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 DIARY:

MAY & JUNE

(& probably some bits from the last 6 months too).

May 21st 2008 ~

Reader, I married him.

 

The title probably explains the lack of diary this year. As always I had much to write about including an October trip to Venice to set a wedding date but that also resulted in my debit card being cloned & abused on two continents similtaneously & my account plundered for £1000's. Not that my bank noticed what was happening. Also, a November stay at Coombe Abbey, three December weddings & loads of other stuff I can't recall right now.

 

But wedding plans needed to be put in action, diary put on hold. Enter stress, indecision, the usual family upset, more stress & the mammoth task of deciding on one design & creating my own dress.

 

 

When?   12.30pm May 6th 2008, 18 months & 2 days after our first date.

Where?  Palazzo Cavalli, Venice, Italy.

More of course to follow..........................

 

 

Still very much Chantal Mallett for work but now very much Mrs & Mrs Mike Day for every other facet of my life.

 

A gorgeous husband, our favourite city, 25 degrees & the sun shone all day - what more could any girl want?
 
 
© Luca Rajna 2008    

© Luca Rajna 2008                                                                                                 © Luca Rajna 2008       

 

The details.........

Photo credits: Top row & bottom row left © Luca Rajna 2008 . Bottom row right © Bourne. The rest taken by members of our bridal party.

 

Above: My Elizabeth Gage wedding ring which was designed to my specifications ~ thankyou for your help Christine. A yellow & white gold ring with a pink/lavender tournaline, diamonds & fleur de lys. My lovely bouquet was a waterfall of Lilacs, Vibernum & Ivy - the Lilacs smelled beautiful & everywhere I look right now I see them blooming in peoples gardens & every year now nature will remind me of my May wedding.  The button holes & the bridesmaid's bouquet were Avant Garde roses. I kept it simple by wearing sprigs of Lilac in my hair, having toyed with the idea of wearing a variation of my Papilion comb. It's a good job I didn't as with the extra (delicate) height getting in to a water taxi with a low roof & even lower door would not have worked at all (it barely worked with a corset & 3" heels). The heels were a fabulous pair of caramel colour satin boots from Bourne which blended with my fabric beautifully - I always knew I'd wear boots.

 

TIP: If like me you are getting married abroad & can't see the florist in advance, your flower choices will probably need the guidance of Google. My specially woven French tafetta was shot with three colours & presented a challenge for any colour match - it generally looked a shade of amethyst but could also look blueish, could show shots of vibrant pink & when the light hit it right looked olive green. I wanted a really old fashioned flower with an antique feel for my bouquet & after trawling images of purple flowers I decided Lilacs offered me the shades I wanted. I used Google image search to put together a storyboard for all my flowers to email to the florist. I found the right shade of rose on this site which is fantastic for finding some wierd & wonderful shades of rose: FSQ. I figured words backed up with images should deal with any 'lost in translation' boo boos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part One: The Wedding.

 

So rewind to March 2007.

  • One proposal made on bended knees at the side of our bed, before Mike went to work.
  • A vague date worked out & destination decided over a quick dinner at Pizza Express.
  • One email to my colleagues Jayne & Lindsey, Wedding Planners at Venice Events , whom I already knew, to find out how on earth we go about it?

At the end of October last year I finally found space in my diary to head out to Venice for a long overdue holiday & so that we could get a few details, like a date, sorted out. We met up with Jayne who introduced us to various photographers portfolios & ran through transport options, video, live music for the ceremony, etc. After some heady romanticising over the idea of a painfully expensive wedding gondola I finally decided there was no way a gondola & a corset would mix, we also decided against a harpist, etc. & in the end chose a selection of classical music & burned a disc to play in the background during our ceremony. We picked our date & time & left it with Jayne to arrange with the town hall. I would have loved to have had a later time but the cost of the ceremony shot up for weddings after 1pm & it made alot more sense to spend that money on a leisurely afternoon spent on the Bauer's terrace with drinks & canapes. Which is exactly what we went back to our hotel to look in to.

 

In January we hit the sales & found Mike's daughter an elegant black evening dress & black evening shoes finished with rhinestones. I later found some black beaded chiffon to make a stole & bought her a really cute ruffled handbag.

 

Having sat on our hands regarding photographs - do you need an official photographer when there's only six in the wedding party? I decided, however much I hate being photographed, I'd kick myself if I didn't book a photographer & so we trawled our 2 choices' websites to make a final decision & get them booked. Luckily our first choice Luca was based in Milan & in February during a work trip to Milan we got to meet up with him first. Something I know I felt much happier about, because we got to discuss his work with him & find out if we liked him & after that meeting, we were more than happy to let Jayne know we wanted Luca to do our photos. We also bought two ties from a shop in the awesome Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, one for Mike, one for his son / best man.

 

Early in the year I also dragged the unwilling suit shopper (quote "I look awful in suits") down to William Hunt in Saville Row. Fortunately having a bride with a heads up on where to to take her groom to find a good suit helps & he only tried on two suits (one style which he loved & looked great in, different colours) before settling on black. I nearly cried when I saw him all suited up (best to get the tears done with before the big day). We also chose a lovely fitted white shirt with really great wide cuffs & some gorgeous Swarovski crystal cufflinks. We didn't see any elsewhere (and we did have a good look) that were as fabulous & they were in his favourite colour: blue (Swarovski bermuda blue, if we're being fussy).

© Luca Rajna 2008

 

 

 

We wanted his son to look similar but as a still growing 16 year old a William Hunt suit would have been a little OTT, so the week after Saville Row we headed out shopping. Big mistake, huge!.  Moss Bros Hire without the prior Saville Row trip I'm sure would have looked a whole lot better but lets just say it would have been mean to dress our Best Man in a hired, high street chain suit. However my tip to anyone who needs a slim fitting suit for a slim young man should look at French Connection's suits. We struck on a great looking suit, in a similar vane to the Groom's  & by time we'd found a similar shirt to his Dad's, some amethyst crystal cufflinks & we'd had the sleeves shortened a little to show the cuffs off ala Dad's & the back tailored in a bit our Best Man looked great. We bought our French Connection suit, shirt & cufflinks from Baronjon.

 

Surprisingly I happened upon two more silk ties in TK Maxx that suggested they might be an even better colour match than our Milan purchases. In the end the Groom had the pinky/purple TK Maxx find which was a very good match to my dress & Best Man chose the tie we'd originaly picked out for the Groom in Milan which worked with his cufflinks.

 

The wierdest thing I made myself was my hairpieces. Why hairpieces? Well, you get real hair pieces professionally set in a curl & that curl won't drop for days & certainly not for the duration of a wedding. Which is more than can be said for my waist length hair that would probably last an hour & look crap for the rest of the day. I had in the past been using the BBC for my clients, that was until February when the BBC got rid of the costume & wig departments and, I subsequently  heard, sold all their stock off. Not that I could have hired the pieces from them because I needed to match the colour to a deep purple shade but I would have sent them down there to be dressed. So I made pieces in a similar natural shade to my own using hair extensions made from real hair & had my hair salon (Saks) dye them to the same colour that I was using, dyed just before we went away. I found another company to set the curl & bought some hair dye from Beeunique to add a few vibrant purple streaks to the front of my hair.

 

In the meantime I ordered French levers lace & special ordered shot tafetta from two suppliers in France. My dress..... a chance to have exactly what I wanted. Though wierdly I'd never really considered that I might marry, let alone what I'd wear. Unfortunately however the lace I'd always loved, overprinted in blackcurrant & russet shades,  no longer came printed only plain. So I had a fair bit of research & trial & error to work out my own way to shade my lace. Though it has to be said, through research, my method to create a similar effect is every bit as good, if not better than the lace I'd always loved. And inadvertantly, I have added a number of extra strings to my bow. My method for shading fabrics is very versatile & the possibilities endless. My colour in the end was not the same as the original, even though I did manage to match that on one of my test pieces but I moved away from a darker colour which would have been very Goth with my skintone & went for a very unusual soft shade. The design was very hard to tie down. When as a designer, the options are endless, how do you strip back all your ideas to one dress? Even though the Edwardian period is not my favourite, my dress is more Edwardian than other historical eras because when it comes right down to it, one has to design for the individual & I suit those styles. I was also well aware that it would be easy to go over the top & that even though I wanted a certain amount of detail, again it had to suit me. When I did come up with my design it felt right & had the familiar studded neckline I have done on so many of my dresses, which I love. And the new details of all over lace (new for me) & the feather & crystal fringeing on my lace coat. Yes there were hiccups, the delivery time on the tafetta went well over, not disastrously but annoyingly. And having someone who's never fitted clothing before- my Mother- fit a corset ....trial by fire. If I'd thought about it, I should have had my Mother sit in on client's fittings last year & watch me but we didn't do that & as a result it became hard work. As it turns out, new hubby being on the same wavelength was a good thing. Having spent two hours one evening in corset, trying to explain where I needed things pinned in order to create my lace overcoat, my feet aching from standing still so long, my fiance called. I sobbed down the phone (pre-wedding there was a lot of crying) that I couldn't create a pattern from my previous two hour ordeal & asked him if he'd give it a shot. An hour later he was at my workroom &  half an hour later job done - I'd have married him for that alone! It turns out my husband is not bad at fittings - he follows instructions, sees what needs doing & does it.  My Mr Perfect & a life saver......... He also sat with me over a long weekend while I appliqued the lace edging onto the hem of my coat. An interesting stat for you - it took 27 hours to applique just the hem. Of course my Mum did help an awful lot as well.  I was told it was bad luck to make the whole dress myself so having Mum & Mike for fittings meant I didn't do it all myself & they strung my fringeing for me too. All in all, the components - French lace & tafetta, Swarovski pearls & crystals, feathers, colour for the lace, etc. certainly did not come cheap and add to this the cost of many many hours of intensive labour. I don't think Brides to be realise how much the fabrics alone can cost when you use quality fabrics & lots of them. I bought 4 lengths of lace 90cm wide by 4.7m long & used most of it. But if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well the only difference this time being this was my dress.

