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ABSOLUTELY W E DDI NG S

S P R I N G • S U M M E R 2 019 £ 5 .0 0 a b s o l u te l y - w e d d i n g s .c o . u k

SPRING / SUMMER 2019

UK EDITION

HOT

SPOTS

DREAM WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS

Pure

GOLD PERFECT

A MARRIAGE OF LUXURY & STYLE

JEWELS

chic

TREND

LIST

WATCH

OUR PICK OF GORGEOUS ACCESSORIES

Z E ST. LO N D O N Weddings_SS19_Cover LN LN.indd All Pages

Planning guidance from the experts

white MAGIC The finest new season wedding gowns

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THE WORLD’S FINEST WEDDING SHOWS

B R I D E LU X AT E L I E R M A N D A R I N O R I E N TA L H Y D E PA R K , LO N D O N 29TH-30TH MARCH 2019 — P R I D E LU X AT E L I E R S H A N G R I - L A H OT E L AT T H E S H A R D LO N D O N 13TH-14TH SEPTEMBER 2019 BRIDELUX SYMP OSIUM T H E S AV O Y, L O N D O N A N D T H E L A N G H A M , L O N D O N 30TH, 31ST OCTOBER AND 1ST NOVEMBER 2019 ( W E D D I N G I N D U S T R Y O N LY ) B R I D E LU X AT E L I E R I N T E R C O N T I N E N TA L N E W YO R K B A R C L AY 12TH JANUARY 2020 B R I D E LU X D E S T I N AT I O N S ONE MARYLEBONE , LOND ON 2 1 S T- 2 2 N D F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 0 B R I D E LU X AT E L I E R T H E S AV O Y, L O N D O N 20TH-21ST MARCH 2020

Visit www.bridelux.com to register for tickets

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cont ent s Spring / Summer 2019

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51 32 FAIRY STORY

Romantic gowns with ethereal style

37 SHORT TAKES

Fabulous short and fitted gowns

45 HIPPIE CHIC 10 ABSOLUTELY LOVE

From the perfect timepiece to cupid earrings

12 18

WEDDINGS ALBUM

Romantic real weddings with floral style

FASHION STORY

Chic bridal designs by Agata Wojtkiewicz

B R I DA L T R E N D S 26 BOLD BOTANICS

Textured gowns inspired by nature

28 SIX RUNWAY LOOKS Key trends from the runways

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How to work the new season's boho trends

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JEWELLERY TRENDS Glamorous rings and finishing touches

67 BEAUTY LOOKS

Expert advice on wedding hair

WEDDING PLANNER 74 WEDDING EXPERTS

Smart advice from wedding gurus and a tour of Edwina Ibbotson's Battersea workshop

77 PERFECT PARTY SOUNDTRACK

COVER Gown by Agata Wojtkiewicz agatawojtkiewicz.pl

How to design a party playlist

Spring / Summer 2019

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EDITOR LIBBY NORMAN libby@zest-media.com MAGAZINE MANAGER ZARINA KAPASI zarina@zest-media.com ART DIRECTOR PHIL COUZENS SENIOR DESIGNER PAWEL KUBA MID-WEIGHT DESIGNER REBECCA NOONAN PA TO THE DIRECTORS EVA LEHOCZKY FINANCIAL DIRECTOR JERRIE KOLECI CREDIT CONTROL MANAGER ALEXANDRA HVID DIRECTORS GREG HUGHES, ALEXANDRA HUNTER, JAMES FUSCHILLO,

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MANAGING DIRECTOR SHERIF SHALTOUT

Part of the

LONDON OFFICE:

79 FOUR BOUQUETS

197-199 City Road, London EC1V 1JN, UK

Design inspiration from Lydie Dalton

83 WEDDING GIFT LISTS Latest trends in gifting

89 VENUES PLANNER Capital, country and destination

L U X U R Y T R AV E L 104 ISLAND LIFE Marigot Bay in St Lucia

108 MAYAN WONDER

The beautiful Riviera Maya, Cancun

ABU DHABI OFFICE:

REAL WEDDINGS 118 PROVENCE GOLD

A perfect wedding weekend in France

122 COUNTRY CLASSIC A summer garden party in Norfolk

126 AFRICAN DREAM

A dream wedding on a game reserve

130 PERFECT DAY

A romantic Irish elopement

FACT M.E. FZ-LLC, Office 907E, TwoFour54, Park Rotana Complex, P.O. Box 769328, Abu Dhabi, UAE

zest.london Zest Media Publications Ltd. cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts and photographs. While every care is taken, prices and details are subject to change and Zest Media Publications Ltd. take no responsibility for omissions or errors. We reserve the right to publish and edit any letters. All rights reserved.

T w i t t e r @A B S O L U T E LY W E D Fa c e b o o k @A B S O L U T E LY W E D D I N G S In s t a g ra m @A B S O L U T E LY W E D D I N G S P i n t e re s t @A B S O L U T E LY W E D

absolutely-weddings.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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www.almanovia.com

C O L L E C T I O N

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Exclusively at BOA BOUTIQUE 8 Richmond Hill Richmond, TW10 6QX · Email: info@boa-boutique.co.uk · T. 02089 482340

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Absolutely Weddings WELCOME

Editor’s

LETTER We’re looking forward to a wonderful array of inspiration and ideas for weddings...

S

pring is in the air, and so is romance, for this is the start of the wedding planning season. In that spirit, this issue celebrates some of the best in bridal. Our shoot looks at the work of the super-talented designer Agata Wojtkiewicz (page 16) and we pick out favourite designer trends from the best of UK and international designers. From fairytale gowns and new-style boho to the welcome return of lots of chic shorter lengths, there’s a look for every bride (from page 25). You’ll find expert planning advice on everything from scenting your wedding to organising the perfect party soundtrack (from page 73), and our venues finder showcases great spaces for everything from a city celebration to a weekend party in the heart of the beautiful British countryside. We’ve also included inspiration if you’re thinking of a destination wedding (from 89). And don’t miss our honeymoon ideas – from Cancun to the hidden Caribbean – and our four glorious and utterly individual real weddings. We look forward to catching up with you at the shows – including our favourite Bridelux. Its first Atelier of the London season takes place at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge (see page 22). And don't forget that you can catch up on news and must-visit events at absolutely-weddings.co.uk and @absolutelyweddings. Happy planning!

SEE PAGEWAKELEY'S AMANDA 16 FOR GOWNS TAKEBY ON THE BEJEWELLED AGATA WOJTKIEWICZ TREND FOR BRIDES, SEE PAGE 47

L I B BY N O R M A N EDITOR libby@zest-media.com

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10 THINGS WE

Absolutely

LOVE

From a jewelled timepiece and perfect cupid earrings to glamorous honeymoon luggage, here are ten things we absolutely love

PARTY READY

We love Sadoni’s new bridesmaid collection, offering gowns and separates that are perfect for your besties (or for honeymoon parties). This floaty tulle skirt comes in lots of colours. €380; sadoni.no

M E X I C A N WAV E

Inspired by the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, this design would be perfect for a wedding fiesta. It’s designed by artisan London cakemaker Rosalind Miller. rosalindmillercakes.com

JEWEL UP

Studded with gems and featuring an alligator strap, Miss Golden Bridge is a classic and collectable timepiece by a Swiss master. POA; corum-watches.com

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Spring • Summer 2019

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Absolutely Weddings LOVES TREASURE T R OV E

Armor is studded with diamonds and comes in black or yellow gold. From Ortaea's jewellery collection, it costs £7,650; ortaea.com

N O W , V O YA G E R

VIP travellers need the right luggage and Globe-Trotter’s retro-glamorous Riviera collection announces to the world that you mean business (class). Stripes £1,570 & ocean blue £1,635; globe-trotter.com

O C E A N H E AV E N

Inspired by nature and the salt tang of the ocean, and with rare base notes of ambergris, Encore Une Fois is a new limited-edition scent from Art de Parfum. £160; artdeparfum.com

H E A RT K E E P E R

This leather heart key-ring is by cool Scandi designer A. Andreassen. Available in lots of colours, it’s a surefire way to bag the keys to someone’s heart… and their car. £29; aandreassen.com

S TA R S T R U C K

Perfect for the celestial bride, Rembo Styling’s All Stars is a lovely form-fitting number with v-front and glittering stars draped down the open back of the gown. rembo-styling.com

GOLDEN A R ROWS

CANDLE BRIGHT

Mark the moment with one of Maison Ves’ #Next Chapter candles, scented with a head mix that includes blackcurrant and tuberose, it comes in a white onyx jar with gold lid. £65; maison-ves.com

These sparkling Drajée earrings in 14ct gold are shaped like cupid’s arrow, the perfect way to signal that someone has stolen your heart forever. £200; drajee.com

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A B S O L U T E LY W E D D I N G S

Floral Style

Saying it with flowers is a time-honoured tradition, and never more so than at weddings. Whether it’s a lavish rose-garden setting, a dramatic floral arch or a knockout bouquet, our eight real weddings prove that romance is in full bloom Wo r d s L I B B Y N O R M A N

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Absolutely Weddings ALBUM

1 N ATA L I E & DA M I A N Photo: Lucy Turnbull

Cornwell Manor, an exclusive-use wedding and party venue on a 2,000-acre estate near Chipping Norton, is the perfect spot for a floral celebration. Natalie and Damian made the most of this romantic Cotswolds setting by strolling in its lush grounds. lucyturnbull.co.uk & cornwellmanor.com 2 L AU R A & DAV I D

Photo: Caught The Light

Hedsor House in Taplow, Buckinghamshire has the perfect room to dress for romantic wedding ceremonies, and David and Laura decided on a beautifully simple backdrop of candles, greenery and pure white roses, artfully realised by florist Lily’s Flowers. hedsor.com & caughtthelight.com 3 FRANCESCA & JOE Photo: Rebecca Claire

Hever Castle is one of our most beautiful wedding settings. While photo opportunities are plentiful in all seasons, the walled garden in full bloom is beyond spectacular, so photographer Rebecca Claire made sure she captured Joe and Francesca rambling among the roses. hevercastle.co.uk & rebeccaclairephotography.com 4 K AT I E & M I TC H E L L

Photo: Ben Bull

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If you’re a florist yourself, your wedding has to major on beautiful blooms. Katie used her expertise to brief her floral suppliers. The result was a dreamy flower-garden setting dressed to perfection for her wedding to Mitchell at Parklands, Quendon Hall, the historic Essex mansion set in a 100-acre deer park. benbull.net & quendonhall.co.uk

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“FRANCESCA AND JOE TOOK TIME OUT TO STROLL IN HEVER CASTLE'S AMAZING WALLED ROSE GARDEN”

ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Absolutely Weddings ALBUM

5 L AU R A & G E O R G E

7 SOPHIE & ALEX

Somerset was the location for George and Laura’s celebration, which took place on a balmy autumn day. Photographer Anne Schwarz was on hand to capture every romantic moment – including a stolen kiss behind the lovely white bridal bouquet created by Frome florist Bramble & Wild. anneschwarzweddings.com

Exclusive-use wedding venue Millbridge Court is in the picturesque village of Frensham, Surrey, so perfect setting for a country wedding. Sophie and Alex were captured in its delightful gardens by Kerry-Ann Duffy. The bride’s stunning bouquet is by Bloomingales. kerryannduffy.com & millbridgecourt.co.uk

Photo: Anne Schwarz

Photo: Kerry-Ann Duffy

6 TA N YA & N I G E L

8 EMMA & MIKE

Tanya and Nigel signed the register under a bespoke floral arch created by Blooming Haus, setting the seal on a perfect celebration at stately Aynhoe Park. We love the arch’s lush mix of garden roses and high-summer blooms. london-weddingphotographer.com & bloominghaus.com

Emma and Mike were married at Wadhurst Castle on a July day and chose A Midsummer Night’s Dream as their theme. The beautiful flowers by Lydie Dalton, chosen to match Emma’s bridal colours, included scented roses and chocolate cosmos. parkershots.com & lydiedaltonfloraldesign.co.uk

Photo: Voyteck Photography

Photo: Nick Parker

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“TANYA AND NIGEL SIGNED THE REGISTER UNDER A BESPOKE ARCH DRESSED WITH LUSH GARDEN FLOWERS”

Spring • Summer 2019

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A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Tie the knot in the stunning Grade II* listed Fitzrovia Chapel, then pop next door for your wedding reception at Percy & Founders.

1 Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7EY

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FA S H I O N STO RY

free SPIRIT With a distinctively fresh and fun take on bridal dressing, Agata Wojtkiewicz loves to blend modern minimalism with timeless traditions – and with exceptional cut and neat details that single out her designs as true originals PHOTOS SEBASTIAN ĆWIK

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BE CHARMFUL LACE BODICE PLUNGE GOWN WITH WRAP BELT AND TRAIN

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ROMANTIC MODERN BALLGOWN SHAPE WITH TULLE SKIRT

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BE SUPERB SHEATH GOWN WITH RELAXED PUFF-SLEEVE OVERJACKET For full collection and stockists, visit a g a ta w o j t k i e w i c z . p l

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WIN

A two night stay at St Ermin’s Hotel in the heart of London

Complete our readership survey to be in with a chance of winning ST JU IT V I S absolutely-weddings.co.uk/survey to have your say. WEDDING_SURVEY_AD.indd 1

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BRIDAL

DREAM Your must-visit London event this spring, Bridelux Atelier returns from 29th-30th March, bringing together the very best luxury wedding suppliers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ready to inspire your own wedding dreams

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Fashion Features BRIDELUX

B

ridelux Atelier is the unmissable luxury bridal event of the season for inspiration on planning your dream wedding. This curated show takes place at the iconic and newly renovated Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park from Friday 29th-Saturday 30th March, creating a setting that is as lavish as the brands showcasing their products and services. You will find a who’s who of high-end brands – including select names who rarely appear at wedding shows – and this creates an experience that is unique and personal. Sourcing the finest products and services in one place makes this a relaxed one-stop planning experience and you will have the opportunity to gain access to exclusive and talented designers, florists, service providers and craftspeople from across the elite wedding planning industry. These include leading names in bridal design such as Reem Acra, Vivienne Westwood and Emmy London, florists Farima Perry and Philippa Craddock, photo and video specialists Bloomsbury Films and David Michael Photography and iconic wedding venues Historic Royal Palaces and Taj Hotels. As guests of Bridelux Atelier, you enjoy privileged access to all areas of the show and the ticket price includes drinks and canapés, making this an enjoyable and relaxing event, as well as an opportunity to meet the very best in the weddings business.

