Ruth and Howard’s sophisticated affair is SO DELICIOUSLY gorgeous that every image from Amy at Especially Amy made me swoon.
The gowns in ivory and grey and the candy striped page boys could be part of a Provençal summer garden party. The azure blue swimming pool (yes pool) could be straight from an exclusive Ibiza rave and the delicate champagne afternoon tea looks fit for Royalty. In fact, it’s all at the dreamy Birling Manor in sunny Sussex.
Get ready for chic-ness in abundance…
Simple And Classic
Ruth The Bride: Suzanne Neville was the first dress shop I visited, and her “Opulence” dress turned out to be the one. My style tends to be very simple & classic, and this dress fitted the bill perfectly. The beautiful rich duchess silk fabric of the skirt immediately made this dress stand out against all the others on the rail.
Our colour scheme was ivory & grey, so with the help of Suzanne’s team, we changed the ivory ribbon around the centre of the dress to a grey one, and added matching ribbon on to the flower girls’ dresses, to tie everything together.
Veil Edged With Lace
I chose a single tier veil (also from Suzanne Neville) which was edged with the same lace that was sewn onto the bodice of my dress.
Whatever The Weather
I love my heels, and was keen to go for a pair that I would wear after the big day was over. Our reception venue was centred around beautiful gardens and given that British weather is far from certain I thought a wedge would be the best option. I chose Jimmy Choo’s Biel peep-toe wedges – with a patent white upper & a shiny gold heel. I couldn’t wait to get them out again on my honeymoon!
Natural As Possible
I wear my hair down almost all the time, and was keen to look like myself – thus I had my hair down – with added volume & movement. I wanted my make up to be as natural as possible. After a couple of lessons from Jenny Jordan in Primrose Hill & the girls in Space NK in Parsons Green, I had the confidence to do my own make up on the day.
Peonies are my absolute favourite, however getting married in mid July, I was told they would likely be past their best by the time the wedding came around. However, 10 days before the wedding I popped into a local florist and saw they still had beautiful peonies. I got straight onto the phone to our florist (Melanie at Thorpe Gardens Nursery), and she said that due to the late spring this year, I would be able to have peonies after all!
To go with the classic feel & ivory/grey colour scheme, we opted for simple bouquets of ivory peonies for the bride & bridesmaids, while the flowergirls carried ivory hydrangea pomanders. For both the church & the reception we opted for a combination of ivory peonies and hydrangeas. My favourite arrangement was a gorgeous archway of flowers over the entrance into the church.
Co-ordinated But Individual
I wanted the bridesmaids to have dresses that reflected their individual styles. With one bridesmaid living in Sydney, and another pregnant during the run up to the big day, having dresses made to measure seemed a bit of a mammoth task, so instead the bridesmaids were given a simple brief (full length & grey/silver colour), and picked their own dresses.
I was really pleased with the end result – they looked coordinated, but elegant & individual at the same time. The groomsmen wore morning suits with black jackets & grey trousers. Ivory waistcoats & grey ties ensured they fitted the colour scheme. Even the bridal car perfectly matched – a grey 1957 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.
Get Me To The Church On Time
Howard chose a grey morning suit from Neal & Palmer – allowing him to stand out slightly from the groomsmen. He looked totally relaxed in the church (little did I know that his calm expression hid 30 minutes of panic as two of the ushers had arrived just minutes before having got totally lost on their way to the church)… in fact as I’d arrived at the church one of the ushers was (unbeknownst to me) getting changed into his suit behind a gravestone!
We Knew She Was The One
The feel of the day was really important to us – we wanted an informal & relaxed style where our guests could really let their hair down, and it was key that the choice of photographer reflected this. We didn’t want to give over hours of our special day to formal photographs – instead we wanted someone that could capture the spirit and feeling of the day almost with us hardly noticing.
Having spotted some of Amy’s photos on the internet, we loved her style, and after meeting for a coffee we knew she was the perfect photographer for our day.
