This morning’s pretty wedding was all about gathering together friends and family and having a big old party. To be honest, I think that’s what all weddings should be about – especially if everyone is going to look as happy and content as all of Charlotte and Jason’s guests!!
We seem to be featuring more and more weddings where the Bride and Groom do a ‘first look’ – so rather than seeing each other at the end of the aisle, you meet before hand and basically dazzle your other half with your beauty (or something like that). Charlotte and Jason’s first look is lovely – you can feel the sense of anticipation pouring out of the images, then their beaming smiles when they see each other just says it all really.
I love that they decided to walk down the aisle together – we’ve said it a million times before, but if a tradition doesn’t work for you – then don’t do it!! You’ll be much happier for it – just look at this pair 🙂
Charlotte The Bride: Because Jason and I had both been married before, the most important thing for us on our wedding day was that everyone relaxed and had a good time (including us!) Therefore we didn’t want anything too formal and traditional. We wanted to keep it simple and fun. For us it was about getting all of the people we cared about in one place and having a bloody good party!
My dress was Honour by Alan Hannah. I actually skipped straight past it on the rail as I thought it looked boring on the hanger, but my sister picked it out and persuaded me to try it on. As soon as I did I instantly fell in love with it. I wanted something simple and classy, and for me, it hit that nail on the head perfectly. It was also the dress that I’d felt most glamorous in when I tried it on. Turned out the sample dress fitted me perfectly too, which also brought it within my budget. It was like it was meant to be! Charlotte at Quello was fantastic too. Really friendly, down to earth and patient. Gave honest advice without being too pushy, and couldn’t have been more helpful.
My shoes were Carvella by Kurt Geiger. I’m not the girliest of girls, but if there’s one thing I love, its shoes! I wanted something sparkly to compliment the little bit of sparkle on my dress, and you couldn’t get much sparklier than these! I also knew I’d wear them again afterwards so they were definitely worth paying a little extra for!
Jason’s suit was Paul Smith, which he bought from Selfridges. He wanted something a bit different so went for pale grey rather than something more traditional. It was really nice and lightweight too, perfect for a hot summers day. He wanted to wear a bow tie and at first we really struggled to find what we wanted, but then we found a shop on Etsy selling really cool made to order bow ties, which were just the colour we were looking for. We bought three of them in aqua for Jason and his two groomsmen, each with a slightly different pattern, again to make it a little different.
He’d been eyeing his shoes up in Ted Baker for some time and so the wedding was the perfect excuse to buy them!
I thought he looked so dapper on the day!
My sister stumbled across Axnoller on the internet a few years ago and I remembered thinking at the time, if I ever had a small intimate wedding, that would be my ideal venue. So when Jason proposed, it was the first thing I showed him! We considered other venues as well, but we made an appointment to go and visit and from the moment we drove down the drive we were pretty much sold. We immediately hit it off with Alo, the owner, too. Her philosophy is that it’s your wedding day so you should be able to do whatever you want to make it special. And she’ll help you make it happen. That and the no curfew on music was just what we were looking for. The fact that it was in one of our favourite places in the country and we were surrounded by horses was just the icing on the cake, and we pretty much booked it there and then.
Axnoller is set in 100 acres of private grounds in the stunning Dorset countryside. We hired the whole place exclusively for the weekend where 34 of our guests stayed in one of three luxury houses. Each room was en-suite and beautifully decorated. Some even had steam rooms and sunken baths! Axnoller also has two indoor heated pools, outdoor hot tubs a gym and spa facilities so it was the perfect place to relax and have fun.
Our colour scheme was peach and aqua. We got our initial inspiration for the colours from a wedding we saw on a blog and then started trawling the internet for ideas for decor. We had our reception in the marquee at Axnoller so we pretty much had a blank canvass. After much deliberation and a few changes we eventually settled on a ‘rustic glamour’ theme, combining peach and aqua with wood and touches of gold/metallics and some vintage pieces.
We sourced or made a lot of the decorations ourselves, spending many an hour in the run up to the wedding decorating jam jars, going to car boot sales and scouring the shops and internet for bargains.
Beaminster Flowers, which was local to Axnoller, was recommended to us by Alo. We popped in one afternoon while we were down visiting the venue and met Helen the owner. I showed her some pictures of the style of flowers I liked and within a few minutes we knew she was totally on our wavelength. She was absolutely lovely too and sent through moodboards shortly afterwards with the flowers she recommended to achieve the look we were after. They were spot on!
Our brief to her was pretty simple…no roses, nothing too uniform in shape, and we wanted them to look like wild, handpicked flowers with a splash of colour (in peach and aqua of course). She couldn’t have got them any more perfect!
The bridesmaids’ bouquets and mine were quite similar, although the bridesmaids had more splashes of colour in theirs. Jason and his groomsmen, had buttonholes which were made up of berries and feathers. Again, we’d seen a picture of just what we wanted on the internet and weren’t sure whether she’d be able to match the look, but again she got them absolutely spot on!
