The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Decca Lang

Wedding Advice From The TSWYL Girls

Love and MarriageAlexandra kingComment

This weekend, Isaac and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and over the last few weeks I've been reminiscing about just how busy this time last year was. Wedding planning is, in turn, so thrilling and so agonising- I remember both sensations very well, and can now laugh about the time I had to go to the bathroom to primal scream because I ordered the wrong sized table cloths (WHO WAS I in that moment?). Anyway, as summer wedding season slowly draws to a close for this year, I thought I'd quiz five of The Street Where You Live girls, who all had wonderfully inspiring, beautiful and individual weddings, on how to have a beautiful day and not lose your goddam mind in the process. Scroll down for very many wise words and some seriously stunning brides.

Kira Cook

Kira and Tyler Cook

Who? Tyler Cook, one of Hollywood's most in-demand editors

Where? The Holding Co. in Silverlake, Los Angeles for both ceremony and reception. It was a 1920s auto body shop that's recently been converted to a courtyard/loft/warehouse space. 

What did you wear? I bought a 1960s vintage lace dress from Gossamer vintage, then I bought a seafoam bridesmaids dress from BHLDN and had my friend Tashina, who custom-designs wedding gowns, whip the two into an entirely new dress o' my dreams. Trying on dresses, I fell in love with many but all were insanely-priced, and the vintage ones I found weren't quite perfect, but I knew I wanted an element of antiquity and I knew I wanted some color, as well. I lived and breathed ideas about the perfect dress (I am BONKERS FOR DRESSES in my daily sartorial-scape), even woke up in sweats one night because I told Tashina the wrong idea for a dress. Luckily, in my panicked 6am email, she said not to worry, she never made changes until 3 days after appointments with brides because of this very reason. It ended up being, just, the most beautiful dress I could imagine, honestly. The peter-pan collar and the button-up back lace top combined with a cascade of lace applique down the seafoam tulle was romantic and whimsical, two things I look for most in a dress. And, the top came off so it became a strapless dress to dance in all night! 

What was your favourite part of the day?

There is no feeling like holding onto both parents' arms and walking into a sea of people who you love most in the world to a song that's made you cry for months in anticipation of the wedding and ending up in front of a person whose crystal-blue eyes are shining and weeping and waiting for you to make life-long promises to him. It was really stunning, I was utterly overcome with emotion - so much so that all photos of me walking up the aisle are utterly UNUSABLE because my face is contorted into RIDICULOUS-looking sobs.  

That moment, as well as climbing aboard a turquoise schoolbus we rented at 3:30 in the morning with 30 of our loved ones who managed to stay awake the whole night and driving to Pomona's campus to see the sunrise light show at the James Turrell skyspace "Dividing the Light." That was a truly epic, unforgettable way to usher in our first sunrise as a married couple. 

What's your number one piece of advice for someone else planning their wedding? Don't spend an insane amount on flowers!!!!!!! I read that it can be three to ten thousand dollars to spend on flowers and we definitely didn't have that. My aunt, mom, and I went downtown to the LA Flower District and bought car-loads of flowers for a grand sum of $360, and arranged all the bouquets and vases ourselves, with the help of our family. It was a beautiful way to spend time with everyone the day before the wedding. 

ALSO: this is probably obvious to every sane, sophisticated, adult woman out there but DO NOT CUT YOUR OWN BANGS THREE DAYS BEFORE THE WEDDING because you don't "have enough time" to get them professionally done. I wince at the desperate bang-job I gave myself and can see how uneven it is in all the photos. What a dope!!! 

ALSO: buy comfortable shoes to dance in! I rolled my eyes at every blog's suggestion to buy two pairs of shoes for the wedding (absurd and excessive!) and insisted on finding a comfortable pair I could wear all night that went with my dress. By god did I look high and LOW for that perfect pair, to no avail. I ended up buying a beautiful and moderately comfortable pair for the ceremony and fun flat (FANCY for Chrissakes, not FLIP-FLOPS) sandals to dance in, which meant that I actually danced for hours.
 

