Ah now then cars, having religiously watched Top Gear with The Boy this was part of the wedding planning process he had an interest in. I’ve never really understood the wedding pictures where the couple are stood in front of the wedding car, I mean it’s just a car, I like cars but what the hell has it to do with the wedding apart from getting you from a to b? Now I’ve had my wedding day I can say that the time in the car to the church with my dad, albeit a short journey, was priceless and the journey from church to reception with my new husband was pretty awesome too and because we chose pretty cool transport I’m glad to have pictures with them.

The Husband wanted a Rolls Royce long-based Phantom, originally but they were too rare and expensive so he demoted his request to a general Rolls and we hired our Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III from Lavelle Classics in Rothwell, squishy back seats, smart and helpful driver and excellent service. It was a classic without being weirdly old-fashioned for a normal 21st century wedding. Bridal top tip, Always pay attention to how wide the doors open, how low the seats are or how high the step into the car will be and consider all those things with your dress, it might not be as easy as you think.


We organised a vintage bus to take our guests from the church to reception, because of the size of the wedding a single-decker would do, and a big red London bus wouldn’t make much sense in deepest darkest Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company were amazing, a conductor and a driver were supplied with our Guy Arab 1951 open side door bus and they worked with me to organise pick ups from the two hotels to the church and then back again, and they stuck around while we had our photos taken and obliged where we needed. Flowers and ribbon were included to match our colour theme too. One of my favourite memories and photos is of our friends and family from all parts of our lives heading off together on the bus to the reception and it worked to get everyone in the party spirit and start to get to know each other.


I can’t recommend both companies enough, links in the pictures. I loved how the curved wheel arches and large grills on both cars, coming from similar eras, complemented each other, I always find it odd when a few cars are used at wedding but they have no discernible link to each other. Are you planing on transporting your guests, has it been easy or with a large party a bit of nightmare? Anyone going for a less traditional mode of transport or going very old school with horse and carriage?


Venue Decisions

For my big day I knew I wanted a church wedding and the village we live in has a perfectly quaint church, so it left us with decision-making revolving around reception venue. We made a list of the obvious selection within a sensible radius (I don’t think there’s anything worse than a massive journey from church to reception at a wedding) and these included silly fancy ones and small intimate ones. Some well thought of venues disappointed, others were a surprising revelation but to fit what we wanted we were left with two.

A lovely pub just up the lane from the church with a separate building which you can add a marquee onto. I had a vision of a country fayre, bunting decorated, relaxed, small wedding reception. The other was the complete opposite. A large hotel in an 18th century house with golf course and spa, 2 ornate rooms for the day and the whole upstairs of the golf club for the evening do. I loved both but they both provided two very different styles, styling options and vibes, it came down to the question of what kind of wedding we wanted. I think this is an important question to ask yourself when planning your wedding or any other party for that matter, what kind of image and atmosphere do you want to create?

For us the hotel had a special connection from our childhoods. Not only had The Husband stayed there as a child while the new development they were moving into was finished he even had his picture at the entrance about to go off on his first day of school. But I had gone as a child with my parents and aunty and uncle for a fancy meal, I associate the place with my aunty who is no longer with us, and apparently I declared as we left the meal about 20 years ago that; “I would be married there one day.”

I felt torn, small and cosy was the Pinterest in my head but you got a red carpet at the hotel and although it is grand the actual rooms were not conference sized; they were cosy in their own high ceiling kind of way. The large venue won out in the end, the freedom not to have to think too much about restricting the guest list, the experienced support team on site and the value for money. I did worry along the way that we had picked somewhere too big and we’d be lost inside but these doubts were never realised on the day and it was perfect for the size of our party, it felt cosy and homely while looking fabulous with very little effort from us. I guess the lesson is to go with your gut. I love weddings held in tents and tipis in gardens of family and friends and in churches where family members have been christened or wed, I think a personal connection where possible will always win out.

wedding gifts, outdated and mercenary?

As we head to present giving time I thought it was a good time to ask in this day and age how many of us are not living with our future partners already? Show of hands please, not that many at all. How many have already moved out of parental homes whether that be university, flat shares or heading to new cities alone? Most of you. So you’ll have a collection of plates and saucers, spoons and towels? Yes thought so or spaghetti hoop lunches could get messy…so why do we still create wedding lists in department stores for wedding gifts?

