Lady of the Winter Lake: The Making of…

Happy 2015 everyone! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything what with Christmas being exceptionally busy, taking on another job role and hitting January hard with wedding enquiries, I haven’t really had time to think about blogging! What I did have time for though, on Tuesday 30th December, was creating a bit of winter magic using a black wedding dress designed and hand made by Jo Morton at Valour and Valkyrie and the frozen lake as an insane backdrop at Silvermere Inn on the Lake in Cobham, Surrey.


This was a photoshoot that raised the bar for all future shoots and is truly worthy of some international bridal Vogue publication….if I do say so myself. This shoot came to life through the vision and hard work of an incredible team of talented wedding professionals and was captured not only by professional wedding and commercial photographer Amanda Duncan, but also by my favourite videographers in the whole world, Natalie and Luigi of Wedding Flicks.

When organising a photo shoot it really helps to have someone like Victoria Chainey under your belt. An uber cool, ex fashion model turned fabulous make-up artist with contacts who make dresses in their sleep and a fabulous internal look-book of ideas! Lady of the Winter Lake grew from the ground up using Silvermere’s natural beauty and went through stages of Black Swan before Lady of the Lake was chosen. To get the best of both worlds, we decided to find two models to portray two different versions of the ‘Lady of the Lake’ that we know. Drama vs. Whimsy. Commercial vs. Avant Garde. Traditional vs. Contemporary.

For everyone who is unsure of why you would want or feel the need to do a photoshoot, let me explain. First of all, there is no need. The ideal is at the end of the effort you put in you have some fantastic and professional imagery for your website as well as with any luck, features in publications for absolutely nothing! Beyond that – and part of the reason I find it so fun – is that a photoshoot will allow you the time to be creative in a relaxed and fun environment. You can connect with suppliers you may have never worked with and share ideas, inspiration, stories and make friendly business contacts for the future. An example of this being, we feature some fabulous headpieces in this shoot as well as an incredible brooch bouquet. All of these fabulous pieces by Rosadior and I Heart Buttons were created having never met me or any of the other suppliers before. They were excited about the prospect of the shoot, wanted to get involved and sent their labours of love in the post direct to my door so we could use them. How amazing is that!? For all of those sceptics, I say – “let your hair down!”


We also struck it lucky with our beautiful models Emily and Charlotte. A simple post to our Facebook page and within 1 day we received over 15 applicants from girls who wanted to be involved and from friends and family recommending their nearest and dearest! It was an easy decision for me and when I showed Victoria and Amanda their pictures, it was a done deal!

Tuesday 30th December – Showtime!

9.15am Arrival – a cold a bitter morning, the lake had all but frozen over and we all began to arrive at Silvermere in desperate need of something hot! The staff are amazing there and quickly whipped up a plate of yummy biscuits and some much needed tea and coffee! One by one people started to arrive and get setup for hair and make up for our fabulous girls. A quick ten trips back and forth to the lakeside and we had set the scene with some quite frankly unreal cakes by Jeannette’s Great Cakes, a stunning ombre croquembouche by Quintessential Cookies and a bit of fake snow (that may or may not have been leftover from a wedding the week before – I’ll never say) and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers by A & S Flower Studio and we were off!


Everything came together beautifully throughout the day and the stunning tuille dress by Ellis from BRIDE by Natasha Jane in Dorking was a whimsical contrast to the black gown. At 1pm our gorgeous male model Ashley arrived and after just a bit of sprinkling of fairy dust from Victoria, he joined the girls in a variety of stunning suits by Dapper (Best Menswear Retailer in the South East don’t you know!)

4.30pm saw the sun set on our shoot. Frozen (especially the models in their gorgeous backless dresses), hungry and ready for home, we all packed up and said our goodbye’s, eagerly anticipating the finished products! Well ladies and gents, having submitted the work to the amazing ‘Rock My Wedding‘ for them to publicise, I shan’t go crazy with the images but I have created a mini gallery and will add to them as time goes on. You actually can’t miss this gallery – I think I want a black wedding dress with crow feathers now!