Decca Lang

Who? Alex Head, a dashing scientist and motor bike rider.

Where? The Home Farm, Somerset, England. My childhood home


What did you wear? A handmade silk tulle dress made by my friend and drama teacher from school Meryl Smart. A true piece of craftsmanship. Concealed corsets and silk skirts and lots of champagne tulle which is like sewing sand! 


What was your favourite part of the day?  Towards the end of the church ceremony, as we stepped up to the alter for the final blessing, the skies cleared and the October sun streamed through the main stain glasses window in the beautiful ancient church where we got married.  It was pretty amazing. We then turned around to walk out and saw everyone we cared about in the world beaming back at us. Loved the whole thing and just the fact we had the best party with everyone we loved. 


What's your number one piece of advice for someone else planning their wedding?  Elope! Joking....ish?! Try not to let 'wedmin' become all consuming - if you have a long engagement then you'll feel like you never talk/think about anything else for months on end. Have a couple of days a month when you bosh out some stuff and don't worry about it the rest of the time.  Details are all important but don't lose perspective. Will anyone really notice if your tablecloth isn't the same length as the runner? Or if the cutlery doesn't all match because the caterers got it wrong? Whilst your wedding is obviously about you and your new husband - try to remember why your doing it the way you're doing it: To have your favourite people share your day and make it as fun and joyful as possible. Weddings that ask a lot from their guests become a drag. If your guests are happy then so will you be and your day will be a genuine love in.

Lucy Kenyon-Jones

Lucy Kenyon-Jones and Adam Hoefel

Who? Adam Hoefel, a dapper Canadian and hot-shot immigration lawyer

Where?  Camden Town Hall, a beautiful Victorian registry office opposite St. Pancras station. It's a hidden gem filled with sweeping marble staircases and wood panelled chambers. Our wedding reception was held at Brunswick House in Vauxhall, an old Georgian mansion house transformed into Lassco's rambling antiques salvage yard. 


What did you wear? I wore a one-shoulder draped Grecian gown made of claret velvet. I found it online (cheap as chips) and had it posted to the UK from Nordstrom. My mum, a glorious seamstress, sewed layers of frayed claret chiffon into the hem of the dress to create a bit of a bohemian train. She also made me a pair of rough cut garnet and gold earrings - one of my most special possessions. My belt and shoes were from & Other Stories


What was your favourite part of the day? There were so many! Glimpsing Adam outside the registry office as my taxi drew up (my girls had to bundle me down into the car so that I wasn't seen) - I swear my heart skipped a beat. When one of my sisters broke down crying whilst reading our favourite John Cooper Clarke poem and my other sister (her twin) valiantly stepped in and finished it. Our first married kiss. The speeches!! But if I'm totally honest, it was having almost 100 people throw the handmade confetti I'd spent HOURS making over my head. That was a totally joyous moment. 


What's your number one piece of advice for someone else planning their wedding? Don't give a shit what others think. If you don't want to wear white, then don't! Celebrate your mismatched bridesmaids (two of mine wore black, and damn they looked chic!). Walk out of your wedding to the Rolling Stones if you want to, and don't spend money on stuff you can't eat or take home. Also, let your friends help you. From my invites, to my hair, make-up, cake, lighting and venue, my friends joined in and helped build the day with me. 

Thank you wonderful girls. Your words, as ever, inspire. Do you have any top wedding tips? Advice on how to deal with the stress of the big day? I'd love to hear! 

 


The Street Where You Live: Decca Lang, Bruton, Somerset

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra king1 Comment

This week on The Street Where You Live you're meeting Decca Lang- mother, wife, interior design maven and all round hot mama. Single-handedly putting the yummy into mummy, over the last four years Decca has helped launch a home wear and apparel company, renovated and designed her countryside Victorian cottage (which involved living in a caravan for 12 months) married her teenage sweetheart and had two delicious daughters. Impressive going, non?

Decca lives in maybe one of the most idyllic places in the world, the gorgeous town of Bruton in Somerset.

