Tuesday, July 22, 2014

66 Days Married : Food Glorious Food!

Being a vegan & a vegetarian it was important for us to have wedding meal that didn't contradict our values so we chose to have a completely vegan day.  All the food and drink served at the wedding was vegan.

After the ceremony our guests enjoyed tortilla chips and salsa accompanied by Apple and Elderflower Collins cocktails.

We asked the venue to stock vegan beer from a local brewery, Farmageddon, a co-op that our friend is involved with, and not to serve the beers that didn't contain or use animal products in the production (they ended up serving these anyway, unfortunately - nearly a vegan wedding then...).  

The wine served with dinner was Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc and Yellow Tail Shiraz.  This, along with the prosecco for toasts were also vegan - you'd be surprised how many bottles of wine we've come across that contain egg or milk!

Our wedding meal was so delicious.  After a morning of being busy and not really eating a lot it was just what I needed.  While the speeches took places guests enjoyed a vegan mezze.  This is my favourite starter/snack.  I love nibbling lots of different bits and pieces. 

Our main course to follow was vegan sausage and mash.  We had huge portions smothered with an amazing onion gravy. Dessert was almost too much for my tummy to handle! Vegan cupcakes, chocolate ice cream and mixed berries.  I missed out on getting a cupcake as Jim and I were chatting with friends and family but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have squeezed one in anyway!

Our vegan cake, as I've mentioned before,was baked, iced and decorated by my extremely talented bridesmaid and new sister-in-law Fiona.  It looked gorgeous and tasted amazing!  It had three layers - lemon and poppyseed, Victoria sponge and chocolate.  Fiona made her own coconut butter to make the frosting then decorated it with roses and rosemary from her mum's garden. It looked perfect and was exactly what we'd described to her.

During our evening reception the guests enjoyed rustic chip butties on artisan breads.  We had normal and sweet potato chips.  I LOVE sweet potato chips! Chips are exactly what I crave after a couple of drinks and hopefully our guests felt the same way!

Having a vegan wedding was important to us and our guests were so supportive.  We saw lots of empty plates heading back to the kitchen and even friends with the largest of appetites said they were very much satiated. 



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

58 Days Married : Ashley Morhej MUA

On a daily basis I wish I had the skills to apply make-up well - to hide the bags under my eyes, (and hide blemishes), to contour my cheek bones and generally make me look photo ready at all times. Unfortunately, no matter how many Youtube tutorials I watch, this isn't going to happen (and I watch A LOT of tutorials!!) So choosing to have a Make-up Artist for our wedding was an easy decision.

Some research online and a recommendation by my lovely friend Sara led me to Ashley Morhej.  I'd seen Ashley's work before at fashion shows and fashion shoots and was sure she'd give me the soft and pretty look I wanted.

I had a trial in March and was very happy!  Ashley did my make-up early in the morning which was a great way to see how it lasted.  On the day of our wedding Ashley was so lovely to have there.  She was really chatty which kept my nerves at bay and had an amazing kit which even included some useful non-make-up bits that the girls took advantage of!

She started with mum who is naturally gorgeous but a bit nervous with applying eye make up. 

Then followed Fiona and Jenny - both absolutely stunning without make-up so Ashley just had to accentuate this.

And finally tackled me - a much tougher task!! After chatting with me she'd chosen gorgeous purples for my eyes and I had a few little individual false lashes on the outer edges of my eyes to really open them up.  Ashley chose a natural blush colour for my cheeks and a gorgeous pinky lip colour.  She did mention that tweaks could be made on my wedding day if I wanted a stronger lip or cheek colour when I was in my wedding dress and had my hair done but I felt really happy with the make-up she applied.  She is extremely talented. I still looked like me but with pretty, fluttery eyelashes, flawless skin and nice cheek bones! 

Having a Make-up Artist gave me one less thing to worry about on the morning of our wedding.  I didn't have to spend hours in front of the mirror correcting crooked eyeliner or worrying throughout the day about my nose getting shiny.  My make-up lasted all day with only lip gloss top-ups and a bit of powder before the evening party started.

Thank you so much Ashley!


