A Floral Charlotte Balbier Gown for a Summer Wedding in Sunny Devon

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Dear Readers, I just received a lovely bouquet of spring flowers from my parents, which I’ve been sat here admiring, and then I opened the folder of images for today’s wedding and spotted the incredible, joyous pastel-hued floral print gown worn by our bride and it’s just delightful. Come along with me to gorgeous Devon for this relaxed and colourful coastal celebration, you’re going to love it.

Meet copywriter Kathryn and Woody, a chartered accountant. They were married on the 30 June 2018 in a ceremony at Holy Trinity Church in Salcombe, Devon followed by a marquee reception in nearby Thurlestone.

Let’s start with a sweet highlights film from Kathryn and Woody’s videographer, friend and usher, James Davidson.




“My family has been going on holiday to Salcombe since I was five. I always wanted to get married there, but when my fiancé suggested moving to Devon (after a decade in London) shortly after proposing, suddenly it was the obvious choice! We both wanted to get married in a church so Salcombe Holy Trinity was our first stop. It’s a church that dates back to 1843 and is run by an incredibly cool vicar –Father Daniel –who made the whole experience really easy. He married us with boardies and flip-flops on under his vicar’s robes (he’d been “blessing boats” that morning in Salcombe Harbour)! What a legend.”

Images by Joseph Hall Photography

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Kathryn chose a spectacular watercolour floral print ballgown from Charlotte Balbier via The White Boutique in Leamington Spa (with alterations undertaken by The Seamtresses Coventry). I love its classic silhouette – sweetheart neckline with a beautifully draped bodice, and also – that bow!

“I knew I didn’t want to wear white, it’s just not my colour. It was tricky as I suspected that my mum had always imagined me in white and I didn’t want to disappoint her, but in the end she just wanted me to have something that was “me”. And that turned out to be this colourful, floral number by Charlotte Balbier.”“I saw it (it was called ‘Jayde’) in a magazine and just thought it was fantastic. I only tried on two dresses: the one I wore, and its white version. There was no contest.The bow at the back was probably my favourite thing about it; the way it’s kind of on the wonk makes it so unusual, and the way the fabric falls from it is dreamy.”

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“My make-up was by my best friend and bridesmaid Elizabeth Rita. She’s my fave person in the world aside from Woody and knowing I had someone who I trusted was worth its weight in gold. She’s the best (although I am biased)…My hair was done by the unbeatable Craig Chapman who’s a friend and miracle-worker.”

In her hair Kathryn wore a sparkling crystal ‘Celestial Flight’ Pegasus wing comb, from Tilly Thomas Luxe.

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On her feet Kathryn wore Rachel Simpson’s Art Deco fan inspired ‘Isabelle’ shoes in mint green, and for jewellery, a lovely array of heirloom, borrowed and bought pieces – a diamond ring on loan from her mother-in-law (originally part of a set of earrings belonging to her father-in-law’s aunt, which were then made into rings); cubic zirconia stud earrings from John Lewis and a diamond trio necklace.

“It was made out of my grandma’s engagement ring, something my mum had wanted to do for years. It served as my something old and new, and was incredibly special to me. She died ten years ago but we were very close.”

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Florist Caroline Hodges worked magic, creating beautiful candy-coloured bouquets from Kathryn and her bridesmaids.

“She was so cool. I loved her, she had spectacular taste and created four gorgeous bridesmaid bouquets out of peonies, stocks and foliage, and a stunning larger version for me… I also has a tiny sapphire and gold charm attached to my bouquet. It was a gift from my mother-in-law and had belonged to her great-great grandmother.”

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The couple didn’t hire an event planner, but Kathryn credits her mum with providing incredible support, organisation and coordination during the planning process.

“She was amazing. She just put her all into everything. I’m one of three kids but the only girl so it’s safe to say she’d been waiting for this event since around 1985! I knew she was organised, but I saw a whole new level of efficiency on the run up to our wedding. She never pushed, but had the whole thing under control. She left me the lovely creative decisions and did all the dross work: ordering napkins, hiring loos. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

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Despite attending the same university, Kathryn and Woody never met during their three years spent there! Five years ago, however, Woody gatecrashed a party held by Kathryn and her housemates, arriving with his friend (later Best Man) Matt and his girlfriend (and now wife) Ethné.

“Ethné had been talking up this guy Woody to me for a few years and I had never taken much notice, not believing in blind dates or match-making. Matt had similarly been telling Woody he needed to meet me, too. Again, he’d been steadfastly ignoring this advice.”

“We talked all night, and I ended up giving him my number. Sadly, as Woody loves to tell people and even included in his wedding speech, I managed to give him the wrong phone number. I had drunkenly switched the last two digits. No matter how many times I defend this drunken action, Woody still believes I did it on purpose. I did not. I liked him immediately; he was funny, kind and clever. Furthermore, he seemed to think I was funny and clever.”

