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by Emma Hla

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I thought it was about time I shared my own wedding on this blog of mine…

Some of you may have already seen our story over on the pretty pages of Rock My Wedding, from the engagement right through to the day we said I doBut having my very own corner of this online wedding world means I get to share it again – the full story, in two parts! You lucky, lucky people.

Our story is very much entwined with the creation of Coco Wedding Venues, as it was our own wedding planning that a) made me fall completely head over heels with this world of pretty and b) inspire me to create these very pages.

So you see, it’s only fitting for it to belong here… One of my favourite places to be.

On Monday I talked you through the inspiration, An English Garden in my own personal Coco Colour Palette. But today, it’s all about setting the scene, introductions and fashion chat!

So… Shall we…?

notes from the bride

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

My online boy and I married on 4th August 2013 at a secret garden in West Sussex.

I say online boy (his actual name is Mark) because that’s where we met and just 16 months after our first date I was walking down the aisle to be with him and start our new life as husband and wife.

We started the venue search pretty much straight away as we had a hectic few months of traveling coming up… NYC in December, Christmas with the families and then a month long adventurous train ride around Europe in the January! So we knew that if we wanted to get married the following summer we needed to hop to it and lock something down fairly quickly!

This is where we came a bit unstuck.

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

With a short engagement planned and time restraints against us we couldn’t devote too much time looking for the perfect venue… But, there wasn’t too much out there that initially floated our boat, we also really struggled to be inspired by any of the websites we trawled desperately seeking ‘the one’. 

However, by luck, we did find a stunning English garden in the middle of the Sussex countryside and signed on the dotted line. Think wooden floors, bare brick walls with farrow & ball hues and the most beautiful jardin – even in the midst of winter!

Blushing Maids

Now, I love my girls… dearly. I wanted them to look H.O.T and feel comfortable, an easy ask non…?

It started with me and my trusty Maid of Honour, traipsing the High Street for something… anything… that didn’t make me want to laugh/cry/scream or all of the above.

Trouble is we started the search at the beginning of the season when dresses were only starting to dribble in. One month before the wedding there was a full assortment of High Street delights that would have been perfect but no, not back in March.

It was at a rather large wedding show (every Bride needs to do one show right?) that my Mum found Emma Louise Designs – a cute-as-pie lady with the dreamiest of dresses in peach, nude and butterscotch creams.

A week later I was whisking my girls to Windsor to get measured for their chiffon numbers…

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

We chose a one-shoulder floor-length gown with a rather saucy split for my Maid of Honour Toni and a simple Grecian strapless dress for my Bridesmaid Laura. Both in French Vanilla. Oooh la la.

To stop them looking too Bridesmaid-y I treated them to some killer heels – Toni wore a pair of nude nubuck open toed sandals adorned with metallic spikes and Laura tottered on some patent Kurt Geiger platforms with golden heels.

Their jewellery was their gift – a simple Monica Vinader friendship bracelet with their initials engraved.

For the W-day I had asked them to get painted and they looked very glam with their freshly manicured Chanel Rouge-Noir nails – a gorgeous deep hue against their pale cream dresses.

Va Va Voom

Now whilst I seemed to have found myself snapping up one of the most romantically traditional wedding dresses I could fine (more on that in a minute!), I didn’t want to look like a traditional Bride when it came to my hair and make-up…

Step in Jeni Dodson – the wonderful artist who assisted me in more ways than one on the day. Having had a couple of trials at her incredibly stylish Brighton apartment, we decided on big hair and smokey eyes… Basically I just wanted to look like me but with added va va voom!

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

The talented Jake at Electric Hair in Brighton had cut my hair a couple of weeks before the wedding and on the day Jeni effortlessly turned it into a sexy tousled do.

For my girls I wanted them to look fresh yet sultry with loose curls and natural make-up.

oh vera

The dress… I had visions of Vera.

I had always had visions of Vera.

It’s the only part of my wedding day that I had thought about pre-engagement and even pre-boy!

So there was no doubt in my mind that Vera Wang was where I was heading.

However as soon as I booked the appointment at Browns, London, I started to get cold feet. I had never tried a wedding dress on before. What do I do? What do I wear? What is expected of me? Good GOD I didn’t want to show myself up in front of the Wang! So… I booked an appointment for me and my Mum at a pretty little boutique in Tunbridge Wells called Isabella Grace. I had walked passed this boutique many a time when I lived just up on the road in my bachelorette flat and knew it would be the perfect place to start the dress hunt and settle my nerves.

