Full warning – this is massively long and crammed with about a million pictures. I’ve put it all in one post so it’s easy to skip if weddings bore you senseless.
We did it! We got married! After 9 years together we finally took the plunge. And it was the best party ever.
Okay, so your marriage is the most important thing about your wedding, but the dress comes pretty close, don’t you think? I really didn’t want your typical white strapless number and initially thought I’d buy vintage or make one myself. But, as you can see, that didn’t exactly happen.
I ended up with this:
Although part of me is sad I didn’t make my own dress, as soon as I put this one on I felt like Ginger Rogers or Carole Lombard. It’s so glamorous, in an old-school Hollywood way. It was perfect.
So how did it happen?
During the planning process, I tried on this fabulous Alice Temperley gold lace dress. It was love at first sight except for one thing – the price. I started feverishly researching ways to recreate it, even buying a hideous 80s fishtail prom dress pattern on Etsy.
Then one happy day I was browsing the Issa website, and saw this very similar dress, reduced from over a grand to just £500. After dithering for weeks until there was only one size 12 left, I bit the bullet and ordered it, sight unseen. I figured I could always return it.
But as soon as I tried it on, the decision was made. Surprisingly fast for me. It’s the most expensive dress I’ve ever owned, but at least I can wear it again. Not sure where – possibly just to Tescos?
It’s a very simple shape. There are two bust darts, two hip darts, a midriff band, and a skirt in two pieces. The armholes and neckline are finished with a flesh coloured silk binding, and there are tiny buttons on the sleeves so you can get your hands through.
The top layer is gold lace, and it’s lined with two layers of silk – a beige chiffon and a buttercup yellow charmeuse. The lining forms a strapless bodice, which is tacked to the overlayer of gold lace. It’s very well made. The only damage after three hours of strenuous ceilidh dancing was the tacking which came away slightly on one side.
The front may be demure and long sleeved, but the back has a surprise:
It fit nearly perfectly, but I took it to a London tailors to have about 2 cm taken out of the waistline, and the bust darts curved in. I could have done it myself, but I was nervous about all that lace unravelling, so for £50 I thought it was worth the peace of mind.
It was ridiculously comfortable to wear and took me about 10 seconds to get into. I just needed some help with the hook and eye at the back.
Hair, shoes, etc
One of the best decisions I made was getting the lovely Alexis Miller to come and do my hair and make-up, as well as make-up for my bridesmaids, sisters, and mum. I really don’t have that much hair, but somehow she magically coaxed it into a Swedish style plait with a side bun, and gave me beautiful smokey eyes.
A few people advised me not to hire a make-up artist as I wouldn’t end up looking like myself, but I think that really depends on whether you usually wear make-up, and also who you get. I was worried about hiring someone who would slap on a trowelful of foundation and give me 80s bridal ringlets, but Alexis was the total opposite of that.
I wish I could get her to do my hair and face for every special occasion. If I was rich I would definitely have her on retainer.
Shoes-wise, at the last minute I bought these gold leather numbers by Rachel Simpson after eyeing them up for months. They only arrived two days before the wedding. Again, they are more expensive than any shoes I have ever bought, so I plan on wearing them for housework, food shopping, yoga classes, etc etc.
I do love this picture of me showing them off to Alex though.
The Flowers and Decoration
Another amazing decision I made (so modest) was hiring Pyrus as our florists. I love flowers but I’m not that keen on typical wedding arrangements. But Pyrus are local, seasonal florists who grow all their own flowers and plants.
They created the most colourful, stunning bouquet I have ever seen. You may notice I am clutching it in every photo – I really didn’t want to let go. It smelt INCREDIBLE. I got yellow pollen all over my nose because I kept sticking it in there.
They also did gorgeous, wild table arrangements in recycled glass bottles. We had a branch from a fig tree on our table which smelt like heaven.
Alex designed all the table plans, which were named after our favourite places in Edinburgh and London, with corresponding photos.
I generally think favours are a waste of time at weddings. The only good ones are edible, and who really wants more to eat after a three-course dinner? Having said that, we did them anyway. Weddings make you crazy like that.
They were sweetie bags filled with sherbert dib dabs, love hearts, trivia cards, and party poppers. We designed stickers with our faces on to close them, as a joke, rather than because of our massive narcissism (I hope). There were only a few Dib Dabs left at the end of the night so hopefully people enjoyed them.
