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Forever & Ever invited to view the Oscar de la Renta 2011 Spring Bridal Collection {major swoon}

We all know that Oscar de la Renta is in a class all unto himself.  Yes, he is pricey.  But there is a reason for this (and which goes for every single upscale wedding gown that Forever & Ever views and raves about): pure perfectionist craftsmanship.  When I took a course in basic sewing at London College of Fashion a few years ago, I finally understood why certain garments (as they say in the trade) may cost so much: it is damn hard to make.  All the seams, all the zips, all the buttonholes – these take hours and hours, and they’re just the basics.  Throw in there hand-stitched embroidery, lace, and layers upon layers of overlay, silk lining… trust me, it is hard.  You should even have loads of respect for your local seamstress who takes in the straps on your cocktail dress or the hem of your jeans and that isn’t even coming close to the workmanship in creating these bridal gowns.

So, imagine an Oscar de la Renta dress with its yards of silky fabrics, lace and hand-crocheted overlay and you will appreciate how painstaking it is to create one dress.

For example, this one.  It is just effervescent, no?  You will look like you are floating in it.

And check out the rose appliques on this one – running all the way down the dress.  This is serious craftsmanship and all about the details.  {and don’t you just love the sage green grosgrain sash with it?}

If you want to make a statement at your wedding, these will do the trick plus more.

Imagine sewing each of these bows onto the entire ball gown by hand.  And, trust me, the materials and fabrics are top of the line, too.  When you run your fingers along an Oscar de la Renta dress and then later touch a wedding gown that is below the £1,000 mark and described similarly (e.g., silk or tulle), you can instantly tell why Oscar’s dresses (and that of Monique, Peter Langner, Vera Wang) are a cut above – the material is so soft, so silky, so intricate, fits like a glove, and all hand made for you.

Of course you can’t forget your mom.  Oscar de la Renta isn’t just for the fabulous Hillary Rodham Clinton – your mom can look just as elegant.  And we all know our moms deserve it.

For a full view of the spectacular Oscar de la Renta Spring 2011 bridal collection, visit his website.  To gawk in person or to try them on yourself in London, call or visit Browns Bride.

I must thank the lovely and sweet Caroline Burstein at Browns Bride for inviting me to view the collection on Friday and for introducing me to the down-to-earth and uber chic bridal business manager for Oscar himself, Shanna Chaityn.

MLH x

Forever & Ever Interviews Wedding Photographer Chloe Browne from Caught the Light Photography

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

When hiring a wedding planner or a photographer, it is so important to connect with the person behind the business – after all, it is a highly emotional and once in lifetime event and you are essentially entrusting it to these people.  With a photographer, you will want to feel comfortable in front of the camera and trust that the photographer understands how you want to capture all of the aspects of your celebration and deliver images that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

So on this Friday, I want to help you to connect with one such person behind the lens.  Chloe Browne from Caught the Light Photography is one of my most trusted and recommended vendors in London.  Not only is she extremely talented with an acute attention to detail, but she’s also just super cute, warm and funny – someone you’d want to go shopping with or chat with over a glass of fizzy, not just hire to take your photographs!  So, without further ado, get to know Chloe Browne!

♥ ♥ ♥

Where did you grow up and where’s home now?

I was born in Chiswick in West London, but Hampstead is now home with my Australian husband and his three guitars.

How long have you been a photographer and were you always a wedding photographer?

I’ve been officially photographing weddings for the past year, but I would like to say that I have always been a photographer-it’s just only recently become something I’ve committed myself to properly.  I established Caught the Light in September 2009.

Is there anything you would have done differently when you started your wedding photography business?

I don’t think there is. I have made mistakes in the past year, but they’re all things that I have learnt huge lessons from, which is invaluable, isn’t it?

Did you study photography at school or in a professional program?

I’m a self-taught photographer although I have studied in later years to make sure I’m doing everything the best way possible.

Was there a person or single influence who got you interested in wedding photography?

