A Fun, Romantic & Relaxed Wedding at Abbots Court in the Dorset Countryside

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Lucy, founder of Lifestyle Fitness Formula, an online health and fitness coaching company for women, married Patrick, who has recently joined his wife to work with her in expanding her business, tied the knot on 22nd September 2023, at the beautiful Abbots Court in Dorset.

The couple wanted a fun and romantic day to enjoy with their guests and as they had to plan their UK wedding from Sydney, they recruited the support of Rebecca Marie Weddings to assist with some of the smaller items and design.

Lucy looked incredible in her Lé Lee Studio gown and these photographs by Jack Aldridge beautifully capture the joyful vibe of the day. Enjoy!

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Venue & Location

We chose Abbots Court in Dorset as our venue – it’s 15 minutes drive from my parents home in Bridport. When searching for a venue we had lots of obstacles – particularly, because we lived in Sydney. Researching and viewing venues was a little tricky for this reason, but my parents provided a helping hand where they could.

We toyed with having a destination wedding, but I had always wanted to get married close to where my parents live, and have more of a day wedding vs a late wedding that you tend to have in hot countries. Luckily I had two trips planned to the UK in 2022 (more weddings!) so I managed to perform some scouting during those short periods.

Our first big mistake came when we picked another venue (online from Sydney). We had even paid the deposit and locked in our caterers. The first venue was lovely and idyllic, but when I went to view it in person on one of my trips back to the UK, I had some concerns, the main being how close the grounds were to the motorway, and being located at their house. It just didn’t feel right. 

After feeling a little deflated after seeing the venue we selected, and of course some stressful conversations and tears on my end, I was served an ad on Instagram about Abbots Court, and there just so happened to be an open day that week.  When we arrived and I immediately fell in love.

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Abbots Court is nestled in six acres of woodlands, meadows and country fields. With its beautiful country house where myself and my bridal party got ready, the converted Victorian stables which hosted our welcome drinks, and the walled garden pavilion where our ceremony took place, with the rolling Dorset fields in the distance. It was exactly what we were looking for.

After speaking to Patrick, back in Sydney, we made the decision to book Abbots Court and switch venues. It was a risky move, and cost us losing deposits, but I’m SO glad we made this decision. Abbots Court was exactly what we wanted – a luxury country feel throughout, whilst also being relaxed and modern. It was perfect!

We wanted a fun, romantic, and relaxed wedding in the countryside of Dorset that encompassed our personality, style, and small touches from our Aussie lifestyle throughout; great food and drinks, entertainment and a neutral colour palette were the key things we focused on to bring our day to life.

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Bridal Beauty & Accessories

I wore a plain veil custom made by Lauren Francis Bridal. If you are wanting the most incredible experience getting your wedding dress, these ladies make you feel amazing. Every time we visited, it was like catching up with an old friend. 

I also wore pearl drop earrings from Lauren Francis bridal. My bridesmaids gave me a beautiful bracelet to wear on the day, and I had my nanny’s engagement ring on which meant the world to me that she could in some way be there on my special day. 

My shoes were from Charlotte Mills. I wanted something plain and as I had my mini for the evening. I did a lot of research as I wanted comfortable shoes – it’s amazing how hard it is to find plain bridal heels, so I ended up purchasing a pair with a lace design on top, which I asked my seamstress from Sew Bridal to remove, and they were perfect.

Charlotte Mills wedding shoes

We worked with the lovely Tara Sanger for our make up and April Natalie for our hair.  Tara came highly recommended from our venue, and from doing some research of the best makeup artists in the area, her name kept coming up. Tara was amazing from start to finish – her communication, the makeup trial, recommendations she gave on everything and anything, and of course on the day itself.

She felt like an old friend keeping me calm and making me laugh, even when it was pouring outside and I was panicking! She absolutely nailed my brief of a glowy, dewy look while being natural – I wanted to feel like myself, and I loved my make up so much. It really made my day that this was perfect.

April was another recommendation and I loved her soft, glam waves, which I always knew was exactly how I wanted my hair. She also nailed the brief for myself, my mum, and my bridesmaids, and everyone was so happy with their final look. All my bridesmaids chose what they wanted, and it looked amazing on the day.

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The Dress

I purchased my main Lé Lee Studio dress from Eternal Bridal – a well known bridal store in the heart of Sydney. They were amazing from start to finish! The designer I chose was a fairly new designer to their store, but I fell in love with my dress as soon as I put it on. 

They were very accommodating and allowed me to come back to try the dress on at a time I could call in my mum and sisters who were back in the UK. Although they were on the opposite side of the world, I wanted them to feel part of the process. 

