Vow Magazine - issue 14

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VOW t h e b a r ef o ot b r i d e AU G U S T & SEP T E M B ER 2 0 17


The barefoot bride

AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 2017 / Bath, Bristol & the West / No.14


Picture BY LIBERTY PEARL photography

DRESS THE CHILD What should you do with your wedding dress? You know, after the day. This is not likely to have been an inexpensive purchase, after all, so the decision is not one to take lightly. But, equally, this is one outfit you can’t usually wear again – and certainly not at a second marriage. (Not that you’ll be having one of those, of course.) You could sell it on, naturally. Or gift it to another bride. Or take it up a mountain, or to the beach, for a doubtless fun (but also spectacularly wasteful) ‘trash the dress’ photoshoot. Or you could save it for your daughter’s big day, hoping against all likelihood that she’ll share your taste (and your dress size).

Or, you could get creative. We’ve seen dresses taken apart and re-appropriated as cloth bindings for wedding albums, or cushion covers, or as Christening gowns for bairns. We’ve seen dresses dyed a bright colour and perhaps shortened radically, to make a ball gown or party outfit. We’ve even seen annual wedding dress parties, where groups of friends put on their gowns one more time and frolic around giggling, way less concerned than before over whether the train gets trampled on or (more likely) covered in jam or Jägermeister. Other thoughts: turn it into a tablecloth, or a baby blanket, or rip it in strategic spots and blood-spatter it for Halloween. There is, of course, another option, and it’s this. Find yourself a decent seamstress, and get your gown turned into a princess dress for a little girl. And if she’s your daughter, all the better. After all, she’s unlikely to want to wear your hand-medown as an adult on her big day (did you wear your mum’s?), so you might as well both have some fun with it now… Matt Bielby,




You ain’t never seen a terrace house like this before


Actually, it is easy being green…

34If you’re going to San Francisco…

for the waves!


Vow M ag a zine MATT BIELBY Editor


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

MATT WILLIAMS Art Director SOPHIE SPEAKMAN Advertising Executive sophie.speakman@mediaclash.co.uk

Order of service 7 INVITATIONS

Flowers the colour of caramel, and crochet headpieces in baby bird blue; hey, summer is the time for colour…


Sometimes a hen party doesn’t have to be wild, just gloriously relaxing…


A bumper Bride section celebrates the different, with everything from Welsh bagpipes to a trip to Westeros…


A trio of cool couples tell touching tales of Toblerones, flash mobs and yellow ties…


From city centre to top-of-the-hill, we’ve great options of every flavour


Get ready to lick those fingers…!


Ibiza is calling, and we’re listening…


Production and Distribution Manager SARAH KINGSTON sarah.kingston@mediaclash.co.uk

Deputy Production Manager & Production Designer KIRSTIE HOWE kirstie.how@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: Rachel Harvey, Bath’s biggest park, and Perfect Day Bridal; picture by Chris Daw

Are you marrying a tosser…?

80Rings on her

fingers and pompoms on her toes 4 | VOW

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


08Watch out

21 The north

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


THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS Now with £3 million in fresh investment, Bath-based wedding gift list PREZOLA hits the big time One of the great success stories in the West Country wedding market has been the rise of Prezola, the online wedding gift list platform that takes the pain out of buying wedding presents. It’s owned by husband-and-wife team Dom and Ali Beaven, but, says Dom, “it was all Ali’s idea. It came from the belief that you should be able to mix and match products from High Street and designer brands in a single place. You wouldn’t buy your whole wardrobe at one department store, after all.” Ali also knew that few of us want to buy the ‘obvious’, but would rather get something more special – and that just chucking £50 in an envelope is lazy. “At the time I was an interior designer,” she says, “but I set about talking to brands

like The White Company and Heal’s to gauge interest, and they started coming on board. We got 100 partners before launch.” And once Ali had roped in Dom to figure out the tech, Prezola grew from a kitchen table concern into a company that’s had to move four times in four years (HQ is now a town house in the centre of Bath). In 2015 Ali won Retailer of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, and this year Prezola was funded to the tune of £3m by investor BFG. Ali’s also just launched her own homeware label – Ali & Co – and bought gettingmarried.co.uk, which makes it easy to create your own wedding website. What’s next? Watch this space… prezola.com VOW | 7

I n v i tat i o n s

Snap happy a m b er m Cc a rt h y – w ed d i n g ph oto g r a ph er

GIVE ME LIBERTY Plymouth-based Amber McCarthy of

LIBERTY PEARL PHOTOGRAPHY Amber claims not to have heard any of the sweet somethings she gets grooms to whisper to their brides to make them laugh naturally for their portraits, but we’re not 100% sure we believe her…

is based right on the famous Hoe, but works all over; indeed, in her first year as a full-time wedding photographer she was shooting destination weddings in Spain, and even got shortlisted in the Wedding Industry Awards Amber actually started out as an events photographer, but got into weddings in 2007 when a friend of hers – a wedding

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planner in Bristol – got let down by a snapper. “I was petrified,” she now says, laughing. “In fact, I wasn’t keen at all. But she said, ‘Just treat it like an event.’ Well, okay.” As it goes, the couple loved what Amber did, and she got booked for more weddings by that same planner. Naming her company after her daughter, Liberty Pearl, she was soon shooting 25-30 weddings a year. “That allows me to keep the quality high, and maintain high levels of service,” she says. “Whenever I meet a couple, I suggest they decide on the style of photography they want first: natural, reportage, very styled, very formal, or a combination of them all. I also suggest

they ask to see a full set of images from at least two real weddings, from start to finish. That’s how you can be sure you’ll get consistency.” Tell us how your first meetings with a couple tend to go, Amber. It’s usually a Skype conversation, or we’ll meet at a café or the wedding venue. I want my couples to feel relaxed, so I get them to decide where and how they’d like to meet. I talk through my approach to the day, and the preparation that goes into it. I also show them a few of my weddings, but essentially I’m led by the couple. After all, it’s all about them. What should a smart couple ask? What will I do if it rains? And how do they want me to interact with their guests on the day? You need to be sure that what I’m offering is worth the price, but you definitely get what you pay for with a wedding photographer. So what does a typical package cost and include? You’ll usually get around 8-10 hours of photography, plus a pre-wedding consultation, a site visit and contingency plan for poor weather, a password protected online gallery, and 600-800 images from the day. All this costs £1,895. In addition, you can add a prewedding shoot, wedding albums, print packages, or a second shooter. I have a few who work with me; their packages start at £600 for a half day. How do you make sure you don’t miss any vital moments? Lots of planning! With each couple I talk through their needs, then explain all the shots I like to capture and send them through a list of what they are, encouraging them to add anything else they’d like. I double check this at the middle of the day, and once more at the end of the day to be sure I’ve caught all the special moments – not just the obvious ones, but the ‘in between’ stuff too. These are important, as they’re often things couples won’t have seen from the centre of the whirlwind. In practical terms, I have two cameras with me at all times, plus extra batteries VOW | 9


and cards and another spare camera in my bag, so if anything goes wrong I’ve got plenty of back up. You must have shot in some gorgeous locations…? I definitely have! I travel all over the UK for weddings, but I’ve also captured couples in Ireland, Ibiza, New York, Cape Town and Spain. In fact, I’ll be going to Ibiza again later this year. One of my favourite UK venues is the Deer Park Hotel in Honiton; the grounds are stunning all year round. I also love the incredible tropical gardens at Hotel Endsleigh, and the stunning beaches and coastline surrounding BoHo Cornwall. But it doesn’t have to be 10 | VOW

some magnificent country venue; quirky inner city weddings are great, too. One took place at an old veterinary school in Edinburgh which had been converted into an art gallery; it was awesome. What looks bad in photos? I’ve always loved shots that have natural expressions in them. To me, what looks really bad in a photo is a forced smile – because it doesn’t make the image come alive. I especially like working with couples who love adventure (the sort who say, ‘Let’s go down to the beach for our portrait session’); couples who aren’t afraid to have fun in front of the camera; and couples who are so in love they just stare into each other’s eyes.

This being Britain, the weather can often be a nightmare, right? I used to be really discouraged whenever the weather was bad – either grey, gloomy and rainy, or just too bright – but challenged myself to turn a bad situation into a lovely moment for the couple. Now I feel confident I can make just about any conditions look gorgeous; in fact, some couples insist on me shooting in the rain and wind, which I love! I’m so lucky most of my couples share my passion for nature and adventure. Ever been trampled by a crowd? Not yet! There have been times when I got a bit too close to the action, but I’ve always managed to get out of the way in

I n v i tat i o n s : l i b e r t y p e a r l

Do you ever tear up? Yes, during the speeches. It’s quite embarrassing. (And reminds me, I really must find a new waterproof mascara.) How do you get stiff posers to loosen up? I ask them to look into each other’s eyes and think of the funniest thing their partner has ever said. And I sometimes get the groom to whisper something in the bride’s ear; I never hear what it is, but it always creates a reaction and a smile…! What kind of photos annoy you? I’m not too keen on flash, so try to use natural light for 95% of my wedding photography. It’s much softer and easy on the eye, and I love how you can’t control it – it just happens and you capture it. But the thing that annoys me the most is when guests try to hide behind other people in a group photo. It simply ruins the picture, so I usually make the culprit come out and stand at the front! What about trendy filters and vintage effects? Will they age well? Some filters are really lovely, but they do age very quickly. I’ve tried a few, but I prefer a consistent look to my portfolio; if I changed my style every few months, depending on what filter or technique was currently hot, clients wouldn’t know what they were getting. I try to keep everything very natural, and if I had to pick a single pet hate it would be orange skin tones – they look awful! Finally, can you tell if a couple is going to stay together based on how they act on the day? That’s a hard one! All the weddings I’ve photographed showed the true emotions of the couple, and they’ve been madly in love with one another. That said, two of my couples have since divorced; I was in absolute shock when I found out. libertypearlphotography.com VOW | 11


time. I always have fun at my weddings – guests constantly chat to me, and the couples are so kind and accommodating. Add in the travelling to beautiful locations, and it’s a dream job for me.

