My A to B of Wedding Suppliers

Finally sharing the wedding suppliers who made our dream West London wedding come true. We were married at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on 1st July 2016.
Planning a wedding is no easy feat. In fact, it can be flipping stressful. But having done the legwork - and spent the first few years of marriage recovering! - I am excited to share with you the wonderful suppliers that made our wedding day so special. They were absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend them highly enough! All links provided below so if you're in the market, you know what to do...

All the photography you're about to see is the incredible work of Mr Graham Keutenius. Graham photographed a friend's wedding and his work speaks for itself. Having attended said friend's wedding I have to say, at that time, I couldn't tell you much about Graham as he blended into the background seamlessly yet delivered the most jaw-dropping photographs of every poignant moment you would want captured. (Having been in bridal parties since, it's not uncommon for photographers to come with an ego bigger than a 7-tiered wedding cake and there's just no room or time for that on your Big Day!)

Having visited his studio in Eton (a lovely day out in itself), we can honestly say what a pleasure if was to work with Graham throughout the process. We had the opportunity to 'work the camera' at an Engagement 'shoot which was also part-recce of our wedding venue at Kew Gardens. It was a great part of the wedding photography package, a lovely occasion to get to know each other before you spend your wedding day with each other. As part of our package, we had full usage of all our (900) pictures and also a curated photo book made by Graham himself. That was Christmas presents sorted, too! 

The Venues.

The best moment of my life (so far!) I'll never forget the look on Ryan's face (and the tears in his eyes!)

Situated on the bank of the River Thames in Chiswick, West London, this was "my church". Since I moved to Hammersmith after University, I had been strolling down here every Sunday for several years before Ryan popped the question. It was so special to walk down the aisle and have Father Simon marry us - so, so special and so beautiful! I can still hear the bells ringing - having made a mental note to enjoy them from outside the Church as I arrived. I walked down the aisle to the Rainham Ladies Choir singing Sound The Trumpet - the very same choir and song choice that my mother walked down the aisle to my father. Yep, I'm a sucker for the sentimental. I had my Aunt playing the piano accompanying them and with connections to my Nan, Aunt and mother all being members of the choir in previous years, it was truly special to have members of the choir who knew my Nan sing for us on our special day. I also surprised Ryan with their singing Can't Help Falling In Love while we were signing the registry! We walked out of the Church as husband and wife to their version of All You Need is Love with huge smiles on our face!
In front of the iconic conservatory and with the flowers in full bloom!
Walking through the rose arches near the Princess Diana Conservatory
In front of The Mall

Ryan and I knew we wanted to have our wedding in West London, near where we lived, and so decided to view a few options by bike ride on June day in 2015. Among visiting venues in Fulham and Richmond, there was nothing that could compare to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We fell in love with the intimacy of Cambridge Cottage and its private gardens and booked the next day! Plus, the garden access you get for your guests and for the all-important photographs made it worth every penny! We had between 70-80 guests so it's not the largest occupancy but with two reception rooms, there's plenty of space for your guests to mingle, dine and dance.

Have your wedding venues drawn by hand by the talented Kay Armstrong (also my beautiful mother-in-law) for the personalised wedding stationary or as a bespoke guestbook with a mount for your guests to sign. Kay drew both of our locations as a beautiful keepsake of our special day which now hang proudly in our dining room. I've since commissioned several drawings for friends as the perfect gift for the happy couple.

The Transport.

With our London theme that emerged throughout the touches of the wedding, I wanted to travel in style (and no, I wasn't up for a Rolls Royce). Instead, Dad and I hailed a taxi (alright, we pre-booked a special wedding black taxi) for a retro arrival to the church.
As we chose to have our ceremony at a different location to our reception, we knew we'd have to factor getting our wedding guests from A to B. This old-fashioned London double-decker bus was such a fitting option for getting all our guests together and in the party mood as we travelled from Chiswick to Kew. Us newlyweds knew we wouldn't want to miss out on any of the action, so we hopped aboard too! We disembarked a little earlier at the entrance to Cambridge Cottage whilst our guests continued to the Elizabeth Gate for a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens before entering through the private gates to the drink's reception in the garden (luckily the sun came out just in time!)
     

The Flowers.

All those Friday nights spent watching my mother flower arranging as a child was worth it ... twenty years later. Not because my mother did our wedding flowers but because she knew just who to ask! Madeleine at Wisteria Green was somehow able to take my mood board of (largely varied) wedding flowers and distil it into my dream bouquet. Not quite yet adept at species and Latin names, I relied on Pinterest to create the floral vision for the day. Luckily, Madeleine was there to reassure me that each of the 'ooohs' and 'aaaahs' at various pictures was going to be worked into my bouquet. Ryan and I had a vision of our centre-pieces being vintage teapots (again, my mother helped source these from various charity shops, and I, along with my Mother-in-Law, spent many an afternoon spray-painting them gold in the garden) which Madeleine was more than happy to work with.  It's always a little daunting to pick a route for your wedding flowers, after all there's just too much choice, but when Madeleine turned up at the hotel on the morning of my wedding, the flowers made me well up! So beautiful.
My bridal bouquet <3 I had a small pendent hanging from the stems with a picture of both sets of grandparents on their wedding days - a small touch of good luck from both their long, happy marriages!
We had two pedestals and the central archway decorated for the ceremony.
Alongside button holes for the groomsmen, I also wore a wrist corsage and gifted one to my Mother, Mother-in-Law and Gran for the Big Day.
Ryan and I collected olive jars for months prior to the wedding for the little table bouquets and my mother enjoyed hunting out teapots of various shapes and sizes which I spray-painted in my garden!