“Bridelux Atelier brings together exclusive designers and craftspeople from across the elite wedding planning industry”

B R I D E L U X AT E L I E R N E E D TO K N OW DAT E

Fri 29th March 5pm-9pm; Sat 30 March 10am-5pm

LO CAT I O N

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1 Tickets: £45 at brid el u x.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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B RI DA L trends

Bold Botanics p 26 • Runway Looks We Love p 28 • Short Takes p 37

COOL B RIDE The Alma Novia collection by iconic Barcelona designer Rosa Clará has her signature fine lace and exceptional cut. Perfect wedding-day elegance for the contemporary bride, it’s now available in the UK exclusively at BOA Boutique in Richmond. boa-boutique.co.uk

ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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HEAT WAVE

GRAC E LOVE S L AC E Australian label Grace Loves Lace creates perfect slinky gowns for the tropical bride and this design, featuring a natureinspired pattern, has double straps dressed with a trailing leaf motif. There’s a London showroom in Shoreditch where you can see and try on the collection. graceloveslace.com.au

COOL CLASSIC EL BET H GI L L I S Violette, by South African designer Elbeth Gillis, is a ballgown shape with a cool modern twist. Bold embellishment on the split-side bodice and slouch pockets make it perfect for summer weddings. elbethgillis.com

REGAL BRIDE

A M A N DA WA KE L EY This statement Eleanor gown by Amanda Wakeley comprises hand-corded embroidery on a sheer mesh. With soft fishtail skirt, distinctive wide sleeves and a romantic leaf trail at the neckline, it’s elegant with a regal edge. amandawakeley.com

Bold BOTANICS The new-season trend for botanics sees gowns dressed with lavish blooms, elegant leaf trails and other nature-inspired embellishments. This is your perfect excuse to dress like a romantic flower queen

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Bridal Trends TEXTURED GOWNS

PETAL DRESSED CARO LIN A H E RRE RA Gretchen, by New York designer Carolina Herrera, is a fresh and feminine take on the botanical trend. A slimline design with train, it features oversized flowerheads at the wide illusion neckline and the trail of flowers continues along the length of the gown. thewedding-club.co.uk

NATURE TRAIL ANNA CA M P B E L L With a floaty flower-patterned layer and soft bell sleeves, this romantic Amelie gown by Anna Campbell has a flattering wide v-neckline and simple white belt detail at the waist. London stockist is Blackburn Bridal. blackburnbridal.co.uk

SUN SEEKER RE M BO ST YLIN G This sundress-style wedding gown by Rembo Styling has a flower-decorated bodice and simple soft-pleated skirt. The gown is easy to accessorise with a silk wrap or soft cashmere cardigan. rembo-styling.com

NEW ROMANTIC CLAIRE PE T T I BONE A soft and feminine dress by LA designer Claire Pettibone, Santorini has a fine tulle bodice and long sleeves dressed with beaded silk flowers. We love the deep plunge neckline and the pairing of ornate bodice with plain silk charmeuse skirt with cathedral train. blackburnbridal.co.uk

WILD GLAMOUR B E RTA This standout Berta design with train overlayer features bold 3D botanic embellishment, including a trail of luscious leaf motifs as shoulder straps. thewedding-club.co.uk

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Runway looks

WE LOVE From fairytale metallics and stunning lace to a fabulous mini for the bold bride, here are six runway looks we love Photography B A R C E LO N A B R I DA L FA S H I O N W E E K ; LO N D O N B R I DA L W E E K ; N E W YO R K B R I DA L FA S H I O N W E E K

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Bridal Trends RUNWAY LOOKS

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F A I R Y TA L E B R I D E

E D WA R D I A N E D G E

WHITE ELEGANCE

Capturing the new season’s love affair with both floral and metallic elements, this ethereal gown comprises a lace-trimmed slip gown and a gauzy overlayer with trailing white and silver flowers. Marco & Maria stockists include The Wedding Club. thewedding-club.co.uk

The passion for fine lace continues into 2019 and Sassi Holford’s gown combines a slimline sheath with a floral lace overlayer. The high neckline and fitted sleeves have an Edwardian flavour, but the flowing tiers of the skirt add a thoroughly modern twist. sassiholford.com

Spanish bridal house Jesus Peiro delivers a masterclass in understated style with this crepe dress. With a wide bateau neckline, low back and long sleeves, it has a fluid cut and – the only decorative element – fabulous flower petal details at the wrists. jesuspeiro.com

Marco & Maria

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Sa ssi Hol ford

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Je sus Pe i ro

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BA L LG OW N D R A M A

JEWEL UP

S H O R T TA K E

New York designer Gracy Accad has remastered the ballgown shape for her spring 2019 collection, adding a light and fluid full skirt with abstract wave-effect pattern. We love the relaxed pockets and unusual structured bodice, tapering to a point below the collarbone. gracyaccad.com

Jewel embellishment and a pared back and slimline profile are both strong fashion stories for 2019. Demetrios combines both in an ensemble that comprises a glittering body and lightweight split skirt with Grecian flavour. It’s a perfect showstopper for the glamorous destination bride. demetrios.com

Shorter lengths are back in many designer collections and YolanCris has multiple options, ranging from hi-lo and ballerina styles to this fabulous mini. Trimmed with feathers and oversized rose-heads, it is a bold and bodycon approach to bridal dressing. yolancris.com

Gracy Accad

De me trios

Yol a nCri s

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Bridal Trends MINIMALIST

P R O N OV I A S

Form-fitting Higuera has a sleek off-theshoulder neckline with unusual cape sleeves that create a train effect. pronovias.com

ALEXANDRA GRECCO SUZANNE NEVILLE

Carmella has a fan-effect detail at the neckline, a striking architectural element to add the wow factor to a sleek gown. suzanneneville.com

Sharp

With a plunge neckline and bodycon shape, this design is by Alexandra Grecco. London stockist is The Wedding Club. thewedding-club.co.uk

CUT

WITH BOLD AND ANGULAR LINES FOR A STRONG SILHOUETTE, THESE EDGY AND REVEALING DESIGNS ARE PERFECT FOR THE MODERN MINIMALIST BRIDE

JUSTIN ALEXANDER S AVA N N A H MILLER

Nancy is an on-trend bridal jumpsuit with wide-leg trousers and a wrap-effect halter bodice with front split. savannahmiller.com

E N ZOA N I

A split-front bodice and graphic lace give this gown from the Beautiful collection a modern profile. enzoani.com

This gown by Justin Alexander has a flowing skirt and halter-effect bodice with twist detail at the neckline. justinalexander.com

J E N N Y YO O

With long sleeves and deep v front, this understated Blythe knit crepe gown is by New York bridal designer Jenny Yoo. jennyyoo.com

O S C A R D E L A R E N TA Utterly simple, this gown features a softly draped plunge bodice and neat belt detail. Stockists include The Wedding Gallery. oscardelarenta.com

ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Fa i r y

STORY Featuring frothy tulle, fine lace and delicate beading, these romantic wedding gowns have a fairytale quality that is just perfect for the bride who wants to shine bright – the star of her own true love story

DRAMA QUEEN

ROSA C L ARÁ Perfect for making a dramatic entrance, this Manchester gown is from the Rosa Clará Couture collection. It comprises a fitted long-sleeve bodice in exquisite floral lace paired to a full and flowing skirt with train. rosaclara.es

MODERN MUSE

BERTA MUS E This dreamy gown by master of modern romance Berta features the label’s signature jewel embellishment and flattering cut. It features a fine tulle skirt that is perfect for floating up the aisle. UK exclusive stockist is The Wedding Club. thewedding-club.co.uk

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SWISH SEPARATES

KAT YA KAT YA LO N DO N This structured silk Dale top with spaghetti straps and frothy Lana skirt are from London designer Katya Katya Shehurina. It is part of her lovely capsule bridal separates collection, and with other tops that can be paired to this skirt. katyakatya.co.uk

Spring • Summer 2019

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Bridal Trends ROMANTIC GOWNS

DREAM DRESSING

JOYCE YO U N G This classic gown by Joyce Young pairs a tulle frothy skirt, with a tailored strapless bodice and a jewel-detail belt. The addition of a lace overtop with elbow-length sleeves makes this a gown that can take you effortlessly from ceremony to after party. joyceyoungcollections.co.uk

FLOAT ON

GEM Y M A A LO U F With plunge neck, soft cap sleeves and a lavish lace panelled skirt, this elegant take on the fairytale gown is by brilliant Lebanese couturier Gemy Maalouf. The label’s key stockists include Mirror Mirror London in Islington. mirrormirror.uk.com

SPARKLE FACTOR

PH ILLIPA LEP L EY This Alice Water Garden gown from London couturier Phillipa Lepley is in finely beaded French lace, giving it an iridescent quality. We love the fine frill at the neckline, adding extra allure to a dreamy design. phillipalepley.com

FLOWER DRESSED SASSI H O LFO RD Phebe is a glamorous design from Sassi Holford’s latest collection. The intricately embellished floral bodice has soft flower and foliage trails that extend to the full skirt, creating a romantic and light silhouette that is perfect for everything from a summer celebration to a ballroom party. sassiholford.com

ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Bride

REFINED One of the strongest fashion stories in bridal is the return to more demure styles, with softer silhouettes and more coverage. Here, the focus is on exceptional fabrics and details to create a look that is both timeless and totally refined

SATIN BRIGHT

EL L I S BRI DAL S This classic lace bodice and full satin skirt by Ellis Bridals are perfect pairing for a day-toevening wedding – elegant for dancing but with a restrained and timeless design and flattering elbow-length sleeves. ellisbridals.co.uk

MODERN MERMAID ROMONA K EVEŽA This chic white gown by iconic New York designer Romona Keveža has a sleek cut with soft mermaid skirt, creating a sculptural and contemporary line. London stockist is The Wedding Gallery. the-weddinggallery.com

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SLIM LINE

A L M A N OV I A Taikan is a neat contemporary take on bridal from the Rosa Clará Alma Novia label, which is exclusive to BOA Boutique in the UK. The lightweight fine lace bodice has long sleeves ending below the elbow and is paired to a slim skirt with delicate spot texture. boa-boutique.co.uk

Spring • Summer 2019

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Bridal Trends REFINED GOWNS

RETRO GLAMOUR A L E X A N DRA G R ECCO With a hint of 1970s revival, this romantic dress designed and made in New York by Alexandra Grecco features long fitted sleeves with cuffs, a high waistband and button front. The label's stockists include The Wedding Club. thewedding-club.co.uk

LAVISH LACE CAROL I NE CAST I G L I A N O The Madeira gown from London designer Caroline Castigliano consists of a silk strapless gown with fine lace overlayer. We love the flattering high neck, soft cap sleeves and simple sash belt. carolinecastigliano.com

FINE LINE

PARTY SIMPLE

JOYCE YOU NG COLLEC T I ONS A bateau neckline makes this grown-up silk gown from Joyce Young a great choice for a summer-garden wedding. There’s minimal detailing, but we love the angled rose embellishment at the waist. joyceyoungcollections.co.uk

S UZA N N E N EVILLE The Adair gown feels completely on trend, with its long fitted sleeves and finely tailored silhouette. While the front of the gown is plain and simple, the back is open and features covered buttons at the neck and waist. suzanneneville.com

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Bridal Trends SHORT GOWNS CLAIRE PETTIBONE

Ideal for brides who want short with an ethereal twist, Claire Pettibone’s Sahara combines a mini with romantic lace overlayer. blackburnbridal.co.uk

B E R TA M U S E

This neat mini with long sleeves and fitted split-front skirt features Berta’s signature fine lace and intricate embellishment, plus a detachable train. thewedding-club.co.uk

NAEEM KHAN An edgy cold-shoulder mini with an early 1980s vibe, Waverley features crystal embellishment. UK stockist is The Wedding Club. thewedding-club.co.uk

Short

TA K E S

THESE SHORT DRESSES ARE THE PERFECT OPTION FOR DESTINATION AND CITY BRIDES WHO WANT TO SHOW OFF THEIR ELEGANT HEELS O LV I ’ S

This off-the-shoulder dress features fine lace on bodice and fitted sleeves and a scalloped hem. Olvi’s stockists include BOA Boutique. boa-boutique.co.uk

M U S C AT B R I DA L

Designed by Kevin Muscat, Cecilia comprises a layered tulle skirt and silk morrocain bodice. muscatbridal.com

C AT H E R I N DEANE

LY N ASHWORTH Hamstall, from Lyn Ashworth’s new collection, combines a silk slip with fine lace overlayer. We love the high neck and soft cap sleeves. lynashworth.co.uk

Camilla, from Catherine Deane, is a classic ballerina shape, with fitted satin bodice and romantic tulle skirt. catherinedeane.co.uk

SUZANNE NEVILLE

Orwell pairs a simple fitted bodice with elbow-length sleeves to a frothy flower-trimmed skirt, knee length at the front and descending to a train. suzanneneville.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Bridal Trends COLOUR MODECA

Esmee by Modeca Le Papillon is a classic strapless gown in rich grey with an overlay of flower-embellished white tulle. modeca.com

RUE DE SEINE

A fabulous choice for a festival bride, Nahla by Rue de Seine features a pattern of cabbage roses. thewedding-club.co.uk

CHARLIE BREAR

In a lovely pastel pink, Carenne offers a soft-focus alternative to white for the summer or destination bride. charliebrear.com

Colour

WA S H OUR PICK OF EIGHT ROMANTIC WEDDING GOWNS TO GIVE YOU A SUBTLE HINT OF COLOUR ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

JENNY PAC K H A M

Jenny Packham’s Indigo gown and Acacia tulle topcoat offer a hint of grey – a dreamy ensemble for sashaying up the aisle. jennypackham.com

TEMPERLEY LONDON

Aubrey is a romantic summer wedding gown by Temperley London dressed with gorgeous garden roses. temperleylondon.com

E L L I S B R I DA L S With a bustier-style longline bodice and dramatic mermaid skirt, this Ellis Bridals gown has a hint of pastel pink. ellisbridals.co.uk

S AV I N L O N D O N

With subtle pastel flowers, this gown by Savin London features a plunge bodice and simple bootlace straps. savinlondon.com

H E R M I O N E D E PAU L A

This elegant dress by Hermione de Paula has a rose hue and delicate floral pattern. London stockist is The Wedding Gallery. the-weddinggallery.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Bridal Trends LEBANON

Design DNA

LEBANON Lebanon’s bridal fashion punches way above its weight. Clare Thompson of The Wedding Club explains why it has produced so many stars and discusses two of its brightest names.

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ebanon designers notch up points on global red carpets, as well as being worn by brides around the world. The epicentre is Beirut – hub of a thriving fashion scene and with strong links to French and Italian fashion. It is still sometimes referred to as the Paris of the Middle East. The Wedding Club’s Clare Thompson says that Lebanon’s success comes down to the huge concentration of talent and traditional design expertise. “Beirut’s fashion ateliers are old-school and with skills that have been passed down generations.” The design approach is all about detail. “Wedding gowns are considered works of art, with extraordinary attention to cut, fabric and embellishment,” says Clare. “Designers draw on Middle Eastern and Western design aesthetics, and that is what makes their work so distinctive.” The nation’s design DNA can be seen clearly through the work of two of its stars.

ZUHAI R MU RAD

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regular on the global fashion stage, Zuhair Murad has dressed stars ranging from Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez to Priyanka Chopra. US model Chanel Iman wore not one but two of his gowns for her wedding, while actress Sofia Vergara glittered in a creation that took more than 1,600 atelier hours to make. “Zuhair’s designs are incredibly detailed, with luxurious fabrics and intricate embellishments, but they are also ultra

collection,” adds Clare. “With each new season you find bold and fashion-forward details, but ultimately the dresses have a quality that makes them timeless.”

TONY WA R D

T ZUHAIR MURAD

flattering – designed to make women look glamorous,” says Clare. The Wedding Club is exclusive UK stockist of Murad’s RTW bridal line and Clare says customers often fly in to London just to try on his gowns. Murad trained in Paris, debuting on the catwalks of Milan in 1999 and in Paris two years later. He launched his bridal line in 2011. While he now has a presence across the fashion capitals of Europe, he also has a devoted audience across the Middle East; notably, he dressed Saudi Arabia’s Princess Ameerah al-Taweel for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. “There is so much style about his RTW bridal

ony Ward grew up immersed in the world of Beirut high fashion. He cut his teeth in Paris, training at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Then he worked with the best – Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé among them – before launching his couture label in Beirut. RTW bridal joined the label in 2011. Ward’s bridal silhouette is romantic and he has been called the ‘architect of detail’ for his sculptural forms and elements of light and shade. Stars ranging from Kelly Osbourne to Rita Ora have been spotted owning the red carpet in his gowns. Ward now has a European flagship on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which, along with his appearances at Paris Fashion Week, puts him firmly within the realms of highfashion royalty. Ward joins the Knightsbridge branch this spring, and Clare says he’s a star addition. “Tony is a master of fine detail,” she says. “And there’s always a lightness of touch and elegance. His atelier is extraordinary for the beautifully crafted gowns it produces.”

THE WEDDING CLUB offers more than 20 leading international labels from three stores in London and Birmingham. Zuhair Murad and Tony Ward are at its 10 Yeomans Row, Knightsbridge SW3 branch. thewedding-club.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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New

DECO Art Deco has always been a key influence in bridal, but this season there's renewed focus on elegant lines and jewel embellishment

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Valencia designer Isabel Sanchis included this glittering metallic gown in her 2019 collection, complete with golden-fringe skirt. isabelsanchis.com Eliza Jane Howell’s Nancy gown and Mars bracelet are the perfect Deco pairing. Photo: Jacqulyn Hamilton; hair & make up: Cara McDaniel. elizajanehowell.com

rt Deco is a perennial influence in bridal design – loved for its flattering lines and glitzy flourish – but this season it has a fresh twist. You will find bold embellishment, metallic hues, sleek or flapper-style lines and all manner of beautiful accessories to add a sparkle to your look. It’s a glamour injection for any style of wedding and, whether you choose to add Deco elements in shoes and jewels or shimmy down the aisle in a full-on flapper gown, you will be both timeless and perfectly on trend.

