I’m absolutely delighted to be bringing you Emma and Brad’s beautiful wedding day today. Not only has Emma been a reader of WWW for years and came straight to these very pages to look for her styling, but she is also a Supplier Love member with Emma Bunting. You might be thinking that bunting will be featuring in their day, and you’d definitely be correct!
Our pair tied the knot on Monday 15th April 2019 with a ceremony at the awe inspiring Bodleian Library in Oxford, followed by a bunting adorned reception at the Malmaison just down the road. Let me tell you something else about this fabulous wedding, it was dog friendly! I think you’re going to absolutely love Emma and Brad’s four legged guests, who had absolutely dressed for the occasion.
Being in the wedding industry, Emma had lots of photography options but was delighted when her friend Anita Nicholson Photography agreed to capture their day. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images with us today Anita.
Brad & I met through Tinder in February 2014. I was living in Northumberland at the time and he was in Hertfordshire. After four and a half years dating long distance and spending most weekends driving up and down the M1, we decided I would move in with him. At about the same time, my youngest cousin, who had just finished a course of chemotherapy, found a secondary lump in her body. At this point we didn’t know if it was going to be benign, thankfully it was. But it dawned on me, life is just so precious and really the journey is equally as important as its destination, if not more so, so I didn’t see the point in waiting around. That night I proposed to him – it just came out quickly and totally unplanned. “Will you marry me” I blurted out – I will never forget his grinning face, he didn’t say anything, just grinned!! I had to ask him again, “Will you?“ he just replied “Yes”… that was 26th September last year…..
We are both quite laid back people, so we wanted something that we could just enjoy without losing our own sense of style and identity. Both of us have been married before, so we wanted it to be relaxed, informal and just focus on being together and celebrating our love and of course have our dogs involved somehow!
The Planning Process
I decorate weddings for a living, so Brad left the majority of the planning to me. We only had just over seven months to plan, so it was a lot of work to get through in a short period of time. I found creating a file and working on it as if it were a work project helped me throughout the whole process. Brad was so supportive and just said YES to everything I suggested!!! He chose the band, the outfits for the boys, the music playlists during the day and then the honeymoon, I did everything else. It was perfect teamwork.
It was Brad’s idea to choose Malmaison Oxford as our party venue, as that’s where we had our first Tinder date. I remember being so nervous meeting for the first time, but we sat at the bar and chatted for about five hours and we were the last to leave! I was smitten from the beginning….
Once we decided on celebrating at Malmaison, we needed to find somewhere to be married. We had to be sensitive to both families as I am Christian and Brad is Jewish, so after reading an article about the Bodleian Library weddings, we decided to go to one of their wedding open days. It was stunning, so we booked immediately and choose a few of our suppliers from the open night. We loved the fact that it was a beautiful historic building, but also that it had featured in a few Harry Potter movies!
The actual wedding service took place in Convocation House and we had our after ceremony cocktails & canapes served in the Divinity School by Oxford Fine Dining. We drank pink gin out of cocktail glasses and tea cups. The events team were so helpful and were lovely in allowing our dogs to be with us the whole time.
We walked back through the pretty Oxford streets to the Malmaison where we were met on the rooftop bar by a whole party of smiling people throwing confetti! After champagne on the roof terrace, we walked back into the Visitors Room for dinner and dancing. All 40 of our guests stayed the night, which meant we could stay and chat quite late, with a few whiskies, if I remember rightly!
Your Outfits & Accessories
My dress was the easiest outfit to find. I spend my days working in jeans and converse boots, as I’m often up and down ladders putting up bunting. But when I get dressed up I do like a bit of sparkle. So my idea was to find a 1930s style long and fairly straight dress with lots of sparkle. I really wanted something along the lines of Jenny Packham, but as Brad & I were funding everything ourselves, my dress budget didn’t quite allow me to choose a Packham. I wasn’t disappointed at all as I found the High Street shop Phase 8 sell a whole range of stunning bridal dresses. I just wanted the dress to look and feel great, and the “Cathlyn” dress fitted the bill perfectly. It’s quite heavy on the hanger because of all the crystals, but to wear, it really is beautiful and fitted perfectly. I absolutely loved it.
