Our Wedding: Planning, Details and Vendors

One thing no one ever tells the blissfully unaware newly engaged couple is that they are about to take on a herculean task when they finally begin to plan their wedding.

At first it seems simple, venues are amazing, details are pretty and shiny and you think that once you’ve chosen your theme that you are good to go.

Truthfully planning is mostly fun and it is an opportunity to unleash your creativity on all of your friends and family but it can also become overwhelming as there are lots of details to think about and so many vendors to choose from. Despite it being very much worth all the work on the day you will need help to stay sane in the run up to it.

Because of this my best bits of advice to anyone planning their wedding are as follows:
1.) Enjoy it. This is a rare moment in life where you can do anything you want your way.
2.) If it stops being fun take a break and come back to it later or it will drive you crazy.
3.) Try not to get carried away buying pretty shiny things that you don’t really need.
4.) Go to local wedding fairs with your bridesmaids or groom to find vendors.
5.) The internet is your friend for bargains, especially for decorations.
6.) If you’re good at crafts (I’m not) go for it but ensure you have time to do it.
7.) Buy realistic wedding magazines like Wedding Ideas for great tips and timelines.
8.) Choose and secure your venue as early as possible.
9.) Ensure that you finalize any necessary legal paperwork well within time.
10.) Keep a schedule of payments made and to make in order to keep on top of budget.

The first two things that we did when planning our wedding were booking our venue and registering our intention to marry with our local council.

Our venue was The Cavendish Country House in Eastcote, Middlesex. We chose it because we loved the Tudor style architecture, its proximity to public transport near to where we live, the fact that whole house is privately yours for the day, the friendliness of the family and staff that run it and the amazing selection of food on their catering menu.

Food was always going to be high on our agenda because my husband’s parents are originally from the Caribbean island of Grenada and have very particular tastes. Not many venues in our local area carry any Caribbean food on their menus so, once we saw jerk chicken with rice and peas as an option in the catering brochure, the deal was sealed.

We signed up for one of their wedding packages which included drinks for arrival and for the wedding breakfast, canapés for after the ceremony, main meals of jerk chicken and lamb cacciatore and mini puddings. Also included in the package were the services of their in-house DJ John Bell from G.P. Discotheques who catered excellently to the extremely varied tastes of our family and guests (Soca, 90’s New Jack Swing, R&B and Cheesy Pop Music) and some lovely chair covers and bows for the ceremony and reception from Julie at Cupid Chair Covers.

We also attended a couple of the venue’s hosted wedding fairs where we also found our wonderful photographer Louie Donovan, Classic Wedding Cars who provided of the beautiful 1956 Siddley Limousine that brought us to our wedding and brilliant cake makers Heriot Catering.

As for a theme, this didn’t really fall into place for us until we ordered our wedding stationery. We knew that we wanted something a bit 1950’s retro with blue in it somewhere but that was as defined as we got until we discovered the butterfly themed stationery by the ever helpful and patient Jen at The Pattern Boutique. It was perfect for us as not only because it fit the colour scheme and butterflies are beautiful but the butterfly is also a symbol for those of us, like myself, who fight daily against from Thyroid disease. So despite my head bridesmaid having a fear of the real thing, butterflies it was for the theme. I stopped short of releasing real ones at the wedding as I did not want my lovely friend to have a heart attack.

To match the now defined theme I commissioned a handmade wedding post box from Lisa Bowerbank at BeSparkled and we really loved the outcome. So much so that we are using it for our keepsakes from the wedding now. We also ordered a butterfly covered guest book and shaped trivia cards from Confetti as well as the wooden blocks with our name painted on them and some 3D butterfly table confetti from Not on The Highstreet.

To add to the fun at the wedding breakfast and reception I also bought some vintage styled camera’s from Party Packs. However most of our guests forgot to use the flash so the quality of the photos from them was not that great sadly.

For favours, after searching wedding magazines for unique ideas, we finally settled upon some personalised jars of retro sweets tied with a blue ribbon from The Sweetie Jar. These were a storming success and probably one of the most photographed bits of decor on the day.

Our tables were planned around world landmarks that we have visited during our time together. Because of this I used photographs that we took of each landmark as the table numbers and put them in some silver photo frames from Wilkinson’s.

Two of the landmarks also had meaning for the guests that were seated at those tables. We deliberately placed my husband’s Grenadian family on the Fort Frederick table and we placed our friends from Sweden on the Drottningholm Palace table. This brought a few smiles from them all.

One of the last big purchases that we made was the flowers. Despite the fact that I come from a family with quite green fingers, I do not seem to have inherited that gene and my husband doesn’t have an interest in it either. Because of this we were both a bit clueless. I assembled a few magazine cuttings of flowers I liked the look of and took them to local florist Susan at Floral Art in South Harrow, who had been recommended to us by a friend.

She talked us through our needs and eventually guided us to choose our bouquets and table flowers. I absolutely loved my bouquet which had some picture charms, from Charm Supplies, of my late grandparents tied to it and I also appreciated the little touches Susan applied to the centerpieces which we kept simple with cut flowers in a jar. She tied blue ribbons around the jars and finished them off with some coloured water which worked really well.

As you can see it takes a lot of people and a lot of time to make a great wedding. Ours truly was fantastic but it would not have been so without the care and attention given to us by our vendors.