Because our tables were arranged in long benches, we had a combination of larger white plant pots (from IKEA) and smaller jam jars (which we’d had friends and family collecting for months!) to line up along the centre of the tables. Helen used the same flowers that were in the bouquets mixed in with beautiful aqua hydrangeas which added a gorgeous splash of colour.
The Wedding Party
My sister and Jason’s niece were my bridesmaids. My sister’s dress was from Ted Baker and Megan’s dress was from Monsoon. We were keen to try and get something from the high street to keep costs down and I wasn’t bothered about them looking identical. It took a while to find the right thing but we eventually stumbled across the dresses and somehow they matched perfectly! Both of them looked absolutely gorgeous on the day.
Jason’s groomsmen were his best friend and his nephew. They both wore pale grey suits, very similar to Jason’s. They also wore aqua bow ties but with a slightly different pattern to Jason’s so that they were similar but not identical. They all looked so smart together.
We held the ceremony in the lounge of the main Axnoller house. Again, we wanted it to be really relaxed and informal so we asked Alo to keep the sofas in there for family to sit on during the ceremony. They definitely had the best seats in the house!
Jason and I also wanted to break with tradition and walk in together. I followed the bridesmaids down the big sweeping staircase to meet Jason and his groomsmen at the bottom, and after a couple of quick photos we walked in to the ceremony room to one of my favourite pieces of music that I play on the piano (Fated Breath by Mike Beever).
We kept the ceremony nice and simple with just the formalities and our vows. There was a very comical moment where just at the point that the registrar asked if there was anyone in the room who knew of a reason why we shouldn’t get married, our friend’s baby burped! He couldn’t have timed it any better but it was great because we instantly felt everyone relax (including ourselves!)
We wanted the ceremony to be very personal to us so we chose another one of my favourite pieces of music to play on the piano for while we signed the register (Divenire by Ludovico Einaudi) and walked out to Happy by Pharrell Williams which Jason and I used to quite often do car dancing to on the way home from work.
Prior to the wedding Jason and I put together playlists of some of our favourite tracks and got our DJ friend to do the same, which we had playing during the drinks reception.
For the evening we hired Jason’s friend’s band, Wedrock, who were absolutely awesome and had everyone up on the dance floor in no time.
Jason and I weren’t planning on doing a first dance but his niece Megan surprised us by singing John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ with the guitarist from the band, so we ended up having a bit of an impromptu first dance which was so lovely, as again it was so personal to us.
Jason and I love to eat, so the food was very important! Again we didn’t want a traditional wedding breakfast so we had lots of canapés during the drinks reception, which were effectively the starters. Followed by a gourmet BBQ which included sirloin beef, cider marinated pork loin and chicken kebabs, accompanied by new potatoes, chargrilled Mediterranean vegetable salad and a Hedgerow salad. For desert we had individual rhubarb and vanilla cheesecakes. Nom nom!
We thought it would be a good idea to have something a bit later on to help soak up some of the copious amounts of booze so we had pulled pork baps as a midnight snack which went down a storm!
Because we wanted to make sure everyone had the best time and we were very conscious that our guests had already made a huge effort and had quite a lot of expense travelling down for the wedding, Jason and I decided to put on a free bar for everyone. In the months leading up to the wedding we kept an eye open for special offers in the supermarkets and it didn’t take long to build up the stocks. We did slightly over purchase though and half of it is still in our utility room now!
Our homemade Oosher Orange Monster cocktail went down particularly well though and I think was responsible for quite a lot of sore heads the following morning!
For us, the photography was one of the most important parts of our day, capturing the memories that we can and have looked back on many times already. So no pressure!
We met Lisa Carpenter at a Vintage Wedding fair in Birmingham and hit it off straight away. Her style of photography was just what we were looking for and when we told her about our plans for the day she seemed genuinely excited. Another chat over coffee confirmed that Lisa was the woman for us! Not only was she absolutely lovely and completely on our wavelength, she’s also got a pretty cool list of previous clients. I bet not everyone can say their wedding photographer has worked with a load of Hollywood celebs! So we were pretty certain she knew what she was doing!
A couple of months before the wedding we had an engagement shoot at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire which was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other a bit better and have a practice run before the big day.
On the day itself Lisa was fantastic. She totally put us and our guests at ease, and half the time we didn’t even know she was there. Her second shooter, Chris Scuffins, was also fantastic, and the end result was absolutely stunning.
When we returned from our honeymoon, Lisa already had a slideshow of highlights waiting for us, and when we watched it for the first time, Jason and I were both in tears. We then watched it another 3 times and cried at all of those too. They were so much better than we ever imagined, and when we received our beautiful USB package in the post a week or so later with the rest of the photos, they didn’t disappoint either.
In a word, Lisa absolutely nailed it. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and we still stay in contact now.