Monday, 27 July 2015

Love Birds: Leona & Niall's Wedding.

I have been dying to blog real life weddings for so long now. Probably since I was planning my own wedding and I first set eyes on the divine catalogue of real life wedding inspiration, Rock my Wedding, which has long been my "I'm not worthy" target of wedding blogs. Anyway...I'm ready to breath life into this wedding category here on Made Over & Me so be ready for inspiration a plenty, insider knowledge and plenty of wedding planning advice. So if you are getting married, or you have friends who are, don't forget to give me a big shout out or if, like me, you just heart weddings please make sure you stop by and comment if you see something you like! Lets get on with it. Today we are inspired by the gorgeous wedding of these two love birds, Leona & Niall.

{the love story}

Niall and Leona met at a housewarming party. "He was a little shy but we connected straight away and spent the whole night chatting. When it was time for me to leave, he walked me to the door to say goodbye. I lingered for a little too long, hoping that he’d ask for my number. He never!!" Leona recollects. On the way home she tells me she wondered if it could be put it down to his shyness, or maybe because when she asked him to name one of his favourite bands she had corrected him when he said, "The 1990's." and she had replied "No, not a decade. A band!" Luckily Leona didn't over analyse it too much and made the first move and the rest is history!

With plenty of time to plan their big day Leona and Niall started searching for a venue a little more than two years before the Big Day and were surprised to find that our short listed venues were already very booked up. The gorgeous waterfront venue of Orocco Pier, South Queensferry, Edinburgh was the winner after receiving some well deserved VIP treatment from wedding coordinator Laura. "She couldn't have been nicer and nothing we asked was too much trouble. She offered us drinks, (a small token, but one not offered by the other venues we visited) and her main goal was to find out what we wanted so that she could tailor the day to our request. Her enthusiasm to help couples plan their dream day came across very genuine. Laura held our date for a fortnight to give us time to make our decision but, in the short time that it took to walk back to our car, we had already agreed to sign on the dotted line! We realised that it doesn't matter if the venue is the most beautiful location on earth - if the organisers aren’t up to scratch then your big day could never be perfect"~ Some very savvy advice to wedding venues from a recent bride to be!

{what the bride wore}

Much like myself Leona cites 'Trying on wedding dresses' to be, by far, one of the most exciting errands on the wedding 'to do' list. She did the rites of passage of trying a full on 'princess' gown (not her style but it was absolutely sensational so I thought I'd try it on for size!) "All of the delicate beads, gems and sparkles were beautiful and I probably would have been happy to walk down the aisle in any of the dresses I tried on but, for me, ‘walk’ was the key word" Leona tells us,

"I knew I wanted a dress that I wouldn't have to drag around with me, be scared of tripping over or (worst case scenario) require help to visit the Ladies Room in! When I tried my dress on, it was so light that I felt as though I could have taken a victory run around the block. Adorned with pearls, sparkles and lace it was far from being plain and a sweetheart neckline that sat slightly off shoulder gave it a more contemporary look. Beautiful little buttons sewn onto the back helped fasten the dress and I loved the fact that the buttons continued all the way down the length of the train which I thought was a fun bit of detailing." In love with the dress Leona customised the dress by removing the existing one and replacing it with a thicker sash. The bow was also replaced with a lovely, up-cycled diamante brooch which doubled up as the brides ‘something old’.

With Made Over Ladies on hair and make up we created a beautiful vintage inspired, sophisticated look. A swept up vintage inspired hair up adorned with fresh orchids by Kirsty and a smokey brown and soft plum lip combo by me. Leona looked bridal-ready-smoking-hot (that's a thing you know).

Leona's 3 bridesmaids in blush pink complimented her beautifully and with two stunning flower girls and mum in gorgeous soft blue/muted pink dress jacket combo all that was left to do was have a lovely heart warming Skype chat with BM number 4, Fiona, in Australia who unfortunately couldn't make it after having her baby close before the big day.

{the Ceremony}

This was one on the most sentimental cermonies I had ever had the pleasure of attending and really personal to the bride and groom. Leona describes the special little touches they planned for their ceremony "We wrote each other love letters but not to be read on the day. The idea was that we wrote them to our future selves and sealed them - not to be opened until our 10 year anniversary! We shared our plan with a friendly little wine merchant in Stockbridge who was pleased to help us choose a bottle of wine that would age well. Thinking ahead, we decided to opt for a nice bottle of red since this wouldn't limit us to having to be somewhere with a fridge on our 10 year anniversary. Picnic with a hill top view, camping by sea, boat ride on a lake... the options for what we would want to do with ourselves in 10 years were endless so why limit ourselves to having to be somewhere near a fridge?! Along with our tasty Pinot Noir, we also bought a lovely wine box to store it in. A letter each was given to our two flower girls and our Celebrant incorporated the idea into our ceremony by explaining the idea to our guests and asking the flower girls to place our letters in the box. Many of our guests commented on the love letter idea so we think it went down well and our wine is now tucked away, safely with our letters, waiting to be opened in the year 2024!

