Since the beginning of 2018 I have been ridiculously busy running Swan Parties, juggling being a working mum and planning my May wedding! The lists have been endless and just kept getting longer and longer.
With the help of my wedding planner, Keeley at Make Events (and Paul of course!) the energy and execution of my checklist made the planning process fun and less stressful. Everything from table plans, to entertainment, to flowers, and my dress had to be a military operation in the countdown to the big day.
There is no right or wrong way to plan or prepare a wedding but here are the things I did with my bridal team;
Venue hire and location
We picked our venue the week after we got engaged. Paul knew exactly where he wanted to get married and when we visited Colshaw Hall for the first time, I fell in love with it. It offers a 7 bedroom stately home, 8 double bedroom cottages within the grounds, a wedding chapel, wedding breakfast event space, an orangery and a Pavillon. We hired the whole venue for the day so we could also accommodate all our close family and friends.
Our caterers are local Cheshire company, Barretts Catering who have not only provided us with an amazing menu but helped us design something bespoke. We decided on a refreshing parma ham salad to start, a main of fillet beef with truffle mac & cheese and a tian of vegetables, and to finish us all off a gooey chocolate brownie with white chocolate sauce! We also wanted the event to have offerings of canapes before the ceremony and in the late evening, just to keep everyone’s energy levels up. We opted for mini fish and chips, and jerk chicken sliders, a subtle nod to mine and Paul’s heritage of British and Caribbean flavours.
We had a little blip with our first photographer, but I believe everything happens for a reason because the photographers we chose to capture our special day were a husband and wife duo Tobiah and Laura Tayo. I was always advised to have two photographers to gather a collection of moments from different angles so we were super happy to have found them. We opted for a 35 min photo shoot with the bridal party, grooms party and close family, then to capture candid shots throughout the day. That way we would have an eclectic range of images.
I took this role on myself, as I love to get creative. My save the dates, and invites were all designed by myself on Vistaprint, with the help of a caricature artist who did a fabulous cartoon of Paul and I that we used on all our stationary. With our wedding being Nikki Beach themed, I wanted to do our wedding favours and table decor with beach pebbles, each with our guests name on them for table place settings and as a keepsake. I found an amazing lady on Etsy who not only designed these in the Nikki Beach font, but individually wrapped each one of the 140 pebbles in a beautiful pouch filled with silver love hearts!
I came across our florists on Instagram and immediately fell in love with them. I didn’t need to shop around, I knew this company was the only one I wanted to use. Red Floral Architecture display floral designs like I have never seen. The attention to detail and the creative flair they have was exactly what I wanted to capture on my wedding day. We chose plinth and cylinders of floating candles, with white orchids. I scented my wedding with Jo Malone and had Lime Basil & Mandarin linen spray infused on the table cloths, flowers and I of course, wore it on the day!
Entertainment & AV
The entertainment was a huge factor for our wedding and in fact it was the most costly! We wanted a party, a big party and wanted to show our guests an unforgettable night to remember. The ceremony had to be romantic and capturing, so we hired a live choir to sing some of our favourite songs, including my aisle song ‘Kissing You’ by Desiree. We love the Nikki Beach vibe every time we visit so we hired a violinist/bongo/sax/DJ who lifted the energy with sexy house instrumentals. The main event was after our wedding breakfast, we booked Michelle Heaton, Angie Brown, Shola Ama and Phats & Small to perform all evening to really give our guests a treat!
Most wedding venues are very bare, a blank canvas so furniture hire was a must for us. I wanted to make sure the chairs in the suite were Nikki beach themed so I designed chair bands to make them look exactly like the ones in the restaurant. We hired white day beds and four poster beds from Rio Furnishing in Essex with orange beach towels for the outside area with comfort blankets, shisha pipes and a prosecco table. Nikki beach is coming to Cheshire!
Accommodation & Hospitality
With our wedding venue only being able to accommodate 30 guests, we allocated rooms at nearby hotels for our guests to stay. We arranged a full English breakfast with our house guests and a BBQ brunch the next day for all our other guests which would be a great hangover cure and down time to catch up on all the wedding gossip.
The attention to detail is my OCD, having Jo Malone candles to scent the chapel and the dining suite, a donuts wall of Krispy Cremes for guests to enjoy with a glass of bubbles, a make up pop up station for ladies to get a cheeky top up throughout the night, and a personalised media board and red carpet for our guests to take selfies and photos. All of these elements create little wow factors through the night and ever so memorable in the future.
My glam quad were ladies who I have known and trusted for almost ten years, Hair By Rhonda and Sam at the Glambox. With my girls by my side, I know I will feel like a princess on my special day. I had so many make up and hair trials ahead of my big day, as I needed to make sure I felt my best. My girls didn’t let me down as I loved what they created. Rhonda hair curled all my hair with a side parting which is very me and when I feel most comfortable. I had three bundles of Brazilian hair extensions which my hairdresser Paix sewed in a few weeks before with some accents of dark caramel highlights. Sam did my make up with peachy tones to give me a natural soft glam look, highlighting my best features.
Accessories & Nightwear
Finally finding all the other little additions such as underwear, nightwear and accessories was just as important. I choose Victoria’s Secrets for underwear, loungewear and nightwear. Anyone who knows me know that I’m terrible at buying decent (and matching!) underwear so this was a real treat and step in the right direction since I was soon going to be a married woman!
One thing I do spend a small fortune on is shoes, so they had to be perfect. I love Jimmy Choo as they are so comfortable. I have gone off Christian Louboutin as I just cannot walk in them and didn’t want to end up with blisters on my wedding day. However, none of their bridal shoe collections were enticing me. I have always wanted a pair of Sophia Webster shoes as I love the butterfly designs. When I came across her bridal collection, I immediately fell in love with the white and silver Ciara shoes. When they arrived I got so emotional because they were perfect. My dress has hints of silver and gold in the fabric and the shoes were pewter and white. I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect pair and more importantly I could wear them in the Summer with a pair of jeans or evening gown!
My dress was a masterpiece, as I designed it from scratch with my dress designer and friend Nadine Merabi and we only start the process in February. I was in her showroom every week for 9 weeks adding and tweaking the design applique by applique. I was inspired by a Galia Lahav and Pronovia dress which was a sleek fitted bridal gown with a detachable skirt. The skirt gives would give it the Cinderella look for my entrance down the aisle and the fitted gown for hitting the dancefloor. The fabric took 6 weeks to make in India and the designing took 9 weeks so it felt like a lifetime, but super exciting to say I created my wedding dress! My bridesmaid dresses were also from the same designer, as I wanted them to look and feel fabulous too.
There are so many people to thank and gift ahead of the big day, I wanted to make sure everyone got something special. We didn’t want to make a fuss at the ceremony but gift them privately with a lovely thank you note for all the help, support and time they have taken to give me and Paul a wedding to remember!