It is simply incredible to hear that the vast majority of the planning for Ben and Nienke’s wedding was achieved in two weeks flat.
Getting married on the other side of the world to where you live is always going to present the odd logistical issue (understatement) and you have to admire this couples determination and trust that everything would be alright on the night.
Photography today is by the incredibly talented Anna Clarke of Anna Clarke Photography fame. She was assisted by her husband Simon, they certainly are a photographic team to be reckoned with.
Home Is Where The Heart Is.
We got married on 25th June 2011 in Leek Wootton in Warwickshire. It’s the village where I grew up and where my parents still live. We were married in the lovely old village church and then everyone walked down the road to my parents house where we had our drinks reception. We were very lucky that our lovely neighbours who live opposite my parents allowed us to use their garden to put up a big marquee, and so we headed over there for the wedding breakfast, meaning no driving had to be done at all during the day! That being said, another of the wonderful village neighbours drove me and my father to church (a grand 200m or so journey), and afterwards whisked Ben and I away in his amazing vintage Rolls Royce – he even dressed up as a chauffeur and surprised us with a bottle of champagne at the church!
We have been living in New Zealand for the past two years and that was where Ben proposed, during a skiing trip in the beautiful Remarkables of the South Island. Of course I said yes, we got incredibly excited, then almost immediately decided that we couldn’t possibly get married over here. And so began the trans-world wedding planning! Fortunately we were actually due to head back to the UK a few weeks after our engagement, so we managed to get most things sorted out during a quick fortnight back home (also, my mother is an organisation demon!). For that reason, we didn’t really have the option of looking around lots of places and sourcing different suppliers, we just had to get on with it! So….
Chapel Length Veil.
My dress was from Quello, a lovely little bridal shop in Kenilworth ten minutes from my parents house, and was by the Spanish designer, Rosa Clara. I think it was the second dress I tried on, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t that excited by it at the time, probably because it was 8 sizes too big for me and looked ridiculous! However, my thoughts kept coming back to that dress, and with good reason. The lovely ladies at Quello ordered me a dress in the right size, and managed to do pretty much all the alterations in the five days before our wedding when we were next back in the UK. Terrifying! They were amazing though, and I couldn’t have been more delighted when I finally got into my dress on the day. I had a little matching off the shoulder lace jacket which I wore during the ceremony and drinks reception, and a chapel length veil (because if you don’t wear a veil at your wedding, when else could you possibly wear one?).
My jewellery was very simple, a pearl and diamond earring and necklace set given to me by my mother, which had been given to her by my Dad’s mother, and a pearl bracelet. My shoes were tall! Ben is a lot taller than me (most people are) so I tottered around on killer heels for most of the day. I got the perfect pair in light ivory on a whim from Mi Piaci in New Zealand a few months before the wedding. The men hired their suits from Parkes in Royal Leamington Spa, and they all looked fantastic. My bridesmaids wore charcoal and ivory dresses from Forever Yours and managed to get them from local bridal shops scattered around the UK.
The Beauty Box.
Hair and makeup was a bit of a case of “who’s free on the day and is nearby” – being so far away I didn’t really have the opportunity to try out lots of places. I had been recommended The Beauty Box in Hampton Magna by a neighbour, and when I met Jacquie there I knew she would be great. She came over to my parents house on the day and did the makeup for myself and my mother, leaving us with a swag bag of all her makeup to return the following week so we could do touchups through the day as we wanted. I zoomed off to Classics hairdressers in Kenilworth first thing in the morning for a bit of time on my own, and they put my hair up in a loose chignon. I knew I couldn’t wear my hair down as I’m a terrible fiddler and would have had it in knots before the ceremony!
