I've been looking forward to blogging Becky & James' big day for a while for lots of reasons - there are cardboard cat cutouts (!) an animal print wedding cake, it's at Preston Court (epic wedding venue) AND Becky is wearing a gorgeous polka dot gown by one of our favourite designers, Katya Katya Shehurina. Then there's the coral Bridesmaids dresses, the colourful lanterns adorning the ceiling of their dining room, the carousel and Groom James' dapper outfit! Honestly, every image by Miki Studios seems to have captured another fabulous detail. The whole day is full of fun and frolics and it looks like everyone had a lovely time. The couple held a BBQ the following day too, which is a great way to spend some more time with family and friends in a less formal way. Plus, as every Bride will tell you, the day flies past and you never get to spend as much time with people as you'd like. If only wedding days had extra hours...
The BrideBecky The Bride: I chose the dressmaker way before I had picked the dress. I went to a couple of bridal shows and couldn’t see myself in most of the dresses I was finding there (and they were mostly out of my price range anyway). It was my Mum that noticed a small and understated, yet beautiful stand towards the back of one of these shows. They were different to the other sellers, only showcasing a few select gowns at the show. The dresses were informal, relaxed and romantic, exactly what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure on the exact gown at that moment, but I felt sure this was the company I would buy my gown from, and I did. A couple of months later I noticed a celeb wearing one of their dresses on the cover of OK magazine, which was great but I was paranoid people would see and it would take away some of it's impact. Fortunately James doesn’t read OK magazine! My earrings were simple diamonds, chosen and bought for me by my Nan so were really special for that reason alone. I had a hair and make-up trial with someone I found online, but I didn’t really feel like me when she had finished so in the end my sister Chloe did my make-up and one of my dear friends Olivia did my hair. Neither are professionals in these fields, but we had a test run beforehand and it was perfect. They did such a great job and it meant such a lot to me that they did it; and that they were prepared to put themselves under that pressure for me. I mean, there’s probably nothing more stressful than being tasked to do a bride’s hair or make-up for their wedding day when you aren’t even a hairdresser or make-up artist! Good friend skills.
The GroomJames wears a suit to work every day so was keen to get something that looked smart, but was distinctly different to the suit that he wears every day. James tore an advert out of a copy of GQ that he was reading in his hairdresser and literally carried it around for two years knowing that was the style he wanted to recreate for our big day. He hid it from me so what he was wearing was a surprise for me too. The advert was for Hardy Amies which was his first port of call, but as the fit wasn’t right he replicated the same style through a dogtooth pattern grey jacket and blue trousers from Hackett. I loved it! He actually bought two outfits from there and didn’t finally decide which one to wear until the morning of our wedding. I’m not sure he would recommend this approach to future grooms!
The VenueWhen we found Preston Court we knew we had found the one. We felt the approach to our venue for our guests was an important part of setting the scene. When looking at venues we remember driving to Preston Court, through some gorgeous quintessentially English villages, and then passed a load of vegetable patches before coming upon the house and lake. After leaving the car park alongside some old steam engines, we met the peacocks strolling around the grounds and if we weren’t already sold by this point, we then got taken to the main barn which boasts two old fairground organs at each end. The grounds are beautifully kept, yet the whole place has a rugged feel and is full of character. There really are so many impressive things about the venue; the lake with an old wooden boat; the pagoda on the island which we got married under and of course; the carousel. Breaking with tradition we didn’t get married in the town where I’m from, it was simply because we loved the look and feel of the venue and this part of the country. We actually booked it nearly 2 years in advance.
The DecorA friend of James’ used to organise weddings and said the first thing we should do is decide on a colour scheme. Unfortunately, we didn’t find this out until about a month before the wedding, however, we did agree early on that we wanted the day to have an informal feel and once we had the venue booked I think that gave us a good guide as to what sort of things would work there. Like many couples, we spent hours on Pinterest which helped bring some of our own ideas to life and also gave us new inspiration. We had illuminated paper lanterns, an animal print cake, table name cards with antlers and personalised fridge magnets for wedding favours, all of which were inspired by Pinterest. Saying that, we tried to put our own stamp on everything we could so that the day reflected our personalities. For instance, the magnets were tied in to James’ speech. Each table had a different name with a corresponding magnet which had an image on that accompanied an anecdote. It’s lovely when we pop over to friends’ houses now and the magnets are in use and on display on their fridges!
The FlowersI liked the idea of making our centrepieces out of interesting bottles. We met a florist at Essentially Hops who we loved and who really listened to our ideas. After our first visit, we mocked up a centrepiece and then started collecting bottles either from those we drank or from ‘brick a brack’ stores in places we visited. As it happened our original contact went on maternity leave but we were lucky that Gabby picked up our wedding. She really worked through the detail and made it all come together nicely with the bottles.
