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White hydrangeas for a classic and contemporary London wedding

Good morning, wedding blog lovers! Today’s beautiful bride Annabel got in touch with me back in November to tell me all about her wedding to Anthony back in the summer of 2012. I was immediately smitten with their wedding story and loved the style of this beautiful day: white hydrangeas, a 6ft cathedral mirror with calligraphy (by my friend Angelo Meola) for a seating plan, and of course the magnificent wedding venue Syon Park.

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Annabel has shared such a great wedding report I really don’t want to write too much here so all I’ll say is thank you both to Annabel and Anthony, and to wedding photographer Especially Amy for sharing the images with us today.

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The wedding report from Annabel is about half way down the page, and I have to share my favourite line from it to set the scene for this blog feature:

Annabel says, “at the end of the day everyone is there to celebrate you and your husband which is the only thing that matters and creates the most incredible feeling of love, warmth and fun on the day!

Enjoy today’s real wedding. Claire xxx

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A beautiful wedding with white hydrangeas: Annabel and Anthony

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Wedding venue:

Our venue was the stunning Syon Park, near Richmond, South West London. We originally looked at country house venues outside London but the convenience and beauty of Syon Park won us over. We had a civil ceremony in the formal Great Hall then had half of our drinks reception in the136ft long Long Gallery, then walked everyone through the house to the incredible gardens surrounding the conservatory. The conservatory is hidden from view from the main house so it was a great surprise to our guests when they came round the corner to a stunning glass dome! The rain stayed away and as the sun set the glass dome lit up with the most incredible pink light – just magical!

Wedding photographer:

Amy of Especially Amy was our photographer and Dan of From The Hip was our videographer. A great team and we are thrilled with the results – would recommend them to anyone looking for a beautiful set of reportage photos and a video that really captures the spirit of the day. Amy and Dan worked brilliantly together as a team and made us both feel so relaxed throughout the day which really comes through in our photos. We also had a photobooth which was a huge success run by Say Fromage and the staff were brilliant. They also organised a book for guests to stick their photos in and write messages to us – the later in the night, the more hilarious the messages!

How would you describe your wedding style?

We would describe our wedding style as classic but with a contemporary twist – we were keen to create a beautiful, stylish and elegant day but without overdoing any element. Before planning, we ranked each big ticket item as to how important it was to us (eg flowers, music, food, venue).

What we discovered was that our top ranking items were food and drink and music… all key elements which we remembered the most from other weddings. Flowers, favours and styling were all areas we felt we could achieve a stunning effect with a more simple approach.

We did not have favours in the end and our flowers were the most simple white hydrangeas which were plentiful and cheap at the time of year.

A little about the wedding ceremony:

We had a civil ceremony in the Great Hall of Syon Park. The ceremony was a very important element to me and I wanted to create a formality and sense of occasion fitting for such a day!

The Great Hall created this sense of time and place and history with its beautiful soaring domed ceiling, black and white mosaic floor and pure white marble statues. We had a formal ceremony with traditional vows but inserted our own few sentences at the end of each vow which were a surprise to our guests and got a few laughs.

Which readings did you choose?

We chose two readings – ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams which was read by a friend of ours and ‘On Marriage’ by Erasmus which was chosen and read by Anthony’s grandmother. Anthony’s aunt sings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sang a chosen piece with our string quartet whilst we signed the register.

Tell us a little about your wedding venue styling and details:

Our theme was pure white wedding with no colour scheme as such, just simple elegance. Flowers were minimal as the conservatory was full of them and trees! We stuck to a classic white theme with some silver mirror effects thrown in.

In particular, our calligraphy table plan was a centre piece: We wanted keepsakes of our wedding – items we could have in our home forever that would remind us of the day and when I found the mirror sitting at the back of an old furniture shop near home, I knew we had our piece!

Our calligrapher (www.calligraphycompany.com) elegantly recreated our scrappy drawing of what we wanted on the mirror glass which was a talking point for guests, allowed the girls to check their make up and looked incredible in the evening sunlight of the conservatory!

The table centres were very simple: mirrors, tealights and white floating hydrangeas. I love my horses so we had an equestrian touch with personalised rosettes made as name places – all of the guests ended up wearing these by the end of the night which was also helpful for those who didn’t know each other!

