A Vintage Inspired Wedding at a Steam Railway

steam railway wedding

Fiona and Ross were married on a beautiful Spring day in March, at The Bluebell Railway in West Sussex.

Their unique wedding venue made their vintage inspired wedding oh so special. They had their ceremony in the waiting room, which is a little fitting as they had been together for 17 years already :-) After the ceremony they hopped onto the steam train for their wedding breakfast… how romantic!! In the evening they had a right old knees up in a village hall complete with a jazz singer.

I so love Fiona’s vintage inspired look, the pretty hanging jars of flowers and the romantic candles. Thanks so much to the wonderful Light Trick Photography for sharing her photography with us today.


purple wedding flowersvintage tweed groom suitbagpipes player weddingshort vintage wedding hair do style

Names… Fiona & Ross

Wedding Date…. Saturday 24th March 2012

The Vision for the Day… The choice of venues came first and this very much influenced what we decided to wear and the music we chose.

The Venue… The ceremony took place in the Waiting Room on Platform 1 of The Bluebell Railway at Horsted Keynes in West Sussex. Followed by a superb three-course, silver service wedding breakfast served on The Golden Arrow Pullman as it chuffed through the Mid-Sussex countryside. In the evening we went to Highbrook Village Hall, (recommended by Julia) a couple of miles away from The Bluebell.  It was previously a Victorian school house which has retained all of it’s character and from an era point of view, fitted perfectly with the Bluebell. Ross and I have been together for 17 years already.  It took Ross rather a long time to come round to the idea of marriage which has always been a running joke between family and friends.  So it was entirely appropriate to get married in a Waiting Room! We really wanted to keep the whole wedding small, intimate and fun, a proper day out for our close family and friends.  The Bluebell Railway is local attraction and the Horsted Keynes station, in particular, has a lovely Victorian atmosphere and charm about it, it’s a real step back in time.  You couldn’t fail to have a lovely day at the Bluebell and there are so many different permutations possible to suit all budgets.   We had the best day, we were relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our wedding. Julia Piqué is the Bluebell Railway’s wedding planner.  She was completely amazing, she guided us through the whole thing.   She put up with me and my endless lists and all the extra things we wanted she made happen from organising a table-top magician, hiring the cars, bouquet, buttonholes to finding a bagpiper and she also organised a puff of steam at the right moment on the platform for photos!   My original evening caterer was forced to pull out for family reasons and Julia and her team at The Bluebell Bell stepped in to help us organise the evening too.  We felt in very safe hands.

The Dress + Accessories… Wedding Dress – Miranda Mather. It’s made from ivory French corded lace with a satin underdress. Shoes – Diane Hassall ‘Treasure Trove’. I was looking for a hairpiece with marcasite and I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted online.  Then by pure chance I found Jo Tomlin’s shop ‘The Big Bead Boutique’ in Brighton. Amongst all the treasure of jewellery and beads, she also had a lovely selection of bridal hairpieces which she had created herself. Her style was exactly what I was looking for. I had already bought a marcasite brooch from eBay, which I gave to Jo who worked her magic with it to create a beautiful 1920s style hairpiece.   She experimented with attaching it to a clip then comb and finally we decided that a thin metal band would be the best option for me and allow the piece to sit low on the side of my head.  I’m only sorry that a curl worked itself loose and covered it for most of the photos but it really finished the look off perfectly. Necklace: http://www.bigbeadboutique.co.uk/ as above Again, Jo with very little time to spare, designed and made a gorgeous necklace to match my hairpiece using a marcasite pendant that I gave her. Earrings: marcasite/pearl flower studs bought from eBay. Cream marabou feather shrug:  Jasper Conran at Debenhams.  This was such a last minute but superb find.  Not just a run of the mill shrug but had some lovely fabric and crystal detailing which went with the dress and the whole theme perfectly.

Finding the Dress… From very early on I realised that I would need to have a dress made for me because I’m just not a ‘backless, strapless, sleeveless’ kinda gal and I was frustrated with the lack of variety of dresses with sleeves. I also wanted to pay homage to the era of the Bluebell Railway and the evening venue without going too over-the-top. Miranda lives opposite and her studio and manikin are visible from our house. I had a look at her website and was really impressed. I showed her variety photos of dresses that I felt would suit me and that I liked and Miranda set to work putting all the bits I liked from all the dresses into one dress for me.  It was so handy just being able to pop across the road for fittings. I was so pleased with the finished dress, it was perfect and fitted me like a dream.

Hair + Make-Up… Very soon after I got engaged I arranged to see my hairdresser Anna Lewis http://www.harlemhair.co.uk/  who really understands vintage hair styles, to talk through my ideas and show her pictures of the kind of style I wanted to aim for. I went to see Anna regularly to develop the bob cut which was needed for the curly vintage bob that I wanted on the day. I left the colour in Anna’s hands, she knows my hair well and what colours would suit my skin tones. Then one of my bridesmaids found Clare Parker, (Marvellous Make-up http://marvellousmakeup.co.uk/) who is a highly skilled and experienced hair and make-up artist with a particular interest and talent in creating period/vintage looks. Clare suggested that to give my hair a real Hollywood vintage curl, she would pin curl it all over. The result looked amazing with the colours that Anna had chosen. I wanted a natural look for my make up. I’m naturally very pale but I didn’t want to have a spray tan, it’s just not me, I wanted to keep to the English rose feel. Clare did a really fantastic job, I loved the whole look, it worked so well and I felt really special and confident on the day.

