Vow Magazine - issue 12

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VOW s ta r d u s t m e m o r i e s


A PR I L & M AY 2 0 17

Stardust memories APRIL & MAY 2017 / Bath, Bristol & the West / No.12


Picture by evoke pictures

The great escape Often, when planning a wedding, it’s hard to remember what comes after: the bit where it’s not all to do with keeping kids happy, parents impressed, or friends under control, but where it’s just the two of you together, looking at each other and wondering what you’ve done. You owe it to yourselves, I reckon, to go somewhere far away – emotionally, if not always physically – and just be with each other for a bit. Try it out for size. After all, it’s going to be for the rest of your lives. This being the case, The Getaway, our occasional honeymoon section, returns this issue, and to celebrate I asked a few recent – and recent-ish – brides I know to tell me some of their honeymoon highlights. “We went swimming off a dive boat in Thailand,” said one. “I hate the water, but did it to keep hubby happy. I did insist on wearing a life jacket, though, which didn’t look cool – and kept me bobbing about on the surface like a cork – but really came into its own when a chop came up. Everyone was struggling their way back to the boat, exhausted, but not me.” “We went cave-tubing in central America,” said a second bride. “The water was the brightest blue, and there were bats hanging from the ceiling. It was like a date from The Bachelor, but without the douchey companion.” “We drove a classic Alfa Romeo sports car around Italy,” came a third. “I’ve never rocked the sunglasses-and-headscarf look with quite such Grace Kelly aplomb before.” All sound amazing – jealous, much? – but for our money, the greatest honeymoon destination has to be Africa. It’s where human life seems to have started, after all, so the symbolic power of the place is immense. Plus! Elephants. Just like your new life partner – we sincerely hope – what’s not to love? Matt Bielby, editor



The secrets to an awardwinning bake

54Nothing is so


It’s in the trees! It’s coming!

beautiful as spring…

Impressive? Hell, yes!

Vow M ag a zine MATT BIELBY Editor


KATE AUTHERS Editor at Large kate.authers@mediaclash.co.uk


59Now that’s what we call a veil!

SOPHIE SPEAKMAN Advertising Executive sophie.speakman@mediaclash.co.uk

Order of service 7 INVITATIONS

Award-winning cakes, hot American gowns, and some thrillingly macabre hats for the bold wedding guest…


We meet amazing designer Kate Halfpenny, rock up to cool new city venues in Bristol and Bath, and take a trip to the Devon coast. Plus! 2017’s coolest bridal trends!


One couple got married where they first met – to within a few feet, it seems – and another had their proposal witnessed by a random dog. Happy days!


Okay, so wedding venues aren’t just about country house hotels, but a good one is hard to beat, right? Here are two with a twist: one’s in the middle of a city, and the other has royalty right next door…


Amazing meat feasts, cool wedding styling tips, and a lady dangling from the trees


We’ve all dreamed of Africa, but few of us go there. When you’ve read these pages, however, that might be about to change…

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Deputy Production Manager CHRISTINA WEST christina.west@mediaclash.co.uk

Chief Executive JANE INGHAM jane.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk

Vow Magazine, MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 www.mediaclash.co.uk © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. On the cover: dress by Halfpenny London at The Mews; themewsclifton.co.uk; halfpennylondon.com


He can’t see your face. You’re not quite sure why. Welcome to the mysteries of the veil…


Production and Distribution Manager SARAH KINGSTON

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


78Romantic? Maybe.



STRANGER WINGS Become the queen of the butterfly collectors with SAHAR FREEMANTLE’s range of extraordinary hats Now, you may think that wearing something dead on your face hardly fits in with the general sense of joy and merriment that typifies most weddings, and we’d find it hard to argue. But at the same time, look at this thing! For the bold bride, the granny who likes to shock, the Mother of the Bride with a wicked sense of humour, or simply the young, hip wedding guest with a bit of fun about her, may we recommend these hats by Sahar Freemantle, a native of Evesham in the north of the Cotswolds who studied at Cheltenham Art College, and now surprises and delights bold London residents with a rather incredible range of handmade, and often bespoke, hats.

Sahar’s work has appeared on Downton Abbey (Lady Edith was a fan, apparently), on Katy Perry and at the V&A, and comes at prices running from as low as £30 to over £500; many feature real butterflies (deceased, of course), and are available at Atelier 19, the cool vintage-inspired concept boutique in Cheltenham. Sahar also runs numerous hat and fascinator-making workshops, and is available for hen parties to show you how it’s done. (Disappointingly but somewhat unsurprisingly, sequins and feathers tend to be more the order of the day for the majority of hens, we’re told.) saharmillinery.co.uk; atelier19cheltenham.com VOW | 7

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Snap happy F r a n c e s Tay l o r a n d C h r i s t o p h e r C a r d w e l l – w e d d i n g p h o t o g r a p h e r s

IT TAKES TWO Frances Taylor and Christopher Cardwell of EVOKE PICTURES offer a free engagement shoot to all their clients, just one little extra that’s made them one of the South West’s most popular wedding photo teams Well-known Bristol wedding snappers Evoke Pictures – actually, Frances Taylor and Christopher Cardwell – started shooting weddings independently, long before they ever began Evoke. 8 | VOW

“Fran started doing friends’ weddings 20 years ago, whilst studying for a fine art degree in Bristol,” Chris says, “while my first wedding was 18 years back, when my dad remarried in Canada. Once we’d each done one, though, we both saw what a great opportunity it was to be able to indulge our passion for documenting life – and make a living doing it!” So, Chris, how many weddings do you guys shoot a year now? We try to cap the number to 30 or so. Partly that’s because we also do corporate, food and interior work, but mostly it’s because we really enjoy photographing weddings, and want to keep them fresh and creative.

What’s your first meeting with each couple like? When choosing a photographer, it’s really important to see an example of a full wedding, not just their very best work. We offer all our clients a link to see a complete wedding, so they can view the consistency and quality of our work throughout the day. It’s also really important that you like your photographers, as you’ll be spending a lot of your day with them. We like to meet face to face, but with people’s busy lives we appreciate this can be difficult, so we also offer a Facetime/ Skype consultation, so we can to get to know each other – and make sure we all get on – before they book.

What does a typical package cost and include, then? We tailor each package to suit our clients’ needs, but a typical one would be £1,700, and include full day coverage, from the couple getting ready in the morning through to the dancing, with no time limitations. A usual gallery would include 400-600 individually edited images, available to download and share with friends and family. We allow our clients to share images across social media, but we also offer added online security for clients who’d like to keep their images completely private. At the end of the day, we want couples to feel they have complete control over

their images. We also offer special rates for weekday weddings – and for smaller, last-minute weddings too, if we aren’t already booked. How do you make sure you don't miss any vital parts of the day? We work closely with our clients, looking at their Pinterest boards, chatting on the phone, and generally keeping in touch throughout the lead-up to their day. We support them in building their itinerary, and ensuring we don’t miss the magic moments. We also often work together on weddings, and offering two photographers is brilliant, as it allows us to be in two places at once. This way, we never miss a shot! VOW | 9

I N V I TAT I O N S snap happy


You must have shot in some gorgeous locations…? Oh yes. We’re lucky that we get to work internationally, and last year our favourite location was Tuscany. It was stunning to photograph, and the couple were a complete joy to work with. We were with them for four days, and felt part of the family – even joining them for barbecues in the evenings. It allowed us to take a cheeky holiday, as well! What looks bad in photos? That’s a hard one, as it’s not always the biggest and the best weddings that are the most photogenic. I guess it’s harder when the little details haven’t been thought about, which is why it’s always great to work with like-minded suppliers – people like The Little Wedding Helper – as you know that, no matter what the budget is, it will look incredible. Obviously, taking unflattering photographs – perhaps from below – is never a great idea, either!

Do you manage to have fun at weddings yourselves? Always – it’s why we shoot them. We love capturing the tears – I often see Fran welling up during the speeches or ceremony! – and the laughter, and those little moments that create stunning pictures. It’s a complete privilege to be allowed to document such an important day, and we’ve kept in touch with many of our couples, going on to photograph other family milestones in their lives. In fact, Fran often meets up for playdates with some of her past clients, who we now consider friends.

How about the weather? Is shooting in the rain a nightmare? How about bright sunshine? All weather has its pros and cons. We try to use it to our advantage, though, so guests running in the rain with umbrellas – or people being blown around in the wind – can create gorgeous images, too. We try and reassure our clients not to worry about it as, in this country, you just never know!

There must be standard shots that everybody wants. How do you deal with the repetition? Most of what we do is reportage, and is often unique to each wedding. We try to guide clients towards keeping their group images to a maximum of ten, as – in our experience – any more takes up too much of their day, when they could be chatting with guests and enjoying a drink. Also, if we did

too many group shots we’d be missing valuable time elsewhere, when we could be documenting all the fun. How do you get stiff posers to loosen up? We don’t push people into having pictures they don’t want, and we always chat with them before the wedding to see how they feel about having their pictures taken. The beauty of reportage photography, though, is being able to capture them in moments when they aren’t even aware we’re taking pictures. This way, even the most self-conscience person is relaxed and natural. Often clients are amazed when they see the pictures, as they didn’t even know we were taking them. What kind of wedding photos annoy you? I have never been a fan of spot colour, or too many posed photos. We try not to use many filters in our edits, either, as we hand-grade all our images. Also, of course, colour tones and styles – just like in fashion – will inevitably date. Our hope is that our work will remain as timeless as possible. Finally, can you tell if a couple is going to stay together based on how they act on the day? We try to never think that way at a wedding. And, to be truthful, we get far too caught up in the excitement to be the best judges. Our priority is to document the day as it unfolds, and that is our only focus. evokepictures.com

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The Macdonald Hotels’ Signature Collection

Perfect Weddings Macdonald Bath Spa is ideally located just outside the City Centre, set in seven acres of landscaped gardens, our sweeping drive leads you up to the stunning 18th Century Georgian property.

The stunning building has been lovingly nurtured over the decades to maintain its character and charm now offering the ideal wedding venue with the old ballroom Avon Suite perfect for a bustling celebration with �loor to ceiling windows perfect for an intimate affair with close friends and family • Beautiful landscaped gardens complete with pond, ideal for those perfect pictures • Wedding packages starting from £4000 based on 70 people • Reception drinks in the grounds • Four unique ceremony rooms to choose from small intimate ceremonies to grand celebrations including the Temple in the Gardens • Onsite Car parking • Facilities to cater from 2 to 120 For more information, or to make an appointment to view the property please contact our Wedding Co-ordinator on 01225 476892 or email specialevents.bathspa@macdonald-hotels.co.uk

M A C D O N A L D B AT H S PA H O T E L Sydney Road, Bath BA2 6JF 01225 444 424  www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk

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Ask the expert

THE SUM OF ALL TIERS Jennifer Wells’ winning cake for The Wedding Industry Awards had three tiers – Cornish cream tea, indulgent dark chocolate torte and salted caramel – and featured over-sized statement flowers, hand-painted calligraphy quotes and some of her other favourite things

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There are cake makers and then there are cake makers, and you’ll find few better than JENNIFER WELLS of Edible Essence Couture Cake Company Take one look at the cakes on the pages, and you’ll be in little doubt as to why Plymouth’s Jennifer Wells triumphed at this year’s The Wedding Industry

Any other trends going on? We’re seeing lots of natural mineralinspired cakes – think marble, geode and quartz – and gorgeous metallic cakes, gilded in rose gold, gold, or silver, alongside contemporary floral arrangements with lots of greenery and delicate botanical flowers. Texture is big, too, whether crackled, ruffled or beaded, and people like intricate piping and geometric print pattens, with big, bold statement sugar flowers. Hand-painted floral cakes, and ombre watercolour wash designs, are popular too.