I struggled a bit to find the right shoes as a lot of bridal shoes are either really high, totally flat, or if they have a mid-heel are a bit chunky. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I found the “Doria” shoes by Dune. They are sparkly pewter colour with a cute kitten heel. But, I didn’t think they were sparkly enough, so I bought crystal shoe clips from eBay to clip onto the front of the shoes. They needed that additional touch so they matched the dress. I decided against a veil as it just didn’t suit me, nor my dress.
I knew we were going to have to walk back to the hotel after the ceremony and I know I always get cold, so I wanted some sort of jacket. I’d seen some stunning painted ones online, so asked a brilliant artist in Northumberland, Suzi Santorini, if she would paint one of my leather jackets. We worked on the design together and decided on mainly white flowers so that they would stand out on the black jacket. I was absolutely thrilled with the final look, and Brad more so as it was a complete surprise to him!
The remainder of my accessories sort of evolved, without any planning. I went to visit my best friend in Corbridge, Northumberland, and we spent the day ambling round the shops. There is the most amazing bespoke jewellery designer there called Kirsty Taylor. She had some very pretty ivory pearl earrings and a matching necklace which to me looked like three pearls in pea pod. I loved it so much that I asked her to create the same pendant as a bracelet. I have really thin wrists, so finding bracelets is always difficult, having one made for me made perfect sense. I also bought plain pearl studs for the three bridesmaids.
On the day, I wore my Auntie’s ring, which incorporates my Grandma’s engagement ring (something old). I borrowed my Mother-in-Laws silver dance card holder that belonged to her mother, which I used to hold my vows (something borrowed). My Step-mum had bought me blue forget-me-knot hair clips from Etsy (something blue). My daughter had bought me a pair of silver sparrow earrings (something new), one of which she attached to my dress. It was the most amazing gift ever, we had just lost our beloved labrador, Jack, who was named after Captain Jack Sparrow, so by me wearing the sparrow it meant I was walking down the aisle with Jack.
I didn’t want an engagement ring, nor did I want traditional bands or diamonds. Brad & I took ages to decide what rings we should have. We found Stone Forge Studios on Etsy who hand crafted unusually shaped rings using sandstone, petrified wood and driftwood. I loved the idea of having something completely non-traditional. I was brought up in Liverpool, the city’s bedrock is sandstone, so having sandstone as the main part of my ring design was sort of a nod to my roots.
My hair was my major concern. I have naturally really dark hair, but have been dying it for over ten years to hide the grey. Last summer I made the conscious decision to grow my natural colour out as it was becoming impossible to keep my roots dark. I was really nervous to have grey hair getting married, so joined lots of groups on Facebook to chat about my fears and see others with similar hair.
So many people had said to me I “should” dye my hair for my weddings as I needed to “look my best” on my wedding day. This was a major thing for me and it took a lot of will power to not reach for the hair dye! Brad has been so supportive and didn’t care what colour my hair was, so long as I was happy. I hadn’t had my hair cut in over a year, so it was as long as I could get it. I wore it up braided, and over the day strands fell out – so it was more relaxed. Ali, my hairdresser, did an amazing job. We were going to put fresh flowers in, but the blue hair pieces from my Step-mum fitted perfectly on their own. We added fresh white Wax Flowers to the bridesmaids hair – I much prefer these to gypsophila as I’m not a big fan of the scent of gyp and also wax flowers hold their shape for longer.
I took a while to find my make up artist as I needed someone near Oxford, but didn’t know anyone. I spoke to a few people before finding Emma. I found her approach so relaxing and calming, I knew she’d be perfect for me. It was great going for the practise so we could figure out exactly what I wanted. I wanted a very natural look, with warm golden tones. On the day itself Emma was brilliant and made us all look amazing and feel totally relaxed.
