I think Claire might be one of the happiest and glowy-est brides I have ever seen. Not only was she deliriously joyful at the prospect of becoming Mark’s wife, she was also twenty four weeks pregnant when they said “I Do” at the Losehill House Hotel in the Peak District.
That would be a double whammy of immense news then.
I am especially loving the thrown-together bouquets, the daisy buttonholes and all of the sun dappled couple portraits, captured beautifully by Chris Barber.
I really wanted natural, UK grown garden flowers. We try to buy our fruit and veg in season and it seemed crazy to pay for flowers flown in out of season from overseas, when we have so many beautiful flowers in the country, especially in May. Our florist was Rachel at Catkin Flowers, who are based at Doddington Hall near Lincoln, and I knew as soon as I saw her style that she was going to be perfect. She was amazing – she grows most of the flowers she uses in her cutting garden, and the others come from local growers. I’m not very good on flower names, so my descriptions of what I wanted were very vague (soft colours, natural, unstructured, with peonies in my bouquet if possible) and translated that into the most gorgeous bouquets and arrangements.
My bouquet was soft pink peonies, oxeye daisies, cow parsley, and grasses, and the bridesmaids bouquets were primarily daisies, cow parsley and grasses. The men had daisies with herbs in their buttonholes, and the table arrangements were a mix of different garden flowers – I can’t remember them all, sorry, but every arrangement was a little bit different from the next!
A Bumper Surprise
There is a bit of a long story here! My dress is Vanessa by Maggie Sottero, and was bought from Belle & Bouquet in Wellingore near Lincoln.
I originally tried this dress on last August, after a long day of shopping. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted – chiffon, light, soft, vaguely grecian – but was struggling to find the perfect one for me, and had been traipsing around loads of shops that seemed to be full of the styles of dress that I knew I DIDN’T want. The first time I tried it on, my bridesmaid (who was with me) loved it, but I was tired, a bit fed up and had had enough of shopping, so I immediately discounted it. However, when I got home I kept thinking about it, and googling pictures of it on, and decided to go and try it on with a clear head! The second time I tried it, I went alone, and loved it. I never had a “this is the one” moment, but I don’t think I’m that sort of girl – I just felt like myself in it, but better! I went back and took my Mum and sister the 3rd time, and that sealed the deal. I ordered it, and when it came into the shop in November, I was so happy with it.
Then, in January, we had a bit of a surprise – I discovered I was pregnant! This was, shall we say, a slight shock! It took some getting used to, as we’d planned on waiting a few years before starting a family, but once we’d both adjusted to it we were thrilled. However, it left me with a slight dress situation! I went to try it on at 14 weeks pregnant, and it was immediately apparent it was never going to fit – it was already tight. At this point we were also supposed to be getting married in July, when I would have been 7.5 months pregnant (that’s another story!). Amazingly, another bride had bought the same dress as me, but 3 sizes bigger, and had changed her mind and was looking to sell it. The bridal shop put me in touch with her. I managed to buy her dress, and sell mine via preloved for the same price – just so lucky, really!
I had so many worries in the run up to the wedding – I had no idea how much my body was likely to change, and I while I was quite happy to look pregnant I really didn’t want to look or feel fat and uncomfortable in a badly fitting dress. But the bridal shop were so great – they waited until 11 days before the wedding to start fittings, and it had to be taken in massively around the chest and hips, but (ahem) not around the tummy area. And on the day, it fitted perfectly! So, I’m 24 weeks pregnant in these photos. I love the fact that our baby is in our wedding photos – one day I’ll be able to show him or her the pictures and say “that’s you in there!”.
The Vintage Vine
I had originally planned on wearing my hair loose and with flowers (I’m a bit of a hippy at heart, and veils and tiaras were never my sort of thing), but when it came to it those styles just didn’t look right with the dress. I looked at loads of side tiaras, hairbands, headdresses etc but none of them were really what I was looking for, and by this point the budget for accessories had been cut (we were now saving for the baby too!). But then I spotted a competition to win a hand made headdress from Hermione Harbutt on a wedding blog, and had a look – they were really stunning but totally out of my price range. But I decided to enter the competition, and amazingly I won it (I never win anything!). I LOVE it so much. The style is called “Vintage Vine”.
My earrings were my Mum’s diamond studs – they were my “something borrowed” – I also wore a blue topaz ring that I was given for my 18th birthday as my “something old” and “something blue”. My bracelet was a gift from Mark (although I pretty much directed him to the ordering page on the internet!) from Sarah Hickey.
Soft And Natural
The bridesmaid dresses were from Coast – they were one of the first things I picked, I love the colour and they went so perfectly with the soft, natural feel that I was aiming for. I have them the option of the short or long version, and so we had two bridesmaids in the short version and one in the long. I gave them each a little pearl pendant and earrings, and they wore their own choice of shoes in neutral/ivory.
