This afternoon's wedding is all about celebrating family - Amy and Ian have a huge brood of boys, all who looked amazingly dapper on their big day. I can imagine Amy was bursting with pride and happiness - marrying the love of her life, with her handsome sons around her. Amy and Ian's big day is beautifully styled too, held at stunning 17th century house, Lower Slaughter Manor in the Cotswolds, white blooms, green foliage and silver and grey details were all it took to create a relaxed but sophisticated feel. And our Bride & Groom look impeccable stylish too - Amy in a beautifully cut satin Alan Hannah gown, and Ian in a bespoke suit by Cad & The Dandy. It's a truly classic wedding, executed with style, and lots and lots of love.
Amy The Bride: I was very relaxed - a bit too much so! - about the dress. It was February (the wedding was set for August) I had not even tried on any dresses let alone found one I liked! However whilst browsing wedding magazines I had seen an advert of an Alan Hannah dress that I just fell in love with (The Ellie design) Ian looked over my shoulder and said ‘I love that dress, I can see you in something like that’ After much searching and pressure from my sister (and sole bridesmaid) to get a move on with the dress shopping I found a boutique that had a special ‘Alan Hannah’ day and would have many of his designs in store including the one I’d seen previously. It was a day before we were due to go on holiday to Dubai and I was seriously stressed out with packing clothes but I felt it fate that I had to go to see this dress. It was fate indeed, once I put it on I knew this was it! I tried on many other designs and whilst I loved Alan’s look, I just didn’t feel quite ‘right’ in any of the others. This design was the one I wanted. The only thing was the skirt was quite ‘full’ being organza.... I made a decision to change the skirt of the dress to be made in duchess satin to match the bodice, and the end result was my perfect dress. I like classic, clean lines, my dress sums up that style. My Mum and sister were with me and felt the same way, they loved it too. On the wedding day the first thing Ian said to me was ‘that’s the dress isn’t it’ referring to the advert we’d seen all those months before! He is seriously fussy so it had been killing him not knowing what I’d be wearing on the day. I was so relieved he loved it as much as I did! I knew that I didn’t want a veil, on my mum’s insistance, we did try one but I just felt it detracted from the simplicity of the dress. It was such a classic, uncluttered look I wanted to leave it at that. I chose a beautiful hairpiece, again by Alan Hannah which suited the dress perfectly.
Hair & MakeupAt first I was going to do my own makeup as I do enjoy it but I’m so pleased I decided against this! I found Natasha by searching online for makeup artists in the Cotswolds and after finding a few who were already booked (did I mention that I’d left things a little late....!) one of them recommended Natasha. She was absolutely excellent and perfected exactly the look I’d wanted - I am soooo fussy with my make up and hard to please but I didn’t need to change anything at all and it stayed put all day. I found Sheena online as well, I remember seeing her for a trial at the end of a long and tiring day where we’d crammed in a cake tasting, engagement photo shoot and meeting at our venue. Sheena was so calm and unrushed, we were with with her quite some time that day but I came away knowing that she’d do a great job - she did. I absolutely LOVED my hair. It was the sytle that I’d had in my head - slightly Kate Middleton-esque but with a twist. In my room on the day of the wedding it was completely calm - we had champagne, everything ran smoothly (although I did run a little late but nothing compared to my usual terrible timekeeping!!) I really enjoyed this part of the run up to the big event, Nicola and Glen were there snapping away but never feeling like they were in the way.
The Grooms Fashion & accessoriesIan is a real perfectionist where his clothes are concerned. He knew the look he wanted and he knew that he wanted it made for him, something he’d never had before and he wanted this suit to be special. I went with him for his first meeting with Cad and the Dandy and after that he went alone, I trusted him completely, although I wasn’t sure when he said he’d opted for double breasted jacket at first. However upon seeing the finished result I knew he’d been right (as usual!) it looked fantastic and the fit was just perfect. I think he’ll be back there in the future.
The VenueWe’d stayed at Lower Slaughter Manor for a ‘babymoon’ break before Felix was born and we’d had such a wonderful weekend there. After seeing that it had a church literally next door we’d commented on how wonderful it would be to get married there so it was an obvious choice for us, in fact we didn’t even look anywhere else. We fell in love with the fact that we could hire the whole hotel for us and our guests, it made it so special. We extended it to include the Friday night too where we all met up and had drinks and a buffet that night which made the celebrations seem to last longer. We got married in Lower Slaughter Manor at 2pm - a civil ceremony which was just as emotional as the church blessing that followed. We just had 54 guests, for us, looking around the room and seeing everyone who was special to us sharing our day, that was exactly what we wanted it to be like.
