Page 1

VOW | 0 9

VOW wa i t i n g f o r t h e m a n o c to b er & n ov e m b er 2 0 1 6


Waiting for the man OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2016 / BATH, BRISTOL & the west / NO.9

C A R I NA B AV E R S TO C K C O U T U R E w w w. c a r i n a b c o u t u r e . c o m


picture by laura babb

Something’s gotta give And that something should probably be you. Let me explain. Marriage, you see, is about give-and-take. And knowing which compromises to make, and when, is essential not just to planning a successful big day, but to all the bigger months and years to come, too. On the wedding day, as in life, there’ll be some things one of you will have a strong opinion on, others where neither of you really care – and only a few where you’re at loggerheads. It’s managing those that’s the trick, and balancing when to play peacemaker – most of the time, we’d suggest – with when to put your foot down is something you’ve got a lifetime to feel your way towards. Happily, most wedding day sticking points are easily vaulted over with a bit of smart thinking. You want a Brobdingnagian, multi-tiered cake for show-off value and Instagram kudos, but he thinks it’s a waste of money – and, indeed, of cake? Then get the spectacle by adding false layers, investing in a vintage cake stand to give height, or covering a modest icing-and-marzipan concoction in fresh flowers. The result? Most of the impact, but less wasted Victoria sponge. Or, you want to get married in Devon, but she fancies Scotland. One workable compromise might be to bring the glens to cidercountry, perhaps through food, music, or (of course) costume – and, ideally, all three. An afternoon that’s half caber-tossing and half chasing a runaway cheese down a hill would be one to remember, don’t you think? (And not just by the handful of unfortunate guests who spent the remainder of the day in A&E.) The big things couples tend to argue about might be predictable – of course it’s the guest list; naturally it’s the budget – and those we can’t really help you with. But with the others, there’s almost always a workable third way. All this, of course, assumes it’s just the two of you who are doing the picking. Introduce stroppy bridesmaids, or opinionated mother in laws, to the mix, and I’m afraid you’re on your own… Matt Bielby, editor


76Our favourite children? The well-behaved sort!


Tractors, wellies, mud… and love!

59Dreamcatchers, bongos, and romance in the clouds…

36Hope you’ve got a litter tray for that!

Vow M ag a zine MATT BIELBY Editor

MATT WILLIAMS Art Director KYLE PHILLIPS Advertising Manager

HELEN KEMBERY Deputy Advertising Manager

Order of service 7 INVITATIONS

We’ve got flowers! We’ve got hats! We’ve got cakes! And we’ve got just the coolest bride, who looks like punk nobility about to go on a Highlands grouse shoot. Hey, it’s a look…


Meet some elegant wedding gowns, rather less elegant rubber boots, and – for the first time in Vow – the skimpies you’d wear under ’em all. Oh yes, and we’ve got bridles (as opposed to ‘bridals’). They’re a first, too.


One couple got engaged on the top of a mountain, another on an island, and a third on their joint birthday. (How come everyone seems to lead more exciting lives than us?)

4 | VOW


Cool country houses, city centre boutique hotels, and a whopping great abbey. Hey, they’re all damn good choices – but what’s right for you?


Keeping the little ones entertained at a wedding? It’s child’s play!


New! Holidays in the sun! (It would be worth getting married, just to earn a honeymoon break like these ones…)

Production and Distribution Manager SARAH KINGSTON

Deputy Production Manager CHRISTINA WEST

Marketing KATE AUTHERS @KAuthers

Chief Executive JANE INGHAM

Vow Magazine, MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. On the cover: pic by Lucky Malone


Your mouth is dry. You feel the sweats coming on. You need the loo – but you don’t, really. Yes, it’s speech-making time…

Printed on paper from a well-managed source. Ink are vegetable based; printer is certified to ISO 14001 environmental management



Yes, we’re dressing a bride Pre-Raphaelite style



NO COUNTRY FOR OLD HENS Actually, that's not quite true. MARGOT MAY tearoom might look sedate, but the parties here rock… Margot May tearoom, of North Street, Bristol, mixes the vintage and contemporary in winning fashion, and makes a great venue for a raucous hens’ afternoon tea party, whatever your age. “Our focus has always been to provide honest food, either made ourselves or by local suppliers,” say owners Kate and Jenny. “We bake all our own cakes and scones, and most of our bread is from Mark’s Bread, just down North Street from us. We use Extract coffee, loose leaf tea from The Teahouse Emporium in Bath, and jam from Heavenly Hedgerows of Keynsham.” All very tempting, but what about the hen party offering? Well, they offer two types of hire, so up to 16 hens can descend on the place while the tearoom is open to the public,

or, if you close it up, you can have exclusive use for up to 35. “What we’re best at is an afternoon tea party,” the guys say, “where guests bring their own games, or workshops we organise on things such as garter making, or vintage hair and make-up. We can also arrange live music – or you can bring along any other entertainment you like. We just held a party for one of our regular customers, in fact; her nearest and dearest had all made their own bespoke vintage wear. To kick off the fascinatormaking, they popped a few bottles of Prosecco – we don't have an alcohol licence, but guests are welcome to bring their own – and there was just time to play ’pin the trunk on hunk’, too!” Follow them on Twitter @_margotmay VOW | 7

I n v i tat i o n s

Upcoming event

8 | VOW

h e a r t f e lt v i n ta g e

Pictures by su barclay

HEART’S ON FIRE Vow Magazine teams up with Heartfelt Vintage for a wedding event with a difference… This October, Vow Magazine is tying a temporary knot with Heartfelt Vintage – the boutique and tearoom in Clifton, Bristol – for a unique event, designed for anyone planning a wedding on the more alternative end of the spectrum. Our aim: to make the whole process as easy and pain-free as possible.

The basic idea is that you join us for a delicious homemade afternoon tea, a glass of bubbles and a chat about weddings in the relaxed and quirky surroundings of the Heartfelt shop in Clifton. These guys regularly work with a team of trusted wedding suppliers, all of whom provide an original and personal service, and each of them will be present on the day, ready to show off their talents and chat through ideas. There’ll be rail after rail of gorgeous, original vintage wedding dresses on display too, and you’ll be able to see how your wedding reception could look when styled by the Heartfelt team. We’ll be talking make-up, hair, dress alterations, catering ideas and more, plus

there’ll be some brilliant musicians on hand to keep you entertained. Here’s Kate Ashwell of Heartfelt to tell more… So, Kate, how often do you run events at Heartfelt these days? Over the last 18 months, they’ve almost become at the heart of what we do – our backgrounds, in arts production and festival management, mean we can’t help ourselves! And we love the energy and enthusiasm they bring to our space. We’ve hosted many different events in the shop so far, from our popular Afternoon Tea Sunday Sessions to our Vintage Makeover events. We’ve also become a space where people love to celebrate. I’ve lost count of the VOW | 9

I N V I TAT I O N S : e v e n t s


to find. There’s less of it out there, and what there is can be very expensive, or in questionable condition. The days of finding gems in charity shops are long gone, and the rise in popularity of vintage has meant a rise in prices. Most of our stock comes from individuals, auctions and fairs, and we spend a lot of time washing, ironing and fixing. Certainly, most things don’t turn up in the shop looking like they do when they hit the rails! Look at any vintage seller’s bath, and you’ll find something in there soaking in Vanish…

number of parties we’ve hosted for hens, forthcoming babies and special birthdays. On a completely different note, we’ve also opened our doors to small, creative businesses who are looking for a unique place to host something like a workshop, too. 9 October will be the first time we’ve hosted an event specifically for couples planning their weddings, though. It just seemed like the right step, given our history. We like to show people what we do, rather than just talk about it. It makes a real difference when potential customers can see for themselves. So, what are you most looking forward to on the 9th? We always find it quite difficult to explain to people how we all work together as a team – to understand, they really need to see us in action. I’m very careful in selecting the suppliers who join us – they have to share our creative vision and ethos. And I have to have worked with them before in some way, so I can judge if they’re the right fit. Every person in our team is excellent at what they do individually, but when we come together, we create something special. Watch out, though: we’re maybe a bit bonkers as a group! And wedding are definitely becoming a major part of what we do, to the point where we’re launching a sister company 10 | VOW

– Heartfelt Vintage Weddings – to house our ‘top-to-toe’ wedding planning service. The Wedding Afternoon Tea is a key part of this growing venture. On the events side of things, we’ve recently been invited to join too, where we’ll be selling our afternoon tea experiences and party packages. I can only see that side of the business growing yet further.

All exciting developments, then, but what’s next? We get increasingly busy with brides up until almost Christmas, at which point we’ve got gift wrapping and wreath making workshops lined up, and we’ll be running a new supper club event called Some Enchanted Evening, with opera singer Claire Delaney. Claire will also be running a singing masterclass later in the year. I’m quite interested in adding a weekly sewing or knitting group, too – I’ve been talking about that for ages – and we’ve got plans to launch a larger scale event, beyond the four walls of our shop, in time for Valentine’s Day…

So, of all the items you stock, which are hardest to source? Vintage fashion from the 1950s and backwards is getting harder and harder

The Wedding Afternoon Tea, 9 October; Heartfelt Vintage, 32 Alma Vale Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2HY; entry £5, to include afternoon tea and a glass of bubbles. Booking is essential; call 0117 904 2898, or e-mail

COUTURE PUNK Imogen Oakes channels Sarah Stockbridge, muse to Mad Queen Viv The pictures on these pages should give you some idea about the current Heartfelt Vintage vibe: elegant, quirky, and a little bit out there. Inspired in large part by Vivienne Westwood, it features an original 1950s lace gown, customised around the waistline to add a heritage feel, and a 1960s tweed Stephen Marks jacket. And many other decades are featured too. “The lace gloves are from the 1940s,” says Kate, “and the vintage brooches are from various decades, ranging from the 1920s to the 1970s. The headpiece is a modern one created by Able Mabel, and the knee-high leather boots are from the 1970s – they were my mum’s!”


Kate Ashwell at Heartfelt Vintage; PHOTOGRAPHER: Su Barclay Photography; FLOWERS: Heartfelt Flowers; HAIR AND MAKE-UP: Lou Mack; HEADPIECE: Able Mabel; FASHION AND ACCESSORIES:

Heartfelt Vintage; WEDDING DRESS: customised by Pia Pispa at Heartfelt Vintage VENUE: The Old Bookshop, North Street, Bristol; MODEL: Imogen Oakes

I n v i tat i o n s

Flower power

KISSED BY A ROSE Flowers are both business and pleasure for Rachel Husband, whose wellregarded florist shop, THE ROSE SHED, has recently relocated to Bristol’s cool ‘creative quarter’, Paintworks

12 | VOW

One of the big current trends in flowers – perhaps the dominant one – is for elegant, romantic, organic blooms inspired by English country gardens, and Rachel Husband’s work is certainly in that style, involving soft, blowsy flowers and plenty of trailing foliage and scented herbs. “I’m a wedding florist at heart,” she says, “and so I’m able to devote 100% of my business and attention to your big day, with no other distractions. My couples certainly say that this is a reassuring factor, and one of the things they book me for.” The reason she specialises in weddings, though, is simple: she loves ’em, and thrives off meeting couples and helping them bring their vision to life.


