Wedding Roundup: Portraits on The Pier

There’s no point having your wedding reception at a venue called Sun Pier House if you don’t take advantage of the actual Sun Pier. After we’d downed a drink and had a bit of a natter with the guests, my wonderful maid of honour and sister T rounded us up for some formal portraits on the pier.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0065150801_Sam+John_0208

Mr Hello and I aren’t generally a fan of staged wedding photos, however we had seen some great examples in Hector’s work and so were quite happy to spend half an hour getting a bunch of photo frame ready shots.

This is something I would definitely recommend to someone in the midst of wedding planning. Find a photographer whose work takes your breath away. Don’t choose someone and then ask them to take photos in a specific style – find someone who is an expert in the style you love. We did, and I couldn’t be happier. In fact the day we got our wedding photos back was the first thing that broke my Ice Queen heart and had be quietly crying on the High Street. I adore our photos.

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Both the bride and groom’s party wore navy blue. We asked our friends to choose whatever they wanted to wear, as long as it was navy blue. Some were a little hesitant, because they didn’t want to choose something and then realise I hated it, but after I reassured them that I was not fussy at all, they went ahead with the idea.

We both just really wanted our friends to look like themselves, and feel comfortable in what they were wearing.

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I am actually yelling at our nephew R here saying ‘get him right in the face!’. Nothing like a fresh bunch of flowers in your chops, hey?

 

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I really adore these photos of Mr H’s family. I think they sum up the family I’m marrying into so well!

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Classic Dad shot. He thinks he’s being a comedian by blocking me out of my own wedding photos. (I actually think this shot is hilarious, so perhaps I have actually inherited his sense of humour).

 

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I think my Mum looked absolutely wonderful. This suit is pretty much exactly what I imagined her with and she totally rocked it. My sister kept getting called ‘Liz’ by Mr H’s family, because they thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor – I actually have to agree!

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T was chief joozjer. She kept barking at me to move a piece of hair (much appreciated) and would also spin around and show her knickers to all of Chatham just to make Mr H laugh in the photos. What more could you ask for in a bridesmaid?150801_Sam+John_0244 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0086 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0085 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0082 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0079

I really love these photos against the exposed brick wall. I may be about to totally break the wedding mystique here, but this wall is actually the back of Staples in Chatham. Very glam, very cool.

I suspect that in post-production Hector picked out the blue of Mr Hello’s suit, the blue in the wall and my eyes. The photo of me looking over his shoulder makes my eyes zing! Such precious photos.

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We could not have been luckier with this mural – it was painted perhaps a week before we were married! Talk about timing.

These formal shots to me show the love and joy that we felt on our wedding day. I don’t find them saccharine or overly romantic – the romance was there, we didn’t need some carefully posed shots to remind us of it! The main point is that I don’t look back at these photos and cringe. I look back and my heart sings.

That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, isn’t it?

 

This post is made in loving memory of my Uncle. He very generously helped our wedding day to be exactly what we hoped it would be. Vale.

Wedding Roundup – Party Time!

Once we arrived at Sun Pier House, it was straight into our ‘cocktail hour’. I use the term ‘cocktail’ incredibly loosely, in fact I shouldn’t really use it at all, because no cocktails were in fact, served. There was an abundance of champagne, wine and beer, which I expect more than made up for it.

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Full credit where credit is due – our wonderful wedding party showed up on Friday to help us decorate Sun Pier. For the most part the venue is exactly to our taste, but there was some extreme pom-pom action we wanted to incorporate, and the odd vintage doily never really goes astray, now does it?

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My sister and I had run up the white bunting ourselves. You may remember in my former life I had a little bunting business. So the skills were there to be used. I had been tempted to go for a very cutesy bunting wedding early on, but as the big day approached I realised my tastes had changed, so in the end I went for (lots of) plain white bunting – festive but not chintzy.

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The pom-poms were sourced from various places, the fan shapes and the pom-pom wreaths from Tiger, but the vast majority were brand new from Ebay.

