Saturday, 30 January 2010

Vintage wedding dress hunting: The V&A archive

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is one of my favourite places for fashion and design inspiration - and I recently discovered that, although they don't shout about it, anyone - yes, anyone! - can arrange a private appointment to view their incredible archive of wedding dresses - including painstakingly preserved Edwardian and Victorian era dresses, 20s flapper styles, right up to 80s meringues. Well, obviously I couldn't resist, and it actually proved a fascinating first step in finding the perfect dress.

So Mum and I made an appointment and hot footed it down to South Ken, where the lovely Edwina (in charge of preserving and cataloguing the thousands of dresses in the museum's collection) led us down corridor after corridor, until we reached an unassuming door that opened to reveal a gleaming white room filled with what looked like giant fridges - all filled with dresses! (You can also arrange to see non-wedding dresses, such as their near perfect Dior collection of 50s New Look styles.)

Dresses were laid out for us and we donned lab coats and gloves to inspect more closely. Each dress came with its own fascinating story, such as the 1940s wartime bride who made her own dress out of curtain material due to rationing - and it still looked beautiful.

The V&A is also planning a Wedding Dress exhibition for 2013, and it is asking members of the public to upload their own photos of unusual dresses onto the museum's website - the results are a great source of inspiration for vintage dress hunters.

Below are some of my photos from our day in the "lab" - I particularly love the 20s "fairy" dress, and the beautifully embroidered cuffs and covered buttons on the demure 1940s shapes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Charity shop crockery!

I found these lovely ice-cream coloured teacups and saucers in a charity shop near my parent's house - my first step on the way to a mix-and-match collection of chintzy crockery for the wedding breakfast. Only 134 cups to go then....

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Finding the perfect vintage wedding venue

Having decided to go ahead with a garden wedding, finding a marquee that has a more rustic, individual appeal has been tricky. First thoughts were Tipis - or Giant Hats as their known in the business. The pics below are from  PapaKata and Tipi Events - absolutely stunning, atmospheric and perfect for "trestle table fantasy", however a little dark when the sides are down, and with the wedding location on the north-west UK coast, we just can't guarantee a warm and sunny day.


An alternative for a more English garden party feel, is the totally gorgeous Somerset-based White Canvas tent company. Their traditional canvas marquees have a charming, vintage feel and they also provide beautiful printed fabric linings. All this gorgeousness doesn't come cheap though - and they are so busy it's not worth their while travelling up north. Clearly a gap in the market here!


The Raj Tent Club marquees pictured below have an evocative, Maharaja-inspired feel with colourful low seating and block-printed fabric drapes and linings.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fantasy Vintage Wedding: wildflower meadows

Within days of getting engaged I was indulging in my ultimate wedding fantasy - a dream that involved wildflower meadows, a long summer's day, trestle tables laden with organic produce and me padding around bare-foot with flowers in my hair. Reality has of course since set in, but I'm determined not to compromise on my vision completely. A marquee in the garden can still feel rustic and countrified... more English garden party than hippie-boho abroad.

Lunch at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond provided an initial springboard for ideas... the restaurant is set in a greenhouse filled with artfully mismatched old tables and chairs; antique rugs and wall hangings and flowers in pots and jam jars on the tables - creating a wonderfully laid back atmosphere...