Shermin and Sam’s Oxfordshire Wedding
Shermin and Sam got married in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside surrounded by their family and friends.
Shermin shares her experience of their special day and the planning it took to make it wonderful.
My dream dress idea came after I had seen an image of a designer dress which was very light, delicate and feminine. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy the designer dress (it was over £10k) so Sam’s mum suggested getting it made. I searched online and Catherine’s name came up. We booked an appointment to see her at her studio. The dress would have a v-neck line, was fairly sheer and had a bit of lace on the bodice and it would be light and airy at the bottom. At the first appointment we started getting my ideas down, what I liked, didn’t like , the style of the wedding, my personality etc. With this information and the images I had previously sent of dresses I liked, Catherine was able to sketch out exactly what I wanted whilst paying close attention to my body shape. That is something you will never get from an off the peg dress. I found when I tried on the boutique dresses, parts of my body that I was self conscious about were accentuated and Catherine explained that was because of the way the dresses are made and that each persons unique proportions aren’t taken into account, something that is not possible during mass production. I was very self conscious about my back because I have a wide upper back and a small lower back (a bit like a gymnast) and I’m only 4ft 9. Catherine was able to identify the parts of the dress in the image which would need to be changed so that it complemented my shape (the model wearing the dress was 6ft something and was long everywhere!). What I hadn’t realised was that it would look completely different on me if I was to wear the same dress in my size, simply because it has been designed with the proportions of the model in mind. Once that had been figured out, Catherine then gave me a great big pile of lace and other bits of material to pick from (create two piles – one for things I liked the look of and one for things I didn’t fancy). This was actually very quick considering just how much choice there was and it was fun to see Catherine getting excited about some of the laces I had picked. Her enthusiasm showed at every single stage of the process was contagious, it was just wonderful to see somebody love what they do so much and be amazing at it. Catherine also gave an estimate of cost based on the laces I had chosen, which we were pleasantly surprised with given it was a bespoke dress that would fit perfectly with no alterations!
Before my next appointment, I unfortunately had just had a miscarriage, so other than being completely distraught by the news, I was also a bit apprehensive, and I wasn’t sure if I would still feel the same way about the wedding, the dress etc. Suffice to say Catherine was so amazingly wonderful about the whole thing and actually having her make my wedding dress was the one of the few things that kept my spirits up at such a sad time. Catherine treats you not only like a human being but also like a friend and caring relative. You feel completely at ease with her and trust her from the first time you meet her. You might think that that’s not so important when choosing your wedding dress but I can’t stress enough how much anxiety it relieves when you know you’re in good hands. When I went to the designer boutiques, there was always the sense of a false happiness and generally as pleasant as the staff appeared to be, when it came down to your thoughts or needing advice on how the dress would look after adjustments, any advice on what size to order when you were expecting a baby, the service really was just okay, because that’s all it can ever be when you’re buying a dress that just needs altering. The motivation of the staff is different and unless there is an in-house seamstress who is amazing, it’s difficult for the sales staff to provide any additional advice and ideas. With Catherine, any doubts or uncertainties you had, she would explain things in a way that was easy to understand. Because she knows how every dress is made from scratch and therefore has the confidence in saying ‘that shape would suit your shorter torso or those lines will complement your frame or adding a bit of bone structure here will create x/y or z’, she is able to advise you perfectly. In short whatever you’re not sure of or can’t imagine, Catherine will help you ‘see it’ without actually having it in front of you.
My second appointment was lots of fun. Catherine had drawn up some sketches based on the first visit and I chose the one I liked the most, and samples of the lace fabrics I had previously selected were draped across a dressmakers dummy. Catherine fitted me with a plain toile and marked out all the various lines, making sure they worked with my body. She then started pinning lace in various places to get the shaping of the bodice exactly right on my frame. I can only describe it as black magic! The way she starts off with a plan piece of fabric and within an hour you can already see the outline of the dress and what it could look like, it was amazing.
The next appointment was trying on the dress which still had several pins in as Catherine needed to make sure the placement of the appliques were exactly right once I wore the dress. Adjustments were made to the sleeves too as I preferred the sleeves a little bit over my shoulders and Catherine tried a variety of other things including adding appliques over the sleeves which worked beautifully. Catherine also tried adding a final touch to the appliques on the body which again I preferred so that was done too.
