We have talked a little bit about wedding transport recently at Rock My Wedding and I must admit that Rebecca and Chulanga’s choice of a Bentley S type would certainly have made it onto my top 5 wedding car list, if only I had seen it in time. It is simply one of the most elegant looking cars I have ever seen, and in that gun metal metallic finish it just looks awesome. I can so see myself tootling back and forth to RMW towers everyday in one of these beauties.
So, anyway – I’ve bought myself a lottery ticket!
It’s not just the car that is noteworthy here – the attention to every single detail of this rustic english country garden affair is staggering, from the recurrent Wuthering Heights theme to the bespoke yorkshire ale labels created for favours.
Oh, and of course then there is the teepee… But I suppose I ought to let Rebecca tell at least some of the story…
England Vs Australia
Chulanga was born in Sri Lanka and has lived in Zambia, England and Australia. I am a simple Yorkshire lass living in London! So when it came to deciding where we would get married the world was our oyster however we both love the English countryside and decided there was no better place to have our wedding than Yorkshire, not to mention it would make life easier for one side of the family to attend!
As family and friends would be coming from all over the world we decided to hire six cottages at Fountains Abbey for the long weekend where we would also host an England vs Australia International ‘Friendly’ cricket match and afternoon tea the day after the wedding. We also had an informal do the night before. In hindsight this was probably a step too far for me as I was somewhat exhausted from all the wedding preparations. Luckily I was so tired that I slept like a log and was fine and dandy for the big day.
Our wedding ceremony was held at All Saints’ Church, Kirby Hill, Boroughbridge – a beautiful, intimate, Grade I Listed church with Saxon origins. As we didn’t have any connections with the parish we had to attend the church twice a month for six months prior to getting married. This was quite an undertaking as we live in London but it was well worth it and it was the drives through the countryside every other Sunday that set the scene for our wedding and influenced us from the start.
The church was just the right size for the number of guests and we invited our immediate members of family to sit in the choir stalls so we were facing them during our vows. This made the occasion feel all the more personal and relaxed while retaining the formalities.
Following the ceremony we had the reception at Newby Hall and Gardens near Ripon – a magnificent, grand but homely venue set in formal and relaxed grounds. As we wanted the reception to celebrate the magnificent rural surroundings, the guests were welcomed at Newby Hall for a champagne reception on the terrace before we all walked down to the River Ure where we had a teepee set on the lawns – a tranquil setting with fabulous views and the most amazing backdrop of the Hall.
As quite a lot of the guests were staying in the Fountains Abbey cottages we arranged for a vintage bus to collect them and take them to the church and then on to Newby Hall. The bus was beautiful and I wish I had been able to join everyone on it but obviously that was not possible so we organised a gorgeous Bentley ‘S’ type to take me and my parents to the church.
Beautiful, Stunning and Elegant
Chulanga proposed to me on New Year’s Eve so I only had 8 months to find my dress. I never had an ‘ideal’ dress in mind so I really had to start from scratch with magazines and websites. Friends advised me to book as many appointments as possible and get trying on. This proved to be invaluable as many lovely dresses suited me but simply didn’t feel right on. To be honest I didn’t revel in trying on all the dresses and found it pretty stressful as I simply couldn’t find anything that floated my boat or was what I thought I wanted at the time. At the same time as dress hunting we were building a bigger picture of how we wanted the big day to be which was also important to bear in mind when looking for the dress.
I concluded that apart from wanting the dress to be beautiful, stunning and elegant it had to be suitable for a country wedding, timeless yet with hints of a bygone era (20’s/30’s), have a slight edge but be classic – quite a tall order!
Sixty dresses later I found two – typical! With only a matter of days to decide due to the order dates and with only a mild gut reaction I ended up writing a list of pros and cons for each dress.
I have to admit that I would not have tried on the dress I bought if it wasn’t for the amazing assistant at Vera Wang as the dress did not suit the hanger. Once it was on it was so comfortable and flattering and the simplest of detail gave it the twist I was looking for without detracting from the classic timeless style. I also never thought I’d end up with a Vera Wang dress which was a bit of a kick in itself!
One Dress, Two Looks
My veil was also from Vera Wang. I really liked its simplicity and didn’t want to have to look elsewhere with just two small samples of the material my dress was made of and only four months to go before the big day.
The dress had a tulle bodice formed of a length of material that also created a sash which could be tied at the front, back or side. I really liked the versatility of this as when I had been looking for a dress I had wanted an element of change for my outfit in the evening. I had considered wearing something over my shoulders during the day but due to the neckline of my dress this wouldn’t work. So I decided that during the day the tulle would be tied at the back of the dress to be in line with the veil and emphasise the section of tulle inserted in the bias cut train. In the evening I tied the sash at the side and held it in place with an embellished vintage 1920’s brooch which I bought from Eclectica in John Lewis.
