Celine and Pete married on 8th September this year at The Church of St John Lateran with a reception held at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk.
It rarely happens but I am at a bit of a loss for words when I look at this wedding and read the wonderfully detailed story told by Celine. It is simply beautiful. There is a traditional English house, 2 dresses, a fabulous veil, a floral arch, a fully hand stitched suit (I KNOW!!), the most beautiful cake and a string quartet… and that’s just a handful of the amazing elements that made this day truly spectacular.
Celine tells her story so beautifully so get yourself a cuppa, sit back and get ready to take in the stunning images captured by Lisa Devlin.
O, did I mention the air display?
A Venue We Could Make Our Own
When we set out to find a venue, we had very specific things in mind: a traditional English house in the countryside with great indoor and outdoor space, overnight accommodation, accessible for all our guests and, most importantly, an old Catholic Church nearby to hold the ceremony in. Thanks to a man called Henry VIII, these were few and far between. We racked up the mileage looking at all the venues with potential but it was only Hengrave Hall that stacked up and we both felt that it was perfect for us – it was a venue we could make our own.
The date as well was quite significant for me as it is what we celebrate as the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday in the Roman Catholic calendar – and we were truly blessed to have our wedding on one of the hottest days of the year!
The Dream Dress
My dress is by Veluz, a designer in the Philippines where I am originally from. I had seen her work online through a good friend of mine who was also a Veluz bride and I just fell in love with all the intricate details that she put into every dress – each custom-made for every bride.
I had decided on a lace dress very early on in the process but when I walked into her shop in Manila and looked at the samples of the different fabrics, lace went out the window and I couldn’t have anything else but Piña Silk. Piña (which is Spanish for pineapple) is a fibre made from pineapple leaves and is a traditional specialty of the Philippines. My dress was fully embroidered with callado (an intricate process in order to create patterns within the fabric itself) and accentuated with beadwork which was all done by hand. For the ceremony, it was topped with a matching shrug, also fully embroidered and beaded.
The design of the pattern on the dress took inspiration from symbols related to both our families which included sampaguita (or jasmine, in English) – the national flower of the Philippines and one that holds special memories of my childhood. The smell always reminds me of my grandmother who would pick them from the tree in our garden.
Incidentally, the flowers were a recurring theme in our wedding as Pete and my parents ordered custom-made jewellery for me to wear on the day, designed with flowers that complemented my dress perfectly. The bracelet was Pete’s idea and my parents ordered the earrings to match. Did I mention how lucky I am as my parents also paid for my dream dress?!
Veluz provides brides with a full package – so that includes all accessories from veil to shoes and even the coin bearer’s pillow and other bits for the ceremony.
I had a cathedral length veil (I filled up the tiny church with my wedding dress!) with embroidered ends to match the pattern on my dress and had asked for the shoes and purse to be the same.
Given the volume and length of my dress, I needed some very tall shoes! Thankfully, my shoes had quite a bit of a platform so I wasn’t in too much pain given that I stood during the entire ceremony as there wasn’t enough room for me and my dress to sit down in the church.
In my wedding research, I found out that the old adage of “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” continued on to say “…and a sixpence for luck in her shoe”! I was able to find a sixpence from the year of my mom’s birth and this was placed just underneath the label.
Me – Only Better
I don’t wear a lot of make-up but wanted to look my best for the big day and Katy Messer was just amazing! She knew exactly what I wanted, the make-up was fresh and light and it lasted the whole day. She made me feel like me – only better!
Cassandra Rizzuto also did wonders with my hair which is stubbornly straight. I wasn’t going to be comfortable in a sleek and tidy up-do but needed to keep my hair in check for the whole day and Cassandra gave me soft, romantic curls in a half-up to keep the hair out of my face.
My family loved their hair and make-up from Katy and Cassandra so much that they wanted to take them home – and they’re a hard bunch to please! They are an amazing duo and also helped us to keep to the schedule while getting ready and Cassandra also helped get me in my dress which I am told was no mean feat given all the pearl buttons on the back!
Our flowers were by Claire Cowling of Thrive Floristry. We had seen work that she had done previously for Hengrave and felt that she could deliver on what we had envisioned for the day without too much “foliage”. Of all the floral decorations, our one non-negotiable was the floral arch for the church entrance as it was the first thing we and our guests would see, setting up the tone for the rest of the day.