Our caterers were Tapenade, recommended by Syon Park and true professionals – they ran almost every aspect of our day and acted as our wedding planners. We could not recommend them highly enough. Food was important to us and we love canapés so skipped the starter and had endless rounds of delicious canapés during the 2 hour drinks reception.

I love cheese (it even made it into our vows!) so a cheese board was a centre piece accompanied by a simple chocolate cake from M&S jazzed up by our florist with white hydrangeas. We cut the cake with a metre long sword engraved with our names and wedding date on it! A great keepsake of the day!

Invitations and reception stationery:

Our invitations were simple, classic and elegant, from Gee Brothers of London. Our table names were all our favourite wines and cheeses (from Pinot Noir to Stinking Bishop!) and created on simple white card, written beautifully by a local calligrapher. Our calligrapher also created our amazing table plan – on a 6 foot tall cathedral mirror!

Wedding music and entertainment:

Music was one of our key areas for our day as we always remember amazing weddings for their fabulous music and bands! After much research, we actually booked a band our friend had had at her wedding a year earlier – seeing bands on stage and how they work the crowd is the best way to select!

29 Fingers kept the crowd on their feet all night and got right involved in the crowd, dancing and singing and passing round mikes and instruments to our guests! We also had a fantastic string quartet called Urban Soul who did a classic set for the ceremony then jazzed it up with everything from Damien Rice to Oasis for the drinks reception.

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What did you wear?

Despite thinking it would take me ages, I was actually very quick to find my dress. I knew I wanted something vintage and original and that I could wear again. Whilst back in Sydney celebrating our engagement, my mum and I popped into Collette Dinnigan’s store just up the road from where we live.

Collette is a catwalk designer mainly (Kate Middleton is a fan of her designs!) but she does create a capsule wedding dress collection each year. My ‘lattice and pearl’ came in a cocktail version just above the knee and the beauty that is full length.

I couldn’t try the full length on whilst in Sydney as it wasn’t delivered yet so when I returned to London I made an appointment at her store in Chelsea to try on the dress. And it was the dress…. delicate, light, ethereal and vintage with lots and lots of pearl detailing which I love.

Despite trying on the dress in London, we actually purchased it back in Sydney and had some small alterations done there before I flew it back over with me 6 months before the wedding! A well travelled dress indeed!

The bridesmaids’ dresses were from a high street store in Sydney. My shoes were classic Chanel mid heel pumps, light grey and gold to tone in with the vintage feel of the dress and I have worn them dozens of times since for friends’ weddings. My veil was custom made to match my dress, pure and simple edged tulle as the beading on the dress was so detailed it needed little else.

My friend Charlotte made me my something blue – a gorgeous pearl bracelet with a single delicate blue pearl in the middle. My something old and borrowed was my grandmother’s diamond brooch pinned to my bouquet, the new was my dress and my friend delivered a sixpence for my shoe via the groomsmen a few minutes before I headed down the aisle!

Anthony was always going to wear a morning suit and our wedding was the perfect time for him to invest in one. Ede and Ravenscroft on Jermyn Street provided a wonderful service and he was incredibly happy (and handsome!) in his tails which he has proudly donned for our friends’ weddings since.

Memorable wedding day moments:

  • My grandfather walking me down the aisle, having flown all the way from Australia to do so!
  • Our quirky vows which surprised everyone and made it so personal
  • Anthony’s aunt singing so beautifully as we signed the register
  • The delicious food – endless canapés, piping hot mains and luscious cheese board
  • The rain holding off and sun breaking through so we could move our drinks reception to the beautiful gardens before heading into the conservatory for dinner
  • The fabulous fun dancing with our friends and family all night long!

Wedding day advice:

Stay calm, be super organised all the way through so the week before the wedding you can relax. Spreadsheet everything, and make timetables for the day personalised to key people you are relying on – and talk them through it at length! And rely on your family, friends and bridesmaids …. at the end of the day everyone is there to celebrate you and your husband which is the only thing that matters and creates the most incredible feeling of love, warmth and fun on the day!

Recommended wedding suppliers:

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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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