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The couple moved in together two years later when Woody asked Kathryn to marry him at sunset crossing the lovely Albert Bridge in London.

“…He was by now sweating and practically shaking. “OH.” I thought to myself, “RIGHT. I know what’s happening!” Call me slow, but it had just not occurred to me. He got down on one knee (because he’s hopelessly old-fashioned), said something incredibly lovely, and asked me to marry him.”

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Kathryn and her party made their way to the church in restored vintage Land Rovers belonging to childhood friends, Jack and Ben. Together with her dad, Kathryn walked down the aisle to meet Woody, to Wagner’s Bridal March played on the church organ.

The ceremony was conducted by Father Daniel, and together the couple exchanged their vows, and Kathryn chose a wedding ring from Brooklyn-based jeweller, Elleven.

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Woody was resplendent in a traditional morning suit – one that he has had for years, together with a pastel pink double-breasted waistcoat made by a local seamstress (sadly no details provided) he also wore a Simon Carter tie with a crab motif, echoing their coastal location.

“His cufflinks were vintage ones with his name on them given to him when he was a baby, and I gave him a tie pin from Bookity (Etsy seller) with a tiny map of Salcombe on it.”

The groomsmen all wore matching waistcoats to Woody’s, with Best Man Matt wearing a matching crab print tie to Woody, and the groomsmen in grey ties with white polka dots. As wedding day gifts they were also presented with hip flasks showing their initials and tiny Lego superheroes.

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“Woody opted out of wearing a ring. He hates wearing jewellery so I didn’t make him wear one! Also, my grandfather lost his wedding ring finger is a farming accident – when Woody heard that there was no making him wear one!”

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Friend Helen read the religious readings for the ceremony, Song of Solomon 2:10-13 and 8:6-7, which the couple chose because they felt light and focused on love.

“It feels abundant and lush, like everything is just beginning. Then we had a Shakespeare (a lot of my English degree was focused on Shakespeare and I’m pretty into him)…Sonnet 116…Which is all about how tough proper love is, how non-fleeting and how sturdy. I liked the idea of a marriage as unshakeable, and we thought it sounded like a good way to start our marriage!”

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A favourite memory for Kathryn was during the ceremony, as the hymn Bread Of Heaven was being sung.

“The sheer volume when the congregation and choir boomed out the hymn… Always invite mates you played rugby with at uni to your wedding if you want that hymn sung with gusto! Also the drive with Woody in the Landy after the church. Just him me, and my friend Jack (who was driving us) whizzing along in an open-backed Landy trying not to spill champagne on my dress and shrieking ‘Oh my God, we just got married!’ over and over again.”

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Finally, from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louise de Bernieres, Kathryn and Woody chose the extract, Love Is A Temporary Madnessread by the friend who had introduced them, (together with her husband) Ethné.

“I love that this reading talks about what love isn’t. About how any idiot can be passionate, but committing to someone is actually pretty hard. For me, this talks about real love as I understand it: something solid and strong.”

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These effortless, light and natural images are by photographer Joseph Hall, who did a fabulous job capturing everything, all in the most gorgeous seaside setting.

“Joe Hall…was an absolute dream. I work with lots of wedding photographers so I was really worried about booking someone who’d make us jump in the air or something. Joe was relaxed, creative and just the nicest guy to boot. We LOVED him. The resulting snaps were beyond our wildest dreams, he’s got the best eye I have ever seen.”

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The bridesmaids wore pretty maxi dresses in a gorgeous, fresh shade of mint green from Ted Baker, which they wore with their own choice of footwear.

“My four best friends’ heights range from 5’4” to 6’1” so I was in no position to put them all in sky-scraping heels. Also heels + grass = disaster!”

“My niece (Nia) and goddaughter (Zara) wore little white dresses embroidered with horses from Children Salon. They were finished with sashes made from the off-cuts of my wedding dress to give them a bit of colour.”

They also wore sweet rose gold bunny shoes from Boden, bow headbands from Accessorize, and florist Caroline gave them wicker heart wands to wave, too. As gifts, Kathryn gave them rag dolls embroidered with their names and a copy each of the brilliant book Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls.

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Their destination was their marquee reception held in a field in nearby Thurlestone, overlooking beautiful Burgh Island, with the bridesmaids driven in the second vintage Land Rover!

“We chose a field because my family are farmers and that’s the only way we know how to throw parties! Stick a tent in a field! Our marquee was provided by the amazing guys at Hatch Marquee Hire who put it up in baking 35 degree heat and worked so hard for us. It had a transparent roof and sides so we could see the sea and dance under the stars! My parents actually suggested this spot in particular, as they had been walking the dogs on Bantham Beach and seen a marquee up there a few summers previous.”

