This will be the last wedding I feature on these beloved wedding blog pages this year. It’s been a year full of the most amazing real wedding features (that I’ll be revisiting before the year is out), but these particular nuptials are rather special. You see, I know these people. Aha. And they really are as cool as these photographs make out. A groom who plays sax at his own wedding? A bride who secretly arranges for the groom’s musical friends to play this as she walks down the aisle, jelly that looks like it’s being served on sandy beaches, vintage 78rpm records as favours (from the couples personal collection of over 25,000), and a bridesmaid who wears a dress that was made for the bride’s mum in the 1960s, guests that are way too cool for school? And that’s just the start!
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, James Melia
Matt and Annabel tied the knot on 22nd September this year at the Victoria Baths in Manchester (winner of the first Restoration series). I was honoured
to have been invited to this wedding, but the force of nature put a stop to that, so it makes my heart swell that I get to not only enjoy but
share these images taken by the mighty James Melia with you today. And I warn you, this is a loooooong blog post – it’s pictures a plenty. Pinterest lovers, you’re going to be a while.
Though many come very, very close, this is my absolute favourite wedding of 2012. Enjoy!
“Our style for the day was all about who we are, what we do and the sort of party we would like to go to. As Vintage 78 DJ’s, we’ve had a great opportunity to see, in person, an amazing selection of styles and types of weddings. From these and from reading your incredible wedding blog, we had lots and lots of ideas, too many in fact, so had to whittle them down based on time, money and practicality.
We did all the event planning ourselves. Matt has had vast experience running events and together we had it covered. What was amazing was, that with a small band of dedicated helpers we created and decorated everything the day before the wedding. We really enjoyed the process of the setting up and seeing our ideas come to life. Although I love colour schemes and was particularly taken with this turquoise one one on Love My Dress, I decided that there wouldn’t be a specific colour and that I’d go for multicoloured everything from dress to decorations!”
“Thoughtful Flowers are a husband and wife team from Shropshire who grow all their own flowers (250 varieties) in open fields with no chemicals, behind their beautiful farmhouse. I particularly wanted dahlias and zinnias and on a visit to Juliet I told her I wanted an explosion of colourful flowersfrom a gramophone horn.
As soon as I saw her eyes up light I knew she was the perfect person for this creation. I didn’t see the finished gramophone horn display until I walked down the aisle and it was even better than I imagined. As well as two bouquets and buttonholes we had 40 vases and containers on the dinning tables.”
“The car was a wonderful wedding day surprise from my father as I was planning on calling a black cab. He was right to do this as it made me feel really special and complete strangers waved and beeped at us on the way to the baths.”
“As well as our own items, we borrowed the furniture for the gentleman’s drinking room from our dear friend Fiona from Rose and Lee Vintage Living. She dropped them off to us on her way to Italy on another furniture buying trip.”
“My stunningly beautiful, 21 year old daughter, Myfanwy was my bridesmaid. I promised her Jimmy Choo’s for the wedding but having tried on a multitude of shoes in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols she decided they just weren’t for her. In the end she chose sparkly ballerina pumps from New Look for the daytime dress and a pair of my designer shoes from the 1980s for her evening outfit.
Myfanwy’s, full length, pale blue silk dress that she walked down the aisle in was made for my mother in Singapore in the late 1960’s. The champagne coloured, 80s does 50s dress she changed into for the evening was made for me when I was 21 in 1988. Both of these dresses were adapted and brought back to life by Elizabeth Bethune…”
“We’re both avid collectors of all sorts of vintage ‘stuff’ with a particular interest in the 1950’s and we made use of this in our wedding. For example, I collect printed vintage table cloths so used these on the tables, we used 78rpm records as table mats and favours in one, we scattered 1940’s and 50s magazines around for people to read.
We created a Gentleman’s Drinking Club in one room with a wind up gramophone to play your place mat, decanters full of alcohol, alcohol printed tablecloths, a chesterfield sofa and wing back chairs, 1950s Gentlemans magazines, vintage chess, draughts and dominoes, rugs, throws and lighting and a vintage decoupage screen. This proved to be a great hit as a hideaway on the day…”
“My father gave me away. He’d had his fourth knee replacement operation just a few weeks earlier but ditched the stick and proudly walked me down the aisle. He’s a great prankster and as we got to the end he asked me, tongue in cheek, if I really wanted to do this and that it wasn’t too late to go back!
Once I laughed and said no he then turned to Matt and advised him that there was still time to run away!!!! Thanks Dad.”
