07.07

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And so the wedding celebrations begin! {p.s. The teapot contained ice for a picnic. I’ve not taken to carrying one around just on the off chance I might fancy a cuppa…}

I remember my early teenage years as being pretty much an endless series of sleepovers. My best friends and I would spend our weekends and holidays hopping between each other’s houses (or rather, being taxi-ed around by our long suffering parents), taking nothing with us but a toothbrush because we knew we’d all wind up raiding one another’s wardrobes anyway. We’d stay up into the early hours of the night talking about everything from boys to whatever gossip was hottest at school to our art GCSE projects, and our days were filled with nonsense like dressing up in the silliest outfits we could concoct (then taking 1001 photos, of course), eating ourselves stupid, and maybe (if we’d manage to wangle it with our parents), heading out to a party armed with a four pack of alcopops to share between us. It was bliss.

And so it turns out, when your best friend organises for you a three day hen weekend sleepover (a bachelorette, for my American readers!) that encompasses everything you loved most about those carefree teenage days, you’re in for a pretty special time!

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All I knew about my hen party was that we were heading down to Chichester on Friday evening, and that we’d spend two nights staying in a little country cottage before heading up to my Mum’s for afternoon tea on the Sunday. My cousin Sophie picked me up a little before 7 after work on Friday, and after getting ourselves so badly lost on the drive that we actually went through the Hindhead tunnel twice and made a brief accidental detour into a caravan park, we finally arrived at Flintstones cottage! We (my sisters-in-law-to-be Nat and Clare, maid of honour Jo, cousin Sophie, and soul sisters Tania and Freya) polished off a few rounds of fajitas, and then got to the main event of the evening. Tequila!

Now, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of alcohol. Sure, I’m happy to indulge in the odd glass of wine or cocktail, but anything beyond that? I’m out. In fact, I’m such a notorious lightweight that Jo came armed with ample suppliers of painkillers (for headaches) and lemonade (for watering down my drinks!)! But do you know what? I’ve finally found my calling- I can handle tequila like a trooper! Salt – tequila – lemon…and not even a shudder! I hope you’re suitably impressed ;)

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We woke up on Saturday morning feeling surprisingly sprightly (after such a late evening of games and silliness the night before!), and even managed to sneak down to visit the ponies and have a wander around the wheat fields before settling in to breakfast.

After a few rounds of toast and croissants, the girls and I suited up in workout gear (Jo requested we all bring with us ‘something we could move in’- intriguing!) and then proceeded to spend the rest of the morning in a state of hysteria. You see, Jo had arranged for a dance teacher called Sarah to come and teach us a routine to ‘Work It’ (a song I once choreographed a dance to for an assembly at our very-Catholic-indeed senior school, not realising that the lyrics are out of this world inappropriate!;), and it was seriously the most brilliantly fun way to spend a morning! Sarah was the sweetest, and we wound up with aching bellies from laughing so hard! Since there’s not a single person on earth who looks attractive whilst photographed midway through performing the running man I’ll save you from the photos, but just know that making up dance routines is most definitely just as fun at 24 as it was at 14!

After giving the performance of our lives for the various people who pottered past our cottage whilst we did one last rendition of our dance routine (they loved it, I could tell), we made a quick change from leggings to dresses, armed ourselves with picnic hampers, and headed off to Priory Park in Chichester.

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Priory Park was beautiful- I’d never visited Chichester before this weekend, and now can’t think why not! After demolishing our picnic (roast chicken, salads, quiche…champagne. You know, the usual Saturday afternoon picnic routine!) we went for a potter around the town centre, and into a vintage and antique fair that tested every ounce of will power I have not to walk away with armfuls of vintage dresses and recovered Scandinavian enamelware. Be still my heart.

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^^ Next stop- cocktail o’clock back at the cottage! ^^

Strawberry daiquiris and mojitos were on the menu for the afternoon, so we set about crushing ice and muddling limes with mint and sugar and adding liberal amounts of rum to strawberries. And we made some good’uns!

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The final surprise of the day was to come via Jo’s laptop. We settled round the dining table to play the Mr and Mrs game, but instead of it being just a regular set of Qs and As, Jo had asked Jason to record himself asking me the questions and then sharing the correct answer instead! It wound up being a pretty emotional afternoon- the ‘what did I say when I asked you to marry me’ question resulted in all 7 of us getting just a *touch* teary-eyed! And when I say a ‘touch’, I mean that *some* of us had to leave the table to go and get supplies of tissues…Clare ;) Can you even imagine how we’ll all be at the wedding?!

