When your family and friends live all over the world, a wedding weekend is the perfect way to spend quality time with them.
Especially when the wedding takes place at the gorgeous West Lexham Manor near the Norfolk coast. There were multiple food stations on hand, including crepes, pizzas and hog roasts, as well as entertainment and fun. Each moment captured by Megan Duffield Photography was a memory treasured, and a gorgeous reminder of all the delicious copper and greenery wedding decor styled by Hollie Freeland.
Ready to be wowed…? Thought so. Enjoy.
Brooke the Bride: We met in 2013 the old fashioned way – Tinder! I was living in London, and Ed was living in Norwich. After exchanging countless messages about our love of food, diving, and travel, we decided to meet up. We agreed Ed would travel to London and if we hit it off, he would stay the weekend, but if things did not go well, he would stay with a friend. Needless to say things went well, and after dating long distance for two years, we decided to take the next step and move in together – but would it be in London or Norwich? Although I loved my job in London, Ed was finishing med school, so with the offer of a garden complete with a puppy, I made the move to join Ed in Norwich. Yes we did get a puppy – a handsome Leonberger named Howie (more about him later!)
After being in Norwich for 8 months, Ed decided to pop the question. After a full night of being wined and dined we took a walk through the Norwich Lanes (if you’ve not visited – do yourself the favour and check it out!). Ed got down on one knee and proposed with a ring one would not expect – a Haribo ring. My parents were flying over from North America a few weeks later, and bringing my engagement ring with them as it was sourced from our family jeweller.
It was very important to us that our wedding included our closest friends and family, but as I am from Canada and Ed from England, where would the wedding be held? We have friends from Australia, America, South Africa etc., so how can you possibly get everyone all in one place? We knew we did not want to have two separate weddings, nor did we want a destination wedding – so we went on the hunt for a venue which was our style, could accommodate 100+ people, and be filled with our favourite food and drink.
If people were going to travel to our wedding, we wanted to make it extra special for everyone. We decided to hold our celebration at the stunning West Lexham Manor.. I fell in love with West Lexham when attending a yoga & movement retreat and knew this was where our families and friends would come together and party. West Lexham could accommodate all of our guests in their barn rooms, treehouses and glamping facilities.
We decided to have our celebrations over several days to ensure it was worth everyone’s time to travel. We welcomed our guests with an Afternoon Tea in the barn gardens put on by the grooms family, followed by a Mexican themed Street food festival. There was plenty of Corona’s and margaritas flowing, whilst the most delicious flat breads were provided by The Horse Box and dessert by Thai Fried Ice Cream. Throughout our day, our entertainment was put on by the amazing Human Juke Box Pip Taylor.
The following day (Wedding morning!), we decided to start the day off with yoga by the lake, taught by Steph from Yodanga Arts. Once we had worked up an appetite, we were provided breakfast from our main caterers Florentina Events. As the wedding was on site, guests were encouraged to swim in the pool, play tennis or simply enjoy the grounds whilst the bridal party got ready. That afternoon, we were blessed with beautiful weather which allowed us to hold our ceremony down by the lake, and drinks reception in the garden by the pool whilst basking in the sunshine. As we had signed our wedding certificate at the registry office beforehand, we wanted our ceremony to be laid back whilst incorporating traditional style.
My mom and brother walked our beloved Howie down the aisle followed by the wedding party. The ceremony was a very special moment – as it wasn’t a legal ceremony, our friend lead this for us and did a sterling job. Each member of our wedding party took time to express to our guests how long we had known one another, and shared a story or memory.
We had a lovely wedding singer, Grant Ley who learned several songs for us – I walked down the aisle with my dad to a cover of In My Life by the Beatles, and we walked together to Wasn’t Expecting That by Jamie Lawson.
We wanted to gather all of our guests together for a group photo before we proceeded into the wedding breakfast, so we all made our way towards the main barn. Ed has Scottish heritage, so the my mom surprised us with a Bag Piper (Patrick Larkin Pipers) who played for the guests and pipped us inside as Husband & Wife!
Décor & Flowers
I first had a vision I would have a DIY wedding, but after planning three days with separate themes, I soon realised I needed help or their dream wedding would not be a reality. Cue the most fabulous wedding stylist and florist you could ever wish for – Hollie Freeland: Creative Director & Stylist, and Katy from Bracken and Twine Flowers who took all of my ideas and turned them into a stunning reality.
We had a floral arch, lanterns and benches for the ceremony by the lake which tied in beautifully with the natural surroundings and visiting swans. The bridal bouquet, the button holes and the bridesmaid’s bouquets turned out even better than we could have hoped for. For the reception décor, West Lexham has refurbished wooden doors turned into tables, and mix-matched colourful chairs so we wanted to use these, whilst incorporating loads of greenery and copper for a natural vibe. Inside the main barn, Katy and Hollie worked seamlessly together to create a whimsical reception for us with lavish greenery and candles everywhere.