The little flower girl is my niece, and was possibly the smallest cutest flower girl ever! She was only 9 months old, so too small to be an actual functional flower girl, but she had to have a dress too! Her dress was actually from Ebay. The men wore their own suits (we asked them to wear grey) and shirts, and we provided ties which were bought from Debenhams. We had a vague colour theme of soft green – I wanted to keep it all very natural and in keeping with the colours of the landscape around the venue – but it didn’t really matter to me whether things were a precise match or not.
Mark wore a light grey 3 piece suit, which he bought from a Chesters of Lincoln, a local tailor. It was off-the-peg but altered to fit him, he’d always wanted a tailored suit and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. He wore it with a white shirt, and a green Thomas Nash tie from Debenhams, and he looked gorgeous!
Our photographer was Chris Barber. Here is a small confession – we only actually booked him 3 months before the wedding! As I said, we moved the wedding forward from July after discovering I was pregnant, and our original photographer couldn’t do the new date. However, since booking our original photographer I had become a fan of Chris’s work as I had become an obsessive wedding blog reader, and had seen several weddings that he’d photographed. So when we found out that we needed a new photographer, he was the first person I thought of – but I honestly hadn’t expected him to be available at short notice! We were thrilled when he could do it.
What we both love about his work is his ability to show the personality of the people he’s photographing, and how natural and honest the photography always seems to be. He is also super-nice, and was amazing on the day – so many people commented on how unobtrusive he was and how he just blended in with the guests. It was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions we made out of the whole planning process when we booked him, and we’re both just blown away by the photos!
To be honest, the venue was so beautiful and the views so stunning that it didn’t need much decorating – I LOVE bunting but I honestly felt that it would detract from the beauty of the surroundings. The only thing we did make were the table numbers – I had seen some online that were made from wood but they were quite expensive, and Mark thought we could do it more cheaply ourselves. So he made those using cardboard numbers from Hobbycraft (I actually spotted these on RMW ages ago!), which he then spray painted green (he had green fingers for days!) and the mounted on little wooden plinths to make sure they stayed upright.
The entertainment was an easy decision. I went to university in Scotland and had always said that if I ever got married I would want a ceilidh, having had so many fun nights at ceilidhs at uni. And Mark hates discos! So, simples!
We booked The Rhythm Chaps on the hotel’s recommendation, and weren’t disappointed – the dance floor was full all night. We also had croquet and chess out on the lawn during the afternoon, which went down really well with the kids, and a few of the adults too!
All Day Hold
I had originally wanted to wear my hair loose and curly, but I wasn’t sure if it looked right with the dress, and it seemed a shame to cover up the beautiful halter strap, so we tried out some lose messy up-dos as well. I didn’t really know which style I was going to go for until the day, but it was so hot (28 degrees, and also windy!) that there was no way I could have worn it down!
My hair was done by Lucy at The Stage salon in Baslow, Derbyshire. and she did a great job – my hair is very fine and long, and doesn’t hold styles well, but it lasted all day.
I did my own make-up in the end. I went around all the make-up counters in Boots and had some lessons, and was really happy how it turned out (although I was having recurrent eyeliner – botching nightmares in the run-up to the big day!)
Our cake was provided by my lovely Grandad, and was home-made by one of his friends. It was 3 tiers of fruit cake, and we asked her to decorate it very simply – it had white icing decorated with tiny white daisies and green ribbon. The flowers were provided by Rachel, the florist.
Keeping To The Original Plan
Apart from getting to marry my gorgeous soulmate and the father of the baby currently kicking away inside me…..Because that’s what really made it special! But other than that, for us it was the location that made it so amazing. A lot of people found it strange that we’d choose to get married in Derbyshire when we live in Lincoln, and it did make some of the planning more difficult as we were an hour and a half away from the venue. But I’m so glad that we did, the location really made the day.
In terms of advice, what I would say is that the small stuff DOES matter, but not as much as you’d think. I had so many ideas about things that I wanted to do, and once I discovered the crazy world of wedding blogs I had even more! I used to lie awake wondering if our wedding would be any the worse for not having a sweetie buffet, or an ice cream cart, or fairground stalls, or homemade bunting, etc etc etc, or whether all my plans for flowers and favours were going to look any good together or not. But then finding I was pregnant and making the decision to move everything forward by 2 months, and all the stress/work that involved (especially whilst having morning sickness), put things in perspective a bit. It made me realise that none of that stuff really mattered, all that mattered was getting to marry my lovely man! The rest was just fluff – pretty fluff, but not that important in the grand scheme of things. After that I kept it much more simple and stuck to my original ideas, and it all came together ok.
Florist – Catkin Flowers
Brides Gown – Maggie Sottero at Belle and Bouquet
Brides Headpiece – Hermione Harbutt
Hair – Lucy at The Stage salon
Photography – Chris Barber
The “thumb” tree is so cute – and a great alternative to the traditional guest book. And I think in future everyone should aim for a “blowing the dandelion” shot.
Big Glowing Love