Caroline, Rob and THAT SMILE feature on Rock My Wedding
Caroline The Bride: Shustoke Farm Barns was the first, and only, venue we visited. We set out to find a relaxed and rural location, a nod to both our families farming heritage; Shustoke embodied this perfectly. This beautiful former working piggery was three quarters of the way through its transformation into wedding venue. Even unfinished, it was a show stopper. But the deal clincher was when the usually shy Rob suddenly started to get involved in the questioning – particularly in relation to the rotisserie and barbeque cooking method… It was booked before we left the premises.
I really struggled to find a dress that was a bit different, but still within budget. I soon realised that I would not find it in a high street shop. I had such fun at Luxe Bridal, a specialist Vintage Bridal Dresses supplier in Birmingham’s custard factory. Although I did not find my dress here, it helped me to realise that a vintage dress was for me. Next stop was Charlie Brear in London, where I found my simple 60’s boat neck gown, complete with lace four leaf clovers for extra luck. I only wish I knew the story of who wore my dress 50 decades ago. I took it back to Birmingham to be altered by the very talented seamstress Jen Devereux, who also cut away the back into a low scoop and changed the silhouette to form a slight fishtail.
The vintage style of Rachel Simpson shoes (Eva in Ivory) married perfectly with my dress, not to mention being incredibly comfortable. I wore the locket my mum had on her wedding day and simple pearl studs, borrowed from Nicci, one of my bridesmaids. I kept jewellery to the minimum, as I knew my flower crown was going to take centre stage.
As soon as we got engaged, I started ‘project hair’, even delegating research & development to one of my bridesmaids. This was tongue and cheek as I have a reputation for faffing with my locks! Which was why my decision to wear it down was probably an unusual choice: I was at the mercy of wind and frizz. I am so glad that I decided to go ‘au natural’, as it suited the comfortable feel of the whole day. In hindsight I would have asked my hairdresser to plait it for me for the evening reception, as it looked a little bedraggled come 8 o’clock!
Bridesmiads & More
I have a close circle of high school friends, so when we got engaged I knew it was all or nothing. I chose all! Including my fabulous sister and sister-in-laws, I had tallied up 8 bridesmaids. Although chaotic at times, as well as a logistical nightmare, I would not have had it any other way. During my hours/days of internet trawling, I stumbled across an Almari floral dress from the internet shop Closet. By some sort of miracle all the girls felt comfortable in it. Three pregnancy announcements later, one of my bridesmaids had to stand down as her due date was on our wedding eve and the other two grew out of their original dresses and needed emergency bump appropriate attire, courtesy of Seraphine.
Rob found the groomsmen’s slim fit navy suits and waistcoats in M&S and opted for pastel yellow ties from The Tie Store. Our 2 year old nephew Stan, wore a ‘Ring Security’ polo shirt from Shirtinator .
Inspiration & Stationery
I have always painted and collaged as a hobby. I particularly love working with watercolours, because of the unpredictable way that the merge, mix and travel around the page. I picked some of mine and Rob’s favourite colours and started splodging! The results were the basis of my colour scheme and stationary, which in turn translated through to my flowers.
Having trained as a Graphic Designer, I was excited to be my own client, my dream brief! I made all sorts of stationary from a personalised colouring in book for our Nephew, to an Ad-lib message card (in place of a traditional guest book), speech time sweepstake cards and an eye-spy game linked to our WeddingParty App, as well as Polaroid place cards and matching table plan. By far the most talked about item of my stationary however was a Spotter’s Guide, in which a short and slightly cheeky description of each guest was published and given out to read prior to the ceremony. My family and I turned our hand to textiles too, creating scented stuffed hearts to hang on the back of each chair – which we later displayed in a suitcase inviting guests to ‘Take a little bit of our love home with them’. My fabulous sister in law Sammy also helped me to make each of my bridesmaids a personalised dressing gown. My mum’s dear friend Sue, dip-dyed all of napkins in a whole host of colours and dyed the edges of circular table runners to create a blended watercolour effect – the tables looked simply spectacular!
