Thursday, 19 May 2011


Caleb Followill marries his lovely
Lily Aldridge: the wedding date
was kept secret from him for fear
he would tell the world (and its media)

Somewhere between the ever more despondent trawling of the web for dresses, my thinking that the mister would, of course, want to heed some tradition in his groom party all wearing suits of the same style, and responding like a woman crazed when he innocuously asked why a bride even needed a bouquet - "I don't recall having ever seen any bride holding just cling onto your dad's hand don't you?" (cue my eyebrows reaching dangerous heights that might need a cosmetic surgeon to persuade them down again, and a stream of incredulous "What? What?! Seriously?F**k!" from me. And I'm not given to swearing) - it dawned on me. I have given into that often levied belief that weddings are a woman's game. Most weddings are now funded by both partners, with budgets that pool resources and any kind contribution from parents, so why are we still governed by this outmoded notion of the big, bad bride presiding over it?

I hadn't intended to be a blithe bride planner, oblivious to his qualms. Nor had I not noticed how mention of our wedding failed to elicit some sort of positive response. For a fairly ebullient, cheery person, albeit one given to winding me up something chronic; this is the man who, some nine months before we became engaged would steer me towards antique jewellery shop windows with an alluring "perhaps we should take a look?" before swinging me away, guffawing in my face - the only reason I put up with it is because I knew he would only tease me so if he definitely did want to marry me - he's a little naughty, not cruel; this was all the evidence I needed that he was being isolated from proceedings.

Catherine Deneuve sure knows
how to keep her groom happy
Now enlightened, I'm embracing and delighting in his being on board as fully as I should have been from the start. This is supposed to be a team effort, after all. If we both commit to having the best party of our lives, surely this bodes well for a marriage that is equally shared in frolics and the real stuff of money, compromise and sensitivity to each other? One of the first things that enthralled us both so much in each other was our kinship of spirit - we couldn't believe we'd had the good fortune to find each other, and this has only grown over time - we share the same rebel streak, fondness for expensive things (much as he would deny it, mister's penchant for George Clooney's suit maker's garb, Barbour coats, steak on weeknights, and Apple's adult etch-a-sketch) historical anachronisms of style, and love of good fancy dress - all of which you might think would come in useful when planning a wedding. But he does frequently have to handle the ennui of life and bills whilst I make salted pecan caramel meringues in the kitchen, or hobble to catch up with him in my heels. Grooms can be the tonic to our Gin, a balm and voice of caring reason when ours has pegged it out of the door.

When it comes to what a groom's traditional role is and the expectations beholden on him, it's all quite prosaic: the word Bridegroom wasn't penned until 1604, and is derived from the old English word guma, meaning boy, denoting perhaps the transferral of said status of boy to that of a man once married. This might go some way towards explaining why the groom's role within the organisation of a wedding has been so maligned - we expect of them their boyish worst, and wouldn't trust them with folding napkins without 'chicken' japes.

A groom's implicit role includes the purchase of rings, the wedding cars or transport, selection of a best man or the more modern two, the payment for the ceremony, the first wedded night's accomodation, gifts for the wedding party, the bride's and bridesmaids' flowers and your grooms men's buttonholes, and naturally, guest list suggestion. Not exactly enticing.

How about sharing some of the more fun planning, not just mere tokenism? Democratise a wedding, and inject some instant male cool by asking that they organise the music/bands with watchwords of 'rollicking', 'happy' and 'no garage metal', the alcohol (I'm thinking Glogg, barrels of ale and cider, a barman not much inclined to watch his measures, and perhaps a single dram of Orkadian whisky as a wedding favour for the chaps Drinks by the, look to classic car owners rather than standard wedding fleets for something thrilling like a Mustang, Aston Martin, Mercedes or Porsche, request their cartographic styling with ink drawn maps of how to get to your venue (think Tolkein's Lord of the Rings maps in the frontice, or pirate booty finding paper), and help you choose your wedding night underwear with a viewing at Agent Provocateur - it's not as sacred as the dress and would be simply a coy anticipatory foretaste.

Nothing will make you feel more star-crossed than bonding over samples of your choosen feast together, and gadding off on an educational wine tour or tasting class to select your accompanying drinks. I'd suggest Ecole Du Vin or London's Vinopolis for a novel break away from the wedding planning.

The other significant player in the wedding (besides you dress) should also look his devastatingly handsome best. Stylish, polished and personally nuanced, gone are the days of plain top hats and tails (unless it's a Favourbrook velveteen tailcoat in stormy skied grey), and although rental offers a budget-kind option, if you opt for a suit that has legs, so to speak, for future wear, then why not buy the most distinguished, sharp suit you will ever wear? If you can stretch to Tom Ford, so much the better.