Groom’s Attire… Ross decided to have a three-piece suit made specially for him as he wanted one in keeping with the era of the Bluebell Railway and couldn’t find what he wanted ‘off-the-peg’. He chose Mark Jenkins of http://www.hugo-morris.com/  and found him extremely helpful and knowledgeable. Mark completely understood the look that Ross was trying to achieve and was able to give good suggestions and advice on the cut. Ross chose a grey herringbone Yorkshire tweed by a company called Dugdale. The style and fit were perfect, he looked fab. Gold pocket watch bought from eBay. Dark brown brogues from Clarkes
Shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt Wool tweed tie from Malford of London http://www.malfordoflondon.com/ who had a fantastic selection of ties.

The Rings… Jeremy Hoye http://www.jeremy-hoye.com/. Jeremy is a Brighton-based jewellery designer and I particularly like his ‘Entwine’ collection.  I just wanted something a little different and I really love the way the engagement and wedding rings work together whilst also being ‘stand alone’ pieces. Ross chose a plain 4mm platinum band from Midas Touch, Meeting House Lane, The Laines, Brighton.

Beautiful Bridesmaids… Miranda Mather Lilac silk dupion dresses, Pewter satin shoes. Good old eBay! Silk fabric flowers in their hair with a vintage feel from C&H fabrics. The girls didn’t want to wear too much jewellery but I found some pretty marcasite necklaces in Wardrobe Antiques & Vintage Clothing, 51 North Street, Brighton.

The Music… We had a quite a long walk or promenade really. For a couple of years prior to the wedding my Dad was having hip problems and the announcement of the wedding prompted him to do something about it. He had a hip replacement so that he could walk me down the aisle properly instead of limping. I wanted to make the most of this new hip and thought it would be nice to have a Piper leading us from the Station Entrance, down Platform 5, across the tracks towards the Waiting Room, all of this in full view of our guests. All this time Ross and the best man were inside the Waiting Room. It was a lovely thing to do. We chose Road to the Isle, a traditional Scottish tune for the actual walk down the aisle in the Waiting Room. During the signing of the register we played ‘Chattenooga Choo Choo’ and ‘In the Mood’ by Glenn Miller and then the Piper played us out on to the Platform with Mairi’s Wedding where we were met with Champagne and canapés. It was a gloriously sunny day for March, we were truly blessed. For the first dance we chose Etta James’s ‘At Last’ which we both love but was also a play on the ‘waiting 17 years’ joke. Rachel Bundy sang it beautifully.

Your Photographer… Katariina Jarvinen http://www.lighttrick.co.uk/. A friend of ours who is a member of Sussex Camera Club gave us a few recommendations and after perusing the websites we chose Katariina because we really liked her style of photography. She is passionate about her photography, is extremely client focused and very approachable. The Bluebell Railway is quite a challenging venue and she took time to thoroughly research it with us so that she could take the best possible photos on the day. She was completely unobtrusive. We barely noticed she was there! And we love her photos which have captured our wonderfully happy day from start to finish.

The Flowers… Julia Piquè organised all the flowers at the Bluebell Railway including buttonholes and my bouquet. We gave her a colour scheme gave her photos of the sort of things we were after and a list of flowers I didn’t want to see e.g., my pet hates chrysanthemums and carnations! We liked the idea of introducing heather and rosemary into the arrangements. At Highbrook Village Hall the flowers were provided and arranged by our event stylist Claire.

The Cake… Amy Sampson: https://www.facebook.com/AmysVintageCupcakes. My parents were at a party and thoroughly enjoyed the cupcakes which were made by their friends’ daughter Amy Sampson. Amy is based in Burgess Hill, West Sussex and has enjoyed baking for years and thankfully, happily agreed to bake us 100 cupcakes. I gave her a colour scheme, we talked through ideas which she interpreted exactly. The tower display was decorated with lovely fresh flowers and it looked really beautiful. Amy enjoyed the whole experience of making our wedding cupcakes so much she has decided to give it a go properly as a business and I wish her every success.

Entertainment… It was my Dad’s request to have a table top magician on the train which was a brilliant idea and Julia at The Bluebell arranged it all for us.  The magician was excellent. It was also really important for us to have good music in the evening at Highbrook village hall.  Something that was, again, in keeping with the era but that everyone could enjoy just simply listening to.   We chose Rachel Bundy, a jazz singer who builds a band according to what is required using her network of Brighton, Sussex based jazz musicians.  They went down an absolute storm, playing jazz classics evocative of the era and all ages thoroughly enjoyed the music.  It was such a good choice.

The Details + Decor… Last year Ross and I went out with friends picking sloes and damsons.  We used them to make damson whisky and sloe gin.  We ordered mini demijohns from http://www.miniatureglassbottles.co.uk/  who also printed us a set of labels using our design. We bottled it all up and gave them out as wedding favours.

We hired Claire of Amaryllis Events in Ditchling to style Highbrook Village Hall.  After all the pomp and circumstance of The Bluebell we were keen to have more relaxed, understated vintage feel in the evening. Claire interpreted our ideas brilliantly and the hall looked amazing and really cosy.

The cars were organised by Julia Piqué. She used West Hoathly Garage. The cars were 1933 Rolls Royce Phantom and a pre-war Packard.

Advice for other couples… A good wedding planner is worth their weight in gold.


Thanks so so much to Fiona and Ross for sharing their amazing wedding today. Are you considering an unusual location too? XOXO Lou

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