want you to come and ‘hang out’ with us and not just ‘visit’. We want
you to leave with a refreshing cluster of new suppliers to help you with
your styling and wedding planning. We would love for you to make new
friends, to have fun, to laugh, to have a day out, to be totally
immersed in the creativity and vintageness of organising your wedding.
We want to inspire you to allow your personality to come through into
the styling of your day and for your ideas to be true to you and a
perfect token of the love you have for each other”.
Two Sunday's ago, on one rather windy 28th April morning, I found myself packing two huge suitcases full of exhibiting material and setting off with my family to the pretty seaside town of Saltburn, where I was due to join a small group of creatives in exhibiting at The Wedding Institute.
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2013, Helen Russell
The Wedding Institute brought together some of North Yorkshire and beyonds most exciting suppliers – leaders in their field, award winners, artisans, designers pushing the
boundaries with their outstanding creativity and passion for working in the wedding industry.
I will be honest with you – I was pretty tired come that Sunday. I'd not stopped in weeks and was a little burned out post-book launch. I really wanted to switch off for just a little while and have some down-time with my family. But there was something about this event from the off that I fell a little bit in love with.
Founders Vicky Trainor of The Vintage Drawer and her colleague, photographer Becky Mitchell have worked really hard to create an event with a lovely close-knit community kind of vibe. They have purposefully kept exhibiting numbers relatively low, in order that the event can retain an intimate appeal leaving brides completely unintimidated on the day and able to wander in and out of exhibiting spaces rather than being herded aimlessly past sterile white cubicles in a space that is far too overcroweded for enjoyment purposes.
Image below Copyright (c) 2013, Steven Philip Brown
Image below Copyright (c) 2013, Helen Russell
I'm going to have to warn you here. This is one of those raving blog posts where I just want to sing from the roof tops about how wonderful something was. Hand on heart, this was such a well organised and curated wedding fair. I couldn't believe how pretty everything looked once we arrived. The venue, Saltburn Arts School might, to some, have resembled a dilapidated old school building – left to go to rack and ruin. Indeed for a small period it was, after having been decommissioned as an all-girls school and later abandoned. But four years ago, the local Council stepped in to save this building from re-development and transform it in to an arts centre and exhibiting space. Every room was steeped in a wonderful sense of nostalgia that quite transported me back to my own junior school days.
The reason I was in attendance of course, was to promote my book, Style Me Vintage Weddings. So upon arriving, I promptly set up my own little creative space, unpacking my vintage crystal dishes and vases, linens, suitcases, typewriter, original 1960s advertising boards and all manor of vintage paraphernalia lovingly collected from antique stores ant the like,along with printed promotional material that showcased the contents of my book and the divine photography of Joanna Brown. I still regularly have to pinch myself that I got to work with Joanna on my book. I'll forever be in love with the imagery she created for Style Me Vintage: Weddings.
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2013, Sally Thurrell
Having an actual product to promote at a wedding fair has been quite an experience for me
so far and one that I have absolutely loved
getting my teeth stuck in to. I love my job as a professional blogger,
but the nature of the post can leave me somewhat tied down to my desk
with only myself as actual company for large portions of time – having
the opportunity to get out there and meet my readers is incredibly
rewarding, and especially so when many of them have made special
journeys to come and say hello and purchase a signed copy of the book
for themselves (or on 3 occasions during The Wedding Institute for their best friend who had just become engaged – what a thoughtful and kind gesture!).
To the right of the image below stands the most unusual silk original 1940's wedding dress that I had happened to discover in a vintage clothing shop in my hometown of Whitby only a week before. It featured the most unusual stud design around the collar and came complete with it's original war-time cardboard packaging (including a note about the rationing of packaging at the time and the importance of recycling) and a photograph (see image below) of the bride wearing the dress on her wedding day – amazing!
