Hitched – fripperies and frou-frous

Saturday, 25 April 2009

being part 2 of 2 on the whole getting married business. Part 1 involves food, cake and design stuff. This involves clothes.

I’ll do the smaller bits first.

The flowers and buttonholes – the white roses of Yorkshire – were made by Chivers in Charlotte Street. The bouquet survived being gripped very hard by me during the ceremony, and also had a good balance to it so the throw went precisely towards a target. Heh heh heh.

The rings were from The Wedding Ring Shop in Hatton Gardens. We’d previously got the engagement ring from The Victorian Ring Company down in the Gardens, and the shop did a good job of matching it.

The chap’s suit was a classic dark Ben Sherman, worn with equally classic  Dr Martens shoes. Cufflinks from one of the various gentlemen’s outfitters on Fleet Street.

And then there was my outfit.

Quite simply, the day could not as gone as well as it did without the sterling and fabulous work of Kelly Hale.  She took an initial idea – that I wanted something like a Dior New Look suit – and made it totally real. She sourced a 1958 pattern (So Vintage Patterns) and some red wool fabric, customised the pattern to suit me, made a test version in cotton and then got the final version to me in time to be hemmed and pressed over here.  Because we did the entire work on it via t’internet. I truly wish she could have been over here with us to hear the many, many compliments and admiring looks the suit got.

Scrapbook of ideas, including the pattern:

fashion collage

Final outfits:

me & the chap | me and carrie (big magpie)

To support the outfit, I also used the following people…

  • The Cloth House for buttons and Borovicks for both hat netting and the silk used to repair some of the vintage items I found elsewhere.  Both shops are on Berwick Street in London and are places I could lose hours browsing.
  • The Real Macoy in Exeter for a original 1950s cocktail hat of black velvet and raffia.
  • Wow Retro on Drury Lane for an original 1950s petticoat. Twitter followers may have spotted I spent a lot of time repairing it but it was worth it for the way it held the skirt out. Modern petticoats just aren’t as layered or complex.
  • What Katie Did in Portobello Road, for various underpinning items which held things in and created a more classic 50s posture.  I’m not saying which items but this faux vintage is lovely.
  • Damian Carberry, the alteration tailor in Exeter who hemmed the skirt in less than 24 hours.
  • Valentino Dry Cleaners off Shaftesbury Avenue for within the hour pressing of the one-off suit (and the chap’s shirt). What’s good enough for Paul Smith is good enough for a Kelly Hale one-off!

Oh, and for those final details: the shoes are my favourite work shoes from Office 18 months ago, the top under the suit was from Monsoon and the bag is from Top Shop. The earings (never seen) were a present from Carrie who did sterling work as the maid of honour all the way through.And clearly enjoyed dressing like Tippi Hedren.

Again, there are no words to really express how grateful I am to Kelly for the suit. I had backup dresses, I had an anxious wait when it got stuck in customs over Easter, and I had doubts and fears over having picked red wool, but all of those things vanished when I put the suit on and danced through the day in it.  Ta, pet.

Hitched – let them eat cake

Saturday, 25 April 2009

being part 1 of 2 on the whole getting married business. Astute readers, or twitter followers, will have spotted that I got married last Saturday. We’ve a great many thanks/shout-outs to give to the people whose work made the day go so ridiculously well. Part 2 will be all about the clothes…

Part 1 is about everything else.

I’d picked an outfit which dictated the broad style of the day, and seemed to end up accidentally dictating the food as well. I may, in short, have overdosed on Mad Men, Dior and classic Hitchcock during the preparations.


The stationery, including the graphic design on them, was by Reneé at R studio and was a version of her Type Block design.  We used the red of my outfit as a base colour, and then shades of charcoal and silver for the detail. She was a delight to deal with, and the invites were as fab as we wanted.  I did slip in a folded page with the day’s details on it behind the RSVP card, and used a free Hitchcock typeface for the heads and captions.

My friend Nicola arranged for Bobby Burden to do the official photography and he was excellent. I’d briefed him that I hate posing and that most of my family have a fear of cameras (possibly due to so many of us being keen photographers outselves), so he kept things relaxed. I’ll be getting the official snaps soon, but unofficial ones suggest we look happy to be in front of his camera.

