Vow Magazine - issue 16

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VOW Ta k e m e to m y b e ach D e ce m b er 2 0 17 & Ja n ua ry 2 0 1 8


Take me to my beach

DECEMBER 2017 & JANUARY 2018 / Bath, Bristol & the West / No.16


ased in the Cotswolds, Brookman Greene has quickly established a reputation for producing high-end elegant events. We produce celebrations ranging from stunning weddings to private celebrations in your residence, on fields and lawns or in venues of your choice. We also offer a service where we can help style your venue,

using our eclectic mix of prop hire, or we can provide a set up service, and management on the day. We focus on the timeless values of fairness, generosity and trust to ensure that you receive the best possible service, all delivered with the warmth, style and elegance that Brookman Greene is known for.

We care about each occasion as if it was our own Brookman Greene West Kington, Wiltshire SN14 7JJ +44 (0)1249 782906 | info@brookmangreene.co.uk www.brookmangreene.co.uk


Picture BY atmosphere hotels & resorts

Walking in the sand What should you be doing on your honeymoon? (Okay, there is that.) But even more important – yes, really – is the way a honeymoon gives you a moment to breathe, get used to what you’ve just done, maybe practice saying some unusual words until you can do it without laughing. (‘My husband’, ‘my wife’, stuff like that.) Start by getting up early enough to watch a sunrise. (Yes, sunsets are glorious too – and so much easier to achieve – but they don’t say, ‘Hey, this is the start of a journey’ like a sunrise can.) Go someplace neither of you has been before, so you can experience it for the first time together. Do something adventurous, because you want to get the adrenaline pumping a little. (Being married is about the comfort of having someone permanent in your life, for sure, but the first week of your marriage is no time for going into permanent slob mode.) Have a little

dance together, even if you don’t usually dance. (It’s charmingly old fashioned and ace fun, and if you’ve four left feet between you, well, at least you’re doing it someplace where you’ll never see anyone else there again.) Pet an animal together, exotic or not. (It will remind you both what a funny, kind person you’ve linked yourself to.) Stay up all night, watching the stars. (You want to feel small in the universe, but that’s okay because guess-who is right next to you.) And then, yeah, the other thing. Maybe you’ll want to give that a go, too. This issue we’re looking at honeymoons in slightly more detail than usual, because they matter. The wedding is the celebration and the commitment; the honeymoon is where you start to make it work. Matt Bielby, editor



Big seas, big hearts, and bigger flowers


Make your wedding in-tents

62On your wedding day, every hour is ‘magic hour’

Vow M ag a zine

My Goddess!



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

MATT WILLIAMS Art Director LILY DALZELL Head of New Business, Luxury Brands

20The eyes of Emma-Jane

Order of service 11 INVITATIONS

Amazing wedding photos in Tuscany, pretty blooms in Bradford on Avon, top tips on making the most of your tipi, and an innovative new gift idea for couples…


This issue, our brides take it to the beach: in rugged Cornwall, charming Somerset, and somewhere slightly hotter, with palm trees. Plus! Are dresses on the way out? Of course not, but bridal separates are definitely on the up, and keen to make a fight of it…


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

Production Designer GEMMA SCRINE


When you told us the wedding would take place in ‘the Big House’, we didn’t think you meant this…


In a bumper Getaway section, we stroll the sand of the Maldives! Walk the streets of San Francisco! And recreate Stockholm chic in the West Country

82 TRADITIONS WE LOVE The song remains the same…

Three fun couples, two vintage cars, one swing, and endless vintage outfits (plus weeks of alterations just to make them fit) 4 | VOW



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: Renie C at Gingersnap wears Kate Beaumont; picture by Megan Gisborne

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

81Seems the Scandis even give silk skimpies minimalist chic…




SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY Looking to capture the emotion of your big day – and then bottle it? Maria Kabakova-Upfold, owner of specialist perfumery SHY MIMOSA in Bristol’s Clifton Village, is offering a service doing just that... When you think of the scents that mean the most, perfume – whether it’s your signature scent, a loved-one’s favourite, or a waft of a familiar fragrance that reminds you of someone no longer here – would definitely be up there with the likes of sea air, sun cream, and real Christmas trees. “Scent is so powerful in the emotion it evokes,” says Maria, who left her job a lawyer to pursue her passion for perfume as an art form. Shy Mimosa, a nickname Maria was given when growing up in Bulgaria, reflects the very personal yet unstuffy service of her boutique, which curates rare and niche brands from artisan perfume houses, mainly in France and Italy. “Brides and

grooms are talked through the fragrances before narrowing their choices to four,” says Maria. “Perfume changes on the skin, so if they can’t decide, I suggest they go away and sleep with it, as it’s a scent that they’ll keep going back to.” Maria says she’s strongly led by mood, emotion and season when it comes to her own scent, but is currently obsessing over ‘Sortilege’ by Le Galion, a French brand set-up in the 1930s, and Marilyn Monroe’s favourite. “It has a vintage feel,” she says, “and a gentle floral composition with slight powdery and woody notes – it’s chic and elegant, a timeless beauty!” shymimosa.co.uk VOW | 11

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Snap happy E m m a -J a n e L e w i s – w e d d i n g p h o t o g r a p h e r

UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN Emma-Jane's portrait is one of the most striking we’ve seen at Vow, but she makes sure her brides look even more spectacular. Of course, locations like the Tuscan hills don’t hurt…

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EMMA-JANE LEWIS may be based in West London, but she shoots plenty of weddings on our patch, too – Wales, Somerset, Oxfordshire and Devon are all regular stop-offs – and always seems to find a new approach to the most familiar of locations…

Here at Vow we’ve envied wedding photographers before – sure, it’s hard work, but think of how many parties you get to go to! – but rarely with quite the burning sensation we feel as when looking at Emma-Jane Lewis’s pictures. She doesn’t just have an eye for a striking composition, you see, but gets to visit the most spectacular locations across the world. When you’ve got your couple standing in front of Stonehenge, or on a Tuscan Romeo and Juliet balcony, your job’s pretty much done for you, isn’t it? “I shot my first wedding around 2011,” Emma says. “That was when I decided to go full pelt into them. It was a steep learning curve, but – from what I remember – nothing went badly wrong!”

How many weddings do you shoot? This year I took 48, and next year there are 30 booked so far. I don’t wish to shoot quite so many in 2018, as I’ve been struggling to get the balance right between fashion and wedding work. A maximum of 35 would be about right. What’s your first meeting with a new couple like? When picking a photographer, I always recommend couples do a fair amount of research. Wedding fairs are great places to meet photographers in person, as good ones are quite busy so it can be hard to arrange a consultation. (I tend to only schedule a few a month.) As for what I’m looking for from a first meeting, I want to get a rough idea of schedule, ideas, and what they like and don’t like – although we can bulk this out once they book. What does a typical package cost? Clients can choose from 8-12 hours of coverage, and they can place the hours where they need them to allow for the best possible coverage of the day. It’s about quality content, not endless coverage. Prices are around £1,500, depending on albums and prints, which makes me fairly competitive for London. I will be putting the prices up soon, though, in line with other companies. How do you make sure you don’t miss any vital parts of the day? We have a clear schedule that we’ve gone through beforehand, and I’m constantly watching the key people and keeping an eye out for any changes in plan. I tend to take on a planner role myself with many weddings, helping guide my couple to the best solutions. I’m very transparent, and will be totally honest with a couple if they haven’t given me enough time for what they want. I’d sooner have to wiggle a bit on the day, working with the couple if timings have changed, than have the couple regret anything later. Good planning and honesty are essential. You must have shot in some gorgeous locations...? I’ve been quite lucky over the years. In the UK I’ve shot at Kew Gardens, VOW | 13

I n v i tat i o n s : E M M A - J A N E L E W I S


Westminster Abbey, Endsleigh House, Orchardleigh House, Stonehenge, and under the beautiful ceilings at Moor Park in Hertfordshire. And I’ve been lucky enough to shoot a number of weddings abroad this year too, in places like Malta, Tuscany and Atlanta. Tuscany this year must be my favourite. I travelled to Castello Di Montalto, which has stunning views and a Juliet balcony. The backdrops allowed for spectacular shots from start to finish, and we even had an amazing sunset thrown in. What looks bad in photos? I don’t like to do tacky shots, like a black and white photo with just the bouquet in colour, say. And, similarly, I’m not 14 | VOW

a massive lover of the boys picking up the bride. Or, at least, not if it looks too staged. (If they are just having a laugh, and it’s candid, I’ll get on board!) But, at the end of the day, I will never say no to anything the couple want to do. What’s usually most important are the simple things, like making sure the venue has good spots for photos whatever the weather. Pale wood and rooms with lots of light make for brighter photos, if that’s the feel you like, and giving me enough time for all the group and couple shots will make my job easier. The images also tend to look much more fun and comfortable that way. You want people to feel free and enjoy being photographed, and I’m often

commended on shots that manage to be both creative and fun. What’s also important is that a couple are focussed. Taking time off for the couple shots, away from all the guests, is key; it’s the same with the bridal party and group shots. Otherwise they get distracted, and it can take twice as long. How about the weather? It can be a problem if the venue doesn’t have many options other than fully outdoors. Nice archways, or undercover sections that are still pretty, are great, as they allow me to still use natural light. Or, if it’s indoors, having a space that is large enough that you can manage group shots without too much clutter.

Couple shots actually out in the rain can be really fun, of course – fashionable wellies look great, and night shots under a clear umbrella with a few rain spots can be very romantic. Do you have fun at weddings? Of course! I’ve managed to tailor my business to target really creative and fun couples who give me the space and time to create the images they want. It becomes quite a close relationship. The wedding in Atlanta came about because I’d carried out an engagement shoot for a couple who came over from the US. A year later I shot their wedding in Atlanta, and they’ve now asked me to go back next year to cover their anniversary – so it’s super fun to be so involved in their journey as a couple. Do you ever tear up on the job? At times, perhaps when there are some really heartfelt vows the couples have written themselves, or during speeches about departed loved ones. They get me.


