19 March, 2015

That Bride: Nathalie Melville-Geary

19 March, 2015
Now you know that we adore Melville Fine Jewellery’s bespoke engagement rings (see our review here – so romantic!), but we’ve got big love for the hands and brains behind the business: this month’s That Bride Nathalie Melville-Geary! She was married on 11 July 2009 in the same chapel as her grandparents, which brings a little tear to our eye. From cutting down a tree for wedding decor, to baking a five tier cake in her mother-in-law’s oven, this London DIY wedding sounds like it could have been a recipe for disaster. Luckily, the self-proclaimed liberal minded artist and her tech whizz husband Chris Geary at BSD pulled it all off with no shortage of sophistication and alcohol-induced grace. Being in the Hong Kong wedding business, she has a number of invaluable tips and tricks to kickstarting wedding planning and who the best names in the bizz are – Hong Kong brides-to-be, this interview’s a godsend. But we’re dying to know, how on earth do you propose to a jeweller? See our interview below to find out!1All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
We met through friends just after we left university; he having done law, myself graduating art college. He was so bowled over by me that, having asked for my number, he lost his phone and ended up calling me six months later! I like to think fate kept us apart until we were ready to be together.Where was your first date?
Getting tipsy in Covent Garden at a bar that unfortunately no longer exists. He realised I was a liberal minded artist, so he spent five hours winding me up. Me, being a liberal minded artist, took the bait! He hasn’t stopped trying to wind me up ten years later, but I have since gotten better at resisting the urge to rise to it…

2Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
Six months in. It involved a lost shoe, whisky and champagne.

Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
Many of my childhood summers were spent in a remote fisherman’s cottage in Cornwall. After Chris and I had been together a couple of years, my mother and I introduced him to our summer of sandy chips and local cider.

Having been brought up as an expat child Chris had seen some amazingly exotic places, but was won over by the simple charm of our hideaway. He took me back a couple of summers later and proposed on a secluded cliff edge he had discovered when we had been there some 20 months earlier.

Tell us about the ring.
Proposing to a jeweller is tough task. Chris knew I had always loved emerald cut stones so he had chosen the centre diamond, had it set in a plain band to propose to me with, then gave me free reign to do what I wanted with it design wise afterwards. I added baguettes on both sides to create a classic, art deco look that I adore.


What did you do for your hen party? We want the dirty details.
For some reason I thought ‘glamping’ would be fun…in May…in Cornwall.

We were staying in a couple of teepees in a field that definitely looked better on the website than they did in real life! However, it turned out to be an incredible weekend, ranging from running around the field de-robed (very pagan) to drinking champagne on the beach, failing at surfing and BBQ-ing.

4How did you go about planning your wedding? Did you go the DIY route or did you hire a wedding planner to help you out?
It was a totally DIY wedding! Most of my friends and family are creative and very generous with their time, so we had no shortage of talent to draw on.

We were exceptionally lucky that one of my best friends Emma Hockley is a fine artist who also has both floristry and cake decorating experience, we couldn’t have done it without her! The flowers were a combination of parts of a tree chopped down in Chris’s mother’s garden – set in concrete and draped with ivy and fairy lights – and fresh blooms from Covent Garden Flower Market. We spent the day before the wedding making blousy wreaths of hydrangea, stocks and poppy seed heads.

The cake was made by Chris and iced by myself as well as two of my bridesmaids. He had his heart set on a massive five tier cake – so he got baking! We spent the weekend at his mother’s (the only oven we knew that was large enough for the challenge), where he spent 19 hours methodically creating enough cake to sink a battleship.

We iced it in our apartment, which wasn’t the most sensible idea in hindsight. We were sticking to the floor for weeks!

There’s an app for everything nowadays, especially for wedding planning! Did you use any in particular?
Being a technology luddite at the time, I didn’t utilize any apps. I’d say I’ve gotten better, though Chris would probably disagree. Excel spreadsheets were as high tech as I got! Also, as we were married five years ago, there were probably less available than there are now.


Tell us about the dress.
I designed my own. I wanted it very simple. Having tried on more meringues than I care to remember, I took to the drawing board and sketched out what I had in mind. Luckily, my mother’s friend is a couturier and was able to make it a reality.


Who helped you look and feel your best on your big day?
I have a bad track record with gyms. I tend to join, and then never go! My aunt, Fleur Melville, runs her own homeopathy and reflexology business called Fleur Therapies and so was my zen guide in the run up to the wedding – as well as being called in to help make 150 plus paper maché lanterns. She is still my health guru and sends me remedies when needed, but she now sends them for the dogs too!


What was the wedding like?
Having been hands-on in the run up, I was totally hands-off on the day. We chilled with croissants and coffee whilst we left Chris and the groomsmen to make sure all the flowers, cake etc made it to the relevant venues. Bride’s prerogative!

After the ceremony, we were all chatting on the steps of the Oratory when a lady who had been sitting at the back of the church came over to us with tears in her eyes. She was a widow who had come to light a candle on her wedding anniversary. She and her husband were married there on the same day decades earlier. She told me that she had walked in as our choir was singing the Ave Maria – which they had had at their wedding and she just sat and listened.

Following the ceremony, we sent our guests off on Routemaster buses filled with Pimm’s to Chelsea Old Town Hall for the reception. From that point, we just kept plying them with alcohol. It obviously worked as one of the bridesmaids married one of the groomsmen this January!