The Food.

Richmond Catering
Anything relating to food tasting was a very fun part of wedding planning! We enjoyed an evening tasting meal which my parents attended with us at Syon House followed by a private dining tasting session where we signed off the full menu from appetisers through to dessert. We opted for steak as the main which went down really well! Sadly, I can't find Richmond Catering online to link to them...

Fancy going cake tasting? Twelve different flavours, you know. Make a day trip of it, why don't you, and head out to Woking. We first met Neil at the Kew Gardens Wedding Suppliers Fayre and it was the utterly mouth-watering samples that stopped us in our tracks. Knowing we wanted a naked cake for our summer wedding and seeing a picture of a stunning ombre version had us sold so, we had the fun of picking the three flavours for each tier. The winners? Ryan's favourite: Chocolate Salted Caramel. My favourite: Carrot Cake. Joint favourite: Raspberry Victoria Sponge.  Neil was great at working with our timing plan for the day to ensure that the cake didn't a) melt or b) go stale before our guests could eat it. Inconspicuously delivered while our guests were eating the wedding breakfast ensured a 'big reveal' once we moved into the Lounge. To set off our 3 tier cake in a rather large room, we gave extra height by topping it off with a personalised sign and wooden stand from Not On The High Street.

If there's one hobby of ours, it's eating cheese. We routinely had Friday night cheese nights in our house, so it was an important part of the food story which we rolled out for the evening and our newly arrived evening guests to fuel them through the dancing! Again, cheese tasting was a particular highlight for us, and I gave free rein to Ryan to pick the selection. Whilst I didn't get much of a chance to eat it on the night, we had Tupperware boxes full of the leftovers which we took on our mini-moon to the Lake District the week after!

The Entertainment.

We had been blown away by Richard Young at a previous wedding and loved how much of a crowd pleaser he was! It was the perfect entertainment on the lawn at Cambridge Cottage whilst the drinks reception and canap├ęs were being served. The reactions from our guests says it all...as does my face below!
Some wedding venues have a list of approved suppliers and this was the case with Kew Gardens. Having debated between the live band route or a DJ, we felt that non-stop tunes keeping people on the dance floor was how we wanted to proceed. To be honest, if money was no object I'm sure we would have opted for both but, even with hindsight, I know we made the right call. Ash did an amazing job of taking our playlist to know the kind of music we loved and keeping the tunes rolling. He even got a booking on the night for my bridesmaid's wedding six months later! Says. It. All.

The Dress, The Jewels & The Make-Up.

I could write a whole blog post about wedding dress shopping (and maybe I will) but I have to say this award-winning boutique offered an exceptional experience making it so clear why they have a whole host of accolades to their name, including Best Bridal Boutique in the UK. My mother recommended we visit here and so the two of us popped over to Tunbridge Wells and actually booked three appointments in one day. Isabella Grace was the second stop and it was there that we fell in love with my Essence of Australia dress. Contrary to the Jenny Packham fairy-like vision I had before stepping into a changing room, this dress was cut to perfection, had the low-back I was after, buttons down the full length of the dress and that special bit of sparkle around my waist. It remains the only dress that my mum welled up over and it was in that reaction that I knew this was my dress.

     
Working with a vintage engagement ring, I knew a traditional wedding band would not sit with it so I *had* to opt for a bespoke one. Cue diamond shopping! On the very same day we had visited Eton Photography, a day off from work to start tackling "wedmin", we headed to Hatton Garden. An area renowned for its diamond jewellers, we had anticipated doing a bit of window shopping and getting a few comparative quotes. However, that all changed when we walked into Hearts of London, our first and only port of call where we met Octavian and he made my vision come to life! Both our wedding bands came from Hearts of London and were engraved with our names and wedding date.

Charlotte (or Charlie as she's known to me) is one of my oldest friend's big sister. I absolutely loved having a very talented, safe (and familiar) pair of hands to put my trust into to make me look my absolute best for the big day. We had two trials before the wedding to finalise the look and try out a few different techniques for getting my hair to hold a curl. Charlie was amazing at working with my requests and accessories. My make-up lasted all day and I absolutely loved it! Charlie also worked her magic doing the hair & make-up on my four bridesmaids and my mother! I highly, highly recommend! 

Our day wouldn't have gone off without a glitch if it wasn't for the amazing co-ordination and management of Natalie Hewitt. Natalie is a school friend of my husband and we were so lucky she agreed to be part-guest / part-on duty for the day to keep all the suppliers and running schedule on track. We also got to consult with Natalie throughout the planning and preparation stages to ensure we had everything covered. It was such a reassuring presence as complete wedding novices ourselves to have a trusty sidekick to manage the entire production down to the small little details.

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Four years on, it was still the best day of our lives. I am so truly lucky to each and every supplier we worked with on our wedding day who helped make it truly unforgettable. People still comment now on what a spectacular day it was. I would do it all again in a flash, but at the same time it was perfect just as it was! I have loved spending this past week revisiting the photographs and memories - it is crazy to remember all the evenings of wed-min and arts'n'crafts that we put in, but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Though I won't lie, the novelty of having our evenings and weekends back lasted a good couple of years post 'I Do'!

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