You may or may not know that at-home weddings are my absolute favourite, so I’m extra excited to share Holly & Ben’s big day with you. The adorable couple married at the church by Holly’s parents home, followed by a reception in a beautifully decorated marquee.
Holly stuck with a natural colour scheme – just white blooms and green foliage and it looks truly stunning. The pair brought some pastel-coloured fun to proceedings with a giant fondant fancy cake though and I’ve now got serious fondant fancy cravings…
Holly wore a gorgeous bespoke Chanticleer gown, which meant she could remove the sleeves later on in the day, she accessorised with a pretty floral crown created by her florist Zita Elze and a dreamy cathedral length veil. Swoon.
For my first fitting I chose a small bridal shop, The White Room, which a friend had recommended as a really nice experience, and although I didn’t buy my dress from there in the end, it was a lovely start to my dress hunt with a luxurious mirrored room, attentive service by the two founders and, since we went on a week day, my Mum and I had the place to ourselves and were given the time to re-try on dresses.
But they didn’t do bespoke, and it wasn’t until I met Tracy at Chanticleer Brides in Cheltenham that I knew I had found the right designer! The Francis dress in Tracy’s collection was our starting point, but Tracy redesigned the dress to incorporate removable sleeves (as I wanted sleeves for the service only, but not a jacket) and a bespoke pearl art deco embroidery trim, as per the dress I had in my head. It took several fittings and lots of patience from Tracy and her team, but I was so thrilled with the dress that I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the night, and felt very comfortable in it all day.
I always wanted to have a wedding at home, but my parents lawn was on a steep slope so I feared it wouldn’t be possible. But Bruce from Good Intents was amazing. Of all the marquee companies who came to look at the site, he was the one that approached the ‘challenge’ with the most imagination and enthusiasm. He even visited during the day itself, diapite having several weddings on, to check everything was ok. And his team were fantastic, friendly and professional before the wedding an after, helping to make the whole experience fun, not stressful.
I am a real purist and traditionalist and love nature and the countryside, so white and fresh greens were only ever going to be the colours for me. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted my bridal bouquet to be made of sweet peas and to have real flowers in my hair. But at aged 33 I needed a bit more refinement/sophistication to both of these! Zita understood perfectly and worked on both herself the night before my wedding, sending me photos as she did so since she was in London and I was in Gloucestershire. She and I designed the headpiece together and it was one of my favourite parts of my whole day – so much so that when Ben asked me afterwards (in jest!) if I had to choose to have again either saying my vows to him or my headpiece, I definitely struggled!
The ceremony was held in the church where I was christened and next to the farm on which I grew up. It also lies in the shadow of May Hill, on top of which Ben proposed to me a year earlier. So it was a pretty special location. We spent quite a bit of time choosing our hymns as I love a good hymn – we included “I Vow to Thee My Country” since we wanted a patriotic hymn with Ben being in the airforce. Martin Mason composed a new descant to be sung at the end by the amazing Sophie Baker, which was the only part of the service where I totally lost it!
The Secret Showband were fantastic and were equally great playing cool jazz in the afternoon at the reception and bashing out a great repertoire for the dance floor in the evening.
Cake is Ben’s favourite thing in the whole wide world, with French Fancies topping the lot. Whereas it wasn’t that important to me so I decided this was an area we could have some fun…I met Simon Pope of Mr Pope’s Celebration Cakes at a wedding fair and saw a fun cake on his stand. I discussed my idea of a surprise for Ben – a three tier French Fancy cake – with several bakers, but he was clearly the one who was most up for the challenge, and at a very reasonable price. And he certainly delivered.
Once I had approved his designs he ordered special moulds from the US and gave me a free tasting in order to choose the flavours. We ended up with 6 different favour layers, as the square shape of the cake needed 2 layers of cake in each. Needless to say Ben was definitely a happy man! Simon Pope also supplied a traditional fruit cake separately to appease the older, more traditional guests, for no extra charge, which I thought was a nice touch.
Nicola our photographer was exactly what we were looking for. She was up for anything we wanted yet totally unobtrusive. We had an engagement shoot with her on May Hill before the wedding where she hiked up the hill to the top in order to have some pictures taken at the very spot where we got engaged. And then she spotted some great locations on the way back down which led to some lovely pictures. So come the wedding day we felt very comfortable in her company. The more formal photographs didn’t take up too much of our day, which was important to us, and she also managed to capture lots of moments that we didn’t know about which were lovely to look through afterwards.
Don’t attempt to make too much yourself! Be realistic. Choose which parts of your wedding are most important to you, or will get the most impact from being hand made, and focus on that. If you try to do everything you won’t do any of it as well as you wanted too.
Build time into your itinerary for the few days before the wedding. Something will always take longer that you expected it to, or new things will crop up. Make sure you have time to accommodate these unforeseen events in the day or two before the wedding. You will also need time for YOU, otherwise you will end up exhausted and rushed come the wedding.
Doing a wedding at home is hard work! But it is also completely worth it as it will be totally personal to you. Just make sure everyone around you is on the same page, and be VERY organised! It is an emotional time for everyone, and coupled with the stress of organising a big event it might be worth having someone in the background who is not related or involved in the wedding to oversee the days before with a clear head.
Before you go into the service, take a moment to focus on the vows you are about to make and the person you are about to make them to. Otherwise this bit comes and goes before you know it.
Decide what you want early on and stick with it. There is so much choice available for every aspect of the day that you can easily get distracted and forget what it is that really matters to you.
Photography by Daffodil Waves Photography
- Gown & Veil Chanticleer
- Shoes Gilbert by Jimmy Choo
- Florist Zita Elze Flowers
- Table Centre Pieces Mary Bennion
- Marquee Hire Good Intents
- Cake Mr Pope’s Celebration Cakes
- Catering Izzie’s Catering
- Groom RAF No 1 Uniform, 32 (The Royal) Squadron
- Groom Horace Barton
- Stationery Dan Ford
- Band The Secret Show Band