Teviot Row House, where we got married, is actually part of Edinburgh Student Union. It was built in 1899 and is about a million times nicer than any other student union I have ever been to, and the main hall is beautiful, with wooden panelling and balconies. It was also ridiculously cheap compared to most other venues we looked at – they only charged us for catering.
Even so, the terrace bar still has a slight student-y ambience, so we covered it with streamers and paper pompoms. Cheap, cheerful and colourful. Our friends Solii, Bob and Tom helped us out massively, spending hours up ladders the day before the wedding putting them all up.
I know you can make these paper pompoms yourself, but again I took the lazy option and ordered them from here. One tip though – fluff them up before the wedding day. It takes bloody ages.
We wanted it to be a big, fun, happy family party, and it was really was. I have never smiled so much.
I found planning was easy until about a month before, when the logistics start to get pressing and I started to get stressed (who’s going to drop off the wine? Where do people sit? How will they get from church to venue? etc etc).
As I’ve already confessed, I did no DIY at all for our wedding, but we were incredibly lucky to have a huge amount of help from friends and family. The social committee at the church made and served ALL the canapes in the garden after the service – more than 1000 (!).
The Christ Church flower ladies did some beautiful arrangements in church.
Alex’s mum Jean made the delicious wedding cake, which was soaked in brandy, and decorated with shimmering white icing feathers.
My beautiful friends (including the lovely Lizzy) acted as bridesmaids and helped me get ready in the morning, bringing champagne and nibbles. Alex, on the other hand, had to go to Greggs for his nuptial breakfast. I think I win.
These ladies are the best, I really can’t thank them enough for being awesome.
My favourite parts
We walked down the aisle together, alone. We wanted to enter married life as a couple, and I’m really glad we did it like this.
I met Alex outside the church in the garden and then we headed in together. I was a bit nervous, and it was lovely to have a quiet moment together before we saw everyone else.
Walking down the aisle is a blur. I was so jumpy I couldn’t smile properly without my mouth starting to shake.
But walking back down the aisle, and out into the church garden with my husband (still keep forgetting to call him that), was brilliant.
The whole morning I was convinced I was going to catch my dress in my heels and fall over and break my ankle in the middle of the church, but luckily this didn’t happen. I even managed walking up and down steps with no problems. What a pro.
Another great part was making a speech at the reception. I woke up at 4am worrying about it, but it turned out to be one of my highlights of the day. Why should the men have all the fun?
After that, my friend Bea read out a poem she’d written especially for us, which made me totally lose it and start crying (happy tears).
Another highlight was the ceilidh. The band were called Carrie On Dancing and they were really, really good. I switched to flat shoes for this part of the evening. Ceilidh-dancing in thin heels is a recipe for a broken ankle.
For our first dance we decided to do the Gay Gordons, which is the traditional start to a ceilidh. We began it on our own, then people joined in as the music went on. I just couldn’t see us swaying around the floor for 5 minutes on our own to some cheesy love song, so this was a good compromise, although we did have fun suggesting more and more ridiculous first dance ideas to each other (The Final Countdown! Respectable by Mel and Kim! Vibe by R Kelly!)
Actually, I think my favourite thing about our wedding was looking around and seeing so many of our friends and family together in one room. I have never hugged so many people in one day. It was the best.
The absolutely definite BEST decision we made was having Caro Weiss as our photographer.
I was a bit daunted by finding a photographer. There are so many out there. Plus, we got married in Edinburgh but organised everything from London, so we didn’t get a chance to meet with most of the suppliers before the day. But we completely lucked out with Caroline.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the bride and groom disappear for 3 hours for a mammoth photo sesssion, while you stand around aimlessly, waiting for them to reappear so you can get your dinner. That was something we definitely wanted to avoid.
Caroline only took us away for 20 minutes, so guests got to stand around aimlessly with us instead. And she still got pictures like these:
To be honest, I hardly noticed her on the day. She’s like a photography ninja. She captured so many lovely moments, and got the nicest pictures of us and our friends and family that I’ve ever seen.
The photos in this post are all from her. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can see even more pictures of our wedding on her blog here.
If you’re getting married in Scotland, hire this woman! She’s a genius.
Did you make it this far? I hope it wasn’t too boring. As a bonus, here’s my one piece of wedding advice:
It will be over in a FLASH, so don’t stress about it too much. It’s just one day of your life. As long as you end up married, it’s all good.
(Just try not to set the legal paperwork on fire, as we nearly did while signing it next to a lit candle. That could really have put a dampener on the day).
Thanks for reading!