There must be standard shots that everybody wants? At certain points of the day, of course there are: cutting the cake, the first dance, and so on. But each couple makes it their own – and so do the guests, through their reactions. No two weddings are ever the same! How d’you get folk to loosen up? Often by getting them to chat with other people and ignore me. So I take a candid approach, and shoot around them, introducing little bits of direction in baby steps as they warm up. Having a laugh with them tends to break down the barrier, too. I’m quite chatty on shoots, and like to get a friendly relationship going, so things are rarely cold. Finally, can you tell if a couple is going to stay together? Ha ha! Unfortunately not. I think I still live in a Disney version of the world where it’s always “and everyone lived happily ever after” – and I don’t want to know about anything else! It might ruin shooting weddings for me. emma-janephotography.co.uk VOW | 1 5

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Flower power

LAID-BACK LUXE Caroline Bowater says many of her clients found her on Instagram, and thinks it's a great platform to check out suppliers. She loves foliage and creating something which really stands out from the crowd

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From 12-foot table canopies to your bouquet of dreams, Caroline Bowater of FOXY BUDS loves reflecting a couple’s unique personality through beautiful bold blooms and fabulous foliage on their wedding day Based in the unofficial wedding capital of the South West – Bradford on Avon – Caroline Bowater has some sound advice for the modern bride seeking floral inspiration. “Instagram is an


and trust them – we all want to do the best we possibly can for you. How much do couples get involved in the choice of flowers? I have some that are keen to be very involved, and others that are more than happy to leave it up to me. On the whole it is the latter. I always explain to couples that I will choose the best quality flowers for them, and always make the most out of their budget. If I’m honest, what works really well is when a couple gives me flexibility, as I can then create something amazing and different that really stands out from the crowd. One of the most interesting installations was a 12-foot toptable canopy. It had to be tall enough for the speeches to be given underneath!


excellent place to start,” she says. “You can search using hashtags, the location, a venue. Many clients find me there and say it was a brilliant space to check out suppliers. It’s a visual platform that can help you get an idea of what you are looking for while offering an instant, informal way to start a conversation.” So, Caroline, what’s hot in the world of wedding blooms? Floral styles are like fashion, forever changing, but I have noticed couples becoming more confident in choosing something slightly different – a style that depicts their personality, not what they think they should be having. The words ‘relaxed luxury’ keep cropping up at my

consultations for upcoming weddings – so bold designs with lots of flowers, bags of foliage and tonnes of energy. I’ve had requests for large, impactful bouquets recently, though brides are starting to see that a ‘whopper’ doesn’t suit everyone! Sometimes it’s the tiny intricate details in a delicate bouquet that reflects a personality. Greenery is still high on the agenda, which is amazing for me as I love to use as many different types of foliage as possible. It adds to that feel of relaxed luxury by adding in various textures and hues. What sort of costs are we talking? It’s always incredibly bespoke. Talk to your florist, be open about your budget

Can you tell us a bit about a recent commission that you’ve loved? I had an amazing brief last June for a wedding at Marshfield Church, with the reception held in a marquee at the beautiful Homewood Park near Bath. Everything the couple wanted, from relaxed luxury to bringing the outside in, was right up my street. Guests entered the church through a growing doorway installation created with huge amounts of textured foliage, branches and groupings of flowers. Then, moving into the church, there were hydrangea plants, ferns, lanterns and glass cylinders with candles in them framing the start of the aisle, as well as gorgeous foliage pew ends. Floral borders decorated each side of the aisle for a beautifully abundant but still natural vibe, and there were silver birch trees framing the altar. In the marquee, the couple wanted a mix of both tall and low designs to catch the eye, so huge peonies and garden roses took centre stage, along with a vast amount of foliage. We used potted ferns and hydrangeas to run along the edge of the marquee, which added to the garden party feel, and the family borrowed a huge vintage cart that I packed full of plants and flowers. We put the table plan in here, which was a real talking point. It’s pieces like this that can make a vision come to life – the little details matter. foxybuds.co.uk VOW | 17

HEAVEN’S TENTS Ruth (right) and Jodie say they love a winter tipi wedding, “with fire pits, bales and blankets to create a cosy outdoor space, and awesome lighting transforming the entire area.”

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Outdoor weddings don’t just have to be for the summer, reckons Ruth Brookman of BROOKMAN GREENE, the tipi tent specialists. But how can you make your outdoor wedding unique?

Based not far from Bath, Brookman Greene is an events management company founded by mum-of-four Ruth Brookman, with outdoorsy tipi-based weddings a speciality. In an earlier life Ruth actually made wedding dresses,


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in the events we create, and can also hire them out to couples organising their own weddings. We’ve organised events in deep valleys, next to lakes and on top of mountains, and each brings its own set of logistical challenges – and rewards!


and later worked for Sims Hilditch, the interior design people. Combining her love of weddings with her design skills was always the dream, though, and through Brookman Greene she’s managed to bring her skill sets together. As her daughter, Jodie, has also come on board, there’s a mother-daughter dynamic at the heart of this company that works brilliantly for weddings. Ruth, what makes you guys unique? I think it’s the fact that we’re a mother/ daughter combo. We can relate to our clients on many different levels, which makes the whole process a lot easier. We usually work with soft venues – tipis, marquees and open spaces – and

have access to exclusive sites in awesome locations. These tend to act as blank canvases, allowing each couple to put their own stamp on the day, and giving their inner artist free rein. Our main priority is to make the most of any budget, no matter what, so we welcome any size of wedding. The larger the budget, the more lavish the event can be, of course – but weddings on more modest budgets can be just as incredible, if you apply extra creativity. So, how quirky can you get? We have a beautiful and eclectic mix of decorative props – some traditional and some less so! – that can help with the styling of any venue. We often use them

What’s the working relationship like with your couples? We’re here to hold your hand every step of the way, and love to encourage family and friends to get involved, using their existing skills in areas that they might enjoy – and which will be cost-effective. When we first meet a couple, we like to establish the atmosphere that they’re looking for; will it be ‘chic sophistication’, perhaps, or ‘informal and relaxed’? This will ultimately affect every part of what we do. Thanks to Pinterest, most couples actually come to us with an overdose of creative suggestions – so many, in fact, that alarm bells often ring, as too many ideas can be hard to make work together. In fact, one of our first jobs can be to encourage a serious paring down! Any trends in the way people are holding their weddings right now? The traditional wedding is less the norm these days. People talk about the ‘experience economy’, and that’s certainly starting to dominate our industry. Couples are always after something different, an unusual element that will make their day stand out as different to any other wedding their guests may have been to that year. They really do long to create a unique experience to wow people with, and this is where we come into our own. In terms of style, more and more of our couples want the bohemian, rustic look – which is perfect for us. Although we can work in any style, we’re especially used to country elegance. Finally, if you were getting married soon, what would you do? Inside the tipis, a cocktail bar would be a must – but I’d also need a dance floor and a chill out area, providing varied ambience for the guests to enjoy at different times of the day. brookmangreene.co.uk VOW | 19

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New and notable


the affordable with the cool – which is where people like Bristol-based interior design Zoë Hewett come in. She’s got an intriguing background, is used to working fast and to budget, and her latest innovation – Newlyweds Nest, which she describes as “an interior design service in a box” – is the perfect gift for couples, giving them all the help they’ll need styling their home together.

Okay, so we all think we have a bit of interior designer in us, but how many of us do? Really? (Be honest.) It’s easy to become overwhelmed by choice, baffled by trends, and confused over how to combine the stylish with the practical,

So, Zoë, tell us about you. How did you get into interiors, for instance? When I was in my teens, my parents went away for a weekend and I secretly redecorated the living room. I switched off the lights, for maximum surprise when they came home, then switched

Most newlyweds don’t need a new toaster, but interior design? That’s something they could use. And, thanks to Zoë Hewett of NEWLYWEDS NEST, now you can buy it for them…

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all the installation work, have been popular in the States for a while, but are only just catching on over here. My friend loved it, though, and followed my recommendations – so I realised the idea had legs. Eventually I decided that delivering it by email was charmless, so I set about making a tangible version and put it in a gift box instead. So, what does the couple get? It’s a hand-stamped box, containing a specially designed questionnaire aimed at understanding all about them, their property, and one room of their choice in detail. They send it back to me and, after around three weeks, receive a unique design scheme, complete with floorplan drawings, moodboards, samples of paints, papers and fabrics, a budget breakdown, a shopping list and a decorating schedule – the complete instructions for making the design a reality. It costs £495, and wedding guests can donate to the purchase of it using a group funding site like patchworkit.com. If all goes well, how can you see this service developing? There may be some busy times when wedding season gets going, so I’ve come to know a few fantastic designers in the area who I can call in to collaborate with when the workload peaks.

them on. Luckily, they loved it! I went on to study Theatre Design, and spent a decade designing and making sets and costumes. For a time I was an art director for film and TV, but switched to interiors eight years ago. It’s essentially the same job – but you’re designing spaces for real people, not characters! What sort of projects do you mostly handle, then? I started out doing hands-on decorating while studying for my interiors diploma, but my mentor encouraged me to concentrate on designing, and now I work with a mixture of residential and commercial clients. I suppose colour and drama are my strong suit, and I seem to

attract clients who want that, but I think my real specialism is being a sort of ‘style chameleon’. It’s about creating a bespoke ‘world-around’ for someone else, rather than stamping my taste on every project. Tell us about the Newlyweds Nest idea. That’s new, isn’t it? A few years ago one of my best friends got married, at a time when I had very little money following my rather extended maternity leave – but I really wanted to give her and her husband a meaningful gift. They had not long bought a house, so I arrived at the slightly bonkers idea of correspondencebased interior design. Email design services, where the client manages

How do you feel about standard wedding lists? Big ticket items, like ‘forever’ furniture, are a good communal gift idea. Couples are in it for the long haul, so the marital home has a lot of heavy lifting to do in supporting a happy marriage. How can couples compromise if their design tastes are different? That’s exactly the kind of challenge I love! Eclectic is one of the hardest looks to get right. In the past when I’ve worked with couples, it has sometimes been hilarious to see how quickly men can go from being totally disinterested and saying, ‘Yes, do whatever you like’, to suddenly being very opinionated and expert on things they never cared about before – like curtains! newlywedsnest.co.uk VOW | 2 1

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The wedding planner

LAKE HOUSE In the right weather, for the right couple, nothing’s quite as romantic as the Lake District

NIPPLE EFFECT Take-it-anywhere hen party kits for saucy crafters Bath’s The Makery has long been a regular afternoon stop-off on the city’s welltrodden hen party circuit, with groups of girls giggling away while they learn a skill – making bunting (safe), garters (not quite so safe) and nipple tassels (not safe at all). But not everyone – well, not quite everyone – comes to Bath for their hen party shenanigans, so what to do? Well, the guys have thought of this, and are now offering a range of Hen Party Kits for a saucy ‘crafternoon’ wherever you happen to be. Kits are designed for all skill levels, and contain all the bits and bobs you’ll need, plus a step-by-step video to help you host your party. The only thing you need bring along are the scissors – and a evening outfit that would look great with a pair of shimmery, sequinned nipple tassels, of course! themakery.co.uk

EMERALD FOREST Honeymoon heaven, with monkeys right at the door 2 2 | VOW

We’re all about the honeymoons this issue, so here’s a little bonus option for you: a just-opened oceanfront resort on a Malaysian island, The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi, that’s like no Ritz-Carlton you ever saw: it’s been designed in the local style (but much plusher), sits in a 10 million-year-old rainforest, and boasts five cocoon-shaped pavilions floating above the sea. There’s even a water fountain inspired by the island’s mystical granter of wishes, called ‘The Lake of Pregnant Maiden’ – so maybe be careful what you wish for! ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/ langkawi

Emma Hla’s Brighton-based Coco Wedding Venues has been a good friend to Vow over the years, and has recently added some great new venues to their books, both local (Gloucestershire’s Elmore Court, say) and further afield. One that caught our eye is Another Place, The Lake, which boasts a private lakeshore spot on Ullswater, with effortlessly romantic views of water and fell. For anyone brought up on William Wordsworth or Beatrix Potter, it speaks of romance like virtually nowhere else… cocoweddingvenues.co.uk

NEED FOR TWEED Hot outfits for cool dudes Despite the name, New & Lingwood are one of those menswear tailors that seems to have been around forever – well, since 1865, anyway – and has all sorts of wedding friendly outfits in the winter lookbook, from at-the-alter morning coats (£695, since you’re asking) to suits and jackets for guests in such ice-friendly fabrics as velvet and tweed. So he’ll look cool and keep warm – perfect. newandlingwood.com


A rock ’n’ roll wedding event Sunday, April 29



Whoa, there! What is Vow Live? A unique showcase of the South West’s best wedding suppliers, packed with ideas and inspiration and buzzing with life. Think half show, half party. Why should I come? Because you’ll have an amazing time. Because you’ll learn plenty of cool stuff. Because you’ll meet people here who’ll help make your wedding sing. Sounds great! What else? We’ll have catwalk shows, cocktail masterclasses, displays, expert demos and more. When is it? (And where?) We’re in the heart of Bristol, in a massive marquee at Lloyds Amphitheatre, right on the Floating Harbour.

