A London station wedding - report 9th September 2017

Hi all! Like many here, I didn't get round to doing a planning thread but I am going to do a report to pass on a few words of wisdom and share some of our lovely memories, as I got a lot of very useful advice and support here and hope some of this might be useful to others.

INTROS

Names: Alex and Niall

Backstory: We met at N's first wedding (his late wife sadly had cancer when they married), became friends through his wife, went through the very tragic stage of losing her, continued to be friends, and a decent amount of months later realised we were just meant to be together. I'm no spring chicken but I've never really been in love properly before, and it was the rightest of all the right things.

After just over a year together he proposed, one morning at home, and we decided to get married within 12 months to allow us time to lose weight (ha!) and organise and plan for the event, but not to hang around too much (life is too short).

WEDDING VENUES

We had a civil ceremony at St Pancras Station in London, on the upper level by the Betjeman statue (it's part of Searcy's champagne bar and a licensed venue). After a champagne reception there we moved on to a pub in Primrose Hill, the Princess of Wales, for the wedding breakfast and then the evening reception.

Key details out of the way, let's go back to the few weeks before the wedding.....

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  • As posted on the laid-back wedding thread I had decided that I'd do the buttonholes in advance (using artificial flowers, feathers and ribbon), and that then turned into also making a table decoration and my own bouquet, and then my bridesmaids decided they'd also like flowers, and then we remembered the mothers might also want corsages, so I did the lot. This was a brilliant stress-saving idea: I had plenty of time to get it wrong, try again, order more flowers (twice, as it happened), and if all else had failed get some professional help (unnecessary, but built in time just in case). As it happened, I'd got all the flowers finished two weeks beforehand. I had a lot of fun with my new glue gun, and the only stressful part was doing the peacock feathers on the buttonholes as the fronds kept breaking - I'd ordered masses and we were down to the last two.

  • Some photos, hopefully...

    Buttonholes and corsages

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    My flowers:

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    Bridesmaids' flowers
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  • Wibs77Wibs77 Posts: 414

    Yay i love a report.

  • It was a good feeling knowing that particular job was finished, and it made things much easier on the day as nobody had to go and pick anything up. We were also able to box up the buttonholes and corsages and distribute some of them the day before the wedding so everything was where it needed to be on the day. I honestly think N would have had a meltdown trying to remember who needed what, but we could do it all ahead of time. The flowers all sat in a box for several weeks, I was just hoping that nothing would fall out! (more on that later....)

    Table plan turned out to be surprisingly fiddly. Luckily we didn't have any major dropouts, but the pub changed their minds on the numbers on each table quite late in the day (and they were right to - original idea had been a bit ambitious about one table and they were quite squashed in when it came to it after we rearranged) but while it was a bit stressful doing it the week beforehand, I think any earlier would have led to a lot of swearing and redoing of things. We printed everything the week of the wedding and finally glued it all down a couple of days ahead of time - fairly simple large piece of blue card with white card for each table with a table name and guest names around the edge. It was a work in progress for a good few months, and the last minute fiddling about was annoying but necessary.

    We also decided on using old CDs as the place settings, and that was a fiddly job done about ten days beforehand - choosing the music was the hardest bit as each guest got something 'appropriate' (good, funny, or silly). CD covers used as table names was a last minute decision with the glue gun put to good use again to glue the CD cases onto other CD cases so they'd stand up. Everyone found their seat so I assume that all worked - and I remembered to ask N to mention it in his speech to not totally baffle our guests.

    So, everything done, you'd think....

  • W-2


    It was all going very swimmingly at this point, and I think we got a weeny bit complacent before remembering we also had to pack for the honeymoon as we were leaving the day after the wedding. We stayed the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding on a canal boat, where N got ready on the morning while I went home to get ready there, and we hadn't really appreciated that meant everything at home had to be completely ready for the day after. My parents were arriving that evening too, which took up all our remaining free time!

    I had sneaked a bit of time during the day to finish things off like glueing the seating plan and marshalling stuff everywhere. It was an added complication having the two venues and also N needing to be on the boat from Friday afternoon, and it got rather fiddly, so we drew a plan (with pictures) to try to help us get a handle on it. And then drew it all again when we had some major insights about trying to avoid many journeys. 

    Stuff marshalled and labelled, we went out for a nice relaxing dinner. My parents live abroad so it was nice to have a bit of time with just them before everything went a bit mad the next day.

