SIRENS AND SUPERSTARS
A rambling ode to Laura and Penny...
Miss Bush's home village of Ripley is surrounded by National Trust properties, in a county full of established hotels and luxurious golf clubs. My brides' families often have capacious gardens and copious acreage for marquees. Ripley is a stone's throw from London, awash with decadent, glamorous world class hotels and exclusive private members clubs. I have always had a sense of the luxurious choice afforded my brides.
I know the names of the Surrey venues used frequently by our customers: -
Losely, Great Fosters, Gate Street Barn, Cain Manor, Ramster, Bury Court, Clandon Park, Wentworth, Nonsuch Mansion, The RAC Club, Pains Hill and Pennyhill, to name but a few stages and beautiful backdrops for Miss Bush brides.
However, they are but names. With the exception of Great Fosters, I have never been to a wedding at any of these venues. The wedding planners have never called me, despite a hundred brides often passing through our shop a week. Possibly I don't need to know anything about them, possibly the venues don't need me. This means I know nothing of their philosophy, the service or the practicalities of these venues. Perhaps because of their established status they don't need to share these facts and values. I am not a wedding planner - what's the point?
Laura Caudery, a mighty atom of a woman, has rather changed my mind about this point of view.
Laura, to provide a brief CV, is director of Parallel Venues, the company that owns Fetcham Park in Surrey and Cams Hall on the south coast. Raised understanding the demanding environment of a family business - renowned Surrey property company The Wilky Group - Laura spent her post graduate years in the highly competitive and glamorous world of high fashion at Burberry and Dunhill before rejoining the family business.
But that's enough corporate communication for me...
Laura is also a dogged, world-class stalker that identified mouthy me, and by extension Miss Bush, as her ideal retail partner for Fetcham Park. Laura tenaciously plied me with articulate and passionate emails about her 'house' that she was going to launch as a wedding venue. If I had seen the words 'wedding fayre,' been asked to advertise or offered commission for referrals (a DJ walked into my shop and actually did that this week!) she would have been filed in spam with immediate effect.
However, following a meeting at Bush HQ and a subsequent visit to Fetcham Park I was smitten - as much with Laura as with Fetcham. I had the passion and zeal of a convert to social media and a hungry blog to feed. The opportunity to work with Laura from a PR perspective was tantalising!
In common with all my dealings with Laura, there has been no contract, no sense of obligation, no required number of hours. In her hunt for partners she has sought out the finest exponents of their craft for reciprocal and mutual benefits. Now launched, Fetcham Park has a little black book of recommended suppliers - but couples do not have to use them. This is all conducted with the utmost clarity; there are no shady £1000s tacked onto a budget in kick-backs, no money being paid to be on the recommended supplier list or in a brochure.
This spirit of independence, self-determination, innate style and sheer hard work is deeply ingrained within Laura. Imagine having two such women on a project...
Enter superstar stylist Penny Cullen of Tigerlily Weddings. I exchanged a few words with Penny this week saying that I was finally going to write a blog post about the Fetcham Park launch. In the furore that followed the October 30th launch every photographer had their day, every PR their story, every contributor their angle. Except me. I felt wiped out and exhausted. The launch was about putting Fetcham Park on the map and I think Penny has had cartographers re-drawing maps as Fetcham suddenly appeared to be in the centre of Surrey.
More than this, when I look back at the sheer glamour of the event, the roll call of talent that Penny commanded and the way the world shifted to her axis, I realise what a truly wonderful project she created - made all the more spectacular as it was created on Fetcham Park and Miss Bush's rather meagre budget.
Today I spoke to one of Miss Bush's brides to be, Nicola Catchpole. Nicola arrived at Miss Bush's one day with a drawing she had done for her own wedding dress. A remarkable designer for a well-known brand, Nicola had the most amazing fashion illustrations. Penny had had a brilliant idea that rather than giving away individual information about the Fetcham Park contributors she would commission a bespoke brochure detailing the fashion show that would echo the Sirens theme of the show. She really wanted original illustrations, I suggested Nicola and the project was on.
Nicola reminded me today how she ended up nagging Penny for dress information that was delayed by me. I couldn't confirm which dresses were arriving from Barcelona, which Jenny Packhams would be back from New York and our trump card, Suzanne Neville's unique black Siren, had yet to be made.
Nicola was producing fashion drawings until 2am, Penny was bending print deadlines whilst I was chasing dresses round the globe. Oh, and legendary calligrapher Paul Antonio designed the cover. This would be achievement enough if this were the entire project, but it was a mere fraction of a wonderful event.
In the interests of anyone ever reading to this point I have to curtail the writing and cut to the pictures, supplied by Mark Bothwelldrumroll or a hasty rush to be first to blog.
I received them edited to pefection, reportage as you like and really capturing some beautiful images of the day. And on a disk....! Mark was so amazing at his job that although he was 'home team' I haven't a clue what he looks like. If that isn't unobtrusive - a highly prized trait by brides - I don't know what is.
