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It sounds like the guests at today’s wedding were taken on a bit of a magical, mystery tour by bride and groom Holly & Ian. Taking in all the sights and sounds of Bristol, including a delicious sounding tasting menu by an award-winning chef, a serenade by the Bristol Male Voice Choir and a silent disco to end the evening in style. Multiple venues may not be for the faint hearted but as you will see from the very happy guests it was certainly worth all the effort. A regular to the Boho Wedding blog, Helen Lisk followed our travelling bride and groom every step of the way.
Holly and Ian tied the knot on 19 April at Palm Court, Bristol Marriott Royal, in Bristol, followed by drinks and canapés on the Tower Belle Boat travelling around Bristol docks, a banquet/sharing food reception at the Pump House culminating in a silent disco. “We have been together for 12 years since 2002. Ian asked me to marry him in 2004 and I refused. He then waited a further 9 years to propose again. We got engaged on 31 January 2013, and were married 15 months later. In all reality, a wedding could be planned in a matter of months, but we wanted to save up for the right event, and as you can see below, choosing a venue became a bit of a journey!”
How they met
We have been together for 12 years, meeting at work when I was 23 and Ian was 31. I was keen to qualify as a solicitor and Ian, having previously enjoyed the bright lights of London firstly through necessity and latterly for fun, wanted to forge his way in Bristol. We spent a number of very happy years working hard and playing hard. Ian introduced me to festivals, Ibiza in the summer, skiing in the winter and weekends in London where many of our friends lived. I introduced him to the local stuff, cycling round Bristol docks, dangling our legs over the edge at the Arnolfini. He supported me through my interminable exams and I qualified as a solicitor and set out on my career. Equally, when Ian contracted glandular fever and latterly post viral exhaustion, I supported him through some really tough times. His illness was not diagnosed for some time and we both found it difficult to understanding why he was constantly pale and gaunt and tired.Ian dealt with the situation bravely, but was really concerned about the strain it placed on his ability to work and on our relationship. There was no end in sight to the illness and we realised it was something to be managed rather than railed against or given in to.
Ian proposed in 2005 in Ibiza Old Town, having asked my parents for permission, and having arranged with our friends to be ‘at the ready with the champagne’. It was after a lovely holiday in which it had almost been like old times. I said no because I realised I felt too young (at 26) and because our future was so uncertain. His post viral exhaustion and the affect it had on our relationship was like a cloud above our heads which wouldn’t blow away.
It took roughly 5 years to recover to a point where he looked glowing and healthy again, during which time I encouraged us to move to Southville, to a larger house, 30 seconds walk from our old one, in a space which might help ‘blow some cobwebs away’.
This was the local roots boost we needed and gave us some centre ground on which we could talk through and rebuild any damage caused by the fall out of Ian’s illness.
Ian proposed again, this time skiing in Zermatt, a place he has dreamed of going since having a poster of the mountain on his wall as a child.
I did have an inkling that he was going to propose however. In the hotel room, I had dressed in my thermals and long socks, mascara on my face rather than my eyes, then worked out how to use the shower by switching it on, soaking my clothes. A highly attractive look. I found the ring in his sock drawer at the beginning of the holiday and accosted him over it. He said he was going to ask me but he supposed now he couldn’t as I had found the ring and ruined the surprise. From then on, every time we took a break from skiing, surveying the views and the sun on the snow, he would look all pensive like he was going to say something, and then ski off.
He eventually proposed on the last day, after a glass of prosecco and a pasta feast on the sun deck of a mountain restaurant. I was having a nap at the time and he elbowed me and quietly stuttered out the words. We both cried, through relief more than anything else. Finally we were getting married!!
How did you allocate your budget?
We hired Palm Court for a couple of hours, with a bucks Fizz toasting drink, at just over £1000, the boat ride was £350, and the main outlay was at the Pump House. As it was a bank holiday weekend and we needed the venue for the day the pub asked us to hit a tab of £10,000 across the board. The initial outlay on food and drink was paid for 1 month prior. The remainder was to be hit by guests on the bar, failing which we would pay the remainder and receive it back in vouchers to be spent in the restaurant. The restaurant was happy to arrange an evening tasting menu for family a few months prior which worked towards the total, in addition to supplying and delivering canapés for the boat trip. Dad and I travelled to the wedding in his vintage 2CV Charleston, and the groomsmen walked to the venue as it was so close to the house. We paid corkage on our own shop bought bottles of Prosecco for toasting. People arranged their own hotels. Mum put a buffet spread on for family only the following day.
