One year ago today we were married. What a year it’s been, for everyone… The last blog post I wrote about the assembly of my dress was long before lockdown. I don’t know why but I found it pretty difficult to write all those previous blog posts, so decided on our anniversary to round up everything else I wanted to say in a kind of gallery of wedding makes! In a way I think it was because the wedding weekend itself was so incredible, so intensely joyful, that looking back on it has almost been like gazing at something too bright, too unbelievable. I needed some more distance to be able to think it over again.
The making didn’t start with the dress – it went as far back as our Save the Dates! I knew from the beginning that I wanted a hint of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays) in our designs as the wedding was on the 22nd June (close enough!). So I practised my calligraphy until I could write out a suitable quote, and I painted and inked watercolour flowers (roses and wisteria) before photoshopping them into repeat designs. The Save the Dates were then simply printed as double-sided postcards by Moo – I’ve used Moo for quite a few business products and I know I can rely on the quality of their stuff.
Of course I’ve gone into detail enough already about the making of the dress, but concurrent with the early stages of that was the making of the invitation. This was to carry on the romantic summer evening feel of the Save the Date but I also wanted something to reflect the Norfolk location of the wedding…
The garden design was painted as a single image and then reflected. I then hand drew gold lines over the lanterns.
The map was painted as a background image of fields, road, hedgerows and coast; I then painted all the individual places and other elements as separate illustrations – using Photoshop to superimpose them on to the map. The lettering labels were inspired by old maps. The Manor House is the name of my parents-in-laws’ home (it used to be the village vicarage so is handily very close to the church!) and it was in their two fields that we were to have our reception marquee and glamping village. I stayed with my mum and sister at the Blakeney Hotel in the run-up to the wedding day. And we hired a coach to bring guests up from London – hence the little bus!
The invitations were printed and folded by a local stationer on our road, and we hand-cut the curved edges on each one!
Whilst I had been beavering away with stationery, my mum had been ingeniously creating paper roses from coffee filters! She’s a true creative and had come across a random tutorial some time ago and stored it up in her head; she then spent quite a lot of time perfecting her creations and the result was spectacular! This was a classic example of how we saved money but spent time 🙂
To house the seating plan and our quiz and to form extra decorations my mum sprayed hoops gold and we then decorated them two days before the wedding with paper roses and foliage from her garden. I had hand-lettered the seating plan and came up with a quiz because I used to write and run a pub quiz – and quizzing has become rather a theme of our parties!
The day before the wedding we tied paper roses and tulle to the posts along the path to the church, and to the church gate.
My mum and sister also tied little posies of roses to the two arches leading from the formal garden (where we would have our drinks and canapes) into the first field. These arches had been created a month before by my mum, who had grown jasmine and honeysuckle in her garden in Suffolk and then trained them to grow up the arches once assembled in situ in Norfolk.
Green-fingered lady that she is, she also made the most beautiful planters for the windowsills inside the church – and they and the climbers from the arches now live happily in her garden so I can see them whenever I visit.
Little did I know but my sister was secretly honing her rose-making skills too, but in sugar paste! My mum and sister promised me a surprise wedding cake and, having never ever made one before, completely astonished me with the end result! I should probably add that whilst of this was going on my mum was moving into and completely renovating her new house!
The other stationery
Used to creating instruction booklets for my patterns, making the Order of Service for the wedding was a doddle! The menu was harder as I was drawn to making it something quite spectacular, but in the end my mum and sister, the voices of reason throughout, helped me keep it simple and chic. All the Orders of Service, the Order of the Day and the Menus were printed by Solopress, who print my pattern booklets 🙂 We then hand-drew the gold lines on the menus, because we didn’t have enough else to do…
The place names were cut from paper in the shape of maple leaves (traced from the Canadian flag no less) as a nod to Jonathan’s Canadian family, many of whom would be in attendance (his mother is from Canada). I did the gold calligraphy myself – in my hotel room two days before…!
The table runners were simply cut from Designers’ Guild wallpaper – I love the pattern so much I hope one day I can paper a room in it!
I know lots of women get very excited about wedding shoes, but I imagine few can say they got the shoes of their dreams for under £40 – from M&S no less! Yep, M&S did wedding shoes (who knew – well, my omniscient mum) at incredible prices – I purchased plain ivory satin court shoes with not-so-plain silver glitter soles and then – I PIMPED MY SHOES! With just 1 metre of ribbon trim from VV Rouleaux, some old satin ribbon from my stash and a tube of Uhu, I was able to turn those plain(ish) court shoes into something more court-worthy indeed – that is the court of Versailles! I absolutely adore these shoes. I kept lifting my dress on the day to waggle my feet at people…
But if I had to say which was my favourite accessory of the day the shoes would find themselves in hot contest with my veil. The veil was made from 3m of tulle from Pongees, gathered at one end and simply glued onto a comb from MacCulloch and Wallis. I cut the other end into a semicircle. I’d always wanted from the first to incorporate embroidery into my dress somehow and so after this was dropped from the main garment, adding it to the veil was a no-brainer. My mum embroidered the blue flowers and I all the pink; we stitched them onto tulle backed with dissolvable fabric, adding little beads in the centres. When it was time to add the flowers to the veil we simply dissolved away the backing, trimmed the edges and scattered them at random across the base of the veil, before appliquéing them in place.
