The most amazing day of my life was a surreal out of body experience that began with me waking at 5.30am in a four poster bed in Iscoyd’s bridal suite tossing and turning in my attempts to get some essential beauty sleep.
I didn’t go back to sleep.
I was a melting pot of emotion. Excitement, anticipation, a dollop of stress and a splash of anxiety about those last few details wrestled with one another and all I could think about was ‘I’M GETTING MARRIED IN SEVEN HOURS!!!!’
When I finally admitted sleep defeat, Laura and I drew back the curtains to the most gloriously sunny day with the bluest skies. Gasping at one another we scrambled back into bed with peppermint teas and discussed the plan of attack for the next crucial few hours.
It was manic.
I was not one of those brides that leisurely spends the last of her single hours quaffing champagne whilst preening herself on a chaise longue.
Instead the morning was a flurry of activity running to and from the marquee, complete with rollers in, conversing with Selina about last minute floral details, sorting out place settings, hugging Caroline for producing the cake of my dreams, spraying pumpkins and jumping in and out of make-up and hairdressing chairs.
I was thankful then that earlier that morning before anyone else was awake that I’d taken the chance to spend five minutes outside just breathing in the calm tranquility of the fields surrounding the house.
It was bliss.
As the opening bars of Sail by Awolnation began to play, Immy crumbled, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. If I’m honest it wasn’t the first time she’d cried that morning, I think Jodie was currently on her third patch-up job…
Told you that woman was gold dust.
The ceremony was the most important part of the day for me and the boy…well obviously you might add, but sometimes I think this can get lost amongst the politics, dress conundrums and decor decisions that make up the wedding day.
We opted for a decadent urn filled with an organic clutch of foliage from the local hedgerows at the top of the aisle accompanied a runway of candles to light my way to my beau.
The girls ‘sailed’ down the aisle one by one before I followed after them to a different song – the first line of Joe Burton’s cover of The Wedding Song by Angus and Julia Stone playing softly…
‘we’re going to build our lives together, you and I forever and ever’
and then it was my turn to sob.
Because I’d clapped eyes on my boy, my anchor, my best friend waiting for me with the bluest eyes and the biggest heart.
Suffice to say the ceremony was emotional and heart-felt and full of tears and whilst it’s hard to put emotion into words, everything felt real.
Like really, real.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more present in my life than I did when I was saying my vows to my husband. And I promise you I was the happiest girl in the world when our lovely registrar announced we were husband and wife.
An old Irish tradition involves the ringing of bells at weddings to scare away bad spirits and to bring luck to the newlyweds and given that Ste and I both have Irish blood we wanted to incorporate this into our big day.
I spent months sourcing a myriad of old antique bells which I tied with a flourish of blue and metallic ribbons and placed at random on our guests’ seats complete with the inscription ‘Ring me when the bride and groom have kissed’.
The bells were accompanied by cotton drawstring bags filled with old-school confetti (LOVE me some candy coloured horseshoes!) and the most wonderful order of service that was more akin to a theatre programme. It was full to bursting with Edwardian style silhouettes, a timeline of the day’s events and a four page illustrated history of Ste and I’s relationship.
In fact the order of service was so popular that some guests were minesweeping some left-over copies in order to frame them because and I quote, ‘they were that cool’.
And before I could say ‘we’re married’, the boy and I were walking down the aisle to ‘Kiss Me’ with the biggest grins ever plastered on our faces.
Not So Naughty Gentlemens’ Clubs And Escort Cards
Yesterday’s post hinted at the Very English Affair theme that the wedding assumed from an early stage.
Iscoyd provided the perfect backdrop for ‘a weekend in the country’ which was exactly the atmosphere that I wanted to convey to our guests. Think tweeds and smoking pipes, the hounds, afternoon tea at the cricket, cocktails and dinner, Professor Plum in the library with the spanner and so on and so on.
Ste particularly loved the masculine vibe we were aiming for, volunteering plenty of ideas of his own about how we could capture this essence.
We asked guests to dress in ‘country club’ attire and collected oodles of props to add the finishing touch to the venue. Before long the utility room became a holding pen for polo mallets and boules, antlers, vintage badminton and tennis rackets, battered cricket bats and leather binoculars. Basically all the paraphernalia you’d find on an old fashioned country retreat.
Each of our tables became Gentlemen’s’ clubs with their own ‘members’ named after both fictional and factual sources. We emphasised the club exclusivity factor by adorning the tables slightly differently with elaborate silverware, mercuried silver textures and cut glass.
Dining by candlelight was integral to this set-up too – we mixed different sets of silver candlesticks and votives on each table and chose grey dinner candles in a similar hue to the table napkins.
I’m a huge fan of decadent linen and I had my heart set on grey and white striped tablecloths which incidentally are incredibly hard to get hold of. Rupert went above and beyond his catering remit and sourced some silvery striped linen for me that I absolutely loved.
Lastly, hours and HOURS were spent on eBay hunting down trophy cups of all shapes and sizes which were filled to the brim full of flowers and bundled into groups to create the table centrepieces. We opted for an Autumnal colour palette with burgundies, faded greens and the softest pinks using tulips, roses, freesias, oodles of foliage and even fallen leaves from Iscoyd’s trees.