Monday, July 07, 2014

52 Days Married - Bridesmaid & Flower Girl Dresses

Photo Credit: L. Kirk
I mean seriously... on a scale of 1-10 how gorgeous are my bridesmaids!!  I think at least a 12! If you missed my post on who these lovely girls are you can read it here but to cut a long story short let me introduce Jim's sisters, Fiona and Jenny.

I blogged about our bridesmaids dress hunt back in January when we'd found gorgeous Dessy dresses in Ti Amo Bridal in Limavady.  Adele was so accommodating, fitting us in for a trial on a day that she is usually closed and keeping in touch with the girls and I fittings and the collection of the dresses.

The dresses we chose were the Dessy Collection (Style 2888) and I chose them in Rose which as you can see is a beautiful soft vintagey pink.

I never imagined picking a bridesmaid dress with a sequinned bodice but because of the soft colour the sequins weren't super blingy and with the sheer chiffon over the top you barely noticed the sequins.  In fact I bet you didn't notice 'til I mentioned it!!  The gorgeous floor length chiffon dresses tied at the waist to accentuate the girls already stunning figures.


Our gorgeous Flower girl had a dress and cardigan from Monsoon.  The dress was the Estella in pink (but I can only find it in gold on the website).  She looked absolutely adorable, and completely stole the show!  Her dress was pretty much a mini version of mine with a gorgeous lace top with a tulle skirt. It was the perfect link between the dusky pink bridesmaids dresses and my dress.

Her little shoes are by Start Rite and I was reliably informed (Thanks Wendy) that they are called 'Amy', cute!

Marrying Jim was amazing, but now getting to call these girls my sisters is the icing on the cake (vegan, of course)!


Thursday, July 03, 2014

47 Days Married - The Dress: Diana - Raimon Bundo

My dress was by Raimon Bundo.  Raimon Bundo is a Spanish designer and their gowns are all hand-made by a team of artisans in Barcelona.  Each year they create 4 different collections.  My dress was part of the Hacia la Luz collection.  They've only been available in the UK since 2012.  It is very clear that a lot of love and pride goes into each design and dress created.  They also allow changes to styles (depending on the change requested) and will custom-make matching jackets or add more boning to dresses if requested. Their wedding gowns are simply gorgeous!! 

Picture Credit Raimon Bundo Website

My Dress was purchased from Forever Bridal in Belfast and altered by Patricia Eastwood. Leondra and Patricia couldn't have been more wonderful with trials, fittings and the collection of my dress.  Leondra was so helpful and not at all pushy when I was trying dresses.  She was very up-to-date on popular looks for the season and had loads of recommendations for where to look for inspiration for my hair and accessories. Patricia came in on Mothers Day to measure a very tired and grey looking post-hen-party Amy, as I was due to fly back to England that afternoon. She was so accommodating and she fitted the dress perfectly to me, which makes such a difference to the over all look. 

I wore the Diana. It was a stunning ivory A-line dress.  It had a sweetheart neckline and gorgeous lace detailing on the bodice with a delicate lace cap sleeve.  The bodice was boned but it was so soft and really comfortable to wear and nipped in at my waist.

It had a zip to make it easy to get into but this was hidden by gorgeous little buttons right down the back. My mum had lots of fun with these on our wedding day!

I felt so elegant as I walked up the aisle with my dad, and the train of the dress flowed so beautifully behind me.

Patricia had altered the dress in such a way that it kicked out as I walked so I didn't have to worry about tripping over it and could gaze up the aisle waiting for Jim to turn round!!

I think Jim liked my dress!
Last year I wrote a blog post on some things I found helpful in the hunt for my wedding dress.  If you are still looking for your wedding dress I highly recommend finding a Raimon Bundo stockist.  They say a Raimon Bundo bride values style, quality and feeling good on her big day and my dress gave me all these things and more!  

This dress was made to skank in!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

29 Days Married - DIY Flowers & Decorations

My Aunt and I came up with our wedding decor theme name very shortly after Jim and I got engaged over coffee in a John Lewis Cafe.  We were flicking through some wedding magazines and noticed similarities in all the decoration-y things I like.  It was what we affectionately referred to as 'Potting Shed".  I think it summed it up pretty well - Recycle/upcycled, rustic-y, lots of glass and pretty but handpicked looking flowers and no sparkly bits.