I wanted the rest of my jewellery to have the same vintage feel and due to my hair being tied up I opted for long diamante earrings to accentuate the neckline and an art deco style hair comb to sit at the back of my head. Both were from Brown’s Bride. The earrings were by Andrew Prince and the comb by Debra Moreland is Paris.
I also wanted a bag (for my bridesmaid to carry those all important things on my behalf!). I did look for a 1920’s bag with some sparkle but they all looked a little drab and not wanting to settle for your typical ivory satin clutch I found a Wilbur & Gussie bag in Fenwicks which I love and I am pleased to say it has since accompanied me out on various occasions.
The Perfect Pair
Bearing in mind Chulanga’s height I couldn’t go higher than a three inch heel. I also wanted to carry on the vintage feel and have some diamante embellishment to the shoe – I definitely didn’t want a stereotypical satin shoe. After a quick look on websites and the high street and having been warned that diamante may click on the dress I was feeling pretty deflated before I stumbled across the amazing Emmy and found the perfect pair – ivory suede with a round toe and a diamante t-bar.
Emmy reassured me that they could apply something to the diamante to prevent them from clicking the dress and it worked. Admittedly they were pricey but perfect and comfortable. They do make them for you so you need to order them well enough in advance. I just hope I can wear them again although I am not sure I can bring myself to have them dyed.
Natural But Strong
Julia Jeckell of Chic Brides did my hair and make-up.
I found it very hard to find a stylist that was available at such late notice and didn’t have a website where all the models looked like they had been photographed in the 80’s!
I don’t normally wear a lot of make-up so I wanted to keep the look fairly natural but strong enough for photographs.
I had been growing my hair since the engagement. Luckily it was just long enough to be put up as there were three velvet roses on the back of the neckline of my dress.
English Country Garden
One of my old university friends, Rachael Teasdale, owns Flowers By Katie Wharram in Yorkshire so I approached her to do the flowers.
Despite the distance Rachael did a great job and the flowers were beyond our expectation.
We wanted the flowers to have an English country garden feel without being too pretty pretty. So using the organic palette that we designed with our stationery designer we came up with a selection of flowers; Hydrageas, scabious, dill, peach avalanche roses, peach spray roses, hypericum, snowberry, astrantia, delphiniums, vibernum, fountain grass, tree fern.
As the church was so small we didn’t want to over clutter the space and so kept it simple with one main free standing decoration positioned for all to see and then a simple, small posie of greenery and white flowers hung with natural twine from the finials at the end of the pews on the main aisle. We looked everywhere for a small, plain glass vase for each of the finials but they were all a bit tacky so we ended up using plastic travel bottles from Boots. No-one noticed and they were much more practical than using glass.
We then used artificial ivy along the front of the choir stalls with small fresh white flowers inserted.
For the teepee we had incidental posies in vintage glass vases on each table with ivy up some of the tent poles. We also bought some small vintage style glass bottles and used milk bottles decorated with cotton ticking ribbon to hold one or two stems on picnic tables outside the tent and on vintage French apple and pear crates in the chill out tent.
We didn’t stipulate that the best man and bridal party had to wear the same suit as Chulanga as we wanted it to be fairly relaxed so we let them wear one of their own. We did however buy the best man a matching shirt from Pink, an Armani tie and some vintage cufflinks by Jenny Knott for John Lewis.
The page boy’s suit was from Next.
I only had one bridesmaid which made life very easy. I was adamant to buy her a dress that she was comfortable in and would potentially wear again. We looked on the high street but as she is so petite everything drowned her. Finally we found a lovely flattering dress by Monique Lhuillier at Brown’s Bride. They had just started to stock them and only had a few samples to try on but we found the perfect one and there was a choice of colours. It was a strapless Dupioni pencil dress with pleated body and sash tie. As Chulanga hadn’t bought his suit at this stage we avoided colours that may clash and chose a sage green. I also bought her a vintage 1950’s brooch from an antique jewellery shop in Notting Hill for her to wear on her sash in the evening.
Modern and Relaxed
Chulanga loves his suits so he was really excited about shopping for his outfit. I also love a man in a suit so I was happy to go along and ‘supervise’. We did consider having one tailor made but whilst looking in the shops for inspiration we stumbled across the perfect one. A three piece blue suit from Armani at Selfridges. It is a really nice cut – modern yet the colour made it feel relaxed – perfect for a country do! Luckily when he went to buy it they told him to come back two days later when it would be in the sale so he managed to get it for half price!
Likewise he managed to get his shoes in the sale at Paul Smith – I suppose one of the advantages of having a wedding at the end of summer and leaving things to the last minute!
