English country garden wedding: stationary

One of my favourite and a very popular wedding theme: English country garden party/summer fete. This theme usually has an air of nostalgia. Key features include bunting, Pimms, informality, afternoon tea, hay bales, homemade favours.

I *tried* to make my own wedding invitations, but they looked rubbish. I ended up using a design from Tickled Pink and asked them to change various colours and font sizes to suit our wedding (and my perfectionism) perfectly. This was a bit of an extravagance, but they are gorgeous and I’m still so pleased with them. I really wanted to set the scene with our stationary, and I think we succeeded in letting our guests know the type of wedding we were planning and what they could expect. Here they are!

A year has passed so I’m wondering which stationary would I pick out if I was planning my wedding now?

I still love Tickled Pink. Their designs are crisp and impressive enough for special wedding stationary yet so down to earth and unpretentious. That’s a pretty hard balance to strike, but they get it right. Check out these super pretty designs which would all be great for an English garden theme:

Vintage Hearts

English Rose

Lace and Roses

Winter Wreath

Heart Invites has a new stationary collection called County Fayre. It combines lovely pink and green bunting with a fine green polka dot background. I’m not overly keen on the font which is a bit too modern in a wild wild west way for my tastes.

Country Fayre Range

I’ve also found this beautiful hand-painted stationary available from Pip Pip Designs. Their range is small but gorgeously and quintessentially English. This is my favourite design of theirs:

Bunting Wedding Stationary

Victoria Whincup offers these delightful personalised invitations, hand-drawn and hand-painted through her Etsy shop. I particularly like this design, which feels organic, floaty and gives a great sense of relaxed informality. Do browse her adorable designs. Her style reminds me of Rob Ryan’s papercutwork which I love.

Pink Flowers

Giftwrappedandgorgeous bring you Kate Lewis Design Wedding Stationary. Her cake and bunting design is hand-finished with sequins and crystals but remains rustic with a bubbly, fun feel.

Applique Cake

For a more homemade look how about this from Tailored Wedding Plans.

Bunting Style Wedding Invitation

Vintage Brown Card Floral

Tailored Wedding Plans do great table plans too. This vintage glam look would have been great for my think pink wedding πŸ™‚

Crystals, Pearls and Vintage Style Lace

Another fabulously pink invitation is available from Beautiful Day through Not On The High Street.com

This design might be my most favourite of all! It combines bunting, cake, roses, and a bit of glam. Love it! This just shows how researching outside of ‘wedding’ suppliers and websites can yield the very best results!

Shabby Chic Bunting Party Invitation

I search for things like this one of two ways. Type your search terms into Google Images and click into the websites belonging to the images you like best. Chances are if a company does a bunting design, they will do other designs that fit with the English country garden theme too. Or search for local companies who specialise in bespoke or hand-painted stationary. You can link through to great Stationers through the websites of other wedding suppliers who share the same type of ethos or niche focus.

Happy hunting stationary lovers!

Wedding cakes with a twist

Wedding Cake Traditions and Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes make fantastic centre pieces, and are chosen as much for their visual appeal as for how they taste! The classic multi-tiered affair became popular I believe in Victorian society after a cake designer took inspiration from St Bride’s Church in London. I wonder if the steeple itself took inspiration from the cute older tradition of piling cakes as high as possible to challenge the Bride and Groom to kiss over the top of the cakes? What a fun game! As with most wedding traditions, the couple could expect prosperity and fertility should they succeed in kissing over the cake tower! Nowadays the ritual associated with the special cake is the joint cutting of it and feeding it to one another by the newlyweds. These important first joint acts and exchanges as husband and wife symbolise the bodily and spiritual nourishment the couple have pledged to provide each other throughout their marriage.

http://www.1weddingsource.com/history.php

The luck imbued in the cake was treasured by couple and guests alike after the Wedding too. Ladies! If you sleep with a slice under your pillow you will dream of your future husband! While the convention of saving the top-tier of cake for the Christening of your first-born child has recently given way to saving the top-tier for your first Anniversary. But with fewer people opting for fruit cake and fewer cakes having tiers, the saving of cake to be eaten at the next big event looks set to become a thing of the past.

