Hearing a beautiful story of how two people met is one of the many perks of my job… Although how Claire and Tom met is more of a beautiful mess rather than a beautiful Story. Tom Crashed into Claires car.
“WHAT THE?… YOU STUPID IDIO….. Oh, hellllooooo…”
That’s how I imagine it happening anyway And in terms of a story with a happy ending, you can’t get much happier than this…
A Little Bit Different
Tom and I were married at St Andrew’s Church in Mells on 1st June and our reception was held at The Grange in Whatley. We really wanted to find a venue that would be relaxed, with great food and just be ‘a little bit different’ – we both felt The Grange fitted the bill perfectly. Not only does it have a fantastic restaurant, which we had eaten in a few times already and loved on every occasion, The Grange is also home to a wonderful cookery school. Jane and her team are really easy-going too and we knew that they completely ‘got’ our vision.
We hired a traditional marquee from South West Marquees to go on the front lawn, which Crescent Moon decorated beautifully with plain white linings, fairy lights and chinese lanterns. It was so lovely in the evening that the waitresses told us they wanted to sleep in it!
I knew that I wanted to wear my hair up, and felt that a low Grecian-style updo would suit the style of the dress. As soon as I met Maddy from Melanie Giles at my trial and I knew that I would be in good hands. She created a beautiful hairstyle that was even better than I could hope for. On top of this, Maddy and Scarlett, who did my sister Abigail’s hair, were a real pleasure to be around, especially on the wedding morning.
I don’t wear much make up so I wanted to find someone who would give me a natural look, but with slightly more coverage than usual. Melanie Giles recommended Charley Brunskill and I’m so happy that they did – she was lovely. Despite having to make up my Mum and Sister too, Charley was really calming and gave me a look that made me feel really confident. She also gave me great advice when I had a break out the week before!
Even after visiting several boutiques, I struggled to find ‘the dress’. I had quite a strong idea of what I wanted and felt it was silly to spend money on something that wasn’t completely perfect (to be honest I don’t think being a textile designer helped the hunt!). In the end I sourced a cream lace, set out to find a champagne silk, and had the dress made. Unfortunately this wasn’t as straightforward as we expected – the design evolved with every fitting (and there were quite a few!) but my lovely dressmaker June went with it and I was over the moon with the result.
Tom isn’t a fan of tails so he wore a charcoal grey three-piece from Austin Reed which showed off his cycling figure perfectly. He wore this with a light grey spotty tie from Reiss and black shoes (complete with purple laces) from Jasper Conran. He even bought a beard trimmer just for the occasion. He looked so dapper at the top of the aisle – I couldn’t take my eyes off him!
I spent hours trawling the internet to find some vintage earrings that wouldn’t cost the earth but didn’t look tacky. Eventually I came across the beautiful designs of Gillian Million in Teddington. After a fun trying on session I settled on some art deco style, crystal drop earrings and a pearl and rhinestone hair piece.
For ages, I had been umming and ahhing about having a veil, partly because I couldn’t find the right colour. Two weeks before the day I was still looking, but luckily Gillian came up trumps again. She made me a very simple, single tier cream silk tuille veil and it was the perfect finishing touch.
Our wedding rings were made by Annette Gabbedey. Annette is not only a great friend but the most talented Goldsmith we know and as soon as we got engaged, we knew we wanted her to make our rings.
The Wedding Party
For Abigail (a rock throughout the entire process along with Mum and Dad) we bought a teal chiffon dress from Coast and our flower girls Eloise, Evie and baby Enya wore ivory dresses from Zara. Abigail’s dress was originally floor length but we realised two weeks before the wedding that a shorter length would suit her better, so it became knee length instead!
We were quite keen for the men not to match so our Dads, Best Man James and Ushers John and Milo wore their own suits. As a result we ended up with a great mix of styles but they were all linked by their cream buttonholes.
Elegant & Understated
We didn’t have a theme as such but our aim was to create an elegant, understated look with lots of rustic touches. The combination of a traditional marquee with plain white linings, fairy lights and trestle tables and a charcoal carpet gave us exactly the look we were hoping for.
We followed quite a contemporary colour scheme of dusky pink, deep teal and citrusy yellow for the wedding. Obviously the flowers were a massive part of this – helping to link the marquee and restaurant too – but there were also bits of stationery and a few props dotted around The Grange.
