So many personal touches and family tradition’s at this beautiful classic wedding in Suffolk where do I begin!
Let’s start with that sweetie house, which was lovingly made by Matt’s sister Mimi as a surprise. It’s an impressive replica of their reception venue Woolverstone Hall where bride Lizzy went to school, and I would have loved to tuck in. Mmm yum!
This is not where the traditions end though, oh no! The church they were married in, is the family church with the same priest who christened and confirmed Lizzy and also married her parents! There’s a funny story there but I’ll let Lizzy tell you that bit; tee hee!
The impressive vintage car you see, well that had belonged to Matt’s Grandfather! I could go on, there are literally so many more borrowed items, talented family members and helpful friends, this is truly a wonderful wedding bursting with sentiment.
This whole wedding is fit. It encapsulates modern elegance with perfection but also has a hint of vintage charm. Yes I know I’ve just totally contradicted myself with the whole modern vintage line but that’s what it is and it’s a wedding so it can contradict itself as much as it wants.
Prepare to swoon over Sarah’s hair. Simple but so so so gorgeous with curls that stayed in right until the very end of the night.
And by the way, the Jimmy Choos are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Prepare to die.
Sarah The Bride: We tried to make our wedding as relaxed as possible so it was important to have a venue that reflected this. We absolutely fell in love with Nonsuch Mansion because it’s such a striking venue and the team there are so relaxed and accommodating. We were given so much flexibility to have the day that we wanted and we knew from the moment that we met Lucy, our fabulous Wedding Coordinator at Nonsuch that we couldn’t have been in better hands! Having heard horror stories from friends and family about rigid and inflexible rules in their wedding venues, we will be forever grateful to Nonsuch for being the polar opposite.
A Dress With Pockets
My dress was the Sweetpea dress from Ivy & Aster which I bought from the very lovely Helena and Nicole at Frou Frou Bridal in Tumbridge Wells. They were completely fantastic and I can’t even begin to recommend them or their beautiful shop highly enough. They really know how to make the whole experience feel so unique and important and I loved trying on all of their beautiful gowns. I was also so excited that they had such an amazing range of smaller US based dress designers.
I absolutely fell in love with my dress the moment that I tried it on, I loved the swiss dot fabric, the fact that it was so comfortable to wear and also the pockets – I adored the pockets! I had them filled with different lip glosses on the day as well as my something borrowed which was a pendant from my Mum’s favourite necklace. I also had two belts for the dress, a day belt which was a very sheer ribbon and also an evening belt which was covered in tiny crystals and gave the dress some extra sparkle for the dance floor.
A Special Feather
I’m not a good jewellery person in that I love looking at jewellery and buying it but I’m terrible at actually wearing it. The only jewellery that I’ve ever stuck with wearing day in day out is a small gold feather Alex Monroe necklace that Sean bought me years ago as a valentine’s gift and it’s so precious to me. For the wedding I really wanted to keep to something that I was comfortable with and so bought the bigger version of the necklace along with the matching earrings. I was initially going to buy them in silver just because I thought it might look more bridal but in the end decided that I wanted the gold whether it was bridal or not!
I have a total obsessive shoe crush on Jimmy Choos. They were at the absolute top of my wedding wish list and my first very exciting wedding related purchase. I love a good peep toe and a sky high heel, although I did end up having to do a quick switch in the evening when I lost all feeling in my feet. I’m all for beautiful shoes but I wasn’t quite ready to sacrifice my toes.
Award Winning Make-Up
Out of sheer luck, I had booked my hair and makeup artist, Kaz Fernando, just before she won the National Wedding Hair and Makeup Artist of the Year award and her bookings went through the roof! She was just fantastic from start to finish and made the whole experience really easy for me as I knew that and if you can book her then you really should!!
Pippa Craigen at The Claygate Flower House looked after all of our flower displays and did such an amazing job for us even though I know I was a total nightmare client because I couldn’t make up my mind on anything! The brilliant Amelia from Vintage Floral Teas then provided all of the tea cups and roses for the tables and we tied our guests’ place cards to these with vintage luggage tags to bring everything together.
The bridesmaids dresses came from Two Birds and were such a great find as my sister was six months pregnant and so needed something that she would be comfortable in but that would also look beautiful on my other gorgeous (but not pregnant!) bridesmaid. Both of the girls were really happy in the dresses and being able to change the straps around meant that they could choose the way in which they wanted to wear it. I gave both girls a four leaf clover necklace from Alex Monroe as a thank you gift and was so excited to see them both wearing these weeks later!
