Amy and Simon married at Hengrave Hall in Bury St Edmunds.
They wanted an English country house-party feel for their wedding with lots of accommodation for guests. They also wanted a venue they could book out and take over in its entirety. Hengrave Hall ticked all of the boxes
The chapel on site was just big enough for 100 guests and small enough so that Amy didn’t find walking down the aisle too daunting!
All of today’s images are by Dottie Photography.
The Dress That Wasn’t A Dress
My ‘dress’ was actually a lace skirt with a camisole top and lace tee shirt, designed by Kate Halfpenny. I wore a pale pink sash during the daytime and swapped it for a handmade embellished belt for the evening, both of these were from Kate Halfpenny too.
Kate, her incredible designs and fabulous studio, made wedding dress shopping a really special and exciting experience. I loved so many of Kate’s exquisite dresses that the only slightly tricky part was narrowing down a favourite. The idea of a skirt and top really appealed to me though, particularly as it means I can wear the camisole and tee shirt again and I’m also planning on having the skirt taken up so that I can wear that again too. Kate’s designs are so beautiful, and I felt so happy wearing them, that I think it would be a waste not to wear them again.
Let It Shine
I wore a short veil, with lace detail, in my hair, which was also from Kate Halfpenny.
The ‘dress’ and belt are so beautiful and intricate that I decided to keep my jewellery simple and let the dress really shine. The only jewellery I wore (except for my wedding and engagement rings) was my grandma’s engagement ring that I had inherited. I wore it on my right hand as my ‘something old’.
Left At The Platform Shoes
I wore cream snakeskin effect heels by Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley… Although I very nearly didn’t after leaving them on the platform at Bishops Stortford train station on the way to a dress fitting!
The Best Version Of Myself
Ferdia at The Lounge, Soho perfected my hair cut a couple of days before the big day. With short hair, all I needed was a good blow dry on the morning of the wedding. Tori from Finn Jordan in Cambridge did a great job and also styled my bridesmaids’ hair beautifully.
Katy of was my fantastic make up artist and a very calming influence on the morning of the wedding. I don’t tend to wear a lot of make up usually, and was worried about looking too heavily made up, but Katy was wonderful at making me look like the best version of myself. My mum, Simon’s mum and my bridesmaids also had their make up done by Katy and we all spent a lovely day before the wedding having make up trials and eating cake!
English Country Garden
Violets and Velvet created the beautiful bouquets, buttonholes, pew ends and flower arrangements for us, including the stunning arch at the church entrance. We asked for an ‘English country garden’ look, using local, seasonal flowers. The only flowers we specifically asked for were white roses to represent our Yorkshire heritage and the guys all had white rose buttonholes. We also wanted herbs to be part of the flowers and it was lovely to keep catching a scent of mint, rosemary and thyme during the day.
It was important to us that the flowers were reused as far as possible and not wasted. Following the church ceremony, the church arch was dismantled and arranged into pretty posies for our guests to take home.
Fluid And Unstructured
My bridesmaids, Tracy, Navneet and Ayesha, looked absolutely stunning in navy dresses from Maids to Measure in London.
Simon’s two best men, James and Rob, wore navy suits, white shirts and polka dot cockney chokers, all bought from Mr Start in Shoreditch, London. The chokers gave the suits a pretty fluid, unstructured look so the guys didn’t feel so confined and smart as you sometimes can in a tie. The dads weren’t so keen on the cockney choker and wanted to go for a more traditional look, so they had skinny ties in the same material. We used to live around the corner from Mr Start and Simon has been buying clothes from there for the last 8 years, so it made sense to have them involved. Chris and his team were fantastically helpful in sorting out all the details and making the boys all look very dapper.
We didn’t have any intention of having a navy colour scheme, but it just ended up like that!
My gorgeous groom, Simon wore a bespoke navy tux with black satin trim from Mr Start in Shoreditch, London. He teemed it with brown patent Oxfords from Mr Hare via Mr Porter for the day and swapped them in the evening for his trusty black Converse All Stars. This wasn’t really intended but Simon is well known for wearing Converse with every outfit and all the guests kept asking him why he wasn’t wearing his All Stars so he felt it was only right to give them what they asked for!
The look was inspired by a picture of Ryan Gosling at the premiere of Drive; Simon just took it into Mr Start and they did the rest for him. A crisp white shirt finished the look off; the tux was so beautiful that it didn’t need any accessorising really.
