Friday, 29 June 2012

Michelle & Marc - Real Wedding

This is our first Real Wedding post and we are literally jumping up and down with excitement.

I have known Michelle since school and when I received her beautiful wedding photos I couldn't wait to share them. You may remember we featured Michelle's adorable love story post a couple of months ago.

Michelle and Marc's wedding was held in their hometown of Harare in Zimbabwe at their favourite fine dining restaurant, Victoria 22. Michelle's taste is exquisite and she created an absolutely gorgeous setting for her guests using a palate of soft pinks, nudes and grey (swoon).

The love between these two really shines through and both Michelle and Marc's happiness (not to mention her breathtaking dress) has been captured perfectly by brilliant South African photographer Christiaan David.

Michelle kindly shared her love story, from surprise proposal to her big day, with us. As well as some handy planning and keep calm tips. We hope all you brides-to-be out there will enjoy her story as much as we did and pick up some good inspiration along the way.

Getting ready...

The proposal
Michelle: I didn’t expect it AT all. When we woke up on the morning of the proposal, the weather in Cape Town was miserable. We had planned on climbing Lions Head that day (it was also our last day in Cape Town) and because of the weather Marc pretended (very well!) that he didn’t want to do it and  I really had to beg him. In the end he came very 'unwillingly' (obviously all an act on his part). So, as you can imagine, the idea that he was planning on proposing to me was the last thing on my mind.

The cloud was so low over Lions Head that we could barely see a metre in front of us. Eventually, only about half way up – I was the one who ended up suggesting that we turn around. We stopped at a little bench because Marc “wanted a sandwhich”. He is always hungry so I paid no attention to him rummaging in our backpack, as I turned back to face him, he was standing right next to me with a beautiful ring in his hands, asking me to marry him. It was definitely something I will never forget. The poor climbers who followed shortly behind us had to deal with me jumping up and down with excitement, showing them my ring and telling them that we had just gotten engaged!

The planning 
Michelle: Setting the date was a lot harder than I thought it would be – that was the first thing we worked on. Just trying to agree on a date that works for everyone – family and friends overseas, plus weather and availability of venues here was a bit of a nightmare! Then deciding on venue. We had always wanted something fairly small and intimate. We are very restricted with venues here in Harare and we wanted to get married somewhere that was different. We had looked at all the “obvious” venues but didn’t like any of them. We looked at having a marquee in a friends garden but the logistics of setting up and hiring EVERYTHING became expensive. Then, one evening, we went out to dinner to my favourite restaurant and were waiting for the other guests in our party to arrive, sitting on the beautiful veranda, looking into the gardens of the restaurant, lit with spot lights. The setting was beautiful, romantic and intimate and best of all – it’s a fine dining restaurant. I went to culinary school in New York, so food was a very important factor to me at the wedding.

What was the best advice you were given?
Michelle: The day and night seems like a whirlwind, it goes by so fast. Luckily, before the wedding, a friend told Marc and I that, if possible, we should take just five minutes on the night, to find a quiet spot and have a moment alone, away from the crowd, just the two of us. Time to reflect on the day so far, to talk about out best bits and to just steal a kiss or two AWAY from the photographer. I’m so glad that we did this because at the end of the night I realised that I had hardly spent any time with my new husband!

You’re both just on such a high, and all your guests want time with you. You get pulled on to the dance floor with your girlfriends one minute, then you want to go and catch up with a friend you haven’t said hello to the next. It goes by in a heartbeat, so just take the time if you can - to stop, look around, and appreciate how all your planning has come together, and how much fun all your friends and family are having. It’s the best feeling.


