We've been following bride Claire a.k.a The Green Eyed Girl's house renovation very closely over on sister blog Rock My Style, if you haven't seen it yet you must, it's so serene and peaceful and makes the perfect backdrop for the getting ready portraits. It's especially lovely to be able to continue her & Will's journey with you and share their beautiful wedding. Being a lifestyle & travel blogger Claire certainly knows how to style things and together with her florist Floribunda Rose created an utterly dreamy flower-filled wedding at Hampton Manor. From the centrepieces to the table plan garland and not forgetting the bouquets, each flower design is delicious and adds to the elegance of this wedding. Claire looks stunning in a Jenny Packham Hermia beaded gown, a far cry from what she originally thought she wanted, so definitely a reminder to try things out of your comfort zone, to which she added a pair of fabulous ivory satin Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps to her bridal look, making her an absolute vision. Images come from the talented Xander and Thea whose fine art wedding photography was perfect for this wedding in every way.
Claire The Bride: We first met when my friend invited me to a works night out. She had previously talked about this ‘eligible bachelor’ called Will who was training her. I’d not been very interested…that is until we met! When I arrived at the bar he was the only one who got up from the table to introduce himself. He was tall, broad, handsome and very well mannered, but it wasn’t to be at that time. We didn’t see each other again for a number of months until Becky got a call from Will’s flatmate asking for a double date. We agreed, and Will and I really hit it off. That was in 2008 and we’ve been together ever since. We lived in separate parts of the country for two years, seeing each other only for weekends and holidays and then I moved to Birmingham.
I have never been that keen on getting married having made my full commitment to Will after moving to be with him and buying a beautiful Edwardian house together, so after a few years of being together, it didn’t even cross my thoughts that he might propose. We had booked a short trip to Marrakech and typically, Will made a lot of the arrangements so it wasn’t until we landed in Marrakech that I asked how we were getting to our hotel in the Medina. Will replied to say that he’d made a slight change to our plans and had a surprise. We were picked up in a sleek car which zipped us into the mountains, and delivered us outside the door of the most incredible place - one of Richard Branson’s luxury retreats Kasbah Tamadot. That day we sat sipping Champagne enjoying the incredible views of the Atlas Mountains. I remember thinking how lucky I was but not once did I suspect anything! When it came to dinner, Will led me to the roof terrace which was lit by flaming torches, fire pits and candles. A waiter appeared with two glasses of Champagne and I knew then what was happening!
We knew we wanted a smallish intimate wedding that was timeless and elegant, with a hint of luxury and plenty of fun. My go-to colour palette is almost always classic whites and greys and I knew I wanted this for the wedding, along with pops of gold. There was a period of doubt when I thought I should be going for a riot of vibrant colour (which I also love) but knew my first decision was right for our day and I stuck to my guns which I am pleased about.
We were initially looking in Wales and the Cotswolds but struggled to find something that met our rather demanding criteria once we both added in our ‘requirements’! We both wanted somewhere beautiful with rooms on-site, excellent food and great service. Will required exclusive use and I wanted somewhere that had a neutral interior so it didn’t interfere with my look! Combining that with a budget made it almost impossible and I was starting to worry but then I suddenly remembered Hampton Manor - a local hotel set in a stunning old manor house that had the most beautiful light-filled orangery. It ticked ALL of our boxes! There is a small and beautiful church just outside the grounds, which meant we only had a short two or three-minute walk from the church service to the reception through a woodland path.
I started my wedding dress search with a very open mind. I knew what I didn’t want - low cut, backless or a lot of embellishment. Definitely no sequins or crystals, but the rest was open. I tried on a range of dresses in all shapes and styles, loving Jesús Peiró's modern elegance but not feeling ‘quite’ right in them. I tried dresses in three shops and it was in the last shop the lady suggested I try on a very heavily embellished Jenny Packham. I loved it immediately! The simple cut was perfect for my figure and I was smitten with all of the crystals and sparkles! A very simple cathedral length veil completed the look. I wore my late Grandma's pearl drop earrings and a delicate diamond bracelet to complete the look. I decided to go all out and treat myself to a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s Hangisi in white. A friend and I made a weekend of it in London, spending almost a whole day in Harrods pinballing between the different shoe stores and the champagne bar. We also got my underwear from Rigby and Peller (The Royal Family’s preferred lingerie retailer) which I would recommend to anyone - the service was fabulous, and it wasn’t unreasonably priced as you may expect. Plus they opened a bottle of Prosecco for us whilst we were trying on which made the whole experience a lot of fun!
My three bridesmaids wore beautiful floor-length, pale grey dresses by Dessy which we found in the same shop as my dress. I really wanted them to each have something they felt great in and in the end that was surprisingly the same dress! My little nephew was page boy and wore a grey three-piece suit. I gave my bridesmaids each a Tiffany Elsa Peretti bean necklace which signifies all things new and is also a little like a heart shape. I love it and wish I had bought one for myself!
