Hannah & James… Sopley Mill…

So… This weeks blog is all about being true to yourself… not conforming to all those silly wedding rules, and just rocking it out as you see fit… Hannah has some great tips to share with you all, especially about budgeting and dress buying…

How did James propose?

James proposed whilst we were on holiday in Portugal, it was amazing. He popped the question on the first day, well… first evening as he carried the ring around all day waiting for the perfect moment… it rained quite a bit, which left us drinking sangria and exploring the old town, rather than sunbathing on the beach! After dinner we ended up sat in the tiniest bar that had live musicians playing Wonderwall…we just felt so relaxed and happy, belting out the words, when I looked down to see the most beautiful ring in front of me on the bar… the rest is history! Jim said he looked at us having the best time, just so happy in each other’s company, and the moment perfectly painted what our relationship is all about.

What made you choose Sopley Mill?

The New Forest is a very special place for us, we both love being near water, whether it be the sea, a lake, or a river. We very much live the country life of wellies, dog walks and log fires, and Sopley Mill reflected this side of us perfectly. We decided on a winter wedding as we knew we could still have a great day there and not worry about the weather as the inside is so beautiful with the exposed brick, fire places and amazing views over the river. Having said this, we were extremely lucky with the weather and had that really low winter sun all afternoon, meaning our guests enjoyed mulled cider out on the terrace. The other thing that attracted us to Sopley Mill was the fact it’s dog friendly, which was a big bonus for us as our Jack Russel was ring bearer!

What are your top tips to wedding planning?

As cliché as it sounds, do what is right for you and try not to worry too much about what anyone else thinks. So many people said to us that our wedding reflected us both as a couple and individually which made it unique to us and made it feel that extra bit special.

Also, when looking at your budget it’s so easy to get carried away. Try to work out what parts of the day are really important to you, and allow more budget for these bits… whatever ends up being less important can either be  left out entirely, or just be given a small budget… For example, we were desperate to have Clair’s moongate because it’s just so stunning, however we weren’t too fussed on having a wedding cake, so we decided to have a super cheap naked cake from M&S (which was beautifully decorated by Clair) and this allowed the money for what we really wanted… The moongate!

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get married ‘out of season’. We got married on a Monday in December between Christmas and New Year and had the most amazing weather and setting. You can make the day exactly what you want regardless of what day or time of year it is!

How did you choose your florist?

I discovered Clair on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her style, your work just seemed wilder, more unstructured and more relaxed than others I had seen. I was also a little clueless over flowers (mainly because they are so hard to pronounce!) and Clair was just so helpful and patient, not to mention really passionate which was important for me. I became a pinterest addict, which I shared with Clair, and you worked your magic from there. I also soon realised that all the suppliers we were booking all knew each other or had worked together already which was reassuring but also it meant the day came together much more easily!

Tell me all about your dress buying journey?

Oh my god where do I begin. I am still so in love with my dress! here it goes…

When we got engaged I decided I wanted something very simplistic with no lace, however after hours/days/weeks of searching the internet I kept finding myself looking at the INCA gown by ‘Grace Loves Lace’… yep, the whole thing was lace! I even kept looking at pictures of their show room because it was absolute interior goals. So I took myself and my bridesmaids to the London showroom in Shoreditch so I could try it on and it was just amazing… Everything I had hoped! The whole experience was just so relaxed and enjoyable; no rules or restrictions on taking photos, how many people could come along etc. We were just made to feel so welcome and felt we could fully relax, soak up the experience and not feel rushed because of other appointments after us. The dress and the experience just felt like it was perfect and reflected my personality so well. Having said all this, I felt I still wanted to look around, mainly out of curiosity to see what else was out there, but to also just experience the whole dress shopping thing. I went to a number of shops and yes I tried on some really lovely dresses in some lovely shops, but being pegged into a dress which was too big and then having to walk out and stand on a box in front of a mirror just wasn’t for me. The beauty of a ‘Grace Loves Lace’ dress is that they are SO comfy, there’s no boning, buttons or zips and I could literally pull it over my head myself and I was good to go. This meant that dancing, going to the loo and eating were all very achievable! 

I also got my veil from the Grace Loves Lace sample sale and it was 75% off! I did have to channel my inner Monica from friends (minus the whistle) and get up stupidly early in the morning to queue outside the showroom but it was all part of the fun and totally worth it!

Favourite part of the day?

All of it!…

Getting ready with my girls and mum, seeing James and Jackson (our dog) waiting for me at the top of the aisle, having all our friends and family together to help us celebrate, the speeches, the beautiful winter sun, the soul band singing our first dance live, the list goes on….

Photographer – Stephen Duncan

Stylist – Fundoo Weddings and Events

Makeup – Tara Sanger

How to reschedule your wedding…

This week I decided to write a blog on how to reschedule your wedding… Given the current circumstances I felt a lot of brides out there could be in complete panic mode, treading water, not really knowing what to do!

