We met at a mutual friend’s 21st party and had been put on the same table. We got on really well that evening but didn’t go on our first proper date for about 6 weeks after that when he took me to a fabulous restaurant in Sloane Square. I’d tried to play hard to get but couldn’t stop thinking about him.. haha!
We got married in a local church with a marquee reception back at my parent’s house. I’m incredibly close with my family and couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere but home. Tom and I have spent a lot of time there together as well and he always liked the idea of a marquee reception.
I loved sleeping in my own bed the night before and felt so relaxed getting ready there. As it was a summer wedding I wanted it to feel fresh and light with lots of flowers. I tried to have as many clear panels for the marquee to allow the garden to form the backdrop of the tent and of course.. the gin bar!!
I didn’t have a particular theme in mind but gin and flowers featured quite heavily throughout the day.
Tom’s speech was a real highlight for me. He was so nervous and absolutely hates public speaking. I thought he would really struggle with it and I was scared for him but he delivered it amazingly and it gives me goosebumps when I think back to it. Another highlight was standing back with Tom and watching all our friends and family on the dance floor. I can honestly say it was never empty and to see them all laughing and enjoying themselves was such a delight.
Only aim to try on a few dresses in each shop. Sometimes you can be tempted to take in 10+ choices (and your mums/sisters/bridesmaids favourite options..!) but you come away more confused than when you went in. It’s good to be sure you’ve found the style that suits you best but I still think you should minimise what you try on in each shop so you remember what you’ve done. If it’s taking time to find what you like go back on another day with a fresh outlook.. don’t be tempted to hit 5 stores in a day! I absolutely loved doing it and only took my mum and sisters with me to keep opinions to a minimum. Once I had a good idea of what I was going to go for I took the rest of my bridesmaids which was lovely. I also chose a dress that I was comfortable in. It felt like I was wearing nothing. I love structured gowns but in the end I went for something light which I knew I could dance the night away in!
Tom has been an usher several times before so he has his own tails (renting multiple times turned out to be more expensive) but we hired waistcoats for all the bridal party and bought ties as a present.
My wonderful friend and bridesmaid Francesca Thorley made our wedding cake. It was so special to have one made by someone we love and she did a phenomenal job. Since our wedding she has actually launched her own business in the wedding cake business so more people can be treated to her talents. I wanted a traditional cake but with lots of sugar flowers to show off her talents.. the end result was outstanding.
Personally, I feel favours can swallow up a chunk of the budget which you see abandoned on tables the following morning. We named all the tables after a brand of gin and had a full bottle of each of those gins on that table for people to enjoy.. it wasn’t a favour as such but made a good talking point as people sat down and got the bar going! We also had magnums of wine on each of the tables. They looked fantastic and people get sociable passing them around.
I would have loved peonies but we were too late in the season for them. Antique roses were therefore heavily used with lots of fresh stocks and greenery. We had hydrangeas in the church, interspersed with green garlands which were wrapped around the pillars. In the tent, we had swags of greenery in between hanging floral arrangements which we had loads of comments about.
We were engaged for 8 months. Having it at home puts you in a privileged position that you don’t need to wait for your dream venue to be available but I honestly didn’t feel like I was rushed. I absolutely loved organising every aspect and having a great team of friends and family to help meant it wasn’t stressful in the slightest.
My favourite part was the wedding week run up. If you can afford the annual leave I’d really recommend you try and take off about 3 days before the wedding so you can take it all in. Seeing all these ideas you’ve spent months thinking about come together is so fab.
Organisation. Don’t just say ‘that can wait till the wedding week’.. if you can do it now get it done. I started writing out the table name cards about 2 months before. It’s normally a last minute job but why not get things like that done so you might have a hope of enjoying that last day before the I do’s because you’ve done it all. It also means if you have an accident like I did 36hrs before the wedding, it doesn’t throw you off. I dropped a hurricane lamp on my foot and severed the tendons in it whilst setting up the tent 36hrs before the wedding.. I spent the evening in hospital and had to have surgery straight after the wedding and cancel our honeymoon. I was in plaster for 7 weeks after the wedding and had to wait a boot on my foot and hobble down the aisle. I had sorted everything out before the accident though so although I was upset I couldn’t wear my dream shoes it didn’t spoil a thing. Don’t lose sight of what you’re doing it for.. it’s about the two of you and everything else will fall into place.
They were in full length blush Coast dresses and the flower girls in white ballerina style dresses. I had 7 bridesmaids and they were all different heights and shapes which made finding a style to suit quite tricky. I fell in love with the dresses they had but initially thought the shape might not suit all body types. In the end it flattered them all and I think they were happy with them. I knew I wanted a subtle colour though as I think if you have a large number of bridesmaids like me, you’d need sunglasses to look at the photographs. A little pop of brightness is great but if it’s 7 of them I thought it might be a bit much!
We had a live band and DJ. The band have been used at previous family events so I knew I could trust them. The atmosphere live music creates and keeping your guests on the dance floor was a big priority so it’s worth spending some money on it. Having a DJ for after is great as the band can’t keep going all night and he provided the PA system for speeches etc. We had a VW camper van photo booth which doubled up as the guest book. I know a lot of people do this now but it’s a great momento and the VW van looked cooked cool in the garden for the whole day. We put out some lawn games for people to play with. The drinks reception can be a long affair with the bridal party going off to have photos etc. If you have the space, giving the guests something else to do can break the time up a little I hope.
Bride’s Three Top Tips (for future brides):
- Pick a caterer that is experienced in weddings and can advise on all aspects of the wedding breakfast e.g linen hire/glass hire. It means it’s one less thing for you to do and the caterer will have everything they need to make the meal and service perfect.
- Invest in a good band – live music is the best and not worth cutting corners with. Sets the tone for the party.
- Try and have everything done 36hrs before the wedding. It will allow you to enjoy the day before so you can have a manicure/pedicure and welcome friends that may be arriving from afar. Or in my case if you end up in hospital it doesn’t throw you into a major panic!! But the hospital bit is not to be recommended..
Perhaps a fourth tip should be to wear slippers in the marquee when you’re setting up so any stray glass won’t do so much damage.. and the champagne carpet still stays clean!! Haha!
Suppliers: Dress – Claire Pettibone Romantique collection – Gardenia / Veil – Lilya Grace Bridal Nantwich / Shoes – Benjamin Adams / Flowers – Mum de Force & Emma Remington / Make-up – Fleur de Force / Hair – Lara Boot Hairdressing / Bridesmaid Dresses – Coast / Cake – Francesca Dahlia by F. Thorley / Photographer – Matthew William Ellis / Videographer – Redcrow productions / Marquee – Wings Marquees