The Wedding PartyJames felt that as a general rule wedding attire available for men, particularly for hire, can look nasty, is expensive for what it is, and his groomsmen would be more comfortable in their favourite suit. So he asked his groomsmen to send him a picture of them in their best rags, mainly to make sure they didn’t wear the same thing as him (James was a bigger diva than me over his attire!) The lads looked great and the fact they weren’t all wearing the same thing worked well within the overall feel of our wedding. The bridesmaids wore peach coloured floral dresses from Asos and the flower girls wore dresses from Monsoon.
The CeremonyChoosing our readings was one of the things we found most tricky. None of the readings typically associated with weddings were jumping out at us. So for our first reading, we took quite a popular poem but changed the words so our naughty ginger cat could get a mention. For the second, James’ brother Michael read the lyrics to one of the songs we used to listen to a lot when we first got together, Our Song by The XX. The fact we even had a song that we used to listen to in the early days is significant in itself as we have polar opposite tastes in music! This was actually a really difficult one to read for many reasons, but Michael did a great job. He re-typed out the lyrics exactly how he would read them, rather than how they are actually written, which I think helped him get the emphasis in the right places. The ceremony itself was so special to both of us; in fact it was our favourite part of the whole day. The most ‘special’ moment was when James was asked to repeat his name during the vows and went totally silent then asked the registrar to repeat himself. Our guests found it entertaining as it sounded very much like James had just forgotten his own name, but he’s since told me he was concentrating so hard on trying to take in the way I looked and wanted to remember the moment that he totally zoned out of everything else. Very cute indeed!
The EntertainmentMusic was an interesting one. It was really important to both of us but as mentioned we have very different tastes in music, so we decided to hire a professional sound system but create the playlists ourselves and play them from our iPad.
The FoodWe weren’t sure if we wanted a cake at all, however we saw an animal print wedding cake on Pinterest and loved it so much, it had to be this cake or no cake! I struggled to find out who originally made it so made enquiries if anyone else could recreate it for me with no joy. Luckily my Mum found its original source through much internet digging! Our caterers Scott Anderson did the canapes, main menu and dessert which were all excellent. The canapes were served really well presented, for example, in little spoons or on slates which looked great. The wedding breakfast was based on one of their seasonal menus, personalised for us by one of their chefs, Paul. Paul was happy to replace one of the starters with a dish we had recently tried in a restaurant (Hixter, Bankside) which was a pate served with a giant Yorkshire pudding instead of bread/toast. Paul not only re-created this for us, but gave us options of coarseness for the pate and different types of jars to present the pate in (we opted for Kilne jars), right down to the level of seasoning in the Yorkshire pud!
The PhotographyWe met several photographers and went through their portfolios narrowing it down to 2. We think both of them would have done a great job but gravitated towards Miki. Neither of us like having our photo taken so this always going to be a tough gig for our chosen photographer! He offered a pre-wedding shoot to help us get more comfortable in front of the lens, which made a massive difference to how relaxed we felt and how quickly he could get the shots required on the day. Miki got a lot of great photos. One of our friends has since booked him for their wedding and given our hang-ups, the fact we are not only providing our photos to be seen online through this blog, but are also so thrilled that they are, is testament to what a great job he did :)
AdviceI would encourage all brides and grooms to create the wedding day that they want. Probably without really meaning to, people will try and steer you in a certain direction and sometimes it can make you think your own ideas are a bit daft just because it’s not what others would choose to do. However, these are the things that make the day so personal to you and memorable to others. As an example - I really love (have a borderline obsession with) cats, so purchased some flat pack cardboard cats to prop up in various places around the venue. People thought as I was mad when I told them about it, but there was only a few of them and I was really pleased with the reaction they got when they were noticed them on the day. Linked to the above, we were quite specific about all the different aspects of the day, right from the beginning when we dressed our own cat up in a cat veil for the wedding invite, through to the thank you cards afterwards which had gorillas barbequing sausages on which linked into James’ speech and our honeymoon. This really increases the amount of preparation time so we would recommend trying to get your preparation done as early as possible. We had a schedule of jobs we needed to achieve by a certain time, but didn’t really stick to it. This adds pressure down the line when you want to be concentrating on other things, like relaxing and enjoying the build-up, because it really is such an exciting time! Finally we were really glad we had a BBQ the day after our wedding. As everyone tells you, the wedding day goes so fast, so it was great to be able to relax and catch up with people that we had barely been able to speak to. It also gave us the chance to teach our first dance to some of the guests that asked to learn it. We certainly had a lot of fun on our first day of married life!
Bride: Katya Katya Shehurina | Jewellery: Number Ten Jewellers | Shoes: Debenhams | Flowers in Hair: Essentially Hops | Venue: Preston Court | Cardboard Cats: Like Neon | Cake: Cakes by Robin | Catering: Scott Anderson | Bridesmaids: ASOS | Groom: Hackett | Order of Service: Norma Dorothy | Cufflinks: Beluga Home Studio | Flower Girls: Monsoon