Awards, becoming national winner. Jen was brought up in a big baking home – “my mother and grandmother were both master bakers” – so she’d always had wonderful role models, and started out herself making celebration cakes. “They were great fun,” she says, “but I’d a hankering to go as beautiful and elegant as I could, which inexorably led towards wedding cake design.” The Wedding Industry Awards are the most prestigious of their type in the UK, Jen reckons. “This year the finalists were all incredibly talented. When Olympic gold medalist Roger Black read out the winner, he said, ‘This company stood out with their impressive attention to detail, going above and beyond for

their clients.’ The judges also loved the diversity of my designs – and, of course, that my cakes taste pretty good!” Speaking of taste, Jen, let’s talk flavours. What’s most popular? It’s actually our signature Cornish cream tea-inspired vanilla sponge, layered with our homemade strawberry conserve and whipped buttercream. Almost every couple will choose at least one tier of this. A close rival, though, is our Champagne sponge drizzled with Champagne syrup, then layered with strawberry and vanilla whipped buttercream. Another good one is our new raspberry and Prosecco cake, a great summertime flavour.

Wow! It all sounds very maximalist! Oh, the more natural look is still around. Naked and nearly naked cakes – coated with light, smooth buttercream, but with some visible sponge showing – are still very popular, as are fully buttercream coated cakes decorated with fresh edible flowers. Or, if you want more fun, also on trend are amazing drippy cakes, decorated with drizzled chocolate drips, macarons, mini doughnuts, giant Catherine Wheel lollypops or colourful meringue kisses. And, instead of a large main cake, couples are opting for a smaller cake surrounded by mini-treats. What’s the cost, ball-park, and how long do you need to make a cake? Our three-tier iced cakes, to cater for 80, start from £380-£500, while naked cakes the same size begin at £280 and buttercream-coated start from £300. Our four-tier cakes cater for 100, and are a little more. The most expensive cake I’ve made to date cost £2,500, because of the intricacy of the design. edibleessencecakeart.com VOW | 13

Pictures by clare kinchin

People sometimes ask for more unusual things, though, don’t they? Yes! We were once commissioned to make a cocktail-inspired wedding cake, which had three tiers of Pina Colada, Mojito and Strawberry Daiquiri. The most ambitious cake I’ve made to date, though, has to be the seven-tiered one for celebrity couple Peter Andre and Emily MacDonagh, which stood over 4ft tall on the table – I needed step ladders to assemble it! It was decorated with 1,860 handmade sugar flowers.

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New and notable

MADE IN MANHATTAN A new boutique on Margaret’s Buildings, ELLIE ROSE BRIDAL, is bringing Manhattan to Bath with Europe’s biggest selection of Hayley Paige gowns Stripes, colour and bejewelled bodices are just a few of the more unusual quirks you’ll find on the Hayley Paige gowns in Ellie Rose Bridal. “I just wanted to house a designer that I thought was a bit different and that brides would appreciate, and fingers crossed, they have and will continue to do so,” explains Ellie, who runs her eponymous Bath boutique, which opened its doors last November, with her fiancé Oliver. Peek through the voile-lined window and you might catch a glimpse of the Hayley Paige Occasions bridesmaid dresses – which also come in ivory if you want something more casual for a wedding dress; the light chiffon is fabulously easy to move in – but it’s downstairs where you’ll find the sea of organza, tulle, lace and satin sure to make any bride go weak at the knees. There’s the signature Hayley Paige and Blush by Hayley Paige ranges – alongside an array of veils, belts and glittering shoes – and the main difference between the two, says Ellie, apart from the price (which ranges from £1,200-£4,500), is the aesthetic. “She’s more experimental with the Hayley Paige range and the gowns tend to be a little funkier,” says Ellie, whose eyes light up as she shows me a full-skirted frothy lilac

number. “Blush by Hayley Paige is more traditional, with lace, satins and the fabrics that you normally see in wedding dresses. “Going for a more modern, urban designer is a bit of a risk in itself, but I’m so confident with the Hayley Paige dresses and how they look and feel. I’ve been working in bridal for a while, and I just got bored of the same kind of lace, sweetheartneckline, A-line dresses, which are stunning but so widely available. I thought, if I’m going to open a bridal shop, provide something different, don’t bring sand to the beach.” And can she pick a favourite? “It changes weekly, as you can imagine, but currently, she’s called Decklyn,” says Ellie, indicating the striking ivory striped organza bridal ball gown in the window, “and she just looks good on anybody. She’s got that gently draped, flattering neckline that when you see it on the hanger you think, ‘Oh, it’s going to be too booby,’ but it’s really not, and the back’s nice and low but still structured so that you don’t get any of that gaping. The skirt really nips in at the waist and it’s not too puffy and not too fitted, and it’s the kind of cascading dress that you can really swish in.” www.ellierosebridal.co.uk VOW | 1 5

A BLOSSOMING ROMANCE Flourish in unique splendor, where sophistication romances relaxation to create the ultimate home from home for family and friends on your wedding day. Take comfort in our warm ambiance as we help you to begin your story here at Berwick Lodge. Call us now to start your story.

Berwick Lodge, Berwick Drive, Bristol BS10 7TD Tel: 0117 958 1590 www.berwicklodge.co.uk Carmela Producciones

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Flower power

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY The home-grown, organic trend in flower design perfectly suits Beth Litaunieks, of Frome-based florist Beth Litaunieks doesn’t just do wedding flowers, though this, she says, is where she’s at her “most joyful”


Beth Litaunieks runs The Midnight Garden, an independent florist in Frome with something of a natural bohemian style. “I’m definitely like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to flowers,” Beth says, “but, coming from a fine art background, I’ve always been as

passionate about how my arrangements will photograph as I am about how they look in ‘real life’. After all, having worked lovingly on a floral display, I want to ensure it’s also captured beautifully.” Beth loves it when a bride and groom come to her with a real understanding of what they’d like to achieve through their wedding flowers. “I can then turn what’s sometimes nothing more than the seed of an idea into a fully formed reality,” she says. “I think there’s sometimes a fear that you have to go to your florist with all the names and exact shades you want, when that’s not the case at all.” Of late, home-grown, seasonal blooms have very much been in vogue, which ties in with a general interest in keeping VOW | 17

I N V I TAT I O N S flower power

things real and natural. Certainly, flowers that don’t align naturally with a particular season are becoming much less asked for. “It’s been such an exciting time,” Beth says, “as I’m finding couples are branching out into bigger, bolder designs, with a real focus on bright colours that pop. Natural, organic arrangements are pure bliss for me, though I find everyone has their own floral turn ons and turn offs – including me. For instance, while some brides might be put off by the idea of traditional, formal roses, there are so many relaxed and informal garden roses around that we can come up with some brilliant substitutes.”

What, then, has been her favourite wedding so far? “One of my closest friends got married recently,” she says, “so I was able to have lots of fun with her flowers. She’d chosen the most exquisite vintage swan vases for the tables, and I had really blousy hydrangeas and garden flowers flowing out from them, which looked divine. I made a huge wreath to go above where they were to say ‘I do’, and the whole day had a really whimsical, dreamy quality. I expect it will stay a personal favourite for a long, long time.” midnight-garden.co.uk

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27 Belvedere • Lansdown Road • Bath • BA1 5HR

Bespoke wedding specialists

Bespoke Flowers for Weddings Bristol, Bath and beyond www.tillytomlinsonflowers.co.uk 0117 9041141

For all enquiries please call us on 01225 920884 www.flowersofbath.co.uk

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The wedding planner

VERVE CENTRE Can’t find the flowers you want? At VERVAIN they grow their own…

PAST TENTS Go hen party glamping ’50s style, with LULU BELLS The guys at Lulu Bells are hosting a boutique glamping option at this year’s Vintage Nostalgia Festival. “It’s a cracking little festival held at the beginning of June in Stockton Park, Wiltshire,” says their Lucy Moakes. “It makes for a quintessentially English weekend away, and is a lovely hen party destination: think vintage fashion, victory rolls, picnic hampers, old sports cars, rock ’n’ roll bands, Pimm’s and bunting. “On arrival, you can check into a ready-made, fully-furnished bell tent through The Vintage Vogue package,” says Lucy, “which comes complete with memory foam foldout bed, fresh bed linen and warm winter tog duvet and pillows, plus a mirror, lamp, fairy lights, blankets, rugs and either an up-cycled crate or vintage suitcase bedside table.” Alternatively, if you’d prefer it more basic – and want to style your own tent – The Basic Bunker package is for you; you just get basics, like tent, airbed and lamp. lulubelltents.co.uk

PUDDING CLUB At PUDDING BRIDGE, a new wedding planning offering now rivals their famous twinkly table linen 2 0 | VOW

They’re celebrating over at Pudding Bridge, the Bath wedding planning and decoration company, where they won Wedding Special Touch of the Year at The Wedding Industry Awards – for the second year in a row, indeed – and have recently expanded their offering. Before, they could do you a wide range of stylish items for weddings and events, with sequinned table linen a speciality; now, however, there’s a new wedding planning service, too. They also styled a shoot at Widbrook Grange recently, with pictures by Capture by Lucy; here’s a peek. “It’s been an amazing time,” says founder Helen Hopkins. “We add that wow factor couples are looking for.” puddingbridge.co.uk

This is Vervain, a Bristol-based floral design studio specialising in weddings. It’s the brainchild of India Hurst, a floral designer with a background in art. “I grew up on a plant nursery,” she says, “so it was inevitable that I’d fall in love with flowers.” India grows a proportion of the blooms she uses in her own nursery, squeezing flower beds between polytunnels and glasshouses. “We grow flowers that can’t be sourced elsewhere,” she says, “from unusual dahlias to bicolour ranunculus.” vervainflowers.co.uk

OPEN RANGE Looking for wedding inspiration? We’ve two options for you… Hestercombe Gardens at Taunton in Somerset is hosting a free wedding open day on Sunday 11 May, where you'll be able to meet a range of top local suppliers, and get to see what the place looks like when all spruced up for a major bash. Alternatively, rock up to Sandy Park in Exeter on 7 May for their biannual wedding fair, featuring a host of the South West’s best wedding suppliers – and one of Salcombe Gin’s G&Ts for every bride! hestercombe.com; sandypark.co.uk/events

GoldHandmade & Platinum Studio and Bespoke Jewellery

We specialise in bespoke and perfectly fitted engagement and wedding rings. Hand made with love at our Bath studio and workshop. We also repair, remodel and value jewellery. 19 Northumberland Place, Bath BA1 5AR I Tel: 01225 462 300 www.goldandplatinumstudio.co.uk I Email: mike@goldandplatinumstudio.co.uk


Pitch Up and Play Bespoke childcare at weddings 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 qualiďŹ ed 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. hello@pitchupandplay.co.uk

THE BR IDE i do, i do, i do

Co - C r e at o r s E m m a H l a & K atri n a O tter P h o t o g r a p h y b y L u c y D av e n p ort Photo g r a p h y