Supporting Cast

Silvermere Inn on the Lake (Venue & Shoot Location)

Amanda Duncan Photography (Photography)

Wedding Flicks Videography (Videography)

Valour & Valkyrie (Black Bespoke Wedding Dress)

BRIDE by Natasha Jane (White Ellis Wedding Dress)

Victoria Chainey Make-Up (Make-Up)

Beckie’s Bridal Hair (Hair Styling)

Jeannette’s Great Cakes (Wedding Cakes)

Quintessential Cookies (Macaron Croquembouche, Cupcakes, Cookies)

A & S Flower Studio (Fresh Bouquet)

Rosadior (Headdresses)

I Heart Buttons (Button Bouquet)

Harpers (Sequin Table Cloth)

Female Models – Charlotte Lucy Hammond & Emily Woodward

Male Model – Ashley Mayers





Shabby Chic Dubrovnik Wedding: Katherine & Anthony

SWOON! This romantic, shabby chic, country style wedding took place in no other than Croatia’s stunning capital city. Dubrovnik. If you have never taken a boat from a wedding ceremony to a wedding reception, you are now morally obligated to read about this incredible wedding and you CANNOT miss one of the most beautiful galleries I’ve ever seen. Oh, and there’s a cat too – yep, that’s definitely the cherry on top of a very big wedding cake!

The date was the 23rd October 2014 and although Katherine and Anthony had never been to Croatia before, they fell in love with the old fashioned look of Dubrovnik and decided that was the place for them! Subsequent visits confirmed that they made the right choice and they made the sensible decision whilst planning an overseas wedding to hire a wedding planner, Kike at Do You Wed Me. “We had a wedding planner which made things so much easier, she took care of everything that was awkward. We just gave her ideas and she did a lot of the magic and preparation”.


The theme of the wedding was shabby chic and this beautiful and simple style of decor fitted with the quirky style of Dubrovnik’s old town perfectly. “The venues we decided on were all old traditional and beautiful buildings. We kept the decor quite simple and elegant, the flowers were all country style in old coloured jars rather than anything too modern”. The ceremony took place at Sponza Palace in the old town to which Katherine walked through the cobbled streets and the reception was held at Villa Argentina near the coast – and yes, they traveled there in a goddamn boat – awesome! Once at Grand Villa Argentina – a 5 star venue – their 60 guests tucked into a sumptuous 5 course meal with wine and Prossecco (mandatory) and had red velvet & chocolate cake wedding cake for afters! The night ended with a DJ and dancing until the early hours.

Now, how many dresses is average for girls to try on before they pick THE ONE? I would say on average…15…maybe? Katherine was not going by halves and admits easily trying on at least 30 dress and searching for over 6 months. Needless to say she found an absolute stunner of a gown, designed by Angelina Faccenda – queen of the silhouette! She bought this from Ava Rose Hamilton in Barrowford.


It’s understandable that for any bride she wants perfection and a stress free day and Katherine was no different. The most important thing for this couple was for there not to have been any issues (and to have bloody fabulous weather!) Thankfully they had everything they wanted and would not have changed a thing! That’s always good to hear, right? After their wedding day, they sailed off to a nearby island called Lopud for a week’s relaxation in a resort – just to wind down from the stress of all the fabulous food and wine…(that’s just my bitter side coming out, apologies).

When asked what they could recommend to other couples planning their weddings, they shared with us these two nuggets  of wisdom. Ladies and gents, ears open!:

1) Always get a wedding planner if you’re going abroad no matter what the cost!  (Hella agreed…)

2) Whatever your budget is, you will spend more. (Agreed. but mainly because I am haphazard with money…)

Now get a chocolate biscuit and checkout this most amazing and beautiful of galleries – it’s like falling into an old fairy tale (with Prossecco).

A special thanks to the couples amazing photographer who happens to be the brides brother, Paul Hamblin Photography for sharing his images and many congrats to the happy couple on their incredible and unique wedding!

Happy Weddings! x


5 Things Nobody Tells You: Dealing with Married Life

The dictionary definition of marriage reads as follows: ‘any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognised legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities’. Romantic, eh? Needless to say this is not the first thing that your nearest and dearest explain to you when that shiny new rock is sitting on your lovely little finger. The congratulations are in abundance, tears are flowing (hopefully good ones) and your fairytale (alternative or traditional) is finally within your reach. This will be the celebration that will  unite you in the eyes of the law and establish you as wedding planner extraordinaire. That’s why we get married really, isn’t it? That’s why I got married!

