This morning’s bride Ali has got the most beautiful smile and a gorgeous set of locks to boot so it’s no surprise that her Lusan Mandongus dress suits her down to the very ground. Ali married her boy Allan at the commanding Highcliffe Castle in Dorset accompanied by her best girls dressed in ‘cherry yogurt’ hues as she so affectionately calls it. Their wonderful day was all captured perfectly by List member Helen Cawte.
The Brides Fashion
Ali The Bride: I went dress shopping with a pretty clear idea of what I didn’t want (strapless or too fitted) and that is pretty much what I ended up in as I just fell in love with a full lace, fitted, Lusan Mandongus dress. My four bridesmaids all have different styles but all loved the dress on me the minute I walked out (as did my Mum). It is quite an unusual lace (like a cardboard doily as one of my bridesmaids described it) but it fitted so well and I felt amazing in it.
The Groom’s Fashion
Allan went for a navy, slim fit, three piece suit by Reiss. It fitted him really well and the silver tie went well with the bridesmaids dresses. Allan went shopping for his shoes on his own and ended up with a pair which cost 5 times my monsoon shoes and arrived individually wrapped in velvet bags! He was pleased that they got a few mentions on the day.
Allan is from Dorset and I am from West Sussex so we were pretty happy with a venue anywhere along that stretch of the South Coast. We were looking for something with some history and preferably near the sea as we both grew up by the beach. Highcliffe Castle was the first venue we saw and we instantly fell in love. It is a beautiful building with an interesting history, on a cliff overlooking the sea, perfect! The money you pay to get married there also goes towards the upkeep/ renovation of the property and that was quite important to us.
I always knew that the colour theme would be around a particular shade of purple that I have always loved. I call it cherry yogurt but is actually the colour mink I believe. I did not want there to be too much of a coordinated colour theme. Instead we loosely based it around the mink colour with nice pale colours such as a dusky pink and silver to compliment.
One of my bridesmaids, Camilla, is a wedding photographer in Dorset so was able to give me great tips on who to go with. Camilla recommended Clare from Templeflora who was absolutely wonderful. I really loved the amnesia rose but not knowing much else about flowers I just asked Clare to choose one’s that complimented that rose and she did an amazing job. Again, I didn’t want it to be too formal but didn’t want it too vintage either (which must have been a pretty hard description to go by) but Clare got it just right.
Our dining room was mostly exposed brick wall so the flowers really were the main feature of the room and brought the room to life. Each arrangement was slightly different, the colours perfect and so many people commented on them on the day.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I was lucky as my bridesmaids are all pretty much the same size, height and utterly gorgeous so I could have put them in anything and they would have looked amazing. We tried a few dresses but the minute I saw the dresses in Monsoon I knew I had to have them as they were my desired ‘cherry yogurt’ colour! Two of my bridesmaids were pregnant at the time of the wedding but the dresses were so well fitted and perfectly shaped you would not have known. The ushers and best men wore suits and ties from M&S and all looked pretty sharp.
The ceremony was in this beautiful room at the Castle with lots of high windows so full of light and as it was such a sunny day it was lovely to have the beautiful grounds of the castle all around us as we got married. We had three readings which were all very special to us as a couple and the pianist played songs throughout which we had specifically chosen. These ranged from a piano version of a Radiohead song which I walked down the aisle to (for Allan) to my favourite Les Miserables song.
Music is really important to Allan and as he used to DJ when we were at Uni in Cardiff he was pretty insistent that he arrange the playlist. Again it was pretty varied to suit all the ages but the dancefloor was packed and included a group hug of 40 people lunging to meatloaf’s I would do anything for love, with Allan and I in the middle, so all good fun!
The food was a big priority for us as we wanted the best quality so chose Beales Catering of Dorset. They are well known in the area and the food is delicious. We had goats cheese or salmon to start, beef with dauphinoise for main and a crème brulee for dessert. We also had a huge buffet of local Dorset cheese in the evening.
There was no question when it came to the photographer, it had to be Helen. I have loved and admired her work for years and was so pleased when she was free to shoot our day. Helen is extremely passionate about her work and also great fun to have around! I knew the pictures were going to be amazing but we were blown away when she sent them to us. Six months on I look at my photos constantly. Helen captured the day beautifully and made everyone (including Allan who is not the biggest fan of having his picture taken) feel so relaxed.
My best advice would be to make the most of the planning and the run up! We live quite far away from our family and close friends so it was wonderful to have reasons to all meet up (to try dresses, visit florists or do venue visits) with the people we love. Try and plan some special things for before and after the big day as well if you can as it all goes so quickly.
In the end we had so much planned that the whole wedding stretched from the Tuesday to the Sunday and included lunches with the bridal party, rehearsal dinners with both families and an afternoon of nails. We also had a picnic on the beach with rounders and prosecco the day after the wedding. We kept it very relaxed not sure how many people would come and in the end 40 popped by. It was so lovely to see so many people, despite the hangovers.