     

  • Looking forward to this x

  • W-1 part 1

    This was the most stressful day of the entire wedding planning operation - especially for N, who was staying on the boat that night so needed his wedding outfit and accessories. In the morning he drove my dad over to the pub armed with all the decorations (a surprising amount in the end, we had twinkly lights, balloons, ribbon and weights, flowers and cake decorations, a massive plate for the cheese, a box of the CD place settings, sparklers, toiletries for the ladies' loo - a fab idea I gleaned from here).

    While they were doing all that, my mum and I went off for a manicure. Not a thing either of us usually do, but we had planned it to spend a bit of time together beforehand, and went to a local place that gives you a glass of fizz which was quite welcome to calm the nerves! As I hadn't mentioned when booking what it was for, my mum had the salon owner who did a marvellous job and I had a less experienced technician who managed to nick the cuticle on my ring finger! Luckily I'd chosen a raspberry colour so it didn't show.

    We then ditched my parents for the afternoon and went off to St Pancras to meet our photographer. My MOH had suggested him after our first one dropped out - he's an old friend of hers and a professional destination wedding photographer, living in Budapest so as we were left a bit in the lurch with about 5 months to go we booked him without having met him. More on that later - the photos are great but I think we should have spent a bit longer that day explaining what we wanted him to do on the day. We were in quite a rush though - also dropped off table flowers and ushers' gifts and buttonholes at the venue so they would have them all in the morning (the ushers were gathering there), grabbed some lunch, and headed home.

    This was the most stressful bit - we had about an hour to gather up all our things and the one thing N should have finished way sooner which was his printed-out speech. Despite being a great computer whizz online he's not used to printing or Word or things like that, and there was a lot of shouting at the computer and the printer while I was doing my best to gather the rest of our stuff up and calm him down a bit. So, first top tip: don't leave any computer-related things to the last minute!

  • W-1 part 2

    From here on it was a lot more fun. We met our boat owners and the lovely boat, and safely deposited all the important things there before heading back to the pub to have our final meeting with the planner. We had managed to have the cheese delivered straight to the venue (thank you, Neal's Yard Dairy, wonderful service!) but the venue had forgotten that some of it needed refrigeration, so we rescued that, explained the last details to our wonderful organiser, and were finally able to sit down and relax. N's best man and his wife (N's sister) and a great friend visiting from overseas joined us there for a drink, we then popped back to the boat for a quiet glass of champagne on our own, and then we went out for dinner with all the families (meeting each other for the first time).

    Top tip 2: make sure you plan a bit of time for actual relaxation the day before if you can. We should have had a couple of hours, but due to the usual things slipping we only had an hour but it was one of the nicest memories of the build up just sitting on a boat with a drink, playing music, listening to the world go by.

    The evening dinner was a really nice occasion. My parents live abroad and N's mum lives out of London so they hadn't met before. There were 9 of us in all as N's mum also invited his sister and husband (best man) and his cousins (also staying with us) but we were all sat down a long table so it wasn't too overwhelming, and we managed to get the parents sat together. Somewhat ill advisedly we all decided it would be the right night to get a little drunk (as opposed to the next day), so many wines were consumed and we headed back to the boat a little later and more worse for wear than we had planned, but having had a really fun night. I think it was helpful as we had been so busy and stressed during the day, and we both slept pretty soundly.

    We'd been wondering about whether staying on the boat was making things unduly complicated - it was only a few miles from home and from the wedding - but from the Friday afternoon we both felt it was worth it as the stressful parts were all over and from then on it was just a question of enjoying ourselves. I wouldn't have wanted all that hassle on the wedding day and it was quite satisfying knowing the bulk of our organising was done. I was also glad I was getting ready at home, as it meant I didn't have to try and plan myself and my stuff along with N and his.

  • This is our lovely boat:

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    And its view:

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  • Loving your report so far! The venues sound amazing, can't wait for photos. Also love the canal boat, what a change from the norm. You did a fab job with the flowers, they look amazing. 

  • Thanks, VegasLou. I was particularly proud of the flowers as I've never done anything like that before, and didn't think I had the crafty gene. But it was surprisingly easy and I would definitely recommend it to people who want to do things ahead of time like me or on a budget with fresh flowers.

    We started looking for hotels for our wedding night, including the St Pancras Grand, but it was silly money for basically somewhere we wouldn't be for long. The canal boat was a real find - and we nearly lost it, due to council licensing issues, but it was definitely a big part of the wedding. It was stumbling distance from our evening venue, which was the real point!