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

As soon as I walked into the boutique my fears melted away. The girls at Isabella Grace are amazing and the service really is second to none, putting me at ease straight away we started talking about the kind of dress I was looking for, the overall feel for our day, and the colour scheme I had in mind – yep this Bridal Boutique really care about the details! With five beautiful dresses gathered for me to try, all various shapes and styles we skipped towards the fitting room. Then I saw it… The One.

A San Patrick sweetheart strapless beauty, with a fitted fishtail underskirt, beaded applique at the waist and a sheer tulle overlay with spidery lace crawling down a cathedral length train.

I was sold. Right after I’d burst into tears.

I felt like a Bride.

Magpie

I quickly realised that my bridal ensemble needed something a little bit special in the shoe department. Yes girls… I needed the Choos. It was only when I surreptitiously tried them on in a packed Selfridges with my flustered then-fiancé that the world stopped. For us both. I kid you not. So the boy whipped out the card and bought me the most amazing shoes I’ll ever own. They are currently sitting displayed in a Bell Jar in our guest bedroom. I love them that much!

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Alongside the champagne Jimmy Choos my accessories included a beautiful headpiece made by the talented Gillian Million – all peachy pearl clusters and encrusted jewels. For the day I also wore a simple rose gold bangle from Whistles to match my rose gold and diamond wedding band and I wore a tulle cathedral length veil with raw edges.

I am a magpie, so for the evening I wanted to glitter. I found a beautiful second-hand golden sequined jacket by Malene Birger which I wore to the Wedding Breakfast and then for the evening I had a beautiful statement necklace of pearls and stones found in Jaeger.

On the morning of the wedding my Mum surprised me with a beautiful gift of a 1950s vintage sparkly bracelet. It was a perfect match with my necklace and is now one of my most treasured pieces.

boys in blue

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

So with me, the girls and the beauty all in hand it was time to sort the Groom and his merry men out! With my Pinterest board printouts at hand, the boy and I hit Selfridges.

Kooples, Reiss, Tom Ford, Boss, Aubin & Wills… Yep he tried it all. Then we found ourselves in the Topman section. At a bit of a loss we tried on a simple navy skinny 3 piece suit and lo-and-behold it fit. Like a glove. Huzzah!

To ensure Mark had his moment in the spotlight we chose a crisp cotton shirt from Hugo Boss and a gorgeous knitted navy tie with white polka dots from Zara. His shoes were classic tan brogues from Grenson.

The Groomsmen found themselves in the same suit as Mark with navy gingham shirts and skinny knitted navy ties, accessorised with silver tie pins. Andy was appointed head stylist on the wedding morning and ensured all boys scrubbed up on the day…

Andy gave Mark a little gift on the morning of the wedding – a small swallow badge. The swallow is a symbol of loyalty and so a fitting gift in so many ways.

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Mother of the bride

Very quickly I want to talk about the Mother of the Bride, because not only was she pretty awesome in the style stakes, she also had an important role to play on the day… Sadly I lost my Dad to Cancer 5 years ago so the tradition of walking down the aisle on the steady arm of my Pops was cruelly snatched from me.

Step in my very brave and beautiful Mum. Having those last few minutes with my Mum before I became a wife were poignant and precious.

I wanted my Mum to feel incredible and confident in her role, so who did we turn to for her little ensemble…? Only Viv. Yep my dear Mum strutted her stuff in a gorgeous silvery grey Vivienne Westwood suit, accessorised with a tan Mulberry clutch and grey patent Fendi shoes. We also saw the rather fabulous Judy Bentinck in London who created that marvellous feathery pillbox.

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

fashionably late

So as you can see from all of the above, the morning of our wedding was pretty jolly great… So much so that, apart from actually marrying Mark (of course!), it was one of my favourite parts of the whole day.

Hanging out with my Mum and girls at the incredibly peaceful The Barn at Roundhurst was the perfect start to a perfect day. However, all of these lovely shenanigans did mean that I left for the venue 20 mins late! I promised the boy I wouldn’t keep him waiting… Oooops.

So off I set, a frou-frou bundle of tulle in the back of my pristine vintage Rolls Royce Silver Cloud…

Excited to become Mrs Hla.

Coco Wedding Venues - Real Love - Mark and Emma - Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Images by Horseshoe Photography.

Click here to view all of the images from this wedding…

Credits

Bride’s Venue The Barn at Roundhurst | Groom’s Venue The Church House | Photography Horseshoe Photography & Dale Weeks Photography | Brides Dress Isabella Grace | Headpiece Gillian Million | Bridesmaids Emma Louise Designs | Florist Angel Like Flowers | Makeup Jeni Dodson

Next time… Florals, styling and actually becoming a wife!

I’ll also tell you the story behind the title of this post – you are all I see, and the significance of Alice in Wonderland.

Lots of love…

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