Flowers & Jars

We pretty much started saving Jam jars the moment we got engaged so after 2 and a bit years we had enough (with some to spare) to create all our table centres, window sill decorations and coffee table decorations.  

We spent a lot of time removing labels from jars (worst part of DIY jar table centres) but once they were all clean we began the upcycling. Through my excessive Pinterest-ing (is that a verb yet?) I had seen a few simple yet effective looking DIY jar tutorials, so with these in mind, I sourced some brown garden twine, vintage-y looking lace, ribbon and raffia.  We thought about buying a glue gun but instead decided to go down the less messy and extremely convenient route of double sided tape.  The stuff we had was super industrial and quite wide so worked perfectly - the jars only had to last a day after all!  I just applied double sided tape to the jars and then wrapped the different decorative bits and pieces round them, so simple!! I tried to decorate each jar slightly differently - the twine and the raffia ones where my favourites.

Once we'd decorated all the jars, we boxed them up for the long drive to N. Ireland.  Most survived but those that ended up slightly dishevelled were really easy to fix.

The Thursday before our wedding Occasions Floral Design delivered our flowers, plus some gorgeous pieces of foliage from Jim's mum's garden, to Riverdale. Sharon had brought a flower food type solution to be added to the water so the flowers would still look gorgeous by the weekend.  The flower had been perfectly conditioned to be at the peak for the wedding!   Sharon's advice and guidance had been invaluable.  As we had nice weather we sat outside at Riverdale to arranging the flowers and despite having no experience in flower arranging, I found it very relaxing and was pretty happy with the results. I'd written down some arrangement ideas before we got there, and thankfully they looked pretty good in the jars.

Our pre-decided arrangements were:
- Gypsophila
- 1 stem of Gypsophila, 2 soft pink carnations, 2 white Veronica and some foliage. (We had wanted Carnation Antigua but they'd not been available)   
- 1 stem of waxflower, 2 white Lisianthus and some foliage.  (The Lisianthus were absolutely gorgeous, I think this was my favourite arrangement)
- 1 Ornithogalum, 2 Pink spray Roses and some foliage.
- White/green Hydrangeas (these were huge and so beautiful!)

After we'd arranged these jars for the tables we created some other arrangements with the remaining flowers.

We started to arrange them on the tables along with our scattered hearts, (hand punched by my mum from old books).  Along side the mismatched cups and saucers we thought they looked great and slowly everything started to come together.

Wedding Arch 

Jim's mum and his brother had constructed the most beautiful arch for us to stand in front of during the ceremony.  It was made from twisted sticks withrustic style half barrel pots as a base. Once on site, the mums decorated it with some of the same flowers we were using on the tables.  

Table Plan & Other Bits

As well as the flowers we also painted some old pictures frames we had to dot round the venue with directions or instructions inside them.  I applied a base coat with some left over paint we had then my brother Richard finished them with some spray paint. Richard also got a bit crafty with some bottles, a glue gun and some spray paint (bottom central image below).
Our table plan (above) was an oldish shabby chic looking frame that we removed the back from. We then used some garden twine to create two lines to hang table plan details on.  Jim designed and printed these. Disappointingly the frame has disappeared and Jim and I really wanted to use it to create a wedding collage for our house.  We're hoping it turns up, it's not like anyone could fit it in their clutch bag!

Although I'm sad the wedding it over we now have some amazing memories that will stay with us for life.   I think I'll continue to post about our day, now that our plans are no longer a secret and as we have some lovely pictures from the day.  I think it will be lovely to be able to relive our day through through these blog posts.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

2 Weeks Married - Thank You!

It has been two weeks since Jim and I joined friends and family at Riverdale Barn for our wedding.  We still haven't come back down to earth after a day that was more than we could ever have hoped for. 

In the lead up to our wedding our families couldn't do enough to help finalise our plans, including last minute shopping, delivering bits and pieces to Riverdale, flower arranging and venue decoration. They gave tirelessly of themselves that week and the resulting day was perfect. :)

We were really lucky with the weather on our wedding day - it stayed dry and warm all day, with not too much sun, so hopefully I didn't squint in too many pictures.