{the details}

Leona spent a lot of time focussing on the details of the day. "A big picture can look great but a big picture, complete with lots of small intricacies makes it magnificent!" she tells us. "I wasn’t aiming for a hard set theme, but I’m a fan of vintage so I wanted the day to have a vintage feel to it. I think I achieved this by focussing on the smaller details such as: the simple more natural looking bouquets tied with lace, vintage inspired wedding shoes, the filigree rose quartz jewellery, a muted colour palette chosen for all aspects of the day, lace bunting, the understated wedding cake, my home made stationary, a white wicker picnic hamper re-purposed as our card box… Everything in general was understated but all of the finer points came together to make the bigger picture. And in case the small nuances of the day were lost on anyone, we had a 1920’s themed photo booth with sepia filter."

If you are looking for some DIY inspiration for your wedding day well Leona and Niall's is the wedding for that. "Much of my day had an element of DIY added to it. Partly due to cost and partly through not being able to find the look I was going for in the shops Leona tells us what she did to make it more of a bespoke occasion.

"The menus provided by Orocco Pier were elegant and pleasing to the eye but, honestly, quite typical for wedding stationary. I wanted something a little more interesting so with nothing more than Microsoft Word, some nice thick paper and a pair of scalloped scissors, I was able to create some really cute menus that I felt matched my personality more. Of course, when the menus were completed I couldn't stop there. they no longer matched the table numbers or place cards! I was worried that it might look like a job half done which I couldn't possibly allow on my BIG day… a few more hours and a couple of paper cuts more, I had a complete set of matching stationary that I was really pleased with!"

Another DIY element was Leona's head piece. Instead of opting for an expensive shop bought head piece Leona opted for fresh white orchids. "Flowers of my choosing were wired by my florist and placed strategically by my hairdresser, Kirsty, to create a unique headpiece, worn by no other! It was simple enough to create but I had to be careful to pick flowers that I knew would last the duration of the day."   I think you will agree Leona's looked stunning in her hair and she has some amazing tips for your flower selection if you are considering fresh flowers for your own wedding...

"As a general rule of thumb, flowers that require little watering perform well. I've personally worn Orchids and Cala Lillies in my hair before, but a good way to test if your preferred flower would work well is to buy it before it's fully bloomed, leave it in water until it opens up, then remove it from the water and leave at room temperature. Time how long it lasts before the flower starts to wilt. (Handy tip: don't use a flower that has been in bloom for too long. The flower will already be starting to die and it won’t last well out of water. Speaking from personal experience, I've used orchids that have lasted beautifully until the following day. I once picked an orchid from my own indoor plant which seemed perfectly healthy at the time, but was wilted before the day was out.)"  

{words of wisdom}

"Be strong enough to pull the plug on an idea you have your heart set on, if you have doubts about how well it will work. I was heart set on my aisle music. Gabrielle Aplin's cover of 80's Power Ballad, The Power of Love was beautiful throughout with a crescendo towards the end that would get my guests all excited for my grand entrance! I envisioned myself emerging through the doors towards the end of the big swell of music and then floating down the aisle as the song died off, reaching my Groom at the perfect moment at the end of the song, with the words, "make love your goal". This was my vision. It was perfect. It was long. Four minutes long... Was that too long for aisle music?? I had 4 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls and me. I visited the venue and timed myself walking down the aisle. Twenty seconds - at a slooow pace, (and zero seconds for one of my nieces who was too shy to walk down at all).

I convinced myself it would be ok. We had plenty of time to build her confidence and if I played one and a half minutes of the song before sending out the girls, I could make it work. I called the, bridesmaids to share my wonderful vision with them, prepped them, told them several times to walk as slowly as they felt comfortable and then walk slower!! I made a timing sheet so that I knew the cues for sending each of them out. I would make it work.

As it turned out, my apprehension wasn't misplaced. The first thing to go wrong was that one of my bridesmaids had to pull out. She had received the wonderful news that her and her boyfriend were expecting a baby, but the baby was due only a couple of months before the wedding and, as she lives in Australia, regretfully, she wouldn’t be able to travel such a distance to be with us.

I was sad that Fiona couldn't be my bridesmaid any more but I didn't want to lose my aisle music too so I reworked my timings and decided to add on 5 seconds to each girl. I was really pushing it now but the confidence issue with my niece seemed to be solved so I stuck with the plan.

On the day, my niece was due to walk right before me. Everything seemed fine until the moment it was her turn to walk. The wedding planner and I both tried to soothe her but she was frozen on the spot with tears streaming down her face. Before I knew it, MY cue to walk had come. Flustered, I stepped through the doors, walked too quickly, got to the the front of aisle sooner than anticipated and, before Gabrielle Aplin got her chance to serenade us with the last few words, "make love your goal" the music was cut short and the Celebrant began his speech.  Moral of the story: be strong enough to pull the plug on an idea you have your heart set on, if you have doubts about how well it will work!"