A week or so before hand, I went to see Jennifer who specialises in everything to do with lashes and brows! My eyelashes are so short, so I knew I had to do something. Not only did Jennifer lift them, but she also tinted them so they looked darker and longer. It took about 45 minutes to do, but I would definitely recommend this treatment as it made a big difference to my eyes without having to use loads of layers of mascara.
I had no time before hand to do anything with my nails – they were in a terrible state because of work with my hands, they always get broken or bruised. So I decided to paint them a dark red black. I chose “Black Cherries” by Rimmel.
Working in the wedding industry means you get to know so many photographers, so I was lucky in deciding which one to work with. I knew instantly that I wanted to ask Northumberland based Anita Nicholson, although fairly new to wedding photography, Anita has a wonderfully warm personality that makes everyone feel at ease straight away. Her captures are relaxed, informal and often wonderfully candid. We didn’t want a formal structure to our photos, so Anita was perfect.
I remember asking her if she would photograph our wedding, and we both cried when she said yes! She usually only does Northumberland based weddings, so I was thrilled when she agreed to come to Oxford with us.
She worked the room without anyone noticing, yet was engaging and chatty with all our guests. It was especially lovely for me to have a friend taking our photos. We couldn’t have been happier.
We found our florist, Sarah, on the wedding open evening at the Bodleian Library. The tables she had dressed were absolutely stunning, I remember thinking, yes, that’s exactly what I want! Her style is very natural and informal, but incredibly stylish.
My bouquet was heavenly with pale pinks, white flowers and fritillaria, finished off with silk ribbons from Kate Cullen. There were two large floral displays in Convocation House on plinths, which she then moved to the reception room at the Malmaison.
Sarah also went to the hotel on the Sunday morning (the day we arrived) to make sure the welcome bouquets for our parents were ready for them on arrival. She also arranged for the flowers from dinner to be made up into bouquets for the ladies to take home with them. All the flowers were reused and lasted for nearly two weeks!
The boys had stunning button holes and the bridesmaids had simple corsages. I think our Labrador dog, Ginger, stole the show with her very pretty flower collar!
On arrival at Malmaison the tables looked exquisite with Sarah’s simple styling of our flowers in glass vases with single taper candles lit, which softened the whole look
Brad’s outfit was more difficult to put together! He really isn’t a suit and tie guy, so we saw no reason why he should have to wear a traditional outfit on his wedding day. All I wanted was him to feel like himself and be comfortable. I found, via instagram, the Vintage Suit Hire company in Bedford, and coincidentally isn’t too far from us. We chose blue and brown jackets and waistcoats, and added pocket watches, and for my son who walked me down the aisle, a bow tie. The boys loved their outfits so much they decided to buy them, rather than take the hire option! During their stag weekend in Madrid, they bought their jeans to wear, and new boots, so I wasn’t quite sure what they would be wearing until the day itself. Alessandro, our best man, opted for skinny jeans, white shirt and tie. We were more than happy that our groomsmen looked different.
I had been given a few recommendations of cake people, but as our wedding was during Easter Holidays, a lot of the cake companies were on holiday. However, one of the recommendations was for Karen at Cakes by Kit. I loved the name as my dad calls me Kit, so I thought it was quite apt.
We went for a taster session at Karen’s home, oh my gosh! All were delicious. We decided on a chocolate cake and a red velvet cake. I wanted a two tier semi-naked cake, simply decorated with flowers and mini cake bunting. All of the cake was eaten as we served it as our pudding, I can honestly say everyone loved it.
The Details & Décor
Convocation House is so beautiful, it didn’t really need any decorations, however we had two stunning floral displays on plinths behind the registrar. I was insistent that we did not have a registrars table across the room as I didn’t want that to be the focus of the room. Our registrar, Mike Bartlam, was really super and accommodated our wishes.
To welcome guests to the hotel, I had created a Mr & Mrs bunting for the vintage bike outside the entrance doors. Sarah, our florist, then filled the basket with flowers – it looked really pretty and very welcoming.
