Morning lovelies :-) after all the excitement of yesterday, i think it about time i shared a wedding with you :-)
Holly and Matthew were married in December of last year in the beautiful seaside town of Scarborough.
I so love these two, with Holly describing herself as the “antithesis of a Bridezilla” they kept their plans simple and laid back. Opting for a meaningful ceremony, a beautiful Monsoon dress, an informal tea of fish and chips and a good old knees up. Being a musician Holly even serenaded her groom… so very romantic.
Thanks so much to the brilliant York Place Studios for letting me share their beautiful images with you today;
Names…. Holly Jazz Lowe and Matthew Chandoss Kotzé – we both pride ourselves on pretty good middle names. I’m a musician – mainly a pianist singer (especially for lots of weddings as it happens!) and he’s a sailor yacht skipper in the Mediterranean, although he’s actually originally from South Africa.
Wedding Date…. 03/12/11
The Proposal…. Ha! This is quite a weird one! We were in Barcelona last August with the boat on its tour around the Med and earlier that week there’d been this huge and sudden hurricane / storm / flood that Matty had actually got caught out at sea in – but that’s another story. Any how, me and Matty treated ourselves for a week by making friends with a waiter in a café and taking advantage of his offer of a very cheap nightly rate of his spare room in his flat. It was very nice to be on dry land but the said storm had caused so much flooding that the water in the flat got turned off at 9pm every night to stop it leaking into the supermarket below – this detail seems irrelevant but comes into play in just a moment.
The charter guests had just left and me and Matty and Doug – the first mate, were busy cleaning and scrubbing the decks and touching up all the varnish to get her ship-shape for the next racing regatta in Majorca the following week. It was very hot and hard work and after a long day we all three of us went for a meal in the Raval with plans to later head up to Monjuic which is the sort of big hill where they were doing outdoor cinema screenings and they were showing The Dark Knight. Anyway for some reason the conversation at the dinner table turned very serious and Matt and Doug started talking about their parents’ divorces and how it affects everyone involved and that marriage was nothing to be entered into lightly at all. The conversation was so heavy in fact that none of us could conceive of going to the cinema and having fun after and Doug headed back to the boat to recover and we headed back to our flat. On the way Matt reminded me of how the water will have already been cut off in the flat and perhaps we should call in at the nearest bar and have a final drink if not to just to use the toilets (very romantic!). So we did, and somehow we got to talking and talking and the conversation started taking the avenue of Matt saying to me “If only there were a way that we could just promise we’ll always be together. Have that security, but you know, like it should be a proper promise, even a public one, we could like, sign something too!” and I realised that he hadn’t realised that he hadn’t invented this whole concept… “Erm, I think there’s already something like that ‘contract’ you’re talking about out there already…”
And it sort of dawned on him and then he was like – am I actually going to say this?? I watched in agony as he tried to word what he was trying to say to me without saying the actual word ‘marry’. All sorts of things came out like “er, so if I were to ask you if you wanted to be with me, like, FOREVER, what would you say?”
And I was like “I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know… what you’re ASKING ME?!”
And he, relieved I wasn’t actually answering him with ‘I don’t know’ realised he just had to man up and say the words.
He came out with the classic:
“We don’t have to DO anything about it if you don’t want to but… would you…. MARRY ME?”
Haha of course this was greeted with “yes yes of course of course” and much jubilation and celebration! Who would have thought that needing to use a toilet somewhere could lead to a completely unplanned proposal?!
The Vision for the day…. We decided right away to do this sooner rather than later because we’re just that sort of people. We got back to the UK after the boat’s season in the November so decided on an early December wedding. We knew immediately it would be in my local town of Scarborough and even more local village of Cloughton. The scenery is just stunning and we wanted to show his South African family a true taste of British Seaside and North Yorkshire life.
We made lists of things we wanted and didn’t want: Initially mine was stuff like >No wedding dress, no sit down meal, no speeches, no first dance, no bridesmaids, Needless to say I changed my mind about all of these later on. Matt’s list consisted of stuff like, Comfortable seating, dark corners, nobody making fun at South Africa/ns, This was actually all Matt’s list consisted of and he stuck to it. ‘Dark corners’?! Who puts that on a wedding ideas list!?
