Notley Abbey is where my husband and I were married so it will therefore always have a special place in my heart. I may be biased but there are very few venues that compare (and I’ve seen a fair few in my time) in terms of creating the perfect elegant backdrop to a beautiful wedding.
Today’s romantic affair is no exception, Cleo looks absolutely breathtaking in her Suzanne Neville “Captivating” gown and groom Ryan is equally as well-dressed in a perfectly tailored Hugo Boss suit.
The flowers are dreamy, spring blooms are some of my favourites, especially sweetpeas – so feminine and delicate. And if there is an abundance of cherry blossom in your outside space then you should most definitely take every opportunity to have some portraits taken, this pair look like something out of a fairytale.
You can view Notley Abbey and other gorgeous venues on our hand picked supplier directory The Love Lust List.
Cleo The Bride: We wanted our wedding to be fun, romantic, delicious and exciting! Notley Abbey was the perfect venue due to its exclusivity and old mixed with new. We introduced lots of personal touches to ensure we felt at home and our guests felt welcome. It was everything we could have hoped for and more.
Despite what all my friends and family thought, I had never thought about the kind of dress I would wear on my wedding day. When the hunt began I looked on the internet a lot and fell in love with A-line and full circle skirted dresses. Suzanne Neville was one of the stand out designers for me. I was lucky to find an amazing wedding dress boutique called High Society Bridal in Cowbridge near Cardiff. The ladies were fantastic and very helpful. I tried on some Suzanne Neville dresses and immediately felt like a bride. The cut and fit of the dresses were exquisite. I soon fell in love with Gracie, a beautiful ivory gown with fitted corset and full circle skirt with train. It was exactly what I had pictured myself in, but there was something in the back of my mind that was telling me to look around a bit more……
The lovely ladies at High Society mentioned that they were having a Suzanne Neville trunk show in a few weeks where they would have many of the new Diamond collection dresses. I immediately booked myself in! A few weeks later myself, my Mum and one of my best friends went back to High Society to check things out. I proudly showed them Gracie and they seemed impressed. I tried on a few more but nothing seemed as good. I then tried on a dress that, to be honest, didn’t look like much on the hanger, but it was from the new collection so I tried it on anyway. Also it was slightly fishtail which I swore I would never go for! Of course, it was the old cliché of falling in love with something you never thought you would.
This new dress, “Captivating” by Suzanne Neville, was the one. It fitted perfectly and followed the curve of my back with delicate lace and little buttons. It had a beautiful V-shaped neckline and little capped sleeves. I bought the dress then and there, which is very unlike me!
The ladies at High Society suggested I try a veil which finished the look perfectly. A beautiful full length single tier fine tulle veil.
I was lucky enough to have two gorgeous pairs of shoes for our wedding. During the day I wore a cute pair of patent blush pink Jimmy Choo peep toe heels and for dancing the night away I had a very comfy pair of Saint Laurent white studded flats. These were a very kind gift from a friend of mine and were perfect for dancing like a crazy person in the evening!
Ryan chose an absolutely gorgeous blue/grey three piece suit from Hugo Boss. He looked so handsome and the colour really complemented his dark hair and tanned skin tone. He finished his look off with black Oliver Sweeney shoes and some delicious Tom Ford Azure Lime aftershave. On the morning of the wedding I gave him two gifts. One was an engraved tie clip from Links of London, and the other was a beautiful Omega watch which belonged to my Dad who sadly passed away in 2010. This was such a surprise for Ryan and I know my Dad would be so happy that he wore it on our wedding day.
Notley Abbey was a dream come true. It gave us everything we were looking for: Grand entrance, beautiful period building with modern touches inside, exclusive use, accommodation, fantastic service, tranquil gardens and amazing food! As soon as we drove down the grand driveway, we knew it was the place for us. We were also very excited about the possibility of getting married outside in the walled garden (although due to a few rogue showers we got married inside on the day!). The staff at Notley Abbey are so professional and hardworking. The service was exquisite. Due to the aforementioned rogue showers, we got married in the Abbots Chamber which was beautiful and intimate. Sunlight was flooding through the windows and a fresh breeze kept us cool. We couldn’t have asked for more.