How then, Rachel, did you start out as a florist? I started as a Saturday girl when I was at school, and helped out at various florists throughout college. I always wanted to have my own shop one day, though, and decided to dedicate myself solely to wedding and event flowers when I set up The Rose Shed in 2012. This is where my passion lies. Believe it or not, I love the early starts to the market, when you get to collect the beautiful flowers you’ve ordered, and begin unpacking them and conditioning them in the workshop, creating each arrangement and bouquet, and picturing where they will end up on the couple’s special day. It’s such a joy delivering the bride’s bouquet, especially

when you see her smile. Lots of brides say it’s one of the moments on the morning that makes everything seem real. What’s particularly on trend at the moment, then? This summer I’ve created lots of blush wedding flowers. It’s such a romantic, pretty and subtle colour way, offering a timeless appeal. I think brides want their flowers to appear how they might in nature. That said, I’ve had more daring brides opting for a richer colour scheme, and adding in crimson reds or dark plums gives plenty of drama and impact. I don’t get too hung up on trends, though, because I want all my brides to go with their gut instinct on the flowers

and colours they love. I also want them to work with the season, so enjoy richer jewel tones in autumn and winter, and fresher, cleaner colours in spring. What do you tell brides who are dead set against certain flowers? If she hates a certain flower, then fair enough. Plenty of brides come to me and say, ‘These are my colours. What do you suggest?’ Others already have varieties they’d like to use – and both are great ways to work. Each season has its own winning flowers, so I always recommend sticking with seasonal blooms. In the spring you have such beautiful ranunculus, tulips and anemone, and in the summer we have peonies, VOW | 13


delphiniums and hydrangeas, moving onto dahlias, berries and autumnal foliage in the autumn and then striking amaryllis, spruce foliage and narcissi in the winter. What, then, are the biggest influences on your floral design? I get inspiration from all over the place, and – with the way social media has taken off over the last few years – it’s easy to be inspired by just popping onto Instagram for five minutes. I like to think that it’s the flowers themselves that inspire me the most, though. I’m not into fussy floristry, and think flowers are just beautiful in their own right. I love being outdoors too, and when not in the workshop can be found out walking the dog in the countryside. So nature itself is a big thing for me. When the spring blossom and daffodils starts growing, or you see a woodland packed full of moss and ferns, it’s easy to be inspired. Okay, so we want to book you. What happens? We’ll have a few emails back and forth exploring what you need, and the style of flowers you’re looking for. If we feel we’re a good fit for each other, I’ll set up a consultation at my workshop to discuss ideas in more detail. Here we can skim through Pinterest boards, look through all my props for inspiration, and even look through the flower varieties I may be working on that day. By having meetings in the workshop, couples can really get to know me and my style, often seeing genuine wedding flowers being made in the process! From here I will draw up a detailed proposal, with an itemised breakdown. Once couples have booked, we can be in touch as little or as often as they choose. But it’s quite common for brides to send me emails with photos attached, saying, ‘What do you think about this? Would it work for my wedding?’ A bit on the practicalities: what sort of costs are we talking here? How much notice do you need? Costs depend greatly on flower choice and style, so I recommend a full consultation to draw up a proposal. I 14 | VOW

always use the highest quality Dutch flowers, and the last couple of years have also been using a local flower farmer, who grows the most beautiful flowers around five miles away. One couple may want a more intimate, low key wedding, while another’s after a more opulent, flower-filled celebration – and it’s my job to guide them both on how their budget will work for them. My brides tend to book me a year in advance, but I love a last minute booking too, and will always try to accommodate you where I can. Finally, tell us about some fun weddings you’ve done this year. This season has been a whirlwind of weddings, working at lots of my favourite

regular venues, such as Coombe Lodge and Priston Mill, but also some beautiful new gems I’ve not been to before, such as Caswell House and Merriscourt Barn in the Cotswolds. I’ve had the pleasure of creating lots of hanging floral installations, such as large flower balls or foliage wreaths, and plenty of flower aisles and huge floral arches, which have been very popular this year. I love getting stuck into large scale arrangements, and transforming a space. In fact, you’ll find me up a ladder most summer weekend mornings!

BRISTOL BRIDAL BOUTIQUE Sample & preloved designer wedding dresses We take beautiful sample and preloved wedding dresses from the best designers in the business, such as Suzanne Neville, Stewart Parvin, Ritva Westenius, Caroline Castigliano and more, and offer them to you at up to 50% off. Maybe the dress of your dreams could be a reality... 07939 598 489

MAKE YOUR HEN PARTY A MEMORABLE ONE. Stylish accommodation in the heart of Bath, with relaxing spa packages and award winning restaurants and bars to sample. A perfect city for a perfect party.


I n v i tat i o n s

Is it worth it?

The wedding c ake m aker – words by cl arissa picot

VICTORIA SECRETS Be careful, Laura! Those rose petals may look too good to eat, but it seems to us like all it would take is a strong gust of wind – and disaster!

16 | VOW

Inside the world of bespoke sponges, with Somerset’s LAURA LISMORE

beavering away alone,” she says, “so I always relish the opportunity to swap ideas with others. And I love to network. I’m a huge advocate of supporting entrepreneurs, and it’s important for me to know who all the great businesses are out there, so I can refer my brides to them when they’re planning their day.”

Laura Lismore makes just the best bespoke cakes, mainly for weddings across Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – and she loves collaborating with people, be they her clients or other wedding industry professionals. “Though I love my job, it can be a little lonely at times when you own your own business, and are

Back to the cakes, though, and what’s hot these days? The most popular cake flavour remains a traditional Victoria Sponge – which I make with velvety vanilla bean paste, buttercream and strawberry conserve – or a lemon cake, which I soak in homemade limoncello syrup and zesty lemon curd. I always advise my

customers to select the more traditional flavours, as that way you’re sure to be catering to all your guests’ tastes. It sounds very traditional! Yes, but that’s generally good thinking, as at least people will eat it – whereas, with the more unusual options, some may not. That said, drip cakes have become incredibly popular lately – initially as celebration cakes, though they’re now making their way into the wedding arena, too. This, I have to say, is something I’m extremely happy about, as I love making them. They’re so much fun – as cakes are meant to be, after all – and you can be as subtle, or as ‘out there’, as you want with the design. I recently made a liquid gold drip cake, for instance, which oozed sophistication. What’s the cost, ball-park, and how long do you need to create a cake? From the bespoke design to the flawless finish, each cake receives my full attention, and I believe my prices reflect this. I quote for each cake on an individual basis, and the actual price will depend on the intricacy of the cake design, but – as a guide – a one tier cake starts from £150, two tiers from £250, three tiers from £350 and four tiers from £450. Oh, and cookies start at £2, macarons at £1.75 and cupcakes at £2.75.

What do you do if the bride hates marzipan, or whatever? That’s absolutely fine, and is exactly what the consultation process is all about. Couples get to try samples of my most popular flavours, and this is a chance for them to decide what they do and don’t like, and exactly what they would like for their own cake. Some brides know what they want in advance, and some don’t

– which often depends on what stage they’re at with their plans. I always tell them to come to me armed with photos, swatches, invites, or samples of anything else they’re having on their big day, so we can come up with the perfect design. We’re guessing that very detailed cakes are sometimes pretty hard to get safely to the venue? In order to transport the cakes safely, I certainly use lots of non-slip mats! The car must be cool at all times, too – temperature wise, I mean. I always carry an emergency kit with me, and I do the final assembly of my cakes on site, to ensure they always look their very best. VOW | 17

Pictures by laura lismore

How did you get into baking, and wedding cakes in particular? It’s always been a passion of mine, from the moment I knew my way around a kitchen, but it wasn’t until I lost my dad, back in 2013, that I discovered a passion and talent for design and decorating. I took a cake decorating class one afternoon to keep myself occupied, and that unlocked a whole new world.

I n v i tat i o n s

New and notable

SHE’S ALL HAT We're not sure what Claire Hill wore on her head at her own wedding, back in 2014. What we do know, though, is her reception was at an antiques centre in Cardiff, with rooftop views of the city, and starred a taxidermy bear…

18 | VOW

There are few better ways to make a big entrance than with a striking hat, and Cardiff milliner CLAIRE HILL’s first collection shows real variety and talent Hat making is not Claire Hill’s first love – she mostly works in theatre and TV, and spent much of 2015 with Michel Roux Jr, making his Channel 4 series Kitchen Impossible – but, since taking evening classes in jewellery making and millinery, her life has changed. First she

got spotted by Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique in Penarth – which specialises in vintage and Welsh handmade dresses and accessories – and now she’s come up with her first millinery collection, which draws on her love of polka dots and leopard print, and takes inspiration from the stunning Welsh landscape. With prices starting at just £60, and little costing over £230, they’re a lowinvestment way to make a big impression. “I’ve been making bridal headbands and veils for years now,” Claire says, “but last year I began creating my own hats. I love the physicality of the whole thing, and that they take a mixture of elbow grease – when it comes to blocking the hat – and fine, delicate work. I adore the

fact that you begin with a normal piece of felt or straw and, in a few hours, turn it into something really special.” Though the designs are pretty avant-garde, Claire’s hats demand very traditional skills, from hand-blocking to hand-sewing and finishing. “They’re made by me in a converted shipping container in Cardiff’s creative quarter, The Boneyard,” she says, “and each one takes a few days to complete. My silk hair vines follow traditional flower-making techniques too, where the silk is stiffened, then painted, then cut and shaped. With the hats, everything is drawn out first on paper, then, once I start making each hat, I work directly with the fabric to find the

best positions to place everything, and refine the finished look. And, as they are all handmade, my customers can help design their own, from changing the colours to toning down or tweaking elements to suit their outfit.” Amongst her favourites from the current collection are the polka dot ones with a bow; the pink leopard print hat with the bow and veil; and the silk hair vines, which were inspired by lichen on the beach at Portmeirion. “I like to think of the hats in my collection as jumping off points for customers,” she says. “A recent buyer has tweaked my pink polka dot bow hat to remove the polka dots, for instance, and changed the colour of the bow.”

At most traditional weddings there are three types of potential hat or vine wearer – the bride herself; the guests; and, of course, the mother of the bride. Not wishing to limit herself, Claire has aimed her collection at everyone. “I think they’re very wearable, no matter who you are,” she says. “Next up, I’m looking to make some more elaborate hair vines that can be worn as crowns, or woven into the hair. Brides love the fact that they’re light as a feather, but still look gorgeous. Different hats will suit different face shapes, of course, but beyond that there shouldn’t be any rules. You just need to find one you’re comfortable in – then rock it.” VOW | 19

Image: Martyn Norsworthy

Clifton Brides



186 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2XU f Tel: 01179 237928

WINTER WEDDINGS save on your wedding if you book between October 2016 & January 2017 with our festive winter packages contact the team for more details


I n v i tat i o n s

Ask the expert

DRESSED TO THRILL Think the reception space you’ve got is great, but perhaps a little bit dowdy? Then here’s ELIZABETH WONG to show you how to make the most out of any wedding venue… Plenty of times, in past issues of Vow, we’ve featured the work of Elizabeth Wong, a Bristol-based wedding venue stylist with a keen eye and a practical can-do attitude. Liz offers bespoke design and styling services around the South West, as well as table runners and handmade stationery available

nationwide. Her designs always seem to us to be elegant and fun. Not that she discovered wedding styling right away. After studying textile design at university, Liz actually started working as a freelance fashion designer – her work sold in New York, Italy, Paris, and Japan, and to such name designers as Vera Wang – while completing various design placements. But then came a three-month role in Somerset as an assistant venue stylist that never seemed to end, eventually extending to a year and a half, and her course was set.

