Foodie Friday: The Wedding Edition

Well, you were warned. As I’m celebrating our anniversary month, I thought I’d share some of the details from our wedding last year. And as Fridays are usually all about food here on Under A Glass Sky, I thought I’d tell you all about the yummy food and drinks we had at our reception.

Food and drink, as you’ve probably surmised, is a big deal for me, and my husband too. So when it came to planning our wedding festivities, these two tasks were top of the list. Whilst I totally agree that it’s all about what you want on your wedding day, I also think (having seen hundreds of weddings through my job!) that there is a duty of care to your guests at a wedding too. Adam and I love to host, and really wanted to ensure that all our guests had an amazing time with as little effort and expense on their part as possible.

We knew from early on that we didn’t want a very formal reception with a sit down meal and table plans etc. I had actually planned a wedding years ago where the Bride and Groom had chosen to serve canapés and bowl food so that their guests could circulate and catch up with everyone there, rather than mostly just the people at their table, and it was honestly one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever experienced. This really appealed to us, as we weren’t starting until four o’clock, and with only the reception happening on that day. It also gave us the opportunity to choose LOTS of different dishes (I love having a little bit of lots of things!) and also ensure there was something everyone liked. Ever concerned though about making sure that everyone had enough to eat, we opted to have a few extras too, so that there was basically food on the go for the whole event!

Starting things at four o’clock felt like a great excuse to serve a bit of afternoon tea. It’s often tricky at weddings when people have been travelling all morning to get there…they often don’t get chance to have all their usual meals, so we wanted people to have something right away to line their stomachs! So, first up we circulated finger sandwiches with different traditional fillings, followed by plain and fruit scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream (we had to request they go on in that order, as at our tasting the caterers did it the other way round….Adam looking at me nervously as they served them in the way I don’t like!). We had collected lots of vintage tea stands to serve the tea on, the caterers also using some of their nice slate flats.

Our Wedding: The Menu

To accompany the tea, we decided to serve an arrival cocktail we called ‘Hitchin Lavender G and Tea’….Hitchin (where we held our reception and lived at the time) is famous for its lavender growing, and our amazing mixologist devised this lovely cocktail for us to feature it. They served the ‘tea’ from glass tea pots using dry ice to create a steam effect, then poured the cocktail into mis-matched vintage tea cups that we’d collected from flea markets. It was a lovely alternative start and went beautifully with the food.

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

Shortly after tea was served, our gorgeous little vintage ice cream van arrived to the playground (our venue used to be a school and is now a museum) for everyone to enjoy a sweet treat. Adam is crazy for ice cream, and someone I worked with told me about the adorable little van local to us. Ice Baby was actually the first thing we booked (yes, even before the venue!) and it was lovely seeing her wonderful owner, Tasha, around town often in the run up to the party.

We chose all our favourite flavours (after much careful taste testing!) including coconut for me, as well as frozen yoghurt which I love too. We were very lucky that the sun shone at the right time so people got to enjoy their ice creams outside whilst playing on the little crazy golf we’d made, and luckily not needing the umbrellas we kept on hand!

Our Wedding: Ice Baby vintage ice cream van Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_422 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_424 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_425 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_428  Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_442 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_447 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_450 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_451

Back inside and we’d set up our Welsh dresser as a sweet shop, filled with naughty things we love (I am a real sweet fiend) such as flying saucers, strawberry laces and sherbet straws. We bought pretty striped bags for people to fill and take away with them, as well as some cute stripey paper cups for people to fill and eat around the room.

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

Then it wasn’t long before the main meal! We began with bite sized canapés, circulated on lovely olive boards and slate flats….we chose sweet pepper and goats cheese tarts, and minted pea blinis for our veggie options, then fish and mushy pea rosti for our fish choice, with miniature burgers and tadpole in the whole (tiny toad in the holes with gravy!) as our meat options. Although bite sized (necessary for chatting and not getting gravy all over your face!) these were pretty filling!

Then for ‘mains’ we served what I call ‘passing plates’….again, we collected LOTS of vintage side plates to serve small, sort of tapas size portions of main dishes. These were designed to be easily eaten with just an oyster fork whilst people were standing, and meant that people could choose the sort of thing they fancied (or, like me and a good few others, have some of everything!). Our vegetarian dishes were vegetable tempura served on jasmine rice, and a pea and ricotta gnocchi. We went for poached salmon tagliatelle as our fish option, and (my favourite) rump steak with chips and bearnaise sauce for our meat dish. After one of each of those I was totally stuffed….although I believe some people (who had probably eaten fewer sweets than me!) managed several more!

Alongside supper, our bar served some amazing wines that a friend of Adam’s family had collected from Germany for us. For white we chose an incredible Bacchus, Spatgurgunder for our red, and a lovely rose Portugieser. Adam also brought across some Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot for those who prefer something bigger too, plus we bought in a couple of mini kegs of some of my favourite ales, and a keg of Adam’s favourite cider!

Then (after we were sure everyone had eaten something!) we opened a full cocktail bar, featuring a short list carefully chosen by us at a lengthy tasting! These went down very well indeed, and many of our guests made it a mission to try each one! We made sure the non-drinkers were well catered for by asking our bar staff to serve all the cocktails as ‘virgin’ on request, and also had a good stock of teas available too.

DIY Wedding Hand Typed Menu displayed in vintage typewriter

DIY Wedding Cocktail Bar

Next up, was the cake. Neither of us were fond of the idea of one big cake, as we like lots of different types, and didn’t really want to go in for the formal cutting bit either. Instead we asked a bunch of friends to make some little individual cakes and sweets for us, so that people could help themselves to as much or as little as they liked, and had a choice of different kinds too. The wonderful Brigitte (who, luckily for us happens to be a pastry chef!) made us a whole host of miniature cakes, including some seriously yummy tiny blueberry muffins. Then Hannah P made her famous chocolate covered cinder toffee, which was very popular! Adam’s Mum made a load of her lovely meringues for us, and we also bought some of the incredible chocolate brownies from our local artisan baker, Quotidian. And last, but perhaps my favourite, were Hannah G’s macaroons….she made lots of different flavours for us, in pretty pastel colours to match our decor, and they were divine!

Being fervently British when it comes to the cheese course, I insisted our cheese ‘cake’ was brought out after puddings, although our guests were able to enjoy them alongside each other as they were all set out at the sweet station. We ordered six tiers of cheese from the wonderful people at Liverpool Cheese Company as I’d heard they were pretty good. Their advice and service was impeccable actually, and the cheese itself (including carefully sourced decorations according to our guidelines) was amazing. From bottom (largest) to top (smallest) we chose Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Snowdonia Extra Mature Cheddar, Delice Cremiers, Cashel Blue, Somerset Camembert and Capricorn Goat’s cheese. Half of these were regular favourites of mine, but it was lovely to have some that were new to me too, especially as the lovely cheese people sent us samples before hand so we could be sure!

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

For alongside the cheese, we made a huge batch of sloe port. We’ve been making sloe gin for a few years now, and after the success of the first batch, started to branch out into port, brandy and even chocolate to use up the gin-soaked berries. This was a great accompaniment, as well as the huge stack of bread we also bought in from Quotidian….although disaster nearly struck when we forgot to collect it all earlier in the day! The shop has usually sold out of bread and so closes by noon, but at 5pm Adam realised we’d forgotten to pop round there, and so we panicked! He decided to try our luck by running round there though (all in his wedding suit finery!) and the lovely owners had left a note on their door to tell us they’d left our order with the bike shop next door! We couldn’t believe our luck, although poor Adam then had a huge, heavy box of baked goods to carry back to the venue! Thankfully Hitchin is pretty small though, and so nobody had to go without bread to put their cheese on!

We sent our guests home with party bags filled with sweets too, and so all in all I think everyone was pretty well fed! We had LOTS of cake and cheese, and even a little bread left over (as well as a huge amount of booze!), but we made a good dent in that on the following day when we had a bunch of friends who’d stayed over nearby round in the afternoon. It was lovely to extend the celebrations, and we didn’t really mind having to eat a lot of cheese and cake for several days after!