I n v i tat i o n s

Flower power

WILD AND FREE India Hurst named her company Vervain after the family of flowering plants, with their small five-petal flowers and long-established links to divine forces. Butterflies love them, and so do we…

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Based in an old barn in Bristol – but open to travelling the country and the globe – VERVAIN is a flower studio with a very distinctive, and oh-socovetable, floral style. . . Vervain has been on our radar for a while now. It’s the mix of the artfully dishevelled style, unusual colour palettes and striking backdrops that has us under a floral spell and keeps us firmly transfixed when scrolling through their


Picture by becky goddard

Picture by Cinzia Bruschini

Picture by Cinzia Bruschini Picture by becky goddard

jaw-droppingly beautiful Instagram feed. It’s a look that we’d like to think is, well, very us. Founded by India Hurst in 2014, Vervain specialises in creating unique flowers for weddings and events. “I like to describe my style as ‘Orchestrated Chaos’,” she says, “which means it has a wild and natural style, but with every element still considered. Each arrangement is a work of art to me.” So India, can you tell us a little about your journey into floristry? After a childhood spent at the family plant nursery, along with endless flower shows, I studied graphic design at university before rediscovering a love

for flowers. From there it wasn’t hard to make the decision to set up Vervain. And what’s your dream brief for a wedding? It would definitely involve a colour palette of pink, brown, gold and caramel. I recently did a photo shoot using these colours, and I really like how they complement each other, so a wedding with lots of table centrepieces, a few large arrangements and an installation in those colours would be a dream! Location-wise, it would be something like an orangery or glasshouse, or a crumbling old stately home – somewhere with a lot of atmosphere and character.

What’s popular in the world of weddings right now, both in terms of style and specific flowers? It’s all about greenery at the moment, partly because it is the Pantone ‘Colour of the Year’, and also because it lends itself to a more natural feel. Gold and faded-coloured roses have been very popular this year too, and Dahlia ‘Café au Lait’ is still having its time in the spotlight. However, I’m happy to swap showy big blooms for dainty intricate flowers any day. And what are your personal favourite flowers to work with? It changes quickly and often. It really depends on the season, and what VOW | 13


is flowering in the garden. Current favourites include the Honey Dijon rose, Nicotiana ‘Hot Chocolate’, white flowering Chinese dogwood and any sort of vine – but especially variegated porcelain vine, as it looks like someone has thrown a tin of paint over it and it has tiny pink tendrils.

have picked the right florist. Then send them plenty of images of your wedding plans, including photos of your dress, stationery, bridesmaid’s dresses, even your cake. It really helps to build up a picture of your day and what you are looking for, decor-wise. I love seeing all the elements of a couple’s wedding.

Have you got any top floristry tips for brides-to-be? Trust your florist! If you pick a florist whose style you truly love and they understand the look of your wedding, then just trust them. Trawl through their website and Instagram to make sure you get a real sense of their style. You should be excited about your flowers if you

Can you tell us about some of the fun or elaborate weddings you’ve done this year? My team and I recently decorated a very large glass marquee with a massive amount of foliage, as part of a wedding in London. This included a foliage canopy above and around the dining tables, and an installation of foliage and

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Picture by becky goddard

Picture by Cinzia Bruschini

Picture by Cinzia Bruschini Picture by Cinzia Bruschini

dogwood above the top table. It was a big undertaking, but the final outcome was pretty special. I also have some fun weddings coming up in beautiful locations and with unusual colour schemes. There is one wedding I can’t wait for; it has a bold red colour scheme, and very elaborate arrangements with a Bauhaus feel. I love a challenge and couples who want to make their day as individual as possible. Can you tell us a bit about the finer details of your process; how much wedding flowers cost, and how far in advance people need to book? Your wedding flowers can cost as much as you want to spend; it all depends on

how many flowers you want on the day and how important they are to you – all of our quotes are bespoke. I like to encourage clients to see the importance of flowers on their wedding day – if they don’t already. Sometimes you need to imagine how empty that marquee or hall would look if you took out all the flowers. We take bookings up to two years in advance, but have also accommodated people with last minute plans as well; it just depends on the couple. Often, if your wedding is more than 12 months away, a hold-the-date fee is taken, and then we get back in touch 8-10 months before the wedding to start discussing things further. This is also when you would pay your deposit.

Anything else that Vow readers might like to know? We grow a proportion of the flowers we use; we like to grow the unusual things that you can’t buy from the markets, such as Phlox ‘Crème Brûlée’, Chantilly snapdragons, and various blousy garden roses. And, whenever possible, we use seasonal and British flowers. vervainflowers.co.uk

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I n v i tat i o n s

The wedding planner

THE WEDDING DATE Rebecca Demott helps take the stress out of stationery

STATELY GRACE Nicole Anne’s Palatial Collection is to the manor born British wedding dress designer Nicole Anne has been making spectacular bridal gowns for 30 years now, but this year is a big one. They’ve totally redone their branding, and their new range is one of their best yet, comprising a wide selection of bridal separates – including a soft crepe fishtail skirt and a number of different lace tops and bodice tops – and the spectacular Palatial Collection, which includes such best-sellers as Blenheim, Highclere, Burghley, Woburn and Warwick, all named for castles and stately homes. You can find the range at Emma Phillips Bridal in Carmarthen, Courtyard Bridal in Poole, and Nicola Bridal in Weston-super-Mare. nicolaanne.com

The new ‘ready-to-write’ collections from stationer Rebecca Demott offer six elegant styles, including everything from ‘save the dates’ to thank you cards. You can go clean and modern with the Linear and Geometric collections, or pretty with the floral inspired Botanical set; there are two foiled options too (Feather and Dapper Deer), plus a chic Emmy London collab inspired by the famous shoes. All are nicely affordable too. cutture.com/wedding-stationery/collections


THE PAINTED VEIL To Be Adorned’s flower crowns ramp up the colour (and the fun) Bristol-based maker of handmade flower crowns To Be Adorned has just launched a colourful new range with matching birdcage veils, ideal for vintage brides. They’ve got crochet roses and genuine vintage pearl beading, and come in four designs at £46.25 – or you can have a bespoke version made in the colour of your choice. “These headdresses have a vintage feel, but the striking colours put a modern twist on it,” says maker Becca Parker. “It’s a little bit of tradition and a little bit of rule-breaking!” tobeadornedshop.etsy.com 16 | VOW

FLOWER GIRLS Pod & Pip’s latest florist classes are bloomin’ marvellous Pod & Pip, the flower design folk, offer fun DIY wedding workshops, great for brides and their mums looking to build confidence with flowers. Led by founder Sarah Williamson-Jones, the day-long workshops in Odstock, Salisbury, teach techniques and allow you to experiment – you’ll learn how to create a hand-tied bridal bouquet, and put together table decorations. The next one is on 30 September, and costs £170pp. podandpip.co.uk

07591 527267 07831 949292 Twitter @catering_smoke Facebook Smoke Catering Instagram Smoke.Catering

Born in Texas, raised in Bristol. This is Smoke Catering, an authentic Texan BBQ catering company created by Robin and Claire Dacey from Somerset. The pair, together with their 12ft smoker, cater to weddings both big and small, from formal sit down table service to the more casual street food style, always with an element of ‘Southern rustic’ with hand crafted wooden serving bowls and chopping boards atop hessian table cloths. The nine-hour smoked beef brisket is a particular favourite of theirs – it’s so juicy and buttery it practically melts in your mouth under a light crispy crunch from their spiced rub. All their food is homemade; from the rubs and pickles to the barbecue sauce and all the sides. Smoke Catering can travel all over the south west, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and towards London and can comfortably cater for numbers up to 200.

www.s m o k ecat er i n g.c o m

STAGS & HEN S new t wists on your l ast night out

W o r d s b y E m m a D an c e

Pamper party

Planning a wedding is pretty stressful, are we right? So the perfect way to prep for the big day is with a bit of R&R with your best girls (or boys!)‌

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t seems to be a kind of unwritten rule that a ‘real’ hen weekend has to involve novelty sashes, copious shots of dubious quality and some form of comedy inflatable genitalia. But – I’m just going to put it out there – this does not have to be a true thing. Yes, I really did just say it. And I’m going to go even further than that. It’s actually possible to end your hen without a hangover from hell – and looking and feeling better than when you started. Controversial, maybe, but in the run up to a day when all eyes are on you this is not going to be a bad thing. This being the case, if you’re looking to celebrate your last days of singledom with a bit of class (and a lot of luxury) then Lucknam Park might just be your place.

Apart from the fact that this country house hotel just outside Bath is drop dead gorgeous, it’s also got a totally fabulous spa. One that has, in fact, just been relaunched, becoming one of only three ESPA-branded spas in the country. (There’s already one in the Corinthia in London, and another at Scotland’s Gleneagles. Not bad company, right?) What’s ESPA, you ask? Well, it’s a range of beauty products using a combination of plant and marine actives and essential oils (so they smell a-may-zing) that can be used on even the most sensitive of skins. (And, just FYI, they’re produced just down the road from Lucknam in Frome.) ESPA also runs spas across the world, where the treatments have been specially designed to incorporate holistic elements, and all the therapists have to undergo rigorous ESPA-specific training before they’re even allowed to get near the clients. And if you want proof that the theory behind it all actually works, then I suggest you Google founder Susan Harmsworth, who – although now over 70 – could easily pass for 40. No,

seriously. (I’m about half her age and I just wish that my skin looked that good.) Because the therapists at Lucknam are so knowledgeable, they can tailor your treatments exactly to you. And there’s even a ‘mixology bar’, where they can show you how to combine different lotions and potions to suit your needs.


o what’s the experience like? Well, on my visit I tried an ESPA Inner Calm Massage, which was tranceinducingly relaxing, and would be ideal for any bride battling with the inner turmoil and butterfly-filled stomach that comes with impending nuptials. Of course, apart from the plethora of special treatments on offer, there are all the regular spa facilities to enjoy here too, including an indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool, thermal cabins and plenty of super-comfy relaxation areas. The hotel’s Brasserie is just next door too, offering everything from light, healthy salads to big juicy burgers – depending on how far you want to take the whole ‘being healthy’ thing. And, of course, there are the obligatory bubbles on offer – well, it is a hen party you’re attending, after all. You can enjoy the Lucknam Park facilities either through a range of day packages, or as a guest at the hotel if you want to extend the experience (and why wouldn’t you?). Indeed, while you’re there, why not drag yourself away from the spa for an hour or two to sign up for something a tiny bit more active, be it a cookery class or horse riding? There are plenty of great options on offer. Or, of course, you could just head back to the pool. A pretty amazing experience however you play it, then – and all without the Jägerbombs. Just saying.

