Hooray, we’ve got a super glam marquee wedding to share with you this afternoon – my absolute undying love for weddings stems from many teenage summers spent working for a catering company who seemed to only work on insanely expensive marquee weddings – I loved seeing the decor slowly and beautifully come to life, seeing the guests arrive on a post-ceremony-love-high mingling outside with champagne, excited to see inside the tent, then as the sun sets the whole thing comes alive with music and lights…there’s just something so magical about it all.
And Gemma & Paul’s stunning big day is no exception, set in the grounds of Nunsmere Hall in Cheshire – Gemma looked gorgeous in a Maggie Sottero gown, which has ruffles to-die-for. And what about the gorgeous statement jewellery sourced from Net-A-Porter?! Swooooon. And the boys have scrubbed up pretty nicely in their black suits too. Top fashion points all round we say!!
Gemma The Bride: Paul and I have been together for almost 12 years now. Pretty much all of our friends are married and are now expanding their families. At every single wedding we attended, I always got the usual “It will be your turn next” or “When are you and Paul getting married?”. I had stopped asking the same question of Paul!!! Having attended so many weddings (Paul has a “close circle” of about 30 friends, each of whose weddings we have been to!), you can imagine the pressure that I felt when Paul finally popped the question back in 2011!
Being “professional wedding guests” at around 30 weddings, we had seen a lot of different styles and features for a wedding and so it was quite tough when planning ours to try and come up with something slightly different and not a copy of what our friends had done before (no pressure!). The only plus was that our wedding was so long awaited that I think our friends would have loved it, even if it was in our front room!
Fashion & Accessories
I was so excited to start looking for my wedding dress. I had been looking for inspiration on the internet and had seen so many dresses that I had loved. I had thought that I wanted a fairly fitted fishtail, lace dress. All of my friends had assumed that was what I would go for too. I was convinced that I would go for a Suzanne Neville dress. However, when I went to Suzanne Neville to try dresses on, I didn’t feel as though I had found “the one”. I then visited a number of bridal boutiques and started to get a bit exasperated when I wasn’t blown away by any one dress. A friend of mine had sourced her dress from Maria Modes in Macclesfield and so I decided to give them a try. They had a fantastic selection of dresses. Again, I selected some fishtail Pronovias and other dresses to try on but spotted a huge Maggie Sottero dress with a ruffled skirt and black waistband which I thought I would try just to see what it was like. As daft as it sounds, as soon as I tried it on I knew that was it; the one! When I came out of the dressing room to show my Mum, she knew too! Funnily enough, I had seen a stunning Oscar De La Renta dress in a Bridal Magazine (slightly outside of my price range!!) which was very similar, with a black waistband and loved it. Paul had remarked that he thought it was stunning too – so I knew I was on to a winner. On our wedding day, I felt like a million dollars. I absolutely adored my dress, it was perfect (and had been perfectly fitted to me by a very clever seamstress recommended by Maria Modes – she was amazing – I would say that a good seamstress is essential, as you can spot a badly fitting dress a mile off! She managed to give me the best cleavage I have ever had!!). Lots of the girls had thought I was wearing Vera Wang (as it is quite Vera Wang esque!), which is no bad thing!
My bridal shoes were also an important purchase. I am not personally one for a classic bridal shoe; I knew that I wanted something different. I also knew that I wanted to be able to wear my shoes again. I originally wanted a blue bridal shoe to serve as my something blue. However, when I went to Jimmy Choo to see what they had, I spotted an AMAZING pair of black lace shoe boots – they were unreal! I wasn’t sure if they were a bit edgy but then, thinking about it, that was what I wanted. They also matched the black waistband on my dress perfectly. When I lifted my dress to carry it, they certainly caused a bit of a stir!!
In terms of my jewellery, I wanted a statement necklace to set off my strapless dress. Again, I didn’t want something delicate, I wanted something edgy. I also wanted some drop earrings to pop out from beneath my hair, which I wore up. Being a bit of a shopaholic, I love admiring the stuff on Net-A-Porter. I saw a stunning necklace and pair of earrings. The necklace was irregular shaped; really different. I must admit that I got quite excited when the gorgeous black box from Net-A-Porter arrived!
