Ashley and Erik’s Surprise Beach Wedding….

29 Sep

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Afternoon Peeps,

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

We have a gorgeous beach wedding to share with you today, sent all the way from the USA.

Ashley and Erik did not want to conform to the cookie-cutter wedding industry so, after initially being pressured into planning a big day full of everything you would expect to find at a traditional wedding, they cancelled all their plans and instead organised a family reunion where they would surprise their guest with a secret wedding. Nobody knew apart from them so there were no guest preconceptions, no conflicting advice from parents and above all no stress. Sounds good huh?

Here is their story……….

To be very honest, I hate weddings…

I find them, for the most part, to be generic, cookie-cutter events where the bride and groom muddle through a series of pre-fab events while guests watch your perfectly choreographed  evening searching for the slightest hiccup to talk about on the drive home.  So when I got engaged last year, you can imagine my horror when my now husband announced that he has always dreamed about having a big wedding and would be disappointed if we opted for my dream of an ‘adventure travel elopement.’

After many conversations (arguments), a lot of red wine and a few manipulative conversations with my family – I agreed to opt for the more traditional wedding (I mean, I was really the ONLY one with this dream of a Peruvian mountain wedding with my fiancée and miniature dachshund by my side.   I was outnumbered).

We crafted a project plan for the “please your parents” country club wedding set for November 22nd.  Set at a family military club in Washington D.C – we spent 6 months trying to do what my retired military father considered to be a ‘proper wedding.’  Complete with embossed invitations, a dress that didn’t look “too slutty,” and a guest list that included what felt like half of the nuclear navy.   I was allotted a whopping 8 seats for friends.

Then, it hit us that we literally HATED everything about it:  The date (almost winter?!  What were we thinking?! We were beach babies growing up), the colors (navy, red, and white streamed the venue from top to bottom – our normal color pallet consisted of pale blue, khaki and maybe some earthy greens), the oh-so formal process of going to a stationary store…  I even hated the idea of shopping for a wedding dress (I don’t shop.  I complete missions)

Around that same time, we got a call that my fiancées uncle was gravely ill with lung cancer.  It was the third time it had come back, and he was now in what they call the ‘goal setting process,’ meaning that his doctor recommended that he set timeline goals to keep his spirits up.  So he set a goal of attending the family reunion in June, then our wedding in November.  By all accounts, we heard that attending our wedding in November would have been a stretch for our Uncle Dave.   So in a brief, 10 minute conversation, we scrapped the whole (miserable) plan.   We cancelled the venue, gave my parents their money back, pushed the date up six months and planned a surprise wedding and my fiancées family reunion.

We rented a house one block from the other beach reunion houses, invited our wedding party of six down to stay with us, rented 50 chairs, invited my parents and a few close family members and sketched out what turned out to be the best wedding I’ve ever been to (ok, maybe I’m bit biased – but I loved every second of it).

We had invitations made and put them on the beds of each family member, so when they arrived for the reunion, they were invited to the wedding the next night.  We held the ceremony at 6pm, so after that, we all headed to the main house for dinner (Sunday was BBQ night!) and our cousin hired an acoustic guitar player to play out on the back deck for a few hours.  We ordered flowers to be delivered from Costco (yes, they have beautiful wedding flowers!), picked out bridesmaids maxi-dresses and men’s white shirts from Zappos & Steinmart.  I bought a dress from Anthropologies’ wedding line (BHLDN) for $260 and we had the ‘after party’ back at our own beach house.  It was perfect.

All in all, we (BOTH) wouldn’t have changed a thing.  And coming from a place that had two VERY different ideas of a what a wedding should be, that is saying a lot.  We saved about $35,000 (our wedding, all included, cost us around $5,000), we hosted our event at the beach we grew up at, we got the date/colors and simplicity that we both craved – but the most important piece, was that we got to share the day with the people who meant the most to us – Including our Uncle Dave, who passed away two weeks later.

Where is my present?

It was Thanksgiving Day and also my birthday when Erik proposed.  We were at my parents’ house for the holiday.  I woke up with a slight headache from red wine the night before so I crawled back into bed and jokingly asked “Where is my present?”  Erik got up to retrieve my ‘gift’ and I thought he was looking for something under the bed.  Low and behold he was on one knee and asking me to marry him.  At 6 am.  It was so ‘us’ it was perfect.


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I wanted to do what we loved….

I wanted to enjoy the day instead of stressing over whether everything would go off without a hitch.  I didn’t want to stop and chat with every single person for 15 minutes and I didn’t want to have an overly rehearsed event – I wanted to do what we loved.

Our vision was to create a wedding that was relaxed, casual & fun.  A whimsical and minimalist day that was just for us.

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Simple Decor…..

We had 50 simple white folding chairs, 10 lanterns lining the aisle and 2 larger lanterns at the front in place of an arch.  

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Favourite Moment…

My favourite moment was Erik picking me up like a figure skater after we walked up to the house after the ceremony.  It was like we had just won a gold medal!

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Any Advice?