Red-carpet favourite Naeem Khan has some fabulous flapper-style gowns in his new bridal collection, including this shimmering mini.

Original Art Deco Colombian emerald earrings. £24,500; susannahlovis.com

Exciting new designer Mar Rodriguez showed a gorgeous plungeneck gown with Deco lines at Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. marrodriguez.com

thewedding-club.co.uk

Tahitian balloon pearl and white gold cocktail ring by Sweet Pea. £3,065; sweetpeajewellery.com

Crystal embellished Cinderella Point shoe by Emmy London. £765; emmylondon.com

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Hippie

CHIC Hippie is so chic this season, with gowns and accessories that offer the perfect wedding-day style for free-spirited brides

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Rosa Clará injects timeless romantic style into separates with this simple lace sleeveless top paired to a softly layered flowing skirt.

here’s been a hippie revival in bridal, with a whole host of winsome and boho elements that can set you off on your own romantic journey down the aisle. Retro lace, lavish tassels, chunky eastern-inspired elements and ethereal details have been cropping up in major designer collections. Laidback, in an elegant way, this is the perfect look for free-spirited brides who have given their hearts but are holding on to their souls.

rosaclara.es

Master of modern boho YolanCris showed this winsome off-the-shoulder gown at Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. yolancris.com

Rue de Seine’s West gown features a deep plunge neckline and fabulous tassels flowing from the shoulders.

Catherine Deane’s delicious retro gown features delicate lace, a high neckline and romantic bell sleeves. catherinedeane.co.uk

Rainbow Planet spiral opal ring by Noor Fares. £2,355; noorfares.com

thewedding-club. co.uk

Giovanni Raspini Super Bowl Light hammered silver earrings. £130-£175; giovanniraspini.com

Dune London Lostsprings sandals. £80; dunelondon.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Romantic

Ines di Santo’s Fashion romantic dress features a flowing skirt and fabulous balloon sleeves with frills below the shoulder and ruffles at the wrist. inesdisanto.com

Feature SUZANNE NEVILLE

RUFFLES Ruffles and frills are adding a flirtatious twist to bridal in 2019, featuring on skirts, sleeves and glamorous redcarpet accessories

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uffles and frills have been a recurring theme on the bridal runways of London, New York and Barcelona, cropping up on everything from frothy skirts to flyaway sleeves. You’ll even find them on bags and elegant bridal heels. Whether you want to add an ethereal or flirtatious edge, they are a brilliant way to add flow and movement – and an element of romantic drama – to your weddingday ensemble.

Awon Golding’s Lover veil in ruffled tulle with ivory blooms. £380; awongolding.com

Jimmy Choo Cloud suede clutch with ruffle. £1,595; jimmychoo.com

Di Hassall Amarine peep toes with organza ruffles. £290; dianehassall.com

Savin London’s signature ruffled skirt was paired with a bustier-style bodice and chic wedding coat on the London Bridal Week runway. savinlondon.com

Reem Acra’s ethereal bridal collection includes this gown with flounced skirt paired to crystal-trimmed bodice. UK stockists include The Wedding Gallery. reemacra.com

Cymbeline’s flirty wedding gown features a longline lace bodice and ornate flounced skirt. Cymbeline stockists include Mirror Mirror London. mirrormirror.uk.com

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Bridal Trends SHOES MARION AY O N O T E

DUNE

Mrs are decadent wedding heels by Dune London. With crossover toe, high heel and satin ribbon tie with crystal trim, they are perfect for cutting a dash up the aisle. £130; dunelondon.com

JIMMY CHOO

Conqueror Caviar Silver is a glamorous metallic leather sandal with lace fastening. Handmade to order by British shoe designer Marion Ayonote, it has a lambskin lining and blue leather sole. £800; ayonote.com

Liz 100 is an ivory satin pump with pointed toe, crystal embellishment and fabulous fascinator feathers. Designed by Jimmy Choo, and with leather lining and sole, it’s also available in black. £850; jimmychoo.com

F R E YA R O S E

EMMY LONDON This new Clara bridal shoe with elegant cutaway ‘d’Orsay’ curves adds classic glamour. It is shown here with Emmy London’s Swarovski Crystal Cross, removable shoe clips that were inspired by a trip to Porto, Portugal. £595; emmylondon.com

Wa l k

TA L L

Martina Rosa is a block-heel sandal in soft pink suede. Featuring Freya Rose’s signature mother-of-pearl mosaic heel, and with neat ankle strap and gold buckle, it has a memory-foam kid lining. Also available in champagne. £395; freyarose.com

WALK TALL ON YOUR WEDDING DAY WITH OUR LUXURIOUS PICK OF WEDDING-DAY HEELS

R AC H E L S I M P S O N

Perfect for dancing, Zadie is a gold leather sandal from Rachel Simpson’s new collection with a large dash of old Hollywood glamour in the styling. The front of the shoe features three oversized handmade roses, while the back gives the look of a sandal but with extra support. £255; rachelsimpsonshoes.co.uk

CASADEI

SOPHIA WEBSTER Sophia Webster’s signature Chiara heels with butterfly trim have been redesigned for brides as a white and silver sandal. A mix of calf and patent calf leather, they are a dream choice if you want to flutter by on your wedding day. Also available in ice blue and white. £495; sophiawebster.com

Blade Elle is a pointy glitter shoe with Casadei’s signature Blade heel. With three tonal stripes in silver, it’s a chic take on the classic high pump and a great way to add a dash of sparkle to your weddingday outfit. £680; casadei.com

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Bridal Trends WEDDING GUESTS

Party

PEOPLE These elegant outfit ideas for mother of the bride and guest will ensure you make it onto the wedding’s best-dressed list

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New heights

In an on-trend shade of rich coral, this hat will add height and glamour to your wedding guest ensemble. The hat is designed and made to order by London milliner Edwina Ibbotson. edwinaibbotson.co.uk

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E asy elegance

Leading bridal designer Sassi Holford has a brilliant occasion collection – developed because she had so many requests from mothers of the bride. This red dress with long sleeves, wide v-neck and fluted hem will take you effortlessly from day to evening. All pieces in the collection, available at her Fulham Road flagship, can be designed in a wide choice of colours. sassiholford.com

SUMMER BREEZE Perfect for a relaxed summer or 3 destination wedding, this glamorous navy dress with oversized poppy print has wide sleeves

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Bridal Trends WEDDING GUESTS

ending at the elbow, a fabric buckled belt and a flattering v-neck. The dress is part of Suzannah’s superb collection of occasion pieces for formal and informal events, all of which are available at her New Quebec Street, Marylebone store. suzannah.com

V i n tag e c h i c

With a 1920s flavour, this glamorous longer-length ensemble by Joyce Young Collections consists of a fitted sleeveless dress with cropped lace overtop and matching lace wrap. It’s a versatile design to make the transition from ceremony to wedding party easy, and can be accessorised in multiple ways. All pieces in Joyce Young’s occasion collection are made to order in her Glasgow studio, giving you multiple options on colour, length and details, and she is also happy to create bespopke pieces for your special event. joyceyoungcollections.co.uk

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A f t e r da r k

With soft cap sleeves, a slimline skirt and a dash of glitter on the bodice, this Jardin design is from the Pronovias Fiesta collection and would make a sophisticated choice for an evening celebration or wedding after party. The Fiesta collection is stocked at Pronovias’ Old Bond Street store. pronovias.com

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P e r f e c t p l e at s

In a soft shade of blue and with subtle lace floral detailing, this Crocus dress is from the Katya Katya London occasion collection, which offers relaxed and contemporary options for mother of the bride and guest. The longer-length bodice, fitted long sleeves and soft pleats make it a flattering choice. katyakatya.co.uk

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Long drama

A great choice for summer ballroom wedding, this long sleeveless burgundy gown is by Betty Barclay party and occasion label Vera Mont. With a fluid chiffon skirt, it has a bold oversized flower embellishment along the length of the bodice and would be easy to accessorise with a cashmere cardigan or wrap. bettybarclay.com

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Ta i l o r e d l u x e

Versatile and perfect for a smart event, this tailored dress with three-quarter sleeves and neat belt detail is by London designer Lalage Beaumont. As with all her pieces, it’s beautifully made, and also designed to be easy to accessorise with a coat, jacket or wrap. lalagebeaumont.com

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L i l ac t i m e

In a soft and flattering lilac, this neat tailored dress by John Charles has fitted elbow-length sleeves and a soft tie detail. While the design is understated, we love the addition of crystal on bodice and waist, adding subtle glamour that is perfect for mother of the bride. johncharles.co.uk

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Spring • Summer 2019

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Bridal Trends BRIDESMAIDS DECO GLAMOUR

Capturing the season’s Deco and metallic trends, Monsoon features soft pastels and glittering elements. uk.monsoon.co.uk

SPOT ON

Katya Katya London’s short gown comprises a pale blue slip gown with spotted overlay in soft latte. Her versatile bridesmaid collection gives you lots of options to vary the colour combinations. katyakatya.co.uk

L I L AC T I M E

The new Ted Baker Tie The Knot collection features fabulous bridesmaid choices, including these on-trend lilac gowns for mixand-match style. The collection is available in selected stores, viewable by appointment. tedbaker.com

Dream

DRESSES OUR PICK OF PERFECT GOWNS FOR YOUR DREAM TEAM OF BRIDESMAIDS WILL ENSURE THEY SHINE AT THE PARTY

G A R D E N PA R T Y

FINE FLORALS

Featuring a lovely oversizedfloral print on a white background, this lightweight bridesmaid gown by New York designer Jenny Yoo is a great choice for a garden wedding. jennyyoo.com

This Jamila dress from Pronovias’ Fiesta collection features a bandeau bodice with gauzy skirt and subtle belt feature. We love the romantic floral pattern. pronovias.com

MIDNIGHT HOUR

L O V E LY L AV E N D E R

In a cool lavender hue, this halterneck gown features a layered effect bodice and slim skirt for a chic take on bridesmaid dressing. kelseyrose.co.uk

From the elegant Alfred Sung collection for Dessy, this midnight-blue design features a plunge front and softly draped skirt with front split. uk.dessy.com

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Clothes to treasure for your memorable day “The most adorable selection of children’s clothes for special occasions” Gabriella Cortese, Stella magazine, The Sunday Telegraph “..thank you for the exquisite gown and also the utterly professional service. Most importantly Beth loved wearing it and that was so special for all of us.” Ginny, bride

bespoke clothes by appointment at our studio info@littlebevan.co.uk and available online www.littlebevan.co.uk

stylist PierreCarr / photography Eddie Judd

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Unit 3F, Hewlett House 5 Havelock Terrace Battersea London SW8 4AS

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We are Chelsea’s hidden secret. Buckleigh suits, morning coats, evening tails and dinner suits are renowned for their top quality fabric. Formal Wear Hire | Bespoke Tailoring Ladies and Gentlemen Alterations

T: 020 7730 0770 www.buckleighoflondon.com | buckleighoflondon@hotmail.com 83 Lower Sloane Street | Chelsea, London | SW1W 8DA

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Bridal Trends YOUNG BRIDESMAIDS

WEDDING CREW

The Monsoon spring/summer collection for bridesmaids and flowergirls includes some real treasures. We love this Bridget navy duchess satin dress (£55) and baby Eliona dress (£45); uk.monsoon.co.uk

CUSTOM FINERY

Long-established bespoke bridesmaid and party specialist Little Bevan now has a new Battersea address. Designs are created to match your vision and colour theme and the fabrics and fitting are exceptional. littlebevan.co.uk

Little ANGELS

OUR PICK OF FLOWERGIRL DRESSES, FOR EVERYTHING FROM A FORMAL WEDDING TO A RELAXED SUMMER GARDEN PARTY

B OW T I E D

A timeless summer dress from designer Holly Hastie, Charlotte is in white cotton pique and has a pale blue grosgrain band on the skirt, with a matching belt. £89; hollyhastie.com

PERFECT PINK

This Isabella gown with boat neck and flounce sleeves is available in a range of colours, and in either taffeta (as shown) or cotton. The sash is sold separately and can be matched or in a contrast colour. From £195; littleeglantine.com

PURE GOLD

This silk taffeta dress with net underskirt is made by The Little Wedding Company. It’s shown with a lavish wide gold sash. The dress can also be customised. Ages one to 10, from £124; thelittleweddingcompany.co.uk

L AY E R L U X E

This on-trend party dress by Angel & Rocket features a double-layered satin skirt with tulle and has a soft silver bodice and jewelled neckline. Available for ages four to eight, it make a great choice for a summer party. £55; angelandrocket.com

P A R T Y M AT C H

This Clemence jacquard dress has a pretty ribbon tie and is shown here with the matching Cherry baby dress. £210 & £250; mariechantal.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Elite London Events Spellbinding Wedding Fairs

www.elitelondonevents.com

CHELSEA’S ENCHANTED WEDDING FAIR

HILTON RIVERSIDE SECRET WEDDING FAIR

Sun 3rd March & Autumn Fair tbc at the Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London, SW3 5EE

Sun 19th May 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Docklands, 265 Rotherhithe Street, London, SE16 5HW

BUY 1 GET 1 FREE TICKET VIA EMAIL  INFO@ELITELONDONEVENTS.COM

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Bridal Trends GROOMSWEAR Ted Baker’s new Tie The Knot collection for the whole wedding party includes lots of sharp options for contemporary grooms; tedbaker.com

The Sparrow jacket is designed for new romantics. £449; tedbaker.com

Sketch Collection introduces a subtle colour and texture pop. Ermine cufflink, £205; alicemadethis.com

Crockett & Jones’ Camden Ocean Suede Loafer, minus tassel, updates a British classic. £345; crockettandjones.com

WELL GROOMED From full-on dandy to romantic floral accessories, this season it’s all about adding colour to your wedding-day look

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his season’s suits and accessories are designed to nurture your inner dandy. Not only will you find lots of flattering colour options, but designers are also adding romantic floral top-notes through accessories – Ted Baker even has a decadent floral jacket for grooms who want to bloom on their big day. It’s all part of a trend towards more relaxed and dapper wedding-day dressing – which has to be good news for anyone looking for something a little more individual than the standard dark suit. Of course, formals are still being worn – in fact there’s a strong trend towards classic DJs for day-to-evening glamour – but for daywear, your options expand to stripes, soft colours and sharp cut.

Add cool white and tan with this George Jensen Koppel chronograph watch. £895; amara.com

COLOU R P OP S

ne key consideration with your wedding-day suit is return on investment – you want this to be an ensemble you can wear again. If you prefer to go a little darker, either to blend with wedding colours or to create a more business-appropriate look to carry you from wedding to daily life, then consider adding pops of colour through accessories instead. Here you’ll find a fabulous range of options, from floral ties and graphic pocket squares to discreet coloured and textured cufflinks. Don’t forget the impact of shoes. A contrast shoe introduces a point of difference that makes a suit look less formal and a little more edgy. This is also an easy way to anchor your look, as you can pick out the same shade as your shoe in other key accessories.