Rather than producing a table plan we opted for American style ‘escort cards’ which we pinned to two huge shields that Ste had lovingly created and upholstered. I have to say this did cause a little bit of confusion with the older crowd however.
Making An Entrance
Iscoyd is so wonderfully beautiful that it really doesn’t need much in terms of decor but I insisted upon making a statement for our guests at the entrance.
Top tip – if you’re really keen on conveying ‘polish’ through some of your decorations then it’s probably best not to ask your best man, your groom and your step-father to calligraphy words onto large boards that you intend displaying at intervals along a long sweeping drive.
Being otherwise engaged, the quality control dipped somewhat and some naughty words appeared… ‘jazz’ turned into ‘jizz’ for example but the less said about that the better.
In line with my undying wreath obssession, Selina produced THE most wonderful autumnal feathered wreath for the front door that I wanted to drink up it was THAT delicious.
Lastly, the steps up to the front door became festooned with vases filled with pinecones, hurricane lanterns lit up by pillar candles, white pumpkins and gourds, mercuried silver votives, beech stars and wicker baskets filled with foliage that really came to life as the sun went down.
My sister Tom was a godsend, a marvel and Christmas day all rolled into one glossy stationery package.
Having recently set up her own stationery business Tom was always going to be involved in the design of our wedding paperie plus I love the quirky humour that she brings to all of her creative projects.
We conspired together (I say conspired…she did it all really!) to produce the most beautiful pieces of paper pretty from invites, the order of service, RSVPs, menus, place cards, escort cards and table-names even down to a bespoke crest for us for our newly married state.
Taking inspiration from the polo calling cards I’d found in my styling travels, Tom designed an entire stationery suite using crests as an emblem in a colour palette of silvery metallics and greys.
Placecards became miniature crests tied with ribbon that had a calligraphed guest’s name on one side. They were stamped on the reverse with a small circular seal that Tom had created that included our wedding date and a miniature pair of antlers. The tablenames themselves were displayed on large coats of arms each with their own house colours and insignias that produced more than a little bit of ‘house rivalry’ between guests.
Knowing my love for hand-drawn scripts, she integrated scrawling fonts on the entire invitation suite including the invite envelope that we plastered with antique postal stamps that I’d sourced from eBay.
We even commissioned a run of stickers that sealed the back of each escort card that depicted a miniature version of our ‘motto’ – Unita. Canis. In Dux.
Saucers And Cigars
If there’s one way to describe the run-up to my big day felt it’s as if I was on one mammoth episode of The Great Antiques Hunt.
No seriously, I became a car-booting, antique fairing, stamp-collecting, eBaying connoisseur.
Aside from the prop-hunting and the bell collecting, I scooped up the most beautiful antique champagne saucers as favours for each of the female guests which I filled with sugared almonds in amazing metallic bags from The Clothhouse.
To protect the glasses on the inevitable inebriated ride home, large cloth bags emblazoned with our bespoke wedding day stamp were also provided.
The boys were given cigars which actually went down a storm to my surprise and made for some brilliantly atmospheric photographs later in the night. If you’re thinking about cigars for your own wedding favours can I suggest something – go for shorter and thinner varieties as these are eminently more ‘smokeable’ than the larger types.
We also chose saucers rather than flutes for our champagne reception to maintain the whole gentleman’s club, country house theme as well as tying in with our girly favours. Our guests supped to the musical geniuses that are Oz and Kirk from The Moneypennies whilst dining on gorgeous canapés.
Sweet White Blooms
Cake is Ste’s domain.
By golly does that boy love his sweet treats. So our cakey decisions were always going to be tipped in his favour.
I had two conditions however. Firstly that Caroline would make it and secondly that it would be an ‘all-white’ affair.
I’d worked with Caroline on my winter inspiration shoot and was astounded by the sheer quality of her work so it was a no-brainer that she’d be involved on my big day. Armed with plenty of inspiration, Ste and I spent a glorious afternoon in her cosy kitchen tasting our way through some samples she’d made for us.
We finally opted for layers of lemon drizzle, Madeira and a tiny top tier of fruit cake (sorry folks but I’m a huge fruit cake fan!)
I loved the idea of incorporating a textured feel into the icing of the lower cake levels and going all out on the top with decoration in the shape of blooms. When she delivered it on the morning of the wedding I was absolutely lost for words; it looked exquisite.
Dress Charlotte Balbier
Shoes Jimmy Choo
Venue Iscoyd Park
Stationery Tom Gautier
Makeup Make-up By Jodie
Hair Bex at James Bushell
Photography Ann-Kathrin Koch
Videography Shutterbox Films
Groom Tiger Of Sweden
Groom’s Shoes Paul Smith
Cake Caroline’s Cake Company
Flowers Selina Godsall
Catering Rupert Frazer Worden
Band The Moneypennies
I’ll finish this post with some more juicy video footage from the lovely Shutterbox Films.
I hope you like it.
And so folks, this is where I must leave you.
Same time tomorrow then?
All my love Lolly xxx