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Glamour, flamingos and inspiration

Kensington Roof Gardens wedding blog (1)

Sometimes a blog post can be full to the brim with exciting things. Today, clearly by the title, there’s a lot to cover – and I love this wedding to bits. Wendy Bell is a designer so her wedding was bound to be creative; but every little thing from her glamorous dress to the venue and table decorations is really stunning – and right up my street.

Wendy is stunning (and James is a looker too!) – and I’m sure some of you English Wedding readers will feel inspired by their style… if you’re into looking gorgeous without being princessy, then this is the wedding blog for you.

So I’ve got a two parter for you this week again! First, Wendy and James’s wedding at Kensington Roof Gardens (how many of you guessed that was where the flamingoes came in?!) – with photography by Green Olive. Tomorrow I’ll share some of Wendy’s wedding invitation designs – and I promise, you’ll be impressed!

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From the very beginning…

“James (my husband…still sounds very weird!) and I met in a local pub in north London 9 years ago on 23rd August 2002. I was about to go into my final year of university down in Winchester and wasn’t really interested in being in a relationship, especially not a long distance one!

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It was a strange coincidence that we met that night though, as a) both of us were supposed to be out with completely different people in different places, b) the friends we were with that night happened to know one another, c) apparently, even though this was the first time we’d ever met, we discovered we’d been at the same parties/get togethers over the years and had somehow never bumped into one another until that night! As soon as I saw James walk through the door of the pub I wanted to know who he was…there was an instant attraction between us. After a long night, staying up very late talking until around 6am, James asked for my number and said he’d call the next day. I gave it to him but didn’t believe for a second that he’d call the next day…who does?! Well, he did! We spent every day together until I went back to university, and I knew within one week that if he gave me the chance, I was definitely going to fall in love in a big way.

During my final year of uni he would drive down to Winchester frequently and visit me. He used to surprise me regularly, for example, there were times when he’d phone me and say he was sorry he couldn’t come down. I’d sound so disappointed and then the door bell would go and he’d be standing there still holding the phone!

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We moved in together as soon as I left university, and 8 years later he proposed! We booked the most lavish holiday we’d ever been on and jetted off to Mexico for two weeks in June 2010; I had no idea what he was planning once we got there. There were a few tell tale signs that something strange was going on before he popped the question, and although I had an inkling I didn’t really believe it was going to happen. He proposed during a private candlelit dinner on the beach at sunset…and even got down on one knee in the sand!

James has told me to let you know that I forgot to say “yes” straight away!

Instead, I flung my arms round him and was absolutely speechless. He said it felt like an absolute eternity had passed during which time he was panicking that my answer was no, so he pushed me away and said “well is that a yes or a no then?!” – of course I eventually said yes when I realised I hadn’t actually given an answer yet!

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Planning our wedding was difficult for me at the start as I’m not the kind of person who has ever “dreamt” of getting married, and I hate all things “princess”. I’m more of a red carpet, glamour lover! The hardest part was finding a venue that we both were happy with as I was finding it extremely difficult imagining myself walking down the aisle.

I became OBSESSED with hunting on the internet for the right venue and it felt as if we were never going to find something. We went to see 9 in total and it was the 9th which we chose. I had been for lunch at Babylon, at the Roof Gardens, a few years earlier and remember thinking, wow, what a stunning place to get married (strange considering I’d never really concerned myself with weddings before I was engaged!). Never did I ever dream of getting married there, but when James suggested we looked around I had a feeling this would be the one…and it was! He was just as excited as I was.

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Everything fell into place once we had the venue; we’d found something funky, glamorous and trendy which set the tone for everything else.  I chose a dress that was elegant but not too “bridal”.  I hated the idea of a veil.  My shoes were bright purple as I loathe the majority of wedding shoes – they’re sooooo expensive and I have absolutely no idea why they’re so hideous!  Honestly, you wear the most beautiful dress you’ve ever worn in your life and are faced with a rather ugly selection of shoes to go with it!  (I worked as a fashion accessories designer for years so these things always seem to stick in my head!)

James wanted to wear something funky, bright and non-wedding too.  We tailored the invitations and stationery to the venue which then set the tone of the colour palette which helped with the flowers.  All in all, I did most of the research for our wedding but I didn’t make any decisions without James…and we didn’t include ANYONE in any of our decision processes as we wanted all decisions to be ours and didn’t want to be tainted by anyone else’s opinions.

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The day went so smoothly it was a dream; we literally couldn’t have asked for more.  After a lot of miserable weather during the run up to the wedding, the sun shone down on us and we felt as if we were in the Mediterranean!  The Roof Gardens staff went above and beyond the call of duty so I would recommend them without a shadow of a doubt – one of James’s sisters was in labour in a nearby hospital so couldn’t come to the wedding.  The Roof Gardens gave a beef fillet with all the trimmings to his parents to take to her husband in the hospital so he had some dinner!