We wanted to keep the colour scheme quite neutral and not have one dominant colour. As it was a spring wedding, the colours were muted greens and pinks with lots of neutral too, very peaceful and relaxing. Notley Abbey has such beautiful features, especially in the Monks refectory where the wedding breakfast and evening entertainment was held. Because of this we kept the décor quite low key and mainly relied on the beautiful flowers from our florist.
Our florist was Rebecca who owns and runs The Bespoke Florist. One word: Amazing. Rebecca is so warm and yet so professional all at the same time. The flowers she produced on the day were perfect. We went for very neutral colours, mainly white but with plenty of green foliage and the odd pinkish rose. My bouquet was full of peonies, roses, sweet peas and lily of the valley. It smelt and looked delicious! There were candles and flowers everywhere which made the venue so warm and welcoming. Rebecca made a stunning wreath for the front door of Notley Abbey which looked fantastic. My Mum also potted some beautiful big white hydrangeas which were placed by the seating plan and looked incredible.
I had four beautiful bridesmaids who were wonderful on the day. They wore dresses from the Jim Hjelm Occasions range which were made of chiffon with Chantilly lace backs and capped sleeves. They complicated my wedding dress perfectly. We chose two different colours, a very light sage and a champagne colour. They fitted perfectly with the colour scheme and the girls looked gorgeous. The groomsmen wore light grey three piece suits with champagne coloured ties and pocket handkerchiefs. They all looked very dapper!
Our ceremony took place in the beautiful Abbots Chamber in Notley Abbey. Our florist had made the room look perfect, with rose petals, sweet peas in jam jars and candles lining the aisle. As soon as I walked in to the room, emotions hit me and I found it hard to look up without crying! It was an amazing feeling to walk towards Ryan. As soon as I got by his side, I felt so calm and happy, I couldn’t stop smiling! My Mum walked me down the aisle as the string quartet played At Last by Etta James. It was such a perfect moment and I knew my dad was with me in spirit.
The food was exquisite and was one of the main reasons why we chose Notley Abbey. The canapés went down a treat with our guests and the wedding breakfast was delicious. We started with peat-smoked salmon followed by slow braised sticky Hampshire beef and finished off with blackberry and apple crumble. Everyone commented on how delicious the food was, including the homemade chocolate truffles with coffee. Our wedding cake was made by the very talented Hester Gardner who owns Sweet Tiers Cakes. We had a four tier cake with chocolate cake for the bottom tier, lemon for the next and coconut and lime for the top two. It was the best cake I had ever tasted! Hester had decorated it beautifully.
I think of Ann-Kathrin as more of a friend now than our wedding photographer. She is such a wonderful person (and photographer!) and produced the most beautiful photos for us. Her use of light is what first attracted us to her website and as soon as we looked at a few of her albums, we were sold! Ann is an amazing ‘stealth photographer’. We honestly never knew she was there and yet she took so many beautiful shots! When it came to the bride and groom photos, we kept it very natural and Ann just snapped away. She is definitely not one to put you in awkward poses and prefers for you to be comfortable and natural. We are so happy with our photos and will enjoy looking at them for the rest of our lives.
Our florist put us in touch with Gorgeous Films who have produced some wonderful wedding videos. They’re not cheesy at all and instead capture the beauty and fun of the day. Gary filmed our wedding, and much like Ann, you hardly noticed he was there. Ryan kept commenting that even when it came to attaching a tiny microphone for the speeches, Gary was so fast and calm that Ryan didn’t even notice!
And finally, if there are any unique aspects to your day such as DIY projects and any advice you would like to offer we would love to hear all about it!
On a final note, if you’re wondering what on earth to have as your wedding favours and are completely stuck, perhaps consider giving a small donation to a charity close to your heart? We donated to Marie Curie Cancer Care in honour of my late father Ian. We placed Marie Curie daffodils on everyone’s napkins during the wedding breakfast and it was so touching to see our wedding guests proudly wearing them. It really warms my heart when I see them in our wedding photos.