Get lucky! A two-night spa stay at Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa costs from £1,105 per person (based on two people sharing a room) and includes breakfast each morning, one dinner at the Brasserie, one dinner at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park, a one-hour ESPA Inner Calm Massage, a half-hour Haslauer Sunlight Therapy treatment, and use of the spa facilities. Classic rooms cost from £295 per night, based on two adults sharing on a room-only basis, including use of the spas. ESPA treatments are from £99pp. Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Wiltshire; 01225 742777; lucknampark.co.uk

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THE BR IDE i do, i do, i do

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 C h a rle n e M o rt o n


If you think Games of Thrones will end well, they say, you haven’t been paying attention. But we hold out such hope for Sansa Stark – once naive and stupid, now shrewd and strong – we thought we’d pay her tribute before things have time to go wrong…

photographY BY Charlene Morton


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photographY BY Charlene Morton

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photographY BY Charlene Morton

elements we’d planned to draw on, but the main inspiration for the shoot. Make-up and hair were kept very simple, but we styled a table with a fantasy medieval feel to add depth and detail to proceedings.” The two dresses used were both by Bristol designer Lisa Keating, who has 35 years’ experience of bridal gowns. “The first look she brought along revolved around a bead-encrusted corset in pale gold, laced up with ribbon,” Charlene says. “This was worn with a long net skirt with lots of whimsical layers. To top off the outfit, we added a lace cape which gave a regal feel. I then made a headpiece of twisted hazel, which was sprayed gold and sprinkled with beads.” The second dress had a similar soft gold colour, and again featured beaded detail over a silk underlay and a long train. “We used a cape in some shots to show off its versatility,” Charlene says. To add to the shoot’s natural, outdoorsy feel, forest flowers were used – against all the lovely green ferns and foliage, their bright reds and purples added a real pop of colour – held together with orange florist wire. “Lisa Elliot, the well-known Clifton Village florist, also made an incredible flower headpiece for the second dress,” Charlene says, “and even decorated the garden swing and table for us.”


inter came for House Frey,” Arya Stark says in the seventh season premiere of the world’s most blood-soaked fantasy show, but though sadness and revenge are everywhere as Game of Thrones heads towards its last leg, some characters are coming into their own. And chief amongst them is the bitter, skilled, tomboyish Arya’s older, soppier, stroppier sister, who’s suffered one betrayal after another, but now stands – older and wiser – alongside Jon Snow in rallying the North against enemies to either side. “We definitely thought we’d embrace the fantastical for this shoot, inspired by new season of Game of Thrones,” says snapper Charlene Morton, who organised it. She’s an internationally-known wedding photographer from Chepstow in South Wales, with a crisp yet romantic style. “It didn’t hurt, of course, that it took place at the stunning Berwick Lodge, near Bristol. This red brick manor house was built in 1890 and has a quirky but elegant feel. It’s well known for its 18 acres of magnificent gardens, which offer manicured lawns and wilder woodlands, as well as surprise ornate structures.” Berwick Lodge has 14 rooms and normally operates as an exclusive hotel, but can be booked in its entirety for weddings or civil partnerships. Charlene and her team spent the day here exploring, trying out as many ideas as they could. It didn’t hurt that the model, Lili Houghton, actually works here occasionally, so felt right at home. “I didn’t actually realise, until meeting her in person, how much Lili looks like Sansa – and, of course, the actress Sophie Turner, who plays her – and so Game of Thrones became not just one of many 2 6 | VOW


o far, so pretty, but it was when Charlene started looking around the Lodge for props that things really got exciting. “I’d already found the 17th century sword,” she says, “but did you realise that the key fob isn’t actually a prop, but a genuine room key? And soon more opportunities and ideas started to present themselves, the best of which had to be the use of a white horse. When that was mentioned, I jumped at it! Although she had to take care keeping the silk and lace dresses safe, a barefoot Lili managed to pose beautifully with him. All it took was a few horse nibbles!” When we first heard about this shoot, we did wonder why it stars a Sansa-alike, rather than, say, a Margaery Tyrell. After all, Berwick Lodge is more lush Highgarden than bleak Winterfell, surely? “Actually, the day we went was the hottest of the year,” Charlene laughs. “Rather than ‘Winter is coming’ it was ‘Summer is here’.”

With fire and blood Channelling their inner Starks and Targaryens to get in the mood for this shoot were… Photographer: Charlene Morton;

charlenemorton.co.uk Venue: Berwick Lodge; berwicklodge.co.uk Dresses: Lisa Keating Bespoke Bridal;

lkbespokebridal.co.uk Florist: Lisa Elliot Floral Design; lisa-elliott.co.uk Model: Lili Houghton at Gingersnap Models; gingersnap.co.uk Special lenses: Lensbaby; lensbaby.com

Words by W e n d y Ly n e Pictures by K at y M c D o n n e ll

is in the For Linda Thomas, Bristol’s premier maker of upcycled eco-friendly bridal gowns, two things matter: diversity, and celebrating the natural world. Oh, and having fun, of course‌

the bride

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the bride

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the bride

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ristol-based Linda Thomas makes luxury upcycled clothing – unique wedding dresses a speciality – that reflect her passion for the colourful, the unusual and the individual. We never know quite what to expect with each collection, but this one threw us with its surprisingly conventional palate of ivories and creams. (Previous dresses of hers we’ve covered have been in things like dark reds and purples!) When she told us she was collaborating with photographer Katy McDonnell to present them against a spectacular natural backdrop, well, colour us intrigued. “Katy has a favourite pebble beach we got excited about,” Linda remembers. “We knew we wanted a very natural backdrop to match the ethos of my dresses, and the relaxed style of Katy’s photography.” Linda is always keen to capture natural beauty – “the rawness of nature as it is” – and reflect diversity in the models she uses. “For me, it’s about being in tune with the environment and creating a relaxed and romantic feel, whilst keeping an alternative edge.” The shoot took place on a very sunny day at the end of April, which sounds great but – as the beach offered no shade at all – made conditions difficult. “Katy and the whole team were really calm, though,” Linda says, “and we just wandered around, eventually finding a lovely little wooded dell nearby. The sunlight suddenly became an advantage then, as it played through the trees and brought colour to the wood.” Bristol-based Katy specialises in soft, dreamy images with a relaxed feel. “I have a very naturalistic style that seemed sympathetic to the gowns,” she says. “I was also delighted to have Will LindsayPerez as my assistant for the day. He’s a teenage Bristol photographer who’s really impressed me, and was an invaluable part of the team.” Linda’s crew were picked with her usual emphasis on sustainability and people who are easy to work with. “For the models we had one amazing man, Dami, and the lovely Jess, Claire and Tessa,” she says. “I’d met three of them earlier in the year, at the Bristol University charity show Fuze, but the last model is a performer I sometimes see when collecting my son from school. I always find myself staring at her beautiful hair, so I had to ask her to model for me. It turns out we have a shared interest in a charity called Changing Faces, which raises awareness about facial disfigurement. I wanted an eclectic mix of models, and thought we’d all have fun together.”


he flowers, meanwhile, were by Liz of Pipley Flowers. “I’d worked with her last year, and was really impressed that she grows her own flowers in Bristol,” Linda says. “I love how couples can visit her farm and choose actual growing flowers, rather than picking from blooms that have been flown half way around the world. I love jasmine, and knew it would be just right in the long, trailing bouquet I had in mind. Liz coped very well with my sometimes conflicting instructions (I’d asked for the bouquet to be both oversized and trailing and flowing and informal), I must say!” The rings were from Eco Wood Rings, another local ethical business. “It’s run by a couple called Laura and Steve,” Linda says, “who use ethically sourced wood, metals, unusual salvaged inlays and ethical gemstones; I believe their whole company began as a sort of love story, with Steve wanting to make a unique engagement

ring for his eco-conscious love. The ones we used included ethical diamonds and slate, combined with lovely woods.” The shoes were ethical too, from the European brand Po-Zu, which Linda had come across on Instagram. “I had a dream about silver pineapple shoes and, luckily, Po-Zu were happy to supply some,” she says. “Most of the pairs they gave us were made from Pinatex, a leather made from pineapple leaves. Dami’s shoes also featured cork, and the wedges were made with sustainable wood and pineapple leather. I’m so in love with them, in fact, that I’m now the proud owner of my very own pair.” The hair and make-up was done by Emily of Able Mabel in a relaxed boho style with loose romantic braiding. “She used eco make-up,” Linda says, “and I loved the way she just picked a couple of blooms from the hedgerow to highlight their hair. Emily consulted Tessa about her face and neck birthmarks, as it was really important to respect her decision on whether to conceal any of them or not. I am really pleased she decided not to, though, as it really fits in with our celebration of natural beauty.” Then there was the groom, who wore an upcycled outfit by Linda, designed to suit Dami’s naturally funky style. “I found the dinner jacket and trousers in charity shops, then adapted them for our theme with vintage pearl button detailing. The cufflinks are ones I made for my husband, as we both like 1960s mod style – he just about agreed to lend them! – while the sunglasses are Dami’s own. He seemed like the perfect groom, which became quite funny as the day wore on and he strolled out afresh with three different brides!” As for the dresses – the reason for this shoot, after all – they’re all unique pieces by Linda Thomas Eco Design. “Despite my love of colour, I wanted this collection to have a dreamy, romantic feel,” Linda says, “so used upcycled ivory coloured silks. I wanted simple feminine silhouettes with a 1930s influence, so I hand-felted trains and details around the high waists; the textures of the silks and felting really give the luxurious feel of a bygone time. I also made a simple up-cycled wool cape with vintage pearl buttons, perfect for the spring bride – not, in fact, that we had any trouble keeping warm on the day!”

Into the woods When it gets just a little too hot on the beach, retire to the shade… Dresses and groom’s attire:

Linda Thomas Eco Design; lindathomasecodesign.co.uk Hair and make-up: Able Mabel; able-mabel.com Flowers: Pipley Flowers; pipleyflowers.com Rings: Eco Wood Rings; ecowoodrings.co.uk Shoes: Po-Zu; po-zu.com Photography: Katy McDonnell; katymcdonnell.co.uk Photographic assistant: Will Lindsay-Perez;


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W O R D S b y W E N D Y LY N E

ph oto g r a ph y by JA M E S G R E E N

Betosure wear in your hair

flowers This year’s Vivien J bridal accessories collection reinvents the classics while upping the floral influence noticeably. These are future family heirlooms you won’t want to pass on…

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vivien J


Everything we do is feminine, floral and organic, with a dash of romance... you’ll find statement wedding hair vines adorned with mother of pearl, and jewellery made of freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals


o, what’s this year’s collection like? Well, there was something of a botanical influence to this shoot showcasing them, intended – Hannah says – to “reflect the soft, floral feel of what we’re doing now”. They chose Barnsley House near Cirencester as their location – hey, it’s got the most stunning gardens – and really ramped up the feeling of ‘ethereal beauty’ in everything from the make-up to the photography style. “This time around we’ve gone for a very bohemian version of luxury, using a variety of metallic hues paired with dainty floral designs,” Hannah says. “It really is a collection inspired by romance. The new range continues to highlight the natural beauty of mother of pearl, but we took a lot from flowers and plants, too – indeed, the

photography by JAmes Green

annah Scane of the award-winning family-run firm Vivien J Bridal Accessories of Trowbridge – these guys were named South West Best Accessory Designer of the Year in 2015 at the Wedding Industry Awards, don’t cha know? – offers a wide range of hair accessories and jewellery, from hair vines to necklaces. Vivien J has been a bridal specialist for over a decade now, one of those cool mother-and-daughter outfits (Hannah works alongside her mum, Jan) that makes us think that maybe, just maybe, we could enjoy working with members of our family too… “After we’d designed and made accessories for a family wedding in 2008, we went into bridal jewellery full time,” Hannah says, “and ever since we’ve been passionate about making sure our brides sparkle their way down the aisle. As a tight-knit team, we like to think we understand the range of emotions that go into planning a wedding, which is why we’re always on hand to chat to our brides about everything from a specific order to all their Big Day details.” Indeed, if you’ve got something bespoke in mind, Hannah and Jan are more than happy to tweak one of their existing designs to make sure it’s exactly what you’re after. “Everything we do is feminine, floral and organic, with a dash of romance,” Hannah says. “You’ll find statement wedding hair vines adorned with mother of pearl, and jewellery made of freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals. And we create smaller pieces, too, which make beautiful gifts for your bridesmaids; they’re the sort of thing they’ll treasure long after your wedding day.”

wilder the greenery, the better! – and worked this into the design of each piece. We’re making more of a statement with our flowers this time around, which makes for impactful headpieces that still keep a soft, organic feel. Hair vines feature quite heavily, as ever, and continue to be a popular choice with our brides. What’s so great about them is how versatile they are. You can wear them in several ways, depending on your hairstyle.”