The response to our ceremony has been completely overwhelming! Initially friends and family were unsure about what to expect from our slightly unconventional ceremony and some even felt that we should have just gone down the traditional registrar route, but we knew what was important to us and how we wanted the ceremony to feel.  So many people have commented that it was so full of love, so unique and so us. A resounding success if you ask me!!

A huge thank you to our friend Paul who agreed, with little information, to be the celebrant for our ceremony. It meant so much to us to have him there.

Our completely vegan menu was also well recieved and we noticed lots of empty plates going back to the kitchen after the main course.  The cupcakes and vegan ice cream seemed popular too! A massive thank you to my sister-in-law Fiona, who made our vegan wedding cake.  I didn't get the chance to sample any at the wedding, but made sure to get a few huge slices the next day - it looked gorgeous and tasted amazing!!

Lots of friends and family have commented on how relaxed the wedding day felt.  Riverdale was the perfect location for us, and other couples fortunate enough to have their wedding celebrations there are extremely lucky! Thank you to Oonagh, Davy & Diane for their part in our big day.

Our friends Aggressors BC very kindly agreed to play at our wedding party and opened the evening with Madness - It Must Be Love for our first dance.  It was perfect.  They played a mix of originals and covers - the dance floor was packed!  Thank you Marty, Patreece, Sauce, Steeky, Cormac, Dan & Elaine! We love you!! (Their album The Tone of The Times is available for download on their bandcamp site http://aggressorsbc1.bandcamp.com/album/the-tone-of-the-times-2  - I highly recommend checking them out!)

Lauren our photographer posted the image below the day after our wedding. Riverdale pretty much has no phone signal so I didn't have my phone on me all day, plus I have a really rubbish camera so this was the first picture I saw from our wedding.  Lauren was unobtrusive and very professional and after having this preview I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures.  She is extremely talented, very patient and vegan :).  She was an absolutely delight to work with.

Photocredit Lauren Rutherford
To everyone who helped with the organisation, attended our wedding, sent cards/gifts and well wishes - Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts!


The New Mrs D

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

10 Days : Flowers #marriedmay

It seemed only fitting that today, as party of #marriedmay (a lovely hashtag created by Phoebe over at So You're Getting MarriedI share an update on our flowers.

I share my favourite flower with Blair Waldorf - Peonies.

A few months back, I wrote a post about my struggle with all things floral for our wedding.

Thankfully my mother-in-law to be, Marie came to our rescue.

She recommended a fantastic florist and friend Sharon at Occasions Floral Design, who we met with at the start of March.

Sharon listened to our ideas for the wedding and was happy to make suggestions but ultimate take our lead on the flowers. I'd drawn some sketches of what I'd like the arrangements to look like, not the easiest way to select flowers for your wedding!!

As we really wanted to do the flowers ourselves, but we were going to struggle with executing this successful, so she agreed help us by doing as much or as little as we wanted.

We decided that Sharon (and Joan) would create some hand tied bouquets for Fiona, Jenny and I. These bouquets will be photographed a lot and we wanted them to look beautiful for the whole day.  They are also going to provide flowers for us to arrange on the tables. They've been a fantastic help at guiding my quantities and suggesting the best flowers to create the soft natural, hand picked looks we wanted. They are going to prep and condition the flowers for us and deliver them to the venue where we will still have the opportunity to arrange for the tables.

Some of the types of flowers we are using are;
Wax flower

I can't wait to see the final arrangements!


Saturday, May 03, 2014

14 Days: Thank You gifts for my Bridesmaids

I have only been a bridesmaid once.  My cousins and I (ranging in age from 4-11) were bridesmaids for my Dad's sister Anne, the summer I turned 10. The wedding was in Cambridge and I felt so grown up being part of the wedding party, getting to walk up and down the aisle following the bride.  There are some gorgeous pictures of the day, but not being very photogenic, I'm screwing my face up in most of them!

As a Thank you gift for being a bridesmaid, Anne gave us gorgeous matching bracelets which we wore on the day.  I still love mine and it still fits!