“I had originally bought a beautiful, pale pink, full length 1950’s dress from Hier Pour Demain but only 8 weeks before the wedding I changed my mind about the length. I was loathe to cut the vintage dress so started a hunt for something suitable either vintage or new but not white, strapless or full length. I was really keen on a Brighton based designer I’d seen on Love My Dress but time was too short and as Matt and I were busy every weekendDJ’ing at other peoples weddings I couldn’t take the time out to get to Brighton.
Then I came across a dress on Etsy and the photos made it look like it could be the one. I took the gamble knowing I could sell the dress on if it wasn’t right and it certainly paid off. It was just right but did need some restoration. There’s the most amazing lady in the North West who is able to restore vintage dresses and Elizabeth made the necessary repairs and alterations along with a bespoke petticoat. Lo and behold I had a perfect, silk, full circle 50s dress.”
“The dress looks very simple in design, v front and back and a full circle skirt but is deceptively detailed. There’s tiny ruching at the waist and shoulders, a tiny bow at the back and on the skirt there are three areas of exquisite padded and quilted work accented with sequins. This has a specific name but I can’t remember what it is. I’m 45 so didn’t want to wear white and the bright colours and unusual print on this dress made it special but also meant that I could wear it again. Another friend, Kally, had made me a 1950’s sarong style dress to wear in the evening but in the end the time flew by so quickly that I didn’t get round to getting changed!“
“We’d been looking for years to find a suitable venue for our wedding! We needed somewhere that could accommodate a wedding ceremony, hold up to 250 people for a party, where we could bring in our own caterers, and that had a quirkiness of its own, all located in Manchester. And at a price we could afford. Not much of an ask! We’d played at a Discover Vintage Fair in 2010 at Victoria Baths before the roofs were finished and loved the place, so, when our friend and blogger, Old Fashioned Susie told us in January 2012 that it was opening its doors for weddings we were first in the queue to book a date.
Victoria Baths is a fantastic place with stained glass windows, tiling, mosaics and glass roofs that literally make you gasp. We envisaged our wedding to contain the unexpected and Victoria Baths provided this already before we’d even brought our wedding plans into it. Some couples are after a blank canvas to make their own but we wanted something that already sang out that we could use for inspiration.“
“Upstairs at Victoria Baths, on the 360 degree balcony we created a fun place to let your hair down with games we either made ourselves or from our own collection such as egg and spoon races, hook a duck, splat the rat, hoopla, giant pickupsticks, shove ha’penny, mini golf. We created a beach bar with deck chairs and rafia umbrellas, beach balls, buckets and spades, cocktail umbrella garlands, seaside lighting and tugs full of all varieties of Crabbies…”
“Matt and I even played a few games of ‘Play Your Cards Right’ at the beginning of the tea party. Guests had raffle tickets in their teacups and we had the counterparts in a bucket. As we called numbers and people came up to play, we introduced them to all the other guests and told amusing anecdotes of them. This was a great way to break the ice but nearly didn’t happen as I’d forgotten to learn how to play it properly and had only a dim recollection of Brucie shouting higher or lower. When my friend Bethany came round to do my make-up Ion the day had to grab my laptop and look it up at the last minute!“
“There were three pools in total. The first class male pool we used for the actual wedding ceremony which was a wonderful surprise for guests as you had to climb down into it. We were married ‘at the deep end’! The stunning Turkish baths were the star of the drinks reception, the covered second class male pool and balcony was used for the party and the female pool contained giant badminton and football and was a great space for the children to let off steam. The wonderful staff at the baths also arranged guided tours and guests were able to wander round the entire building at their leisure.”
“Music is a massive part of our lives with vintage DJ’ing and Matt being a saxophonist and full time musician, so the entertainment for the day was especially important. First off, as said I surprised Matt with the music for my entry. We had another friend Mark play a 1950s Italian organ during the ceremony for the hymn ‘Give me Joy in my Heart’. Kate had suggested that a good singalong always helped and this went really well with our service. People saw the humour in a big man, sitting in an empty swimming pool playing a very small organ.
For the signing we had more fun and arranged fo our friend, the DJ Dr Sid to play our gramophones with an original SUN 78rpm recording of Johnny Cash ‘I Walk the Line’. We processed back down the aisle to ‘That’s my Girl’ by Nat King Cole. Just perfect.
Matt plays sax and flute in the band Calaita and they had offered as a wedding present to play the drinks reception part of the day which we had in the old Turkish baths. I think the photos say it all and the music in these surroundings was just fantastic.”
