Thursday 28 June 2012

HOT NEW VENUE: 29 Portland Place

Say hello to one of the dreamiest, most sybaritic wedding venues in the land. And yes, I'm biased as I get to work just one floor up from the beautiful reception spaces of 29 Portland Place so they are technically home. But as I'm a sucker for anything fabulously period drama English in that rococo grandeur meets stylish palettes of eau de nil, frothed milk white and a little lick of peppermint sort of way, I'm hoping you'll let me off when you see the pictures....

Dating back to the mid 1700s, the Robert Adam townhouse which houses these ballrooms sits just a few doors down from the deshabille rooms used for The Kings' Speech film location (remember the peeling plasterwork of Geoffrey Rush's speech clinic?). It's hard to believe these are the exact twin of those spaces, with all of their original stucco plasterwork, shimmering crystal chandeliers and french doors still in place.
Now that's what we call a hangover: flowers by Pinstripes & Peonies. Image kind courtesy Aneta  Mak
Very recently licensed for events, the ballrooms hold a maximum of 200 guests across the two floors, so you can host an elegant drinks reception in the lower salons before ascending to the larger open-plan ballrooms by way of a grand sweeping staircase.
One adorable, stylish wedding: images courtesy of Aneta Mak

Although the venue likes to work with a hand-picked clutch of suppliers that include Vogue favourites Cellar Society, Sparks and Ashton for luxury cocktails, Great Hire and Aneta Mak, you can of course bring in whichever amazing suppliers you like.

Sigh. They almost make me want to reconsider my little country wedding venue sourced two years ago.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Wedding Planner Secrets: the Production Schedule

Just you try and part me from  my iPhone... (with production schedule fully loaded, naturally)
Now, I realise calling something to do with weddings by such bureaucratic, calculating terminology might seem callous. But even the perfectionists among us will probably admit to ditching the spreadsheets in favour of the erstwhile prettier aspects of planning. It's the wedmin equivalent of those school years when you'd be asked to write a story then illustrate it; how many of us always did the drawing/scribbling, colouring, imaginative and occasionally glitter-sprinkling bit first, I wonder?

Which is how suddenly I have three months to go, and a mother on the wedmin warpath. She has clued into the need for some sort of list and action plan,  and apparently lay awake from 3am yesterday morning worrying about the itinerary for the week prior to the wedding - we have a real blank canvas, barren wedding venue on our hands, you see. Cue battle planning and hunting for all those little confirmation slips, emails, addresses, receipts and  other vital ephemera which I had luckily kept stashed together in a box. The fact that this box had slept happily undisturbed in the corner for quite a few weeks and thus had a nice coating of dust says it all. Two intense hours later, and one seamless way forward plotted out.This, my lovelies, is what we wedding planners like to call The Production Schedule. Sometimes referred to as a running order or Master-time-sheet which makes it sound a little like something you'd do to take over the world, but is just a super sized Excel spreadsheet, really.

To put it simply, a Production Schedule is a series of lists filtered by the ideal time for all the parts and suppliers for your wedding arriving and being installed in your wedding build. We always include a little contingency, and are fans of colour coding by venue location and responsibility until it looks a little like a rainbow stick of rock. The trick is to be realistic: write that scary long list of everything you need to achieve with the aid of your willing helpers, and work from the big day back with either an image or a sketch of what you want the finished article to look like. You'll need to think about everything from putting the Jo Malone soap into the bathrooms for a touch of luxury to rigging the marquee, arranging of flowers for maximum bloom and minimum droop and all those teeny tiny things you think will be done in seconds but  take FOREVER in reality. You can't tell I'm remotely grumpy about spending 3 hours tying 5 strands of lavender to 350 seed packets using twine, can you? Much more fiddly than it sounds, but worth it for the oh so pretty effect.

Break each day into chunks of either two hours or morning and afternoon tasks if you want to keep it looser, delegating jobs and marking these out clearly in colour coded highlights (those stripes I was talking about). We all know that some of it's going to go out of the window, that's part of the fun. And my ultimate tip? Keep everyone in cold beer at the end of the day with perhaps a spot of cake for service with a smile.