The date you need to know? Sunday April 29 2018, running from 10am-3pm. What else can you tell me? Just that you’ve never been to a wedding event like it. We’ll have further details next issue, but you can find out more on our social channels, and buy tickets at vowlive.co.uk. We can’t wait to see you there! F: Vow Live T: @Vowmag I: @Vowmag E: events@mediaclash.co.uk vowlive.co.uk For sponsorship and exhibitor enquiries, stephaniedodd@mediaclash.co.uk





At the very tip of Cornwall, two sisters wait for the ocean to return their loves to them. Could that be a ship on the horizon…?

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T H E B R I D E : T h at w a n d e r i n g w e s t e r n s e a

“O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea, And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free – The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me. As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day. A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain, And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain, And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main. And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh, And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?”


livia is actually originally from Switzerland, but moved to Cornwall in 2010 to study Fashion Photography at Falmouth. “But I fell in love with the sea, the Cornish landscape and a Cornish boy,” she says, “and decided to stay put. I now work as a commercial photographer for wedding professionals, shooting the imagery they need to take their businesses to the next level. For this shoot I found twin sisters to be my models, Lauren and Victoria. They’re 3 2 | VOW



can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share these pictures,” says photographer Olivia Bossert. “Shot way back in January, on a cold, windy day, I came home feeling utterly exhausted, but totally blissed out because I knew that I’d just created something which made my heart flutter. It was the accumulation of many ideas I’d had over the course of a few months. I’d always wanted to work with the Brighton-based dress designer Joanne Fleming, so when I contacted her to see if she’d be interested, and she said yes – well, I couldn’t believe my luck. And I knew that I wanted to capture this story at one of my favourite places in the world, Kynance Cove. Of course, shooting something like this in the middle of winter comes with its risks, but the weather held out for us, even giving us a light breeze; just enough to pick up Lauren and Victoria’s hair and add to the whimsy of it all.” We’re getting everything from Poldark to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd to The French Lieutenant’s Woman, here. “Yes, and it actually helped that the clouds set in all day,” Olivia says. “It gave us a moody grey sky, which might sound like a disaster, but suited us quite well. Kynance Cove is just to the west of The Lizard, at the tip of Cornwall, and is stunning in all weathers, with white sand and dramatic rocks. It’s probably the best place to shoot in the whole of Cornwall – rain or shine, you can’t beat it.” Some shoots are just based on a mood, or the need to show off a particular venue or dress, but the thinking behind this one was actually quite elaborate. The whole idea, Olivia says, was to tell the story of two Cornish girls, waiting for their sailor lovers to return from sea. “They receive letters, of course, but they’re never sure when they’ll actually be coming back, so they just wait longingly, staring out at the horizon. Maybe one day there’ll be a ship there. “Does that sound super corny? Yes, it does,” says Olivia, answering her own question, “but that’s because I’m a huge romantic at heart, and stories like these are what make my heart sing.” But it gets even more specific than that, as Olivia based much of the shoot on a poem by Thomas Hardy – ‘Beeny Cliff’, it’s called – written in 1913 to celebrate the memory of his Cornish wife, Emma.

both young and beautiful, and are very much up and coming; their attitude is excellent, and they made the job easy for everyone. Despite how cold it got, they remained elegant and poised the entire time.” Of course, the romance of their outfits helped with all this, and Joanne Fleming’s gowns were key. “The intricacy of her work is absolutely spectacular,” Olivia says, “and if anyone’s looking for a dress that’s totally unique, I can’t recommend her highly enough.” Jewellery, meanwhile, was supplied by an outfit called Edera – “it came all the way over from America especially!” – while the stationery was made specifically for the shoot by By Moon and Tide. Flowers, meanwhile, were by Lou Ord of florist Loulabel, who is currently based in Cornwall, but will soon be moving to Bristol. “Everything you see in the images could, in theory, be applied to a real life wedding,” Olivia says. “Certainly, that’s true of the outdoor context, the flowers, and the use of handmade stationery and dresses. With any wedding, the main thing to do is simply let your heart dream – then do research into vendors who can match that dream. Being very detailed and specific about whatever you have in your head can help make any dream wedding a reality.”

BRIGHT HAIR FLAPPING FREE Looking soulful on the cliff’s edge were… MODELS: Lauren and Victoria Charman DRESSES AND COATS: Joanne Fleming;

joanneflemingdesign.com MAKE-UP: Ione Kutz; makeupbyione.com FLOWERS: Loulabel; loulabelfloraldesign.com STATIONERY: By Moon And Tide; bymoonandtide.com JEWELLERY: Edera; ederajewelry.com PHOTOGRAPHY: Olivia Bossert; oliviabossert.com


GOLD COAST Clockwise, from far left: Seashell bodice and Silver Sands skirt; Angel Rose bodice and Waterfall skirt; Bliss haircomb; Crystal birdcage veil

IVORY & CO is a bridal headwear specialist that creates wedding gowns too, and the latest couture collection has something of a relaxed, tropical beach feel. You’ll find no tantrums, but lots of tiaras, at their frankly ginormous showroom north of Tewkesbury‌ VOW | 3 5

TH E B R I D E : i vo ry & Co


stablishing a solid niche in the ever-competitive bridal industry is no easy thing, but one company with real staying power is Ivory & Co, an award-winning tiara and jewellery company with an extensive sideline – one that’s now too big to be called a sideline, really – in bridal gowns, too. It’s the baby of Sarah Bussey and Alexander Longhi, who met at London’s celebrated design institution Goldsmiths College, where Sarah majored in Bridal Fashion and Alex in Design and Advertising. After graduation, Sarah lived the dream, working in New York and London creating wedding dresses, while Alex moved to Copenhagen for a gig at a major ad agency. They came back together, though, in 1996 to start Ivory & Co, where their talents perfectly complement each other: both get involved in each product, but Sarah heads up the design side while Alex concentrates more on running the business. “We started out by specialising in bridal accessories,” says Sarah, “as well as couture bridal dresses, and over the years have grown to be one of the biggest names in the industry.” Key to their appeal are surprisingly tempting prices, a commitment to quality components and manufacturing techniques, and a huge range – one best experienced at their showroom, not far from the Malvern Hills. First up, Sarah, tell us a bit about the showroom. It’s deep in rural Worcestershire, isn’t it? Yes, not far from the M5, in a little village called Earl’s Croome. And it’s pretty huge. I’m usually on hand to advise you on choices, and can even design you a dress from scratch, while our trained staff offer a tiara fitting experience, making sure that the one you leave with will work with your gown, venue, bridal theme and personal style. We only see one bride at a time, which makes for a calm and luxurious experience – not least as you’ll probably be sipping Prosecco as you try things on! If you can’t make it to the showroom, though, you can buy online or find our accessories at over 900 stores globally. The dresses, too, are available at nearly 40 bridal boutiques across the UK, as well at stores in Japan, Hawaii, Ireland, Guam, and mainland USA. There’s an interactive Google map on both the accessory and gown websites, to help your find your closest stockist. If you can make it, though, our showroom really is worth a visit. I believe you won’t find a collection of accessories to rival it anywhere else in the UK. Let’s talk headpieces and jewellery first. How would you describe your style? I think we’re fairly unique as jewellery and headpiece designers, because of the sheer size of the range that we do – and how varied it is. Each bride is different, so we work in many styles, and now offer the largest selection of accessories in Europe. After all, we make over 500 headpieces alone! Naturally, with so many we touch on every style you can think of – classic, boho, retro, romantic, contemporary and so on. We create all our tiaras and headpieces using traditional methods, which is unusual these days – so we forge moulds and hand-set stones, exactly the way it was done hundreds of years ago. We specialise in the intricate, and love to use elements such as hand enamelling, as well as set our headpieces with the likes of simulated diamonds and freshwater pearls. Alex and I work all year to develop new ideas and predict trends, and our design process involves many sketches before we even produce samples in our prototype studio. We talk about each piece before it goes into production, and I think it’s this attention to 3 6 | VOW

SURFER GIRL Clockwise from above: Sea Breeze dress; Summer Nights dress; Dinah haircomb; Aspen veil


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TH E B R I D E : i vo ry & co

detail that’s contributed to us winning an award for Best Accessory Designer – as voted for by UK bridal boutiques – three years in a row now. I think what they love is our design innovation, and ability to provide pieces that are both timeless and on trend. So, what are your current favourite pieces? It’s hard to look beyond the new Rose Gold Collection, which we launched this year. It’s been hugely popular, and has really captured the attention and imagination of brides. And it works particularly well with current bridal trends, complementing all the soft, romantic blush tones. We’ve seen a general resurgence of interest in gold and other warmer tones recently too, while the appeal of pearls seems enduring. They can be seen as a little bit informal, maybe – at least compared to some jewellery – and can be worn in a variety of ways. We’ll be taking all this into account when designing for 2018/19. And how about the wedding gowns? That’s completely my area. As head designer, I’m responsible for designing the entire dress collection. I’ve got over 25 years’ experience in bridal fashion now, and source all my materials from Europe – so, for instance, we’ll only use the finest silks and laces from France and Italy. All design work is done in my design workshop in Worcestershire, and we’ve got our own studio in Hong Kong where we do all the needlework. Hong Kong has a long history of tailoring, and the hand-stitching work they do there is some of the best you’ll find. We still believe that much of the work on a dress should be done painstakingly by hand, including all the lace appliqué work and all the beading and pearl work. INTO THE WOODS Clockwise from left: White Lavender bodice and Citrus Blossom skirt; Luna Goddess dress; Ginger Lily hair comb; Gwen decorative pin

You said at the top that you could design us a gown from scratch, didn’t you? Oh yes, and we love to do that. And the great thing is, we can design and make you a unique gown without the usual bespoke price tag. It brings the dream of a unique dress into the realms of reality for many brides who’d assumed the experience would be beyond their budget. Part of the reason we can do this is down to our location, of course: being out in the countryside, our overheads are quite low, and we can pass this saving on to our brides. How would you describe your signature style? It’s unfussy and relaxed, yet terribly romantic. I tend to love floaty and flowing skirts, so use soft silks to maximise this effect, and I’m fond of using corsetry to create the most flattering silhouettes. Ultimately, it’s all about elegance and femininity. The most recent collection is called Platinum Bay, and is all about ‘island romance’, so it’s beautiful but relaxed, with fresh, floaty styling. It’s certainly very wearable, being classic but with something of a contemporary twist. Think white beaches, azure waters, exotic scenery. Most of the gowns in this collection are delicate but unfussy, and I’ve used plenty of lace and beaded accents. We’ve used a palette of soft, subtle colours too: the palest pinks, golden sand, blush, oyster and warm cream. Sounds ideal for a beach wedding! Oh, these gowns would be perfect for that. But they’d work equally well for a classic British ceremony too, whether the feel is boho, rustic or more traditional. What I love about this collection is the way it combines a contemporary look with a nod to romantic adventure. ivoryandcotiaras.co.uk; ivoryandcobridal.co.uk

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A DAY TO REMEMBER Weddings at Macdonald Bath Spa

Whether it’s 2 guests or 140, Macdonald Bath Spa is the venue for you. Whatever your inspiration, we will add that touch of magic to make your dream wedding become a reality.

