Oh beautiful sunny wedding how I love thee. Jenni looks incred in her gorgeous Essence of Australia lace gown. I love it.
Both Jenni and Ben wanted to create a day that would reflect them. They fell in love in sixth form (aawwwww) and they got engaged on their 10 year anniversary. They wanted the day to be relaxed and fun and party filled. Jenni created all of the centrepieces herself (ace bride alert!) and baked her wedding cake with her Mum. Does it get more wonderful than that? Also, the ring shot in the field? Epic. Enjoy peeps.
Jenni The Bride: We wanted our day to reflect us as a couple; we’re not very traditional and knew that we wanted a civil ceremony, we wanted our day to be relaxed and informal, followed by an epic party. Picking the venue was simple for us, we immediately knew that Flanesford Priory was right for us; it was a beautiful venue, near to where I grew up, that would allow us to put our own stamp on the day. Flanesford Priory is an old monastery converted into self catering accommodation, which sits on the bank of the River Wye. It has a gorgeous ceremony room that we used for our service and a massive expanse of lawns outside where we put up a marquee. The joy of picking somewhere with accommodation was, our close friends and family were able to stay at the venue on the evening before the wedding and on the wedding night itself, so we were able to have a full weekend of celebrations with them, instead of just one day.
As soon as we had the venue sorted, we booked our amazing photographer Lucy. I was really picky about what I wanted from a photographer; I’ve been to weddings in the past where the photographer has been pushy, so I knew from experience that I wanted a photographer who was friendly and made everyone feel at ease. We liked journalist story-telling style, rather than lots of posed photos and I found Lucy after much website stalking. Her website portfolio reflected exactly the photo style we wanted and as soon as I chatted to her over email, I knew she was the right photographer for us. Lucy was so supportive throughout the planning; she recommended the dress shop and hairdresser we used, after I confided in her that I struggling to find suppliers. On the day itself, Lucy was a gem; she put everyone at ease and tirelessly took photos right until the end of the night. It’s clear that Lucy loves what she does, that reflects in the way she works and the photos she takes. The photos of our day are perfect, each one tells a story; every time we look at them, we’re reminded of exactly how we were feeling at the time.
Before I went dress shopping, I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted, my only criteria was that I wanted to feel comfortable and be able to move around freely enough to dance in the evening. After trying on lots of styles, I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t find a dress I loved- all the dresses looked great, but none of them felt quite right. On our third trip, my Mum and I found ‘the’ dress. As soon as I put it on we both knew it was the dress for me, at this point there were a few tears from me, my mum and shop owner.
I wore a beautiful Flo and Percy headpiece with a bird cage veil for the ceremony. I picked a pair of gorgeous Rachel Simpson blue shoes to add a bit of colour to my outfit and this matched Ben’s suit too.
The Wedding Party
My sister and my oldest friend from school agreed to be my bridesmaids; it meant so much to me to have them both by my side on such an important day. Both have really different figures and styles, so I picked black as their dress colour as I knew it would suit them both and asked them to pick their own dresses, accessories and hairstyles for the day. I wanted them to feel comfortable, look their best and express their own personalities.
Ben asked his brother and his oldest friend to be his best men, and his closest friends, who are in band with him, to be his ushers. We didn’t want the boys to look too formal, as this didn’t fit with our overall wedding style or their personalities. We asked the boys to wear whatever shoes and trousers they wanted with a white shirt, and we supplied them all with braces and bowties. We also asked a friend of the family’s son to be a page boy, he was the only child we had coming to the wedding so we wanted him to have a special role. He did a superb job and looked adorable in a bow tie and braces too.
We wanted the bridal party to look relaxed and quirky; the mismatched outfits combined with hints of their own style did this perfectly.
We wanted to do as much as we could ourselves, to make our day individual and reflect our personalities. Our friends and family were really supportive and helpful. My godmother is an artist and she drew our invites for us. Ben is really musical and I wanted to incorporate this into the day; I made music paper bunting by cutting up old sheet music and stringing it onto yarn, we hung this throughout the marquee. I also cut heart shapes out of sheet music to make confetti which we scattered on the tables and add to bags with flower petals for our guests to use as confetti. My mum and I made the wedding cakes together; we baked three massive fruit cakes, which my mum lovingly fed with alcohol over the months before the wedding, and a local baker decorated them. A weekend filled with baking was a brilliant way to relax during all the planning.
