Good afternoon all, and apologies for the lack of post this morning. All back to normal now and by the time you read this, I'll have flown back from Gatwick to Newcastle to make my way home having spent a very lovely few days in Ripley, Surrey, with the Miss Bush Bridal team for the launch of The Chapel, the exquisite new boutique that Emma Meek and her team have relocated too. I took about a gazillion Instagram images last night during the launch event - watch out for my feature on the whole experience here very soon.
Today's wedding is that of University administrator Jen and her beau Will, a graphic designer in the music industry (does the print design for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Music Prize amongst others). The couple tied the knot on 14th September last year at Stoke Park Pavilions in Northants.
"Will and I had an idea in our heads of what we wanted before we’d even started looking for inspiration – something quite relaxed and informal, with a vintage, summer fete type of feel. Once we started looking online and in magazines we realised that we weren’t the only ones with that idea – it seemed to be the wedding theme of choice last summer! This at least meant there was lots of inspiration out there for us to look through. Love My Dress® provided lots of ideas and inspiration – so many pretty weddings were featured, many with elements that we wanted to bring to our day."
Photography Copyright (c) 2014, Olliver Photography
"Will and I have actually known each other since we were 18! We both had joint friends at school and used to go out to the same places, but we didn’t really know each other that well. We lost touch when we both went to uni, but met up again a few years later when a few of the old group moved back home. We all started hanging out together again, and Will and I got to know each other better and became good friends. After a while we both realised that we liked each other as more than friends, but were both too scared to tell the other how we felt! Eventually we plucked up the courage to confess our feelings, and the rest is history! The relationship just felt right from the start, so much so that we bought a house after we’d only been together for nine months! We’d been together for three and a half years before we got engaged
Will proposed whilst we were sitting beside the sea watching a beautiful sunset in Ibiza. We got on with the preparations as soon as we got home, and were married 11 months later!"
"We really struggled initially to find a suitable venue. We wanted somewhere that had some character to it, and where we would have the freedom to really put our stamp on the day. We first saw Stoke Park on a cold and damp winter’s day, but even that couldn’t disguise how magical it felt. It is completely secluded from the nearby village, and we had no idea it was even there until we started looking for venues! The two Pavilions at the site are the only remains of a large Palladian mansion, and there’s a real feeling that they’ve been forgotten in time. The stone of the buildings is covered in lichen and crumbling in places, giving an air of faded elegance."
"Inside the Pavilion, where the ceremony and reception took place, old portraits hang on the walls, and the large mirrors are darkened with age. Despite the grandeur of the buildings, there was a really welcoming atmosphere to the place.
The Pavilions sit within formal lawns, with unbroken views over private parkland and the surrounding countryside. We loved the large lily pond with its family of ducks! There was also an orchard to wander in, complete with roaming chickens!"
"Strolling through the grounds,we felt like we’d stumbled upon a secret garden. We knew straight away that this was the venue for us, especially as it would be exclusively ours for the whole weekend, and we would have full use of the grounds. There were also no real restrictions on how the day had to be set out, meaning that we could make our wedding as unique and individual as we wanted.
We visited Stoke Park several times over the course of the year, and witnessed it transform from a snowy winter wonderland into a green and verdant summer garden. Each time we visited, the venue looked more beautiful, and we felt so lucky that we were able to hold our wedding in such a wonderful place."
"Our venue came with a wedding planner – the wonderful Sarah Sweet-Rowley from Sweet Events. We weren’t intending to hire a wedding planner, but it was great to have Sarah on hand to deal with all the matters relating to the venue. She took care of arranging the marquee, furniture hire, setting us up with a caterer, and was on hand to set everything up and ensure that everything ran smoothly on the day. Sarah was always wonderfully calm, and always helped us come up with solutions if we were struggling to make our ideas work practically!
The Pavilion, in which we had our ceremony and afternoon tea, was so beautiful that we didn’t need to do much other than add the flowers! There was a huge fireplace with a mantelpiece above on which we displayed the wedding pictures of our parents and grandparents. The tables for the afternoon tea were set up in the Pavilion after the ceremony. We wanted the tables to have a homely feel to them, so each one was dressed with a variety of knick-knacks that we’d found at car boots and charity shops. This included old tins, stacks of old books, old glass bottles and small ornaments.
Our mums worked like trojans and crocheted loads of doilies for all the tables! The flowers on each table were displayed in jam jars and cut class vases."
"We hired vintage crockery, which completed the look perfectly. We had our bar and dance floor set up in a marquee outside. We wanted to make the bar area feel like a cosy living room, with armchairs, rugs, pictures on the walls and a couple of standard lamps. We spent the summer before the wedding visiting car boots and vintage shops, and trawling the depths of ebay, and bought most of the bits ourselves.
We also found Sophie of Style Your Day, who had lots of vintage props to hire along with the vintage crockery for our afternoon tea. She was able to provide us with several extra pieces, such as a pair of deck chairs and a stack of wicker hampers, which helped us achieve our overall look. We set up a games area on the lawn, with lots of old traditional games such as quoits and skittles."