W o r d s K ate A u ther s

the siren’s song Referencing everything from timeless coastal cool to Disney’s mermaid princess comes this wonderfully dreamy photoshoot, starring the most flame-haired of brides

photographs by lucy davenport photography

THE BRIDE: the siren’s song

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THE BRIDE: the siren’s song

photographs by lucy davenport photography

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THE BRIDE: the siren’s song



nd what of the mythic creature whose song lures sailors to their doom, our bride? There were three looks on the day, all dreamt up to complement the setting and colour palettes. The first came in the form of “a delicate peachy-pink beaded halterneck top and full tulle skirt from Flossy & Willow,” explains Emma. “A bespoke veil in the softest pink, made by Britten, worked perfectly with a plaited halo and soft loose tendrils, while the 2 8 | VOW

bouquet was one of three created by Claire & Tami. And then there was our second bridal look, starring an incredible Anna Campbell gown from Perfect Day Bride. The gorgeous pearls and beading reflected the cobbles of Clovelly’s streets, while the scalloped design added a mermaid-esque vibe. “We added a coloured veil,” Emma says, “and this time Britten chose blue to work against the ivory dress. This colour was mirrored in the silk ribbons adorning the bride’s incredible bouquet. Texture was key for this look, and the sea breeze added a mesmerising movement to the fabrics and florals.” The final look took a turn towards sexy siren, with a tactile metallic silk bridesmaid gown by Jenny Yoo at Coco & Kate. Like Pippa Middleton’s unexpected starring role at a certain Royal Wedding, it was this dress that stole the hearts of all on the shoot. “The cold-shoulder trend ticked the fashion box, while the silvery fabric made our model look like she was just emerging from the sea,” says Emma. The delicate crown by Feather & Coal only added to the mermaid princess feel, while a second look switched to a more traditional flower crown – complete with spray roses, Nigella buds, foliage, hellebores and grasses – and a fabulous bouquet. Put together, it’s enough to convince any bride-to-be to colour her hair a vibrant shade of copper, and plan a wedding by the sea.

the new wave Rising to the occasion at Clovelly were… Creative: Emma Hla; cocoweddingvenues.co.uk Manager: Katrina Otter; katrinaotterweddings.co.uk Creative Consultancy: Coco & Kat;

cocoandkat.co.uk Venue: Clovelly Village; cocoweddingvenues.co.uk Photos: Lucy Davenport Photography; lucydavenport.co.uk Videography: Roost Film Co.; roostfilmco.com Florist: Wild Spirit; wildspirituk.com Hair/Make-up: Jo Adams; hairandmakeupatelier.com Dresses: Perfect Day Bride; perfectdaybridal.net Flossy & Willow; flossyandwillow.co.uk Coco & Kate; cocoandkate.co.uk Jewellery: Sarah Brown; sarahbrownjewellery.com Headpiece: Feather & Coal; featherandcoal.com Bespoke Veils: Britten; brittenweddings.com Shoes: Emmy London; emmylondon.com Stationery: Calligraphy for Weddings; calligraphy-for-weddings.com furniture and other pieces: Prezola; prezola.com Virginia’s Vintage Hire; virginiasvintagehire.co.uk cakes: Kate Burt Cakes; kateburtcakes.co.uk Cutlery: Helene Millot; helenemillot.com Tableware: Duchess & Butler; duchessandbutler.com Ribbons etc: Kate Cullen; katecullen.co.uk

photograph by lucy davenport photography

e always think there’s something wildly romantic about being by the sea, whatever the season, and in the ancient village of Clovelly in North Devon, you’ll find wooded cliffs, a pretty manor house and a cobbled street that winds down to the Bristol Channel past lime-washed cottages framed with flowers. Time appears to stand still – until you spot our porcelain-skinned bride, leading lady in this mesmerising photoshoot put together by Emma Hla of Coco Wedding Venues and Katrina Otter of Katrina Otter Weddings, who’ve recently teamed up to form a new creative ‘super’ consultancy, Coco & Kat. “I’m very much drawn to the rugged coastlines we’re so fortunate to have in the UK,” says Emma, “whether it’s the tall swaying grass of the dunes in Sussex, the dramatic cliffs of Dorset or the stretches of sand in Northumberland – I love them all. So when I discovered Clovelly, with its own pebble beach and stunning quay vista, I knew this would be the perfect place for a sea-inspired shoot.” With the venue chosen, they assembled their crew, including Lucy Davenport Photography and Roost Film Co., who interpreted their vision – and sunset-streaked colour palette – in dreamy softness. “Blue was an obvious choice for the coastal theme and, to complement, we opted for a palette of lilac grey and rose quartz,” says Emma. “To highlight how couples can interpret a palette, we decided to create two tablescapes, one muted and one bold, and this light and dark thread followed us throughout the shoot.” With so many beguiling backdrops to work with, they styled an alfresco scene in the blossom orchard at the manor house, with blush chargers from Duchess & Butler, antique silver cutlery from Helene Millot and a silk tulle runner from Kate Cullen – topped with succulents, grasses, seashells and candles. Florist Wild Spirit (formerly Garden & Wild) created the amazing coastal-toned flowers, with a mix of succulents, air plants, asparagus ferns, white ranunculus, hellebores and star-shaped cluster flowers called amsonia. “To stop everything from feeling too ‘pretty’, furnishings from Virginia’s Vintage Hire added a contrasting rawness,” explains Emma. For the dark thread of the shoot, the desired effect was much more dramatic, and similarly breathtaking. “The deep Parisian blue hemstitch tablecloth and cassis rose napkins by The Linen Works, and elaborate driftwood candelabra centrepiece by Nordic House, were on loan from the lovely folks at Prezola,” says Emma, “and we added in golden cutlery, pearl chargers, oyster shell candles from The Oyster Candle Co. and chunky wooden benches.” Both looks were set off with a grey marble-effect three-tier cake, with accompanying taster cakes, brushed with gold by Kate Burt Cakes. “The golden seaweed, pink pearls and sugar urchin details were divine, and would be sure to wow your guests,” says Emma.

ang els inst ard ust W o r d s b y W e n d y Ly n e

Kate Halfpenny – stylist to the stars, and one of our coolest wedding dress designers – is now stocked at The Mews Clifton. Her current collection channels edgy 1970s New York glamour, but with incredible fabrics and British chic…

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T H E B R I D E : k at e h a l f p e n n y

previous spread, left to right: ava skirt, loretta corset; bumble top, laura skirt; bumble top, Iris slip. this spread, left to right: alice top, Iris slip; ebony; christabelle skirt, Irene top


or the really rock ’n’ roll bridal look, we’re often drawn to the work of some of the current leading French designers – Rime Arodaky, Laure de Sagazan, those guys – who tend to be stocked at the achingly cool The Mews, with its boutiques in Clifton, Bristol, and London’s Notting Hill. But there’s no country with a tradition that combines the romantic outlaw feel of great rock music with the gorgeous and feminine quite like this one, of course, so it’s good to see British designers that can more than hold their own in a world of bridal cool. One such is Kate Halfpenny, whose gowns look good parading down the aisle, and even better while making a quick getaway in a leather jacket on the back of a Norton Commando. Kate’s label – Halfpenny London – is stocked at The Mews Clifton, and mixes vintage inspiration with classic British sass and vim in winning fashion. Following a degree in women’s wear, specialising in bridal, back in the late ’90s, she went on to do a Masters in ‘Textiles for the Future’ at Central Saint Martins. “I’d always been obsessed by creating beautiful silhouettes, and using amazing fabrics,” Kate says, “and it was at Saint Martins that I first fell into fashion styling. It wasn’t a job I even knew existed before that – being just a regular girl from a small town in Derbyshire – but suddenly I found myself creating incredible costumes for PlayStation campaigns, and working on some of the most famous Marks & Spencer adverts. Eventually I was styling such icons as George Michael and Rihanna, and it’s this wonderful mixture of diverse jobs and clients that’s always inspired me and my designs.” hese days, Kate’s bridal work often features intricate beading, and a gorgeous blend of fabrics and textures – heavy silks with sheer organzas, say – creating a look that’s bold but pretty, and almost always with a striking silhouette. “I think my signature style naturally evolved from my first collection,” Kate says. “It’s very much a soft and ethereal look, paired with simple, chic graphic pieces. There’s always a strong emphasis on beautiful fabrics and details in what I do, and embroidery and lace are always very prominent in my collections. I just love beautiful fabrics.” Halfpenny London gowns are very recognisable – she’s one of those designers whose work you can spot a mile off – but she often brings a specific influence to the mix too, with the current collection channeling the Studio 54 hedonism of 1970s New York. Not that Kate’s life these days has much in common with Bianca Jagger riding a white horse onto the dance floor at that notorious nightclub. “Running your own business, no matter how big or small, is always full on,” Kate says, “and especially so for me now, as I have added a little one into the mix. It would be such a joy if I could just choose fabrics and design every day, but reality demands that my time is split between meetings, fittings, sourcing, and everything else. It’s pretty crazy – but I know I’m lucky to love my job.”


You’re quite a fan of the bridal separates, aren’t you? I’ve always liked them, and statement dresses too, so ever since I launched – back in 2005 – I’ve had this style in mind. That you can create unique bridal looks is important these days, and I find that interchangeable skirts and tops work really well for modern brides. So if you’re bold in that way, what do you think about colour in wedding gowns? Actually, I love it, and have created some really beautiful coloured gowns in the past. That said, there’s something really pure and interesting about shades of ivory, creams and blushes. 3 2 | VOW

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

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What are the most important aspects of a dress? There isn’t one factor that’s more important than the others; it’s about the harmony of the cut and the fabric, and the way it makes you feel. That’s what gives each dress its final power. A great wedding dress needs to show off the bride’s personality, and to complement her body. It’s all about the way she walks and moves in her dress. When designing dresses, I’m very much inspired by my brides – the women I meet and work with – and this influences my designs each season. I think my collections are always quite ageless, and more down to an attitude than a particular person. What are some of the biggest hit wedding dresses you’ve done over the years? Perhaps my biggest success was with some dresses I did for Emilia Fox’s wedding. I made her two of them, and the biggest compliments I’ve heard were that I’d captured her in every stitch. I went on to make several more bespoke dresses for Emilia, and still have the pleasure to work with her now. I like to think that, when creating dresses for my clients, they provide me with snapshots of themselves that give me all the inspiration I’ll need to create their dream dress. It’s such a joy to be able to work so closely with such amazing women. Spanx or no Spanx? And cleavage: any opinion? I think if Spanx give you the security you crave on your wedding day, then do it. But – in an ideal scenario – the dress floats off all the right places, so you shouldn’t need them. I think a little cleavage, or a suggestion of it, is no big deal. Generally, though, less is more. Leave something to the imagination! Finally, what’s the biggest mistake a bride can make? The problem is that there are so many pictures of wedding dresses out there, it’s mind-boggling. So stay focused. Wear a style that suits you, and makes you a polished version of yourself – not someone else. Your husband-to-be wants to see you walking down the aisle, not an unrecognisable version of you. This applies to hair and make-up, too. And don’t take too many bridesmaids with you when you start looking. Get your ideas together on your own, then revisit your favourites with your besties to help you choose ‘The One’. themewsclifton.co.uk; halfpennylondon.com

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left to right: mitzi leather top, Iris Slip; italian cocktail skirt, iris cami; morgan shirt dress

When you say your dresses are for ‘real women’, what does this actually mean? I strive to offer a diverse collection of silhouettes for all body shapes, which ensures the collection has something for everyone. They’re not all cut for slim, five-foot-ten-inch tall supermodels. Rather, they’re timeless and elegant, and are designed to make you feel incredible. I think there’s something quintessentially British about my work, and I’m proud to say we make all our dresses in London. The latest Halfpenny London collection is called ‘Standing on Stardust’, isn’t it? Yes, and it’s inspired by the ’70s, but is more about the mood rather than the silhouettes. I often mix a decade’s influences with inspiration from something else – perhaps a painting – and then use key fabrics to help complete the picture. With the collection’s overall look in place, the designing then flows and the dresses evolve. This is my favourite part of the job, but – equally – it’s the most challenging. I always start with a mood board. I love putting things together and creating imagery, then I start to sketch and doodle and make notes, and then fabrics get added into the mix, and we mock up silhouettes. Things naturally evolve. It’s a beautiful process.