STOP, STOP STOP pondering over whether you should (or should not) do certain things.  If you don’t want flowers – don’t get them.  If you can’t find a wedding ring that you love – skip it.  If you don’t want to do a garter toss – skip it.  There are no requirements, and most people will not notice if you don’t include it.  This day is about you and your soon to be husband – do not let society or familial expectations dominate your thoughts.  

The Line Up

Photographer: Studio Mynt, Charleston, SC 
Venue: Corolla, NC at the Family Beach House
Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Eden Day Spa
Brides Dress: BHLDN
Brides Shoes: Nine West Gladiator Sandal
Brides Jewellery: Earrings Pave Round Studs
Bridesmaids Dresses: Gabriella Rocha Hally Dress
Flowers: White Mini-Calla Lillie Collection 
Stationery: Minted 

The Lady and The Bump: Laura’s Maternity Shoot

26 Sep


Happy Friday Lovely People,

So you may have noticed over the last few weeks that I’m back from maternity leave after an amazing 3 months off with my baby. For those of you that don’t know, I had a baby girl!!! India-Rose Emilia Dunstone was born on the 2nd June 2014 weighing just 6lbs 6oz – she was so tiny! Now almost 17 weeks, she is just shy of 12lbs and is the most precious little thing in the world. From her beautiful big blue eyes to her tiny toes – every inch of her is perfect and I can’t even begin to describe to you the feeling I get when she gives me that cute smile that she reserves especially for her Mummy. It’s magical.

As you can probably tell I am loving every single second of being a Mum. They say having a baby is the biggest gift you could ever wish for and it truly is because it opens your heart to a love that is just incomparable to anything you have ever felt before. It’s a flawless love. An unconditional love that is so pure and special that it really is, like they say, a gift. I feel like a different person! Having a baby has changed the way I look at the world, my family and my friendships and for the better. It makes you want to suddenly live your life the right way because its not about you anymore, it’s about your baby. You want to protect them from anything negative and only surround them by people that you know will bring the best out of them and you. It gives you a completely new perspective on what life should be about, almost like a wake up call in a way – a wake up call that I think I have needed.

I’m so blessed that India came into my life because my heart is now filled to the brim with a happiness that I didn’t think was possible. Being a parent really does reach into the deepest corners of your heart – it’s amazing.

I’ll be sharing some pictures of my little Indie in a few weeks so you all get to meet her but for now, I wanted to share with you my maternity shoot with the incredible Heline Bekker Photography.

A Lady, her husband and The Bump…..

Ever since I saw Kelly’s gorgeous maternity shoot with Heline back in October (you can view it by clicking here) I was sold to the idea of doing a pregnancy shoot. Being pregnant was such a special time in our lives and we wanted to capture this memory in someway and a maternity shoot seemed to be the perfect way. Heline was my first and only choice of photographer. Her style is so natural, unobtrusive and relaxed and I knew from working with her on shoots and seeing Kelly’s maternity pictures that she would bring out the best in me. She is also the loveliest person you could hope to meet and we had such a good time with her that day.

You can see from the pictures below, she didn’t disappoint. I love them.

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A Field of Yellow…….

When Bob and I got married in 2013, our gorgeous venue was meant to be surrounded by fields of rapeseed which was going to provide the perfect back drop for our outdoor ceremony and wedding photos. Little did we know that mother nature had a different idea that year and decided to push spring back by at least 6 weeks which meant that by the time it got to the 4th May, there was still not a rapeseed plant in sight. I was gutted……….I had planned in my head picture perfect images of Bob and I standing pretty in a field of yellow in our wedding attire but it wasn’t meant to be. As soon as we decided to have a pregnancy shoot in the spring of 2014, there was only one option for the location – a rapeseed field. It didn’t matter where as long as Bob, the bump and I could stand in it!

The field we chose was opposite Kings Hill Business Park in West Malling and it couldn’t have been more perfect. As far as the eye could see there was yellow and there were plenty of places for Heline to work her magic. What made it even more perfect was we found an abandoned storage shelter hidden away at the back of the field which provided a nice contrast to the sea of yellow.

I absolutely adore these shots of me standing and sitting amongst the flowers. Being 38 weeks pregnant, I felt absolutely huge that day but Heline did an incredible job of making me feel relaxed and really managed to capture the contended feeling I carried with me throughout my pregnancy.

Two pictures from the shoot are already framed in India’s room and after looking at them again I think I might even get some more printed!!! That’s the whole reason we did this shoot, we wanted to capture this moment so we could not only remember it for ourselves but also, so we can share it with India.

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Big shout out to the amazing Heline Bekker Photography for capturing this very special moment in our lives. We had such a blast with you that day and adore these pictures. Thank you so so much.

The Line Up

Shoot Location: Rapeseed Field – Kings Hill Business Park, West Malling
Photography: Heline Bekker Photography
Brown Long Kimono: Forever 21
Blue Floral Dress: Anthropologie
Sandals: Dune
Bracelet: Astley Clarke

Have a lovely weekend peeps – we shall see you bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday.

Big Love

Laura xxx

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