What was your favourite bit planning-wise?
Michelle: My favourite part of the planning was scouring all the amazing blogs (like this one!!) and wedding websites out there. I would encourage brides to look at Style me Pretty and South Bound Bride as a start. There are so many gorgeous ideas and real weddings to get inspiration from. Also – start a spread sheet with all your info on one workbook. My maid of honour sent me the one she used as a template and it was a lifesaver! Create different tabs such as Guest List (brides family friends, grooms family friends, our friends – with all their contact details, addresses etc on there for when you send out your save the dates and invites) Budget, Seating plan, Wedding Day Itinerary, To Do List etc. Once I had all the info on there, I could update it daily and knew that all the info I needed was in one place.

Did you know the look you were going for? 
Michelle: I didn’t really have a specific theme for the wedding. I just wanted it to be sophisticated, elegant and romantic.

 I have always had my heart set of a colour scheme of soft pinks and nude tones. I didn’t want baby pink so it was quite hard finding the bridesmaids dresses! I flew to London to buy my wedding dress and thought I would easily find bridesmaids dresses there. But after searching high and low in every shop possible I flew back to Zimbabwe empty handed. Then we went to Johannesburg a few months before the wedding and AS I was about to give up and resign myself to the fact that I would have to get them made – I walked into a shop and knew the minute I saw them that they were the ones I had been looking for. I was lucky, all my bridesmaids loved their dresses – and they all looked so beautiful on the day. We decided that a light grey for the guys looked better than black as it was much softer next to the pale pink dresses.

How did you feel in the lead up to the big day? 
Michelle: I must admit that I had a knot in my tummy for a good week before the wedding. Having all our family and friends arriving from all over the world was such an amazing feeling. I found it very overwhelming (in a good way) to feel so much love from everyone around us – it was alot to take in.

Thank goodness we had a rehearsal a few days before because I think I got all my tears out then. The morning of the wedding I woke up VERY nervous...not nervous to marry Marc – I couldn’t wait for that - but just apprehensive about the day ahead, hoping that everything would come together how I had planned. As soon as I met up with all my bridesmaids though, and started getting ready, having make-up done – all the nerves vanished and by the time we were ready to leave for the church, I was just so excited.

From start to finish how was the day?
Michelle: I woke up feeling well rested which was great. I jumped into bed with my mum (my parents were staying with us) and had tea with them in their room just talking about the day ahead, shedding the odd tear and taking the first of the Rescue Remedy!

As soon as I arrived at the lodge where we were getting ready all my girls just made the biggest fuss over me and we laughed non-stop as we got ready, had our hair and make-up done. We drank lots of champagne and posed for a million photographs. I gave all my bridesmaids beautiful silk gowns to get ready in which looked stunning in all the photos.

Having my mom with me all morning and my five closest friends was so so special. When our bouquets arrived we were all blown away by how beautiful they were. I was so happy with them. Watching each of my bridesmaids, and my very handsome brides-man getting ready was such a proud moment as each of them looked more and more gorgeous. Finally I got into my dress and was 'presented' to my dad which was a very special moment.

Both of my parents came in the car with me to the church. It was really lovely to have a few moments alone with my parents before they gave me away. The ceremony was beautiful – it went so quickly. Luckily Marc cried more than I did – although I definitely had a moment saying my vows. Before we knew it we were at a different venue having photos taken. The rest of our guests were at our reception venue for champagne and canap├ęs. When we arrived at the reception it was the first time we were able to greet and mingle with all our guests, so the time literally flew. We then all went through to sit down – everyone was served an Amuse Bouche and a shot of chilled Russian Vodka to get the party started.

The beautiful couple 

Did you practice your first dance and what did you dance to?
Michelle: Yes, we had learnt a little dance which we absolutely loved doing, and from there people just danced the night away. Our song was called “Found You” by Ross Copperman. It’s always been our song as it holds a lot of meaning for us. We went for a few lessons and am so glad that we did as we couldn’t wait to do our dance – where as I know that a lot of couples dread that bit!

What were the highlights for you?
Michelle: Getting into my dress; Walking down the aisle with my dad and looking at all the faces of the people that we love and meeting my soon-to-be husband at the top; Marc’s Speech and doing our First Dance.