VINELAND Getting all ethereal at Barnsley House were… Hair accessories and jewellery:

Vivien J Bridal Accessories; vivienj.co.uk Location: Barnsley House; barnsleyhouse.com Dresses: Perfect Day Bride; perfectdaybridal.net make-up: Kate Kelvin; kkmakeupartist.co.uk Hair: Pamplemouse; pamplemouse.net Flowers: Young Blooms; youngblooms.co.uk Stationery: The Tiny Card Company; thetinycardcompany.com Model: Emily Anderson; emilyandersonmodel.co.uk Styling: The Bridal Edit; thebridaledit.com Photographer: James Green; jamesgreenphotographer.co.uk VOW | 3 7


W o r d s b y C l a ri s s a P icot P i c t u r e s b y S u B a rc l ay

when doves cry At the ivy-clad, overgrown remains of a wrecked church near Tintern Abbey, our bride and groom bring fluttering, white-winged witnesses and the haunting sound of the bagpipes for a mythical shoot like no other‌

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Th e b r i d e : w h e n d ov e s cry


his, it turns out, is our issue for bridal photo shoots with something of a mythical fantasy twist. Of course, knowing photographer Su Barclay – who’s always had an eye for the unusual in her styled work, no matter how elegant her wedding photography – the magical and mystical was never going to be too far away. “For this one, two or three things came together,” Su says. “First there was my friend, Jan Knibbs, who’s an award-winning fashion designer, and who’d recently opened her new shop in The Suffolks, the artisan quarter of Cheltenham. It’s called Atelier 19, and it’s a sumptuous vintageinspired concept boutique, offering brides a real bohemian fairytale feel. Then there was the fact that I’ve just discovered All Doved Up, a Welsh outfit providing a white dove release service for weddings. Owners Colin and Cheryl Marsh work right across Newport, Cardiff and south Wales, and really bring the ‘wow’ moment to any wedding. And, finally, I wanted to introduce Matthew Bartlett, the Welsh Wedding Bagpiper, who will travel most places and brings real Celtic flare to proceedings.” With ingredients like these to include, this would clearly be no normal shoot, and when they’d chosen their venue – the ruined church of St Mary the Virgin at Tintern in Monmouthshire – the stage was set. This would be a spooky, theatrical wedding extravaganza like no other. “My aim was to bring variety and a bit of intrigue to styled wedding shoots,” Su says. “I love a bit of quirkiness, and the ideas came easily once I had such a fabulous team in place to inspire me. We didn’t have very long to do it – the whole shoot was actually defined by the doves, who can only be out for a limited amount of time – and anyway, everyone was flagging in the freezing weather. You can see how cold it was on the face of our little bridesmaid, Summer, in one or two of the pics. Afterwards, we all rocked up to the pub for Sunday lunch and a few well deserved bevvies.”

My aim was to bring variety and a bit of intrigue to styled wedding photography… I love a bit of quirkiness, and the ideas came easily once I had a fabulous team in place

ince the idea for this shoot was initially inspired by Atelier 19, Jan there naturally supplied the clothing, including the wedding gown, groom’s jacket, jewellery, embroidered sash, corsages and brooches. As well as her own range, Jan carries accessories by milliner Gemma Sangwine – the crown and top hat were Gemma’s – as well as bespoke garments by Philippa Barter of Philippa Couture. Also prominent is the Birdcage bag by the American outfit Fiori Couture, another hand-picked brand Jan sells. Further suppliers included make-up artist Bridget Esmonde, and Frome florist Beth Litaunieks at The Midnight Garden – featured in Vow #12 – while helping out were Jack Ralls, Jonathan Knibbs, and Dave and Kelly Loveridge. “Jack actually tried to do some filming on 4 0 | VOW

Love among the ruins Picking their way through the nettles and brambles were… Photography: Su Barclay; barclayphotography.biz Venue: St Mary the Virgin, Tintern, Monmouthshire Wedding gown: Jan Knibbs; janknibbs.com Further clothing: Atelier 19;

atelier19cheltenham.com Milliner: Gemma Sangwine; gemmasangwine.com Hair: Jodie Austen at The Peachy Studio;

jodieausten.co.uk Make-up: Bridget Esmonde; @bridgetmua Flowers: Midnight Garden; midnight-garden.co.uk White doves: All Doved Up; alldovedup.co.uk Bagpiper: Matthew Bartlett, The Welsh Wedding

Bagpiper; welshweddingbagpiper.co.uk Models: Beckie Louise Williams-Johnson (bride); Elliott Russell (groom); Summer Mae (bridesmaid) Additional help: Jack Ralls, Jonathan Knibbs, Dave and Kelly Loveridge

pictures by su barclay


the day, but it was too cold and windy for much of that,” says Su. “He was a total star in preparing the location for us, though. He certainly had to cut through a lot of brambles!” Also key: Su’s long-time friend – and her own hairdresser – Jodie Austen, who contributed plenty of styling and some stunning hair embroidery. “She often travels to quite exotic places for her highend fashion work,” Su says, “but she was keen to do a local shoot, as she’s not done one this small for some time. Happily, she loved it.” Finally, what can we say about the two most unusual elements here? Well, piper Matthew Bartlett – he calls himself The Welsh Wedding Bagpiper, and he wears full highland kit (MacKenzie tartan, as it goes) – always creates a buzz with his range of classic Welsh and Scottish tunes, while All Doved Up really bring the memorable to proceedings. (Film their birds in slow motion, and you could be in a John Woo film.) Indeed, ‘memorable’ pretty much sums up this entire shoot. Go down this path, and your guests will be talking about your wedding for years to come, that’s for sure.


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 c athari n e n oble

FIELD OF DREAMS Sometimes your first sight of a dress just inspires you, and so it was for Catherine Noble when she first saw this none-more-ruffled little number by Watters

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hough based in Cheshire, most of the work Catharine Noble Photography does is very much on Vow’s patch – Bath, Bradford on Avon, the Cotswolds – as well as further afield, from ‘Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’, as the song says. “We do a limited number of weddings each year,” Catherine says, “as we like to travel with our work. And we particularly like working in the South West, because of the sheer number of idyllic venues that you guys have.” For this shoot, the guys picked a classic English meadow as their backdrop – “it made for the perfect countryside setting, with our model wandering amongst wild buttercups and luscious tall grass,” Catharine says – and based the look and feel around the wedding gown they were using, a Watters design called Palm Springs. Watters is one of the really big US bridal labels, with a huge range of gowns in pretty much any style and at often affordable price points, as well as an enviable choice of sizes to suit every possible shape of bride. Founder Vatana Watters is particularly good at coming up with gowns that suit a rustic wedding, while retaining an in-built elegance. “This particular dress has a strapless sweetheart neckline, a ball gown silhouette, and ruffles for days, ending in a puddle train,” Catharine says. “It comes in a delicate nude tone too, and I was smitten the moment I saw it in person. I actually first came across Palm Springs on a visit to a lovely wedding shop in Cheshire called Agape Bridal Boutique, and Alex, the boss there, was equally taken with it – in fact, she was desperate to show it to me. I immediately knew I wanted to create a shoot to show it off. Part of the challenge – and what intrigued me, of course – is that it wasn’t traditional wedding dress white, so it would take a little more work to make sure accessories, make-up and so on were doing it justice.” In keeping with the natural rural feel of the shoot, the guys added a bouquet which looked like it had just been handpicked from the meadow. “One of my favourite little details,” says Catharine, “was the way we experimented with sprinkling pink Lisianthus blooms along the skirt and tulle ruffles.” Amongst the intriguing contradictions about Watters is that it’s a huge established label – one where the founder claims inspiration from the likes of Christian Dior and Lanvin – yet the dresses retain a romantic, breeze-catching, carefree feel; gowns that can be as wild as this one, yet still give the impression of not trying too hard.