Milk Bottles & Jam Jars
I always knew that I wanted Grace from Bramble & Wild to do our flowers. I scoured Pinterest for inspiration but then came across Grace’s dusky pink ‘Jam Jar Posy’ and it was perfect. The bouquets were made up of Amnesia Roses, O’Hara Roses, white Waxflower, Peonies, Super Bubbles Spray Roses, Jasmine and Honeysuckle vines and the men wore Vendella Roses with Waxflower as their buttonholes.
On the tables were clusters of old, embossed milk bottles and jam jars full of flowers, which brought the marquee to life, and in the restaurant were a couple of flower buckets. I completely relaxed knowing that Grace would be one of the last to see the church and marquee, especially as everything she does is so incredible and stylish.
Low Key & Romantic
We’re both pianists so we were quite taken with the idea of me walking up the aisle to something low key and romantic. In the end we chose Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘I Giorni’ and Tom’s friend Jamie kindly played this for us on the piano.
During the service Tom’s sister Maddy sang ‘Songbird’ by Fleetwod Mac, which proved to be quite a tearjerker. My Godmother Carolynn read 1 Corinthians and Tom’s other sister Sophie read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.
One of the funniest memories that we have of the service is when I tripped on our way to sign the register. It just so happened that Guy Collier was stood directly in front of us at this moment, and took quite possibly the best shot of our entire album.
We decided it would be great to have a band at the reception and thanks to the lovely sunny weather they were able to stand outside on the patio. Round Midnight Quartet played during the time between the speeches and first dance, creating an atmosphere which fitted everyone’s mood perfectly. At the same time, my cousin Jeff was assigned with the task of taking Polaroids of everyone for our guestbook – this worked really well and has become a keepsake which we love going through again and again.
For our first dance, Tom chose Michael Buble’s cover of Feeling Good – he’s a huge Muse fan so had to slip this link in somewhere! After this, the DJ indulged us with some cheesy classics to help everyone onto the dance-floor.
A Summer Selection
Tom is the ‘foodie’ in our relationship so he and Jane at The Grange came up with our menu. We were quite keen to have summery dishes and Jane completely took this on board and came up with the most amazing ideas. We had canapés and Pimms followed by Antipasti platters, Piri Piri Chicken and Summer Fruit Strudel (because it’s my favourite!) as a desert. It all went down a storm.
The cake was made by Tom’s sister Sophie (future Bake-off winner we’re sure). It had 3 tiers – all with different flavours – and textured white icing. Sophie did a fantastic job and the cake was beautifully decorated with flowers and vines from Bramble & Wild. In keeping with the food theme, we made small jars of tomato chutney as our favours. Thanks to help from our friends Tina and James, this became a military operation and with a little more help from friends Pinot and Grigio, we made 130 jars.
Personal To Us
Being a designer (and complete control freak), I really wanted to design the stationery myself. I gathered various bits of card, text, etc that I loved and took to Photoshop to design the lot.
For our table plan we used vinyl artwork and named tables after the albums. Tom works for a record label so this was his baby, and I think he quite enjoyed it.
For the tables, we designed and printed menus for everyone, which were placed on top of the napkins with luggage labels as the place cards. Admittedly these little details took some time but were well worth the effort and made the whole wedding more personal to us.
As an extra touch we also designed a framed storyboard, which detailed our journey from how we met (Tom crashed into my car by the way) to his proposal. This was really fun to design and now sits proudly on our mantelpiece.
It’s Never Too Late
My main piece of advice would be that if you’re not happy with something (and you can usually tell if you keep looking at it on the internet!) then do something about it. We actually had another photographer booked before we came across Guy Collier’s website. As soon as we did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it – his work
had such a natural, timeless quality.
After a lengthy discussion with Tom we bit the bullet and booked him – losing our original deposit but gaining the most talented photographer who also became a friend. My mind was completely at rest as soon as we’d made this decision, so we knew straight away that it was the right call. Guy captured our day in the most amazing way and we are still over the moon with the photos. We can’t thank him enough.
Venue The Grange
Marquee South West Marquees
Decor Crescent Moon
Hair Melanie Giles
Make-up Charley B
Suit Austin Reed
Earrings Gillian Million
Rings Annette Gabbedey
Bridesmaid dress Coast
Flowergirl dresses Zara
Blooms Bramble & Wild
Photography Guy Collier
What a beaut… And so lovingly and skillfully captured by Guy Collier, just goes to show that last minute wobbles can often lead to changes that are for the best. So, as Claire says, don’t be afraid to make changes if something isn’t feeling quite right.
So, can anyone beat the story of how claire and Tom met? Leave some love and let us know your story in the comment section below.