Most weddings I go to there is a polite sentence about having your presence as a gift but some cash or vouchers or honeymoon spending money will be fine if you insist, that’s what we did, we said B&Q vouchers to finish our house would be welcome but it’s fine if you don’t and we genuinely didn’t expect the generosity of our guests and I’ll thank them again here, “we have beautiful fitted wardrobes, our house is finished and I can’t thank you all enough”. So I’ll ask the question again, if I don’t know many couples who even ask for wedding lists, and I don’t know any couples who aren’t already shaked up together how do department stores still manage to fleece this service on couples and isn’t it a little mercenary of the couple to compile one? You might argue that vouchers and cash are mercenary but I see it as throwing out an option if people really want to bring something, but asking for a new set of hand towels or some salad servers just seems weird and rude nowadays. If I want to buy you a gift for your house it will be a house-warming and it’ll be just as good a set of salad servers from Wilkinson’s rather than John  Lewis thank you very much (other salad server stockists are available).  The whole tradition comes from a bottom draw, when women still lived with their parents building gifts to create a home for her husband, so how does that concept of items for the house sit in a society with same sex marriages, sex and living together before marriage and where a women isn’t just seen as a house maker? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

celebrity weddings

I can’t believe we are fast approaching the end of the year, looking back through 2014 there have been a fair amount of celebrity weddings this year, all quite different but with lots of steal-able ideas and dress inspiration. When it comes to dresses the stand out contributors have to be Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s family orientated doodled dress, a beautiful simple satin front and then embroidered with family doodles on the veil and back. Lots of brides have their own dresses made so as long as you find a trusted seamstress this is something the ordinary bride could achieve. I loved the sentiment of making their wedding something that included the whole family and the children being part of the ceremony as cake makers, ring bearers and bridesmaids.



Piper Perabo and Jessica Simpson went for sparkling numbers, Piper also opting for a yellow veil which worked perfectly with the dress and certainly stood out as different. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting kept the coloured dress a popular option following in the footsteps of Jessica Biel and Gwen Stefani with a pink gown something I’d love to see ordinary brides styling with more often. In July Fearne Cotton also went for sparkle with her ethereal but relaxed summer dress, so hopefully all this sparkle will start a trend.

piperjessica-simpson-600 kaley-cuoco-dress-569fearne

In terms of style the whole Kimye extravaganza with walls of flowers certainly impressed even if your local florist and your bank balance might not be able to stretch to their level. Perhaps just a floral arch or smaller backdrop for your own big day? Theirs and the Clooney-Alamuddin nuptials at the end of the year certainly made Italy a popular wedding location. Is there anything more romantic than Venice?



I loved the flower headband of Ashley Tinsdale and her relaxed bouquet, along with the lace used by Kelly Clarkson and she also sported beautiful headwear and who can resist a sunflower bouquet. There also seems to many a groom wearing black suits and thin black ties for a classic timeless look through these celebrity nuptials.

Ashley-Tisdale kelly

There’s still no sign of pictures from Ginnerfer Goodwin or Cheryl Fernadez-Versini weddings yet but there’s still hope something might appear soon. Hope these have given you some inspiration on this rather grey Sunday. Let me know if there was a particular celebrity wedding you loved this year.

people who were helpful and unhelpful

 “You know Aunty Sandra, – not your real aunty but you call her aunty cause she’s a family friend or went slimming club or bingo with your mum!” – Peter Kay

Aunty Margaret is that to The Boy, friend’s with the Mother In Law since French language class, and then child minder and close family friend ever since. She baked with him as a child and made things after school and they enjoyed playing out in the fields with Margaret and Uncle Geoff’s dog. She offered to do the flowers for our wedding and she was brilliant. Margaret is an inspirational woman who has recently fought breast cancer so to still be recovering and offer to take on the floristry was amazing.

She didn’t even want to discuss details until a few months before the wedding, so I had time to get ideas together and have something not to think about. I gave her my ideas and some pictures and she threw the bridesmaids bouquets together in a few days and we never changed them, and after a shape change my bouquet was sorted with the same skill. She is a master with silk flowers and apart from The Boy’s button hole we never contemplated that fake flowers wouldn’t do the job because Margaret was doing such a good job. She simply took my ideas away and brought back what I imagined and I got to trawl the wondrous aisles of Country Baskets to pick up more supplies or decide which specific flowers I would prefer (as I am a flower novice). For me in the midst of planning a wedding Margaret was perfect, asked the right questions but didn’t pester, went away with my ideas and came back with a product and we took any changes/ideas from there. I’m sure you’re reading this saying “a florist does the exact same thing” but as a family friend taking on some of the responsibilities of our wedding she was all I could have hoped for. So if you have offered to design the stationary, arrange the flowers or bake the cake of your closest friend, sister or brother well then firstly well done you, you talented people. Secondly, don’t pester, ask the bride and groom what kind of time scale they need your skills by, when the time comes ask them for their input and ideas and then go away until you bring back your work. This may sound cold, but for the sake of the bride and groom act like you’re being paid for the job, because with the best will in the world being friendly and mentioning it all the time or asking questions about it when you’ve nipped round for a cuppa will only do one thing…make them wish they hadn’t have asked and stress them out.