Palm Springs affair Showing off this most amazing Watters gown were… Photographer: Catharine Noble Photography; catharinenoblephotography.co.uk Dress & shoes: Palm Springs by Watters and Naomi by Rachel Simpson, both at Agape Bridal Boutique; agapebridalboutique.com hair & make-uP: Kerry Baker; kerrybakermua.com model: Sarah Kaye; Instagram @sarahkayexx

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

P i c t u r e s b y J i m J oh n s o n

Some like it hot


By the 1950s the post-War rebuilding was underway, but it was still a time of hard work and austerity, made buzzy by a love of colour and excitement for the future. And its great VOW | 4 5 icons, like Marilyn Monroe – inspiration for this shoot – did glamour like few others…

pictures by jim johnson

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pictures by jim johnson


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

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the Bride: some like it hot



remember this as being a very hot day,” says photographer Jim Johnson. “Initially the idea was just to photograph the flowers and rooms, but that seemed a missed opportunity to me, so I contacted make-up artist Claire Bowring – my go-to guru for all things photoshoot – to see if she could help with a model, too. She could, of course, bringing along Louisa – who has a very period look – and hairstylist Kelly Relph.” It was actually Jim, though, who brought on board Mojgan Bridal Couture of Bournemouth, old collaborators of his. “We did two looks,” says founder and dress designer Mojgan Noorian Bellamy, who’s worked with the likes of Jasper Conran and started her own award-winning design studio with the help of The Prince’s Trust. “For the more romantic Marilyn look we used an off-the-shoulder, sweetheart neckline dress, with a stunning corded lace bodice and multiple layers of tulle in the skirt. It’s perfect for those wanting a tea length dress with a flirty twist. And then, for the slightly more colourful take on everything, we brought a short and sweet little number. This is a fun and 5 0 | VOW

endearing dress, which – with its beautiful thin lace over dusky pink satin – you can’t help but twirl in.” With the dresses in place, Claire and Kelly were able to start work on Louisa’s look. In particular, they took inspiration from Marilyn’s famous ‘Ballerina’ series of photos, shot by photographer Milton Greene in New York in 1954. “We did our own light and natural version of this for the first look,” says Claire, “using a grey colour palette for the eyes, with a slick of winged eyeliner. Together with the pale pink lip, it creates a romantic, effortless make-up that has a hint of the ’50s without feeling like you’ve overdone it. Then, for the colourful version, we went more theatrical. Everything was vamped up a little, with more eyeliner added and a gorgeous pop of fuchsia pink on the lips – something to inspire the slightly more adventurous bride.” And Kelly had a similar approach with the hair. “The first version was very romantic, so I needed a soft look for the hair,” she says. “Louisa’s is really long, so I created big pinnedup curls to make it shorter, while a diamanté clasp finished the look beautifully. The second shoot had more 1950s rock ’n’ roll glamour to it, so I went for a modern twist on Rita Hayworth’s victory rolls – one of my favourite hairstyles from this era – made softer by a cascade of curls tumbling down one side. The oversized pink flower was the perfect finishing touch.” Finally, hair accessories from The Lucky Sixpence were used to complete everything. “A mix of metals, diamanté and delicate beadwork meant the combs used for the Marilyn look were romantic yet dramatic,” says Kelly, “while the colour pop flower was created by combining a silk flower with a contrasting original vintage centre, to give it a little sparkle. Combs like this make a lovely keepsake, which can be worn again after the big day.”

The blonde bombshell Enjoying the chance to show off their inner Norma Jeane Mortensons were… Venue styling: Jill Bowen at Mason Bowen; masonbowen.co.uk Flowers: Lesley Traves at Country Weddings Flowers; countryweddingflowers.co.uk Model: Louisa Rossiter; starnow.com/louisarossiter Bridalwear: Mojgan Bridal Couture; mojganweddingdresses.com Make-up: Claire Bowring; clairebowring.co.uk Hair: Kelly Relph at The Hair Boutique Weymouth; facebook.com/TheHairBoutiqueWeymouth Hair accessories: The Lucky Sixpence; theluckysixpence.co.uk Venue: Kilver Court; kilvercourt.com Photography: Jim Johnson; photosbyjim.co.uk

pictures by jim johnson

ou can’t think of 1950s fashion without smiling, at least a little bit – all those va-va-voom shapes, with voluminous skirts and pinched-in wasp waists – which makes this style perfect for a wedding that doesn’t take itself too seriously. These are looks that will suit just about any body shape, but the more womanly the better. This photo shoot is not necessarily the most cutting edge that we’ll ever run in Vow, but it’s up there among the most accessible and fun. And, actually, it’s really two 1950s-style shoots in one. The first is more romantic and high-end, inspired by the era’s greatest movie star and sex symbol – we’re talking Marilyn Monroe, naturally – while the other is a little more colourful and kitsch, a look that encouraged the guys behind it to really kick back and have some fun. And who are they, exactly? Well, at the centre are Jill Bowen from Mason Bowen, the West Country event decor people, and Lesley Traves of Wiltshire’s Country Weddings Flowers. These guys are used to working at places like Wick Farm, Stourhead, and – indeed – the location picked for this shoot, Kilver Court at Shepton Mallet, the designer discount shopping destination with cool restaurants and the most spectacular landscaped gardens, spread out in the shadows of a disused railway viaduct. “We used our in-house collection to style everything,” says Jill. “Along with my business partner, Jess Mason, I’ve been creating wedding receptions for 10 years now, but it’s only recently that we’ve really upped our game with regards to chairs. Chiavari chairs have become incredibly popular for weddings lately – they’re an elegant and versatile north Italian design, named after the town where the first ones were made in 1807 – and we’ve spent over a year choosing pretty fabrics and designing exclusive sashes and chair pad covers for them, which we make in our little workshop. Naturally, we wanted to show them off.” Also key were Lesley’s flowers, which she kept nice and simple. “We had typically English blooms,” she says, “which we used in lots of different ways, scattered throughout the gardens.”


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

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W O R D S b y C l a ri s s a P icot

p h o t o g r a p h y b y C hri s D a w

Barefoot in the Park Sometimes a bride just wants to just chill out, relax, and wander across the lawn barefoot. But who would have thought you could do it right in the middle of Bath‌?

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pictures by chris daw

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pictures by chris daw

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

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the Bride: the barefoot bride


picture by chris daw

ometimes, as we walk through the park, we wonder about the wisdom of far-flung private wedding locations. As we watch dogs catching frisbees and dads trying to figure out those disposable barbecue things, we think, y’know, it might just be fun to hold the wedding right here. “As a creative working in a collective that comes up with styled wedding shoots,” says photographer Chris Daw, “I’m always on the lookout for venues that offer something different. The Temple of Minerva, nestled inside the Botanical Gardens in a quiet corner of Bath’s Royal Victoria Park, is just such a place. It’s an intimate Palladian-style venue licensed to hold small weddings, and makes for the perfect reception party setting too.” The Temple of Minerva is typically Bath in many ways – very classical, and rendered in that familiar creamy stone – but it also offers unusual flora as far as the eye can see. “We were keen for the finished images to reflect the depth of colour you find here, and the richness of the manicured-yet-robust botanical backdrop,” Chris says. “That’s why we made greens and golds our accent colours.”


he day they shot was one of the hottest of 2017 so far – warm enough, in fact, to really test their patient model (Bristol’s Rachel Harvey, a familiar face in these pages) – and the skills of hair and make-up experts Abigail Constanza and Christy Waterfall. “It would also offer a real test for me, as it saw me battling with harsh sunlight and, therefore, contrasting shades,” says Chris. “Still, it helped me polish my skills!” Elsewhere, the props team from Prezola – see p7 for more on these guys – were up and at it early doors, creating a fresh and relaxed al fresco dining setting that blended with the natural backdrop. “Then we had verdant greens from Flowers of Bath running down the centre of the table, linking the place settings and the chunky, church-style organic wax candles,” says Sarah Baker, the Bath-based blogger and social media guru who secured the venue and helped organise the whole shoot, alongside Chris and hair stylist Abi. “They made the perfect partners for the gold cutlery and starched white linens.” The team also asked Riot Balloons to help dress the venue. “We wanted to link the inside of the building with the outside,” Abi explains. “A white balloon installation did the trick, and we also used several balloons with gold flecks in them to echo the gold accents added by Christy, and the Britten hair accessories.” These guys are actually (most of) the same gang who put together the shoot at No.15 Great Pulteney that we ran in Vow #12 – they’re fast turning into the bridal equivalent of Dom Toretto’s crew from The Fast and the Furious – but this time around they were after a more footloose and relaxed feel. “We meet regularly on Pinterest to collate inspirational images, clarify themes and hone our focus, so the day runs as smoothly as it can,” Sarah says. “Happily, the verdant greens and golds that this venue suggested are still hugely on trend, as is the idea of having the outside and inside intertwined. Everything came easily, and we got to celebrate the idea of a natural, relaxed bride at ease with the fluid styling of her day.” 5 6 | VOW

Splendour in the grass Pulling off their shoes and making John McClane-style fists with their toes were… Venue: Bath Venues, Bath & North East Somerset Council Temple of Minerva, Royal Victoria Park; bathnes.gov.uk Hair: Abigail Constanza; abigailconstanzabathbridalstylist.com social media and organisation:

Sarah Baker; @TheFabBakerBlog Model: Rachel Harvey Make-up: Christy Waterfall; christywaterfall.com Dresses: Perfect Day Bridal, Bradford-on-Avon;

perfectdaybridal.net Flowers: Flowers of Bath; flowersofbath.co.uk Props: Prezola; prezola.com Props: Britten; brittenweddings.com Props: Riot Balloons; riotballoons.co.uk Nails: Laura Streeter Pink Nails; @laurapinknails Photographer: Chris Daw; chrisdawphotography.com

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


B r o o k e & D av i d

PictureS by emma barrow

Lucky gym Brooke Graddon & David Youldon


nyone who’s seen the old rom com Perfect – the one with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis grinding at the gym as if they were in an Eric Prydz video – knows a fair few relationships start here, and so it was with Brooke and David, who met when Brooke was working as a personal trainer four years ago, and her boss interviewed David for a job. “As

he came up the gym stairs, I turned to my boss, Ben, and said, ‘If you don’t hire him, I quit!’ Luckily, he got the job!” So David made an impact then all right, though less so on their first date – “I honestly can’t remember what we did,” Brooke says. She does, however, remember the proposal. “It was December 2015, and we were holidaying in Antigua, where my parents have a place,” she remembers. “One morning I went for a run with my dad, then Dave told me to pack a bag. At this point, my heart was racing! He hired a luxury car to take us to a helipad, and from there we went to the island of Barbuda, where he found a deserted beach with pink sand. The helicopter landed on the beach and we spent the afternoon there. This is where he proposed. He had Champagne in his bag, waiting. From there he took me to the gorgeous Cocobay Resort, back on Antigua, for the night – and all my family turned up for dinner. It was an unbelievable day. The boy did good!” The couple were engaged for a year and a half, giving Brooke plenty of time to sort the wedding – pretty much on her own. “Dave VOW | 59


didn’t do too much,” she says. “He sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the whole process. Typical man!” The only really stressful bit came the day before the wedding, when they had to take everything to the venue to set up. “But even then we were finished by 1pm, and ready for Champagne,” Brooke says. “I’d advise anyone to do as much as you can months before – and please don’t leave the little things to the last minute! (That said, I am ultra-organised – I even had wedding toilet roll for the loos!).” Brooke grew up at Ugborough in the South Hams, Devon, and so the local church was the perfect spot for the ceremony. “Since I was a little girl I’d always wanted to get married there,” she says. “I used to tell everyone. So it really was a dream come true. I’ll never forget walking up those steps with my dad, holding his hand as I went through the huge doors. And the best thing is, it’s only four minutes from my family home.” The reception venue, Shilstone House, was nearby too – just five minutes from the church – and the fact that it’s so handsome won everyone over to it immediately. “My dad just walked in and said, ‘This is it’,” Brooke says.

