Sunday, 15 March 2015

Wedding day advice and recommendations

Perversely I avoided reading any sort of advice on weddings when it came to planning my own. In the beginning I did but I found that everything I read seemed to be full of rules and I ended up with this sinking feeling that I was doing something wrong. Even the articles suggesting wedding rules that you should break came across as preachy.

I started planning my wedding around November 2013, giving myself about three months to organise all the details. Planning a wedding in such a short time is almost unheard of now, any magazine will tell you 12 months is minimum.

Pinterest and Instagram were my best friends when it came to planning, they let me soak up lots of different ideas and suggestions without reading anything negative. I started by creating two boards, one for general wedding ideas and for beauty and pinned everything I liked the look of. So when it came to my makeup and hair trials I could just take along the images and use these as a starting point. My boards are still available here.

Not surprisingly make up was the topic where I found the most rules, most articles suggest that brides don't go looking to different from their normal selves, which generally should be natural, glowing and beautiful. At the same time they also said that if you usually wear heavy black eyeliner or red lipstick on the daily that you should probably stick to this, "so that people recognise you," but generally I didn't like the impression that there were rules when it came to make up on your wedding day.
bridal makeup application
In my opinion you can afford to be bold, certainly when I had make up trials it was easy to feel that maybe the make-up was heavy, or bit over the top, but it is really important factor in that with the dress, a tiara, perfectly styled hair and even a veil, the makeup is going to fit in. I remember feeling my most beautiful on my wedding day and ultimately that's what's important, that you feel beautiful and if you feel beautiful with lashing of glitter or multi-coloured eyeliner, then that's what you should do. It is also worth remembering that slightly heavier makeup will show up better in photographs.

I was very fortunate to be able to book Safiyah from Frooti Beauty on my wedding day, she was almost ready to pop with her first born so I was so thankful she agreed to do it (and that the baby didn't decide to come early!) You can see more pictures of the makeup, here.

I don't remember reading much about hair, but I was quite adamant that I wanted to have my natural curls. No one else agreed with me, thinking I should go for a more styled looked. In the end I was able to do both opting for my natural curls on the religious ceremony day and a more styled look for the white wedding. I have to admit I did like the styled look I ended up with, it fit in really well with my makeup and dress, believe it or not that day was the first time I saw the style, I didn't like any of the looks my hairdresser did at the trials and in the end he told me he had an idea and that it would work out fine on the day, which it did! He used a blow-drier to curl my hair and then pinned the curls onto the top of my head (as you can see in the above pics). I wish I could tell you what we did next but the curls stayed pinned until it was almost time to leave, at this point I was so nervous about being late I stopped paying attention. I know whatever he was doing he was very careful about it and each curl was treated individually.
smiling bride happy wedding hair tiara
I thought I knew the style of dress I wanted to wear on my wedding day: ballgown. I always wanted a very much Disney princess style dress, my thoughts were I will never wear anything like it again. I also knew I wanted some sort of sleeve, lace, a bit of bling and a proper corset. When it came down to choosing though things changed a bit. 