For information, packages and prices, please contact our dedicated special events co-ordinator on; specialevents.bathspa@macdonald-hotels.co.uk or Tel: 01225 476892 Macdonald Bath Spa, Sydney Road, Bath BA2 6NS


Jan Knibbs’ ‘Forgotten Beauty’ is made up of various layers, featuring antique lace, vintage components and detachable elements


BREAKING TRADITION Not all women have visions of themselves in a traditional white wedding gown on their big day. So, from bridal separates to colourful frocks and versatile, two-in-one numbers, we chat to the experts about the dresses – or outfits – currently making a wed-worthy impression. . .

the Bride: trends


rides eschewing tradition when it comes to wedding outfits isn’t a new thing. Elizabeth Taylor wore yellow when she married Richard Burton in 1964, Gwen Stefani went for a dip-dyed pink confection for her 2002 nuptials to Gavin Rossdale and, more recently, Poppy Delevingne stepped out in a boho gown covered in pastel-hued flower embellishment at her Marrakech wedding to James Cook in 2014, to name a few. Not conforming in 2017, however, somehow feels more relevant than ever. The current political mood encouraging women to speak up and speak out is perhaps one of the reasons why brides are keen to do their wedding – and particularly their outfit – a little differently. It’s a mood that was reflected on the spring/summer 2018 catwalks, with designers opting for statement ruffles, outlandish textures and lashings of ruched tulle over demure minimalism. So while accessorising with fluffy pool slides or box fresh Dr Martens – spotted at Simone Rocha and Ryan Lo, respectively – might just be a step too far, brides do want to reflect their own unique sense of style and personality. On hand to guide us through the romantic, exciting, refreshingly comfortable and one-of-a kind looks of the moment are a handful of our favourite bridal boutique owners. . .


It was Olivia Palermo stepping out in chic white shorts with a full tulle skirt overlay and cashmere sweater at her wedding to Johannes Huebl in 2014 that made brides-to-be all over the world realise that you could be relaxed and breathtaking at the same time. Queen of the combo outfit – and jumpsuit – for a ‘dress-less’ wedding is Hannah Ollichon of eponymous brand House of Ollichon, who founded her company in 2015 after her own Town Hall wedding. “A big dress seemed too fussy for Islington Town Hall and then the pub afterwards, but I still wanted something special,” she says. “There was nothing out there for the ‘chilled’ bride that bridged the gap between high street and big bridal.” Hannah would even go as far as to say that it’s a trend that’s here to take over from the dress. “Bridal separates provide fashion forward brides with a wonderful alternative,” she says. “They are a world of wonders and are hugely versatile, especially when you can mix and match the tops and bottoms to create ‘your’ perfect combination. The most flattering two pieces are those that are high waisted; no matter what your size, you are nipped in at the smallest part of the waist which creates an incredibly flattering silhouette. “They also allow brides to re-wear their bridal pieces. We often see brides pair their bridal top with high-waisted trousers, or wear the skirt again with a denim shirt. Moreover, they bridge that gap between the stereotypical dress and high street options. Many women love how feminine they feel while still being very modern. The big white dress is no longer the be all and end all.” And can Hannah tell us about a favourite look (or two) from her current collection? “My personal favourite is the Thomas,” she says, “as the skirt is such fun to wear, and the strappy top provides an on-trend athletic shape. If I could get married again, I would love to wear this and spin my way around the dance floor. Our brand new two piece is the Torres trousers: super-wide palazzo pants with flattering pleats and the signature pockets – so cool!” 4 2 | VOW

DIFFERENT WAYS TO SHINE Clockwise, from top left: a Hayley Paige 2018 beauty in blush from Ellie Rose Bridal; Charm School by Caroline Castigliano can be dressed up or down with different lace shrugs at Carina Baverstock Couture; a gorgeous two-in-one number by Stuart Parvin at Carina Baverstock Couture; this Laure de Sagazan sheath dress is very much the vibe for 2018 at The Mews; Jan Knibbs’ upcycled ‘Pretty in Punk’ dress from Atelier 19


DIFFERENT WAYS TO SHINE Clockwise, from top left: Torres trousers and Siddell top by House of Ollichon; Eira by Frog at Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique; Rime Arodaky’s Drew jacket at The Mews; Thomas top and skirt by House of Ollichon

the Bride: trends

Over at Rachel Burgess Bridal in Penarth, Rachel is also of the opinion that bridal separates are here to stay. “They fully embrace the non-traditional and modern bride vibe, while giving brides who don’t enjoy wearing dresses the opportunity to do bridal their own way,” says Rachel. “And the tops and camis can totally be worn again with a pair of skinny jeans – I love that idea! I have never seen separates look bad on anyone, as they are so flattering.” And there are two, in particular, catching her eye. “The first is Frankie,” she says, “handmade by E&W Couture and made from softest satin, available in ivory and champagne. The top is a loose-fitting box shape which finishes directly on the waist, paired with a polka dot satin and tulle skirt. The way this outfit moves in the breeze is incredible! It can be rocked with a flower crown, or accessorised with a touch of bling for a really glamourous vibe.” And the second? “That would be Eira, handmade by Ffrog,” says Rachel. “This porcelain ivory number is so much fun, with its two layers of tulle which are so light and graceful floating over the satin underskirt – it creates a serenely fluid sense of movement. It’s paired with a low scoop-back top with diamanté details on the shoulders. Wear it with a pair of killer heels, or embrace the relaxed vibe and team with sandals – it’s so versatile.”


Another versatile look is the two-in-one gown, as it allows you to achieve at least two looks for the price of one. And we’ve seen several transformable gowns with even more sartorial options… “Two-in-ones are great,” thinks Ellie of Ellie Rose Bridal in Bath, “as you get the best of both worlds. You can have a big, full skirt for the ceremony and a more fitted dress for the evening, which is much easier to dance with! And some brides just love the idea of being able to change it up whenever they want to, which is a clever and cost effective way of having multiple looks. “We have a number of two-in-one gowns arriving for our 2018 collection from Hayley Paige and our new designer, Allison Webb NYC, which we’re really excited about. One of them is Nessy, a beautiful floral sheath dress with a deep sweetheart neckline and a low open back. The dress is fitted, and has a removable cascading tulle skirt with horsehair trim – a showstopper in both forms!” Lauren Crispin, one half of the mother-daughter owned The Mews in Clifton Village, is definitely a fan of both separates and two-in-one outfits, especially as they’re a big theme among the Parisian designers. “On the long list of things French women have mastered, layering is close to the top,” she says. “Putting a lace jacket, such as Rime Arodaky’s Drew over a simpler top, for example, is a surefire way to achieve a cool-bride look. The number one thing that a Mews bride always looks for in their wedding dress is to feel like themselves – they don’t want to look disguised.” She also thinks 2018 will be the year bridal really emulates fashion. “The style will be more fitted, while playing with texture,” Lauren says. “Volume is out and showing off your shape is in.” Carina Baverstock, of eponymous bridal boutique Carina Baverstock Couture in Bradford on Avon, thinks that diversity is all important to modern day brides when it comes to reflecting their individuality, but what they’re actually after isn’t always too out there. “Often when meeting a bride, the word used to describe what they are looking for is ‘unique’, but ultimately, more often than not, 4 6 | VOW

they end up choosing a gown which is classically based but with a modern twist,” says Carina. “My favourite trend at the moment is the overskirt, as I feel this allows a bride to have importance for the ceremony and practicality for the dance floor. They want to feel bridal throughout the day for formal photographs but, come the evening, they want to reveal their inner diva!” Over in Cheltenham, Jan Knibbs at Atelier 19 interprets the two-in-one idea a little differently, as she’s always tried to make part of the dress something that can be detached, as with her distinctive Jasmine dress. “This design features an intricately embroidered detachable train inspired by Chinese hand-painted wallpaper,” explains Jan, “which could easily be framed and hung on the wall. “I can’t bear to see anything go to waste, so I also up-cycle original pre-loved but dated dresses, like the 1980s dress which I embellished for a ‘Pretty in Punk’ photoshoot. The bodice is embellished with handmade silk flowers and vintage finds, while the skirt and bolero feature punky lyrics such as ‘Love You So Much Makes Me Sick’! These are attached with safety pins to add to the punk vibe. I also embroidered a hairpiece for my daughterin-law with some lace from her own mother’s veil, retrieved from their dressing up box! This can be done with sashes and garters too, and can include vintage jewellery from loved ones’ collections.”


The idea of colour in wedding dresses tends to split opinion – Lauren at The Mews is not so sure it’s as timeless a style as some – though wearing brights (or brown, like Marilyn Monroe at her second marriage), is very different to more flattering paler hues. “Soft colour palettes are popular,” says Carina Baverstock, “as they flatter different skin tones – therefore the blushes, mochas and platinums will have their place in bridalwear for many decades.” Jan Knibbs is also pro colour. “Personally I’ve always loved it, so I’m delighted that brides are now more willing to be unique and have a dress made in their favourite,” she says. “Obviously this also means that it’s more likely to be worn again, after the event.” Ellie Rose, too, thinks colour is a theme which will continue for 2018. “It doesn’t have to be a bold statement,” says Ellie, “but the subtle pastel colours, purples, blues and blush pinks, offer something different. They still maintain that bridal elegance.”

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT Offering their expert advice on making a unique impression were… Atelier 19; atelier19cheltenham.com Ellie Rose Bridal; ellierosebridal.co.uk Carina Baverstock Couture; carinabcouture.com House of Ollichon; houseofollichon.co.uk Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique; rachelburgessbridalboutique.com The Mews; themewsclifton.co.uk



MIGHTY APHRODITE On a beach not far from Bristol, a modern version of the love goddess rises from the sea…

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The bride: might y aphrodite


e all know the Greek deity Aphrodite as the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation – hey, how did she get all the good stuff? – and her Roman counterpart, Venus, is almost as celebrated. She certainly had an exciting life, consorting with gods and men both, and cropping up in plenty of the most famous legends: the Trojan War, the story of Adonis, the judgement of Paris… Clearly, for a bride wanting to stoke up a little bit of physical desire, there could be few more potent role models. “This shoot took place on an extremely hot day this summer,” says Bristol-based wedding, portrait and fashion photographer Megan Gisborne, who put it all together. “I knew I wanted a beach location, so when we came across this beautiful bay – I was just passing one day, and immediately realised it would be perfect – I got quite excited. It’s just down from Clevedon Pier, on the Bristol Channel between Weston-super-Mare and Portishead, and it’s a hidden treasure. Being there felt like we were on holiday, actually, which worked really well with my Aphrodite theme.” Though bright sunlight is always a struggle to work with – ask any wedding photographer – the dramatic rocks here actually gave some very useful shade. “In that regard, the day was very much like shooting a wedding,” Megan says. “At most weddings you have to use the environment and think quickly on your feet, too.”

