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Time to Drink Champagne and Dance on the Table

August 11, 2014

Okay, so I didn’t see any actual dancing on tables, but there was certainly no shortage of fizz at Holly and Matt’s wedding at Kilworth House Hotel back in May of this year.

Champagne tower

I was there to sing at the post-ceremony drinks reception on the hotel’s wonderful terrace.  I’d got the gig thanks to photographer Yvonne Lishman‘s recommendation to the couple when she learned of their vintage theme for the day.  It was great to finally work with Yvonne having met a few times at wedding fayres.

I love Yvonne’s photographic style and I’m delighted to share some of her pictures from Holly and Matt’s wedding with you.

Kilworth House Hotel

Holly and Matt outside Kilworth House Hotel

The terrace at Kilworth House Hotel

Wedding  guest balloon release

Bride Holly wore a stunning 1902s-inspired dress.

Simon Partridge with bride Holly

Matt and Holly dancing

The sun shone and the laughter filled the air from beginning to end.  I serenaded Matt and Holly’s guests with an-hour-and-a-half of songs from my repertoire hand-picked by the couple themselves.

Simon Partridge sings for guests at Kilworth House Hotel

A fabulous, laughter-filled afternoon at a wonderful venue.  Congratulations to Matt and Holly and special thanks to Yvonne Lishman for letting me share her photographs of the day with you.

Simon Partridge with Holly and Matt

Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3: Teacakes and Terriers at Glasgow 2014

July 24, 2014

It has long been my considered opinion that one of the few things better than a Tunnock’s Teacake would be a dancing Tunnock’s Teacake. So imagine my joy when I sat down to watch the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games last night.

Dancing Tunnock's Teacakes at the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony

It may not have had the budget that the London 2012 olympic opener had, but it had more than its fair share of fun and the enthusiasm of the volunteers and performers involved was infectious enough to be classified as a notifiable disease.

Dancers at the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony

Karen Dunbar and John Barrowman Glasgow 2014

I’m not a fan of John Barrowman, but I jumped from my seat and applauded his fabulous kiss that was clearly aimed at the forty-two Commonwealth nations where homosexuality is still a crime.

John Barrowman's gay kiss at Glasgow 2014 opener

I could have done without Susan Boyle (fluffing her words and sounding awfully nervous) and Rod Stewart (just sounding awful).

Susan Boyle

Rod Stewart

But there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the whole thing, not least the genius idea of having Scottish terriers leading out each of the national teams.

Scottish terrier leading the England team

Of course, the main reason to be cheerful is what lies behind the fluff and glitter of the opening ceremony and that is the dedication and determination of the four-and-a-half thousand athletes who will compete in Glasgow over the coming days.

I salute each and every one of them (from the comfort of my sofa, of course).  With the news headlines so full of doom and misery it is their spirit that serves to maintain my faith that humanity is still capable of a greater good.

Enjoy the games!

Field of (Wedding) Dreams

June 30, 2014

The perfect summer wedding – a bright blue sky with whisps of white cloud; the warm sun smiling down on your guests; the heady scent of flowers and new-mown grass.  It’s the stuff wedding dreams are made of and fills countless blogs, magazines and Pinterest boards.

The perfect summer wedding?

And when Chris and Amie got married recently in Arlingham, Gloucestershire, they got just such a day.

I was booked to sing during the drinks reception and wedding buffet which were being held in a traditional pole marquee in the garden of groom Chris’ family home which just happens to be a farm.

Wild garden rose

The ceremony had taken place in the village church, St Mary the Virgin, which was literally next door to the farm.

Saint Mary the Virgin church

Being part of a farming family there was really only one way for Chris to arrive at church for his wedding:

Red vintage tractor

The bride opted for a slightly more traditional mode of wedding transport:

Vintage wedding car

After the ceremony guests made their way to the reception on foot and were welcomed in a manner that reminded me of one of my favourite books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden”:

Wedding this way -m vintage direction sign

The wedding marquee looked absolutely stunning with beautiful flowers outside and in:

Floral decoration outside the wedding marquee

Top table wedding flowers

Floral "chandelier" in the wedding marquee

Floral table centre

Each place setting was adorned with a single stem of lavender.

Napkin with lavender stem

Chris and Amie’s arrival into the marquee was greeted with loud cheers and thunderous applause.

The bride and groom arrive in the marquee

The atmosphere was delightful as guests chatted and the bride and groom mingled with the family and friends who had gathered to share their day.

The wedding breakfast buffet

The bride mingles with wedding guests

Chris’ mother had made a special request for the song “All the Things You Are” and I was delighted to learn it and sing it for her.  I sang for two-hours, but the time flew by.