The evenings were maybe my favourite part of the weekend. We stayed up late both nights, but on the Saturday evening we stayed bundled up on the sofa talking until almost 3am. Spending quality time with some of my favourite people in the whole world, laughing and drinking tea and snaffling biscuits and putting the world to rights- it did my heart good! In fact, I honestly can’t remember when I last laughed as much as I did this weekend!

Final stop on the hen weekend adventures to come tomorrow- a summer garden tea party!

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05.07

CiderwithRosieWeddingCountdowncover

Up until I’d say probably mid-way through June, I was totally blasé about this whole wedding planning gig. ‘Stressful?’ I’d say, ‘Do me a favour’. But then the final weeks began to tick down, and the realisation that there’s a very good reason couples hire someone to handle everything for them hit me like a ton of bricks. There’s just so much to do! Liaising with contacts from venues and churches and suppliers, forms to be filled in, invoices to be paid, bottles to be bought by the crateful, and stationery to be designed- all small individual jobs, but they stack up like you’d not believe! I take my hat off to anyone who DIYs lots of elements of their wedding, really I do!

To be frank with you, the past few weeks have stretched Jason and I more than I’d ever imagined they would. Between the wedding admin and each of us working for ourselves (and all the tasks that go along with that), we’ve found it hard to keep being calm and kind and considerate to one another as well as juggling late nights and to-do lists and work. We found we kept talking about ‘powering through’ and ‘just getting through these next couple of weeks’, and almost forgetting why it is we’re doing this all anyway! Isn’t that the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard? I mean, we wound up bickered about handwriting (handwriting!) whilst filling in a supplier form at midnight the other evening. I think that tells you everything you need to know about how ridiculous things have been round here lately! ;)

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When the silly stresses have built up, it’s returning to the little things that’ve made us most happy. Playing our first dance song, and talking about the vows, and hearing our banns of marriage read in church over the past three weeks. Our vicar speaks often about ‘a life enriched by marriage’, and it’s a phrase I keep coming back to and feeling warmed by when it seems as though the tasks are piling up and time’s running away from us.

We’re now at the stage of planning out the wedding morning schedule, and booking in a ceremony rehearsal two days before the Big Day. We’ve decided that the rehearsal will be the last time we’ll see each other before the 17th, and that makes me feel fluttery with nerves and excitement and ALL the emotions! So many of our married friends and family have said that they found the rehearsal to be almost more emotional than the day itself, so I’ll be readying myself with the waterproof mascara and about 85 packs of tissues ;)

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But now, we’re counting days, not weeks. Twelve days only, to be precise! Doesn’t it feel just yesterday to you that I shared the news that Jason had asked me to marry him, and that I (so he says, and likes to remind me often!) thrust my hand in his face for him to put the ring on before I’d even said ‘yes!’? ;) (What can I say? He did such a good job convincing me a proposal wasn’t on the cards, in the moment I was just too overwhelmed with shock to behave graciously!)

I think we’ll end this little wedding-related stream of consciousness with a happy list, because I can’t think of more perfect moment to count some blessings! So, my friends, here’s a round up of the little moments that’ve brought me joy this week…

1. Watching my peonies open up and bloom! I’d almost given up hope they were going to open, but they’re just as extravagant and blousy as I hoped they’d be!

2. A Thursday night BBQ at Jason’s Mum’s house! Jason’s sister and her family flew in from Canada on Thursday morning for the wedding, so we spent the evening celebrating. Made me even more excited than ever to be gaining so many brothers and sisters in law!

3. Almond butter and Marmite on rice cakes. I honestly could eat an entire pack of rice cakes in one sitting, I’m *that* obsessed with this flavour combination. You must try it!

4. Soaking up the sunshine outside in the garden, whilst firing out emails at a rate of knots. The very best!

5. Ice. Ice in coffee, ice in water, ice in elderflower cordial- basically just all the ice.

6. The glittery butterfly wrist tattoo my niece did for me on Thursday. If only glitter tattoos were real, I’d have one for sure!

7. Freckles on my nose, forehead, shoulders, hands…

8. Taking time out to do a little yoga each day. It’s so amazing at helping you switch of your brain and allowing a little time simply to  b r e a t h e.