We really lucked out on all our suppliers…..we took a LONG time to choose our caterers, How Can We Help You, as before Adam found them we’d really struggled to find a company who could offer what we wanted. The format of the menu was really important to us, and many companies didn’t really understand the concept, then we had to insist that all the meat and dairy were organic too, because of our feelings about animal welfare. They really did do everything that we asked though, and nothing was too much trouble…even when I was being picky about the size of forks, the texture of the sugar snap peas and the order things appeared on the plate…I for one was a very tough client, but they really did meet all our expectations.

Our bar team and mixologists, Liquid Chefs, I’d actually worked with before, so I knew how great they are. It was great to be the end client though this time, rather than hiring them on my client’s behalf, so we very much enjoyed choosing what *we* wanted (not to mention trying out all manner of different options first!).

Thinking about it all is making me rather hungry and thirsty….and keen to do it all again, actually! I’ll have to make do with a sandwich though, so off to the kitchen I go!

Ems x

(One year on) Our Wedding: Part Two

DIY tin can name tea lights for wedding decor

Hi! How has your Bank Holiday weekend been? Ours has been pretty busy, not least because yesterday, Adam and I celebrated our *other* first wedding anniversary! As you may have already read, we separated our actual wedding ceremony (a.k.a. ‘the legal bit’ or ‘part one’!) and our wedding reception (a.k.a. ‘the party’ or ‘part two’!) by a few weeks. We couldn’t have done as much as we did otherwise, and it was great to make the most of the whole event….and of course it’s been rather nice to stretch out our celebrations, one year on!

We went for an amazing meal last night to celebrate, at the Burlington at The Devonshire Arms, in nearby Bolton Abbey. It’s a beautifully luxurious restaurant with a Michelin Star and four AA rosettes, and is just as impressive as any Michelin Star restaurant we’ve been to in London, but with the added benefit of incredible Yorkshire ingredients and a stunning location. We went for the tasting menu, yumming up ten courses in total. I’ll be sure to write about it in more detail soon, but for now, back to wedding stuff!

As I warned, I thought I’d take the opportunity of our anniversary to finally share some of our wedding photos and details of what we got up to…..

Bokeh effect double exposure wedding portrait, Sharon Cooper Photography

Once we’d decided to do our reception separately from our ceremony, and knowing that we wanted to do something a bit different, and totally ‘us’, we began by looking for a venue that was a little out of the ordinary. And whilst it wasn’t the first thing we actually booked, from early on the strongest contender was the British Schools Museum in Hitchin. Before it became a museum, Adam had actually attended nursery there, before that his Mum was there as a pupil, and before *that* his Grandfather was a teacher there! As well as the close family connection, it also had the benefit of being right opposite where we lived at the time (invaluable when it came to the logistics)! That said, it isn’t actually a wedding or party venue, it has no kitchen and there were several other challenges that meant it wasn’t an easy choice. We knew though that it would be worth the effort, and would make for a truly unique event.

DIY wedding 'welcome' chalk board

Having finally plucked up courage to book the place, we set about finding a caterer who would work there in a make-shift kitchen (actually a sort of ante-room / classroom that is mostly used for visiting schools’ lunch breaks), as well as all the other things that would turn it into a wedding venue. We worked closely with the museum’s Manager, the ever-patient Andy, to figure out ways to adapt what was there to our needs. There were some elements in the space that didn’t really work for us, but we couldn’t just plough in and do whatever we wanted, so we had to come up with some clever work-arounds to make it work. We also had some help from our dear friend Hannah, who helped to get some funding to spruce up the decorating where damp had affected the main room.

Pastel umbrellas and coat hooks for wedding guests

DIY wedding, vintage dressing table to make the bathrooms more homey

The room is mostly painted white, which made for a pretty good blank canvas, but there are wooden slats running round the walls to display educational boards and history presentations. We were able to have the boards taken down, but the wooden slats remained, so we made tens of metres of ribbon garland to hang from these, covering up the slats and adding some colour. The room is also pretty tall in the centre, so to make it a little cosier we created a sort of false ceiling….I always dreamed about having a confetti cannon at the party, but we couldn’t really decide when we’d use it, so we made a sort of permanent confetti burst by stitching up hundreds of pieces of coloured paper, which we then suspended across the width of the room.

The British Schools Museum, Hitchin, wedding venue decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY wedding decor confetti ceiling

Adam always wanted lots of warm white fairy lights as part of the decor, and had the idea to spiral them around all the columns, as well as wrap them into the ribbon garland around the walls. We went for a white LED dance floor which twinkled to match, and also draped lots of lights behind the bar where we hung our home made sign with our wedding slogan ‘an adventure begins’ made in maps and coloured paper. Along with the light-up bar, it all looked suitably shiny and sparkly!

"An Adventure Begins" map themed wedding backdrop

We’d also made a bit of an emblem of a hot air balloon, using a drawing featuring one on our invitations, almost like a logo for us with a banner saying ‘an adventure begins across it’. So we decided to make some to decorate the room too, creating them from paper lanterns filled with fairy lights, pastel coloured ribbons and little baskets. We strung these up using fishing wire so that they looked like they were floating around the bar!

Adventure themed pastel wedding decor DIY

Having used lots of maps throughout, in line with our ‘adventure’ theme (on our invitations, Adam’s bow tie, the button holes etc.) we decorated lots of bit of furniture we collected with vintage maps. We didn’t want to use hired furniture (I have an unnatural hatred of hired banqueting chairs!), preferring things to be individual and to allow for lots of moving around, rather than a more traditional, formal sit-down affair. Most of the prettiest maps featured pastel colours, so this became our palette throughout, and I made pastel coloured pom-poms on sticks and paper windmill centre pieces in lieu of flowers (although I did pick a few from our garden and dotted them around in vintage vases).

DIY map furniture for adventure themed wedding

DIY table centres, pastel pom poms and paper windmills instead of flowers

DIY hand picked wild flowers for wedding

DIY wedding centre pieces, pastel pom poms and paper windmills

DIY wedding decor, hand picked wild flowers

DIY wedding decor paper windmills

We wanted to maintain a party atmosphere throughout our reception, with everyone included in everything. We have lots of friends who live far away, so it was important to us to see them all, and to give everyone a good chance to catch up with each other. Having a mostly-standing reception meant people weren’t restricted to one table, and could move about as they liked. We also planned lots of things to be going on around the room throughout the evening to keep everyone entertained….

We hired a juke box so that people could choose what they wanted to hear for the first half of the party. It looks just like a retro Wurlwitzer, but is fully electronic and holds thousands of songs, including every top ten single since the fifties! We had to have a few rules (mostly due to my dislike of Morrissey) but there was no squabbling, and it was a good talking point for our guests.

DIY wedding, juke box

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox rule book on music paper

We also booked a great photo booth that I’d used lots before. Unfortunately it got held up in traffic, so arrived at the same time as our guests ( I was *not* a happy bunny that a supplier’s van was in view and they had to set up with our guests there!), but, the image quality is great, they put our logo on the prints (one for everyone in the photo, not just one per photo) there’s loads of room in there, AND there’s a disco ball and light up dance floor in it! The company brought along lots of props, and we made some of our own (the chalk board speech bubbles were very popular) and everyone had a great time messing around dressing up and posing like sillies!

Dressing up for the wedding photo booth

Disco floor in wedding photo booth

 

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip 127806-shinko single strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

I’ve always been a bit crazy for crazy golf, and knowing we’d like a bit of an outdoor activity for our guests, we thought that would be fun. We looked into hiring a set, but there wasn’t anything out there quite right for us, so we decided to make it ourselves to our own theme! We stretched green felt over wooden boards and made a simple skirting with wooden slats around the edges. Then we crafted our obstacles, which included a hot air balloon, ice cream cones and of course, the traditional windmill! I cut some laminated vintage maps into pennants and attached them to cane to make the flags, and a friend arranged for us to borrow putters from her husband who is a pro at the local golf course! We had some rain earlier in the day, so took the precaution of putting up some gazebos over it all, so we could still enjoy it…it all got a little grubby during the downpour, but it was still great fun (even though I was rather rubbish at it)….and a couple of our guests got VERY into it, refusing to settle for anything less than a hole in one!