“Matt wore a suit from Reiss that we found in the in the half price sale! Matt was reluctant to go in as he was adamant it was a ‘skinny man’s’ shop but I persistent and he was surprised at their range. Even better was the bright blue 80s/50s style wool suit at half price. He also wore a brightly coloured tie from his favourite independent men’s shop in Manchester, Whipples, a pink flowered shirt from Alexandre on Saville Row.”
“We had a couple of ideas for guestbooks and in the end used them both adding to the fun and slightly eccentric feeling of the balcony. The first was a relatively common typewriter table which I decorated with typewriter fabric and various things from around the house such as old ink bottles, a decorative 1940s box of carbon paper and a wire letter tray...”
“The second guestbook table was created around a collection of vintage, unused postcards we already had. I decorated the table with souvenir scarves from Europe with the addition of kitschy Eiffel tower and Blackpool tower models with various plastic souvenir fans. Posters of maps and stamps on the wall, a decorated pot of pens and the ‘Write us a Postcard’ table was created. The messages we received on postcards are hilarious and risque as all saucy seaside postcards should be. We also had a photo booth in one of the poolside changing rooms complete with dressing up articles.
The decorations had a vintage theme with 100 multicoloured pompoms, 120 multicoloured, bunches of balloons and a lot of crepe paper buntinginterspersed with ropes of fairy lights. With the multicoloured garden flowers in informal vintage pots and vases on the tables and the 250 china trios it was a riot of colour which was what we’d been aiming for.”
“I’m not very good at keeping secrets from Matt but this was one I was determined to suceed at. Matt is a successful jazz musician and I arranged for some of his oldest jazz friends to play me down the aisle. Matt knew something was going on when a double bass, keyboard, drumkit and saxophone were loitering in the corner of the pool but he was impressed with my song choice of John Coltrane’s arrangement of ‘My One and Only Love’.”
“Our photographer was James Melia. What can I say? An absolute miracle. I really hate having my photo taken and was not planning on even having a photographer! James approached us in February and asked if he could be our photographer and although I loved his work I still wasn’t convinced I could go through with it. I told James about my dislike of photos and how difficult I would be but he was still up for it. He suggested a pre wedding shoot so we could get used to each other and asked us to think of somewhere that Matt and I would be relaxed and comfortable in but that would bevisually interesting.
That was when I hit on the idea of taking him to Camp Bestival where we were Djing with the Shellac Collective. I was really happy with the photos so didn’t worry at all on the wedding day. That’s not to say I was easy to work with but James did a cracking job. Many of our guests commented on what a nice chap he was and the photos are a testament to his talent and reflect our day superbly.”
“My veil was made by my friend Sophie who makes some adorable head dresses. I have lots of these with birds, butterflies and flowers on that Iregularly wear to gigs and events. Take a look at her web page and Etsy store for lots of lovely things.“
“I’d not heard of Chie Mihara shoes until I came across them on Love My Dress. I searched their online store and am now a convert. Shoes with a hidden platform that mould to the shape of your foot and are supremely comfortable – sounds good to me.”
“A great friend, Bethany James Davies performed miracles with my make up and was responsible for Myfanwy’s hair and make up. She was also a guest on the day so was on hand to repin my veil. She even provided me with a lip-brush, mirror and some of my chose lipstick in a little container for touch ups during the day.“
“We chose to have a Humanist wedding on the day as it gave us complete freedom to have whatever we wanted in the service. We found Humanist Celebrant Kate Gee on the web and after meeting her and finding that she too is a jazz musician, knew that once again we had found the perfectperson to create our wedding ceremony. Kate suggested some web sites to look at and gave us a book and then we met her again to talk about ideas.
From our discussions and incorporating those elements that we knew we wanted, Kate crafted a wedding service that was very personal and special to us. A few tweaks by email and we were sorted. Kate came over to the baths on the day before the wedding to run through things and even helped us out with our decorating – this lady can fluff pompoms!“
“Kate had people laughing all the way through, cheering, clapping, you name it. She even made our guests shout out in unison, ‘We Do’ when asked to invite us over for dinner now and again! it was really great fun and our guests commented on how special our ceremony was.
(Kate told our story in a very special way. I hadn’t come across a Humanist wedding until we played at one last year at River Cottage. I thought they were to do with hand fasting , candle lighting and broom jumping – we had none of these! I wondered whether LMDB would be interested in Kate and I putting together something for readers about humanist weddings from both the celebrant’s and the bride and grooms perspectives as there’s so much to say?)“
“We decided to read our own readings as we wanted to
speak them to each other as well as to our guests. Matt chose ‘Oh Tell Me the Truth About Love’ – WH Auden and I read ‘To My Dear and LovingHusband’ by Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672. I said in the preamble to mine that love was as old as the hills and our feelings are not a modern phenomena ie even love is vintage!
