Whitney & Charles… Parley Manor… Dorset

I met this lovely couple over a year ago… Their brief was simple… Clair ‘do your thing’! I was so excited to embrace my love of all things natural and woodlandy… creating wild foliage arrangements packed full of dried seed heads, pampas grass and succulents… This wedding was all about south African influences, foliage and plants… After the wedding I asked Whitney to share some intimate details about how Charles proposed, and the planning of their big day…

Charles proposed to me at a beach bar in Croatia, one of favourite places on earth! We were having sun downers when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was wearing the same white dress I had on the first time we met. Charles had said to me that first night, after a couple of beers and a lot of flirting, ‘You’re the one and I am going to marry you one day.’ Six years later, on a beach in Croatia, wearing that same white dress, I said yes!!

Charles and I are both originally from South Africa so deciding where to get married was tough! Although the vast majority of both our family are in SA, England is our home now, and so we decided to it here! Our families where so excited to make a holiday of it. The pressure was on to find the perfect venue… We booked lots of viewings determined to make sure we got the right venue. Parley Manor was our first appointment but as soon as we saw the gardens we knew it was for us. We booked it there and then, cancelling the rest of our appointments! We loved the grounds, relaxed atmosphere and how easy it would be to make our own – a blank canvas with a gorgeous backdrop!

After securing our venue and wedding date I then became addicted Instagram using it for inspiration, its how we found most of our suppliers including photographer, stylist and you! I started following you (stalked really) and read your blogs. Every bouquet, centrepiece and buttonhole was unique. We wanted someone who had a definite style to their floristry and wasn’t just doing ‘wedding flowers’ so I popped you an email with all fingers and toes crossed hoping you were free. And you were! Phew! We felt very lucky to have you as a part of our day. 

Flowers were very important to me… My gran is a whizz with flowers and some of my favourite memories are of us arranging flowers together so I actually asked her for her advice. I sent her ideas and she would say, that bouquet is lovely but going to be very heavy all day (never would have thought about that!) or those flowers might not be in season, etc. so she was definitely a huge help! I come from a part of South Africa that is hot, humid and green all year so we chose foliage with that in mind. The proteas and succulents incorporated throughout our flowers were a nod to home too which made our flowers feel very personal and special. 

My dress buying was my next big mission…Oh wow, the first time I tried on dresses was with a very close friend who had also just got engaged! We booked an appointment at a stunning boutique in Wimborne and were excited to try on dresses together for the first time! Well, it didn’t go so well. The first dress I tried on I managed to get foundation all over the cream silk of the bodice! Quick tip: Step in to the wedding dress and try not to get make up all over an extremely expensive French design! The owner of the store was understandably annoyed with me and I still cringe when I think about it! The rest of the process was thankfully less embarrassing. I tried on a couple of dresses that were the ‘look’  I wanted to achieve but quickly realised it’s better to chose what suits me rather than what looked good on Pinterest! I also felt that once I knew what I was going to wear it made things such as flowers and decor easier to make a decision on.

What was my best part of the day… Oh, definitely the moment at the top of the aisle seeing Charles for the first time! I got told by a couple of people to stop at the top and take a moment to breath it in. I thought I would feel nervous and just want to hurry down so asked my dad to please make sure I took that time. I am so glad I listened to that advice as its a moment I’ll never forget. 

My top tip for planning your wedding is… I found wedding planning quire stressful at times… the best advice I got was not to fret about everything being perfect on the day as everyone attending were there because they loved us and wanted the best for us. It really changed my perspective! I chipped my manicure the morning of the wedding, my nephew and page boy sat in a puddle a few minutes before we were about to walk down the aisle so he had a wet bum and it was raining up until a half hour before our ceremony started. Not everything is going to go perfectly to plan, so that’s when your bridal party and your suppliers will step in step up. After all the planning and hard work leading up to it, try be as present as possible on the day and just enjoy it!

Wedding Venue – Parley Manor

Wedding photographer – Peppermint love

Wedding stylist – Linen & Lace

Rosalind & Ravi… Axnoller… Dorset

This weeks wedding blog is all about a fusion wedding… East meets West with Shakespeare’s Rosalind, and the true romantic Ravi… Roz talks about their journey, planning a two wedding weekend, with a Christian wedding on Saturday, followed by a Hindu wedding on the Sunday…

We met Ten years ago on the second day of our graduate scheme. There were seventy graduates who joined our department at work that September,and as Ravi and I have surnames starting with the same letter,we were in the same training classes. We developed a strong friendship and love blossomed over the years… Ravi proposed in Capri as the sun was setting. He had wanted to go to a particular spot to watch the sunset, but I railroaded his plans and made us go to another part of the island! When we were alone in the pine trees looking out to sea he proposed. We celebrated with pizza.