  • Wedding Morning

    So, with a raging hangover, 9am came around and it was time to get up and say our goodbyes and for me to go home and start getting ready. It was a lovely sunny morning, and I knew my MOH (who was doing my hair) would be running late, so I decided to walk the 2.5 miles home to cure the hangover and clear my head. Beautiful bonus views of London from Primrose Hill and some lovely puppies out walking with their owners, which really helped lift my spirits.

    I had a panicky phone call from MOH on the way, wanting my address so she could get a cab over (it's about 12 miles across London and would have cost her a bomb), so I reassured her not to worry about being a bit late and promised to keep an eye out for an evening bag for her en route... She isn't the best organised person (!) and I was way calmer than her throughout the morning, which wasn't a great surprise! I found her a clutch bag in a charity shop, got myself home and had a shower, and waited for the mayhem to commence.

  • Diversion 1: Bridesmaids

    (As I didn't have a planning thread there are some details to add in here before we continue!)

    I had three bridesmaids including my MOH. I began with four, but number four decided after I'd started buying things for them that she didn't really want to be up there with the others and have to wear certain things so we had an amicable conversation and decided it would be better if she just came as a guest. All my bridesmaids are great friends of mine, obviously, but very different people - and they didn't know each other very well, although have heard about each other for a few years. MOH is super organised at work, but I have heard stories about her as a bridesmaid before and had quite realistic expectations about how it would work. She was great in lots of situations and organised some lovely things for the hen do, but I was the one who decided on and booked the venues etc. (not a problem, just playing to our respective strengths!). The other two are lovely friends. One has been a bridesmaid lots of times and was really good at offering advice about outfits (we went dress shopping together and I ran all my accessories and makeup by her) and the other I knew would be enthusiastic but not super reliable (she is the one that was still choosing her dress 10 days before the wedding).

     

  • Diversion 2: The dress

    I knew from the word go I wasn't going to choose a traditional wedding dress, but I did try a fair few on just to please everyone else. I even spent a bit of time thinking about the idea of a brightly coloured dress, possibly emerald green - in the end, I chose that for the bridesmaids. N is quite traditional and he made a few noises early on about how he would probably prefer something a bit more traditional, and I remember having done photos for a couple of friends' weddings myself that the light/dark contrast of white/cream/ivory vs dark suit really works when it comes to the photos, so I was aiming at a light dress. My mum kindly told me that 'at my age', a big white dress wouldn't be appropriate.... it wasn't even on my radar, but I almost did it just to annoy her! 

    Apparently 2017 is the year of the high street wedding, according to some fashion blog or other, so I started in Ted Baker (whose dresses were lovely, but far too heavy or fussy for me), Monsoon (not a great experience, the sales assistant was a bit brusque and told me I looked awful in a fair few of them), and Phase Eight (who apparently required an appointment and then when it came to it were fine with us just wandering in). I also went to Wed2Be after browsing online, and they were really helpful. But nothing was really floating my boat, so I kept looking on the high street and online as well as in charity shops (and Oxfam Online, which has lots of good stuff but just nothing came up in my time window).

    After a lot of looking I found a really beautiful LK Bennett cream dress which I knew would suit my shape - A line, sleeveless, just-above-ankle length and nicely fitted. My MOH suggested having it altered to a V back as well as V front neckline, which was a brilliant idea that really transformed it from high street dress you might wear to work to something more interesting, and I hunted high and low for some 'bling' to make it more wedding-like.

    I knew I wanted dangly earrings and that a necklace as well would be a bit much, so I was really pleased about 3 weeks before the wedding to finally find an antique brooch on a vintage market stall that really worked to make the dress more dressy. I must have bought about five different neckline options before finding that so another top tip: if you're not happy with your accessories keep looking, you will probably find something that works better (and keep receipts so you can return the unwanted things!).

    One more top tip: if you take something to be altered, take photos and make sure they are aware of the condition of it beforehand. I took the dress to a highly rated alteration place near me and they did a great job of the alteration, but gave me the dress back with dirty marks on it. They then denied it was them and said it was like that when I brought it in (it was completely not, it was brand new from the shop, not even tried on). One dry clean later in another place later it was all good, but that was a stressful couple of weeks wondering if I'd have to start all over.