01 Vintage Landrover wedding transport

There were long tables laid for banqueting inside the bright marquee space, with bright vases of flowers and hanging garlands of greenery, lovingly made by Kathryn’s aunts, godmother and friends of her mum.

“They are so, so clever. They’re not actually professional, so all done out of the goodness of their hearts which makes me kind of want to cry whenever I think about it. They worked with the colours of my dress: pinks, greens and meadowy-yellows to make it all tie in. Lots of eucalyptus, blush roses and rosemary for the menu cards.”

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The Little Gin Company set up their incredible mobile bar in the field, which proved popular right from everyone’s arrival post-ceremony, and Kathryn says that the team worked incredibly hard, also mixing up wedding special gin and tonics with Salcombe Gin, as well as a host of other delicious small batch gins and fresh garnishes.

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I love that the colour inspiration for Kathryn and Woody’s day came from the fresh summer hues of Kathryn’s gown. Overall, they wanted the day to be casual, and for the reception to provide a relaxed counterpoint to their traditional church service.

“We used a local nursery to fill one of the corners of the marquee with trees and shrubs which looked awesome, and added to the overall flora and fauna scheme. As well as little cut glass tumbles with posies of flowers in them, the tables had copper piping candlesticks and grey tapered candles.”

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For other place settings, calligrapher Kayleigh Tarrant hand-lettered the tops of the menus with guests’ names in pretty copper ink.

“When I called my mum to tell her that Woody had proposed, she suggested making little bottles of damson gin for wedding favours. I loved the idea as it was so personal, plus her damson gin is delicious. She brewed enough damson gin over the next 12 months to fill 250 little bottles!”

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Stationery, including elegant orders of service were designed and made by Andrea Radu of Funky Print Studio – beautiful copper hot foil with a sketch of the church on the front cover, by Kathryn’s friend Helen.

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Everyone sat down to a feast of Dartmoor lamb and paella, made by Elaine Day Entertaining Food, and Kathryn and Woody’s absolutely breathtaking grey marble effect cake was made for them by bridesmaid and baker Alice Marshall of Quintessential Cakes.

“She and I designed a beautiful, simple marbled cake with grey icing (to match the table cloths) and gold foil topping. It was chocolate, lemon and raspberry flavour (a different one on each tier).”

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Kathryn and Woody decided a first dance was not for them, but they made sure to secure fantastic entertainment for the evening, in the shape of band The Jacks.

“They were such nice guys: lovely to deal with and so accommodating. They even learnt Hi Ho Silver Lining for us (it’s my dad and my fave song). We had a midnight curfew for noise so when The Jacks finished, we broke out the Silent Disco headphones from Silent Disco Direct. It went down a storm. When you took your headphones off, all you could hear was terrible singing! Not sure it was the ‘quiet’ option.”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Do set a budget, I didn’t and we ran over a fair bit.”

“Don’t forget to ask your fiancé’s opinion, even if he tells you to crack on. Woody was initially happy for my Mum and I to make all the decisions but had a change of heart half way through and began to whinge that he didn’t know what was going on. I was really surprised, I assumed wedding stuff would bore him! I was totally wrong and he had some amazing ideas.”

“On that note, every single one of my friends who had had their own weddings said this to me and it’s so true: ‘During the day, whatever you do, get ten minutes alone with your new husband and just take it all in.’ It seems daft, but it’s worth remembering. Also, everybody says it, but do listen to your instincts over creative things and don’t be afraid to go for it. Also, though, try listening to your mum occasionally…”

“Be bold and don’t diet. If I had gone safe, I’d have never worn that dress and my wedding would definitely have been the poorer for it. Speaking as a larger than average bride (around 14-16 on any given day), please don’t fear dress shopping. I loved shopping for a wedding dress, the girls at the White Boutique assured me that all I needed to do was find a style I liked, and it would be altered to fit me perfectly. I found it very freeing, knowing that I didn’t have to find something ‘flattering for my shape’ or settle for a cut that was ‘appropriate’ for someone my size and shape. Not all brides are a size 8 and as soon as I acknowledged that I felt much more relaxed.”

“I also felt silly for fretting that I was ‘too fat to be a proper bride’ at one point. I think about that statement now and could laugh out loud at myself. I lost a tiny, token bit of weight ahead of the wedding through excitement but abandoned every wedding diet I started because I was too busy. You know what I should have done? Not started any at all.”

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Kathryn and Woody, thank you so, so much. Kathryn, thanks also for your beautiful words throughout, and honest, heartfelt words of wisdom. Many thanks also to James Davidson for his lovely film and Joseph Hall for these enchanting images. You can see more of his work on our blog pages here.

With love,

Laura

Credits & Thanks

Annabel

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

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