Tough love WORDS by Cl arissa Picot

ph oto g r a ph y by e vo k e p i c t u r e s

Bristol creatives – led by The Little Wedding Helper – add great swathes of watercolour brightness to a cool new industrial space right in the heart of the city

photography by evoke pictures


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

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to u g h lov e


Photography by evoke pictures


ucked away off Colton Street in the middle of Bristol – “down the lane between the Bike Workshop and Blaze,” they say – sits The Forge, a fairly recently opened bespoke event space and workshop venue that’s all massive windows, exposed brickwork, bare floorboards and semi-industrial chic. It’s like a breath of fresh air in the South West wedding scene, dominated, as it is, by amazing country house-type venues. “It’s full of natural light, and has a real New York loft vibe about it,” says Kirsten Butler, otherwise known as The Little Wedding Helper. “I first came here when it was being renovated, and instantly fell in love with the bare brick walls, wooden furniture and huge windows that overlook the centre of the city.” Kirsten being Kirsten – she’s not Bristol’s go-to lady for wedding styling and décor hiring for nothing – the first thing she thought of on seeing it was putting together a shoot to showcase this new space, as well as the work of a select bunch of local wedding suppliers. Silky, the owner of The Forge, gave the guys free rein in the downstairs space, and they filled it with colour and excitement. “The key piece of inspiration came from my friend Harriet de Winton, who’s started her own stationery business, specialising in calligraphy and watercolours,” Kirsten says. “Styling a venue is a little like painting a picture, as you start with a blank canvas and a palette of colours, and then layer on the details until you come up with a single beautiful and unique look. The quality of light at The Forge is just beautiful, and could almost be an artist’s studio.” s Harriet had just designed a new stationery suite with a watercolour theme, this got Kirsten thinking, and she worked with Emma Norton Wedding Flowers to come up with a palette of colours that might not necessarily go together, but which really popped nonetheless, and certainly added a burst of spring colour to proceedings. “With every shoot I do, I want each detail to be practical enough that it can be recreated by a real-life couple on their big day,” Kirsten explains. “It’s the little details that are so important, and this shoot was bursting with them. From the brush strokes on the biscuits and cake to the bright glassware, there was colour everywhere. I really liked the gold calligraphy on the stationery, the beautiful flower crown, and the delicate fabrics of the gowns. I find flowers always really help to soften an urban space like this one, and I wanted to show just how amazing a good floral garland, laid along the length of a table, can look.” Elsewhere, Harriet painted some pretty incredible wall hangings – which couples can actually order as backdrops for their ceremony or cake table – and Emma Buston of Bake My Cake designed and created some rather fine cake and cookie favours. “I always love it when couples decide to be brave when it comes to styling and decorating their celebration,” Kirsten says, “and I encourage them to be bold with colour and details. If you’re really not sure where to start, then a stylist can help you make the very best of your wedding venue – and within your budget, too!”

Clifton’s Forge Don’t be stupid! It’s not in Clifton, it’s near Christmas Steps, say this little lot… Styling & design:

Kirsten Butler, The Little Wedding Helper; littleweddinghelper.co.uk Photographer: Evoke Pictures; evokepictures.com Stationery & wall hangings:

de Winton Paper co.; dewintonpaperco.com Venue: The Forge Bristol; theforgebristol.com Flowers: Emma Norton Wedding Flowers; emmanortonflowers.co.uk Cake & biscuits: Bake My Cake; bakemycake.co Make-up & hair:

Grace Kingsley; gracekingsley.co.uk

Dresses: Flossy & Willow; flossyandwillow.co.uk Models: Taloulah Mair at Mustard Models; bigmustard.co.uk; Lauren Clarke; facebook.com/ laurenasclarke

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THE EDGE OF LOVE Clockwise: Papillon by Claire Pettibone at The Bridal House of Cornwall; Forget Me Not by Sharon Bowen Dryden at Carina Baverstock Couture; Tamsin by Catherine Deane at The Bridal House of Cornwall; Belle by Suzanne Neville at Carina Baverstock Couture; Yorath by House of Ollichon

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she’s the one

Once you’ve found your partner, the dress – or outfit – is the biggest consideration for any bride. From jumpsuits to palazzo pants, body-con tailoring to the new ‘naked’ dresses, we chat to the experts about the trends to look out for in 2017…


ver since style icon Olivia Palermo stepped out in a skirt and jumper on her wedding day; Solange Knowles nearly broke the internet with her jumpsuit and multiple outfit changes over the course of her wedding weekend; and Agyness Deyn rocked up to Brooklyn Heights in a sheer-sleeved, midi dress with pale pink lining, it opened the floodgates for brides to eschew the traditional big white dress in favour of something more unique, and interesting. And it got us to thinking, what else is out there? We posed the question to a few of our favourite bridal boutiques across the South West and beyond, to bring you some all-important fresh ideas on how to dress for the day.

So, what styles are currently making their mark?

“The skirt over the jumpsuit is a really growing trend,” says Hannah Ollichon, founder of House of Ollichon, a label known for its dress-less collection of bridal jumpsuits and separates. “This featured hugely at New York Bridal Week 2016 and is filtering into ‘real-life’ now. We’re just about to launch one of these designs in our new capsule collection, out in August, in fact. Capped sleeves are also a huge focal point; off the shoulder, embellished, drapes – you name it, you’ll see it!” “Bridal fashion ebbs and flows,” reckon Carina Baverstock and Lucy Hayward-Rodgers, the duo behind Carina Baverstock Couture in Bradford on Avon. “Trends do appear, but ultimately what a bride chooses to wear is so personal that she may not always VOW | 4 3

the Bride: trends

follow the trends. We are seeing, however, that brides are wanting drama, with heavily structured full silk skirts juxtaposed with body hugging embellished corsets. Alternatively, brides favouring soft, natural and flowing gowns are picking up on the trends for the silk chiffon demi full skirt falling from the waist.” Dramatic skirts are also on the agenda at Ellie Rose Bridal. “We are finding that textured skirts are big in our designers’ new collections,” says Ellie, founder of the eponymous Bath boutique, which stocks collections by Hayley Paige and Jessica Williams. “Creating soft waves in the fabric is a wonderful way of fashioning a romantic and feminine look for a modern bride.” At Chanticleer, the much-loved wedding and accessories boutique in Cheltenham, designer and proprietor Tracey Salt thinks “low V-necks, statement necklines and figure hugging bottoms are making an impact this year,” while at Bath-based Krystle Brides, director Krystle Herbert Worgan has seen “romantic and elegant gowns with crystal bodices, luxe satins, sexy scoop backs, lightweight skirts with illusion lace, and bold patterns” all making an appearance in SS17. Over at The Bridal House of Cornwall, the Truro boutique which sets out to offer brides an alternative to predictable dress choices, founder and director Kelly Scoble has noticed that her customers are being more daring. “Our brides are more open to trying new bridal shapes and trends recently, which is really refreshing, as we strive to bring eclectic and interesting designers down to Cornwall. We’re selling a lot of sheer, almost see-through, sheath-like dresses, some with fit-and-flare skirt shapes with no structure inside them, just a fabulous cut and low, sexy backs; and there’s been a huge increase in requests for our bridal separates, too. We also sell dresses in blush and pink tones as they are so flattering on most skin tones, especially those with English rose complexions.” At Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique in Penarth, which specialises in handmade dresses and accessories by award-winning Welsh designers, as well as vintage gowns that tell a story, their focus isn’t on trends per se, but rather amazing dresses which show off a figure beautifully. “We love to pay attention to back detail on our dresses,” says Rachel, “as it’s important for us that the dress has the ‘wow’ factor from every angle.” Are there any real surprises in the mix?

“Some of the styles coming from the Israeli designers are certainly surprising,” say Carina and Lucy at Carina Baverstock Couture. “The gowns are known as ‘naked dresses’, where often the linings have been removed to ensure maximum flesh impact. In our opinion, this is somebody trying to reinvent the wheel rather than thinking about the bride and what it says about her. We are told that if you want a lining, you will have to pay extra!” “Warm soft metallics, vintage golds, sparkling champagne hues and textured skirts have surprised us most in our current collections,” says Krystle at Krystle Brides. “These gowns are less traditional, but really have the ability to turn heads!” In stark contrast, Kelly at The Bridal House of Cornwall has found the ‘back to simplicity’ look the most surprising. “More brides want no detail at all, just very simple, easy and classic silhouettes,” she says. “The anti-lace/anti-detail bride brigade is growing, and importantly, looking fabulous.” 42 4 | VOW

picture by Jon Turtle

different ways to shine Clockwise, from top left: Logan by Enzoani at Krystle Brides; Rowe dress by Amy Mair Couture at Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique; Lea by Clinton Lotter at Carina Baverstock Couture; Thomas top and skirt by House of Ollichon; Chandon by Hayley Paige at Ellie Rose Bridal

the Bride: trends

And for something unique? “Our Drakeford culottes always turn heads,” says Hannah at House of Ollichon. “I don’t think people realise bridal culottes even exist until they see ours!” Not all styles suit all brides, so what are your top tips?

