Oh my gosh this outdoor humanist ceremony at The Rectory Hotel in the Cotswolds is SO idyllic and full of detail. My eyes haven't stopped popping out of my head at all the masses of fabulous decor, all cleverly crafted by the Bride too I might add. I adore the use of feathers, and the gold spray painted bottles and tin cans filled with peach flowers & succulents add a subtle vintage feel to this classic country wedding. Bride Jem's Charlotte Balbier Lily May bridal gown is simply STUNNING and she looks absolutely gorgeous, the lace back in particular is just heavenly, just like this glorious sun filled wedding.
The DressJem The Bride: Is the dress ever is easy to find? I was quite particular about what I wanted; nothing too ‘big’; nothing strapless; something floaty and comfortable; preferably with a V-neck. In all the bridal shops I visited I was either met with; ‘I know what you want, but we just don’t have it’ or I was encouraged into dresses which I already knew I wouldn’t like. Then I walked into The Bridal Boutique and it all became so easy, I tried on Lily May by Charlotte Balbier and it was perfect, it only needed a small alteration to the neck and it would tick all my boxes! I never wear heels if I can help it - I like to be comfortable – so I decided to wear sandals on my wedding day and opted for Karper by Dune. I kept it simple for my jewellery and wore a pearl and diamond bracelet which was given to my grandmother on her 21st birthday. I also wore a ‘Love’ necklace which I bought years ago from Urban Outfitters – which my sister also wore 5 years ago on her wedding day.
The Grooms FashionI left Andy to make all the decisions for his suit. He chose a 3 piece navy suit for himself and his groomsmen which we hired from Stafford Tailoring. The groomsmen all had peach ties and pocket squares, whilst Andy wore a white pocket square and a navy polka dot tie from John Lewis. Andy struggled to find his wedding shoes and didn’t find ‘the ones’ until a week before the wedding. They were brown Stanley brogues from Grenson. Groomsmen all wore their own brown shoes.
The VenueWe wanted to make a weekend break of our wedding, for ourselves and our guests. We were looking for a venue which felt intimate and relaxed and also provided some accommodation - we found this at The Rectory Hotel in The Cotswolds. I would never have thought I’d get married in a hotel, but The Rectory felt more like a home away from home to us. It also suited all of our needs; beautifully decorated to our taste, 12 bedrooms for the wedding party and family to stay in, exclusive use of the entire venue for the weekend, stunning gardens for our outdoor ceremony and it even had a heated outdoor pool for the guests to use in their free time. The owners of The Rectory also run The Potting Shed pub across the road so we had dinner there on the Friday night with all of our guests. My favourite part of the venue had to be the dining room, which was so small it fit all our 42 guests perfectly! To keep it intimate and informal we kept the tables small, but of different shapes and sizes – seating anywhere from 2 to 6 people. Andy and I had a table to ourselves so we could make sure we had some time to enjoy each other’s company.
Colour Scheme/DécorWe didn’t have a very strong colour theme. We mainly stuck to peach and raspberry for the flowers and clothing, but everything else was chosen because we liked it despite of the colour - although there was quite a lot of gold…. We also had a feather theme throughout the wedding, we used them for the place settings, seating plan and general decorations. My sister and I have just launched our own company Runcible Spoons, which hires props and vintage crockery in the London and Surrey area. Almost everything we used at our wedding was stock from Runcible Spoons which was rather handy ☺ We had mismatching jars and vases for our flowers, vintage crockery for the lunch and afternoon teas & coffees, hankies, fans & umbrellas for the sunny outdoor ceremony and a homemade photobooth. We also created a watering hole which had different flavoured water dispensers (lime & mint, strawberry & basil, orange & lemon) and a large galvanised tub full of craft beers (Andy’s passion - like a lot of other men at the moment) for guests to help themselves to! For the afternoon tea and evening seating, we laid out rugs in the garden with cushions, Moroccan poufs and upturned crates for tables. This continued the laid-back feel to the day.
FloristWe used Flowers by Passion as our florists and they did a wonderful job! I wanted soft peach tones for the flowers with pale green, silvery foliage with bursts of colour from raspberry astilbe. The flowers were made up of silver brunia, bubbles spray roses, sage, dusty miller leaves, juliet roses, astilbe, succulents, dahlias, peach stocks, rosemary and eucalyptus leaves. Our wedding favours were a DIY job; we saved up loads of tin cans which we cleaned up, spray painted and used as planters for a mixture of succulents. The groomsmen’s buttonholes tied in with this and were a variety of succulents, apart from the groom who had a peach juliet rose. I also set the florist the task of creating some floral hoops to decorate a large tree in the garden. We were using that area of the garden for our evening food and disco and didn’t want it to feel neglected. Erin did a fantastic job using the hoops, feathers and what props she could find to create lovely display.