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.”
“Kate, our celebrant, wrote about how Matt and I met and read this as part of the beautiful wedding service she crafted for us. Below is an excerpt from the service…
“In the beginning there was jazz and drink and disagreements. So where to start with Matt and Annabel?
It is down to Ajuni (who has flown from Switzerland to be here) that Matt and Annabel met. Ajuni had invited some friends, including Annabel, out into Manchester for birthday celebrations and they had all decided to go to a well known jazz club, Matt and Phred’s – the home of all sorts of unsuitable, unsavoury musicians. Well into their evening, Annabel was still convinced that she wasn’t a fan of jazz, but that she was rather a fan of the free drinksthat the bar staff had been serving them all night. Only this time when she went to the bar to pick up their cocktails, she was asked to pay!Unbeknownst to her, a certain club owner was now sat at the bar too. Annabel was investigating as to why the drinks weren’t free, and Matt sidled up, asking ifthere was a problem. In return, Annabel said something like, ‘I don’t know who you think you are but go away!
As Annabel went to sit down, the musicians were nearing the end of their set. In a moment of slow recognition, Annabel realised that the chap playing kit was Dave Walsh, who, she had asked to tutor her daughter Myfanwy on drums, and who had stopped teaching on account of him apparently going on a world tour! The unsuspecting Dave came off stage and was accosted by Annabel and her outraged accusations of world tours not normally including dingy jazz joints. Matt somehow spied this interaction from the bar, and again waded in with the line, ‘Is this woman giving you grief,’ followed by Dave admitting defeat and saying that he rather deserved it. Yet again, Annabel told Matt to go away.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the start of a beautiful relationship. Both Matt and Annabel continued their discussions/arguments and as the club was shutting, Matt uttered the immortal lines ‘Would you like to carry this argument on elsewhere?’ And they proceeded to the Press Club – an all night drinking hole notorious for its sticky carpets and warm beer.
Matt and Annabel’s initial meet was feisty, fun and an energetic exchange of their beliefs, ideas and desires. Yet Annabel knew when she got up some three hours later to go to work that she had met someone incredibly special.”
“Matt proposed to me 6 months later on a very wet camping trip to the Lake District. We had returned to Manchester for the evening as Matt was playing for the opening of a new bar and we were having to race back to the campsite as it closed its gates at 10pm. Once back at the tent, Matt, all suited and booted brought out into the field his portable wind up gramophone, and started playing Nat King Cole ‘When I Fall in Love’. Other campers were shushing the music but then Matt got down on one knee and proposed at which point lots of tent zips could be heard opening with fellow campers congratulating us! We were engaged for 6 years before we finally married.“
“For the tea party we had our friends, ‘Litmus Strings‘ who play incredible versions of famous Manchester tunes such as ‘Love Will Tear us Apart’, ‘Wonder Wall’ and ‘This Charming Man’. All the players are members of the Halle Orchestra so really are the real thing!. The quartet played acoustically which sounded fantastic in the main room and was something totally different for people, bringing smiles all-round. Once again it was unexpected to hear Manchester tunes from a classical string quartet.
After the speeches another friend of Matt’s who he’s worked with for over 25 years came and played for us. Jerome McMurray is a Brooklyn born half Haitian, half Sioux Indian Jazz and Blues singer/guitar player. He calls himself an entertainer and that’s exactly what he did. At 70 years old he’s lost none of his sparkle and he’s singing better than ever. Matt picked up his sax and “sat in” for a few tunes which went down great.
Time for the vintage DJs. Our friends from the Shellac Collective had come from East Anglia and DJd for the first part of the evening. Instant success and everyone stated dancing straight away. Classic blues, “RnB” and Rock and Roll. Keith who teaches Lindy Hop and swing got everyone involved and taught some lucky guests the moves.
“We didn’t want a traditional cake and hit on the idea of having a giant, three tier pork pie instead. Then of course there was the decision of should it be made in Lancashire or Yorkshire! James Melia suggested a pie maker near his hometown who made pork pies to feed 160. The pies were baked at 6am on the morning of our wedding and once again James helped out by collecting them on his way over to us (told you he was a great guy).“
“One of the main reasons for having the wedding at a venue where we could bring our own caterers was our friend Robert Owen-Brown, currently head chef at Manchester’s riverside restaurant, the Mark Addy. Robert is renowned for creating dramatic dishes and producing great food in spectacular settings and we’ve been to many of his fantastic gourmet nights over the years, including a Burns night where he carved a four foot deer’s head from lard, a medieval feast and a magical Narnia inspired evening.
