Amy The Bride:
Initially I always thought I would choose quite a slinky slim dress with a low back but after trying a few on I realised I might actually want something with a little more drama but still very elegant. The type of dress I had in mind doesn’t come cheap and I also knew I wanted a Charlie Brear
lace detail veil, so compromises would have to be made. After realising this I very quickly found the dress of my dreams on www.sellmyweddingdress.co.uk
, a beautiful Caroline Castigliano
gown that was amazingly lightweight with lace and beaded detail at the bust and a silky cross over back that was exactly what I had in mind. I had vague hopes of trying to achieve a 1950’s Hollywood glamour inspired look with a modern twist. I found a seller close to my home so I was able to try it on first and check the condition before purchase.
The dress needed a few alterations at the waist and the amazing team at Pure Couture
ensured that it fit perfectly. The brooch at the back of my dress was a gift from my lovely mum purchased at Pure Couture during a fitting.
The Groom & Wedding Party
I never saw myself as a pastel bride and always wanted a large dramatic red bouquet and so it followed that I wanted my bridesmaids in red too. The long red dresses I chose for them from Monsoon
were really flattering and we had my 12 year old niece’s dress made to match in the same colour and they all looked like they were off to a film premiere (in keeping with my Hollywood glamour aspirations)! The Groomsmen had to look pretty smart to be in keeping with us girls and so they wore tailcoats with grey striped trousers and dark red cravats with Stuart the groom in a gold cravat. I bought Stuart personalised converse as a gift in his favourite football team’s colours with “The Groom” and the date of the wedding stitched into the sides. However, I only gave them to him after we had all the photos taken incase he put them on too soon and wore them in our pictures! He had them on all evening.
We looked at a lot of venues before finding Offley Place Country House Hotel
and finally all the boxes were ticked. I wanted a room for the wedding breakfast that had a lot of light and would be very elegant and we also wanted really beautiful grounds. The team at Offley Place were excellent in accommodating all of my requests including moving all the chairs from the marquee into the conservatory as I didn’t like the banquet chairs they usually use. It is a small boutique hotel and there were just enough rooms for our family and wedding party to stay overnight which was ideal.
We got married in a very old and beautiful church round the corner from where I grew up. We spent time with our vicar in the 18 months before our wedding and as a result the service was especially meaningful. For the readings we chose Corinthians and an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Sometimes the popular choices are popular for a reason and when read by people important to you they sound better than you could have ever imagined.
We used the excellent Amie Bone
for our flowers. She understood my vision for a bridal bouquet with attitude, consisting of deep red peonies, red roses, plum calla lilies and cymbidium orchids. My bridesmaids had beautiful bouquets to compliment my own with contrasting cream roses as well as red roses and lilies. I loved my bouquet so much I used the wonderful Flower Preservation Workshop
to create a paperweight using a selection of my original flowers. It is something I will treasure forever.
The Décor & Stationery
I used the hire company Platinum Raspberry
to hire large lanterns, lots of gold tea light holders and lace overlay cloths for all the tables to help create the romantic ambiance I was after. I was an avid reader of the Rock My Wedding
blog in the lead-up to my wedding, and one day I saw beautiful little gold animals acting as place card holders with the guests’ names tied on with ribbon. I found the seller on Etsy and ordered them straight away! They were something a bit different and a bit of a talking point round the tables. Although I did have to mention the animals were chosen at random so if you got a cow or a donkey it wasn’t any kind of comment on character! For our save-the-dates and invitations, I commissioned the very talented Hannah Weeks
to create an illustration of us, which we also used on the labels for our miniature port & amaretto bottle favours, the table plan and the Order of Service. I actually sent Hannah a photo of me in my wedding dress to use for the image – but when my husband saw the artwork, I told him it was just a generic wedding dress so he didn’t guess that it was the real thing!
I found our band on www.lmmuk.com
– we chose Soul Patrol, a six-piece band including two singers, who were a total hit! Live music was really important to me and I wanted a band who could play a good range of music, moving easily from Aretha to Beyoncé. I cannot recommend them enough – all our guests commented on how good they were. Two members of the same band, the saxophonist and guitarist, also played earlier in the day as our guests arrived at the reception, covering laidback jazz-style music, which provided an excellent taster of what was to come.
I had high hopes that our wedding day would be brilliantly sunny, and with this vision in mind, I hired an ice cream van
to serve ice creams between the wedding breakfast and the dancing. In typical British fashion, it was a very grey day with not the slightest hint of sunshine, but in even more typical British fashion, the weather did not deter us all from queuing up to enjoy ice cream from the vintage van, with flavours like tiramisu, hazelnut and strawberry sorbet. Our venue, Offley Place, provided all the catering for us and we were really impressed with the quality and size of the portions. My husband in particular likes a generously sized meal and he was not disappointed – choosing the menu and the cake tasting were some of his favourite parts of wedding planning. Our gorgeous four-tiered naked cake with alternate layers of chocolate and vanilla sponge was the stuff of my dreams. I am a big fan of cake, as is Stuart, and this specific cake, covered in strawberries with cream messily oozing out the sides, was exactly what I wanted – a cake that really looked like a cake.
Our photographer Paul Fuller
is a bit of a genius. When we first booked Offley Place, we knew that it was right in the middle of beautiful countryside, but we had not seen the wooded area hidden at the back that Paul found and which served as a backdrop to some of my favourite images of the day. The fact that we had to trek through quite a lot of the countryside to get there was totally worth it – I put my wellies on and off we went! I also love the shots that were taken throughout the speeches – they are so vivid that they completely take me back to the moment.
Having a videographer was a bit of a last minute decision, but I think it was one of the best ones we made. We were so lucky that Special Occasion Videos
still had availability on our day. We hardly even knew that they were there and every time I watch our video (I have already watched it multiple times!), I notice something else that I hadn’t seen before. I know everyone says it, but the day really does whizz by, and to be able to see it again and relive it all is really special.
I loved planning our wedding and I think the secret to enjoying it is to spread out the tasks you need to do in order of importance, lead time and availability. My wedmin spreadsheet was updated almost daily and the week before the wedding was relatively stress-free as so much was already planned and ready to go. I used Etsy
and Not On The High Street
to find more unusual one-off bits and pieces and the great thing about buying things gradually was that it spread out the cost and made it more manageable. I think a lot of brides worry about pleasing everyone during the planning stages (myself included), but when the day finally comes round it always comes together beautifully. You have to trust the decisions you make with your future husband and not worry too much what anyone else will think as that is the only way that you will have a wedding that truly reflects you as a couple.