Inside, the tricky thing with Malmaison was to make their Visitors Room feel more light and airy. As the hotel used to be a prison, the windows are very high up, and typically with Malmaison design, the rooms feel quite dark.
We invited Sarah our florist to be part of our planning meeting with the Malmaison events team, and from her input we confirmed the colour scheme of the whole room. Typically, Malmaison design is always one that is on the dark side, so our challenge was to make the room feel bright and airy. The carpet of the Visitors Room is a green and lavender purple tartan, so we brought in the lavender colours, to complement the tartan carpet rather than fight against it!
We decided on pale grey table linens to lighten the room, and ordered in light oak cross back chairs. That instantly made a difference. I worked closely with the team at Duchess & Butler who helped us with table linen colours, glassware, cutlery and our charger plates, with the main purpose of designing a light and bright dining table, adding a little purple colour in to complement the tartan carpet. They were really great to work with and had some cool ideas and colour combinations.
We didn’t have a top table, but I did want to number them. I struggled to find a way to number them clearly, but prettily. But then on Instagram I happened to find calligrapher Kayleigh Tarrant. I loved her rag paper notes, so ordered the table numbers to be written out. I then borrowed brass ornamental picture stands from Duchess & Butler, which worked perfectly on the table and held the table numbers upright.
Of course as my business is designing wedding bunting, I had to have bunting! I’d decided on using our silver sequin bunting across the room, which we hung with twinkly fairy lights wrapped around. On each place setting I had created mini bunting with individual names on, so they acted as wedding gifts and place names! I loved watching through the night how people were using them – either as necklaces or as bracelets!!
Early the next morning I remember feeling VERY delicate, too much fizz and not enough sleep meant I was slightly worse for wear. However, getting up early was worth it as we flew up to Glasgow to collect our hire car and drove up to Glencoe. We had booked to stay at Glencoe House for three nights. It was incredible – it was more like living at home with staff waiting on your every whim, rather than being in a hotel. We spent three days touring the Highlands in beautiful hot and sunny weather – a perfect way to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
There are three moments that stand out for me (apart from the obvious ones) – firstly, I missed my nod to walk down the aisle, so the bridesmaids went first, then everyone stood waiting for me. We had to have the music played a second time so I could make my entrance!
The second one was when my Matron of Honour came to hand me my leather jacket hand painted with Mrs Solomon. Brad had no idea I had had this made, and his face was a picture when I turned round to show him what was on the back!
Thirdly, during the Klezmer dancing, I was suddenly sat on a chair and lifted high above everyone’s heads! I was shrieking so loudly – laughing as well as being scared as at one point it lurched forward and I thought I was going to fall off!! It was lovely to finish of the day with such an incredibly fun and enjoyable Jewish tradition.
Advice For Other Couples
There are a couple of things I would advise, one is make sure you have your timings planned out and delegate jobs to other people so they feel more part of the day and it’s less for you to think about.
Make sure you have a detailed photography list and tick them off as you get them done.
Finally, I would say that the prime focus of the day is for you and your partner, try not to be drawn into doing what other people think you ought to do, do what you feel is natural to you. All the way through our planning I told my dad what we were doing, so he knew what was happening so he wasn’t shocked when he heard that Brad wasn’t wearing a tie, he was wearing jeans, my daughter was wearing Dr Martens and I was wearing a leather jacket!
If you plan for yourselves and not for other people, your wedding day will be a reflection of your personality and if your guests love you, they will love your wedding regardless of what you decide to do!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Anita Nicholson Photography
Phase Eight “Cathlyn”
Grooms & the boys
The Vintage Suit Hire Company
Ali Oswald Hair
Sarah Harper Florist
Duchess & Butler
Just 4 Linen
Kayleigh Tarrant Calligraphy
Cakes by Kit
Cross back chairs
Oxford Event Hire
Oxford Fine Dining
Wow what a beautiful and fun day Emma and Brad! Thank you for sharing everything with WWW. Rachel x