“I enjoyed venue styling so much I started Elizabeth Weddings then and there,” she says, “and though I’ve styled other events too, weddings are what I really enjoy. I mostly work in a classic or a rustic style, though I have done a couple of vintage weddings too – and I certainly have plenty of vintage china for hire!” Liz thinks couples often don’t realise how much work is required to style a venue, and how a stylist can really take the pressure off. “After all,” she says, “the less you have to worry about, the better.” So, what can a couple expect when they come to see you? First off, I’ll listen to their ideas, and we’ll go through magazines together, VOW | 2 1

I N V I TAT I O N S : e l i z a b e t h w e d d i n g s


discussing potential ideas for styling their wedding. Most brides then go forward with the design plan, which is really concise and packed with detail, and comes with themed mood boards to reflect their ideas. I started out just offering a bespoke design and styling service, but I’ve since expanded into other areas too, notably offering my bespoke table runners and stationery. I don’t tend to offer packages, though, but like to be as flexible as possible, so each couple gets exactly what they want. I can work to most budgets, and can create something genuinely bespoke, or just hire out a few larger items. And what are people especially loving at the moment? One of the most popular styling items have to be my ivory candelabras. These are perfect, as they’ll match almost any colour theme, and work really well with a floral display. My handmade black and white striped runners are bold but versatile too, adding a clean, contemporary look to a table without getting lost on table cloths. (That said, they look especially lovely placed right on top of bare wooden tables.) Paper lanterns are also very popular, and are great for adding pops of colour against the blank canvas of a marquee. One of my favourite displays recently used suspended paper lanterns above the staircase at Kings Weston House. They filled the space beautifully, and

2 2 | VOW

really came into their own as the bride made her entrance down the stairs.

most guests will spend most of their time – at least, until the bar opens!

How much will we spend, then? Styling doesn’t cost as much as some people think! Whatever your budget, there’s always something that can be done. And styling can definitely be focused on those areas where it will have most impact. I really love styling old buildings, especially if they’re packed with ornate features – just a little bit of work adding finishing touches to a single feature (a mantelpiece, for example) can make all the difference. In most instances, though, the most important thing to concentrate on will be the table centre piece, as this where

Finally, Liz, what do you most enjoy about what you do? I love how different each wedding is – even when I use some of the same items. I recently had a couple that were organising their wedding from Bahrain, and I created bespoke table plans for them, and menus backed onto hessian. Another recent couple had fairy lights strung across the room, with paper lanterns attached, and candelabras filled with flowers on every table. They even had gold charger plates for each person. Their room was simply stunning!


Nestled amidst 500 acres of parkland and lakes, Orchardleigh Estate offers two exclusive use wedding venues, Orchardleigh House and The Walled Garden, as well as an idyllic island Church and plenty of luxurious accommodation. The enchanting array of backdrops make Orchardleigh Estate a truly magical and unique setting to hold your entire wedding day; from the wedding ceremony, through to the reception drinks, wedding breakfast and evening celebrations.

Orchardleigh Estate, Frome, Somerset BA11 2PB  01373 472550  

I n v i tat i o n s

Brilliant boutiques

SHE WEARS IT WELL At Laura McFadden’s BRISTOL BRIDAL BOUTIQUE, sample dresses and pre-loved gowns from a wide selection of the UK’s top designers provide affordable luxury to the cost-savvy bride… These are some of the offerings from Bristol Bridal Boutique, a very different sort of wedding dress shop run by Laura McFadden from her home in Southville, Bristol. Laura had worked in TV for eight years but, after her babies, decided she wanted to do something different… “I realised there was a gap in the market for a West Country business selling nothing but samples and once2 4 | VOW

worn dresses from high-end designers,” Laura says, “as, in 2009, I’d actually bought a Jenny Packham gown as a sample to wear at my wedding. During my search for that gown, I grew to love wedding dresses – and I learned both how tricky it is to find the right one, and what brilliant savings you can make if you do. There’s a huge market for these dresses, as so many of us covet them but

can’t afford to pay £2,000 or more for something you’ll only wear once. I feel I’m giving extra life to amazing dresses that already exist, are in good condition, and that are crying out to be worn.” Bristol Bridal Boutique has been going for two years now, and has grown and developed while revolving around Laura’s other commitments. “For now, running my business from home fits in very well with family life,” she says. “I love receiving clients, and learning what they like, and what suits them.” Most of Laura’s dresses are sourced from high-end bridal shops, and include Suzanne Neville, Sassi Holford, Stewart Parvin, and Caroline Castigliano.

VOW | 2 5

Pictures by RUTH GARNER

“This is vital for me,” she says, “as even if I look at a dress and am not sure about the style, it almost always looks fabulous on a bride. This is due to the incredible craftsmanship of these designers. I used to be very much a long/silk/vintage-style wedding dress lover – that was what my own dress was like – but have completely changed my opinion now, having had the privilege of seeing so many bridal gowns. Initially, I thought my clients would gravitate towards the less structured dresses, as I was selling the most of those at first. But then, suddenly, it completely changed, and I saw an abundance of corseted gowns. I quickly learnt my lesson: that while there will not be one single sales model for me to

follow in terms of style, quality is of the utmost importance.” Samples are, of course, the gowns that brides get to try on in a high-end boutique, before they go on to buy their own, made specifically to their size. “A few times a year, bridal shops hold sample sales to make room for the new season of dresses,” Laura says, “and I source these gowns, then sell them on to brides, who can often find themselves with an incredible wedding dress at 50% of RRP. Others are preloved wedding dresses, which I source from brides and which have been worn only once. I am very honest with my clients, and will always point out any flaws with a particular gown – and this, of course, will be reflected in the price.” Of course, though Laura carries various sizes, many of these dresses were made with a particular woman in mind, so her seamstress – Susan Gilby ( – often has her work cut out getting them to fit perfectly. “It’s usually not too hard to make a gown fit if it’s a little too big,” Laura says, “and sometimes, if a dress allows it, we can let them out slightly, too. Susan is incredibly talented, with over 30 years designing, making and altering wedding dresses. She can make bespoke veils or jackets to go with a dress, and accessories too.” So can we trust the sizes you sell – and when it says a size 8 or 14, is that what we should expect? “Well, the first thing to say is that wedding dresses sizes often don’t correspond with what a bride may expect to be on the high street. I would definitely take sizing with a pinch of salt, as bridal designers use couture sizing, which is smaller than modern high street sizes. I would say that most wedding dresses come up one size smaller than they say, in terms of what you’re used to – so a wedding dress in a size 12 will probably feel more like a high street 10, and the Suzanne Neville dresses I’ve had seem to be the smallest of them all. As all our body shapes are unique, though, it is vital to try a dress on – not least as most of us are one size on the top, and another on the bottom, anyway!”

I n v i tat i o n s

The wedding planner

PLAN UP Custom-built wedding planners, designed to get everything on track

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Bath’s got a new festival-style wedding show, out in a field… Fans of the more bohemian style of wedding will be queuing up for Bath’s BoShow, a new wedding festival from alternative events company Bohemian Dreams, Moroccan marquee specialists Smoky Tentacles (who’ll handle the chill-out area), and Bristol’s Heartfelt Vintage (who’ll sponsor the tea room). Bridal gown specialists, photographers, kids’ entertainers, hair and beauty types, florists and all the rest will rock up at Beaufort Farm, Inglesbatch – just south west of the city – for music, food, drink and to display their services and wares, while the pretty outdoor space is available to hire for wedding and events too. It’s on 25 September, and tickets cost £10.

Rather overwhelmed by sorting your nuptials? This new range of wedding planners, from Devon-based Pirongs, can be personalised, customised, and dated to the month of the big day. “We believe it’s the only printed wedding planner that counts down to your wedding month, starting from 18 months to go and finishing with the week of the ceremony,” says boss Robin Pirongs. “It even considers post-wedding tasks, like honeymoon packing and when to send out all those thank you notes.”


2 6 | VOW

Because to our minds, nothing says romance like the back of a van…


Elsewhere this issue we introduce a new honeymoon section, The Getaway, featuring some rather enviable – if wallet-troubling – breaks. But if you’ve blown the entire budget already, there are some equally romantic, if slightly more humble, alternatives out there. One such is offered by Devon-based Quirky Campers, who hire out highly individual ‘glampervans’ that have been hand-converted by their artisan owners. “They’re very different from run-of-the-mill motorhomes or vintage VWs, and can be very romantic,” says their Sophie Mason.

Amy has aMrs, background producing Like Boyle Mrs and but especially for you peak-time TV – Strictly, The Voice – and has come up with a simple way to make proquality comedy quiz videos for stag and hen parties. “A bridesmaid can log onto the site, input details about who's getting married, then write questions or select from our suggestions,” says Amy. The site then sends a link to the groom to record his answers, and a bit of snappy editing later you get a fun DVD ready for the hen party. It’s cheap too – just £49 – and works just as well in ‘Him and Him’ or ‘Her and Her’ versions.




m u2m 0

boo availkainbglse

Bespoke childcare for weddings in the South West

A big occasion can be stressful enough without having to worry about keeping your younger guests entertained too. Let us take some of those concerns away and throw your mini VIPs their very own party so that you can truly enjoy yours. Made up of highly qualified and super fun staff, we create the perfect package for all of your childcare requirements including pop-up creches, in-room babysitting and pop-in nannies.

Bespoke Venue Styling and Design BES PO K E TABL E RU N N ERS


Martin Dabek Photography

Rupert Marlow Photography

West 70 Photography  07922 857295

Linda Gray Bridalwear

Creative & individual flowers for your special day

From her chic boutique florist in the heart of Clifton Village, Lisa and her creative team will design gorgeous wedding flowers to enhance your perfect day – from beautiful bridal bouquets to fabulous floral decorations.