The boys looked brilliant in their hired navy suits with ties that loosely matched the girls’ dresses. They were also wearing their thank you gifts which were Paul Smith socks and cufflinks. Sean wore a navy Paul Smith suit and looked incredibly handsome and relaxed even though I was running much later than I should have been – it’s a bride’s prerogative and he’s already used to me being late for everything! I was so nervous walking down the aisle and was just focussed on getting to Sean because I knew that the minute I saw him all my nerves would completely melt away and I wasn’t wrong.
We found Emma Coleman of Blink Photography through a blog site of one of her previous clients and thought that her photographs were just stunningly beautiful. To be honest, we didn’t even look at any other photographers and booked her straight away as we loved her relaxed style of photography that was full of natural light. She was utterly fabulous on the day and just brilliant with all of our guests. I would recommend her in a heartbeat.
Our cake was made by Kate Poulter at Patacake Patacake and was inspired by a cake I’d seen in America which was just really fresh, pretty and simple. We had three layers of sponge inside – vanilla sponge and buttercream with morello cherry jam, chocolate sponge with ganache and lemon sponge with lemon curd filling. After the wedding we were incredibly disappointed as we realised that neither of us had actually eaten any of the cake, but our venue swooped in and saved the day by keeping some aside for us. We ended up eating some huge slices of cake a few days afterwards and whilst it certainly wasn’t glamorous, it was delicious!
I’m a bit of a sucker for a cute wedding favour and luckily for me my sister is ridiculously good at baking and she had a plan together from day dot, but we also wanted something for the boys and the less sweet toothed amongst our guests. In the end, we decided to have a choice of either handmade biscuits or bottles of beer from a local brewery and hung thank you luggage tags around each of them with the date of our wedding printed on the reverse.
Life And Soul
In the evening we had a live band, the incredible Life & Soul and also the most fantastic photo booth run by The Mighty Booth. It was really important to us that the evening was really relaxed and fun and that everybody was dancing away and our venue really helped us with this by arranging mini fish and chips and bacon rolls to be served to guests as they moved around rather than having the traditional static evening buffet. We also had a choice of cocktails ready which definitely helped to get the evening party started!
Our fist dance was to Charlene Soraia’s gorgeous version of Wherever You Will Go by The Calling. Sean bought me the original version of this song when we were both 17 and so it meant so much to have it played on our wedding day.
The Happiest Day Of My Life
It was important for us to include a real personal touch with our décor and to help achieve this we had Adam at RSVP Candy create a poster that detailed our lives together so far. This poster was placed in the entrance hall to allow our guests to read our story before the wedding and we were so pleased with everybody’s reactions that we had Adam create our thank you cards too! We handmade all of our wedding day stationery (printed in typewriter font on recycled paper) and we included a very light-hearted quiz on the back of our menu cards which not only gave everyone something to do, but also helped to embarrass us horribly during Sean’s speech as he read out the answers which ranged from toilet museums to the teenage mutant ninja turtles.
Our wedding was special because we had so many friends and family go above and beyond in order to share our day with us. I think it served as a huge reminder that whilst sometimes wedding planning can feel a little pressured and you worry about keeping everybody happy, ultimately everybody is there because they love you and want you to have the most fantastic day which is exactly what we did!
My advice would be not to panic if you’re not super organised or uber creative. I know there suddenly seems a lot of pressure to be both of the above things but let me assure you that Sean and I are definitely neither and we still managed to do a lot on our own and have a wedding day that was everything we imagined. Yes, I forgot my dressing gown on the day and no, we didn’t take on any small building projects, but it was without doubt the happiest day of my life.
Swiss dot fabric?! A dress that looks like its covered in the softest flakes of snow?! Get me some of that fabric right now.
I have spent the entire morning of putting this wedding together confessing my undying adoration for all of the beautiful elements of this day (I think Adam and Charlotte think I have a slight problem). I’m somewhat obsessed with it.
From said amazing dress – which by the way has pockets. I am a massive advocate of dresses with pockets. I will go out of my way to find this dress in a store even if the pocketless dress fits better. I just love a pocket.