Scroll down and take a walk on the street where she lives. Trust me, it'll be a treat.

Decca Lang, TSWIL

On living in the beautiful town of Bruton:

I live in a small, rural and rather pretty historic town called Bruton which is nestled in the the middle of my beloved home county of Somerset with my husband Alex and our two little girls Betty, who’s just turned two, and Herbie (yes she’s a she not a he - ask Alex) our six month-old darling.  Somerset is a very special place in the South West of England that, until fairly recently, many people just used to drive though in the summer to get to the beaches in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. The secrets out now though, and its understated charms (and the delicious cider) are making people stop a little longer. 

My husband and I have lived here for four years but we’ve been living the ‘country dream’ for nearly six. I have to say it wasn’t exactly in ‘the plan’ to retire into country life at the tender age of 23, but true love and my husband's career brought us very close to my motherland, so it all fell into place. Since moving to what we thought was a hidden gem of a spot, Bruton has seriously been put on the map, with some pretty hip and happening things going on; namely the opening of uber cool gallery Hauser and Wirth last year, and a few lovely places to eat. The press has been going bonkers for this little place we call home, but ultimately it’s still a cosy, friendly and wholesome place that we are very lucky to be apart of. I am definitely enjoying the rise of the faintly urban pulse it’s starting to develop though, it’s such a plus. I feel like London is coming to me rather than the other way around, which makes a nice change.  

Decca Lang, TSWIL

 I suppose you could best describe where we live as quaint. But in a really lovely rugged, old way. We are tucked down behind Bruton High Street on a little lane that follows the River Brue. Even some locals don’t know our lane exists! We are surrounded by a hotpotch of amazing old rooftops and honey coloured stone buildings ranging from medieval to very modern. There is a beautiful Packhorse Bridge that dates from the 15th century that crosses over the river, and a grassy area with old stepping stones 50 meters from our front door.  All the children play in the river in the summer, it’s pretty dreamy. It’s all very typically English, although on a hot Summer's day you could be in France.

Decca Lang TSWIL

On (literally) building a home:

We bought a wreck of a Victorian cottage four years ago. It was a tiny two bed, downstairs bathroomed and kitchen-in-a-lean-to mess.  We added a double story extension that made it a three bed with a proper upstairs bathroom. I never imagined we would live in a town as we had been looking,and going to auctions for huge, far too expensive piles of rubble that were really in the sticks. We had actually been looking to buy for over year when my father-in-law pointed it out. It had been on the market since the very beginning of our search but we had ruled it out as too ‘urban’, too small, not enough of a project. I actually only came to view it to meet the estate agent. But as soon as I saw the garden and its potential I was sold. During the work, Al and I camped out in a tiny caravan with a gross plastic awning which was our sitting room/kitchen/dressing room for almost a year. I did my best to make it pretty with just a Persian rug, lamp and sofa. Believe it or not, it was super cosy and I actually really enjoyed it, apart from the (at least three) times we found the local drunk/tramp asleep on the sofa in the awning. He obviously thought it looked cosy too, and helped himself to our wine glasses for his cider! 

I love our home so much. It’s really big for the middle of a town, the River Brue runs though it and it has a south facing wall with an old plum and apple tree. It’s a complete sun trap and so peaceful. We get lots of school kids passing and chattering (and swearing) during break times as we are across the river from the King Bruton boarding school but other than that it’s just birds and the church bells across the road. 

Decca's husband Alex working on the renovations. Photo by Decca,

Decca's husband Alex working on the renovations. Photo by Decca,

 We obviously had no money left after all of the building works, but that’s fine as I quite like old things and I love looking for bargains or finding bits here and there. Most of the stuff in our house has a story- like the decorator’s table that I found in my parents barn that is now in our kitchen, or my Grandfather's workshop dresser that I restored. Our house is definitely lived in and definitely not fully finished; we still don’t have door handles three years later! We’ll carry on collecting and scavenging. It’s a work in progress - I don’t think there will be a day when I say “we’re finished” and if there is, then we’ll probably be onto the next project.