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

I’ve always loved the tradition of having a box of cigars at a wedding, and whilst I enjoyed the thought of me in all my bridal togs puffing on a big cuban, it’s not really Adam’s bag, and we managed to come up with an alternative. We created a snuff bar (something you used to be able to hire until smoking laws changed) by buying up a load of tins of different flavoured snuff from the internet. We customised an old wooden cutlery canteen to house the tins, pulling out the sections and velvet lining, and re-lining it with vintage cigarette cards I’d collected. This we sat on top of a lovely old wooden trolley we found at Hitchin market, and added a vintage hand held mirror (for people to check they’ve not got snuff on their face!), a box of tissues which I covered in vintage maps, and a little sign to say how to use it all. It was a real lark watching people try the different flavours, and our snuff bar made for some of our favourite photos of the night!

DIY snuff bar for wedding

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

Wedding reception DIY snuff bar

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

We also swapped out a regular gift list for something different. We were conscious that it’s expensive enough to come to a wedding, with travel and accommodation to pay for, and there’s nothing we really *need*. We know though that people like to bring something, so we had the idea to ask for recipes in lieu of gifts…this was something that didn’t need to cost anything, but we knew we’d treasure. We plan to make up a book of all the recipes we received (lots of our guests put a load of thought and effort into them!), once we’re settled into our new house.

Vintage suitcase with map lettering for wedding cards

We skipped things like speeches (again with the not wanting to speak in front of a whole load of people, and because we didn’t personally feel the need) and formally cutting the cake, but we did give our guests a few little traditions….. Having robbed our friends of getting to see us formally hitched, and really getting into our ballroom and latin dance classes whilst we lived in Hitchin, we decided to do a proper ‘first dance’. We still didn’t want it to be too long though, and weren’t really comfortable with a slow dance, as is traditional. Instead we decided to use a very up-beat piece of music we both love, from an anime show we watched together called Cowboy Bebop. We had six private lessons with the wonderful couple who also taught our weekly class, and they choreographed a routine for us, using Modern Jive, foxtrot and samba moves. It was a great fun thing to do in the run up to the wedding reception, and I think we surprised people that we did a first dance at all, and that it was pretty fast and not typically romantic!

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

We also thought it would be nice to share some of the photos from the ceremony with our reception guests, and so had some printed and framed to decorate the piano at the venue. We also got a load made up into a retro view finder, which was good fun too!

Wedding ceremony photos to decorate wedding reception

Vintage view finder to show wedding ceremony photos at wedding reception

Retro view finders with wedding photos

I’ve always personally loved the tradition of throwing the bouquet…I’m not sure why…but I caught one a few years ago at a friend’s wedding and so it seemed only fair that I throw mine. However, mine was really a bit too dangerous to throw, as I’d made it from dozens of bone china floral brooches and it weighed a tonne! So, I made a ‘stunt’ bouquet from pastel coloured pompoms instead, and threw that in the safety of the playground outside the venue.

My DIY china flower brooch wedding bouquet

Throwing the bouquet

Catching the bouquet

We also wanted to have a guest book to record messages from all our guests, but again wanting to do something different, we decided not to go with an actual book. We toyed with several ideas (signing a globe for example seemed a good idea because of our theme, and we had lots around, but in practise we thought this would be tricky!) but in the end Adam came up with a belter of an idea when we were out at the antiques market near our house….we spotted an old key cabinet from a hotel (which again, went rather well with our adventure theme) and Adam had the idea to hang lots of vintage keys inside, the labels to which could be used to write messages on! We spent ages collecting all the keys, and then cleaning them up and adding ribbon and labels, but it made for something a bit different and is also going to be a great reminder of the day when we hang it up on display in our new home!

DIY wedding, vintage hotel key cabinet for guest book

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

Another tradition I personally love is the favours. I think it’s nice to give a small token of thanks to guests, and also offer them something to remember the day by. We wanted to have something in-keeping with our theme, and so made everyone a wooden and leather luggage tag decorated with a map of somewhere special to them. It was a lengthy process, but well worth the effort as they’re something people can use on their own adventures and think of our party at the same time!

Polka dot party bags tombola for wedding favours

We didn’t want to stop there though….I am a huge lover of party bags, and Adam is a mega tombola fan, so we decided to incorporate these too! We made up party bags in pastel colours, filled with the luggage tags, as well as old favourites like Rainbow Drops, popping candy, blowing bubbles, fortune telling fish and party poppers which we decorated with our logo. We also covered boxes of matches with our logo and the slogan ‘the perfect match’ as I’ve always had a thing for collecting branded match books wherever I go! We then attached a tombola ticket to each guest’s personalised party bag, including the counterpart ticket in with their invitation….they then had to match up their tickets with their ‘prize’ on the day to get their own party bag! It was just a bit of silly fun really, but we enjoyed making them and the contents seemed to go down well!

DIY adventure themed wedding reception

And that was the order of the day, really….lots of silliness and fun, catching up with people and enjoying their company. We felt fairly brave doing things that weren’t really traditional, but everything worked well for us and we felt that our guests enjoyed it just the same! We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from our family and friends, and we are forever grateful to our amazing photographer, Sharon, who was very much involved in the planning and also provided us with a great set of photos (including all those shown here) to remember it all by!

Crazy panda wedding photos

Crazy panda wedding photos

Now I just need to find an excuse to do it all again……!

Ems x

DIY wedding decor, tin can tea lights with names

Gifts I made for my husband on our first anniversary

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

As you may well have already read on my earlier post, it was my first wedding anniversary on Sunday. I often make gifts for people on birthdays and at Christmas, and this special occasion seemed like a good excuse to get crafting too.

First of all I decided to make a little book for him, a sort of collecting book for anniversaries. I drew a little picture to represent the traditional gift given on all the key anniversaries, then bound them into a little map covered book (maps being a favourite of ours and a theme at our wedding). I was rather pleased with the result, and I look forward to Adam ‘collecting’ anniversaries for a long time to come!

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

We’ve been having a bit of a copper obsession lately (long before it became so trendy, I might add!) and I actually tried to find some copper julep cans for Adam’s Christmas gift. I couldn’t manage to find any that were quite right at the time though, but I persisted and found a great set of quite old ones that needed a spruce up. Several hours of boiling in sea salt and vinegar, and yet more hours scrubbing them with citrus fruits later, and they’re almost perfect! I’m looking forward to tasting cocktails in them soon!

DIY papercut, wedding anniversary book, Moomin card and copper julep cans

Last of all I decided to attempt a paper cut for Adam. Because the traditional first anniversary gift is paper (I opted to go mostly with the US list as it makes more sense than the UK one!) I thought this would be a nice thing to keep, and also to frame in our new home.

I first drew a design on grid paper in pencil (using a hot hair balloon and a Winnie the Pooh quote, both of which were inspirations for our wedding), then transferred it in reverse onto the back of my heavy paper using carbon paper. Then it was a case of carefully cutting out the negative space with a scalpel (I swear by the Swann Norton handle with AA blade)….I found it best to start in the middle and work outwards so that I wasn’t pulling on any of the supporting pieces excessively. I also (despite my preference!) decided it best to cut out the really tricky and small fiddly bits first, as the larger and simpler ones required less effort.

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Once I’d finished cutting, I created my backing paper by painting another sheet of heavy paper using gouache, starting with a blue at the top and fading into a green at the bottom. Then it was just a case of framing the paper cut and backing together…and I’m ever so pleased with how it turned out! In fact, Adam loved it so much we got quite emotional (perhaps also because he had an idea of how many hours I’d spent on it!).

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Perhaps best of all though was Adam’s gift to me….another project to work on together! Rather fittingly, he had found and had sent from the US for me a copy of  ‘Our Adventure Book’ from the Pixar film ‘Up!’. It was made by the people who first made the album for the production team on the movie, and has our little tagline ‘An Adventure Begins’ on the spine.

First wedding anniversary gift: paper 'Our Adventure Book' from Up!

It’s full of gorgeous paper pages for us to fill with photos, notes, sketches and other bits and bobs from our wedding…..I can’t wait to fill it up together and make a real project of it! This may have to wait until after we’ve moved though, as most of our wedding stuff is still boxed up in various places!

Ems x

 

(One year on) Our Wedding: Part One

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary! As of Sunday, we’ve been married one whole year! We started celebrations on Friday with a gin tasting, then exchanged gifts, and had a few adventures over the rest of the bank holiday weekend….we’re celebrating for a few weeks still to come with some other things planned too!