The necklace. The story behind the necklace. The fact that Sarah now owns two versions of it. It sets of the dress perfectly. It needs nothing more. My obsession with this wedding has lead to me purchasing my very own version of it! (oops).
I’m also a big fan of the no fuss table decor. Sometimes less is more. The simple table number, the single focal point of one main centerpiece and the pretty cups. I fear sometimes people want to throw a million things at their tables to make them interesting but a beautifully arranged floral piece is sometimes all you need.
I’m off to see if posty has delivered my new necklace yet.
It’s June 2012. We’re at the beautiful Chateau de Saint-Privat-des-Pres, about an hour and a half north east of Bordeaux. The village itself is tiny and set in absolutely gorgeous countryside – rolling hills, woodland, rivers, quaint country villages, and of course the beautiful French sunshine!
Seventy-five of Jez and Helen’s friends and family have traveled from all over the world to join them and celebrate their wedding-holiday.
On hand with the camera is M&J Photography. Interested….? Or course you are.
Here is Helen with all the delicious detail.
My dress was suitably French: by the Paris-based design team Cymbeline, the style is Fadela; a combination of delicate ivory lace, deep v-neckline without being too revealing, with a corseted body underneath. The dress suited my shape beautifully, it felt light and delicate, and just had that sort of French easy chic to it that I just loved.
Blackheath Bridal Boutique was my last stop on my big wedding dress hunt, we’d come back to the UK from Dubai to give our notice of intention at the registrar’s office and I’d booked in a week of dress appointments. I’d falled in love with another dress, which was completely different and would have needed a lot of alterations to make it work, but when I slipped into the Cymbeline number I knew that the search had come to an end!
A Crafty Veil
I loved the sexy/shy look of the birdcage veil, so being surrounded by crafty girls we bought a length of netting from a fabric shop just off Oxford Street, and we took the lace flower off the front of my dress. On the day of the wedding my girls literally crafted the veil onto my head, stitching it into my hair.
Jewellery-wise, I went for antique pearls – necklace, delicate bracelet and earrings on loan from my Mother. They were my Grandmother’s and were a lovely way for me to remember my Granny on my wedding day.
The Perfect Pair
I don’t do heals, I live in the heat and wear Birkenstocks everyday. My sister-in-law, Jo, would never allow me to get away with Birkies on my wedding day! I do love the look of heals and was in no doubt that I would be wearing heals on my wedding day, but I spent hours and days and weeks looking for the perfect pair – Dubai, London, the web – to no avail, everything was wedge or skyscraper high and I really didn’t want to fall over on my wedding day!
I had my eyes on a few designers, so when Rachel Simpson and Two Birds Bridesmaids launched their collaboration just weeks before the wedding, I saw the perfect pair – beautiful pale blush pink suede and soft gold peep toe heels. They were lovely and just the right height for me, saying that, I kicked them off about an hour after the ceremony and slipped into some way more comfy Havaianas!
Everyone Looked Stunning
I’m a very natural girl and wear minimal make up (aka mascara!), so the idea of being painted-up to look like something/one else really didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to look like me, just a bit more polished.
I was introduced to make up artist, Carolyn Gallyer, in Dubai by a good friend. Carolyn took me under her wing; we went shopping, picked up some goodies and I instructed me on exactly what to put where!
I’m very lucky that one of my best girlies, Heather, is a fabulous hairdresser and she very kindly offered to do all of our hair for the big day. Needless to say, she did an amazing job and everyone’s hair looked stunning.
A Big Fat Posy
My Mother does wedding flowers, so it was obvious who would be doing mine! I had very fixed ideas about what I wanted: big soft roses, hydrangea, peonies, and lots of them, with a sprinkling of herbs. One big fat posy for me, smaller versions for the girls, simple button holes for the boys, something a little fatter for Jez.
Tables where simple; lots of vases –big & small – with a mix of roses, hydrangea, peonies mixed up with potted herbs which we hired from a local garden centre.
I just gave my instructions and left my Mother to it! She had the flowers delivered to the chateau from a wholesaler in Holland.
My girls wore Two Birds Bridesmaids dresses in slate, it was such a flattering dress, and the colour shimmery almost two tone. With no real colour scheme, I was totally open about what the girls wear so long as they tied in together and made them look and feel special…and then I found the Two Birds dresses and the deal was sealed! The girls wore sparkly silver heels from Debenhams, a bargain at £20 a pair!