When looking for the perfect gift to say 'Thank you' to my bridesmaids I wanted to find something, like this bracelet from my aunt, that would remind them of our wedding for years to come.  With this in mind I decided that jewellery was a good idea.

I'm a fan of the Pandora range and it immediate jumped into my head as an option. Two of my bestfriends bought me a white leather Pandora bracelet before I moved to Leicester and I love it!  I've been lucky enough to receive some charms as gifts from friends, family and Jim - most recently Jim bought me an Eiffel Tower charm when we were in Paris.
My Pandora Bracelet.

With Pandora bracelets as a possiblity I began my hunt to make sure there wasn't something out there I liked even more.

I really loved Kirstin Ash's bespoke charm pieces.  You can chose between a gold or silver necklace or bracelet length chain and then customise each piece with charms for your bridesmaid. Unfortunately the silver bracelet chain has been sold out for ages and I wasn't so keen on the gold for the girls.
Image Credit: Kirstin Ash Website
Right through our wedding planning I've spent a lot of time browsing on Not On The High Street.  There are some really fantastic brands featured on the site and I've purchased lots of lovely cards and gifts from it. I love this heart locket by Hurley Burley and thought it could be a lovely thank you gift for bridesmaids but I was more keen on a bracelet than a necklace.
Image Credit: Hurley Burley

While browsing in Highcross I notived that Thomas Sabo have started a new range called 'Karma Beads' similar to the idea of the Pandora bracelets. I love Thomas Sabo jewllery but don't like their bracelet chains as much as the Pandora ones but they do have some absolutely gorgeous rose gold beads.

Image Credit: Thomas Sabo website

After a lot of research I couldn't find anything I liked more than the Pandora Bracelets. As they don't have a specific bridesmaid charm (they would probably sell a lot of them if they did!) and their 'Super Sister' charm didn't jump out at me, I thought I'd pick something that they could wear on our wedding day with their bridesmaid dresses. I chose these gorgeous pink faceted Murano glass beads on a silver Pandora bracelet. I love that the girls can add beads to these bracelets to celebrate other special occasions or memories.  I hope they love them as much as I love mine.


p.s. I gave the girls their gifts when we had afternoon tea at The Merchant over Easter as I wanted to make sure they were happy with them so I've not ruined any surprises here :)

Thursday, May 01, 2014

16 Days: Wedding Nightmare - My spell in LRI (Leicester Royal Infirmary)

25 days before our wedding I imagined I'd be knee deep in spa treatments, finalising floral arrangements and practising my vows in front of the mirror.

The reality, unfortunately, was far from this.

I've been feeling unwell for the last 3 or 4 weeks and had had a course of antibiotics from my GP.  For one reason or another, after a week the antibiotics didn't cure me completely, but the GP assured me that a few days later I should be feeling 100%.  While I was in Northern Ireland over Easter I experience a couple of nights of horrific headaches, high temperatures and lower back pain.  My heightened hypochondriasis screamed kidney stones, kidney failure, or worse, but it wasn't until I returned to work last Tuesday that I realised I needed to see doctor, ASAP.

I managed to get an emergency appointment after work.  Jim half carried me to the health centre and propped me while we waited to see the doctor.  I believe the doctor told me I had a temperature of 39.5 and that he thought my temperature was affecting my kidneys, but it felt like an out of body experience.  He said that he was going to have to admit me to hospital that night. I burst into tears.  He asked 'Are you feeling a bit emotional?' (... no duh!) Through tears I said 'I can't go to hospital, I'm getting married'.  My health is of course important, always, but particularly in the lead up to our big day, so dutifully I packed an overnight bag and went to A&E at Leicester Royal Infirmary, but not before a distraught call to my mum - the best person I know in a medical emergency.

I was seen by a couple of doctor and lots of nurses, who re-confirmed that my body was indeed, almost on fire, they took some blood, administered some intravenous antibiotics and paracetamol and hooked me up to a drip.  Unfortunately, like in many hospitals at the moment due to attempts to privatise the NHS, there wasn't a bed on a ward for me that night but the nurses made me comfortable while I waited. This was the eve of Jim's birthday, he sat/slept beside me 'til 4 am.  I did apparently sing Happy Birthday (the NoFX version, which is sweary) just after midnight while in a temperature induced high. At 4am-ish they moved me from a curtained area out to the main floor of the ward so I convinced Jim to go home as there was no longer a chair for him to sit on, and although he looked tired enough to sleep standing up, I didn't want to ruin his birthday any more.