white lilies as centre pieces, and a long row of 25 small fish bowls, each containing a simple rose head in water.” Brooke also had one stem of roses scattered throughout the marquee – “they looked so elegant” – while she took the displays from the church to the reception, which worked really well. “Also,” she says, “Dave’s dad sorted us some gorgeous flowers in milk churns, which were put at the entrances of both the church and marquee. Very West Country!” The show-stopper of a cake, meanwhile, came from Brooke’s friend, Mica Harrison of Love Cakes. As feathers were featured throughout the wedding, the bottom layer had a feather effect – “I’d never seen this before, and Mica had certainly never made one like it before,” Brooke says – and behind these it was unusual too. “The bottom layer had Caramac,” she says, “then came layers of Victoria sponge and chocolate.” Everything went well – and even the few bits that were less than perfect still worked. “The wedding favours took a long time to prepare,” Brooke remembers, “and Emily hated them by the end.


he dress came from a well-known Plymouth boutique, Sam Cox Bridalwear. “I wasn’t overly convinced by any other dresses I tried on,” Brooke says, “but my Aunty Sara picked this one, by Essense of Australia, especially for me to try. As soon as it came off the hanger, I knew. In fact, I think I shouted, ‘This is the one!’ It was a perfect fit and I felt like a princess.” Many a groom really prefers his girl with her hair down – and so it is with Dave, so that’s what Brooke went for. “The thing is, I also knew I didn’t want it too fussy and in my face all day, so it was perfect how it turned out. My friend and hairdresser, Naomi, knows my hair so well, and did an amazing job – she did the bridesmaids too. And my school friend, Lena Key, did the make-up for us all, so they both had a busy morning!” As for Dave’s outfit, they chose most of that together at Moss Bros – except, says Brooke, “I had to go to work, so he was left to pick the tie. When he came home and said he’d gone for yellow… well, that didn’t go down very well. In the end we – by which I mean I! – chose white. It looked so fresh, and made all the ushers and the two dads stand out.” Dave grew up in Bude, Cornwall, alongside best man Greg Snowden – “they got up to all sorts together on Dave’s family farm,” Brooke says – while his brother, Andrew, was usher, alongside Brooke’s brother, Chris. The bride’s side of the aisle was more heavily populated, and consisted of two school friends (Lois Fletcher and Mary Douglas), two relations (Brooke’s sister-in-law, Rachel Graddon, and Dave’s sister, Emily Youldon), and two diving friends from back when Brooke used to be a well-known Team GB athlete (Tonia Couch and Louise Stewart). They all wore simple, subtle summery dresses from Coach, which everybody loved. There were flowers everywhere, put together by a family friend, Caroline Hallett. “My theme was simple – just whites and pinks – so we used white and pale pink roses in the bridesmaids’ bouquets,” Brooke says, “while mine had white Calla lilies, which were also what the ushers and parents wore. The tables were simple, with tall 6 0 | VOW

They were miniature drinks – JD and Coke for the boys and G&Ts for the ladies, all in jars with ribbon around and straws attached – but, in fairness, they were a big hit on the day. The mums walking out on the best man’s speech made me cringe a bit, too!” Of the photos, the more natural and happy people seem, the better Brooke likes them. “I love the one of my mum doing up my dress in the morning – it’s such a special moment – and, of course, I adore the picture of my dog, Fizz!” But if there was one thing better than the photos, it was the presents she got. Brooke’s mum gave her the garter she’d worn at her wedding – ticking the ‘something old’ and ‘something blue’ boxes in one go – but then her dad said it was traditional for the father of the bride to give his daughter a present too. “He asked me to find it, and said, ‘Start by looking outside’,” she remembers. “I looked at the gate and there was a small gift bag there. Inside were some keys. Turns out he’d only gone and bought me a brand new Audi A3. I had no idea, and just screamed for two minutes!”

B r o o k e & D av i d

Would a yellow tie really have looked so bad, we ask? (Yes, probably. Such a hard colour to pull off…) PictureS by emma barrow

Marriage Guidance Who? Brooke Graddon and David Youldon When? 20 May 2017 Where? Ugborough Church; ugborough.com Reception: Shilstone House, South Hams; shilstonedevon.co.uk Band: The Vibes; poptop.uk.com Dress: Essense of Australia at Sam Cox Bridalwear; samcoxbridalwear.co.uk Veil: Sam Cox Bridalwear; samcoxbridalwear.co.uk Shoes: Next; next.co.uk Bridesmaid dresses: Coast; coast-stores.com Cake: Love Cakes; facebook.com/lovecakesbymica Florist/venue decor: Caroline Hallett Hair stylist: Naomi Baines Make-up artist: Lena Key Groom and groomsmen: Moss Bros; moss.co.uk Videographer: Dove Films; dovefilms.co.uk Vintage bus: King Harry Coaches; kingharrycoaches.com Photographer: Emma Barrow Photography; emma-barrow.com

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With a little help from my friends Gemma Hancock & Lee Denning


friend’s wedding is a classic place for a couple to meet, but we’ve rarely come across one at Vow Magazine. That, however, was exactly the case with Gemma and Lee. Gemma was a bridesmaid, and though both of them were pals with the couple, their paths had never crossed before. They got on, though, and went for pizza at Bristol’s Bocabar, then – in New York City actually, at that same married pal’s 30th birthday party – Lee went down on one knee at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. “My initial reaction was, ‘You’re joking’,” Gemma says. “Then, when I realised he wasn’t, I cried.” She said yes, of course, then got on with sorting the wedding day. “I didn’t want it to take up too much of my life, which is why we chose Cadbury House,” she says. “Apart from the photographer, everything was included in the package. My bridesmaid, Sam Wild, is a cake maker, so that was easily sorted – and another of my friends is a hairdresser, so it was a given that she would do my hair.” We suppose you have a make-up artist pal too, do you? “Actually, I do! Lee and I are both super-chilled, so nothing seemed that big a deal. The only thing I couldn’t decide on was the cake – so I just left it up to bridesmaid Sam. That was so much fun, actually – not knowing what it was going to look like until the day.” The guys actually got married outside in Cadbury’s gazebo – “we called it ‘The Coconut’, as that’s what it looks like” – which overlooks the lake and grounds. Guests enjoyed canapés in the sunshine, before retiring to the hotel’s drawing room.


rue to form, Gemma picked the first dress she tried on, which came from a boutique in the couple’s hometown of Midsomer Norton, Solitaire Brides. “I liked that Solitaire had a selection of styles, rather than racks of the same thing. I went with my mum and bridesmaid, and knew the dress was ‘the one’ when I saw a tear in my bridesmaid’s eye. She never cries!” Shoes and veil came from Solitaire too, and Gemma left her hairstyle up to pal Jade, just like she’d left the cake up to Sam. “We decided on a loose, pinned-up do, but we were chatting so much while Jade worked her magic that it wasn’t until later in the day that I realised I’d no idea what the back looked like,” she says. The groom, meanwhile, found his suit at Ted Baker in Bath, with Lee, his

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two best men (brother Tom and best pal Cam) and the two dads all rocking shades of blue and ivory. For once, the groomsmen outnumbered the bridesmaids, as Gemma just had one – Sam, who we’ve met in this story a few times already. (She’s the cake-maker, dress-cryer, 30th birthday bash thrower and the one who first introduced the pair.) Sam wore a dark blue number from Warehouse, which set the colour scheme for the flowers, from Cadbury Garden Centre next door to the hotel. Later on there was some competition between the chaps as to who would come up with the best speech, but it was generally conceded that Gemma’s dad pulled it out of the bag. “He was coming to the end of his generic proud dad thing,” Gemma says, “and his last words were, ‘I just have one more thing to say to my girl…’ – at which point the music kicked in. It was, of course, The Temptations singing ‘My Girl’, and my heart just dropped – as dad totally can’t sing. But then my cousin stood up and started singing along, and my other cousin joined in, and before I knew it we had a singing flash mob.”

Gemm a & Lee

Gemma got on well with the photographer – also a Lee, as it goes – saying, “He’s got just the same sense of humour as I do.” Uh-oh! PictureS by Lee Hatherall

Marriage Guidance Who? Gemma Hancock and Lee Denning When? 11 September 2016 Where? DoubleTree by Hilton, Cadbury House; cadburyhotelbristol.co.uk Dress: Solitaire Brides, Midsomer Norton; solitairebrides.co.uk Cake: Wild About Cake; wildaboutcake.wixsite.com/wildabout-cake Florist: Cadbury Garden Centre; wyevalegardencentres.co.uk Photography: Lee Hatherall; leehatherallphotography.com

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Swiss made Rebecca Jansen & James Atkinson


ecky and Jim met at uni in Leeds, where they were both studying Meteorology; this was back in 2007, when Becky had to re-sit a year as an undergraduate, so moved into the same year group as Jim. “We were friends first, and shuffled together as more than that at the start of 2008,” Becky says. “Our first actual date was a very awkward meeting in a pub, because – as two friends – we tried to figure out if being together whilst being on the same course was worth the risk! I’m very glad to say we took the leap of faith though, and, as we’ve been together for the last nine years, I think it’s working out!” On their sixth anniversary they actually went back to that same awkward pub, just before Jim was due to move away to work in Zurich – and Becky proposed. “Long distance relationships take effort,” she says, “and it was nice to know we were both up for the long term, despite living apart. When we decided to actually get married, we booked our venue – The Upper Gatehouse at Dartington Hall, an easy choice, as it’s just so special – about a year before, but most of the actual planning was in the final six months. The trickiest thing to organise is always people! Things like keeping the family happy, and sorting out suit fittings when the groom lives abroad, were a logistical nightmare.” Becky grew up in Devon and has fond memories of visiting Dartington Hall as a child – hey, even as a married couple they continue to go frequently – so the guys were very keen to have both the ceremony and reception here. “The grounds are stunning,” Becky says, “and there’s enough space that people can spread out, but it’s not so huge that, with our 70 or 80 guests, we’d feel lost.”