We wanted lots of roses and hydrangeas and left the rest to Claire and she did an amazing job. She paired our selected flowers with September flower, gypsophilia, lisianthus, matricaria, delphinium and a whole host of other flowers whose names I hadn’t even heard of before! They all came together and were as delicate and romantic as we’d hoped for.
Blush and Champagne
My bridesmaids were my cousins and as they live in Las Vegas and wouldn’t be in London until a week before the wedding I feared that their outfits would be a logistical nightmare! In the end, we found the Lela Rose dresses which I was able to view here in London and they could then fit and order them in Las Vegas. We chose dresses in carnation and I was also able to order matching cravats and pocket squares for the groomsmen.
The groomsmen wore grey single-breasted suits hired from Moss. My nephew, our coin and ring bearer, wore the same suit in a mini version with a matching bow tie – sooo adorable! The flowergirl’s dress is from Nicki Macfarlane which she loved twirling around in.
We didn’t really have a specific theme for the wedding but had decided on soft colours like blush and champagne and everything fit around it perfectly on the day.
A Worthy Investment
Now there’s a little Imelda in all of us and that includes my husband! He was equally as specific on his shoes and I was so happy when he found “the one” – a pair of black leather lace-ups from Barker’s Creative Collection. Funnily enough, we later discovered that his dad was wearing the exact same pair in brown!
When it came to his suit, Pete was equally specific about the look and fit that he wanted! The colour and even the weaving on the material had to be just right. There was no real option but to have a bespoke suit made and on the day he wore a grey fully hand stitched three-piece suit from Cad and The Dandy. He too had his own details added to his outfit with pink lining and a ticket-pocket for that truly British touch. He felt amazing in his suit and we knew it was a worthy investment for the day. It was matched with a classic white shirt and cravat and pocket square in blush.
He looked so handsome standing by the altar and I could see his eyes brimming with tears as I walked down the aisle. Everything just felt so right and I’d never felt such happiness and calm knowing that soon we would be husband and wife.
The Perfect Style
Pete and I both love and appreciate photos so choosing the right photographer for us was something we just had to get spot on. Lisa Devlin’s portfolio was full of photos that were warm, animated and conveyed all the love and emotions of the day. Her style was a perfect match for us and we knew we could trust her completely.
We had an engagement shoot which prepared us for the big day and helped us be comfortable with the camera and Lisa’s shooting style which was so unobstructive and natural that it was like having a really good friend take our photos.
Since we had a lot of family and friends who couldn’t come to the wedding, we also hired Reel Vision as our videographers. We had watched samples available on their site and just fell in love with their style – we felt like we were actually part of those wedding days we had a little sneak peek at. Mike and Adam were genuinely really nice people who worked so hard – we can’t wait to receive the video so we can relive the day!
Having It All
I love cake and it not only had to be gorgeous but also delicious.
I had seen Zoe Clark’s work through WeddingTV ‘s The Great Cake Bake (I love cake so much that yes, I watch most programs related to baking) which was so helpfully running on marathon on my early weekends of wedding planning.
Pete and I originally agreed on a more rustic wedding cake but he had kindly agreed to accompany me to meet Zoe Clark at The Cake Parlour in Wimbledon for a cake consultation. He was wowed by the cakes on display and we both fell in love with a massive Hydrangea Cascade Wedding Cake in the window. The flavours on offer were so moist and tasty that I couldn’t stop picking at the tasters at our meeting. There was no debating it now – Pete had been won over and I was going to get a stunning and delectable cake! We chose a white base for the cake and scattered flowers in various shades of pink to complement the colour scheme.
We opted for four flavours – traditional fruit cake, chocolate cake (the only option for Pete!), lemon and classic vanilla & raspberry. It was so hard to decide (they were all so yummy!) and in the end, we decided to have it all and cater to various tastes.
We had a string quartet play during cocktails in the garden and our guests made use of the garden games which were available.
To get our guests attention, they were gathered to a corner of the garden for the group photo and were then surprised by an aerobatic flight display. Pete always says that he wished he could be a fighter-pilot and we have treated him to the odd flying experience (including dog-fighting!) so it was great way to show that part of him to our guests. At one point, his Nan did actually think he was flying the plane!
We also brought our guests back out to the garden when the sun had truly gone and when they had counted down from 10, Pete and I set off the fireworks which was another surprise. It was a great way to cap off an amazing day and we were glad to share that moment together – we couldn’t believe that everything we’d planned for had gone well and it was nearly over.