Gloucester’s Multi Award winning Bridal Boutique Affordable Luxury & Exceptional Customer service Westgate Retail Park, The Island, Gloucester, GL1 2RU 01452 418880 • Linda Gray Bridalwear Gloucester

Bristol 0117 9732440 1 Waterloo Street, Clifton Village, Bristol BS8 4BT email:

THE BR IDE i do, i do, i do

W O R D S b y PA U L M A R L A N D

ph oto g r a ph y by L U C K Y M A LO N E

GREEN PASTURES A cool, calm bride; muted, earthy tones; dewy, unshowy nature; and those precious moments just before it all kicks off. A pause in time where, if you’re very lucky, you get a chance to catch your breath. Ahhh. There. Now let the day do as it will…

VOW | 29


3 0 | VOW

c lgari r e ee np epa t ts itbuorn ee s

DRESSES: (Previous page) pearle (LEFT) cora (THIS PAGE) asscher

VOW | 3 1


32 0 ||VOW VOW

g r e e n pa s t u r e s

VOW | 3 3



ouise Beukes is one of the UK’s leading wedding stylists – she used to be a more general interior designer, but following her own wedding the bridal work really took off – who also runs the rather fine bridal and lifestyle blog B.LOVED. She styled this shoot with the help of floral designer Jay Archer, the pair working together to combine assorted natural, wild elements with luxurious handmade details. “The whole thing takes its inspiration from the wilds of Somerset,” Louise says, “and we really tried to capture the romance of an English countryside wedding.” Indeed, most of the shoot took place in the meadows surrounding country venue Pennard House, near Shepton Mallet, where the colour palette of muted golds, greys and the palest blush – along with the loose and abundant floral design, and simple details – echoed the beauty and colours of the natural surroundings. “We took advantage of everything, from the stone building to the fields of golden grass around us, and, of course, the endless wildflower meadows,” Louise says. For the dresses they’d need, the pair turned to Luella’s Bridal of London’s Wimbledon Village, and, in particular, the Anna Kara range. This is a fashion-forward Polish brand, fuss-free but gorgeous, and designed with the more free-spirited bride in mind. “These gowns feature modern lace detailing,” says Louise, “and would lend a bohemian edge to any bridal styling. Here it was further softened by delicate lingerie from Pompadour, accessories from Britten, and fine jewellery from Monica Vinader.” Meanwhile, hair and make-up artist Tori Harris combined strong looks – think heavy brows, smokey eyes and particularly striking cheeks – with contemporary hairstyles to create something rather special, and Jay complemented the bridal look with bouquets and posies of British flowers. “These were heavy with foliage and textures, using grasses, seed heads and dried foliage to create a distinctive and unusual look,” Jay says. “Over the table, a ‘hanging meadow’ combined all of the above with lashings of trailing foliage, full of whimsy and romance.” What else? Well, the battered refectory table and benches used came from Virginia’s Vintage Hire, and were styled by Louise and the team at Prezola, the Bath-based wedding gift company. The table was covered in a layer of fine silk linen by Kate Cullen, and teamed with chunky stoneware, glassware and hammered brassware. Meanwhile, the beautiful calligraphy stationery was by Judy Broad, and The Natural Cake Company created a series of home-inspired desserts, from the lightest angel food cake to meringues, which added to the relaxed feel. Oh, and then there was the photographer – the California and Colorado-based McCall Burau, aka Lucky Malone – whose work is clean and modern and cool, yet very human and in touch with nature, as you can see here. All-in-all, then, a rather special shoot.;

3 4 | VOW

WILD IN THE COUNTRY Skipping through the meadowsweet were… Photographer: McCall Burau/Lucky Malone; Stylist: Styled by Louise; Florist: Jay Archer; Hair and make-up: Tori Harris; Dresses: Anna Kara at Luella’s Bridal; Shoes: Harriet Wilde; Veils and garter: Britten; Lingerie: Pompadour; Jewellery: Monica Vinader; Tableware: Prezola; Linens: Kate Cullen; Cake: Natural Cake Company; Stationery: Judy Broad Calligraphy; Furniture: Virginia's Vintage Hire; Model: Gingersnap; Venue: Pennard House; Venue Coordination: Coco Wedding Venues;

g r e e n pa s t u r e s

VOW | 3 41 5




w o r d s b y W e n d y Ly n e ph oto g r a ph y by J o H a n sfo r d

the pretty

h orses At a certain age, many girls dream of horses and glamorous weddings about equally – and a fair few of them never grow out of it. And hurrah for that, say we, as photographer Jo Hansford introduces us to the very specific, very striking world of ‘Bridal Equine’…

3 8 | VOW


VOW | 3 9

THE BR IDE : br idal equ ine


o Hansford loves shooting people, pets and babies – good subjects all – but she especially loves weddings, and especially, especially loves horses. All well and good, but there won’t be too many occasions where her various interests cross over, you might think. And that, of course, is where you’d be wrong… “I’ve wanted for a very long time to combine the two main subjects that my husband, Nic, and I capture in our daily work as photographers,” says Jo. “They are, of course, horses and brides, and a styled shoot like this one – where we’re not dealing with all the complications and pressures of a wedding day – seemed the perfect way to do so. In my mind, I had the image of a beautiful young bride in her boho gown, standing with her stunning white horse, and both of them backlit in a natural woodland setting. I wanted pictures that would truly capture the bond between horse and bride, as well as the beauty, shape and majesty of each.” Job done, we’d say. Jo has been shooting weddings since 2003, but things changed in 2012 when a Bristol client wanted her horses at her do, but couldn’t find a practical way to include them. As the next best thing, Jo did a special shoot with the couple and their two favourite beasts – first at their farm, and then on the beach – and from that point on she became hooked on equine photography. “We’ve had an incredible first few years,” she now says, “just getting to grips with this new subject, and we soon found we were getting some amazing equestrian commissions. For instance, we shot the world renowned ‘horse whisperer’, Jean-Francois Pignon, in France, and we also did a shoot at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. It was late last year, though, when we were looking back on the first few years of our journey, that it dawned on me that we hadn’t yet done the obvious thing – a creative shoot that combined our two biggest passions.”


verything you see here actually took place at the Grade 1-listed Crowcombe Court in the Quantocks, which made for a suitably spectacular setting. “We’d photographed horses inside buildings before,” Jo says, “most notably when we captured them in the chandelier room at the Palacio de las Cadenas in Jerez, so we knew how tricky it can be. Luckily, Crowcombe Court were happy to let us take a horse inside their Great Hall, which I knew would look amazing – the big challenge, of course, being to persuade the horse to go inside! To get there, he would either have to go up the steep front steps, or through a fairly small back door.” Jo had chosen three stallions as her models – they look amazing, but are notoriously the ‘hottest’, wildest and hardest of horses to handle – and felt confident that at least one of them would be happy to be led inside. “In the event,” she says, “and helped by the fact that the team at Crowcombe were so very relaxed, our lovely black Lusitano, called Atinado, turned out to be as cool as a cucumber, and walked in the back door calmly. He then stood beautifully while we captured him alongside Charlotte, dressed in her stunning gown.” Not that all the horses were quite so obliging. “No! Zefyr – our beautiful big Friesian – turned out to be uncharacteristically unsettled and uncooperative, and really didn’t 4 0 | VOW

want to have his photograph taken anywhere, not even in woodland. One of the challenges of photographing horses is that they are not only big, powerful animals, but that they can be highly unpredictable too. They’re often very sensitive to their surroundings – and Zefyr certainly was. Luckily, we’re used to this – so we’re always prepared to adapt to what happens, and go with the flow.” Jo found the particular beasts used for the shoot by asking around amongst her friends. “Finding the right horses is always key,” she says, “and one of our clients – Zoe from Southey Farm Livery Stables, at the foot of the Blackdown Hills in Somerset – mentioned Miro, a white Spanish stallion from her yard, and as soon as I saw him I knew he’d be perfect. We also took Atinado, Zoe’s own horse, for a completely different look – he’s the one that was happy to be led indoors – and the recalcitrant Zefyr, a bigger black Friesian.” Of course, there’s a bridal spin to this shoot too – hey, this is Vow Magazine – and dresses came from the brave Lisa Keating, maker of handmade corsets and bridal wear from just south of Bristol, who was willing to risk that one or two her her gowns might get trampled on! “Lisa already had the boho dress,” Jo says, “but she was keen to create something fresh, too, using gold lace. In the end, the gold gown really fitted the look of our Great Hall shots. The blue/gold corset with tulle skirt, meanwhile, was perfect for the pictures of Zefyr in front of Crowcombe.” The two models, Flo and Charlotte, had completely different looks anyway, and they were styled to look even more distinct from each other by Chris Fordham on hair, and Bristol-based Nina Norman on make-up. “Hermione Harbutt was on board to provide some amazing headpieces, too,” says Jo, “and we were equally thrilled to have Emma of Brompton Buds as our florist.” It’s not a bad life being Jo, it seems. Right after this shoot she was off to Africa to shoot models riding horses along beaches, and we hate to think what other treats she’s got planned. That said, little would seem as challenging as tempting one of these big beasts into a dining room without it ending in disaster. Jo, we salute you.

HORSE PLAY Good with a carrot and a sugar lump are… Photography & styling: Jo Hansford; Dresses: Lisa Keating; Hair: Chris Fordham, Fordham Hair Design; Make-up: Nina Norman; Flowers: Emma Urquhart at Brompton Buds; Headpieces: Hermione Harbutt; Models: Flo, Charlotte Horses: Miro, Ati, Zefy

R i m e arodak y


VOW | 41


W o r d s b y W e n d y Ly n e


3 0 | VOW


Ph oto g r a ph y by M cK e n z i e B row n

In Devon’s Tamar valley, our bride waits for her invisible love…

VOW | 49



ew things are more romantic than the art of the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood – those classically-influenced English painters of the mid-19th century, with their obsession with the natural world, rich (even excessive) detail, and elegantly tragic heroines – and this shoot takes that as its starting point. Well, that and the rather earlier still life work of the Dutch Golden Age of painting too. Let’s let Elle Grime of Inspire Hire, who styled the whole thing, explain. “We shot against the exquisite backdrop of Hotel Endsleigh in Devon,” Elle says. “It was late summer, and though the gardens still sparkled in the sunlight, we were definitely getting the first hints of autumnal colours too. Endsleigh is Olga Polizzi’s Grade 1 listed historic hunting and fishing lodge, hidden deep in 100 acres of rolling Devon countryside and fairytale woodland, with views of the river Tamar across sweeping gardens. It was built in the early 19th century by John Russell, the 6th Duke of Bedford, who had about a third of Devon back in the day – it was then known as ‘Endsleigh Cottage’, though it was always rather too grand for that name – and it’s a haven of beautiful architecture, set in the most tranquil surroundings. Lots of stunning weddings take place here, and they inspired me to design this shoot around ideas of art, and specifically still life paintings – and the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” Because Elle wanted these images to look like beautiful still lifes, she used a pallet of rich autumnal tones and jewel colours, with plums and purples set against dark greens, and plenty of creamy caramel and peach tones. “Lush florals were punctuated by juicy figs, plumbs, blackberries, and even artichokes,” she says. “A feast for the eyes!” Working with Elle was snapper Natalie from McKenzie Brown Photography – “she understood my inspiration straight away,” says Elle, “and captured beautiful, dramatic images that wouldn’t look out of place on an art gallery wall” – and florist Laura Hingston, who works in a relaxed, artful style using blooms and foliage grown in her own cutting garden. “She created beautiful bouquets and table centres straight out of a Dutch masterpiece,” says Elle, “though the cake, by Emily Hankins, was probably the star of the show. I love the drama of a black wedding cake, and Emily’s speciality – hand painting – made it particularly special.” The dresses needed to be dramatic, yet elegant and understated too, and The Bridal Rooms of Wellswood, based in Torquay, provided some wonderful pieces for the shoot. “I also love the dark dress, which we used as a real contrast,” says Elle. “I like to show brides a few alternative choices, and encourage those who may not wish to go down a traditional route. This really shows how a nonwhite wedding dress can be romantic and elegant, too.” The last key member of the behind-the-camera team was Judy Broad, a talented calligrapher. “I love the rich, berry-toned background with copper writing she did,” says Elle. “It’s hugely elegant, and shows how effective it can be to think outside the box when planning wedding stationery. It can be a real feature of a wedding, not an afterthought.” Finally, they needed a bride – and one with a definite PreRaphaelite look. “There’s one painting I love in particular,” says Elle. “It’s called ‘The Soul of the Rose’, and it’s by John William Waterhouse, who worked in the Pre-Raphaelite style, but some decades after height of the movement. In it, he depicts a beautiful woman seemingly enjoying the simple scent of a rose, but feelings of

restrained sexuality and longing for an missing love spiral around her. Our model, Crystal Lily, has a natural beauty, and the hair and make-up girls from The Pop Up Salon enhanced it with tumbling curls, and make-up which showed off her alabaster skin.” So what could we all take from this for our weddings? Well, one thing Elle likes to do for real-life couples is work on feature areas, and make sure there are plenty of treats to entertain the guests. “For this shoot we created a beautiful drinks station on an antique drinks trolly,” she says, “and it’s a feature I’m replicating for my brother-in-law soon, when he and my sister tie the knot. He’s a lover of fine whisky, so we’re making him a bespoke whisky bar using this same antique trolley, and beautiful antique decanters.” Then there are fruit and vegetables, which she thinks we should all be using more often. “They provide great additional decor, and complement florals perfectly,” Elle says. “And, even better, they’re inexpensive. Use what’s in season to create an authentic look – apples as place settings for an autumn wedding, say, or bowls of lemons for an Italian-themed do.” Next, think in terms of texture. “Don’t just go for plain white table linen,” says Elle, “but instead think about fabrics with movement and fluidity to them, and use coloured linen to inject a bit of a pop into your decor scheme.” And finally? “Reject those standard stretchy chair covers, if you can! How much better to create a very different look by using interesting fabrics, or even flowers, to dress your chairs?”

Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Embracing abundant details, intense colours and complex compositions, were… Styling and design: Elle Winsor Grime at Inspire Hire; Location: Hotel Endsleigh; Photography: McKenzie Brown; Furniture and decor hire:

Inspire Hire; Cake: Emily Hankins; Calligraphy: Judy Broad Calligraphy; Bridal gowns: The Bridal Rooms of Wellswood; Black painted dress: House of Fraser; Flowers: Laura Hingston Flowers; Hair and make-up: The Pop Up Salon; Model: Crystal Lily;

VOW | 4 5

words by Cl arissa Picot

Body Heat ph oto g r a ph y by V i k to r i a K u TI

Sure, in most instances the groom has a pretty good idea of what he’s getting before the wedding night – but there’s no harm in reminding him, eh? Meet photographer Viktoria Kuti, and the secret world of bridal boudoir…

THE BR IDE : br idal bo u doir


ristol-based Viktoria Kuti specialises in women’s portraiture, including the style we’re talking about here, boudoir. She’s of the firm belief that all women should get in front of the camera a lot more than they usually do, “so we exist in photographs, for our loved ones as well as for ourselves.” To her mind, having your picture taken is an act of self-acceptance and self-love, and her bedroom-orientated photo sessions are more than just a means to an end. Yes, you get some sexy, empowering pictures out of her shoots, of the sort you see on these pages – but the act of having them taken, she reckons, is a worthwhile experience in itself. And an increasing number of brides seem to agree with her, indulging in a sensual boudoir shoot as an essential part of the build-up to their wedding. “Although I truly believe that boudoir is for every woman, regardless of age or phase of life – not to mention shape or size! – most of my customers do come to me looking for a present for a significant other,” says Viktoria. “And yes, that’s usually a husband or a groom. The images make for an excellent gift, as they’re not something an other half would expect most of the time.” But, as we’ve been saying, boudoir is as much for the woman who stars in the shoot as it is for any lucky recipient… “Oh, I often encourage women to do a shoot for themselves,” Viktoria says, “and they always go home with more than just the images. During the session they start to feel more relaxed and comfortable about their body, and they usually get a huge confidence boost. And then there’s all the pampering involved – you know, getting your hair and make-up done. In its own way, that’s fun too.” Most of Viktoria’s customers take their pictures home in a album, which is presented to the groom on the morning of the wedding. “It’s a very sexy taster of what’s to come,” laughs Viktoria. “Bridal boudoir is also a great way to show off wedding lingerie and other accessories – veil, jewellery, sparkly shoes – that can get slightly overlooked on the day. As well as the album, though, plenty of women also get a few images – often the more ‘incognito’ ones, perhaps a bodyscape or silhouette – framed, or printed on canvas, for their bedroom walls.” Viktoria shoots boudoir both at her home studio and on location, often in the client’s own home or a suitably glamorous hotel room. These are often a good choice, because they tend to be spotless and nicely decorated, but with a neutral colour scheme that won’t distract from the model – though, she says, “some adventurous women may even opt for outdoors.” Props, Viktoria finds, are rarely necessary, though they can make for a nice personal touch. “One of the husband’s shirts can be good,” she says, “or hand-me-down family jewellery. We’ve also used a Venetian mask from a recent holiday, and subtly incorporating a favourite book into the session makes it more unique, too.” And what about the poses? Are there positions that are almost always successful – and others that are much more risky? “While I do have a number of poses I usually go through with my clients, all sessions are different. Everybody moves differently, so different poses will be flattering to different women – and, believe it or not, this depends much more on her height than her weight! My priority is to capture the most gorgeous version of each woman.” So if it feels right, do it? 4 8 | VOW


VOW | 3 9

THE BR IDE : br idal bo u doir

“Not always! Some poses might actually feel quite weird – or even a little uncomfortable – at the time, but look amazing on camera! It’s all about angles and perspective, so we hide those bits we don’t want to show, and emphasise our best features. Boudoir can be sexy, sultry and seductive, but it can also be cute and playful. And we can show as much, or as little, skin as you want. I personally love shooting nudes, as I find the human form fascinating and beautiful – but I’ve also shot an entire session with someone wearing an oversized jumper. Less is often more, and just showing off the legs or the shoulders can be enough.” It can be embarrassing getting your picture taken at the best of times, though. Surely this is even worse? “One thing I hear again and again is that women are worried they don’t know how to pose, or what to do in front of the camera,” Viktoria says. “The good news is that they don’t need to know anything. It’s my job to guide them and pose them, and make sure they look their best. I’m generally very specific, and always detail oriented. I know what beautiful looks like, so I’ll pose them down to their fingertips – and take a great deal of time coaching them on facial expressions, too. It might seem a little controlling, but most people find it relaxing. They like it that all they need to do is follow instructions, relying on me to make sure the results are stunning.” Enjoying one of Viktoria’s boudoir shoots might take less time, and cost less, than you’d think. Her sessions come in at £95 – though all the images and products you take away with you are bought separately, of course – and hair and make-up usually takes about an hour, though it can be longer, depending on the look. “The session itself is usually about two hours long,” Viktoria says. “I don’t restrict things by time, though, and if I feel like we haven’t got enough killer images, or that we have more outfits to work with – or we are simply having too much fun! – I’m more than happy to keep going. Boudoir sessions are tiring, though, so they rarely last over three hours.” What? It’s just lying around looking sultry, surely? “Actually, it’s more like a workout!”

Viktoria’s Secrets Owning their beauty in this shoot are… Photographer: Viktoria Kuti; Clothing: Moonrise Lingerie; Flowers: Claire at Bramblewood Flowers; Vintage jewellery: Jacq Brill at Beloved Vintage Bridal; Model: Livvie May ( Make-up: Shari Knowles; Hair: Nicola Clancy at GoGorgeous; gogorgeousbristol Location: Berwick Lodge;

5 0 | VOW

Bespoke Flowers for Weddings Bristol, Bath and beyond www.tillytomlinson 0117 9041141

#thesweettricycle 07951 205409

Established 15 years

Providing a comprehensive service including: Marquees  Chairs & Furniture  Dance Floors, Lighting  Flooring  Heating  Catering Equipment

For a personalised plan and quotation call us now:

01666 510000

Exclusive use 600 year old Castle set in 200 acres of Deer Park | Licensed for Marriages and Civil Partnerships | Seating up to 170 within the Castle | Marquees available for larger parties | Affordable and flexible packages | Accommodation for wedding party For more information, please contact Virginia Bowman Tel: 01626 890243 Email: Powderham Castle, Exeter, Devon EX6 8JQ


W O R D S b y PA U L M A R L A N D Ph oto g r a ph y by CH R I S BA I LE Y

hay festival

With wellies on her feet, hay caught in her hem, and flowers in her hair, our bride finds more than just cold comfort down on the farm VOW | 4 5

5 4 | VOW

pictures by Venetia Norrington

suzanne neville (opening spread); suzanne laure neville de sagazan (opening (opposite) spread); laure de sagazan (opposite)

VOW | 3 5

the Bride: white row


own on White Row Farm near Frome in Somerset, they offer not just a fun day out for all the family, but some remarkable items you can buy and take away too, from top-quality meat and fish to vintage and reclaimed furniture. Plus: flowers. Rather groovy ones, in fact. “I was sat on the beach one weekend in Devon,” says Natasha Milne, who runs social media there and acted as production director on this shoot, “and I was listening to two beautifully wrinkled ladies sitting next to me, and was amazed to hear them saying how they knew and loved White Row, and buy all their flowers and meat there. ‘You should follow them on Facebook,’ one was saying to the other, and I thought, ‘Who says tweeting and tagging is just for the young?’ It got me to thinking about all the ways we could promote what we do, and I reckoned our florists definitely deserve to be shown off a little. Hence, this shoot. After all, they really know their stuff – and they absolutely love a challenge!” One of the stars of the show here is White Row owner Steve Tucker’s beloved 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor, a distinctive red beast that’s still in use around the farm, and the guys teamed that with a model who knows the place well – “her parents have been customers for years,” says Natasha – and outfits from Lark Vintage, on Catherine Hill in Frome. “Hayley Noad, who runs it, also supplies many of the wonderful bygones, pieces of furniture and retro classics at The Piggery, our reclamation shop at White Row,” says Natasha.

It’s an authentic, familyrun farm business, with a shop, butchers, fishmongers, deli, café and restaurant, even a fish and chip shop

Of course, it wouldn’t be a farm-based shoot without taking advantage of all the goodies they inevitably have lying around, so as well as the tractor you’ll see plenty of other local denizens on these pages, from a Land Rover to potato boxes stacked to the sky. “There’s plenty of no-longer-used wooden and metal farm machinery, old fertiliser spinners, hay bales, peeling surfaces, horse cart wheels, tractor tyres, and even a combine harvester lying around,” says Natasha. “Plus, there are free roaming cats, chickens and even the odd pig. This isn’t a set, but an authentic, family-run farm business, with a shop, butchers, fishmongers, deli, café and restaurant, plus a play area, The Piggery, and even a fish and chip shop. They’ve all been added organically to the farm over the years, and sum up the authentic nature of what we’re all about. And, of course, there’s our florists. If you’re looking for very natural yet beautifully arranged flowers, this is a brilliant place to come.” 5 6 | VOW

the white stuff Sitting on hay bails this issue are… Photography: Chris Bailey; Location: White Row Farm; Florist: White Row Florist; Dress: Hayley Noad, Lark Vintage; Shoot coordinator: Natasha Milne;

Engagement, Wedding and Eternity rings Design • Commissions • Workshop on premises • Wedding Rings

Tel: 01225 309039

6-7 Market Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LH Open: Tuesday - Saturday 10-5pm or by appointment!

At Yo ung Blo o m s o ur p assi on i s to c r e a te stunning w e d d in g flowers. Whe the r y o u w a nt the ga th ered garden lo o k, o r stylish c o nte m porar y feel, w e w o uld lo v e to he a r from you .

is available to download.