Once engaged I knew planning two weddings was going to be full on… as The Christian Ceremony was on the first day of our celebrations, I started looking for this dress first, and I ended up buying the first I tried on. Some brides have a strong idea of what they want in a dress but all I knew was that I wanted something plain-ish. I visited a number of other shops to try on different styles but I was drawn back to the Cymberline dress I had originally tried on. It had a plain top but magical 3D flowers on the over skirt which danced as I walked along, and gathered around my feet in a circle.

My outfit for the Hindu wedding came from a shop in Ealing Road in Wembley. Ravi’s mum and sisters came with me and my family, we really needed their guidance as this was a whole new experience for us, we had such an amazing day looking at all these amazing fabrics, so bright and colourful. I knew I wanted something quite traditional and I found the perfect one from Rangoli, they were so helpful and made me feel amazing. The outfit was made for me in Mumbai and was a complete contrast to my Christian wedding dress, I looked and felt so different in both…

We Fell in love with the tree-lined drive towards Axnoller, it’s enchanting and wonderfully secluded, but offers big, wide, open Dorset skies. When we thought about what atmosphere we wanted to create at our wedding, Axnoller was perfect as you can stay for the whole weekend, which meant we could have our two weddings on one site and so it acted as a way of unifying the two very different celebrations. There was also opportunities across the barn, marquee and outside space to allow us to have different parts of the wedding in different spots. Axnoller had the added bonus of allowing our families to stay on site which made it very relaxed for us all. Nadia and Sheryl at Axnoller were wonderful to work with too, the icing on the cake!

Having two weddings gave us lots of opportunities for flowers. To give a contrast we chose a very natural white and green theme for the Christian wedding, filing the church with beautiful garden flowers…then vibrant pinks and oranges for the Hindu ceremony.
The Hindu wedding ceremony takes place in a Mandap and one of the reasons we chose Clair as our florist was that she was so excited about creating one for us. Together with the silk I had bought from travels with my parents in Rajastan, Clair decorated the Mandap beautifully with flowers garlands and vibrant floral arrangements. It was a big task but she took our brief and did such a wonderful job. It cleverly combined vibrant India with wild Dorset and wowed us all.
We were really pleased with the table decor at our reception. We made giant table runners using more of the Indian fabric, which Clair adorned with gold jars packed full of flowers. Lots of gold and silver candlesticks and tea lights were added, creating a super cosy atmosphere while we dined from huge sharing bowls of curry and breads…

At times during the planning I questioned why we had decided to have two weddings, however, looking back I was so pleased we did. It was essential for us that the Christian and Hindu weddings were on equal footing and that all guests were invited to both. Our families and friends loved learning about the different cultures and we were so impressed with how both sides embraced it all.
Looking back there are so many wonderful memories, from the happiness we felt walking out of the church after the Christian ceremony… to Ravi and my Dad’s speeches. What was also wonderful was seeing all our friends and family making such an effort to wear India clothes for our Hindu ceremony. They went to such a lot of trouble and it really showed how much they cared. Our hearts just felt full the whole weekend.

Tackling a two day wedding isn’t for the faint hearted, and we couldn’t have achieved it all with out our team of helpers. From our families to the staff at Axnoller, the photographers and videographers, hair and make up, and of course Clair and her team. We put our trust in them to create our vision and were thrilled with how they brought it to life. Thank you for everything.

Venue – Axnoller Weddings

London Wedding Photographer – Weddings by Nicola and Glen

Emma & Simon… Cain Manor… Hampshire…

I met Emma & Simon last winter… They described themselves as outdoorsy, with a passion for horse riding and dog walks in the woods… so obviously this had a massive influence on the their venue and flowers choices… 

We knew we wanted a church ceremony… our lovely local church is set in a beautiful location in the woods, it was perfect for us. The only challenge was the venue… we wanted something close to the church that fulfilled our brief for a country wedding… I ordered brochure upon brochure of local venues, but didn’t feel anywhere quite right for us. My mum mentioned Cain Manor, and as soon as we saw the images online, we knew we had to visit. This was the only venue we visited in person and we booked our date there and then. The venue offered us exclusive hire and bedrooms onsite for family, which was important to us, we also loved the country feel of the venue and the gorgeous grounds and views. 