Bride and groom Amie and Chris with Simon Partridge

A wonderful day and it was a pleasure and an honour to have been part of it.  Congratulations to Amie and Chris!

I f you’re looking for live entertainment for your won wedding, part or event then you can find out more about my services by visiting www.simonpartridge.com

London Vintage Wedding Fayre is a Knockout

May 19, 2014

The London Vintage Wedding Fayre took place on May 11th at York Hall in Bethnal Green.  The hall, world famous as a venue for boxing, was opened in 1929 by the then Duke of York (later King George VI).

York Hall, Bethnal Green, London

As with previous Vintage Wedding Fayres, organiser Hayley Turner had hand-picked a splendid selection of vintage-related wedding vendors of which I was delighted to be one.

Simon Partridge - Vintage Wedding Singer 1920s 30s 40s

The fayre showcased a wide range of wedding inspiration from dresses to decorations, photographers to phascinators (sorry).

The Vintage Wedding Fayre London

Here are a few choice shots from the fayre.  All pictures are by Kate Nielen.

Alissia Couture Boutique

Vintage wedding jewellery

The Great British Florist

Vintage wedding accessories

The Origami Boutique

Vintage wedding crockery

The Vintage Wedding Fayre takes a break now until the autumn.  Keep up to date with the fayres by following them on Facebook.

For more information on Kate Nielen’s photography visit www.katenielen.com.

Featured suppliers:

Simon Partridge – www.simonpartridge.com

The Great British Florist – www.greatbritishflorist.co.uk

Alissia Couture Boutique – www.alissiacouture.com

The Origami Boutique – www.theorigamiboutique.com

 

A Phoenix Rises in The Secret Courtyard

February 22, 2014

I know the title of this post sounds like an episode of “Game of Thrones”, but the story I have to share with you could easily come from the pen of a television drama writer.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Facebook may already know a little about vintage headband and tiara maker Sheena Holland and the grim saga that her life became towards the end of 2013.  For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick “Previously On…”

Sheena Holland has worked for fashion legend Katharine Hamnett and as a professional florist (providing flowers for HRH The Queen Mother, Elton John and Michael Jackson).  She’s even sung at The Brit Awards (backing Sting and M People).  In 2003 she began making one-off vintage headbands and spent the next decade building her business.  Clients included Alan Carr and singers Pink and Lily Allen.  Having latterly taken the plunge into high street retail with her own shop on Queen Street in Derby, in early 2013 she moved into larger premises where she expanded her stock range to include all manner of exquisite vintage goods.

Sheena Holland's scaffold-enclosed shop in Derby

At the beginning of October 2013 the building housing her shop was encased in scaffolding.  The motives of her landlords, Derby City Council, were laudable – to renovate the building, including offices above, for creative start-up businesses to use – but their execution left a lot to be desired.  And I mean a lot.

Sheena’s shop was almost entirely hidden from view to customers and trade plummeted.  I can’t say much more because there may still be further legal wrangles to come, but in spite the incredible efforts of Sheena and her many supporters the situation became untenable and Sheena was forced to close her shop just before Christmas.  In less than ten weeks, all that Sheena had worked so hard to build up had been razed to the ground.

Well, I’m delighted to say that, like the proverbial phoenix, Sheena has risen from the ashes and opened a new shop in The Old Blacksmith’s Yard, Derby and I went to pay her a visit last week to find out how she was getting on.

Sheena Holland's new shop in Derby

I say “new”, but this shop is actually 600-years old, or, at least the front of it is.  It was a merchant’s house and stood originally in the city’s market square, but had been hemmed in and hidden away over the years by neighbouring buildings.

The half-timbered merchant's house in Old Blacksmith's Yard

It was revealed in 1977 during demolition work to make way for the new Assembly Rooms and was meticulously dismantled, brick by brick and put into storage for twelve years before finally being reconstructed in 1982 in what became known as the Old Blacksmith’s Yard.

Old Balcksmith's Yard sign

Blacksmith anvil

Sheena’s new shop looks fabulous in this splendid “secret courtyard” just off Sadler Gate in the heart of Derby’s Cathedral Quarter.  The interior is just as charming as the exterior.

Vintage sheet music wallpaper

Sheena Holland's shop in Derby

Antique headbands

Antique and vintage jewellery shop

Vintage Oertling display cabinet

Vintage mirrors

The shop is packed with vintage loveliness and Sheena’s beautiful handmade tiara’s and headbands look great in their new home.

Sheena's wedding headbands

Sheena Holland's feather side tiaras

Vintage pearl side tiara headband

handmade wedding headbands by Sheena Holland

Feather headband side-tiara

Sheena has really made the shop her own – I love the vintage sheet music adorning the wall behind the counter.