01225 580271 | HARTLEY FARM SHOP | WINSLEY | BA15 2JB w w w. y o u n g b l o o m s . c o . u k


High on a mountain top Amanda Gardner & Adam Harper


ow many people have a holiday romance that actually turns to love and marriage? Not so many, right? Yet these two met in September 2007 in Ibiza and, says Amanda, “we knew instantly that we’d be friends for life. A few months later he asked me on our first date!” This was in February the following year, and thought the venue was less than romantic – Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd at the cinema, funnily enough – things continued to go swimmingly, with Harps, as Adam is called, proposing some six years later on a skiing holiday in La Tzoumaz, Switzerland, with 20 of their closest friends. “It was our first day of skiing, and we’d gone over to Verbier for the day,” Amanda says. “We eventually headed back to La Tzoumaz, getting to the top of the Savoleyres mountain for the sunset. We all agreed to ski the last run home as a group, but little did I know that VOW | 59


Harps was hatching a plan to get me by myself. He pulled me over to the other side of the mountain, and, when we got to the edge, he grabbed something out of his bag and got down on one knee. I think my words were, ‘Are you being serious?’, and then I began to laugh and cry. Of course I said yes!” Romantic Harps then whipped some Champers and two glasses out of his bag, and they watched the sun set over the mountains. “We then skied the last run, smiling at each other all the way down.” Next they needed a venue, and as soon as she saw Axnoller, Amanda fell in love with it. It’s in the middle of the Dorset countryside, and does its best to be super-flexible in terms of where on the site you actually hold your ceremony and reception. “The venue has a few areas licensed for marriage,” Amanda explains, “and we’d planned for an outdoor wedding, which is risky in April. The week before we’d actually had snow, so we just thought we’d wait and see what the weather was like on the day. We had glorious sunshine, thankfully, but still felt it was too cold for our guests to be sat outside for the whole ceremony, so we made a call at 10am to hold our ceremony in the beautiful barn. It was a stunning choice, with beautiful white ceiling drapes, twinkling fairy lights and the most amazing view of the rolling countryside in front of you, as you marry the one you love.” The barn doubled up for the reception too, making for a quick turn around as soon as the ceremony was over. “We’d hired beautiful long trestle tables, which ran down the barn in three long rows,” Amanda says. “The florist and the team at Axnoller then did the most amazing job turning the room around quickly, while we sipped Prosecco out in the marquee and listened to the string quartet. The venue works with Gordie, The Frying Scotsman, who cooked the most amazing wedding breakfast for us.” Amanda had always wanted a romantic, bohemian look for her wedding dress, but struggled to find anything that felt boho enough. “I’d been following Rue de Seine, a New Zealand-based designer, on social media for a while,” she says, “but there were no UK stockists. Then I saw that Leonie Claire, a Brighton-based bridal boutique, was planning to take the dresses, so I booked an appointment straight away! The dress I’d wanted hadn’t arrived with the first delivery, but I went along anyway, and ‘my’ dress was actually the last one I tried. I knew instantly that it was the one.” To go with the romantic, boho look, Amanda tapped up close friends who work in wedding hair and make-up, and got a loose, relaxed wave which she dressed with a “ridiculously long” plain tulle veil for the service, and then replaced with a flower crown for the reception. “I teamed my whole look with an amazing pair of gold gladiator Christian Louboutins,” she says. “Hey, if you can’t justify buying them for your wedding, when can you?” Who else got involved? Well, best man was Darren Jackson, one of Harp’s closest friends, who proved to be an amazing one-man support network throughout, and the four bridesmaids were good too: Hannah, Jennie, Sally and Liza, Amanda’s closest friends from school. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” Amanda says. “They’re more like the sisters I never had.”  Amanda’s flowers were from Jennifer Poynter Flowers, including a huge bouquet with plenty of foliage and just a sprinkling of blooms – mainly eucalyptus and white roses – and similar for her girls, who 6 0 | VOW

also got to wear foliage crowns. Amanda, too, had a crown – but hers had flowers in it, and she wore it after the ceremony. All boho weddings need a few DIY touches, and so the guys made over 30 dream catchers, which they hung around the marquee. “We also made our own signage from old wooden crates,” Amanda says. “I loved spending our weekends making these with Harps!” Also DIY were their wedding vows, which they wrote themselves – so each had no idea what the other would say. “That was one of the most emotional parts of the day,” says Amanda, “and I’d encourage everyone to do it – it’s hard, but completely worth it!” Oh, remember Ibiza? Well, there was an Ibiza party vibe to late-night proceedings too, with a DJ and even a bongo player, Felix. “The guests probably spent more time on the bongos than poor Felix did, though,” says Amanda. “Most wedding nights finish at a reasonable time, with the bride and groom going off to bed – but not ours! We ended up at 4am in the outdoor hot tub with all our friends – me in a white swimsuit and my flower crown, of course! It was the perfect way to end our day.”

a m anda & ada m

Bright sunshine, a beautiful location, and plenty of DIY tricks and twists; would that we could all enjoy a wedding like this one‌ PictureS by laura babb

Marriage Guidance Who? Amanda Gardner and Adam Harper Where? West Axnoller Farm, Near Beaminster, Dorset; When? 30 April 2016 Dress: Rue de Seine by Leonie Claire; Florist: Jennifer Poynter; Trestle tables: Virginias Vintage Hire; DJ: Rich S; Photography: Laura Babb;

VOW | 61


Where the art is Anna Patterson & Caspar Speake


ow here’s a glamorous globetrotter’s wedding: Anna and Caspar first met in New York back in 2008, and took in a Broadway show as their first date. Then, still on the far side of the Atlantic, they decided to get married during a holiday on Nantucket, the Massachusetts island that contains some of the most expensive homes in the US, much more so than the rather more famous Hamptons. Anna is from Dorset, though – she grew up in Sandford Orcas, and St Nicholas’ is the church her family went to when she was little – so picking where to get married was a no-brainer. “Plus,” she says, “I knew we could walk from home to the church on our wedding day, which was very special. Okay, so we did all get stuck behind a herd of cows en route to the reception venue, but that’s fairly usual for Dorset!” So the location was easy to organise, and so were both the invitations and florist. “The trickiest thing,” she says, “was finding a dress – and, in the end, I designed one myself.” What, really? “Well, I worked with a very talented dress designer and tailor called Katy Cordina, as well as Laura Campbell, who’s a designer and hand embroidery specialist at Hand & Lock, the famous London embroidery specialists, to actually get the details right.” Okay, then! She teamed this unique gown with a bouquet from Common Farm Flowers in creams and whites, plus brighter highlights and some lavender blues, and the same guys contributed matching bridesmaids’ posies and table posies, and dressed the wedding cake – made by Anna’s mum, and an unalloyed hit – with circles of fresh herbs, rosemary and thyme. Anna and Caspar share a love of art, and have always enjoyed what she describes as “the city-meets-country” vibe at Hauser & Wirth, the international modern art gallery set on an 18th century farm at Bruton in Somerset (it has sister galleries in Zurich, London, New York and LA too), so it seemed perfect as the reception venue. “The gallery is surrounded by beautiful countryside,” Anna says, “yet, with the sculptures and the converted buildings of the gallery, it all has a very modern feel.” Other contributions came from both far afield and close at home: the invitations, place cards, menus, and seating plan were by Betty Soldi Calligraphy and Design of Florence; hair was by the Melanie Giles boutique in Frome; shoes came from Italy’s Gianvito Rossi; make-up was by the West Country’s Christy Waterfall; and jewellery by Alex Monroe, purveyor of handmade metal beasts. Hackett of London made Caspar’s made-to-measure suit, meanwhile, and Hermes contributed his tie. He was joined by best 6 2 | VOW

man Patrick Coffey, a childhood pal, while the bride’s party was completed by sister Catherine, best buds Sarah Rodger and Harriet Suenson-Taylor, and flower girls Florence and Elizabeth – one of these two is Anna’s niece, and the other is bridesmaid Harriet’s daughter. The grown-up ladies wore dove grey/silver skirts from Jigsaw and LK Bennett with white silk tops, while the little lasses got grey dresses from the Little White Company. Anything the couple regret? Of course not, though costs did creep up. “The dress got especially expensive,” Anna says, “though I don’t regret it. (If only I could wear it again, though!) And, of course, entering the church to see all my family and friends, with Caspar waiting at the end of the aisle, made everything worthwhile.” With memorable speeches – the groom’s especially so, apparently – and no real Bridezilla moments, everything went swimmingly, then. “Well, at one point I was a little worried that it was too cold for the guests to stand outside to have drinks,” Anna says, “but that, of course, wasn’t exactly a major stress!”

a n n a & c a s pa r

That’s no The Day the Earth Stood Still spaceship in the background there, but rather a bar-cum-theatre space that’s part of Hauser & Wirth PictureS by laura babb

Marriage Guidance Who? Anna Patterson and Caspar Speake When? 5 September 2015 Where? St Nicholas’ Church, Sandford Orcas, Sherborne, Dorset Reception: Hauser & Wirth; Dress by: the bride, with help from Katy Cordina; Flowers: Common Farm Flowers; Invitations: Betty Soldi Calligraphy and Design; Hair: Melanie Giles, Frome; Make-up: Christy Waterfall; Photography: Laura Babb; VOW | 6 3


We all stand together Lou Mackintosh and Dan Danson

6 4 | VOW


ometimes you bump into someone and find you’ve an incredible amount in common, and so it was for Lou and Dan, who met at a friend’s party in Autumn 2015 – and had so much to talk about they got married seven months later. Okay, so that first chat was just a brief one, but they learnt a lot: like they both work in the theatre (Dan was the first Artistic Director at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol, while Lou is a dancer and choreographer), and they’d both been, at different times, at the same dance company in Wales. Both, too, had just changed careers, with Dan starting his own business – The Bike Shed Co, at Bristol’s Bower Ashton Woodyard – and Lou re-training as a holistic therapist. “I mentioned Dan to a friend later,” Lou says, “and she not only knew him, but thought him the nicest guy you could hope to meet.” A first date was arranged – it nearly didn’t happen, as Lou initially turned him down in favour of tickets to the Strictly Come Dancing final! – where it turned out they had yet more in common, from having attended the same events, and endless mutual friends, to even sharing a birthday; the serendipity was mounting up, and

lo u & dan

The secret to a good wedding? Get all your mates to do everything, of course! (And, even better, have them smile as they do it.) PictureS by su barclay

by the end of the evening both knew something pretty special was happening. “It’s been like that ever since,” Lou says. “It’s so natural and easy, as if it were meant to be.” Dan proposed on 28 January 2016 – their joint birthday – and within a month they’d nailed all the plans. “From proposal to wedding day was only three months,” Lou says, “but it was do-able, as all our creative friends contributed to every aspect.” Keeping things simple, the guys held both their ceremony and reception in the garden of their home, Keeper’s Cottage on the Ashton Court Estate. “We knew we wanted to celebrate our marriage outside,” Lou says, “so our garden was a natural choice.” For the evening reception, though, everyone trotted off to Bristol’s Floating Harbour Studios, which is based on a friend’s boat on the quayside; a cool wedding gift from best man Rich and his wife Anna, Dan’s closest friends who run the studios. Similarly personal was Lou’s dress, made by her friend – and bespoke wedding dress designer – Lisa Keating. Lou had seen it at one of Lisa’s exhibitions two years earlier and took a picture of it, as she VOW | 6 5

