It seems a bit surreal talking about the wedding in the past tense. It seems like it has been so long in the planning and I always talked about doing a blog post after the wedding that would chart my experiences of the wedding planning process and now….here I am! Unbelievable.
My new husband and I got engaged back in February 2010 at a lovely cottage in Norfolk. He proposed to me by littering the various rooms of the cottage with envelopes containing cards with photos from one of my favourite films, with each card containing a romantic quote from said films and a clue to the location of the next envelope. The last envelope was on the pillow in the bedroom asking me to go into the living room where Adam was there on one knee holding my engagement ring.
From that moment on, our lives were dominated with plans, thoughts and themes for our wedding. We quickly set the date. We’d always talked about our wedding taking place in the autumn, and initially plumped for a Hallowe’en wedding, however it fell just outside of the half term holidays and for a lot of our guests, a day in half term was a lot more convenient so we brought the date forward by a week.
It didn’t take long to find the venue and an appointment was soon made to have a look round. We fell in love immediately. It was just what we were looking for. I’d always imagined getting married somewhere Gothic and “olde worlde” and our chosen venue fitted the bill completely.
Once the venue was in place, our theme quickly began to emerge. We knew we wouldn’t be having a traditional wedding with me in white, because it just wasn’t us and it soon became clear that the dress I wanted would be purple in colour. I was heavily inspired by the art of Victoria Frances.
I thought I had initially found the dress I wanted from Gothique Bridal who seemed to tick all the right boxes, although I was a bit skeptical by the low prices and am a firm believer that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Soon after the engagement, I ordered a fabric sample and what followed was months of waiting and about a dozen e-mails to which I only got one very curt response claiming the samples had been posted but they would send more out to me. That was the last I ever heard, despite several more e-mails, all completely ignored. I swiftly concluded that there was no way such a place would get any more custom from me, and I never saw the money again I had spent on the samples, and £5 for a few scraps of fabric, is pretty extortionate.
It was quite a stressful time, despite having many months to find an alternative dress. I spent hours trawling the internet but just couldn’t find my dress. There were plenty of fantastic styles, but not in the dark purple that I wanted.
Luck turned out to be on my side though, as I found Helen at Amor Corsets. I loved her creations and she responded to my enquiries very quickly and I formed a very good working relationship with her. I had an initial consultation with her in the summer of 2010 and she was very enthusiastic about what I wanted and a general idea for the dress was established. It was very exciting for me because I had always assumed that I would have an off-the-peg dress and there I was being actively involved in the design of my own wedding dress!
Over the months that followed, we both had a lesson in what qualified as purple to some fabric suppliers! A few months before the wedding, we had a consultation to finalise the design of the dress and the fabric. With the design that I wanted, it was agreed that taffeta would be the best due to the way it holds its structure and the sheen of the fabric. However, poor Helen had a real mission finding the right fabric for the right price. She sent me loads of samples of what was deemed to be purple by various suppliers but they were either too blue or pink and not the dark purple we wanted. Just when all hope seemed lost, the fabric sample arrived, from Belgium I believe, and it was absolutely perfect.
Once Helen had the sample, she had the dress made in a matter of weeks and I was soon back there for my fitting and it was such an amazing experience.
I enjoyed the wedding planning process so much, that I’m aspiring to be a wedding planner myself and I’m hoping to soon start studying for a diploma. Now that my wedding is in the past tense (still trying to get used to that), I’d love to be involved however I can in helping other people create their dream day.
I want to share my experiences of the wedding planning process and the wonderful people that I encountered along the way. It would be a pleasure to offer any assistance or advice to anyone feeling a bit daunted about planning a wedding from scratch.
If you’re not too sure on the style or theme for your wedding, I heartily recommend a mood board or document of some kind and stick any photos you come across on your wedding website/magazine travels that inspire you. You’d be surprised at how these will soon develop into a theme. Ours was helped along by the picture, Dragon Dance by Jocarra.
For me, it was really important to deal with suppliers that I formed a good relationship with. I had been imagining what my wedding day would be like long before the actual engagement so I really wanted to enjoy as much of the process as possible. I stayed away from chains and instead found independent suppliers who I got on first name terms with.
There are also bargains and offers out there to take advantage of, but I’m also a firm believer that you get what you pay for (if you get it at all as I discovered literally to my cost). I’m pleased to say that for the most part, I had fantastic suppliers and it gives me pleasure to give them the write up and recommendations that they deserve.
For starters, I got a brilliant deal with our chosen venue. It was Highbury Hall in Birmingham who offered a 40% discount for 40 guests for mid-week weddings. There are many discounts you can score by asking about best prices and mid-week weddings.
If you’re stuck at finding a venue, I found Highbury on weddingvenues.com which is great for searching potential venues by location and type.