I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast….it certainly doesn’t feel like a year ago that we were in Greenwich saying our vows (not least because it was warm enough to spend much of the day outside with bare arms and legs, and now it’s rather grey and chill outside!). It’s been the most fun year ever, and I’m loving being a Mrs.

This also means it’s almost a year since I blogged a few photos from the wedding and promised to share more later….so I thought I’d take the opportunity to finally do so! I always wanted to post some of what we did, as much as to remind us in future years as to share some of our ideas in the hope of encouraging others to be bold and not worry about bucking the trends and doing things differently. So, as we celebrate over the next few weeks (whilst we were actually married on the 3rd of May, we didn’t have our reception until the 24th, so technically we get two anniversaries!) I thought I’d write about some of the things we did. Apologies if wedding chat isn’t really your thing….I’m afraid I just can’t get enough of weddings myself and am always delighted to talk about them!

We opted to have a very small, personal ceremony in Greenwich on the first May bank holiday, with just our family present (and our photographer of course!). Neither Adam nor I much liked the idea of having lots of people watching us as we said our vows, and it felt really special to do so with a more intimate audience. Having the ceremony on a separate day to our reception was vital too, as we did so much for the latter ourselves and couldn’t have done so much if we had to worry about doing it all on the same day. We chose Greenwich because I’d lived around there for many years, and we would often go there when we first started seeing each other….we also have some of our most treasured memories from times there, and it is just a stunning place. Being at the home of time also fitted well with our theme of adventure, and it felt pretty special to tie the knot there.

My Mum drove us down from Hitchin on the Friday afternoon, and we checked into our hotel, Devenport House, before meeting up with my brother for a few drinks at the pub and a lovely Italian meal. Then it was an early night to get our beauty sleep! Adam and I bucked tradition and shared a room, which meant we saw each other on the morning of the wedding (it didn’t seem to bring us any bad luck!). I awoke early to begin primping and couldn’t believe our luck with the weather….it was blue skies as far as the eye could see!

We met my brother for a full English breakfast together (Mum was too busy doing her hair!) and then after getting our glad rags on, set off in a taxi together to the registry office in The Royal Borough of Greenwich Town Hall. Adam’s family met us there and we had some photos outside and in the lobby as we actually arrived before the bride to the wedding before ours! Then, after a few formalities Adam and I walked down the aisle together and said our vows (with a little giggling and just a little crying). The whole thing only took about twenty minutes, which gave us time to chat with everyone (it was the first time Adam and I met our niece, and the first time my brother had met Adam’s family) and then have some family photos around the Royal Naval College, the Queen’s House and Greenwich Park. The glorious weather, and our amazing photographer Sharon, (not to mention my wonderful new husband!) made all this just beautiful….a perfectly happy, relaxed and special day!

We had a great pub lunch together afterwards with our families, then wandered through sunny Greenwich with ice creams before Mum drove Adam and I back to Hitchin. She’d secretly decorated her car in cahoots with my Brother, with ribbons and a little sign, so we got lots of waves and beeps from cars we passed all the way home! In the evening, Adam’s Mum put on a yummy buffet for us all, then on Sunday we all went out for a delicious Sunday roast lunch.

It really was all we’d hoped for, and more….I’m so glad we did it this way!

And so….to the photos (all courtesy of Sharon Cooper)!…..

 

Our wedding: the rings, rose gold and rosewood (via Under a Glass Sky)

We couldn’t have agreed on matching rings if we’d tried, but we still co-ordinated….I’m crazy for rose gold, so went for a simple double court band, whilst Adam had a beautiful rosewood band made for him with a copper band running through it.

Our wedding: the rings inside one of our customised match boxes (via Under a Glass Sky)

We re-decorated lots of match boxes to have at the reception, and this one worked rather well to pop the rings in!

Our wedding: my hand made pink silk teardrop birdcage veil with vintage marcasite and pearl  Lily of the Valley brooch

I hand-made my own birdcage veil to match my dress (which I also made!), using offcuts of silk and a vintage marcasite and pearl brooch….Lily of the Valley are my favourite flower so I was delighted to find this to wear on my wedding day!

Our wedding: the Groom's hand made vintage map bow tie and rosewood ring

I made Adam’s bow tie from a wonderful vintage map print fabric we bought together in London to go with our adventure theme….

Our wedding: vintage map bow tie and button hole boutonniere

….and to match, I used old maps to make his button hole!

Hand made vintage map button holes / boutonnieres

In fact, everyone got a button hole…even our photographer and our baby niece!

Hand made DIY china flower brooch bouquet

I made my own bouquet using antique fine china floral brooches….I wanted to use it at both the ceremony and reception so it had to last, plus the brooches were a nod to my Potteries roots! It was great to collect them with my Mum’s help and slowly piece it together in the run up to the wedding….although LOTS of work!

Fine china floral hair decorations for the Bride

With the smaller brooches I made lots of little hair adornments to match my bouquet

Our wedding: the Bride's shoes by Christian Louboutin

Having made my own dress, I decided to indulge myself in a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes to go with it….and going with pink meant that I can wear them again!

Our wedding: Lulu Guinness 'Don't Forget Your Lipstick' handbag

I decided on a pink and red theme for my outfit, and used a large red vintage vanity case on the day as well as this little Lulu Guinness ‘Don’t Forget Your Lipstick’ handbag which I’ve had for ages….my Brother kindly carried the vanity for most of the day though!

Our wedding: the Bride in pink with a London Bus

My DIY veil in action, as well as the red and pink theme in full swing with a London bus!

Our wedding: Bride and Groom on the checkered floor of Greenwich Town Hall

I was just crazy about the black and white checkered floor in the Town Hall lobby

Our wedding: goofing around in the lobby at Greenwich Town Hall

Goofing around in the stunning lobby as we waited!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

He calls this the ‘hero’ pose!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Adam’s eldest brother, our sister-in-law, and our (then!) baby niece!

Exchanging rings

Exchanging rings

Checking out the rings afterwards

Checking out the rings afterwards

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

The lot of us!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Me and him

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

My wonderful Mummy passing on her good luck trinkets from her own wedding

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Confetti!

Love Lane, Royal Borough of Greenwich

Love Lane, Royal Borough of Greenwich

We love this spot...the building features in lots of costume dramas we've seen together, especially lots of Dickens adaptations!

We love this spot…the building features in lots of costume dramas we’ve seen together, especially lots of Dickens adaptations!

My wonderful Mummy had her outfit made for her, based on one Kim Novak wore in 1957 film Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra

My wonderful Mummy had her outfit made for her, based on one Kim Novak wore in 1957 film Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra….it went so beautifully with all the colours on the day

A little cheeky shot of my red petticoats....who said you can't wear pink with red?!

A little cheeky shot of my red petticoats….who said you can’t wear pink with red?! I swapped into flats for a while too….a gorgeous pair of pink glimmer jazz flats from French Sole.

In the beautiful dappled sunlight

In the beautiful dappled sunlight

I still can't believe how lucky with the weather we were....it was so warm!

I still can’t believe how lucky with the weather we were….it was so warm!

One of our favourite shots...sitting in an anchor outside The National Maritime Museum (surrounded by tourists!)

One of our favourite shots…sitting in an anchor outside The National Maritime Museum (surrounded by tourists!)

Can you believe that blue sky?!

Can you believe that blue sky?!

Which way?! This vintage map is from where we took our first ever holiday together.

Which way?! This vintage map is from where we took our first ever holiday together…..far from the Royal Observatory as shown in the background!

A kiss.....

A kiss…..

That’s all for now!

Ems x

Me and Him over on Rock n Roll Bride

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 15.34.47

When our super awesome wedding photographer Sharon Cooper told us she’d secretly submitted our wedding pics to Rock n Roll Bride I was pretty exited to hear that the wonderful Kat wanted to feature us. And now you can see her post all about our big day(s), I’m feeling incredibly honoured and excited!

I’ll still be writing more about our wedding….I wanted to keep a sort of diary of each day and will be sure to post it here soon. In the mean time though, if you’d like to see some more photos of our ceremony and reception you can see a whole bunch here!

Ems x

Since I saw you last….

Yes, I know that’s a Gary Barlow song. And no, I won’t apologise for the ear worm.

Anyways! Hello! Long time! It’s been a seriously busy few months, and possibly the most momentous time ever for me. So, without further ado, here’s a whistle stop tour of what I’ve been up to…..