I initially visited David's Bridal in White City, they have a good selection of dresses from different designers and after choosing six or so from pictures, I tried them on. The assistants at the shop don't do much in the way of advising and I left liking a dress, but not loving it. I then visited a local bridal shop (Mia Sposa in Cockfosters) and the experience was quite different. The assistant initially asked me to look around and pick out six dresses I thought I liked for myself, which I did. Essentially all ballgown style. I then tried them on one-by-one and took a proper look at myself in the mirror, and was asked what I thought. We then critiqued each dress, what elements I liked and what I didn't and she also gave me her opinion. After I had tried on my six she told me that it was her turn to select dresses for me. I ended up choosing her first suggestion. Unlike me, she was able to take into consideration the details I wanted that would most suit my figure. I believe you would call the style modified A-line. The idea was to nip in at the waist and be quite fitted on top, and then have the flare and volume at the bottom. I chose to add sleeves and a long train, because, well, why not?
lansdowne club receptionbride lansdowne club entrance
I had a fairly good idea of what things I didn't want for my wedding, which can actually be a good place to start. With the cake for example, I don't like fruitcake or fondant, so the idea of a cupcake tower came to mind first. It was also important to me that we didn't spend a lot of money on a cake that wasn't tasty and that no one would eat, so I spent a lot of time cake tasting (hard task I know) and eventually heard about "naked cakes" and a baker called Daisy Cakes, who produces the most amazing red velvet cake I have ever tasted. She makes the cakes fresh and because of the nature of a naked cake assembles them on the day at the venue. Sadly, I only had a tiny piece of cake on the day, I was having photographs taken and the cake was passed round and devoured by the time I got out, which is exactly what I wanted (although it would have been nicer if someone saved me a slice of the red velvet).
Daisy cakes wedding cake prepDaisy cakes naked cake weddingbride eating cake
Photography was also very important to me, more so than a videographer. One year on, I still look back at my photos, on my phone, Facebook and the odd ones I had printed, frequently. I searched for London photographers online with one main criteria, that they give me the rights to the photographs. Moving to Oman soon after the wedding I knew I wouldn't have time to visit and choose prints before I left, so I wanted everything digitally and with the option to print what I wanted in the future. I found David and Joanna of Big Day Weddings (coincidentally locally) who have a great reputation as Time Out recommended photographers. After having a chat with David in his home I knew I wanted him there on the day. He met us at the venue and stayed through until just after the first dance, being part of a pair meant that him and his partner Joanna got two different perspectives of what was going on on the day and we have some fantastic photographs. You can read more about our day, and see other work of his on his website, here.
london bride horse guards paradelondon bride london eye
Other details 
There were a few details I knew I wanted to have, mostly to do having momentos. The first thing I ordered was a cake topper from Etsy, I wanted something unique and I liked that the cake topper would act as our first ornament at home. I was very lucky that the artist was able to make my topper with such short notice, and over the holiday season too. I sent her pictures of me and my husband as well as details of what we would be wearing (difficult since at the time I didn’t have my dress picked!)

I also purchased a cheap guest book from The Card Store for guests to sign and ordered a personalised Wedding Tree from eBay. The idea is that the guests create the leaves using their fingerprint, it can be an alternative to a guest book, and should serve as a more visible memento from the day since you can frame it and hang it somewhere.

 I also want to give a special mention to my aunt who made me my decorative trees using Ferrero Rocher chocolates. These were a complete surprise to me on the day, I was not that bothered about flowers or decorations but mums and aunts being mums and aunts were so they organised that stuff. I loved the trees, they looked great on the top table and in the photographs, even though they were stripped of their chocolate by the end of the night! I believe she found the idea on Pinterest.
wedding cake topper etsy
wedding tree guest book
wedding decoration chocolate tree
Actually music was one of my least concerns, I would have been happy to have a playlist shuffled from my IPod, but, again, I was told that's not what I should do. I ended up choosing Hussein as my DJ, a family friend who was recommended to us, and he was fantastic. He stayed with us all day, covering the ceremony and reception and incorporated a lot of the huge list of songs I wanted to have played. He also took requests and generally just handled everything sound wise very professionally. I think what impressed me about everyone involved in the wedding was that they needed no direction having had initial meetings with all about what I was after on the day. I can’t find a link for him online, but if you would like his contact details drop me an email.

And finally.....The venue
I knew I wanted to get married in central London, I love London and in the end the two most memorable parts of the day were driving to the venue in a black cab, of course, (passing Oxford Street and Regent Street along the way) and going out to St James Park/Horse Guards Parade to take pictures. I chose the Lansdowne Club as my venue not only because of the location, but because the club itself is beautiful and fit with the classic and elegant theme I wanted. The lady organising everything was also great and the staff on the night really professional and accommodating. I love that I know have a piece of my personal history associated with such a fantastic place.
City of Westminster Fitzmaurice Place
london black taxi wedding
london bride horse guards parade
lansdowne club wedding
bride lansdowne club wedding
I hopefully haven't missed any links to the people I  have mentioned. If you would like to know any more, have any questions about my organisation please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.

p.s. photographs are a mix of mostly the professional photographs by Big Day Weddings and a few family photographs, unfortunately Picasa won’t let me selectively remove the watermark when I add photos through there, the difference should be clear though! 
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