By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
All the festive feels today lovely readers. If you aren’t already in the Christmassy mood, then I can assure you that you will be humming along to your fave festive tune by the end of this feature and quite possibly be tempted to book a December wedding date while you’re at it.
Zoë and Tom were married on the 17th December 2016 and held their reception at Zoë’s family home in Buckinghamshire. A traditional Christmas wedding theme was order of the day, with strictly no tackiness. Think snow style confetti, rich red hues, candlelight and mulled wine to name a few. It was just so festive and magical in equal measure.
A combination of Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy was used to great effect, as well as decorated Christmas trees and wreaths too. Oh and you just have to see the Christmas pud cake tower, it really was a sight to behold. Enjoy it all…
THE PROPOSAL | Tom proposed whilst we were visiting Christmas markets in Vienna, Austria on 12/12/15. We had just been to a gorgeous restaurant and Tom proposed whilst walking back to our hotel in a gorgeous park, surrounded by twinkling white Christmas lights. My engagement ring is a gorgeous, totally unique, chunky and modern ring made by a designer in Brighton (where Tom and I first lived together). A big, cushion cut, pale green aquamarine (our son’s birthstone) with a diamond on either side, set in platinum.
THE VISION | As Christmassy as possible with no tackiness (i.e. no tinsel, tacky Christmas songs, flashing multicoloured lights etc) but lots of candlelight, mulled wine, Christmas carols, greenery, Mistletoe, Holly, Ivy and RED!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Very challenging! Tom is a pilot who was based in Africa at the time, so he’d spend up to 4 weeks at a time away. I was at home planning our wedding whilst looking after our newborn baby Rex! The wedding planning seemed impossible at times.
THE VENUE | St Nicolas Church Taplow, the reception was in a marquee at the home I grew up in down the road.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Maggie Sottero’s Cadence dress with a lace trimmed veil, lace bolero jacket with high, lace collar, Marabou shrug and Charlotte Mills glittery shoes! Kristina Gasperas and Kasia Fortuna from Kristina Gasperas did my hair and make up and they were absolutely amazing and I’d recommend them to anyone. My necklace was by Stella and Dot and bought for me to wear by my friend Anna.
FINDING THE DRESS | Carla and Eva at Windsor and Eton Brides were nothing short of AMAZING. They were the only shop that didn’t make me feel panicked at choosing my dress less than a year before my wedding. I gave birth less than 9 months before my wedding and chose my dress 6 months before. It was not the dress I imagined I’d have, but the dress I’d imagined just didn’t seem to exist anywhere. I loved Angelina Colarrusso dresses (but not the price tags!).
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Tom bought a morning suit so that he could keep it for nostalgia, but he hired the morning suits for his groomsmen from Moss Bros.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Marry Your Best Friend – Anon. A beautiful, unusual reading that ended up being the backdrop to our wedding video teaser. Corinthians 1 was our religious reading. I walked down the aisle to Once in Royal Davids City sung by a soloist with a beautiful voice and the church choir. I wanted to enter to something different! It was magical and very festive. Then we sang Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Joy To The World and
Oh Come All Ye Faithful. We walked back up the aisle to Widor’s Stoccata after we were married. We were also lucky enough to have Oh Holy Night (a favourite from Home Alone!) sung by professional opera singer Peter Auty. An interesting, Christmassy fact is that Peter Auty was the original boy that sung We’re Walking In The Air on the film The Snowman. Aled Jones only sung the song when it was released as a single, but the voice from the film we all watched as a child was Peter’s voice!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My 3 best friends from school, Caroline, Polly and Katherine. Caroline’s daughter Sophie was my flower girl dressed as a Christmas angel! The other 2 were my best friends from drama school, Olivia and Clare. They all wore red skirts from Closet, red velvet shoes from Amazon, which I jazzed up with cream, fur pom poms. Cream tops from the M&S Autograph range, and marabou shrugs that I bought from Windsor and Eton Brides. I had been looking for a good quality cream tops for ages! One morning whilst watching BBC breakfast, the presenter Sally Nugent was wearing the perfect top, I tweeted her and she got straight back to me telling me where it was from! The same morning whilst watching The Olympics Denise Lewis was also wearing an ideal top, so I tweeted her and she got straight back to me too! That top was by Winser but a lot more expensive.
Sophie wore a dress and marabou shrug from Monsoon with gold glittery shoes and tights from H&M. For the bridesmaids gifts I bought them necklaces with gold pinecone pendants, to commemorate the Christmassy day. Golden pine cones were quite a theme at our wedding as they provided the pew end decorations and the name place holders.
THE FLOWERS | The father of one of my bridesmaids Polly, owns a local and very successful company called Windowflowers. They provide all of the floral arrangements and window boxes for all of the top hotels in London (The
Savoy, The Ritz etc). Polly’s sister Sophie works there and I liaised with her and the fabulous team there, and they provided all of the flowers for the bridal party, the buttonholes for the grooms party, plus the Christmas trees, Poinsettia plants, candelabra floristry and wreaths. They also used the giant fir cones my mum brought back from California (and that I sprayed gold and covered with glitter) into amazing pew-ends fastened with red ribbon bows.
