A Secret Garden Party.


This is one of those weddings that is so full to the brim with things I love and such an abundance of stylish ideas that usually I wouldn’t know where to begin.

But actually, I do know where I’m going to begin and that’s with Sam’s up-do. Because it is extraordinarily beautiful yet so simple, essentially a french plait with fresh blooms. About 800 of you lovelies told us just how much you liked it when we posted an image on our Facebook page over the weekend and have been “sharing” it ever since!

Sam and Ed wanted to create a secret garden with a traditional British garden party and I think you’ll agree that they accomplished their dream decor with bells on, creating a whimsical yet contemporary fairytale within a beautiful outside space.

There is a swing adorned with roses. There is a rope bridge bedecked with ribbon. There are my favourite colours of peach and mint and the prettiest fairylights hung from trees.

And I’ll stop now, because you just need to see it.

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The Garden Of Secrets

Ed and I wanted our wedding to emulate a secret garden with all of the delights of a traditional British garden party. We envisaged secret nooks and twisted oak trees, family and friends meandering across a freshly mown lawn whilst children played amongst them. We searched for what seemed forever, and then one day Ed’s Auntie kindly suggested her home near Peterborough. Stood amongst the trees on the river bank we knew that it would be the perfect place to hold our relaxed secret garden wedding.

We were officially married at the historic Church of St Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay with its breath-taking architecture and tree lined drive up to the church. It is a special place.

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Plaits And Fresh Blooms

My hair and make-up was done by Tori Harris, she was amazing and really understood exactly what I wanted. I had found images of an intricate plait that I loved which Tori had expertly mastered by the end of our trial! I wanted a relaxed bohemian look with real flowers in my hair and natural glowing make up. The morning of the wedding was very special, surrounded by my family and friends in the private garden of the bridal suite I felt tremendously lucky.

Tori instantly put me at ease; she painstakingly styled my hair and created a soft natural make up look that lasted right through to the end of the night. To create my look Tori used Illamasqua Matt Primer, Bobbi Brown foundation and Mac lipstick and gloss, Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora and Skindinavia setting spray.

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Feeling Special

From the moment I clapped eyes on the lace Pronovias fishtail gown in ‘Mirror Mirror’ (Crouch End) I knew it was the one, I cried! (Which I boasted to my friend, I would never do!). I fell in love with the simplistic lines and the double lace; it was strapless so really emphasised my shoulders and décolletage. The train was double lace with a soft lace trim; I also wore a long plain veil that floated along the floor as I walked.

The dress came with a soft lace bolero giving me the flexibility to wear two looks, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. The staff in Mirror Mirror were wonderful; they altered my dress beautifully and always made me feel so special.

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Mint Green And Pearls

After much hunting I found the most perfect shoes in a soft mint green (Mimosa) from Rachel Simpson, they were so comfortable to wear and added a flash of colour as I walked.

My jewellery was supplied by a boutique jeweller in Shropshire, I chose simple pearl earrings, a pearl bracelet and a floating pearl necklace.

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The Wedding Party

Our family and friends are so important to us both which made for an interesting bridal party. I had my best friend Ian as my man of honour, as well as my brothers Andy and Chris as my brides men, I also had Ellie, Molly and Lilly as my bridesmaids, with the addition of our nieces as flower girls and my nephew as our ring bearer.

This made for interesting decisions reference colours I can tell you!

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Blushed Peach

Our colour scheme was soft mint green with blushed peach, so I dressed my female bridesmaids in mint green handmade dresses and the guys in brown tailored suits with mint green ties and pocket squares. My eldest brother is in the army so wore his uniform; just seeing him made me well up with pride. In order to differentiate between the Groom and Bridal party, Ed’s groomsmen wore charcoal grey suits with mint green accessories, whilst Ed wore a bespoke charcoal grey Paul Smith suit and peach tie and pocket square.

Our flower girls wore floaty white dresses with flowers in their hair, they looked like little flower fairies!