Flowers were the next big thing and very important to us… We knew that choosing the right look and feel would really help enhance our venue, and look amazing in our photographs. We had picked a very neutral colour scheme… I had a vision of our bridesmaids in nude and had already fallen in love with some personalised floral stationary and table settings in white and nude pinks, so the flowers  had to follow this theme… We also knew we wanted to bring the outdoors in using lots of fresh greenery… We wanted to find a florist that loved foliage just as much as us, and really matched our vision for the day. We met with a couple of florists but didn’t feel they really understood our vision for the venues. When we came across Clair’s Instagram page with images of natural garden flowers and lots of foliage, we knew straight away she was perfect. After discussing our ideas in depth over the phone, we were so excited to have Clair producing our flowers. She was also very helpful in maximising our  budget, suggesting we reuse flowers from the church at Cain Manor, which she took care of on our behalf, we didn’t need to think about a thing on the day.

My dress buying journey was pleasantly straight forward and enjoyable. I was slightly filled with dread at the thought of finding a dress, or in my case not finding a dress! I had watched many wedding programmes on the tv, and scrolled Instagram looking aimlessly at wedding dresses, so I knew what I didn’t want in a dress, but was no closer to knowing what I did want! I took my whole bridal party, seven of us, to my first dress shop with no intention of buying a dress – how could I get all of us to agree on one dress? After trying on a couple of dresses my sister pointed out a dress on display and told me to try it on. The minute I tried the dress I knew it was the one, I loved the fitted shape and the detailed lace design on the body of the dress, I felt elegant and confident walking around the shop. When I went to collect the dress 6 months later, I had an extra surprise that it came with a lace cape giving me a gorgeous long train, I love looking back at the images, seeing it cascading down the aisle!

This is question everyone has asked me since the wedding, and I am not sure its possible to pick a single moment from such a magical day. However, I think the ceremony will hold a special memory for me. This was the one part I was most nervous about and wanted to get it out of the way so I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. As soon as I arrived at the church with my dad and bridesmaids, my heart started pounding and my legs turned to jelly… but once the doors opened and I saw everyone’s beaming faces, I immediately relaxed. The church looked absolutely beautiful with foliage wrapped round the pillars. floral jars lined the aisle with bright flowers, and there was fresh green foliage on every window ledge… Standing at the altar next to Simon was  the perfect moment, he calmed my nerves and the service was full of laughter throughout. The wedding breakfast was also magical seeing all our family and friends enjoying the day and of course eating all the extremely tasty food. The speeches from Simon, my dad, and the best man were a great part of the day too. It was during the meal that I released how lucky we are to have so many wonderful friends and family who came to celebrate with us. We must say a huge thank you to Clair for creating such a beautiful wedding for us, we couldn’t have imagined it better, and it really was a pleasure to have you with us on the day! Also a huge thank you to the wonderful Linen and Lace who, alongside Clair, dressed Cain Manor for us and brought the whole look together! 

Hampshire Photographer – DM Photography

Venue – Cain Manor – Hampshire

Venue stylists – Linen & Lace

Georgina & Dan… Smedmore House… Purbecks…

This week Georgina tell’s me all about her holidays in the beautiful Purbeck countryside, being proposed to on Swanage beach, and planning their dream wedding with coastal views…

I’m oh so very lucky to be a wedding florist in such a stunning location… Most people think, poor you, having to get up so early every weekend to set up couples wedding flowers… Are you kidding! Early rising in the summer months is bliss… the sun is out, the birds are tweeting, there’s no traffic and I have the roads to myself, flying along with the windows down and the wind in my hair! The South coast has some of the best scenery, best country side and best wedding venues, and I get to see it all… A Purbeck wedding, is the perfect wedding!

Why did you choose Smedmore House as your wedding venue… Dan & I have always loved Swanage and holiday there 3 or 4 times a year at his parents holiday home. After the Swanage proposal there was no other option apart from a Perbeck wedding! We wanted a venue by the sea and after the first visit we knew Smedmore was the one. The drive into Kimmeridge village alone is idyllic with stunning views of the bay below… to Access this side of the Purbecks you need to climb a steep winding road which opens up to panoramic views of the coast… then you wind back down towards Smedmore house which is tucked away amongst a few hills, and again, with views of the see. With Smedmore you get to hire the whole place for the weekend, it’s great as all your family and close friends can stay all under one roof…

Tell me about your dress buying journey… Buying the dress was super easy, I knew I wanted a Boho look, something that was comfortable and chic, and super easy to wear…I’d found ‘Rembo’ Styling and knew this was the designer for me… I  tried on a couple of styles then went away to sleep on it… off the cuff, one day after work, I went in on my own, picked one and it was purchased in 10 minutes! For my bridesmaids I knew l wanted something summery & vibrant, something to compliment my vision of wild vibrant flowers…  I stumbled across the ‘last one on the rack’ and found these beautiful coral dresses… Coral literally goes with every colour, so that was that, stress free, decision made, boho dresses were sorted!