“If you are tall and slender, you’re lucky enough to be able to go for pretty much any jumpsuit style,” thinks Hannah at House of Ollichon. “For those of us blessed with a big bust, the V-neck is incredibly flattering and, if a curvy bum or hips is your ‘thing’, then a waistband and wide trouser leg creates a fab silhouette. For petite women, a cigarette trouser leg is a lovely style. The two pieces work well for everyone as they are all high waisted, so no matter what your size they highlight the smallest part of your waist. We have tried to ensure there’s something for everyone.” “No one dress suits everybody,” say Carina and Lucy at Carina Baverstock Couture, “and, as we all know when we shop for our own clothes, while you may admire a current trend, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear it! Often too much volume on a curvy girl can just make her look bigger, whereas a more tailored silhouette can be more flattering.” Similarly, Ellie at Ellie Rose Bridal has some sage advice for the petite bride. “Not every bride wants a full-bodied and textured skirt,” she says, “It can sometimes overpower the bride, and you can get lost in all that gorgeous fabric. You want the bride wearing the dress, not the dress wearing you.” “The sheer dresses in a fit-and-flare or fishtail shape mostly suit the petite hour-glass figure, but on straighter, more athletic types, given the right designer, can actually give the illusion of curves,” advises Kelly at The Bridal House of Cornwall. “The no-structure dress doesn’t suit everyone, as there’s no support, so if a bride is conscious of, say, their tummy area, we direct them to designers who offer fantastic corsetry.” Finally, tell us about your favourite styles right now…

“We are loving the sheer simplicity and sleekness of cut from designers like Suzanne Neville, with her stunning Belle dress, created with silk crepe and daring body-con tailoring,” enthuse Carina and Lucy at Carina Baverstock Couture. “Romance is always in fashion, and we have a soft spot for Clinton Lotter’s Lea dress, which captures the feminine romance of the bride.” “My favourite dresses for 2017 are Fenton and Sarrinen,” says Tracey at Chanticleer. “Both dresses are made of gorgeous mikado, which holds its form beautifully. I love the timeless silhouette Fenton has, a really dreamy princess dress complete with bow. Sarrinen, on the other hand, is modern and edgy with its heavily vintage encrusted neckline – it’s a real showstopper.” “I have a stand-out favourite dress from the 2017 spring collection, and it’s called Chandon,” reveals Ellie at Ellie Rose Bridal. “It’s available in three different colour ways and also has a layer of sparkly tulle, which catches the light beautifully.” Rachel Burgess at Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique tells us she doesn’t have any favourites because she loves them all, but if she had to choose, designer Helen Rhiannon’s handmade dresses would be up there. “Her dresses are timeless, classic and elegant, and Annabelle is an incredibly glamorous dress from her 1950s collection,” she says. “She has a beautiful beaded bodice in ivory 4 6 | VOW

pearls and soft cream tones with a sweetheart neckline. The full soft satin skirt hangs beautifully over the underskirts. (The more underskirts, the better!) This simplistic yet elegant dress is complemented with a stunning beaded cape.” As for Krystle at Krystle Brides, she says, “Logan by Enzoani is a stunning sleek and simple fishtail crepe gown which can be teamed with a variety of accessories to give each bride an individual look,” while for brides who are looking for something a little more daring, “we also love Hermione by Ronald Joyce, which has beaded illusion side panels and a low back with some truly exquisite lace details.” “Our blush Tamsin Dress by Catherine Deane is just beautiful,” thinks Kelly at The Bridal House of Cornwall. “Its low V-front and back is amazingly flattering on all bust sizes, the colour uplifts the complexion, and the A-line skirt with no petticoat is dramatic yet ridiculously easy to wear.” For Hannah at House of Ollichon, it is, of course, all about dress-less choices. “The Lowry is our best seller at the moment,” she says. “It has a lovely modern cigarette trouser leg, flattering V-shaped neckline, pretty capped sleeves with scalloped edge and a belt effect that nips you in at the waist. It’s made with stunning fan-detailed bridal lace, but, as it’s a jumpsuit, it provides a wonderful alternative for the fashion-forward bride. And our capsule collection, launching in August 2017, includes some new faves, including some wide, silk palazzo pants.” So there you have it: plenty to think about, and while there’s definitely a new-found bravery among brides, it remains as important as ever to stay true to yourself and how you want to be remembered, as the memories (and photos!) will be with you forever. The main rule to stick to is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to weddings – it’s your big day – although, we have to admit, we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what a certain Miss Pippa Middleton will walk down the aisle in…

Say yes to the dress (or jumpsuit) Guiding you through the maze of wedding fashion, in expert style, were. . . Carina Baverstock Couture; carinabcouture.com Chanticleer; chanticleerbrides.co.uk Ellie Rose Bridal; ellierosebridal.co.uk House of Ollichon; houseofollichon.co.uk Krystle Brides; krystlebrides.co.uk Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique; rachelburgessbridalboutique.com The Bridal House of Cornwall; thebridalhouseofcornwall.co.uk

HEAVEN ON EARTH Clockwise, from top left: Bexley, Sarrinen, Odessey, and Talbert, all from the Urban Angel collection at Cheltenham’s Chanticleer


W O R D S b y K ate A u ther s p h o t o g r a p h y b y C hri s D a w P hoto g r a ph y

the modern muse For a collection of Bath’s most creative bridal gurus, only one wedding location has the necessary verve and pizzazz: No.15 Great Pulteney, a new boutique townhouse hotel with a personality all of its own...

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pictures by Chris Daw photography

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pictures by chris Daw photography

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the Bride


upremely stylish, blissfully bonkers and as chic as a location gets, No.15 Great Pulteney has been likened to everything from falling down the rabbit hole to the West Country’s answer to quirky Mayfair cocktail lounge Sketch. So what better venue, then, to showcase the vibrant, eclectic and modern face of Bath, as seen through the eyes of innovative bridal trio Abigail Constanza (bridal styling expert), Sarah Baker (social media aficionado and blogger) and Emma Savage (pre-loved boutique owner and independent Bath champion). “No.15 Great Pulteney is the newest and sexiest boutique hotel on the block, and was the creative catalyst for everything that followed,” says Sarah. “Curios off set by dramatic chandeliers and vast pieces of contemporary art gave the team so many of their ideas for this shoot and, like our beautiful Georgian backdrop, we sought a classic yet unique, bespoke bridal style.” With the city’s strong culture of networking – and Sarah’s social media credentials – it didn’t take much for the talented trio to assemble their team, and perhaps top of the list was photographer Chris Daw, well-known locally for his striking fashion-led photography, documentary-style approach to weddings and boundless enthusiasm for his craft. “The use of natural light is crucial to my work,” says Chris. “Although these are ‘posed’ pictures, and so have more in common with my fashion shoots than a typical wedding day, the beautiful soft natural light and jewel-like details in the hotel give the kind of atmosphere I’m always looking for at a wedding.” In keeping with the fresh and current vibe for the shoot, the trio were also keen to work with new Margaret’s Buildings boutique, Ellie Rose Bridal – more of which on page 14 – which specialises in exquisite, often fanciful gowns by US designer Hayley Paige. Paige is renowned in the bridal world for capturing an aesthetic that balances playfulness with exceptional detail – think full frothy skirts, colour and detailed adornment – and the dresses, modelled by Neasha Date and Poldark extra Katie Powles, echoed No.15’s unique character brilliantly. Hair accessories came in the form of Jessica Charleston’s dramatic and oh-so-delicately embroidered veils, and gorgeous flower detail from local florist Ella Sparks of Flowers of Bath. “It was so lovely to work with two completely different hairstyles, both styled by Abigail Constanza,” says Ella. “I chose to go for small-headed and delicate flowers for Katie’s hair, incorporating lisianthus, gypsophilia and chamelaucium, which complemented her detailed dress and added some subtle cream tones into her hair. With Neasha’s dark hair, though, I thought it would be better to go for something more natural, and opted for different varieties of foliage, which included asparagus foliage and parvifolia eucalyptus.” Emma Savage, meanwhile, arrived armed with designer goodies from her luxury designer re-sale boutique Grace & Ted, based in Kingsmead Square in Bath. Chanel drop earrings, nude Louboutins and a pair of sparkling Miu Miu heels added the sort of finishing touches that every bride dreams of. “Less is more,” suggests Emma, “and by adding a few intriguing, well-chosen accessories to your bridal look, you can bring interest without making them the star.” 52 | VOW


nd what about the hair and make-up for our pair of classically beautiful, yet thoroughly modern brides? “Wedding hair trends are constantly changing,” says experienced bridal stylist Abigail, “but one big trend of last year that looks set to stay firmly put for 2017 is braiding, as it can be used in so many different ways to create multiple different looks. It was important for me to style something current, and by using techniques such as the ‘halo twist’ braid, it meant Katie’s hair was off her neck and shoulders and could really showcase the bodice of the dress. “The other style I used was more of a classic bridal look, teamed with very on-trend succulents – with this grand setting and glamorous dress, it seemed like the ideal pairing. Flowers have definitely become more popular with brides over the last year, and often replace veils completely. I think this year will see a slight change in the floral trend, with far more greenery, such as succulents and foliage, being used.” Working closely with Abigail on creating the bridal look was local make-up artist Leanna Biggs. “I’m all about enhancing natural beauty,” says Leanna, “although I didn’t have much to enhance with these stunning ladies! I used the original Naked eyeshadow palette, by Urban Decay, for the basis of each look; the colours are highly pigmented, silky smooth to apply, and just very easy to work with. The combination of neutral tones allowed me to create a range of looks from barely there to something more smoky and dramatic, while still keeping it soft enough for a bride. My intention for the rest of the make-up was to create a glowing, radiant complexion with complementary lip colours.” The result? The perfect collaborative, contemporary celebration of style, befitting of its luxurious backdrop.

The Social Network Bringing it all together in bespoke Bath style were. . . Photography: Chris Daw Photography;

chrisdawphotography.com Bridal styling and creative: Abigail Constanza;

abigailconstanzabathbridalstylist.com Social media and creative: Sarah Baker; sarahbakerblogs.wordpress.com Accessories and creative: Emma Savage; graceandted.co.uk Veils: Jessica Charleston; jessicacharleston.co.uk Dresses: Ellie Rose Bridal; ellierosebridal.co.uk Flowers: Flowers of Bath; flowersofbath.co.uk Make-up: Leanna Biggs; makeupbyleannabiggs.co.uk

Bath’s finest bespoke tailoring, dressmaking and alterations service At City Tailors, Bath we cater for all types of tailoring and alterations of the highest quality across Bath, Bristol and the South West. Male or female, whether you are looking to have a bespoke handmade suit, an item made to measure, or alterations and repairs our skilled and experienced tailors and dressmakers based here in Bath can assist. We offer everything from a complete bespoke tailoring service to alterations, repairs and re-styling.

25 Milsom Street, Bath, BA1 1DG T: 01225 920 263 info@citytailors.co.uk www.citytailors.co.uk


W O R D S b y W e n d y Ly n e p h o t o g r a p h y b y B owtie & B elle P hoto g r a ph y

THE sweetest spring There is no time like spring, reckons stylist Kate Cullen and her jolly crew, when life’s alive in everything‌ 3 0 | VOW

The bride: sweetest spring


urled-headed ferns sprout in the lane,” wrote famous Victorian poet Christina Rossetti, creator of ‘Goblin Market’ and ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, “birds sing and pair again.” She was talking about the arrival of spring, a moment also celebrated in this shoot by Cotswold-based wedding stylist Kate Cullen, a specialist in handdyed silk ribbons and table linens, and one-time field archaeologist. “I’ve always been inspired by the changing seasons,” says Kate, “but never more so than I was the day we did this shoot, surrounded by the quintessentially English landscape you get at Merriscourt. This fully licensed historic stone barn near Chipping Norton, in the heart of the Cotswolds – actually, it’s three separate but interlinking barns, surrounding a lovely courtyard – sits in 500 acres of land, and you can’t help but feel in touch with nature here.” Indeed, Merriscourt is very much the place for a wedding that lets the outdoors in. There are glamping options in bell tents, for instance, and three on-site cottages that can sleep up to 19, too. ather than focussing on a single season for this shoot,” Kate says, “we wanted to capture the changing seasons, and especially the advent of spring. I love this time of year, when you get that wonderful combination of winter seed heads mixed with the fresh greens of new life.” This being the case, the colour scheme is almost exclusively tones of greens and whites, from the cakes by Somerset’s Baking Chick to the flowers from Wild Bunch, based on the Welsh border, with just the occasional hint of pale pinks and other muted brights. “I like to think that the hanging flowers present a botanical veil through which we can imagine a life before marriage,” says Kate, “and the new life that awaits. All the elements we used here have a sort of natural simplicity, and celebrate the beauty of everything that comes from the earth. So we have handmade wood, metallic, ceramic and fabric elements aplenty. For me, it’s reminiscent of a life lived in harmony with nature – and evocative of centuries past.”


