Aimee Horton

Wedding Daze

Sep
18

Every little girl dreams of her wedding day.

For all time, in every pretty pink bedroom, a future bride has closed her eyes tightly and pictured her magical day.  The 12 tiered cake, the enchanted flowers in full bloom and of course, the whopping great gown.  She envisages galloping into a perfect sunset, protected by the strong muscular arms of her very own prince charming.  Young misty eyes glaze with the reverie of a glossy white steed carrying a radiant, newly wedded princess to a picture-perfect future of impeccable domesticity and indescribable contentment.  That is what every girl dreams of.

 

Bugger.

 

I didn’t.

 

I dreamt of being a Borrower.

 

I yearned to one day be Arrietty and scale a Quality Street.  I didn’t imagine wedding dresses, I was far too busy asking the Goblin King to take, in the absence of a little brother, my cat away from me in the vain hope of going to solve the Labyrinth and rescue him.  When I wasn’t utterly immersed in fantasy, I was still completely absorbed in the unattainable.  I spent most of my childhood (last 27 years) hoping to wake up with even an ounce of the singing, dancing and acting talent I had so spectacularly been born without so I could achieve my West End daydreams.  The only white dress I imagined was a pearly buttoned number so I could Lambeth Walk with the best of them.

 

I never dreamt about a wedding day, ever.  And now I’m at ‘that age’, I’m still struggling.  Until last year, I’d never been to a wedding.  This year I’ve been to three with the fourth just around the corner.  By the end of this year, everyone closest to me will be Mr and Mrs.  If I’d never thought it about it before, I’ve now been dunked head first into weddingdom.  I’ve passed opinion on confetti samples, discussed icing and acted as a wedding cake mediator.  I’ve arranged wild flowers in teapots, stuffed petal confetti into homemade cones and scoured the county for 75 metres of urgently required mint green ribbon.  I’ve laughed with the serene bride and cowered under the bridezilla.  I’ve made “ridiculous” “unthinkable” (!) suggestions that Marks and Spencer make wedding cakes.  I’ve seen the best, and worst, of the people I love.  I’ve spent the last 6 months of my life talking about little else other than weddings.  I smile, nod, tie, wrap, stuff, hang and (brace yourselves) feign interest.

 

Every wedding has undoubtedly been beautiful and I’ve loved being part of every incredibly special day.  But if you need me to hold your glass when the bouquet is being thrown, I’m there.  The trouble with all of those surrounding us tying the knot is that the rope is then thrust into our own ring free hands.  “It’ll be your turn next” is a phrase me and him have become intimately acquainted with.  All marital attention has become firmly fixed on us with photographers numbers surreptitiously slipped into my clutch and venue suggestions casually thrown into conversation.  We’re not part of the club and there is an eagerness to get us enrolled asap.  I pale (which isn’t easy for someone with a transparent complexion) and in response I undoubtedly receive the head tipped pity smile.

“It’s because she hasn’t got a ring on her finger, as soon as she does…” I hear them think.

“No!  No it isn’t!  When I grow up I want to have adventures, dance with David Bowie and scale a grandfather clock!” my subconscious wails.  And none of this is because I’ve not found my prince charming.

 

I am sickeningly head over heels with my boy and we’re both comfortable in the knowledge that one day I will I rock a rock as Mrs H.  But there’s no rush.  I don’t want to take the plunge just because everyone else around us is doing the same.  Our day will come but the only meringue you’ll find me with will be a MARKS AND SPENCER pavlova.  Maybe I’ve been born without the big white princess wedding gene or maybe it’s just been buried deep and will one day burst out to the sound of the wedding march.  But for now, whilst I have loved every stunning gown, emotional ceremony and drunken dance, it’s just not me.  Each special day has been personal to the happy couple and every bride has lived out their little girl dreams.

 

Reader, I want to marry him; I want to be his old ball and chain but honestly, my own personal fairy tale right now is a couple of heartfelt I Do’s and a pub lunch.  That way we can get on with the important business and start scaling that clock.

Vintage Darling

Sep
04

My idea of vintage:  A flea market steal of embroidered sixties iconography, a perfectly preserved era defining design instantaneously transforming me into a unique Biba-esque beacon of supreme style and effortless cool.