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Wipe away your tears of joy with a Turnbull & Asser silk pocket square in these new season prints. £65; turnbullandasser.co.uk

Designed to look like a brogue, but with the comfort of a sneaker, Pioneer 396 is by British shoemaker Seven Feet Apart. £197; sevenfeetapart.co.uk

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JEWELLERY trends Engagement rings p.63 • Wedding jewels p.65

FOUR SEASONS The latest Tiffany Blue Book highjewellery collection The Four Seasons of Tiffany was unveiled in New York, where the company was born in 1837. It draws inspiration from flora, fauna and the architectural complexity found in nature. tiffany.co.uk

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Jewellery Trends RINGS LEO DIAMOND

EMMY LONDON

This 18ct rose-gold diamond solitaire from New York’s Leo Schachter features an inset diamond in the band. Available at Ernest Jones, £2,250; ernestjones.co.uk

This classic diamond set engagement ring with a Deco influence is designed by Emmy London exclusively for H. Samuel; £3,999. hsamuel.co.uk

SWEET PEA

Elegant and feminine, this 18ct yellow gold ring by Primrose Hill jeweller Sweet Pea features a marquise white diamond set between two brilliant cut pink sapphires. £2,135; sweetpeajewellery.com

DE BEERS

LONDON ROCKS

Featuring rich blue lapis lazuli, this striking white gold band is from the Enchanted Lotus collection by diamond specialists De Beers. £6,000; debeers.co.uk

With a central pink tourmaline, purple amethysts and diamond halo, this romantic ring is a contemporary take on the classic engagement shape. From £1,900; londonrocksjewellery.co.uk

ANNOUSHKA

This white gold Daisy Pavilion Ring Stack features two crown rings with a central pavilion ring featuring a daisy design with seven brilliant cut diamonds. £9,095; annoushka.com

77 DIAMONDS Whether you are looking for a diamond of delicacy, or something as big as the Ritz, Mayfair-based 77 Diamonds will source and then hand-make your treasure, enabling you to choose your own rock. 77diamonds.com

Love rocks From lavish diamond bands to romantic rubies, our pick of gorgeous rings you will love forever

DOMINIC WA L M S L E Y

Inspired by the jewellery in the Cheapside Hoard, this unusual diamond and ruby ring was created as a special commission by London and Sevenoaks bespoke jeweller Dominic Walmsley. POA; dominicwalmsley.com

LUCIE CAMPBELL

With a stunning central round brilliant diamond supported by smaller diamonds, this platinum engagement ring is by Bond Street fine jeweller Lucie Campbell. £8,400; luciecampbell.com

HARRIET KELSALL Featuring a princess-cut pink sapphire supported by diamonds, this Fairtrade rose gold ring was created by the team at bespoke specialists Harriet Kelsall. POA; hkjewellery.co.uk

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Jewellery Trends WEDDING JEWELS SUSANNAH LOV I S

These morganite and diamond teardrop earrings in an 18ct gold setting are from Burlington Arcade jewellery specialist Susannah Lovis. £4,800 susannahlovis.com

LARA HEEMS These unusual silver drop earrings from costume jewellery specialist Lara Heems feature a spiral of cubic zircona with a turquoise ball. £230; laraheems.com

DE BEERS

LINKS OF LONDON

Classic diamond studs from De Beers are an elegant and understated wedding-day finishing touch. Available in 0.30 and 0.70 carats, from £2,700; debeers.co.uk

From the Wholehearted collection, this Endless love 18ct rose gold vermeil bracelet features interlinked hearts. £450; linksoflondon.com

TROLLBEADS

Custom-create your own wedding-day tiara, choosing beads to match your style and wedding colours. Beads cost from £30 to £350. This design would cost from £160. trollbeads.com

ANNOUSHKA

Rose gold hoops studded with diamonds feature lovely tulip drops in lavender jade. The drops can be removed from the hoops. £1,145; annoushka.com

Bridal B EST

SWEET PEA FINE JEWELLERY

Our pick of wedding-day finery, from ontrend golden hoops to flower jewels and a delicious wedding-day tiara G I O VA N N I RASPINI CHAUMET

Perfect for a summer bride, these delicate diamond and pink opal Hortensia Aube Rosée earrings are from Chaumet’s Jardins collection. POA; chaumet.com

Southern Sea earrings feature natural freshwater pearls in a coral-pattern silver setting. £210; giovanniraspini.com

Decadent Flapper Girl hoop earrings feature gold chains beaded with seed pearls, moonstones and golden balls, making them perfect for afterdark glitter. £1,025; sweetpeajewellery.com

KO H I N O O R JEWELLERS

These elegant lemon quartz and green amethyst earrings are by Kohinoor Jewellers. £2,000; kohinoorjewellers.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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B E AU T Y looks Wedding hair masterclass p.68 • Bridal fitness – Eat Clean p.71

AIM HIGH Whether you wear it high or tumbling, beautiful wedding hair is about healthy condition, not just brilliant styling. We asked the experts for advice on everything from extensions to repair treatments. See page 80. Photo: SESH Hairdressing; seshhairdressing.co.uk

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MICHELLE GRIFFIN

PERFECT HAIR

Whether you want a glamorous up-do or perfect tumbling tresses, hair needs extra TLC in the months leading up to your wedding. We ask leading hairdressers for tips on maintaining your crowning glory

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2. What if I want to grow my hair for my wedding? Many brides want to grow their hair longer for their wedding day, but one common mistake is not cutting their hair for months on end. A very small haircut every six to eight weeks will promote quicker growth, also maintaining health. Hair masks and products such as Olaplaex are also an incredibly good way of keeping your hair healthy. Many brides may struggle to find time during the day, but a good way of creating a weekly ritual is by doing treatments overnight and rinsing/washing them out the following morning. Ana Gomes, stylist Blush and Blow London blushandblowlondon.com 3. How do I improve my hair’s health? Around three months before the wedding I recommend beginning an intensive hair-care routine. Try to cut down the amount of times you wash your hair to twice a week, and ensure one of these washes is

4. Any ‘dos and don’ts’? I advise brides not to dye their hair within two weeks of their wedding day. If you leave colour until the last minute and are not completely satisfied, you may not have time to have it adjusted. If you’ve had a hair colour a few weeks before the wedding, avoid using heated styling tools as much as possible, as these can dull and fade hair colour. If

KAREN KAM

1. When should I contact my hairdresser? In my opinion, you should contact your hairdresser and make-up artist as soon as the date of your wedding is confirmed. There is no harm in being very organised and, if you leave things too late, you run the risk that the team won’t be available. Early contact also means they can advise on what is achievable in terms of growing your hair before the wedding day, and suggest treatments for salon and home use so you reach your goals for your wedding-day hair. Simon Hill, owner SESH Hairdressing seshhairdressing.co.uk

followed with a deep conditioning hair mask to reduce dry, damaged ends and add shine. JOICO K-Pak Color Therapy LusterLock Treatment Mask is brilliant for this and will improve the longevity of hair colour too. Hair extensions are brilliant for brides as they really do give you the opportunity to create styles that would not be possible. Even if your hair is long, extensions add volume and thickness that means you can create fuller styles; this gives the illusion of healthier hair. You can also add colour using extensions, bringing in different tones to add dimension and depth, without any hair damage. Jay Birmingham, celebrity stylist & owner Jay Birmingham Hair jaybirmingham.co.uk

3 HAIR THERAPIES Fabulous saviours to deep condition and restore your tresses

Daniel Galvin LOVE Your Hair Intensive and nourishing repair treatment from colour expert Daniel Galvin. £38; danielgalvin.com

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer With the delicious scent of pomegranate and cassis, this restores texture and strength. £34; philipkingsley.co.uk

Neäl & Wølf Harmony This award-winning treatment is enriched with argan oil. £16.75; nealandwolf.com SUZIE RRI

KAREN KAM

Beauty looks HAIRCARE

heated styling tools have to be used, use a heat protection spray before styling. It’s also incredibly important to book in for a free consultation with the hairdresser before any appointments to get opinions and ideas and, once you find the right stylist, book a trial appointment. Suzie McGill, owner Rainbow Room International’s Uddingston Salon rainbowroominternational.com 5. Any advice for brides with hair loss or thin hair? One way to help is to add hair. At Loxbox, our extensions have been designed to help those who suffer with hair loss. With several methods to choose from, extensions can help create the feeling of fullness again, and thicken the hair. The application is very smooth and can take between 30 minutes and three hours to complete. Our virgin remy hair is blended with your hair to create a natural look. Extensions are a favourite with our brides, whatever their hair condition, because they add glamour. Michelle Griffin, Griffins CEO & owner/creator Loxbox Hair Extensions griffinsalons.co.uk 6. What about perfecting the wedding-day look? It’s a good idea to book one of your hair trials on the same day as your dress fitting and make-up trial. This gives you the chance to see your overall look, rather than seeing the final result on your wedding day when it may be too late to fix if the combination doesn’t look quite right. Karen Thomson, owner KAM Hair and Body Spa & Scottish Hairdresser of the Year kamhairandbodyspa.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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INFO@THEWEDDING-CLUB.CO.UK @TheWedding_Club

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Fitness FOOD

E AT C LE AN The team from Detox Kitchen suggest ways for brides to eat for good health and to beat stress in the run up to their wedding

water, leafy greens, beets and berries are a great starting point. Alternatively, try adding in some chlorella supplements or adding wheatgrass powder to juice. Also consider ditching any food that you think you may be intolerant to for a few weeks. Soy, gluten, peanuts, eggs, corn, shellfish and dairy are all common culprits. If you don’t know what is disagreeing with you, monitor your daily diet and how it makes you feel.

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our wedding day is not only one of the most memorable times of your life, it’s also one of the most documented, so it is only natural to want to look and feel amazing. But the pressure to look a certain way is designed to be anything but good for mind and body. Then there are the daily issues with modern life. From pesticides and fertilisers in food to over-eager medicine prescribing, the modern world is a bit of a minefield for our bodies. Add in the mental and physical stresses of coping with normal working life alongside wedding planning and this can all play havoc with blood sugar levels, leading to tiredness, a weakened immune system and bad eating habits that can be difficult to break. Thankfully, there are sustainable and enjoyable changes to make you feel less stressed, more energised and healthier. We recommend making conscious adjustments to your lifestyle about

E AT S M A R T

three to six months before your wedding. Not everyone has this timeframe, so work with the time you have – even small changes can make a big difference. Also remember that a good detox diet need not be an extreme or unpleasant ordeal. Genuine detoxing is about increasing those foods that are better for us and adopting a healthier lifestyle. Here are our tips for improving health and vitality in the run up to your wedding.

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ake whole foods the foundation of meals and try to avoid additive-filled packaged foods. Also put naturally power-packed foods into your diet. For instance, aim to consume oily fish (salmon/mackerel) at least twice a week. If you don’t eat fish take a fish-oil supplement. Full of Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, it is vital for collagen and elastin production and provides trace minerals for repair, protection and cell regeneration. Embrace superfoods for a healthy gut. Lemon

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t’s always a good idea to take a break from alcohol – which your body processes as a toxin – and instead increase water intake to boost your skin and improve energy levels. We also recommend a healthy morning drink using simple ingredients. Make a paste using the juice of one lemon, a halfteaspoon each of turmeric and honey, and a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add hot water and sip slowly before breakfast Adhering to this simple framework should make a real improvement in the way you feel. You may not be able to change the world we live in that easily, or the pressures in the run up to your wedding, but you can certainly help your body deal with daily stresses more effectively. D E T OX K I T C H E N delivers nutritionist-approved daily packages (breakfast, lunch and dinner) across London with a balanced menu of fresh and healthy ingredients. These include the Green Package (from £31.45 a day), a more filling alternative to the traditional detox. For information and healthy food tips, visit d et oxkit chen .co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Discover the home of gift lists. Townhouse now open, 312 Fulham Road.

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WEDDING planner

Ask the experts p.74 • Perfect party soundtrack p.77 • Smart gifting p.83 • Cakes p.85

DECO F LORAL Inspired by the decadent glamour of the 1920s and shot at Elvetham Hotel with gowns by Eliza Jane Howell, this trailing bouquet is by florist Lydie Dalton. Photo: Jacqulyn Hamilton; hair & make-up Cara McDaniel. See page 79.

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SERENA FOYLE is a multi-award-winning pyromusical producer and founder of Foyle Fireworks, which fuses bespoke musical soundtracks with fireworks

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Photo: Kate Hopewell Smith

Wedding

EXPERTS Our panel of experts answer your wedding planning, shopping and design questions

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Q We have experienced a ‘son et lumière’ show on our travels and would love something similar at our wedding. How would this work? A Fireworks are beautiful on their own but designed to a soundtrack they are transformed into a completely different experience. A key consideration is to include the timing of your display in your order of the day and stick to it. We are fortunate here in the UK that we don’t require a licence for setting off each display, but there is an 11pm cut-off – the only exceptions being Bonfire Night, Diwali, Chinese New Year and New Year’s Eve. In other countries licences vary, so consider that in your planning schedule. Scene-setting is hugely important which is why we often incorporate music to build atmosphere before the show begins. Manufacturers are going big on multi-effects, such as colours, and these can change in time with the music, which gives us a different way of highlighting the ‘beats’ of certain moments. These subtleties are what make the difference between a display that your audience describes as great and a display that’s remembered by everyone who watches it as absolutely amazing.

SARAH KELLUM is venue manager at contemporary and exclusive-use Surrey wedding venue Millbridge Court

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Q We want a high-summer wedding that incorporates indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly throughout the day. Any suggestions? A Ensuring you have ample indoor as well as outdoor spaces during the great British summer is essential. The key lies in finding a venue that allows you to flow seamlessly

Spring • Summer 2019

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Wedding Planner ASK THE EXPERT

JANE HELLIWELL is founder and designer of Champagne & Flamingos, which creates scented settings

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between the two if the weather is on your side. If it’s not – be it due to rain or extreme heat – indoor spaces must be designed so that you and your guests don’t feel ‘cooped up’ for shelter. The features to look for inside are an abundance of natural light, doors that open fully onto gardens or outdoor space and large, open reception areas. When it comes to outside spaces, the perfect summer venue will have plenty of paved or decked areas as well as grass. Ideally, it should have an arbour or other dedicated space that is licensed for ceremonies. It’s also important to look for venues with an outdoor bar option for those long, hazy summer evenings. When designing Millbridge Court, huge emphasis was placed on the venue having an outdoor-indoor feel. Our picturesque location in Frensham means we know our couples seek a connection to the countryside, and we designed internal spaces so that – whatever the weather – there is light flooding in from all sides.

Q We’d like to add an extra element to our wedding through scent. How does this work? A Scent is widely used as a mood setter in hotels and retail environments, and it can do exactly the same at weddings. Scent creates ambiance, makes you feel good and creates memories. I work on an individual scale, hand-pouring every candle, but I also use other elements – atomisers, scented ceramics and traditional and electric diffusers. I will typically plan two or three consultations – including one at the venue – where we consider the locale, the season, the wedding colours and the couple’s personalities. In this way, we ‘whittle down’ to a signature scent. We can incorporate scent into all elements of the event, from invitations to specially created and personalised candles for guests to take home as party favours. Scent should be subtle and complex, and is tailored to work differently across spaces. I do advise couples not to scent the dining area to the same extent. Here, scent works best used very sparingly – for instance, a spritz on tablelinen.

Edwina Ibbotson A renowned designer of hats, fascinators and bridal headdresses, Edwina Ibbotson studied millinery in London, Paris and New York. She has been creating bespoke headpieces for more than two decades from her busy Battersea studio

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any clients who come to me are unconfident because they are simply not used to wearing hats every day – or they believe they don’t have a ‘hat face’. You develop an instinct for what works and 99 per cent of the time the first hat I put on someone is the one they eventually choose. Once we’ve agreed the right shape and style, the hat can be refined for the outfit and occasion and then I make it to order. The aim of any design is that it should be so comfortable that you forget you are wearing it. The first question I ask is the type of wedding and location – is it dressy or not dressy, at Westminster Abbey or in the countryside? While rules are there to be broken, wearing a hat is all about feeling confident in your choice. You

want to look back at pictures years down the line and feel that the style worked for you and looked timeless. Of course, as a milliner, I’d love people to start with the hat, but usually my clients have found the outfit first. I do have many customers who return year after year and very often they might have a favourite style or look – some even order the same design in multiple colours. I love working with brides too. A longer lead-time is always a good idea as everything is made here in the traditional way with a block. I hand dye fabrics and feathers, as well as creating details such as flowers. While discreet headdresses and veils are always popular, we are seeing a return of big hats for brides as well as for guests. Cake band hats (as popularised by the Duchess of Cambridge) are also becoming popular.