April was really all about wedding prep….making favours, up-cycling furniture for the reception, and oh, you know, making my wedding dress! Just as everyone always says it does, the wedding came round so fast and there was some frantic organising done in those last few weeks! We did manage to fit in some fun and relaxation though, and on the last weekend in April we hosted our joint Hen and Stag do!

Wedding Crafting

Wedding Crafting

Neither of us was terribly keen on doing separate Hen and Stag parties, and whilst we initially intended not to bother at all, when we hatched an idea to do them together we thought it’d be fun. We booked our fabulous dance teachers (Modern Jive World Champions!) Lee and Dawn to teach a bunch of us for a few hours in a local hall. It was great to have lots of friends meet each other for the first time, and the dancing was a brilliant ice breaker as we had to keep swapping partners throughout the class. Even the hounds came along and dressed up for the occasion too! By the end of it we were all pretty good at the little routine, which we vowed to practise and use at the wedding reception a few weeks later.

007 Cooper

007 Cooper

Rock n Roll Digby

Rock n Roll Digby

Afterwards we met up with more friends and had a yummy meal at our favourite Hitchin curry house (they do awesome veggie dishes), then made our way to one of our favourite bars in town to drink lots and lots of cocktails. We love the little Music Room at the back of the old Corn Exchange on the market square, and we have to admit that Pitcher and Piano have done a grand job with the place….not to mention their cocktails.

The morning after we were in need of some serious calories, so a bunch of us headed to The Groundworks for breakfast (the chorizo omlette the most popular) before everyone made their way back home and we began the final preparations for the wedding the following weekend!

Espresso and chocolate crepe at Just Desserts

Espresso and chocolate crepe at Just Desserts

During the week running up to the wedding I was also treated to a night out with my colleagues. We met just around the corner at Just Desserts, which as the name suggests, only serves puddings! We all toasted with fizzy and ate large amounts of waffles, crepes and sundaes, before I headed home wearing a flashing ‘Bride to Be’ sash and with a big bunch of cute balloons.

Bridal shower garms

Bridal shower garms

Bridal shower balloons

Bridal shower balloons

So next of course, we got married! I’ll leave off all the details and photos for now as I’ll write about all that separately. Suffice to say, we had the most amazing time ever though! We actually did the ceremony bit in Greenwich on the 3rd of May, then followed up with the reception on the 24th…..we like to drag things out! Anyway, it was the most wonderful excuse to spend time and have lots of fun with our nearest and dearest, so I’ll look forward to sharing more soon. Here’s one sneak peek of a photo for now though!…..

Me and him on our wedding day in Greenwich

Me and him on our wedding day in Greenwich

In between the ceremony day and the reception, we were super busy getting things ready for the big party. Adam finished work a couple of days before the wedding, so he had a few weeks to help me out with the huge amount of craft and DIY projects we had planned. We did make time for a few dates though, and it was lovely to enjoy his time off with some cocktails and meals out. We discovered (after way too long!) that the Hermitage Road Restaurant, which is just a few minutes walk from us, serves some seriously good cocktails, and we also enjoyed an amazing Thai meal at Sukawatee opposite.

My Husband and a rather yummy cocktail in a tin mug

My Husband and a rather yummy cocktail in a tin mug

We had another week between the wedding reception and going on honeymoon, which we used in part to recover from the party! We both came down with colds, which was a real drag and stopped us from doing all the sorting we’d planned. The house looked like a party supplier had exploded in it, with excess furniture cluttering up the place, and various random things hanging around such as small wooden windmills, boxes of jam jars and copious amounts of left over booze. We did however enjoy spending time going through all our cards and messages, opening gifts, reading the recipes people had given us (we asked for these instead of having a gift registry) and laughing at all the photo booth pictures. We were so very ready for our holiday by the time we set off for the airport though….we’ve not had a proper sunny summer holiday for years and couldn’t wait to relax by the pool!

Waiting for our second flight of three to our honeymoon destination

Waiting for our second flight of three to our honeymoon destination

After thirty hours of travelling (eeep!) we were finally welcomed to our stunning hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali. The relief as we sunk into the huge sofa in the air conditioned club room was immense, and the yummy cold cocktails and gifts we were brought made us start to think it had all been worth it. After checking in, we went to our room to find yet more gifts, and un-packed as we awaited our room service supper before crashing into bed. The time difference and the flights had all happily made it so that we could fall asleep at our usual bed time, bang on bed time in Bali….although that said, we were still rather lazy in the morning and didn’t get to breakfast until pretty late! We spent the day eating, drinking cocktails and exploring the resort….nicely settling in to the incredible weather and the laid back vibe.

Pretty much my view for most of the holiday

Pretty much my view for most of the holiday

Again, hopefully I’ll write in more detail about our trip….we did quite a few activities and excursions (not to mention three trips to the amazing spa!) so there’s lots to write, and stacks of photos too. We totally fell in love with Bali though, and would really recommend it for a holiday….the weather is spot on, the people are delightful and the food is terrific! In the mean time, here’s a few of my iPhone snaps to show you some of the highlights…..

The view from our lovely room

The view from our lovely room

Room service breakfast on the morning of one of our excursions

Room service breakfast on the morning of one of our excursions

Our trip to a coffee and spice plantation, including an awesome coffee tasting with a view to die for

Our trip to a coffee and spice plantation, including an awesome coffee tasting with a view to die for

We saw lots of traditional, local dances, including a wonderful fire dance performance

We saw lots of traditional, local dances, including a wonderful fire dance performance

I LOVED meeting a whole lot of monkeys on one of our outings!

I LOVED meeting a whole lot of monkeys on one of our outings!

We were in Bali for two weeks and loved every minute of it. We did miss the dogs terribly though (my Mum looked after them for the first week, Adam’s Mum for the second) and so were ready to come home to see them. They were a sight for sore eyes when we got home after another thirty hour journey, and their reaction to our return was wonderful. They’d been a little spoiled whilst we were away, with lie-ins in the grown up beds and endless sofa time cuddles, but they were still very pleased to see us and seeing them made parting with Bali all the more bearable!

Adam had a full week off after our return, which was a real treat. We made the most of it and planned lots of meet ups and outings and things….all of which was made even better by the fabulous weather we came home to! By a happy coincidence a bunch of our friends had the Friday of that week off, so we met up in a local park for a picnic. We made up a load of Pimm’s with ginger ale and got a stack of yummy treats from M&S, which we scoffed whilst sitting in the gorgeous sun. It was so nice to come home to such great weather after being so spoiled on holiday, and better still to be able to spend time outdoors with friends.

Picnic Pimm's

Picnic Pimm’s

The indulgences continued as we met friends again for afternoon treats at Just Desserts…..it was lovely enough to sit out in the garden there as we ate delicious sundaes, waffles and crepes.

Just Desserts crew

Just Desserts crew

Then on the Sunday we celebrated my birthday. Adam made me breakfast to have out in the garden, which was just lovely, and I had a whole lot of wonderful birthday cards and gifts to open too.

Birthday breakfast in the garden

Birthday breakfast in the garden

Later we went out for an amazing Sunday roast lunch at The a Black Horse at Ireland….I had their seriously good roast chicken followed by an incredible poached peach dessert which came with a slice of courgette loaf and a stunning coconut panna cotta!

Black Horse birthday pudding

Black Horse birthday pudding

Our first proper day out was to Wimpole Hall, which is a stunning National Trust property about half an hour away. We took the dogs with us and explored the extensive grounds with them first….they love adventuring in new places and the walk was a lovely change to our usual haunts.

The hounds discover a Gothic folly

The hounds discover a Gothic folly

We dropped the dogs back off at the car for a bit whilst we went to look around the gardens, then had a picnic lunch at the car to check on them. Then it was into the house to see all the incredible interiors and chat to the super knowledgeable volunteers in each room. We came away dreaming of a house with a library like the one there, and I know I certainly coveted more than a few of the incredible ornaments all over the place!

After a final check on the dogs, we went to see the charming home farm where we met some darling little piglets, then stopped in at the impressive walled garden before doing a spot of shopping on the way out…. I treated myself to one of their gorgeous picnic blankets made from oddments of yarn, and Adam splurged on some yummy wines and raspberry curd.

