Sunflowers, dotty green dresses, Irregular Choice shoes and an Audrey Hepburn bride

Oh what a beautiful real wedding I have to share with you today shot by the immensely talented Sarah Legge Photography. Sarah captured Fiona and Karl’s stunning day and its quirky, cool details so perfectly, including stunning green dotty bridesmaids’ dresses and a pregnant best man! I’m so happy to be able to share this with you but the bride gave such a brilliant account of it, I think I’ll zip my lip and hand over to Fiona to tell you all about it!

“My lovely bloke and I were married on a very sunny Saturday in September 2011. We rather bravely only visited one venue in our search for the perfect Wedding location. Rothley Court Hotel in Leicestershire was ideal. Though Karl had said he never wanted to get married in a hotel fearing it would be a bit impersonal; Rothley Court felt more like a large gorgeous house than a hotel. As soon as we saw the place we knew it was right for us. It was traditional, English and very quirky. The selling point was most definitely the 11th Century chapel, within which we had a religious Blessing after our not so religious Civil Ceremony. We pretty much had the run of the hotel and grounds, it was wonderful.”

“When Karl and I got engaged we knew our budget would be extremely tight, what with me being a final year student and Karl supporting a final year student, so we picked the most important parts of the day to us and those were the areas we spent most of the budget on. My dress was always something I felt excited about choosing but spending excessive amounts of money on something I would only wear once made me feel queasy. I scoured wedding mags for months before I noticed a tiny picture of a dress for £500, and quickly jotted down the name of the website selling the dress. Ella Mai Bridal was an online store with a boutique in Worcester. The dresses on the website were mainly sample sale dresses and therefore all huge bargains- perfect! There was one that jumped our immediately, named ‘Joanna’, and I put a deposit down straight away. A few weeks late Katrina, the lady who runs Ella Mai Bridal, came to my mother’s home in Loughborough to bring the dress and a few others for me to try with no obligation. The dress was a wonderful fit and I loved it. In all honesty I didn’t have the feeling of finding ‘the one’, but I knew even if I had I would have regretted spending so much money. I loved my dress and hated taking it off at the end of the day!”

“Other than the venue the photography was the most important thing to us. We wanted photos that would be timeless and natural and a photographer we would be comfortable with on the day. Neither of us like having our photos taken so we knew we needed a reportage style photographer. Luckily for us when recently engaged we attended Karl’s best woman’s wedding at Talton Lodge and saw Sarah Legge working her magic. She managed to take one of the best photographs of us we had ever seen and we knew immediately that we wanted to book her. She was worth every penny and more! She went above and beyond to get the best shots of the day and she never missed a moment. In fact it was lovely after the wedding seeing the photos and noticing little moments on the day that we had missed. It has been impossible for us to choose which ones to put on the wall, they’re all so gorgeous! I would recommend Sarah to anyone, she’s a true romantic just what you need for your wedding day.”

All images © Sarah Legge Photography

“As I wanted a bold and iconic style for my hair I was careful not to overdo it on the accessories. I knew I wanted a veil but once again found the prices were often verging on ridiculous. With this in mind I turned to the ever-faithful sight Etsy. There were a few sellers in the US which would happily make you a veil custom to order and I gave my specifications to a lovely seller named abusymother who had the item shipped to me within a few days. Jewellery wise I chose a vintage style and borrowed some beautiful items from my grandmother and acquiring an equally beautiful item from my godmother.”

“My grandma lent me a pair of small gold and pearl earrings and as my something borrowed I wore her engagement bracelet. My grandparents are Spanish and in Spain when you get engaged it is tradition to give the bride a bracelet rather than a ring. It meant a lot to wear the bracelet my grandfather had given to my grandmother and it fit in perfectly with the day. My godmother gave me a beautiful pearl and diamond gold ring, given to her by my late Godfather. The ring was also in keeping with my dress and hair style and once again I was very aware of the history behind the item when I wore it. Aside from this Karl bought me a beautiful gold necklace with a cluster of pearls to unwrap on the day and wear as my something new. As my something blue I attached a tiny Turkish evil eye pin to my garter that Karl gave to me on our first holiday together.”

“My shoes were from Irregular Choice. Though I know the choice is no longer ‘irregular’ they were beautiful and the one part of the day where I thought originality could make way for good common sense! They were a joy to wear, very comfortable and received lots of lovely compliments which is always nice. I also kept a pair of Converse upstairs which I changed into later to allow for some jumping up and down on the dance floor, these too received compliments!”

“Finding bridesmaid dresses in green was no easy feat but we got very lucky after visiting various department stores and a lot of internet scouring when we came across some wonderful polka dot ones in Dorothy Perkins. The dresses were Doll and Frog, a make I’d never heard of but now love. The dresses were perfect. I always wanted to choose something they could wear again, something unusual and something that kept with the fifties/green & yellow theme. All of the girls loved them, which is nothing short of a miracle when you have five very different girls dress shopping! They chose their own accessories and shoes apart from some sunflower earrings I gave them as thank you gifts purchased from Etsy.”