9. Putting together our playlist for the wedding! The most fun we’ve had whilst wedding planning in weeks, for sure! We’ve chosen some corkers too…ALL of the 80s classics!

10. Having my best friend home from her travels! Next up is her graduation (as a fully fledged Doctor, oh my!) and then we’ll be heading down that aisle!

Oh, and one more for luck, frog-dog Teddy in the photo below makes me happiest of all. I didn’t realise we’d manage to catch him mid-pounce until I was reviewing these photos on my laptop. Isn’t he the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen?

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Right, twelve days to go. Let’s do this thing…

p.s. I’m wearing a crop top from H&M, and a similar skirt can be found here.

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24.03

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As soon as Jason and I got engaged, I started thinking about our wedding photography. Well, of course! Taking photos is what I do most of the day, every single day! It’s been an addictive thing- up until a couple of years ago- I’d never so much as held a ‘proper’ camera, and wasn’t ‘into’ taking photos in a big way at all. Now though, I’d say that photography is up there in the top five greatest loves of my life!

And so because of this, finding a truly fantastic photographer for our wedding was, as you’d imagine, a pretty huge deal for me. I had a clear vision in mind of the style of photography I was after and thought it might be a challenge to find a photographer whose style fitted exactly with what I was looking for, but the moment Jason sent me over an email containing a link to Sam Docker’s portfolio, I knew he was The One! There was no messing, no deliberation- just one look and I knew we’d found the photographer of my dreams!

Sam’s work is truly beautiful. Both his bridal and commercial photography are superbly creative and unique, and he plays with light in a way that I find so incredibly inspiring. We’ve sent so many emails back and forth since booking him to become our wedding photographer, about everything from the wedding itself to the merits of different lenses, editing software, and so many other elements of photography. Sam’s been such a fascinating person to get to know, I figured it might be fun to do a little interview with him here on Cider with Rosie! He’s even answered the question I get most frequently via email- how to get started shooting in manual on a DSLR!

So here we have it! The inside scoop on what it’s like to work as a professional commercial and wedding photographer…

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R :: Will you tell us a little about how you came to work as a professional photographer? I know you’re completely self-taught, so was there a magic moment when you first picked up a camera and thought ‘this is it!’?

S :: ‘I never planned to be a photographer. The signs had always been there, but it wasn’t until I was 28 when I realized it was something that not only I loved doing, but could also make a career from. I’d previously studied creative product design, I also had a short stint in digital marketing, and I ran my own online fashion business for 6 years. I’d always worked with cameras in some form, but it wasn’t until I bought a 35mm Canon AE-1 that things started to change. There was something special about shooting film that really made me question what I was doing, I simply loved it. That was definitely the pivotal “moment” for me. From then on, it has been an absolute roller-coaster journey.’

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R ::What excites you most about your work? And how would you define your style of photography?

S :: ‘The biggest excitement and buzz is seeing how much the client values the images you’ve created, whether that be for a new brochure of products, or a giant print of a couple on their wedding day. The images have meaning, some will last more than others, but knowing they provide a huge amount of satisfaction to my clients and couples is what I love more than anything about my job, if you can call it a job!! There’s no greater feeling than opening that email after the client has taken delivery of the final set of images, even if I am a little nervous before opening it!!

In terms of my style, it’s difficult to pigeonhole, but there are definitely elements of lifestyle and fashion in there, with a little documentary and some fine art thrown in for good measure. From a wedding point of view, my images hopefully tell a story of the couple’s day, the moments that happen, the people and the background details that go into such an event, all come together to help them re-live that day. Commercially, my work is much more focused towards lifestyle imagery, and providing brands or agencies with images that feel natural and creatively on trend.’
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R :: Have there been any particularly memorable shoots, or standout moments from your career so far? And, conversely, any particular challenges you’ve worked past?

S :: ‘Without doubt, travelling to the Philippines for a wedding has to be a highlight- to be able to take my family with me made this even more special than I could even imagine, a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ve also been involved in some great commercial shoots, but my latest for the Olive Tree – felt like I’d taken my work to the next level. Seeing my work feature on their site, and to know that it adds value to their brand is a real bonus for me.

In terms of challenges, I’ve been quite fortunate. I think if you manage expectations from the start and communicate your ideas throughout, the only challenges should be ones that you set yourself, such as trying new ways of shooting. The only challenge that has surprised me since I started working in this industry is monitoring image use. It’s amazing how many suppliers think they can just take your images without any credit towards the photographer, or enquiring about a fee to use them for their own promotion!’