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My sister picked up our plain card guestbook from Paperchase in the days before the wedding. My Mama, also known as the calligrapher-extraordinaire, illustrated the front and also was the muscle behind our seating plan, which was a limited edition print from IKEA, of all places!

We also caved in to our inner hipsters and bought a Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera, for a visual guestbook. I am not going to lie here, that darn thing was expensive. Like £90 or something stupid like that. But it was  a hell of a lot of fun, and if we never use it again, we both feel like we got our monies worth. We passed the camera around for our guests to take photos, and then peg them to our ribbon wall.

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This ribbon wall was an inspired idea by Mr H. I had bought these reels of 2cm wide ribbon for the tops of the ribbon sticks, but hadn’t ended up using it all. On our prep day, Mr Hello used the hooks that Sun Pier House already had to display their menus, and wound each spool of ribbon around them, forming a great backdrop and, bonus, somewhere to hang our polaroids!

I read quite a bit of advice on A Practical Wedding that said if you want to include an impromptu element in your wedding, it’s really helpful to ask someone in your party to take responsibility for it. That way, you can forget all about it while you’re talking to everyone, because you know you have someone trusted going around. It was invaluable to have my wonderful bridesmaid N in charge of the Polaroids. She flew all the way over from Australia for the wedding, and I could not be more grateful. I like to think the Polaroid duty also helped her to meet people, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking!

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Luckily, due to the shape of the venue, we were quite easily able to include a little ‘kids zone’, where we put down some astro turf (left over from our Mr H-designed centrepieces), added some puzzles, wooden blocks, crayons and colouring books and let the kids run wild. Sort of.

I had bookmarked the idea ever since I read something similar on Franky’s wedding round-up on Love My Dress. I thought it would be a great way to keep the kids entertained when the grown-up side of things got too boring, and would give their parents a bit of peace so they could enjoy a drink! I’m pleased to say I got excellent feedback…

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Before too long we were sitting down for our main meal. We went for a Middle Eastern style buffet, catered by our great local restaurant Café Moroc. Partly because we knew we had a lot of vegetarians and vegans in attendance, and we all know that Middle Eastern cuisine is big on the ol’ chickpeas, but also because we really like that kind of food and have had some great meals there before.

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It was delicious and I ate so much at that point that I didn’t manage to have any of my wedding cakes. Dis. A. Pointed.

I have two little regrets about the food. Well, little niggles at least. Firstly, we ran out of time to make signs for the food, and I wish we had made the extra effort because my veggie pals had to faff around and ask people to taste things before they ate them. Not very hospitable of me! Oh well…lesson learned.

The second niggle is that there was heaps of food left over and I forgot to tell the caterers that we wanted to keep it. Mr H and I would have loved to have binged on hummus for the next few days, but it was cleared away before we had the chance. Again, lesson learned, and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.

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We then moved on to the speeches. We never wanted endless speeches or toasts, and I am so delighted to report that the speeches by both of our families were everything we could have wished for at the start of our marriage.

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Mr Hello blubbed delightfully throughout the whole thing. He was the focal point of this part of the day, for sure. As discussed in my ceremony roundup, I am evidently an Ice Queen because I remained composed throughout. It’s a strange thing. Definitely a combination of trying to remember it all, not being able to believe that it’s actually your wedding, and the slightest amount of unexpected stage fright. Anyhow, just call me Elsa.

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My Dad sang some wonderful songs, one was a version of Waltzing Matilda with amazing references to Rochester within it, and a couple of others. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, let’s just say that.

My sister’s speech was the one that almost tipped me over the edge into Emotionville. She’s bloody great and I am so lucky. She did however, bring up an ear biting incident that happed A LONG TIME AGO SO JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY.

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Mr H’s lovely sister K had then organised a game to get us all in the party mood, complete with papier mâche representations of our goodselves. I am pleased to report these remain in our household. So hilarious, and strangely, so anatomically correct.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0133

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Then we boogied! Our first dance (which is a completely weird experience, let me tell you) was to Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, because every time we heard that song, we couldn’t help but dance.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0137

I am a very earnest dancer. And singer-alonger, it seems.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0138

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I cut some serious shapes, believe you me. We chose to hook up our laptop and used our own curated playlists for the evening. It was great, it was cheap and we had exactly the music we wanted, although if I did it again, I think I might have put a ‘no touchy’ sign on the laptop to stop people from skipping songs. Hey ho, again, a minor detail which had no real impact on the day.