Style points for Grooms:
Reiss - unleash your inner 1960s cad. Also do fine shoes, and also currently have a grandad collar crisp shirt in palest blue.
The Kooples tiny skull motif print cravat.
The Kooples - stupidly cool Parisian hipsters do surprisingly fine line in suits and cravats.
Favourbrook - dashing, good all rounders
Paul Smith - witty and very British, especially like the chintzy ties and soft silver polka dots.
Mark Powell - aforementioned maker of George Clooney's suits (we found ours in Flannels discount store)
Spencer Hart - Saville Row tailor who does a particularly fetching black silk cocktail suit.
Mr Hare - their tagline is 'Shoes you can attach some romance to'. This is good
Jimmy Choo - no longer just for the aspirant girl. Oh no. For you, too! From June 2011.

For literal grooming, look your loveliest with Darphin moisturisers (, Carita Progressif Eye Patches, £39 for 10 to enliven and put the sparkle back, Truth Serum Collagen Booster by Ole Henriksen for plump, velvety skin. You could also use an illuminating base (speak to your lady friend) to give you added glow on the day. And it's not make up, it's prep - I'm a big fan of Nars and Laura Mercier.

Oh, and absolute must? Hawk like your life/wife depends on it.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The French Connection

On returning from a Royal Wedding exodus in Paris, I have not been able to stop thinking about that certain je ne c'est pas enduring cool Parisians seem to have trademarked. And that's just the girls.

It got me to thinking, if you'll pardon the Carrie-ism, that there are clever ways in which the particular breed of lightly worn style, instant refinement and softly sexy might inspire in a wedding.

As an antidote to the usual suspects of super-girly layers of bridal chiffon evocative of something fresh from a patisserie, French bridal gowns are masterworks of irreverent yet perfect beauty. White lace was always going to have a moment after the now Duchess of Cambridge made her exquisite denouement to national dreams in that majestic Sarah Burton number. But, quel surprise, French bridal wear has been doing it for yonks. Givenchy frequently use finely wrought handmade lace in their gowns, and though I wouldn't usually hold her up as an example (she's that little bit on the side of scary bad girl for me) Courtney Love's white lace dress at the ELLE Style Awards was a triumph fit for a bride.
If you don't want edgy, but do want some of that guileful, sexy and grown-up chic, you could look to Pronuptia Paris, the ravishing Cymbeline, Ugo Zaldi (designed by two French brothers), or fashion sweethearts, Carven - newly stocked at Net-a-Porter or Lanvin. All tend towards the immaculately nuanced, with form and structure beating at their hearts. But it's the way in which French girls wear their clothes and wedding gowns that's the (almost) inimitable bit. If you google doe-eyed lovelies Julia Restoin Roitfeld - daughter of ex-Vogue editrice Carine Roitfeld, Josephine de la Baume, Lou Lesage or Clemence Poesy, you'll see what I mean.

Ugo Zaldi Bridal

Pronuptia Paris

Lou Lesage at Paris Fashion week AW11


Lanvin at net-a-porter

 For a touch of their charm, you could try emulating the bed headed, muted waves, washing your hair in Klorane products, nurturing it regularly with Rodin by Recine's luxurious hair oil £45 at oliolusso and ruffling with Professional Prep by Bumble & Bumble at Space NK. Leave hair loose, or sweep into a dishevelled pleat, paired with antique heirloom diamond earrings hanging like glamorous punctuation marks.

The other legendary facet to Parisian women's allure is their bare-faced beauty. The secret? They invest silly amounts in skin care so they simply don't need it - even their pharmaceutical ranges for naughtier skin types is unsurpassed in it's efficacy, with La Roche Posay now widely available in larger Boots stores here, such is its prowess. For that Bardot softcore polish, try Nars Pore Refining Primer (, a gentle smudge of kohl and a powdery velvet lipstick such as Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Pure Colour in 24 Soft Pink Peach ( or Nars Semi-Matte lipstick in Morocco for a hydrating, bitten-lip flushed red.

And for the monsieurs? A silken scarf dotted with tiny skull motifs from Parisian demimonde The Kooples in place of a cravat or floral buttonhole.
You could also create a French feel with towers of the dainty macaroons from Laduree make for a magnificent wedding-cake alternative, Toiles de Jouy napkins £5.50 from the V & A shop, or for France proper, dashing 15th century chateau in the Loire valley from