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Gemma & Paul’s Wedding Playlist
Processional: Ave Maria by Leona Lewis
Hymn: Amazing Grace
Signing of the Registers: Classical strings instrumental music
Recessional: Everything by Michael Bublé
Second Dance (Father & Daughter): Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton (performed by Hipster)
“When we left the church to go to the venue, we got stuck in loads of traffic… it was really nice for me and Paul to have that time together.”
“The band – every single song – I didn’t want to leave the dancefloor!”
Gemma met Paul in a Hertfordshire nightclub in 2014, but their initial encounter wasn’t too smooth – with Gemma claiming to have a boyfriend and Paul claiming to be a fireman... and then knocking his drink all over her! Gemma giggles as she explains, “I took his number and messaged him... and then he found out that I didn’t have a boyfriend, and I found out he wasn’t a fireman! We arranged to meet up again, and we hit it off.”
Paul popped the big Q in Dubai two years later, for Gemma’s 30th birthday, while dining at the Armani restaurant by the Burj Khalifa. “We went out on the balcony to see the fountains, where he got down on one knee and proposed. As soon as we kissed, the water fountains shot up in the air – he couldn’t have planned it any better! I kind of expected him to propose, but I was still shocked when it happened... I cried and I actually forgot to say anything!”
Their big day was planned for one year later, on 22 September 2017.
“Our style was relaxed and intimate... there wasn’t anything over-extravagant. Although we had it in a barn venue, it wasn’t ‘rustic’ – just classic.”
Likewise, wedding photographer, Lily Cox from Lily Lane Photography aimed to reflect that clean style in their images. “Gemma and Paul were complete naturals in front of the camera and hardly left each others side for the whole day! I wanted to complement their classic and very elegant style by capturing their day with plenty of bright and fresh photos.”
When choosing your photographer it’s so important to do your research and find a style that really suits you. It may be tempting to go for a photographer that suits your budget rather than your style. However, your photos are the one thing that you can look back on in future years and remember the happy memories and moments, so make sure they’re captured in a way that’s perfect for you.
Your photographer will want to capture the best possible photos for you, so once you’ve found your perfect photographer ask lots of questions and explain your vision and plans for your wedding. Some of my clients send me a list of things they’d particularly like captured throughout the day, this gives me a great idea as to what is most important for my clients.
Enjoy your photos! Don’t feel nervous or conscious posing for your photos, let your emotions show through. I offer a complimentary ‘Pre wedding photoshoot’ which is great for putting couples at ease in front of the camera and gives them an idea of what to expect on their wedding day.
“We got married at St Helen’s Catholic Church in Watford. I’m not very religious – I was baptised Catholic but I was never confirmed. So before we got married, I went to classes and was confirmed in April.”
“We were looking for a barn style reception venue, that was different to the ones our friends had chosen… We wanted one that was special, and for us. We literally booked Coltsfoot when we first went to see it, because it was everything we wanted: exclusive, intimate, and with everything on site. There were 15 rooms, so our wedding party and immediate family could stay there with us. It was just a lovely, cozy venue.”
When deciding on what to serve at your wedding breakfast, always have a tasting at your venue, so you can carefully select your options. Offering a couple of choices for your guests is a great way to cater for different tastes.
Choosing an exclusive-use venue with on-site accommodation, where the bridal party and close family can stay, is a great way to extend your celebrations. Coltsfoot has 15 rooms around the courtyard, which Gemma and Paul allocated to their guests the month before the wedding. This meant that, once the music had finished, they could enjoy sitting outside with friends into the early hours of the morning!
“We had about 110 guests in the day time, and another 50 in the evening.
“For the processional, we had Leona Lewis’ version of Ave Maria. I had always wanted that song. I just love the way it makes me feel, and it’s my Dad’s all-time favourite. I didn’t tell Paul what I was walking down to, because I wanted him to get that feeling, but he was so nervous, he didn’t even remember what the song was!
“I was a wreck when I got to the church! I was so nervous about doing the vows, and was getting a bit panicked, but as soon as I walked in and the music was playing, and my bridesmaids and flowergirls had gone before me, I just looked at Paul and I couldn’t see anyone else. He started crying and I started crying, so I was walking down the aisle with an ugly crying face! It was just so nerve-wracking!”
I had always wanted (Ave Maria)... I just love the way it makes me feel.
“As soon as my vows were over, the nerves had totally gone. It was just a relief that I had got through it without messing up the words! And then coming back down the aisle together was great. We chose Michael Bublé Everything, which is a happy, upbeat song. And having been so nervous on the way up, I got a chance to look at everyone when I walked back down. I was just so happy!”
I just looked at Paul and I couldn’t see anyone else.
The Reception & Wedding Breakfast
“Massimo’s performance was amazing. He played two sets, and we chose the songs we liked from his list on Alive Network – we had songs like Queen, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles… it was quite a mixture. Everyone loved the music. Beautiful and unimposing. He played exactly how we wanted.”