Will knew he wanted a well-cut three-piece suit and in the end, turned to Reiss as their suits have always fit him so well. He went for a lovely blue suit with grey waistcoat and a grey tie. He hired similar suits for his groomsmen and bought them ties for their gifts. They all looked so smart! I didn’t realise until after the wedding that Will wore the wrong tie on the day - accidentally picking up a regular work tie rather than the one we had spent hours picking out. It just goes to show sometimes you put a lot of effort into small details and no one would ever notice!
I have to admit to being rather late although I really don’t know how that happened! When I (eventually) arrived at the church it suddenly poured down with rain, but the groom's party came running out to greet me with umbrellas. Whilst we were readying ourselves in the vestibule, the sun came shining out which was such a beautiful moment for me, my dad and bridesmaids. I walked into the church to Pachabel’s Canon in D which is the most beautiful piece of music. I wasn’t nervous at all before the wedding, I just thought ‘come on let’s do this’! I was so excited. The service was beautiful - we sang upbeat hymns that I loved when I was in school (and ones that people would know) and my Scottish stepfather did a brilliant job of reading Robert Burn’s ‘My love is like a red, red rose’. I remember holding on to Will’s hand, oblivious to everyone else in the room.
Working with Sarah from Floribunda Rose was one of the most enjoyable parts of wedding planning. I wanted a palette of white flowers with heaps of foliage, lots of interest and bursting with scent. Sarah recommended UK flowers which were in season and brought so many ideas to the table including adding herbs which was simply gorgeous. My bouquet was hands down the most beautiful looking and smelling I have ever seen. The bridesmaids has smaller versions of mine, and we tied them all with long ribbons of hand dyed silk from Lancaster and Cornish. I loved the floral process so much that I used different flowers from the arrangements as our table names. I can’t recommend Sarah enough - she is an incredible florist but altogether an very inspirational lady. I’ve told her I won’t let her go and we’ve stayed in touch since the wedding.
I knew I wanted a fine art photographer that used film and captured light, bright images and the details of day. Alethiea from Xander and Thea was recommended to me and I instantly fell in love with her beautiful images. Aletheia was great to work with and also did our engagement session which was brilliant for us to get used to being in front of the camera. She was so good at getting us to relax - it turns out Will was the natural despite me often being in front of the camera as a lifestyle blogger!
I worked with a graphic designer friend to create all the stationery and found a local foil printer to print them. Really, I spent far too much time on it but I loved them! The only wedding meltdown I had was over envelopes - I ended up ordering hundreds that didn’t meet the quality I wanted and the last straw was when some arrived flat pack that you had to glue together! My bridesmaid’s partner made the table place names which were wood cut letters sprayed gold. We created individual menu cards for each person which served as their place name as well as this personal menu options. I made the table plan and had it framed and we draped it with a garland of foliage and flowers. There was a courtyard off the orangery which Sarah filled with candles and lanterns (she is so much more than just a florist) and I put out blankets and sparklers for the guests. It was a gorgeous evening and many guests spent the night cuddled up here. The week before the wedding I hired a Photo Booth - I didn’t tell Will until they were all set up! It was so much fun and the book of guest pictures and comments we have are hilarious.
Will and I are foodies and part of the draw of Hampton Manor was the excellent food. We chose a five course meal which included an amuse bouche and pre dessert which was a lovely surprise for our guests. After the meal, we moved everyone to the stunning parlour where tea, coffee and petit fours were served. Not long after the wedding the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star! In the evening we served up fish and chips in boxes which were really delicious and everyone commented how much fun they were. My dad made the cake which went down a treat with everyone - it was a layer of traditional fruit cake topped with a classic Victoria sponge. We decorated it with fresh flowers.
We attended dance classes before the wedding and learned a routine for our first dance, which was Love on Top by Beyonce. It was the perfect mix of fun and sentiment. We had managed to keep the dance a surprise and this was the highlight of the wedding for my mum! We had Party Nation, a seven piece band including a saxophone for the evening party and it was brilliant! Everyone commented how great the music was.
We both loved every moment of our day. For me, getting ready at home was a really special time. My dad cooked me and my bridesmaids a delicious breakfast and we listened to music and drank Champagne whilst getting ready. The ceremony was really magical and one of Will’s favourite parts of the day was coming out of the church and walking to the Manor as newlyweds! I gave a speech - I didn’t have anything written down but gave a very heartfelt thank you to my new husband, and our friends and family. I remember feeling overwhelmingly lucky.
Be open when planning - some of the things I was certain on changed (like the no sequins!) and things I worried over for weeks really didn’t matter. I loved giving a speech and would recommend all brides to say a few words from the heart.