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by Emma Hla

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Feature Image by Fanni Williams.

Today we have a wedding at one of the first Coco venues I ever visited – The beautiful Pembroke Lodge, in the heart of Richmond Park. Imagine a picture perfect house, basking in the August summer haze, with far-reaching views across London… This was to be the setting for Jonny & Claire’s big day.

Jonny & Claire met at work and, a little worried about the stigma of an ‘office romance’, kept their love a secret for almost three-and-a-half years! How sweet is that! The proposal was a complete surprise to Claire, and Jonny got down on bended knee on Bow Bridge in Central Park, NYC.

*swoon*

Claire describes their wedding day as personal, creative and handmade, and folks, I simply can’t wait to share their story…

Come… quickly!

Notes from the Bride

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Images by Fanni Williams.

Claire: We absolutely love London’s Royal Parks – our lives used to revolve around the open spaces where we used to walk our beloved dog Bonnie. So, we were over the moon when we found out that not only could we get married and have our reception in the park, but also that we could afford it. Pembroke Lodge is a truly stunning venue and we loved the idea that it was in a town that meant so much to us. We met, fell in love, and continue to live here in Richmond-Upon-Thames.

Pastel Pops & Shabby Chic

Our colours were a mix of pastels; Mint, baby blue, lemon, lilac and baby pink. This combination was fresh, bright and colourful! Imagine all the colours of an ice-cream sundae!

There were elements of shabby chic, but mostly we wanted creativity, fun and something that was very “us”. I had designed a logo which used stylised images of our faces for the wedding and this featured throughout the stationary and decor.

I’ve always been creative and arty and Jonny has always loved things that are unique and not the safe option… I guess that’s why he fell for me! I love things that have already had a life before I come across them and will have a life after I have used them. So many items were upcycled, whether they were repainted, dyed or their purpose twisted to work for us. So many people don’t worry about the small details, but I’m so glad I paid attention to them. I wanted everything to be personal and considered – I poured a little piece of me and Jonny into everything.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

We had a small budget for our wedding, so everything was handmade, and wherever they could, hoards of friends leant a hand. I love the idea that so many people were involved in creating something so beautiful and through this new friendships were made.

Fashion fancies

My dress was from Essence of Australia from All that Glitters in Wimbledon. My dress was made up of two layers, the first being a simple ivory taffeta fishtail design with a sweetheart neckline, the lace layer was placed over the top and tightened around the waist with a silk sash.

I loved the beautiful lace detail around the neckline and across my back. I really don’t like a lot of skin on show so I knew I wanted my shoulders covered. Also as I’m quite “booty-full” I felt a fishtail would work best with my thin waist and round bottom!

My bridesmaids are identical twins (to the untrained eye anyway) and whilst growing up they have always wanted something equal but different. So I knew very early on I wanted them in the same dress but different colours. It was this decision which influenced our whole colour theme of mixed pastels. I had their dresses, bought from Oasis, altered by adding a chiffon white waist tie. The girls had lace flat ballet pumps, with pearl accessories and they had plaited hairstyles. Their look was natural and pretty.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

Jonny has always loved the tweed vintage three piece suit look. After looking into getting a suit made, we finally found NEXT were stocking a light grey tweed suit which looked perfect with pastel coloured shirts and ties. We bought darker grey tweed suits for his two brothers (his best men Dave and Ben), and finished the look off with light grey braces. All the men wore light blue shirts, pastel coloured ties, and silver tie slides and brown brogues to add to the vintage look.

I made the corsages using pastel coloured ribbon and wild bird feathers, pearls and vintage buttons. I loved making them and added a badge fastening so they would be easy to put on and stay on throughout the day.

Precious Pieces

Having lost my younger brother Charlie in 2011, I wanted to make him present on the day in some way as it’s an event he wouldn’t have wanted to miss. So I added a framed picture of Charlie to my wedding bouquet that stayed with me throughout the whole day.

I wore the pearl necklace that my God Daughter’s parents had given me when I was a bridesmaid to them on their wedding day. My earrings were pearl drops borrowed from my mum. My hairpiece was a beautiful flower design hairband I had made especially by the talented Gail who runs Glass Oyster.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

My shoes were a gift from our old boss Frank who brought Jonny and I together. They were cross-stitched flowered white kitten heels from L.K.Bennett. My friend Kirsty continued down the creative path and made me a garter! On my right hand I wore my something blue which is a large sapphire ring left to me by my Great Auntie Barbara, who like myself was a Virgo and our birthstone is sapphire.

dreamy decor

I wanted seasonal English flowers in my bouquet which looked like they had been freshly gathered from a meadow. So hydrangeas featured heavily. I chose a local florist, like with every supplier I wanted to support local companies.

I brought 20 metres of mixed pastel ribbons with which our friends created a swagged window display with. The chairs were also decorated with pretty ribbon – no chair covers!

We had vintage table cloths, charity shop found glass vases, pastel coloured doillies and honeycomb paper balls.

For our RSVPs we sent plain postcards and encouraged our guests to draw us a picture and post it back. We displayed these at the wedding hanging from a large archway – they looked amazing! Our guestbook was also quite unique – it was an empty frame backed with mesh, onto which guests to tie their messages with luggage tags.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

The centrepiece decoration on the day were the huge J & C lights we had at the end of the aisle. These were hired from a company called Vowed and Amazed. In the evening the lights were moved behind the band – they provided a perfect backdrop and made the whole room look spectacular! 

Alley Cats & Goosebumps

We love music, especially live music. So this is where we went to town with budget! After our wedding ceremony we came out onto the terrace and had a local ragtime jazz band called The Alley Cats playing. The guests loved the music – it was upbeat and jolly without being intrusive. Some of my relatives even started to dance on the terrace!

In the evening we had a fantastic jump jive band from Kent called Goosebumps. They play music swing and jive music from the 1940s and 1950s and despite the fact that most people at our wedding were unfamiliar with that kind of music, they had the whole place swinging. Their routine was full of character and their upbeat songs ensured that the dance floor was literally packed all evening long.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

advice from the bride

  • Make lists, lots of them.
  • Do budget, but there’s some things you should never scrimp on as you’ll regret it later.
  • Be decisive and decide on a ‘look’ for your wedding. Having a clear idea of how you want your wedding to look can inform everything, from invitations to table decorations and will really pull everything together on the day.
  • Lean on your friends. If they’re real friends they’ll be only too happy to help you on your special day.

Our day was about being together, having fun and making memories that would last a lifetime and provide a lift on grey days…

We certainly succeeded.

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Images by Fanni Williams.

Click here to see all images from this Pembroke Lodge wedding…

Credits

Venue Pembroke Lodge | Photography Fanni Williams | Brides Dress Essence of Australia from All That Glitters | Hairpiece Glass Oyster | Bride’s Shoes LK Bennett | Hair & Makeup Claire Portman | Bridesmaids Oasis | Groom & Groomsmen Next | Venue Decor & Styling The Tea Party Hire Co. | Cake M&S and Gluten Free Cake by Trisha at Healthy Cook Company | Stationary designed by Bride Claire Louise Creates | Entertainment Goosebumps

Beautiful yes…? And on a budget!

The gorgeous Bride has started her own business called Claire Louise Creates, Claire has already designed some beautiful stationary for creative brides around the country so do check out her website folks and follow her journey!

Oh and if you want to see more of this lovely venue, then hop across to the Coco Wedding Venues directory where you’ll find Pembroke Lodge in all it’s glory.

Until our next real love…

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