The marquee was a blank canvas for us, and took a lot of hard work from our nearest and dearest on the days before the wedding to make it look gorgeous. I saw an article on Pinterest about paper lanterns, and decided that we wanted paper lanterns and fairy lights strung across our dance floor. In keeping with our mismatched theme, I bought a few different patterned lanterns and made some of my own, by painting plain white lanterns. Our table plan was made using an old vintage suitcase, which we borrowed from a relative, and lined with floral wrapping paper. I bought blackboards and my sister decorated them with messages and pictures.
My biggest DIY project was the flowers; I’ve always loved arranging flowers and was very keen to do my own table decorations for the day. I thought it would be too much pressure to do the bouquets and buttonholes, so these were done by an amazing florist who was recommended to us. For the room decorations, we bought flowers from a local supplier and raided my grandmother’s garden. Ben’s mum and I spent a few hours sitting in the sunshine on the afternoon before the wedding cutting and arranging the flowers into jars and vases. The overall effect was amazing; we had masses beautiful fresh flowers, that added vibrant colour and wonderful smell to our marquee. The mismatched vases and different flower arrangements fitted perfectly with our informal style. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed doing this DIY project, there is nothing I could recommend more than standing in the sun arranging flowers on the day before your wedding; by the time I had finished I felt completely relaxed and content.
Before our ceremony, we had a ‘first look’. This was an idea I stumbled across during the planning and loved. Ben and I met in private before the ceremony, he waited in a secluded courtyard and I walked up behind him to greet him. We shared a beautiful emotional moment, just the two of us (and our photographer), and it is a moment I’ll cherish forever. I wasn’t nervous about getting married; I knew that there was nothing I wanted more. However, I knew I’d be emotional when I saw Ben, so having the first look meant that I could be emotional without everyone watching and meant that during the ceremony I got through my vows without bubbling!
During our planning, we thought a lot about the kind of ceremony we wanted to have. Although we wanted our wedding day to be fun and relaxed, we wanted our ceremony to reflect how much we care about each other. For that reason, we decided to write our own vows. We agreed on a structure for our vows, so that our vows would complement each others. We agreed to write three sentences, beginning with I promise…, I will…., I vow…, and the last paragraph we wrote together so we both ended the vows by saying the same sentence to each other.
Because Ben is so musical, he is surrounded by equally talented friends, who all kindly volunteered their skills for the day. One of Ben’s ushers is in a wedding duo with his sister, called The Hickman Duo, they played beautiful classical guitar and flute whilst our guests arrived and during the drinks reception. They also played a wonderful instrumental version of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ for me to walk down the aisle to. During the ceremony, Ben’s sister sang for us accompanied on guitar by another one of our talented ushers.
There were a couple of things we both wanted for the evening do; a great band and a free bar, both of which made for an epic party. We travelled to France to get all the wine and our wedding venue organised for Wye Valley to supply us with the beer. Izzie, our caterer and the owner of Flanesford Priory, was brilliant. We wanted family style dining, where there are lots of dishes on each guest table and people serve themselves, so Izzie came up with an amazing menu. We started with delicious canapés on the lawn with fizz, and then had speeches before dinner. We decided to do speeches before dinner as I knew my dad and Ben would be nervous and this meant that they would actually be able to enjoy their dinner. Dinner consisted of bowls of chicken, salads and freshly baked breads on every table. The dining style fitted with our informal style and encouraged the guests to chat with other people on their table.
After dinner, Ben’s band (him and his ushers), an instrumental ukulele band called the Strumtroopers played on the lawn behind the marquee. They play everything from Abba to The Specials, and they are really talented, although I’m a little biased. All our guests sang and danced along with them as they played and it really got the evening started. After this, we had a brilliant live band, called Session One, play in the evening. We knew we wanted a great live band and honestly, finding a band was one of the challenging parts about planning the wedding. We wanted a band that everyone would want to dance to, considering the age of the guests ranged from four to eighty five, this was a difficult thing to achieve. We found Session One after searching for bands on the internet and booked them after seeing them play a gig in Bristol with Ben’s brother and sister-in-law. They were completely perfect, our guests danced all night and there were people on the dance floor all night.
Photography by Lucy G Photography
- Venue Flanesford Priory
- Boutique Lily Oliver Bridal
- Shoes Rachel Simpson
- Headpiece Flo and Percy
- Dress Designer Essense Designs
- Florist Beverley Jelf – Bloomers of Cheltenham
- Caterers Izzies Catering
- Entertainment The Hickman Duo
- Strum Troopers
- Session One
- Bridesmaid Dresses ASOS
- House of Fraser
- Grooms Attire Mrs Bow Tie – Tie
- John Lewis – Suit
- Hair Jess Mac
- Makeup Naomi Emmanuelle