Bride & Groom, Emma & Martin had planned the perfect outdoor Summer wedding in the gardens of Parkside School in Surrey where Emma's dad works. The hedges were pruned, the chairs were set out and a gorgeous chandelier was hung from a tree branch which was to be the perfect spot to say I do under. That is until the heavens opened and all the guests had to dash back inside for a ceremony in the hallway. The staircase became the aisle, and judging by the photographs by Nikki van der Molen Photography it didn't matter one bit that their original plan didn't happen. Everybody is still full of joy and it looks pretty as hell. The pastel colour scheme, romantic florals and vintage decor make this a pin-tactic wedding from start to finish, and Emma's lace Stella York gown couldn't be more fitting for the occasion.
DressEmma the Bride: Martin and I got engaged and set the date for our wedding while I was pregnant with our daughter Edie, so I despite my insane excitement at finally being able to plan our wedding after 9 years together, the dress shopping had to wait. By the time I hit the shops (with my 4 month old baby, Mum and bestie in tow) there was only 8 months til the big day... I loved Helena Fortley (boutique in Caterham, Surrey) as soon as I walked through the door - it’s beautifully presented, the staff are so friendly and relaxed and the dress selection is fabulous. I ended up with dress 6272 by Stella York. The lace was unlike anything else I’d seen - so luxurious and detailed, and it had the most stunning lace train. Sold. I used the boutique’s in-house seamstress - they were very patient with my weight loss (I dropped two dress sizes back to my pre-baby weight in the run up to the wedding) and also made me some bespoke lace straps to add a little something extra to the top of the dress. I felt like the dress was quite extravagant so I was fairly laid back with the rest of my outfit. I got some simple block heel sandals from Kurt Geiger (which I broke in on my hen do so they’d be comfier on the big day), I borrowed my best friend’s bridal hair piece and bought some old Hollywood style earrings from Etsy. Massive shout out to Louise Seymour who did the bridal party make up - that chick is an artist! And absolutely lovely too. Can’t recommend her enough.
Grooms AttireWe were going for a kind of English summer garden party feel with our wedding, so didn’t want anything too fussy for Martin to wear. We found his 3-piece French Connection suit at Moss Bros. We weren’t bothered about having loads of groomsmen in matching suits, and frankly couldn’t afford it, so grabbed the same French Connection suit for Martin’s best man and then bought lovely matching bow ties for all the important men in our lives from the Etsy shop ‘Elena and Chris.’
The VenueMy dad’s been Head of Sport at Parkside School in Cobham for around 20 years - I grew up playing in the grounds and picnicking by the river. They hold weddings at the Manor House there, so we booked straight in without even looking anywhere else. The manor house is beautiful, but the grounds are even better so we booked the date statistically least likely to rain and took the risk of planning an all-outdoors wedding. Turns out Mother Nature had other plans!
Colour Scheme/DecorWe went for a pastel mint and peach colour scheme. I just love how those colours look together! We tried to keep the colours simple by having all the details in mint, or kraft paper brown for the stationery, and then brought in the peach tones with the flowers and buttonholes. We love a bit of DIY, so handmade and sourced all the decor ourselves. Although, I don’t think you can quite comprehend all the little details that need sorting before you begin making them yourself. It was a lot to take on alongside working and looking after a baby! We hunted down pastel mint lace to make table runners, designed and printed off all the table names, signage and order of services, and we hand stamped the table plan and place names. I sourced a huge vintage mirror to write the menu on and used my grandma’s old leather school briefcase with some lace off cuts draped inside as a card box. The tables were named after wine regions we’ve visited so Martin made the table plan out of an old ladder and wine bottles (empty of course) from those regions. I also found a huge chandelier for just £30 online which we strung up into a tree to stand under for our outdoor ceremony. We made some raspberry gin for our favours, which we had the venue keep in the freezer and encouraged everyone to drink as their toast to the groom’s speech. Funnily enough things started getting crazy shortly after that… We really wanted the day to have an informal, fun vibe so we bought lawn games, put out a ping pong table (and beer pong supplies of course) and put together our own photo booth dressing up corner. Some of my favourite memories from the evening are of everybody on the dance floor in all sorts of crazy outfits.
FloristJodie from The Little Violet did the most fabulous job with our flowers. I’m not a flowers person at all, and did my best to describe and send pictures of the kind of thing we wanted - but when they turned up on the day it was like she had been inside my head and seen it for herself! They were perfect. For the wedding breakfast, we wanted people to be able to see each other across the tables so opted for small mismatched jars of blooms of varying sizes.
Wedding Party FashionOne of my bridesmaids was pregnant, and the other had only just had a baby so I tried to find something they’d both feel comfortable in. I couldn’t believe it when I found their Oasis dresses online in the right colour and flattering shape for £40 in an ASOS sale! I also bought them both a pair of simple drop earrings with a pastel peach stone to go with them. We had two little flower girls, our daughter and a bridesmaid’s daughter, who wore pastel mint tulle skirts in the perfect shade of mint and a simple white bodysuit with a lace collar that we found in H&M. Unfortunately, bless them, they never really got to flaunt their cuteness walking down the aisle thanks to the planned ceremony getting rained off!