My gorgeous niece, Summer, wore the flower girl version of the Two Birds Bridesmaid dress in ivory with matching slate sash. The dress is absolutely perfect for twirling!
My Mother made Summer a matching doll as a gift, dressed exactly the same as Summer. The girls at Two Birds were great, sending over enough fabric to make the sash for the doll!
We actually ended up with two flower girls, as there was no way we could leave the gorgeous Edie out! She and Summer struck up a firm friendship and by the end of the long weekend were inseparable, it was so cute to see.
Jez wore a really beautiful dark charcoal three-piece suit from Charles Tyrehitt on Jermyn Street, London. My mother and I went with Jez to pickup/choose his suit (a week before the wedding!) and after much hoo-ha and faffing, Jez, walked out of the dressing room all done up and I turned to jelly! He looked gorgeous! He wore a white textured shirt and pale blue tie both from CCharles Tyrehitt…grrr!
Instantly In Love
Jonny and Morgane at M&J Photography were suggested to us, along with others, by the team at Get Married in France, our wedding planners. I fell instantly in love with their photos, their use of light, the colours and compositions were just stunning. They were such a pleasure to have around and we’re so pleased with the photos, everyone has commented on how beautiful they are and how well they capture the feel of the wedding.
You hear so many stories of couples being less than happy with their photographer and the results, I think we were really lucky.
All About The Cake
Mmm, cake! Being uber talented, my Mother made our cakes. Jez and I wanted carrot cake and chocolate cakes, I passed on to my Mother a recipe for our favourite carrot cake from the Lime Tree Café in Dubai and Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate Cake recipe. The decision making process around the cake decoration caused a few heated debates; Jez wanted Malteasers everywhere and I didn’t! I was also super keen for my Mother to be able to use her skills to the max.
We ended up with our carrot cake covered in vanilla butter icing with a heart on top made from raspberries, our Guinness chocolate cake again covered in vanilla butter icing with a heart on top made from Malteasers (marriage is all about, compromise!). My Mother also sneaked in a two tier fruitcake, iced and decorated with hearts with two rather silly bears sat on top! Everyone raved about the cakes, they were absolutely delicious, even a week after the wedding… Possibly the best cake I’d ever tasted!
Too Good To Be True
For entertainment we had Tomorrow band, a recommendation from our planners. The guys were great, they played a real mix of hits and the dance floor was rammed all evening. A good friend, DJ Duncan, then entertained us loooong into the night/next morning!
Oh and I was serenaded by Jez and his backing boy band to the sound of ‘You’re too good to be true’! I absolutely loved it, Jez has such a fab voice and we both love that song! I couldn’t help but dance along, I was totally mesmerized!
Twist And Shout
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong played by our band, which played into Twist and Shout, which was a great way to get everyone on the dance floor for a boogie! They’re just classic songs that we both love.
In keeping with the lighthearted approach of our invites, we decided to produce wedding memorabilia mugs, like the Charles & Diana ones but with our cheeky faces on them as favours. That way, when everyone has their breakfast cuppa they can remember our amazing day! The design, along with all our other stationary, originated deep in Jez’s brain but was made real by the super talented Jodi Magi, an artist, graphic designer and good friend of ours.
Inside were a Pukka Herbs ‘Love’ teabag and a little bundle of macaroons, made by the local macaroon specialist. Needless to say we made sure that there were a few extras macaroons for the bridal suite!
We didn’t feel there was much we needed to do as the chateau and grounds were so beautiful and the sun was shining. We just added flowers; pots of hydrangeas hired from the local garden centre, along with other blooms dotted around the place in old milk jugs, and flower heads in the fountain. The place just looked perfect.
Saying that, we had a lighting crew at Luminous decorate the place from top to toe in lights – from fair lights, to up lighters, candles and globes hanging from the trees, it looked truly magical as the sun went down.
We kept the furniture for the reception really simple – teak wood, white table clothes and parasols.
Laid Back Life
We’ve both got a very laid back approach to life and therefore we wanted our wedding to be an occasion that everyone could make into a holiday, with bonus wedding!
I think our mix of humor; expressed in the invites, favors and other stationary, and prettiness, everything else, worked really well together in the chateau setting.
We really couldn’t have done a wedding abroad without the input of our planner, Kate at Get Married in France …we’d have ended up eating pain au chocolat with frogs legs and snail salad served with warm beer!