An Extremely Important Decision
We found it quite difficult to choose a photographer as it felt like an extremely important decision to make bearing in mind we would be looking back at the photographs over years to come. Having scoured numerous websites we knew that we wanted a reportage style of photography that had a relaxed vintage feel. We came across a few that we were interested in but so many had added extras such as cut off times, assistants and accommodation to name but a few. We appreciate that photographers need to cover their costs but when you’re managing a fine act called a wedding budget it was something we didn’t want to have to think about.
We then came across Eliza Claire. We loved what we saw online and arranged to meet her one evening. From day one Eliza showed a genuine interest in our plans for the day and shared in the excitement. She was always happy to help out and get involved with the details. We both felt immediately relaxed with her and I daresay I could have chatted to her all evening so it was really a no brainer. Included in the package was an engagement shoot which really helped to prepare us for the big day and there were no ‘hidden’ extras that we hadn’t budgeted for.
On the day Eliza was supportive during the ever so slightly nervy build up and I can’t say we really noticed her during the ceremony and reception as she quietly moved around snapping away at details and guests, capturing the atmosphere that we could reflect upon over the years to come.
Have Your Cake And Eat It
We both like traditional wedding cake but I always find that I’m too full to eat it after the wedding breakfast so bearing in mind how expensive they can be we decided to have our ‘cake’ as the dessert course.
Fortunately our amazing caterers, Yorkshire Party, were happy to accommodate us and produced a beautiful croquembouche with a crème anglaise filling and a caramel topping served with summer fruits and coulis. It was served on a beautiful vintage silver stand and decorated with flowers.
To be honest I once went to a wedding in France when I was 21 and that was where I first saw (and ate!) a croquembouche – I had wanted one ever since!
It did mean that we had to cut the cake before the meal so that it could be served as the dessert but as we had decided to let my dad do his speech prior to the meal so that he could relax and enjoy his dinner it worked quite well.
We also contemplated a cheese ‘cake’ as we are huge cheese lovers but thought that wouldn’t appeal to all. Not wanting to compromise on one of our favourite courses we opted for a cheese grazing table which was brought out after the meal for people to graze on throughout the evening. It really looked beautiful adorned with flowers and fruits and went down well with those wanting a nibble with their drinks. It was also cheaper than providing a cheese course for each person.
Jazz, Swing, Soul And disco
We found it hard to decide whether to opt for a DJ or a band. We wanted a band but we were slightly wary about finding one online as it is quite hard to judge the quality via a few demos on the internet. It was also difficult to find a band within budget – however we discovered that if we went just over our budget and into the next price bracket there were a lot more bands to choose from for just a little more than we had planned on spending. This transpired to be invaluable and probably the best extra couple of hundred pounds we spent as we discovered the amazing Sophie Garner and The New Breed.
Sophie’s voice is amazing and they have a brilliant repertoire from Jazz and Swing to Soul and Disco. This was perfect for us as at the time of booking as we had not decided what sort of music we wanted. They are also wonderfully relaxed and created a fantastic party atmosphere. They got everyone dancing and had lots of compliments from our guests.
We had also wanted to have some fireworks. This was mainly because Chulanga proposed to me on New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen amidst the craziest firework demonstration we had ever seen. We soon found out that fireworks are very expensive to say the least so we decided to opt for a more subtle approach and set off some Chinese lanterns (the bio-degradable type) just before supper. This created a pleasant interlude between the band’s two sessions and they were great for both the adults and the children not to mention unbelievably affordable.
As so many of our friends and family have children who we love to see, we made the executive decision to invite the wee ones from the onset. This meant that we also needed to provide some entertainment for them during the day so we laid out croquet and jenga which seemed to keep them as quiet as could be. There were also colouring books and crayons on the tables together with Magical Menagerie Punch Out Animals.
All Of Me
We didn’t have a particular song we wanted as our first dance and so opted for a classic which Sophie could sing and would appeal to all ages and we could look back on in future years and still appreciate. The song was All of Me which has been sung by so many famous people including Frank Sinatra.
Sophie sang it amazingly and everyone joined in on the dance floor before the party set off with a swing.
I wanted to give all the ladies something romantic and as my Dad was born in Haworth I could think of no better favour than a copy of Wuthering Heights. Fortunately while we were visiting family in Australia I discovered that Penguin Australia published the book in the original 1935 iconic look. This was great for the vintage feel although it did mean that the in-laws had to bring 50 copies in their luggage! I wrote a personal message in each book before tying some fine black and cream ribbon around the book and inserting a sprig of heather to be in keeping with the Yorkshire Moors.
For the men we contacted a local brewery and bought blank bottles of Yorkshire Ale (ginger beer for the few non-drinkers among the men!) which we personalised with a label that had been designed by James Roeni our stationery designer. We also bought a cask of ale for the bar.