had a challenge on her hands, though, in that her poses needed to be both bold and slightly mysterious, and the dresses helped with this. In particular, the Amaryllis silk dress helped me capture some really striking silhouettes.” Megan added a flower crown from Bath-based florist Lydia Rose of Studio Lunaria, which both helped emphasise the Grecian feel and made the shoot feel slightly more magical than it otherwise might have done. “I wanted the floristry to be feminine and soft, but to also structured – albeit in a relaxed way,” Megan says. “Lydia created the most gorgeous bouquet and flower crown, which linked really well to my Greek goddess theme, while hair stylist and make-up artist Portia Channell – who I’ve worked with on many shoots – did wonders with Renie’s look. We have similar styles, and she has an amazing ability to turn my vision into reality.” It all sounds perfect, so did anything go wrong? “Well, the beach was actually quite muddy,” Megan says, “even though it was hot, so we had to carry towels and blankets around to make sure the dresses didn’t get dirty. (We had a few close misses, I can tell you!) It was rocky too, so we were trying to balance whilst holding multiple items – make-up, phones, water, trainers, cameras – or, in Renie’s case, simply while looking as elegant as possible. Of course, she pulled it off effortlessly.” Aphrodite eventually got married herself: to Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, carpenters and the like. (We can’t help thinking he was punching, rather.) While he was busy making Hermes’ winged helmet and Achilles’ armour, Aphrodite was off doing what she wanted, having an affair with the god of war, Ares, and dallying with Adonis, Anchises, and other lucky mortals. Now, that’s not exactly the recommended way to act after your nuptials, we’d suggest, but then the Greek gods always were a law unto themselves…

As soon as I saw Kate Beaumont’s dresses, I knew that they’d be perfect. They helped me emphasise the beautiful female form, yet keep a soft and dreamy feel to the shoot too


odel Renie from Gingersnap – a modelling agency with Bristol and London offices – had just the right look for Aphrodite, who’s usually depicted as nubile, infinitely desirable and (yes) naked, and who legend has it was born from the sea. (From a sea foam generated by the genitals of the sky god Uranus, as it goes, but if we go too deeply into all that we’ll soon be leaving the world of romance for something rather more weird. Such are Greek myths.) “From the beginning I knew I wanted to create images which were feminine, beautiful and ever so slightly seductive,” Megan says, “but our Aphrodite had to be strong as well as alluring. After all, being able to make anyone fall madly in love with you is not a power to take lightly.” To capture the correct look and feel, Megan eschewed the nude option and instead dressed Renie in a series of very soft, feminine wedding gowns by Yorkshire designer Kate Beaumont, who she came across online. “As soon as I saw Kate’s dresses, I knew that they’d be perfect,” she says. “They helped me emphasise the beautiful female form, yet keep a soft and dreamy feel to the shoot too. Renie

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SHE’S GOT IT I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire… DRESSES: Kate Beaumont; kate-beaumont.co.uk FLORIST: Lydia Rose; studiolunaria.com HAIR AND MAKE-UP: Portia Channell;

instagram.com/portiamakeupartist MODEL: Renie at Gingersnap; gingersnap.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHER: Megan Gisborne Photography; megangisborne.com


W o r d s a n d p i c t u r e s b y G eo f f H a rri s

The road to Avalon Pagan weddings are growing fast, and offer couples a chance to tailor a ceremony to their own personal beliefs. Geoff Harris, official wedding photographer at the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, explains more‌

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T h e b r i d e : t h e r o a d t o ava l o n


invited to take part. This, of course, is where the expression ‘tying the knot’ originally came from. Couples can then jump the ‘Besom Broom’ which is, yes, a broomstick. These have, of course, long been associated with witches and paganism, and are highly symbolic; like the wand, for instance, it’s believed by many to be a phallic symbol. After all that, of course, it’s time for the group shots, and a proper pagan knees-up.



s you might expect in such a multi-cultural, multifaith country as the UK, the ways in which you can get married these days are almost endless – and it’s no different for pagans. Back in 2004, the Scottish Pagan Federation was the first to get the pagan marriage ceremony legally recognised, and England and Wales quite quickly followed suit. Today, one of my many roles is as official wedding photographer for the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, which was founded by the celebrated writer and spiritual teacher, Kathy Jones. The temple is right in the heart of Glastonbury town centre in a lovely courtyard, which also serves as a great location for group shots after the ceremony. Even now, the temple is the only permanent place of worship to offer legally recognised pagan weddings in the UK. That said, priestesses from the temple will also travel to Bath to conduct handfastings. Indeed, one took place this May at the Botanical Gardens there, followed by a conventional legal ceremony. Since it began in 2014, the wedding offering at Glastonbury Goddess Temple has attracted strong interest from pagan couples – heterosexual and gay alike – from all over Europe. Important dates in the pagan calendar, such as Beltane (which marks the beginning of the summer season on May 1) and Samhain (the start of winter, celebrated at the end of October) tend to get booked up fast, but weddings take place all year round. It’s also a working temple with daily services, and is open to all visitors. So, what might you expect from a pagan wedding in Glastonbury? Well, as with a conventional church or registry office wedding, there is a set structure. The ceremony in the temple includes an invocation of Goddess as Lady of Avalon, and of any goddesses and gods of your own choosing. You then receive individual blessings of the natural elements of air, fire, water and earth, and speak your personal words of truth to each other, honouring your connection as a couple. Then, following the exchange of rings and signing of the marriage register, there is usually a handfasting ceremony. Here, your hands are tied to those of your partner using ribbons, so you literally become bound to each other, with family and friends

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s you can see from the photos, pagan weddings are fun, colourful and different – and you don’t need to have any connection with Glastonbury, the Goddess Temple or a national pagan body to arrange one. It’s not at all an intimidating process, and there are regular couple’s evenings here, where you can find out more about the ceremony and meet the priestesses. Sharon Delves, who got married at Glastonbury Goddess Temple back in the summer, is quite typical – in that in some ways she’s not ‘typical’ at all – when she explains her ceremony.

I have always been a pagan, but don’t follow any particular path... The temple welcomes everyone, of all beliefs, and will tailor your ceremony to reflect whichever pagan path you have decided to follow

“I have always been a pagan, but don't follow any particular path,” she says, “and my husband is Jewish. The temple welcomes everyone, of all beliefs, and will tailor your ceremony to reflect whichever pagan path you have decided to follow.” And, of course, getting married in Glastonbury – a unique and colourful town, with great significance to pagans – also has a strong appeal for many couples. “We can’t say we are ‘proper’ pagans,” say Gavin and Paula Dando, who also married here, “but we have many pagan views and beliefs, and have been going to Glastonbury for breaks for years. When we decided to get married, and saw the Goddess Temple website, it was a no brainer.” As well as a chance to celebrate your own, very personal, spiritual beliefs, a pagan wedding also offers the opportunity to dress up and be yourself – without worrying about drawing stares at the local registry office. The couples we see here come from a very wide range of backgrounds, and I’ve worked with everyone from school teachers to former members of the SAS – we’ve even had a frisky ferret as a ring bearer! goddesstempleweddings.co.uk


The ex factor P h o t o g r a p h y b y M a rie M a n

W o r d s b y C l a ri s s a P icot

Mix two parts Lady Mary with one part Siouxsie Sioux, and what do you get? Blue Fizz Events’ spectacular wedding shoot at Knapp House, on the edge of Exmoor…

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The bride: knapp house


entral to any wedding shoot, of course, is the bride, and Bridget knew she wanted to put hers in a dress with soft tulle layers and a really striking silhouette. “The one we went for was supplied by The Wedding Collection in Barnstaple,” says Bridget, “and looked perfect on our model, Jasmine. I then styled it with a fitted tweed riding jacket and crop, while Steven at Steven and Laurent Hairdressers in Bideford came up with a stunning hairpiece and up-do. His work paired perfectly with makeup by Claire Bowring, who really emphasised the heather hues.” Steven used a small lace vintage hat, and customised it with antique silk flowers, fresh flowers and feathers. Hair pieces were

EX FILES Wearing their hair big, and loving it, were… STYLING AND CREATION: Blue Fizz Events; bluefizzevents.co.uk LOCATION: Knapp House; knapphouselodges.co.uk BRIDAL WEAR: The Wedding Collection, Barnstaple; weddingcollection.biz GROOM’S CLOTHING: Samuel Daw & Co, Barnstaple; samdaw.co.uk HAIR: Steven at Steven and Laurent Hairdressers; stevenandlaurent.co.uk MAKE-UP: Claire Bowring Make-up Artist; clairebowring.co.uk FLOWERS: Annie Flower PHOTOGRAPHY: Marie Man Photography; marieman.com

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here’s a very English sort of romance conjured up by the combination of country houses, horses and posh frocks – a wedding with these three elements would be like starring in your every own Sunday night BBC costume drama – but few locations for such an affair are quite as romantic as Knapp House in Devon. Not only is this a fine example of an Arts and Crafts shooting lodge, but it’s right on the edge of dramatic Exmoor. “I instantly fell for its period charm,” says stylist Bridget Scott of Devon’s Blue Fizz Events. “I knew I’d want to draw out the gentle heather hues you find everywhere here, as well as the earthy browns and greens of the land. Together with pheasant feathers, tweeds, and hunting and equestrian equipment, I thought we might celebrate everything that comes to mind when you think of Exmoor.” Bridget was thrilled to get Bristol-based photographer Marie Man on board to help develop the whole story. “When working on something like this,” says Bridget, “communication is key, and especially as we had quite a large team involved. Luckily, my partner at Blue Fizz, Tracy Edwards, is brilliant at bringing everyone together, and made sure we worked towards a cohesive look.”

used to pad out Jasmine’s natural locks, while the front section was shaped into a striking quiff. “I felt strong hair was needed to carry off the boots and jacket,” Steven says. “When paired with the softness of the dress, it seemed to me perfect for a bride who loves the earthy feel of the countryside, but still wants glamour.” To create a more understated version, he suggests using fewer flowers and feathers, and going for a more subtle hairstyle, while retaining the core elements. Claire, meanwhile, took influences from the purple and lavender heather. “Jasmine’s skin was kept fresh and dewy,” she says, “but with slightly flushed cheeks, as if she had been out in the country air. To balance with the hair, I had to take it slightly more theatrical than usual, so created a strong smoky eye. A mauve and charcoal eyeshadow palette was then blended and buffed out for a smouldering look.” Black gel liner was added to the top lash line, with lashings of mascara to add intensity to the eyes, and the look was completed with a luscious dark plum lip colour. “The darker the better,” Claire says. No bride is complete without her groom, of course, and model Josh was supplied with full country regalia by Samuel Daw and Co of Barnstaple, who’ve since introduced tweed to their hire ranges. The cake, meanwhile, was a simple tiered affair decorated with rustic twigs and pheasant feathers, while the flowers by Annie Flower again referenced the heather and rustic palette. The trailing centrepiece she supplied had just the right effortlessly elegant feel. “Today’s couples like to be inspired by their surroundings,” says Bridget, “and to nod at history without getting over fussy. No-one wants a wedding that looks like it belongs in a museum, but it’s the combination of old and new that I like most about this shoot.” Oh, and the horse? Well, he belongs to Michele Maltby, owner of Knapp House, and is called, rather intimidatingly, Master Man. Don’t worry, though: his stable name is Spud.

