Posted on April 06 2020
Sarah absolutely loves dancing and as it is a big part of her and Tom's life, it was naturally a big part of their wedding as well. She fell in love with Stephanie dress from one of our previous collections and we used that as a base to create her bespoke dress. The original Stephanie dress skirt is made of three layers of tulle which was not ideal for dancing, at least not for the type of, fast pace, energetic dancing that Sarah and Tom do. We wanted to make sure that she can dance in her dress without any problems and in order to achieve that, we made a big change in the structure of the dress. Read about the process of making her dress below.
- Miina -
How did we meet and how did we get engaged?
My husband, Tom, and I met at a Lindy Hop dance class. As the co-teacher of the class, I have to confess I don’t actually remember this first meeting! We were friends for a few years then eventually, after much hinting on my part, we got together over a pot of tea in Gail’s Bakery. Two years later we got engaged: Tom told me to meet him under the big oak tree in Greenwich Park for a picnic – I was very suspicious! He’d packed all my favourite foods, had got recommendations on champagne, and when I sat down he said there was something he wanted to ask me. He pulled out a little box, started his proposal… just as a large dog came bounding up to us in pursuit of sausage rolls! Once the owner had removed the dog, Tom started again, opening up the little box to reveal a beautiful Art Deco style emerald ring and I said yes. I was then so overwhelmed I couldn’t eat any of the food he’d packed for several hours!
The dress and bridal look
When I started my dress search, I wasn’t sure what type of dress I wanted but I did know how I wanted to feel: sophisticated and stylish. I went to one bridal shop prior to Indiebride where I found a dress I really liked – bohemian in feel but still quite structured – however it was out of my price range. A friend who had bought her wedding dress from Indiebride then recommended them to me, saying it sounded like I would like them. Looking them up, I was impressed to find that Indiebride were local, sustainable and loved the vintage look.
At my initial appointment, I started looking for dresses of a similar style to the one in the first shop but none of them worked so, after another look through Indiebride’s beautiful selection, I picked out the Stephanie dress on a whim. When I tried it on, I was surprised to find, firstly, it was completely different to the style I was looking for, and secondly, I loved it! It made me feel so stylish and sophisticated – it was a touch of old Hollywood glamour with a modern twist.
My only concern was whether I could dance in it – dancing is a huge part of my life and I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to properly hit the dance floor at my wedding! Luckily, Miina is a genius when it comes to alterations. She suggested making the tulle skirt detachable with a lighter, more fitted underskirt so I could move more easily. And when, just weeks before the wedding, I was still worried about the length of the dress, she came up with two further ways to make it shorter when needed – a button inside to pull the skirt up on one side and a loop on the other side to go on my wrist. So clever!
Feeling confident that with these alterations the dress would be beautiful and practical, I choose the Stephanie dress. Over the next six months, I had three fitting appointments – one to get it fitted, the second to check the fittings and make minor alterations, and the third to add in the last-minute alterations for my dancing. Once completed it was simply perfect for me. Choosing the dress then influenced the rest of my bridal look: I wanted a touch of vintage glamour, but without feeling stuffy or old.
Makeup and hair
I knew I wanted my hair to be up and I liked the idea of having a French pleat, but I was worried it might be too slicked back. My hair stylist, Sarah Roberts, was so helpful and understood exactly the kind of look I was going for. Not only did she create the most wonderful, simple, fresh up-do that looked pretty and soft (yet with enough pins and hairspray to cope with my vigorous dancing), she also cut my hair in advance of the big day and created my hairpiece out of a vintage brooch, adding detail to match my shoes.
I chose my make-up artist, Sam Basham, after looking at her website and seeing incredible pictures of people who looked like they had no make-up on at all. I wanted a fresh face but with a bold red lip! Again, Sam understood exactly what I wanted and helped create the right balance of not looking overdone yet having enough make-up to make me look my best and look right in the photos. During my trial we discovered that Sam had also bought her wedding dress at Indiebride!
In terms of accessories, I decided not to have a veil as my dress had such a stunning back it needed to be shown off! Instead, I wore a bespoke vintage headpiece adapted specially to complement my shoes – power pink ‘Amalia’ peep-toes by Rachel Simpson. The shoes were so comfy and, because they had straps, excellent for dancing!
I also wore yellow gold and crystal earrings from Swarovski (mysomething new), a gold necklace with small heart pendant that my godmother had given me at my christening (my something old) and my granny’s engagement ring which now belongs to my cousin (my something borrowed). The ring was particularly special as it had links to the three people I wished could have been at my wedding but who are no longer with us.
