Ellie and Matt’s big day is swoon-inducingly pretty…I just love every element – from Ellie’s ENTIRE outfit – a divine Lusan Mandongus gown, a sweeping Provonias veil and such a pretty floral crown, to the table plan created using a ladder and plant pots, to the hand folded origami cranes that so many of you lovingly make for your weddings.
It’s just ALL so lovely.
The venue is the wonderful Rectory Hotel, in the heart of the Cotswolds and it makes the perfect backdrop for a classic and elegant wedding.
Ellie The Bride: I decided that I wanted to buy my dress from the UK, as I just thought it would be more to my taste than those in Dubai. I had one day to find ‘The’ dress, and I am afraid I never had the moment of ‘this is the one’. My Mother and Sister loved this dress, and so I took their word for it and bought it. On the day it was perfect; everything I had wanted – beautiful lace detailing, a stunning back and the country feel that I had hoped for – formal but not too formal!
The veil was my ‘something borrowed’ from my sister, and the circlet in the hair finished the country look off – I loved that part of the outfit and felt it was something a little different which Matt would not expect.
Matt decided for the Cotswolds the blue three piece suit would be perfect; timeless but also well suited to the venue. We popped into M&S when back in the UK just to have a look, but Matt bought his suit then and there, and teamed it on the day with a striped tie from TM Lewin, along with personalised cufflinks.
Our photographer Amy, who is also a great friend, recommended The Rectory to us. As we live in Dubai, we didn’t really have time to look around any venues, but knew we wanted to get married in the countryside rather than London. We trust Amy as she has such beautiful taste, so when she mentioned The Rectory had a small church next door, a pub down the road and was surrounded by country B&Bs, we just went ahead and booked it! Amy did of course feel the pressure, but as soon as we walked into their beautiful lobby at Christmas, we knew we had made the right choice. Smart, relaxing and beautiful country interiors, with stunning grounds (and croquet!) and wonderful staff.
Being an Interior Designer, I had a vision from the start. I knew I wanted simple, pastel colours and I knew I wanted a lot of greenery. A big part of my vision was to borrow family pieces and re-use – all the tables were covered in my Grandmothers or Matt’s mothers beautiful vintage lace table cloths. As I have a big love for stationery, and enjoy designing for other people, I took on the task for invitations, table names, orders of service and place names. The name places were Polaroid pictures I had put together, from old photos our families had. The memories were a great talking point on the day, and also a nice personalised touch for our guests as they sat down.
The 1000 paper cranes that we made in the 6 months running up to our wedding were just something I wanted to do, so that the wedding had some personal touches to it. I was so aware that planning it from Dubai could mean that we just turn up for our big day, and everything is done for us, so we set ourselves a target and succeeded. Finally, my mother spray painted all the individual tins and jars that the flowers went in to on the day. It really was the feel we wanted and they looked stunning.
My Mother actually took on the hard task of doing all the flowers for the marquee, table plan and church. She went to Covent Garden Flower Market two days before the wedding, and loaded up the car with so many different flowers and plants, including lavender, spray roses and hydrangeas.
The day before the wedding my Mother and her great friend arranged all the flowers into the tins, jars and watering cans, and I finalised our table plan which was simply potted plants on an old ladder, so simple and very effective.
We wanted the country flower look, rather than anything too formal. The flowers looked beautiful and a lot of the plants that were bought have now been planted in friends and families garden to grow over the next few months/years!
She also bought large roses for the bridesmaids hair – these oversized flowers looked fantastic. Flowers by Passion kindly helped us with the buttonholes, bouquets and circlets. They were extremely helpful in the run up, offering to skype for any queries I had. I sent them a few images and told them what we wanted. The flowers were sensational on the day, and Erin was so helpful when it came to final touches. I wanted long flowing ribbons from the flowers, and this is exactly what we got. The whole experience with Flowers by Passion was 5*.
The Wedding Party
The Bridesmaids wore cream, white or pink, and (in my opinion) looked stunning. I decided to go for mismatching dresses as all my bridesmaids are different colouring and I knew some would like one and not others. I loved the overall look and even though deciding on 5 different dresses was tough, it was worth it in the end!