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

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WHERE THE SKY MEETS THE SEA Have your dream world-away wedding at Karma St Martin’s on the Isles of Scilly


he Isles of Scilly – a unique archipelago of subtropical islands off the Cornish coast – is possibly one of the UK’s best kept secrets. The island of St. Martin’s is one of only five inhabited islands on Scilly, and the tranquil Karma Retreat is the ideal choice for a picture-perfect wedding day. The resort has just been named in the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland for 2018, and it’s easy to see why. Set just metres from the stunning white sand beach, the resort boasts a private quay and panoramic views of neighbouring islands. This 4* hotel has three licensed wedding venues, so there’s something for everyone. The Honeymoon Suite is the perfect space for small and intimate weddings with panoramic views over the bay, lighthouse and beyond. Or there’s the Ground Floor Restaurant – an intimate nautical-themed space with gorgeous ground floor ocean and sub-tropical garden views. And, for larger groups, there’s the first floor Tean

Room, which is the hotel’s most popular wedding space. Here, guests can be seated in a traditional style either side of the wedding aisle, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling views of the beach and azure sea. Now that’s a wow-factor wedding! From a distance, the Karma Group’s newest resort appears as a hamlet of traditional stone cottages. Step inside, though, and it’s revealed as a luxurious contemporary hotel, complete with classic English interior design (with an eclectic twist) and the soulful Karma Spa, perfect for some pre-wedding pampering. The landscaped gardens feature subtropical plants and make a beautiful location for your drinks reception. What’s more, the resort is dog-friendly, so the whole family can join in the celebrations! Contact one of our wedding experts for more information, and to start planning your perfect day. Karma St Martin’s, Lower Town, St Martin’s TR25 0QW; 0333 323 2353; st.martins@karmaresorts.com www.karmastmartins.com

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.

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Beautiful fine-art wedding photography for Bath and Somerset at sensible prices. www.masonharrisphotography.com 07590 324543


Made in Yorkshire Faith Reed & Scott Barnett

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ometimes it doesn’t take much to make a couple fall in love. Faith and Scott both live in Wiltshire, and met at a mutual friend’s house party. “Then we realised we’re both from Yorkshire,” says Faith. “It was love at first sight.” A few years later Scott was proposing, hiding the ring in a Xmas cracker. As Faith’s a hairdresser herself, sorting the beauty side of things was easy – “I just called on my talented friends,” she says – but other items were more tricky. “Worst by far,” she says, “was our wedding bar. It included getting freezers, ice, and going on multiple trips to supermarkets. We cleared everywhere out of Pimm’s, gin and wine.” In doing so, of course, they hugely overspent, accidentally leaving themselves with a year’s supply of cider and claret. The ceremony took place at St Luke’s Church in Bath, which is particularly bright and airy inside, and has great acoustics – important, as the ceremony would be filled with music. For their reception, they borrowed some land from friends near Devizes and made a camp of giant tipis. “We wanted to create a space away from the noise of the city,” Faith says, “where people could relax and enjoy

fa i t h & s c o t t

Great evening light (and kind weather) made this the prettiest of weddings; friendly horses lurk just out of shot PICTURES BY JAMES GREEN

MARRIAGE GUIDANCE WHO? Faith Reed and Scott Barnett WHEN? 14 August 2016 WHERE? St Luke’s Church, Wellsway, Bath; stlukesbath.com RECEPTION: Tipis at a friend’s paddock, Marston, Devizes DRESS: Flossy & Willow; flossyandwillow.uk HAIR: Abi Blake; @abihaircolour MAKE-UP: Lucy Barton; @makeup_artist_southwest FLOWERS: Article, Bath; articlebath.com BRIDESMAID DRESSES: House of Fraser; houseoffraser.co.uk GROOM’S OUTFIT: Asos; asos.com PHOTOGRAPHY: James Green; jamesgreenphotographer.co.uk

the food and music. The spot we’d chosen was tucked away in a village, with horses wandering around nearby. Best of all, there were no restrictions – or sound curfews!” Faith’s dress was from Flossy & Willow, the Bradford on Avon bridal studio described as the ‘cool younger sister’ of nearby Perfect Day Bride. “I took along my maid of honour, Alice, to help choose it, and picked this one for its antique colour and style.” Abi Blake contributed to the hair – “she made big curls out of my pixie cut,” says Faith – while the bride’s look was completed with make-up by Lucy Barton and a bouquet and flower crown from Article in Bath. The bridesmaids – that’s Faith’s little sister, Scott’s little sister, and four close friends – wore powder blue lace bodycon dresses from House of Fraser, while Scott rocked a brown three-piece herringbone tweed suit from Asos. Next to him: best man Spencer, Scott’s younger brother, who – says Faith – “surprised us with an incredible speech. It really was one of the most memorable parts of the day.” Also a hit at the reception were the blueberry sponge and fruit cake – made by Faith’s uncle Jonathan, and covered in blue icing

flowers to match the bouquet – and an impromptu song by soul singer Lianne La Havas, who got everyone swaying in the tipi. Before that, there were some great photos taken by James Green, who took the couple to a nearby castle for photos inside one of the turrets. All sounds great, but did anything go wrong? “Well, we never did manage to find someone to make the artisan coffee we wanted,” Faith says, “and we wasted time thinking about little things like napkins, which seemed important at the time. If I had a bridezilla moment, it was over those – I remember being very insistent that a lack of pure cotton napkins would ‘ruin the day’! I also made 114 blue clay owls as wedding favours. I’m not sure if I actually regret making them or not, but it certainly took ages.” Elsewhere this issue we’ve got a bride faking her vintage car breaking down, and giving it a push to get it started, but that really did happen for Faith. “That was a cringe-making moment,” she says, “but then so was the 10-minute slide show of childhood photos that cropped up during the Father of the Bride’s speech!” VOW | 6 3


Heavenly vintage Maria Jones & Alan Bauckham


e love a variety of brides and grooms in Vow – the wider ranging the better – and so when Maria said, “Don’t be put off by our ages”, we had to laugh. As if! For the record, the bride here is 57 and her groom 62, this Illchester, Somerset couple having, says Maria, “met on the dance floor 12 years ago – and we’ve been dancing ever since.” Maria is actually a florist – she runs Just Maria in Ilchester, a flower shop in the most gorgeous old chapel – and arranges flowers for brides most weekends, and one thing she knew she wanted was to marry somewhere she’d never worked before. They checked out a few places, but picking Almonry Barn – at Muchelney, not far from Somerton – was easy. “Not only is the building itself beautiful,” she says, “but the ceiling has a huge fairy light chandelier, which stretches the length of the room. And upstairs, where the ceremony takes place, is filled with ivory candles, all lit for the occasion.” Maria and Al have both been married before, and were in no hurry to do so again – until, that is, Al proposed on Christmas Day, 2016. He’d given her a pile of presents, to be opened in order, and at the bottom of the last one was a big red envelope. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, he’s forgotten he’s already given me a card’,” Maria says. “But I could tell he was getting emotional, so I was almost nervous opening it. It was another card, of course, but the words inside weren’t what I expected.” She said yes, of course, and they both broke down – then started planning. “The hardest things to pick were dresses for me and my bridesmaids, as we wanted an eclectic vintage style,” says Maria. “We set about sourcing fashions from the 1920s up to the 1970s, making sure they worked together tonally – we had muted shades of dusky pink, grape and green. My dress, for instance, came from Eleanor Florence, a shop in Yeovil run by Sandra House. I originally went there to meet a dress designer, Stephanie Lock, who could make me something in a 1920s style – but when I tried this one on I fell in love with it. It’s a vintage-style lace affair with a drop waistband, and was much too big for me. It was also white, which I didn’t think I wanted. But Stephanie said she could take out the bodice and replace it with satin in a pearl shade to create an ombre effect under the lace and tulle. She could also make it fit, and add sleeves and a big blousy corsage. It was months of work, but in the end she’d basically created my dream dress.” The eldest bridesmaid, Carole, works at Just Maria, and wore an original 1920s dress which they found at Donna May Vintage in Frome. Her hat was handmade by Fruit Bat Textiles, while Stephanie also contributed her corsage. Then there were Al’s 6 4 | VOW

granddaughters. Ella wore a boho-style dress that they customised with a waistband and bow. “She also had a headband to dress her beautiful dreadlocks,” Maria says, “and some gorgeous Doc Marten-style boots, which are painted with hares by Sarah White Art Designer. We completed her look with some vintage lace gloves, which I dyed with Annie Sloan chalk paint to get the correct shade.” Then there were Annaleaze, who wore an original ’50s dress in rich green, and Daisy – daughter of another of the girls at Just Maria – who wore a 1920s-style dress from Wild and Gorgeous. They also had two flower girls: Maria’s granddaughters, Elsie and Darcy. What else? Well, Maria’s hair was dressed by Dee Green, of Cecile Hair and Beauty in Yeovil, while the girls had their nails done by Jordan Saunders, owner of Alpha Beauty. And Maria’s headpiece was handmade at a vintage shop in Frome called Poot. Not to be outdone by the girls, Maria’s two pageboys – her grandsons Alfie and George – got baker boy-style outfits, and Al’s two best men, Rob and Steve, wore khaki tweed suits with burgundy shirts, cream ties and hankies.

Maria & Al No, the pretty green vintage car didn’t really break down, but that is a risk that the stylish bride undertakes. (As, indeed, is evidenced elsewhere in this very issue…) PICTURES BY JIM JOHNSON

“My smokey quartz and marcasite earrings were special too,” Maria says, “as Al bought them for me the year before, and I loved them so much I saved them for our special day.”


aturally, the flowers were all created by Maria’s own outfit, Just Maria. “Yes, I’m the owner,” she says, “but I was still banned from the shop from Wednesday onwards.” The girls there chose Memory Lane roses, pink gypsophila and dusky pink heathers with lots of ivy, with which Rain, who works in the shop, created Maria’s dream bouquet. “I really felt for her on the day,” Maria says, “as she was so nervous when she delivered it to me – and I know exactly how that feels. In the shop we’re always anxious, right up until the bride says she loves her bouquet!” There were further bouquets and posies for the bridesmaids and flower girls, button holes for the groomsmen and page boys, and plenty of table flowers, which sat in large cylindrical glass bowls. Each table was named after a different dance – in tribute to how VOW | 6 5


Maria and Al first met – and the invites even pictured Al throwing Maria over his shoulder in true Lindy Hop style. Guests were encouraged to dress in vintage too, and the cake – from Cakes by Annette – was decorated with a big green sash, overlaid with lace, and secured with a vintage brooch. Maria even arrived in a green vintage car. “It belongs to a dance friend of ours called Big Al, and it’s been in his family from new,” she says. “Four generations have owned it now.”


ny particularly memorable moments? “Yes!” says Maria. “One was when I arrived and saw my sons, Andrew and Steven, with their wives, Rebecca and Laura, and my four little grandchildren all lined up by the wall, patiently waiting for me. That was the moment I cried: quite simply, they are my world. “We had a great photo shoot across the moor on the way to the wedding too, including a moment where we got out of the car and pretended to push it. Jim Johnson, our photographer, was very 6 6 | VOW

relaxed and natural, and has a great eye for detail. One of my favourite shots from the day is of Al and I dancing down the aisle to ‘In the Mood’ by Glen Miller.” Afterwards, everyone enjoyed food by Strawberry Field Catering of Bath, while entertainment came courtesy of Company UK, four young ladies who perform as The Andrew Sisters. “We also had a local young husband-and-wife team who play music from the ’40s to the present,” Maria says. “Al and I did a mixture of dances for our wedding dance, starting from slow then merging into jive, Lindy and then Charleston. It was hilarious, as we got hooked up and had to start again.” Afterwards, the couple stayed at The Parsonage in Muchelney for one night – “a very kind gift from our friends Max and Lindsay, who stayed there too” – with an extra treat in the form of a chilled bottle of bubbly that the owners had left in their room. They then went off to Burgh Island for a honeymoon at the amazing art deco hotel there, before touring Devon and Cornwall and, says Maria, “having a ball.”

