Putting together this wedding has filled me with warmth and I have a big smile on my face. I caught it from Bride Ellie, whose happiness is simply contagious. And I'm not surprised either, she looks gorgeous in a floral print Alan Hannah dress and is marrying the love of her life at her Grandma's beautiful house in the countryside! And it's not just Ellie, everyone is clearly having the time of their lives and this really looks like one of those weddings that would have been such fun to attend. Matt Ethan has captured it perfectly, I'm in love with the couple portraits which are dreamy and oh so romantic.
The BrideEllie The Bride: I originally wanted to get married in a jumpsuit, but actually ended up buying two dresses! The first was backless (with a capital backless) and I only remembered after purchasing it that I wasn't having a barefoot ceremony in the Caribbean, so the hunt continued. A month or so before the wedding I spotted a bright and gorgeous Alan Hannah gown in Paverly Bridal, Wimbledon - I told the lovely assistant Anna that I only wanted to try it on for fun because “I wasn't keen on strapless dresses, corsets or long trains" but five weeks later I walked down the aisle in it! In the evening, I changed into an ASOS jumpsuit and swapped my veil for flowers. My hair is fine (unfortunately not in the fiiiine sense!) so hairdresser Rachel came armed with curlers and backcombing biceps. I left it in her hands and she did a brill relaxed bun. I DIY-ed my make up and bridesmaids Jess and Nards also lent a huge helping hand with everyone’s hair and make up.
The GroomChris found a lovely blue suit in M&S which he wore with a grey waistcoat that he had made, a polka-dot tie and a floral pocket square. His brown suede shoes were from Reiss. He looked so smart and handsome and I spent all day thinking “Bingo! That’s my husband!”
The VenueOur reception was at my Gran’s house in Kent, close to where Chris and I both grew up. Gran’s one of the best people on the planet and we love visiting her and spending time there, so as soon as we got engaged it was where we wanted to celebrate. When we drove to tell her our news, we discovered that she had exactly the same idea! Wahoo! We left that day with not only our venue but our church and wedding date too (83-year-old Wendy is not afraid of a project). Our ceremony was in the local church where my parents got married and where my Granddad Ian was a vicar.
The DecorDecorations were mostly fruity! We cut up a pineapple and watermelon print wrapping paper to make place mats and wrote place names on lemon halves. We also made a little ‘bowling alley’ using pineapple skittles and a coconut bowling ball. In the entrance to the marquee, we hung rows of photo bunting using ribbon and polaroid pictures of guests - finding all the photos was one of my favourite things to do, some real crackers re-surfaced! Inside, Chris’ brother and sister-in-law created a little bottle wall by hanging bright flowers in glass bottles, and our table centrepieces were wreath plants that we made using ivy, wire, gold spray paint and mini disco balls. We attached our table names to these, named after types of egg from Scrambled to Faberge. As a favour for our favour-ites, we put a Lucky Dip box under each table with Pez, transfer tattoos, lip balms, inflatable flamingos and mini Jägermeisters. The boxes were also filled with tiny polystyrene balls, which Dad got over-excited about and launched into the air just before dinner!
The FlowersThe church was in full bloom thanks to its team of volunteer florists who produced a floral arch at the top of the aisle and two wild and wonderful hedgerows along the choir stalls. My aunt Sally - the love-child of Wonder Woman and - did our bouquets, headdresses and buttonholes. I initially wanted bright flowers but it proved tricky matching the hand-painted ones on my dress with real ones, so she created a floral smorgasbord of creams and whites with masses of greenery.
The Wedding PartyI didn’t look for matching dresses, just ones that went together in some way and suited their styles. Sally also made eucalyptus and gypsophila floral crowns for them. They are a bunch of total babes in every way and my heart could have burst when I saw them all ready! My flower girl nieces wore Zara dresses and gold sandals, and walked down the aisle with Chris’ nephews. We managed to persuade the boys that Yoda and Darth Vader costumes might get a bit hot in July, so they wore little linen waistcoats and Zara trousers with Clark’s Originals desert boots. There was no specific dress for the ushers or best men but the dress code on our invite was All Things Bright & Beautiful which resulted in some great outfits all round. I forgot to look at Chris when I entered the church as I was momentarily mesmerised by the rainbow of dresses, trousers, ties and hats. Special shout-out to one usher Sam who had a powder blue suit and floral waistcoat with matching pocket square made for the day on a recent trip to Vietnam.