The Colour SchemeWe didn’t have a strong theme, I loved the colour of my sisters dress we’d chosen (Platinum two birds design) and so we decided upon grey and silver wedding invitations and stationery from Emily and Jo online. They were fab, every step of the way, I’d thoroughly recommend them. They supplied everything from the invitations through to the table plan, table names, order of service etc. We had five tables, plus the top table. Automatically I said to Ian that each table had to be named after the five boys - it was a really lovely touch and meant much more to me than trying to think of place names or songs that we could use.
FlowersI always always have white flowers, as do my mum and sisters - we always have white flowers at home and Ian and I knew we wanted to stick with that classic look for the wedding. We met with Shelley, our florist, and straight away I knew she would be doing our wedding, we didn’t look at anyone else. She’d come highly recommended by the venue and once I saw her work and her shop I had complete confidence in her. She understood what we wanted and we pretty much decided upon everything there and then in that first meeting. I had started out wanting Peonies in my bouquet but due to the time of year we had to find an alternative. Shelley helped me find exactly what I wanted and the bouquets were just beautiful. They consisted of large headed Roses, Spray Roses, Double Lisianths and Freesias. They had I also loved the table decorations she did for us, they created a stunning visual effect as we guests walked into the room but did not obstruct anyone’s view either! Another idea she had was to use white Hydrangea in pots as an alternative to pew ends. This looked beautiful and was lovely as we were able to utilise them afterwards, giving them to some of our guests to take home!
The Wedding Party FashionI knew what I DIDNT want for the boys (our sons/ushers) to wear. I didn’t want them in suits, I don’t know why but it just wasn’t grabbing me. One night Ian came up with the idea of an italian type look - white skinny trousers, navy blazer and pale blue shirt with loafers - I immediately loved that picture I had in my head and off I went to search my trusty google. Eventually I found what I wanted and set about ordering each individual item - Gant Blazers, Hugo Boss trousers and shirts and the shoes - well they proved difficult to get - I found the perfect ones - but they were in Paris!! I took a chance and ordered them, luckily they all fitted and the boys said they were comfortable - phew! Nothing was left to chance with these outfits (the trousers and blazers were altered to fit just right ) and I think it paid off - we had so many compliments about how they looked - we were so proud of them. A wonderful memory of the day is when each boy came in to my room whilst I was getting my make up done so that I could see them dressed - they all looked so handsome it made me cry! Felix was 16 months and I’d seen a gorgeous Spanish outfit that I fell in love with, he looked adorable (and managed to stay free of grass stains all day too!!) My eldest sister was my one and only bridesmaid. My other sister had just given birth to her second child and I knew she would not want to be in an official ‘role’ as such on the day as she had her hands full enough! As soon as we tried on the Two Birds dress I loved it - she looked fantastic and it was so flattering. It is such a great design and fabric and can be worn again for other functions.
CeremonyMax, my eldest son, gave a reading during the first service and delivered it so beautifully we both cried! My best friend, Natalie, also gave a reading which was very emotional. Kate (my other sister) was able to deliver an amazing reading during the church service in between baby feeds so it all worked out perfectly ;-) Toby was the ring bearer and did his job with great pride ;-) Felix was supposed to help with this but he was whisked away to feed the ducks at that time as he wasn’t too happy! We had decided at the 12th hour to hire a nanny for the day - one of the best things we did. Felix needed a lot of attention on the day and I think, without the Nanny, we would have struggled. I didn’t want my mum to miss any of the important parts of the day and undoubtedly she would have done if she’d have been on baby duty! Theo, our little performer, sung a solo in the church which reduced everyone to tears including him! Hugo did a great job of handing out the orders of service and confetti cones (that claire and I had hurridly filled up that morning!) I’m so pleased we had the church blessing as well as the civil ceremony, it was really special. The speeches were really emotional. I hadn’t planned on doing one but I did in the end, completely unscripted but pleased myself by including everything I wanted to! The most emotional part for me actually was Toby, my 8 year old, coming up to the table and whispering to me that he wanted to do his own speech. He wrote it down and I had to stand up with him and say it out loud. He thanked Ian for everything he does for all of us and told him he loved him, it was a very emotional moment and I’ll remember that forever. I’m not sure whether it was Nicola or Glen who captured the moment of Ian and Toby hugging after that speech but you can see my face in the forefront and I’m seriously struggling to not burst into tears!!! The partying carried on way after the band had finished at midnight. Once again, a huge bonus of having the whole hotel to ourselves meant we could continue to party as long as we wanted. The drink was flowing and we had such a giggle singing (or attempting to!) around the piano until 3am!