Maria & Al

The dress wasn’t made for Maria from scratch, but it might as well have been, with all the work Stephanie at Eleanor Florence put in… PICTURES BY JIM JOHNSON

MARRIAGE GUIDANCE WHO? Maria Jones and Alan Bauckham WHEN? 1 September 2017 WHERE? The Almonry Barn, Muchelney; almonrybarn.com FLORIST: Just Maria, Ilchester; justmaria.co.uk OVERNIGHT STAY: The Parsonage, Muchelney; theparsonagesomerset.co.uk HAIR: Cecile Hair and Beauty, Yeovil; 01935 423906 Amaze Hair and Beauty, Yeovil; amaze-hair-and-beauty.co.uk NAILS: Alpha Beauty, Ilchester; 07930 440774 DRESSES: Stephanie Lock at Eleanor Florence, Yeovil; eleanorflorence.co.uk

ACCESSORIES: Fruitbat Textiles, Martock; fruitbattextiles.co.uk BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Donna May Vintage, Frome; donnamayvintage.com CATERING: Strawberry Field Catering, Bath; strawberryfieldcatering.co.uk CAKES: Cakes by Annette, Yeovil; cakesbyannette.co.uk INVITATIONS: Print and Design, Yeovil PHOTOGRAPHY: Jim Johnson, Photos by Jim; photosbyjim.co.uk

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A midsummer night’s dream Alexandra Parfitt & Simon Tuong


lex and Simon met on a dating website – Plenty of Fish, as it goes – and had their first date at the local bowling alley in the summer of 2012. And while Alex admits to finding Simon “absolutely dreamy”, it was a whole eight months before the second date at the Bristol Aquarium because, she says, “I was a fool! We kept in semi-regular contact, but it was New Year’s Day when Simon messaged ‘Happy New Year’, to which I 6 8 | VOW

remember replying ‘Happy New Year, Simon! I hope 2013 makes all your dreams come true’. I received his message at work and my heart skipped a beat. I knew I had made a mistake and, after a couple of months of messaging, we met up again in March 2013 and have been inseparable ever since.” It hasn’t all been plain sailing since, mind. Simon first proposed in Turkey in 2014, “but it was such a disaster, I honestly thought he was joking,” Alex says. “After a lot of laughing, a forgotten ring and Simon accidently elbowing me in the face, I realised he had actually

ALEX & SIMON Alex wanted pink and purple flowers, and knew the clever Grace from Bramble and Wild in Frome would totally get her vision for A Midsummer Night’s Dream theme. . . PICTURES BY RYAN GOOLD

been serious, but just to make sure I asked him to do it again at a more appropriate time – and with a ring.” The proposal which sealed the deal came on a minibreak to Little Owl cottage in Exeter in October that year. “The cottage had a hot tub in the garden,” Alex says. “It was the morning, and Simon was insistent on taking a bottle of Champagne down with us, which was odd as neither of us like Champagne. As I was about to get in, Simon started being all soppy – and the next thing I knew he was down on one knee with a beautiful pearl ring.” While Alex counts herself as a super organised person, it took a while to get the wedding together, the big day coming just shy of two years after booking their venue, Pennard House. “I stumbled across it by accident after seeing a photo on Instagram,” she says. “It was the perfect mix of elegance, sophistication and informality; I loved that it was a family home, and you could feel that in the atmosphere of the place. Georgina, one of the owners, was so welcoming, relaxed and friendly that it just felt right instantly. We also loved the tipis out front where guests could stay.” VOW | 69


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nd what about the theme for the day? “It was loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as I’m an English teacher and grew up in ‘Midsomer’ Norton,” says Alex. “I didn’t want it to be too themed, though; just something to tie it all together.” The ethereal, lightweight dress of dreams came from the local bridal shop, Solitaire, on Midsomer Norton’s High Street – though, like the groom, it didn’t present itself immediately. “I had my eye on a particular David Tutera dress and couldn’t believe my luck when I realised they stocked that designer,” Alex says, “until I found out it wouldn’t be available until the following spring – and was over twice my budget!” After trying on a few dresses that weren’t really working, ‘the one’ turned out to be another David Tutera gown, only from a previous season and in the sale. “It was in budget, albeit at the absolute max,” Alex says, “and, if possible, I preferred it over the dress I had seen originally. It needed quite a lot of altering, but I knew it would be perfect.” It was Kate at Frome Brides and Belles who was given the alterations job, and also supplied the gossamer-like cathedral-length veil. The loose-curls in Alex’s hair came courtesy of ex-work colleague Hannah Laird, natural make-up was applied by an old school friend, Danielle Turner, and she wore earrings from The Silver Shop in Bath, a gift from her mum, as well as a bracelet from Pia – the last thing her granddad bought her before he died. The rings for the day came from Sipsons in Trowbridge. With no fewer than six bridesmaids in tow – friends Zoe, Milly, Nat, Eva and Jess (who flew all the way from New Zealand) and Simon’s sister, Kimberley – Alex plumped for sage green dresses by Little Mistress, set off with pink gypsophila bouquets. Simon was in charge of the guys’ sartorial choices and opted for blue suits from Next, with ties and pocket squares from Mrs Bow Tie, to fit the summery vibe of the wedding. He asked Jake Gane, a firm friend since primary school, to be his best man. Tess, their wedding co-ordinator at the venue was in charge of all of the logistics, which helped keep Alex sane; the cake was made by another old work colleague, and dear friend, Tina; while flowers for the day came from Bramble and Wild in Frome. “I love their style,” says Alex, “and knew Grace would get my vision for the Midsummer Night’s Dream theme. I knew I wanted pinks and purples with lots of foliage, but left it up to Grace to pick flowers – I had some roses in there and was lucky enough to have the last few peonies of the season, which I was made up with.” Even the food was wonderfully relaxed, with Afternoon Tea for the wedding breakfast, a tower of Somerset cheeses, and a hog roast in the evening to go with the fun of the Ceilidh band and DJ. Any especially memorable moments? “I burst out laughing half way through the vows when it got to the ‘promising to honour and respect’ Simon bit, making it sound like I thought it was some kind of joke. It was unfortunate timing, but I had been holding in that laugh since the registrar got Simon’s name wrong. All I could think about was the bit in Four Weddings and a Funeral when the priest gets all the wording wrong.” And did anything else go wrong? “Yes! I tripped on my dress as I walked down the aisle, then my dad stood on it, causing me to drop the lucky horse shoe I was carrying. Not quite the elegant entrance I’d envisaged!”

MARRIAGE GUIDANCE WHO? Alexandra Parfitt and Simon Tuong WHEN? 27 July 2017 WHERE? Pennard House; pennardhouse.com CATERING: Caroline Gent; carolinegentcatering.com RECEPTION DRINKS: Cafe Bon Bon; cafebonicecream.com DRESS: David Tutera by Mon Cherie from Solitaire Brides; solitairebrides.co.uk VEIL: Frome Brides and Belles; fromebridesandbelles.com BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Little Mistress; little-mistress.com HAIR: Hannah Laird MAKE-UP: Danielle Turner GROOM’S SUIT: Next; next.co.uk

FLOWERS: Bramble and Wild; brambleandwild.com CAKE: Family-friend Tina CAKE TOPPERS: My Peg Weddings CHEESE CAKE: Paxton and Whitfield; paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk DJ: Kieran Clark Entertainment; kieranclarkeents.co.uk BAND: The Stirabout Ceilidh Band STATIONERY: From Sally with Love; fromsallywithlove.co.uk PROPS: WeddingTreasures and Trinkets; weddingtreasuresandtrinkets.com CONFETTI: Shropshire Petals; shropshirepetals.com PHOTOGRAPHY: Ryan Goold Photography; ryangooldphotography.co.uk



Prisoners of love Marriage shackles us together, so where better to make this most welcome of bonds than at a former prison? Luckily, MALMAISON OXFORD is more luxurious than its former role might suggest. Indeed, this jailhouse rocks…

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othing says romance like a prison visit, right? We’ve all seen them in the films – the bit where she presses herself against the glass in Midnight Express sticks in the mind – and know how they rarely end well. Not so, however, with a visit to Malmaison Oxford, in the city’s lovely castle quarter. The hotel is a converted Victorian prison, and its entire A Wing can be hired exclusively for weddings. “The original prison spaces here always leave guests in awe,” says Rachael Bird, the general manager. “From the Atrium to the Exercise Yard, which heaves with places to get your pictures taken, we offer an experience few venues can. It’s not every day you get married in a prison, after all, so you can’t say we’re not different.” Indeed not! And if that doesn’t sound like enough of a photo op for you, there is of course Oxford itself, right outside your door, with Christ Church Meadow





m alm aison

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and Castle Mill Stream just moments away, not to mention magnificent colleges in abundance. (Merton and Magdalen are probably nearest.) “The A Wing is unique,” says Rachael, “to the point where it’s become the defining feature of the hotel. It certainly has that ‘wow factor’.” One great thing about it is how many original features this place has kept, making it utterly authentic and at the same time luxurious, too. A neat trick. “It’s the perfect venue for ceremonies, drinks receptions and wedding breakfasts, as we can seat up to 120,” Rachael says. “The A Wing bedrooms are each converted from three adjoining former cells – so there’s more room than the original residents enjoyed. Perfect for guests who want to make a night of it.” And perfect for making jokes about too, we reckon. The best man’s speech almost writes itself!