Do you have any super wedmin tips, or are you too battling your inner 'I've got plenty of time' delusions?...

Tuesday 19 June 2012


If, like us, you like your bridal fashion to be all pure beauty and silhouettes plucked from a lost world of couture, you'll love the big-day gowns of Bruce Oldfield. One of Britain's last great couturiers and an utterly lovely man to boot, Bruce blends exquisite design and skill with youthful allure in dresses that run the gamut of delicate lace sheaths with flowing trains through to sculptural, boned gowns heavy with embellishment and style. Yes, these dresses are usually the preserve of the A-list with price tags to make your eyes water - but the sample sale means that you too can grab a piece of wearable art to saunter up that aisle in for a steal.

The sale starts on 26th June with anything up to 50% or more off these wonder frocks, occasion wear and accessories from shoes to glittering headpieces. An in-house team of petites mains can transform and alter gowns (usually in a sample size 10) to fit.

Open Monday to Saturday 10.00am - 6pm, visit Bruce at Beauchamp Place, London SW3 1NU.

Monday 18 June 2012

(Belated) FRIDAY I'M IN LOVE: QBride rounds up this week's loveliness

That old adage about 'better late than...'? Well, I'm hoping you can forgive me and my house restoring getting in the way of the usual pre-weekend hit of inspiration, new suppliers and the prettiest ideas. So here instead is a special style-led dose of wedding gorgeousness to kick-start your week...
This week I have been mostly obsessed by Valentino. Their Pre-Spring/Summer 2013 collection was a masterclass in unfussy but oh so beautiful subtlety. See particularly looks 29, 45 and 47 if you fancy rocking the aisle in hot cerise.

Thanks to those lovely girls at Reverie magazine, this week I was introduced to the fabulous hats and accoutrement's of Vivienne Sheriff

Still can't get enough of this stylish affair

Ok, so my love might not like it much (being only 4 inches taller) but what I wouldn't do to have these or these Charlotte Olympia beauties peeping out from under my gown, it would be indecent to say. It might involve our first-born children, though. The new Runaway Bride collection is also worth a look for fashion brides.

J Crew's Sararose gown from Net-a-porter's wedding boutique has 'If Lana Del Rey was a bride' written all over it. Paired with one of these flowery numbers, of course.

Topshop and Richard Nicoll launch the Blushing Brides collection instore on the 22nd!

Reiss are now giving Savile Row a run for their money with a new Personal Tailoring service. Dashing style and cool price points - we're enjoying the thought of grooms in a double breasted suit with slim fit trousers created with a collaborative seventeen stage process to design their perfect suit.

Marchesa at Browns Bride in a lesson in how to do meringue, but the haute couture appropriate version.

Tom Ford Lip Color in Cherry Lush, £36.00 for possibly the most perfect shade of coquettish pink meets red - pair with natural make-up for a little colour-pop.

And finally, top of my wishlist from this week has to be OnceWed's magazine for more on these hair how-to tutorials. I'm contemplating halo braids, but may also be swung by a soft, low knot.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

FLOWER CROWNS: This season's bride style update

Stuck for an alternative to the tiara and not a veil girl? Call it the Lana Del Rey effect, but if you're not topping your (tumbling, glossy) tresses with a crown of blooms this wedding season you're missing a trick. A romantic nod to the summer of love or erstwhile fairytales dependent on which way your sartorial style swings, what started as a renaissance for the sweetly innocent flower-girl wreath adorned with teeny tiny buds and foliage - see the littlest maids of both Kate Moss and Middleton - has grown into a fully fledged, glamorous and fresh style statement. Perhaps that's because they take a certain amount of panache to pull off, and the aforementioned healthy, abundant hair. I'm even seriously considering giving it a whirl to inject my dress with a little 'now' factor and can't wait to see what magic my hair dresser works at my trial this Friday topped with one of these pretties.

Wonder if Lana would approve...?