For the music in the evening, more friends were roped in. Alistair and Dave spun the ipod and CDj controls to the extent that people were dancing that I’d never seen dance before.

For the favours, we were totally stuck. I hate sugared almonds, and have been to so many weddings where the alternative is champagne truffles. Struggling to think of anything, we finally hit on the brainwave of badges. We both wear them and they would be sweet without being sickening. Laurie Pink did us a cute little design (which I’m not going to reveal just yet as I’ve some to send in the post) and then big wow supplied us with the finished goods.


We tried a lot – a lot - of restaurants in the Bloomsbury area. As soon as we had agreed to marry, I’d wanted a wedding with no cars. Or horse-drawn carriages. Or hot air balloons. I wanted us to be able to walk from the registrar to the ‘breakfast’ venue. The downside was finding a venue we both loved. Just as we had nearly given up, I spotted that Savoir Faire – which we had previously discounted as being too small – had ‘more seating downstairs’. On our trial of it we agreed by the end of the starter that, unless the veggie main was disappointing, we’d found our restaurant. It was delicious and they worked hard to produce a good menu with cheese free options as well as veggie ones. I recommend the place very highly.

In the evening, we crossed New Oxford Street and headed upstairs at The Old Crown. We liked this partially for the great view of a Hawksmoor church, but also because they do lovely bar food and are pretty chilled people. I sadly saw very little of the canapes, foolishly rushing around checking people had got some instead. But everyone seemed to like them. They also took delivery and then revealed the cake.

The cake was from Patisserie Valerie and was one of my few indulgences. Everytime we walked past the Bloomsbury branch, I would gaze at their profiterole wedding cake displays in awe. I knew I’d not see much of it, and that the logistics of getting into it would be troubling, but I wanted it. Several guests demanded to know the supplier – and one was already trying to think of an excuse to order one.


On the Sunday, we got ourselves onto a Eurostar and back to Villa Royale in Paris. I love Pigalle and Montmartre over the Champs Elysseses: I prefer staying somewhere that comes alive at night (and has all-night boulangeries).  We went back to Le Dan Bau – a Vietnamese place that has become so popular since I first went there that you now need reservations – and also Le Fumoir which remains a perfect place for good cocktails and healthy veggie eating.

…go to part 2 for details of the clothes and accessories…

Mad mod men

Monday, 15 September 2008

Building a ‘mood board’ for the eep event tonight – as I realised I really need to start creating a coherent plan as I’m also meant to be deciding on a shortlist of etsy designers to use for the stationery – and I got distracted by wordle. I spent ages poking it about until it did the right things, like putting ‘mad’ near ‘men’ and ‘new’ near ‘look’: combo’s like ‘white’ and ‘men’ or ‘mad’ and ‘red’ were not to be permitted. I could probably have downloaded the font I used and produced an exact design in PSP faster, but anyway… I present the first Wordle cloud of the whole business:
Wordle for wedding

Yes, I am aware that specifying 1958-1962 seems remarkably fussy, but it’s a very clear fashion-era. Think the tail-end of the New Look mixed with the start of the Jackie-O period. Or, put simply, think Mad Men. Luckily, the Chap always looks fab in a sharp suit.

Living with colour

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Design for Modern MarriageAs a kid, I used to spend many hours flicking through the household encyclopedias. The ones with the vaguely Edwardian line drawings kept me entertained but I really loved the late 50s guide to decorating (aka “the orange book”). The colour plates had that awesome acid palette of lemon and lime, and the food was bizarrely coloured. I’ve since collected a small shelf of such books, such as the Conran ‘House Book‘ of the 70s (all murky orange and brown) or a recent 1950s ‘Guide to Modern Marriage’ (right – click through for the full glory of that cover).