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I’m not sure if you can tell by my face (note: you totally can), that I was so delighted to have so much of my family there. We are all scattered all over the world, and it meant so much to have people who have known me for much longer than the five years I’ve been in England with me as I start this next phase of my life. I love my family.

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We snuck off at a couple of moments for some quality husband/wife time, which I truly recommend, and we also got some more formal shots done, which I will share with you in the next couple of days.

My biggest take-away from the wedding reception was that Mr Hello and I are so totally loved. We’re loved by each other, by our families and by our deliciously wide circle of friends. What a better way to start a marriage.

Wedding Roundup: The Walk


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Very early on in our planning process, Mr Hello and I decided we wanted to walk down Rochester High Street to Sun Pier House. We envisaged a procession of the people we loved, celebrating with us and waving those ribbon sticks wildly.

English weather is predictably unpredictable, so we weren’t sure until the morning of the wedding whether it would really be possible. We had forewarned our guests though, with Mr H’s aunt even coming in walking boots!

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On the day, however, the weather was amazing, and so post ceremony hugging, the majority of our guests wandered down with us. It was truly one of my favourite times of the day. Rochester High Street was bustling, and we came across a couple of friends whose cheers and congratulations were so wonderful to receive!

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You might not believe me, but the photo above was genuinely not posed!

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All in all, it took about 25 minutes to walk to Sun Pier – a little longer than we anticipated, but it was so worthwhile. I *did* get a tiny bit of sunburn on my nose (naughty Australian, naughty!) but it had faded by the evening.

I’m sure the memories of the walk, however, will last much longer!

Wedding Roundup: The Ceremony

The ceremony is quite literally, the main event of the day. The bit that most people feel the most nervous about. I can honestly say in my heart of hearts, that I did not feel remotely nervous about walking down the aisle towards Mr H.

I couldn’t have been looking forward to it more. What was strange, however, and especially so given my background in drama, is that the closer the wedding drew, the less I looked forward to having ‘all eyes on me’, so to speak. Perhaps I’m getting stage fright as I age.

When at last every hair was in place and every lip and cheek rouged, my delightful bridal party and I made our way, on foot, to the Rochester Guildhall for the ceremony. We couldn’t have been more blessed with the weather!

As with all of these wedding posts, these amazing photographs are by Hector of We Heart Pictures.

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A dear friend of ours was married in our town a couple of years ago, and she mentioned that her favourite part of the day was walking along the High Street, with people congratulating her. I now know the feeling, and it truly is wonderful.

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Having arrived 20 minutes late, my dear father thought it would be hilarious to tell me that we were ‘way beyond fashionably late’. Thanks Dad.

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We climbed the stairs and loitered attractively in the anteroom while the registrar ran through some last minute details with me.

Mr H and his family were already in the main chamber, and I really adore these candid shots of them, and our lovely nephew R entertaining his grandparents in the corner!

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My Dad is notoriously hot, and this photo of my sister cooling him down is one of my favourites from the whole day. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation, don’t you think?

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We’re not allowed confetti in Rochester, and so we improvised with ribbon sticks for our guests to wave in our faces in a celebratory manner. They were a hit with the kids, and continue to be a hit with many of the cats in the Rochester area, I’m told!

Mr H made a little wedding zine, which included the order of the day, some of our family history, the story behind our wedding rings – mine is antique, his is a family heirloom sized down from Z+1 to an R – as well as our decision to use my maiden name as our family name. We wanted to share these stories with our guests on the day, and they are now a lasting keepsake.

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Before too long, the bridal crew were gathering on the small stairwell, waiting to enter. My bouquet was in one arm, with the other was tucked firmly in the crook of my father’s. I had time for perhaps one deep breath, before we were off down the aisle!