Getting our flowers done was again a bit of a guessing game, as we weren’t able to meet any florists in person. My mother’s a whiz with flowers, and so we decided that we would do all the decorations for the church, house and marquee. We ordered a massive pile of flowers from our local wholesaler, and with the help of a near army of women from the village (who were all amazing), and my mother and sister-in-law, we transformed the church on the Wednesday before the wedding. It was a brilliant day, all helping out and with a little champagne picnic in the church gardens to break up the work, we were laughing the whole day long. The church looked fantastic, but with all the flowers for the house and marquee to be done the day before the wedding we worried if we’d bitten off more than we could chew. The garage was full to bursting with roses, alstromeria, freesia, stock, lisianthus, ferns and tens of buckets! On Friday afternoon my maid of honour, mother and I made all the table decorations whilst chatting away and sipping wine, and it really set the scene for a wonderful weekend. As we knew the wedding day itself would be busy, we handed over responsibility for the bouquets and button holes to Fiona of Inspired Elegance, who matched the flowers beautifully with those that we had already prepared.
Divide And Conquer.
Our photographer was the wonderful Anna of Anna Clarke Photography. We met her only 4 days before the wedding when we had our “engagement” shoot. She instantly put us at ease, and we knew that we’d have a great time with her on the day. She came with her lovely husband Simon who shoots with her, and the two of them divided and conquered to capture the day in beautiful relaxed photographs. As this was going to be the first time we’d seen many of our friends since moving to New Zealand we didn’t want to spend half the reception having photos taken, and Anna and Simon were great in understanding that. We decided to have a relaxed lunch with the entire bridal party together before the ceremony and Anna and Simon used that time to make sure we got all the slightly more formal photographs that we might want.
Attack Of The Munchies.
We decided against a traditional cake as neither of us are that fussed about them, and felt that they often don’t even get eaten at weddings. Instead, we opted for some tiered cheeses, which we served as an extra cheese course half way through dancing later in the evening. It went down incredibly well, was completely devoured, and certainly settled some late night munchies! It was all organised by our fabulous caterers, The Chopping Block, who provided absolutely fantastic food, drink and service throughout the entire weekend.
Let There Be Love.
We knew early on that we wanted a live band, and listening to The Fabulations on their online jukebox knew that they’d be perfect for us. They got everyone up and dancing, including my octagenarian grandparents, with a brilliant mix of motown, funk and soul. Our first dance song was chosen the day before our wedding! We’d actually chosen something different quite some time before, but the band contacted us nearer the time saying that they didn’t think they could do it justice and were wondering if there was something else that we’d like instead. We forgot to reply, and suddenly realised with 24 hours to go that we didn’t have a first dance song. We quickly chose Let There Be Love, not for any particular reason other than us both liking the song!
For favours we wanted something that our guests could enjoy on the night. We ordered lots of miniature glass bottles and my father spent a day decanting port from our two university colleges into them. They went down a treat with the cheese later in the night.
No Theme As Such.
Our decorations were all pretty simple – white flowers, candles and a simple thistle and ribbon on the napkins. We didn’t really have a colour theme as such, but if I had to describe it, it was probably ivory, charcoal and sage. Four our table plan I collected photographs of our parents and all our grandparents and arranged them amongst the table plan on a large board as our guests entered the marquee. Our grandparents absolutely loved it and it was a nice reminder of those grandparents who couldn’t be with us on the day.
To make the most of our time back in the UK we organised a more relaxed hog roast and bar the following day, again in the marquee. The sun shone on one of summer’s warmest days, and it was great to relax with all our guests and some extra friends recounting tales of our wedding day before we left for our honeymoon that evening.
Forget About The Hiccups.
We had the most amazing day and will always remember it as such. It doesn’t matter that the toilets broke, and that a stranger parked in the space we’d set aside for the wedding car! Don’t get too hung up on all the little details and stay calm if things don’t work out quite as you’d planned. In all probability no-one will even notice anyway, they’ll be too busy looking at the two of you. and having a brilliant time.
Dress Rosa Clara
Shoes Mi Piaci
Maids Forever Yours
Hair Inspired Elegance
Make-up The Beauty Box
Bouquets and button holes Inspired Elegance
Photography Anna Clarke Photography
Catering The Chopping Block
The Fabulations The Fabulations
I think Nienke showed tremendous vision (and nerves of steal) to go for a dress that she only tried on once and was 8 sizes to big. I think we can safely say that gamble paid off though.
I love the table plan, I love the car – it reminds me of Gumdrop – anyone remember Gumdrop? Just me then….
If they managed all this in two weeks, I imagine that Ben and Nienke could probably organise world peace in a little over 3 months… anyone got a contact number for NATO?