At 6am I got a bed on a ward.  Exhausted, feverish and emotional, I was so pleased to be off the trolley and to finally try to get some sleep.

I was in hospital for 4 days, and as much as I didn't enjoy it I knew it was the best place to be.  They took very good care of me and finally my fever broke and my temperature returned to almost normal on Thursday/Friday.  I started to feel almost human again. I had a scan of my kidney on Friday afternoon/evening which thankfully showed my kidneys were fine and there was no scarring as a result of the infection.  I'm was happy to hear this as pyelonephritis can cause lasting damage to the kidney. I felt very lucky to be discharged to Jim on Friday evening and come home to my own bed.

My mum has been amazing for the last few days, taking on some of the wedding organising which felt like a literal weight off my shoulders and has meant I can just focus on getting better.  I'm not sure why I hadn't asked for help before now but I guess I've been trying so hard to cope, to do this ourselves and not to bother anyone.

I'm really testing this 'in sickness and in health' promise, but thankfully, it looks like Jim's gonna stand by me no matter what life throws at me. He was at the hospital almost instantly when I needed him and came to see me during every visiting hour even if I was asleep and only needed my hair stroked.

I don't think I've ever felt so lucky to have him, or so loved. He really is my rock.

Now, with 16 days to go 'til our wedding I'm getting lots of rest, fluids and trying to make sure I'm fully recovered so I don't relapse. I'm petrified of ending up back in hospital and missing the wedding.  Trying to re-arrange the day we've spent the last 2 years organising would be heart breaking. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

33 Days : Hen Party

The trip to Ireland for my Hen party didn't start quite as planned.  After over two hours delayed at the airport, I was beginning to think the girls would have to go on without me. *sob sob* Thankfully Easyjet finally managed to get me to Belfast where Fiona collected me and we went to her house and had some amazing homemade peanut butter stack cake  - unbelievably tasty, and it wasn't long before I was fast asleep!

Saturday morning we were up early as I had my make-up trial with the wonderful Ashley Morhej before getting ready to meet some of the girls at the Ivory for lunch.  Lunch was lovely and we took the opportunity to start on the cocktails - it seemed only right.  Fiona & Jenny had put together some amazing gift bags for everyone with hen party bits and pieces including one of Fiona's pink sparkly cake pops, dare scratch cards, glow sticks, tube shots and some rosettes I'd made.  During #weddinghour on Twitter, I'd been introduced to Vintage Hen House and loved the idea of the girls and I wearing rosettes at the hen party but I didn't think their vintage patterns went with our SATC theme, so decided I'd make my own out of old copies of Elle and Vogue.  I was relatively impressed with my crafting skills and they just about stayed together all night! (I may do a tutorial post at some stage.)

After a yummuy lunch in the Ivory (with guest of honour Miss Kiki), a quick dash to the bus station and some of Jen's charm, we were on our way to Dublin to meet the others.  

After the Premier Inn, our first stop was Temple Bar Hotel for a cocktail class.  As some of the girls didn't know each other, the cocktail class was the perfect way to break the ice. 

I'm pretty sure I had a cocktail in each hand at all times - special mention to SJ for her awesome Strawberry Daiquiri!
Photo Credit: Nicky T
Photo Credit: Rachel B

Next was dinner, a large plate of pasta followed by chocolate fudge cake  - fuel for the dancing - before heading to the Wright Venue.

We had the New York room, complete with retro Smeg fridge, great view of the dance floor, and a pole... 

THANK YOU  Nicky, Sami-Jo, Rachael, Jen, Aislinn, Nadine, Rachel and Caoimhe for coming along and making it a memorable night!! (Thank you Caoimhe for my post-Hen-Party care package - I wouldn't have made it back in time for my dress fitting without it!)

And a massive MASSIVE thank you for Fiona & Jenny, my lovely bridesmaids and sisters-to-be, for organising a great party :)