Edwina Ibbotson Millinery is located at 45 Queenstown Road, SW8. For appointments and to find out more about her designs, visit edwinaibbotson.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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With classical interiors, a grand marble staircase and a private courtyard this elegant mansion in the heart of Mayfair is the perfect setting for a luxury London wedding. Dartmouth House combines all the elegance and grandeur of a Grade II listed mansion with contemporary catering to make your wedding day truly unforgettable. You and your guests can relax in the comfort of ‘your home for the day’ with exclusive access to the whole house including our gorgeous outdoor courtyard which transports you to the heart of a French Chateau. Planning weddings is our speciality and our dedicated wedding co-ordinator Camilla will be on hand to guide you every step of the way. With special offers available for 2018/19 winter weddings call now and quote DHWEDDINGS to start planning your special day. Please contact Camilla for more information: weddings@dartmouthhouse.co.uk – 0207 529 1592

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Planner MUSIC

aving worked across the music industry for over 25 years – offering everything from classical quartets to chill out sets, show bands and DJs – Urban Soul Orchestra (USO) know how to use music to make the party swing. Here they give tips for ensuring the perfect wedding playlist.

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SERVICE AND APPROACH The first way to judge if the music act is right for your wedding is to assess how quickly and efficiently they respond to your enquiry. Find out if they regularly provide entertainment at weddings – and if they’ve worked at your venue before. Check, too, if they have an on-site tour manager to provide one point of contact for you and ensure everything runs perfectly throughout the day. We’d also suggest asking if the same team can provide music for the whole day (or day into evening) and if they they provide their own sound system/tech team. Finally, you need to ensure the party flows between bands. Will they provide background playlists between sets to ensure seamless entertainment with no awkward gaps?

This is your event, and your style so you need to be sure that the act/s will be well presented on the day and will appeal to all your guests, from youngest to oldest. Once you’ve explained what you want, find out if they can provide outfits to match your chosen theme and event atmosphere.

MATCH THE MOOD The music needs to feel appropriate for all stages of your wedding. If yours is a traditional ceremony, ask if they can provide music for the Gathering, Processional, Recessional and Signing. If it’s a different style of ceremony, you still want music that suits the occasion so check they will deliver the soundtrack you want. If you are hosting a drinks reception after the ceremony, the ideal music is uplifting so discuss appropriate choices. During dinner find out if they intend to provide a live performance or background playlist. Whichever options you choose, music should be at a level that enables guests to talk to each other.

DANCEFLOOR MUSTS USO

Award-winning ensemble Urban Soul Orchestra (USO) give their tips on ensuring you get the perfect wedding party soundtrack

MUSIC MASTER

PHOTO: DIVINE DAY PHOTOGRAPHY

THE RIGHT LOOK

Ask if they have a repertoire, including both current songs and others that will chime with guests’ tastes and age range. This is the time when you want to encourage everyone to dance, so find out if your musicians will interact – for instance, using wireless microphones so they can rove around the dance floor. If a DJ is part of your entertainment, ask about the genres they will play. Critically, are they good at reading a room to know what track is required to keep the party on the dancefloor flowing.

BE DISCERNING Do your homework to check that reality matches the promises. Look for independent reviews online and ask for other indications that they have a track record and reputation – for instance, previous client testimonials and industry awards. Beyond the reviews, decide if you can work with this band. Are they understanding and flexible in matching your requests and do they provide the choices of music that will set the right mood and make your party come alive, from ceremony to dance floor.

● Urban Soul Orchestra (USO) provide varying entertainment to create the complete wedding soundtrack, with multiple awards and plaudits. They are preferred suppliers at prestigious London venues including Claridge’s, The Savoy, and St. Pancras Renaissance. urbansoulorchestra.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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wedding ad 303x216mm promo.pdf

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Unique, Elegant & Personal A private members club located in the heart of London, with a unique fusion of 18th century grandeur and elegant art deco. 10% SPECIAL

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Offering bespoke and standard packages without the Mayfair price tag, we cater for your personal Wedding requirements: · Ceremony and/or reception for 50-150 guests · 72 newly refurbished bedrooms and stylish suites · Secluded landscaped Courtyard and Winter Garden · In-house catering from our award-winning team of Chefs · Experienced and dedicated Wedding Coordinator

Weddings & Events: 020 7318 6117 9 Fitzmaurice Place, Mayfair, London W1J 5JD

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Absolutely Wedding Planner Weddings FLOWERS ALBUM

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PERFECT

blooms ydie Dalton grew up in rural southern France, in a family of flower and fruit growers, and was surrounded by the beauty of the French landscape. After moving to Paris, and then England, she developed her passion for all things floral – most particularly roses and the midsummer English garden. Becoming a florist was, she says, a return to her roots. Working across the Home Counties and London, her design approach combines English style with classic French elegance. She loves using perfumed roses – both English and French – and sources these, along with Provence lavender, from the very best suppliers. lydiedaltonfloraldesign.co.uk

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This bouquet incorporates a home-made armature to add movement and lightness, and let each bloom shine. It features a pastel combination of Guelder rose, Nigella, Astilbe, Astrantia hydrangea and lush Menta and Sensation roses. Greenery includes fern, eucalyptus and salal. Photo: Jacqulyn Hamilton. Hair & make-up: Cara McDaniel.

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This romantic domed bouquet centres on Lydia spray roses, alongside ranunculus, rice flowers, Astilbes, lilac and scented stock. It is hand tied with double velvet and silk ribbons. Photo: Jacqulyn Hamilton.

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This elegant hand-tied bouquet has a restrained colour palette of green, with accents of soft white and tonal pinks. It combines blowsy Queen Anne’s Lace flowers with traditional garden roses. Photo: Catherine Benson.

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This design blends greys and soft greens with blooms chosen for resilience to heat and sand. It includes eucalyptus, blue thistle and Majolika and Menta roses. Photo: Jacqulyn Hamilton. Gown: Sassi Holford.

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Wedding Planner STATIONERY HEART STRUCK

B O TA N I C T W I S T

Leeming Brothers is the place for bespoke stationery to match your wedding design, offering inspiration and a huge choice of options. This lush botanic suite, incorporating everything from save the date to menus and thank you cards, is a smart choice for a summer country wedding. leemingbrothers.co.uk

Trimmed with twine and two wooden hearts, this romantic laser cut Hattie invitation is part of the range by creative card and invitation specialists Imagine DIY. A great way to add the personal touch to your invitations, the website is full of brilliant craft ‘how to’ ideas. imaginediy.co.uk

G A R D E N PA R T Y

Perfect for a summer garden wedding, this sweet bunting design is by Norma & Dorothy, which specialises in rustic style invitations featuring lovely traditional papers. As with all its designs, you can create a whole suite around this theme. normadorothy.com

T R O P I C A L PA R T Y

Citrus Fresh

Inspired by the Mediterranean, this lemondecorated invitation by Ananya Cards is a great choice for an Italian or Greek destination wedding. We love the rough edges on the design, adding a casual twist. ananyacards.com

L O V E LY L A C E

In a lovely floral lace-effect design, this laser-cut design by Imagine DIY has a traditional flavour with a modern twist. You’ll find a whole range of matching ideas for your wedding suite in its laser-cut collection. imaginediy.co.uk

Post Perfect Romantic wedding ideas from leading luxury stationers to inspire perfect party announcements

Created by leading designer Matthew Williamson, this bold Blue Maracas invitation is a brilliant scene setter for a destination or festival wedding. Featuring bold foliage on a blue background, it’s available exclusively from Papier. papier.com

SHINE BRIGHT

This lovely stationery suite is by Emmy Designs. With shimmering stars on a black background, it’s a standout design for the mantelpiece and a great way to announce a sparkling party to come. emmydesigns.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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BABYSITTING GIFT PREZOLA

Wedding Planner GIFT LIST

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TRENDS THE TOWNHOUSE THE WEDDING SHOP

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Wedding gift lists – and gifting – are changing and gift list companies are responding with fresh and innovative approaches

eddings have moved on, and so has the gift list. The age at which we get married has risen, but also many couples feel uncomfortable with some of the more traditional gifting conventions. But couples are better off off building a gift list. Research from The Wedding Shop found that couples who chose not to establish a list were happy with only some of their gifts. Duplication of gifts is also a big risk. The Wedding Shop’s research found that more than 80 per cent of couples without a gift list received more than three unwanted wedding gifts – including multiple toasters and dinner services. That’s a waste of guests’ cash and leaves newlyweds with ‘clutter’ they have to pass on or store.

GIF TING TIME

floors of spaces that feel just like home (albeit very wellequipped). This encourages couples to get cosy – making a coffee, playing the PlayStation or streaming their personal playlist– as they browse the 3,000 curated and barcoded products. Everything they love can be scanned and added to the list. It’s easy to be inspired and, when you make an appointment, you get a personal ‘Gift Guru’ to show you round and advise on the thousands of gift options, as well as virtual gifts such as charity, honeymoon and cash funds. Perhaps the key point about the modern wedding gift list is that it’s continually evolving to match couples’ real lives and their values. This means it’s easy to create a gift list that is entirely unique, matches your personalities, and gives you special things that you really want in your lives (not the clutter). Now that has to be good news for couples – and also for wedding guests' wallets. * Prezola; prezola.com The Wedding Shop; weddingshop.com

Prezola, which offers honeymoon fund, charity donations and cash contributions alongside a vast range of conventional gifts, has recently launched a new type of experiential gifting. Here wedding guests pledge to do something, rather than buy something. This new Social Gifting service enables couples to choose something that is close to their hearts. It could be volunteering with a charity the couple support, cooking the couple dinner, helping them decorate, becoming a gym buddy, babysitting (or even dog-sitting while they are on honeymoon). Prezola says that Social Gifting supports two strong trends coming through for today’s couples – the fact that many don’t want guests to spend a lot of money and also the that time and experiences shared with loved ones are considered way more precious than anything they could buy.

KEEP ING IT REAL The Wedding Shop is giving couples a headstart in finding gifts that work with modern life by opening London’s first gift Townhouse. It joins existing showrooms in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. This property in Fulham offers four

GYM BUDDY TIME PREZOLA

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THE HAC IS A TRULY EXCEPTIONAL WEDDING VENUE OFFERING THE AMBIENCE AND EXCLUSIVITY OF A MAGNIFICENT COUNTRY HOUSE, RIGHT IN THE HEART OF THE CITY.

Choose a backdrop to suit your day, from the traditional setting of a stunning 18th Century manor house to the more contemporary Prince Consort Rooms. The HAC is licensed within four beautiful rooms accommodating up to 350 guests for ceremonies and wedding breakfasts. Centrally located in Moorgate and set within five acres of private gardens The HAC creates the perfect setting for capturing those unforgettable photographs. Relax in the knowledge that you are in the best possible hands and concentrate on turning moments into memories at The HAC. www.hac.org.uk/events

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Wedding planner CAKES

In the pink

This soft pink and gold design by award-winning baker Rosalind Miller is dressed with peonies and would be perfect as a standalone design or as part of a cake table. rosalindmillercakes.com

NAKED DELIGHT

Semi-naked cakes remain popular for more relaxed celebrations and Konditor & Cook makes fabulous designs that taste as good as they look. We love the simple elegance of this three-tier sponge. konditorandcook.com

HIGH DRAMA

Add some drama to your dessert table with this lush black cake decorated with lush orchids. It’s part of a range of creative and bold designs by the super-talented team at Elegateau. elegateau.co.uk

F E S T I VA L F L AV O U R

With a festival flavour, this three-tier white cake is dressed with fresh flowers and was designed by the team at La Belle Cake Company. labellecakecompany.co.uk

ROSE DELIGHT

With a rose-dressed base and five fabulous tiers trimmed with romantic blooms, this impressive Heartbeat design is a perfect centrepiece. It’s designed by cakemaker The Frostery. thefrostery.co.uk

GOLD GLAMOUR

In classic white trimmed with gold, this design is by London artisan cakemaker Nicky’s Buttercup Bakery. Featuring multiple tiers, it is topped with pure white sugarcraft roses. nickysbuttercupbakery.co.uk

Sweet

LOVE

ROSE DELIGHT

Seven creative ideas from some of our finest wedding cakemakers to ensure you and your guests indulge in sweet heaven

Picking out bold wedding colours of yellow and black – and with a subtle flash of crystal – this smart design by GC Couture features four elegant heart-shaped tiers. gccouture.co.uk

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Brilliant gifts for your bridesmaids and besties, spring wedding shows and a new location for one of our favourite designers

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ridesmaids are your rock – helping you on the journey up the aisle – so they definitely deserve a special thank you. Finding a gift that is appropriate, and also something they might wear or carry again, can be a tough one. De Caron’s jewelled watch rings are a neat idea and also useful if your bestie has been tasked with getting you to the church, hotel or beach on time. It features a motherof-pearl face and Swarovski crystal dial, stainless steel case and with a two-hand quartz movement. You’ll find it in a range of metals, including rose gold and silver, and it costs £110. If you have multiple bridesmaids to buy for, Astley Clarke has some lovely mixed metal stacking rings that make a good choice – they work with existing jewellery and you can also add further rings down the line for other special occasions. They cost £50 each. de-caron.com & astleyclarke.com

t’s spring, which means all thoughts turn to bridal shows. London Bridal Week, which is trade only, heralds the start of the new season’s bridal fashion – the 2020 gowns that will start to appear in bridal boutiques next autumn. After that we have a series of great events aimed at brides and grooms. The National Wedding Show returns to London ExCel (13-14 April) to provide a brilliant overview of the latest and greatest in fashion, venues and styling. Still looking east, the brilliant crew from Elite London Events have a brand new show taking place at the Docklands Hilton in SE16 (Sun 19th May), promising both a riverside setting and the imaginative styling we have come to expect from the team behind Chelsea’s Enchanted Wedding Fair. elitelondonevents.com, nationalweddingshow.co.uk

e’ve always been huge fans of Little Bevan, which produces the most exquisite garments for bridesmaids and other members of the wedding party. A real family business, it has just made the move south of the river. Designer Sarah Colfer says: “We’re moving to a studio in Battersea instead of our ‘old-school’ shop & basement workshop. It’s a bit of an upheaval as I have been here since 2007 – my daughter has practically grownup here and feels it’s her second home. The move gives Little Bevan the opportunity to expand. Sarah adds: “I’ll be concentrating on two areas: developing our online offering, with many more styles shown, and options to be able to easily customise product choices; and then emphasising our ultra-bespoke design services with appointments at the studio, or even visiting clients at home”. littlebevan.co.uk

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Our promise to you is complete perfection from ‘yes’ to ‘I do’...

