Today’s real wedding blog is a true feast for your eyes and heart: with exquisite photography from one of England’s top wedding photographers, and so many romantic moments – Rick and Karen are head over heels in love and it shows. They married at Rookery Hall in June and chose my friend Chris Hanley Photography to capture their day. The images are simply out of this world – Chris is a master photographer whose images are used by Queensberry to sell the most luxurious wedding albums money can buy.
There’s more! Karen is a designer, and the wedding stationery is all her own work. The typography is gorgeous; the art deco feel of her designs is elegant and fashionable, and I love a wedding where lettering and type are a key feature of the decor and styling.
Karen and Rick take centre stage as today’s bride and groom, with Karen looking stunning in her bespoke David Fielden wedding dress and Rick so very handsome in his military uniform. You will love these two – with an outstanding collection of wedding photographs and a fantastic wedding report to enjoy – this is one of the very best. Enjoy!
Who proposed, and how?
(Rick) I proposed in Rome at the Trevi Fountain. After some research I discovered a story that said throwing one coin into the fountain meant a return to Rome, a second coin leads to a new romance, and a third coin leads to marriage.
I arranged for a fantastic Italian meal with wine at a local rustic Roman restaurant, followed by limoncello for some dutch courage. We then walked to the Fountain, it was dark by now and beautifully lit, I handed Karen three coins and asked her to throw them in over her left shoulder, one by one.
As she threw them in I explained the meaning of each coin and as the third fell into the water I explained its meaning towards marriage and produced a black and white diamond ring and asked her to marry me. After the initial shock she eventually said YES! However, this ring was only for me to propose with as I knew Karen wanted to design her own engagement ring. Lucky for her she got 2 rings!
How would you describe your wedding style?
Elegantly classic with art deco accents juxtaposed with a contemporary modern edge.
The wedding ceremony: …
Religious or civil? … Civil
Wedding venue: Rookery Hall, Nantwich
We looked at several venues, some city centre and boutique hotels but as soon as we drove up the drive to the main entrance at Rookery we just knew we had found our wedding venue. It didn’t feel corporate at all, and we felt in good hands, even the cute bunnies hopping across the grounds made all the difference! The wedding co-ordinator Lindsay and toastmaster Jane were like a dream team which really helped the day run smoothly.
Wedding photographer: Chris Hanley Photography
Chris and Claire really did capture our day beautifully. The photos are breathtaking and we are over the moon with them. From the moment you meet them they offer lots of tips and advice for your day and are incredibly friendly and helpful. The engagement shoot was great fun too and put us both at ease in front of the lens in preparation for the day. http://chrishanleyphotography.com/
The wedding dress and groom’s outfit
I wore the most beautiful David Fielden Sposa gown. I was having no luck in finding something different near home. Everything seemed to be the same traditional strapless shape and I knew I didn’t want the typical bridey look.
I went down to his shop in London with my mum after instantly swooning over his style of a gown I saw in a bridal magazine. I fell in love with one dress but adored another part of a different dress so asked if I could mix the two.
It was all very exciting as I got to actually meet David Fielden to see if he could create the bespoke dress I wanted and he agreed with what I proposed to do and said it would look well on me. I was over the moon!
I wore a soft silk tulle full length single tier veil and borrowed a pearl hair comb. My earrings were by Jenny Packham, an art deco inspired design called Lula (the name of my beloved British Blue/Cream Short Hair cat which I just had to get).
I had a stunning beaded crystal cuff (lined in blue especially for my something blue) and matching bag by St Erasmus. My gorgeous shoes were a pair of mirrored peep toe sling backs by the divine Jimmy Choo. They were the last pair in my size in Europe and I managed to locate them at the Trafford Centre – it must have been fate!
Rick looked dashing in his military dress uniform and medals. We both designed our own wedding bands which were made by the same talented jeweller who made my engagement ring.
My pageboys (two nephews) wore mini versions of Rick’s military uniform complete with a miniture Diamond Jubilee Medal which they thought had come from the Queen!
The nude bridesmaids dresses were a brilliant find on ASOS, I customised them by having the skirt made into a tulip shape by a seamstress and then I attached a brooch to each dress. They wore black patent peep toe courts and simple pearl jewellery to compliment the wedding style.
The wedding reception:
What were your highlights?
Goodness so many to choose from…The rush of adrenaline I got as the doors opened just before I walked down the aisle with my Dad, it was like being on a rollercoaster ride. I loved the steel band and having the opportunity to play with them again after 10 years! The piper piping us out as Mr & Mrs was a real highlight too.
(Rick) The whole day was a highlight, just brilliant.
Wedding venue styling and details:
I came up with the concept of ‘Love Is The New Black’ and everything evolved from that. Lots of black with accents of white, shiny mirrored surfaces, pearls and sparkly brooches which I sourced myself.
I wanted to create something different with a WOW factor. I knew I didn’t want the same old white wedding styling and vintage feel that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon with.