As well as the bridal look, I also had to decide on the look for my bridesmaids… of which there were five! My bridesmaids are such amazing but different people, and I really wanted that to be reflected in what they wore. My original idea was therefore to have bridesmaids’ dresses in the same material and colour but in five different designs – not an easy task! In the end I had to have two colours (soft blue and blush pink) but I did get my five designs thanks to ASOS and at a reasonable price. The hardest part was matching the right dress with the right bridesmaid! They were very kind and accommodating and I hope they all got a dress they felt comfortable in. I think they looked stunning and the two colours actually ended up working better than just one.
The groom’s outfit
Tom doesn’t really like clothes shopping so finding his outfit was rather challenging! He decided quickly that he didn’t want to look too formal, so we choose a three-piece suit from Tommy Hilfiger in a bright blue. I then talked him into a pale pink tie (to go with the bridesmaids’ dresses) and brown brogues and he was set. He looked very handsome. The ushers echoed his outfit in similar suits of navy blue, and his best woman looked beautiful in a navy blue dress with lace detail.
We wanted to have the wedding ceremony at our Church, St. James’ Church in Kidbrooke, where my dad happens to be the vicar! I also lived with my parents at the time, so the venue was literally outside my front door. This led to us wanting to keep everything as local as possible: hiring a marquee to go in the Church grounds for the wedding breakfast and using the Church hall for the evening celebrations.
Our Church building is really beautiful, with sky-blue ceiling and stained-glass windows, so I knew I wouldn’t have to do much to make it look its best. The main decoration we did was to hang two 13m white and green fake floral garlands, hired from Friend of Faux, down the pillars in the Church so they ran parallel to the aisle. This was quite a challenge, but I had my mum on side to convince my dad it was worth the effort! After much discussion about hooks and rope, and Friend of Faux helpfully preparing the garlands so they arrived already in the 13m lengths, we managed to put them up and they looked so great!
We also had fresh flowers in two pedestals on the raised chancel. Our friend from Church put them together and they were stunning – she managed to find so many different types of flowers and foliage in the same pale shades of pink and blue to match my bridesmaids dresses, plus in white to match mine, and put them together with a soft, romantic feeling to bring the whole look together.
Another friend made the bouquets, buttonholes, and table decorations – she worked so hard and they looked incredible. Again, she used pinks and blues with a romantic, elegant feeling – each of the bridesmaids got a bouquet in the opposite colour to their dress and I had a mixture (my something blue). She used flowers of different heights to amazing effect with the table decorations; with 160 guests there were a lot of vases to fill!
Food and cake
We cut and served our cake, along with Prosecco, straight after the service because we wanted everyone who attended our wedding, whether or not they were staying for the wedding breakfast, to be part of the celebrations. A friend made our three-tier fruit cake which he decorated beautifully with sugar flowers, and other guests made a multitude of different cakes to feed the crowd!
The wedding breakfast was delicious – made and served by the incredible events team from Hand Made Food, based in Blackheath. We chose a served buffet of lamb with new potatoes and seasonal vegetables, followed by mini brownies and pavlovas for dessert. It was scrumptious!
As we met in a Lindy Hop class and swing dancing plays an important part in both our lives, Tom and I really wanted a swing band to play in the evening. The Old Fountain Jazz Orchestra were outstanding – we had seven musicians including trumpet, clarinet and amazing singer. It was particularly special to perform our first dance with them to their up-tempo version of “Cheek to Cheek”.
Our photographer was Kirsten Mavric of Mavric Photography. She was so lovely, putting us completely at our ease in the portrait shots and being almost invisible during the day yet taking beautiful, elegant photographs which really captured the feeling of our wedding.
Most special moment in your wedding?
We had asked two close friends and my mum to write special prayers for us on our wedding day, so hearing them prayed in the Church, just after we’d been declared husband and wife, was really special.
What advice would you give to brides planning their wedding?
I thought once I’d made all the decisions about the wedding, the plan was sorted. Oh no! Be prepared for things to change up until the day – we had a storm about two weeks before the wedding hitting one of the trees in the Church grounds which then had to be cut down and changed where we put the marquee!
Friends also told us to take a few moments throughout the day to stop and take in what’s going on around you – all these people are here because they love you, it’s something incredibly special. I’m very grateful I took this advice as when I look back now, as well as the crazy, colourful, wonderful blur of our wedding day, I can also picture a few really clear beautiful moments.
- Sarah -