CeremonyFor 18 months we’d been planning this dreamy outdoor ceremony – we’d found the perfect spot by the river, hung a chandelier in the tree, lugged 80 chairs over to the spot and scattered rose petals everywhere. Living in England you know you’re contending with the possibility of rain, but we were banking on the fact that July is usually just showers that pass. We’d seen showers were forecast the day before and put up marquees over the ceremony area, but as I walked out of the hotel to get in the car the heavens opened… and it rained. And rained. And rained. You get the picture. It was torrential! The water was dripping through the roof onto the guests, and coming through the old car bonnet and dripping on my toes as we drove to the venue. There was no way we could go ahead with the ceremony as planned. I’m amazed, and impressed with myself for not freaking out. I made a quick decision with our lovely celebrant, Martin Shaw, to do the ceremony inside the house, in the only space that worked – the hallway! Cue a mad 10 minutes of everybody piling back up to the manor house, elderly relatives being pushed in wheelchairs under brollies, prosecco being dished out to all our poor drenched guests and the bridal party hiding upstairs. We used the grand staircase as our ‘aisle’ and a point halfway up for our ceremony, with all the guests standing in the hall below us. The music system got wet and wouldn’t work, so our quick-thinking celebrant got everybody to give a round of applause as the bridal party began the descent. By the time I saw the guests all gathered below, and my gorgeous groom, it felt like we’d always planned to get married there! We did a time capsule as part of our ceremony – where you hammer a bottle of wine and letters to each other into a box to open on a wedding anniversary in years to come. Everyone knows that Martin is proper into his DIY, so the fact that he managed to get a hammer and nails into our wedding got a good laugh. Thankfully, after all the madness, we’d planned a super short ceremony (because you know everyone’s only really there for the party, right?!) so it was over quickly and onto the reception. Phew!
EntertainmentFor us, the party was the most important part of the day. And, I may be biased, but it’s definitely the best party I’ve ever been to! For the reception we had a fabulous 7-piece electro swing band – The After Hours, who set up outside under the shelter of the veranda. Before the wedding breakfast they played a selection of upbeat jazz, and then after the meal they ramped it up with an electro swing set. Martin and I love this kind of music, so we were up and dancing way before we’d even had the wedding breakfast. So once The After Hours had got everybody warmed up, we all moved inside for the ‘first dance’ and evening band. Radar play rock and indie hits, and they’re bloody marvellous – they had literally everybody on the dancefloor for their entire set. It was like being at a gig! We’re not into the soppy stuff, so had Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl as our first dance, and used it as an opportunity to go a bit mad and get everyone dancing. We decided to put the fancy dress stuff in the dancing room to encourage people to get dressed up as the night went on. It worked. It felt like everyone was dressed up and dancing away! My dad in a feather boa and fez isn’t a memory I’ll be forgetting any time soon. When Radar finished their set we had a family friend hit the decks for the last few hours of the night with a set of dance music and party hits. I honestly don’t think I left the dancefloor all night.
FoodOur honeymoon was in Italy, and we love their cuisine, so we had Italian influences in most of our wedding food, and in the evening we just served up loads of pizza. We didn’t have a traditional cake – instead we held our very own wedding Bake Off, which was so much fun and a great ice breaker. Guests who wanted to take part were invited to bring a cake, and everyone there on the day voted for the winner using their place names (which were essentially a heart on a long skewer). The bride and groom’s vote counted for 5 each, so we had the chance to sway it. Some people really pulled it out of the bag, and the winner could have genuinely passed for a ‘proper’ paid-for wedding cake! We cut the winning cake after the main course, and then guests helped themselves to the selection of cakes for dessert.
PhotographerOh Nikki. What a star. Not only a fabulous photographer, but also a lovely person too. From the first contact she was great - thorough, informative, reliable, responsive – all the things you need when you’re a nervous bride to be. She included an engagement photoshoot in our package which was a great touch because it meant that we had a chance to get to know each other ahead of the day, and get used to the awkwardness of posing! In all the madness of the wedding day, we were able to totally rely on Nikki to get what was needed. It must have been so hard with the limitations with the rain, delays and plans changing, but she got us the most wonderful photographs. She let us know when the weather was clear enough to sneak off and get some lovely couple couples portraits around the grounds, even under the chandelier! And in the end, the weather made for some beautiful colours and awesome moody shots.
VideographerI work in TV, so having our day documented on film was really important to me, but this also meant that I was going to be super critical when it came to who I chose. I knew This Modern Revelry were the winner as soon as I had a look at their website. Their footage is beautifully shot, the colours are stunning, their use of movement and focus make for such dynamic films and their editing style is modern, romantic and well-paced. What’s also great is that you get two people shooting, so you get double the angles, moments and reactions captured. On the day, Laura and Alan were like our personal advisors as well as videographers! They were super discreet and gave great direction to really inject extra fun and energy into the film. I’m so happy with our wedding video. The only tip I’d have for other brides is to try and get a realistic estimate of when to expect your finished film, as I just went off what was in the contract but realistically, if you go for something high end and your wedding is at peak time, it’s going to take a while to get the finished cut back. But I wasn’t wrong to choose these guys – our stunning film was 100% worth the wait.
Dress Designer: Stella York - 6272 | Bridal Boutique: Helena Fortley | Jewellery: Glamorous Bijoux | Bridal Shoes: Kurt Geiger - Pearl | Makeup: Louise Seymour | Bridesmaids: Oasis via ASOS | Grooms Suit: French Connection via Moss Bros | Grooms Shoes: Jones Boot Maker | Bow Tie: Elena & Chris Shop Via Etsy | Venue: Parkside School | Celebrant: Martin Shaw | Florist: The Little Violet | Jazz and Electro Swing Band: The After Hours | Indie & Rock Band: Radar | Car Hire: Studio 434 | Videography: This Modern Revelry