THE CAKE | A huge stack of both red velvet and chocolate cupcakes decorated like Christmas puddings! The cupcake stand had a huge cake shaped like a Christmas pudding on top for Tom and I to cut. Lisa from Vanilla Rose cakes created a masterpiece!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Kelly Green from Lola Rose Photography. We searched everywhere and in the end our answer was literally living around the corner from us! Kelly is absolutely lovely, and we barely knew she was there. Our videographer was Matt Willsher from Teardrop Films. He was excellent too and made a video that made everyone cry!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The details are what nearly killed me, however the blood, sweat and tears were worth it as the details were the main thing that our guests spoke about afterwards! In the wedding invitations I painted a map for directions in the style of a treasure map, which I had reproduced and put in each invitation. Guests loved this personal touch. Our invitations were beautiful and created by Papier from my design. It was a wreath consisting of lots of greenery, cinnamon sticks, orange slices, ilex berries, Holly, ivy and mistletoe with large red bows. The wreaths on the invitations and save the date cards were recreated by the florists at our wedding. I searched high and low for confetti that could pass as snow. My specifications were large quantities/plain white with NO COLOURS MIXED IN/circular/small/ biodegradable/that didn’t cost the earth. I ended up buying a huge bag from a film and tv special effects company. I looked into buying fake snow confetti but it seemed disrespectful for the remnants of white plastic snow to be scattered all over people’s graves for months to come! I was thrilled with the effect it created as we were covered in it after we came out of the church!
A “Chill Out” room, which was a separate section of the marquee, complete with a fireplace, mantelpiece with photo frames, Christmas tree with presents, sofas, armchairs, candles, rugs and lamps created an amazing space for guests to relax and chat, and it provided a great view of the dancefloor. The soft drinks were served in milk bottles with red and white polka dot straws, the place name holders were gold sprayed and glittered pinecones, we had crackers as wedding favours. All of the tables were named after the Twelve Days of Christmas. The crackers we had were 12 days of Christmas themed too, so table one had all of the Partridge in a Pear Tree crackers, table two had the Two Turtle Doves crackers etc.
We had a cheese tower for late night nibbles, plus cones of chips brought out by our excellent caterers, Total Hospitality. Instead of just champagne at the welcome reception we had mulled wine too. We had an excellent magician called Dee Riley who could make anyone believe in magic?! Our wedding menu was a duo starter to reflect both mine and Tom’s favourites. Scotch egg with piccalilli for Tom and goats cheese and red onion tart to represent my favourite. Then we had Roast Turkey and all the trimmings followed by “Eton Wick” Mess for dessert as Tom and I live in Eton Wick!
We had a fantastic MC who was Olivia’s husband. He presented a brilliant awards ceremony including prizes (gold star Christmas tree decorations and a bag of golden chocolate coins) for the first people to RSVP, and golden glittery wooden spoons for the last (rude) people to reply and publicly naming and shaming the people rude enough not to RSVP at all?!
We had a beautiful table plan that was a giant advent calendar, with twelve opening windows/flaps for each of the 12 tables. This was made by our friend Jonathan Rolls from Eton Graphics. Jon also printed our order of service sheets, menus and table numbers. The whole marquee was lit by red and cream candles. Each table had a large candelabra with a wreath attached to it, complete with cinnamon sticks, dried orange segments, ilex berries and fircones all made by Windowflowers. The cheese and sweet table had mince pies, bowls of nuts, nutcrackers, a gingerbread house and chocolate coins scattered over it.
We also had the Speak Out game under every table for guests to have fun with between courses (wearing hilariously unflattering mouthpieces)!
THE HONEYMOON | Because of having our small baby son, Rex, we couldn’t go away for too long without him, so we went to Gstaad in Switzerland for a Christmassy, snowy three night mini moon. The hotel was beautiful. It was a brand new, boutique hotel called Huus Hotel. The highlight of the honeymoon was drinking champagne everyday, having cheese fondue with my childhood idol from The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews!! Also the fact that the hotel had over 50 specialist gins!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Our amazing band, a Bob Marley tribute band called Legend. A large curtain hid a section of our marquee and the dancefloor behind it. Tom and I disappeared behind the curtain, the band started playing One Love and our first dance began and the curtain dropped to reveal us, the dancefloor and the reggae band to all the guests! I loved all of the Christmassy music that we had during the drinks reception and whilst we ate. Lots of old classics, Michael Buble, Sinatra and a lovely festive mix. Plus lots of music from our favourite Christmas film EVER, Home Alone! Our wedding car was the most gorgeous car ever!! A vintage, bright red Ford
Mustang! I wasn’t previously fussed about a wedding car, but I saw this in the village where I live one Saturday whilst buying a newspaper and I knew we had to have it?! By coincidence it was from the motor museum in the village where we live, yet had never visited! After our wedding, our car was used for Ronnie and Roxie’s final episode on East Enders in the New Year special episode! The car was Ronnie’s wedding car too (although her wedding had a very tragic end!). Tom’s Land Rover Defender was used to transport all 6 bridesmaids and was even driven by Polly to church! We decorated it with a red and white polka dot ribbon, the mustang had a cream ribbon. I wanted to make sure I said a few words (though Tom wasn’t keen!) I wanted to talk about how amazing my new husband is and I wanted to mention my late sister Josie, who died of breast cancer aged just 28. She loved Christmas and would’ve LOVED our wedding!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t plan a wedding with a tiny baby, or a fiancé who doesn’t work a regular 9-5pm job! Start the theme of your wedding with the stationery. I designed Save The Date cards with Papier, who I then used for our invites and thank you cards.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Food | Total Hospitality
Flowers | Windowflowers
Band | Legend
DJ | Andy Webb
Marquee | Bucks Wigwams
Dress | Windsor and Eton Brides
Videographer | Teardrop Films
Cake | Vanilla Rose Cakes
Hair and Make up | Kristina Gasperas and Kasia Fortuna
Wedding Stationery | Papier
Magician | Dee Riley
Printing | Jonathan Rolls
Wow wee. What a divine celebration.
Zoë and Tom, thanks so very much for sharing your special wedding story with us xo Lou
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