When I was looking for a photographer for our wedding, I fell head-over-heels in love with Michele M Waite who is based in Bellingham in the USA. I was inspired to take photographs professionally by her and by how beautifully she captures such an important day. I actually took at 70-page portfolio when I met with wedding photographers-the majority of which was her work!

Would you say that you have a particular style and, if so, how would you sum it up?

I like to think of myself as delivering natural wedding photography and I hope that my work reflects this. I try not to stage anything on a wedding day, but will direct families together for their portraits and offer a little advice to my couples too. Some people are more naturally at ease in front of the camera than others. I myself am hopeless!

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

How many weddings do you average per year?

This year, I will have photographed 34 weddings, which has been quite a lot. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot though and have some more exciting destination weddings booked in for 2011 too!

Do you think male and female photographers bring different approaches to weddings or to the bride?

I do think that as a mass generalization, male photographers focus on the technical elements whilst female photographers concentrate more on the emotional elements of a wedding. I certainly think about all the emotion and tears and ‘moments’ more than I do what lens I’ll need next.

If you could name one spot on earth where you’d like to photograph a wedding, where would it be?

I would love to photograph a wedding in Rome. I lived there for a while and love Romani and their laid-back attitude to life. The ruins would make quite an impressive backdrop.

What other subjects or photo shoots do you like to photograph besides weddings?

I love the natural progression of a wedding, but I love photographing people. I like the legacy that continues with a portrait. I think I’d like to photograph book covers too as reading is another passion. I could spend all day in a Waterstones-there is something intoxicating about the smell of new books!

I know from my Google Analytics that people have come to my website from searching for “Chloe Browne What Camera Does She Use” – would you like to just say now what camera you use?

That’s really funny! I love Canon’s tones, so use a Canon 5D mark ii alongside a few prime lenses.

Is there a favorite camera lens or accessory that you cannot live without?

I would not want to live without my 50mm f1.2. I learnt how to frame on a 50mm, so it’s my most natural lens to use. The 35mm is beautiful and that little bit wider, which I tend to use for aisles and during ceremonies.

Do you take extra lighting equipment with you to weddings?

I use a light panel similar to that which videographers use and an on-camera flash for speeches and the first dance if necessary. I much prefer to use ambient light though as it allows me to work more discreetly.  Rarely will a church permit you to use flash, so you really need to learn how to use fast prime lenses like 1.2s and 1.4s. I photographed a wedding reception in a wine cellar basement without a flash and relied on strategic placement of candles and fairy lights to work with.

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

A popular trend in the States is the “First Look”, where the bride and groom see each other for portrait shots before the ceremony – what is your view on this trend and have you taken any for UK weddings?

I would love it if clients did First Looks more often. I photographed a wedding in Denmark this year where the clients did a First Look and we spent around an hour taking their portraits in different locations on the island, so that they didn’t miss any of the reception later on. It was a brilliant idea and something that clients later in the year should definitely make use of. I absolutely hate returning to a beautiful reception when the sun has set and you can’t make full use of beautiful grounds.

What is your least favorite part of a wedding?

My least favourite part is after the ceremony when the ushers turn to me and ask me to arrange ‘the confetti shot’. As I’m not a huge fan on intervening, I usually push this one right back to the ushers and wait in the crowd to photograph the couple-it feels much more discreet than herding people up!

What is your favorite part of a wedding?

I love vows and in particular civil ceremonies as they are a little more customizable than religious ceremonies. I’ve photographed weddings where the groom has organized for friends to sing a song accompanied by a ukulele, which was very funny and brilliant to capture. I usually always cry during vows and the ‘you may kiss the bride’. I’m married, so weddings are particularly emotional for me.

I have had brides ask photographers to slim them down with PhotoShop. Do you use Photo Shop for these sort sorts of requests?

I wouldn’t no and I also wouldn’t book a client who wanted that kind of editing done. I am very much a believer in natural wedding photography. I will always edit out exit signs and remove make-up from clothes, but my job is to take a beautiful photo of you as you are, not as you are when you’re digitally enhanced.

Can you describe your wedding albums?