The Wedding Party FashionI was worried I wouldn’t be able to find the right colour for the bridesmaids’ dresses, but we found the dresses within a couple of hours of high-street shopping and they were just what we were looking for! They were bought from JS Collections from House of Fraser. The flower girl dresses I bought from Monsoon – they have such a pretty range of dresses there for flower girls! The bridesmaids and flower girls all chose their own shoes and sandals from various different shops. As a thank you to my bridesmaids, I bought them each a gold ‘knot’ ring to wear on the day and a necklace made in Kenya (where we were going to be honeymooning).
CeremonyWe had an outdoor humanist ceremony which was led by Harriet Marshall. We met with a few celebrants to make sure we found one that suited us as a couple - when we met Harriet we both knew straight away we wanted her to be a part of our day. Our ceremony was incredibly personal as Harriet captured our relationship and the way we worked together so well. She asked us, in advance of the ceremony, to share with her 3 things that we loved most about each other. She then kept these and incorporated them into the ceremony – it was so lovely to hear the things we had said about each other. As we had such a small group of family and friends at the ceremony, we decided to have a ring warming. During the ceremony, before we exchanged our rings, they were passed around to all of our guests so they could hold them in their hands to warm them with their love and make a silent wish for our future together. We had two readings during the ceremony, both were quite light hearted and fun. My sister read the Owl and the Pussycat, it’s a poem we have always loved from childhood (it even inspired the name of our business – Runcible Spoons). Andy’s sister also did a reading for us, which was The Lovely Other Dinosaur by Edward Monkton, Andy & I both loved it. My youngest sister sang Somewhere over the Rainbow for us, her voice has such a classic sound to it – it was beautiful!
EntertainmentWe had pianist, Richard Sully, play for us during the reception and ceremony - he was amazing! For the evening entertainment we had a good old fashioned disco, but we were a bit selfish with the music and chose only what we wanted to hear: old school garage, hip hop and RnB! Andy found the DJs, Fickle Events, and they were ‘sick’!
FoodShortly after we became engaged, Andy turned 30 and his mum, Gerry, made the most delicious cake for him. We thought it would make it far more special and personal if Gerry made our wedding cake for us as she so clearly had the cake skills needed! We’re so glad she agreed to take on the task for us! She made a stunning three tiered cake, each layer being a different flavour; lemon, chocolate and Victoria sponge. Our cake toppers were gold dinosaurs, which were my sister’s idea, to tie in with one of the readings we had in the ceremony. I bought some plastic dinosaur figures from a toy shop for a pound each and spray painted them gold. We used the venue’s own catering for our wedding lunch - the food was delicious. They use a lot of fresh produce which they grow over the road at their Potting Shed pub. For the evening food, we had The Wild Oven come to the venue and serve stone baked pizzas from their VW van – people could not get enough of them! I only had 2 slices, but managed to get my whole second slice all down my dress - I normally never make a mess when eating, but it would happen when wearing the most expensive outfit of my life!!! Luckily I’d had few too many drinks at this point to mind and then I had it professionally cleaned when I returned from honeymoon.
PhotographerWhat can I say, I just love Guy and his photos! I met him 5 years ago when he was the photographer at my sister’s wedding. He did such beautiful photos for her, it was easy decision to use him for our wedding too! He takes such natural shots that capture the day’s beauty so well. We didn’t want too many staged photos, they’re not our thing and we also didn’t want to lose time from our day taking these either. This worked perfectly for Guy and I think we only spent about 20 minutes throughout the day posing for photos, the rest of the time we got to enjoy ourselves with our guests.
DIY & AdviceWe did quite a bit of DIY for our wedding, along with everything already mentioned above, I also created the name tags, table numbers and seating plan using free templates and fonts online before printing them all onto tags or cards using my sister’s printer. For the place settings, I also thought it would be nice to print everyone out a love quote which I tried to match to everyone’s interests, personalities or own love stories. They were a great conversation starter for those who didn’t know each other. I’m huge Pinterest fan and got so much inspiration from there - I didn’t need to buy a single wedding magazine! Once I had decided to have a feather theme throughout the day and started pinning, I saw a feather garland that someone had made which was stunning and I was determined to recreate this. I ended up making two and used them for the ladder seating plan instead of flowers. One piece of advice which I gave myself and followed throughout the wedding planning is; just make a decision and go with it. There is no point hemming and hawing about things, it just drags everything out and delays the planning process. Once a decision has been made you can then start to put things into motion!!!
Dress Designer: Charlotte Balbier - Lily May | Bridal Boutique: The Bridal Boutique | Necklace: Urban Outfitters | Bridal Shoes: Dune - Karper Sandals | Bridesmaid Dresses: JS Collections - House of Fraser | Grooms Suit: Stafford Tailoring | Grooms Shoes: Grenson | Tie: John Lewis | Venue: The Rectory Hotel | The Potting Shed Pub | Caterer: The Wild Oven | Humanist: Harriet Swift Marshall | Florist: Flowers by Passion | Decor / Styling: Runcible Spoons | Stationery: Amelia Lane Paper | Entertainment: Richard Sully | Fickle Events | Make up : Giselle Michel | Hair: Stacey Jade