    Having not splashed out on the dress I went a bit mad on the shoes and had some Emmy of London custom made ivory suede stilettos with fan embellishments. I originally ordered a matching hair comb, but when it came it was a bit disappointing so I now have a credit note to spend on more of their lovely shoes. The shoes were gorgeously comfortable and I managed a good 8 hours in them before abandoning them for silver flip flops. I had tried really hard on the high street but just couldn't find something that was comfortable enough as well as fitting the style of the dress, and I don't regret that money at all. They can be dyed (I'm still not sure what colour would work best for me) so I will definitely wear

  • .... them again. Final piece of the puzzle was the feather wrap that weatherwaxe pointed me to a week or so ahead of time, which was utterly perfect - photos to follow. The alternative Light in the Box fur one I ordered from China didn't arrive till after the wedding anyway, and wasn't anywhere near as nice, so I was really happy about that. And finally a cheap glittery hair comb and evening bag from Accessorize which completely did the job I wanted (the bag never saw the light of day on the wedding as it got put in a larger one and forgotten about, but I've used it on honeymoon). In the end it was a great mixture of really nice things but it took a while to get the balance right.

    I also went to Rigby and Peller for wedding underwear. A work friend of mine recommended them back in 1991 when she was getting married, and I'd kept that nugget of info in my brain ever since (and sent lots of other people to them, but never been myself). A nude bra in a style that was so nice I bought a couple more for everyday use in black, and some shapewear which I wasn't sure I'd need but in the end didn't quite lose the weight I hoped for and the extra support was really useful given I wasn't wearing a very structured dress. 

    So that's my outfit all planned.....

  • And then hair and makeup. I decided early on I'd do my own makeup as I barely wear much and have super sensitive skin, so didn't want any last minute streaming eyes or itchy face. I tried out lots of foundation options like BB cream, blur, and tinted moisturiser and found a good combination that worked. I had a Bobbi Brown lesson, bought their stick eye shadow which was utterly brilliant and lasted all day, and picked up a few other bits and pieces, including waterproof mascara which was an absolute essential. Max Factor Lipfinity was my choice for lipstick - more on that later, but it was brilliant.

    Hair I really wasn't sure about, but I had a series of dramas ending up with my hairdresser getting the sack a few weeks before the wedding (and a totally new stylist doing my final colour) and in the end I had already decided to go with my MOH's offer to do an updo. We did four trials over two separate occasions and I was absolutely happy with what she could do, so thought it would really help to have a chilled out morning getting ready at home rather than faffing about with a salon visit.

  • I wish I knew someone who could do hair, I really don't fancy the whole stranger in my hotel room thing, but no one I know has any talent in that area! So jealous of your Emmy shoes, I think Emmy does the most gorgeous shoes but probably out of budget range for me! 

  • On the hair, it was my MOH who volunteered to give it a go, and we agreed that if neither of us felt happy I would get a pro. Do you have a friend who does good things or takes care over her hair? It is much easier to do someone else's than your own, and while I may not have had the most professional do it suited me just fine and worked well for the day. Or perhaps you don't need someone to do it?

  • MrsS85MrsS85 Posts: 688 New bride

    Loving your report Lexie, looking forward to hearing more, Did you hire the canal boat for a few days? its gorgeous,

     

  • Thanks to everyone reading! It's quite good to stretch it out a bit, and I've also got to that point where I want to put up some proper photos and need to resize them.... We had a 2 night minimum stay on the boat, and really wanted it for the wedding night, so we decided to take the night before as well. Originally N was going to stay there with his best man (there were two bedrooms) and I was going to stay at home, but we changed our minds quite early realising that we could have a lovely night beforehand just to ourselves and also that his best man would probably rather stay with his wife that night. It was nice to have the accommodation and bags and things for the morning after the wedding all sorted the day beforehand, and it was such a lovely spot and an unusual place to be, it really added something special.

  • This is me looking somewhat dishevelled (plus bonus stranger) at the top of Primrose Hill on the wedding morning. I was really pleased I had the time to do the walk, despite the problems it caused later!

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  • Wedding prep part 1 - Bride

    In all my efforts to be as chilled out as possible on the morning I think I was trying a bit too hard to not be stressed, which was helpful as my MOH was in a right tizz. She was late, my hair wasn't dry, and we had a few other things that needed doing before beginning on my hair anyway, so we sat down with a glass of prosecco and ran through the order of things. Shortly afterwards my other two BMs turned up. MOH was dressed and made up but hadn't done her hair. BM2 came straight from the hairdresser and had done makeup but wasn't dressed. BM3 was dressed but hadn't done any hair or makeup as she doesn't normally bother. None of us had had lunch and everyone was quite giggly but nervous - I felt like the calmest person there.