Any advice for brides to be on keeping nerves at bay?
Michelle: RESCUE REMEDY! That stuff works wonders!

Do you have any hints/tips for other brides on how to keep your wedding budget friendly?
Michelle: Get family members and friends involved wherever possible. My aunt made our cake, my cousin did our stationary, a friend of ours did our bouquets. You’ll be surprised at how much people are happy to help out.

What’s next for you?
Michelle: We recently brought a house and I am about to change jobs. So we have lots to keep us busy. We are also planning a delayed honeymoon – to go skiing in April next year as Marc has never seen snow. So we have lots to look forward to and feel very lucky and blessed.

And now onto THAT DRESS!
Michelle: OHHHHH the dress. I love it so much!! It’s called Dakota – by Enzoani. It's an ivory, strapless, mermaid style dress – very tight and fitting to below the knee where it flares out in a full circle. The whole thing is covered in the most beautiful hand-made lace with gorgeous scalloping along the bottom.

It was the second dress I tried on and had THE moment. I must have tried on another 30 after that, but I just kept comparing every other dress to that one. I just loved how it made me look at feel – it was so elegant and sophisticated.

Any dress shopping advice?
Michelle: Listen to the sales reps - they know what suits your body shape. Once you have found a shape that you like – stick to it and try on as many dresses as possible in that shape. Make an appointment at about five shops. You try on about six dresses in each – and it’s all part of the fun, you won’t get to do it again so enjoy it – and definitely try on at least one meringue!

Planning your wedding abroad? Here are Michelle's Service Providers

Bridal Accessories: The Knightsbridge Boutique London

Bridesmaids dresses: Jo Borkett - South Africa

Cake: Carol Wienburg - Zimbabwe

Coordinator: Zillah Chilowa – Tangerine Co - Zimbabwe

Dress: Enzoani – Dakota from the Wedding Shop London

Entertainment: Paul Bowen (Singer/DJ)

Food/Venue: Victoria 22

Hair: Lauren @ Hair Expertease

Make-up: Sjaan Lambrecht - Complexions

Photographer: Christiaan David 

Shoes: LK Bennett

Stationery: Leelu I do

Thank you both for sharing your love story with us, we wish you a lifetime of happiness x

A little word on the side 
Although we absolutely adore weddings, we are not actually a wedding blog. From the engagement, to the budgeting, flowers, dresses and music – we  love it all. But, and this is a BIG but, we also know that there are already so many AMAZING wedding blogs out there. From the likes of Style Me Pretty and Rock my Wedding to South Bound Bride and The Pretty Blog, the industry is full of incredibly talented and creative people and we really aren’t planning to compete. If you are a bride to be, as well as reading our posts, we'd encourage you to also hop, skip and jump to the above sites pronto, as they are amazing, and were our bibles when we were planning our big days.

But do come back, as we have lots to offer. Although our site is less about weddings and more about parties, planning and our own little take on trends, fashion, DIY and foodie treats. We do, however, love all things beautiful and planny and as a wedding is the ultimate planning experience and therefore the ultimate party, we will still be featuring a few weddings that we love and tips for brides to be. 

Thanks so much 

A & N xx

Thursday, 28 June 2012

What to wear: Go Bright or Go Home

When it comes to style - I have always been a throw on a great pair of jeans and heels kind of girl, and this seasons bright new coloured jeans are no exception. Both of us, in the It's a Pleasure, Treasure team, are smitten kittens when it comes to brightening up our wardrobes and with all the colours under the sun available - what's not to love. 

You can keep it simple with a white t-shirt and statement necklace, dress them up with an equally bright top - basically you can throw them on with anything and they are sure to look fabulous. If you haven't tried a pair yet, I suggest you do it - coloured jeans give your outfit that edge that says - yes - today I am feeling bright and amazing and I am going to show it! Well that's how they make us feel anyway! 

Here are some of our faves...

