Grace the Bride:
After we got engaged (in New York, on New Years Eve) we discussed what we wanted our wedding to be like and agreed - not too formal, fun, and elegant. This was our ‘theme’ if you like. For us the ‘feel’ was the most important thing. We wanted the whole thing to be celebratory and relaxed.
We live near Bristol now, but grew up in Devon (James in a village called Bishopsteignton, and me in Torquay). James loves his village church, so we decided to get married there. We picked Torre Abbey
for the reception - it is on the seafront in Torquay, and has beautiful gardens and an epic stone barn. We managed to get a cancellation for a May bank holiday, so booked it before we even visited it together. The venue was a big part in achieving the ‘feel’ we wanted. Something about being by the seaside makes everything feel quite relaxed, but the gardens and the barn were so beautiful that it was still elegant. There was the added bonus of a small golf course too for the boys.
The venue is council run, and it was completely dry hire - you turn up, they give you the keys and you do everything else yourself. This was brilliant in some ways because it was a total blank canvas, however, it was hard work. Everything i.e. lights, toilets, furniture, bar, sound equipment etc had to be sourced separately which meant lots of different suppliers. There was a moment, the day before the wedding, when our families were helping us frantically unload deliveries, lay tables, polish glasses, and arrange the flowers, that a hotel wedding (or a wedding planner) seemed very appealing! We wouldn’t have changed a thing on the day though.
We wanted the barn to feel elegant rather than too rustic. We decided on long tables, with white linen and white chairs and then styled them with vintage cut glass vases and candlesticks, dinner candles, and pale grey table runners. Mum and Dad spent the best part of their weekends for a year searching car boot sales and charity shops for the glassware, and Mum spent her evenings whipping up the table runners, so we have them to thank for the final look! We had fairy lights on the ceiling, a last minute Instagram photo table plan and grey signage. We also hired wooden plank tables and stripy deckchairs for the garden and golf course.
I love flowers, and after doing the weddings of a few friends last year, decided to do our own. May is a great time of year for flowers and we ordered tons of favourites in white, blush and touches of blue - delphiniums, avalanche roses, peonies, nigella, wax flower and lots of greenery. We had vintage milk churns for outside the church, pew ends, window arrangements, and dozens and dozens of vases. We made confetti by drying petals in the lead up to the wedding, and put them in stripy paper bags.
We roped Mum into making the cake. It was a gigantic naked cake, strewn with flowers, and looked beautiful!
The Food & Drink
James is a restauranteur so cared a lot about the food! Pickleshack
were our luckiest find of the wedding. They are a young company, run by a lovely couple that specialise in ‘pop-up’ supper clubs. The presentation is incredible (think lots of edible flowers), and the service was just a different level. They sourced all our ingredients from within Devon, which we loved. We then went for a classic fish and chip van in the evening.
Pickleshack’s provenance inspired us to also source all of our booze locally too. Bishopsteignton has its own brewery (RedRock
) and vineyard (Old Walls
) so we were lucky enough to get all the beer and wine from the village we married in. We even saw our sparkling wine being bottled by hand a few weeks before.
We hired vintage buses to transport everyone else - making sure they were fully stocked with road-beers and tasty snacks (made my James’s Mum). James drove us from the church to the reception in his old Porsche. It was lovely to have 15 minutes to ourselves post-ceremony - we felt so lucky as we zoomed along in the sunshine. After stopping for photos by the sea, we wondered what the sudden traffic hold-up was - turns out we were stuck behind our own wedding buses, lumbering along on a scenic route.
A duo called ‘New Daze
’ played during our garden party drinks reception. They are amazingly upbeat and summery. One of our favourite moments was walking into the garden and seeing everyone enjoying the music, chilling in stripy deckchairs, surrounded by flowers and drinking out of champagne coupes in the sunshine. It had the exact ‘feel’ we had hoped for.
In the evening we had an upbeat covers band ‘I Love Amp
’. They learnt our first dance and kept the dance floor packed from that moment. They potentially did too good a job at ramping up the party - it was pretty raucous from then on in (think champagne sprays and aperol spritz dentist chairs)!
We also hired a confetti canon, which exploded over the dance floor throughout the evening. This was really inexpensive, but added so much fun (and photo ops).
One of our friends is an amazing designer so we were thrilled when he designed our invites and orders of service. We went for a simple monogram style, and had large stickers made in the same design, which we put on all our signage around the venue, and on our milk-churns etc. We then had small versions of the same stickers on our favours on the tables, and on the confetti and bus-snack bags. This was a really simple way of ‘branding’ the wedding.
The Photography & Videography
We chose Jamie Dodd
as our photographer because of his style and approach, he is relaxed but very professional. Jamie takes very natural but striking ‘in the moment’ shots. He and his assistant were a pleasure to have around and the photos (all 950 of them!) are wonderful.
was a last minute booking. We are so glad we chose to have the day filmed - it captures the feel of the day and is so fun to look back at. Ben has an amazing eye and captured the day in the perfect light.
I found dress shopping exciting to begin with, but soon grew jaded by the number of dresses which just didn’t feel ‘me’. I loved the simplicity of the French designers (Laure De Sagazan, Delphine Manivet etc) but needed to be about 3 feet taller to pull off the fluid styles. My Mum and I went to Carina Baverstock Couture
and found a very simple, structured, Suzanne Neville
dress - Mum said “that’s your dress” the second we walked in the door. I am notoriously indecisive however, so even though I loved it, it still took 2 more visits and Suzanne Neville herself telling me to stop looking and buy it to convince me! I was thrilled with it on the day and the service and fitting from Carina Baverstock Couture was faultless.
I wanted a very long veil, and picked a totally plain single tier one from Britten
. Whilst it loved how it looked, I hadn’t accounted for how impractical such a long veil would be. Our church was quite tiny, and there was a slight mishap when I got to the top of the aisle and the bridesmaids managed to stand on it and pulled it straight off my head! My shoes were from ASOS
- very high and with a bow on the heel to match the dress.
I usually wear my hair down, with not much make-up. James was adamant that he didn’t want me to look like a stranger on our wedding day so I kept it simple. Mel, owner of Portobello Salon
(and also my wonderful semi-sister in law) did all of our hair in the morning - I was so glad it was her who was with us.
The wedding morning was such a lovely part of the day. The wedding was at 12noon so I expected it to be hectic. In fact it was leisurely, with lots of hanging out in our matching robes and generally being excited. The house was opposite the church and I will never forget the emotion I felt looking out of the window at all the guests arriving, listening to the church bells ringing, whilst Mum and the girls buttoned me into my dress (it was a team job - there were a lot of buttons).
The girls dresses were the first thing we bought. After a long lunch where I asked them to be bridesmaids, we walked past the Ghost
shop on the Kings’ Road and popped in for fun. I thought they looked amazing in the first one they tried on, so we just went with that. They had high suede shoes, and all had flower combs in their hair, which we made together on the morning of the wedding. James’ 3 nieces were our flower girls and looked adorable in little dresses, sparkly shoes and wax-flower crowns (which lasted until about 5 minutes after the ceremony!).
James went for a 3 piece blue suit from M&S
, and bought the same for the groomsmen. They had matching ASOS
brogues and striped ties from John Lewis
. For some reason, halfway through our vows I noticed James was wearing an entirely different tie (I’m still not convinced it matched...)
None of the trivial stuff really matters. Ultimately it is about a marriage and the day is just a celebration of that - it is really just an elaborate party! The feeling of having everyone you care about in one room, wishing you well, is unforgettable - the best bit by far.