|The beautiful Fetcham Park|
|Miss Bush's national magazine advertising with You and Your Wedding|
|Who knew you could hire extra narrow Louis Ghost chairs? Penny - that's who....|
|Penny's attention to detail branded he fashion show and event with a Sirens theme, from music to make up, food to fantasy...|
|The incredible Paul Antonio's calligraphy featured on the brochure cover|
|Careful space planning and CAD drawings allowed Penny to maximise seating and guest experience - I'm in awe...|
|The lovely Marshy attaching the Cutture signage to the flats behind the catwalk. Penny was too nervous - bless!|
|The boys from Wildabout threading orchids down Fetcham's staircase - next time Penny we'll find the budget for the white carpet you so desired xxx|
|Front of house model Freya - hair by Sharon Roberts - feathery eyebrows by Miss Bush legend Amy.|
|Penny's attention to detail - the running orders, dressing lists and mood boards all keeping strictly to the Siren's theme.|
|The dresses fitted and ready to go - Suzanne Neville's black siren centre stage|
|Staggeringly gorgeous flower wreath by Bloomingayles attached to model Ellie's hair by TV and catwalk hairdresser Leo Bancroft|
|The catwalk make up team in action on the left|
|Lead model Gemma - identified by her model agency Storm.|
|From l to r - Mariam Jenson, Rachel kent and Arianne Jaksch|
|Little girl heaven?|
|Penny's theme of Sirens was split into two parts - dark and light -|
"I wanted the show to have a light and dark side, reflecting the two side of the character of the sirens light being alluring enchanting and singing to capture the hearts and minds of the sailors and the dark side being the internal inner dark thought of luring the men to their deaths, ultimately..." Penny Cullen
|Gayle from Bloomingayles and Leo Bancroft working on Ellie's hair|
|The Swinging Little Big Band - my favourite track was a swing version of The Arctic Monkeys 'I bet that you look good on the dancefloor'|
|The models view of from the retun of the sweeping cantilevered staircase at Fetcham Park|
|Fetcham Park's fine jewellery partner is Jon Dibben who uses Fairtade gold and ethically sourced stones|
|Ugo Zaldi's cute as a button marabou mini dress. Which predates the Matthew Williamson's version by a season and is well under a £1000. Miaoww|
|Novice model Amy in Ugo Zaldi 's Flake dress (my interpretation of this dress and styling was a 1970's Flake advert model barefoot and flowers in her hair) Individually wired flowers by Bloomingayles|
|Model Sophie in Stephanie Allin's palazzo pant one piece. Teamed with a belt amd Juliette cap made of fresh violet petals by Bloomingayles. My brief was to Amy, Sharon Roberts and Gayle was Charlie perfume ad hair...|
|The Yokshire Bus Company ferried Londoners to and from Fetcham|
|Escort cards....??? No me either! Penny showed me the way!|
|Champagne provided courtesy of Les Caves de Pyrene - mighty fine it was too. Being the wedding industry it was all drunk to the bottom of our most generous estimate.|
|An impressive Fetcham Park ceiling|
Reportage shots of guests of the Fetcham Park Launch as captures by Mark Bothwell - spot the stars...
|Even in black and white it is possible to spot Mrs Pink herself. Kat Williams of Rock n Roll Bride|
|Anton Weiss from Ugo Zaldi|
|Photographer Lucy Stendall|
|The gorgeous Alfie Caudery|
|Siren in Jenny Packham Aspen|
|The beautiful Amy Clark with additional boa of fresh flowes by Bloomingayles|
|Paul and Alfie Caudery with Laura's father Malcolm Young|
|Stacey Marie Chalk of Cherrytopped wedding planners|
|Food by At Home|
|Wedding Planner to The Savoy - Bruce Russell Chiasson|
|Laura Caudery welcoming guests|
|Me - the chubby Armadillo in the reading glasses|
|Look at our 'Frow' ! Peta and Miranda from You and Your Wedding, Annabel from Love My Dress, Suzanne Neville ... all looking amused at my speech - except Alfie Caudery who probably just has wind....|
|The brochure as conceived by penny and illustrated by Nicola Catchpole|
|Hannah Curtis in Jenny Packham's Aspen|
|Kathryn in Suzanne Neville's Hepburn|
|Jo Adams in Jenny Packham's Laurel|
|Emily in Jesus Peiro|
|Hannah in Jesus Peiro|
|Penny and I watching the fashion show|
|The slinkiest diva on the catwalk - Kathryn - in Jenny Packham's Luna|
|Aimee Foy in Jesus Peiro|
|Gemma Storm - so called because she has a proper modelling contract with Storm - oh and she won Australia's Next Top Model....|
|Esther Hadman in Jenny Packham|
|Esther in Suzanne Neville|
|Gemma Underhay - or Rock Doll as she will be forever known to Penny and I|
|Annabel from Love My Dress and Penny|
|Penny and Laura - how perfect is the sirens theme!|
|Ahhhhh I love these two girls!|
|Where the magic happens... Fetcham Park|
As this is the Miss Bush blog but ostensibly mine my first set of thanks are going to the Miss Bush Team. The women that work at Miss Bush's are truly wondrous.
Thanks to Amy for additional styling and hair, Corinne as dresser and all round organiser, Gina as dresser, Hayley as dresser, Gen, Annette, Janet and Elizabeth for wardrobe, fitting, sewing and pressing. Tegan for modelling
Friends of Miss Bush
Hayley Mitchell ( Miss Bush Saturday staff,) for recruiting the leggiest most gorgeous bunch of amateurs and semi-pro models from her and my daughter Georgia's 6th form
Take a bow
Aimee Foy (Storm New Faces)
Front of House
Beyond the call coffee making
This list means so much more to me than a bunch of reciprocal links. Every single person on this list contributed their time, products and expertise for nothing or at cost. Miss Bush will forever be in your debt. I can recommend you all, and do frequently. However some contributors need to be singled out. Beyond the call thanks go to
Gayle at Bloomingayles
Shaken Not Stirred
Gemma 'Storm' Sanderson
Laura Caudery and the team at Parallel Venues
Penny Cullen Tigerlily Weddings
Emma Meek Miss Bush Bridalwear
You and Your Wedding
Love My Dress
The Wedding Reporter
Shaken Not Stirred
Les Caves de Pyrene
Hair and Make Up
Arianne Jaksch contact via Facebook
Design, Print and Stationary
Coquette Paper and Press
Swinging Little Big Band
The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company
Miss Bush Bridalwear