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I had a really strong vision of wanting a lace dress with a low back, but every time I tried this style on, it didn’t suit me or didn’t feel right. I went to Eternal Bridal to try on a dress exactly like this, and felt disappointed when it wasn’t as I expected. As I was there, they suggested trying on some other styles. Funnily enough, she picked out my dress and I immediately said no I won’t like it. Luckily she was persistent and I gave it a go, only to then fall in love with it and find my dream dress! 

I loved how my dress was traditional with the lace throughout, with a touch of modern with the corset design. It was also completely different to any other dress I had seen on my friends or scrolling Instagram, and I wanted something that was unique. 



My bridesmaids dresses were from Maids to Measure and they were perfect! I wanted a very specific tone of blush (not too bright or garishly pink) which was actually extremely hard to find. I also had bridesmaids based all over the world, and different shapes and sizes, so finding something everyone was happy in was really hard. 

We ended up going to the store in London with three of my bridesmaids to try them on, and they had lots of different styles in the same colour which was perfect, so everyone could choose something that suited their figure. 

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I gave all my bridesmaids earrings from Saint Valentine – they were beautiful small gold hoops with pearl drops. I got my older sister a matching bracelet as she didn’t have her ears pierced.  They all wore their own nude heels. 

The dresses were from John Lewis and the headbands were from Monsoon. 

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The Ceremony

My dad walked me down the aisle, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life – it was such a special moment between us. 

For the ceremony, we had the lovely acoustic guitarist and singer, Robin, who we found via Bands for Hire. She played soft acoustic melodies as guests arrived to the ceremony, and then raised the tempo for the drinks reception. We asked if she would play Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ for my aisle walk, which she covered perfectly. 

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We had private vows which we shared with each other after the wedding.  We kept the ceremony short and sweet, but chose to read out promises. which were selected and slightly amended from the celebrants options. 

We had two readings, read by two of our close friends, and we didn’t want anything too cheesy or long. The first reading, Love Isn’t Always Perfect, was delivered by Federico, Patrick’s best friend from Sydney and one of his groomsmen. Our second reading was written by Sophie, my best friend from Sydney.

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We really wanted one reading to be more personal, so she created an amazing poem/limerick about us which plays on our Irish/English bond, how we met, and our journey together: 

“In Sydney’s embrace, a tale did begin,
Two souls, Lucy and Patrick, hearts to win.
An English rose and Irish charm unite,
In love’s embrace, their hearts take flight.
In each other’s eyes, they found their way,
A connection that grew stronger every day.
Through laughter and moments, both big and small,
Their love stood firm, a sturdy wall.
In each other, best friends found, hearts aligned,
Building your future together, dreams intertwined.
Side by side, you’ll journey through life’s embrace,
Facing the unknown, with love as your base.
From that first glance to this special day,
And now husband and wife, with love on display.
A future of dreams, adventures anew,
Together you’ll make them all come true.
A journey of love, through every stride,
Forever you will stand, side by side.”

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Patrick’s ring was purchased from a local jeweller in Sydney. He wanted a subtle gold ring which was brushed so it wasn’t so shiny and bright. 

My wedding band is mini ovals to match my engagement ring. I purchased this from Michael Arthur in Sydney. I went with them as they were one of the only places I could find with this style of ring I wanted, and the quality of their diamonds was the best we could find.

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Photography & Videography

Jack Aldridge has an amazing soft style which is exactly what I was looking for, and his personality really won us over! During our catch up calls, he was so positive and infectious with his enthusiasm and he really made us feel like he wanted to be part of our special day, not just as a vendor but to enjoy the celebration. 

He was so easy to work with and made us feel comfortable from the moment we met him. He was hardly noticeable on the day and we absolutely love all our wedding photos – I cannot recommend enough. 

I would recommend Jack in a heartbeat – you are spending the entire day with this person, so I’d highly suggest making sure you get a good vibe with them, and that you’ve met in person (or on zoom like we did). He was also super helpful in the planning process about anything and everything – I found I would turn to him for tips about our schedule, timings and anything to do with our day! He was so good, we are collaborating on the launch of our new bridal programs for my business.

We worked with Alex from AWB films. He was a dream to work with and made the whole process so easy and enjoyable. You can see the beautifully captured wedding film here.

Similar to Jack, he was so easy going, and we barely noticed him throughout the day. He got the most beautiful natural shots of us which I love, and captured all of the special moments from our day so well.

How They Met

I grew up in the UK, and Patrick is from Ireland. We were both living in Sydney for three years, before we met for the first time.

Both of us were in our favourite bar in Sydney, The Golden Sheaf in Double Bay – I had been at a boat party all day, and Patrick was at a baby shower with his friends. While in the Sheaf, Patrick and I repeatedly glanced at each other throughout the night, but he was obviously too scared to make a move! I spoke to my friend and said “this guy keeps looking at me, do you think I should go over?” She of course encouraged me, so I went over to introduce myself – something very out of character for me! 