Wimpole Hall really is worth a visit if you’re in the area….there’s easily a full day’s worth of things to do there, and they even put on outdoor theatre events in the summer which I bet are worth checking out.

The library at Wimpole Hall

The library at Wimpole Hall

As our second little day trip we decided to drive to Ampthill, in search of the wonderful antiques emporium there. I’d never been to the sweet little market town before, and was delighted to to find that the emporium was even larger and grander than I’d thought! Spread over three floors are stacks of treasures, from old shop fittings and stunning lamps, to rocking horses and vintage clothing. Some of the furniture is just incredible, and there are lots of collectables to root through too. I fell in love with a very old and shabby rocking donkey, who I’d have loved to have taken home to revamp, but with a house fit to burst after all the wedding additions I left without him. I did treat myself to a beautiful silk scarf though, in my current favourite colours of coral and spearmint.

The Ampthill Antiques Emporium

The Ampthill Antiques Emporium

Afterward we found a darling little tea room called Cakestand and Crumb, where we had delicious sandwiches and seriously yummy cake to follow. Everything in there is super cute and chintzy, and I just adored the vintage record player and the lovely old tunes it put out.

Me in my new scarf at Cupcake and Crumb

Me in my new scarf at Cupcake and Crumb

There was still more to look forward to as our amazing wedding photographer Sharon delivered our wedding pictures! They were all wrapped up beautifully with local lavender and lots of other little gifts in a darling linen bag Sharon had made! We just loved going through them all and couldn’t be more grateful for all of Sharon’s hard work….she really goes above and beyond!

Wedding photo package

Wedding photo package

Sharon also featured one of our wedding shots in a local exhibition for the Humanitas charity, which took place in the barn at The George in Hitchin. The theme was ‘Imagining Animals’ and her photo of Adam in a giant panda head, with our guests around us in panda masks looked great amongst all the other wonderful local artwork.

Screen shot 2014-08-03 at 15.33.58

Exhibitionists!

Soon though it was time to get back to work, although I softened the blow by treating myself to a new pair of shoes to wear to the office….I’d been eying up the silver and white Hamble brogues from Clarkes and when they came into the sale I had to have them (I’d love the Taupe version for winter next!).

Back to school shoes

Back to school shoes

We also had to set to work on finding a new place to live, as we have to move out of our house in Hitchin! We opted to make the move up to West Yorkshire a couple of years earlier than planned, and after a huge amount of faffing, to-ing and fro-ing we finally found a place in Otley. The next job of course was to pack….a job which has filled most of our time since, and is still very much on-going! We’ve loved the fine weather though….it seems a real treat to have had a ‘proper summer’ and to get to wear summery dresses and whatnot. The dogs have enjoyed it too, with lots of paddles in the river and even their very first ice lollies!

Cooper's first blueberry ice lolly!

Cooper’s first blueberry ice lolly!

We spent one lovely sunny weekend with friends Dan and Brigitte, who came for an overnight visit. We took them to The Groundworks for their ‘Late Night Sessions’ cocktail night, which was a great way to spend a hot evening! I especially enjoyed the Gabriella cocktail which came with a rocket lolly dunked in it!

Late Night Sessions at The Grounworks

Late Night Sessions at The Groundworks

Another lush Saturday was spent at my dear friend Claire’s home for her Bridal Shower. Fellow bridesmaid Eileen hosted the Parisian themed afternoon, and I helped with chintzy china and bunting. I ate far too many macaroons and drank far too much fizz, but we had a lovely time playing games and chatting!

Parisian Bridal Shower

Parisian Bridal Shower

And because the last few months have been all about utter indulgence, we took a trip to a favourite local Italian restaurant in Letchworth, where we scoffed yummy pasta before heading to Hitchin Lavender to take some sunset photos. It really is stunning there, and it was lovely to go at ‘golden hour’.

Hannah in the lavender

Hannah in the lavender

Our next fun day out was into London for a very early Christmas present from me to Adam! I booked us onto a speciality whisky, bourbon and rye cocktail making masterclass at 69 Colebrooke Row, and we had an amazing time learning some new recipes and perfecting some old favourites. We also used the opportunity to scoff Fro Yo and drink Taro bubble tea whilst in Islington, as well as having a wander round the flea market.

Adam mixing with the pros at 69 Colebrooke Row

Adam mixing with the pros at 69 Colebrooke Row

We’ve been celebrating another amazing year for soft fruits, and harvested a bumper crop from our greengage tree. I made kilos of jam, a greengage and vanilla tart, and still had plenty left over to eat on their own! The garden has suffered somewhat due to my busyness, and is looking rather over grown! It has had a bit of TLC in the last week or so though, and there are lots of plants I want to dig up to take with us!

Ready to jam

Ready to jam

On Friday I travelled into London to meet my lovely friend Jo and her adorable one year old, Teddy. We had a good mosey along the Southbank (I loved the carnival performance in the Clore Ballroom with steel drums, brass band and dancers in neon pink tutu wigs!) before a gorgeous lunch at the Tate Modern. We walked back along the North bank together, then I was off to church at Aldwych for a wedding rehearsal! I had the honour of being Bridesmaid at Claire and Matthew’s wedding, and it was great to have chance to catch up with folk before the big day, not to mention getting some tips from Rev David on walking down the aisle in high heels, and drinking gin fizz afterwards!

Carnival fun

Carnival fun

Then yesterday was the big day itself! I travelled to Leyton to get ready with Claire and the other Bridesmaids….having a good cry when I buttoned her into her stunning dress and saw how utterly gorgeous she looked! We then travelled into town for the lovely ceremony (I loved singing the hymns and managed my role as veil monitor without disaster!) before heading to North London to the pretty cricket pavilion and marquee where the reception took place. The day was filled with fun and merriment, and all passed by so fast, but it was such a delight to be part of Claire and Matthew’s day.

Bridesmaids on the move

Bridesmaids on the move

Badger wedding cake

Badger wedding cake

We had our good friends Craig and Shelley stay over after the wedding, so this morning saw a lie in for me followed by lots of tea and chatting. They will actually be very near to us when we move so we packed them off with some of our more delicate cargo (the precious contents of Adam’s well stocked bar as well as some of my house plants!) and then the rest of the day has been about walking the dogs and lounging about.

This week will see a packing frenzy ahead of our big move next week…..I’m so excited to be in our new home town, but the thought of getting everything up there is rather a frightening one! Wish me luck as I bubble wrap and tape gun my way through all our junk! I’ll be sure to update you at the other end, but ta-tah for now!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Compliments

“Tell us about the best compliment you have ever received.”

Although I do truly love a compliment, I’m not all that good at accepting them! I often get shy and try to brush it off with a silliness or joke, and I know lots of my friends get frustrated when I can’t accept their compliments! I do hope they don’t stop giving me compliments though, as they are rather wonderful! People have been kind enough to say lots of nice things about me, but I feel a little big headed in honesty sharing them or listing them.

There is one rather big compliment I am proud to share with you though. It’s not a usual type of compliment, such as ‘your hair looks great’ or ‘you really are very good at shopping’…..but I think it must be the biggest compliment I’ve ever been paid….

A few months ago, love of my life Adam, asked me to be his wife, and I was only too excited and delighted to accept. To me this meant that he loves me, wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and is making a commitment towards our relationship. Now I can’t think of a bigger compliment than that! It’s just a big bonus that on top of that I get to plan a splendid wedding (one of my favourite things to do!), have an excuse for a special holiday (loving thinking about honeymoons!) and got given a stunning vintage diamond ring to boot!

So yeah, this compliment stuff is rather grand!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Dream Job

“If you could do anything in the world to make a living what would it be?”

Wow. This is quite exciting to think about. I mean, there are so many possibilities!

My first thoughts ran to things like ballerina, zookeeper, pop singer, balloon artist, personal shopper and gallery curator. However, not being any good at these things means that I’d be better to dream about being *able* to do these jobs rather than just dreaming about the job itself though!

So, to something a little more realistic, but still dreamy….

I’ve been professionally producing weddings and other events now for over six years, and I really love it. I get such a thrill from planning all the little details, conveying a personality through a brilliantly fun party, and making people really happy.