My albums are very clean and simple with the emphasis being on the image. I design all of my albums myself once the client has chosen their images and work them into simple spreads.  As a bride, I just wanted my pictures and to organize my own wedding album, so I offer my package like this, but try and make the discs exciting, too. You can see examples here.

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

Do you have a most memorable wedding that you’ve shot to date?

There have been so many! Last September, I photographed a wedding where the bride and groom both wore red shoes and were so laid back about the whole day. We had a great time standing around in the park and I was one of eight people at their civil ceremony, which was pretty special too. For me, what makes a wedding special are the people, 100%. Details are beautiful to photograph, but rarely do you frame photos of your wedding flowers now, do you?

Are there wedding photographers that you most admire and what about them inspires you?

There are so many exceptionally talented photographers in the world. Michele M Waite was my inspiration in getting started and Jonas Peterson and Jose Villa both photograph weddings like nobody else. Max Wanger is always unique and I love Mel Barlow’s understated elegance. The UK does very well too-I love Rosie Parson’s beautiful simplicity and if I could ever photograph weddings on film like Polly Alexandre, I would be very happy indeed.

From a photographer’s perspective, do you have any suggestions for brides on the day?

I love working in bright clean spaces, which is rarely the kind of space you get to work in when you arrive to photograph a bride getting ready. Wedding days usually get off to quite a hectic start, so I try to arrive an hour or so before the bride is due to leave, to get the finishing touches. If a room is bright and tidy, it makes a beautiful backdrop for preparation photos. I love unique and individual brides too, so always do what feels unique to you.

Do you visit wedding blogs and which do you enjoy visiting the most?

Once Wed is one of my favourites as they feature such beautifully sunny weddings. I also read Rock N’ Roll Bride which is where a lot of my previous clients have found me, alongside Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake, Ruffled and Snippet & Ink. I’m a huge fan on design blogs too, like Design Sponge and Black Eiffel. I like things that are beautiful.

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

If you were not a photographer, what would you want to be when you grow up?

I honestly would not want to be anything else!

What are 3 essentials that you carry around in your handbag that are not photography or wedding-related?

My iphone as I could not live without email, an umbrella because I am English and predictably, my purse!

Name a movie star or singer whose wedding you’d love to photograph, where, and why.

I would have loved to photograph Marilyn Munroe-to me, she is beauty personified. I imagine her barefoot on a beach in a 50s wedding dress. She’d have been amazing.

Does your husband enjoy taking photographs with you (or being your subject)?

My husband’s pretty hopeless with a camera but he’s great at wheeling my bag around. I appreciate our differences though-he is brilliant at playing a guitar and I’d hate if it he ever tried to make me learn!

Do you have more of a handbag fetish or shoe fetish?

Shoe fetish, although if you are reading this husband, I am much overdue that Mulberry!

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

♥ ♥ ♥

Isn’t she great?  I say she deserves that Mulberry bag. ;-)  Learn more about Chloe’s work by visiting her website and her blog.

100 Layer Cake features Forever & Ever!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be featured on the incredible 100 Layer Cake! 100 Layer Cake is one of the biggest creative forces in the wedding industry, so you can imagine my delight when they told me they’d love to feature Forever & Ever! CHECK OUT THE FEATURE HERE. And LEAVE A COMMENT!!!

ps: Anyone glancing into my window right now would see me doing “raise the roof” to Whoomp! There it is!

Forever Friday Links 10.22.10

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

It’s Friday, so if you’re like me, you’ll slide on your Chanel ring {doesn’t it look fab in this photo??}, and treat yourself to some delicious cake!  And red wine, of course.

Then you’ll sit back on your plush sofa, prop yourself up with velvet throw pillows, massage your puppy’s ears and open up that Mac laptop to check out these Forever Friday Links:

♥ Super 8 video is so timeless.  This one is just dead cool.  And let’s face it, everybody looks amazing in Super 8.  Incidentally, is there a videographer in the UK who can provide this level of Super 8 excellence?  If so, Forever & Ever wants to meet you!