Colour me bright
  • Wearing the blue and coral 
  • Lusting over the green and yellow 
  • Wondering if we could pull off the patterned Oasis pair 

What do you think about coloured jeans and what colour will you be wearing this summer?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

What to wear: Wimbledon

Strawberries & Cream at Wimbledon

"Why has slamming a ball with a racquet become so obsessive a pleasure for so many of us? It seems clear to me that a primary attraction of the sport is the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault." - Nat Hentoff

Wimbledon begins this week - hooray - and along with it, the threat of rain. It wouldn't be Wimbledon without the rain, right? 

This year will be my first time at Wimbledon. My husband has managed to bag us tickets to watch the tennis during the Olympics - lucky me - I'll finally get to eat strawberries and cream in the sunshine! Or at least under my umbrella...

Along with the outfit above, I'll be taking my brolly - good old British summer! 

What will you be wearing to Wimbledon this year?

Monday, 18 June 2012

What to wear: Shine, even when the sun won't!

A splash of sunshine

A splash of sunshine by nkirkmartin featuring butter london nail polish

"Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while." - Kin Hubbard

I'm guessing Kin didn't live in London...

The British weather is starting to get me down. I have forgotten what Summer feels like. I can't remember when last I left home without a cardigan (and scarf). Granted, I am the ice queen (temperature, not heart), but surely by this time of year we should all be sporting short skirts, summery sandals and sunglass tans?!

So despite the fact that the weather is not playing nice, we have decided to think summery thoughts. Incidentally, the forecast looks quite lovely for the next day or two, so I hope I haven't cursed it by speaking out loud!

This outfit makes me want to pack a suitcase to somewhere exotic. Doesn't the yellow dress scream 'take me on holiday!'? (Husband, I think it's talking to me!)

Have you got any lovely, sunny trips planned?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Daddy's Girls - the perfect steak

It's Father’s Day today and if you haven’t got a snazzy restaurant booked in yet, we're saying go back to basics and keep it simple. 

Courtesy of the best steak restaurant in London - Hawksmoor

As daughters (and wives and sisters) of meat-loving men, we have spent many years witnessing the pursuit of perfection, when it comes to cooking steak.

It is essential to get your cooking technique just right and there are lots of theories on how you should do it. We have a Sous Vide water bath, well-used Weber BBQ, a thick bottomed pan, blow torch, ergonomic tongs, razor sharp Japanese knives, about 14 different types of mustard, and books by everyone from Delia to Heston to Jamie, to prove our dedication to this very cause!

So, if happiness to your Dad is a beautifully cooked piece of meat, accompanied by a bold bottle of rouge, here are a few tips that we highly recommend, courtesy of the excellent ‘Hawksmoor at Home’ cookbook that we think will guarantee you the perfect steak.

If our Dad’s were close by (hope you’re listening Dad’s) this is what we would be doing to celebrate Father’s Day:


1. Quality not quantity – It’s important to buy the best cut of meat – personally, we are fillet girls, but most men like a good rib-eye or sirloin on the bone. If you want a bit more on this, here is a quick guide on the best cuts from ‘The Ginger Pig’ in London.

Any good butcher will be able to advise you on the best cuts, but if you want to know all the right questions to ask, here is a buyer's guide.

2. Go BIG or go home – if you want the meat to be charred on the outside, but juicy and pink in the middle – 300g and 4cm thick is the ideal size.

3. Make sure your steak is dry - pat with a paper towel to remove any moisture - otherwise the meat will steam in the pan and you will struggle to form a decent crust.

4. Season the meat WELL before you cook it – probably more than you might think. Use a mix of 40% sea salt and 60% smoked sea salt – trust us, this makes all the difference.

5. The only way is HOT and we’re talking HOT HOT HOT - Make sure your pan is as hot as you can get it – put the heat on high and give it about 5 minutes to get up to temperature (you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand near the heat without it burning!). If you’re cooking inside, open the window so you don’t get totally smoked out.

