Deep Magenta and Aubergine at a Worcestershire Wedding: Dr Conor Aleman and Gemma Leakey
25 Nov 2015
What does the wedding of a dress designer look like? Imagine bold pinks, deep aubergine shades and handmade gowns created with vintage-style lace and soft silks…
Bespoke gown designer Gemma and her partner Conor share their classic wedding day details with Bride after tying the knot at Pershore Abbey, and celebrating at Deer Park Hall in Eckington, Worcestershire.
How did you meet?
Technically we are childhood sweethearts. We went to primary school together, so met in year five. We have a picture of us hugging while on a school trip back in year five. We lost touch after primary school as we both attended different schools, but then we were reunited after university back in our hometown of Ashby de la Zouch. Our friendship rekindled itself: a friendship which then turned into love.
Tell us about the proposal
We were on our first day of our holiday in Madeira and my mum telephoned me telling me that my sister had just got engaged. I was obviously very happy for her (and secretly thinking, I was hoping I would be getting engaged on this holiday). I could tell instantly by the look on my now husband’s face and then his reaction that it was also his plan to propose to me on our first day of the holiday. So he stuck to his plans and got down on one knee as I came out of the shower (very romantic). It was an extremely emotional day, for both us and my sister and her fiancé, full of happiness and tears.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
Neither of us was really into novelty themes, as we are both quite traditional so knew we wanted a traditional wedding. We both knew we wanted to get married in a church and have the reception at a beautiful venue. It was more important to us to have all the people we wanted to be there, and with both having very large families it naturally narrowed down our choices of venue. Our colour theme was a beautiful deep magenta colour and a dark aubergine. I wanted the colour to be very different; I wasn’t keen on all the pastel colours, as I had seen so many weddings with pastel colours.
When did you know when you’d found the dress?
As a bespoke dress designer I had always known that I wanted to design and make my own wedding dress. However, I did not know what style of dress suited me, so I went around a few bridal shops and tried some on. I found lots of elements of dresses that I liked but not one that stood out, so I designed and made my own. I knew I wanted silk and lace, and was very particular about the lace being delicate and having a vintage feel to it. It was the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and made me feel so proud when walking down the aisle knowing I had designed and made it.
For the groom, where did you find your suits?
We got the suits from Greenwoods Menswear. We knew we wanted traditional tails, so opted for black tailcoats and pinstriped trousers with an aubergine tie and handkerchiefs.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
Being a September wedding we chose flowers that were at their best this time of year. From the very beginning, I loved the idea of having Vermeer calla lilies as they look so sophisticated and this is how I pictured my wedding. They had the ivory and the lovely deep magenta inside which sat perfectly with our colour theme. We also had a pink hydrangea and purple-based succulent plant. I wanted the flowers to be sophisticated but have a loose feel to them so they would suit our country venue.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
What made our wedding original and unique to us was the fact I chose to make all the dresses – my dress, the bridesmaid dresses and the mother of the bride. As a designer of bespoke gowns, I wanted all the girls to have a special one off dress designed by myself. Also, my dad hand-carved our table plan out of solid oak and brass plaques, which had everyone’s name engraved into them. It was stunning and we now have it as a table in our living room. The confetti was all hand-made by the mother of the groom and family. They had been drying flowers for months, but they were the perfect colours and it looked beautiful in the photographs. My sister-in-law provided the jewellery for the bridesmaids from her own company, which was a lovely gift.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I felt excited, emotional and happy all at once. I felt so proud that my dad was walking me down the aisle and giving me away. I felt getting married in the abbey made the experience even more special and magical.
What was your most memorable moment?
Saying my vows. I didn’t think I would get emotional but then I couldn’t say the words without crying. The whole service was extremely moving and for us the best part of the day. As a gift from our parents, we had the Malvern Male Voice Choir as a surprise in the abbey. They just completely lifted up the church and got the whole congregation involved.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Finding a venue that we loved and that would fit our numbers, deciding on the guest list and the table plan.
What was the most important investment for you? Food, drink, honeymoon?
The venue and the church. We wanted both of these places to be very special.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We chose Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder. We wanted something upbeat and when we heard it just felt like the right song.
Tell us about your wedding cake
We had two cakes. We had a cake of cheese which was made up of four layers of local cheese from the food market in Pershore. It was delicious. We also decided last minute that we wanted a traditional cake and had heard that Marks and Spencer wedding cakes were really good and affordable, so we went for a four-tiered white iced wedding cake from them with two layers of fruit and two sponge. That was also very good and we had the florist decorate the top with flowers.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
To go straight on a honeymoon after the wedding. We are planning on going to Australia in November, but we both felt we needed to give ourselves some time off after as we both went back to work… although we now have that to look forward to. Also, maybe to enjoy the planning stage a bit more, it only happens once and you can get stressed out about the smallest of things, and you look back and think, it wasn’t worth stressing about.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Enjoy every minute of it, and don’t stress about the small things. Do things together as it’s nice to both have input into the big day.
Steal their style:
Photography: Jo Hastings, www.johastingsphotography.co.uk
Venue: Deer Park Hall, www.deerparkhall.co.uk
Dresses: Bride’s, bridesmaids’ and mother of the bride, Gemma Leakey, www.gemmaleakey.com
Bridal shoes:Rainbow Club, www.rainbowclub.co.uk
Bridal veil:Sarah Elizabeth Bridal, Cheltenham, www.sarahelizabethbridal.co.uk
Hair: Classic Cuts, Pershore, 01386 561247
Make-up: Ogles Spa, Pershore, 01386 553707
Groom’s outfit:Greenwoods Menswear, www.greenwoodsonline.com
Flowers: Fladbury Flowers, ff.aaalec.com
Cakes: Cheese cake, Pershore Market, www.pershoremarket.com; wedding cake, Marks and Spencer, www.marksandspencer.com
Catering: Cater Cater, www.catercater.co.uk
Wedding Stationery: Hughes the Printers, Pershore, 01386 553424
DJ: DiscoTime Wales, www.discotimewales.co.uk