 

 

I have to say though that making my dress was the most stressful, emotional thing I have done. I liken it to building your own house. I piled immense pressure on myself - it had to be what I wanted and make me look a lot thinner. It was flattering, held everything up and in (but one can still hope for miracles, after all why could it make my size 20 something look size 12?) & whilst I pretended it wasn't important, it was really important. Add to this the worry that as a dress designer everyone will want to see your dress, judge your choices & then the pressure is even worse. You have all your own body issues, your own expectations & then everyone else's as well. Plus it also dawned on me quite late that there may only be 6 in our wedding party but there where an awful lot of people in Venice to be seen by & I'm the type that prefers playing wall flower - I'm not comfortable basking in the limelight (I wilt). To be honest it was horrible, I cried a lot - with tiredness, with frustration, the emotional stress of an upcoming wedding. Ehhh. You would think after 10 years of doing this for other people it would have been easy to make my own dress - how wrong you'd be & how ill prepared I was for it. What I am proud to say is, like all my creations, this one too, despite the difficulties of fitting it to myself, fit me like a glove.

 

Still it's done. True to form I dislike most of the photos. I hate that the sun made me squint all day, my eyes are one of my best features & it would have been nice to have some with my eyes open properly. I learned that I should have confirmed the sort of photos I wanted via email shortly before the wedding. On the day, if you choose to hand the organising over & just enjoy like we did you run the risk of not getting everything you'd wanted. I'd wanted some posed shots & asked for some of me, on my own, showing my dress properly (front, back, side), which we didn't really get, I now know I wanted close ups of us exchanging rings & instead I have photos taken from a distance, I would also have liked some posed portrait shots of me not squinting - relaxed after the wedding ceremony. I wanted photographs taken in a particular location (my favourite church across from the Bauer) & had veto'd the suggestion we pose in a gondola boatyard (not in my dress!). I don't know why but the church was bi-passed & the boatyard put back on the agenda. We didn't do the boatyard, it involved a good deal more walking & a bridge to get there & there was no way I was expending the energy required on something I didn't want to do. I'd seen a previous couple's shots at the yard, pointing at a plank of wood  with the "hey we're in a boatyard" expressions & quite frankly there was no chance I was going to be able to muster up enough 'fake' enthusiasm to make those shots work. Besides there were half naked boat builders lounging about in the sunshine, sleeping & I don't need those featuring in my wedding day memories. As it is, my favourite shot was taken on a bridge near the boatyard so something came out of that, that might not have otherwise been.

 

But I digress.......

 

Venice:

 

 

We flew out on Sunday morning for our Tuesday wedding. I left the feather fringeing to do when we got there as packing a dress into a case is challenge & worry enough without having 127 delicate ostrich feather fringes already attached to the hem to try & pack carefully so that they made the journey intact.

Weddings abroad are a logistical nightmare. Before 9/11 my brides had carried their dresses in garment bags onto the planes. One had room found for her's in the crew's wardrobe, another had her's fly in the cockpit with the pilot & others stowed their's carefully in the overhead lockers. After 9/11 this is no longer an option & we have the worry of packing our dresses into cases & stowing them in the hold, praying they come out the other end & that they haven't been put on a plane to Russia. And some us thank out lucky stars we're not flying our wedding outfits with BA through terminal 5. We managed to get my parents to share one case & Mike's offspring to do the same, giving us 2 extra cases - one for my dress & bits, one for the suits, BM dress & their shoes, etc. That way when the four of them returned to the UK they had four suitcases. We of course where staying on in Italy for our honeymoon.

 

Sunday we arrived at the Bauer, a five star hotel in Venice & our oasis of luxury for a few days a year. We feel at home there & the staff are great & they remember us. I'd booked a junior suite through Expedia so we ladies had room to swing a cat on the wedding day but the Suite we were given was more like two junior suites. No. 257 had 2 bathrooms, a walk in wardrobe, a large bedroom, another well lit wardrobe area (& make shift workroom for the sewing on of feather fringeing) & a living room. It even had 6 comfy chairs. We loved our suite, 2 bathrooms were a godsend & it gave us a perfect space to retire to when we needed a rest from the rushing around. We cut our cake there on the evening of our wedding day, which Mike shopped for the day before & the hotel happily stowed in their fridge for us.

 

Monday we had a meeting with Jayne & strolled over to the Rialto to meet the florist who'd evidently had a mare with my Lilacs. Apparently her supplier rang her on the Saturday to say the Lilacs had gone over (AKA died) & the panic buttons were hit to track some down, which they did after some midnight phonecalls (yay) & I had a mix of Italian Lilacs & some from Holland. Jayne told me, when this story came out at the florist's, that she was no way going to drop that bombshell on me seeing as it was so close to our flying out, I'd been working so hard on my dress, etc. But I said to her, this happens all the time. A supplier somewhere down the line lets you down & the person at the end of the chain like me or the florist in this case has to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Which she did & considering it was about the only aspect of my wedding I relinquished control of (I had plans to do my own flowers but decided to dump the inevitable stress factor & have faith in another wedding proffessional), I was very pleased with her services. The flowers were great.

 

We had booked 2 rooms at the Bauer's sister hotel, the Bauer Palladio across the canal, the two hotels linked by a courtesy electric shuttle boat. Their hotel was in an old monastry & every bit as great as the Bauer but much more tranquil, stone courtyard, lovely restful anti rooms, a garden & a Spa. Mike swapped with his daughter the night before, so we girls were in the Bauer together & my Mother joined us for breakfast in the morning. It was an early start - 7.15am. It had to be as I was doing my bridesmaid's hair & make-up as well as my own. We'd been up late, virgin fake nail creators, not through choice but nessesity. I didn't want to get mine done before I went & Mondays, it turns out, is traditionaly the day barbers & beauty shops are closed in Italy.  Jayne did manage to track down a nail bar in Venice that did open on a Monday only to be told they were on holiday that week. So my bridesmaid & I did our own nails using Kiss Lightening Speed kits we'd bought from Boots. Not bad results for newbies if you didn't look too close. I found out after I painted mine you need to file them down ALOT but we had nails & we were happy (& maybe a bit high from the fumes!).

 

 

 

Mike & Chantal's Wedding Day.

 

6th May 2008.

 

 

I awoke during the night itching. Mosquitos had bitten me on my arm & in my hairline. I slapped 1% hydrocortisone ointment (I know it's not what it's for but it works) on them & went back to bed. 7.15am the hotel calls through with my alarm call. I rub my nose (maybe it was tickling me). It feels odd, like when your leg goes dead. I look in the mirror & it's red & the end is bulbous. Oh ****. Seemingly the little buggers bit my nose as well, so without spiralling in to panic I ointment the tip of my nose & throw a Piriton tablet down my throat & head out for breakfast. Fortunately the Piriton worked & the swelling had gone down by time we got back to the room. See - no need for panic ;)

 

I pinned my own hair up with a little tweakage to the back from Mum (looking at the photos, the self critic wishes she'd had eyes in the back of her head & been able to tame the unruly curls). I hey prestoed my bridesmaid's makeup & sent her out to pick up my last minute earring purchase from a lovely Venetian designer's shop just a stones throw from the hotel (they had needed to be altered from pierced to clips). I then got on with my make up, dressed BM's hair & amazingly we were on time to get me dressed & downstairs in time for our water taxi. I'd puffed up because of the plane journey so the corset was tighter than it ever had been (just great) & it took Mum & Dad to close & tie it (amateurs make such a fuss & who knew I tied my bows in a funny way?). I tie them in the way that ensures the corset doesn't loosen when you tie the bow, 'apparently' my way isn't normal? If you're wondering where the lace is, it's underneath the buttons. Function on this corset not decoration.