Vintage sheet music decoarating the wall of Sheena Holland's shop

As if bouncing back from her previous woes to open a new shop in the Old Blacksmith’s Yard wasn’t enough, Sheena is now aiming to completely revitalise the fortunes of the whole courtyard by running a Vintage, Arts and Food Market there.  The first is on Saturday March 1st and Sheena is planning to make it a regular fixture.

I’m so pleased that Sheena has managed to find another outlet for her work.  Independent makers and sellers on our high streets are to be celebrated and encouraged and I look forward to seeing her business go from strength to strength.

Find out more about Sheena Holland by visiting www.sheenaholland.com.  Her new shop is at 10 The Old Blacksmiths Yard, Derby DE1 3PD and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am til 5pm.

Elegant Focus – Part 2

December 18, 2013

As promised, here are some more photos from the shoot I did with Gemma Williams.

Stunning flash photography by Gemma Williams

Singing songs from the 1920s 30s and 40s

The style and feel of the pictures is exactly what I wanted to referesh my website and advertising literature.

Singer with vintage microphone

1920s wedding singer

Moody usee of shadows in this composition

Gemma loved picking up on the details which was nice because I’m so particular about things like that myself (some may even say obsessive!).  These cufflinks were a gift from my wife and are a treasured possession as well as completing my look perfectly.

Art deco design cufflinks

George Hurrell photography

Gazing out from the hotel terrace

1930s vintage microphone 1940s

Special thanks must also go to Swinfen Hall Hotel for letting us use their wonderful hotel as our shoot location.  We were spoilt for choice when it came to photo opportunities and the hotel’s elegant Georgian grandeur provided numerous beautiful settings.

Vintage wedding singer

Relaxed and dapper gentleman

The steps down from the terrace of Swinfen Hall Hotel

This was the last picture that Gemma Williams took on the day.  It rounded of the day splendidly as well as echoing the photo that had turned me into such a fan of Gemma’s work (see Part 1 for that).

Profile shotof wedding singer Simon Partridge

Elegant Focus – Part 1

December 2, 2013

It may be true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but when it comes to publicity shots we’ve all seen some horrors in our time, haven’t we?  So when I decided I needed some new pictures for my website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Preview CD and promotional literature I knew it had to be Gemma Williams behind the camera .

I first met Gemma two years ago when she was photographing a wedding I was singing for at Parkfields Country House.  She took this wonderful, candid shot of me then and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since.

Photographer Gemma Williams' picture of wedding singer Simon Partridge

The choice of venue for the shoot was an easy one too.  Swinfen Hall Hotel is a beautiful eighteenth-century manor house just a few minutes drive from my home city of Lichfield in Staffordshire.

Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield, Staffordshire

Gemma is so much fun to work with, but all the time her brain is whirring away to ensure she gets amazing results.  In the hotel’s ballroom, working with only a couple of flash guns mounted on tripods, she turned this…

Herefordshire photographer Gemma Williams at work

…into this…

Vintage wedding singer Simon Partridge

Weddings singer Simon Partridge

Outside, the hotel terrace provided another great setting.

Simon Partridge on the terrace at Swinfen Hall Hotel

Gazing into the middle distance

Staffordshire wedding venue Swinfen Hall Hotel's terrace

With roman-style goddess statues

When I’d talked to Gemma before the shoot about what photos I hoped to get out of the day I’d mentioned the work of George Hurrell.  If you don’t know the name you’ll certainly know his work.  In the 1930s and 40s Hurrell was the Hollywood photographer and his trademark use of lighting and shadows became the archetype for photographs of that era.  I told Gemma that I would love my own Hurrell shot.

I knew it was a lot to ask.  Hurrell, after all, worked in a studio with a custom lighting rig, numerous assistants and as much time as he needed to get his results.  Could Gemma do the same on location with limited resources?  Of course she could!!  She worked her magic and produced some outstanding pictures that any Hollywood star would be proud of.

One of my George Hurrell shots taken by Gemma Williams

A fun, relaxed, smiling portrait

George Hurrell shot in full colour

I love the way Gemma has used the natural light and my reflection in this shot.

Singer reflected in polished grand piano lid

There were plenty of laughs too…

Messing about during the photo shoot at Swinfen Hall

The results are everything I’d hoped for and more.

Singer posing with vintage microphone

There are far too many fabulous photos to include in one post so I’ll share some more soon.  In the meantime you can see Gemma’s pictures on my website www.simonpartridge.com and find out more about her work by visiting www.gemmawilliamsphotography.co.uk.

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