Presenting Charlie Brear’s #FridayBride
Sophie & Mike got married on the 16th April 2016, the day of their 10-year anniversary. What better way to celebrate the occasion than being surrounded by friends and family who have been with them every step of the way. For their ceremony they had the pleasure of using a wonderful space at Surrey County Hall – a Grade II listed, nineteenth century building, in an old Victorian court room. As soon as they saw it, they fell in love with its quirkiness and knew that it would be perfect for them. After that, they took a vintage double-decker bus to Vauxhall, heading to the fabulous Georgian reception venue of Brunswick House. Sophie & Mike knew they wanted it to feel intimate, relaxed and fun - like a dinner party around your best friend’s house! It was important for them to find a venue that didn't feel too like a blank canvas, but something comfortable and a little eccentric…
Sophie was nothing but graceful in our soft silk Harwood dress, accessorised with a flawless silky veil.
Sophie & Mike’s wedding pictures were captured by Mandorla London.
When and where did your partner propose to you?
Mike proposed to me during a holiday in California whilst driving the beautiful Big Sur coast road. Then at sunset, on an empty beach, Mike asked me to marry him and handed me a beautiful ring out of his pocket... I was in shock! He had secretly met with a friend and had the ring designed and made without me knowing, choosing the diamond and setting himself. When we finally left the beach and got back to the car, he had a card from my dad whose permission he’d asked before we left – which was filled to the brim with confetti, saying how proud and happy he was for us. Such a fantastic memory.
Which dress did you choose and why? And where did you buy it from?
I ended up with an individual Harwood dress, in a softer silk than the current design. I was instantly drawn to its simple, classic and clean lines. After trying it on at the Charlie Brear showroom, I was lucky enough to purchase it via the sample sale as it was a one off.. I like to think of it as fate :)
How was your experience shopping for your wedding dress?
I found the idea of dress shopping hugely daunting. I didn't really have much clue about what I wanted to look like for the big day, although I know that I wanted something that I could move and dance in, and nothing too fussy. Visiting the showroom was actually my first experience of trying on wedding dresses, & was terrified as I rang the buzzer. I had my bridal A-Team with me, to hold my hand and provide honest reactions, the good, the bad and the ugly ones. As soon as we entered the showroom, the nerves fell away. It felt like opening a chocolate box – so many delicious dresses, both new and vintage to rummage through. It was so much fun; I didn’t want the appointment to end!
What would your advice be to other brides shopping for a wedding dress?
My advice would be to trust your instinct, know what is flattering to your body shape, make the most of your best features, and go for what YOU want! Don’t be swayed by other people’s ideas of what you should look like. I’d also suggest finding a great tailor or seamstress that you trust. I used the talented team at Bride & Alter, who Charlie Brear recommend, they helped tweak my dress into its final form – and I loved it.
How did you feel after you had ordered your dress?
I remember walking down the street with it in the big Charlie Brear dress bag after collecting the dress on my lunch break, calling my bridesmaids in nervous, excited tears telling her them I had it. I was so scared I would drop it, rip it, or get it stuck in the tube doors, I was on high alert all the way home.
What shoes did you wear?
I’m not a huge ‘shoe’ person, and everyone who knows me, knows I basically live in tatty (but loved) Converse – so finding something that ticked both comfortable and elegant was tricky. In the end I chose a pair from Badgley Mischka which I ordered from America. My girlfriends also had a pair of Converse custom made for me, which had our wedding day and date stitched on, so I slipped into these at the end of the night for the more serious dance moves – I love & wear them still.
Did you struggle finding the right lingerie that worked with your dress, if so would you recommend anything for future brides?
My dress allowed for me to have cups sewn in so that I didn’t have to wear a bra, and I wore a simple seamless pair of nude knickers from ‘& Other Stories’.
Who did your hair & make-up and how did you find them?
A wonderful magician called Bridget, who runs Sapphire Pink. We met when I was buying bridesmaid dresses from ‘Maids To Measure’, as she was friends with the owner. We started talking, and she gave me her card. We instantly got on, and I felt really comfortable in her company. I decided to do a hair and make-up trial before the wedding, to try out some ideas and see what worked, which I would recommend to everyone. Bridget was an absolute dream, ultra talented and kind – even driving with us to the ceremony to help fit my veil, and touch up any final teary eyes before I walked down the aisle. I wish she could style me every morning!
How did you feel walking down the aisle?
Surprisingly calm. It all happened in a whirlwind – from putting on my dress, getting into the car, walking up to the big wooden doors to the courtroom. I had only a moment to pause and take a deep breath & to take in what was about to happen. My sister, who was our florist extraordinaire, had created 2 huge vases of blossom either side of the alter, which took my breath away as the doors opened, and there in the middle was Mike. The mix of exquisite flowers, the smiles on the faces of our guests, and my future husband at the end of the aisle, took away all the nerves. I basically skipped down the aisle to him.
What traditions did you follow?