 

Interesting journey - squeezing into a water taxi, walking crab like into the cramped interior. A doorway suitable for a Hobbit not a tall human in heels. Very ladylike & I should be offered some kind of prize for being able to do it in a corset (yes, I know, my husband was the prize). Do they have soft top taxis in Venice one wonders?

 

 

Anyway we stand outside the town hall, Pallazo Cavalli, which borders the Grand Canal & is just a stones throw from the Rialto Bridge waiting to go up. The previous wedding is overrunning & the three of us (Dad, Mike's daughter & I) wait quietly in the cool stone interior for the other bridal party to leave the building. When she does appear, the radient & heavily pregnant Bride looked so pretty, she too wore fresh flowers in her hair & chose a sort of high waisted, ivory Grecianesqe dress that showed off her bump. She looked lovely & I told her so in my limited Italian "Bella" (not just the name of a magazine). Whilst they're outside throwing confetti we start the climb up the stone staircase to the floor where the ceremonies take place. I'd been fairly chilled until I get to the door (too much running around) but as I enter the Salon nerves kick in & I walk past Mike before stopping abruptly to walk back to him & kiss him (our last kiss as singles). It's not like there is a clear stop point you see. I was using the central table as a guide but it turns out that first you have to go in to an ante-room behind the main room & go through the legal bit & sign papers. I couldn't tell you what was said, I spent the first few minutes clutching Mike's hand (like you do, or at least we do, when the plane you're on comes in to land), trying to stop my heart from leeping out of my chest it was beating so hard. But by the time we were called upon to sign our full names, calm had been restored. An instrumental version of one of my favourite classical songs, Andrea Botchelli's Con te Partiro which I'd tracked down on Itunes, softly played away in the background & finished with a flourish just as we got up to begin our wedding ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Luca Rajna 2008

 

 

We proceeded into the main room & stood for the ceremony which is read to you in Italian & then translated (by Jayne) in English. The aptly named "The book of love" (Peter Gabriel) starting right on cue. The only words we were required to utter was "I will", I resisted the urge to survey Mike with a look of reticence, pause & then say "Oh, all right", I didn't think he'd see the funny side (usually yes. Marriage ceremony? Maybe not). So "I will"d it too & we were pronounced man & wife. Que romantic embrassing, etc. etc. Then we were invited to exchange rings & I think there was a bit more ceremony after that. At the end of which we were presented with a Murano ornamental glass dish, a gift from the Mayor of Venice to mark our wedding. As I don't know the Mayor & we're not celebs, I'll assume everyone who marries there gets one. But seriously, what a nice way to wrap up the ceremony & a keepsake only a select few get to take home with them from Venice,  Mike & I among them. I wouldn't have minded having more to say during the ceremony but considering we were marrying in Italy, provided you have some guidance like the ladies at Venice Events to make sure you're sending the right paperwork to the right place, etc. it was all quite idiot proof.

 

I can answer one question I, as a bride to be, wasn't sure of (I asked Jayne first so I didn't look silly on the day). You sign the register with you normal, single you's signature.

The question I have to get an answer on is what do I do next? Our certificate went to the British Consolate in Venice to be registered in the UK but can I just use Mrs. Day now or do I have to do something else to legally use it? After all, I don't legally have to take Mike's name so ..........................?

Found the answer here: http://www.weddingguideuk.com/articles/legal/changingnamemarriage.asp It seems you just use it & send copies of your marriage certificate to most people that need to know (there's a list to help you) & the original to government ones. Have to buy a new 10 year passpost though, the most they'll tack on from your old one is 9 months & mine's not that old. Plus I'm still scared from the last time I had to try & get a decent passport photo out of those vile digital photo booths.

Readers: Sorry, if I've bored you rigid. It's probably too late to say feel free to skip the most boring bits. But in a wierd way, for me it does capture the events, my event, for posterity. So if the only people to read this are myself, my husband & a few of my clients with nothing better to do, it was reason enough to write it.

 

After the ceremony we pigeon dodged our way towards the Rialto where our taxi was waiting, past tourists & school parties, "Auguri" ringing in our ears, strangers wanting photos. All very crazy Mike & his son revelled in the attention we were getting. I say pigeon dodged becuase the roof of the Palazzo Cavalli has large overhanging eaves and the pigeons sit on the edge and take aim below. In fact in one of wedding pictures Mike can quite clearly be seen guiding everyone under the eaves away from line of the edge and claims Mum was missed by a whisker...... We took a water taxi, which we had for an hour down the Grand Canal with the aim of stopping for photos. In the end the only stop we made was destination boatyard which I've already covered & then on to St Marks Square where we disembarked. The weather was phenominal, the day before it had rained & we had been so lucky to wake up to blue skies & wall to wall sunshine.  The walk into & across St Marks Square was just as crazy. I wish I could have enjoyed the attention more but for me it was about having been in that place together, where I've stood as someone who once never imagined I would get married, where I've stood with him as a new couple & again as a couple planning our wedding just 9 months later & where on 6th May I stood with him as my husband on our wedding day. Smiling way too much all day - smiling is of course fine but for my photos a disaster. I don't smile, I have a wonky smile thanks to the dentist who walloped the right hand side of my jaw extracting my wisdom teeth when I was in  my teens & I hate photos of me smiling. Smiling & squinting, well that's really bad & while they all wore their sun glasses & my Mother poached my Audrey Hepburn ala Breakfast at Tiffanys, Roberto Cavalli's for the duration, I was left all blue eyed, light sensitive & defenseless against the glare of the day.

 

From St Marks we made the short walk to the Bauer & onto the terrace where we had a private space set up in the corner for drinks & canapes. The Bauer's terrace is a small slice of heaven away from the noise & the tourists, though not anymore from the pigeons. You see 10 days earlier a law was passed making it an offence to feed the pigeons. Up until then the square was full of pigeons, bird food sellers & tourists eager to offer food in exchange for the flying rats pitching on them for photos. 10 days later and the pigeons were hungry, savvy to tourists having food & hastling people sitting outside cafes & restaurants anywhere in the city & sweeping on masse on newly emptied tables for leftovers, smashing glasses, etc. in a flurry of every bird for themselves. Though we weren't too bothered by them where we were sat.

 

As I said, the terrace is a little slice of heaven from where you can watch life play out on the Grand Canal, you have a beautiful view, Gondolas floating by & relative piece & quiet. We'd culled the canape list of the tit bits we didn't fancy & nibbled on canapés with marinated salmon, goat's cheese and bresaola, finger sandwiches with Prague ham and soft cheese, tartlets with Asiago cheese fondue & ham and cheese strudel & drank prosecco & cocktails, Chilling under the large sun shades & chatting. Not everyone's idea of a wedding but exactly what we had wanted. We threw confetti on the Bauer's canal side pontoon having walked out of our suite without it & at around 4pm Luca left to head back to Milan. We took a little time to grab some more photos of the dress & then I went up to change for dinner.

Dinner was at our favourire Venetian resterant Da Arturo, where the food is always excellent & the staff Ernesto, Hani & their cook always welcoming. So much so that for our wedding celebration dinner the three of them took time out to bring us all out a round of Prosecco (Italian champagne) & share a toast with us & after a fabulous meal, including their to die for Voronoff Steaks (the best part of 3" thick), they gave me a gorgeous stem of orchids as a parting gift. The food there is so good that last year the Da Arturo team closed their resterant in Venice & were flown by a hollywood director (who's a regular when in Venice) to LA for a week. They were tourists by day & cooked for the likes of Nicole Kidman, Courtney Cox, etc. at a string of dinner parties thrown by the director in the evenings.

 

As an aside, here are some more web finds for Da Arturo & other recommendations for eating well in Venice:

Telegraph

Times

Independent See 'Dinner with the locals'.

New York Times

 

After Dinner we drifted back to the Bauer, Mike put in a request for ice buckets, our cake & items with which to eat it & we polished off our evening cutting our cake with the wedding present I'd requested from my parents (a special cake knife & server engraved with our names & wedding date) & a toast with the Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne we'd bought at Gatwick airport on the way out.

 

Mike & I ended our evening sat, bobbing up & down (wait, no wry smiles), on the Bauer's pontoon having seen our families into the shuttle boat back across the water to their hotel. It was a lovely mild evening & a perfect end to our wedding day.................

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

For the next few days the Day / Mallett party ate leisureley breakfasts on the terrace at the Bauer together, took the newbies sight seeing & had a number of OK meals & one farcical one.