James Roeni also did a fantastic job of all our stationery. We met him at the Wedding Show in Birmingham and loved his eye for detail and unique stationery. As we wanted the invite to set the country vintage feel for the day and tie in our travels around the world he was a perfect choice to do everything from invites to table names, menus and order of service. As a result we ended up with a stationery package of our dreams.
Our invitations were quite an undertaking and really set the theme for the day. The invite itself was based on a 1940’s postcard of my grandparents house in Yorkshire. To top it off the postcard I found had actually been sent to my mum by dad before they had got married. We also had a rsvp card with one of our photos of New Zealand on the front which James gave a vintage feel. There was an additional information sheet which was arranged like a traditional botanical plate with an image of Chulanga’s favourite flower Frangipani on the front. Also there was a vintage ‘ticket’ inviting people to afternoon tea and a cricket match on Sunday upon which we combined a couple of poems we had found about the game and its roots – great for a bit of English, Aussie and Lankan banter! To top it off each invite was bound with a page torn from a copy of Wuthering Heights and held together with a ribbon and a luggage tag.
As well as the vintage, Yorkshire, English country garden theme we also wanted to share our 7 month trip around the world so along with using one of our travel photographs for the rsvp card we named each table after a different place we had visited. The table name cards were pegged out on a piece of rope at the entrance to the tepee and a corresponding card was held by a heart shaped tag in a vintage bottle on the tables. James gave all the cards a vintage feel and we wrote personal anecdotes on the back of each. We also put a ‘travel log’ on each table which contained the menu and a few replica postcards for guests to write personal messages. Luggage tags similar to those used in the invitations were tied to the back of the chairs with different coloured ribbons so guests knew where to sit and we used my mum’s old suitcase for the guests to leave their cards in.
James picked a lovely handwritten blue font which gave the text a personal feel. He also used the strapline ‘I will follow you around the globe’ on some of the stationery which pulled it all together and was really sweet.
A Blank canvas
The tepee took a lot of decorating as it was quite literally a blank canvas. I had spent a couple of months leading up to the big day buying decorations online as I found some items were as cheap to buy as they were to hire. The tepee was due to go up on the Tuesday giving us plenty of time to decorate it but due to high winds Papakata were delayed and we were unable to get cracking with the decorations until Thursday. Fortunately there was family on hand to help out.
We hung Mexican picados, 3D paper garlands, bells and balls and hanging glass tealight votives for from the tent poles together with hearts of all shapes and sizes with satin ribbon from the front of the tent.
We used vintage French apple crates as tables in the chill out area and Papakata provided scatter cushions and reindeer skins for the chairs and floor. Papakata also provided fairy lights which were wrapped around the tent poles surrounding the dance floor which worked really well with the disco ball.
Due to the weather being an unknown we also hired some vintage blankets which we stored in a large wicker basket so people could keep warm. There was a fire inside the tent which proved to be invaluable not only to keep warm but also for toasting marshmallows in the evening. We also put some blankets over straw bales outside so they could be used as seating. It proved very tricky to find straw bales and in the end we contacted a local stable and enquired as to where they bought theirs. Luckily they led us to a local farmer who was happy to supply and deliver some bales. We did however have the painstaking task of fireproofing the bales not to mention paying for them to be taken away after the wedding.
We decorated the tables with some vintage crockery which we hired from Add Vintage. Each guest had their own cup and saucer and side plate which added some lovely colour to the tables aswell as being put to good use for tea, coffee and cheese. We also hired vintage glass candlesticks, champagne saucers and lace overlays for the tables.
Go For It!
We found that some suppliers outsourced items so we hired the furniture, toilets and generator directly in order to cut out some costs. Admittedly it made more work for us but every little penny helped and to be honest once it was all sourced and ordered it was done.
It really is your day so you should do whatever you want and don’t worry about what others may think. Hopefully you will only have one wedding day so in my opinion you should go for it. We paid a lot of attention to detail and made sure everything linked together from the page of Wuthering Heights wrapped around the invite to the copy of the vintage style book as the female favours; the blue handwritten font on the invitations to that on the labels of the male favours. It all worked in harmony and everyone noticed and complimented us on what an amazing job we had done. I even managed to find vintage salt and pepper pinch pots for each table.
Venue Newby Hall and Gardens
Photography Eliza Claire
Vintage Bus Yorkshire Heritage Bus
Dress Vera Wang
Boutique Brown’s Bride
Florist Flowers By Katie Wharram
Caterers Yorkshire Party
Stationery James Roeni
Vintage Hire Add Vintage
A superb detailed account there from Rebecca, it seems there wasn’t a single part of their big day not considered and thoroughly thought through – both in terms of styling and from the point of view of being the “host” of an amazing party.
I imagine that Rebecca and Chulanga’s guests felt very well looked after… sort of wish I was a guest at this wedding.
Or, better still, I would liked to have been the Bentley driver.