cakes.
If you don’t already own a copy of the book, I strongly encourage you to go and buy a copy for yourself. I aint kidding when I say it’s beautiful. It is a lovely book to own, look at, touch, flick through and enjoy.
There was so much joy and celebration unfolding all under one roof, it was amazing. Yes I’m going to say that again, it was AMAZING. A brilliant bunch of people, good food, good music, beautiful environment and all behind it a beautiful beautiful book that is the product of one of the biggest and best collaborations I’ve ever been lucky enough to be a part of.
Thank you, thank you so very much for helping make this real, for joining me, for following my journey and for showing so much love and support. You’ve made this girl so happy and proud.
I think this email from my Commissioning Editor Emily that I received the next day says it all. I am so proud of the team that made this happen, so very very proud. But I really must give a special thank you to Melanie Helen of Cranberry Blue Weddings for planning and managing the book launch I always dreamed of and for keeping me in check when I was about to lose my head – as did my lovely, dear friend and colleague Franky – Franky, thank you for being there when I was literally about to scream under book deadline pressure – not sure you quite have any idea how much you got me through last year my love <<hugs>>.
Love to those who tried to make it on the evening but couldn’t – you were missed and I am grateful for the support and love you showed me in your absence.
Please pop back around noon for an official film that has been produced by Allora Visuals which beautifully captures the essence of the evening, and some very funny photobooth images thanks to the incredible Photo Emporium!
With all my love,
Brilliant Suppliers – Book Them NOW!
Event Planner – Melanie Helen // Cranberry Blue Weddings // @cranberrybwed
Photographer – Ashton Jean-Pierre // @ashtonjp
Film – Allora Visuals // @alloravisuals
Florist – Philippa Craddock Flowers // @philippaflowers
Entertainment – It’s A Windup! // @vintage78dj
Canapes – Kalm Kitchen // @lovekalmkitchen
Cake – Restoration Cake // @restorationcake
Photo Booth – The Photo Emporium // @photo_emporium
Venue styling – Vintage Style Hire // @vintagehire
Pompom Decor – Paper Poms // @paperpompom
Lighting – AC Disco // @PAHireOxford
Light Props – Vowed & Amazed // @vowedandamazed
Models Via @zoelem1 – @MissRubyElixir // @SophiaStVillier // @5feet10kirsty
Makeup – Kristina Gasperas // @kristina_gaga
Hair Styling – Severin Hubert // @severinhubert
Balloons – Eagle Eyed Bride // @eagleeyedbride
Flowers with the balloon décor – Brian Kirkby Flowers
Venue – Corbet Place // @trumanbrewery
Style Me Vintage: Weddings
Author – Annabel Beeforth // Love My Dress // @lovemydressblog
Publisher – Anova Books // @anovabooks
Amazon sales page – also available at Waterstones and in all good book stores