 

You see we made the mistake of thinking if you eat somewhere once it will be fine to eat there again. So there we are seated at a table for six, Mike's daughter painfully indecisive about whether to have mediocre spagetti ragu or a mediocre pizza. Mike trying to resist the urge to kill. Me, having gone the other way, in fits of laughter. And my Mother chooses this moment to crack & as the matriarch of the group, embarks on a good telling off which leads to a squawked & heated exchange at the far end of the table followed by stoney silence. So thank god for our waiter who begins to take the order, a decision on spagetti ragu having been made. He gets half way through inputting our order into his machine when the wireless connection evidently dies & he wanders off to get another machine. Again more repeating & inputting, some slapping of the machine much like Al used to do on Quantum Leap & just as effective & off he went again. Third time's the charm sureley? By now our Primis & Secondis are being inputted Russian Roulette fashion into his Fisher Price gizmo but the humour value, the sporadic slapping, confusion over red or white wine has broken the tension. And then the food comes. My Dad's fish is put down (no sign of his pasta first course) then the pizza arrives. My Dad sends the fish away saying he has pasta yet to come & Mike & his son are left bemused, staring at their pizza. And then the fun really starts as both their pasta dishes arrive from the kitchen & the waiters stand there like idiots trying to put the plates down! We of course are past being floored by the incompetence & are laughing hysterically whilst our waiters stand there trying to figure out a) what's funny? & b) how to serve two courses at once? So pizzas go back to the kitchen, primis are served. Then some of our party get their by now not so fresh secondis including my Dad's "fresh" fish dish back. And when we get the bill we've been charged 10% sevice charge!!! Naturally Mike takes the man most resembing management to one side & explains that we will not be paying service charge for such a farce. No one says sorry, the guy Mike complained to who spoke great english send a girl with pigeon english to deal with us & we're told we can only get around the 10% service charge if we pay cash. So cash is cobbled together & on the way out, still with no one having apologised, Mike stopped by our waiter & gave his stupid machine a playful slap or two. Well someone had to see the funny side?

 

The wednesday evening was dedicated to my favourite cocktail, the Casanova, in the Bauer's B Bar. My new stepson & I being the naughty children that stayed up late down in the bar whilst my lightweight husband went to bed feeling poorly & everyone else headed back to the Palladio.

 

May 8th we say goodbye to our treasured suite, pick up my flowers to place in reception's safe keeping for the day, do a little sight seeing, a light meal on the terrace & say goodbye to the city in style by using a water taxi to go back to the airport.

 

A simple equation: 1 x Taxi = Fun x 10 & ellicits sounds normally reserved for rollercoasters.

 

 

At Marco Polo, we check family in for their flight back to London, see about our hire car for the week & I get teary, for in the excitement, I'd  left my flowers behind. Soppy cow! So no sooner have we piled in to our hire car, my romantic husband is driving us straight back in to Venice to collect my wedding flowers. 

 

A water bus to the Rialto, a walk to the hotel, a close encounter with getting seriously side tracked with the lure of a farewell Casanova, another walk & we finally said farewell to our city. Just the two of us, with me clutching my wedding flowers, standing arms around each other on a packed water bus back to where we'd parked the car. Not as exciting as our first exit but more romantic & posibly more poignant. Oh & who just happens to be stood right behind Mike on the bus? Our comedy waiter (probably wanted to make sure we'd gone). If you're worried about his well being, you needn't be - he didn't seem to possess anything we had any desire to playfully slap ;)

 

We finished our day by finding a hotel near the airport for the night, destination a converted 12th century convent in Umbria our goal for the morning........

 

Useful links:

 

Wedding Planners: Venice Events.

Hotels: Bauer & Bauer Palladio.

Photographer: Luca Rajna.

Honeymoon apartment: Il Convento Mincione.

Wedding meal: Da Arturo.

Confetti: Perditas Petals. I bought Antique colour Hydrengea heads.

Mike's suit: William Hunt.

My boots: Bourne.

My bespoke wedding ring: Elizabeth Gage.

My hair (bright streaks): Beeunique Pipkin Purple mixed with Virgin Rose & some lightener.

My hair (main colour): Saks. 

False nails: Kiss Lightening Speed.

 

 

 

 

Part Two: The Honeymoon.

 

Destination Umbria.

 

 

I'm going to spare diary readers a blow by blow account of our week in Umbria.

 

No paragliding, mountaineering, surfing lessons, swimming with sharks, whistle stop globe trotting................ After organising a wedding & spending four days in Venice; peace & quiet, seclusion & breathtaking natural beauty were Mike & I's idea of a Honeymoon & OMG did I find the perfect place to achieve it.

 

The wedding was in planning stage & I took an interest in destination Umbria for a possible Honeymoon location after seeing the film 'My House in Umbria'. Everyone knows how beautiful Tuscany is & this would have been an option too, until I fell upon Il Convento Mincione on the internet. It looked perfect & the honeymoon appartment was avaliable, so after scouting the internet for alternatives- Il Convento being about the first Googled link I'd followed & Mike being almost as indecisive as his daughter, concluding it really didn't seem to have much in the way of serious competion. Il Convento Mincione was booked.

 

It took most of the day to drive there & it was about 7pm when after a few wrong turns (if you want remote, you've got it) we pulled up at the apartment's gates. Almost simultaneously with some people from Gerrards Cross & not too far behind them another British couple. So poor Joan, having been prepared all day for her new residents had 4 apartments descend on her at once.

 

Il Convento Mincione:

 

Joan, the owner, is an ex-New Yorker. Warm & friendly, she can hand you a weeks itinery if what you want is to get the most out of your weeks sightseeing & can book trips, really good resternants etc. to make your stay a fuller experience. She also has a stack of books on walks, art, you name it to cater to visitor's individual requirments. All in all, an Oracle on most things local. You can tell she love's the Convent & it's idyllic setting, which she so lovingly restored in just two years, having taken three years to build up the courage - hardly surprising seeing as, when she bought the place, there was not much more than the walls left standing, after the English had bombed the German army out & locals probably scavenged for building materials. Of course if all you want to do is bum around on your terrace drinking Merlot from the local Coop (Co Op to us) at 3.5 euros for 1.5 litres! Or laze around the pool / slip into the hot tub both of which have breathtaking views, that's fine too. I would have liked to take a dip but with the clear skys, in May the temperature was dropping at night & duvets were the order of the day hence, even with some gorgeous days, the pool was too cold. Come the Summer I imagine it will be too, too tempting. I would have also, in hindsight, have liked to book 2 weeks so we could have done the same amount of sightseeing but stayed 'home' a fair bit too. Our base was just so fabulous, I was loathed to leave it each day after our leisurely breakfasts - a continuation of the breakfasts I ate at the Bauer (mozarella, fresh bread, procutto crudo, melon, cheeses). But there were some magical places to visit:

 

Assisi where yes it rained but I kept reminding Mike that we got the best weather on our wedding day & any good day after that one is a bonus.

Spello, another lovely town with narrow cobbled & quirky streets. Both places also being amazingly clean & graffiti free.

Perugia, Umbria's capital. Elegant architecture & a cool underground city. Like Spello, you have to get on escalators to go up into the city from the car parks.

 

All of the above, pretty hilly places that take their toll on your calves but offer amazing views of the Umbrian countryside & have some lovely architecture.

 

Sienna - a place I wanted to see having watched 'My House in Umbria' was disappointing. A very austere place, with masculine, hard looking buildings which seemed to just be a tourist town or theme park complete with youngsters marching around the town in medieval dress, banging drums & throwing flags.

 

Maybe there is more to Sienna but unlike Venice that makes you want to wander off the beaten path, explore & discover life in the squares the locals live in, the laundrettes, hardware shops, funeral homes, furniture makers, etc. Sienna didn't inspire us to bother.

 

We, on our routes to & from the convent saw, a pair of snakes mating on the road, owls pitched on the road at night, along with large snails & frogs & on two nights wild boar. The first night 5 boar ran across the road ahead of us, the second night, one crossed & paused to look at us before disappearing into the night. We also had little lizards that hung around sunbathing - they weren't intested in coming inside as the apartments were too cool & there was mesh across all the window openings to keep them & the bugs out, so I didn't mind them, they were quite cute. The strangest sights we saw were of the human variety however: On our Monday trip to Sienna, we were on a country road not far from our hideaway when Mike commented that this 'lady' sat on a chair in a layby, smoking a cigarette looked like "a lady of the night" (his words). A throw away comment, followed up seconds later by the exclamation that "she is a lady of the night!" as we drove past another girl. All in all, on a short stretch of road we saw 10 working girls, probably eastern europeans, sat in laybys or at the mouths of dirt tracks on white chairs, in broad daylight! We even saw enough to know that a chair tipped over meant a girl was busy. The chairs evidently went with the hookers when they called it a day, as the countryside wasn't dotted with lonely little white chairs at night when, unbelievably, the hookers appeared to not be working! We did see a few more over the next few days, including one who was just there in a layby having a pee as we drove past. But not in such numbers as on our first trip out. Maybe the Italian men abstain on Sundays & Mondays is their best day for trade? Strange that for a Cathlolic country, the prostitutes were evidently quite popular, seemed to work 9 to 5 & were incredibly indiscreet.