THE VENUE: m alm aison

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xclusive hire of A Wing as a venue gives you full access to the whole of the Atrium, and use of all 38 of those three-cell bedrooms. “Each has been beautifully converted,” Rachael says, “yet retains features like the vaulted ceilings, thick walls and stone-cold iron doors, mixed in with thoughtful modern luxury touches too, like great lighting, power showers, good wi-fi, amazing beds, and bespoke art work.” And if you’ve got more guests, the entirety of Malmaison Oxford has 95 rooms, so there’s plenty of room for overspill. The unexpected nature of the whole place seems to have affected the attitude here too. They’re not above a bit of rule-breaking on occasion – “it’s hard to think of a request that would be too strange for a former prison,” Rachael says – and they encourage couples to think creatively about how they might use this space. “No demand is too challenging for us,” she says. “We accommodate each request, where possible, to ensure that your day is exactly the way you dreamt it would be. And we provide a dedicated event planning team, passionate about what they do. From the head chef to the sommeliers, our team goes the extra mile.” The price? Well, it’s something of a steal. “For an A Wing summer wedding, including all 38 bedrooms, there’s a rough cost of £25,000,” Rachael says. “We also provide a full dining experience, with a delicious three-course meal, extremely more-ish canapés and wine. Most of all, though, we try to spend time with all our couples to fully understand what they want. And we try to be flexible. Certainly, if you’re looking to save some costs, we can make smart suggestions for ways in which you might do so, and we’ll work to your budget.” Any money off for good behaviour? But at that, Rachael falls silent… malmaison.com/locations/oxford



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

A stunning 14th Century Castle where dreams come true…

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

Bickleigh, Near Tiverton, Devon EX16 8RP • Tel: 01884 855363 • Email: info@bickleighcastle.com


Vow M AGAZINE is available to download. www.mediaclash.co.uk



Bay watch A combination of one of the world’s coolest cities, stunning scenic drives, hip coastal hubs and some of the best wine on earth makes San Francisco brim with honeymoon potential, says Anita Powell of SMALL WORLD JOURNEYS


an Francisco has a rich history of reinventing itself, and has been home to some of America’s most liberal, forwardthinking citizens – including the Summer of Love hippies and the dot-com boomers. With a youthful, hip social scene which is perfect for honeymooners, San Francisco is also one of America’s most beautiful cities; its pretty houses and hilly streets providing sweeping views of the bay and the famous Golden Gate 76 | VOW

Bridge. As this is a city best seen on foot, come prepared for lots of walking – up hilly streets! However, it’s also the birthplace of Uber, so it’s only right that the chariot of choice in this tech-obsessed city has its own traffic lane at the airport. The breathtaking 1.7 mile-long Golden Gate Bridge is a great starting point for a romance-fuelled adventure. Hop on a tram or a sightseeing bus to orientate yourself with the city’s best landmarks. Our favourite spot was Golden Gate Park. With its lush gardens and exotic blooms at the Conservatory of Flowers, you can see how the Flower Power movement was kick-started in San Fran. A must-do is a visit to Alcatraz. While an old prison might not seem the most romantic date venue, it is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and offers grand city views from its rocky island outpost. Pier 39 is the most visited destination in San Fran, and certainly makes the most of its touristy appeal. With two levels of dining, entertainment, shopping and gaming arcades, there is plenty to spend your treasured dollar on. No trip to Pier 39 would be complete without visiting the sea lions, which have resided at the pier since

hone ymoon

The 1.7 mile-long Golden Gate Bridge makes the ideal starting point for any romancefuelled adventure and provides Insta opportunities aplenty – especially if you're fortunate enough to get those skies

arriving in droves after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The hypnotic antics of these playful pinnipeds is a must for any visitor. San Francisco is also one of the world’s best food cities. With over 3,000 eating and drinking establishments, more per capita than anywhere else in the world, it’s no wonder the city is renowned for its food. You can lose yourselves in the true food lover’s paradise of the Ferry Building, or stroll under the picturesque lanterns of Chinatown, the oldest and largest Chinatown in the US. Beyond the iconic Dragon’s Gate is a bustling maze of streets and alleys brimming with Chinese eateries – tasting the dim sum is essential! There’s never a bad time to go to San Fran, but June and July are peak months. Mid-summer brings with it distinctive fogs, so you may miss some of the spectacular views. It’s all about layering in San Fran, with micro climates throwing confusion to any planned outfit. It may be drizzling in Golden Gate Park, but sunny in the city centre.



fter a stint in the city, swap bay-side bliss for wine country and head to Sonoma County. Less touristy than its big sister Napa, but equally beautiful, there are plenty of rural retreats to snuggle up in. Sonoma has a more tucked-away vibe and, with more than 400 wine tasting rooms to work your way through, you will find yourselves sampling wine in venues ranging from the simple and rustic to elaborate castles. After quaffing your way through the world-famous Californian wine, you can hit the open road to follow the iconic Pacific Coast route. Head south down along the rugged stretch of coastline to Big Sur, stopping in Carmel on the way, with its lovely boutiques and restaurants. Cliff-carved roads (this route isn’t for the vertiginous) take you past camera-tempting ocean views. Anita is MD of Small World Journeys; smallworldjourneys.co.uk


CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ Where to stay in the city on the bay IN THE CITY: The city’s hippest address is The Battery, a member’s club with rooms. The club is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s financial district, yet conveniently located close to the main attractions, restaurants and shopping streets; thebatterysf.com

IN SONOMA: Referred to as the unofficial capital of Sonoma, historic Healdsberg is the heart of wine country. Charlie Palmer’s award-winning Hotel Healdsburg is at the centre of the town, which also offers ace cuisine at Dry Creek Kitchen; hotelhealdsburg.com

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White sands The Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, consists of over a thousand coral islands, and the occasional glorious honeymoon location like ATMOSPHERE KANIFUSHI…

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picture is worth rather more words than we’ve room for here, but one word can easily sum-up our reaction to the incredible Atmosphere Kanifushi resort, which you’ll find on the sparsely populated Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives. And that word, of course, is ‘envy’. The atoll is made up of 54 islands, most of them uninhabited, and is just a half-hour seaplane ride from Malé International Airport (accessible directly from the UK by British Airways much of the year, and with a stopover via Emirates, Qatar and Sri Lankan Airlines the rest of the time). Kanifushi is one of the larger islands on the edge of the atoll, and a lifetime away from everyday cares. Come on, you don’t even have to land on a boring old runway, but on the turquoise waters of the lagoon instead. AKM, as those in the know call it, boasts its own uninterrupted stretch of white sandy beach – it’s nearly 2km, in fact – dotted with beach huts and surrounded by lush greenery. Those traditional Maldivian swings called ‘undhoalis’ – imagine a bed hanging from a frame – are all over the place, perfect for lounging on while looking

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out at sea and sunsets, while the dining options are endless, from lively restaurants to private tables tucked away in some romantic corner of a beach. “For me,” says Ali Abdulla, an assistant director there, “it’s the slow pace of life and unique geography that sets the Maldives apart. You get a sense of scale and space here too. I really recommend our premium all-inclusive plan, which gives you a truly 5-star beach holiday experience – and everything for one price.” ‘Everything’ meaning all your drinks, your food, the activities, even a fully stocked mini-bar, replenished twice daily. There are 132 villas and suites here, and you wouldn’t go wrong with any of them, but – says Ali – “the stand-alone detached villas offer an amazing level of privacy. Even at peak times, the island is large enough to feel quiet and private, and if you opt for one of the Sunset Pool Villas at the northeastern tip, right next to the natural sand bank, you get your own 30 square metre private pool.” How much will all that cost? Well, think around £300-600 per person per night, for two sharing on the all-inclusive deal.


ut though lazing around is the order of the day, you’ll not be short of things to do, either. You can visit some of the other islands, while the resort has a range of eating options – “everything from an award-winning vegetarian restaurant to a new beach front Sri Lankan street food place,” says Ali – while the luxurious Akiri Spa by Mandara specialises in Balinese and Far Eastern therapies. So, what might a typical day be like here? “It might start with yoga at the pool,” says Ali, “followed by breakfast at The Spice then exploring the island. Perhaps next would come some tennis in the mid-morning sunshine, surrounded by palm trees, then lunch followed by a snorkelling excursion to one of a half dozen locations, then a luxurious spa treatment. Afternoons are made for lazing – or trying out watersports. And sunsets are for sitting and watching, perhaps over a BBQ on the shore. Then check out the live music, or dance under the stars. And if you are lucky – most guests have been! – you’ll catch a shooting star or two.” atmosphere-kanifushi.com VOW | 79

t h e g e ta w ay

Turtle bay The reefs around OBLU by Atmosphere resort are home to over a thousand species of fish – and five types of sea turtle – making this the Blue Planet II of honeymoon resorts…


eyond beaches, of course, the thing the Maldives are best known for is the diving, and OBLU by Atmosphere – a very pretty resort on the island of Helengeli, at the northeastern tip of the Malé Atoll – has diving like you’ll find very few places in the world. It’s got its own reef, for one thing. You get to the resort by speedboat from Malé International Airport – 50 exciting minutes bouncing up and down on the waves – to find a lush, intimate little island surrounded by marine life. “There are tiny coves and romantic spots all about,” Atmosphere’s Ali Abdulla says, “making it perfect for honeymoons.” This place is right on the edge of the atoll – next stop, the open ocean – which brings all sorts of fish to the unique house reef. “You have the usual reef fish, of course,” Ali says, “but we also get large schools of shark – don’t worry, you won’t be eaten – as well as Maldivian turtles and even dolphins. There are several entry and exit points scattered around the island, all with complementary snorkelling equipment, so you’re free get out on the reef whenever

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you want. For the more ambitious, we offer SCUBA diving too, through a PADI Certified Dive School. Even night dives as possible – and there are plenty more dive locations within striking distance too, as well as local islands like Dhiffushi to explore.”


BLU has over 100 villas and suites, with the Lagoon Villas proving particularly popular with honeymooners. “You approach each from the land side,” Ali says, “but the back deck comes with a plunge pool and direct lagoon access.” And the food here is excellent, too. “Though we’re a 4-star resort, we compete with 5-star locations in terms of cuisine. And then there’s the Elena Spa, which combines high quality therapies with value-for-money pricing.” The whole thing sounds perfect, but what sort of itinerary would Ali suggest for a honeymooning couple? “Most days I’d start with breakfast overlooking the lagoon,” he says. “After a swim in the adults only pool, we’d have a romantic snorkel on the house reef. Some of our resident turtles, who’ve lived on the reef for years, will definitely come and say hi. Then I’d have an afternoon couple’s treatment at Elena Spa, followed by lunch and a siesta. That should get us in the mood to head down to Helen’s Bar to catch the sunset, then a glass or two of wine before dinner. We’d sit on the soft sandy beach, digging our toes into the cool white sand, and let ourselves be spoiled. Rinse and repeat for the entire week.” An all-inclusive Lagoon Villa costs around £200-300 per person per night, for two sharing. oblu-helengeli.com


Blanc white short pyjama set, £49 from Laze; lazewear.com

Pine & Eucalyptus candle, £44 from Jo Malone London; jomalone.co.uk

Beyond the pale Embrace Scandi chic in the weeks before and after your big day, to ensure your mood is as serene as your surrounds… Jardins D’Ecrivains Gigi eau de parfum (100ml), £85 from Shy Mimosa; shymimosa.co.uk

Pols Potten candleholders, £45 each from Woodhouse and Law; woodhouseandlaw.co.uk

Linum Emily throw/pashmina in dark ice green (top), £79 from Salcombe Trading; salcombetrading.co.uk

Donna Wilson Mountain Moon cushion, £65 from Grace & Mabel; graceandmabel.co.uk

Olivia von Halle Bella oyster silk camisole set, £225 from The Dressing Room; dressingroombath.com

Moomin mug True to its Origins, £21 from Shannon; shannon-uk.com

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Traditions we love

SING IT LOUD They’re the sound tracks to our lives, so many of us make a song lyric central to our wedding experience. But there’s a problem. Out of context, most don’t stand up. Sometimes they’re too rude or have a vicious undertow (the obsession of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’; the stalker’s charter of The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’), but mostly they just lie there glassy-eyed, like landed fish, when pulled from the water of the song itself. So congratulations to

Cate and Matt and their clifftop archway here, which reads ‘and the moon and the stars were the gift you gave’, which sounds like it might be from a poem by e.e.cummings, but is actually Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ They’ve picked a good one. We can also recommend making heroes of lines from Elbow, Etta James and The Beatles. Sweet though the sentiment is, however, you’d be better off reconsidering the Divinyls ‘I Touch Myself’…

NEXT UP: Vow returns on 26 January. And it’ll be packed with great new ways to make your wedding sing… 8 2 | VOW

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