The other outfits
My mum’s outfit was the first to be finished – we’d had a wonderful piece of luck when shopping on Goldhawk Road one day. In Misan West, we found a remnant of the prettiest blue crepe for only £17 – and we knew it would make the most lovely Mother of the Bride dress! The dress is in fact a hack of my Mayfair pattern – I had to adjust it as the Mayfair is designed for knit fabrics and the crepe has no stretch whatsoever. I also changed the sleeves to be flutter.
Before finding the crepe we’d speculatively purchased some gorgeous Lady McElroy jersey from Fabric Godmother as a possible Mayfair for my mum. She wanted to wear some striking gold heels with the blue dress for the service, but wanted to change into something more comfortable for the evening – and we decided she would have a complete change into comfort, and made up the Lady McElroy Mayfair for her to wear later in the day!
I had originally planned a plain blue By Hand London Anna dress for my sister, but the more I thought about the less I felt sure it was right. I pivoted just as I’d done with my own dress to something quite radically different – a gathered silk and tulle skirt, a silk Ogden cami and a lace overlay top. The skirt used a dusky pink silk from Goldhawk Road and a mix of ivory and pale pink tulles over the top; the Ogden was in ivory silk also from Goldhawk and the lace top (based on my Carnaby Dress pattern) was made with lace from Bridal Fabrics UK (the same source as my own bodice lace).
Charlotte, Jonathan’s niece (and now mine too) had a child-sized version of Amy’s outfit. Hers consisted of a dress instead of a two-piece, with a duchesse satin bodice, a fuller gathered skirt and a pink velvet ribbon stitched around the waist. I used the same lace for her overlay top but trimmed the edges with a different scalloped lace ribbon more in proportion with her small frame.
Like my mum, I wanted a change of outfit for the evening. I’ve got a self-drafted pattern that started life as a very hacked By Hand London Holly bodice and a draped skirt that I love wearing, so I recreated this in the same warm-ivory silk satin that I’d used on my main dress bodice. I changed quite late on as it was difficult to tear me away from the dancefloor once we’d started, so there’s in fact only one real photo showing this dress – but you can see how happy it makes me! I paired it with a pair of Kate Spade x Keds in ivory glitter that I’d bought for my hen party and that I still wear a surprising amount.
I had known from the very start that I wanted as long a party as our staminas could manage – and this was one of the reasons we’d chosen to host it on private land instead of in a commercial venue, because we could keep going all night! In the second field, we had a glamping village to sleep 60 installed, with a fire pit surrounded by hay bales at its centre.
To keep myself warm in the wee hours as we sat around the fire, I made myself a fur stole. I bought gorgeous faux fur at The Berwick Street Cloth Shop – the week before the wedding, as I had to sheepishly confess to the lovely shop staff! And the satin to back it was found by my mum in her fabric stash – I have a sneaky feeling it may be long-time leftover from when my sister had a homemade skunk outfit for a Beanie Baby birthday party… It’s simply made from two rectangles – one of satin and one of fur, stitched together – but it certainly kept me nice and toasty – all night ’til dawn!
Our suppliers were, hands down, absolutely the best. We had a perfect day and that was thanks in a large part to our wonderful wedding planner, Jo of One Curious Dream, and her appointed team of caterers, florists and entertainers. Our florist was Lydia of Rambling Rose – I felt so happy when I first met her because she understood exactly what I envisaged from the first moment – and the flowers she produced were more than I could have dreamed of. We had a combination of roses, along with other classic English summer flowers, and orchids, to represent my Singaporean heritage. Lydia decorated the church, the marquee and made our bouquets and the bridesmaids’ beautiful flower crowns. She even had a little extra flower piece for my hair after I took off my veil.
Our other suppliers deserving of a special mention are:
Andy Chef, our caterer extraordinaire who laid on the canapes, the stupendous main meal, the evening fish and chips and the very much-needed hot Sunday brunch.
Jay Emme, our cellist; Sean, our magician; and Sebina, our DJ
Bellows Glamping – finding our honeymoon tent was one of the most squeal-inducing moments of the weekend!
And of course our photographer, Esther Wild (a fellow sewist!), who managed to be invisibly everywhere, great fun, and to capture our day so authentically. If you’d like to see photos of our whole day, in order, you can do so on Esther’s site.
If I were to do it all again, there’s not a thing I would change!