 

 

The unconventional Umbrian postcards:  A Linda Lizardi as Mike named them  .  Snakes making hay while the sun shines  .  An Umbrian red light.

 

We had a fantastic week & would have loved to have stayed & chilled longer. The night before we left, we went out to the car park & threw my wedding flowers over the hedge into the overgrowth promising we'll come back one day and see them again. It was our way of leaving a little something of ourselves and our happy time there behind.

 

The next day we took a long drive to Milan to buy a sewing machine from the Singer shop on Corso Buenos Airies. We had seen it - a lovely semi-industrial Singer machine - there in February & I should have bought it then, but as I didn't & since regretted it, we made Milan our last stop & in doing so ensured our lives weren't put in Ryan Air's hands by flying back to the UK from Perugia. You can't buy Singers in the UK anymore, a sad reflection on the how few people sew these days compared with other countries around the world.

 

And so on to the pictorial part of my Honeymoon diary - they say pictures speak a thousand words:

 

Il Convento Mincione:

 

 

Umbria:

 

"The Underground City is an extraordinary sight, vaulted brick ceilings have been constructed over medieval streets, houses and churches. This is all that remains of the Rocca Paolina, the papal fortress built to subdue the city by Pope Paul III.

At the top of the escalators, turn right down Via Bagliona, the underground street. After a minute you emerge through a door into the open air, walk down the steps and then turn around. The door you walked through is set into an arch, the Porta Marzia (Gate of Mars). The lower blocks date back to the Etruscans and the upper part is Roman. The Pope’s architect, Sangallo the Younger, liked the arch so much that he dismantled it and incorporated it into the walls of the fortress. Originally, it would have been the city’s southern entrance."

Excert taken from this web site: http://www.tuscanyumbria.com/perugia-walk.html

 

When I got home & logged on I had 409 emails, nearly all spam - "Welcome Home"!

 


 

Of course one should never forget that the most important thing about a wedding is not the dress, the weather, the flowers or the honeymoon.

It should not be about fullfilling the little girl fantasy we imagine when we're in primary school & are some little boy's girlfriend. 

The most important thing is the reason for the wedding:

 

 

Marriage.

 

 

 

From this day forward.......................

 


 

9nd June 2008 ~

 

Photographs:

 

A couple more images. One, a good shot of my dress (although not from the wedding, this one my husband took of me in my showroom at the weekend) & a photo of us on the balcony of Palazzo Cavalli:

 

 

To my regret we have not come away from Italy with all the images we had hoped for. I know my wedding planner would like some for her website & when I look at the other weddings featured & the shots chosen it frustrates me to see we don't have similar shots for her or for us. When we met up with the photographer in Milan we discussed what we'd like which was 50/50 posed vs reportage. I also explained that I would need some photos of the dress looking great so I had the option of putting some on my website & that I would, for the same purpose, also like detail shots. Unfortunately we have all reportage & no posed & subsequently the only full length shots of the dress are of us walking. We were surrounded by some of the world's most elegant buildings & we have no full length, composed, romantic shots. Instead we look like tourists in St Marks Square & we have plenty of shots on our disc of the tourists too!!. Shot after shot of tourists. And 20+ shots of the boatyard I'd vetoed using for photos at our February meeting!!.

 

I have been beating myself up for a week over the fact that I knew we weren't getting what we'd asked for & didn't speak up. I know why I didn't speak up on the day....... mainly to keep in with our photographer & also because it was hot, because by the time I realised we weren't being posed at all - we'd walked the length & breadth of the waterfront & through St Marks & I was thirsty, my feet hurt & I needed to get out of the sun for a while. Hindsight being what it is, now we have the disc & know what photo ops we've missed out on..... in hindsight I would have switched work head on & quite frankly been a bitch if that's what it needed. But I didn't. All that experience of working around wedding photographers & hearing brides tell me they didn't get what they'd asked for & it happened to me too.....

 

That's what happens when you're off and running girls, enjoying it & dropping all the balls ;)

 

What could I have done differently? Well I'd have followed our Milan meeting up with an email confirming NO ****** BOATYARD & that I absolutely did want photos at the Salute church.

My favourite Venetian backdrop & I didn't insist we turn the taxi, that I'd paid for an hour's usage of, in order to ferry us to photo ops, around & go there. IDIOT!

And that boatyard! It seemingly hasn't changed in 30 years. James Bond drove his souped up gondola right past it in Moonraker the other night on TV!

My email would also have requested & confirmed...... & please feel free to pick from this list to make your own list:

  • Elegant, posed, full length shots of the bride in the dress,

NB. I photograph the dresses at my Bride's weddings. Photographers as a rule don't. I hedged my bets by choosing a photographer that had good fashion work in his portfolio (I say hedged).

 

All my brides have wanted shots of their dresses looking perfect, as though they were modelling the dress for a magazine advert. The skirt teased out, etc. A photo that reflects the image they saw in the mirror when they put the dress on for the first time. Some want a great back shot of the dress flowing as they walk. We want the dress to be captured at it's most beautiful & us at our most beautiful wearing it & rarely do photographers deliver. It's not that the photos they do take don't live up to expectations, they just usually don't take the time to take those photos. So you must tell them you want it. I did also ask Jayne to pass my website on to our photographer, which she did, to give him an idea of the kind of thing I'd wanted & he did look. But evidently even the 'visual' was lost in translation.

  • Elegant, posed, full length shots of the bride & groom,

NB. Again, is there anything wrong in having photos looking like you're on the cover of a epic romantic novel? This is your wedding day.

  • Close ups of us exchanging rings (I stupidly thought that these would be a given & now I don't have them),
  • Portrait shots of bride & groom (taken after wedding ceremony).

NB. The bride & groom always look nervous before & during the ceremony. It is rare to see good facial photos until after the ceremony is done & normally anything done before is mainly 'miss' & less 'hit'. Our close ups are during the ceremony & mainly 'eek'.

  • At least one photo of family groups together. We don't have me with both parents, or Mike & his daughter.

NB. Dont assume your photographer has a running tally going in their head, even if there are only 6 in your party.

 

Your list should have where you particularly want shots.

And what you don't want.

What style or mix of photography?

If you want to be 'precious' about keeping your dress clean & yes, it does annoy some photographers, annoy them & tell them you won't sit on dirty walls, etc.

If you don't want to be cajoled into silly photo ops on the day, tell them. Why pull funny faces / do stupid poses & generaly play along, if you're never going to buy the photo?

Don't let a photographer take shots of you in a G string if you don't want to risk the world seeing them - the copyright is theirs, not yours.

 

So, stupidly we thought we had done all we needed to by having met with our photographer & telling him what we wanted. WE SHOULD HAVE CONFIRMED IT IN WRITING. We should have cc'd it to our wedding planner & asked her to confirm our requests with the photographer in the days leading up to our event.

 

Why didn't we get what we wanted? Who knows. Maybe it was an off day. Maybe he was Salute'd out. Maybe beautiful & elegant was boring when it's wedding number (?) Maybe he forgot what we asked for. Certainly reportage featured strongly in his portfolio but there were striking, posed shots too. Maybe we should have shopped around for someone who's balance was more in the posed, stylish shots camp? Did the fact that we didn't speak Italian make it too difficult for him to give us directions? Maybe we're uninspiring subjects. A 1000 maybes...........

 

Unfortunatley it was our one wedding day, no time capsule avaliable, a one shot deal for us & we wanted beautiful, elegant Venice to be our backdrop even if the backdrops bored our photographer to tears. He may have done the same shot a million times but we hadn't. To us it was new & it was 'us'.

 

Bride to be's please learn from my errors. Consider if your photographer is right for you. Make your list. Confirm your list & if possible assign someone the job on the day that, if your wish list isn't being fulfilled, they have your permission to 'gently' remind your photographer what you want & to be annoyingly persistant if persistance is required.

 

I am now considering what I have suggested to brides before. That we get dressed up in our wedding outfits again & pay someone else to take the romantic couple shots & gorgeous dress shots we didn't get in Italy. I have a venue in mind that would make a beautiful backdrop & know what photographer I'd want to approach. Lame? Probably. Can I explain to readers who haven't yet been there just how frustrating it is to not have the photographs that form the storybook of your wedding day? There's certain shots you can't ever recapture & wouldn't try to like exchanging rings, that moment came & went & you can't slip photos into a wedding album & pretend they are from the day. But the love that was there on our wedding day did come home with us, as did the wedding outfits & why shouldn't we try to capture the beautiful shots we missed out on? When I see other couple's romantic shots in the magazines, on Venice Event's website, when I think of the zillions of times I've watched my brides be posed & the magical results I've seen, it makes me sad.