We followed a few of the more standard traditions. My father walked me down the aisle, and Mike and I didn’t see each other until the ceremony. My maid of honour made me an alternative “something old, new, borrowed and blue” which was hilarious. Everything was so personally tailored to our memories together, it was perfect. I think the funniest tradition we followed was smashing plates to ‘Zorba the Greek’ as our last dance song as Mike is half Greek Cypriot. We had kept it a secret from everyone and when the famous opening started, everyone cheered. We were lifted up on people’s shoulders and paraded around the room – I nearly hit my head on the ceiling a few times - but it was worth it.
Did your wedding have any quirky or unusual features?
I think our venues were pretty quirky, as we married in an old courtroom at Surrey County Hall (cue jokes about “going down for life”) and had the registrar sit in the judge’s chair, readings in the witness stand, and guests in the jury boxes.
What was the funniest moment of the day?
There were so many great moments, from my husband revealing our infamous ‘Valentine’s Day Story’ in his speech to my horrified family, (which I can’t repeat here!) to smashing plates to ‘Zorba the Greek’ for our last dance. However, I think the funniest moment award goes to the journey between the Ceremony and Reception venues. We had all drunk a lot of fizz on the bus, and once we hit a bit of traffic – Mike and his ushers decided to hop off and use the toilets at a store on the side of the road. Within seconds, the traffic cleared and the bus had to drive off without them! Watching the boys all run down the road after the bus in their suits & fancy shoes was hilarious – they luckily caught up and jumped on the bus to crying laughter, huge cheers and some very close to bursting bladders!
Who took your wedding pictures?
The inspiring Sophia of ‘Mandorla London’. I fell in love with Sophia as soon as we met at the Atelier Brides show at Somerset House. Mike and I both wanted to have photos that captured the intimate moments of the day. She worked so closely with us in the run up to the wedding, we met regularly for coffee, and talked about every detail. I truly felt like we had a friend take our photos on our wedding.
If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?
Looking back, I’d like to have had a wedding videographer, mainly to capture all of the speeches. I’d tried my hardest to not to get too tipsy before them, however the cheeky one glass turned into several throughout the morning.
I’d also try to have the ceremony earlier, the day zoomed past on what felt like double time. We would have loved an extra 3 hours with everyone
Did you find organising your wedding an easy process? What parts were easy and what parts were trickier?
I don’t think planning any wedding is easy, as there are so many factors to think about – even if you’re planning on having a “simple” one. That being said, I really enjoyed the whole experience, especially as I was lucky enough to be surrounded with such helpful and talented people. We were so blessed that my sister, who is florist in Melbourne, offered to look after the flowers which was a huge relief. She is so incredibly talented and passionate. It was a joy to have her so involved in the creative flourishes of the day. We tried to involve everyone in some way, and not only did it spread the stress, it also helped to make the day feel connected to each person.
What will you do with your dress now?
OK – So I have a confession to make. I’ve not looked at it since our wedding day. I’m too scared to open the dress bag up. We had so much fun, dancing all night, I’d be shocked if it’s not covered in red wine, cake and/or lipstick. If it’s salvageable (please let it be so!), I’d love to wear it again on a future wedding anniversary.
What are you and your husband's best memories of the day?
Mike: I have so many great memories from the day and the first was being with my Groomsmen at Surrey County Hall. We had spent all morning counting down the time until we had to be at the venue and when we arrived we popped a bottle of champagne and collectively tried to get our nerves in check. When people started to arrive the feeling was amazing. To see so many people who had made the effort to celebrate with us was incredibly humbling. Seeing Sophie walking down the aisle is something I’ll never forget. Nor will I ever forget the look on her father’s face when placing her hand in mine. To see him so emotional was a very rare sight. One of my favourite memories was during our vows when Sophie slipped in my nickname when saying my full name aloud. Everyone laughed and it helped to settle the nerves. My overall memory of the day is one of happiness. Everything was perfect and it was so nice to have all of our family and friends in one place.
TAKE 5 WITH THIS WEEK’S #FRIDAYBRIDE SOPHIE
1) Find the dress first. Then think bridesmaid dresses, themes, colours, etc. I think once you find the style of dress you want; the rest will naturally fall into place.
2) If you have the opportunity too, I’d suggest going around the venue with your photographer in the run up to the big day. Let them know If you want to capture specific groups of people and where. That way, on the day it’s not a scramble to get everyone together.
3) It sounds regimented, but I wholeheartedly suggest that everyone puts a timeline together for the day, down to the hour – especially if you have more than one venue. How long will it take to travel between venues, what time will the band arrive, when does the cake get delivered. You of course won’t stick to it; however, it really helps you to understand how quickly the day goes with so much happening!
4) You are not responsible for everything. Split out responsibilities for the wedding day with your family, friends, bridesmaids and ushers. If people want to help, let them.
5) HAVE FUN. Remember, everyone is there because they love you both. It’s about you and your partner celebrating something wonderful. Don't sweat the small stuff & enjoy every second of it.