I love baking, and doing my own wedding cake seemed like the ultimate challenge. I wanted to keep everyone happy (including my fruit-cake fanatic father, gluten-free mother-in-law, as well as all the other guests), so opted for 4 tiers – a traditional English fruit cake, a champagne & strawberry sponge (unsurprisingly the most popular layer!), a lemon & passion fruit sponge, and a gluten-free top tier.
Fitting the colour scheme, we chose simple, but slightly rustic, ivory icing, decorated with ivory peonies on the top (to match the bouquets and other arrangements). I couldn’t find the perfect cake stand to complement the cake anywhere in the UK, so that was bought over by the groom’s brother & sister-in-law who live in New York.
We absolutely loved “Hand Fulla Soul” who played at the wedding of one of my bridesmaids last year, so cheekily asked if we could steal them for our wedding. They do a great selection of classics, soul, pop – and get absolutely everyone on the dance floor – young and old. We had their jazz trio to entertain guests during the welcome drinks & canapé reception, and during the Champagne Afternoon Tea, followed by their full 8-piece band in the evening.
A Bit Of Richie
We were really keen to have something upbeat which would get everyone on the dance floor as soon as possible. We chose Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” – which was perfect as the slower first part of the song gave us the opportunity to dance together, before everyone piled onto the dance floor as the tempo picked up!
Our last dance was equally as special – as a total surprise to me & the other guests, Howard had arranged for his godfather to sing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight – the perfect end to an amazing day.
It Makes Me Happy
For favours we chose Café Patron tequila miniatures (the choice of the groom!). They were a huge hit – particularly amongst the groomsmen who were seen scouring the tables for any that had been left behind…
English Country Garden
One of the reasons we chose Birling Manor was their willingness to cede total control to us in terms of decoration / suppliers and all the other little details that made the day so personal to us. A stunning awning from Stretch & Tents within a walled garden provided the backdrop for the Champagne Afternoon Tea. The bespoke nature of their tents & our amazingly good fortune with the weather (in the midst of the heatwave) meant that we were able to have the sides of the tent totally raised – with the pink roses growing up the flint walls providing the perfect English country garden backdrop, and views out across the fields beyond up toward the light house on the cliff edge.
In contrast to the quintessentially English afternoon tea, the inspiration for the evening entertainment was a beach club / pool party vibe (inspired by the groom’s Miami stag do!), and we surrounded the pool with white sofas ottomans, lanterns & candles – the perfect setting for our Mojito bar!
Personal And Inclusive
Ensuring an informal & relaxed day for all our guests was really important to us both. We opted for Champagne Afternoon Tea instead of a formal wedding banquet – which turned out to be the perfect antidote to the heat on the day! Followed by a BBQ in the evening once everyone had worked up an appetite on the dance floor. We were very focused on the details & having as many personal touches as possible – from the afternoon tea which included our favourite cakes (Howard: carrot cake / Ruth: lemon drizzle cake), to the photos displayed from our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents weddings.
It was important to us that the day was inclusive for the whole family – on the top table we had 4 generations – the oldest (Howard’s grandfather) 91, and the youngest (Howard’s nephew) just 2 months. The children certainly helped keep the atmosphere light – Howard’s cousins Laurie & Rowan (9 & 7) stole the show at the church which a faultless reading from Winnie the Pooh, while the flower girls were straight into the pool to cool off in the evening! We also loved having a photobooth for the guests – with two sets of each prints, it doubled up as the most amazing guest book – which will keep us laughing for years to come.
Bride’s Gown – Opulence by Suzanne Neville
Veil – Suzanne Neville
Shoes – Biel by Jimmy Choo
Florist – Thorpe Garden Nursery And Florist
Groom’s Suit – Neal & Palmer
Band – Hand Fulla Soul
Venue – Birling Manor Sussex
Awning – Stretch & Tents
Photography – Especially Amy
Fabulous isn’t it?
Ruth’s veil edged with lace is so beautiful.
And now, I really want to lounge by the pool in the sunshine.
Lots of love,