in eden’s garden These racing lambs too have fair their fling… Creative director: Kate Cullen; katecullen.co.uk Photography: Bowtie & Belle Photography;

bowtieandbellephotography.co.uk Florist: Wild Bunch; wildbunchflowersfromthegarden.co.uk Venue: Merriscourt; merriscourt.com Hair & make-up: Charlotte Tillyer; charlottetillyer.co.uk Jewellery: Rosie Kent; rosiekent.com Stationery: Gemma Milly; gemmamilly.com Cake: Baking Chick; bakingchick.co.uk gown: Laure de Sagazan; themewsclifton.co.uk Model: Claudia at Gingersnap; gingersnap.co.uk Assistant: Unique You Events; uniqueyouevents.com 5 6 | VOW



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: info@bickleighcastle.com


Vow M AGA ZINE is available to download. www.mediaclash.co.uk


Katie Ball & Paul Archer


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Picture by Martin Dabek

Hound of love

atie and Paul lived in London when they first met – and have recently returned there now – but for four years they were resident in Bristol, and hold the South West closer to their hearts. “We were introduced by a mutual friend in the summer of 2010,” Katie says. “I was doing an internship in my summer holiday from university, and Paul was working in London. Our friend recommended that we meet, and – after a lot of persuasion – I agreed. That first day we walked around Borough Market and went to the Tate.” That friend obviously knew what they were doing, as five years later, Paul proposed in Mendoza, Argentina. “It was just before Christmas 2015,” Katie says, “and I’d been backpacking with a friend the month before, staying in hostels. Paul had arranged for us to stay in a beautiful family-run bed and breakfast, and we drove out


to the mountains and went for a hike, where we were followed by a local dog. After climbing a cliff, Paul dropped – rather precariously! – to one knee and asked me to marry him. We have a great photo of us there, with the random dog smiling in the background.” With neither of them wanting a long engagement, they started getting their act together lickety-split. “We started researching venues in March, but only spent a day looking at them. Pennard House was the fifth we visited, and when they said they’d a last minute date in September – giving us six months to get things sorted – we agreed.” As Pennard House is exclusively supplied by Caroline Gent Caterers that was a no brainer, and when Caroline recommended photographer Martin Dabek that fell into place, too. “After seeing his photos of another wedding,” Katie says, “we were instantly sold!” The guys decided on a religious service at Church of All Saints, a beautiful 14th century village church right next door to Pennard House. “It has a lovely canon and warden, who made us feel very welcome,” Katie says, “and we were so excited to get married in Somerset, having spent a lot of time at Glastonbury Festival. The two venues were so close that I was able to walk down to the church, and the guests could wander straight into the garden for the reception after the service. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”


nd what about the smaller – but no less important – stuff? Katie didn’t want to go to many dress shops, and initially paid a holding fee for one she saw in the first shop she visited, but then got nervous that she’d been a bit hasty. She visited Perfect Day Bride – the well-known Bradford-onAvon boutique – and there got quite excited about some Jesus Peiro offerings, but tried on Charlie Brear’s Torum dress as a wild card. “As soon as I put it on, I loved it,” she says. “It was the first one where I didn’t feel as though I was playing ‘dress up’, but was completely myself. I then chose a more intricate veil, which I also adored.” As the dress was very simple, Katie picked a plain satin sash to wear around her hips, and had a rose gold and crystal back chain made. Her hair was done by Amelia at The Styling Lounge in Bristol, who did a great job relaxing bride and bridesmaids – chiefly best mate Emma, and pals Christie and Amy – as they got ready that morning. The girls all did their own make-up, feeling more like themselves that way, and wore oyster-coloured dresses from Ghost. As for the guys, Paul wore a rich blue tailor-made suit from A Suit That Fits, paired with rose gold ornaments to match Katie’s jewellery, and brown Church’s shoes. Best man Jez is one of Paul’s old school friends – “they spent a lot of time in A&E together with broken bones,” Katie says – and he, along with the fathers and groomsmen, wore dark blue suits with matching ties and pocket squares. Ah yes, the ties. “Choosing those was a horrid experience,” says Katie, “but we eventually found a winner.” At the reception, flowers were arranged and created by Sharon from Interiors and Flowers by Design in Wellington – “I knew I wanted dusky blue in the arrangement, and thistles,” Katie says, “and she created bouquets that I loved” – and, although they nearly didn’t bother with a cake, they had a change of heart last minute. “It was made by a family friend,” Katie says, “and Sharon created a lovely simple floral display for it, which was just what we wanted. Then my adorable dad created a rustic ladder and plant pot table plan that later transformed into a photo booth.” 6 0 | VOW

Since this was always going to be a fun type of do, the guys had a bucking bronco for the reception – “Paul secretly booked it, even though I told him it was crazy to have one at a wedding” – which was actually a huge hit. “He was absolutely right, of course,” Katie says. “Every wedding should get one!” Speeches took place with a glass of Champagne at sunset – “so the evening guests got to feel like they were part of the day, and not just arriving for a party” – which worked brilliantly, while late night entertainment came from a band called Motown Gold. Any especially memorable moments? “Probably climbing onto Paul’s shoulders, and dancing around with all our friends. There’s a picture of my nan and me that’s a real favourite, and some beautiful shots of Paul and I laughing as the sun set. You can see my bra strap in some photos, though!” And did anything go wrong? “I may have had a minor moment during the planning – neither Paul nor I relished it – when I whinged that I didn’t want to plan any more. But I was more of a toddler than a bridezilla, I think!”

k at i e & pa u l

The problem with a bucking bronco, of course – sadly not pictured – is that more than the odd stray bra strap may end up on show… PictureS by Martin Dabek

Marriage Guidance Who? Katie Ball and Paul Archer When? 10 September 2016 Where: Church of All Saints, East Pennard; facebook.com/pages/Church-of-All-Saints-East-Pennard Reception: Pennard House; pennardhouse.com Dress by: Charlie Brear, at Perfect Day Bride; perfectdaybridal.net Hair: The Styling Lounge; thestylinglounge.co.uk Groom’s suit: A Suit That Fits; asuitthatfits.com Flowers: Interiors and Flowers by Design; interiorandflowers.com Band: Motown Gold; earcandylive.co.uk Photography: Martin Dabek Photography; martindabek.com

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Lady in lavender Bryony Webber & Joshua Richardson


ome of us get to marry our childhood sweethearts, but few of us ever get the option to tie the knot at the place where we first met. (An under-18s’ disco? The sandpit at Primary School? Few of them sound very suitable, somehow.) Yet this is exactly what lucky Bryony and Josh managed, a Coventry pair in their early and mid-20s, respectively, who first met at Brunel Manor in Torquay – the very venue you see here – as children. “Josh was 15 and I was 11,” Bryony says, “but it was another five years before we started to take an interest in each other.” Things began to get romantic with a weekend-long date, when Josh – then living in Scotland – popped down to visit, taking Bryony to the cinema and on a lot of rainy walks. With things going smoothly, he eventually proposed on a hill overlooking a summery Loch Lomond, just north west of Glasgow – though, knowing the Scottish summer, there’s no guarantee that walk wasn’t rainy too – giving them a solid year to organise the do. The easiest thing for them to pick, of course, was the venue, though it did bring with it certain problems, most obviously that it was so far away. Brunel is a Christian holiday and conference centre – “that made it even more special to us both,” they say, “as we wanted to make sure God was central to our wedding” – and they could hold their ceremony in the Rodenhurst Room there, then make use of the venue for their reception, too. Sorted! Bryony found her dress at The White Boutique in Leamington Spa. It’s a number by Enzoani, a European-flavoured line helmed by Kang Chun Lin. “The owners are really lovely,” she says, “and make you feel like you’re their only customer. They even let me drink a cup of tea in one of their dresses! I tried on a lot, but this one stood out to me, as it gave me more of a figure than I’ve ever felt I had!” She went quite natural for the rest of her look – hairdresser Sinead Lane and make-up artist Sarah Young understood exactly what she had in mind – and things were capped with three lavender hair pins from Elsa Rose Boutique in Weston-super-Mare, which she’d won through a competition on Facebook. “I wore one of them,” says Bryony, “and my two eldest bridesmaids” – all wearing lavender dresses from For Her and For Him, as it goes – “had one each, too.” The lavender theme continued with the flowers, which also starred roses, gypsophilia and more, all by Christine Lavery, who often works with Brunel Manor, while Josh’s cousin, Annika Finnimore, made them a cake. “It was so beautiful and tasty,” Bryony says. “And the sugar craft flowers were particularly stunning – indeed, someone tried to put them in water, thinking that they were real!” 6 2 | VOW

On the other side of the aisle, Josh wore a DKNY suit from Moss Bros, and was joined by best man Chris Commander, an exhousie who he met when Josh employed him at his father’s post office. Brunel Manor is gifted with amazing views, and many of the couple’s favourite photos of the day were of them on the terrace right outside. “We’ve always taken pictures on this spot,” Bryony says, “so it was special to have some wedding photos taken there too. We also loved all the natural pictures of our guests that Jennifer managed to capture. I do wish, though, that I’d remembered to ask for a photo with just my mum, and with my grandmother! We didn’t want too many group shots, then realised we’d forgotten some vital ones.” That aside, both planning and the day were pretty stress-free. “We tried to keep the whole thing in perspective,” Bryony says. “It’s just one day, and the marriage itself is what’s important. We spoke to everyone individually, but we also snuck off during the evening and sat on a bench on the terrace, just to spend time with each other. Everyone was too busy dancing to notice we’d gone!”

B ryo n y & J o s h

Bryony and Josh may have taken dozens of photos in front of the same view over the years, but this one – we’ll hazard – is particularly special PictureS by Jennifer Shoubridge

Marriage Guidance Who? Bryony Webber and Joshua Richardson When? 23 July 2016 Where: Brunel Manor, Torquay Dress by: Enzoani, from The White Boutique, Leamington Spa; whiteboutique.co.uk Hair pins: Elsa Rose Boutique, Weston-super-Mare; elsaroseboutique.com Bridesmaid dresses: For Her and For Him; forherandforhim.com Photography: Jennifer Shoubridge; jenniferjanephotography.co.uk

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The “Cotswold” Collection

Simple, elegant flowers for your big day? Or having a beautiful garden wedding? The Cotswold Collection is the perfect choice. Let Belle de Jour florists help and advise you on the perfect flowers for your day.