When you’re choosing an artist, think about what music you like, and choose someone that will suit your style.
A professional guitarist will be humble – they know that you’re the centre of the day. If the look is important to you, choose a guitarist who’s flexible and will dress to your needs… smart or casual.
Most experienced guitarists can learn a completely new song that’s not on their set list... just remember to give them plenty of notice so they have time to study and rehearse it, and so they can perform it perfectly for you. One months’ notice is usually enough, to fit practice in around other commitments.
If you want your guitarist to perform outside, ask them in advance so they can bring any equipment they need to setup in a garden, and make sure your guitarist will be protected from the sun. Coltsfoot had a fixed canopy that I could play under, which was perfect.
The Evening Party
The First Dance
“Our first dance was Ellie Goulding, How Long Will I Love You… it was just happy, and it made us smile. We didn’t learn a dance – Paul doesn’t like dancing so we just winged it!”
The Second Dance
“Hipster were really flexible… they did two hour-long sets and they offered to play the second dance for us, which we hadn’t originally asked them to do. We chose Eric Clapton, Wonderful Tonight for me and my Dad to dance to... That song really means something to us, and as it was being played live, I got a bit emotional.”
The Party Band
With a recommendation from Prince Harry to their name, top UK band Hipster were a must. “They were a definite for the wedding. I’d been to two other weddings where Hipster played, and I’d loved them, so I knew they were the ones I would have if I ever got married. We booked them in October, just after getting engaged. They were one of the first things – after the venue – that we booked. We wanted to get them booked up, so we didn’t have to have someone else!”
Gemma’s favourite musical moment? “The band – every single song – I didn’t want to leave the dancefloor. Everyone wanted to pull me off the dancefloor and talk to me, but I just wanted to carry on dancing!”
Hipster were a definite for the wedding... I knew they were the ones I would have if I ever got married... I didn’t want to leave the dancefloor!
Joey from Hipster explains how they made Gemma and Paul’s party so memorable. “We like our audience to be our fifth member, and we encourage crowd participation whenever we can! It’s really important to us that we play songs that everybody will know, so we do our best to play a wide mix of classics, from all eras and styles, so everyone feels their music tastes are included in our performance.
“Gemma and Paul offered lots of input into our set, which made it really personal to them, and gave us the added confidence that we were providing exactly what they wanted for their wedding reception.
“Our set is designed to get everyone up and dancing from the first song... and we get a really great reaction from our audiences.
“We like to keep one or two huge numbers in reserve for any encores. If the audience are having a great time, then you can be sure that we are too, and we will keep on playing!”
Many great bands and artists take bookings 2 years or more in advance, so once you’ve decided who you’d like to provide live music as part of your wedding celebrations, book them as soon as you can, to avoid disappointment.
Always speak to your venue to make sure it can accommodate the type of music you want.
- Is there enough space for a band?
- Are there ample power outlets within the performance area?
- Are there any sound restrictions in place?
- Can they provide a space for the band to eat/get changed in?
Lots of bands offer suitable live music for your wedding ceremony or drinks reception, so it’s always worth considering this. Some great deals can be had if you’re using the same musicians for different parts of your celebrations.
Once you’ve chosen your band, have a think about which of their songs you would like to be included in their performance. It’s usually best to leave the order in which the songs are played, up to the band – they will know which songs and artists work best together.
If you manage to get a moment on your big day, go and say hi to the band – we always appreciate a quick hello when we’re setting up. We’re a friendly bunch and we love to meet the people we are playing for!
Gemma and Paul had some stunning details that made their day personal to them – from Gemma’s gorgeous Grecian-inspired hair, striking floral displays, and bespoke cufflinks, to their tailor-made cake toppers, thoughtful favours, and personalised footwear. Crowning it all was their entertainment, so that they and all their guests could make the most of their big moments, ensuring it was a day they’ll never forget. D’aww!
As Gemma’s Dad says, “A wedding is a time for joy and fun.” Videographers Unique Visuals distilled their joyous moments into three+ magical minutes... (Tissue warning – dare you not to well up!)
“The main thing that I loved about my dress? It was good for dancing, which I did all night!” laughs Gemma, who even ordered a pair of customised Converse to ensure full commitment to the dancefloor.
“I found my dress in David’s Bridal. I didn’t compromise, I was just lucky that the one I wanted was great value! I wanted a corset-style dress, and it was just the style that I’d had in my head.
“The beading wasn’t over the top... I didn’t want loads of sparkle. And it was really light as well – it didn’t feel heavy, so I knew it was perfect for the evening!
“My hair band had pearls and diamonds on, and was from David’s Bridal. I got my shoes there too. The Converse (customised with my new name and wedding date) were a star buy from Etsy.”