 

My reality of vintage:  An overpriced, retina scarring paisley print polyester marquee masquerading as an apparently desirable dress that smells of damp and wee.

 

I tried with vintage, I really did, but I struggled to find anything that was either genuine (yes the Primark t-shirt may be old but sweat stains don’t mean vintage) or didn’t smell like the inside of a mouldy old cupboard.  When I did find the real thing, it was so darn expensive I couldn’t justify spending three figures on cheesecloth.  My ache remained strong when I kept hearing the immortal “oh!  This?  It’s VINTAGE” gloats from the nudge nudge wink wink, weknowsomethingyoudon’t brigade.  They’d found their havens, little nooks and crannies of chic authenticity and they weren’t telling.  So imagine my surprise, joy and sheer punch-the-air satisfaction when I stumbled across Vintage Vixen.

I was wary of course, my previous experience of vintage stores hadn’t been the best but when a dash of leopard print, a smattering of ladylike leather bags and flow of printed maxi skirt caught my eye, I couldn’t resist.  Immediately I was transported to an era of authentic attire, original outfits and genuine garments.  I nervously looked at the price tags, a cotton shirt that wasn’t three figures?  A pretty printed dress that didn’t make me or my purse wince?  A re-worked patterned shirt that I had to have that wasn’t so pricey I prickled?  The pieces were real and the prices were reasonable.  I’d come home.

I could easily harp on about my exceptionally cute red and black day dress or my adorable hot air balloon print skirt or my pretty sleeveless shirt with little people on it or…  You get the idea.  My wardrobe has benefited from many a Vintage Vixen gem, I love, wear and receive compliments on them all.  So when the store put on a fashion show with live music, DJ, canapés and wine, my friends and I were there with bells on.  And that’s where it happened.  I saw it, it saw me and my heart skipped a beat.  As part of the Vintage Vixen Premier Hire Collection (oh yes) a genuine 1950’s prom dress sashayed in front of me, its net underskirt winking at me and it’s pretty blue flowers dancing in front of my eyes.  I wanted it and I’m pretty sure it wanted me.  Within a few days I was swirling around the shop cooing at its prettiness.  I have quite a small waist (made to look all the smaller by a rather substantial hip) so when the sash hugged the curves I want and the skirt boomfed hiding the ones I don’t, it was ideal.  It fit perfectly and was just what I was looking for for a friend’s wedding.  Could I?  Could I?  Yes, yes I could, I could hire the beauty for the day.

Dry cleaned, on a silk hanger, little organza bag of lavender and wrapped in a protective cover, the dress waited for me.  I picked it up, paid the hire fee and practically actually skipped home.  The day of the wedding arrived and wearing such a ladylike, beautiful and classic dress was honestly as exciting as seeing the I do’s.  On such a special day, being able to wear such a gorgeous design was wonderful.  There was no worry about turning up in the same outfit as another guest, everyone complimented the dress, even boys and a full skirt is pretty darn impressive when spinning on the dance floor.

At the end of an amazing day, I zipped the actually-too-beautiful-for-words dress back into its cover and hung it up ready to return to the stunning Narnia of the Vintage Vixen wardrobe.  It’s even bigger than mine and after all of the wonders I’ve been blessed enough to wear from there, I go to it almost as much!

 

Don’t Mention the ‘H’ Word

Jul
31

The first 25 years of my life were completely wedding free, I was never a bridesmaid, never a flower girl, and I was never a guest. My family was too small and my friends were too young. But 25 hit and with it came wedding fever, hand in hand with the obligatory hen do. Now my allergy to L plates is severe, I’d like to think I’m more Carrie Bradshaw and cocktails in couture (a girl can dream) hardly ever not a Carlsberg car crash in a cowboy hat. So when a weekend break to London was suggested, my ears pricked. A champagne afternoon tea at a 5 star luxury hotel? I’m listening… Cocktails at what Observer Food Monthly awarded Best Bar in Britain? Go on… French fine dining at the chef’s table at a ‘wildly eclectic’ restaurant in Shoreditch? I’m there. No feather boas, no drinking games, no pecker garter (alright, just the one, but you could hardly see it), it sounded right up my boutique-lined street. I rejoiced, sticking two Impress manicured fingers up at the pink plastic penis overlords.