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I shimmied through the very busy crowd, walked up to Patrick and his group of friends and introduced myself. We exchanged numbers and I returned to my friends. A few moments later my friends decided they wanted to visit another bar down the street – I was delighted, because it looked like I was playing hard to get, securing his number and then leaving, surely this was a strong move! 

The problem came when my friends and I reached the other bar, it was empty, so they decided to go back to the Sheaf! After some failed objections on my end, eventually we went back and Patrick and I ended up dancing together all night long – that was the start of our journey together. 

Patrick told this story in his wedding speech and always exaggerates that I was rugby tackling people out of the way just to reach him and introduce myself – which is half true, he got a few laughs! 

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On my 30th birthday, Patrick decided to pop the question. The day started with a sunrise walk, and a near-miss with a huntsman spider the size of his hand crawling in the bouquet of flowers that he got for me! He hired an Italian speedboat to take us to the iconic MacMahon’s point, but of course it didn’t all go to plan, as the boat driver was hungover and took us to the wrong spot (while of course I had no idea). When we finally got to the right place, we got engaged in front of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, it was perfect! 

Patrick joked in his wedding speech that buying a ring doesn’t actually buy the groom some time, it starts a countdown. He’s right! We were engaged for around a year and a half before we got married. I think he was trying to follow the Irish tradition of a long engagement, but I had other ideas!

Patrick wore rented tuxedos from a suit store in Dublin. He had a lot of trouble finding suits while living in Sydney. The other difficulty was that his groomsmen were geographically diverse; two in Sydney, one in London and three in Ireland. He wore a black button shirt and a velvet bow-tie, while the groomsmen wore white button and standard bowtie. 

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I tried not to get too lost in following wedding specific Instagram accounts as I use it a lot for work, so I mostly did my research on websites and Pinterest for inspiration. I mostly visited Love My Dress and The Lane –  I absolutely loved the real wedding inspiration – it gave me so many ideas and really helped me when briefing suppliers show them what I was looking for.  

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The Reception

As Abbots Court was a fairly blank canvas, we needed to organise things like plates, cutlery, linen, napkins etc. so having her help with this was amazing. 

I am obsessed with a muted blush tone, so of course this was going to be the main colour on the day. My bridesmaids, our napkins, and the flowers all had muted tones of blush, alongside whites and nudes to keep the theme soft and romantic. It was everything I could have dreamed of and more! 

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As a hint to our Aussie life, our tables were named after beaches we had been to together, alongside our sharing main of a Tomahawk steak with red wine jus and sharing sides, created and adapted from our favourite restaurant in Sydney. We also had dedicated carvers for each of the tables which we surprised our guests with. 

We purchased table linen, gold cutlery, and plates from Abbotts Events Hire. We had tall, tapered candles by Ester & Erik, from Blomster Designs. The white metallic sign was from Ginger Ray. Our blush napkins were from Amazon and the polaroid prints from Photobox which came with string and pegs. We also had a gin bar, but other than that, we kept it simple and used florals. 

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We worked with Alicia from Blush & Bloom Floral Design. There were a few reasons I chose to work with Alicia! First of all, I LOVED her style – it was very similar to what I wanted and I instantly connected with her page. 

She also has a background in styling, so I knew she could help with recommendations for the day. Alongside being a small business owner, I really wanted to work closely with someone directly and I had a really good vibe from her when we met. 

She was a dream to work with and was there for absolutely anything. We had calls, she sent me voice notes and images of colours and inspo – she really went over and above, and it shows! 

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We didn’t go wild with any other decoration, but I wanted the flowers to take pride of place, which is why this was so important to get right. I couldn’t recommend her enough.

Our cake was made by my beautiful sister, Kat. We asked for a 3 tier cake with chocolate, lemon drizzle and vanilla – it was delicious! We wanted a more rustic look, so it was coated in a light icing to marry into the minimalist style of the wedding. Alicia also decorated it with some roses. 

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I worked with Rebecca Marie, our stylist, to design the stationery. I had a clear vision of what I wanted – something very simple and minimalist. We had a welcome sign when guests arrived, personalised menus with guests names on, the table plan, gin station signage, Guinness signage, ceremony booklets with the order of the day on, and signage for the guestbook. 

We provided each guest with a little bottle of Hendrick’s gin. We encouraged them to create their own gin creation using the custom gin table we built in the reception area. We provided different tonics and fruit toppings to allow guests to create their own favourite G+T. We both love a good Gin and Tonic, so it was designed to highlight another of our favourite things, and give guests something fun to do.  

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We loved our catering and we received so many complements. The wedding breakfast was served by Kirsty and Steve at Fossil Food Catering.  As we had selected a sharing main, we chose to skip the starter and provide extra canapes with our drinks reception. Everyone LOVED these, and they went down a treat. 

