Pillar box red is a colour that people tend to shy away from when it comes to wedding decor. But Alex & Lewis had their hearts set on it – and I’m so pleased they stuck to their guns.
Subtle touches here and there make an amazing statement that looks completely fresh in what can sometimes feel like a sea of pastel…and while I LOVE the soft hues that pastel shades provide, it’s lovely to see some bright and bold colour! And Alex’s posy shows that a structured, rose bouquet will never date.
Alex The Bride: We always knew we wanted to get married in Devon. For one thing Lewis is Teignmouth born and bred, but also because it feels like my second home due to an annual family holiday to Salcombe. Even though we met whilst working in London and now live in Surrey, it is a very special place to us both, especially as the question was also popped at sunset on my favourite Devon beach!
Getting married in a church was also very important and we knew exactly where to go. St John the Baptist is in the charming village of Lustleigh on Dartmoor and as Lewis’s father lives nearby we were able to be married here, but also by some crazy twist of fate is where my Grandparents went on their honeymoon in 1939.
The next weekend, we started planning, but actually only saw a handful of venues. Shilstone House was the second one on the list, but as soon as we pulled up we knew it was the one for us. Mainly because we saw it in the pouring rain and still loved it! Having a marquee in the grounds made the decision easy for us, because this is what we’d wanted from the start, but also because the private house was quite interesting and different from the traditional places we’d seen with a relaxed homely feel to it, all set in the stunning South Hams countryside.
We knew getting married on Dartmoor it was likely to rain, and it did the whole way to the church. However, as soon as I stepped out of the car a patch of blue sky appeared and it held off just until we drove away in our rented e-type jag, but once we got round the corner the top quickly had to be put down again as the heavens opened. One of the most special moments for me was seeing my 99 year old Grandpa as I walked down the aisle, but also hearing my brother play a song he’d written just for us as our first dance. I just wish we’d practiced our moves a bit more!
I know it’s such a cliché but my dress was the first one I tried on. I didn’t really know what I wanted, so the lovely Acacia at Ellie Sanderson in Oxford picked out a simple Sassi Holford lace gown as she said it was a good place to start. However, after going to a few other shops I couldn’t get it out of my mind. We went back for a designer day and the second try confirmed it. I was fitted by the lovely Sassi herself, who created a bespoke sweetheart neckline for the dress too. I teamed it with my ivory vintage peep toe shoes ‘Flo’ from Rachel Simpson and in the evening when I no longer had a bouquet to hold, a floral applique sash, also from Sassi Holford, did the trick.
The Groom & Groomsmen
We went to Reiss in search of a suit for the best man to wear as he currently lives in Australia so knew this task had to be done early on. After picking up a stylish grey suit in the sale for a bargain price, Lewis rang round the other stores to find the same one in his size. Luckily we found one and with the addition of a matching waistcoat for the groom, a three piece suit was more in keeping with the informality of the day.
Our flowers were done by the lovely Caroline Hodges, who was recommended to us by our venue and we couldn’t have been happier with all the arrangements on the day. She ‘got’ our style and theme without even telling her very much about it and worked with our difficult colour scheme too! Our tables were decorated with vintage bottles we hired and filled with red and ivory spray roses, lisianthus, Zinnia, sweet William and jam jars of gyp. My dome bouquet of red roses was the star of the show and looked so perfect I almost wasn’t convinced it was real – it also smelled amazing all day long.
The Colour Scheme
One of the greatest triumphs of the day was our colour scheme, as everyone said it wouldn’t work! Red was a difficult colour to match and not suitable for a summer wedding we were told, but we stuck to our guns and it paid off big time. We didn’t go overboard, just hints of it here and there with a strong pillar box red standing out alongside a softer classic ivory.
Decorating the marquee was a difficult task as it was a pretty vast space, but we hired vintage furniture and suitcases to dot around, alongside lots of other props I’d either made or collected in the months leading up to the big day. We decided on a vintage travel theme, mainly because our save the date cards from Lucy Says I Do were luggage labels with red and white butchers string so the idea just spiralled from there! We made our table plan from an old map of Devon and more trusty luggage tags. We collected vintage postcards and rented a red post box, so people could write us messages and post them, instead of a traditional guest book. My Mum made bunting out of fabric with postcards on and our table names were also vintage postcards signifying important places in Devon to us both.
As Lewis works in the food industry, the menu for the wedding breakfast was very important and probably worked out long before we even booked our venue! The caterers at Shilstone exceeded all our expectations and let us tailor make our own seasonal menu, tweaked with some allowances for mass catering, and it turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve had. First course was new season asparagus with smoked streaky bacon and quails egg. Main was a local beef fillet, wild mushrooms and potato fondant, alongside wilted spinach. The dessert combined honeycomb Devon mess, strawberry sorbet and a shortcake/clotted cream stack that was so beautifully presented with wild strawberries and violet flowers I almost didn’t want to eat it!
Our cake was a 3 tier plain sponge with fresh strawberries and cream, but we found it difficult to find someone to make it for us as it was roughly iced with white chocolate clotted cream and they were worried about it collapsing in the heat. In the end Pink Elephant Cakes did a fab job. Even decorated with fresh strawberries too!
The band we had booked for our evening entertainment since November of the previous year cancelled with less than a month to go! Just proving you have to prepare for the unexpected. Luckily my brother is at Music College and put together one at the last minute – we called them ‘The Band with No Name’. They were absolutely brilliant in the end, played everything we wanted to hear so we could be on the dance floor all night. We also had a string quartet, which played in the church and at the reception.
Our photographer Ashling from Butterfly Photography was all we could have hoped for and more. Seeing the photos afterwards she made everything look so light and bright on the day, with a dream-like ethereal quality that matched the style of wedding photography we always wanted. I kept worrying afterwards ‘we should have asked her to take a photo of that’ but when the photos came through she of course already had. As an added bonus I never felt like we were posing for ages on the day or constantly being dragged away from our guests – in fact we barely noticed she was there!
Photography by Butterfly Photography
- Venue Shilstone House
- Dress Sassi Holford
- Boutique Ellie Sanderson
- Necklace Ivory & Co
- Earrings Watermans
- Garter Laura George
- Shoes Rachel Simpson
- Florist Caroline Hodges
- Cake The Pink Elephant Cake Company
- Furniture Hire The Very Vintage Hire Company
- China Hire Devon Vintage China
- Bridesmaids Debut at Debenhams
- Groom Reiss
- Transport Great Escape Classic Car Hire
- Stationery Lucy Says I Do
- Hair & Make Up Sarah Case