I don't think anyone noticed as Leona was so breathtaking we were all focused on her.

{Stand out Memories}

Leona recalls her favourite memory of the day was hearing Niall's vows. "We decided to write our own vows and I knew it wouldn't be an easy task so I started piecing mine together months beforehand. Every time I asked Niall if he'd started his, he’d say no, and about 8 weeks before the date I became so stressed out by it that I forced him to sit down with pen and paper! He’s definitely a man of few words so I wasn't sure at all what to expect from him but my apprehension turned out to be very misplaced. His vows were amazing! They were carefully constructed, meaningful and came from the heart. They were so touching in fact, that there was barely a dry eye in the room!! Niall's favourite memory? "When we did the first dance perfectly (after a million bad practice attempts)", said Niall. The couple had spent the evenings leading up to the wedding practicing in their front room. "There were few occasions were we made it to the end of our song without making a mistake so we were very nervous that we’d move into a turn too soon or miss a twirl, but we smashed it on the night! None of our guests knew that we were planning a special first dance so it went down a treat."

~with some lovely insights from Leona~

Apart from the amazing staff at Orocco Pier, we were taken in by the beautiful, panoramic views of the forth - the water itself and the bridges. We also loved the idea of having some outside space in the form of the long balcony, lit by fire torches with a staircase leading down to the beach. We provided a basket of flip flops for any of our guests who wanted to venture out onto the beach but there was dancing aplenty throughout the night so they also came in handy for relieving sore feet!

Photographer: John Gilchrist

John is a family friend of the in-laws. He did the photos for Niall’s sister’s wedding and spent the whole day running around taking thousands of pictures. (No exaggeration!) He’s very passionate about photography and, (I’m sure he’ll forgive me for saying) a little like a man possessed when he’s working, characterised by the utter determination he shows to get a good picture and the crazy contortions he pulls to get the right angle. “Crazy man lying on the ground!” Nope - that’s just John trying to get the best shot! We saw how dedicated he was at Pam’s wedding and decided he was the best man for the job at our own.

Hair & Make Up: Made Over Ladies

Chosen not only because they were friends of mine but also because of the many amazing reviews that other brides have left for them. Kirsty and Amy are both very talented at their jobs and have a real flair for their profession, but their real strength lies in their ability to keep conversation flowing during jittery moments or their resourcefulness during wardrobe panics. They know exactly how to deal with any situation so they help tremendously to keep nerves at bay on the big day!

I had actually already chosen a beautiful florist located in the street behind my work. I was looking for something a little more natural than the typically perfect wedding bouquet and, (having used this florist before) I knew they would be able to deliver what I was looking for. However, her communication was terrible to say the least. I decided that I didn't need any extra stress from a supplier who wasn't replying to my emails so I looked elsewhere and found Leigh. She was perfect. She met with me to talk about the picture I was forming in my head and made suggestions of which flowers would fit that picture. After I left, the communication continued and Leigh even set up a Pinterest Board specifically for me so that I could see our ideas coming together. She seemed to know exactly what I was looking for and made me feel completely at ease - I honestly couldn't have hoped for a better florist.

Gwenne’s wedding shop is located in a small town outside of Edinburgh, and the shop front looks very small so it could easily be overlooked by the discerning bride. However, once inside, the place is like a Tardis and the shop decor is lovely! There are 3 good sized rooms for trying on dresses. On my first couple of trips I was taken to the back room which is massive, and has 3 of the 4 walls lined with an array of dresses to choose from. (The closest way for a grown woman to feel like a kid in a candy shop!) The staff are very good at helping you choose which dresses will look good on you and, once they’ve helped you wriggle into your chosen gowns, there was bags of room to flounce around in each of them, admiring yourself in the enormous mirrors while doing so! Great staff, great communication and lots of dresses to choose from, all make this one a true hidden gem.

Favours: Sourced online from various merchants.

We wanted our favours to be something that our guests would be able to keep and use, rather than something that would be consumed, or kept in a box as a mere memento. In keeping with the vintage feel of the day we chose a few different styles of decorative glass jars for the ladies and filled them with marshmallows. The men we found harder to buy for but we decided on keyrings that were literally keys! They tip of the keys were shaped so that they doubled up as a bottle opener, to be used in case of beer emergencies.

These guys were the people who helped us choose a good bottle of wine to go with our love letters and they seemed genuinely happy to help. After initially contacting them online, they took the time to make several suggestions to us by email, listed the reasons why their suggestions were good choices, and even suggested that we might like to consider a Port instead due to it’s good ageing qualities. After deciding on red wine, we visited the shop and talked to the store assistant a little longer before finally choosing which bottle to go for. We never felt rushed, or like we were an inconvenience at any point and would highly recommend Appellation Wines for their friendly staff.

SO I hope you've enjoyed this beautiful love story of Leona and Niall... let me tell you Leona knew what she wanted out of her big day and she made it happen. The result was a heart melting union of two lovely people and their families, an amazingly fun party and some gorgeous life long memories. Thanks for sharing it with us guys xx