My dress...was really light... so it was good for dancing...!
Gemma went for a David’s Bridal A-line dress with side ruching detailing, which was perfect for showcasing her fantastic figure. Final touches like a veil really help to complete the bridal look.
We always recommend doing some research before your appointment – visit websites and social media channels to see which dresses and designers you like and why. That way your expert bridal stylists will get more of a feel of what you want for your big day and help you achieve your wedding goals.
Make sure you have the correct foundations for your dress. They make all the difference! The perfect lingerie can ensure your dream dress looks and feels amazing.
Add a bustle to your dress. Having a train on a dress always creates a great focal point when walking down the aisle and for photos but can be a bit impractical for your first dance. Ask your alteration specialist to create a bustle on your dress to ensure you can dance the night away care-free!
“I liked the morning of getting ready with the girls, getting my hair and my makeup done, even though I was nervous, but the nerves didn’t start kicking in until later on.”
Gemma asked Hair by Amy Tidey to create her beautiful Grecian look for the big day, as Amy recalls, “Gemma preferred the softer hairstyles that are more loose and flowy than a very structured style. First I attached some human clip-in extensions, then curled all her hair tightly with straighteners, leaving the fringe smooth at the front. I created two French plaits coming from the front to the back of her head, and then loosely pinned her hair at the back into a low, soft, messy bun, leaving some curls out, but bringing in all the plaits and leaving loose curls down at the front.”
Before you meet your bridal hairdresser, I would recommend that you research their work. Social media is amazing to look at styles they have created for their brides. It’s worth going to bridal wedding fayres too, so you get a chance to meet hairdressers face-to-face. Most will have pictures, albums and an iPad of their work handy, so you really get a feel of what they can do.
Choose a hairdresser who’s hard-working, devoted, and passionate about hairdressing, and who has lots of experience, skills and techniques. Then you can be confident they have the talent and knowledge to give you an amazing bridal hairstyle.
When doing a hair trial, it’s important that your hairdresser knows the style of your dress, so they can advise and discuss the suitable hairstyle for your bridal look. On the hair trial I usually do 3 hairstyles of the brides choice, to create the hairstyle that with suit the style perfectly.
Amy’s Top Products:
Jenny Parnell, of Jenny’s Perfect Creations, brought in cutting-edge film makeup technology for Gemma’s stunning natural look, as she explains. “I used silicone-based airbrush makeup, called ‘Airbase’, on Gemma. It’s really, really long-lasting, lightwearing and allows your skin to breathe. The silicone in the foundation heats up and moves with your skin, so it lasts longer than normal foundation. Because it’s so light, it has good coverage and doesn’t ‘cake’ on your face, which is great if you’re not used to wearing makeup.”
Get an idea of the look you want, by looking at forums and pictures on the internet, before you see your makeup artist. I specialise in creating a natural look, which most people want on their wedding day – you want to look like yourself on the day.
Definitely have a makeup trial, which will help you decide on the look, but also give you a chance to see how the makeup lasts.
My skin prep tips are water and facials! Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. If you’re having a course of facials, start these 6 months before, with the final one about a month before your wedding. Facials get rid of impurities in the skin and can bring out spots, which then clear up. Allow a few months for this process, so your skin’s beautifully clear on the day!
Build in plenty of time. I usually assign 45 minutes for each person, and often do the bride’s makeup last of all. I always get asked whether it’s better to do the hair or makeup first – it’s usually up to the bride! I’m easy-going, and often the makeup artist and hairdresser are working between people, like a tag-team. No bride wants makeup on their hair or veil, so as long as I can easily clip hair up, and the veil is clipped in after I’m finished, you’ll look flawless.
Jenny’s Top Products:
MAC Liquidlast Eyeliner, Black, £16.50
MAC Studio Fix Perfecting Powder, £21.50
Paul and his groomsmen hired dapper grey morning suits online, from Young’s Hire at Suit Direct – matching them with classic tan brogues. To coordinate with the bridal party colours, the groomsmen’s ties and button holes were burgundy. As the all-important groom, Paul’s ivory colour scheme ensured he stood out, while harmonising with Gemma.
Chris Burns from Suit Direct, gives us his top tips for hiring a wedding day suit...
A classic tailcoat or dinner jacket can be timeless, and will ensure you look your best on your wedding day. If you’re working with a colour-scheme, most suit designers can supply formal and highlandwear that can be perfectly matched to the bridal party colours.
If wardrobe space is at a premium, save yourself buyer’s remorse by hiring an outfit instead. Suit hire is affordable, and we’ll make sure your orders get to you on time – even if the best man is in London, the usher is in Edinburgh and the groom is in Gretna!
Look out for competitive deals. With promotions like ‘Groom Goes Free’, families can enjoy great savings on their hire orders.