New Forest | Hampshire | BH25 6QS 01425 275341 | mywedding@chewtonglen.com www.chewtonglen.com

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VEN U ES planner

London venues p.90 • Country venues p.94 • Venue spotlight p.96 • Sandals Resorts ‘Aisle to Isle’ p.98

PERFECT PALACE Hampton Court Palace’s majestic blend of Tudor and Baroque styles and riverside setting make it a majestic setting for a grand or intimate wedding celebration, with a variety of spaces to suit every style of occasion. hrp.org.uk

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OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE

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ld Royal Naval College is always a spectacular choice, but this year sees the return of its glorious Painted Hall as a potential wedding venue (this after several years of painstaking restoration). Sometimes described as the Sistine Chapel of the UK – with ceiling paintings by Sir James Cornhill – it is a truly magnificent place for ceremony or grand banquet. It is one of a range of atmospheric options at Old Royal Naval College – with others including the lovely Admiral's House. Whichever space you choose, the setting here is also magnificent. You can arrive for your celebration by river taxi and take picture-perfect photos alongside the Thames, adding to the romance of this timeless and worldfamous setting. venuehire.ornc.org/weddings

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Capital Gold

From exclusive clubs with private gardens to the London landmarks, here’s our pick of capital venues

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ith a great West End location on The Strand and an amazing ballroom designed by Edwin Middleton Barry (architect of the Royal Opera House), the Amba Charing Cross Hotel makes a superb location for a capital wedding, especially if you have guests travelling in from all corners. The ballroom is all about period splendour, with glittering chandeliers and marble pillars, while other fine spaces for a party gathering include the Thames and Regency suites. The hotel has a dedicated team to help with planning and the accommodation here is a great option if you want guests to stay over after the party. amba-hotel.com

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ne Whitehall Place is one of the finest settings for a London wedding and capable of hosting a crowd for a grand ball or reception. Located adjoining Royal Horseguards Hotel, it has a series of beautiful rooms that can be organised in a variety of ways, accommodating up to 250 guests. The incredible marble staircase, glittering chandeliers and general aura of

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glamour make this perfect for parties. The main wedding reception space is The Gladstone Library, but with several other glorious rooms that can host a large or more intimate affair. The onsite wedding planning here is superb, and with easy access for you and your guests to hotel facilities next door. All wedding couples are assigned their own wedding planner to help ensure a wonderful celebration. theroyalhorseguards.com

THE HAC IS A SPLENDID VENUE IN EC1

wedding celebrations large and small. Ceremony and party spaces range from chic salons to the Crystal Suite, with stunning views over Hyde Park. For something completely different, you could opt for the Oliver Messeldesigned Penthouse and Pavilion on the eighth floor, which offers a unique roof garden with panoramic views over the London skyline. dorchestercollection.com

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he Dorchester is an iconic London hotel and also one of the grandest party spaces on Park Lane. With a capacity of up to 1,000 for a grand ball, this beautiful 1930s landmark hotel also offers a variety of other spaces just made for

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et in five acres of beautiful gardens, the HAC is a splendid venue that feels as if it's in the country. In fact, it is tucked away behind City Road, EC1 – so ultra convenient for a city wedding. As home of the Army’s oldest regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company, this is a wedding venue with a wonderful sense of history, and the in-house catering is also excellent. It has two very distinct buildings that can be used independently or together, and with four spaces licensed for a wedding or civil ceremony. The atmospheric 18th-century mansion (known as Armoury House) has period spaces with fine wood furniture and paintings, making it perfect for a grand banquet or wedding breakfast. This sits alongside the ultra modern Prince Consort Rooms, a dedicated party space. This gives you the option to host part of your celebration in Georgian style, and make use of the extensive gardens, before moving on to the party space next door for dancing. The HAC is available for exclusive hire on weekday evenings and at weekends. hac.org.uk/events ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Cornwell Manor

Available for exclusive weekend hire for weddings & events, set in 2000 acres of Cotswold countryside, staffed manor house sleeping up to 24 guests with gardens perfect for a marquee wedding, a church on site or a ballroom licenced for civil ceremonies. Please contact Charlotte on 01608 698673 or email charlotte@cornwellmanor.com for more information

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Absolutely Weddings PROMOTION

Wedding Belles Bentley Garment Care will ensure your bridal finery is cleaned, restored and preserved. Absolutely Weddings speaks to Claire Bedworth to find out the method behind the magic

Often you may think that you have totally ruined your dress, especially as it is white or pale neutral, however we are able to treat most staining and damage to restore your dress for you. Q What are the most common kinds of damage? A Food, wine, make-up and general ground-in dirt and mud are the most common stains that we treat and, in terms of damage, heel holes and torn lace are very common.

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wedding dress is probably one of the most expensive purchases a bride will make, and more than that, it holds great sentimental value. For these reasons, it is imperative to see a specialist wedding dress cleaner for dress repairs, to avoid further damage to the garment and to ensure it is perfectly preserved. Bentley Garment Care is a thirdgeneration family-owned business with many years' experience in the care of wedding dresses. The team are able to clean all wedding dresses, whether they are made of delicate lace, silk, organza, or embellished with beading and diamanté. They can even clean dresses labelled ‘do not dry clean’. Once cleaned and restored to the best possible standard the wedding dress is then packaged into your choice of personalised storage box and wrapped in acid-free tissue to avoid ageing and fading.

Q How can a bride prevent her dress from getting damaged? A I don’t think there is much you can do, as it is most often a guest or family member getting enthusiastic on the dance floor or spilling something on you. Just have fun and enjoy wearing your beautiful dress and leave the worrying to us after your special day.

Absolutely Weddings speaks to Bentley Garment Care to understand the method behind their magic and what a bride should do in the face of wedding-day disaster. Q

What should a bride do if her dress gets damaged? A Ideally nothing. We know it is tempting to make an 'improvement' on the day, but it does usually make it harder for us to remove or repair after the wedding. Q What can Bentley Garment care do if a bride finds she has damaged her wedding dress? A We professionally clean and repair your dress for you – we hand treat each stain separately gaining the best results possible.

Q Can you even get stains such as red wine out of garments? A Yes, we can remove the majority of staining as long as we know what the stain is and it hasn’t been previously treated. We cannot guarantee with every dress that we will remove all staining as some fabrics are very delicate and we will not risk any damage to the dress. This is where our experience helps us achieve the best results possible.

B E N T L E Y G A R M E N T CA R E 27 Page Street, SW1 020 7828 6019 bentleygarmentcare.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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BEAUTIFUL HEVER CASTLE IN KENT

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ocated near Edenbridge, Kent, Hever Castle is one of the UK’s most romantic wedding venues. Behind its medieval castle walls, you’ll find a rich mix of spaces for every style of celebration, and the grounds are exceptional for alfresco parties as well as photo opportunities. The Inner Hall and Castle Dining Room offer authentic period style, while the Astor Wing is an amazing 1900s recreation of the Tudor style, with three interconnecting rooms and views of the castle and moat from its private lawn. For summer weddings, the Italian Garden is one of the most celebrated spots. Originally designed as piece of the Mediterranean in Kent, it is a stunning space. Ceremonies here taking place under the arched columns of the Loggia and there is reception space for up to 220 in the Guthrie Pavilion. For very large weddings, you have the option of a marquee on the Winter Garden lawn. hevercastle.co.uk

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eez Priory is a glorious setting a short hop from London and also conveniently close to Stansted Airport – this is one of the choice period venues available on an exclusive-hire basis through Country House Weddings. Once an Augustinian priory, and later a stately home, the venue has period interiors – including a Great Hall for feasts – and private grounds. There are a variety of atmospheric settings where you can host a marriage ceremony, including the Great Tower adjoining the property. The Coach House gives additional dining options if you’re hosting a crowd. There are 15 bedrooms at Leez Priory, including a bridal suite with four-poster. The cottage in the grounds makes a perfect pre- or post-wedding retreat. countryhouseweddings.co.uk

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CHEWTON GLEN IS LOCATED IN THE NEW FOREST

CORNWELL MANOR IN THE COTSWOLDS

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ocated in the New Forest less than a mile from the sea, Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa has long been a favoured retreat of filmstars and makes a perfect setting for a glamorous country wedding. The 130 acres of lush grounds offer a variety of options for celebrations. For picturesque views, The Lake Suite and Summer House are a romantic choice. More intimate celebrations take place in The Garden Room or Oak End. There’s a walled garden for alfresco gatherings, and you can even hire the whole hotel and grounds for you and your guests for a lavish weekend wedding party. chewtonglen.com

COT SWO LD G O LD

C LEEZ PRIORY, ESSEX

HATFIELD HOUSE, HERTFORDSHIRE

ornwell Manor is a pictureperfect Cotswolds manor house, close to Chipping Norton and within easy reach of London and Heathrow. Available on an exclusive-hire basis for weddings, it is a rural idyll with its mellow stone walls and stunning grounds complete with lake and ha-ha. There is space on the croquet lawn for a marquee (up to 300 guests) and the property also has a fantastic ballroom that can host up to 100 for a ceremony and 80 for a sit-down dinner. The local church is within sight of the house, so the perfect spot for a classic country wedding service. The house sleeps 16 people comfortably, and can accommodate up to 24 guests. There is a minimum hire of two days during the week and three at weekends. cornwellmanor.com

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atfield House in Hertfordshire has a long and romantic history, including a role as Elizabeth I’s home during her childhood, and can host weddings for up to 250 guests. The manor house features picturesque medieval architecture and beautiful grounds. The hospitality team are able to plan bespoke celebrations and offer both midweek and weekend wedding packages, including the option of dry hire. You can host your celebration in the Old Palace or the elegant refurbished Riding School, which features a glass roof. hatfieldhousehospitality.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Venue Spotlight

HOTEL CHÂTEAU DU GRAND-LUCÉ There’s one surefire way to feel like a princess – get married in a castle. And not just any castle, but a beautiful French château nestling deep in the Loire Valley Wo r d s S A N DY C A D I Z - S M I T H 96

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boulangerie, narrow streets take you to the grand black metal gates which open slowly to reveal the neoclassical château. There are 80 acres to explore, with sweeping green lawns, lush flower, herb and vegetable gardens a lake and white oak forest. There’s a quirky spherical swimming pool beside the orangery and a ballroom of royal proportions set in the former stables. The garden is dotted with statues given as a gift from King Louis XV and crystal chandeliers hang from the avenue of trees. With multiple courtyards and secret gardens, there are plenty of corners to escape to for a romantic tryst.

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otel Château du GrandLucé has had many faces since it was built by Baron de Lucé in 1764 – a hospital, a cinema and a holiday home. It has survived a fire in the village, the French Revolution and World Wars, despite a bunch of The Louvre’s paintings being hidden beneath the ballroom floorboards. Now a wedding venue, this spring it is being reborn as Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé.

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he short journey from Tours airport takes you through an Arcadian world of sunflower fields, picturesque villages and rampant wildflowers until you reach the dreamy town of Le Grand-Luce. Passing locals queuing up at the

Opulent interior includes the grandest of pink dining rooms. Each guest bedroom is uniquely decorated and the views over the gardens, through majestic high windows, are fit for a king.

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otel Château du Grand-Lucé is perfect for the ultimate alfresco wedding, with a wide choice of romantic settings. Dine under the stars before dancing the night away in the grand ballroom beneath dazzling crystal chandeliers. Or you could cosy up inside the palatial dining room with its ornate furnishings and glorious decor after outdoor photography. Great local food (some of it grown in the château’s own gardens) and world-class wine produced in the nearby vineyards are perfect for creating the gourmet wedding banquet of your dreams.

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otel Château du Grand-Lucé opens in June 2019, and room rates will be from €1,000 a night including breakfast. You can also hire part of the hotel or the entire hotel (17 bedrooms and suites plus two in an adjoining building), offering use of grounds and, if you book the entire hotel, grand reception spaces. Hotel Chateau du Grand-Luce is less than an hour’s drive from Tours Airport. The local train station of Le Mans is some half-an-hour away, and trains to Paris take less than an hour. Hotel Chateau du Grand-Luce, le Grand Luce, Loire Valley, France chateaugrandluce.com

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DREAM

Weddings With the popularity of destination weddings continuing to skyrocket, we check in with Sandals and Beaches Resorts to find out more about the inspiration behind their hugely successful Aisle to Isle weddings concept

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hen Sandals Resorts, and sister company Beaches, launched ‘Aisle to Isle’, there was no doubt they had hit on a brilliant idea. Absolutely Weddings were guests of Sandals for the launch, visiting both its original and flagship Montego Bay resort and Jamaican sister Sandals South Coast to see wedding planning in action and explore the celebratory options. Sandals Montego Bay is awe-inspiring, spanning an expanse of white sand and azure water on one the Caribbean’s most celebrated private beaches. This is where the Sandals romantic story started, and then blossomed into 16 resorts on six tropical-paradise islands. We visited Montego Bay’s charming and secluded wedding chapel with traditional wooden pews and an aura of perfect serenity. At Sandals South Coast, meanwhile, set in a 500-acre nature reserve, we toured

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the dreamy over-the-water chapel – the ultimate in romance with its far-reaching views out to sea. Over-the-water bungalows and a Latitudes bar mean couples who marry here are living the dream, right over the Caribbean ocean.

YOUR DAY, YOU R WAY

Every couple staying at any Sandals resort for more than three days is able to add in a simple wedding ceremony and celebration for free, but Aisle to Isle enables them to take things a whole lot further, designing it in a way that creates something completely personal. It brings together a set of inspirations and themes – not prescriptive, and spanning everything from tropical to pure white. Think of it as a pinboard of ideas that you can use as they are or rearrange to get the look you love. Catching up with Marsha Ann Brown the Director of Weddings and Romance for Sandals and Beaches, we asked her which themes are striking a chord with couples in 2019. Marsha Ann says: “With 10 inspirations available to choose from there

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is something to suit every guest – however the classic White Romance often proves very popular”. New inspirations are added to tap into wedding trends. “English Royalty, inspired by Meghan and Harry’s Royal Wedding in 2018, and Band of Gold, with metallic gold and royal blue hues, are also set to be hits for 2019,” says Marsha Ann. “The best thing about our Aisle to Isle wedding offering is that couples can mix and match between inspirations to create their own bespoke celebration so it’s unique to them.” Having witnessed weddings at Sandals and seen how the resort teams work, we can testify that celebrations are as different as each couple getting married. Marsha Ann says that uniqueness is at the heart of their whole approach. “There are often misconceptions that couples looking to tie the knot overseas will experience the same venue, décor and design as other couples who have married abroad but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We offer a completely personalised service for every guest.” This begins when couples start planning – and Sandals’ fabulous Fulham Road store creates an immersive and

“ONE BRIDE REQUESTED A WHITE HORSE TO TAKE HER DOWN THE AISLE TO HER GROOM JUST A FEW HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY – WE MADE IT HAPPEN” ‘virtual’ Caribbean setting that makes it very easy for couples to see themselves there and decide on the design of their own celebration. There are also wedding planners on hand to help them choose and then fit the elements they love together. Marsha Ann says this creates countless options. “Couples are able to mix and match bespoke elements from as many or as few wedding designs as they please.”

In terms of regional differences and trends, British couples tend to have smaller parties accompanying them than couples from the US (partly because it’s a shorter hop from North America to the Caribbean), but British couples also stay and play longer. “Island-hopping within the Caribbean is proving to be very popular, particularly twin-centre weddings which offer the option to have a ceremony in one location and honeymoon in another.” Marsha Ann says that adding entertainment to the celebration is also a popular way to personalise things – from a steel band at the reception to fire dancers or other local entertainment. So too are the ‘after party’ or ‘pre party’ elements that ensure the couple and their guests explore their gorgeous surroundings. “Tours and excursions for the wedding party, such as a catamaran cruise around the island, can be a lovely treat for guests who are also enjoying the trip as their own holiday.” The team at Sandals and Beaches Resorts pride themselves on being able to deliver the heart’s desire of their guests and, when it comes to weddings, couples just need to ask. And the teams do get unusual requests. “Our team at every resort are very experienced and have the right contacts to ensure that we can pull off pretty much anything that the bride and groom desire at late notice,” says Marsha Ann. “In terms of unusual requests, there was one bride who requested a white horse to take her down the aisle to her groom just a few hours before the ceremony was due to kick off. We made it happen, though!” Sandals offers 16 resorts on six islands, and with multiple wedding, honeymoon and luxury holiday options. For more information, visit sandals.co.uk ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Queen’s Stairs, Hampton Court Palace

Celebrate your love at the magnificent Historic Royal Palaces hrp.org.uk/hireavenue 020 3166 6399 Dress by Naomi Neoh

Hampton Court Palace • Banqueting House • Kensington Palace • Kew Palace • Hillsborough Castle

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Absolutely Weddings PROMOTION

Atlantis dream Atlantis, The Palm Dubai is a magical destination for a destination wedding, offering superb spaces, fabulous food and unrivalled luxury – and with an in-house events team to plan your romantic celebration

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tlantis, The Palm Dubai is a stunning setting for a romantic destination wedding, especially as you can build in a luxurious honeymoon with endless opportunities for romantic dining, adventures, world-class shopping and unique cultural activities. Located on Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah, the heart of Dubai’s most glamorous quarter, Atlantis, The Palm is a culinary destination in its own right with 23 of Dubai’s best restaurants located right here. These include Hakkasan, Nobu and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen & Bar. A huge favourite with celebrities and couples seeking romance and glorious sunshine, Atlantis, The Palm also has multiple attractions right on site – whether you want thrill-seeking rides at the Aquaventure Waterpark, the chance to swim with dolphins or the opportunity to try yoga in the incredible Lost Chambers Aquarium.

