I’ve noticed several very pretty weddings coming from Matara in Gloucestershire lately. If you haven’t come across it before, then the gorgeous wedding of Debbie and Mark will show you why the venue is such a hit with couples…
The house is beautiful, the gardens are lush and green, and the oriental style courtyard is the ultimate place for a tranquil, spiritual wedding ceremony.
Debbie and Mark made the venue look even more beautiful too, not only with the elegant art deco inspired details, candles and pretty blooms – but also with their outfits. Debbie sparkles flapper style in Jenny Packham and Mark looks quite the dapper chap in his much loved Prada brogues. Definitely fit for a soiree with Gatsby.
Debbie and her family spent the months leading up to the wedding sourcing vintage brooches as favours for guests. Possibly one of the loveliest ideas for favours I’ve ever heard!
Debbie The Bride:We are both GPs currently living in Liverpool, having both moved here many moons ago to go to uni. Mark is originally from Belfast, and I am originally from Stroud in Gloucestershire. We met at work and the rest is history!
Our theme started with the engagement ring. Mark bought a gesture ring to propose with as he wanted me to help choose the real thing. I knew I wanted something antique – or antique inspired due to my love for all things vintage, and after quite a long search we found the most beautiful art deco ring and we knew it was ‘the one’. This inspired us to run with a general 1920s/Art Deco theme for the whole day, as it’s an era we both felt was classic and beautiful – fitting for a wedding. Later in the planning stages The Great Gatsby film was released which meant the shops were full of Gatsby-esque clothing and accessories, which was great for us, and for our guests who really did us proud with their fabulous outfits and accessories.
I was lucky enough to be looked after by the truly wonderful ladies at The White Closet in West Didsbury who were brilliant throughout the dress buying process. I really can’t recommend them highly enough. I had always been fond of Jenny Packham designs and felt they suited me, being tall. Joy was indeed a joy to wear, as it was light and comfortable, as well as being perfect for our theme. After quite a hunt I also discovered Vintage Headdresses online – Debbi the owner makes beautiful headpieces and jewellery using vintage pieces, and I found the perfect headpiece to set off the dress.
Mark wanted a lounge suit rather than tails as it was more suited to our theme, and again would be comfortable and wearable. He chose a navy suit as it complemented the colours and style of the wedding, and it was nice to get away from the more traditional black/grey suits. He wanted to accessorise with a collar bar and a pocket watch. After a long search I eventually found a beautiful, working antique watch which I was delighted to give him on the morning of the wedding to wear. His pride and joy were his Prada brogues – a topic which provided a lot of material for his brother and best man Stephen’s speech! Mark and all his Groomsmen wore matching navy and green argyle socks as a nod to the era and colour scheme, and to keep their feet fancy!
After weeks of speculation and crossed fingers we were lucky enough to have a dry day! This was crucial as we had wanted to have our ceremony outside overlooking Matara’s stunning Chinese water garden. We had a fairly simple civil ceremony with two readings, both read by special friends of ours – Union by Robert Fulghum, and Foxtrot From A Play by WH Auden.
Matara is a one-of-a-kind venue which is tucked away in the Cotswolds, near to my family home. We knew immediately on our first visit there that it had a magical feel to it, and we loved it for its uniqueness and beautiful gardens and buildings, as well as its quirkiness and general ethos. The team at Matara were brilliant and did so much on the day to make sure everything ran smoothly. We were delighted with the food and since the wedding have had so much positive feedback from the guests about everything from the canapés to the desserts.
As we had a mid afternoon wedding, and a hearty reception meal of beef wellington we chose to have a lighter evening buffet featuring two of our very favourite foods – cheese and cake! Matara produced an amazing array of cheeses, homemade breads and chutneys, whilst we made sure there was a mountain of cake! As well as the wedding cake, we served delicious cakes made by the Mother-of-the Bride, the Bride’s brother, and the Groom’s mother and sister. There was even a beautiful cake gifted to us by a kind patient of ours. We asked the venue to serve Speakeasy style cocktails, like Gin Rickeys and Sidecars to our guests on the bar to help add to the 1920s feel.