The SpeechesI knew I wanted to say something on the day but time ran away with me and I ended up writing my speech during dinner on the back of my place mat! Luckily (for our guests) I kept it short, but Chris' speech was one of my favourite moments of the day as he broke into song, Ella Fitzgerald’s 'I'm a poached egg', with a trumpet solo from best man Luke.
The CeremonyAbout a year before the wedding, a married friend gave us the advice: you’ll have a party again, but the ceremony is totally unique. This sentiment really stuck with me and I blooming loved planning the ceremony, from the hymns (love a good hymn) to readings to the music. My brother played a song he wrote for us on the piano as people arrived and friends Eve and EJ sang during the signing of the register: Johnny Flynn’s Detectorists and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ Home. They sounded magical and Chris and I and our mums had a little dance together as we were signing away. Our readings were an extract from The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket, and Robert Fulgham’s Union, which is so straightforward but so romantic. Our friend Jess first read it to me in a passport queue years ago and it was perfect to hear her read it on the day.
The EntertainmentOur original wedding band pulled out at the last minute but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Chris found the incredible (and not unattractive!) Wanderlust, a 5-piece band with banjo and double-bass. They played after our first dance, Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, until midnight when we had a singalong around the piano lead by our friend and musician Hugh Anderson. Taxis came at around 12.30am but a few singers stuck around to belt out some more tunes with Hugh.
The FoodMum found Greig Hughes through a family friend. Greig is actually a chef not a caterer, but his informal, seasonal food was right up our street - he had us at “scotch eggs”! Dinner was a sharing platter of barbecued meats and summer salads, followed by a dessert duo. He also brought out sausage rolls and scotch eggs later to fuel the dancing. I completely forgot about these until it was time for Chris and I to leave, so ran into the catering tent and stuffed 2 scotch eggs in my mouth, 1 in my bag and 2 in Chris’ pocket! Our guests did sparkler send-off for us and 5 scotch eggs. Dad was on booze duty and picked our wine and fizz from France, and our friend Wilco sourced our beer. In the evening we had a DIY cocktail bar, based on a drink from our local bar in London. Many-a great evening has kicked off with Lemon Meringue Pie cocktail or three, and the wedding was no exception!
The PhotographyOh man I’m so glad we found Matt Ethan. Having your photo taken is like hearing your voice on an answering machine (aargh) but he was brilliant - it felt like having a friend take photos. I’ll be forever grateful to him for sitting on the floor with me on the morning of the wedding, helping blow up 9 inflatable palm trees.
The VideographyWe owe our wedding vid to my bridesmaid Alana. She’s a film production guru and when I spoke to her about a video she just told me to “leave it with her”. When a drone appeared on the day, we knew we were in for a treat, and she gave us the greatest 11 minute 40 second souvenir of all time!
Thank You'sI can be forgetful/bad at details, but my sister Deeds was a wedding angel. On top of everything else, she drove me to collect a forgotten bag from Chris’ car at 2am the night before, and (as I couldn’t remember where he was staying) waited patiently while I ran around Wye village in my nightie like Wee Willie Winkie. I also realised a few days before the wedding that I hadn’t planned how Dad and I would get to the church, so my bridesmaid Coombes arranged for her dad to drive us. I’ve known JC for years and loved the short trip with him and Dad. Coombes’ mum had filled their family car with huge pink roses from the garden too! In general, we had such massive help and input from family and friends, especially the week before when people came down to lend a hand and get the party started. Chris and I were bursting with happiness and gratitude.
Marquee: Maypole Marquee | Videography: MadWomen | Bride: Alan Hannah | Boutique: Paverly Bridal | Jewellery & Veil: Etsy | Monica Vinader | Shoes: ASOS | Bridesmaids: ASOS | Coast | Oasis | Groom & Groomsmen: M&S | TM Lewin | Reiss | Stationery: Quentin Blake | Gee Brothers | Entertainment: Hugh Anderson | Wanderlust