Our meal was provided by Florentina Events who blew us away at our initial tasting. We served beetroot bread rolls with dipping oils, starters of wild mushrooms on toast, or crab tian’s whilst on offer for the mains was duck, sea bass or a pea, asparagus and halloumi risotto. Between courses, we asked our parents as well as our maid of honour and best man say a short speech – such lovely things were said with lots of laughter and some happy tears shed!
No meal is complete without a delicious cheese board and dessert wine and Florentina did not disappoint. Instead of a wedding cake, we opted for having our favourite brownies from MasterChef contender Tim Kinnaird from Macarons & More. Salted caramel, white chocolate and peanut butter brownies were served in the barn gardens whilst hot drinks were served from the Pickle O’ Coffee truck.
After everyone was sufficiently fed and watered, the first dance took place. Hollie created a lighting display of Edison bulbs which hung over our dance floor and set the mood. Our wedding singer/DJ, Tallulah and the Goodtimes was truly magical. We had seen her perform at a festival and knew we needed her at our wedding to set the vibe. Her electric swing mix, coupled with the trumpet and wah wah pedal had our guests dancing all night long.
As our guests were staying on site, we wanted everyone to let loose. Another surprise from my mom with help from my brother was an Ice Luge for taking shots. The shots and our unlimited bar left guests feeling carefree, allowing them to work up an appetite on the dance floor. We ended our night with brick oven pizza’s prepared on site by Sicily Van.
As a thunderstorm rolled in, we retired to our tree house, with smiles on our faces as we felt the love from our special day – partly surprised we had managed to pull all of this off!
The following day we wanted our guests to relax and enjoy their last day at the venue but we had plans for the celebrations to continue. I was turning 30 that day, so we used this as an excuse to serve more food and drink. Florentina Events provided a delicious full English breakfast to help clear our fuzzy heads, whilst lunch was provided by Christophe Crepes food truck. We worked up an appetite playing volleyball, football, stand up paddle boards and lazing by the pool so served fizz and cake by the pool. The cakes provided by Ophelia’s Events were stunning and absolutely delicious!
We knew we couldn’t have a proper English wedding without a hog roast and wanted this cooked on site. We found an amazing company called Spit n’ Roast, owned by the lovely Stuart & Ian. It was by far the best hog roast we had ever had.
Bride and Bridal Party
I wore a full lace dress with a long train and cathedral length veil – not what I had envisioned wearing, but could not imagine it any other way now. When my mom was over visiting, we decided to pop into Boutique of Dreams in Diss Norfolk to have a look, only to leave with my wedding dress. It was very important to have our families involved in the planning, and even more special my mom was here when she found her dress.
For jewellery, I wanted to keep it simple, I had a hair vine made from an Etsy Shop (Yana from Wedding Boutique UA), and simple drop gold and crystal earrings. For my something old I had lace from my mother’s wedding dress incorporated into my bouquet, whilst my something blue was a gold and sapphire ring of my grandmothers. Both woman play a very important role in my life and these little additions made things just that bit more special.
I wanted the bridesmaids to look beautiful and feel comfortable in what they wore. Simple, neutral colour dresses were picked and they wore earrings which were a gift from us.
Hair and make-up was impeccably done by the lovely Zoe from Girly Glam.
Groom & Groomsmen
Ed was tasked with picking out his suit and those for the groomsmen, with the guise they weren’t too formal, did not clash with the bridesmaid dresses and did not come in any crazy colours such as orange! Stylish light blue suits and brown shoes were picked out for the guys which they pulled off nicely. Ed looked extremely handsome and I was very pleased as I did not see the suits until the day of the wedding.
Our family and friends mean the absolute world to us, and we wanted to capture our wedding day activity without feeling as if we spent the day posing for the camera – Megan from Megan Duffield Photography captured our day without us realising she was there. She was behind the scenes and caught moments between guests we were not able to be a part of. We are so gracious to have these memories which will last us a lifetime. Our photos are truly beautiful.
Final Thoughts & Advice
Looking back on our special day(s), we have realised all the planning and money spent was very much worth it in the end. We will never have another day like it and cannot thank our family and friends enough for making the journey to be a part of it all.
Our advice would be enjoy all the planning, but most importantly take some time out to step back and look at your guests enjoying themselves. The day is over before you know it.
Key ways to save money – look for a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol with no corkage fees, and where you can bring in your own caterers and other touches that mean something to you as a couple!