We had a loose Italian vibe running through with all the places we visited in Rome for our table names, olive trees with fairy lights, prosecco, and gelato served from a converted VW campervan which Rick loves. The ice cream was to die for too! We asked the ice cream girls to provide Union Jack bunting to get into the spirit of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which happened to fall on the same weekend.
It all worked really well together with the black and especially with the military uniform. All linen was black on black with lots of candle light and storm lanterns to set the mood. I worked with the florist to create a mixture of tall candelabra draped in pearls and low mirrored boudoir displays with white peonies, my favourite flower. I had a gorgeous Shirley Temple delicate blush peony bouquet bound with pearls.
I’m a freelance graphic designer and designed and made all our stationery from the invites, order of service and menus to framed prints and confetti bags, all carrying the same design. It was all very clean and slick, nothing twee.
I sourced love quotes for each guest to reflect their personality on the reverse of their place names tied with black grosgrain ribbon around the stem of each wine glass. We had fun question cards on each table to help break the ice which gave us a giggle reading through them the day after.
Favours were pin badges for Help the Heroes and Cancer Research, both close to our hearts of which we made a donation on behalf of our guests. I even designed the artwork for the ice cream wafers used by the ice cream VW van to carry the styling through. The devil is in the detail!
I also designed our fabulous cake, tall and white with Chanel inspired quilting and edible pearls topped with a single peony which I wanted to stand out against the black. I didn’t want to cut into it but all 4 flavours tasted amazing!
Memorable wedding day moments:
Rick lifting me up on the dance floor at the end of our first dance, ‘At Last’ by Etta James, I was not expecting it at all.
(Rick) Finally seeing Karen in her much anticipated dress, she looked stunning. My Groom’s Survival Kit that Karen made for me, this consisted of a pair of new socks to stop me getting cold feet, a small bottle of alcohol to calm my nerves, and some mints for the first kiss, all put together in a neat black box along with a note in the same style as the wedding stationery.
Wedding day advice:
Savour every second as it really does go so fast. Try and stick together as much as you can throughout the day and sneak off at some point for 10 minutes for some alone time to soak it all up.
Rick put together a table plan and room set up guides for the whole day along with timings and other useful information, this proved invaluable to the staff setting up the rooms etc, they were able to follow the instructions and get the rooms as we wanted without having to ask for advice. The more help you can give them the better. This is where Rick’s military organisational skills came in handy!
Wedding music and entertainment:
Our friend piped us back down the aisle and into the wedding breakfast as Mr & Mrs. We had a steel band to entertain guests after the wedding breakfast of which I made a special guest appearance! I used to be in the band some 10 years ago so it was a nice surprise and went down well with the guests. I didn’t want to stop playing!
We had Dave Haslam (former Haçienda) DJ for the evening reception. We both knew we didn’t want your average cheesy wedding DJ in the corner of the room and wanted a proper party so I got in touch with Dave to see if he did weddings and to our delight he did!
Recommended wedding suppliers:
- Chris Hanley Photography firstname.lastname@example.org www.chrishanleyphotography.com (See also an interview with Chris Hanley)
- Lindsay Ogden, wedding co-ordinator, Rookery Hall LOgden@handpicked.co.uk www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/hotels/rookery-hall
- Creative theming for weddings and bespoke luxury stationery by Karen Shepherd (Me) email@example.com www.designbyshepherd.co.uk
- Delicious ice cream and sorbet by the girls at Ice Cream Dub firstname.lastname@example.org www.ice-creamdub.co.uk
- Beautiful flowers by Laura at Green Earth Flowers email@example.com www.greenearthflowers.co.uk (See also Green Earth Flowers showcase on English Wedding Blog)
- Fabulous cake by Diva Designer Cakes firstname.lastname@example.org www.divacakes.co.uk
- Flawless skin by Katie Aldridge makeup artist email@example.com www.katiealdridge.com
- Beautiful waves by Nic Woodhouse at Hair-Raising Designs firstname.lastname@example.org www.hair-raisingdesigns.co.uk
- Engagement ring and wedding bands forged by the talented Chris Randall email@example.com www.thediamondshop.co.uk The Diamond Shop, Hatton Garden, London
- Bagpipes provided by Tim Burrows firstname.lastname@example.org
- The sounds of steel by Panfire Steel Band email@example.com www.facebook.com/PanFire
- Party tunes by Dave Haslam DJ firstname.lastname@example.org www.davehaslam.com
I’m always on the lookout for new weddings, engagement photography and inspiration shoots to feature on English Wedding Blog. If you’re a wedding photographer based in England or the UK I’d love to hear from you. Click on Submit in the top menu for more information or email me: email@example.com with a link to your blog post.
I’ve deliberately posted this wedding blog feature on a Friday – it means you get to keep it all weekend! There’ll be a quick ‘wedding planning or work’ this afternoon – but as this wedding is so very special I wanted to keep it on the blog home page until Monday and then a little longer so more of you will spot it! I do hope you love it as much as I do, and I’d love to read your comments on Karen and Rick’s day.
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