Back in October 2012 I wrote about Jack and Michelle’s “big fat sponsored wedding” – an idea they’d taken from the US, where it’s more common practice than in the UK. The basic premise is that the bride and groom will generate a lot of attention for their wedding suppliers by sharing details of their wedding in the press, online etc. and by recommending their suppliers to everyone they know.
I have to admire Michelle and Jack for doing this: they created a wedding website and blog, listing all of their suppliers and even donating to charity. This is also their second feature on English Wedding Blog (the whole concept and the fact they pulled this off intrigues me!) As a wedding supplier myself I wouldn’t choose to work for free, but it’s certainly a very interesting way of doing things.
So the big day came around in December, and Michelle got in touch and asked me to feature their wedding. She’s written a great wedding report and shares details of all their suppliers here – about half way through the blog feature. I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Michelle and Jack, and thank you both so much for sharing. Thanks also to Carl Thompson Photography for sending the images through. Enjoy! Claire xxx
The groom wore: a pin-stripe James Bond-esque suit from Dunhill, a crisp white shirt from Ted Baker which had a blue paisley print in the collar and cuffs, this was styled with a contrasting red Dunhill tie and a red and blue damask pocket hankie that co-ordinated with his ushers. He went with his dad to choose his suit and said he wanted it to be a surprise on the day! I must admit I was a little nervous as his taste can be quite wacky (his wardrobe is slightly outrageous) but he looked gorgeous as always and incredibly handsome. He also had a huge red Anemone flower and white snowberries to match my bouquet.
All the ushers wore electric blue suits, red ties, red pocket hankies and even red socks – with a matching red Grand Prix rose and red winter berries. The six bridesmaids wore matching blue floor length dresses by Fever Designs with a white pashmina shawl and carried a dozen white roses in their bouquets. The two little flower girls wore white princess dresses and blue fur shrugs with cute blue matching sparkly pumps.
The Bride: The Ellis Bridal gown from Fairytale Weddings was amazing, it was modern but wouldn’t look out of place in a black and white movie! I fell in love with it before I had even tried it on! It had diamantes on the hip and lots of tulle layers, so when choosing the veil from Richard Designs I picked out one with the matching detail. Everybody commented on how beautiful my veil was as the diamantes on the veil glistened under the light. When choosing my head-dress it was a really hard choice as Richard Designs had so many too choose from! I sat down with my hairdresser and make-up artist Jenny Buckland and as I was going for a sixties look and feel we decided on something very chunky and also with diamantes to match with the dress. Everybody commented on how amazing my accessories were and it made me feel very special! Jenny kept my make-up very soft with exaggerated cat-eyes and big luscious lashes and contrasted this by going with nude lipstick. I don’t usually wear a great deal of make-up and never have my hair up and I wanted to look like me – in fact one of my biggest worries was choosing my hair and make-up. I didn’t want to have pictures I looked back on and thought that just doesn’t look like me! I kept my hair down and slightly tousled and tried to look a natural glam so to speak! I wore a pair of quirky Vivienne Westwood white wing shoes and for the evening reception I changed my diamante head-dress to a feather and wore a giant sparkly statement piece from Butler & Wilson that my Grandad had bought for me with a three-quarter length sleeve fur shrug.
Wedding venue: Woburn St Mary’s Church, Bedfordshire
Wedding photographer: Carl Thompson. We are still amazed by our photographs. They are perfect in every way. Carl has managed to capture people’s personalities and the fun that was had and that can be found in his images – we love them! We also love the sepia tint to them that makes them feel old. I especially love all the church pictures as Carl said – it was ‘epic’ and he has captured that.
Our wedding style:
I really wanted to recreate sixties movie glamour with traditional English elements as well as trying to make it a real winter wedding wonderland. I wanted it not only to be the best days of our lives but also our guests and I wanted to make them feel looked after all day. The main inspiration was to keep it completely personal with a focus on family and friends.
A little about the wedding ceremony:
The Church! Wow! Our best part of the whole day! The church service was magical, it had been decorated for Christmas by the Duchess of Bedford so there were huge garlands and a 20ft Christmas tree covered in thousands of fairy-lights from the Woburn Estate. Our florist, The Blossom Shop, also decorated the 36 pews with a single red Grand Prix rose which we felt was simple but effective. We had hundreds of candles throughout the church as it is almost cathedral-like and we wanted a warm atmosphere. My entrance, which was also our first dance, was to a piano version of Lovin’ You by Minnie Rippleton, which had guests in tears before the service had even started! During the signing of the register the pianist played our favorite songs including New York by Alicia Keys as it was where Jack proposed, Edge of Glory by GaGa and Somewhere Over The Rainbow. We had the Dansborough Chorus 30-strong choir singing Christmas Carols and exited the church to a piano-version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You which had everyone cheering and clapping!
My bouquet was made-up of a mixture of roses and unusual seasonal flowers and berries as I wanted to keep to the winter theme. I also had my late Nan Francis’s favourite jewellery tied into the stem, including a green emerald initial ‘F’ necklace and a brooch – to have something of her’s so close during the ceremony meant a lot to me. Our rings were handmade and inside Jack’s he has ‘to infinity…’ and inside mine I have ‘& beyond’.