Lots of peopled also stopped to ask me about my custom designed vintage vanity case
with the pink parrot on it. It's by U Old Bag! via Ruby and Diva, who specialise in customising old bags and cases with illustrations and prints. I LOVE it (it also made an appearance at my book launch)…
The pretty little luggage tags that I commissioned designer Lucy Says I Do to create so that I could attach them to the paper bags containing my books and other little treats inside. It was such a pleasure handing these over to readres and fair visitors eager to read the book and learn a little about the history of weddings over the past 100 years and how vintage wedding day style can be translated in to the setting of a modern day wedding. By the way, photographer and blogger Emily Quinton of The Startup Wife has reviewed the book today – thank you so much Emily!
A little peak inside the chapter devoted to recreating 1960s bridal style…
Luckly, the stupidly talented floral artists Darling & Green were also exhibiting that day and kindly gave me some pretty flowers for my exhibiting space.
My family were with me as I set up my exhibiting space, including two hungry and curious little girls. But I needn't have worried. The cafe was just opeining as we arrived and so one portion of rainbow cake and one portion of choccolate and berries cake later, served lovingly with elderflower cordial by The Sitting Room, and I had two very satisfied little ones, leaving me a quiet 20 minutes to finish setting up my stand.
Image below Copyright (c) 2013, Becky Mitchell
The Wedding Institute was a gold mine of ideas for turning to the past and using antique and vintage props to style your wedding or special occasion…
of the highlights of the fair for me was getting to meat the Jean
Morag Tea Ladies – a comedy duo that you can hire to entertain guests at
your own wedding or event. They were ruddy hilarious! I loved their
'bike of delight' – hahaha! Hearing their exxagerated hoots of laughter wafting from room to room was clear indication to me that this afternoon was to be enjoyed and that no one there was the 'take themselves too seriously' type. I'm smiling like a goon even typing this out!
Images below Copyright (c) 2013, Helen Russell
The exhibiting space prepared by stationer Peaches and Queen was one of my favourites. Those cats! Never mind the pretty paper products to swoon over…
Many of the photographs you see on this page today were taken by photographer Sally Thurrell, whose work I've featured several times before. We'd not had the chance to meet before The Wedding Institute, so it was such a treat to get to hang out with Sally for a little while. And anyway, anyone who wraps up Tunnocks Teacakes to give away as treats is BFF material in my books.
I really adored the way Sally had
styled her little exhibiting area. I loved that this event wasn't about
hiring a shell unit, but finding a comfortable corner and styling it to reflect the designers product and personality – an area that you could physically interact and be a part of – it was something all together more
experiential than most wedding fair set up's I've seen before and I absolutely loved it. I felt so at home and could have spent the whole day just pottering about between exhibitors and photographing their pretty spaces.
I recognise that beautiful bunch of pale blue hydrangea!
Of course, one half of the driving force behind The Wedding Institute is Vicky Trainor of The Vintage Drawer who I have long been a huge fan of. Vicky was one of the first businesses to get behind Love My Dress and offer support and sponsorship, so I hvae much to thank her for. Vicky specialises in creating beuatiful tableware and fabric decor using vintage linens and other items of haberdashery. Her desgins are difficult not to fall in love with – just so pretty…
I've seen lots of floral artists at wedding fairs, but this particular display by Darling & Green really did catch my eye. This beautiful ethereal display involved foliage that climbed the walls like ivy and a model complete in her original vintage wedding dress courtesy of Vintage at Number 18, sporting the most delightful floral headpiece that appeared to trail down the side of her braided locks.
It all sounds very romantic. It all looked very romantic believe me, quite a vision she was with her pretty cream bouquet.
The photographs below were taken by another photographer I was delighted to be joining on the day – Helen Russell. I've also featured Helen's work several times on Love My Dress – she is such a lovely person to work with too – I hired Helen to photographs a big industry event I hosted back in 2011, the 'Love My Dress Summer Soiree'. Many a fond memory I have of pouring through the images Helen took on that balmy Summer evening overlooking the Tyne – where much high jinx was had!