29b the Mall | Clifton | BristoL | BS8 4JG T: 0117 973 04 45 | E: sales@belledejourflorist.co.uk www.belledejourflorist.co.uk

The Sweet Tricycle, providing Sweets, Prosecco, Pimms and Hot Chocolate. This beautiful tricycle adds that extra special touch to any event. For all enquires please contact Helen on 07951 205409 / helen@thesweettricycle.co.uk



THE VENUE Swank hotels, sex y spaces & picturesque part y spots

Gorgeous Georgian With perfect proportions, symmetry and seven acres of gardens, the stately Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel is a historic mansion exuding sophistication and style. . .


uilt as a private residence for Colonel (later General) Augustus Andrews in 1835 – possibly by the celebrated architect John Pinch the younger – the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel has been everything from a school for boys to the temporary residence of Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia, while he was in England in exile, in its time. Buttery Bath stone and gorgeous architectural detailing combine to create the dream photographic backdrop, and that’s before you add its perfectly manicured gardens and pretty pond – with its own stone temple, licensed for outside ceremonies – into the mix. Its location, leafy and rural and yet just a 10-minute stroll from the centre of Bath, is incredibly helpful for the hotel’s box-ticking credentials, too. We caught up with events planner at the venue, Alison Firth, to quiz her a bit more on all the details, VOW | 6 5

t h e v e n u e : b at h s pa h o t e l

such as – fairly crucial, this one – where the main event usually takes place. “I’d suggest you have your ceremony in The Avon Suite, which was originally the ballroom when the property was a private house,” explains Alison. “It’s a lovely room that can cater for up to 120 for a wedding breakfast.” And what other factors should we bear in mind? “A big consideration when planning any wedding is the flexibility of the venue,” suggests Alison. “Are they willing to meet your individual requirements? Accessibility for all guests is also something that can be overlooked, along with wet weather options, should you be looking at an outdoor event. “The venue you pick has a major impact on how the day goes, so attention to detail – and frequent meetings between the venue and the bride and groom – is a key element,” thinks Alison. “Giving couples examples of what will work and what probably won’t work can be a great help when it comes to planning. Once you’ve booked your venue, a lot of the pressure should be taken off, as it’s then our job to take care of the majority of details.” Can she tell us about her favourite part of the wedding planning process? “To see the bride and groom so happy on their special day is the best feeling ever, especially knowing you’ve been part of their day and helped make it happen,” says Alison. “Sometimes couples can overthink things, and try to make it more complicated than it needs to be.” How much would we need to budget to get married here, then? And does Alison have any in-theknow money saving tips? “The average cost for a wedding of 70 people is around £4,000,” she says. “Savings can be made by ensuring that the essentials are priority, however, and cutting back on the added extras – less is more, and can often have a bigger impact. Also, by designing bespoke packages, menus which meet budgets can be a massive money saver.” With all these grounds to play with, we’re guessing there are plenty of great spots for photos? “Oh yes,” says Alison. “With seven acres of landscaped gardens, there are ample possibilities, from the backdrop of the pond to intimate pictures in the temple. I always enjoy a fun picture in the grotto, and there are some very romantic settings underneath some of our large trees. We usually recommend that photographers come and look around the gardens prior to the wedding, to get some ideas for the day.” macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-bathspa-hotel/

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Romance in the stone To be found in idyllic woodlands, with neighbours including Westonbirt and Highgrove, The Hare and Hounds is a venue that’s sure to beguile at first sight . . .


ne glance at the fudge-hued Cotswold stone façade of The Hare and Hounds Hotel in Westonbirt may well be enough. Imposing oak doors, big bay windows, cosy lounges housing original log fireplaces, and acres of beautifully-manicured gardens are all part of the idyllic mix. With the building dating back to 1854, it︐s full of historic character, too. “The hotel has been sympathetically extended over the years, and now has 42 bedrooms, which should be enough to have all or most of your guests on site,” explains Julia Thompson, the wedding coordinator here. “We can have up to 120 guests for a ceremony and wedding breakfast, and up to 150 for

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an evening reception.” There︐s the tempting option of getting married inside or outside, too. Packages start at £3,250 for 45 adults. So, does Julia have any tips for couples looking at venues? “It’s always good to ask if there are minimum requirements, such as the number of bedrooms the venue asks the wedding party to take,” she advises. “We don’t do that.” They︐re flexible as well. “If couples want longer in the gardens, or to scrap the receiving line they originally wanted, we can deal with that quite easily on the day. Similarly, a lot of couples don’t realise that we’re dog friendly, either.” And what does she think is popular right now? “A lot of couples are looking for a relaxed atmosphere, and this can be reflected in the style of the food that’s served,” says Julia. “We’re finding that afternoon teas and buffets are becoming more popular, with something like a barbecue or hog roast in the evening. Vintage style is very much in too, and fairy lights and bunting hung across the ceiling of the Westonbirt Room always looks fantastic. And a woodland theme is also a consistent winner, with Westonbirt Arboretum being right next door. As well as singing waiters, we’ve had couples do flash mobs for their first dance, and a couple of weeks ago we had an owl as the ring bearer!” cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/hare-and-hounds-hotel/

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Swing time Sometimes at a wedding you want a central performance that people will be talking about for years. Step forward Nina Bambrey of aerial acrobatic group Whispering Woods…


es, that’s right – it’s a woman hanging, elegantly if somewhat precariously, high amongst the trees. Some brides live in fear of being upstaged, and – if that sounds familiar – maybe the sort of performances put on by the talented circus-types at Whispering Woods will not be for you. If you think it looks amazing, though, you simply have to meet the queen of the swingers – and Whispering Woods founder – Nina Bambrey. “It all began when I was reading philosophy at the University of St. Andrews,” she says, “and ended up at a huge pagan fire festival in Edinburgh – almost by accident! The hill was lit by fire torchlight, and there were people in body paint and elaborate costumes drumming, spinning fire and performing ritualistic movements. I immediately decided I wanted to be one of them, so the following year I joined up – and that was my entry point into the world of circus. After learning to spin fire and walk on stilts, I toured the Highlands and Islands with a Scottish physical theatre company, and later moved to Bristol to develop my skills in aerial acrobatics. It’s been a long journey, but I can now get my body to do everything I dreamed of being able to do right at the beginning.” These days Nina specialises in aerial silks and corde lisse – acrobatics performed while hanging from a vertical rope – through her company, which she began six years ago after the birth of her son. “I’d imagined that I could go straight back on the road with the traditional circus I had worked for the previous summer,” she says, “but soon realised this wasn’t going to be possible. During my pregnancy I’d had National Trust membership, and often found myself daydreaming as I walked through those beautiful forests and gardens. Could I create magical worlds within them, where acrobats would fly through the trees? My housemate at the time was learning to climb trees, and when I had my son’s naming ceremony in Bristol’s Leigh Woods, I

suggested the idea to the warden there. He was open to trying it out, and we had a lot of fun learning to construct fly rigs up in the canopy. When it came to the day of the first show, I really didn’t know if anyone was going to come along – so was delighted to find a couple of hundred people queuing down the road! I had a great crew on that first show, plus an amazing cellist called Ailsa, storyteller Martin Maudsley, and even a pan pipe-playing fawn!”


hispering Woods currently has about ten people on its books – “all skilled aerial artists, fabulous musicians, costumiers and storytellers,” Nina says – and has just received funding to create a new show, called The Boy Who Grew Wings. It will be a spectacular promenade piece, involving aerial silks and acrobatic dance. “We are using mythological creatures, which are part bird, part human, to tell a story about flight and human connection,” Nina says. “The show will tour the UK, visiting around seven forests, from the Durham Dales to Bristol.” As for their wedding offering, the guys love to get inventive. “Perhaps we could act out your story as a couple as an acrobatic fairytale, serving as a prelude to a woodland ceremony? Or we could put on solo aerial silks performances with live musical accompaniment, or ambient aerial hoop. Last year we did five weddings, so it’s a growing thing for us – and I always get so emotional, even when I don’t know the couple!” To perform, the guys like to rig from a tree with a sturdy overhanging limb, but they can bring along a free-standing structure where needed, too, and they’re even happy to rig indoors. Prices range from £200 for a solo fire performance to £2,000 for a full bespoke acrobatic fairytale experience, including music, children’s storytelling, and a unique performance in honour of the bride and groom. And if it rains? “Oh, we tend to go ahead anyway – and it actually feels quite liberating to be getting soaked in the air, while the audience huddles under umbrellas!” Next year, for instance, they’ve a wedding booked with a Little Red Riding Hood theme, and Nina will be performing on red aerial silks. “The whole affair takes place in Arnos Vale Cemetery on Halloween,” she says, “and we will guide the guests into the forest by the light of flaming torches before telling them a version of the classic tale. There will be live wolves present, and the ring bearer for the ceremony itself will be an owl! I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to top that one!” whispering-wood-folk.co.uk

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House of pork If you don’t feel hungry after reading about wedding feasts from The Rusty Pig, you’re made of sterner stuff than us…


was raised in Ottery St Mary in Devon,” says porcine-obsessed chef Robin Rea, who has a background in Australia and Italy, and has enjoyed stints working with two-Michelin star chef Michael Caines and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall under his belt, “so when I decided to start a business, it seemed the obvious base. Rusty Pig opened in 2011 as a butcher’s shop and supper club – and, from the beginning, it was all about locallysourced, seasonal ingredients. We have a passion for pigs, raising our own, or using pigs kept by local smallholders.” These guys don’t limit themselves to pork, though, and their menus star locally-raised beef, game from a nearby estate, veg from a local market garden, and fish from the Devon coast.

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L e t ’ s pa r t y

“Charcuterie has always been a feature of Rusty Pig too,” Robin says, “and last year we branched out by launching a dedicated charcuterie business. We started catering for weddings early on, offering a service aimed at couples who love great flavours and ethical ingredients. And now we have a mobile wood-fired oven, which gives even more flexibility.” Though Rusty Pig can cater for more formal weddings – “we do use plates, you know” – they love to be imaginative and original. “Rusty Pig is the ideal caterer for a rustic, bohemianstyle wedding,” Robin explains. “There’s no limit to the number of guests we can cater for, and we’ll devise a menu that feeds the proverbial 5,000, if necessary. And don’t fear for the posh frock – our food’s no messier than a traditional wedding menu!” For a plated main course, for instance, you might choose smoked slow-cooked pork and chilli, sage roasted pumpkin with black pudding and pickled quince, Zarzeula Catalana fish, seafood and tomato fricassee with wild garlic herb crust, and aubergine and courgette parmigiana. “Or,” says Robin, “you could go for our ‘Feasting’ menu, which could feature harissa spiced lamb with mint and cumin yoghurt, brandade, butter bean, lemon oil and rosemary, Rusty Pig black pudding with samphire and pickled eggs, beetroot, dill seed with Cornish pastis and red onion and caper focaccia. If you want to save money, there’s our shabby chic BBQ option, or you could push the boat out with our manapés, three-course wood-fired wedding breakfast, and a Rusty Pig wedding cake. This all said, we don’t have a set wedding menu, but encourage

couples to get creative. Our menus are all bespoke, and we love a partnership, working to discover your favourite flavours.” We’re certainly feeling hungry here, we’ll give you that. “I don’t think anyone does it the way Rusty Pig does,” Robin says. “We love taking off on a tangent, and we’ll try anything! Any venue works for us, from the middle of a field to a stately home – we don’t necessarily need a kitchen – and we can supply the bar too, with cocktails if they take your fancy.”


hough Devon-based, the gang can work pretty much everywhere – “there’s no distance limit, and if we can get there, we will” – and going meat-free is not a problem. “We can certainly provide a bona fide vegetarian feast – my partner is a vegetarian, so there’s no serving up second-rate veggie dishes – and if fish is your thing, try our ‘Seaside’ edible table,” reckons Robin. “It’s fit to bursting with mussels, scallop ceviche, crab on toast, vongole, razor clams, pebbles, sand, samphire and seaweed.” Recently, the gang catered for a wedding at Anran Manor near Totnes, where the couple held their breakfast in a barn. “The bride had worked at Asda, so we got packets of their crisps, emptied them, and replaced the contents with Rusty Pig parsnip and artichoke crisps,” says Robin, “plus a pickled egg. Then we resealed the packets and served them up. Later, the couple took guests to a hidden barn for the disco. We dished up healthy street food there, which went down a storm.” rustypig.co.uk VOW | 7 3



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w e d d i n g t h r e e w ay s

W O R D S b y Pa u l M a r l a n d P h o t o g r a p h y b y N At a l i e M a r t i n


Free style

Huntstile Organic Farm gets three budget-friendly looks from stylist Becci Mcerlain and friends, proving all you need is a little imagination…


our wedding reception venue is one of the most important things to book, once you’re engaged,” says Becci Mcerlain, a South West specialist in vintage and handmade event décor, “but I often see couples reject an otherwise brilliant place – well-placed and well-priced – because it just doesn’t seem to have the ‘feel’ that they were after.” The thing about feel, though, is that it’s easily generated in the most unlikely settings, if you just apply a little imagination and attention to detail. That’s why Becci took it upon herself to style the same setting – Huntstile Organic Farm, overlooking the Quantock Hills in Somerset – three different ways. “You may think that most venues lend themselves to a single specific look,” she says, “but with some creative knowhow you can transform the aesthetic of any location. This series of three styled shoots was all shot in a few short hours, which proves it needn’t take long to transform a space. I worked with some great local suppliers – Dinah Taylor Floral Design, Flora Bella, Laura Lismore Cakes, Rookery Manor Bridal Boutique, make-up artist Hannah Rhimes and photographer Natalie Martin – and we each pulled out the stops to show just how easy it is to dress key features to create your own personal style.”