"Whilst looking through an old bridal magazine, I saw a dress by Diana Vickers at Very.com that I thought would be perfect for my bridesmaid. Unfortunately, because the magazine was out of date, they no longer stocked it, but after a lot of searching online, I was lucky enough to find the dress on Ebay – and even luckier that it was the right size! Even better, it still had the tags on and was an absolute bargain.
I bought a simple white angora shrug from Monsoon to complete the outfit. I felt the dress needed something around the waist, so bought a length of ivory ribbon which we wrapped around the waist a couple of times and fastened in a bow at the back. I bought a pearl bracelet and earrings to go with the dress, which I gave to Alison as a gift on the morning of the wedding."
"Will’s parents were also brilliant and made many of the games themselves, including painting and numbering stacks of tin cans, and making beanbag chickens to knock them down with! We also made loads of lengths of bunting from pretty fabrics, some of which had been in the family for years. We strung the bunting up inside and outside the marquee and it looked fantastic!"
"As our venue wasn’t licensed, we had our ‘official’ ceremony in the morning at the local register office. We really just treated this as a formality though (I didn’t wear my dress!), as we viewed the later ceremony at the Pavilions as our true wedding. We employed Diane Richmond of Circle of Life Celebrants to conduct a service at our venue.
As this wasn’t an official ceremony, we had free-range to say whatever we wanted. Diane wrote a wonderful service for us, which we were able to add to with ideas and anecdotes of our own"
"My dress was designed by Sincerity Bridal, and was purchased from Bride and Joy in Milton Keynes. I knew I wanted a dress with a vintage feel, and nothing that was too over the top or flouncy! I saw this dress at a wedding fair in Milton Keynes, and consequently made an appointment with the shop that had it on display. The shop was only the second I visited on my first day of dress shopping, and it turned out I didn’t need to visit any others after it. I knew straight away that the dress was the one for me! I loved the elegant cut of the fabric, which along with the lace overlay, gave it a classic timeless feel.
I didn’t want a fancy veil that was going to draw attention away from the dress, so I bought a simple satin edged veil on Ebay."
"The majority of the flowers were homegrown, from both our garden and those of our parents. We wanted the flowers to be very informal and relaxed, and to look as if they had just been picked from the garden (which they had!). We displayed the flowers in bottles, jam jars and old cut glass vases that we found in charity shops and at car boot sales.
My mum did both bouquets and the button holes. I loved my bouquet, it was so pretty and romantic, and I loved that all the flowers in it had been picked fresh from the garden that morning!"
"We sat down and wrote our own vows, which seemed to take forever to get right! I’d always thought that I wouldn’t want to read personalised vows at my wedding, as I hated the thought of standing up in front of all those people reading something so personal! However, we decided to keep them fairly short and sweet and we were really happy with what we came up with.
We printed them on to cards matching all our other wedding stationery, so that we had something to read from in case we went completely blank! Printing them up also means that we have been able to frame them after the wedding, to have as a memento from the day (and to be able to look at if we ever need reminding of the vows we made to each other!)."
"We made use of Will’s talents as a graphic designer and designed all the wedding stationery ourselves. We spent a long time working together on the design of the invite, and carried this theme through to all the stationery."
"We printed our own luggage tags for the place settings, and designed the table menus and all the signage for the day. We found a set of quirky screen printed notecards, each with a ‘sophisticated’ animal print (such as a fox wearing a bow tie and top hat!). We put these into mismatched frames, and used them to identify each table rather than having table names or numbers."
"We didn’t provide individual favours at each place setting. Instead, we found variety of large glass jars and vases, which we placed at the centre of each table. I then spent the week before the wedding baking hundreds of mini meringues, which we then filled the jars with for guests to help themselves to. Luckily Will’s parents own chickens, so I had a steady supply of eggs to make the meringues!"
"We were lucky enough to have Annie and Christian from Olliver Photography as our photographers, who we discovered through Love My Dress®. We instantly loved their vintage, informal style. Annie was so friendly and easy-going, that we, and our guests, were completely at ease with the photography during our wedding day. They’ve provided us with some beautiful photographs that we are going to treasure forever."
"My shoes were Rainbow Club, and went really well with the dress. They were ivory satin with a vintage lace overlay. I went for a small 2-inch heel, as I wanted to be able to stand on my feet all day without suffering!"
"I did my own make-up, and Will’s mum, Jean, who used to be a hairdresser, did my hair. This meant that we got to have lots of practice sessions beforehand to work out exactly what we wanted!"
"Will wore a 3-piece suit from Reiss, his shoes were from Bertie and tie from John Lewis. He finished the look with some stripy Happy Socks! He also wore an antique watch chain that had once belonged to his Grandad."
"My Dad walked me down the aisle to the sound of the Vitamin String Quartet instrumental cover of ‘Hoppipolla’ by Sigur Rós. I get goose bumps every time I hear it now! At the end of the ceremony, we walked out to ‘Hey Ho’ by the Lumineers. We followed this by “Mah Na Mah Na’ by Mahna Mahna and The Two Snowths (the song from the Muppets!) to play out those guests who were taking their time to file out!"