Real bloom headband (worn around neck) made to order, by The Flower Appreciation Society

Velveteen Rose headband, £36.45 Etsy
Nora oversized headband, £36.00, Rock and Rose
Clara ivory rose crown and birdcage veil, $775, Jennifer Behr
Solid pink flower headband, £14, Topshop

Friday 8 June 2012

FRIDAY I'M IN LOVE: QBride rounds up this week's loveliness (and let's you in on a secret)

Where I would most like to be right (c) Elizabeth Messina.

Happy Friday lovely ones!

Thanks to HRH, most of us have enjoyed a sweet, abbreviated working week post Jubilee jollies. I say enjoyed, but due to a BANANAS work-life balance at the moment that often has me propping my peepers open in a bid to get way past bedtime, the bags under my eyes and general weary grumpiness suggest that 'no, you didn't really have two days off at the beginning of this week. Dreamer'. And I'm scared. Very scared that this is precisely what will keep happening until I'm right up against the big day (3 months and 14 days).

Which is where the little secret comes in. Yesterday evening found my bearded love and I coming the closest we have yet to cancelling the whole shebang. Cue my storming out of the house, realising half way on my stomp that I was dressed like a tramp. Not that this was foremost on my mind (I'm not that vain), it was just that it was indicative of quite how messed up things had become. Messy on the outside, messy on the inside.

Sitting by the river front though, the tight grip of worry started to un-cinch. I actually felt my fingers and toes, felt the air whip around me and ruffle my hair. That probably sounds strange, but it was the first time I felt myself breathe in weeks. Then I got a text. You see, I'm not a 'storm out of the house' kinda girl - it wasn't in anger towards him at home, but just an urge to be outside, me and the air and his ridiculously big old Barbour jacket. Although the row had initially been about money - the bane of all those of us planning weddings on a modest budget, particularly if, like me, you are a creative who works in weddings and keep having lots of ideas that sneakily inch that wedding spend up, however cost-effective and cunning they may seem at the time - it had somehow ended up being about the fact we were both lost.

We'd ceased to be working as a team. I suddenly understood this fabulous and enlightening piece on Rock My Wedding about planning your wedding being the closest many of us come to breaking up. Even for those of us whose love withstands many more rocky patches than the serene, grassy pastures; hardly anyone ever tells you how hard it is. But he came and got me. And when we woke up this morning, air cleared, we were more certain than ever that to pinch a line from The Wedding Date, 'we'd rather spend the rest of our lives arguing like we had the night before, than make love with anyone else'. We just needed to stop taking each other for granted.

So, the wedding is officially still on, my friends. But week's Friday I'm In Love is dedicated to those of us who need some sugar. A little wedding tonic, if you will.

The most endearing in a non-smelly French-cheese-way wedding films from We are Caravan (with thanks to Heather at Bruce Oldfield, who is a treasure)

So glad to have discovered make-up artist Katie Fine, and happier still she's going to pretty me up on the big day!

Hello...from a Glamorous Little Side Project

William Clarke almost trounces the Peony with substitute blooms for out-of-season brides!

The simple pleasure of looking at Aneta Mak's ravishing photography, as seen at our summer soiree

This weekend I'll mostly be practising our scrumped (shhh) apple frangipane desert tarts using this sweet recipe from hipster Brooklyn bakers Sweet Fine Day

What's your sugar when the going gets rough?

Have a treat-filled weekend!

Thursday 7 June 2012

THE QUINTESSENTIALLY WEDDINGS AND WEDDINGS4MEDIA BASH! All the photos and gossip from our summer social

Some parties are about making an impression, networking and forging new friendships, others about pure unabashed fun - and some are a happy marriage of the two. On the 24th May, Quintessentially Weddings hosted a soiree in partnership with Weddings4Media that must surely fall into the latter category.
With some of the starriest wedding industry personalities, suppliers and media all mingling over mean cocktails (thank you, Snow Queen Vodka and Sparks & Ashton), ravishing canapes from
D & D London's newly launched catering creatives Cinnamon Candy,  and cake so good, we almost couldn't bear to share it from Little Venice Cake Company we simply can't wait for the next one. Decked out with the prettiest flowers from favourites Pinstripes & Peonies, decor from - hello, pom poms! - chic furnishings from Velvet Living  - and Cinderella in the building if the glittering shoes from Aruna Seth dotted about the place in mismatched pairs were anything to go by. If the late afternoon sunlight pouring through the French doors of our 29 Portland Place ballrooms didn't dazzle, plenty else did.