As Simon’s grandparents aren’t with us anymore, he carried their wedding rings in his inside pocket as a tribute to them, which was a beautiful if slightly emotional touch.
Mandy and Julie of Dottie Photography were our fabulous photographers. We felt at home with them from the first time we met and they were great fun throughout the day. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better! Although when they told us all to assemble in front of Hengrave Hall to do the conga, we did think this was too crazy even by their standards! The final shot is fantastic though and a great twist on the standard group shot!
We’d already had an engagement shoot with Mandy, which I’d really recommend as it definitely helped us to relax in front of the camera.
Sponge And Buttercream
Our cake was designed by Laura of Love Little Cakes. We had three tiers of sponge and buttercream, and each tier had a different flavour – cherry bakewell on the base, lemon for the middle tier and a rose and violet top layer which was specially created for Simon. Apparently it took a lot of attempts by Laura to perfect the recipe but the end result was fantastic.
The cake was decorated with fresh flowers for a ‘country chic’ look.
Our DJ was Darren at Dreamwave Events. We gave him a list of ‘must plays’ and then let him work his magic around them. He did a great job as the dance floor was packed all night!
We chose Bella Donna by the Avett Brothers for our first dance. It’s a beautiful love song by a brilliant band and the lyrics seemed to fit the occasion perfectly. It was a close call between that and Dean Martin’s “You’re nobody til somebody loves you” which is from Simon’s favourite film (Swingers) but we used that instead for our exit music from the church. It was great to fit in both songs.
Bags Of treats
I love sweets and, right from the beginning, wanted a sweetie table to feature in our wedding. For favours, guests were encouraged to make a treat bag to take home from the sweetie table.
As well as styling the sweetie table for us, Kate was a brilliant source of information, inspiration and ideas during our wedding planning and we’re very grateful to her for recommending Hengrave Hall, Violets and Velvet and Love Little Cakes. She understood the look we were aiming for perfectly and I really enjoyed our chats over coffee in Saffron Walden.
I have a thing for posh stationery and cards and Zoe was wonderful throughout our wedding planning, creating our Save the Date magnets, invitations, order of service and fabulous table plan.
For The Kids
Simon’s talented dad created our wonderful card hamper for us from scratch. We showed him a picture of one we liked and two weeks later he’d made one that looked even better!
We also arranged presents for all the children at the wedding. We know how stressful it can be for mums/dads to keep kids entertained during dinner/speeches, so we thought that providing a few gifts to open and toys to play with would help take the pressure off them. Simon’s parents kindly arranged the buying and wrapping and it was fantastic to see the children feel involved in everything that was going on.
Enjoy The Preparations
The best part of our wedding was being surrounded by family and friends who mean so much to us, some of whom had travelled across the globe to be there. We were humbled by the effort that everyone made and it was wonderful to see their happy, smiling faces on our wedding day.
My advice to a bride to be? Enjoy the preparations and use the time running up to the wedding as an opportunity to spend time with your nearest and dearest. Whilst there were a few stressful moments along the way, I have so many happy memories of time spent with my favourite people. Also, it’s completely true what they say – the big day flies by so be sure to enjoy every single moment.
Simon’s advice to grooms is: “take 2 shirts along for the big day. I stupidly sliced my chin open shaving on the morning of the wedding and had visions of spending a day next to a bloodsoaked collar! I would definitely throw in a spare white fitted shirt to your bag just in case of any accidents! I would also advise people to make very good friends with the bar manager/wedding manager on the big day. That way if you want to keep the party going after last orders they can provide you with all the necessary drinks for the after party!”
Venue – Hengrave Hall
Dress – Kate Halfpenny
Shoes – Stuart Weitzman
Hair – The Lounge
Make-up – Make-up by Katy
Flowers – Violets and Velvet
Maids – Maids to Measure
Photography – Dottie Photography
Groom – Mr Start
Cake – Love Little Cakes
DJ – Dreamwave Events
I’m not usually one for florals, but the English County Garden created by Violets and Velvet really is an amazing sight. Fresh, vibrant and I’ll bet that the integration of herbs made them smell good enough to eat.
I must also mention the “not” dress… Amy looks stunning and relaxed in her Kate Halfpenny creation. It suits the laid back country garden vibe perfectly.