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R :: What’re your favourite pieces of photography equipment? Are there any bits of kit you’d never head to a shoot without?

S :: ‘My favourite question!! Like most photographers, I’m a tech-nerd at heart, and love new kit. In terms of my “couldn’t live without” items, it would have to be the Canon 50L and 135L lenses, both are complete magic and have produced most of my favourite images. In terms of my staple items that make every shoot, I work with 2 Canon 5D MKIII’s, and have a variety of prime lenses. Commercially, the 50mm Macro 2.8 is one of the most under-rated lenses in my bag. I also love and shoot a lot of my documentary wedding work on the Sigma 35mm Art lens and the Canon 24L, both incredible for when I’m in the mix of a wedding.’

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R :: How does working as a commercial photographer compare to your bridal work? Would you be able to share a little insight into how you’d approach each different style of shoot?

S :: ‘There are lots of elements of weddings and commercial work that cross-over, such as the natural, documentary and creative style that I try to achieve in my work, but the biggest and most notable difference between the 2 is the pace and pressure of a wedding. There are no 2nd chances with weddings, you miss that first kiss, or the confetti shots are out of focus, you’re in trouble! There are different pressures with commercial work, but it’s at a different pace, and you generally have a little more time to produce the image.

My commercial work starts with finding out the brief, whether thats from an agency or the client directly. It’s important that I understand the type of imagery they want to achieve, but more importantly, that I can achieve it. For example, if someone approached me to shoot a new car advert and it was heavily studio based, I’d have to turn the project away as that isn’t my field of expertise, and the client would only be left disappointed.

Weddings are much more about engaging with my couples, I want to know them and what makes them tick. I want them to feel comfortable around me, I am after all being invited into their family circle for the biggest day of their lives, and I never take that for granted. For the wedding day itself, I can’t stress enough how much I want my couples to just enjoy themselves, as a recently married man, I know exactly how they’ll be feeling and just how quickly that day will fly! If they enjoy the day, and their guests enjoy it, the images almost take care of themselves!’
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R :: It’s impossible to play favourites, but do you have any photos that stick out as your personal ‘bests’? :)

S :: ‘I always get told by couples “we don’t like having our picture taken”, and I do get that, but when it comes to the portrait element of the day, I always want my couples to see those 10-15 minutes as alone time with their new husband or wife, and this image of Jane and Sue [below] completely sums up that zone I want them to find. A quiet and peaceful moment, just the 2 of them, on a day of complete chaos!’

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‘This is Emily’s dad delivering his speech. As a dad to a little 3 year old girl, I always find myself relating to everything they have to say, and this image moves me every time I see it. I’m sure it will only seem like 10 minutes before I’m in his boots.’

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‘And the very first image in this post has to be included as a favourite, as it was the beginning of my commercial work. It was the first image I took where I truly realized I could do more of this, and that I was able to make strong imagery for brands and agencies.’

R :: What advice would you give anyone looking to start using their DSLR on manual, and wanting to understand the basics of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings?

S :: ‘We live in an amazing age right now, one where photography, and especially high-level photography are more accessible than ever. That said, if you’re thinking of starting down this path, you should really have a strong understanding of the basics. Cambridge in Colour is an amazing resource for reading up about shutter speeds, ISO and aperture, and the relationship they all share. The best advice I can give on shooting manual is to just go out and experiment, a simple walk round the park to try different settings and see what happens is a great start.

My basic approach and setup is to start by setting the ISO, bright sun is 100, cloudy is 400-800, low light is 1600+, then depending on the depth of field I want to achieve, I’ll set my aperture, usually anything between f1.2 and f2.5 for natural documentary work. The final setting is my shutter, and this is controlled by my previous 2 settings, in bright daylight, it will be fast, 1/4000-1/8000, for cloudy it will be 1/800-1/1600 and for low light, 1/200+. I try not to drop below 1/200th for the shutter, this way I reduce my chances of motion blur as anything below that speed will need one steady hand or a tripod.’

*Huge* thank you to Sam- picking the brains of a real-life pro photographer was a pretty great way to spend one afternoon last week! And aren’t his images just incredible? :) All Sam’s links are listed below, so please do go and check out the rest of his commercial and wedding portfolios- I had to a hard job selecting which photos to include in this post, there were so many beautiful images to choose from!