But what people don’t tell you, what they don’t enlighten you to, is that…s**t changes when you tie that metaphorical knot. Suddenly, you have to consider someone else and what they think about which washing machine to buy or at what angle the microwave should face in the kitchen – what the hell!? Nobody ever told me that I’d have to work out what day I’m doing the laundry so it would fit in with our weekly movements so that our flat wouldn’t be full of clothes on days that we’re at home…blah blah oh god! (If I’ve put you off marriage yet, forgive me. It really is amazing and worth it if you’ve found that one person you can’t live without. My rule is, if you smile when they snore because you find it hilarious instead of mind numbingly agonising, they’re a keeper!) But, there are things that you should not shy away from before the big day. Perhaps you live together, or perhaps not – but discussing how your two singular lives will merge with expert cohesion over the coming months is definitely a conversation you should be having; if not alone, with the guidance of a reputable counsellor.   Here are my 5 top tips on dealing with married life that you may not have even considered – because your friends and family ‘forgot’ to mention them!

1) Pre-marital counselling is worth every penny – Okay, I am here to set the record straight. Pre-marital counselling is nothing to be ashamed of and is not for people who are struggling or concerned with their relationship. Pre-marital counselling is there to give you loved up lovelies the tools to better deal with new situations that will inevitably crop up once that marriage certificate is signed. How to deal with bills. How to deal with arguments. (You can’t just storm off now that you have the same surname, it’s not child’s play any more – stick it out and fix it!)  Do you get a joint account; who pays for what? Are there children involved and if so, how does your role as a step-parent affect them, you and your relationship? Pre-marital counselling takes my number one spot as speaking from experience, it really is worth it’s weight in gold. My recommendation is Relate in Epsom, Surrey. There’s no shame in preparing yourself for a stronger future!


2) ‘Cute’ annoying habits, will probably just become annoying… – It’s not a bad thing, more a right of passage that we’ll all go through. The snoring, the socks on the floor, the fact you like the pillows to be a certain way on the sofa and they’re ALWAYS in a complete disaster when you haven’t arranged them (not talking about me or anything) or any of those habits that under any other circumstance would drive you mad but because you’re so hopelessly, desperately in love you just smile. In time, the smile will fade…but even though you might not find their habits cute or sexy or adorable anymore, it will never be enough to tarnish the relationship that you have. The relationship that can withstand dirty socks on the floor…


3) Women will stop fussing about hair removal – sorry fellas, I am here to set the record straight. When you are in the dating  phase, your lady will more than likely be soft, smooth and supple like the skin of a freshly washed apple and not out of place in an advert for Venus – ‘she’s got it’! Now I’m not saying that your significant other will abscond from all hair removal for the rest of your married life but I am saying expect her soft and supple skin to make an appearance for special events such as Valentine’s Day, your Birthday and your Anniversary. At all other times of the year, particularly during a harsh winter, there are no guarantees. I’m reasonably confident that will feature somewhere in your marriage certificate. Ladies, this is not an excuse to let yourself turn into a woolly mammoth and use a brisk wind as the reason behind it. Although it might not be a sustainable hobby, try to treat your man to more than a tri-annual prune. (P.s. we will use your razors. Deal with it. Thanks)


4) Bills, glorious bills! – If you hadn’t lived together before you tied the knot, how is that reality slap stinging? Whilst coming home to your husband or wife and sinking into their arms after a long day at work is just amazing, figuring out the money side of things is not so fun. Who pays for what? Do you split everything? What if they earn more than you? What if they have savings but you don’t? It can get a little uncomfortable in the early stages of married life as all you want to do is please each other. Whatever the monetary issues might be that you face from the beginning of your marriage onwards, face them head on and without any insecurities. It’s far better to be open and honest rather than being bitter and resentful. Money is money. It will come and it will go. It holds no power over your emotions and love for one another so approach it objectively and concentrate on more important matters like chocolate and sex!