 

My favourites have been the most creative and unusual events….a Peter Pan themed wedding….a charity gala where the tables turned into a stage and people like Benedict Cumberbatch, Douglas Hodge, Toby Jones, and Matthew Macfadyen jumped up to perform a specially written play….turning an underground venue into a secret forest, complete with waiting staff dressed as fairies, fauns, ballerina hippos and clockwork frogs….having the Comedy Store Players perform a special improvisation on the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe for someone’s birthday….hiding an Opera singer amongst the guests at a wedding ceremony so that she could surprise the Groom with his favourite aria….

I’ve been super lucky to work on some amazing projects, from brand launches to unique weddings, and at incredible places from the V&A to a private pool house….in some ways you could argue that I already have my dream job in fact!

If I was to further dreamify this already awesome job though, I know what I’d want to do….I’d just go crazy to produce a wedding or party for someone like Katy Perry, Zooey Deschanel or Tilda Swinton. I love to do things differently, to open peoples’ eyes and wow them, and so one of these amazing women as a client (and a pretty good budget to boot!) would be a dream.

I wouldn’t like to say what any of these events might involve….it’s always too much fun having that first meeting and working out how to bring a client’s own ideas to life, and work together to create something truly unique. I know though that ladies like these would make it super fun and incredibly creative!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. A stunning wedding weekend in Austria

I bally love a good wedding. And so an entire weddingy weekend was just bliss. I was honoured to be be invited to our friends Katie and Peter’s wedding, and even more delighted that it was all taking in place in Austria! If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I was lucky enough to take a holiday to Vienna in November for the Christmas markets, and I was only too happy to get back there in the sunnier weather…..

Friday started out a little stressful, as in taking a little holiday, we had to leave the pup for the first time! It was worse still because Adam’s mum, who would usually look after him for us, is away at the moment so he had to go to her friend…..she’s a long time dog owner and lover though and we got him used to her and her house over the last few weeks by going for walks together and visiting her cute little cottage. Still, I was a bit of a wreck and properly welled up as we left him, despite the fact that he was clearly very happy to be having a bit of a holiday of his own!

After dropping Cooper off, we made our way to the airport and had a nice leisurely journey to Vienna. We had a couple of hours to spare at the airport at that end, before the coach arrived to take us to the wedding venue, so we indulged in a nice big dinner….I love the food in Austria, and very happily yummed up a large helping of Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes, as well as some excellent coffee…..there’s no pretence with Viennese food, but it’s all such great quality and so very tasty!

20130423-184032.jpg

20130423-184039.jpg

After a few more guests had arrived on a later flight, our little coach took us south towards Graz, to the little village of Bad Waltersdorf where the wedding venue is. We made the journey fun by taking along some very sweet fizzy wine and lots of sweets, and so it didn’t seem too long a journey at all. We were taken directly to the Schloß Obermayerhofen and walked through the castle grounds up to the idyllic little chalet at the top of the hill. The Gaisrieglhof is a 250 year old farmhouse from nearby Pöllau, rebuilt here and used for the traditional pre-wedding gathering. Some guests had dressed in the traditional national dress, including the beautiful bride, and there were traditional musicians playing and wearing wonderful lederhosen! It was lovely to have a little pre-wedding catch up with everyone and drink a couple of glasses of the delicious local wine after our journey!

20130423-184045.jpg

20130423-184053.jpg

After our long day prior, we enjoyed a bit of a lie in on the Saturday morning and spent most of the day getting ready for the wedding in the afternoon. It was great fun getting ready with some of Adam’s lovely old school friends, and at 2pm we all took a taxi up to the Schloß from our hotel to start the celebrations. We were greeted by lovely cold drinks and yummy nibbles as part of the Agape feast, and before long watched the stunning Katie walk down from her room. We moved through to the pretty meadow behind the castle, where a cute gazebo surrounded by chairs was set up for the civil part of the wedding….it was beautiful to be out in the open air and the weather was certainly kind! There was a Catholic ceremony after that, in the gorgeous Baroque chapel, then music and fizz out on the castle’s terrace as the couple had lots of photos taken.

The wedding breakfast took place in another of the castle’s incredible rooms, and we were treated to an exceptionally good dinner (asparagus soup with herb dumplings, wild garlic ravioli, crusted lamb and a trio of chocolate desserts!) alongside some wonderful local wines. The speeches were all very funny and touching, and after dinner the happy couple took to the floor for a very impressive tango for their first dance.

20130423-184123.jpg

We whiled away the night chatting, drinking and dancing, and having a lovely time in great company. There was a midnight feast of gulaschsuppe (possibly my favourite thing we ate on the whole trip and absolutely divine!) and so we were very contented indeed when we finally got to our beds.

20130423-184113.jpg

After breakfast and checkout on Sunday morning, another coach took us back to Vienna airport where we dropped off our bags and then made our way into the Vienna Mitte to spend a few hours before our flight home. We’d not managed to visit the popular Zanoni Eis gelateria when we were there last, so that was an obvious choice….. we were a little overwhelmed by the masses of flavours though, but did finally manage to choose six different scoops to fill a nice large tub with (nutella, melon, pistachio, strawberry, coffee and chocolate!). They were all super-yum, but the melon was a definite favourite, and the treat was very welcome in the city heat!

20130423-184150.jpg

20130423-184142.jpg

We had a little mooch around the city after that, going back to the fun clock in the town and also heading back to the wonderful Cafe Pruckel next to the Stadtpark…..we yummed up very naughty iced coffees that were drowning in cream and chocolate! We walked off the treats round the sunny park, and then slowly made our way back to the airport for the flight home.

20130423-184129.jpg

20130423-184158.jpg

We were lucky enough to catch a lift home with some other friends who’d taken the same flight, so our journey wasn’t too arduous. Still, we were pretty exhausted when we got back and flaked out almost immediately. The house didn’t feel like home though until our precious pup was delivered back to us on Monday morning….I’d missed him so terribly and despite having had a wonderful little holiday of his own and loving all the attention from his new friends, he seemed delighted to see us too!

Hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend, the week before, and a good few weeks before that….

Yes, it’s true, I’ve shamelessly neglected you for weeks again. But as usual, I’m going to offer an excuse…..or even a few!

Starting where I left off…..the penultimate weekend in January to be exact…. we had a wonderful Friday night in after I got home early from work due to all the snow. I love feeling all cosy and warm inside the house when it’s all chilly outside! As we were still to finish the final few coats of paint on the Welsh Dresser we’d been transforming, we spent some time on that so that we could well and truly finish it on Saturday!

20130218-181524.jpg

Our snowy garden

We got up at a reasonable hour on the Saturday (scoffing Belgian waffles and home made banana ice cream for breakfast) then made our way into town to run some errands. Once back, we set about making the final touches to the dresser, cleaning it and taking off all the masking tape. It looks really good….a total transformation, and well worth all the effort.

Then we got engaged! Adam asked for my hand on Saturday 19th January, which I’ve already posted about in a bit more detail!

We decided initially to keep the news to ourselves, until we’d worked out how we wanted to go about telling everyone. So, we kept quiet and headed as planned to Adam’s Mum’s for dinner. We sat down to watch Gavin and Stacey afterwards with her, giving each other knowing glances and smirking to ourselves when the engagement and wedding bits were happening!

We popped back around there on Sunday morning, as we both had a craving for proper toast, and nothing makes it better than Adam’s Mum’s Aga! We took a walk around town after that, enjoying the fairly deep snow. We enjoyed it so much in fact that we headed straight into the back garden on our return to build a snowman! He was rather marvelous I think, and wore a top hat and mirrored aviators. We made sure the birds had plenty to eat and drink in the snow, then came back indoors to warm up and set about feeding ourselves……we’d bought everything to make Jamie Oliver’s Mountain Meatballs for dinner and they were a fabulous success!

20130218-181601.jpg

Our handsome snowman!

20130218-181624.jpg

Treats for the birds

Monday continued to be eventful, as we finally got the go ahead to have dogs! Our landlords had been a bit funny about our request, saying we could only have one and that it couldn’t be a rescue dog initially. But sense prevailed in the end, and we were permitted to have up to two dogs of our own choosing! We celebrated with a trip to our local pub for dinner…. A trip which doubled as our first ‘Wedding Summit’! I’d been pretty reserved until then, but it wasn’t long before I’d bought my first wedding magazine and began making notes about guest numbers and budgets with a slightly nervous Adam! Once we’d started to get our ideas sorted though, we decided we’d tell everyone, and so started that task by going to tell Adam’s parents, with a bottle of fizz in hand! They were delighted for us of course, and so were the rest of the family when we called to tell them later!