"Again, choosing a reading took a lot longer than we thought it would! There are so many out there to choose from, but we didn’t want anything too gushy or clichéd as it really wouldn’t have been us. Eventually we came across ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum, which really rang true with us and captured perfectly everything we felt about getting married."
"We used Austin Fell for our catering, who were recommended by Sarah our wedding planner at the venue. We had decided to have afternoon tea rather than a formal sit down meal, and our caterers provided a delicious selection of homemade sandwiches, savoury pastries and scones with cream. As part of our afternoon tea, we had asked our guests to bake us a cake if they wished, and we then set up a ‘Cake Bar’ on the grand piano in the Pavilion. Our friends and family embraced this idea enthusiastically and provided a fantastic selection of cakes!
Our caterers laid everything out beautifully and helped guests to serve themselves a selection of cakes during the afternoon tea. We had a delicious hog roast later on in the evening, again provided by the caterers."
"I love baking cakes, so I decided to make the cake myself. We didn’t want anything too fancy, so I did a three-tiered cake covered in a simple ivory icing. I then dressed it with vintage lace, ribbon and pearl beads. I have a lovely cake stand that Will bought for me, and the cake sat on there perfectly. I hadn’t attempted a tiered cake before and was a bit nervous as to how it would turn out, but I was really pleased with the end result."
“It’s so hard to choose one single moment as my very favourite part of the day! Looking back, I think perhaps it was the moment just after I’d arrived, and I was standing outside the doors of the Pavilion waiting to walk down the aisle. We’d visited the venue many times over the course of the year in the build up to the wedding, and I felt overwhelmed to finally be there on our wedding day. The door was ajar and I caught a glimpse of all the guests sitting waiting. I found it incredible that all those people were there for us, and that they were all sitting there waiting for me! For me, it was also a small moment of calm in an otherwise hectic day.
After all the excitement of getting ready in a busy house, it was a chance for me to just take a quiet moment with my dad and sister, and for me to take a deep breath to calm my nerves before walking down the aisle."
"We used Pure Rhythm Disco for our evening entertainment. We decided to use this company as they were really open to us building our own playlist if we wanted. We didn’t want to have a lot of the really cheesy music that usually gets rolled out at wedding receptions, so we were really pleased to be able to have a say in what would and wouldn’t get played!
We chose ‘Grow Old With Me’ by Tom Odell as our first dance. We knew we had to have this track after hearing it for the first time, as the lyrics just capture perfectly everything you want to say to each other as you start life together as a married couple. We also wanted all our family and friends to join in and dance towards the end of the track, and the tempo picked up nicely to allow everyone to dance along!"
Words of Wedded Wisdom…
“I think it is important not to try and get too caught up with the very minor details. Like most brides I got caught up in the last minute panic, and at one point I think I was crying about whether I was going to have enough time to decorate all the jam jars I’d collected for the flowers. I had to sit back and tell myself that only I knew about the extra little decorative details that I wanted to do – if it didn’t get done, no one else would know that they were missing! As long as all the important details are taken care of, nobody is going to notice that you’ve got white ribbon rather than ivory, or that the stationary for the place settings doesn’t match exactly with your invites!
And as everybody told me before my wedding, the most important thing is just to enjoy it! The day flashes by so quickly that it’s over before you know it. Don’t let any little problems get you down. You only get to have this day once and it would be silly to let any trivial disappointments spoil your enjoyment and memories of the day. Only a few minor issues popped up on our big day, but I was determined not to let them bother me, and looking back I can’t even really remember what they were.
I don’t think we would really have done anything differently, except perhaps hire a heater for the marquee! We decided not to as the weather had been very warm, and as the marquee was only being used for the bar and disco, we thought that would keep people warm enough. Unfortunately however, on the evening of the wedding it turned quite cold, and it was quite chilly in the marquee. Luckily we had a roaring fire lit in the Pavilion for those who didn’t want to dance to keep warm, and the rest of us danced enough to keep the cold at bay!”
What a lovely lovely day – big congratulations to you Jen and Will on your charming September wedding, and huge love to Olliver Photography for sharing their beautiful wedding photography. Readers, please take a moment to check out the Olliver Photography website and blog because I absolutely think you need to look at it if you still haven't booked your wedding photographer. Fact.
Have a lovely afternoon,
Photographer – Olliver Photography
Planner at the venue – Sweet Events
Stylist – Style Your Day
Celebrant – Circle of Life Celebrants
Venue – Stoke Park Pavilion in Northants
Wedding Dress – Sincerity Bridal via Bride and Joy in Milton Keynes
Veil – Ebay
Shoes – Rainbow Club
Accessories – Accessorize hair slides
Grooms Suit – Reiss + Bertie shoes + tie via John Lewis
Bridesmaids – Diana Vickers at Very.com + Shellys shoes via Amazon
Flowers – homegrown
Cake – Made by the bride
Entertainment – Pure Rhythm Disco
Rings – Wedding Rings Direct
Catering – Austin Fell
Stationery – Designed by the groom
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