Our niece, Florence, wore a dress that her own mother (my sister) had worn for our auntie and uncles wedding 30 years ago. The vintage, floral look was exactly what I wanted, and Florence adored her dress. Our nephew, Charlie, who was a page boy wore simple Gap shorts and a white shirt, with gorgeous braces and a bow tie from Etsy. The perfect outfit for him to be bottom shuffling around all day in!
The Ushers all bought blue three piece suits from different stores, and everyone agreed they looked very dapper. Their brown shoes and TM Lewin polka dot ties finished off the look.
Our church ceremony was beautifully led by Sarah from All Saints Church, Crudwell. From the moment we met her we felt relaxed and excited and she led such a lovely service, definitely the most important part of the day for us. The bridal party walked into the Wedding March from The Sound of Music, a favourite of the bride and flower girl! We had readings from Les Miserable as well as Colossians, and walked out to Bob Marley ‘One Love’…one of Matt’s choices and it got everyone smiling and ready for the party!
Another stressful moment when planning abroad, how do you book a band without seeing them before. Luckily, Function Central has a great website with many wedding bands and their music within easy viewing for us. We listened to quite a few, and settled with A Girl Called Sue. We really didn’t know what we would be getting on the day, so it was quite a risk when all we wanted was a packed dance floor from 8.30pm!
Luckily for us, we got that! The band were amazing – they had everyone up on the dance floor from the first dance to the last….uncles, aunties, nieces and best friends were all up there rocking their socks off!
A quick mention about speeches – my brothers kindly organised a sweep stake, which is always so much fun as everyone gets involved and it brings in a little extra humour along the way. The speeches were brilliant, and at the very end, our brother in law – Mr MOC, let everyone know who had won. Guests donated so generously that the winnings of nearly £400 went to Cancer Research, our chosen charity.
We decided to go for a traditional English summer menu – with the hog roast being the real deal. The Rectory organised the most delicious food tasting for us, and on the day they did not disappoint. After a champagne and Pimms reception, we sat down to the wedding breakfast of Crab Ravioli, hog roast and Eton mess for desert. Then to make sure all our guests danced the night away, we organised bacon butties and chip butties for the evening, along with our cheese cake and biscuits. We also had a sweets table, which guests could help themselves to – as soon as we were out of the church guests were digging in and all had their sweetie bags in their pockets!
One of our great friends made delicious cupcakes for the sweets table too, which were gone before we even got near them! For our main cake, we decided to have cheese. Matt loves cheese, as did most people at our wedding. It was an easy decision in the end, and was a huge success!
Amy, from Especially Amy, was fantastic on the day. She is a friend of ours, and from the day we got engaged we knew Amy would be the person to capture it. She did a great job at keeping me calm before the ceremony, and having now seen all the photographs we couldn’t have asked for anymore. Amy’s work says it all really, a naturally talented and experienced photographer who we were lucky to get for our big day! She caught so many moments we wouldn’t have seen, and captures people’s personalities perfectly.
We got engaged in Ras Al Khaimah, in the middle of the desert after spending a few days away for Matt’s birthday at the Banyan Tree, and the proposal came as a complete surprise.
Once I had got over the shock, we decided 2014 was our year!
One thing I would advise is don’t stress at the small stuff – the day will fall into place and as long as you are very organised at booking the larger items like venue, caterer, church and band, and working out what is most important to you as a couple – the day will be perfect.
If you do live abroad, I would say the number one thing is to get suppliers who respond to emails. You don’t want to spend all your time trying to chase on the telephone when you are abroad.
A big wedding for us was not always on the agenda, but having lived abroad for a couple of years, we realised just how much we value all our family and friends. Ultimately it is about marrying the man or woman you love, in front of those you care most about and we really couldn’t have asked for anymore.
Photography by Especially Amy
- Dress Lusan Mandongus
- Boutique Teokath Wimbledon
- Veil Pronovias
- Florist Flowers By Passion
- Venue The Rectory
- Illuminated Heart Vowed & Amazed
- Cheese House Of Cheese
- Bridesmaids Mango
- Bridesmaids Ghost
- Bridesmaids Miss Selfridge
- Groom M&S
- Groomsmen Austin Reed
- Band A Girl Called Sue
- Hair Kylie at Jo Penford