“My hair was done by the wonderful James White of James White Hair, I cannot believe the time and effort he took getting my sisters, my mum and I ready. He really was a godsend, a calming influence on the day, very funny and he was even persuaded to watch the Rugby with my Dad whilst he waited for me to get into my dress! I would recommend him to any bride wanting a hairdresser they can feel comfortable with and can trust to give them a hair style with staying power. My hair style was inspired by the timelessly glorious Audrey Hepburn. I knew I wanted an elegant, traditional do without being predictably bridal and I think James achieved that. I loved my hair and only wish I could have it that way every day, though I’m not sure it would go as well with jeans and a t-shirt…”

“The groomsmen wore their own dark coloured suits with individually sourced green cravats from eBay. They also wore red socks due to Karl’s insistence that Manchester United be at least a small part of the day. Karl’s Best woman wore a black dress and a corsage I made out of the same material as the bridesmaid dresses. Karl went all out with his suit for the day as it was something he would get a lot of use out of after the Wedding day and he couldn’t help but fall in love with a dark grey Ted Baker suit. We cleverly took a trip to Bicester Village, found the suit there and saved a small fortune. It had a wonderful red, paisley lining and fitted him perfectly. He also wore a Vivienne Westwood white three button collar shirt with a dark green cravat, another eBay purchase. He finished off his gorgeous groom look with some Ask The Missus brown suede shoes. I felt very lucky to be walking down the aisle towards such a handsome bloke, and even luckier to be marrying him.”

“Our flowers were part of another make quirky-stay affordable scheme. Karl put together my bridal bouquet with hardly any instruction and produced something far nicer than I had ever imagined. Rustic but classic and filled with sunflowers, the first flowers Karl had ever bought me. Each bridesmaid had a single sunflower with lace tied around the stem. We also bought an extra bridesmaids dress to use some of the material as a wrap around the stems of my bouquet. I also used some of the material to make a corsage for Karl’s best woman. It tied her in with the wedding party though it wasn’t the easiest part of Wedding DIY! I also made button holes and corsages out of small paper sunflowers purchased from John Lewis and some green ribbon. This was an easy DIY job and it was an extra personal touch to our day.

Flowers for the tables were also put together by my lovely other half. He filled small jars and glass milk bottles with a range of flowers from random small flower shops. We had some sunflowers tied to the chairs in the room of our civil ceremony.”  

“Our favours were in keeping with our theme, grow your own sunflowers. We wanted something the guests could take away with them that would remind them of our day. We bought seventy tiny plant pots off the internet and filled them with soil and sunflower seeds we had bought whilst in Barcelona on one of our first trips together. We used wooded plant labels to work as a name place and stuck them in the pots. People seemed to really like them and we’ve been getting a few sunflower updates since the big day. I wanted to do something nice to keep the children entertained so for their favours I bought lime green buckets and attached a luggage tag with their names on. I filled the bucket with a Wedding ‘I Spy’, bubbles, a slinky, colouring books and crayons and tiny wind-up racing insects. They were a huge hit and we had some very smiley children on the day, and very smiley dad’s playing with the gifts!”

“Decor was probably the biggest job on the day. The research and planning was endless. Unfortunately there was a wedding at our venue the day before so I couldn’t set up; I had to hand all the planning and my ‘vision’ for the day to my then fiancé and his lovely best woman. Together they worked to get mountains of bunting and fairy lights up, photographs of us as children and family weddings dotted around, the table plan we had written on to a mirror in a green sharpie, raffia tied around the chairs and sunflower candles dotted all over. Literature was a massive part of our wedding day as I had just completed an English degree and started an MA in Literature this September.”

“With this in mind we made heart shaped confetti out of novels and made paper cones out of novel pages to hold the confetti. We also named each table after a book and used second hand books collected from charity shops as centre pieces, our table was called ‘Great Expectations’. Very fitting. For our guest book we used penguin novel cover postcards purchased from Urban Outfitters and guests propped them under a letter holder with a heart on it that said Mr & Mrs, bought from a tiny gift shop in Sheffield. We had candle holders hanging in the trees outside, solar powered paper lanterns and champagne bottles on the tables with long candles and sunflowers in. On the cake table we had all kinds of pick and mix with white stripped candy bags and yellow napkins stamped with a custom made stamp that said ‘Fiona and Karl, Sweet Love, 17th September 2011’. Overall I think all the little touches came together to make it very much our day.”

Our wedding day was special to me for many reasons but the main one was probably the fact that we had two services, and essentially three sets of vows! After the civil ceremony, within which we said our legal vows and read our own vows to each other, we had a religious blessing. We sang ‘Must Be Love’ by Madness as our replacement hymn and said our religious vows to each other. We also carried out a Spanish tradition, paying homage to my roots, named Las Arras.  Las Arras is the giving of coins by the groom to the bride as a promise that he will provide for and support her. I had mentioned to Karl that I wanted to carry out this tradition but getting hold of Spanish coins was very difficult. As a surprise on the day Karl had arranged for this to be carried out with the coins my grandparents and great-grandparents had married with. There were more than a few tears! As we were married with my great-grandparents wedding rings it seemed all the more fitting. For me it was a day of promising Karl in every way possible that we would be forever. It was awesome.”

“My advice for future brides would be:

 Something that my lovely hairdresser told me; ‘Things won’t go badly. They might go differently, but they will never go badly.’

 Try and find some time just the two of you! After our first ceremony Karl and I left immediately went for a drive in the van completely alone. It was wonderful escaping and gave us a chance to squeeze each other and scream a few ‘yays!’ It was one of my favourite parts of the day.

 Remember that the day is about you and your wonderful other half. The dress dramas, the politics of family and friends, stress and worries will all fall away when you see your best friend waiting for you at the end of that aisle. It is about you two, and that is all. So savour it. Whether everything else goes to plan or not this is the beginning of you two against the world. As we sang in the chapel ‘Nothing more, nothing less, love is the best!’”


Photography – Sarah Legge Photography
Venue – Rothley Court Hotel
Dress – Ella Mai Bridal
Veil – abusymother – Etsy
Shoes – Irregular Choice
Bridesmaids’ dresses – Dorothy Perkins 
Groom’s suit – Ted Baker
Groom’s shoes –  Ask The Missus
Hair – James White Hair
Cake – Cakes by Libby

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