My hair and make up were done by the fantastic Flossy and Leigh, who were fantastic from the moment of meeting them right to the day. I still keep in touch with Phoebe, the owner, over Facebook now. She’s amazing!
Similar to me, Paul knew that a traditional wedding outfit was not for him. He knew from the off that he wanted a really sharp, tailored black three piece suit. He thought about getting something bespoke made for him but wasn’t sure that he wanted to take the risk of spending a lot of money on something that he wouldn’t be able to try on until after it had been made.
Therefore, we arranged to have a lovely little weekend away in London and to hit Bond Street! No word of a lie, we must have walked up and down Bond Street that day about 20 times! Paul tried some lovely suits in Dolce and Gabbana, Paul Smith and Armani, but wasn’t sure on any of them. Surprisingly, it was really hard to find a black suit, particularly three piece. We wandered on to Saville Row and into Alexander McQueen where Paul found a gorgeous black, three piece suit. They guys in the store were so helpful. Paul looked gorgeous as soon as he came out of the changing room. It was part tailored to Paul (which was a bonus as it meant another nice weekend in London to pick it up!!).
On our second trip to London to pick the suit up, we sourced Paul’s accessories. He went for a pair of black Paul Smith shoes from Selfridges. Whilst in Selfridges, Paul also picked up his tie and pocket square (Lanvin).
For his shirt, Paul had once bought a really nice fitted shirt from a company called Smyth and Gibson (https://www.smythandgibson.com/) who are stocked in Selfridges. Paul was quite certain that he wanted a fitted, long collared white shirt and Smyth and Gibson didn’t have any in that style or colour. As a smaller, independent designer, I suggested that Paul get in touch with Smyth and Gibson to see what they could do – they were fantastic. They sent through a pack of material swatches for Paul to choose from and he worked with them to get his perfect shirt custom made! They were fab.
For his wedding present, I bought Paul a silver pocket watch which I had engraved with a message for our day. That set off his suit perfectly.
As we live in Cheshire, we are quite lucky in that we are surrounded by loads of gorgeous wedding venues! I have always known that when I got married I wanted to be married in the little local church that my Mum and Dad were married in and that my brother and I were Christened in. It is in the centre of the beautiful village that we live in – a small cobbled village with two pubs and a school. My Mum had arranged for the pub next door to the Church to open early (could have been a disaster….!) which was great as everyone arrive a little early to get a drink and get into the mood; despite the fact that it was absolutely hammering it down with rain! The ushers did a great job of dragging everyone out of the pub and into the Church!
Once married, we moved on to Nunsmere Hall for our reception. Nunsmere was the very first venue that we saw on our trip across Cheshire to visit pretty much every venue (we saw SO many venues!!). The criteria that we had for a venue was that we wanted somewhere big enough to house all of our friends and family (we had quite a lot of guests!), somewhere beautiful and with a lovely outside space (hoping for sun) and which would be good for pictures, somewhere with a bar that didn’t close too early and also somewhere with a good number of rooms so that as many of our friends and family could stay at the venue with us as possible. As you can probably imagine, that’s quite a hard list to tick off in one place. Loads of venues that we visited were gorgeous but didn’t tick one or more of the boxes. Nunsmere, thankfully, ticked them all. Our wedding co-ordinator, Sally Burgess, was fantastic. She was so helpful and was a star in helping us to deal with all of our various suppliers.
Colour Scheme & Décor
We decided to go for a colour scheme of muted greys, lilacs, pinks and creams. As we were having a large wedding, we had a marquee in the grounds of Nunsmere Hall. I was a bit worried about it looking bland and washed out. I therefore decided that I wanted to have some decorations hanging from the roof of the marquee and decided upon coloured pom poms. Both Paul and I work in jobs that involve long, hard hours and so we knew that we wouldn’t have time to make loads of pom poms and then find a cherry picker or similar to put them up! We therefore needed some help! I came across Boris and Betty online and liked the style of the things that they had done before. I contacted them and had an initial consultation about our ideas and they came up with different ideas at different prices. We settled upon having lots of pom poms hanging from the ceiling with some other touches like handmade signs being hung in various places across the venue and a handmade card crate.