Why did you choose your photographer?
Helen Lisk is the daughter of my mother’s good friend. Mum suggested her as an easy choice. Whilst initially having reservations about picking someone with close ties, I quickly found that her website was extremely professional and she had many great reviews. She took pictures in the style that we were looking for – free flowing with little posing. Her manner was extremely easy, chatty and calm. She felt like a good friend even before we met. She met with us initially to showcase some of her previous work and latterly to check over the details of the day. She dealt with the changes in location in the city centre with ease, and having reviewed the photos, there were clearly many times when we didn’t notice her snapping away.
The dress and accessories
The dress was by Charlie Brear, called Beaton Lace, purchased at vintage style wedding dress shop Perfect Day Bridal who were really great and made the experience really enjoyable. My shoes were Abigail’s Party, purchased online from Irregular Choice. I wore a hair ‘vine’ from Bridezilla’s in Keynsham.
The suit and bridesmaids
Ian and the groomsmen wore Marks and Spencer blue suits with matching blue waistcoats and pink shirts. I also ordered them and my father pants from Trunkoflove.com via Etsy.com to open on the morning of the wedding. I also gave him a watch from Longines and wrote him a letter to open on the morning. He bought me a necklace from Bloomsbury in Bath and left it on the doorstep of mum and dad’s house on the morning of the wedding.The 4 bridesmaids wore Quinn and Bonnie from Monsoon and their own shoes and jewellery. The dresses had nice button back detail. They enjoyed the way the 50’s style skirt swooshed about on the dance floor later.
The colours were mainly blue, white and green to follow the flowers.
The flowers were important to me but not so much to Ian so I pretty much had free rein on that.
We had a loose country-style with ivy entwined, white wax flower, blue edged hydrangea, Nigella in blue, eucalyptus, sage, rosemary and lavender. I had a small bouquet, the bridesmaids had wrist corsages, and the groomsmen had buttonholes with a small blue thistle. The Tower Belle was decorated in ivy garlands and raffia bows. The Pump House was given 50 jam jars, milk churns and jugs decorated with twine containing the same flowers plus dill and bluebells decorated with twine. The Pump House also collected ivy locally and decorated the bar area to keep the theme going.
– We had no decorations in the Marriott as the venue was beautiful without and were not going to be there long. We had ivy and raffia on the boat as above.
– We provided the Pump House with 5 or 6 sets of fairy lights, including outdoor solar-powered for the railings by the dockside.
– White paper pompoms and a few wooden hearts that my mum had been given by a shop which was clearing away a window display, hung from the wooden beams in the restaurant. Mini fluffy easter chicks were placed next to name cards written in calligraphy by my mum, along with wine glasses which lit up at night. The restaurant prepared the menu cards placed inside pocket napkins along with lavender sprigs tied with twine. I ordered hessian wine bottle covers for the table numbers.
– I purchased Mr and Mrs paper chains from East of India and my mum enjoyed sticking them together shortly before.
– White paper lanterns with indoor tea lights, spelling the words ‘just married’ greeted people as they left the venue at the end of the evening.
The food and wedding cake
We wanted everyone to share central dishes rather than be handed a meal on a plate, so the Pump House were kind enough to arrange a feasting/sharing menu which followed their keenness to have locally sourced seasonal foods from the southwest including mushrooms and plants foraged from the local area. The food was amazing, and its clear why Toby (head chef) has just won ‘Bristol’s best chef 2013′ at The Bristol Good Food Awards
Oysters, scallops and whitebait in chip cones with aioli were served on arrival, followed by a banquet. Table decorations of plant pots with edible soil, cods roe and crudités surprised everyone and made the introduction to the meal really fun. This was followed by course upon course of small bites to include risotto balls, ox tongue salad, dressed crab, salt crust hay baked lamb, salmon en croute and seasonal veg including artichoke and broad beans. The desserts were two large table centre pieces of layered frozen chocolate with parfait and rhubarb milk pudding. Heart shaped handmade chocolates for coffee were provided as a wedding gift by our good friend Phil who owns Charlotte Brunswick chocolate shop in Bath.