J UST M AR R IED: lo u & dan

thought it was the most beautiful wedding dress she’d ever seen. By the time of the wedding, of course, she’d forgotten the photo, but as plans got underway – and Lou was struggling to find the perfect gown – she stumbled across the pic. Could Lisa recreate it, maybe? Turns out she still had that exact one – and it fitted perfectly! And so it goes on, with Lou’s friend Grace Kingsley doing her hair, and Lou’s bridesmaids in dresses made by Pia Pispa (another friend) and boots by Anthony Lewis Churchill (you guessed it), who owns Little Wings, a children’s wear company we’ve had in Vow before. Dan’s outfit came less easily: indeed, just three days before the wedding he realised the suit was wrong, the waistcoat a disaster, the shirt clashed with everything, and the boots were different from those he’d ordered! Luckily, a dash to House of Fraser sorted it all out. What else? Well, there were flowers – very natural, understated arrangements – by another of Lou’s friends, Denise at Heartfelt Flowers. She arranged daisies and gypsophila in 15 silver teapots on the tables, filled Wellington boots with more gyps, and dressed the cottage inside and out with the likes of daisies and Sweet Alyssum. Maisie – Lou’s daughter-turned-bridesmaid – took on a third role by making the amazing cake, while the Bristol Hog Roast Company contributed a delicious lunch, followed by scrumptious cream teas from Heartfelt Vintage, more of Lou’s friends. “Another serendipitous moment came when the Hog Roast boss told us that his grandfather used to live in our very cottage,” Lou says. After a ceremony, you need a party, and two DJs – Lou Reeves and her dad, DJ Dicko – plus one band (electric swing outfit Emily Wright and the Royals) got everyone bopping on the boat. But how to get to the cottage, and then to the boat? On a 1950s bus, of course, complete with friends Martin Williamson and Anthony Lewis Churchill as conductors. “Everybody was buzzing with excitement as they arrived at the cottage for drinks,” Lou says. “We had deer running alongside as it shuttled people up the hill!” For Lou’s arrival, she’d organised a secret choir who sang ‘Going to the Chapel’ as a surprise for Dan and the waiting guests. When the choir came into the garden, with Lou and her dad following, it was, says Lou, “one of Dan’s favourite moments of the day.” 6 6 | VOW

Marriage Guidance Who? Lou Mack and Dan Danson When? May 28 2016 Where? Keeper’s Cottage, Ashton Court Estate, Bristol Reception: Floating Harbour Studios, MB Tempora (a Dutch barge moored in Bristol Harbour) Dress by: Lisa Keating; Hair by: Grace Kingsley; Make-up by: Lou Mack;

Photographer: Su Barclay Photography; Bridesmaid dresses: Pia Pispa; Vintage bus: Andrew James; Cream teas: Will and Kate from Heartfelt Vintage; Styling: Able Mable, Lou Blois and Helen Scrase Illustration: Caroline Back;

s Wedd7i1n.g50 from £ RSON E PER P

Are you organising a small intimate wedding or a large family affair? Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is the ideal venue. Set in ten acres of wonderful gardens and parklands, we have the perfect setting for your special day. Contact our wedding planner on 01225 723731 or email to arrange a personal viewing.

PERFECTLY YOUR STYLE There’s a reason why your wedding day is called your Big Day. It’s the only occasion in your life when you’ll have all the people you love in the same room on the same day. It’s the most extraordinary feeling for any couple. Your dedicated wedding team at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel will make sure that your day is the perfect expression of who you are.


College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TA



Beautiful, historic, intimate and truly romantic… the perfect exclusive and secluded venue for your wedding, birthday party or any other celebration or occasion.

A stunning 14th Century Castle where dreams come true…

• Licensed for Civil Ceremonies • Self Arranged or use our experienced team • Blessing Services and Renewal of Vows in the 6th Century Chapel • Wonderful landscaped gardens and riverside setting • Bed and Breakfast Accommodation

Bickleigh, Near Tiverton, Devon EX16 8RP • Tel: 01884 855363 • Email:


Pictures by james green photography

Swank hotels, sex y spaces & picturesque part y spots

Almost home Not far from Bath sits the rather laid-back Homewood Park, a country house venue at just the right size – and with just the right attitude…


itting in 10 acres of grounds near the pretty village of Freshford, some 15 minutes drive outside Bath, is Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, one of the region’s top luxury hotels, and with a pleasing, laid-back, home-from-home feel. “I always say picking a venue is like buying a house,” says Annabelle Reynolds, wedding co-ordinator here, “and although you may fall in love with somewhere, remember that, at the end of the day, it’s a business deal. You wouldn’t buy a house without researching local amenities – or even meeting the neighbours – so why should booking a venue be different? So go on Trip Advisor, and maybe even pop in for coffee or lunch unannounced – to gauge the atmosphere when the red carpet isn’t being rolled out – and it will give you a much more genuine experience.” Blimey! Not bad advice, is it? So, while you’re on a roll, Annabelle, what do couples often overlook? VOW | 69

h o m e w o o d pa r k

70 | VOW


The thing about Homewood Park is that it’s highly relaxed for a country house hotel, and you can do things your way, no matter how quirky that may be

This all said, then, it’s no surprise that they’re all about the bespoke here. From the menus to the very order in which your day runs, it’s all up to you. Indeed, they encourage couples to do things their families may find a bit ‘out there’. “And,” says Annabelle, “it doesn’t matter whether that’s helping them track down vintage lab beakers for table decorations, or sourcing a crumpet van for evening food, or even finding a troop of dancing grannies.”

VOW | 7 1

Pictures by james green photography; styling by once upon a table events

“One thing is check-in times. I’ve lost count of the amount of times guests have arrived at 11am, expecting to get ready in their bedroom when there are still guests yet to check out of it. The key is good communication, so put timings on your invites and – if you have anyone coming from further afield – make sure they are doubly aware, to avoid disappointment.” As far as the guys at Homewood are concerned, long gone are the days of lengthy receiving lines, and even such one-time fixtures as the first dance or cutting of the cake are becoming optional extras. “And, personally,” says Annabelle, “I think that’s great. Having a particularly shy husband, I can’t think of anything worse than having to drag him reluctantly around the dance floor on our wedding day. Couples should have the day they want, and that includes those of us who aren’t so keen on being centre of attention.”

Really? What else is there? “We have all the facilities and character provided by larger venues,” Annabelle says, “but without the pressure to fill a large number of bedrooms. Our 21 individually designed rooms are included within our exclusive use deal, and couples are given the option that guests pay for theirs on departure” – as in a regular hotel – “so the bride and groom don’t have to chase them for money.” They’re a small team here, and – by the end of a wedding – the staff like to know a lot of the guests’ names, and vice versa. “It really makes them feel at home, and adds to their enjoyment,” says Annabelle. “I’ve also found that knowing the name of a guest helps us guide them, in their various stages of hangover, to breakfast the following morning!” Annabelle says her dream wedding parties are the ones that trust her to worry about the details, so that they can focus on the fun aspects of the day. “Couples often overlook how quickly those last few weeks before the big day go,” she says, “and, unfortunately, paperwork tends to slip. The sooner your venue knows menu choices and seating plans, the more relaxing those last weeks can be.” Exclusive use weddings at Homewood range from around £8,000 upwards – although, this said, they’re running a limited offer on selected dates at the beginning of 2017 that will allow you to entertain 42 guests from £5,500. “Brides and grooms on a budget should always consider off-peak dates anyway,” says Annabelle. “At Homewood we can tailor our packages, so if you want Prosecco – or even beers – instead of Champagne, that’s completely possible, and will save money. I would advise to put money into the entertainment, though. Think in terms of games that don’t take too long to complete during the day – they’ll stop people from drinking too much because they’ve nothing else to do – and it’s important to have something going on in the gap between the wedding breakfast and the evening guests arriving. Some music, or a magician, will keep the mood upbeat.” Though its relaxed and flexible nature is a real selling point of Homewood, it dresses up like a dream too. “You can never have enough lighting,” Annabelle says, “and we’ve had weddings with fairy light canopies in the main room, and our wonderful groundskeepers have often put lights amongst the trees outside. This really encourages guests to use all the outdoor space.”


Gothic romance Many wedding venues get described as ‘hidden treasures’, but few fit the bill quite so thoroughly as Stanbrook Abbey…


n Worcestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds, sits Stanbrook Abbey Hotel, a mighty place heaving with period charm, the most remarkable architecture, and no shortage of history. This is, after all, both a Grade II listed building – designed by E.W. Putin, the noted Gothic Revival architect – and a former Benedictine nunnery. “When renovating, we’ve been extremely sensitive to the history of the Abbey, and have kept as many of the old features as possible,” says Tracey Clinton there, “while at the same time bringing the building into the 21st century. The jewel in our crown is the Callow Great Hall, where couples can hold their civil ceremony with up to 190 guests. It really is a remarkable space.”

7 2 | VOW

In fact, the whole place is remarkable, with striking corridors, hidden corners, and amazing architectural details throughout. There are 56 bedrooms – some are actually the former cells of the nuns – in the main building, and a number of function rooms to choose from, with spaces like St Anne’s Hall totally banquet-ready just as they are. Tracey recommends you run through the order of your day as early as possible with the team here, though, to ensure that every space you want is available when you want it – “there’s nothing worse than finding another event has booked a room you were hoping to use,” she says – and to arrange those important little details. “People forget how effective background music can be during the drinks reception and wedding breakfast, for instance,” says Tracey, “and it’s those little touches that make a day special. We’re really lucky at Stanbrook, because we have so many great and unexpected elements that people can get involved with, from our giant garden games to our wine cellars with games room and full-sized snooker table. We can even run Segway tours! We love setting up photo booths and candy carts too, and I’ve seen some really interesting guestbooks, including one where guests wrote on Jenga blocks – ‘help us build our future’ – and another where they created fingerprint trees.”

s ta n b r o o k a b b e y

Costs for hire very hugely, of course, and they’ve had weddings ranging from around £2,000 to £50,000 and beyond. “The easiest way to save a large chunk of money is to move to an off-peak season or perhaps a midweek date,” Tracey says. “I would advise not to scrimp on food and drink, though, as this is one thing that people always remember.” Another thing people always remember, of course, is the photographs – because they’re constantly reminded of them. So where’s a good spot around here to have ours taken? “There’s not a bad spot, to be honest,” says Tracey. “We’ve 26 acres of beautiful grounds, complete with a lake, bridge and a swing. And there are two entrances, one with a more traditional feel and one with a modern glass frontage, so there’s something for everyone. The Garth, right in the middle, is a sun trap during warm days, and is a stunning setting during the winter months too, with the fire pit where guests can grab a blanket and toast marshmallows. If it isn’t dry, though, our cloisters or the Callow Great Hall make for the perfect backdrop, too.”