    So we got started on my hair, after I'd changed into something easily undoable (tip for wearing a shirt or wrap dress came from here and was invaluable) and after we had opened the prosecco to calm everyone's nerves. What amazes me is that the four of us all love a drink and over the next 90 minutes we didn't manage to finish the first bottle. That was MOH and I tied up for the next hour - and it didn't go too smoothly, and she was stressing hugely about not getting it right. The only part of the hairdo we hadn't practised was the front - she wanted me in rollers and with a really bouffy front part but I know my hair doesn't hold and would annoy me. In the end, she pinned up rather too much from the top round the back and I didn't have much to work with at the front, so it wasn't perfect, but it was a fancy wedding updo and I was perfectly happy with it. It held really well - that was something we had practiced like crazy, almost no tweaking required.

    OK, these pictures are going to require some more complex resizing than I thought, so here's a hair pic and I will do more later.

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  • Lexie2017Lexie2017 Posts: 189

    N probably had the most chilled out morning imaginable, quite a contrast to mine. His best man arrived about 11ish, they went out for some food and a cocktail, popped back to the boat and got to get changed, and were met by the photographer at about 12.30. They took some getting ready pictures and then hopped in a cab off to the station, about a hour before our ceremony, so they were able to make sure all the ushers had their buttonholes and gifts and knew what we wanted them to do, check on flowers and put reserved signs on the seats, and then had lots of time to meet and greet all the guests as they arrived. N said he made a real effort to say hello to everyone, even the few people he hadn't met yet, and I think that was really appreciated. It was also a bit of bonding time with his best man (his sister's husband) and they got to know the photographer a bit more too!

    Our photographer was a friend of my MOH's but she hadn't seen him for several years, so it was a chance for them to catch up a bit over the weekend. He normally does destination weddings - nice job! www.diegovegaphoto.com. He is based in Budapest, but will travel!

    We were quite light on what we wanted in terms of formal shots and just let him get on with it, but he offered to do getting ready shots too and I definitely didn't want that with my lot - our house is too small and it was already stressful enough without having another person there. The boat was a lot more photogenic and he got some lovely pictures.

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  • Lexie2017Lexie2017 Posts: 189

    The guys saved their buttonholes till they arrived at the venue, which was a good thing - the peacock fronds that I mentioned before that were really fragile didn't survive the whole night, and I'm sure if they had worn them for a few more hours they'd have been damaged by the ceremony! Just a tiny pity that they aren't all properly dressed up in these pictures though.

    Meanwhile, we were going to have ages to take photos and so on at the house, but we were all in such a rush nobody actually remembered till we were just about to leave. Here is my lovely MOH working magic on my hair:

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    my dream team all ready to go, with bonus mum's arm - my parents decided to turn up early so they had to sit there while we finished all the getting ready stuff, trying not to get in the way!

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    Then we remembered they had flowers too!

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    And finally, me on my balcony when we had nearly finished my hair. I decided after these pictures that the front needed pinning up as it would annoy the crap out of me in seconds, and my hair never holds a curl, so this wasn't quite the finished look (and obviously these are terrible iPhone pictures, not the professional ones!).

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  • Lexie2017Lexie2017 Posts: 189

    The cars had arrived on time, but we were no way close to being ready. Luckily the drivers were quite chilled out about it and prepared to wait as long as we needed them to, which was a complete bonus and really calmed me down. After my hair was done I then had about 10 minutes to do my makeup, which was just about enough but I'd have liked a bit less rush as I was getting quite nervous and my hands were shaking - mainly just because I was worried about time. We had bought food but didn't get to eat very much of it due to the rush, and I didn't want to eat after finishing my makeup. My parents were sort of getting in the way and this was my least favourite part of the whole day - I had to be calm for everyone else not to panic, but I felt a bit manic by the end of it and had to do some serious breathing to calm down in the taxi.

    We had two Addison Lee drivers to take us to the station, the three bridesmaids in one car and me and my parents in the other. They were lovely, and my parents just chatted to them while I got myself together. I think I'd imagined it would be a lot calmer and I'd have some quality time with my parents on the way, but that really didn't happen. I was also getting a bit stressed about the traffic - Saturday afternoon is a bit unpredictable. We did leave masses of time (I thought we would be there super early with time to sit and have a drink or take lots of photos, but we lost about half an hour somewhere). Still, when we arrived there was a bit of faffing about so I did get some time with my dad before the ceremony. More later as I have work to catch up on now!

  • MrsS85MrsS85 Posts: 688 New bride

    Lexie your dress is beautiful and your bridesmaids look lovely too.

     

  • EpiphanyEpiphany Posts: 718

    Ooh I'm enjoying your report Lexie - love everything so far! :) 

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