ecky’s dress was a sample from innovative London designer David Fielden, which she found at Luna Daisy, a dress shop in Totnes. “It was the first one I tried on,” she says, “and although – as a rule – I hate dresses, this one felt ‘right’ straight away. I have poor body image, and it actually made me feel beautiful – so it had to be bought! The simple silhouette, with the asymmetry and sheer unusualness of the design, just worked for me.” Becky’s mum did her hair in a simple braid, while the bride herself handled her own make-up. The daffodil necklace she wore was given to her on the day by Jim, while her engagement ring was inherited from her great aunt. Meanwhile, across the aisle, Jim wore a classic wedding suit – key details included striped trousers in black/ grey, plus blue and green pocket square and cravat – from Moss Bros. Jim – as seems to be a trend this issue – had two best men: childhood friend Mark, and Danny from his PhD days. (Jim had 6 4 | VOW

been Mark’s best man about eight years earlier.) And Becky had a matching brace of bridesmaids: Lottes and Emily, with Lottes’ little girl, Olive, as flower girl and Emily’s little boy, Theo, as a teeny tiny groomsman. (Hey, he’d only just turned one!) Emily and Becky have been friends for about 11 years, having started undergraduate studies at the same time, while Lottes and Becky bonded over a shared love of lizards. The girls wore green vintage-style tea dresses from Lindybop, with blue petticoats and shrugs. As Jim was working in Switzerland at the time, the guys wanted a few Swiss touches to proceedings, so pressed into service as their wedding ‘cake’ one of those huge 4.5 kg Toblerones you see in airports. “We bought it in duty free together on the way back from Zurich,” she says. “The open mouths of the people who saw us carrying it home were amazing – and it was a hit on the day, too.” Other unusual details include a bouquet crocheted by Becky’s mum, Susan, who also made the table flowers with the help of Grandma Meg. “The flower bunting across the top table was made by Jim’s mum, Marie,” Becky says, “while the lanterns on the tables

beck y & jim

PictureS by Martin Dabek

were assembled by Jim’s sister, Emma. And I myself made little felt penguins as button holes and table decorations” – everyone’s favourite flightless bird featured at numerous points during the wedding – “as well as friendship bracelets and key rings as the wedding favours.” Everything went well, so the guys’ regrets are small ones – “we wish we’d talked to everyone more, of course,” Becky says, “and I got sunburnt, so I should have paid more attention to sun cream!” – and the normal things made them cringe, like the speeches, and the occasional guest grumbling about things not being perfect. So what was the best bit? “Seeing each other for the first time,” Becky says. “Soppy, but true. We got married with the people we cared about there, which is what really mattered. The rest is just set dressing, after all – nice, but not important in the grand scheme of things. That said, we’ve loved looking at the photos – and the more informal and candid they are, the better. We’re seeing little moments we missed on the day – like a flower girl covered in ketchup! On a sad note, one of my cousins has VOW | 6 5

PictureS by Martin Dabek

JUST M ARRIED: beck y & Jim

since lost their life to mental illness, so the photos we have of them looking happy surrounded by family are cherished.” Finally, got anything else unusual or interesting that happened? “We’ve got two! Our first dance was to ‘Barbra Streisand’ by Duck Sauce – the DJ checked it was the right song about five times, but hey, it’s our happy song. And our wedding rings actually have the geographic co-ordinates of Dartington Hall engraved on them, rather than something obvious like the date.” Marriage Guidance Who? Rebecca Jansen and James Atkinson When? 7 May 2016 Where? Dartington Hall, near Totnes; dartington.org Dress: David Fielden at Luna Daisy Bridal, Totnes; lunadaisybridal.co.uk Bridesmaids’ dresses: Lindybop; lindybop.co.uk Cake: Toblerone; toblerone.co.uk Groom attire: Moss Bros; moss.co.uk Photography: Martin Dabek Photography; martindabek.com 6 6 | VOW

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

National treasure With a picture perfect setting amongst rolling hills on National Trust land – you can expect the odd roaming cow, too! – The Bear of Rodborough is a rural retreat with bags of out-of-the-ordinary personality and charm…

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f you’re a fan of idiosyncratic quirks, you’ll love The Bear of Rodborough, which comes with everything from a pair of friendly stuffed bears to a herd of free-roaming cattle wandering past the windows. It’s wonderfully idyllic too, to be found on the top of Rodborough Common and enjoying uninterrupted views over the Cotswold countryside. We caught up with the wedding coordinator at the venue, Sharlene Greensmith, to find out more. “The hotel itself dates back to the 17th century, when it started life as a coaching inn,” she says. “Inside, we have a wealth of features, from original stone archways and roaring log fires to the bears in reception. We have three lovely rooms that are perfect for all parts of your day, too, from the ceremony to the wedding breakfast.” The smallest room, Tower, can host 26 people – perfect for intimate occasions – and the largest space,

The bear of rodborough

The Library Restaurant, has room for 90 guests. They also have a Terrace Room for up to 70 guests, which opens out onto a garden terrace. They try to be very flexible here, and to offer the most relaxing of atmospheres. “We think this makes for more carefree brides, grooms and guests,” Sharlene says. “One of my favourite times in the runup to a wedding is setting up the room with the bride and their family or friends. Although we always offer to set-up, I often find that the bride enjoys helping out, and this time really helps build a relaxed and friendly relationship between everyone.” These days, more and more people are choosing more informal menus – perhaps afternoon tea, a barbecue or pie and mash – instead of a sit-down wedding breakfast, and at The Bear they do everything they can to say ‘yes’ to a couple’s requests. “Weddings here typically start from around £2,500,” says Sharlene, “but the cost can vary based on the time of year, size of party and package selected. Couples can save money by opting out of any drinks packages for guests, and I’m seeing more and more of them creating stationery and photobooths themselves; guests always love it when you add a personal touch.” As for the photos, you’ve got tons of choice, from romantic sunset shots on Rodborough Common to relaxed group pictures in the new Pavilion Bar. “Plus,” says Sharlene, “it’s the rare couple that doesn’t want to pose with the resident bears in reception!”


or Sharlene, the best weddings are ones where the bride and groom are relaxed and enjoying the day exactly as they planned it. “It’s lovely when the wedding party are all up for a good time too,” she says, “taking part in the entertainment and dancing the night away. As long as the couple are relaxed and enjoying their day, no ‘problems’ will be able to spoil it.” Finally, we wonder, how would Sharlene tailor the venue if, you know, it was her own wedding? “I love a well-styled wedding,” she says, “so I’d spend lots of time planning my theme to a tee, and choosing decorations and accessories to accentuate it. I think entertainment is very important too – especially when the photos are being taken, and guests can look a bit lost – and I’d plan lots for the children to do, perhaps cupcake decorating or a mini-cinema. Our new Pavilion Bar is also great for families, as there are garden games for kids to play on the lawn while the grown-ups toast with a drink al fresco!” cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/the-bear-of-rodborough/

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the venue

Crescent dreams To be found slap bang in the middle of Bath’s most famous landmark, the Grade-I Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa – with its acre of serene secret gardens – is the ultimate city centre wedding venue for couples seeking history and grandeur Photography by Heart Full of Tea for Coco Wedding Venues


ith its 114 ionic columns, sinuous curves and gentle golden glow, the immediately recognisable Royal Crescent is Bath’s most photographed landmark, making the five-star Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa – at No.16, right in the middle of the street – hot property when it comes to weddings. It’s quietly luxe, its location denoted only by two branded bay trees at the entrance, but it’s the service – from the concierge waiting to open the door with a smile or valet park your car, to the waiter pouring your Taittinger Champagne – that really sets this venue apart. Even before you’ve stepped inside and sashayed across the black-and-white checkerboard stone floor of the entrance hall and out into the perfectly manicured gardens, it’s easy to see why the venue makes such an emotive backdrop – and first choice – for so many

couples looking to tie the knot in Bath. We caught up with Sarah Moon at the hotel to discover more. “We offer fabulous public spaces, 45 individually decorated rooms and suites and un-rivalled service and attention to detail,” Sarah says. “There are so many wonderful things to love here, from the beauty of our iconic building – this goes without saying, of course – to the amazing sense of space that you get once you pass through the mansion doors and out into the hotel’s spectacular landscaped gardens. The hotel offers an authentic sense of place that is so hard to find in a city centre venue anywhere in the world.” And it’s also a space that’s really versatile, as couples may choose to have their ceremony in the hotel’s special Wedding Garden, or might prefer the grandeur of The Sir Percy Blakeney Suite. “Or, of course, you could choose to get married at a local church before being chauffeur-driven to the hotel for the wedding breakfast and reception,” Sarah says. “I’d personally find it pretty hard to choose a favourite space in the hotel, as each room offers its own a special charm. That said, The Sir Percy Blakeney Suite – with its dual aspect over the Royal Crescent lawn on one side and our own gardens on the other – is hard to beat. With its restored ornate plaster ceiling and beautiful four-poster bed, it really is extra special.” The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is flexible in terms of how many people it’s suitable for, too. “We’re able to cater for intimate weddings of up to 40 guests, as well as larger parties of up to 150 guests, should the couple choose to take exclusive use of the venue,” says Sarah. “With the exclusive use route, the world really is your oyster; we can work with you to arrange a marquee on the croquet lawn, and are very used to supplying beautiful venue styling or activities for your guests to enjoy either during the drinks reception or, indeed, throughout the evening.” Having been fully refurbished between 20132015 – the regeneration of the hotel’s one-of-a-kind ecclesiastical spa came just last year – prospective couples can expect calming colour palettes and endless intriguing details throughout. There’s the 1920s-inspired Montagu Bar and Champagne Lounge; hand-painted feature walls in the Dower House restaurant; and the sort of elegant flourishes VOW | 7 1



eading up a kitchen with 3AA rosettes, head chef David Campbell is wellknown for his intriguing flavour pairings and artful dishes. So can Sarah tell us a bit more about the food – and do couples always need to go for the formal option? “We’re able to offer a number of set menu options to choose from,” says Sarah, “or, if preferred, guests can meet with the chef to discuss creating their own menu from scratch. We can host barbecues for smaller wedding parties of up to 12 people in the Wedding Garden too, or for larger parties when exclusive use of the hotel is taken.” With endless relaxed opulence and such an iconic location, you wouldn’t expect use of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa to be exactly a budget option, but hiring it for your own wedding could be more affordable than you’d think. “Packages here are all bespoke,” says Sarah, “but a ceremony for up to 30 guests in the Wedding Garden starts from £1,500, which also offers couples the use of The Sir Percy Blakeney Suite in case of wet weather. Wedding breakfast menus start from £75 per person, including tea, coffee and petit fours, and the rest of the day can be tailored to suit.” Bespoke, personal and truly unique? Sounds good, doesn’t it, and you can certainly expect a friendly and expert approach from the hotel’s events team to ensure you enjoy an unforgettable day. And if you’re quick, 2017 also marks the 250th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Royal Crescent – which is, of course, yet another good reason to clink the Taittinger. . . royalcrescent.co.uk

With thanks to Emma Hla at Coco Wedding Venues (cocoweddingvenues.co.uk) and Emma Leivers at Heart Full of Tea (heartfulloftea.com) for the wonderfully emotive photos seen here.

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Photography by Heart Full of Tea for Coco Wedding Venues

everywhere that will ensure the wow factor is pretty much a constant on your big day.

