Phoebe in Andrea Hawkes & Halfpenny London for her Sennowe Park Wedding in Norfolk

The beautiful countryside of Norfolk at the height of summer hosted today’s wedding, for which the bride chose two, delectable gowns. If you’re a fan of modern simplicity, you will love the styling of this joyful, countryside day.

Norwich Cathedral played host to commercial finance manager Phoebe and art dealer Ross’s classic and timeless wedding, held on 7th August 2021. Letting the historic beauty of the cathedral and their reception venue, Sennowe Park near Guist in Norfolk, the styling was elegant and minimal, with nods to Phoebe’s grandparents’ South African roots through majestic protea flowers.

Photography Kristian Leven Photography

The Look

My father insisted that, despite the reception being held at Sennowe Park, he wanted me to get ready at home as he felt it was the traditional thing to do. It was a special moment seeing the car arrive up our driveway.

My experience with Andrea Hawkes was one of the highlights of the wedding process. The experience with the team was faultless and the team were so friendly and patient, even allowing me to revisit once I had chosen the dress to show my mother and choose the veil I wanted to go with the ‘Fleur’ dress.

They were also great with advising what underwear and shoes to wear, always replying promptly over email when I’m sure they were drowning in requests and appointments post-lockdown restrictions lifting.

I found choosing a wedding dress the hardest part of the planning process. I wanted something timeless and elegant but was battling with a voice in my head stating I should go for something bigger to suit the venue.

The best advice I got was when visiting Morgan Davies Bridal and our stylist Sarah said to me, “You have to feel comfortable in what you are wearing down the aisle”.

Andrea Hawkes

That didn’t leave my head; in the end, you have to choose something that you feel comfortable in and that’s you, and that’s exactly how I felt when trying the Fleur dress on.

I placed three Eden b. Studio flower pins above my Andrea Hawkes’ ‘Blossom’ veil that tied in beautifully with the flower detail on my veil. They were a match meant to be.

I chose Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower together with my husband, I love tuberose and the scent is so unique.

Every time I’ve used it since, we both reminisce on the day.

The Ceremony

I went to Norwich School. As Norwich Cathedral sits in the grounds of the school, I was lucky enough to have every assembly in the cathedral. It’s full of some of my most special memories and feels me with nostalgia and flashbacks every time I enter. As a member of Norwich School you are able to marry at the cathedral, so it felt like the most natural choice as it was the church I had spent most time in.

My father Maurice accompanied me down the aisle to Handel’s ‘Hornpipe from The Water Music’, one of the most emotional moments for me. As soon as the organ started playing for me to start walking, I was welling up. Our Canon told me to pull myself together and take a deep breath – it worked!

When saying our vows on a fairly grey and rainy morning, the sun suddenly shone and filled the cathedral with light. I remember looking up and seeing the light stream in through the windows that reached so far above me. It felt like someone upstairs was giving full approval.

Ross designed my ring with Mark Griffin of Griffin of London. It’s based on my favourite flower, the protea, which also has a nod to my South African heritage. I had always wanted a sapphire and a unique ring and Ross got it spot on. It even has our initials built into the metalwork on the underside of the ring. I couldn’t have got it as right myself. Mark also made both of our wedding bands, with mine made to fit around my engagement ring. Both are engraved with a personal touch.

Flowers

The venues did most of the talking so we didn’t want to distract from them too much in terms of décor. For my bouquet flowers, it was important to have proteas as a nod to my grandparents who are from South Africa. They are my favourite flower and also what Ross designed my ring on.

My bouquet, made by Niche Flowers in Norfolk, included large King proteas. It actually ended up being quite heavy so I didn’t throw the bouquet as it could have caused some damage.

The Engagement

We all went out for pizza one night at a restaurant my little brother was working at in North London. After that, Ross asked me out on a date and the rest is history. We got engaged in May 2020. Ross designed my ring and it was still being made as we went into lockdown. He went for a long bike ride one day and picked up the ring from the jeweller, socially-distanced in a car park, with the jeweller placing it on the car bonnet and stepping away so Ross could pick it up.

We got engaged in Norfolk after a bike ride on an unusually hot May day. Ross had gone out earlier in the afternoon, brought a bottle of champagne and hid it in the fence with some ice and glasses at the spot he would propose at. After getting down on one knee, he was up and ruffling around in the hedge and came out with champagne.