“I chose deep burgundy and ivory roses, based on a picture of a bouquet I'd seen online. The roses motif went all the way through all the flowers.”
Rebecca from Rebecca Joseph Events created the look of Gemma and Paul’s stunning bouquets, button holes and floral displays. She explains how to uncover your own unique wedding floral style in her top tips below. “Gemma knew exactly what flowers she wanted for her wedding, she was able to send over pictures so we could see the style and colour theme she liked.”
When choosing your florist have a look through their previous work so you know you will be happy and confident with what they create for your day. You will know if you are choosing the right florist from discussing your ideas and talking with them – you should feel like they really understand your vision and that you can trust them.
Pictures are definitely the best way to make sure your florist knows exactly what you are looking for. The image you find doesn’t have to be a perfect match as your florist can use it as a guide and change the colour, flowers or shape of arrangement as per your vision.
If there’s a certain flower you have your heart set on, check when they are in season before deciding on your wedding date as some flowers, peonies for example, are only available for a few months of the year.
Classic Wedding Cars provided a 1949 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith and a matching 1956 Armstrong Siddeley Limousine in Ivory/Black. Gemma was delighted with them, “The cars were among my standout suppliers – the drivers were really lovely, and they were actually early.
“When we left the church to go to the venue, we got stuck in loads of traffic, but I loved it because it was the only time that me and Paul got to spend together! The rest of the day was just manic, and, apart from the photos, we were separated all day, so that was probably the best part... it was just really nice to have that time together.”
We always recommend that you view any car you’re considering for your wedding day, as photos can sometimes be deceiving. Also bear in mind the size of the dresses and the number of people you wish to transport as the cars come in different shapes and sizes.
Our cars are quite rare and as each car can only do one wedding per day (as most people get married between 12pm and 4pm), the earlier you book the better to ensure your first choice is available. The cars are hired for up to 3 hours, but longer can often be accommodated.
Most hire companies will include your choice of colour ribbon in the cost, and all our cars have a neutral silk floral display on the rear parcel shelf. A good hire company will always be happy to discuss your wedding requirements with you.
“We had the cake topper made to look like us. We found MyMiniYou online… you send them pictures of your exact dress, and pictures of you and your partner, it was great.”
Dotty D’s Cakes created the sumptious four-tier wedding cake, with designer Danielle O’Toole helping through the process of choosing their perfect cake. “Paul and Gemma decided upon a timeless and elegant ivory design. They tasted a selection of my cake flavours, and picked a classic vanilla, chocolate with a chocolate ganache, and red velvet… one of Gemma’s absolute favourites!”
When choosing your cake designer, it is vital to sample their flavours first. Communication and time are a must too. I always meet my couples at least once where they can taste samples over a cup of tea and talk designs and themes. It is important to start this relationship at least six months in advance to allow time to source materials and for ideas to evolve, as they often do. If you’d like a boozy fruit cake, bear in mind that they take three months to mature.
It is so important to make sure your creation is set off well; often it will be the focal point of the room where all eyes will be on it. A cake stand and a dressed table complementing your theme will add a touch of style and ensure that ‘wow’ factor, not to mention beautiful photos.
Rebecca Joseph Events styled the venue, but Gemma and Paul created their own personal touches too, with some family help. “I helped my cousin make all the stationery. The table names were numbers, so table number one had pictures of me and Paul when we were age 1... and it went through to table ten, with pictures of us at each age.
“Our favours were personalised shot glasses (very us!) in boxes,tied in ribbon to match our colour scheme. We had little touches like personalised bibs for the babies that came, and activity packs and sweets for the other children.”
What We Learned
Be a stress-free zone…
“Don’t let anything stress you out... don’t stress about the small things, because they don’t even matter on the day. Up until the day, I was stressing about table centrepieces and little things that no-one would really know, but on the day I didn’t even think of them!”
“Just enjoy yourselves while you’re in the day, because it goes so quickly.”
The Magic Makers
Music, atmosphere and vibes of love and fun
Alive Network, UK-wide
Wedding Guitarist, Massimo Romano, exclusive to Alive Network
Party Band, Hipster, exclusive to Alive Network
Light up Love Letters, available from Alive Network
Sweet Carts, available from Alive Network
Photo Booths, available from Alive Network
Lily Lane Photography, Hertfordshire and surrounding counties
Unique Visuals, Essex and UK-wide
Coltsfoot Country Retreat, Hertfordshire
Dress, veil, hairband, and shoes: David’s Bridal, Watford and London
Customised Converse shoes: Etsy
Jennys Perfect Creations Ltd.
Hair by Amy Tidey, freelance, UK-wide
Hamiltons The Jeweller, Hatton Garden, London
Flowers and table décor
Rebecca Joseph Events, Greater London, Hertfordshire and Essex
Dotty D’s Cakes, UK-wide
Classic Wedding Cars, Middlesex, North West London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Surrey
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