GL A M OROUS WE DDI NGS The Atlantis event team are experts in organising everything from prestigious banquets to intimate and romantic celebrations. With 14 meeting rooms, three ballrooms and two boardrooms, you are spoiled for choice. The most luxurious internal space is the Royal Bridge Suite, offering 180-degree views of the Arabian Sea and The Palm Island. For a magical largescale wedding, the Atlantis Asateer tent offers dazzling views of the Dubai skyline in a setting lit by 175 chandelier lights.

For a unique and dramatic wedding party, Atlantis event team recommend Lost Chambers Aquarium, a stunning setting for tailor-made celebrations for up to 150 guests. You will be transported into another world, as the aquarium is home to 65,000 marine animals and you and your guests will have mesmerising views into this underwater kingdom. Larger parties and events can also take place in multiple outdoor settings, including the incredible Zero Entry Pool, an expansive and versatile space that can host up to 2,000 guests. With over 80 weddings hosted here a year by the team of in-house wedding and event planners, and hundreds of fabulous parties large and small, the team at Atlantis, The Palm are experts in designing your perfect event. And the opportunity to combine a dream wedding with the holiday of a lifetime makes this a perfect romantic destination that will deliver unforgettable memories.

AT L A N T I S , T H E PA L M D U B A I For information about the hotel, visit atlantisthepalm.com Contact the wedding and event team at mywedding@atlantisthepalm.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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LU X U R Y travel

Marigot Bay, St Lucia p.104 • Mexico's Grand Velas Riviera Maya p.108 • Stoke Park p.112

Star retreat

Milaidhoo Island Maldives has dreamed up the ultimate night under the stars for honeymooners with Sandbank Glamping. You will be served champagne and dinner on the sandbank before your crew sail away, leaving you to contemplate the stars from your four-poster. Your butler is a phone call away. milaidhoo.com

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Luxury Travel ST LUCIA

Lush, secluded and utterly enchanting, the St Lucian resort of Marigot Bay is a Caribbean dream – the perfect luxury retreat for honeymoon indulgence Wo r d s L I B B Y N O R M A N

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e had heard that people return time and again to Marigot Bay Resort & Marina because it’s one of those secret spots that represent the true Caribbean spirit. Its claim to fame partly rests on location; author James A. Michener described Marigot Bay as the most beautiful bay not only in St Lucia, but also in the whole of the Caribbean. That’s a pretty high bar, but journeying in from the capital Castries with our resort driver our first sight of the Bay justifies purple-prose descriptions. The bay is surrounded on all sides by steeply forested hills and remains a protected beauty spot. The first impression as we descend from the lookout point above the bay is lush greenery and piercing Caribbean-blue ocean. I half expect to see Captain James Sparrow’s galleon tracking across the horizon. It isn’t, but I do spot a rather lavish yacht gliding smoothly out of the bay. We are greeted with delicious fresh fruit juice at the shaded outdoor reception area, and then led swiftly to our apartment. This is when we start to understand the allure of Marigot Bay Resort. Our quarters are tucked into the hillside and we climb wooden stairs to get to them – our own private treehouse apartment. The whole resort feels part of an unspoilt environment, mainly built in wood and designed so that every apartment not only blends into landscape, but also has superb views down to water. Our space is vast, very cool and with polished dark wood floors, comfy chairs, huge dining table and a smart kitchen. Double doors lead off the living area to a deck. From our eyrie we have a panoramic view down to the bay. The bedroom has a huge bed draped with muslin mosquito net and there is another smaller deck out front. The bathroom has a vast shower laden with Acqua Di Parma goodies. Through the bathroom's shuttered windows I can hear tropical birds singing in the trees. ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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“One of my favourite spots becomes our balcony. Some of Dr Doolittle was filmed right here in Marigot Bay” 106

The resort soon feels like a small and very friendly village, a place where staff greet you by name. There’s a fabulous infinity pool with swim-up bar and restaurant and, on the level below another infinity pool. The loungers are plentiful and if you need a retreat from the sunshine you can hunker down in one of the lavish cabanas and draw the curtains. From every part of the pool areas the views to the bay below are spectacular. We head down and take a stroll along the marina. At the harbourmaster’s office the noticeboard gives storm mooring advice – not because we’re expecting bad weather anytime soon but because this is a well-known spot for safety when the mercury isn’t set so fair. The restaurant at the end of the marina is called Hurricane Hole, appropriately. The next day we take a ferry ride (free to resort residents) across to the picture-perfect LaBas Beach. It only takes five minutes but offers palm trees and great swimming. Here, the resort’s team are on hand with complimentary towels and water and the atmosphere is chilled – St Lucian style – with plenty of beer shacks and the smell of fried chicken from an impromptu barbecue on the beach. While Marigot Bay Resort’s team can organise a whole host of activities – from scuba diving and sailing to piton climbing – we soon get into the swing of being decadently lazy. One of my favourite

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spots becomes our balcony. Some of the original Dr Doolittle was filmed right here in this bay and I start to feel as if I am talking to the animals – or they to me – because every morning we are visited by cheeky and cheerful tropical birds. Breakfasts are another favourite time, with fresh eggs to order, delicious breads, pastries and lots of tropical fruit. Every day we breakfast outside so we can keep an eye on the yachts and also watch the birds line up in the hope of crumbs. The food all across Marigot Bay Resort is sublime, with emphasis on fresh and local ingredients. The Grill at 14°61° serves delicious steaks and seafood and we love the St Lucian twists – rum sauce options on steak and coconut and pumpkin with local seared snapper. The St Lucian mac & cheese is also something to indulge in, at least twice. At the pool bar we have salads, Maki Rolls and Sashimi with our lunchtime Piton beers, and the fabulous team here cook and make to order. They also mix a mean cocktail – our Mudslide on the swimup side becomes a sundowner ritual. On one night we are treated to a session at the Rum Cave, learning about the history of rum production from our knowledgeable host. He serves us generously with fine rum and we become converted to the local Chairman’s Reserve before enjoying a very long night’s sleep. On another evening we attend a relaxed

barbecue at Hurricane Hole, a feast of local and spicy St Lucian cuisine. In between swimming and lazing and eating, we find time to wander round the tropical gardens. One day I have an impromptu one-toone lesson in propagating hibiscus (which I never can get to flower) from the extremely knowledgeable gardener. The gardening team have created a lovely area for wedding ceremonies – and there can be few more romantic spots for a destination celebration. There’s even a glorious spa and a treehouse tucked for private dining. While I count the birds from our deck, my partner spends time scrutinising the bay, and this leads to a serious case of yacht envy. He watches one vast Imagine motoryacht over several days being scrubbed to gleaming perfection and then – when its owner arrives – waves it off to sea regretfully. He decides that when we have saved enough to buy a larger and even more beautiful boat, we will moor it right here. I am in complete agreement because Marigot Bay is most definitely a place to savour the spirit of the Caribbean.

M A R I G OT B AY R E S O R T & MARINA For more information about weddings, honeymoons and holidays, visit marigot bayresort .com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Luxury Travel MEXICO

MAYAN WONDER

With lush jungle and sparkling Caribbean vistas, lavish rooms and an extraordinary feast of culinary choices, the luxurious Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Cancun offers an indulgent taste of paradise Wo r d s S A N DY C A D I Z - S M I T H

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“Our room had its own private terrace and plunge pool and, through a collage of palm trees, we could see the sparkle of the Caribbean Sea”

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rom the instant we saw the spectacular water feature that is the entrance to Grand Velas Riviera Maya our hearts soared. We could tell we were in for something special. The resort, just a 30-minute drive from Cancun international airport, has these sparkling surprises around every corner. And there are a lot of corners – the 200-acre piece of paradise is like a small (and very welcoming) town where natural beauty and ultimate indulgence come together. This is where the Caribbean Sea meets the Yucatan jungle, and where you can look across the blue towards the island of Cozumel in the distance or watch the white cruise liners

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gliding lazily across the horizon. Gleaming marble floors, a profusion of pink bougainvilleas and smiling faces greeted us. Personal service is all-important at Grand Velas and we were soon whisked off to our room by our own concierge, on hand at all times to make sure we had everything we desired. Cool and contemporary, our room redefined luxury, with a huge double bed on one side and a large, comfortable seating area on the other. Best of all, it overlooked our own private terrace and plunge pool and, through a collage of palm trees, we could see the seductive sparkle of the Caribbean Sea. And then we saw the splendid bathroom. An immense walk-in shower, double basins and a whirlpool bath for lazy post-beach relaxation completed a picture of

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total and immersive luxury. At Grand Velas Riviera Maya, guests can choose to stay beachside or a short drive away in a magical jungle setting – and it can be a tough call to choose between lush greenery and the ocean. This means the property’s facilities are spread across the two very different natural settings, and you can pick and choose to match your mood. Dotted around the resort, there are eight restaurants and a different bar to suit every appetite. From the informal buffet-style Azul and casual poolside dining to the inventive gourmet experience of Cocina de Autor, and with plenty to tempt you in between. We felt as if we were finding food heaven at every step. Azul’s buffet is no ordinary buffet, with an array of dishes that never failed to astonish us – including a memorable cornucopia of fabulous fresh sushi that seemed to be magically replenished. The pool-side shrimp tacos (freshly made to order, of course) tasted to us like the food of the gods – and so we kept coming back for more. Two huge pools with swim-up bars overlook the glistening white-sand

beach where you can head for a change of scene to while away the hours sipping cocktails from the indulgent menu. Or, if you head jungle side, another stunning pool surrounded by lush vegetation awaits. This is where you’ll also find the state-of-the-art spa. Named one of Forbes’ 30 most luxurious in the world, it offers a dizzying range of therapeutic treatments. It also has a fabulous spa water journey – basically a massive indoor whirlpool with different water jets to soothe away every last bit of stress you may have had on arrival. There are also two large and well-equipped gyms – good for calming yoga classes as well as more energetic training if you feel the need to work off all that indulgent food. Outside the resort – that’s if you can drag yourself away – you

will find some of Mexico’s most celebrated historical and natural treasures. The Mayan ruins at Tulum are around an hour’s drive away, while the underground rivers at Xcaret are less than half an hour away. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to venture a bit further afield, the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are under three hours’ drive. These include the amazing Jululkan Pyramid – recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. While these sights only add to the magic of any trip to this region, we did feel as if we had discovered the eighth wonder of the world in our own private paradise at Grand Velas Riveria Maya.

GRAND VELAS R I V I E R A M AYA Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers allinclusive holidays and special honeymoon packages. Wedding co-ordinators are available to tailor-make on-site celebrations. We flew with AeroMexico from London Heathrow. rivieramaya .grandvel a s .com

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P A R K life Nothing quite prepares you for a weekend at Stoke Park, for behind the Grade I majesty it is a most convivial and clubby place, and with world-class sport and leisure opportunities Wo r d s L I B B Y N O R M A N

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ords fail me as we make our way, in stately fashion, up the long drive of Stoke Park. It is like entering another world: rolling landscapes, perfectly tended grass and pastoral peace. The second Wow moment comes when Stoke Park emerges in front of us. Shining white and with a perfectly curvaceous frontage, it is an elegant wedding cake of a building. No wonder this is top spot for weddings – hard to believe it’s just a few miles from Heathrow and around half-an-hour’s drive from central London. Stoke Park was designed for the Penn family (of Pennsylvania fame) by architect James Wyatt. While the Victorians did a bit of minor tweaking, they spared the body of this Palladian gem and now it is Grade I listed. Part of even earlier mansion sits in

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the grounds and near that is the picturesque church where Thomas Gray is thought to have written at least some of his famous elegy and lies buried. We feel slightly awed, not only by this long chain of history but also by its famous role in a favourite Bond movie. My partner stands reverently on the very spot where Goldfinger first encountered his nemesis in James Bond. The statue Oddjob decapitated with a deft spin of his steel-brimmed hat was placed there (by the Elstree equivalent of statue central casting), but apart from that, the scene is just as it was in the film. In fact, Stoke Park has played a starring role in a long list of epic scenes, including the rowing and weekend break bits in Bridget Jones’s Diary. It is setting for the finale in Layer Cake and – we are reliably informed – it will soon be appearing in The Crown. Queen Olivia Coleman has walked up the very staircase we take to our room. And our room (Lancelot) is as stately as it gets – our bellboy even asks if we’d like a fire in the vast stone fireplace. We thank him and demur as it’s a warm spring day, but I secretly wish it were a frosty one just to get the full lady-of-the-manor experience. It’s so bright and warm I open the double doors onto our vast decked balcony. From this vantage point I can see the beauty of the landscape designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown (after whom our room is named) and later remodelled by Humphrey Repton.

Some rather irreverent geese are staking their claim noisily around the lake. There are golf buggies en route to their next hole. I even spy a golfer with two enthusiastic dogs as his caddies – it’s a very chilled pastoral scene. And, as we soon discover, Stoke Park isn’t in the least bit stuffy. The atmosphere in the hotel is calm and relaxed, but it’s also buzzy. There are all sorts of groups about, many of them in golf or tennis gear. It is a club, as much as it is a hotel, and this sets a relaxed and convivial tone – people are here

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to meet friends, have fun and win the match. Alongside the main mansion rooms there is The Pavilion, an elegant contemporary addition that offers more bedrooms and suites alongside leisure facilities. The sporting facilities here truly are world class. Alongside 27 holes of perfectly manicured golf course (designed by Harry Colt), there are superb practice facilities. The tennis is just as awesome. This is where they host The Boodles just before Wimbledon, and they are introducing padel – a tennis meets squash racket game hugely popular in Spain and South America. Once you’re done on the courts or the green, there’s a glorious pool, an outdoor hot tub and all manner of restorative spa treatments. We dine that night at Humphry’s, presided over by executive chef Chris Wheeler, and quickly understand why the restaurant has earned 3 AA Rosettes, as

“STOKE PARK IS A CLUB, AS MUCH AS A HOTEL, AND THIS SETS A RELAXED AND CONVIVIAL TONE – PEOPLE ARE HERE TO MEET FRIENDS, HAVE FUN AND WIN THE MATCH” well as countless plaudits. My starter of scallops is encrusted with herbs and served with samphire. I am torn between the butternut squash tortellini and the stone bass, but opt for the latter because of its clam and mussel ragout. It is a divinely moreish concoction served on perfect puréed potatoes. Between courses we’re served amuse-bouche morsels, so by the time we reach the final course we’re hoping we’ll have room. It was worth saving a little

space for the panna cotta with rhubarb jelly and pistachio sorbet. Sated, we retire to the lounge next door to hunker down in armchairs and enjoy the roaring open fire. The next morning we have to be up with the larks, and so are some of the club’s golfers and gym bunnies. Breakfast, overlooking the grounds, is a hearty sportsman’s affair – you need sustenance before or after the game. My partner’s full English turns out to be so generous he is nearly defeated. My scrambled egg with smoked salmon is also indulgent, and leaves me feeling prepared for the day ahead. Before heading off, I take a quick tour of the wedding spaces. There are no less than eight, ranging from grand ballroom to intimate panelled library that was once the family’s prayer room. Each space offers huge windows, fireplaces, vistas and a real sense of history; Stoke Park really is moviestar perfect, whether you’re celebrating a wedding or a red-letter weekend. * Stoke Park Hotel, Golf & Leisure Club is located at Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. For information about weddings and reservations, visit stokepark.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Stunning views and beautiful gardens at the heart of Kent’s largest wild animal park

aspinallfoundation.org Nr. Ashford, Kent CT21 4PD

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Luxury Travel DIARY THE ANDAMAN ISLANDS HAVE A NEW TAJ RESORT

Travel

DIARY

Our travel diary for the months ahead, includes travel trends for honeymooners, the perfect Mekong journey and an Indian adventure GYPSY IS YOUR OWN PRIVATE RIVER CRUISER

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T R AV E L T R E N D S

o what are the top trends in honeymoons? Virgin Limited Edition reports that ‘multimoons’ are on the rise, as couples seek out a ‘bucket list’ location for multiple experiences. They also believe digital detoxing will be big, with ‘disconnecting’ listed by Protravel International as among the key trends in luxury travel. This means finding a great escape that also lets you get away from background buzz. Kasbah Tamadot is perfect for going unplugged. Located in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, it encourages guests to switch off phones in communal areas and bedrooms are electronic-free zones. But with a view like this, who needs to tweet? virginlimitededition.com

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or the perfect cast away experience, hire Gypsy, your own private river vessel to cruise along the Upper Mekong. This traditional boat with wood interiors and thatched roof offers luxurious cabin space for four, although you are welcome to hire it for two and spread out even more. As it’s exclusive hire, you can stop at villages and sights as you please. There’s an onboard chef, and your choice of lounging spaces include bar, dining and sitting rooms and forwardfacing sundeck. The boat can be hired for four days or three days, taking in the route between Luang Prabang, the cultural heart of Laos, and the Golden Triangle of northern Thailand. mekongkingdoms.com

“Gypsy is a traditional river craft, complete with thatched roof and lovely wood interiors – a romantic way to tour the Mekong” I N D I A N O DYS S E Y

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ess explored by travellers, the Andamans looks set to be a hot ticket for honeymooners now that Taj Exotica has opened on the archipelago’s Havelock Island. Located on crescent shaped Radnanagar Beach, its 75 luxe villas are surrounded by rich coral reefs and located on the edge of jungle. This is heaven for divers, with reef sharks, manta rays and huge turtles among the sea life. With flight links from Indian cities including Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore, it makes a great twin-centre taking in a world-class beach and some of India’s cultural highlights. Best time to visit is between December and March. tajhotels.com

KASBAH TAMADOT IS 'UNPLUGGED'

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Weddings at Shuttleworth venues to host the perfect wedding. The 1872 Grade II* Jacobean style House with accommodation set in historic parkland. The Collection’s Hangar 3, an aircraft hangar housing historic aircraft and vehicles alongside a traditional grass aerodrome and The Swiss Garden, a peaceful and tranquil Regency style space with new vistas revealed at every turn, 13 listed structures and resident peacocks. All weddings at Shuttleworth are offered with the close assistance of an experienced Wedding Planner. To book a private tour of our venues with a member of our weddings team please contact us using the details below. 01767 627917 weddings@shuttleworth.org

www.shuttleworth.org/weddings Old Warden Park, Near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, SG18 9EA

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REAL LIFE weddings Country Classic p.122 • African Magic p.126 • Such a Perfect Day p.130

Toujours Provence

Rachel and Sam chose beautiful Provence for their celebration, partying alfresco at the spectacularly beautiful Chateau du Bijou. See page 118.