Images below Copyright (c) 2013, Helen Russell
Images below Copyright (c) 2013, Sally Thurrell
I loved the use of this snakeshead fritillary – infact, if you hop on over to The Natural Wedding Company today, I gather that blogger Charlie has prepared a feature about this striking floral design.
And to follow – a selection of some of my very favourite images taken on the day. How much inspiration is there here for you Pinterest lovers?!
My stand was positioned next to the lovely Gem and her husband Dan of The Faded Nest, a company that specialises in 'giving life' to vintage cutlery, by hand stamping personal details on to forks, knives, spoons, you name it. What a brilliantly original little idea and wonderful thought for a gift.
As Gem says herself, 'Hand stamping adds a whimsy charm to each piece while still preserving the beautiful details of silverware that they 'just don't make like that any more'. I try to make things that I love and hope that others will love them too!'
I LOVED them Gem, really loved them, and am looking forward to placing my first order with you!
I'm sure that many brides today think that the only place you can source good vintage bridal wear is in London. Not so my friends! And I'm delighted to tell you about Vintage at Number 18 – a brand new bridal boutique in the heart of Newcastle Upon Tyne that has gathered together a very beautiful collection of original vintage bridal wear…
There were frocks to seriously drool over, including one particular full sleeve lace 1950s number that was just back in from a photoshoot. I was smitten.
Image below Copyright (c) 2013, Becky Mitchell
Image below Copyright (c) 2013, Helen Russell
All in all, The Wedding Institute was a really super event. With tickets costing just £1 in advance on £2 on the door on the day, it was a complete steal of an opportunithy to immerse yourself in a world of creativity and prettiness, all crafted and created lovingly by, as Vicky Trainor herself put it to me 'people who are bloody good at what they do!'.
She's right you know.
Joining me on the day exhibiting were the following and it was a real pleasure to be able to meet with many of these creatives for the very first time – there are too many to list you all by name and thank you here, but I truly am so grateful to each of you for making me feel so at home, and welcoming you in to your little family, not least making a huge effort to come and say hello and congratulate me on my book, though I would like to give a little shout out to Wayne of Green Biscuit Studio – winner of the national award for The 2013 Wedding Industry Awards 'Best Videographer'. Wayne is newly engaged himself and treated his fiance to a copy of my book on the day. I have to say, if you're looking for someone to film your wedding not just in and around the North East of England but all over the UK – Wayne is your man; an absolutely superb film creator and deserved award winner.
Bridalwear & Fashion
Vintage at Number 18 and Truly Beautiful
Props & Signage & China Hire & Homewares
Oh, Abigail, Sweet Pea Events, Alice’s Vintage Kitchen + Owen & Hunter
Cake & Sweet Things
That Cake + The Sitting Room
Jewellery and Specialist Crafts & Gifts
The Faded Nest, Schmoobamboo, Thimblestitch of Whitby + Flip Knit Stitch
Me & My Wedding
If you are interested in joining a community of like-minded creatives for a jolly fun day of exhibiting at the next The Wedding Institute event on Sunday July 21st (and later on Sunday 6th October), please get in touch with Vicky Trainor or Becky Mitchell. Come along! I will be there again in July selling signed copies of my book and I very much look forward to seeing you there! We can eat cake and drink some fizz together as we take time to soak in all the brilliant creative ideas and beautiful vintage finds.
That just leaves me to say, I'd like to thank Vicky Trainor of Vicky Trainor and Becky Mitchell for so warmly welcoming me to be a part of the brilliant Wedding Institute – I had a blast girls, thank you so much.
The images on this page were taken by photographers Sally Thurrell, Helen Russell, Becky Mitchell and Steven Philip Brown – I have credited images accordingly – please take a moment to look up their respective websites, especially if you are seeking a photographer based in the North of England.