The things we both wanted to be important was – good people, good music, good scenery.
The Planning process…. Argh. Our wedding was a fairly small and very relaxed affair but I got so stressed in the run up! Maybe because we didn’t leave ourselves that long. Maybe because we had to suddenly cut the budget by half and change venues and catering with 4 weeks to go. But even so – I just don’t know how these people do it and don’t get stressed. Endless wedding nightmares, and I consider myself the antithesis of a Bridezilla. God help those who actually are ones. We were this close >< to eloping!
The Venue… We knew right from the start this would not be a religious affair and we were more than happy with the Scarborough registry office – it’s actually really quite lovely.
Then we moved our guests to a hotel in Scarborough on the cliff top by the Castle overlooking the sea called The Victoria Seaview. The people who run it were so helpful to us and accommodating. We were doing all sorts of things to slash the budget like bringing in our own apples off my parents’ apple tree to cut the cost of the pudding! Also we decided on outside catering in the form of a fish n chip van! The North Yorkshire Coast is undisputed for having the best fish n chips (not that I would know for I am veggie… ho hum) and it started to add a real theme to the day of British Seaside.
We thought serving wine with fish n chips would not only be expensive but also not really fitting, so we decided on good old tea instead! We collected and trouped charity shops for 90 mismatching china tea cups and asked our guests to bring teapots too! Higgledy piggledy for teacups works best I think!
We wanted to keep the day moving so after dinner in the evening we escorted our guests back to my village 6 miles north to my local pub The Red Lion Inn.
The mananger there at the time was a good friend of ours and a musician – he set up a band setup and we had an open setup. My dad’s a professional musician as is my uncle and tonnes of people I know so we thought it would be nice to have a free for all jam affair with the manager ducking between the mic stand and the bar and even myself playing probably a full night’s set for free! What was I thinking?!
The following morning we invited all our guests who were all staying at various accommodation in the village to join us for a morning walk to the Hayburn Wyke Hotel Inn for a coffee and then walk down to the beach where a waterfall cascades onto the beach. Perfect way to blow away any hangovers. We had a stone-throwing contest and it was all really good fun. So beautiful.
The Dress + Accessories….. I find it very hard to like many wedding dresses. I’m not a fan of satin or strapless, probably because I’m too skinny and flat to pull anything like that off. So it was with some reluctance and more out of wanting to please my mum that I put on a brave face and agreed to go wedding dress shopping with her in York one day. I also really resent the amount of money wedding dresses can cost – when it’s for one day only, I think it’s madness to spend some of the money that gets spent. But that’s just me. My mum, agreeing with me on dislike of the most popular types of dresses had sneakily done some online research and saw that Monsoon had some interesting looking gowns. So we went to the shopping centre to Monsoon and there were probably 6 different bridal dresses. I liked one of them immediately. I tried it on and liked it but something just wasn’t quite right. We asksed the assistant if there was a smaller size of the dress so she went to the stock room to look. She came back with no luck on that dress but another one – the only one of its kind that for some reason wasn’t out on display and in my size. I tried it on and immediately said – this is the one!
My mum really liked it too, but she can’t make decisions to save her life, she tried to talk me into looking around and around but I refused. This is the one!
It was beautiful – V neck with a very low back that has a gorgeous almost train effect coming off it. The detail on the V was beading and lace and very Art Deco. It had a beautiful cross over in the tulle across the bust and floated elegantly to the floor. I love it. This is the one.
The dress cost £225 but my mum, the ever-haggler managed to get it for £175 because we saw a fake tan sort of mark on the inside of the dress from where someone must have tried it on. I wasn’t bothered really – you would never see it but my mum told the shop we’d have to pay for the drycleaning of it so it was only right for them to knock some money down. They gave us £50 off straight away! Bargain!!!
I knew I wanted a birdcage veil, especially to go with the vintage and deco feel of the dress. I walked into the bridal shop in Scarborough literally a week before the wedding asking if they had any in. Tried the first one on and bought it.