One delightful cake tradition that has sadly fallen out of fashion is to bake different charms into the cake, (“cake pulls”) so that when ribbons are pulled, your Bridesmaids receive different blessings depending on the charm revealed. A Heart: for love. A Clover: for luck. An Engagement Ring: you’ll be the next to wed.Β  An Anchor: adventure will come your way. A Flower: love is going to bloom. A Horseshoe: you are lucky in life. If you like the idea of the nostalgic bridal luck charms I discuss here, why not make this sweet tradition part of your wedding too?

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbnid=TH4MraMreDuawM:&imgrefurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/webpages/cakecharmpics2.html&docid=_1fZyL9LYPf4IM&imgurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/images/cakecharms/cakepullneworleans.jpg&w=541&h=343&ei=ayViT6__E8ab8QPl3sXmBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=965&vpy=130&dur=515&hovh=149&hovw=201&tx=155&ty=90&sig=104008391997752555404&page=4&tbnh=149&tbnw=201&start=60&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:60

Reinventing the Wedding ‘Cake

I like to deconstruct every element of the wedding so that it can be reimagined in a fresh, fun way which suits the couple and the wedding they dare to dream of. A wedding cake generally serves the following purposes:

  • It is a stunning centrepiece to the reception room
  • It is a tasty treat for guests to look forward to
  • It has to feed all your guests
  • If you want to cut it, it needs to be cuttable
  • It has to not spoil or melt as it stands on show for at least a few hours

Given this ‘cake’ criteria it is apparent that the cake need not be made of make at all. There are many reasons why you may not want a cake cake. If you are servings lots of cakes as part of an afternoon tea spread; if you dislike cake; if you want your food budget to go further; if you particularly like the look of towers or croquembouche; or particularly like another type of sweet treat.

Cheese

Myself and my husband went for a cheese tower draped with tomatoes, figs, and grapes instead of a cake cake. A) I love cheese, and it just seemed so fitting B) we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast but afternoon tea, so we needed savoury not more sweet! C) the cheese tower still had the shape of a wedding cake, and the three tiers could still be cut by us.

Pie

Pork, chicken, vegetable… theoretically you could make a tower of pies, with any firm filling. A fruit pie would soon turn to messy mush, but savoury pies provide an easy to slice, tasty and substantial alternative. A practical option with the oooooooo! factor.

Chocolatehttp://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/product/0363/Three+Tier+Vortex

If money had been no object? Choccywoccydoodah, and not just because they have a funky name. These chocolate sensations do look quite tricky to cut and are ‘only’ chocolate coated. But what a coating. These cake cakes are all about the chocolate and the sculpture created. If you were going to choose a cake cake, this company offers the most delectable choice of sponges as opposed to the usual vanilla, chocolate, lemon or carrot.

Don’t Tell The Bride does have its moments. A creative Groom designed his own chocolate box wedding cake which instead of a cake and fruit filled chocolate box tower cake you can order from Patisserie Valerie or Druckers (YUM!) he went further and revealed to his Bride a chocolate made chocolate box with individual chocolates inside it! Marvellous! I wonder if Thorntons do these.

Towers

Pile fudge, l, or profiteroles high to make a wedding cake shaped tower. There are no tiers and it might be impossible to slice but who cares when you can dive in and start scoffing these morish morsels!? Cupcake towers have become uber popular lately. It’s cake already individually portioned so saves all that cutting and holding the crumbley slice over a napkin while you eat it, but it’s still cake. Bitesized confectionary or patisserie somehow seems more decadent. I also love that while the individual pieces of yum are easily plucked one by one, they can be laced together with streamers of chocolate, so that the ‘cake’ is one.

Twistshttp://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226890/gateaux-de-mariage-croquembouche

I think what makes tiered cakes so pretty is the diagonal dressing with flowers or other decoration, so that the tower takes on a twisted effect appearance. Towers can easily be given a twist by stacking slightly asymmetrically. My advice with every aspect of your wedding is to think about what suits YOUR wedding best. So if you are having an early wedding and want to serve brunch, how about a sweet breakfast pastry tower – almond and chocolate croissants, Danish pastries, cinnamon swirls. For an evening do how about an after dinner coffee and mint theme or cocktail theme? For weddings in the tropics, baked Alaska; and for winter weddings serve your cake hot, flambe and carve the sponge and serve with custard?