How excited were you about the flowers… So flowers were one of the most important things on my list…when I came to thinking about this I was so excited!!! I wanted bright, bold and wild!! And that’s what I got. After looking on your website and instagram, your style was just what I was after… I was able to get some real inspiration, and start to visualise how everything would look… you created the perfect wild flower combination for my bouquet… and the marquee was the wild flower statement we’d been dreaming of… The floral chandeliers were the main feature and brought our sailcloth tent to life…  

What was the best part of the days… Speeches, they made me laugh and cry… photos at Kimmeridge Bay with just me and Dan, and dancing the night away under your beautiful flowers!
I want you to know just how grateful we are for your hard work, putting together the most wonderful summer flowers we could of ask for. Not to mention the flower crown which was awesome!! We have had so many great comments from guests about the flowers, saying they were the most beautiful they’ve ever seen!

Venue… Smedmore House

Images… Courtenay Photography

Sail Cloth Tent … Coastal Tents

Sian & Martyn… Burley Manor

This weeks blog is all about the midlands girl who fell in love with the forest…

Sian and Martyn took the plunge and moved down south from the midlands last year, I know how nerve wracking this can be being a northern girl myself. However neither these guys or myself have ever looked back, embracing all what beautiful Dorset has to offer… I asked Sian why she chose Burley Manor, and this is what she had to say… It was a must for me to get married in the New Forest… when I moved to the South from the Midlands and drove into the forest for the first time it quite literally took my breath away. I wanted all my friends and family from home to experience this, feel the same way I did and be wowed by the Dorset country side. It was a no brainer for me… when Martyn and I drove down the drive to Burley Manor and saw the beautiful house set in fields of deer, I just knew this had to be the place! 

Once I’d booked the venue of my dreams, the next thing on my list was “The Dress”… my dress buying journey was fairly easy, although I did watch a fair few episodes of “say yes to the dress UK!!”… I’d had my eye on a beautiful little boutique in Leamington Spa called Tilly Trotters, I tried on a few, all different styles just be sure, but I new in the back of my mind I wanted something classic. When I came out of the dressing room to show my best friend she cried, and she isn’t a crier, so that sealed the deal! 

The next priority was my florist and stylists… I’d already found Linen and Lace on instagram and fallen in love with their styling… you popped up on their feed and your work was exactly the style I’d been pinning on Pinterest, so I hurried to book an appointment with you both… not only was your work what I wanted, you were very communicative, which is very important to me. I knew as soon as we started emailing, and your response to my ideas, that you were the florist for us. your attention to detail throughout was fantastic.

Yes, I am huge Pinterest  fan… I used it to help build ideas for the wedding, and it really helped with flower inspiration. There were two things I just had to have… I love peonies, these were a must. I also love red lipstick, I wouldn’t feel me without my red lips! so this vibrant colour also had to feature in the wedding… the boys had cherry red ties and you created a wonderful floral pallet of sunset oranges, pops of red and aubergine,  mixed with my favourite foliage, eucalyptus.

My favourite part of the day was without a doubt the ceremony. Seeing my friends and family all happy for us, and of course seeing Martyn at the end of the aisle… The flowers and the styling, it was far more than i’d ever pictured in my head and made the ceremony room feel cosy… The wedding ceremony itself, although very relaxed, was emotional, upbeat and funny, it was amazing!! I love looking back through the images, reliving the moment with a smile. 

Walking into the reception room ahead of all my guests was pretty wow too, all those candles twinkling across the room was just so magical, the flowers brought everything together… I loved it all!

Images by – Hayley Savage photography

Styling by – Linen & Lace

Venue – Burley Manor

 

She is an extremely talented artist

Even after my own wedding over a year ago I still follow Clair on all her social medias... seeing her new work with other brides and feeling like she keeps re-investing herself, nothing is ever alike! She is an extremely talented artist.

Exactly what every bride needs

Clair is knowledgeable & friendly which is exactly what every bride needs. Her work looks like it's out of an East London photoshoot with oodles of style... All of my bridesmaids want Clair to be there florist. She is exceptional!

An excellent creator of floral masterpieces

Clair instinctively knew what flowers to use based upon my brief... She is calm, relaxed, professional and discrete... An excellent creator of floral masterpieces which brought tears of joy to my eyes.