As my second career as a qualified bridesmaid comes to an end (see this post for more information), not only am I lamenting the passing of glorious weddings filled with excitement and colour, but also the loss of the rite of passage that is the hen night. It’s been my privilege to help organise five of these fun celebratory events, the most recent of which took place back in April. My lovely school friend Emma, who got married at the beginning of May, was whisked away for a surprise hen weekend in Oxford. We spent a glorious Saturday afternoon cruising along the river Thames, drinking wine and playing games, which was topped off perfectly by an hilarious outing to the Oxford comedy club (minus the mildly terrifying racist woman).
Alongside the traditional hen weekend games; establishing how well the bride-to-be knows her hubby, establishing how well the guests know the bride-to-be etc... I decided to include a more novel competition... working with the wonderful girls at Upper Street I created a shoe design studio for all the hens to design the perfect pair of shoes for the soon-to-be Mrs Hamilton!
All the hens were tasked with designing the perfect pair of shoes for Emma to wear on her honeymoon to Italy. The style of shoe, colour, material and embellishments were entirely up to them. At the end of the weekend Emma would choose her favourite design (without knowing who had designed it), the winner would receive a prize and (unbeknownst to Emma) the winning design would actually be made into a pair of shoes for her to keep.
I set up an area in one of the hotel rooms to be used as the design studio. Upper Street had kindly sent me some graphics which decorated the wall and offered some design inspiration. I downloaded their app onto my iPad, plonked a bottle of wine next to it (drinking wine and designing shoes - I can’t imagine a better combination!) and let the girls go to town on their designs. Here are the final six that Emma had to choose from:
On Sunday morning we showed Emma the final designs and she chose the winner... which was the amusingly named Monkey shoes! The winning designer was the lovely Jo and here she is with Emma and her design.
The shoes arrived about four weeks later and I was delighted to present them to Emma last night. The quality has to be seen to be believed. Both Emma and I spent an inordinate amount of time looking over the shoes and commenting about how amazing it was that they could custom-make them exactly to the design.
The whole process was really enjoyable and everyone relished taking part. That being said... a bunch of girls on a hen weekend... designing shoes... it’s never going to fail as an idea is it?!
The real beauty of Upper Street is the vast range of styles and designs that you can choose from, the options are essentially endless and I can get lost for several hours designing all manner of shoes. As a gift for a bride-to-be or even a mother-to-be, unique shoes designed by their friends and family is a wonderful idea and something they'll get to treasure forever.