Rule number one; don’t mention the ‘H’ word. 5 star hotels don’t like hen dos. The best bar in Britain doesn’t like hen dos. Nor do French waiters called Sebastian. So once we had established we were just a group of girls who happened to have a guest of honour who happened to be getting married soon and who just happened to have a small phallic relief protruding through her dress, we were ready for the weekend.

The first stop was the stunningly beautiful Sanderson hotel, which FYI, is crazy cool and decorated head to toe in design classics. Trying to be nonchalant and not scream “YES PLEASE!” when the charming porter offers you a swing in the Eero Aarnio Bubble Chair – nigh on impossible. The other girls arrived (as I was having a swing) and we were lead into a stylish courtyard where we overlooked lush green plants and oh-so-elegant water features. Now my breakfast had been the classic train fodder of a shared bag of Haribo Starmix so I was more than ready for some sustenance. And my, what sustenance the Sanderson London’s Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea is. The complimentary glass of champagne was the perfect taste bud teaser before the array of delicate multi-coloured finger sandwiches was served. The smoked salmon and cream cheese on pretty green spinach bread was as pleasing on the plate as on the palate and was just a hint of the wonder(land) to come. The following sweet delights exploded, altered temperature and changed flavour. Lollipops crackled, ice cream burst and candy popped. Breaking the beautifully iced ‘Eat me’ chocolate shell of The Queen of Hearts Strawberry and Cream mousse was quite literally heart breaking, but somehow it tasted even more beautiful than it looked. What remained was a small brown glass bottle that belied the wonderment inside as textures, flavours and consistencies changed as I obediently followed the ‘drink me’ instruction. Generous scoops of clotted cream were served in individual porcelain spoons which accompanied warm (WARM) scones and jam. Somehow I managed to eat every last bite (curiouser and curiouser!) of the afternoon feast and loved every lolly, cake and calorie. The décor was stunning, the presentation incredible, the food UN-believable and the experience amazing. Ten very happy ladies left the hotel, agreeing that the £35 each was money very well spent indeed.

After checking into the very well-appointed Hoxton Hotel (free wi-fi, real milk in the fridge, complimentary chilled water, a good hairdryer near a mirror, free Pret breakfast and, most importantly, really nice cushions) it was time to recharge. A couple of bottles of white later, recharged we were and off to the sublimely scented Lounge Lover we went. Incense burned, neon shone and anatomy models peered over our shoulders at the cocktail list. Oh, the cocktail list. Where to start and what to choose, somehow I managed to whittle down the TWENTY ONE PAGE drinks menu to a choice of 6 possibles and settled on a Black Diamond Sour. Amaretto, blackberries, lime and violet liqueur. Nuff said. It was gorgeous, yet just as I’d set my heart on a Basil Blade, it was time for us to mosey along next door, to the extraordinary Les Trois Garcons.

Coming face to face with a taxidermy bulldog in angel wings who immediately upstaged me in terms of bling was just a hint of what was to come. We were led through a surreal world of fancy animals, vintage handbags and sparkling jewels, down a flight of stairs to the wine cellar and chef’s table. A private dining room just for our party which overlooked the kitchen with a handsome French waiter taking care of our every whim, not too shabby! As the wine flowed we were treated to some of the best food I have ever tasted (and this followed a chocolate exploding lollipop with popping candy and melting ice cream centre). The very reasonable £47 a head menu speaks for itself but all I will say is O. M. G.

And that the tart tatin was bigger than my face.

 

Starter

Tea smoked breast of duck served with endive, watercress and sweet and sour apple.

Main

Chateaubriand served with Jersey Royals, truffled purple sprouting broccoli, Szechuan pepper jus and Béarnaise.

Dessert

Peach tart tatin with lemongrass ice cream.

The duck was spectacular. The chateaubriand was undoubtedly the best steak I have ever tasted and the peach tart tatin got ten ladies out of their seats; spoon in hand and to one end of the table. In one fantastic day I experienced the most exquisite venues whose food, drink, ambience and service exceeding my wildest hen do dreams. Of course, after a most refined day we sophisticated ladies brought the evening to a close in the proper way, with a healthy portion of cheese. The bride’s skirt was hitched, the tiara donned and we hen’s took up our rightful place on the sticky Club de Fromage dance floor. B*witched, Journey and Steps inspired some of our very best moves, as did a shot or two of tequila. Well, it is tradition.