♥ How much do I love these redesigned iconic movie posters?  Especially the Top Gun bomber jacket.

♥ Need to hire some vintage crockery for your party?  Love her pretty website.

♥ Orla Kiely has created perhaps the cutest kitchen radio ever.

♥ It’s marked in my diary – last 2 weeks of this calendar year – Tsumori Chisato pour Petit Bateau.  I don’t care that it’s for les bébés, I might be small enough to squeeze into them… or at least get the très mignon pillow.

♥ Engagement session with a Delorean.  If only they had worn clothes from November 5, 1955.  Still – rad prop.

♥ Why get mass produced stationery when you can get personalized ones like these illustrated cards + calling cards?

♥ I first found Sean Low, branding guru, by our common background (both alums of this fine institution and reformed lawyers), and now I visit his blog regularly for his advice for creative businesses in the wedding industry.  His latest post on competitors and building a community is so spot on.  I have been thinking about competition and how thinly veiled it can be… So I love Sean’s reminder to us all when competition gets all prickly: “Nobody has the expertise you do even if they are in the same business“.

With that hurrah for business integrity, I leave you now to snuggle with my little Sammykins and get lost in X Factor.

MLH x

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

Forever & Ever Teaser

Something amazing this way comes…

Photo by Caro Hutchings Photography

Cannot wait to share more of this gorgeous shoot {with styling direction by yours truly}!  In the meantime, I give you a little sneaky peek!  Major swoon, no??

Forever & Ever Writes for Rock N Roll Bride!

Here it is!  I am a guest blogger on the huge and spectacular ROCK N’ ROLL BRIDE!

It was difficult for me to keep this a secret and I nearly blew my cover yesterday in the Forever Friday Links!  I’m so excited to be a part of Kat’s (Mrs. Rock N’ Roll Bride’s) community and to be able to help her readers plan their weddings.  Thanks, Kat, for approaching me to be a guest blogger! – I am well chuffed and honored!

This first installment of the venue series is on rock n’ roll wedding reception venues in London.  When I first started putting together my list of venues, it occurred to me that it would be really fun to visit some of them with a photographer and take some fun photos so that readers can get a sense as to the decor and size.  Enter Caro Hutchings, who is not only a very skilled wedding photographer (with a background in fine art photography and medium format) but also a super cool person and friend who met me at various spots in London and took pictures of me attempting to rock it out in the venues.  ;-)

I think the list of venues should help Rock N’ Roll Bride readers get a sense as to the different alternatives out there in London – and maybe even give YOU, my lovely Forever & Ever readers and clients, some helpful ideas for your party planning.  Check out the FULL POST HERE!

Forever Friday Links 10.15.10

Photo by Caught the Light Photography

Better late than never, right?  I had a deadline today as a guest blogger for a HUGE wedding blog (so excited – my guest blogging piece will appear tomorrow – stay tuned!), so am now finally getting round to posting these Forever Friday Links for you to peruse over your weekend.  Now, grab a glass of vino or sip a lovely frothy cappuccino and check out these cool spots on the web.

♥ The ethereal and romantically floaty gorgeousness that is in every single Claire Pettibone dress.

♥ One of my favorite venues in London is Andaz at Liverpool Street and this wedding by Marianne Taylor just shows how gorgeous a celebration can be there – I love the wine cellar wall in the back of the top table!

♥ Totally heart this circus-inspired wedding invitation by Sugalily.

♥ I just recently discovered this foodie photography blog and OMG not only am I blown away by the attention to detail that she captures but also how mouth-watering all the food looks!

♥ I would love it if my Forever Husband wore bowties.  He refuses, so I can only hope Forever Dog will amuse me.  Who wouldn’t want to wear these hip bowties? {great idea for groomsmen}

♥ Totally heart this ampersand prop idea for photos and wedding decor.

Remember to check back in this weekend for the link to my guest blogging stint at a major wedding blog!

Until then,

MLH x

Forever Friday Links 10.8.10

Another Friday, thank god, and I am so excited that it’s the weekend (though I only have one day off, alas).