It’s so easy when you know! It’s like getting married to someone – when you know it’s right, it’s right!
Shoes – not fussed so long as they did the job of keeping the dress from dragging on the floor, I’d heard mention of the brand Elise and looked on ebay and ordered a brand new pair that hadn’t fitted the original buyer for half the price of buying from the shop. They were your usual ivory satin, quite pointy and vintage feel. Done done done!
Groom’s attire… Four years ago Matty was walking past a charity shop in Brixton when he saw a Christian Dior 70s 100% pure wool grey suit. For no reason and not needing a suit, he tried it on and it fitted him as though it had been tailored to him. It was £30 and he bought it, not knowing why but knowing that for some reason he just had to have this suit.
A year later he met me.
Two years after that we finally got together.
A year after that we were getting married. When I asked him what he thought he might be wearing, there was only one answer.
The Readings + Music…. Music was a big one. Being a pianist singer who plays at a lot of weddings I know that the walking down the aisle is probably the most important and emotional part of the day. To me that song is almost more important that the first dance when everyone is more relaxed and the whole ceremony and getting married thing is out of the way. All the trepidation, excitement, nerves and surrealness happens when that bride walks down the isle. We chose to have Van Morrison’s ‘Sweet Thing’ as the music for this. It was something we’d listened to together extensively in the early days and there was no question about it.
I also think the waiting music is important for the guests as it really sets the vibe. We put together a CD for the assembly music which had cheeky songs like The Beatles’ ‘It Won’t Be Long’ and also we had some Ladysmith Black Mambazo – traditional South African music which is not only beautiful but very fun too and Matt said it really helped to relax him to hear his homeland music as he was waiting.
The first dance was sung and played by my dad and a family friend – Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘The Nearness Of You’. During the whole engagement me and Matt – having only actually been together 5 months before we got engaged, kept remarking on how old fashioned we were in doing the courtship then marriage quite so soon! We love those old ballads and I love playing them at work too. The Nearness Of You is a very beautiful song and sums up a lot of the feelings of that year when we had to keep being apart due to Matt having to be away on the boat somewhere and me having gigs in the UK etc. It’s not easy being apart, and so the sentiment of The Nearness Of You strikes a really strong chord with us both.
It was so nice having my dad sing and play it too. So funny to see people who had never seen him play before with jaws dropped in amazement. Trust me – he’s truly amazing.
The reading in the ceremony was read by my sister who is an actress – Elizabeth Lowe. She read it so well too. I’d originally written it for some friends of mine who’d gotten married 2 years previous and asked me to do a reading. I decided to write my own.
Beautiful bridesmaids….. I had my sister, and then two littler ones – my 12 year old cousin Sophie and the granddaughter of a close family friend, 11 year old Abigail. I found these really cute Ted Baker dresses for the younger ones and they were in a sort of mauve floral style – really lovely. My sister chose her own dress, the little ones’ dresses had created the colour theme so she went for a purple affair from Debenhams, it was really good value and she looked stunning on the day.
The Flowers… My next door neighbour, little Kirsty Berrdige – I grew up with her older sister – Kirsty’s 6 years younger than us, but it just so turns out that now little Kirsty is a national competition florist winner! There was no other question than that Kirsty would do the flowers and she was so amazing about everything. “Just pop round next door and we’ll have a chat about what you want etc” I am so bad – I know nothing about flowers and when it comes to things like styling things that aren’t clothes or makeup I find it really hard to articulate myself. Somehow Kirsty managed to extract with astonishing accuracy what I wanted! The flower bouquets were cool water roses and then a bunch of other things I have no idea what they are called but looked so beautiful and delicate and tasteful. My sister had a smaller version of my bouquet and the little bridesmaids held a single rose decorated with ribbon. They also had baskets of fresh rose petals to hand out to the guests for confetti (confetti being one of my favourite of the wedding traditions).
