When one of our recent brides offered to write up her own wedding I obviously jumped at the chance (especially as it has owls in it!). Maddy had a beautiful wedding and writes wonderfully as well, so I shall hand you over to her:
A Country Wedding
Last summer, I went to the wedding of two of my very good childhood friends. The dress had been kept a secret – the only thing I knew about it beforehand was that my friend had found it during a rather last-minute but successful trip to Abigail’s Vintage Bridal. When it was revealed on the day, it could have been made for her; it fit like a dream and she was obviously so comfortable in it that she was able to relax and be a serene, happy bride.
So when it came to finding my own wedding dress a few months later, Abigail was my first port of call. Originally I thought I wanted a short dress, as ours wasn’t going to be a traditional formal wedding – the ceremony was held in Norwich registry office (which moved to Norwich Castle shortly before our wedding, so ended up being a rather grand setting!), with the reception in a marquee in my parents’ rural North Norfolk garden.
In the end, though – and following a fascinating series of beautiful dresses brought to life by Abigail’s knowledge of their place in sartorial history and her ability to suggest just the right alterations – my eye was caught by a rather ethereal Edwardian lace number with the most beautiful three-dimensional flowers. It required a floor-length slip to make it decent, as the lace was sheer, and a fair bit of imagination to realise its potential but my interest was definitely piqued.
Now, cream – or ivory or champagne – makes me look a bit ill. The stunning handmade lace on this Edwardian dress was in two parts: the skirt was cotton lace, and had stayed pretty white over the intervening century; the silk lace that made up the body and arms, though, had become a ‘biscuity’ colour. Abigail did a great job of lightening this without damaging the fabric but the colour of the silk slip was also very important – I wanted something that would make the lace felt fresh and bright. We settled on a very pale duck egg greeny-blue with a peacock blue sash. Abigail also shortened and slimmed-down the sleeves, to show off the pattern in the lace, and neatened the waist, appliqueing lace onto it from the sleeve off-cuts with amazing attention to detail.
It’s worth mentioning here that, in total, I must have tried on 60 dresses in at least 5 places during the hunt for my wedding dress. I ended up being torn between two but Abigail’s dress won because of its history and ethics: it had already been loved by other ladies (rather than being manufactured in and shipped from China just for me) and would be adjusted by a craftsperson who was passionate, creative and highly skilled.
While Abigail got to work, I had to imagine the end result while I picked my shoes. I wanted something both pretty and practical (it was a British summer wedding, after all, with the risk of getting a heel stuck in the soggy lawn!) I considered getting a pair of dancing shoes, but was worried about ending up with an outfit that felt a bit like Downton Abbey fancy dress. In the end, during the hunt for shoes for my sister (my only bridesmaid), I came across some beautiful beaded Indian wedding slippers. Abigail had told me about the Edwardians’ taste for exotic fashions, so this seemed to fit well without being slavishly accurate.
They ended up being really comfortable and I’m so glad they were flat – no back ache, sore feet or towering too much over guests (at 5’9”, I’m tall enough without heels). I’ve actually worn these shoes to breaking point now, so have consigned them, full of holes, to the loft with the other wedding mementos.
My sister came with me to collect the dress, which was the first time I’d seen it in its glorious finished state. I was thrilled that it had all come together so well – and that it was so comfortable to wear. I was also grateful that my sister received instructions on how to dress me, as there were several ingenious hidden poppers and hooks and eyes to keep it all elegantly in place!
On the day itself, I got a huge number of compliments on my dress – one guest even told me it was the most beautiful wedding dress she’d ever seen (and I don’t think she was just saying it…) Our wedding was fantastic and a lot of fun. Being comfortable and confident in my dress was definitely part of that; it was a joy to wear and I treasure it. I’m already looking for an excuse to put it on again – would it be too much for Christmas?
Suppliers – we were lucky enough to have very helpful and friendly suppliers, all of whom we’d recommend:
Hairdressing: Sarah at Alston & Brown (07771 822930)
Photography: Faye Amare photography (www.fayeamare.co.uk/cmwedding)
-Weston’s of Blakeney for the fish (westonsofblakeney.co.uk/)
-Bread from Breadsource (www.bread-source.com)
-Cheese from West Country Cheese (www.westcountrycheese.co.uk)
-Meat from Papworth’s (www.papworthbutchers.co.uk)
-The wonderful Tracy Hindry for everything else
Marquee: Wedding Marquee Company (www.weddingmarqueecompany.co.uk)
Flowers: Tessa Papworth (www.facebook.com/tessa.papworth)
Crockery hire etc.: White China (www.white-china.co.uk)
Magician: Mark Daynes (www.markdaynesmagician.co.uk)
Bridesmaid dress: Bombshell (www.bombshellhq.com)
Bride’s shoes: Unze (www.unze.co.uk)