Theme 1: Vintage

Becci says: “We kicked off with a vibrant, eclectic festival of colour, print and fun, with a nostalgic nod to the past. This story embraced the relaxed outdoor space at Huntstile, and felt perfect for a modern couple who want to celebrate with bold, beautiful, often mismatched details. (I especially love the gorgeous gold drip cake, adorned with bright blooms.) “Sweet cotton runners, coloured jars of flowers, handembroidered table numbers – and a splash of Liberty of VOW | 75

w e d d i n g t h r e e w ay s

London fabric – filled the tables with a free-spirited happiness. There was bunting, some made of vintage handkerchiefs, and fun details like the use of Scrabble frames. The whole story embraced a handcrafted, style – perfect for today’s DIY bride.”


Theme 2: Glamour

Becci says: “For our second story, we used a classic monochrome palette embellished with gold sequins and metallic details. It all felt timeless yet striking, with special touches including lasercut metallic name places, a vintage gold encrusted mirror to hold timings for the day, and an impressive three-tier cake with handcrafted flowers. Greenery in the centrepieces and bespoke luxury cookies added a fresh contemporary feel, and the highly embellished dresses and stunning brooch bouquet really came alive against such a dark and moody wooden backdrop.”

Theme 3: Industrial

Becci says: “This last story was my personal favourite. After being hugely inspired by the gorgeous rustic brick wall I saw on my initial venue visit, I developed a rough, industrial story with a reclaimed focus. The idea was to question preconceived ideas of wedding beauty, and it’s a theme I’d love to experiment with further. To achieve the look, scaffold poles are placed on top of a rustic hessian runner to soften the texture of the metal. Tables are left bare, with slates of canapés taking centre stage. Decoration here may be minimal, but has maximum impact, adorned with naked jars, candles and simple florals. Succulent favours double-up as table décor, and name places are imperfectly stamped and simply laid. For this one, our bride wore a charity shop gown, and her single-tier cake continued the understated ambience, enlivened by a brush of gold foil.”

worlds apart Leaping from theme to theme with abandon were… Styling and handmade features: Becci Mcerlain

of Iris Betty Events; etsy.com/uk/shop/IrisBettyEvents Photography: Natalie Martin; nataliemartinphoto.com Venue: Huntstile Organic Farm; huntstileorganicfarm.co.uk Flowers: Dinah Taylor Floral Design; dinahtaylor.co.uk Cakes: Laura Lismore Cakes; lauralismorecakes.com Make-up: Hannah Chimes 1. vintage Model: Ailish Ward; milkmanagement.co.uk Dress: Rookery Manor Bridal; rookery bridal.co.uk Couture flower crown: Flora Bella; dinahtaylor.co.uk

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2. glamour Models: Olivia Humphries and Ailish Ward Dresses: Rookery Manor Bridal; rookery bridal.co.uk Brooch Bouquet: I Heart Buttons; iheartbuttons.co.uk

3. industrial Model: Olivia Humphries Dress: Sue Ryder, Burnham-on-Sea; sueryder.org Canapés: Huntstile Organic Farm; huntstileorganicfarm. co.uk

“Thank you for our amazing wedding cake!” Jon & Leire, The Manor House, Castle Combe

Dartington Hall combines medieval grandeur, natural beauty, exceptional food and comfortable accommodation, and our experienced team are committed to making your wedding the most special day of your lives. Our award-winning venue can host weddings of all shapes and sizes and is one of the few Devon venues offering outdoor civil ceremonies, which overlook our Grade II* listed gardens. We also welcome and cater for civil weddings.

Contact our experienced Wedding Coordinator on 01803 847145 or email bookings@dartingtonhall.com




CALL TODAY and quote VOWMAG for

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01225 446094

info@bathcakecompany.co.uk www.bathcakecompany.co.uk

the getaway Once upon a hone ymoon

I dreamed of Africa There’s no honeymoon destination quite like Africa, says Anita Powell of Small World Marketing. You’ll have an absolutely amazing time there, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti…


here are many problems with the geography of Africa – too many deserts, not enough navigable rivers, few natural harbours – but it more than makes up for it in two ways: the fauna, and the beaches. For an adventurous honeymoon it’s difficult to beat, as few know better than Africa specialist Anita Powell, of Chippenham’s Small World Marketing.

Anita, what are couples looking for in a honeymoon? For most newlyweds, it’ s a trip of a lifetime, and sets the tone for all the holidays they’ll have in the future. Sure, lots of honeymooners just want to fly and flop for a week or two on a beach, but for more and more of us the focus is on pushing boundaries and really immersing ourselves in a new experience. There are few travel experiences like a safari, which can be a perfect marriage of romance and adventure. How long can couples usually devote to it? As well as a wide selection of safari options, Africa has some stunning beaches, so the perfect honeymoon combination would be to spend

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hone ymoons

The magical Africa of your dreams, clockwise from far left: elephants at Royal Zambezi Lodge, Zambia; poolside and an amazing room at Makanyi, SA; the terrace at Royal Zambezi Lodge

four or five days on safari, followed by a week on the beach. Going on safari can be quite tiring, as you’re getting up early in the morning to go on game drives, so some travel companies encourage you to go to the beach first to relax and recover from the wedding. Then, by the time your safari comes, you’re raring for adventure. What’s the usual price range you deal with? The average price of an African safari is £350 per person per day, but it’s possible to enjoy a safari without having to remortgage your home; it just requires research and advice. There are some fantastic travel companies who can create an itinerary to fit your budget. South Africa is popular at the moment, due to the exchange rate and the diversity of experiences you can have there. You can take a cool Cape Town city break, with wine tasting and out-of-thisworld food in the winelands, then follow it with a safari and beach experience – all in one holiday. Personally, however, I love East Africa, where the safaris are a bit more ‘wild and authentic’, and you get those stunning, rolling savannah plains that are just like the magical, mysterious Africa you imagined as a kid. So, what sort of honeymoon would you recommend? We work with hotels and lodges throughout Eastern and Southern Africa, and although all of them are fantastic, Makanyi in South Africa works very well, as it’s small, intimate and doesn’t allow kids. (Who wants to share candlelit dinners with a screaming child?) But then there’s Royal Zambezi Lodge in Zambia too, on the mighty Zambezi river. There you can drift downstream in a canoe, getting really close to the animals – as it’s so, so silent – or picnic on a private island, or simply watch the elephants and hippos pass your veranda while you sip a G&T. Or Naibor Camp in the Masai Mara, which is perfect for experiencing the world-famous wildebeest migration, one of the seven greatest natural sights in the world. Or Zanzibar White Sands, the ideal beach extension to any of the safari properties, with its powder white sand and stunning villas. You can learn to kite surf there, if you’re a honeymoon couple who can’t sit still. How often do you have to broker a compromise within a couple: he hates crowds, but she loves culture, say? It’s amazing how many couples admit that one of them had to be persuaded to go, as watching Planet Earth II on TV was their idea of a nature experience. What’s so lovely to see is how both of them are blown away by the experience. Indeed, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has been disappointed by his or her safari honeymoon. What memories do people bring back with them? I used to work in a safari camp in Kenya, and never tired of seeing our guests’ enthusiasm when recounting safari stories from the day. Even the most nonchalant guests became fabulous storytellers when recounting adventures over pre-dinner campfire drinks. smallworldmarketing.co.uk VOW | 79


Pompom earrings, £85, from Bimba y Lola; bimbaylola.com

Art stick liquid lip in Havana brights, £21.50 each, from Bobbi Brown; bobbibrown.co.uk Bao Bao Issey Miyake Lucent sand tote, £350, from Harvey Nichols; harveynichols.com

Jet-set, go! Orlebar Brown men’s Bulldog Hulton Getty swim shorts, £75 (RRP £225), from Kilver Court Designer Village; kilvercourt.com

The holiday of a lifetime calls for some careful packing, and supremely chic essentials

Fleur du Mal pink stretch contour bra, £115; briefs, £55; from Harvey Nichols; harveynichols.com

Melissa Odabash 'Brussels' bikini in white, £191, from The Dressing Room; dressingroombath.com

Top (his): 1246 dark turtle sunglasses, £330; Bottom (hers): 0734/2 humble potato sunglasses, £310, both Cutler and Gross; cutlerandgross. com

Biba 'Madena' sandals, £75, from House of Fraser; houseoffraser.co.uk

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Tom Ford, Private Blend Costa Azzurra Eau de Parfum, 50ml, £155, from John Lewis; johnlewis.com

�� Cotswold�’ origina� peddler� of fin� America� stree� foo�

Combining our classical culinary training with a passion for food from the good ol’ US of A to create delicious, flavourful dishes using only the best local produce. We’re bringing down home comfort food to the Weddings of Blighty, all served from our vintage horse trailer ‘Bonnie’.

www.bisonkitchen.co.uk • Tel 07801 745210

the veil woman without a face

Picture by evoke pictures

Traditions we love

hidden agendas Strange things, veils: they’re an ancient tradition, yet none of us know why we wear them. To disguise the bride from evil spirits? To prevent the groom from seeing her – until it’s too late? To represent modesty, or chastity? There’s a little of all of that in the modern veil. Wearing them seems to have started with the Romans, who covered their lasses in head-to-toe red veils called ‘flammeum’, to confuse evil spirits. Veils made even more sense with arranged marriages, where

a business deal between families could be scuppered if the bride wasn’t the prettiest girl in the room, and it’s not difficult to see them as a seal for the groom to break, like those bits of foil on a can of San Pellegrino. Yes, you’re basically a present to be unwrapped – not the most romantic thing, so perhaps best to consider the Jewish tradition instead: here, the veil says the groom doesn’t mind what the bride looks like, as he loves her so much he’ll marry her anyway. Aw.

Next up: Vow’s back with issue #13, from 13 May. And we’re going all bohemian… 8 2 | VOW

Star of the sea: on the rugged coast at Clovelly, our bride shines

Plus: A lady swings from the trees, an elephant stalks past, and André’s cake towers over all…

K ate Halfpenny: stylist to the stars, and brilliantly inclusive frock designer

The jewels in the gowns: We uncover 2017’s top dress trends

The South West’s new wedding bible

The Owl Service: two reputedly wise r aptors earn nice juicy mice by delivering rings…