6. Don’t use any oil on the meat or in the pan - if the grill is hot enough, the meat won’t stick.

7. Don’t be afraid to flip the steak every 10 – 15 seconds. Each time you turn the meat over it cooks slightly on one side, allowing you to get the perfect crust, without overcooking the centre.

8. If you’re cooking a sirloin or rib-eye and there is a thick layer of fat, remember to brown it first – the easiest way to do this is by holding the meat, fat-side down, with a pair of tongs.

9. When your steak is cooked how you like it, (if you want it rare it should be similar in feel to the fleshy part of your palm under your thumb) put it on a warm plate and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes (a really thick steak will be better after 10).

10. Serve with frites, mustard and a simple green salad. Voila!

Pair your perfect steak with a fine bottle of red wine – there really is no better alternative. We had a fantastic bottle of (South African) Cederburg Shiraz 2008 recently, which we would highly recommend.

A saucy tip
The sauce you serve with your steak will affect your wine pairing. When researching this blog, we stumbled across an incredible website by Fiona Beckett, whose son is the man behind Hawksmoor (can you tell we’re fans?!). She outlines the changes a sauce will make to how you should choose your wine.

If this is not your idea of fun, you could always buy your Dad the book and he could do it himself! ;) 

Have a happy Father’s Day!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Jubilee Garden Party Part 4

“I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.” - Nancie J. Carmody 

Though the Diamond Jubilee is now a distant memory (and this post is slightly late!) – blame it on the long weekend and a week of holiday – fear not, we have not forgotten! This is our final Jubilee post where we show you how we transformed our ideas on paper to over-all pretty (well, we think so at least!). 

Thanks to the wonderful English summer, our Jubilee Garden Party was a lot less ‘garden’ than we had planned. Luckily we didn’t let that dampen our spirits – we opted for plan B and moved the party indoors. 

I always forget how much work goes into hosting a party – food preparation (is there going to be enough?), decorating (will anyone even notice the miniature food flags?), more food prep (how hungry will everyone be?), drinks (is there such a thing as too much wine?), ding-dong (the guests are early!). 

But as the quote above so nicely puts it, all of the planning and preparation is worth it if you’ve celebrated with friends. And celebrate we did… 

Before we share a few of our favourite pics from the day, a huge ‘we-appreciate-you-so-much’ shout-out must go to our wonderful (long-suffering) husbands. Thank you for cutting, slicing, pouring, hanging, dicing and hosting with us. We couldn’t have done it without you both (we know you secretly enjoyed it all!).

The food...

The drinks...

The decor...

The photobooth signs made by the very talented Roxy Sayer...

Did you have as much fun as we did? 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Perfect Present - The foodie edition

Some people are just great at sourcing the perfect present - weddings, birthdays and hen parties - they have it in the bag!

For others – not so much. I have been known to get into quite a panic scouring the high street to find something original, different and lovely. We’ve all had that moment of buying something that sits on a shelf, never gets used, worn or loved… so, needless to say, I am always on the search for the perfect present.

Today, I opened the post box to reveal the most divine, unique and PERFECT (for a dedicated foodie like me), wedding present.

To give someone special their own olive tree visit the Nudo website!

We are now the proud adoptive parents (for the next 12 months anyway) of our very own Olive Tree! Our tree, Leccino (after his olive variety), lives in a grove called Il Professore on the Eastern Coast of Central Italy.  Not too shabby! I think a visit is a must – wink wink hubby!

The upside of this pressie is that it benefits us food lovers and supports the smallscale artisanal farmers who produce the olive oil.

The cherry (or should I say olive) on top is that in exchange for being his adoptive parents, we get two deliveries of olive oil from our little Leccino. In spring, we will get extra virgin olive oil and in autumn, we will get three tins in a range of flavours from lemon to chilli.

Bring on the alfresco evenings, crispy ciabatta and Nudo olive oil from our little Leccino! Buon appetite!

Grazie Jess and Ryan for the perfect present! 

Keep an eye out for our top 10 favourite foodie gifts coming soon!