 

I dared to dryclean my wedding skirt.........

 

Oh & on a slightly different note, the drycleaners that drycleaned my wedding skirt have given the material a sort of sandwashed, marbled effect! Almost as though a residue of the cleaning fluid had dryed in to it. (I met a new client yesterday & she said the same thing). There was a note attached to say there were a few stains left but any further cleaning may, I said MAY, damage the fabric. Hmmmm. Did I scream, cry, swear even? No. What else would you expect? Sods law. I'm one of the few brides who's wedding gown has a purpose beyond their wedding day & my skirt comes back, having gone in with just a few areas around the hem soiled with essence de pigeon but otherwise pretty perfect, cleaner but with an undesirable "special effect". Anyway, you see it most when you look down the fabric not at it, useful given I'd like to consider re-photographing it!

 


 

 

 

 

I now have a Facebook Profile, well two actually (Mrs. Day has a personal one & is enjoying catching up with some of her ex-clients):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I can have Fans. How cool.

 


 

Some catch up bits in no order at all...............

 

Chantal & TV.

 

This made me double take. Any of my Diary readers that have come through from my Bio at some time may remember seeing some sketches on that webpage. Well, imagine my surprise when I was sat in front of the box one night, eating my dinner & half heartedly watching Comedy Shuffle on BBC3 when during this Cinderella sketch a sketch not disimilar to the one below flashes up on screen. It was gone so quick, I thought I was seeing things (I was tired) & it took a while to figure out why the image looked familiar & a day before I could log on to the BBC's iPlayer & see if I was right. It seems someone must have needed a Cinderella dress design for the program, sourced mine on the site & traced over it with some simplifications to the details - if they'd asked I'd have let them use the original! Credited of course ;)

 

Above: My sketch & Comedy Shuffle's version.

 

The Apprentice - My other bit of TV related, well "gossip" seems too strong a word, "news" is that I was approached about my work appearing on The Apprentice. This was back in August 2007. Mike & I were waiting for our connecting train back to MK from Kirsten's Renewal in Scotland & whilst we were sat in this cafe I was contacted by a researcher about a mystery program which sounded just like The Apprentice. They had booked two stands at the National Wedding Show in Birmingham & there would be two teams competing to see who could make the most sales over the duration of the show. They wanted to promote designer's products & were after really unusual wedding gowns, very high end to sell at the show (the teams would be representing the designers) & I had to explain to her that 'we', 'couture designers' don't work that way & that everything is made to measure. We don't have dresses to be sold off the peg. She asked if I'd sell my samples & I said no. I told her the only way it could work, if they wanted to use people like me was to book consultations on our behalf & tally up sales in a few months time. I said it sounded just like The Apprentice & was told no it was a different program. We fixed a date for her to come & see me but not convinced this was a project that would work for me in the format she was selling especially if it was The Apprentice & ergo high profile, I called her the next day with some questions & followed the call up with the email below:

 

Of course it was The Apprentice (episode 8) which aired whilst we were away in May but I caught the repeat when I got back.

 

It was interesting to see how their criteria had changed instead of high end couture, we had manuafacturers - Ian Stuart off the peg, BHS OTP (yes BHS!!!!!), White Rose OTP (well I think it was White Rose) & some other company that did bigger dresses got some brief airtime but I don't think got a mention. Rather a motley crew given where the researchers started - just how many people turned them down for them to end up bagging BHS? So from these four "designers" offered, & only Ian Stuart & BHS scored any decent mentions, the teams took Ian Stuart (let us not forget he's won Designer Of The Year umpteen times & doesn't he cash in on it like a true pro but there's never any mention it's an award given out to manufacturers & the designers that are really at the forefront of bridal fashion aren't eligible for the award unless they sell out & go mass market) & White Rose (I think) to NEC Hell. Didn't they do well? Well, No, actually. I think they sold two Ian Stuarts or rather took orders for them & a few of the other range. No mass fortunes were made & the teams were blamed for taking the "wrong dresses". SOOOO saw that coming! Poor contestants, it's not their fault the Researchers got it wrong or did they? Farcical is always good light entertainment, though not so funny if your products are part of the joke.

 

SOOOOOOO glad I didn't get involved. It is so easy when someone says 'television' to you to bounce around like a publicity obsessed BB contestant. There wasn't much in the way of good publicity to be had & both dress ranges taken to the NEC bombed - even with the added cache of the buyers getting to appear on TV. Added to this contestants who clearly didn't know how to sell to brides....... I told her in my email "you are limited to getting in the nicest off the peg you can find & I suspect these will still be too pricey to generate sales during the run of the wedding show (2 1/2 days?)."

 

Hope the bride who stood there on TV in the Ian Stuart she bought was getting married before the program aired! 

 

Perhaps the advice I gave them did at least give them some way forward to make the show - it would never have worked in the format pitched to me & the lack of knowledge about their subject matter was far from inspiring. The program may also not have been the best trade publicity the National Wedding Show could have had. It showed that even with large stands costing £1000's, the cache of the TV program & not horrifically priced, off the peg dresses, it is very hard to sell dresses at those shows & come away in profit.

 

My email:

 

 Hi ********,

I am sending this email to just jot down a few things you might find useful but I will try & follow up with a phone call.

(Call made but email done first & it may still help so here it is:)

There's two types of 'designers'.
a) Designer manufacturers. They sell off the peg or sometimes semi-made-to-measure through working with bridal shops which are their only outlets. Manufacturers do not sell direct & only promote their collections on behalf of the stores they supply e.g. web & print adverts. They will only sell through bridal shops.
b) Designers, as in 'Couture'. One off designs, sample designs customized to suit or a straight forward sale of standard design from their collection but always made to measure.

As with both bridal shops & Couture Designers the emphasis is on service. This is why manufacturers will not knowingly sell to internet sites. It anoys their shop clients by the internet undercutting them & obviously their is no service there. Off the peg wedding gowns often need altering & that is one of the after sale services the bridal shops supply (to their clients).

Price plays a big part. The higher the price tag, in theory, the more service you would expect. For example at my level (high end, couture) it's all about one to one service, long relaxed design consultations, fittings with the designer, being available out of hours, about tailoring the design to the client's individual needs & making a dress that suits each bride exactly & fits like a glove. Brides pay a premium for this & those with adequate budgets expect the appropriate service. Designers can vary enormously which is normally reflected in their prices & range from competent dressmakers to people like me creating gowns with corsetry & hours of handwork & intricate detailing.

This brings me to your project. The National Wedding Show Birmingham, from past reports seems to be a show that will see dresses sold at the show. Bridal shops take their manufacturers dresses to the show & get rid of the bad sellers, etc. cheap. Emphasis on cheap. A lot of the girls that go to the show will be on tight budgets & if they are willing to forgo the full service & suffer the humiliation of shared changing rooms & standing in busy aisles with their back fat showing (I've seen it) & hen party stands pumping boppy music at them, it will be because the price is very good indeed or they really love the dress. But still, even if you love the dress, the normal route is to look at it or the range &/or the designers portfolio & make an appointment for some quiet, one to one time with the shop or the designer to make up their mind in their own time. Because obviously we are talking about the most important dress most brides will ever wear. A very good bargain is about the only reason to persuade them to make a decision there & then, at a wedding fair.

So the question is, if you are looking for high end designers you probably should be talking to people like me. But, we all work in a similar way: design consultation pre-booking & a number of one-to-one fittings. I know I would not want work booked into my diary without first meeting the client as I need to know exactly what they want & that I can work with them. We also command prices of £2500 +

The problem with the National Wedding Show & I gave up on this show years ago, is that they do not seem to get enough girls with decent budgets into the show. When I did the show,  I got brides going crazy on the satnd who clearly wanted what I did but budget would not cover what they wanted. And I got press attention but sales were never brilliant & orders for dresses from designers like me are never taken at the stand because brides want to take advantage of the design service we offer.

Personally I never sell samples so couldn't help you there. But again, you will not be able to sell a £5000 sample dress off the stand at this show unless you are selling that dress as a designer sample,as seen, for £500. Now, if this is for The Apprentice which I know Talkback Thames produces or similar, I do not think this is the way you would be looking to go.

Working with designers who work at the top 'couture' end of the industry, the best you might hope for in 'sales' terms is to be booking consultations in for the designers & taking a consultation fee to secure the consultation to make sure clients are seriously interested. I can't see designers in my league wanting to see their samples sold off at bargain prices (which is what will have to happen to shift them at the show & without the usual 'service' goodies) because this will have a negative promotional effect.