It’s such an awful time for us all, there’s no one in the world this corona virus isn’t going to touch in some way! My realisation hit around a week ago, when I finally had to accept my business might collapse after receiving email after email, either cancelling or postponing weddings… I’m not embarrassed to admit I had my share of melt downs, literally not knowing what to do! I was asking myself questions like…”how will I pay my rent”… and… “I’m going to have to take my house of the market!”… however, once I had my cry and downed a bottle of wine, I soon came to my senses, realising I’m not the only one! from then on, I’ve been supporting other florists, supplier friends, and all my couples, in any way shape or form… whether it be a simple message asking “are you ok”… to sending out emails of understanding and support to all my brides… or simply supporting my fellow supplier friends saying… “you can do this!”… Its oh so important for us all to stick together and support each other as much as we can…

So… the million dollar question everyone is asking… what shall I do if I have to postpone my wedding… or… “should I postpone my wedding?”…

First of all… If your getting married within the next three months, yes I’d say you need to reschedule your wedding… I know it’s heart breaking. You’ve spent months, if not years planning this day. But the sooner you become active, and regain control of your big day, the sooner you’ll get to to walk down that aisle…

Everyone is going to be in the same boat as you, so everyone will be rushing to reschedule… Saturdays are obviously prime choice so you might need to think about changing the day, perhaps opting for a Friday wedding, or Sunday… Some of you will have had your heart set on spring weddings and outdoor ceremonies, and now your only choice’s are autumn or winter, therefore you maybe considering waiting until 2021…

If it comes to this… think of your suppliers… if everyone postpones their weddings to the following year, there’s a very good chance some of your suppliers will go out of business… we all have rent to pay, and many of us will exhaust what provisions we have keeping ourselves ticking over until life resumes… I know thinking of us could be the last thing on your mind… but keeping us in mind could help us regain our losses later on in the year, and keep our businesses from going under…

First things first… call your venue, seek their support and advice… ask them for all their available dates for the reaming season and take your pick… Then call all of your suppliers… It’s very sad to say that not all of them will be able to accommodate your new date, so you may now be left on the hunt for replacements… take all of this in your stride… don’t get stressed, you can do this! it will all come together in the end. Just think ahead, keep dreaming… it WILL happen.

Acts of kindness go a long way… I had one of my brides who’s getting married in August, email informing me she had paid her balance in full… I literally cried! All week I’d been paying my bills and rent, getting myself straight to see the next few months out as best I could, and she quite simply gave me that life line I needed to get through! I’ll forever be in her debt… If any of you out there are unaffected financially by this virus, then perhaps think of your suppliers or others… I’m sure one of them, just like me, could do with a little support right now, but they just don’t feel they can ask!

Off the back of this kindness, when sadly one of weddings had to cancel and I’d already purchased the flowers, I decided to bunch them all up and hand them out to my local shops who were struggling to get people through the door… I thought giving away free flowers might help encourage people to venture out and keep spending… Regardless of  my brides complete despair in having to cancel her wedding two days before the big day, she was whole heartedly on board with me giving her flowers away, wanting to supporting others… she even gave her cake away to people in need! Within days she’d come back to me with a new date and her spring wedding is now booked in for December 19th, and we’re both excited to get planning her new seasonal flower choices and colour scheme to suit the time of year!

I’ll leave you all with one last word of wisdom… I know it’s seems like the worst thing in the world right now… but seriously, just think ahead to when your wedding day will finally happen… think of that big beaming smile you’re going to have on your face, because truly, its going to mean so much more! And just think what fun the best mans going to have taking the piss out of this corona virus thing during his speech! YOU WILL SAY I DO!

Charlotte & Kieran’s boho dream weeding at Burley Manor – New forest

Charlotte & Kieran got married at the super cosy Burely Manor, in the new forest… This beautiful venue with authentic woodland setting, rustic barn, deer on the door step, and real fires are to die for… They chose to marry in the autumn, embracing all the season has to offer, combining this with super cool boho styling… After their honeymoon, I got in touch so they could spill the beans on wedding planning, proposals, and top tips…

How did Kieran propose?… At Disneyland Paris! We’ve both been numerous times over the years, both with our families growing up and just together. One of our favourite spots is the Piano Bar inside the Disneyland Hotel. On the very last day of a five day trip in December 2016, he proposed over tea and cookies in the bar. We went back for our honeymoon over the very same dates in 2019, and going back there as his wife was super special.

What inspired you for the theme of your wedding?… It’s very typical to say but… Pinterest! I’ve always loved 70s and bohemian styling, and we both love being outdoors, we both work together in the New forest, so it was a no brainer for us to choose a woodland location for the big day… Autumn is also our favourite time of year and we loved the thought of getting married in October. Bringing all of these things together just formed a very natural basis for the theme and styling of our wedding.

Why did you choose Burley Manor?… Over the years, Kieran and I have spent a lot of time exploring the New Forest, with our Scottie dogs in tow. One of our favourite spots in the New Forest is Burley. It’s just somewhere that has an air of magic… with its witchcraft history that makes sense really! It also helps that the hotel is incredibly beautiful, and the staff are just absolutely wonderful and made everything a breeze.