EntertainmentI found Athene string quartet in a Cotswold magazine and we arranged everything over email. They were very professional and played some beautiful music such as Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallejujah’ during the signing of the register. Booking the band was one of the first things we did after finding the venue. We knew that all the good people would be booked early so after many nights listening to bands online we found ‘The Hijackers’ they were fantastic entertainment and had everyone up dancing.
FoodIan and I had a lovely day choosing our menu and wine at Lower Slaughter Manor a couple of months before the wedding. The food is amazing there, one reason why we picked it! We decided upon Starter - Cornish crab tortellini with Thai vegetable salad, lime, coriander, lemongrass sauce Main - dry-aged Cotswold beef, Spinach bread pudding, hen of the woods, rainbow carrots, with roasted potatoes and Truffle Madeira jus Dessert - Valrhona dark chocolate tart, Candied orange sorbet, hazelnut crumble The Canapes were presented on the lawn along with pimms and champagne. The boys played croquet whilst we had some photo’s taken, it was a lovely, calm part of the day. The cake was once again - quite classic - it had 3 layers, one chocolate, one vanilla sponge and one carrot cake. I loved the look of the cake and it tasted amazing too! The evening buffet was the most delicious homemade mini fish and chips.
PhotographerWhat can I say? Nicola and Glen were just amazing. As soon as we met (at a wedding fayre at our venue) we just clicked. They are a great couple and we got along really well. On the day they were organised, calm and worked so hard. When I saw the photographs I actually cried - they told the story of our day exactly as it was. They’d captured moments that I hadn’t even seen. For me the photo’s are full of happiness and emotion - I absolutely treasure them and am so grateful to Nicola and Glen for capturing our day so perfectly.
Final ThoughtsAs we had hired out the entire hotel I was able to do little extras such as having housekeeping leave a present for the female guests in each room. This was an idea I’d copied from an idea on Rock my wedding actually! I had little brown paper bags printed up with our names, and inside we had some of our favourite italian chocolates wrapped up along with a lip balm. It was just a little personal touch but it was nice to be able to do that. My lovely Mum and sister took all the children back home for us on the Sunday once all the guests had checked out. Our honeymoon suite was amazing and had a hot tub in the garden, we cracked open the champagne and sat there reminicisng about the events the day before. We had a wonderful day all to ourselves and that was really lovely for us to be able to do that. We had so many lovely comments about our wedding. It had taken up a huge part of my life planning it, but I enjoyed every second of it. I used to check RMW daily and loved looking at all the different weddings and ideas. We had started out planning everything together but Ian is so busy at work and I’m at home during the day so it became more and more obvious that my role was going to be the main one! I did, however, pass everything through Ian before making final decisions. Luckily we share the same taste so there were not really any disagreements. I think he was quite impressed that I managed to get everything done in time and it was all so smooth - our household is quite hectic with five boys to organise on a daily basis so to fit in planning a wedding was quite an impressive feat!! For me, the whole weekend was just wonderful, I loved every minute and will always look back to our wedding day with great emotion and pride. Having the boys so much part of our day was amazing and it was really very special. Hearing my eldest son tell me, whilst we partied on the dancefloor, that it was the best day of his life rounded off the most perfect day. My advice to any bride is to simply try to enjoy every part of the wedding - not only the amazing day itself but to try to embrace the planning and build up to it, rather than seeing it as a stressful time, just enjoy it! Once it’s over you really will miss it, I certainly do, I look fondly at my ‘wedding folder’ which I don’t have the heart to file away just yet!
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Lower Slaughter Manor | Floral Design: The Broadway Florist | Bride’s Dress: Bespoke Design by Alan Hannah | Boutique: La Boutique Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Groom’s Suit: Cad & The Dandy Groom | Groom’s Cufflinks: Cartier | Groom’s Tie: Dolce & Gabbana | Pageboy & Groomsmen Attire: Hugo Boss | Pageboy & Groomsmen Attire: Gant | Wedding Rings: Louis Vuitton | Wedding Cake: Contemporary Cake Designs | Make-up Artist: Natasha Buchanan Makeup | Hair Artist: Sheena’s Wedding Hairstyles | Wedding Band: The Hijackers | String quartet : Athena String Quartet | Stationery: Emily & Jo