Off course Manufacturers have dresses which can be sold 'off the peg' but again they are sold with the backup of a bridal shop's alteration services so these too, in order to sell them off the stand would need to be cheaper than in if they were bought from one of their suppliers (bridal shops). Manufacturer's dresses (don't be fooled by either 'couture' or 'designer' being tagged on to them) are made in factories & are not the top end of wedding dresses. Couture, made-to-measure is the top end & would be the appropriate goods for a vehicle like The Apprentice. Some manufactures may get on board if they can link you up with one of the shops they sell through, so sales can be passed on to that shop but then you are limited to getting in the nicest off the peg you can find & I suspect these will still be too pricey to generate sales during the run of the wedding show (2 1/2 days?).

I think given wedding dresses is such a service industry you are going to struggle to find a format that works.

If you want sales during the show, the dresses you take on are going to need to be very mass appeal to take account of the limited number of girls at the show with appropriate budgets & you need a lot of them in a lot of sizes otherwise you are limited to girls with the right taste, budget & are a sample size ten & who are happy to buy a dress off the stand at a wedding fair.

Well that's my thoughts as a wedding industry insider.

I will follow this up with a call - done that now.

Let me know if you want to reinstate the appointment for the 29th. Good luck with your project - if it goes ahead & I'm not involved, I'd love to be given the heads up on when it's due to air so I can see where you took it.


Regards, Chantal.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Aukland Castle's Wedding Brochure.

One of last year's clients Lisa features several times in Aukland Castle's new wedding brochure, so if you happen to have a copy & are wondering who made the white ball gown dress, which has a full page back shot - I did :)   It's a variation on my Prayer sample design. And the photographer is Alan Mason - I've mentioned him in my diary before because he is particularly good.

 

 

 

 

 

Sex & the City - that movie & that wedding dress.

 

Saw Sex & The City the night it opened in the UK. Personaly I've never got excited about the fashions in the series but did enjoy the series & was looking forward to it.

 

And I was disappointed - I didn't particularly enjoy the film. The opening credits irritated me - I don't know why but it set the tone. Then there's Carries wedding dress: Westwood has made many, many beautiful gowns. Carrie's dress was not one of them. It didn't fit & the bust was stuffed with netting possibly because it was a sample & it didn't fit or maybe because it was 'quirky'? I'd say it was the first. I did read that designers were asked to finish their collections early & that a lot of the clothes were loaned sample sizes & I did read on the internet that the Westwood dress is part of Westwood's Gold Label & available to buy for £9500. I also read that the costume designer Patricia Field wanted Carrie to wear a white version of Charlotte's Zac Posen dress BM dress which was vetoed. But the wedding dress? Surely you commission Carries dress? It doesn't have to be part of a designer's collection. The film warranted a one off. If I was Westwood, I'd have wanted it to fit Sarah Jessica like the couture it was rather than have the actress drown on screen in a dress that swamped her. Her character's personality wasn't enough - especially as she was hampered by a ridiculous bird head-dress & wierd 3/4 around veil. The Zac Posen was the better choice - the other girls all wore Zac Posen as bridesmaids & looked stunning.

 

 

Above: Westwood gone bad & at it's best (Dita's wedding dress).

 


 

18th June 2008 ~

 

Things I'm loving right now:

  • Viktor & Rolf's website! It's so cool, uses CGI & even has pretty music (I know! Music on a website that doesn't make you want to kill yourself!):

  • That the sun shone for our Italian wedding (especially when one hears that it poured down for the Rooney's Italian wedding.
  • Gavin & Stacey - have recently downloaded Series 1, which I've not seen before, from itunes.
  • Miu Miu shoes! Went to their Milan store in May - gorgous serpant boots, jewelled heels, quirky with a capital 'Q'.
  • Prada's butterfy shaped sunglasses - tried them on in Venice, was tempted, very - still am!

Things that impressed me lately:

Things I'm hating right now:

  • Brown sending more troops to Afghanistan.
  • Having to wait to see what Colleen wore.

Things I'm discovering / looking in to right now:

  • Facebook.
  • Photobooks for our wedding photos.

Things on my to do list:

  • Go to see The House of Viktor & Rolf Exhibition ~ 18 June - 21 September 2008 at the Barbican Art Gallery.
  • Go to see Tim Walker (fashion photography) ~ 09 May – 07 September 2008 at the Design Museum.

  • Go to see:  Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 ~ 16 October - 25 January 2009 at the National Portrait Gallery.
  • See Kylie at the O2 on 1st August.

 

 

 

 

Website News:

 

Chantal Mallett / www.18thcenturycorsets.com has had an itty bit of a makeover. Nothing too rash in terms of layout just the front page (no more eye) & the page headers to bring things inline with the gold picture frames I already had on the site.

 

If you liked the 'eye', here it is for old time's sake (I put a tree on my front page one Christmas & someone wanted to know where my 'eye' had gone, so here it is forever):



And here's the replacement:


 


 

 

24th June 2008 ~

Hmm..... Recycling carrier bags, BBC's Primark documentary & other environmental & social bugs.

 

Oh & my weekend.

 

Mike & I were in Brighton the weekend. Race for Life were in Stanmer Park for 2 days & Mike was sound engineer for all the PA stuff. I know from experience that I will be bored beyond belief. Mr. Day doesn't switch out of work mode, even if there is nothing to do he'll find something & Mrs. Day gets ignored. But by going we did get to spend some time together & having wised up I went armed with books this time - my god I actually volunteered my company! I blame my queuing up to be ignored for many hours at a time, in favour of tweaking sliding knobs on a sound desk, on my newleywed status- plus I was a little over emotional in the run up to our wedding & not fun to live with so I was eleviating some of the guilt. If I'd known the portaloos at this event would be so grim, I may have thought twice. The Manchester event I went to last year had a much better standard of portaloo.

 

Did well on the book front. Finished 'Chasing Harry Winston' & got half way through Belle de Jour's 'What Belle did next'. I know -  hardly high brow but could you read War & Piece sat in a park within 15 meters of 8 speakers all pumping out the peppy Race For Life C.D (just the one), over & over again? An ecletic mix: The Darkness, Girls Aloud, Heather Small's Proud, that girl that sounds like Lily Allen & considering I heard it for two solid days, amazingly, that's all I can remember. The chick lit did well!

 

Late afternoon we headed out for a meal, picked up some sandwhich stuff for Sunday & spent the evening in the park watching the first series of Gavin & Stacey on the laptop before calling it a night.

 

Sunday whilst reading, it occured to me what a great vantage point of the start/finish line I had from the cab of our 'sound' vehicle. 'Great' in terms of serious model scouting potential. 3500 women (7000 over 2 days), mostly in clothes that showed off their figures, the tall ones clearly heads above the rest of the ladies & much easier to spot on the way back as they were; a) more spread out as they ran over the finish line &; b) you've got to be pretty good looking to look really good as you finish a 5K run - nes pas?

 

They had a girl from the local radio station interviewing runners as they crossed the line. As you can imagine lots of the ladies taking part were racing for people they'd lost/ or may loose. So I did cringe when she asked one runner 'who she was racing for?' & then said that she thought 'they'd be dead proud'. Just a bit of a faux pas - 'death' not something you probably want to mention at this sort of event with the emotions of many women running high.

 

After Sunday's race we headed home. Stopped off at the services because there is a difference between porta & proper loo & on the way out we decided to pop into the M&S shop to get bits for our evening meal. Enough food was gathered to require a basket & then I was stung at the till for 5p for a transportation device (i.e. carrier bag) to get our food out of the shop & home. Now, & this may be an unpopular view, but how many people do we think stop at the services armed with carrier bags on the off chance they might shop for groceries? The only thing I took in with me were sunglasses & a purse & that's already overflowing with receipts, no room for even a single polo mint in there. This 5p bag thing at M&S does annoy me because unlike most supermarkets were often our trip to food shop is an intentional one. Even if the only planning came when we decided to pop to Tesco for more milk on a whim, is that we could keep bags in our car or god forbid carry half a dozen around in our handbags or stuff our coat pockets until they add another 6" to our hips but M&S are different. Apart from the odd out of town shop or dedicated high street food shop, most M&S's are buried in shopping centres or now in motorway services & train stations. Our trips to these stores is often led by our need for more knickers or in answer to our other half's late in the day phone call to say get something for dinner or on a whim, driven in part by their seductive food commercials & we didn't come out intending to food shop or with a stock of carrier bags for said purpose. M&S's A`Plan thing on their site says when trialled the 5p charge drove the purchase of carriers down by 70% but I wonder whether the trial was done at stores in those out of town groupings where M&S sit side by side with a Sainsbury's Superstore, Borders, etc. & where people might drive to specifically with the intention of food shopping, a motley collection of carriers stocked in their car boots?