Our great friend Wendy Bonham-Carter read True Love. I just wish we had a picture of her shoes! She works in the fashion industry and as she walked past me to go and do a reading it was the first time I had seen her that day – she had 5inch bootshoes with spikes! I loved it and thought it summed up our wedding – traditional with a modern edge! Quite a few guests asked us what should they wear and we said we would like everybody smart, it is a wedding after all, but go crazy! We had one guest in a green tweed suit, big fur coats, huge hats and lots and varying hem-lines! We have an eclectic group of friends and what a smart bunch they turned out!
Wedding venue styling and details:
As we had the big country house I didn’t want to go too modern inside with the decorating but wanted guests to feel a ‘WOW’ moment when they walked in the door! A double decker red London Bus from Aroute2hire then took all the guests back to the reception which was held at Plum Park in Towcester. On arrival guests drank mulled wine and Jack’s specially made (strong!) hot toddy to the background of the pianist playing Christmas songs. We had giant silver candelabras from The Blossom Shop on every table decorated with red and white roses and over 250 candles making the atmosphere very Christmassy and magical. We had white covers and red sashes on the back of the chairs from Ambience Venue Styling and when you walked in the door it was simple breathtaking. It looked better than I had imagined in my head. On every table was a bottle of caramel vodka for guests to enjoy from the Fabulous Vodka company, a unique flip-book, a funny questionnaire, a charity lottery ticket from Keech Hospice and delicious Baileys fudge nugget from Crumbs its Cake! Every napkin was tied with red ribbon and had miniature pine cones, which I picked with my bridesmaid Lee earlier in the week from an Alder tree in our local woods where we go walking. Not only did that make it extra special but we had a lot of laughs doing it!
Invitations and reception stationery:
Our invitations and stationery from RSVP Candy really set the bar for the wedding as soon as they had gone out! They were really unusual and folded out to tell a story of how we first met. We had 250 guests and nearly everyone commented on how amazing they were. Andy at RSVP Candy also did a sixties style table plan and each table number had an image from the sixties which really pulled the whole room together. The place names were also from RSVP candy with printed vector sixties images depicting each guest. I don’t remember seeing any at the end of the night as they all took them home with them!
Wedding music and entertainment:
I think the two stand out features for us were the photobooth by Photobooth Mania as the guests loved it and it was nice they had something special to take home and remember the day and also choreographed fireworks to Take That Never Forget by Dynamic Fireworks – it just topped off what was already a wonderful day!
We also had Marryoke by Electra Films with the guests singing and dancing along to the Black Eyed Peas, it got even the most reserved people up on their feet! Karrie from Electra Films sent me the finished Marryoke on Christmas day which was the best present I received! It was lovely for me to be able to send everyone the link first thing on Christmas morning and give everyone a lovely memento and put a smile on their face for the rest of the day!
We also had the legendary singer Jackie Rawe singing motown and getting everyone into the party spirit. We partied into the early hours with Events MAA providing the music and Shilen the DJ was key to keeping a packed dance floor with a great selection of tracks from The Rolling Stones to Notorious BIG keeping all ages young and old happy and dancing away!
Cake: Helen from Gardners bakery created our exquisite cake, made from chocolate and looked too good to eat! We wanted a lot of texture and each layer was lovingly decorated with white on white icing keeping it subtle but effective. Helen then hand-made every single trailing flower to run asymmetrically down the tiers. The cascading sugarwork matched my bouquet and every guest had a flower to take home with them – or eat with desert!
Memorable wedding day moments:
Oh dear Lord! The speeches! By the time the speeches came about after dinner, everyone was well oiled to say the least! With vodka flowing, mulled wine and hot toddys being drunk in abundance I’m not sure there was a sober person in the room! The best man Dan couldn’t find his speech, we later found out someone had hidden it as a joke, so he free styled… dropping F-bombs, every swear word in the English language and regaling the most inappropriate stories… Sure everyone was laughing, but at just how bad it was! Eventually Jack managed to get him to sit down. With everyone looking on in sheer horror I got up to do my speech and had everyone crying and laughing. I am thankful to the best man though as he made my speech look great! The fireworks in the evening really brought a magical factor and the surprise big sparkly J&M sign at the end made our night!
The best bit though was marrying my best friend!
Wedding day advice:
We, or if I’m completely honest, I, planned our wedding from start to finish in five months. As soon as the venue and church was booked, the first month was filled with wedding shows, blog scouring, pin-interest and collecting heaps of magazines for inspiration and ideas although we had a very strong idea on what we wanted and how we wanted our guests to feel. We wanted it to be magical and Christmassy and traditional but with elements that would make the guests go wow! Everything we choose was what we wanted even if sometimes my mother disagreed!
I would say my best advice is to not sweat the small stuff and take everything in your stride and do what you want to do! You are only going to do it once! Also try not to be too cool or edgy, Mariah Carey isn’t especially the epitome of cool but that song is special to us and that is why we had it! We didn’t care if people thought it was cheesy!
I would also say get a good toastmaster! He ran our day like clockwork and ushered guests through, knew all the timings and provided everyone with great entertainment and allowed me to relax and enjoy myself without worrying. Also if you can afford to get a videographer then do! Being able to look back at our highlights video means we can re-live it whenever we want! If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional then just ask a trusted friend to record loads of videos on their phone or video camera for you so you have something to look back at.
Above all, whatever happens it will be the best day of your lives as you are marrying the one you want to be with forever. It absolutely chucked buckets on our wedding day but we didn’t even notice the sun wasn’t shining and it certainly didn’t dampen people’s spirits! In fact people embraced the rain and some guests were even outside dancing in it!
Relax, Enjoy and be Married! Oh and make sure the best man has a back up speech printed out and stored safely…..