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On her darling daughters, Betty and Herbie:

 It’s pretty full on at the moment with my two little dreamboats but it really is the best fun too. Betty is a real laugh - on the day she was born her horoscope said that she would be “weird but in a nice way” and that’s definitely true. She is a hoot and her big personality is really starting to shine though. Her incessant chattering is very entertaining. Herbpot is just happy to gaze at her big sister with a huge grin at the moment and has a very sunny disposition and the sweetest little face.  I could talk about them all day and I usually do...

Decca and Alex on their wedding day.

Decca and Alex on their wedding day.

On her husband Alex:

Alex and I have been together for 10 years! We first met on his home turf on the coast in south Devon while I was enjoying a summer hanging out on the beach with friends during my gap year- I was only 18. He was the rugged, motorbike riding, beard sporting local who happened to live opposite. Lucky me. He’s a pretty laid back sort of a guy, so not too much trouble to live with - although I do complain quite often it’s like living with a messy teenager (he just tells me to lower my standards). Having said that, he built our house, can make pretty much anything, including our kitchen worktops, hearth, curtain rails and babies, not to mention really good poached eggs, so I can’t complain too much.  

Decca Lang TSWIL

On motherhood:

I am very much a full time Mummy at the moment and have been for over two years. I love it. Being a Mummy is no walk in the park though. It’s hardcore!  I didn’t go back to my job after having Betty as there wasn’t really time before Herbie was on her way. It was all planned, as mad as it is having two tiny people so close together. We’re “racking and stacking” as Alex so eloquently puts it. I really did love my job and love working in general. I’ve had a job of some sort since the age of 14 so not working (and earning) has its challenges.

I am in the midst of plotting my return into the world of grown up work at some point in the near future, but I do really want to be properly around for the girls while they are so young. Alex works really hard and travels a lot with his job as Director of Engineering for an aeronautical company that he’s helped build up, and he‘s so flat out so I can’t even begin to imagine the stress if I was working too. Unless we forked out for a Nanny! It’s a massively over used cliche but they do grow up so so fast, and my view is I’m still pretty young, so I have all the time in the world to work on my career once they are a bit older. That’s if we don’t have any more of course, then my plans could change again but we’ll see how that one pans out?! It’s a wonderful thing being a mummy, but I, like thousands of mothers out there, am still trying to strike the home/work balance and keep, or more like ‘regain’ in my case, a sense of identity that is difficult to keep a hold of when you have kids. It’s an area people have actually written whole books on so I’ll stop here.

The art above the bed was given to Decca and Alex as a wedding present, and is by artist  Caziel

The art above the bed was given to Decca and Alex as a wedding present, and is by artist Caziel

On her work:

I’ve always worked in interiors and design. It all started when I took a summer job in a wonderful interiors shop called Salcombe Trading  in Devon the fateful year I met my future husband. I thought it was just a job to pay for nights out in Fusion, (the local, very bad nightclub) but I ended up working there after graduating in History from University College London.  

Decca Langs TSWIL

Before the babies, I was the operations manager for the beautiful home wear and accessories shop The Merchant Fox, a sister company to the well-established Fox Brothers & Co. who manufacture some of the world's finest woollen, worsted, cashmere and flannel cloth for suiting and jacketing. It was a business I was closely involved with from the beginning,  so I spent my time designing and finding products and traveling around the UK discovering the most amazing wealth of skilled artisans. It was full on, as is running any start up business, but it was a privilege to work with such wonderful products that have so much history. Winston Churchill wore a Fox Flannel chalk stripe suit and Cary Grant was also a massive fan! I love creating, making things look nice, starting new projects and building businesses so I hope I’ll be getting back to that soon. 