The final fitting was wonderful. I tried on the dress and I was blown away with just how perfect it was. My dreaded ‘back fat’ was non existent and everything was just right………… I know it sounds silly because you’re getting a custom made dress but there’s one thing saying it and there’s another thing actually seeing it! Every detail was there for a reason, I could walk easily in the dress and wouldn’t worry about dancing it, it was light, airy, delicate and very feminine. It was exactly what I wanted. Meeting Catherine and seeing her enthusiasm for her craft and seeing that flow into her work. She’s a genuinely beautiful person inside and out and it was an honour having her be part of what will always be one of the most important days of my life.
Sam, his brother and the best man all wore the same thing and we all went shopping together with Sam’s mum. I had seen a picture of a light grey suit jacket and navy suit trousers and thought Sam would look good in it and it wasn’t too formal because I knew the more formal it was, the more ‘out of place’ he’d feel. We went to M&S first and managed to find everything there including their dark brown Oxfords and belts. Their shirts were light blue and ties were navy. Sam is blonde so the light grey and blue went beautifully with his hair and eyes.
The Decor and Accessories
We pretty much went with how everything came as it as with the venues etc. The only thing that ‘matched’ was my bouquet to the button holes of the boys. Catherine also made me a matching head piece using the same embellishments as were on my dress.
The ceremony was pretty basic and relaxed, as we didn’t want to feel too nervous about remembering anything! We went for the simplified vows, Sam had a best man but I didn’t want any bridesmaids or anything like that. My aim was to be as relaxed as possible and just have an amazing time at the ‘after party’ reception. Â Although it was relaxed, we both still had sweaty palms, and reading our vows to each other was quite emotional. I also struggled to get Sam’s ring on so that was amusing……. actually there were quite a few moments with lots of laughs, for example when our neighbours arrived late and had to sit at the front whilst proceedings stopped, the sheer embarrassment on their faces really lightened up the mood in the room and made us a lot more relaxed. We decided to walk down the aisle together as I didn’t want any pressure on picking anybody but also we both agreed we would be most comfortable if we walked in holding each others hands so it was perfect for us. The music we walked into was KC and Jojo “all my life” instrumental which Sam had prepared a few days before from a sound clip online which he edited himself. We walked out married to “Stand by me” acoustic version. My favourite part of the ceremony, other than saying our vows, was just seeing everybody there on our special day and how happy everybody was for us.
We picked The Perch in Binsey because we had a few of our first dates there and it was always very laid back and rustic. It also has a load of willow trees which I’ve loved ever since I watched Pocahontas as a little girl. Everything was super relaxed, which is exactly what we wanted. We didn’t have a head table and took turns in sitting at each table during the meal so we got to talk to everybody. Lots of people commented on how much fun it was and how relaxing it was being so informal compared to a lot of weddings they had been to. We used all the existing decor in the marquee (simple fairy lights and rustic table runners) and that was it! It didn’t need much else because the food was a country feast which meant there was a lot of food on every table, not leaving much space for anything else! We had ‘I-spy’ games on each table with a disposable camera and each table had to take certain snaps…….. my two nieces ended up taking most of the photos and there were lots of great candid shots. The food at the Perch was really good, and it was the perfect venue. We had a live band for the evening reception and that really made a difference with the number of people up on the dance floor. Our first dance wasn’t really a dance, we both just held each other in our arms and swayed whilst I tipsily sang to Sam the words of our first dance, “let’s stay together” by Al Green. All our guests found it amusing and it made Sam relax as he had been nervous about the first dance. My new mum had a pair of white flip flops made for me which had “Mrs Lucas” studded on them which was very sweet. However I didn’t get to use them on the night as I wore the comfiest wedges in the world (even though they were over 6inches……. I’m only 4ft 9 so I needed the height). I found them in the Kurt Geiger store in Heathrow by chance as I had been looking for wedding shoes for a long time. We had burgers and bacon baps in the evening alongside individual cake slices from Pattiserie Valerie, which went down really well. Overall it was a wonderful day and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and so did all the guests too. Every time we think back about the day, we can’t help but smile every single time.
The best bit
Other than seeing everybody and dancing with my new hubby (as well as every other person I dragged onto the dance floor) I shed a few tears at the speeches. The father of the groom and best man both did speeches and I was balling my eyes out (and I don’t usually cry!). Such kind and loving words and it meant the world to us, especially me as I didn’t grow up in an environment which openly showed love, so being part of Sam’s family has really taught me that and changed me (in a good way).
Dress – Catherine Blades Couture
Flowers – Harrison and Green
Photography – Chris Kemp
Venue – The Perch
Thank you to Shermin and Sam for sharing their wedding with us.