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s m o k e c at e r i n g

W O R D S b y Pa u l M a r l a n d Ph oto g r a ph y by M i ch a e l K e a n e

Smokin’ aces If you’re ever taking part in a barbecue competition and Claire and Rob Dacey of Smoke Catering rock up with their beast of a smoker, run and hide! If they show up to a wedding you’re at, however, prepare to be amazed…


hen some people get into barbecue, they don’t do it by halves. So it was with Claire and Rob Dacey of Smoke Catering, owners of the mightiest wood-burning monster smoker you ever did see, and wedding caterers with a difference. The guys are married with children – two-and-a-halfyear-old Zach is an ace wood stacker, though 11-month-old Bella has yet to be assigned a role – and first talked about starting a business when they moved back to Bristol in 2014. Claire had been deputy GM of a boutique country hotel in Northumberland, and Rob the bar manager there – and, previously, a chef. They’d been out to Texas a couple of times – Rob’s American, and his brother lives in Dallas – so were already pretty familiar with authentic Texan barbecue. Could they bring it over here – and, if they did, would West Country couples be interested? They figured it worth a gamble, so the VOW | 75

L e t ’ s Pa r t y: S m o k e c at e r i n g

Photography by michael keane

What sort of wedding would your offering really suit? Our couples enjoy really good food, but they also like the fact that we’re unique. The smoker is such a talking point, and even acts as a heater in the colder months. We usually try to stay below 200 guests, but – if the menu is right – we can go a bit higher than that. As for the location, you name it. We use the smoker to cook everything, so we’re pretty self sufficient – with no electricity, gas or water required. Obviously, a prep kitchen is a nice bonus, and – especially for larger weddings – some space for us to hide away all our paraphernalia is very handy. But we’ll work with what you have. We’re worried your food might be pretty drippy, and unsafe to eat in our poshest frocks… Some of it can be beautifully messy, of course, but it doesn’t have to be. And for the bride, particularly, I’d suggest staying away from the more ‘challenging to eat’ meals – so just say no to a Texas barbecue sandwich!

first step was to get in touch with Chad, of Johnson Custom Smokers out in Ennis, Texas, and ask him to build them one. “It arrived at the start of 2016,” Claire says, “so we quickly popped back out to Texas to get some proper training on working a smoker, prepping meat and learning all the tricks of the trade. We then started small, trying our hand at a few events, mostly arranged through friends and family and our meat supplier, Newton Farm near Bath.” Things stepped up a gear when the guys appeared as a guest street food trader at Bristol’s Bear Pit last May, before getting accepted into street food collective Bristol Eats and becoming an ‘official’ street food trader. “That’s when we started to get many more private bookings,” Claire says, “and from there it’s just grown and grown! We’re doing 10 weddings this year, and there are already almost as many in the diary for 2018 – which is really exciting, as we’ve not been going very long!” Tell us about Texas barbecue, Claire. How does it differ from other sorts of barbecue? It’s a method of cooking various meats and fish in a smoker at a low temperature for long periods of time, using only seasoned logs. The combination of long, low, indirect heat penetration and the smoke slowly breaks down the fats in the meat to produce tender, mouthwateringly juicy results with a gentle smoke flavour. We go with oak and ash mostly, occasionally using fruit logs such as apple and cherry, as we feel they give the best results. When we were in Texas we found they used a lot of hickory and mesquite, which are really strong. (A bit too much for us, in fact, so we stick with oak and love the results.) What sort of venues do you work at? Just about everywhere, from private houses – with large enough back gardens! – to fields with marquees (and even fields without marquees). We’ve also done stately homes and woodland venues – just about anywhere with enough space to fit the smoker and a couple of serving tables! 76 | VOW

So – forgetting those, delicious though they sound – what would a typical Smoke Catering menu be like? It would definitely feature brisket. We smoke it for nine hours with our homemade rub, and 99% of our events choose it. The hot salmon smoked on cedar planks is a close second – it’s amazing hot or cold. Salmon is a real wedding classic, and this is a beautiful alternative way to cook it. We finish it with a maple glaze, which adds a hint of sweetness that goes with the smoky fish. At most events we tend to serve two or three meats, a fish option, and a selection of hot and cold sides, such as slaws, jalapeño mac ’n’ cheese or slow-cooked barbecue beans. And what if our budget was tighter? Then think a more casual, rustic street food vibe, with Texas sandwiches and a selection of meats and sides, served family style for everyone to dig in. The brisket and eight-hour smoked beef short ribs are best for this. What if we’re not big eaters of cow? That’s a good question. In Texas, if you’re not a fan of cow you’re probably classed as a vegetarian! We have some great pork options, though, and in winter we do bronze turkey breast, which is really good. And, of course, we do smoked and pulled chicken or fish. We can cook veggie and vegan meals too, so don’t count us out if you have specific dietary requirements. Finally, tell us about a particularly amazing wedding you’ve catered for… We did a stunning one at Kia-Ora Farm & Gardens near Cullompton. There were peacocks roaming around. Guests had a hot smoked salmon starter plated to the table, then came up to the smoker for brisket and smoked and pulled chicken, with a selection of sides. The dessert was a choice of plum frangipane or berry cheesecake, again served to the table. The whole day was wonderful, and I think what we did went down very well! smokecatering.com

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the getaway Once upon a hone ymoon

White mischief Ibiza is a honeymooner’s dream – romantic scenery, delicious food, and an entire island devoted to relaxation and good times, says Anita Powell of Small World Journeys. And it’s only two hours away, too…

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biza has been on my bucket list since my teenage years, when my treasured collection of Ibizan CDs dominated the soundtrack of my life. But I never went. Recently, though, a 10year wedding anniversary provided me with the perfect excuse to dig out my dancing shoes, float around in my kaftan and see what the fuss was about. Heavenly honeymoon – or clubbing carnage? Ibiza’s tiny size is in vast contrast to its huge reputation as the epicentre of a hip, hard-partying version of the Mediterranean. Hedonism is alive and kicking in Ibiza Town and San Antonio, but venture out into the island and you’ll find small villages of whitewashed houses, and many unspoiled craggy coves where the only sound you’ll hear is the quiet lapping of the crystal-clear sea. Why go? Ibiza, known as The White Island for the colour of most of its buildings, has a whopping 50 beaches to choose between, from wild-and-free bays to perfect little white sand coves. I went expecting throngs of thongs on crowded strips of sand, but was pleasantly

hone ymoons

This, we feel, is the honeymoon Ibiza – blue sea, white houses, and not a glow stick in sight…

surprised by the ease in which you can easily find your own perfect, private little spot with just a tiny bit of effort and exploring. Spanish food is beloved around the world, and in most Ibizan restaurants you can enjoy paella, tapas and fish that has been pulled out of the sea just hours before. However, my favourite restaurant is El Chiringuito, which has become one of the island’s top beach eateries. With its white décor – all bleached wood and beautifully carved interiors – it could double up as the perfect wedding venue. Where to stay? Ibiza has a wide range of unique places to lay your heads, ideal for honeymooners who need somewhere to relax after all the excitement of the wedding. We ventured to Portinatx, in the north of the island, to a have a few chilled days before throwing ourselves into the midst of the party goers in Ibiza Town. The newly opened Los Enomorados is a beautiful bazaar hotel located in the little romantic harbour of Portinatx, overlooking the sea. The interiors are an Instagrammer’s heaven, the vintage designs bursting with colour. Every item you see has been selected and collected over the years – and if you fall in love with something, don’t worry, as everything can be bought. After feeling rejuvenated and ready to throw some shapes on the Ibiza party stage, we ventured down to La Torre del Canonigo, a hotel in Ibiza Town built on the site of a 14th-century tower atop Roman ruins. It’s the ultimate in romance, and a great location from which to enjoy the city’s clubs. How about the dancing? There are endless options on the nocturnal circuit in Ibiza, of course, but don’t be put off. Regardless of your age, dress sense or size of your wallet, everyone is welcomed – and even if dancing isn’t your thing, the people watching will be! My favourite was Blue Marlin, which to me epitomised the barefoot-dancing, sunset-watching beach images that my Ibizan CD collection had conjured up during my musicobsessed teenage years. After something a little bit special? One particularly cool thing to do is charter a boat and slip away to neighbouring Formentera, Ibiza’s little sister island. With its dazzling white beaches, you’ll feel you are in the Caribbean – but with a far shorter flight, and no jet lag! When’s the best time to arrive? The island is best visited before or after the onslaught of summer clubbers. September is considered by many as the very best time to go, as the crowds have left the beaches but the clubs remain open until the end of the month.

Anita runs Small World Journeys, a travel concierge company connecting you to travel experts who really know their chosen destination; smallworldjourneys.co.uk VOW | 79


Geometrical ring, £42 (in sale), from Bimba Y Lola; bimbaylola.com

Simone embroidered tote, £248, from Anthroplogie, Bath; anthropologie.com

Ibiza rules

Camilla printed crystal-embellished silk playsuit, £415, from Harvey Nichols, Cabot Circus, Bristol; harveynichols.com

Whether you’re seeking a party paradise, waterside restaurants or a serenely beautiful island getaway, here’s our selection of bright and eye-catching musthaves for any honeymoon on the White Isle

Maison De Nimes Mary stripe beach hat, £20, from House of Fraser, Cabot Circus, Bristol; houseoffraser.co.uk Kiini Yaz crochet-trimmed bikini, top £150, bottoms £115, Net-A-Porter; net-a-porter.com

Timeless 0734 sunglasses in black, £310, from Cutler and Gross, Bath; cutlerandgross.com

Circular dropped hem skirt, £119, from House of Fraser, Cabot Circus, Bristol; houseoffraser.co.uk

Multicolour pompom sandal, £42 (in sale), from Bimba Y Lola; bimbaylola.com

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Bobbi Brown Glow Sticks, £26 each, from The Studio Bath, Bath; bobbibrown.co.uk


BU NTING Fly the fl ag

Picture by liberty pearl photography

Traditions we love

Good will bunting What’s not to love about bunting? It’s cheap, it’s versatile, it’s fun, it’s easy to personalise, it’s pretty damn easy to do-it-yourself – if you feel so inclined – and it brings the party like few other decorations. These strings of tiny little triangular flags can be made of paper or plastic, cardboard or cloth, and – while undeniably pretty – have a certain macho history to them that even the most unreconstructed groom can respect. People have been decorating with streamers or

ribbons forever, y’see, but the modern incarnation – originally made of a light worsted wool called tammy – first cropped up in the 17th century, and is closely linked to the signal flags of the Royal Navy. (Indeed, ‘bunting’ originally only referred to Navy signal flags, with the guy who hoists them called a ‘bunting tosser’ to this day.) So, go on. String ’em up. Write secret messages with them. And celebrate landing your very own bunting tosser…

Next up: Next up: Vow #15 is out from 22 September, and comes awash with end-of-summer inspiration… 8 2 | VOW

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