Kirsty sorted out EVERYTHING with regards to decoration the Red Lion for the evening. We wanted a warm winter feel – spruce fir, pine cones, holly (of course!), mistletoe and lots of wood and candels and lanterns. For weeks I’d see her getting out of her little car hauling great big bags of off-cuts of wood she’d been collecting from all over the show for my wedding! I also spotted her little figure darting off down the lane with a pair of secateurs one morning going to collect some holly! She was a total star, I am endlessly grateful to her. She’s actually setting up her own flower business at the moment, I can’t recommend her enough. She spent the whole day while the wedding was going on climbing all over the Red Lion draping it in fairy lights, candles, lanterns, and all the foliage. She’s simply amazing. I think I actually love her.
The Cake… Haha, I told you this was a local wedding for local people! Kirsty’s mum - Linda Berrdige is an INSANE baker! I grew up on treats round my next door neighbour’s house. Where our cupboards were only stocked with plain digestive biscuits along with rations on these, next door at the Berridges there were endless buns, flapjacks, crispy cakes, Victoria sponges, chocolate cakes and my personal favourite – butterfly cakes! You know the ones with butter cream! Linda very kindly offered to do the wedding cake as a wedding gift. We decided on a small sponge cake so we could do the traditional cutting of the cake, and then the rest were individual buns smothered in delicious butter cream icing and decorated with snowflakes and elephants – to keep the South Africa theme running in there! They were DELICIOUS!! I’m so incredibly grateful to the whole Berridge family for all they did for our wedding. Good neighbours!
Your Photographer…. There was no doubt who our photographer would be. I’d worked with Dominique and Liam Shaw from York Place Studios for professional photo shoots and artist shoots for my music career before and knew already how good they were. I’m always browsing Dominique’s photos for their sheer elegance and class and the difference in quality between their wedding albums and every other photographer I’d ever looked at was enormous.
I’m sure you can see for yourself just how well the photos came out. I’ve had compliments from so many people, people I’ve never even met who have seen them through friends of friends of friends on facebook about how good our wedding photos are. I coulnd’t be happier. This is so important too because so much of Matt’s family couldn’t make it over from South Africa and my Nanna couldn’t come over from Australia and my grandparents in Gloucester were too elderly to make the trip so it’s so nice to have really beautiful photos to show people who missed it.
The Honeymoon…. We went to Anglessey and stayed in my mum’s cousin’s weekend house there. It overlooks Red Wharf Bay and has an ‘infinity’ view from the bed. It’s sostunning. Needless to say this was December though and it was freezing. There was a log fire which we never let go out! We took my big staffy x dog Vronsky and Matt’s dad’s dog Stompie – a sausage dog with us. They loved it! Me, Matt and the dogs just crowded round the fire. We played endless games of pickup sticks and I invented numerous ‘Cube’ style games for Matt who thrives on a challenge and competition! For example I woke him up one morning with one of my ideas – he had to take a shuffled pack of cards and sort them into suit and order all while holding his breath! It’s so tricky but it is possible! He managed it on his 4th attempt! Try it! It’s really hard and frustrating but very satisftying when you do it!
Memorable moments… Ha! When I decided to give an unorthodox speech in the evening reception at the pub and launch into an acapella solo version of the South African National Anthem – Nkosi Sike Lel iAfrika! That I’d learnt as a surprise for Matt and his family! That is a tough anthem I tell you! It’s in 5 diffferent languages and in two different keys! But somehow I managed to pull it off – there’s an brilliant video somebody took of Matt just gawping on in amazement and then joining in, his South African pride never failing him! It was a really nice moment – I can’t quitebelieve I had the guts to sing someone else’ anthem to them in 4 languages I don’t speak, and I did it stone cold sober but I’m so glad I did. It’s such a stirring anthem! I really recommend it!
Advice for other couples… Do what YOU want! Brush off any nay-sayers. Have a good photographer. If you’re on a tight budget find all those haggling / friends favours ways to keep the costs right down. Be comfortable!
Credit where credit’s due…
Photography –York Place Studios – www.yorkplacestudios.co.uk/
Flowers – Kirsty Berridge – awaiting website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org in the mean time.
Music: Holly J. Kotzé – www.femalepianistsinger.com
Catering Mobile Fish and Chips of Pickering (North Yorkshire) – Tracey on 07536008741
Thanks so much to Holly and Matthew for sharing their gorgeous day with us today XOXO Lou
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