Hydrangeas have always reminded me of my childhood, as they lined the boarders of our family home. Rob was affectionately known as Billy growing up (and still is within our immediate family), which is why we wanted Billy Buttons to be woven into the flowers for the day. Armed with these prerequisites and a bridesmaid dress in hand, I visited Karen Morgan, the owner of Passion for Flowers. She listened to me intently and pulled all my clippings and ideas into a stunning array of floral décor including: a hanging globe from the rafters of the barn; filling a window box made by Rob out of old palettes, for the reception table; filling jam jars that were dotted around the venue and tables; a garland arch over the Barns door way; button holes and bouquets; and as I already mentioned, my flower crown of purple roses and pastel hydrangeas.
Together with Rob’s proposal, the exchanging of our personalised vows was one of those surreal and completely perfect moments in life. It was difficult for us to both squeeze into words how much we love one another, but we must have done a good job as I was informed later that we reduced even our manliest guests to tears!
We carefully picked readings that reflect how Rob and I bring out the best in each other and that illustrated how close and supportive our relationship is.
The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach
A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.
We often go to The Jam House in Birmingham; you cannot help but dance to a live band playing soul classics. This is why we set out to find a band that would play a mix of old and new songs and keep the dance floor packed all evening: Hula Groove delivered! Our first dance was to Sister Sledge ‘Thinking of You’. Hula groove adapted the song so that the first verse was at a slower tempo, then when the bongo’s kicked in we pulled in our guests for a twirly-wurly finale! Rob’s love of camping and table tennis inspired our outdoor entertainment, in the form of a ping-pong/beer-pong tournament and marshmallow roasting over fire pits.
For the wedding breakfast, we dined on a locally sourced British Feast of a menu. We loved the sociable idea of guests carving and helping themselves to side dishes on the table. ‘Ass-blaster’ hot sauce was given as the boys favours, due to Rob’s hot sauce obsession and a family friend made scented ombre soaps for the girls. By night Baz & Fred’s Pizzeria churned out a steady stream of gourmet pizzas until the early hours. The keen bakers amongst our families contributed to a cake table that seemed to get inhaled within 30 minutes! My talented sister made our 3 tiered red velvet wedding cake lined with white cigarillos, not much of that survived to take home either – all that dancing made for ravenous guests!
We carefully chose suppliers that we could put our faith in. As a result we had minimal wedding related stress on the run up to the day and nothing at all went awry on the actual day. The staff at Shustoke Farm Barns went the extra mile to make us and our guest feel like royalty. Hula Groove took the time out to rehearse an amended version of our first dance and compile our guests song choices into a playlist between sets. Karen from Passion for Flowers expressed a genuine excitement for my ideas and her work. Matt from Blooming Lovely Films, was fabulous and got completely involved in the day, stopping much later than he was contracted to in order to capture all of the night time antics.
Finally my last shout out goes to the amazingly brilliant, Harriet of Weddings Vintage. Her beautiful images play like a story and her colour editing sets her work apart from the rest. Not only extremely talented but extremely lovely: even squeezing me into her busy schedule after I initially booked her for the wrong date – doh! Thank you to all our suppliers, family, and friends and of course to Rock My Wedding for featuring our day.
My 3 best pieces of advice would be:
Savour all the wedding day build up: time with your partner, friends and family, the crafting afternoons, hair trials and even the shopping trips to find the perfect scent! Relish it all, because this will help you to prolong the experience. On the day it will be gone in a puff of magical overwhelming smoke!
Secondly, delegate! Everything about the running of our day was delegated. The only thing Rob had to do was turn up and all I needed to think about was doing my own make up; in hind sight I would have even delegated this to a makeup artist so that I literally had nothing to do but concentrate on taking it all in.
Thirdly, I would also strongly recommend writing your own promises – after all they communicate the essence of the day.