I feel I have to make a special second mention of The Cavendish’s management team and staff including both Richard Arens, senior and junior, and Gina Ford. Without their care, attention and professionalism we would not have enjoyed it half as much. Both ourselves and our guests were well looked after and nothing was too much trouble. I very much appreciated the fact that they always made sure that my aunt, who has trouble walking, always had somewhere to sit and that the DJ, John Bell, gave us such a fantastic reception where the dancing continued to the very end.

Weddings are a lot of work, make no mistake. But if you pick your vendors carefully they can be a very magical experience. Ours was and I plan to proudly keep reliving it for a while yet.

~Kat

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Our Wedding: The Bridesmaids

For any Bride-To-Be choosing who you want to accompany you on the journey is a special but also difficult moment. Some of us choose our family, sisters, cousins etc. Others feel pressure to choose the family members of their intended and the rest of us choose from amongst our friends. I’m definitely in the latter category partly because I don’t have any sisters or pushy new family members but mostly because there are certain friends in this life who know you better than you know yourself and love you just the way you are. They are also the ones who will be there for you no matter what. Heather and Jem for me are two of these friends.

But that doesn’t mean that choosing was easy. One other friend in particular took my choice, or rather the way she found out about it, quite badly. I knew that she would flip when she found out I wasn’t choosing her so I simply didn’t tell her. In hindsight I realise this was pretty stupid but honestly I just didn’t want the drama. Sadly it meant an end to our friendship and because of this my advice to the friends of any Brides-To-Be is do not assume that you will be asked to be a bridesmaid, just be there for her no matter what capacity that is in.

Some of the best advice I personally received during this process was that you need people around you who are going to keep you calm. Getting married, whilst a wonderful celebration, can also be a little stressful. In light of this, Jem was an obvious choice because she has been through it herself, I had been one of her bridesmaids, and she and I just get each other on a level that it is hard to attain with most people. As for Heather, she’s known me since I was seven years old and we have an amazing shared history together, she is also like a second daughter to my parents. Both of them feel closer to me than friends. I don’t know what its like to have a sister but the way I think of them can’t be too far off the mark.

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Limousine from Classic Wedding Cars
Click the picture to go to the website

Between them I knew I had everything I needed to support me along the way to my marriage to Roger.  They threw me an awesome weekend-long hen party in central London and I shared all my planning ideas with them.  We made sure, despite none of us living nearby, that we got together a couple of times just to chill out and enjoy a few bottles of wine after shopping for dresses and shoes.

Talking of dresses, after traipsing around traditional department stores and various shops it soon became obvious that the same dress was not going to suit them both. We also wanted to find dresses that would compliment the retro style of my own Candy Anthony dress. With this in mind Jem pointed me in the direction of Vivien of Holloway (VoH) and Heather and I made an Saturday appointment to see them. Jem couldn’t join us for the first appointment but she and I would later return separately.

Although not a dedicated wedding shop, VoH does have its own line of wedding dresses and is used to brides shopping for their maids outfits too. They specialise in 1940’s and 1950’s style clothing reproduction and have a shop on Holloway Road in North London. The staff in the shop helped us to first figure out what size we would be, their sizes are not the same as high street sizes and concentrate most on your waist measurement, and then helped us into some of their lovely dresses in the fitting room.

We eventually found two Royal Blue dresses of different styles that complimented each other and suited them down to the ground. Both Heather and Jem looked fabulous in their respective dresses and for Jem and me the experience sparked a new addiction. We have both since purchased again from VoH. Jem ended up with a halterneck circle dress in Royal Duchess and Heather found a classy sarong & bolero covered in golden dragon print. We also bought a white belt and flower to break up the block colour on Jem’s dress. It was then down to them individually to find some shoes and jewellery to match.

On the wedding day I felt calmer as soon as my girls arrived. Without realising it, up until that point I’d started to worry about everything running smoothly. As soon as they appeared I felt so much better.

Whilst we were all having our hair and make-up done Heather gave me a couple of very thoughtful presents. One was a real horseshoe which she had decorated. This is extra special as she keeps horses herself and we used to go riding together when we were younger.

The second was a cute picture with cats on it with the caption “Purrfect for Each Other”. It might seem cheesy but I like it a lot as I was brought up with lots of different cats for pets and I still love them to this day.

 

Jem and my Mum were the people who helped me into my dress whilst Heather was having her makeup done. Once we were both ready we sat on my sofa playing with our puffy skirts. It was entirely too much fun and, just like me, Jem could not stop spinning around in her circledress!

When we were all ready and waiting for the car to arrive, our photographer Louie took a shot of the girls with my parents and myself in our back garden. It’s probably one of my favourite group shots from the entire wedding. An explosion of colour against a bland background created by some of those nearest and dearest to me.

Once we arrived at our wedding venue, The Cavendish in Eastcote, it was agreed that Heather and Jem would precede me down the aisle. I thought it was particularly touching that Jem put a reassuring arm on my Husband Roger’s as a signal of good luck.

At the wedding breakfast afterwards it gave me and Rog great pleasure to hand out gifts to Jem and Heather as a thank you for all their support. And although I didn’t expect the gift to make Jem cry, it certainly made the moment memorable!

Now was the time for them to relax and enjoy themselves and that they did. I’ll finish this entry with a few shots of Jem and Heather with their partners, Rob and Lee, and ourselves relaxing and dancing at the evening reception. Thank you ladies you are both stars to me.

~Kat

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Our Wedding: The Bride (krazyangelkat81sobsessions.wordpress.com)