I approached the whole being ‘given away’ with a lot of thought. I don’t particularly like the historical connotations, and Mr H and I both liked the idea of walking in together. But at the end of the day, I very rarely get to share such special moments with my Dad, and so I am so pleased that we made the traditional decision. I have no regrets.

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A sneaky wink – I have no recollection of doing this, but it’s a wonderful moment nevertheless!

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We were lucky enough to have two readings by wonderful friends. The first was Habitationby Margaret Atwood, read by my dear friend E. I couldn’t have asked for better! The second was an extract from the essay Knowing What’s Nice, by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ll link to  both here for posterity

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By the time you reach the top of the aisle, some little gremlin grabs all the clocks in the world and starts spinning the hands faster – the time absolutely flies.

Before I knew it, we were saying our vows to one another, the vows we wrote together:

I promise to love and cherish the life we build together.

I will care for you, and help you to be the best person you can be.

I will enjoy you when it’s easy, and be loyal when it’s not.

This commitment I make to you for the  rest of my life.

There was the obligatory stumbling over certain words and names, but it was all heartfelt and full of love.

I felt very conscious of what I was doing, and I suppose the seriousness of the matter prevented me from getting choked up – I was fully expecting to be a sobbing mess, but instead some serene goddess replaced me! It felt like my voice was very loud. “Clear”, people said, “Your voice was very clear”, and that means loud. Ho hum.

Rings were presented, and a with momentary panic about swollen knuckles, exchanged. Then we were married!

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Maximum ribbon stick action!

Wedding Roundup – Hair, Makeup & Getting Ready

Lo and behold! I’m still alive! I have finally recovered from the spiritual shock of a new year of full time teaching, and so now I have managed to pull together the inner strength to start regularly posting again. It is now time for full-on wedding posts.

Because this is my blog, I get to focus on…well…me…so I’m going to kick of my series of wedding roundups with the morning when the bridal party got ready.

Before we get stuck into all the photos, of which there are many. I want to remind you of a little company called We Heart Pictures. I introduced you to Hector and Charlie last year, and in all honesty, I cannot think of anyone who would have done a better job with our photos. We are so unbelievably happy. You’ll see why:

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It took me a little while to decide, but I eventually budgeted to have my makeup and hair done by the wonderful team at Lipstick & Curls. I am not going to lie, it was a big expense, but I thought for quite a long time about it before I committed. In the end, I decided it was worth it, as they’re a brand I know and trust, and there may not have been another occasion for which I could justify using them!

My stylist was Hannah, who was hilarious, patient and talented. If you’re lucky enough to meet her in the future, you’re in for a real treat. She was joined on the day by Anneka, who did the hair and makeup for my bridal party.

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That morning, my Mama presented me with my “something blue”. It was a little blue box, from a tiny jewellery company called Tiffany & Co. You might have heard of them? The delicate heart bracelet you can see was my gift. I’ve taken to wearing it every day now.

My lovely sister and best friend N bought the whole group (even my bridesman S!) our robes as a surprise present. The soft cream jersey was actually quite comforting on the day, and the delicate embroidery on the sleeve was a lovely bridal detail. I’ve always loved the look of a bridal party wearing matching robes, so their thoughtful surprise made me give a squeal of delight!

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I truly loved having everyone get ready with me. It was exciting, but also a strangely calm morning. I had a stellar bunch of brides-people around me, proffering croissants and fresh coffee in my general direction whenever they had the chance. What more could a bride ask for?

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These photos also make me look at my house in a new light. The week before the wedding we had some plastering done (big mistake – don’t do it to yourself) and I had been feeling thoroughly fed up with the whole place. Seeing it look so charming in these photos, however, has won it a place in my good books once again.

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Getting ready is evidently a very serious business. I had very serious eyebrows, and I loved every bit of them.

Even though we started before 9, we were all of a sudden running a little bit late! With a 10 minute walk into town ahead of us, it wasn’t long before I had to hop into my dress quick smart, with Hannah strategically arranging my hair clips and veil at the very last minute.

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The big event awaited us!