For a metaphorical twist, there are cakes with a super surprise inside. Yes this could be a full-blown person, but think along the lines of the bridal good luck charms, and perhaps you could hide sweets, chocolate money, lottery tickets, easter eggs, kinder eggs! inside a regular looking sponge cake.

Fountains

If you don’t care about the cake being sliceable, but want maximum tower centrepiece effect, why not consider (guilty pleasures of mine) chocolate and/or champagne fountains? I adore the concept of these edible fountains. They really encapsulate the spirit of sharing and diving in I associate with the wedding cake. An added bonus is that unlike the other options, as they are devoured, they do not lose their shape or illusion of plenty. Who wants to choose between chocolate and champagne? If I could plan my wedding over again, I’d have one of each.

~

Our cake πŸ™‚

Cutting our mini cheese tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben getting a mouthful

A cracking cracker

 

 

If I could plan my wedding all over again

My wedding day felt truly magical. It was powerfully romantic and emotional, and reflected our tastes and styles to a tee. But there are still things I would’ve done a little differently if I could do it all over again. I hope Brides and Husbands to Be will find these reflections useful but my final word on wedding planning is that whatever your choices for the day, perfection is to be found in your lovely new spouse, the occaision itself, and the love and happiness you will feel coming off everybody that special day. So don’t be hung up on perfection in the details, quite often the things that go wrong are what we remember most fondly.I’ll pretend I’m granted three wishes like Wedding SOS in reverse.

Change number 1: I know I have a tendency to run late. I should have planned better so that we had less to do the morning of the wedding. I ended up not paying any attention to my fingernails whatsoever! No nail varnish, certainly no manicure :S although it was lovely that my sister painted them for me before the evening meal, mmmm pampered! I had no breakfast to speak of even though I took pastries to the hairdressers with me. I tend not to eat when I’m in business mode. We (mom, bridesmaids, etc.) had to rush exchanging our little gifts to each other at the hotel, so I wish we’d done that the night before too. The rush of the night before was really enjoyable though. Highlights included the best pizza ever (because we were knackered and starving), touching gifts from my mom, and hilarity in the bath involving fake tan and hair bleach. As I prepared to go to bed, in our lovely hotel room, set out my jewellery, perfume, and card from H2B to opened as soon as I woke up, I felt like a princess already.

Change number 2: You can’t control the weather πŸ™‚ but there were things I could’ve controlled that day which I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d have to maker certain things clear but it turns out you can’t be too clear setting out your expectations. We hired a wonderful vintage car, imagining a slow drive down country lanes from the hotel to the village hall. I was running late, but the driver had already decided he’d take the dual carriageway (it felt like it took forever) instead of the country lanes. He was concerened about traffic. As we raced up the A38 with the rain sheeting down, my heart sank. This was not what I wanted 😦 So, make sure you tell your driver the route you want to take! We did have a laugh about the vintage window that wouldn’t close. My sister bless her held the wind up handle all the way to prevent too much rain coming in onto my dress.

Change number 3: Think twice before using a friend or family member as one of your suppliers. Not least because you might really miss them being part of the day as a guest, and feel bad that they are working so hard instead of having a lovely time. I will treasure the few photos other guests took that have our photographer in them! With the photographer you might think you’ve been crystal clear with what you want and don’t want, but again, you can’t be too explicit. Think about which things might appear in the background of your pics unless they’re taken at a certain angle. Our wedding was at a village hall, it was great, but still a village hall. It’s hard to cover up things like strip lights, bins, and exit signs so it’s in your photographer’s hands to make them ‘vanish’ from your photo album πŸ˜‰

I was relieved that my ideas for an eclectic vintage/country garden/English rose wedding came together so well. A final tip for all you wedding dreamers out there would be choose something quite specific for your theme. My idea of the theme kept evolving. I understood what I wanted but I was about the only one. It was really difficult to describe to the guests what they should wear to fit in with the theme. I stressed about the dress, make up and hair coming together properly and about the colours, oh the colours. I wanted dusky pink, we couldn’t get dusky pink roses so we ended up with slightly peachy roses. I wanted sage green, but what’s the difference between sage and olive green? And then the patterns. Would the lace on my dress match OK with the damask on my mom’s dress and the groom’s Liberty print hankerchief? Breathe. If you’re unsure, keep things simple. If you’re game, go for it. The details make up the overall image of your wedding in your guests eyes. They won’t be judging things item by item. Just have fun. Happy planning!