Gemma the Bride: Tom and I got engaged in October 2014 at the blue lagoons, Malta in a little rowing boat out at sea. We both have busy jobs, working long hours so we wanted plenty of time to plan the wedding and be able to enjoy the process and not rush it, so settled on the date of 7th October 2016, exactly 2 years to the day we got engaged. We wanted our wedding to be relaxed, intimate, food focused and a little bit different to any weddings we had attended before.
In order to make the day relaxed and intimate we decided that the venue had to be close to home and familiar and where better then our favourite local restaurant The Plough, Bolnhurst – a 15th century building with tons of character, charm and plenty of options for inside and outside space. We had a tipi in the garden which is where our ceremony took place. This was then transformed into our evening dance space whilst we were inside in the main restaurant. The Plough had never hosted a wedding before but this certainly did not stop owners Martin and Jayne agreeing to let us hold our special day in their beautiful venue and home. They were positive and welcoming to all of our requests and ideas and we are forever grateful to them for taking a chance on us. With our venue in the bag, we felt like we had climbed a mountain! Then work and life took over and a year passed with no wedding progress. We had to get back on track and that is when we decided we needed a wedding planner.
We knew as soon as we met Katrina Otter that she was the person we wanted to help make our dream wedding a reality. She offered the perfect balance of professional and personal advice. We felt comfortable that she understood what we both wanted the day to be like and we completely trusted her guidance and opinions. On the day, I was pretty nervous as I pulled up to the venue. Kat coaxed me out of the car and calmed my nerves in a way that only a friend could. Knowing she was there to coordinate throughout the day added further to our enjoyment.
I found my dress at Shades of White in St Ives. The ladies there made me feel very comfortable and encouraged me to try on as many dresses as I wanted, as well as some that I had not necessarily thought of. They gave my Mum, Nan and I the traditional champagne reveal moment that we all hoped for. I wanted my dress to be light and comfortable so that I could eat and drink all day without feeling constricted. The style was whimsical boho. It turned out to be the last dress I tried on but as soon as it was on, I knew straight away that it was the one I wanted to spend my wedding day in.
My hair dresser Natalie Frances did a fantastic job creating styles for myself, the Bridesmaids and Flower Girl which included fresh flower crowns, loose curls and individual flowers. She even made time to whizz to the boys to make them feel special too! My make up was done by Lucy St John. I rarely wear make up and don’t feel very comfortable trying new looks. Lucy did a great job making sure I had enough make up for the camera but also that I was natural and fresh. Both ladies made me feel so relaxed and pampered which, looking back, played a big part in making the whole morning stress free.
The vibe for the boys was country cool. This was achieved using a mismatch of items from high street shops, adding a hint of our wedding colours throughout. Tom accessorised his look with a vintage waistcoat and sentimental jewellery.
We only considered one photographer as her style was exactly what we wanted and she was also local which added to the overall vibe we were trying to create. Katrina and Hannah Duffy have a fantastic working relationship which really showed on the day and we absolutely love how perfectly Hannah captured our wedding. Hannah also went above and beyond by taking time to meet Tom and I at our home and visiting the venue the day before our wedding so that she could take a few shots of our dogs wearing their bespoke Cupid Collars.
Our videographer, Sam Henton, was a late addition to our wedding preparations and we are so grateful we made that decision. Sam perfectly captured the vibe of our day and complimented Hannah’s work as well.
Samantha Kelsie, carefully guided us when it came to planning our ceremony. She gave us lots of choice and advice and to our surprise even helped us write our personalised vows. Samantha spent a lovely afternoon with us discussing our relationship, goals in life, family, friends and everything in between. We were utterly blown away when she came back to us a few days later with the completed ceremony. Our personal vows had all of our guests crying and Katrina had to hand out a second round of tissues as a result! One of our favourite moments from the ceremony was the lighting of the candle. We scented our wedding with Jo Malone, Peony & Blush Suede as peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage. When I wear the fragrance or light the candles at home it provokes instant memories of our special day.
It was important for me to include my late Granddad in our wedding. He was such a huge part of my life and I wanted to have a reminder of him on the day. His car had been in the garage since he passed away, it was his pride and joy so it felt fitting to have it fixed and polished up to transport my Mother, Grandmother and Nephew, he would have been so proud. Tom was driven by his cousin in his dream car, a silver Range Rover sport which a good friend had allowed him to use for the week as a gift. Myself, my Father and Step-Father were driven to the venue in the most beautiful MG. It is owned by our close family friends and has been in their family a long time. It was truly special to have these significant vehicles as part of our day and add to the memories they already hold.
The Décor and Design
The moment we saw Juliet from Willow and Wolf’s work on her Instagram feed we knew that she was the florist for us. On the day, Juliet provided us with bouquets, button holes, flower crowns, garlands, hanging hoops and an abundance of bud vases and trailing foliage made from seasonal flowers and foliage in autumnal soft pinks and plum colours. Flowers included garden roses and dahlias with a mixture of foliage, berries and fruits. The design for our day stemmed from the time of year and we also took inspiration from the interior of The Plough. To enhance the overall décor, we hired candlesticks and vases from Hélène Millot, purchased candles from Nordic House and bought various items from our home including blankets to keep our guests warm and vintage crates, jars and books for our evening buffet display.
The Food & Cheese Cake
The food at The Plough is exceptional, seasonal and locally sourced which was exactly what we wanted to offer our guests. Our wedding feast included a starter of prawn and Portland crab ‘cocktail’ and a main of sticky beef cheeks, young parsnips and celeriac mash. Guests then had the option of choosing their dessert from a selection of warm chocolate fondant, sticky toffee pudding or lemon meringue pie. We paired our meal with 'The Next Big Thing' Magpie Estate Chardonnay and Tenuta Ulisse "Unico" Montepulciano D'Abrozzo. In the evening, we had a ‘Farm House Table’ to accompany our Neal’s Yard Cheese Wedding Cake, with local produce including homemade breads, Blythborough free range pork sausage rolls with crackling and brown sauce, Mr Tutts pork in a pie, scotch eggs and mini Bedfordshire clangers.
We used the “perfect day” stationery suite from the Pear Paper Company for all our stationery in a mixture of light grey, white and kraft cards with a contemporary leafy icon. It was a classic, timeless and relaxed look which fitted well with our theme. We also had a welcome board and entrance sign on chalk boards which were created by my Step-Mother.
Our first dance was to an acoustic version of Eric Clapton’s, Wonderful Tonight. This was performed by Tom's cousin and his band, Living Rogues. Following the first dance and set by Living Rogues we had a second band called SALUT who performed 2 incredible sets. Both bands were a huge success and we have received lots of compliments about them both.
The Table Plan
This for us, was one of the hardest elements of the wedding. But once we had concluded that it was our day and people were there to celebrate with us and not pick fault at who they were sitting next to it made the process so much easier. We made little paper tables and had fun mixing everyone up so that they had a chance within couples to meet someone that we loved as much as them. My mum offered to make the table plan having seen the ones I had pinned on Pinterest. It was perfect and even more special to us because she made it using wood and tools from my late Granddads workshop.
My first piece of advice would be to enjoy planning your wedding, I have watched a lot of friends get stressed out and resentful towards the planning and decision process. We made sure we thoroughly enjoyed every step and made time to enjoy it. We look back on those moments positively and fondly. My second piece of advice was something that I was told over and over again. Try and take moments throughout the day to take it all in as it will flash by so fast. I am so pleased that we both made a conscious effort to take time alone with each other and also moments to sit back and watch our loved ones enjoying the day.