5) Make a conscious effort to stay social – It’s easy to  get swept up in newly married bliss but don’t forget all of those friends who got you to this stage in your life, got you through your hen do or your stag do (hopefully without any shaved eyebrows or missing limbs) and got you to the alter. It’s so easy when you’re newly married to skip a night with your bestie or forgo a night on the town because you want a cuddly night in. What happens when those friends get tired of asking you? Whilst you have the support and companionship of your new beloved, friendship outside of your relationship is so important. It gives you the opportunity to express other sides of you, to relive experiences you had way back when and to feel whole and complete as a social being and butterfly! This doesn’t mean you can’t go out as a couple to socialise. If you can’t imagine leaving your partner for a night on the town or to start a new hobby that you’ve been waiting to pursue (after the wedding debt is a thing of the past) then go out together with other couples, friends, colleagues – but keep this part of your life full, fun and rich.


These are my Top 5 things that I have learnt during my time in the wedding industry, my time as a woman and my time as a married woman. Of course they will vary for everyone but I’m sorry, number 3 will never vary, it will always feature in your lists and if anyone says differently they are either superwoman in my books or lying – “simples”!

The most important thing to remember is that marriage is a life long commitment, the most meaningful way we know how to express our love to another person. Although in time our actions may change and we may face times of adversity, what you will hopefully be left with is an unshakable and unfathomably intimate connection with your soul mate. To be cripplingly romantic I will finish with a quote from Wuthering Heights: “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary”.

Happy Weddings!

Han x







Steampunk Inspiration Shoot: Industrial Glamour

Huh? Steampunk? Let me make this blog a whole lot clearer before you start reading through the wonder of Wikipedia. Ahem…’Steampunk’ is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialised Western civilisation during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or the American ‘Wild West’, in a post-apocolyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power…Got it? Good!

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Animal Print Casino Styled Wedding: Jolanda and Marc

It’s not every day that a bride will want blow up African animals at her wedding. It’s not every day a bride will have animal print sashes for her chair covers. And it’s certainly not every day that a bride will have leopard print eyeshadow to walk down the aisle. Well, today we meet Jolanda who is not an ‘every day’ bride and her husband Marc, who did do all of the above plus more for their amazing South African inspired wedding reception.


“Traditional has never been my thing” says Jolanda who was planning to get married to her uber traditional husband Marc in South Africa to really go to town with the ‘safari’ theme. When a change of circumstance meant this dream was no longer an option, the wedding was moved forward a year and the planning was full steam ahead!

“There are so many service providers out there who tell you that they can cater for different styles and tastes but when you tell them what you want, they start talking about something completely different!” Jolanda was struggling to find service providers who could understand her vision and adhere to her design concepts but nevertheless she knew what she wanted and pressed on to find those special and fabulous few who ultimately helped her create her dream day. A personal highlight for me is the incredible button bouquet by Lesa from I Heart Buttons and the eyeshadow that looks fresh from South African Vogue.

“The dress was never a big thing for me” explains Jolanda “it was never something I had dreamed about when I was younger. It was very much a ‘that’ll do’ type approach. After a while though, I did grow to love the dress”. Jolanda bought one of the first dresses she tried on in a very reasonably priced local shop and got most of the other items for the day including the bridesmaids dresses and decorations from eBay. From tip to toe Jolanda was kitted out with animal themed wonders, from the leopard jewel in her hair to her mulit-coloured animal print nails. (I think Marc’s traditional side got somewhat lost in translation!)


The main talking point as far as the decorations went were the 2 elephants that adorned the head table that had been sculpted from Ice by Global Ice Sculptures in Buckinghamshire. “People couldn’t believe that the sculpture was as cheap as it was – our guests thought it would have cost a lot more!” The hand made wedding cake was also a talking point and something the couple ‘couldn’t have been happier with’. Two cupcake towers stood either side of the adorable two tier creation that featured two elephant figurines on top – are you sensing the theme yet guys!?

Lastly but by no means least, they had included lots of fun activities in the evening such a casino tables, card tables and racing to accompany their evening buffet. Their venue in South Africa had a casino so they wanted to bring that element across the water to provide additional entertainment for their guests. “That way nobody could complain about being bored!”

The result was exactly what Jolanda and hubs Marc had hoped for and their day was magnificently captured by Mark Smith Photography who had put the couple at ease from start to finish and even shot them an engagement shoot to make sure that he could keep up with Jolanda’s quirky style!

Check out this flamboyant, fabulous and unique wedding gallery – dare you borrow any of Jolanda’s amazing ideas!?