Full Name please and date of birth
Sara Russell – August 1982 (35)
Full Names of child and age
Purdy Russell – 1 year old (12 months)
Where are you based?
Dorset, United Kingdom
If you could describe yourself in one sentence.
Fumbling through life with a laptop, baby, half eaten sandwich in hand.
What was your childhood like?
I spent most of my childhood growing up abroad in Papua New Guinea due to my Dad’s job at the time. Growing up in such a culturally rich country was so fascinating and when I moved back to the UK it was definitely an adjustment (not just the temperatures!)
Tell us about your life before motherhood.
Before motherhood, I had just left my IT based 9-5 to pursue an entrepreneurial career in wedding blogging (not for the faint hearted!) after my personal blog grew in popularity thanks to a niche in the market. I was travelling the world speaking at photography workshops and blogging at every available opportunity.
What inspired you to start Wedding Sparrow?
When I was planning my own wedding in 2011, I found I was drawn to a certain aesthetic on Pinterest and other blogs but couldn’t find it all in one place. After a while I realised I was drawn to film photography in particular. It was so soft and timeless but I just didn’t know how to search out a film photographer or indeed the other vendors who had the ‘fine art’ style and so Wedding Sparrow was born. It was launched in 2013 and we’ve since grown to a 4 person team with 6 awards in the wedding industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your wedding day?
We kept our wedding day simple and classic so we didn’t run the risk of dating the images. There’s nothing I regret about our styling or what we did for our wedding as that was us at the time – a snapshot. However, I play ‘fantasy wedding’ all the time and love to choose my ‘if money was no object’ vendors. I’d be a little more adventurous with my style and probably elope to an epic scene of cliffs and wild florals…
You are driven by the beauty of photography shot on film what is it about film that captures your appeal the most?
I love how film is so timeless. I have film images printed all over my house but all my digital images are all stuck on USBs in drawers and I never look at them and it’s such a shame. My favourite is grainy black and white film (Ilford 3200). It just denotes such a gentle moment in time and is so romantic no matter what the subject is. In such a disposable age, film is a welcome constant.
What / Who inspires and motivates you?
The artists and photographers that I see on a daily basis, their work inspires me to better curate and make their work accessible for a discerning bride. People ask me all the time, ‘Do you get bored of seeing weddings?’and the answer is no! Each story is so different and if it’s been photographed well, there will be plenty of textures, emotions, details and environments that I continue to get lost in. I’m truly motivated to do my best at what I do.
Who are some of your favourite wedding designers?
I’m a huge fan of the more editorial look in weddings and stylists such as Pearl & Godiva are perfect at combining your story into a high end look. A more timelessly elegant wedding would surely have Joy Proctor at the helm who’s work is signatory but encompasses the romanticism of a wedding day perfectly. When I’m in more of an organically minimalistic mood, Ginny Au is my go-to wedding designer.
How do you intertwine high-end fashion into weddings?
Like with most industries we look to the top for inspiration, so when the Fashion Weeks around the world kick off, we take a look at what is ‘in’ for next year. Whether it’s embellishment, two piece outfits, colour, a more bohemian style, we note what the fashion houses have in store for us. It’s important that we take note simply because as it filters down through to high street stores and our brides start wearing it, they look to similar styles for their wedding day. We’re seeing far braver brides now than ever before with more coloured gowns, elegant bridesmaids dresses and looser more natural florals.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If the little one is at nursery, we’ll get up, dressed, fed and I’ll drop her off ready for a day of playing, painting and having fun. When I get home, I usually take a well earned shower where no one needs me or can bother me. Follow that with a cup of tea and some breakfast (because let’s face it I won’t have had time yet) and I’ll start checking emails. I like to clear my inbox as soon as possible so I feel productive for the rest of the day. This can take anywhere between an hour and four so I make myself comfortable for this task. If I can persuade the cat to cuddle with me on the sofa, tea in hand whilst I tackle the inbox, I’m very happy. My husband also works from home so I try and convince him to make me lunch so I can try and power on through and make my time as efficient as possible since it’s my only working day of the week. Once I’ve caught up with the rest of the team on Skype, I get on with all the admin until it’s time to pick Purdy up from nursery. Once she’s home, we have a little play time, then it’s bath time and bed for her. I’ll be found in the kitchen after this cooking dinner for myself and my husband (pasta, king prawns and a little spice paired with a white wine and some ciabatta would be ideal). We’re not TV watching types lately so it would usually be a chat about our days before heading upstairs to bath and collapse into bed praying that she doesn’t wake more than once that night…
How has motherhood changed your life?
Motherhood has changed my life in more ways that I could ever imagine. If my body could have remained in a young state for longer and fertility was never in question, I probably would have selfishly taken more time out to travel, eat in good restaurants and make last minute decisions to see a movie. But with fertility a key player in our family future, we started our IVF journey when I was almost 30. After 3 years and 4 rounds of IVF, the journey alone to becoming parents changed us beyond what we ever thought. Once Purdy was finally here, the adjustment of caring for someone else 24/7 was exhausting. Especially when that person couldn’t communicate what they needed. It took me a few months to really get used to this huge change to our daily life and really try to prioritise what’s important and what can wait. I was worried that my career would flounder if I took a break from it or that if I tried to become ‘me’ again too soon, then my baby would suffer. The ever challenging work life balance is definitely the hardest part of motherhood so far. Loving on my baby has been easy.
What did you think of motherhood before you became a mother?
I’d always assumed motherhood would come naturally once the baby arrived. I had the usual worries before she was born but afterwards, I learned that I had to try really hard to think like a Mother. I was ashamed at first that perhaps it didn’t come naturally to me and was embarrassed to admit it but with time, and as she grew into more of a personality and was more giving (smiles, laughter, physical developments), she was wonderful to be around and a real fun time. I never assumed that motherhood would be easy but I did think that it would come more naturally to me. If I did it all again, I wouldn’t hide it in the beginning and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit that it’s emotionally hard not just physically tiring.
What’s your biggest challenge as a mother and business owner?
Keeping the work life balance tipped in whatever favour is needed at that time is the biggest challenge for me. Finding time for myself is also something I’d like to do but haven’t found the time for even after a year. Someone said to me a few months ago, “When do you have time for yourself? And not in a cooking-for-someone or doing-the-food-shop-alone kind of way. Time where you are not responsible for anyone else.” I couldn’t actually answer that and it played on my mind. She advised me to book it into the calendar and make sure it takes as much priority as anything else. I must do that soon!!!
What is your number one beauty tip for the busy mom?
Moisturise! With all the washing of hands and everything else, my skin has become drier and drier so I use a great Neal’s Yard heavy moisturiser at night. I’ve staving off the wrinkles, one application at a time…
When you get a quiet moment, what do you like to do the most?
Rare quiet moments for me (if they aren’t spent making sure the washing is in the machine, the dishes are done, the cooking has been started etc) are spent sleeping! I’m a big bed lover and I find it good for my soul to be able to recharge as and where I can! Even if I’m not sleeping, being curled up in fresh linen sheets (usually with the cat) is my safe place.
Describe your style in three words?
Muted, understated, classic.
Jasmine – I love how it disappears in the winter only to return in all it’s trailing, floral beauty in the Spring.