And not wanting to stop with all the good news and fun goings on, we next arranged for our home check in order to start the process of fostering for the local Greyhound Rescue! The lovely Gulie and her gorgeous hound Frodo came over on Thursday to check we were suitable fosterers, and signed us up right away! I couldn’t believe how fast it had all happened and began to get more excited still about the prospect of our having a dog very soon!

Friday being Burns Night, we used the excuse to invite our friend Hannah over for a Burns Supper, and to tell her our news. She too was delighted and excited, and we had a lovely evening eating haggis, drinking whisky, and chatting.

On Saturday morning we made our way into London and to Hatton Garden, in search of an engagement ring for me. We’d been looking at lots online, especially Art Deco ones on Etsy, but I’d decided I rather wanted to see it in the flesh before deciding! So, we stalked around the jewellery district, snooping in all the jewellery shop windows, and for a long time I thought we were going to leave disappointed. I’d checked before we went that there were some antique jewellery dealers there, but all of the shops seemed to be full of new, more modern stuff. After not too long though we found the most marvelous antique jewellery shop, and once I’d tried on near a dozen rings (all very different!) I quickly narrowed my choice down and decided on a gorgeous diamond cluster ring from the 1950s.

20130218-181800.jpg

The ‘bling’

I had to leave it behind unfortunately, to have it reduced down to fit me, but I was consoled by a meet up with dear friends Richard and Tara who live just around the corner from the jewellery quarter. We shared with them our news, and went off for a yummy lunch at the Long Room to celebrate. We enjoyed a rather mammoth sharing board of salt beef with pickles and lovely breads, as well as some of their delicious beers and ciders. We carried on drinking, celebrating further back at their flat, before making our way back to King’s Cross and home.

20130218-181723.jpg

Lush salt beef board at The Long Room

Adam especially was feeling rather jaded on the Sunday morning, as a result of his trying the entirety of Richard’s whisky collection, so we had a really long lie in (long enough to miss out on the market even!) then decided to head to our local greasy spoon for a very welcome pick-me-up brunch of cheese omelettes. We pottered about town a bit after that, then came home to slob about and start getting excited over wedding ideas on Pinterest, before snuggling up on the sofa to continue watching the X Files.

The following week I spent a couple of days at the office of the not-for-profit I’m working on some events for at the moment, as well as doing some networking at the local ‘Cuppa Connect’ coffee morning, and going back into London to collect my ring. It certainly felt funny wearing it for those first few days, but I soon got used to it, and enjoyed sharing photos of it with everyone as we announced our engagement properly.

20130218-181829.jpg

Gorgeous flowers to celebrate our engagement from Hannah P!

On the Wednesday I received a call from the re-homing officer at the Greyhound Rescue, asking us if we could take in a young hound who was due over from Ireland the next day…..he had been found as a stray and had been hit by a car which badly broke his pelvis! He was on the mend enough though to make the journey over, and to get further care from GRWE.

We excitedly accepted, and by Thursday afternoon we were looking after the gorgeous Cooper, a ten month old fawn Lurcher. He very quickly won me over, although I was quite proud of my disciplining skills (as was a surprised Adam!). I’ll write more about Cooper (alongside some of the hundreds of photos I took of him!) as I promised myself I’d write a post to remember each foster dog we have….but suffice to say that by the Saturday I was totally smitten with the adorable hound, and was rather relieved that he had a potential home as of the Sunday, so he’d be gone before I had even more chance to want to keep him!

20130218-181906.jpg

Coops settling in

20130218-181951.jpg

Out on his first walk with me!

We set off on the Sunday morning with a chipper Cooper, just a few minutes’ walk from us, where we met the Greyhound Rescue gang for a big walk. There were a good dozen or so hounds there, as well as lots of other fosterers and adopters. We also soon met the family who hoped to take Cooper, and they spent time walking with him to see how he liked them and their existing Greyhound, Indi. Cooper of course won them over, although they were concerned at how well he would keep up with Indi and their three young children, owing to his still healing pelvis. So, we invited everyone back to our place so that the dogs and children could play together off leads in our garden. Cooper was wonderful, and so enjoyed playing and running about with Indi, so after we filled in all the adoption paperwork, we said a sad goodbye to Cooper and watched him walk away with his new family (still looking over his shoulder for us!).

No sooner had the front door closed and I was in floods of tears! I had thought I’d stand up much better to the fostering process, but I was so in love with little Cooper that I wanted to keep him for myself! I knew in my heart we’d really helped him out and that he was going to a great forever-home, but the selfish part of me just wanted him to stay with us. I was crying about him for days afterwards in fact, which resulted in our reviewing the idea of fostering. In the end, we decided that we’d look into adopting a dog of our own, then potentially fostering a second further down the line. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through such a dreadful goodbye again and soon became excited about finding our very own pooch!

20130218-182136.jpg

Consolation prize….chocolate pick-me-up to help with Cooper’s departure!

So, the following Saturday we drove up to Wood Green Animal Shelter, where Adam’s family had adopted pets from before, to see if there was a dog there who wanted us to take them home. We met the lovely Sandy, a beautiful Bull cross with stacks of energy….she enjoyed her walk with us and with Adam’s Mum’s dogs Newton and Piper, but when it came to ensuring they were ok together off-lead she was just too bouncy and poor Newton especially got rather upset. We next met a rather smaller and less boystous dog called Hugo. A Corgi, Jack Russell cross, he was quite charming, but we didn’t get the ‘fireworks’ we knew we’d feel when the right dog bounded up to us. So, we left without a new house mate, but having learnt a bit more about what we wanted and needed in a dog.

20130218-182219.jpg

Beautiful and bouncy little Sandy, on a rare non-bouncy moment

On the Sunday we looked a bit more into other places we could find a dog in need of a home, and started to send out some enquiries. We also painted our pine kitchen table (just the legs) to match our newly painted dresser, as well as painting the door handles on the latter in pretty pastel shades. It’s great to see it all finished now….the next task is for more comfy chairs which we want to paint in matching pastel shades!

20130218-182244.jpg

I took a cupcake decorating class a couple of weeks ago too…will share all the proper photos soon!

Last week was filled with more work at the office, as well as my running an event just over the road at the British Schools Museum. I spent some more time working on my new online vintage shop too, as well as my new site for my wedding planning business….I’ll have some proper updates for you on those soon! We also did a little more wedding planning, and actually had a meeting with our caterer to discuss ideas for the menu.

20130218-182029.jpg

We ate LOTS of pancakes for dinner on Shrove Tuesday!

On Friday night, Adam’s mum and I made up another batch of the yummy Mountain Meatballs, which we served up at a dinner with some of her friends. Then on Saturday we drove the little distance to the English Birds of Prey Centre, where we took in the falconry experience. It was a wonderful afternoon out…I’ll post more about it soon when I’ve uploaded all the photos!

20130218-182112.jpg

An Eagle Owl we made friends with on Saturday

On Sunday we got up at a reasonable hour for a packed day….we first walked around the car boot sale at our nearby market, then went along to Jolly Brown’s wonderful Rummage Sale, which was full of wonderful vintage treasures. Next, we made our way to The Priory, a local wedding venue, where they were hosting a wedding fair. I’d lured Adam there on the promise of cake and ice cream samples, and he sure yummed up a few! There were some great suppliers there, although because we’ve got such a strong idea of what we want at our wedding, it was most useful just to get some new suppliers for my local wedding planning.

20130218-182054.jpg

Choosing silk shades for my wedding dress

In the afternoon we finally managed to get rid of the extra spare bed we ended up with when upgrading ours….we had to wrap up the mattress in plastic and tie it onto the ladders on top of Adam’s Dad’s car, and carry some of the bigger bits of the frame around to their house where they’re going to put it in the spare room. After that we deserved a rest, so the remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing and on more wedding discussions, before we settled down on the sofa for the evening to watch Jurassic Park.

So, it’s been a busy old few weeks, and despite my unscheduled rest, I’m very keen to get into the swing of my regular posts again. I have a load in my head that I want to tell you about, so watch this space!

Ems x