Making The Most Of Time
For our first dance, I changed into a dress which is a gift from one of my best friends, Isabel Celdran, who is a designer with her own shop in the Philippines. It felt so light and breezy after wearing my wedding dress all day which was great for the first dance as we surprised our guests with a box rumba routine. Pete has no background in dance was really sweet to put in the effort for dance lessons – in fact he was the one making sure we practised leading up to the big day! It was worth all the effort.
We chose Everything by Michael Bublé which is a song which would play on the radio on each car journey we’d make on weekends away early on in our relationship (we were long-distance for 2 years from the start until I moved to London) and one that we’d sing along too. The words summed up how we felt and still reminds us of those early days when we had to make the most of the time we were together to make up for all the times we were apart.
Bringing The Philippines To The English Countryside
We wanted to bring a bit of the Philippines to English countryside wedding guests and also give them favours that they could use regularly to remember our wedding by. For the men, it was small leather card wallets and for the women we had Philippine freshwater pearl necklace and bracelet sets.
Some of our guests wore their pearls as soon as they received them and we have seen some of the guys use the wallets so we know they are appreciated and haven’t gone to waste!
The Little Touches
We set up a little area in the church with candles, flowers and photos of our family members who are no longer with us as we wanted to make sure they were present at an important day of our lives.
For cocktails, Hengrave and Talbooth kindly put up the paper pompoms in the garden. My cousins, aunt and I had actually prepared them that morning while getting ready – they didn’t know why I’d left them till that morning but to be honest, I was glad to have something to do to take my mind off what was coming! I was so nervous that folding all that paper was practically therapeutic.
In addition to the floral centrepieces, I had asked my mom to find some tea-light holders and she exceeded all my expectations when she showed me bone china ones shaped like tulips from a manufacturer in the Philippines that my parents had ordered from before. I was really pleased with them and was looking through their brochure to show Pete – at which point I saw that they also made napkin ring holders! A happy accident as they turned out really well and they were also able to make us matching place card holders after my original idea didn’t work out as planned.
My Dream Wedding
We really wanted to bring a little bit of each of us, our histories and our countries into our wedding.
As part of the marriage rite, we had little symbolical ceremonies which are traditional in the Philippines. Our grandmothers each lit a nuptial candles, signifying our separate lives, families and their lighting our path together in marriage. The priest blessed a bible for us to keep in our marital home and coins were blessed and given to me from Pete as a promise of his dedication to our family and its welfare which I accepted, showing my trust in his pledge and my own promise to build a home for us. A veil was also draped over both of us as a sign of Pete’s protection and my husband and of our new life together. Over this, a cord was placed, symbolising our infinite bond and that we must work together.
The coins and cord were the same ones used at my parents wedding and I look forward to continuing the tradition.
We also had a sweets table with our favourites from our childhood – some very different from the other! It was great for our guests to have some old favourites and to try something new.
My advice would be to involve willing family members as much as possible (though do hold a few things back to surprise them as well!) and not to absorb all the stress that goes into planning the happiest day of your life.
I was very lucky to have had lots of help from Pete and my family leading up to and on the day itself. My family arrived with less than a week to go before the wedding so it was all a little hectic but I am so thankful to them for helping me put together little finishing touches. From wrapping up all the favours, stamping monograms, making handmade confetti cones and filling up the sweets jars (there may have been a few less sweets afterwards) - I couldn’t have done it without them and it was great to have all that family around just putting your vision together.
Pete was always a very involved groom-to-be and on our wedding day, he was the one who went all around the venue making sure everything was set-up just as we wanted and spoke to each and every supplier. At the end of the day, he worked hard and gave me my dream wedding day and I couldn’t ask for any more than that.
Cake: The Cake Parlour
Flowers: Thrive Floristry
Photographer: Lisa Devlin Photography
Venue: Hengrave Hall
Dress and Shoes: Veluz Bride
Hair: Cassandra Rizzuto
Make-up: Katie Messer
Bridesmaid Dresses: Lela Rose
Groom’s Suit: Cad and The Dandy
Videography: Reel Vision
Airshow: Yak 52 Aerobatic Display
So there you have it folks. How utterly gorgeous. From the dress to the suit and the adorable flower girl.
The details in Celine and Pete’s day leave me breathless. So much thought went into every aspect of their day and I could just feel Celine brimming with love and happiness as she retold her story for all of us to enjoy and a husband who is as into shoes as you are?! Win!
Celine gave us such a wonderful insight into customs from the Philippines and what a brilliant job they did of fusing their two cultures to create such an amazing and emotional day.
What were your favourite bits?