This wedding has well and truly warmed my soul. I always love a big-day held at the Bride or Grooms family home and the location of Charley’s parents house is simply idyllic. The fact that the sun shone down on them all so they could hold their speeches outside was just the icing on the pastoral cake. The whole wedding was a family affair, with the gardens, flowers and bunting all being lovingly prepared by Charley and Liam’s nearest and dearest.
Jess Soper has captured everything beautifully too – those couple portraits at sunset are perfection. Forehead kisses forever!
(Oh and before I pass you over to our lovely couple, I think lots of you will be able to relate to the phrase ‘Bucking Funting’ it certainly made me giggle…)
Charley the Bride: I haven’t always dreamt of getting married so I didn’t really know where to start with dresses. I imagined going to dress fittings being like in the films with lots of squealing girls and champagne, but Louise Selby was a calm, down-to-earth and very welcome opposite. I tried on around 6 of her dresses and felt like a celebrity with the triple full-length mirrors and someone tying me in! Her dresses are all so beautiful, but the one we chose was a winner – particularly with that back. I wanted to have bare feet but was advised against it so wore some cheap and cheerful sandals instead. The earrings were something old, blue and borrowed from my Mum.
Liam the Groom: Getting married was a great excuse to buy a proper three piece suit – an investment. I wanted something smart, traditional and unique. I searched around and Victor Valentine made quality suits to measure via e-mail. My boots were a cleaned up pair of Dr Martens that I owned already. I had bought something different for the tie and handkerchief but during wedding preps I decided they didn’t work. Charley’s Dad lent me some of his instead.
Charley had grown up playing in the fields around her parents’ house and, with her bedroom window looking out at the tiny church next door, it seemed a stupidly perfect venue. It meant a lot to me being surrounded by all my childhood memories whilst celebrating our marriage with our favourite people. Mudford Marquees traditional, wooden-posted, canvas marquee was where all the eating and dancing happened but for the speeches and canapés the sun shone and our guests sat in and amongst Charley’s parents’ lovingly cared for garden.
Ziggy (bride’s mum) was a total star and spent hours sewing 100m of ‘Bucking Funting’ in half moon shapes that Charley’s brother and sister hung across the road in the hamlet and the path up to the church. Charley drew all the illustrations for the invite, order of service and table plan. Liam is a carpenter and loves trees – it was his idea to have tree-types as table places. All the family who stayed the night before were total stars busying around right up to the moment when guests started arriving: trimming grass edges, painting signs, decorating the cake, cutting out leaves, laying table places.
Ziggy used to be a florist. She, along with huge help from Sandra (Liam’s mum) and local friends, arranged all the flowers. Some were bought in bulk, but most were from Ziggy and family friends’ gardens. There was no set colour scheme – just to make it look like her borders had walked into the church. Ziggy had also gathered basket-loads of dried petals for confetti. There were petals from many of the guests’ gardens from around the UK and further. We really felt the feeling of ‘togetherness’ and people pulling together out of love.
The Wedding Party
My sister, Polly, was my one and only super bridesmaid. She chose whatever she wanted. Me, my sister and my mum were a bit unsure about make-up as we didn’t want to look not like us. We were recommended the lovely Jade Farmer and she was perfect. She also did mine and Polly’s hair intertwined with Mum’s flowers. She listened to our requests for limited, light makeup and was a calming presence on such an emotion-fueled day. Liam and his best men ordered their suits together online. He bought them their matching ties and cufflinks as a thank you.
The vicar, Andy Hawes, is the father of an old friend from when Charley was a child. It felt special to have someone marry us who knew me from my tomboy days. He was really wonderful at helping Liam and I relate to the religious aspect of our marriage and feel the importance of what we were undertaking. The church has a seating capacity of 70, but we managed to squeeze 150 of us in there. It felt right that way – cosy and intimate and like all those special people we’d invited were totally involved. A favourite part was shuffling the register-signing table down the aisle so that we were surrounded by everyone, rather than hidden up by the alter. The informality was continued by some amazing friends and family who formed a little choir that sung Bill Withers’ ‘Stand by Me’ and Love’s ‘Everybody’s Gotta Live’.
Our friends who had organised the ceremony music also formed the live band, Bop Gun, in the evening. They totally smashed it and the dance floor was packed. Their opening song was so personal to us, because they know us and we have spent many an evening dancing in kitchens to our own soundtracks. We were having the last of our romantic photo shoot when we heard the brass instruments start up, so we ran back to the marquee to be greeted by a conga of friends and family playing a loud mix of drums, maracas, flutes and fiddles over the band’s build up to Hot 8 Brass Band’s ‘Sexual Healing’. Martin Wagdin, another talented friend, DJ’d until the end and fed the appetite for a cheesy Oasis anthem and a newlywed crowd surf. On the Sunday we had a giant, heated game of rounders– Bride vs. Groom – followed by swimming in the pond. We didn’t want the celebrations to end.
We didn’t want a too formal waiter-service, so we decided on big bowls of food to be placed on the tables – banquet-style. Charley’s parents found Carte Blanche who sorted all the food and it was above expectations in deliciousness. Importantly, there was something for all dietary requirements as part of the main – not just as an aside. The beautiful cake had different, summer-inspired flavours for each layer and was lovingly made by Lucy Burton of Pudding Lane. Liam and his Dad drove to France to collect the champagne and wine.
Jess Soper is a friend who happens to also be a talented photographer. Having followed her work online, we loved her ability to catch moments in an interesting, natural way without any formality. She persuaded us to have the romantic bride-and-groom shots and they are fantastic.