And Sam? We’ll see you on the 17th of July!

Sam Docker :: Commercial portfolio || Wedding portfolio || Twitter || Facebook

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11.02

Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford

We have an actual agenda of topics to cover in this little post here, so let’s get started with point number one- shoes!

Jason and I spent this Saturday in Guildford, because we had Stuff To Get Done. Wedding Stuff. Like buying rings and whatnot. But first of all, we stopped by the new Superga store which had opened up that very day on Market Place (about halfway up the High Street, on the left hand side). We were invited along to see what Superga’s all about, which turns out to be making the cutest little trainers (I’m a child of the 90s so would call them ‘plimsolls’, but am 99% certain that’s not the correct/cool name for them anymore!) in a rainbow of colours and patterns! The shop is teeny tiny and pleasingly minimalist, with shoes arranged in ombre rows that are total aesthetic food for the soul! ;)

After some pretty intense deliberation, I picked out a couple of pairs that I’m sure are the closest things to trainers I’ve owned in at least a decade. A decade! I have this awful habit of wearing really inappropriate footwear for the weather/occasion (I don’t really enjoy wearing boots, so would usually rather have chilly feet and wear little ballet flats or shoes than anything sensible), so am hoping that maybe a couple of decent pairs of trainers will bridge the gap!

On a sidenote- seriously, what’re trainers like this called? Plimsolls doesn’t seem the word. I feel like my sister would die of shame if she heard me refer to them as plimsolls ;)

What I wore :: Jacket (from Toast, similar) || Top || Trousers || Loafers

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After our date with the rainbow shoe store was over, we moseyed back down the high street to pick up coffees, and then headed into the very same jewellers where Jason bought my engagement ring from just this time last year to start the process of choosing wedding rings!

Picking out wedding rings was pretty surreal- and I managed to hold the ol’ emotional temperature down at a low-ish setting the whole time we were in there, which was unexpectedly great! ;) I guess I’ve become pretty used to wearing a ring because trying bands on myself didn’t feel as crazy as I expected it might- but seeing Jason try on a wedding ring for the first time was something else entirely! What is it about seeing your man wearing a ring on his wedding finger?!

I had my engagement ring cleaned up whilst we were in the jewellers too, which is great because it’s no longer all clouded up with mud and pastry remnants and whatever else seems to get caught underneath it. Jason warned the jeweller that they’d probably find a loaf of bread rising out of the cleaning solution next time they went to use it after mine’d been in there. I wouldn’t be surprised, you know!

After we’d deliberated and deliberated and deliberated some more (okay fine, I was the one doing all the back and forth-ing, Jason made his choice pretty quickly), we placed our order for the rings to be made up, and then headed out for a beautiful, elegant lunch at the swankiest restaurant we know of.

NOT REALLY. We totally went and picked up a couple of sublime chicken gyros from Meat the Greek. We know how to party, okay?

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I’ve been meaning to do a proper little review of Meat the Greek here for ages, ever since we first discovered the joy that is a super soft pita stuffed with chicken, french fries, garlic sauce, chopped tomatoes, and Greek herbs.

Classy it’s not, delicious it most certainly is. The chicken isn’t greasy and has tons of flavour, the tomatoes are always fresh and juicy, the pitas are divine (soft and chewy), and the garlic sauce is creamy and flavoursome but not so strong you need to drink Listerine afterwards if you fancy talking to anyone close up. And there are chips in the wrap. IN THE WRAP. It’s an entire meal (carbs, veg, protein, dairy…) all in one! If you ever find yourselves in Guildford, head to Chapel Street (walk up the High Street, and turn right between Baby Gap and Jack Wills), and treat yourselves. You won’t be sorry.

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We took our little picnic back to the car at Jason’s offices just on the river, turned the heated seats  on and T Swift’s album up loud, and tucked into our feast. Between bites of gyro, I treated Jason to renditions of Style, then All You Had To Do Was Stay, then Wildest Dreams from 1989, which he was so totally into you can’t even imagine.

And so endeth tales from a sort of higgledy piggledy day in my beloved Guildford! It was a delightful one, especially since we picked up a couple of packets of mini eggs from the petrol station on the way home, and spent the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee and praising the person who first thought of wrapping chocolate in a sugary coating. Genius.

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Posted in GUILDFORD, RESTAURANT, REVIEW, WEDDING, WEEKEND

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