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My father and I wrote the song I walked down the aisle to, and I sang it.  James knew this was happening but had never heard the song before so it was hard for him not to cry when he heard it; it was such a relief to know he liked it after all those months of keeping it from him!

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The hardest thing for me was keeping secrets about dresses and make up etc from James; he’s my best friend as well as my husband and we love to share things with one another that we’re excited about.

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My top three pieces of advice to English Wedding readers…

1)  Enjoy everything!  The planning should be fun.  Take people you trust when wedding dress shopping; you don’t want people who can’t give an objective opinion, but you don’t want someone who will bring you down at such an exciting time.
2)  Choose your bridesmaids, ushers, best man etc very carefully; don’t get carried away and ask everyone you know!  It’s expensive buying outfits and again, you want someone you trust, who is going to be helpful and calm you down on the occasions when you’re getting yourself into a tizz!
3)  Give yourself a reasonable budget for your wedding rings.  Your wedding day is literally one day but these rings are on your finger every day for the rest of your lives…you’ve got to love them!

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I coordinated the wedding invitations to tie in with the venue by using the hot pink colouring in the club area and the lime green colouring from Babylon restaurant on the top floor.  The flamingos are found in their gardens and the dots symbolise the beaded curtains
in the Roof Gardens club area.

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The two best things:

1)  We had a fabulous day and are now married and ready to start the next chapter in our lives.  We wouldn’t have changed a thing which means we did it our way!
2)  As a consequence of having got married at the Roof Gardens, they have now asked me, Wendy Bell Designs, to be one of their “Recommended” wedding stationery suppliers!!!  I have since created a range of designs and packages which are exclusive for their venue!

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The wedding cakes were to die for – they lasted for ages and were beautifully soft, moist sponge!  It was lovely having them match my stationery designs.

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The evening was fantastic as elderly guests were able to sit outside and relax while others were indoors cutting it up on the dance floor…it’s like being in a night club…though I suppose that’s exactly what the Roof Gardens is!

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Recommended wedding suppliers

Venue:  My husband, James, and I got married at the Roof
Gardens, Kensington High Street on Sunday 31st July 2011.

My wedding dress was a Jenny Packham design named Carmen in Oyster
colour.  My jewellery was also by Jenny Packham.

My shoes: Purple Miu Mius

Hair:  Robert Ari (www.robertari.com)

Make Up: Charlotte Herman (www.forever-flawless.co.uk)

All stationery, invitations, table plan, name/menu cards and cd
favours were designed by me; my company is Wendy Bell Designs.

The florist was one of the Roof Gardens recommended suppliers – Carly Rogers Flowers (www.carlyrogersflowers.co.uk).  I worked very closely with her to coordinate all of our flowers with our invitations.  We had three different colours and types of flowers on the tables (each table with a different flower) with different coloured vases…white hydrangeas with black vases, lime green cymbidium orchids with white vases, and hot pink roses with lime green vases…my bouquet was simple and made of black calla lilies.

Cake: Our mini cakes was Zoe Clark from The Cake Parlour (www.thecakeparlour.com).  She used the invitations that I had designed to create square fondant fancies, cupcakes and mini round cakes – these came in three flavours and all had different designs (stripes, spots, flamingos).

Bridesmaid Dress: I only had one bridesmaid and she was wearing a Karen Millen dress.

Suits: My husband’s entire outfit (suit, shirt, tie, pochette) was bought at Duchamp London.  He wore Vivienne Westwood cufflinks and shoes from Gucinari.  The ushers and best man wore suits bought at Marks & Spencer.

With thanks to the fabulous Green Olive Wedding Photography for sharing their photographs of Wendy and James’s wedding. Find out more about them at www.greenolivewedding.co.uk. Ben and Slawek are a team of talented reportage wedding photographers in London. Check out their wedding photography blog here: www.greenolivewedding.co.uk/blog

There’s more from Wendy tomorrow. Her designs are creative, sexy, bright and gorgeous… you’ll be surprised, I think – and if you’re looking for your wedding invitations, you’ll be delighted to boot!

Claire xx

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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6 COMMENTS
  • Belinda McCarthy
    8 years ago

    Lovely images and an uber-glamorous (and a little bit saucy!) dress!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      I love it too Belinda – and Wendy’s dress is fabulous isn’t it.
      Her style really got me thinking too: if you’re a glamorous girl in real life, then a Jenny Packham dress like this is perfect. Wedding dresses are all about taking your style, your look and making it the most fabulous it can be. It soooo worked for Wendy!

  • Wendy Bell
    8 years ago

    Claire, thank you for your lovely words! I’m touched.

    Belinda, thank you…the aim was to make our wedding glamorous which was definitely helped by such a gorgeous venue. Loving the idea of my dress being “saucy”!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      My pleasure Wendy! Thank you for sharing your wedding on the blog 🙂 More today…

  • Hannah Webster
    8 years ago

    Wow. Glamour! Loving it. x

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