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I thee Wed – Karen and Fraser

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I thee Wed – Karen and Fraser

We at Save the Date magazine love detail. We just can’t get enough of it. From pretty ribbon tied just perfectly around favour boxes to guests being given the opportunity to choose their own music at the wedding, the more detail and organisation, the better in our mind …. so imagine how excited we were when we read the lovely bride Karen’s account of her big day. Detail, detail, detail. Karen literally could not have put an ounce more effort into her wedding if she tried and boy oh boy, was it worth it.

The amazing Rachael Connerton has submitted us these simply gorgeous pictures from the day itself and Karen tells us all about her wonderful wedding planning journey. Over to you Karen:

We got married on Saturday 1st May 2010 at Hart’s Hotel, which is tucked away in a lovely setting on the old castle walls close to the Castle and the centre of Nottingham.

We chose the 1st of May because it’s the date we originally moved in together 12 years ago, and it felt really right to us to get married on the same date.  Plus I love the spring time!  Also Fraser thought it was a great idea, as it would mean he would only have one anniversary to remember from now on….

Fraser finally plucked up enough courage to go down on one knee and propose on a sunny Saturday afternoon in July 2008 and to his great relief I said yes please! So as we sat on the grass in the garden sipping Pimms in a happy daze, we started to discuss possible venues.

It turned out we had very similar ideas, in that it was going to be really important that it should be an intimate relaxed happy day of celebrating that we could share with our children, close family & friends. We love contemporary small boutique hotels and wanted to get married in Nottingham and use local suppliers as much as possible. It also had to be somewhere which could provide really good locally sourced food and wine – something else which we are really fond of!

Hart’s was the ideal venue for us, and we both fell in love with it on our first visit for lunch a few weeks after we got engaged.  We really liked the hotel itself with its beautiful garden overlooking the city and The Park, and the setting for the ceremony and dinner in Hart’s Upstairs with its large Georgian windows was perfect. Plus Hart’s is renowned for its food and wine, so it ticked all the boxes! Kelly, the hotel’s wedding coordinator was great, always happy to spend as much time as we needed discussing all our ideas and also making loads of helpful suggestions.  For instance, when we sent the invites out, we were able to provide the guests with a lovely dinner menu to pre-choose from, which meant on the day everyone’s preferences were catered for, and just in case they might have forgotten what they ordered, we provided individual menu cards which doubled up as place cards.

We were very lucky too, as Kelly recommended a photographer called Rachael Connerton to us, as she thought we would like Rachael’s approach and style of photography.  Rachael and her husband Ian make a great team and were a real pleasure to work with.  They are never intrusive and made everyone feel so relaxed on the day and they made sure all the images captured the spirit of the day and all the happiness of the event perfectly.  The slide show set to music from the wedding playlist was a lovely thing to come home to after the honeymoon and the Queensbury photo album we chose is beautiful.

We had my wedding dress, the bridesmaid dresses and the boys ties all made while I was holiday in June 2009 with my son and daughter in Cambodia, visiting my close friend Jenny.  I didn’t really have anything specific in mind – I just knew that it needed to be full length and have a matching silk coat.  So I asked the designer to design something along those lines, and in between spending time with Jenny and her family and sight seeing we braved the humidity and the chaotic traffic for regular fittings.

The result was an Ivory  3/4 sleeved silk coat, with delicate embroidery around the hem and cuffs, and a full length very fitted dress with pale pink pleated silk organza on the top, a deep embroidered silk waistband, and a skirt with soft layers of silk organza in shades of ivory, soft green and pink. The coat was fitted at the top and cut away from hip level at the front and back to show the bottom of the dress, but the rest of the dress was hidden – the idea being that I could take the coat off later and I would have a different outfit to show off!

The bridesmaid dresses were lovely too, short and very fitted halter neck style in green organza over pink silk for the older ones and the little ones had full skirted 3/4 length ivory & pink silk with a touch of green with  layers of organza which echoed the detail on my dress. I also had an evening dress for the honeymoon and my “going away” outfit made at the same time.   The results were absolutely beautiful!

I was very lucky with my wedding shoes too – by chance I found a lovely pair of ballet type slippers in the perfect matching green & pink silk gauze in Debenhams.  Everyone thought I had had them specially made to match the dress, and they were so comfortable!

All the boys are very particular about their footwear and chose their own.  The end result was that Josh wore green Converses (touch of the Dr Who’s) and there were some rather sparkly black shoes worn by Tom the usher! I thought they looked great.