Tell me about your dress buying journey?… It was actually surprisingly simple for someone who is usually incredibly indecisive! I knew I wanted a dress that was elegant yet easy enough to run around a forest in, if needed! In my head, I envisaged something fitted, with a sweetheart neckline, thin straps and a low back. I ended up trying on a few variations of this style in about three shops before spotting the Inez by American based designer Willowby by Watters on Pinterest, and decided to try and hunt it down in the UK. Luckily Ava Louise Bridal in Southampton was having a Willowby trunk show. I asked if the Inez would be included, and they very kindly ordered it in especially to try with the current collection. I also had some extra length added to the train for a little more drama. I also purchased a lace and tasselled kimono from Bibi Luxe as an evening cover up, which was a thing of Stevie Nicks dreams!

How important was styling and flowers to you?… Massively! During our consultation with Clair, we said the flowers were probably the most important styling element… We wanted to embrace the forest, use lots of greenery and plants, bringing the outdoors inside and creating a woodland setting was the ultimate target… Knowing Clair was so on board with our ideas just made us even more excited and certain that she was absolutely perfect to bring our wedding vision to life. The result was beyond anything we could have imagined, I still get emotional looking back at the photos! Winterborne Vintage supplied our super cool boho furniture and beautiful rugs for the ceremony and reception finishing… we made our own birch wood tipi and welcome sign, which you added foliage and flowers… Fundoo Wedding stylists set up our beautiful fairy lights in the barn ceiling, adding that extra element of autumnal cosiness. 

What was the best part of the day?… Absolutely the ceremony!! I know it’s a bit cliche, but you can’t prepare for how wonderful it will be. I was so incredibly nervous beforehand, not because I was getting married, but because there was a barn full of people waiting for me to arrive! As soon as I walked in with my Dad, all of my worries faded, and I was just in awe of the styling, stunning flowers, and glowing candlelight. I then saw Kieran waiting for me in front of the beautiful macrame arch. Our registrar was so lovely, and having Kieran’s cousin Carmen read a poem that she wrote especially for us, based on our memories and favourite things about each other, is something I’ll never forget.

Do you have any top tips for brides planning their wedding?… Enjoy every moment, plan a wedding that is true to you both and take time to savour the day together whenever you can. It’s advice we were given in the run up to our wedding and it’s true when people say the day will fly by!

Furniture hire… Winterborne Vintage

Venue… Burley Manor

Dress… Willowby by Watters

Photographer.. Mary Parker

Sam & Alex’s enchanted woodland wedding at Herrison Hall…

From the moment I met Sam and Alex I knew this wedding flower journey was going to be special… Sam’s brief was… ‘think Lord of the Rings Clair!’… Well of course I was instantly in love! From proposal to saying I do, this entire wedding has been super Romantic with a capital R!…

So Sam, did Alex propose?… At home! I knew it was coming but thought he’d do it in Italy, as we were getting ready for a trip there. But he knew I would be expecting that, so instead he did it two days before we left. I came home from a meeting to find the house full of roses and a box sitting on the table. I walked up to it to look closer, and Alex came up behind me and whispered his proposal in my ear. It was super personal, intimate and romantic.

Talk me through your dress buying journey… I was planning to buy my dress overseas from a certain shop I liked, but my mother in law convinced me to go shopping locally ahead of time to get a better idea of the styles I liked. I ended up finding the most gorgeous sample dress in my size on sale, so I bought it! I couldn’t believe how quick and simple it was! However, choosing my Bridesmaids and their dresses turned out to be a bit more tricky… I had a couple of friends back home in the States I had to choose between to walk with my sisters and best friend here in the UK. In the end the decision was made for me, as one of them was helping me a lot with wedding plans, and the other simply couldn’t make the date!

Tell the readers about your flower choices and wedding styling journey?… I knew exactly what I wanted before I spoke with anyone, I’m such a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, it turned out to be a huge inspiration for the day,  I knew I wanted a forest theme, so foliage was always going to be hugely important for making that vision a reality. I was lucky to meet you, the foliage queen, and Sam from Linen and Lace! you were the first people I got in touch with and you both understood my vision entirely. I was able to put together the enchanted forest wedding of my dreams because I had the right suppliers who just got what I wanted. I never quite realised how important that would be until I started planning, I just let you guys roll with it and do your job!

 What was the best part of the day?… Alex’s vows for sure. I can’t watch or read them without crying… I loved my family from overseas being together with us along with close friends… and I loved my enchanted woodland you created for me!

Wedding stylists… Linen and Lace

Venue… Herrison Hall

Photographer…  Benni Carol wedding photography

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

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!

Very responsive and flexible

Clair is extremely passionate about what she does, which is highly infectious... She knows her craft and is very responsive and flexible to additional ideas... Everyone commented that they were the most stunning wedding flowers they'd ever seen!

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.