For our table centre pieces, one of my best friends (and bridesmaid), Becci Francis, had suggested that we try our hand at decoupage. We bought loads of cardboard numbers from Hobbycraft and a range of decoupage papers and set to work. It took quite a while and so we would have “craft Sundays” where we would sit on my living room floor, armed with tea and biscuits. We also threw in some “P & G” letters and “LOVE” letters to have hung and displayed at various places in the marquee. They looked really lovely and I was quite chuffed that we had made them all ourselves!
We weren’t sure whether or not to go for favours or not. At weddings that we have been to in the past, they haven’t really featured or if they have they have tended to get left on the table. For something a little bit fun, we decided to get everyone a scratch card. We then sourced some personalised printed Kraft envelopes with a message for our guests on the front. When people sat down to dinner, we had to laugh at a few people jumping up pretending to win big!
We have a really lovely, small florist near to our home that we use regularly and so knew that we wanted to go with them for our wedding. As the Church that we were getting married at has a really beautiful arch entrance, I knew that I wanted a flower arch to welcome guests to the wedding. We settled on lots of beautiful hydrangeas, roses, peonies, gypsophilia and lots of natural foliage; it looked stunning. We had two big urns filled with flowers at the altar, again with the same flowers as the arch.
Our florists were amazing. It was absolutely tipping it down on the morning of our wedding. Ann Reece from 2Lips hid behind the Church, soaking wet, until after the service had finished as she had suggested to us that in order to make the most of the Church flowers and to make our money go further, she would take down the flower arch from the Church and lay it across the front of our top table. She then whizzed up a ladder, took the flowers away and beat us all to Nunsmere to set up the marquee. She was fantastic!
In the marquee, we decided to have fairly muted centrepieces. Half of our tables had jugs of hydrangeas and the other had pots of gypsophilia (which I love!).
My bouquet was a hand tied bouquet of hydrangeas, roses, peonies, gypsophilia and lots of natural foliage. My bridesmaids had the majority of the same flowers but all in ivory/cream – there was no colour in the bridesmaids bouquets.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I had my two best friends, who I have known from school, as my bridesmaids. They are both really tiny but have slightly different shapes and quite different styles. Plus, one of my friends was due to give birth 6 weeks before we got married, so dress shopping was a little bit difficult! I loved the style of wrap dresses that could be worn differently, as this meant that the girls could wear them however they wanted. We went for a pale grey to fit in with the colour scheme. Having a stretchy fabric meant that my pregnant friend could, firstly, try on the dress and then feel comfortable in it so soon after having her little one. They both looked amazing and have worn the dresses after the day too.
Paul wanted the groomsmen to wear a nicely fitting black suit. The suits in Next are great value and quality, and so we went with those for the best men and ushers. Our dads weren’t quite so keen on having a skinny fit suit and so went for tailored black suits from Marks and Spencer.
Not long after we had got engaged, my Mum and I went shopping and there was a small wedding fair being held in the town centre. A string quartet called The Dotted Crotchets were playing. They were amazing! They play current songs on strings incredibly beautifully. I knew that I wanted to book them for the Church! They played as guests were arriving (songs like Oasis, the Verve, Motown classics etc) and then played as I walked down the aisle. I am a big softy and knew that as soon as I heard the sound of the strings that I would go, and I did.
The Reverend at St Wilfrids Church, Reverend Proudfoot, is possibly one of the nicest people we have ever met. From the first moment we met her to talk about our wedding, she was so lovely and supportive. Every single one of our guests commented on how loving and emotional the service was and how fantastic Reverend Proudfoot was. She made the ceremony perfect.
We had two readings – Paul’s best friends’ wives, who in turn have become my best friends, read 1 Corinthians 13. One of them bought us a beautiful print with an extract of the reading on it for our wedding gift which I love. My brother then read a gorgeous reading called “Maybe” – we picked that because the words really struck a chord with us. Having my little brother read it was just perfect.
Paul and I really wanted a great band as we wanted our reception to be a huge party that everyone enjoyed! We love the music of the Beatles and thought that a Beatles band would appeal to everyone at our reception, young and old. As I work in Liverpool, I spoke to someone at the Cavern Club to ask if they would recommend any particular Beatles tribute band. One on the list was the Liver Beatles. Paul and I went down to the Cavern to watch them play one weekend and they were fab! We decided that they would get everyone up and dancing and so booked them.