VOW | 7 3


Life is sweet In an old sugar house at the heart of Bristol sits the rather glamorous Hotel du Vin, the perfect hidden-away city centre wedding venue and retreat from it all


he Hotel du Vin chain of boutique hotels – there were 17 at last count – are certainly luxurious places, and the Bristol venue is particularly steeped in history. It offers 40 loft-living style bedrooms, the highest of ceilings, exposed brickwork and cool industrial features. “We’re housed in a beautifully restored sugar house from the 1700s,” says their Helen Applin. “It’s in Bristol’s old quarter, just five minutes walk from the Registry Office. But each of our four, individuallystyled private function rooms are also licensed for wedding ceremonies, and are able to accommodate up to 72 people for a ceremony or wedding breakfast.” Part of what they pride themselves on here is flexibility – there are all sorts of interesting things you can do with menu choices, or unexpected additional elements to really personalise an event – and their wedding co-ordinator, Emily Nicholas, gets stuck in with everything, from the initial enquiry to planning

74 | VOW

the day and making sure it all goes smoothly. “She can advise on decor, or help out if you have unusual ideas of your own,” says Helen, “and she understands intimately all the practical factors, too.” Many Hotel du Vin couples also find themselves enjoying their hen and stag dos with the venue. “Our bar team love to tailor-make spirit tastings, or cocktail-making sessions, to suit the hen or stag,” says Helen, “and brides, in particular, enjoy spending the night prior to the wedding in the hotel with their friends. We love it when couples hold their entire event with us, from staying the night prior to the ceremony, to the wedding breakfast and onto the evening do.” Recent Hotel du Vin weddings have focussed on stripped-back elegance, with couples spending quality time with a smaller number of people. “Having the cake made of cheese is still popular,” Helen says, “as is shabby chic styling, but many couples seem to have moved away from providing favours for guests.” Though each wedding at the hotel is different, a typical cost might be in the £4,000-£5,000 ball park. Good places for photos include the wine cellar, on the winding staircase, and in the leafy hotel courtyard. “But it’s always worth a short walk over to the nearby Christmas Steps,” says Helen. “It’s a Bristol landmark, and provides a lovely backdrop, too.”


The kids are all right and the children Came Too are experts at keeping the

little terrors busy, while you get on with the important business of sipping bubbles and catching up with old pals…

76 | VOW

L E T ’ S PA R T Y

VOW | 7 7

L E T ’ S PA R T Y


veryone wants to see children at a wedding. Oh, come on – of course we do. They’re so cute in their little outfits, and their antics provide constant talking points, and generally make the whole day more fun. But yes, here’s the thing: few of us want to spend the whole day looking after them. (Not when there are exes to be dodged, cake to be scoffed, handsome strangers to be flirted with, and drunk uncles to be ushered safely into quiet corners, anyway.) That’s where And The Children Came Too comes in, a business owned and run by Victoria Cavaco, and specifically designed to cater for children at weddings. “We look after them all day,” Victoria says, “from the moment you arrive until that time when they’re scooped up in their pyjamas and taken home at the end. We create bespoke and imaginative play spaces to engage and inspire them, and

We create bespoke and imaginative play spaces to engage and inspire them, and provide play workers to keep them entertained and always cared for

provide play workers to keep them entertained, and make sure they’re always cared for.” With so many of us tying the knot later in life, of course, our own children are often at our weddings these days – and, even if we don’t have any, some of our procreation-happy pals are bound to oblige. “It’s not unusual to see a handful of embarrassed and disheartened parents outside a church on a Saturday afternoon,” says Victoria, “struggling with squealing and wriggling little ones, sometimes out in the rain, while the service goes on without them.” Yeah, we’ve been there. “Or you’re at the reception, a glass of fizz in hand – but the toddler is off, so of course you have to follow, in heels and a little wobbly, weaving your way through the crowds.” Know that too. And there’s more. “It’s time for food, and the kids are on the edge of kicking off. You know you’ve a ticking time-bomb on your hands if they don’t eat soon, and they do – great – but then they’re done in 20 minutes, and are now running around with energy to burn. You look down at your starter, which you’ve barely touched. Out comes the iPad, which – if you’re lucky – will get you through the main course. And then you have to tag-team it with dad to finish pudding, all the while wondering what chaos there’re now causing at the next table…” 78 | VOW

and the children c a me too

suffer the little children Keeping the tykes under control this issue were… Shoot management: Victoria Cavaco; Venue: The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, Wells; Photography: Pete Cranston; Bridal wear: Jessica Charleston Couture Bridal Gowns; Circus performer: Tom Makin, Eclipse Arts; Flowers: Fiona Lafon, Emerald & Jade Flowers;

VOW | 79

PictureS by pete cranston

And so it goes on – and we haven’t even got to the issues with getting the cherubs to sit through the speeches yet… So, what can be done? Luckily, Victoria doesn’t just have horror stories, but handy tips on coping too. “The first thing I’d do,” she says, “is set up a dedicated children’s play space. Kids love to hang out together, and it makes them feel special to have their own den. They all love dress-up, too, so providing colourful costumes and props can really let their imaginations run free.” Another good idea is a craft area – “pre-made craft kits are easy to arrange,” she says, “or you can hire someone to run a craft workshop” – and an extra bonus here is that each child will get something to take away, as a keepsake of the day. Of course, entertainment aimed mainly at the adults can be pressed into service for the kids, too. “Photo booths aren’t just for grown-ups,” Victoria says, “and entertainers are worth their weight in gold. Magic works brilliantly, or we can arrange storytelling sessions, circus skills workshops, or even fun science experiments. They’re perfect for when the speeches are on.” And afterwards? Try classic games like giant Jenga – which all generations can play together – or set up something more ambitious, like plate spinning. “You’ll eventually tire the kids out, though,” says Victoria, “so reward all that play with comfy cushions, popcorn and a movie, perhaps while the grown-ups are sitting down to dinner.” All good fun, then – and if managing all these activities seems a bit daunting on top of everything else, Victoria and her team can do it for you. “We can build a programme of activities to suit any requirements,” she says, “and we love customising packages for couples, making your wedding a memorable experience for children and adults alike. After all, if the children are happy, so is everyone else. That’s our motto!”

the getaway Once upon a hone ymoon

Hot tickets Tropic Breeze offers covetable escapes to the Caribbean and the Maldives; we can’t help thinking it would be worth getting married just to justify one…


his lot’s founder, Jo Plummer, first moved to Devon to teach sailing at the Island Cruising Club in Salcombe and, as a result, ended up sailing around the Caribbean in 1987. She loved it there, saw a gap in the market for a yacht charter business, and went for it, with Tropic Sail a great success – until she sold up and moved back to the UK. But then, in 2001 – after returning to the Caribbean to celebrate a birthday – she fell in love with the place all over again, so set up Tropic Breeze,

8 0 | VOW

a company she describes as “the only true Caribbean specialist in the UK”. Her team regularly visit the islands, know the hotels and owners well, and pride themselves on matching clients to holidays. The Maldives are a recent addition, and tends to attract people who are looking for that once-in-a-lifetime break – like, yes, a honeymoon. These days they’re a significant employer in the small village of Yealmpton, near Plymouth. Their office is in a converted coach house, with a team of ten – and three labradors. There’s an in-house cinema, complete with airline seats, and visitors may get to sample the Caribbean’s favourite tipple at The Tropic Breeze Rum Bar…  So, Jo, what are people looking for these days? The honeymoons we do are for couples looking for something extra special, a luxurious experience that’s different to a usual holiday. The priority tends to be that the setting is stunning and allows for plenty of relaxation and pampering, with the option to take part in activities too. We specialise in the Caribbean and the Maldives, so distance demands the honeymoons are usually for at least one or two weeks.

hone ymoons

Opposite: Jade Mountain, St Lucia; this page from top: the beach at Nonsuch Bay; sailing at same; and a very tempting beach sofa at Anantara Veli Resort in the Maldives

Say we wanted to push the boat out…? Well, we cover some of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Options in the Caribbean range from the incredible architecture and breath-taking views of Jade Mountain in St Lucia to the barefoot luxury and complete privacy of Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines, and the exclusivity of the famous Sandy Lane in Barbados. In the Maldives, some of the most jealousy-inducing resorts include things like a ‘Robinson Crusoe experience’, or an underwater spa and bar. One of the most common requests for a honeymoon in the Maldives is a resort with over-water villas, as they promise a luxurious and secluded experience with panoramic views over the Indian Ocean. In the Caribbean, private island resorts in the British Virgin Islands or the Grenadines offer a similar feeling of seclusion and luxury. Tell us about the Honeymoon Gift List you do. This works as an alternative to the traditional wedding gift list – basically, it enables wedding guests to contribute to a honeymoon. For couples who want variety on their honeymoon, St Lucia is a particular favourite, as it appeals to adrenaline junkies as well as those looking to laze away the days on a beach. Another option is an island hopping holiday – so you might combine a vibrant destination for a few days with a quieter island for the rest of the holiday. Finally, when’s the best time to go? Winter and early spring are both ideal times to travel to the tropics, although – as it’s high season – it’s best to book early. All year around, visitors to the Maldives are impressed by the beauty of the islands. From spectacular views of atolls and beautiful turquoise water seen from the window of a small seaplane, to magical sunsets witnessed from the deck of your water villa, it never fails to please. Honeymooners who go snorkelling or scuba diving are always astonished by the underwater world they discover, too. In the Caribbean, couples tend to remember the scenery and the islands’ warm and friendly character. If you venture outside your resort you’ll find delicious local cuisine – and unbeatable cocktails! VOW | 8 1

PictureS by tropic breeze

And how much are they happy to pay? Budgets vary greatly, from under £3,000 for a couple on a costeffective break to £20,000 for a high end holiday. The average price for a Caribbean honeymoon is about £5,000 per couple, though, or about £7,000 if you opt for the Maldives. It’s the huge range of accommodation available that makes prices vary so greatly. Sometimes staying on an all-inclusive basis can be very cost effective, as all food, drinks and activities are included and there are no hidden expenses. However, on some of the Caribbean islands, staying on a room only or bed-and-breakfast basis can offer great value, especially if there are plenty of restaurants nearby. This allows you to sample the local cuisine and experience authentic cafés and rum shacks.

THE SPEECHES Unaccustomed as I am …


Traditions we love

DON’T BE THE WORST BEST MAN There are three traditional speeches at a wedding, and the first two are kind of easy. It’s with the best man – the only one who has to be funny – where all the risks lie. And it’s a total balancing act: you can’t be too drunk, but a little stiffener might be no bad thing; you can’t be too sincere, but there has to be love there; and you can’t be too rude, though a best man’s speech without a hint of blue can be a limp thing indeed. There’s certainly plenty you probably shouldn’t mention:

any anecdotes that include bodily fluids; any hint that you didn’t like either of the couple the first time you met them; any mention of times when they’ve temporarily split up. Referencing other girls – or guys – is a no-no, while saying that the groom’s a lucky man if his fit new mother-in-law is anything to go by should be approached with extreme caution. The best best men get a crowd squirming, laughing, and hanging on every word. Good luck with that…

Next up: Vow #10’s out from 18 November. And in it, like Alice, we drop down a rabbit hole… 8 2 | VOW

52 Southside St, The Barbican, Plymouth PL1 2LB | 01752 228 451 |

It’s getting hot in here (so take off all your clothes)

Vow versus Heartfelt Vintage: a new wedding event, where alt rocks

Plus: a mountain-top proposal, a beachside getaway, and a whirlwind romance

The South West’s new wedding bible

Get thee to a nunnery! (don’t worry, nobody’s asking you to be ‘as chaste as ice’) Why the long face? You’re getting married tomorrow! (Oh, I see. You’re a horse)

Vow Magazine - issue 9  
Vow Magazine - issue 9