Given how much nature and the outdoors is a huge part of Matara, green seemed a natural choice as the main colour for the wedding and the Bridesmaid’s dresses. I wanted muted vintage-type colours to fit with the theme and general feeling and the soft pinks and parchment colours of the flowers went perfectly with the eucalyptus green of the Bridesmaid dresses and the decor.
Frances our florist seemed to know exactly what I was going for and she made the most perfect bouquets and decorations for inside and out. We incorporated pearls and feathers in the flowers and around the place in general to give it that 1920s feel, and made the most of the pretty features that were already present at Matara wherever possible.
We hired some fantastic props in keeping with our theme – six vintage art deco mirrors, which we wrote the table plan onto with white chalk markers and suspended, a gramophone with records, and a working 1930s typewriter, which our guests were able to use to type messages for us on! We have the most hilarious collection of them all in an album now! We used some old books and strings of pearls, as well as crystal bowls and candlesticks and candles around the place to decorate corners and side tables. Guests deposited cards in a vintage suitcase. Matara had some great parasols and birdcages available for use which were suspended from the dome in the main reception area which was a really pretty but unusual feature.
One of my absolute favourite parts of the planning was preparing the wedding favours! I decided that I wanted to give all the ladies a vintage brooch as their favour, and with a huge amount of help from my Mum, Barbara, we spent the months running up to the wedding collecting around one hundred gorgeous brooches from all over the country! We tied them in pretty organza bags with each guest’s name on at their place setting, and they really gave the tables sparkle! The gents all had miniature bottles of port and chocolate cigars as their favours – again in keeping with the 1920s theme. The tables were named after the Mourne Mountains – as a nod to Mark’s Northern Irish roots, and we made the table cards using a really old hand drawn map of the mountains I found online.
We decided that harp music would be perfect for our guests to arrive to, and for the ceremony as it was held in the stunning and serene Chinese garden at Matara. Claire, the harpist was so lovely and played a beautiful selection of pieces before, during and after the ceremony. Our amazing and talented friends, Roz and Simon performed a fantastic acoustic set for us during the drinks reception as their gift to us which was so special and added such lovely memories. They performed a brilliantly eclectic mix – from Britney Spears to Elvis! We loved every second!
After quite a hunt online we found the perfect band for our evening reception – The Charleston Charlies – who travelled all the way down from Manchester and who went down an absolute storm! They learnt two songs especially for us – Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead (our suitably jazzy first dance!) and Combine Harvester by the Wurzels (one for all us West Country bumpkins!) and they really got the party going in all their dapper finery.
A mutual friend recommended our photographer, Liam, and we are so glad they did! Liam was a total star from the moment he arrived on the morning of the wedding. He managed to document all the goings on without you ever having to think, or pose (something I’m not very good at!) and, along with his wife Bee, has produced a truly beautiful set of photos for us to remember the day. Lots of our guests commented on how he managed to make the group shots both super-fast and super-fun, so that they didn’t turn into a chore which meant more time for partying!
I’m lucky enough to have a fab uncle who also happens to be an outstanding hairdresser, so having our hair done on the day was extra-special. Pete seemed to psychically know what we all wanted and he managed to make us all look amazing and flapper-esque before whisking himself off to get ready! Lucy, our make-up artist was also a total joy to have around on the morning with her calming demeanour and big smile, not to mention her superb make-up skills!
One of the most special things about our wedding was simply how brilliant everyone involved was. We are lucky enough to have amazingly talented family and friends who really added to the day by helping in so many ways, big or small. It was so tremendous to have our loved ones providing entertainment, stationary, making cakes, sourcing brooches, styling hair, tying 120 perfect chair sashes on (!) etc. etc. and I would advise anyone planning a wedding to personalise it as much as possible by getting the people you love involved in this way. It really makes it unique.
We also had a superb group of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen who really helped everything on the day to run smoothly, as well as giving us unparalleled support in the run up to the big day. It was also fantastic to see how many of our guests really went all-out on the theme with their outfits and hairstyles. It all added to the fun and glamour of the day for us, and hopefully for them too.
It’s just a shame we don’t get to do it all again really! (Maybe we need a 1940s themed anniversary party…)