Real Bridal Shower: Downton Abbey

Good morning, friends! Did you enjoy our Sparkle & Blush fest yesterday? Today we’re back to real life inspiration courtesy of one of our real life brides, the lovely Candice. You’ll remember Candice was our Marie Antoinette bride, and so far we’ve followed her through her whole planning process right up to her Versailles-themed rehearsal dinner (loved that!). Today we’re getting a peek at another pre-wedding event, the bridal shower, and one of the most adorable themes I’ve yet seen! Candice is a huge fan of Downton Abbey (aren’t we all?) – in fact, in her first email to me she joked that she avoided the sun in an attempt to acquire skin as pale as Lady Mary’s – so it was the perfect theme for her bridesmaids to pick, and much fun (I feel I should be saying ‘japes’ here) ensued! There are so many lovely ideas here – and I love that the gifts were so personal and creative. All images are from Louis John van Rooyen of {Moment}ography.

Here’s Candice to give you the lowdown:
“Cast off the shackles of yesterday! Shoulder to shoulder into the fray! Our daughters’ daughters’ will adore us…” O.K, so yes, admittedly I sometimes feel just a smidgeon of envy for those who lived through the suffragette movement – and I can’t deny that I have a few pin on badges with the words “votes for women” on them, and have imagined passionately protesting as a part of the gender equality movement, demanding reform from those in power…

Following on from this perhaps, even today gender segregation based on expected or ‘correct’ role or duty doesn’t tend to sit all that well with me. And so thinking about the kitchen tea at first brought along its own version of discomfort – potentially placing me in the role of caretaker for the home, when in our own situation we both cook, and my now husband (!!) Justin would be just as excited about an ice cream maker or copper pot – like the pots we had stared at all puppy eyed and in awe at E. Dehillerin in Paris…

So we began considering a joint event, a pre wedding informal get together perhaps. However, we soon realised that our rehearsal dinner would be playing a very similar role, and we could also see the value in having separate spaces for celebration before our big day, giving our respective families and friends the chance to throw us something, and for that in itself to be special. But how to make the events ‘us’?

Enter my sister, and “The best bridal tea IN THE WORLD” :)

The setting – My home town. The day – the 29th of November, 2 days before the wedding. The clue – my mom suggested we just “go for a little drive” :) Wedding frenzy or not I had an inkling that I shouldn’t reject or postpone this particular offer ;)

Hopping into the car, and failing miserably in my attempt to hide my growing smile, we drove to a farm not too far from my family home. I was invited to enter the home and upon stepping onto the verander I was greeted by two lines of my bridal party, standing on either side of the door and dressed as Downton Abbey maids!!! Even my littlest flower girl was appropriately clad! Looking around me (in what felt a little like slow motion) I could see old books and beautiful touches everywhere, and so many friends and family members who had travelled to be there – not to mention the entirely vegan and absolutely delicious spread of cakes and treats! Wow, this was something extraordinary. I was then instructed to take a seat where I was presented with piles and piles of ribbon wrapped gifts. And I love this part – each gift consisted of: a book meaningful to the giver (it could be old or new); a photograph of the giver, or of the giver with the bride (me); and a special recipe for that touch of tradition. Tradition, sentiment and a library of books with little notes written inside! And sitting just a little away from the mound of incredible gifts stood a date bag, into which each person present placed a date idea to be given to us after the wedding!

Presented with all of these, I was allowed to open the gifts happily whilst the other guests were kept busy – having been given the task of drawing on little squares of material that had captions written on them – asking the drawer to depict some of the quirky characteristics of the couple, the couple as fantasy creatures, and the couple in possible, often humourous, future scenarios. Some examples included: “Draw Candice and Justin as elven king and queen” or “Draw Justin’s face when he finds out that Candice is pregnant with twins” or “Draw Candice when she is anywhere near a spider” and oh my goodness, the drawings were AMAZING, with the squares later being sewed together and made into a quilt for us to keep :)

Now whilst all this gift opening, drawing, laughing and eating was happening, a little elf (my ridiculously talented bridesmaid Robin) was working tirelessly in the background, turning the ribbons from the gifts into a beautiful ribbon bouquet! And so once I’d finished opening my gifts it was time to throw the bouquet, and everyone was invited to catch it for luck, health and happiness. Hearing this with delight, my aunt and a family friend were so excited to be included in this (as married women) and took to the task of catching with such gusto that they collided mid air (suffering minor injuries in the process)! :) An afternoon tea bursting with excitement and filled to the brim with laughter, sentiment and thoughtful touches.

But lest I thought the fun had ended I was then informed that we would simply be moving into phase 2…! And so again jumping into the car my bridesmaids and I returned to my family home where we were served my dad’s famous cocktails around the pool, and my Cape Town friends were finally able to visit where I grew up and meet our precious puppies (whom they knew only too well from all the photos I routinely showed them). Next it was photo time, the music volume was turned up, and we were instructed to use the props and outfits laid out to decorate ourselves. Music, Gangnam style, absolutely crazy photographs, and more ‘bachelorette’ like activities followed – many of us barely catching a breath through all the laughter :)

The evening wound down with us enjoying hotdogs and watching “Licence to wed”, before all passing out on mattresses in the lounge. A Downton Abbey bridal tea, some bachelorette craziness, and a chick flick and slumber party at my family farm with some of my closest friends. I simply could not have dreamt up anything more wonderful. It was perfect.

The full series: The Proposal | The Inspiration | The Venue | The Cake | The Flower Girls | The Dress | The Details | The Rehearsal Dinner | The Registry | The Honeymoon | The Rehearsal Dinner


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