For me once a decision has been made it’s because I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I’m happy with it. While planning the wedding I had people who were being helpful with their opinions and other ideas; these were close friends and family wanting to share in the build up to the big day and they were giving their opinions from a good place. But if a bride-to-be says she’s going with roses what she doesn’t want to hear, if you’re anything like me, is “have you thought about peonies”? The response from me is yeah I probably have considered other flowers because I’ve said I’m going with roses!  I got loads of ideas from friends and family but I didn’t like hearing different ideas once I’d made a decision, it allowed doubt to creep in and the process was made longer.

If you want to stay friends with someone who is planning a wedding, then leave them alone, offer advice when asked, throw out some ideas in the early stages and do let them know you are there if they need you. But that’s it, leave it, it’s stressful enough without having to consider everyone’s perspective.

Children, our major issue

Our only major arguments and family issue during planning our wedding was about children. There were only 3 families invited to our wedding with children, we didn’t have any children ourselves and at that moment in our lives we didn’t surround ourselves with them and The Boy was probably a bit scared of them to be honest. We decided to have a child free wedding.  This was not an issue for 2 of the couples. The first were travelling from Belfast and were attending 6 weddings in one year, some would be family and closer to home but they were enjoying the fact that for some they could go child free and let their hair down. The other guest with a young child was my bridesmaid, her Dad was unable to attend the wedding and being on bridesmaid duty mum was happy to have a day off and enjoy herself. The third set of children were my cousin’s kids, a girl of 10 and a boy of 7. Now the great debate of 2013 began…

At post toddler age there would be no crying or tantrums (you’d hope) so would they be a bother, but it wasn’t really fair to say to two sets of close friends that their children couldn’t come but then they sit near some children, double standards surely? If we were saying we would have a child free wedding we should stick to our guns, but they are family doesn’t that make a difference, and so on and so forth. I was more on the side of compromise, The Boy wasn’t having any children at his wedding (and it is his wedding too, easy to forget if you head to bridezilla territory) if they make him feel uncomfortable or wouldn’t interact with them then why have them there. Also, my friends were leaving 18 month old girls at home and looking forward to a day off, why would parents of older children be precious? And let’s be perfectly honest the children themselves won’t give two hoots. We were however looking at this from a very simple child free point of view so I worried about the fall out.

We sent invitations out to just those invited (minus children, I relented eventually coming to terms with the decision and happy in it). We received an RSVP for all the family including the children, what followed were awkward conversations and the decision for them to either come alone or not come at all, they took the latter option. Which meant my other cousin, who had already RSVP’s yes, now wasn’t able to come and then I had my mum on the phone saying I had to change my mind to avoid a family feud. I then spent the rest of the day in tears and then I got annoyed that I would have been the only one crying about my own day.

In the end they all came to the church and left before we went to the reception and everyone has stayed civil and there’s no feud as mum worried about, but it was the worst part of planning our day. I’m glad I stuck to my guns but I never expected all that to happen, I have a small family so thought it would be straightforward. It definitely goes to show that when it comes to weddings it can make people do funny things, I felt like our day wasn’t appreciated as important enough because of the hassle it caused, but maybe we were the bad guys and should have relented? Who out there is having issues with family? Do you have step mothers and fathers or extra family causing issues and have you had an idea for your wedding, like being child free, that is forcing you to be strong while all around people try and pull you down? xx


I loved planning my wedding (our 1st anniversary is next week), aside from the family dramas and a bit of stressing, actually putting together our day was great fun and I wanted to be involved in it while I was at work and when I should have really been doing other things. To give you a brief back ground, my university degree was a preference of generic subject not a route to a career and my subsequent jobs have happened through chance and good fortune not a bigger plan. So what follows are ebbs and flows of feeling undervalued and unmotivated to getting by and earning my pennies for more exciting things to occasional projects where I think I can take on the world. At the end of the day I want to work to live not live to work, and my friends are a complete mismatch of part-time workers with children to career driven solicitors and at times I envy them all with varying degree. I guess the wedding led me to the love of parties, planning and the blogging world and I wanted to share my voice, and this blog is now my career path.

Top Hat and Lace described our wedding so I thought it should describe my blog. It won’t just be weddings, it’ll be discussions, family, parties, babies and general loveliness. I want to organise parties and share my styling tips and internet finds with you all, I have no experience but I enjoy it and obviously hope you will too and along the way let me know your thoughts too. A great big community of people who want to see a nice nursery, detailed real life weddings, ideas for BBQs or anniversary parties and inspiration for everyday joys and pretty. I’ll be posting every Sunday and Wednesday and hope you enjoy.

Claire xx