Sunday Times: Living with Colour 5 Aug 95 As part of the whole M-process, I’m trying to declutter my attic enough that the chap can fill it with his junkbelongings. Today, I started following unclutterer‘s advice and scanning papers I no longer need. The scanned images will go to flickr or be burnt to a CD and the paper will got to recycling (via the shredder if necessary). The first thing I found to scan was this clipping from 1995 (left). It rather neatly indicates that the things that you read as a child will dictate your tastes as an adult. I grew up absorbing the wonders of late 50s futurism, and now I love Mad Men, spend too much time on design*sponge, buy retro and am having a 1958 wedding suit made. When I opened that Sunday Times clipping, I instantly thought “I’d still love that room”.

I did the initial paperwork at the registrar’s today, which was surprisingly painless. Bored Exeter readers will be able to see the notice pinned up for the next fortnight.

Is that from ‘Accessorize’?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

stepsThe chap and I dashed along Holborn last week in order to pick up the ring (or “the bling”, or “the thing”, depending how freaked I was at any given moment) during our lunch break. After two visits to Hatton Garden, including one with appointments at a very nice attic studio recommended by someone at work and at the place we eventually went with, I had overcome my shyness around expensive jewelery. So we ordered this art deco ring from The London Victorian Ring Company, fitted with a square cut ruby that I chose myself. It’s shiny! In some kind of automatic learned action from my mother, when I got back home I immediately cleaned out a dish to sit on the window sill and hold it whilst I’m doing the washing up.

Continuing the red theme, progress has started on the outfit. I know, there’s a year to go and minor details like a venue should really be a priority, but Kel will be handmaking this suit for me. In a ruby red, natch, but without that hat.

I’m still a bit ‘eep’ about things, and convinced that too much online chatter will jinx things, but when something has happened I guess it is safe to blog about it…

But we don’t care about the Young Folks

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Things are hectic. Not because of The Wedding Monster, but just a massive list of stuff to do combined with growing responsibilities at work. This morning, ignoring the list of stuff to do for a bit, I woke early and headed out on Woah Mule. The plan was to do my normal 10K ride to the end of the canal path and back. The light was the sort of pearly grey dawn that can turn fabulous as the morning burns off. As I’d hoped, there were some good autumn/winter shots to take on the path.
A Hazy Shade of Winter
Instead of turning around at the end of the canal path, though, I decided to carry on to Topsham as there are some fabulously big reed beds near there which could have been looking good. I reached the village around 9am: it’s a route I used to take fifteen years back but now there is a cycleway for most of the run. I didn’t get good shots of the reed beds – I think I need to be at the Swan’s Rest or Turf Locks to get that. But it was still pretty.
Topsham Strand I then got the train back, partially because I was feeling leg-tired from the steeper roads near Topsham, and partially because I’d forgotten about the ancient rule about Never Wear Jeans When Cycling and was therefore saddlesore.

Last Saturday, I was footsore instead: we spent several hours looking in every window in Hatton Gardens (London’s diamond market) for the bling ring. It is rather strange to try on a two grand ring and wander out into the street with it because the entire area has its own security. In one stall in a traders market, the chap behind the counter gave me a very effective lesson in gemstones which explains why I think diamond-only rings look like cheap paste on me. He got me to hold out my hand, palm-down, and placed different gems against my fingers. Seeing the coloured gems, the rubies and garnets and sapphires, against my skin tone made it obvious I need the colour. An awful lot of the jewellery in the shops looked, as I put it, “a bit Elizabeth Duke”. I just genuinely don’t get why some of the stuff is seen as attractive: it’s all too shiny and bright and over-eager. So we’re still deciding on a ring.

Sunday, and we went to see Peter, Bjorn and John at the Forum in Kentish Town. You probably know them through the irritatingly catchy Young Folks song. So did the most London yehyehyeh media tartlets in the audience, who buggered off after they played it part way through the set. So for once we weren’t rammed in. Live, PB&J are noodling, rambling, shambling rock muso types with an utterly different vibe to their album. I’d been wondering if the Forum – a vomit-smelling* bear pit of a venue which also hosts School Reunion and the Church – was the right place for the expected fey Swedish pop types, but my fears were totally misplaced. Best gig of the year so far (I liked Lucky Soul more, but the media bores stuck around in that one). Recommended.

*this is the downside of the smoking ban: the smell of gigs has changed.

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