The deal struck with Robert was we had to completely trust him, let him take total control and that the food would be just as much a surprise to us as to our guests. We had a couple of meetings with him where he made long notes and looked through our collection of 1950s cookery books. It’s true tosay that we’ve never seen a spread like it.”
“In the afternoon tea party we had beautifully made sandwiches and little fancy cakes, great pots of tea and we went all the way with the 50s theme with champagne saucers and 200 individual bottles of Babycham for the toasts. Another friend surprised us on the day by turning up with boxes of her cupcakes adorned with records and gramophones.
For the evening buffet, dramatic is an understatement with wonderful hams, barbecued chicken the best savoury mousses we’ve ever had, a seafood selection to die for including a live crab pot where you could fish for your crab and have it cooked in front of you, a quirky roast selection with a huge carved Spam spit roasting in the shape of a pig, a roast pigs head plus all the usual roasts done to perfection and the best cheese selection we’ve ever seen. I believe there were some wonderful vegetables but it really was a bit of a meat feast. Then there was desert, with huge piles of profiteroles, lots of jelly and Robert had even made a beach to fit in with the swimming pool setting, back dropped with a deck chair. He produced edible sand and sea, bags of deep fried apples to look like chips, lots of jelly castles and pink shrimps. Wow! Not only did it look impressive, it tasted divine.“
“After the evening buffet at about 8:30 it was straight on with the main act. Bo an incredible bass player whose credits include playing with Gill Scott Heron had brought his band and played an amazing selection of soul and funk tunes which set the room alight. Matt again “sat in” which was cool and for a real treat Franny Eubanks (Manchester’s answer to Muddy Waters) came, sang and played his harmonicas. He stole the show.
Two sets later with an interlude of more 78rpm DJing and it was time for the cheesy wedding disco. (had to be done!) Dr Sid kindly obliged with all the classics such as ‘Ooops Upside Your Head’, ‘High Ho Silver Lining’ and we all finished the night with a mass version of the ‘Hokey Cokey’.
Reading back over the music it sounds amazing that we put this together but it’s what we do and we loved every second. It all fitted in perfectly around the other mad stuff that was happening.”
“We had been planning a first dance to Frank Sinatra ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ but again changed our minds and danced when the mood took us whilst Jerome was singing ‘It Had to be You’. We went with the moment and it worked.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom…
“Make it fun for the guests and have fun yourself! Don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan – the guests will never know the difference. I had a really bad hair day (all my own fault) and we forgot to do the charleston and lindy dance lessons. Nobody knew about it all until now that is! There’s no such thing as perfect. Also, nobody is offended if you don’t get the chance to speak to them.
Oh, and the day goes really quickly so savour every moment.
Love My Dress features a huge variety of weddings, both photographs and commentary and was an invaluable source for our wedding. In fact,
it’s a community of brides past, present and future and I still read and enjoy the posts despite the fact that I’m now a Mrs.
The blog is a great blend of real weddings, advice, inspiration, ideas an d thoughts from a huge variety of people who care enough to write.”
Wow, wow WOW!!!!!
What can I add to this? Pretty much nothing, except, I think, a little mention for Matt and Annabel’s fabulous wedding invitations!
“We wanted to make the invite different and with the help of friend, Jeff MacCormack I think we did. A spinning wheel invite. Jeff work really hard to get the right feel and we think the results were brilliant. We tried to save money by cutting them out by hand. Big mistake. Matt took three days to do this and cursed me all the time so if you want one of these please pay the extra to get it die cut!”
The spinning wheel!
Well, that just leaves me to say a huge, huge very vintage thank you to the adorable Matt and Annabel (Annabel, thank you *so* much for your very kind words about Love My Dress) and to thank photographer James Melia for so kindly allowing me to feature his images and work here today.
Matt arranged all the music his own wedding – if you’re interested in hiring Matt and Annabel to lay at your wedding, or if you are interested in
something unique for your special event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.mattnickson.com. And if you’d like to hire Matt and Annabel to spin some shellac at your wedding or special event, pop by their Vintage 78 DJ website and drop them a line. I highly recommend!
Please, show this wonderful couple and our last wedding of 2012 some love in the comments box below. Thank you so very much.
With all my love in the world,