We wanted the day to include our children and their partners as much as possible, so my son Tom walked me down the aisle, my daughter Maria and my son’s partner, Emily were my bridesmaids and Maria’s fiance Tom and Fraser’s son, Josh, acted as ushers. Also, we were very pleased that my friend Jenny’s grandchildren Jessie and Jaimie were able to travel all the way from Cambodia to be flower girls – in despite of the ash cloud!

We wanted the ceremony to be personal and warm and we asked Emily who has a great voice to sing for us.  So Emily sang Al Green’s Lets Stay Together as we walked down the aisle, and also Waterloo Bridge by Jools Holland while we signed the register – a special song for us (which Emily sang beautifully) because it’s based on a favourite poem of mine by Wendy Cope which I found in a book of British love poems Fraser gave me for Valentines Day a few years ago.  It’s a favourite because it captures perfectly how I felt about Fraser when we first fell in love – very romantic!

Also one of my closest friends Di read an excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and Maria & Josh delivered personal and funny readings – Maria’s was based on a song from The Wedding Singer about growing old together and Josh’s made a plea for lots of hugs and plenty of sweets!   It was very emotional really and we had to stop twice in the middle of the ceremony for Fraser to blow his nose – though his story is that it was a cold he caught in Berlin whilst on his stag weekend that was to blame – not that anyone believed him!  So “blame it on Berlin” became the catch phrase of the day and was frequently alluded to during the speeches!

The cake & table toppers were amazing!   Jess from Green & Stock designed our lovely cake which had blossom trailing down three different coloured tiers and golden love birds sitting on the branches.  We love to travel and wanted each table at the wedding dinner to be named after our favourite destinations.  So Jess came up with the great idea of making an old fashioned signpost to sit on a glass holder on each table, and it was only a short leap from there to creating models of the wedding party to stand underneath the sign post on each table topper. Maria and I had great fun putting it all together, and Jess brought everyone to life perfectly – she is very talented. The guests spent ages going from table to table looking at them, and it was a real pleasure to see the looks of amazement and how much people liked them.  Plus they made great presents afterwards for close friends & family, who still have them on display!

The theme of the day was very spring like so we chose creamy whites, creams, pinks and greens. The flowers were very important to me so we checked out several florists before finding Pam Gibson who is based in Nottingham. I wanted them to be in season, not too formal and have loads of scent and Pam interpreted my ideas and came up with some lovely suggestions. So on the day the venue was decorated with loads of cherry blossoms in a big white glass vase, open wire hearts covered in white or pink hyacinth pips hanging on the walls, long lines of white tulips cascading down the glass of the tall Georgian windows and white & green hydrangea petals scattered all long the edges of the staircase.

I wanted the flowers and the table toppers to be the centre of attention, so looked for something a bit different which would compliment everything else for the tables. I purchased chinese fortune sticks from Cox and Cox all they all had a different fortune printed on them and were tucked into each napkin.   Everyone really enjoyed reading them and comparing what their fellow guests had been given.  Mine said I was going to have an exciting evening!!

When we visited Cambodia the summer before to have our dresses made, we spent a happy afternoon choosing silk pashminas at The Russian market in Phnom Pehn, all in different shades of soft whites, pinks and greens.  The evening before the wedding Maria, Jenny and I sat with a gin & tonic and tied them up with ribbon and attached a thank you card, then placed them in a basket and after the wedding dinner Jessie & Jaimie went round the tables and invited all the ladies to choose one. End result – a lot of happy guests and one very empty basket!

We also bought heart shaped brown sugar cubes to sit on the side of the coffee cups, plus white sugar cubes with pink & red hearts on them from Cox & Cox.  They looked great! Plus I went to Hotel Chocolat in Nottingham and chose loads of lovely chocolates with a pink and white theme. The only problem was I never got to try one – they disappeared like magic!

First Dance – we didn’t want to shuffle round the floor, so we went to The Dance Studio in Nottingham, and Gill patiently worked with us on a dance routine to L.O.V.E by Jools Holland. Despite not enough practice (again blame it on the ash cloud and Berlin) it went really well, with the exception of a few forgotten dance steps! We also asked all our guests to list on the RSVP card their top 3 dancing tracks.  We then asked the DJ to work those into his playlist, and it worked really well – the dance floor was full all night!

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