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Whimsical Wonderland

Our friend Lucy helped us to create the overall look for the venue; we wanted it to look relaxed and homemade so she painstakingly dressed the marquee with peach and mint pom poms, paper lanterns and bunting. We also hung lanterns and old jam jars in the trees to light up the garden as the sun went down. Ed’s Step Mum’s home grown and dried flowers were used to decorate the trees, fence and the garden furniture, these created intimate seating areas for our guest to mingle. Fairy lights and ribbons were also strung in the trees and the tree house to create a whimsical atmosphere as the sun started to set.

I also wanted our décor to reflect my love of the book ‘The Secret Garden’ and so my friends and I spent days making roses out of old books, with these I made a garland that we draped around an old garden door.

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I sourced old keys, tied a luggage tag to them and used these as our table plan. I also wanted something that linked to our overall theme for the table numbers, so my friends and I made these from bits of wood, door knobs, key holes and door numbers. These were placed next to a stack of old books on each table, I also used old books bound with lace to hold the menus for each table, we were both overwhelmed with the overall effect! Without the help of our friends and family in the days before the wedding we would never have created such a beautiful overall look.

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A Magical Garden

Our florist Clare from Love Blooms was amazing! She understood what we wanted and created flowers that complimented our colours and our theme. In my bouquet she used a mix of David Austin roses, Talia Rose, Dalhias, Garden Rose and a mix of foliage; the colours were mostly peach/apricot with a touch of cream. For the tables Clare supplied cups and saucers as well as teapots, this were filled with a mixture of flowers and looked stunning on the day. Clare also provided the Roses and Lisianthus which were wired into my hair and also the circlets for the flower girls.

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The button holes were in subtle peaches with lavender foliage and a mint leaf, Ed’s also included a key to echo our theme. We also had two large front facing arrangements and a font arrangement to add a touch of our colour scheme into the church. Overall the flowers really helped to create the magical garden feel that we had envisioned.

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A Personal Ceremony

We were so pleased with the ceremony and loved being able to personalise it so that it reflected us as a couple. As I entered the church a guitarist and violinist played Lamb’s ‘Gabriel’ on violin and guitar, this song is special as the lyrics really sum up my feelings for Ed, and so as I walked down the aisle I had to really hold myself together. One of my favourite readings was ‘Paths and journeys’, adapted from Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) which my brother Chris read and had me in tears! Ed’s sister also read 1 Corinthians 13 beautifully. Our exit music was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and the church bells rang out as we exited the church.

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Wheelbarrow Racing

When we arrived at the venue our band played folk music whilst our guests enjoyed the sun and a glass of Pimms. It was so nice to see the children dancing in the centre of the lawn; all we needed was a maypole! We were fortunate that our venue had so many different areas to explore; we sat in the summer house by the river and waved at the boats as they past. I had a go on the zip line attached to the tree house (much to the shock of my guests) and Ed and I also had a cheeky little wheelbarrow race at the end of the garden which was so much fun, I would recommend it to any couple getting married.

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Sky Lights

Our first dance was ‘First Day Of My Life’ by Bright Eyes, this song means a lot to us as it was the song that Ed ‘serenaded’ (sort of) me with when we first started dating, the lyrics also sum up how we feel about one another. Ed’s cousin was our DJ for the night and she had some amazing tunes playing so that the dance floor was never empty, it was an incredible feeling to look around and see an unofficial wedding tradition….the Sleeman sisters throwing some shapes in a choreographed routine.

As if this wasn’t enough, Ed’s uncle and Auntie very generously put on the most amazing firework display I have ever seen…the whole day was wonderful, Ed and I didn’t stop grinning from ear to ear, and we enjoyed watching our friends and family have a good time.

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Great British Picnics

It was important to us that the wedding breakfast was informal and allowed our guests to chat and share, so we asked our caterer to create a menu that encouraged sharing. The starter was brought out in English picnic baskets and kiln jars, and included potted ham hock and dressed Cromer crabs and pickles amongst other little treats which went down a storm. Our guests clearly enjoyed the starter and it was obvious to see that it was a great way to encourage discussion. Our main course was a delicious BBQ with lemon and coriander chicken, steaks, paella and a selection of salads on the side, followed by the trio of deserts which looked gorgeous and tasted even better.