Photo by Caro Hutchings Photography

The fun pic above of me was taken by photographer Caro Hutchings, while we were out and about in Londontown {just a little sneak peek of what we were up to this past week}.

Without further ado, here are some fun Forever Friday Links to inspire you today and over the weekend, while you’re stretched out on the sofa, possibly looking for wedding inspiration, with a glass of wine or cappuccino in hand. ;-)

♥ You will be so busy hosting on your wedding day, so why not consider a day-after photo shoot?  Check it out – ours was featured on OMG and Grey Likes!

♥ With the UK’s temperamental weather patterns, we could totally use these bright colored pagoda umbrellas in UK weddings.

♥ Go for unique stationery – check out this origami inspired wedding invitation.

♥ Could making silhouettes and cards be this easy??!  It is! Silhouette/paper cutting machine!  Maybe DIY won’t take so long now…

♥ I just love when dogs are tastefully incorporated into their owners’ weddings.  I am loving this Swedish wedding and their fluffballs.

♥ I of course love Etsy, but I also love RegretsyThis made me laugh out loud.

With that chortle, I wish you a great weekend.

MLH x

Double Whammy! Forever & Ever featured on OMG and The Wedding Community!

Today brought a very exciting double whammy: features on both OMG and The Wedding Community!

It’s actual a triple-whammy if you think about it! – because our post-wedding photo shoot was featured stateside by the stylish Grey Likes Weddings a couple weeks ago.  While Grey wanted to feature a selection of our photos (taken by Alicia Pollett Photography), it so turned out that OMG wanted to feature a different selection on the opposite side of the pond.  Both bloggers were totally keen, since they were featuring different images.  I love when bloggers are so collaborative ♥.  Click HERE to read OMG’s full feature on the shoot and to see the images she loved the most!

Also, we love being a continued member of The Wedding Community.  Kim and David provide a great central resource for engaged couples to find inspiration for their wedding planning.  So you can imagine how delighted I was when they interviewed me for their “Getting To Know” series!

Click HERE to read our full interview!

When it rains, it pours, huh? ;-)

Forever & Ever views the Monique Lhuillier spring 2011 collection (and drools)

Sometimes it can be painful for me to see new bridal collections – why, you ask? – because it makes me think my own wedding gown may have been trumped!  And I certainly felt this way this weekend when Browns Bride invited me to view Monique Lhuillier’s spring 2011 collection and meet her go-get-’em-I-get-things-DONE rep Lori, who flew in from Chicago.

There were two dresses that may be the most exquisite bridal gowns that I’ve ever seen: the Daisy (above centre) and the Giada (below centre).

The Giada dress can be worn on its own or with a tulle princess skirt over it, which creates a completely different look. Think: you can wear the Giada with the princess tulle skirt for the ceremony, then take the tulle skirt off for the evening party – and everybody would think you had two separate dresses.

In general, Monique Lhuillier dresses are suitable for smaller to medium build figures.  That isn’t to say that they don’t fit a more well endowed figure – the team will certainly work with the client – but, in general, her dresses are made to really hug the body form.  You can see it in the construction: they do not have built-in corseting.  The reason is for the material to rest close against the body form.  For additional support, they recommend a long strapless bra.

I also really loved the details in the collection – the bow belts (in three different fabrics and tone), the boleros and the lace capelets.  As is signature with Monique Lhuillier collections, you can also choose a bodice that you love and pair it with a skirt you prefer (lace, princess tulle, or tufted silk satin skirt, to name a few).  I love how you can tweak the ensemble to really make it your own {you know how I love adding unique personal touches!}.

Another jaw-dropping gown, the Sophie and the Cassie (below, top right and bottom right).

They also had a few dresses for the discerning mother-of-the-bride.  This one was my favorite – add to it a string of pearls, 4-inch pumps and a milliner’s hat with birdcage veil – you’ve got the prettiest mom on the block!

Thanks again to Sam at Browns Bride and Lori at Monique Lhuillier for meeting with me and inviting me to personally view the collection.

MLH x

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