Lauren The Bride:
We knew we wanted a country house wedding somewhere fairly close to where live in South Birmingham and that was easily accessible from major motorways, so Warwickshire seemed like a good place to start looking. James came across Walton Hall
in Wellesbourne; as soon as we came round the corner we knew this was the place we’d pick. It was grand, without being OTT...anyone who read my Real Brides posts
will know I waffled on quite a lot about Walton Hall and why we’d picked it; the staircase, the gardens, the room we got married and had our wedding breakfast in...well...the photos speak for themselves. We were also incredibly lucky with the weather, a hot sunny day in August (I think it was one of the only nice days!) which made for some amazing photos. Throughout the whole weekend, we honestly cannot fault how fantastic the staff at Walton Hall were and how relaxed and comfortable they made us feel. Every last detail was covered in terms of how the day was run, and they were so accommodating. I stayed there the night before with my bridesmaids and family, and even then it was full on VIP treatment.
The main event room was the Moncrieffe room, where we had our ceremony and wedding breakfast. This room is grand, with three huge chandeliers hanging above the aisle, high ceilings, opulent decoration, big fireplaces and even a red carpet! The moment I walked in felt like a Princess walking in to a fairy tale, and everyone we loved was in one room there to help us celebrate. I was so nervous all morning (and actually the whole week up until the wedding, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before) that even a few glasses of Prosecco couldn’t take the edge off, but as soon as I saw James and got to the end of the aisle, the nerves left and everything just fell in to place.
The food was excellent, so many of our guests commented on how good it was, particularly the barbeque food for the evening party, although I’m not sure whether lots of booze and the party spirit had anything to do with this! Even breakfast the next morning (which was at varying different stages for people depending on what time they’d gone to be bed) was excellent and really helped with all the hangovers.
I also have to give a special shout out to our MC, Harry, who was brilliant all day...right from recording a video of our string quartet playing the song I walked down the aisle to show me in the morning (as I wasn’t sure how it would work in a string version) through to making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time!
My dress was from Watters
, who are an American design house. I must have tried about thirty dresses on, mainly fitted fishtail designs with huge trains, until I opted for the Watters Katy dress. I fell in love with the Hollywood glamour-style, curve-skimming lines and elegant lace detail, but there was still enough drama going on at the bottom to keep me happy! I also added an Enzoani
belt and had a bespoke art deco head piece/grip made by Sally at Sharper Millinery
, who also made my Mums hat, to give it that extra bit of jussh, as without it was quite plain.
My advice for finding a dress would be if you’re in between sizes like I was...buy the size up! The shop I got my dress from said this is fairly standard practice but it really is worth the fitting and alteration costs to take in instead of feeling uncomfortable in a dress that’s too tight.
We decided on fairly traditional groom and groomsmen attire. We had all suits (6 adults and 1 child) from Peter Posh
in Sutton Coldfield. Both James and I were a little dubious about hiring due to thinking there would be a limited range of styles and options available, however we were very pleasantly surprised at how much was available to us, and the service was great. We stopped short of top hats but we went tails – James wears a suit for work, so he wanted something which was a little different so he felt like he was getting married, and not off for a day at the office!
The five adult bridesmaids dresses were from Monsoon and shoes were silver courts from ASOS
. I found the dress last Christmas...not exactly the type of dress you’d expect for a hot summers day wedding! I thought they went perfectly with the 1920’s-esque Hollywood glamour of my dress and the girls LOVED them. I got the idea for the shoes from my cousins wedding which was about three months before ours, she had a very similar theme and I remember thinking the bridesmaids shoes just worked so well with her vintage-style dresses.
The mini-maids dress and shoes were both from Next
, my Mum found these online as we knew we weren’t going to be able to get an exact match of the adult ones, however we were really pleased that we got so close to it. Also to say my niece liked her outfit was an understatement! She did nearly ruin it about an hour before the wedding with a Monster Munch-related disaster, but this crisis was averted last second thanks to one of the other bridesmaids.
We had a great morning getting ready together, and all of them were absolutely amazing both on the lead up to and on the day. What a lucky girl I am to have such amazing friends!
So we had the venue and the dresses, and from there it was all about building a scheme around this! Those who followed my Real Brides posts will know that I struggled at points to see how it would all fit together and how all our ideas would work, but the old saying ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ is true. We ended up vintage with a hint of 1920s art-deco glamour, and of course an element of decadence with the venue. I FINALLY found my light up letters (thanks Doris Loves
Lights) which followed us around everywhere, from the end of the aisle to behind the top table to the dance floor.
We tried to make our orders of service and table/place names all match. We went through PaperGrace
(where we also went for our invites) for the Order of Service, and the table names, places and menus came from Paper Jewels via Walton Hall. The table plan was a classic – ‘Places we have been’ and all the table names were named after our favourites; we went for this because travel is something James and I share a great passion of and have been lucky enough to have do a lot, so it was a real no brainer. The table plan was our only real bit of DIY we did, even the suitcase for the cards and gifts was done by one of the bridesmaids!
Our favours were little jars of honey, made by James’ Dad. He keeps bees and makes excellent honey...they went down very well with our guests and we still get the odd message letting us know that they’re using our favours for various bits and bobs.
Our florist was found by James’ Mum through her hairdresser! He doesn’t own a shop, is completely independent, doesn’t have a website and is through word of mouth only. We picked him because he doesn’t do flowers for the money; he does it because he genuinely loves creating masterpieces. He’d done a couple of weddings at Walton Hall and just ‘got’ what we were looking for. We centred around vintage roses because they suited our theme and style, and then added flashes of deep purple calla lilies and eucalyptus. The flowers were one of my highlights, they were just so stunning, it was a shame they didn’t last until we got back from our honeymoon!
We managed to (largely) keep it a secret that we had booked Nero String Quartet
to play for our ceremony and drinks reception. James’ mum found Nero and they had been recommended to her, we found their playlist was extensive and they agreed to learn the Tom Odell, Grow Old With Me, which I walked down the aisle to. I wasn’t too sure how such a beautiful piano song was going to work with strings, but they did an amazing job! We also chose the playlist to be all the songs we wanted; so we went with theme tunes *cue guest standing there and suddenly realising the Game of Thrones song was being played* and pop songs rather than classical. Cheesy but it worked!
So about the party. I know I’m really biased but I *think* we had a really good party. I say think, because to be everyone was quite ‘merry’ by the time the speeches were over! Our band, Mansfield Avenue found via Warble Entertainment
, were excellent. Like, really good...the guitarist could play his guitar behind his head..! They were also great with making sure we had our playlists set up on their equipment for when they weren’t playing, and we had a late license so our party went on until 1am. Needless to say, many of our guests (and us) had very sore heads the next day!
It’s your wedding day, do want YOU want. Pick a venue that you want, the dress you want, the guest list you want. It’s only natural that you’d like your guests to have a good time, of course, but your day needs to be for you and your bride/groom because ultimately that’s what it’s about. You realise very quickly that you can’t please everyone and you can’t include everyone, so don’t worry about trying to.
One of my bridesmaids said that if she could have picked a wedding off the shelf for us, she wouldn’t have changed a thing because it was ‘us’ down to the last detail...and do you know what? We’re so glad we didn’t.