For the main course we wanted to showcase some of our favorite foods. Fossil can create a bespoke menu for you based on your preferences or restaurants you’ve been to that you love. 

We opted for a Tomahawk steak – something that Patrick and I love having in Sydney. We served it with potatoes and lots of veggies (as I love veg!) We had a chocolate mousse for dessert with honeycomb and raspberries  – another one of our favourites that they created for us! 

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We also created personalised carving aprons for 1 lucky guest at each table, which was a bit of fun that everyone loved! 

Kirsty and Steve were amazing to work with – I felt like I made a close friend in the process, that we could be completely open with our feedback, and she gave us so many tips and ideas along the way that we used. Our guests were blown away by the quality of the food – it definitely was not your typical wedding meal. 

We also had evening food from Fiery Fox Pizzas – we wanted something relaxed and delicious, and seeing as we both love woodfired pizzas, this was exactly what we were looking for! 

The team were extremely easy to deal with and helped with our special requests for dietaries. Most importantly, the pizzas were a hit! They even kindly made a pizza for us which they left in our room so we didn’t miss out. We’re hoping we can find another event to use them for in the future!

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Evening & Dancing

My mini dress was from Trish Peng that I purchased from Lauren Francis Bridal. I wasn’t planning an outfit change, but as I was getting my main dress altered in the UK, on a visit I noticed the minis and asked to try them on for fun. Of course, I fell in love immediately, and my mum was the one who loved it so much she told me to buy it! 

We loved our entertainment. For our evening music we wanted something lively and modern – we really didn’t want a typical wedding band.  We stumbled upon PYT, a 4 piece with a singer, saxophone, percussion and DJ. They played modern songs with a touch of old school classics, with an ‘ibiza style’ that we loved immediately. They were absolutely incredible and would roam the crowd to get everyone involved – all the guests loved them, especially when they started the conga line and joined us on the dance floor. 

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Our first dance song was Miracle Love by Matt Corby, an Australian artist. Patrick loves Matt and is always playing his songs in the kitchen. When it came to deciding which song to choose we were really unsure and questioned if Miracle Love was too slow or if anyone would have heard it before. 

We found an amazing version of the song on Youtube where Matt sang the song in a Church in Manchester. We trimmed the song down and it worked so well.

Another nice touch was that we actually got to see Matt perform before our wedding. 10 days before the wedding, Patrick noticed that Matt was in the UK and was performing in Bristol on a random Tuesday. So we bought tickets and made the trip up. It was an amazing gig, his voice is outstanding. It was so nice to hear our first dance song live, only a few days before our own wedding.

Words of Wedded Wisdom

My advice for future brides; It will be absolutely perfect, whatever happens. But here’s a few things I would recommend having done the process myself. 

1 – Sit down with your partner and decide on your priorities (and stick to them!) Weddings are expensive, and it’s very easy to get carried away. 

2 – Delegate! You won’t remember anything you planned on the day (because you are having the absolute best time!) so make sure you delegate anything important to your bridesmaids. 

3 – Look after yourself and your health. So many women drastically crash diet before their big day, and it can not only ruin the lead up, but have huge consequences for your long term health. You can read more of my advice around this here

4 – When making the big decisions – always go with your gut, and view your venue in person!

Everyone always asks if a videographer is worth it – this was definitely one of our best investments! We’ve watched our videos countless times already, and it’s such a special way to look back on our day. 

Less so of a regret, but a good learning was to make sure we were 100% happy with suppliers before paying deposits. I think we rushed into booking thinking that everything would book up quickly in September, and we could have easily waited.

A Note From The Bride on Getting Fit ForYour Wedding

It’s been reported that 84% of brides feel pressured to lose weight for their big day. From my own wedding last year, and having worked with many brides-to-be, many sadly turn to extreme diets, intense workout plans, detoxes, juices cleanses, and other damaging methods to achieve their goals, which leads to nothing but stress and long-term health issues.

To try and help brides before this happens, we are now launching a new branch of our business, the Bridal Edit, dedicated for brides on their journey to their special day and beyond. Our goal is to help them reach their goals, transform their health, and build long term habits for life. This ensures they can enjoy every moment in the lead up to the wedding, feel their absolute best on the day, and equip them with the skills they need to maintain their results for life. 

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Additional Credits

The below suppliers and venues are featured in this article, but are not part of the Love My Dress Wedding Directory.

Videography (Editor)
Planning Assistance & Design
Wedding Dress Designer
Bridal Boutique
Mini Dress
Bridal Shoes
Makeup Artist
Hair Stylist
Suit Hire
Wedding Ring (Bride)
Wedding Venue

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.