 

And that's another thing. Reuse a bog standard supermarker carrier? Those things barely withstand a single trip, one of my carriers from Morrisons last night didn't even make it out of the car before splitting all down the side (I reused a Tesco one to limp my groceries from car to kitchen - necessity rather than ECO friendly). You have to take more bags because they're so weak these days they won't hold grocceries if packed too full, tear if the sharp corner of some packaging snags them & they ask us to reuse? We (the Day household) do reuse, we use them as bin liners, we'd don't trail back to the shop with bags that will not stand a second outing & break on the way back to the car - shoot us. The argument put forward on M&S's website for not useing paper bags is OK I suppose - apparently more oil is used to produce & transport them but paper is biodegradable. A good paper bag seems to last quite well. I know I do reuse those far more than plastic ones & when I do, they last longer. Plus paper can be recycled & breaks down a lot quicker than carriers. The green issue of Marie Claire came wrapped in brown paper & I actually found a use for it - I used the unprinted side to wrap a parcel. Sainsburys give points for reusing bags, Tescos Green points. I like that better.

 

Actually now I think of it my main reason for often not reusing is that the packaging is such poor quality it can't be used. I'll reuse Amazon's packaging, I had a box a laptop came in that made loads of round trips stuffed full of head-dresses to the magazines it was so strong, I save good quality small boxes for parcels I need to send, even hold on to padded or hard backed envelopes.

 

We're all frowned at for throwing too much away but very often it's quality or built in obselesence that's at fault. And junk mail! We don't ask for it, definitly don't want it, the free local rag, don't want that either & then we're expected to be responsible & see that this stuff we didn't want gets recycled. It would help, South Beds Council, if your bin men actually emptied our recycling bin insted of deciding our road is too far to walk & not bothering (the note on their computer say's 'inaccessable'). Funny I manage to make it to my front door everyday via that thingy, it's flattish, cars drive on it, what do they call that? Ahh yes - a road! Note to self: call the council & complain, again!

 

Phone just rang. They asked for Mrs. Day. I actually remembered that was me!

The only trouble with staying Chantal Mallett for work is that I have to remember which hat I have on when giving my name, auto piliot will default to Mallett. I know I've given both to the council over our bins issue.

 

Actually Morrisons impressed me yesterday - they had a bin by the magazine stand for unwanted leaflets. Good idea. I wonder if there is a campaign to stop Royal Mail delivering junk mail? If there isn't there should be.

 

I'm signing off for now going to Milton Keynes for gold thread. I used to have the 100 years & going strong local haberdashery to choose from & the convienient Dunelm for a more unusual item like metalic thread - that was until the local haberdashery could no longer survive & then Dunelm reduced the amount of sewing stuff they stock. Everywhere, including John Lewis is giving up space once dedicated to sewing & knitting to crappy craft stuff - all heading where Hobbycraft leads it seems.

 

 

24th June 2008 ~

 

Well that went well!! Walked out the door & left my keys, all my keys on the side. So no MK. When I did get there the next day, it was a wonder they did have what I needed, they used to have several brands of thread & now they only stock one. I bought a skirt in Next I decided to lengthen & put on a long yolk, so stood for 5 minutes at one of only two cutting tables whilst staff looked for the woman who was working on the table (measuring & cutting a straight line must be a specialist job). A few years ago there would have been four tables & always people serving & queuing. I could mail order or buy on the internet but sometimes you just want to be able to walk in to a shop & match the colour by eye & it seems you have to go further & further a field to do it these days.

 

Now:`PRIMARK........ Did anyone actually believe, hand on heart, those prices really meant that children in refugee camps, working for pennies a day, weren't the source of some of Primark's labour force? Doh! The BBC's Panorama documentry was quite damning.

 

 

If they're honest, do many of Primarks customers care ?

 

And how did Primark deal with being outed? Cancelled orders with 3 factories & in so doing put people out of work. Never mind that it's their impossible to meet targets & probably price squeezing too that force the factories to outsource work in the first place.

 

Not that Primark are the only ones & certainly the program found work being done for other companies which strangely they chose not to name.

This is not the first or only expose: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/sep/03/retail.supermarkets

 

On the current PRIMARK issue - we can, however, do something.....

After a little Googling I found a website called Labour Behind The Label that campaign on these issues & have a pre-written email that you can email to Primark asking them to reconsider their decision to fire these companies:

http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/do/action/primark

 

Heres the email:

 

Taken from Labour Behind The Label:

 

Dear Mr Weston,

I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to sack three Indian suppliers allegedly implicated in the Panorama expose due to be  aired next week. Although I can understand that Primark wishes to wash its hands of responsibility in this case, choosing to withdraw orders only hurts the workers who were brave enough to speak out.

As a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative I would have expected Primark to behave in a more ethical and credible manner and am urging  you now to acknowledge that this problem is not just about one rogue supplier but is systematic. I urge you take more positive action to improve the lives of workers in India and beyond who are  working to produce Primark clothing.

I am also disappointed to see Primark saying that its Indian suppliers are not allowed to use home workers. Homeworking is a perfectly legitimate livelihood strategy for millions of women worldwide and contrbiutes significantly to garment supply chains and to local and national economies. Rather than banning home workers Primark should be  working to ensure that home workers are given the rights that they are entitled to receive as workers.

Therefore I am calling on Primark to: 

  • Postpone the cancelling of contracts and work with suppliers to ensure that standards at these factories and at their subcontractors are improved and that workers are not negatively impacted as a result of these allegations.
  • Acknowledge that home working does and will continue to exist in their supply chains and join with other in the ETI home working group to find ways to ensure that home working is a positive choice for workers.
  • Follow best practice for remediating cases of child labour including the provision of education and job training for ex-child workers, payment of ongoing wages to them/their family and the guarantee of jobs as soon as they reach the legal working age.
  • Start a comprehensive programme of monitoring and implementation of its code of conduct, throughout its whole supply chain not just the parts that have been highlighted in the media, working with local trade unions and workers rights organisations.
  • Look seriously at the impact of its own purchasing practices on suppliers, including whether suppliers have the capacity to respond to large orders at short notice and whether the price paid per piece is realistic in allowing for decent working conditions.

Sincerely,

 

 

It takes 2 minutes.

 

..............................

 

The problem is that it's a sad truth that sewing skills are falling by the wayside in this country (as bourne out by my recent trip to Jown Lewis & my having to buy a Singer sewing machine in Italy) & even if companies were to make clothes in the UK & pay UK wages it would make high street clothes too expensive for most people, especially when there is not enough of a difference in quality to justify buying British made goods.

 

The UK Bridal Industry does have manufacturers & designers like me who only make in the UK but then our product is more expensive & therefore UK production more viable. But there are a lot of UK, European & US bridal manufacturers using chinese & indian factories & workers in other developing countries too & of course they manufacture in these countries because labour is so much cheaper & it seems many brides buying from shops couldn't tell you what label is in the dress they bought let alone where it was made, let alone whether the people who made it were paid a living wage, were forced to work overtime, etc. They have a budget, more so in our current economic climate & if the dress looks right & fits the budget, it's best not to take the shine off that beadwork & ask questions. Not that if you wanted to find out the internet makes it easy - try Googling UK made bridal gowns, clothing, etc. the search will be disappointing. Indeed why should British brides-to-be value hand work, hand finishing, hand embellishment when you can get that on a Primark top for £4 - the only down side is that some 11 year old girl was only paid 19p for a days work to do it. Hand beading tops just like it & the work may well have been done in a refugee camp.

 

I would love to support British manufacturing & buy British goods but most of the time the choice isn't there or buried too deeply to find. However if we do have to buy goods made in the developing world, etc, we should do what we can to at least make sure the fat cats sat in the board rooms of the companies we buy from are making sure the people at the bottom of their supply chain, indeed all along their entire supply chain are being treated fairly & being paid a wage that helps get them out & keep them out of povety. Primark say "over 2 million people in the developing world depend on Primark", a frighteningly large figure & unfortunately they do depend on Primark's & it's customers to keep buying. So unless we tell Primark & it's counterparts we are unhappy with how they do business, nothing will change. To stop buying is not the answer.

 

There are websites out there with more information on these sort of issues:

 

Facebook: Fashioning an Ethical Industry

Facebook: Labour Behind The Label

http://www.waronwant.org/

http://www.cleanupfashion.co.uk/

http://www.nosweat.org.uk/

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/

http://youth.tearfund.org/lift+the+label/lift+the+label+-+home.htm

http://fashioninganethicalindustry.org

http://www.cleanclothes.org/

http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/

 

I've published these websites because they're not easy to find & even if no one reading my diary finds them useful,

it's one more link on Google to help those who are searching for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2008: Entries for CHANTAL'S MAY WEDDING, etc. / JUNE  .  JULY
 

 
2007: Entries for JANUARY / FEBRUARY  .  MARCH   .  APRIL / MAY   .  JUNE / JULY

 

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER   .  OCTOBER / NOVEMBER / DECEMBER


 

2006: Entires for MAY  .  JUNE  .  JULY  .  AUGUST SEPTEMBER  .  OCTOBER  .  NOVEMBER  .  DECEMBER

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 Kirsten's Diary - the Wedding, Take Two.