The cake was a cheese tower of locally sourced cheeses arranged by Toby the Chef, along with air-dried charcuterie, olives, bread and mini scones, jam and cream. The cake topper was a couple of beautiful felt mice (I am obsessed by felt) by Johana Molina in Chile of Felting Dreams, ordered via Etsy, mini cake bunting, and personalised (our names and the date of the wedding) vintage Edwardian style floral and bird cake toppers by Nash from Happy Yumi via Not on the Highstreet. My mother’s friend made a beautiful white wedding cake at the centrepiece of the family buffet with intricate flower design which we still need to taste, but it will last for a while and will be another occasion for us to enjoy.
What did you have as entertainment?
My father is in the Bristol Male Voice Choir who sang a few songs during the signing of the register, and ‘what shall we do with the drunken sailor’ after the ceremony to signal the need for the guests to move to the boat. They were amazing and it was so nice that so many of them turned out to see the ceremony on a bank holiday. I understand the acoustics in the venue were really good.
Joel Granger, a really talented local violinist, played his own concoction of folk music during pudding, and even weaved in some Charlie Chaplin tunes as per my request. This was followed by Jason ‘the Cat’ King of Disco shed who was absolutely amazing.
At 11.00 there was a swift transition to a silent disco of pink and blue headphones provided by Hedfone Party, which got around the 11.00pm lowering of music volumes nicely. We supplied glow sticks, glow necklaces to all when it got going. The Edwardian theme was quickly dropping away to 90’s rave. However that didn’t matter because it was all a blur for most at that point.
Buy or DIY your Stationery?
I have no artistic bone in my body. My mum, who is a very talented artist, saved the day. She made covers, tied them with twine, stamped a spring flower with Dill and Cow Parsley motif on the front, glued a mini pearl flower on, and made my feeble attempts look amazing. She included tiny sprinkles, relishing the thought of people having to pick them up off the carpet for months. She also presented us with a beautiful hand-made book at the end of the meal, with calligraphy poems about love and a paper sculpture insert.
Personal or handmade touches
– At the Pump House we had a selection of welcome cocktails including Pimms and lemonade, geranium gin with rosewater and tonic, and non alcoholic for drivers, served in mini milk bottles with labels attached stamped with ‘drink me and dance! 19.04.2014’.The bottles were ordered from Amazon. The personalised stamps from Not on the High Street.
– The table plan was a frame with labels, which needed to be swapped for a Polaroid photo of themselves. Everyone really enjoyed doing this and as the night wore on the photos got more interesting. A few were taken home by guests as keepsakes. We will keep and frame the remaining photos as a reminder of the day.
– We bought moss covered lettering from The Moss Letter Company via Not on the Highstreet.
– Bristol Vintage supplied vintage teacups, saucers, milk jugs, sugar bowls for cream and small plates for the evening buffet and collected them from the venue the following day.
– We also had a home-made ‘photo booth’ with a large vintage frame supplied by my brother. He had forgotten to deliver it to the venue so he carried it around all day and can be seen in many of the photos brandishing it. The booth had pirate hats and eye patches, blow up palm trees, monkeys, swords, and a flamingo, which did not fit the bill but I liked it so it had to be included! In the end the evening went so swiftly and everyone was having such a good time that almost no-one had time to have photos.
– We both chose a new perfume to wear on the day (a magazine idea!) so that when we wore it again it would remind us of the wedding. (It works by the way). Mine was Le Jardin dans la Toit – the garden on the roof. This felt right. I’m obsessed with Paris, the countryside and the city of Bristol. Luckily enough it smelt good too. Ian wore Paul Smith.
– We returned home the night of the wedding, having just had a kitchen extension and still excited about the prospect of making a cup of tea in comfort, to find that Ian had arranged for the house to be filled with the same wedding flowers, with lavender sprigs sprinkled up the stairs. I had also arranged for personalised ‘just married’ pillow cases with the date of the wedding from Twisted Twee via Not on the Highstreet, along with Mr and Mrs Scatter cushions, so it was a really lovely surprise for both of us.
The day itself was brilliant, but it was great seeing the photos prepared by family and also by Helen Lisk as she really captured the moments of the day that are too much of a blur to see. She also took photos of the small details that made the day so special, and captured everyone having a good time in a natural way without posing. She also managed to capture some of the spring light that held out for us. Her photos will be on our walls for years and it seems strange that her work will last in this way but also pretty special.
Advice to other couples
Don’t worry about the details on the day. You’ll enjoy every minute of it and it will be in the memory bank for years. Friends and family are the most important thing, along with both parties turning up to the event!
The speeches were exceptional. My father had set the standards high having gone first. However I really enjoyed best man John Luck’s speech.