Decca Lang TSWIL

On Bruton’s community spirit:

 Bruton has less than 3,000 people and only a handful of shops; including the obligatory charity shop (which is a good one). There are a few vintage/antique shops, like Philips & Skinner which sells some lovely things, an organic food shop, a butcher and an amazing restaurant/bakery/wine store/hotel called At The Chapel which we live behind. It’s really dangerous as they have the most delicious food/bakery/wood fired pizzas/wine/cocktails. At The Chapel changed Bruton’s course dramatically and we love it- it is slightly an extension of our home. I used to work from there a lot before I had Betty and they also catered at our wedding. When I had just had Betty, I used to go up there for coffee while she napped in the pram. It was so nice to walk 100m and see grown ups and usually always someone I knew. It was truly my salvation. They are getting some pretty serious praise, which is well deserved as the owners Cath and Ahmed work so hard at making it what it is.

Decca Langs TSWIL

We have a real mix of neigbours young and old, but Bruton is really small and we have some great friends here. We pretty much know all of our neighbours; who range from teachers to designers to eco warriors. It’s a very creative place and has been for a very long time, and is even more so now with the arrival of the gallery. The writer John Steinbeck actually lived here for a time in the late 50’s. Legend has it my grandfather met him in a pub in Glastonbury and took him on a pub crawl of the local area and loved Bruton. He was later quoted as saying “It was a fortunate accident which drew me to this place.” My grandfather and his storytelling was a bit like the film Big Fish - but I’m sure there’s some truth in there somewhere. 

Decca Lang TSWIL

Bruton is such a close community that you rarely walk anywhere without bumping into someone you know or one of Betty’s little friends. I have some lovely friends who have young children too. We all go to a playgroup in the next door village every Tuesday. It’s run by an amazing tour de force of a lady called Mary who’s in her late seventies, maybe even eighties, and she set it up 21 years ago. It’s all very rural, very friendly and we would all be at a total loss without it.

Decca Lang TSWIL

On escaping the rat race:

I’m so happy that we ended up here.  We could have so easily not have. The only downside is that we moved away from all our friends that are closer to Alex’s work but we have definitely settled here. We haven’t had much time to throw ourselves into community life with building and babies but we have so many friends who live here and nearby. We also have friends to stay from London a lot and they all love coming to see us and having a taste of our relaxed country life. I love being able to bring the girls up here. I can pop to the shops, we can go to the park, feed the ducks at the duck pond and can end up not getting in the car for days (which is quite a difficult thing to pull off when you live in the country). We are always looking out for houses for sale in the area because we don’t want to move away  - I adore our home but we will grow out of it in the near future. It makes me sad to think that one day we may leave but we always knew this wasn’t our ‘forever house’. Namely because it doesn’t have anywhere to keep Alex’s motorbikes, surf boards, paramotors, boat, or a field he can build a motorbike track in. That really is why we’ll move - according to him.

Decca Langs TSWIL

When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

Pride. As soon as we turn the corner off the main street onto our lane, Betty always says “Here we are, hommmmeeee Mummy” and it makes my heart melt. I honestly look forward to coming home every time we’re away and I always tell Alex how much I love our little house. 

Decca Lang TSWIL

Describe your street in five words:

Old. Idyllic. Slightly Secret. Charming.

Decca Lang TSWIL

On her perfect day off in Bruton:

A day or weekend when we are all at home together without having do any building jobs and we can just potter about are such a treat.. We will either have people to stay or visit. Friday nights would kick off with cocktails and dancing on the bar at the Roth Bar and Grill. It gets pretty wild by all accounts - I haven’t actually made it there for this yet as having Herb halted my cocktail consumption quite dramatically and the bar only opened in July. So we would have to start the weekend there, any excuse! Breakfast/brunch we’d have At The Chapel.  We would then stroll around Bruton feeding ducks, walking to the Dovecote which is a folly on a top of the hill that overlooks Bruton and surrounding countryside, it’s really iconic. Then we'd continue walking up to Hauser and Wirth and have lunch.

Decca Lang TSWIL

Photos by Dave Watts.

Thank you so much sweet Decca, for allowing us to take a little peek into your home. If you need more of Decca's beautiful countryside life and those ridiculously squeezable babes, you can follow her on Instagram here