We were lucky enough to have the luminous talents of Aneta Mak on hand to capture all the action, and look forward to meeting those who couldn't make it - and our lovely readers - at a bigger soiree soon. Oh, and a BIG, adoring thank-you to all those sponsors who made it happen. We couldn't, and wouldn't have wanted to do it without you superstars.

Without further ado, please see all the photos from the evening...all photos kind courtesy of Aneta Mak.

Sneak peek of the cover of our forthcoming tome - Here comes the Guide!

Hard to believe that somewhere in there lurks QBride...

Staggeringly pretty flowers from Pinstripes & Peonies adorned the fireplaces and dotted the contemporary yet totally timeless furnishings from Velvet Living

A pretty pair: Aruna Seth's shoes made for twinkling decoration
Very little stands between me and a gourmet 1970s party food throwback - such as these delectable cheese straws by Cinnamon Candy. Silvered votives from
As I said, clearly Cinderella had been in the building...and a very chic, hipster Cinderella at that! Thanks Aruna Seth for lending us these lovelies.

Cakes both oh-so-pretty and scrumptious from the Little Venice Cake Company decked the sweets table (surely one of the most welcome additions to weddings from across the pond?!)

Dreamy cocktails from Sparks & Ashton muddled with Snow Queen Vodka kept the party sparkling with a cocktail list that included Death in Venice, a tangy hit of Campari, Prosecco, orange bitters and a citrus twist, a mean riff on a Champagne cocktail with angostura soaked sugar cubes, a dash of brandy topped off with Prosecco, Queen's Martini - all Snow Queen Organic Vodka, Noilly Prat vermouth and caper berry that was as knock-out as it was refined. And the piece de resistance, our very own Quintessentially Weddings cocktail To have and to hold of Snow Queen Vodka, orange liqueur, a dash of lemon juice and Victorian pink lemonade to finish.

Guests snapped up canapes from Cinnamon Candy that included horseradish blinis topped with avocado mousse and grilled shrimp and goats cheese toasts topped with sunblush tomatoes and pesto foam. The verdict? Heavenly. We may have just found our new favourite wedding caterers!

 Below: sweet rosebud initials and pom poms from put the finishing touch to the space.

Our very own Sophie Fleming chats with Tammie Raven and friend from the Little Venice Cake Company

Lauren of Wedding4Media delivers a corking welcome speech despite nerves...(wonder how many more speeches these ballrooms will see now we're all licensed up!)

Anabel earns her stripes with a charming introduction to all things Quintessentially Weddings.
The wonderfully talented Janet Mohapi Banks and Chanelle Segerius-Bruce

Lucia Silva of State of Grace rocking an original dress (what else?) and making us all envious with how breezy and cool she looked. And anyone who can pull shades off indoors? RESPECT.
One of our favourite wedding wordsmiths, the aptly named Emma Woodhouse of The Wedding Reporter fame shares some smiles with Victoria Ayres (a September bride twin of mine) and our dear New York export, Jessica Seal.
Could she be any lovelier or radiantly talented? Nope - it's Reverie magazine and Forever & Ever Events weddings supernova Mary Lee Herrington and friend...
The big reveal...QBride (me!) catches up with Natalie Jones of The Ritz - who was, incidentally, wearing the most fabulous print frock.

Quintessentially Weddings' Caroline Hurley (we suspect) places a bet with James Lord of Love & Lord weddings on whether they can resist a second tipple...
 Jane Sturgess of Home House with Janet Mohapi-Banks

The legendary Paul Antonio chats to Nina of Neville McCarthy
 The team behind Quintessentially Weddings in an all-smiles sandwich: Abbey, 29 Portland Place manager Georgina Bentley-Leek, our new wedding planner Naomi Paul, me in fit of giggles, Klara and Dusty. So looks like a scene from Bridesmaids, no?

And to all of those who couldn't make it or I didn't get to share a cocktail with, next time beckons!