As Chris and I like a good jive, we twirled and shimmied our way into the night. When we could dance no more, we hailed a black cab (in the rain nevertheless) and left everyone else to party till dawn – leaving them with slabs of chocolate wedding cake wrapped in silver foil!

Everyone remembers their first dance. What song did you choose?
This was thanks to another amazing family member. My uncle, Craig Shaw, is a musician and front man for a rock n’ roll band called The Excellos. You can get their songs on iTunes.

For our first dance he sang us John Denver’s ‘Follow Me’. Even remembering it now gives me goose bumps.

8What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
It’s hard work and insanely time consuming! If we were getting married now I would definitely hire a wedding planner. My go-to would definitely be Sejal at The Tale of Two (she’s one of Sassy’s favourite wedding planners too, see who else made the cut here!). She puts the same energy and enthusiasm into her work as I did for my own wedding.


Have any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?
Use the creative talent in your close circle of friends and plan carefully. Even without a wedding planner, you’ll need someone on the day. And most of all, remember to have fun.

In terms of on the day support, we had a wonderful friend run point on everything – don’t try and do it yourself – but it meant he missed out on parts of the wedding. If nothing else, hire someone to run the day so you and your guests need not worry about what’s happening next and are able to just enjoy the celebrations.

If you have time, do something creative as a couple in the run up to the wedding. It’s lovely to have touches of your own craftsmanship punctuating your experience of the day. Even if you don’t have much time available, something personal like making your wedding bands together makes the moment you exchange them all more special.

Most importantly, make sure your bridesmaids are the best ladies you know. From the fun and laughter to the emotional support, whether you have two or twenty, they are there for it all.

10What do you remember most about the entire experience?
Standing outside the church doors with my mother, who was walking me down the aisle.

It felt like the moment before everything began. The bridesmaids had gone in and she and I were standing outside the looming doors of the Brompton Oratory. It was a few seconds of stillness before the doors opened and I saw Chris.

I never had any nerves in the run up to the wedding, but at that moment I just started to well up. It was just the anticipation and excitement all rolling into one. To calm me down, (and as the walk down the aisle was quite long), my wonderfully funny mother tried to make me relax by reciting,

I eat my peas with honey;
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.”

It worked, and is one of my best memories – ever!

11Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
Not at all. Whether things go smoothly or not, your wedding day is perfect no matter what.

Yes, I lost track of time and had to rush out of the door to get to the church on time, yes, the guests got caught in a freak shower of rain, the confetti that got stuck down my dress wasn’t ideal (resulting in a complicated extraction) and godparents being sent off in the wrong cars made for some last minute adjustments – but I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

It was fun, chaotic, full of laughter and totally us.

12Is there anybody who helped you create your perfect day?
As we married in London there were amazing people we could not have done it without.

Sue Young, my dress maker, Samantha Norman – the most relaxing and exquisite hair and make up stylist, Craig Shaw and his insane musical talents and our mad yet brilliant photographer, Wilde Fry. Wilde is a photojournalist who is literally an artist with a camera.

My maid of honour, who’s also the founder, writer and editor of comedy sketch trio Don’t Shoot The Mermaid, gave us the most wonderful gift. It was truly unique video of the day; something between a vintage love story, an episode of Fawlty Towers and super cool music video. Epic.

However if we were doing the wedding in Hong Kong now, my little black book of people and businesses I couldn’t live without would be:

Sejal at The Tale of Two
Glamorous, indomitable and she packs a punch from her petite frame – no wedding is complete without her!

Nickey Khemchandani at BSD
Wedding websites are the must-have for every couple flying in guests from around the world! His tech and graphic skills are unmatched.

(We love BSD too, see our review of their services here!)

Grassroots Pantry (see Sassy’s review)
Chris and I adore this place and Peggy, its amazingly talented owner. It’s our go-to for a date night – healthy and delicious, perfect wedding fare.

Jonathan Maloney Photography
Although he’s a food, interior and lifestyle photographer, I am obsessed with his work.

Coco Espresso (one of Sassy’s top coffee shops!)
For an urbanised caffeine hit to keep you awake between cake tasting and dress fittings.

Jess Ong at Toni & Guy (on Wyndham Street)
Fantastic for the hairstyling needs of both the bride and groom. (We know from experience, check out what we thought here)

Torq Cycle
A pumping way to make sure you’re in top form for the big day – without gym membership fees. Pay as you cycle, ideal for gym commitment-phobes like me!

And last of all, head over to Melville Fine Jewellery for the perfect engagement ring or to Hatton Studios for a romantic experience of making your wedding bands. It had to be said!

I have to say, I would still go back to Sue Young for her couturier skills. Nothing else has ever come close.

13And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
My family is from the Seychelles so we wanted to head to that part of the world. We settled on Mauritius for two weeks, which was a lovely combination of relaxing and exploring. We had originally considered climbing Kilimanjaro as part of the trip and to do an East Africa stop off on our way, but decided it was far too energetic. It’s still on our bucket list though!

Nathalie Melville Vintage 06Nathalie was actually married in the same chapel as her grandparents and was lovely enough to send us a photo. (Beautiful weddings really do seem to run in the family!) 


Nathalie’s wedding sounds like an absolute dream, but you don’t have to wake up just yet, ladies. See more of our That Bride interviews and check out other Pinterest-worthy weddings!

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