I really wanted an “oldy-worldy” feel to the day and Highbury has some fantastic Gothic features.
Fairly obviously, supportive friends and family are a must. We were really lucky with both sides of the family willing to help in realising the dream and I had an absolutely invaluable Maid of Honour.
Now, without further ado, my list of Gothic fairytale wedding suppliers!
The Venue: Highbury Hall – The venue and grounds were stunning and were absolutely perfect for our autumn wedding. The staff were amazing from first contact 18 months prior to the wedding, right until post-wedding invoicing. All our guests commented on how much they loved the venue, how friendly they found the staff and how wonderful the food was.
Chair covers were supplied by Melanie Elizabeth who is a regular at Highbury and I didn’t have to worry about anything on that score on the day and the chairs in the drawing room and hall were really classy.
The Flowers: My bouquet, bridesmaid posies and wrist corsages, Adam’s buttonhole and the table decorations were supplied by the talented Alison at Pink Corsage.
Her Gothic collection is amazing and available in a variety of colours. She’s also very approachable about making custom items. Delivery was swift and as I opted for silk flowers, I was able to get them well in advance of the wedding so could spread the cost and I now have my bouquet and table flowers as keepsakes.
The cakes: We knew very early on that we wanted individual cupcakes, rather than a traditional wedding cake. When I was searching for cake makers locally, I found Blue Door Bakery. Sarah was really helpful with suggestions. We wanted to have a cupcake tier with quotes from our favourite films and she suggested a flag on the top of each cupcake. The cupcake cases and sprinkles were purple and black to match our theme and the cutting cake was printed with the painting that represented our theme with our quote from The Crow “Real love is forever” piped around the side. It looked absolutely stunning and the film quotes were a real talking point.
The jewellery: My tiara, necklace and earrings were custom made by Lourene Ltd. I went for a simple silver plated hair band with black pearls and purple crystals and they complemented my dress and flowers brilliantly. Unfortunately, the company appears to be experiencing difficulties so are unable to accept orders presently and I had to get a refund from my bank when they left me without my hair comb order and my saviour, Maid of Honour made me one 2 days before the wedding.
The Stationery: I had had Purple Fairy saved in my bookmarks long before the engagement so Lucie was my first port of call for ordering samples. Lucie was and is a pleasure to work with and I feel like I have the pleasure of being able to refer to her as a friend now. Correspondence was always responded to swiftly and cheerfully and she created custom invitations, place and table cards and a table plan that really stood out and complemented our theme brilliantly.
The Photographer: Newton Photography was the only option as far as I was concerned. Jon was another supplier that I had earmarked very early on. I adored the intimacy, natural and storybook feel to his photos.
He was another supplier who was easy to speak to and I remember our telephone consultation as being a real pleasure. On the day, he was professional, good humoured and produced photos of our day that we will treasure forever.
The hair/make-up: I found Emma of Make Up Artist Midlands on Jon’s website. Emma’s experience was obvious and my hair and makeup trial was good fun and a revelation. I felt absolutely transformed, but natural at the same time.
She was great with my mum and bridesmaids on the day and it was great to not have to worry about having to do my own hair or makeup which would definitely have been disastrous!
Bridesmaids: I had custom dresses made for my bridesmaids by The Dark Angel. I always knew they would be involved in my day in some form as I’ve been a customer of theirs for years. Their quality and service are exemplary and they were so easy to communicate with about what I wanted and were able to offer me advice on making what I wanted into a reality.
My bridesmaids looked stunning in their dresses and my mum had the custom coat she said she always wanted for my wedding day!
My husband had his waistcoat and a custom tie and pocket square made by them and everything looked fantastic together.
I stumbled upon various websites that offered favours and things that could be customized, right down to custom cufflinks for my husband that had our dragon theme proudly displayed. I also utilized websites like eBay for table confetti and Etsy for independent crafters, where I had a gorgeous feather ballpoint pen fashioned for our register signing!
Our background music was supplied by the brilliant Vitamin String Quartet (on cd unfortunately!) who played our rock favourites. I walked down the aisle to the Metal Gear Solid theme and our exit music was “Flying Home” from the Kick Ass film score!
The end of the evening, we travelled home in style thanks to the Flaming Limo of Gothness arranged by our Maid of Honour and Usher!
My Maid of Honour also gave me a hen weekend that I will never forget. I had a vintage tea party, burlesque lesson and pin-up makeover with a photographer for the afternoon, all beautifully arranged by Cherry at Sundae Surprise.
I have really fond memories of the wedding planning, hen weekend and the magical day itself and if anyone has any questions or comments, I would be happy to help where I can. Also, if you would like to see our full “wedding story”, our gallery can be found here.