Luckily, we didn’t have to postpone or cancel – we were one of the first weddings to go ahead post all restrictions easing. However, the planning stage was really impacted by the uncertainty, lots of sleepless nights and anxiety over whether we should postpone for safety. In the end, we decided the wedding day was about our marriage and even if we were only allowed 30 people, we would go ahead with our plan B on our original wedding date, at the same venues.

Bridesmaids & Groom

The bridesmaids wore a variety of gowns in soft blush pink, from Maids to Measure.

Ross chose a classic morning suit from Huntsman Savile Row worn with a Huntsman tie, a wedding gift from Phoebe.

The Photographer

I wanted to be able to reflect on our day and remember the emotion of the day via our photos, rather than look at posed photographs. I wanted it to transport me back to specific moments that might otherwise have been forgotten. Kristian Leven’s photography does just that.

When you look through the photos, you feel and remember every emotion on the day, from the nerves and excitement when getting ready to the overwhelming enormity of walking down the cathedral aisle, to the emotion in the speeches, the crying of laughter during the after-dinner games and the feeling of never wanting to stop dancing in the evening.

The Reception

We fell in love with Sennowe Park when visiting; the entrance alone with its sweeping drive is enough to take your breath away. It’s a private home, originally built by the Thomas Cook family, and it’s still owned by the descendants of Thomas Cook.

When visiting, Virginia made us feel so welcome and this personal touch made it stand out against other venues in Norfolk which felt more like businesses.

This, coupled with the fact that they hold limited weddings a year, meant it was a no-brainer.

I loved the idea of gypsophila so we had ropes of gypsophila along the tables, cascading off the edge. It was really whimsical. Sail & Peg supplied the stars hanging over the dance-floor which were so beautiful at night.

Ross’s parents home-made their own sloe gin for each guest which was a really personal touch.

I am gluten-free and at first, I didn’t want to burden everyone else with a gluten-free wedding cake but Ross was insistent that I would have a cake that I could eat at our wedding. We used Emma from Buns of Fun and wow, I have never tasted a gluten-free cake so good! I am so glad Ross persuaded me on this one.

Our MC, my good friend Mark, put on some after-dinner games that really broke the ice before we headed into an evening of dancing. He selected members of the guests to join him of a game of finding objects from the rest of the guests. The final object was a ‘White Dress’, so I was promptly swept off my feet (luckily with the dress)! I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at a wedding.

Evening & Dancing

For the evening, I wanted to not be worrying about my trail on the floor and wanted something a bit fun. I tried on the ostrich feather Iris slip at Halfpenny London and fell in love with the feather detail. It also was a nod to my family as they used to own an ostrich farm in South Africa in the early 1920’s. They exported ostrich feathers for flapper girl dresses, so it felt like it was meant to be!

Halfpenny London

We hired Truly Medley Deeply and our first dance was to ‘I’m A Believer’ by The Monkees. We loved its upbeat nature. The live band really hit it off in the chorus where we wanted everyone to join in and have a good old dance after over a year with no dancing at weddings and one of the first times being on a dance-floor with people in months. It felt great.

Words of Wedded Wisdom

Don’t let other people’s opinions affect your decisions. Make sure the day is what you want and listen to your gut throughout the process.

Don’t worry about the weather – what will be will be. We had rain forecast all day but against all odds, the sun shone throughout our whole outdoor drinks reception and when I was going in and out of the church. It wasn’t the wall-to-wall sunshine I wanted but we had people tell us it was the best wedding they’ve been to, so people really don’t care when they are having a good time.

I spent hours scrolling through Love My Dress for inspiration. I must have logged on several times a week throughout the planning process. The real weddings section is my favourite part of the blog as you get to see how people have styled their dress and been creative with their décor. It can give you some great ideas and spark the creativity within you.

I definitely was influenced by Love My Dress to visit both Halfpenny London and Andrea Hawkes, which I ended up choosing for my evening and day dresses.

Credits & Thanks

Eleanor Crossland

Eleanor Crossland View all Eleanor's articles

Ele lives in the Lincolnshire countryside, close to the beautiful coast. A qualified Pilates teacher, she loves fitness, yoga, Pilates and has a healthy addiction to baking, writing and travel.

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