The band did two sets and was interspersed by a DJ to make sure everyone kept dancing all the night through. The dancefloor was chaos! We had dance-offs, stage diving and allsorts!
The food at Nunsmere is fantastic – our tasting session trying out various dishes was really fun! We went for something which we hoped that the majority of our guests would enjoy and they did. We had canapés served during our drinks reception which again were beautiful and delicious.
Having attended quite a few wedding fairs, I had come across a lady named Jay Reilly who owns a company called Cookie Couture who makes the most stunning wedding cakes. Her decoration and sugar flowers are unreal!! I had spotted a cake which was roughly decorated with buttercream and which had beautiful sugar magnolias placed upon it. It was absolutely stunning! Strangely enough, we found that Jay lived close to us and so we were able to visit her home and sample various flavours of sponge. We went for a layer of carrot cake, a layer of raspberry buttercream sponge and a layer of lemon drizzle. It was delicious!
One thing that Paul and I were certain that we would be willing to spend money on was an amazing photographer. All of our friends had warned us that our wedding day would fly by and so pictures are the thing that you can look back on and relive the day with. Our photographer was a really important part of our day.
I can’t quite recall how I came across Lawson Photography. However, when I did, I immediately fell in love with their pictures and knew that we had to book them. I was so worried that they wouldn’t be available on our wedding day and that my heart would be broken but luckily enough they were!
Lawson Photography are a husband and wife duo, Pete and Laura, who are so lovely its untrue. The pictures that they take are unlike any others which I have seen before. They have a way of perfectly capturing the emotion of the day in a range of beautiful pictures. They are amazing. I would spend ages idly leafing through their blog and admiring the pictures which they had taken and getting emotional at the thought of us too having beautiful pictures of our own. Pete and Laura came down to visit us and talk about our day over tea and biscuits and to show us some of their beautiful albums. I already knew that I wanted to book them; they really put us at ease and I knew that we would really enjoy our day having them there. The end result was absolutely amazing – I adore our pictures. There is a real mix of pictures of friends and family and Paul and I. They captured the feelings on our day perfectly – you can really see how much fun we had in our faces (although I do look slightly deranged on some of them!!). I will treasure our pictures always.
Similar to knowing that we wanted to have great pictures, we also knew that we wanted to have a video to look back on to remember our day.
We are lucky to have a great network of friends who are very talented at many different things. Our best friends (who also performed the role of best man and reader) have a great wedding video company called Big Fat Wedding Videos. Again a husband and wife duo, Becci and Chris are incredibly talented. Having spent years working in film and television (Chris is a TV and Film editor and Becci works in TV production) we knew that our video would be in safe hands.
Becci and Chris arranged for a two person camera crew to cover our day. Vicky came along to my Mums to film me getting ready and the build-up to our day and Jim covered Paul and the boys. I didn’t even notice that Vicky was there! She was so lovely and really put me at ease.
The end result is a real tear jerker It is so lovely to be able to look back on the day and see things that we didn’t even spot then and there! I would definitely say to anyone that is in two minds about having a video to go for it – it’s definitely worth it.
Photography by Lawson Photography
- Bridal Gown Maggie Sottero
- Boutique Maria Modes Bridal, Macclesfield
- Necklace Tom Binns
- Drop earrings Kenneth Jay Lane
- Shoes Jimmy Choo
- Florist 2Lips, Stockton Heath, Cheshire
- Ceremony St Wilfrids Church, Grappenhall, Cheshire
- Reception Nunsmere Hall
- Decor/styling Boris and Betty
- Cake Maker Cookie Couture
- Stationery Lucy Ledger
- Bridesmaids Dresses Dessy
- Bridesmaids Boutique J’adore Bridal in Altrincham
- Groom Alexander McQueen
- String Quartet for Ceremony The Dotted Crotchets
- Band The Liver Beatles
- DJ Wedding Jam
- Videogrpaher Big Fat Wedding Videos
- Hair & Make Up Flossy and Leigh