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My friends and I made heart shaped biscuits for our favours. We were a bit worried about how these would taste but people actually asked us if there were anymore! Our cakes were made by Amy Beard, we didn’t want anything too fussy so had several different sized red velvet cakes with butter cream icing, these were topped with real flowers and presented on tree stumps.

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Drink Me

Our very good friend Kim designed and made all of our wedding stationery, from the invites; on which she glued miniature versions of our bunting to the place names, she even created little ‘eat me’ tags for the favours and ‘drink me’ tags for one of the desserts. Kim also did a beautiful job in creating our order of service and tied everything together in such a gorgeous way. She is such a talented and creative minded person and was so generous with her time.

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Truly Beautiful

Our photographer was amazing, from the moment we met David Wickham; we knew he was the one! He was creative and easy going; he really was up for anything we suggested, even if some of the suggestions were a bit unusual. David was unobtrusive and relaxed with us and managed to capture the essence of our wedding and the sheer joy of the day.

His photographs are truly beautiful and we will always be so grateful to him for that.

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Enlist Your Friends

Our advice would be to make your wedding as personal as you can; these little bits really convey you as a couple. Also, if you can ask friends and family for support and help with making it all that is a big bonus! We couldn’t have created our wedding without all the help we received and it truly makes you appreciate the people you have in your life. Also, get all you things booked and in place as soon as possible.

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Finally, take as much time off in the run up the wedding as possible as all those little jobs which you think will take five minutes will take an hour and the ones you think will take an afternoon will take a day! Good luck!

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Brides Gown – Pronovias at Mirror Mirror
Brides Shoes – Rachel Simpson
Hair and make-up – Tori Harris
Photographer – David Wickham at Modern Vintage Weddings
Marquee hire – Countryside Marquees
Florist – Clare Robinson at Love Blooms
Caterer – Tony Martin at Cooks Catering
Band – Effra

Click here & view all images from this wedding

Yes I know, I wanted to be a guest and join in some zip-wire action too.

And how pretty and unusual were the table centre numbers?! LOVE.

Big Secret Garden Love

Charlotte xxx

14 thoughts on “A Secret Garden Party.

  1. Aaaahhhh such a pretty wedding, the photos are amazing. The bride looks stunning….the dress and shoes simply beautiful. I whole setting is gorgeous and everyone looks soooo happy, congratulations guys

  2. I absolutely adore the garden party feel to this wedding…and that dress is so beautiful it made me gasp a little bit. I love that simply adding a bolero gave two different looks in an instant.

    But my favourite bit is the fireworks, I LOVE fireworks at a wedding…I know some people confine them to 5th November, but there is nothing better than snuggling up to your loved one whilst oohing and aahing and pretty lights in the sky, so what better day to do it than your wedding day xx

    1. Emma I hear you! Nothing better than fireworks with your beau! I’m actually attending a wedding on NYE this year and they’re having fireworks at midnight. I CANNOT WAIT!!

      I think perhaps the firework photos in this wedding are my favourite of the lot…Stunning!

  3. What a beautiful couple and a really wonderful day by all accounts! Love, love, love the wheelbarrow race! Thanks for sharing your day.

  4. Wish my auntie had a card like this! This special day looks jam packed with fun and laughter. I love how much effort and how many personal touches were packed into this wedding. I’m spending a lot of time crafting and making bits and bobs and sometimes wonder why i bother and will anyone really notice or care but this just makes me want to get home and cut up some more lace and make some more signs 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement and congrats on your wonderful wedding 🙂 xx

      1. I know i keep telling myself it will look like the dream that’s in my head! Plus my dad has now started his own tin can lantern factory in the dad cave so who could stop him now… think he’s enjoying it more than me 🙂 xx

  5. Absolutely love these pictures, the photographer has captured the moments perfectly. This wedding is all about fun, love and laughter. Exactly what I would like on my big day. Congratulations guys! xxx

  6. Everything about this wedding is so so pretty. I love the table plan and the table numbers, they fit in with the theme perfectly. And what a beautiful bride. Oh & stunning photographs, everything has been captured so beautifully x

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