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Provence

GOLD For Rachel and Sam, it had to be

Provence, and they were married in the picture-perfect Chateau du Bijou, enjoying a magical alfresco weekend party Photography KERRY MORGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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achel and Sam wanted an alfresco wedding of feasting and dancing and there can be few better locations for this than Provence. Celebrated by poets and painters, it is the classic romantic rural landscape. Rachel says: “Having both had a passion for all things French – Provence in particular – since we were younger, it made sense to hold our celebration in France”. There was an element of serendipity in the couple’s discovery of Chateau du Bijou. Rachel says: “Having attended a celebration at Notley Abbey, also part of The Bijou Collection, we had been impressed by the style and service. “Learning that Bijou had a variety of wedding venues excited us and once we found out that they owned Chateau du Bijou, we knew we had to take a look. We visited the chateau in the September and fell in love with the surroundings, the convenience, the rustic style of the venue and the general ambience.” 118

Having found their perfect spot and worked out that it was easy for their guests to get there by plane or Eurostar, the couple chose the following July – height of summer and a time when the landscape is transformed with swathes of purple lavender and bold yellow sunflowers. This gave them nine months to prepare for the party. They were in capable hands, since the planning team at Bijou not only know each of their properties intimately but also have access to superb local suppliers and know-how. While Chateau du Bijou and its grounds are so beautiful that very little dressing is required, Rachel and Sam did have a clear theme in mind that was perfectly in keeping with the locale. Rachel says: “We wanted to add true Provencal style to our wedding celebration. Our alfresco banquet table was dressed with lemons, lanterns traditional sunflowers and olive branches”. Indeed, it would be remiss to leave out the local sunflowers, says Rachel. “The floral theme for the day was based around

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Three unique venues - One award-winning team

Manor By The Lake

Seckford Hall Hotel & Spa

Woodhall Manor

‘Exclusively Yours’

‘For Moments That Matter’

‘Beautifully Different’

COTSWOLDS

SUFFOLK

SUFFOLK

Contact us for wedding collections and available dates, quoting CS18

Tel: 01242 245 071 www.manorbythelake.co.uk

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sunflowers – how could it not be? Our four bridesmaids wore strappy, knee length dresses in a shade of royal blue and the girls all held hand-tied bouquets with vibrant yellow sunflowers to tie the theme together. The setting and scenery at Chateau du Bijou are décor enough, but it was fun to add our own personal details.” One of the beauties of choosing Chateau du Bijou was that the property is offered on a full weekend wedding basis – and it has a bridal suite plus 19 bedrooms for guests – so this became the most glamorous of relaxed parties in the French sunshine. Rachel says that this added an extra special element to their celebration. “The ceremony was a wonderful high point for both of us – saying our vows under the baking sun – but having our friends and family join us in such a unique part of the world was also really special. The weekend timescale meant the whole event was relaxed and fun!” Rachel and Sam say that although planning a destination wedding can add an extra layer of stress, theirs was very easy. “Planning a wedding away from ‘what you know’ locally can be daunting, but we can honestly say that from booking our wedding at Chateau du Bijou to the day we left Provence to come home, we felt well and truly looked after. We were able to do our menu tasting at the Bijou wedding venue closest to us at home in the UK, and the ease of being able to speak to the admin team seven days a week worked well with both of our work schedules.” With access to Bijou Weddings’ own online planner – accessible from the moment the wedding was booked – it was easy to select every last detail that matched their vision. Rachel says the team were first-to-last superb. “Our incredible wedding photographer, Kerry Morgan, captured the setting and romantic vibes of our French celebration perfectly.” They also loved the work of their florist Marigold Fleuriste. “She understood the exact look that we were aiming for”. But the smooth running of their dream wedding was all thanks to Bijou. “They understood exactly how we wanted our weekend to flow. And it was perfect!”

“Our alfresco banquet table was dressed with lemons, lanterns traditional sunflowers and olive branches”

R AC H E L & S A M ’ S w e d d i n g s o u r c e b o o k Venue & wedding planning: Chateau de Bijou; bijouweddingvenues.co.uk • Photography: Kerry Morgan Photography; kerrymorgan.com Flowers: Marigold Fleuriste; marigold-fleuriste.fr • Wedding stationery: Potesta Designs; potestadesigns.com

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Country CLASSIC For Shona and James, their wedding needed to feel simple and timeless. Having found their perfect Norfolk country venue, they timed it just right for a classic outdoor party against the backdrop of mellow, wisteria-clad walls Photography BEN BULL

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hona and James wanted to keep things simple for their lovely country wedding. While they live in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk is an area they know extremely well – and it has many happy associations – so the choice of Narborough Hall, near King’s Lynn, as their venue was easy. “My parents have a holiday cottage nearby in Congham, which we go to all the time for short breaks and summer holidays, and we had been to Narborough for Sunday lunches,” says Shona. “Whilst we looked at other venues in the county, Narborough had a magical, relaxed feel that nothing else could emulate.” The other reason to choose Norfolk was very personal. “The proposal happened on one of these trips to Norfolk so it held a special place in our hearts,” says Shona. With romantic association and a timeless country venue, plans quickly fell into place. There was no strong theme to the day as

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Shona says she and James felt their setting stood out in its own right. “We wanted things to be quite simple – the venue and grounds were so beautiful that a theme didn’t really matter.” They were, however, keen to get their timings right in order to see Narborough in its full glory. Shona says: “We were keeping our fingers crossed that the wisteria at Narborough would be out in time for the wedding. We even based the bridesmaids’ accent colour around the blue tone of this, and liked the idea of contrasting pink in the flowers”. The bridesmaids’ simple Grecian style gowns and the groom and groomsmans’ suits in navy were perfect foil to Shona’s lovely off-the-shoulder ivory lace dress, while the beautiful flowers created by the team at Narborough captured the spirit of this mellow country setting. This was a day of high points, but the first of these happened right at the start. “A real high point was seeing the sun shining when we woke up!” says Shona. In fact, the

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MAKE IT YOURS Say ‘I do’ to Vogue’s ‘Dream Wedding Venue’. Set in 100 acres of private parkland yet a short drive from London, we invite you to make our exquisite Georgian home yours for the most important day of your life.

+44 (0)1628 819050 | INFO@HEDSOR.COM | HEDSOR.COM

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weather did them proud, with the mercury set fair and warm weather that enabled their guests to enjoy the spectacular grounds at Narborough. “We were so lucky with the weather,” says Shona. “And being able to have the ceremony outside was a dream come true.” Another high point came during the dancing. “It was a surprising high point. Neither of us had thought much of it and we picked ‘Your Song’ by Elton John. But hearing all of our friends belt out the words at the top of their lungs as we danced (badly) felt amazing.” Shona and James say the party atmosphere was wonderful and the whole day went perfectly to plan. “The wedding coordinator at Narborough, Fen, and the entire team were amazing,” says Shona. “The whole planning experience was very relaxed and they made you feel like part of the family long before the wedding. The actual day was coordinated to perfection and we didn’t have to think about a thing.” They also had a great team of local suppliers, from Carrie (Caroline) Wilson their wonderful Norfolk cakemaker to East Anglian wedding photographer Ben Bull, who captured the day so beautifully on film. Their advice to other couples is to plan the wedding day to match their own vision of a great party, and also to do what makes them happy. “You can’t please everyone. If you don’t want a hen do, don’t have one, if you don’t want to do a speech, don’t do one,” says Shona. “And if you think you’ve bought too much alcohol – you haven’t!”

S H O N A & JA M E S ’ w e d d i n g s o u r c e b o o k Photography: Ben Bull; benbull.net • Venue & flowers: Narborough Hall; narboroughhallgardens.com Cake: Caroline Wilson; caroline_wilson@live.co.uk • Bridal gown: Gowns and Garters gownsandgarters.com Groom/groomsmen suits: Next; next.co.uk

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AFRICAN

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Real Wedding SOUTH AFRICA

For Martin and Richard, their wedding was a very special and private affair incorporating wild nature, a wonderful local choir and amazing vistas over the South African bush Photography VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION

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artin and Richard knew they wanted a very special location for their wedding, which was designed as a private and intimate destination wedding. Having met 12 years earlier at college, while studying fashion design and an art diploma respectively, this was the couple’s opportunity to enjoy the trip of a lifetime and to set the seal on their relationship. The choice of South Africa was for its family ties and also for the opportunity to get close to nature. Richard says: “Martin’s father was raised in South Africa before moving back to the UK when he was in his late teens. His father always spoke fondly of his childhood memories and time spent in Africa. We wanted to visit and experience this magical place for ourselves”. With the country chosen, it was just a matter of finding the perfect spot. And here the allure of South Africa’s wild landscapes became the draw. “Richard is a keen photographer with a passion for wildlife so the thought of going on a safari was an absolute dream,” says Martin. When the couple discovered Ulusaba Private Game Reserve – part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection of properties personally selected and owned by Sir Richard Branson – they knew they had found a dream wedding location. Set within Sabi Sands Game Reserve, a 13,500-hectare paradise in the South African bush, Ulusaba ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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from the opulent to the intimate the old royal naval college is perfect for all seasons

Tie the knot at the Old Royal Naval College between May and December 2018, excluding peak periods and save 10% per guest* on your Wedding Catering Package. Please quote ‘Absolutely Weddings Magazine 2018’ when enquiring. *TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND MINIMUM NUMBERS APPLY.

020 8269 2131 venuehire@ornc.org | ornc.org/venuehire OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE GREENWICH LONDON SE10 9NN

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Main image: Jeff Oliver Photography; left Gomes Photography; right: Steven Swain Photography

Astound your guests and fulfil your wildest dreams with the most incredible wedding imaginable at the Old Royal Naval College, nestled by the banks of the River Thames at Greenwich.

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Real Wedding SOUTH AFRICA

is on the edge of the Greater Kruger National Park and is designed as a small and peaceful retreat with 21 rooms and suites across two authentically African lodges. There are superb wildlife spotting opportunities for the ‘big five’ and a wide variety of other species – there’s even a hippo watering hole right on site – and breathtaking views to the distant Drakensberg Mountains. Alongside the safari drives and walking safaris, the resort offers a spa, superb food and a wellstocked wine cellar of South Africa’s finest vintages – so perfect romantic setting for an unforgettable stay. With Ulusabi booked, all Richard and Martin had to do was pack – their wedding arrangements were in the capable hands of the on-site team. They had chosen a date in November, which is a good time to visit as it’s midway through spring in South Africa and lovely weather comes pretty much

guaranteed. They were both overawed by the beauty of the place when they arrived, and say that the welcome they received was very special. “We were greeted by the amazing Anel. She planned our wedding to perfection and instantly put us at ease. Within minutes of arriving we felt welcomed and part of the family,” says Martin. They had chosen to get married at Kings Rock – one of a number of stunning outdoor locations at the reserve just made for a wedding ceremony. Wearing smart suits and waistcoats, and with toning floral ties and fabulous buttonholes featuring apricot roses and vivid blue flowers, Richard and Martin swapped rings overlooking what they describe as: “breathtaking scenery”. While this was an intimate wedding, it wasn’t entirely private as a curious band of monkeys turned up to act as impromptu witnesses. During their ceremony, there was a wonderful choir from Ulusaba – the locals are renowned for their singing and they performed traditional Shangaan songs to celebrate the moment. Then, perfect end to a perfect day, the newlyweds went on a private game drive to experience more wonderful animal encounters in this wild and precious African landscape.

“The wedding was planned to perfection – within minutes of arriving at Ulusaba we felt welcomed and part of the family”

* Richard and Martin planned their wedding with Virgin Limited Edition, which offers weddings and honeymoons at Ulusaba Private Reserve. For more information, visit virginlimitededition.com ABSOLUTELY-WEDDINGS.CO.UK

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Real Weddings PERFECT DAY

Perfect Day

A wedding is always a very personal affair, and for Meagan and Alec it involved a Transatlantic journey to be alone, together, overlooking the rugged Irish west coast P h o t o g ra p h y: A DA M + G R AC E adamandgracephoto.com

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here can be few things more romantic than an elopement, and for Meagan and Alec it was a very private and special affair, taking in rugged Irish scenery and the sound of the Atlantic waves. They had planned a trip that took in Finn Lough in Fermanagh and also the beautiful Donegal coast. They got in touch with Northern Ireland photographers Adam and Grace ahead of their summer elopement, asking them to be on hand. Before the photo shoot, Meagan and Alec had rowed out onto Lower Lough Erne to say their vows to one another. From there, they headed to the coast to meet Adam and Grace, who take up the story. 130

Adam and Grace: Our first stop with the couple was St John’s Point. This remote little peninsula was the perfect place to explore, and even though Meagan and Alec were finely dressed, they were the most willing couple to adventure around the cracks and crags with. Then it was onwards and upwards to Slieve League. With the setting sun sinking into the Atlantic Ocean at an alarming rate, we managed a few more magical moments with Meagan and her beau. Lots of greenery and scenery abounding, the odd friendly sheep and even time to enjoy a tin of Guinness at the end – this couldn’t have been more quintessentially Irish. Meagan and Alec were so much fun to photograph, and such a willing couple. Here’s to their future together!

Spring • Summer 2019

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Your Biggest Day. The Smallest Details.

Delighting guests since 1865, The Langham, London continues to set the standard for luxury hotels in the capital. With its unique ‘Private Dining by Roux’ concept in partnership with Michel Roux Jr, genuine service and attention to detail in the lavish surroundings of The Grand Ballroom, The Langham, London will be the setting for your happiest memories.

1c Portland Place, Regent Street, London, W1B 1JA T 44 (0) 20 7636 1000 langhambrides.co.uk

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Absolutely Weddings Spring Summer 2019  

Absolutely Weddings Spring Summer 2019