Hampton Court House is such a beautiful place for a wedding - I love that the reception room is behind a gorgeous doorway, meaning you can create a show stopping moment as guests enter the room. Joy and Gabriel have dressed the venue simply with white lanterns and lots of blush pink flowers, making the most of the stunning archway door, high ceilings and floor tiles. Our lovely couple have lots of friends and family with young children and I have to say, this is hands down the best wedding in terms of catering for kids that I've ever seen! All the little people look like they've had the BEST day, as well as giving their parents the time and space to enjoy the wedding on their own terms too. Even more lovely, is the fact that Joy found out she was pregnant shortly before the wedding :) making these photographs even more special.

The Bride

Joy the Bride: We were engaged for four and half years before getting married which should be enough time to find a wedding dress. I was quite laid back about it until I met up with a friend who pretty much told me back in February that I’d left it too late to get a dress made and I should go out and find something. I made a few appointments at shops in London and with my little sister Bola ended up finding a beautiful dress in Love Bridal Crystal Palace, which was a lot of tulle and lace and had cap sleeves. The bonus was that it was on sale at £350 and a size 14 so could be altered to fit my shape. It was lucky I got a larger size dress as I ended up being 15 weeks pregnant on our wedding day. The ladies at Love Bridal were so sweet and accommodating and made the whole process fun and stress free. It also helped that Love Bridal were around the corner from my mums’ place.

The Groom

Gabriel had been advised by me and my sister to get a Navy suit. He left it to the absolute last minute as he hates shopping but was in good hands as he went shopping with one of my best friends Donna who has been responsible for finding grooms outfits for a load of the husbands in our group. Gab and I went out to buy his tie and ties for the groomsmen a couple of days before the wedding.

The Venue

We wanted to have some open space as we were having loads of children at the wedding. I found Hampton Court House on a wedding blog and was so impressed with the country house feel yet it was only 40 minutes from Waterloo station. It was amazing with rabbits running around the grounds which the kids loved, trees, and a pond. It also overlooked Bushey Park where you could see the deer. The best feature of the venue is that you don’t have to decorate it as it’s so beautiful. Since we were having a civil ceremony we also wanted to have the ceremony and reception in the same place. The venue manager Dee was amazing and was very supportive all the way through. A number of our suppliers actually came from their recommended list. The ceremony started at 3.00 p.m. but we encouraged guests arrive an hour early for pre-drinks and just to get to know each other and relax. We were very lucky with the weather, it was a pretty miserable July and August but the sun shone all day.

The Transport

My wonderful brother drove me, my dad, my sister and my niece Georgia 16 months (who had just woken up from her nap and was still in her pyjamas!) and her dolly from our Airbnb ten minutes from the venue.

The Flowers

Steph at Fairynuff Flowers is so creative and talented I trusted her completely. Steph and her team provided the bouquets for me and the bridesmaids, centrepieces and buttonholes and decorated the aisle and stairs with huge bunches of baby’s breath which I loved. I was happy for Steph to take the lead and steer me in the right direction. We didn’t have an official colour scheme but went with pinks and pale purples, with quicksand and amnesia roses.

The Wedding Party

My sisters Shade and Bola, were my bridesmaids, again no real vision about the dresses except it should be a pinkish/champagne colour and they could wear whatever they wanted and didn’t have to match. Luckily after a period of trying to find matching dresses they decided to go with my advice and wear different dresses! There were 3 flower girls, Rebecca and our nieces, Georgia and Orla. They all wore a cute, ivory petal hem dress with a bow and all had baby’s breath decorating their hair courtesy of my sister Bola. Our nephew Ollie was the sole pageboy, who along with Orla put petals on the aisle in front of us. They both took their job very seriously, though no one had told them what to do when they got to the end of the very short aisle and they just kept on piling on the petals on top of each other. Very sweet.

The Ceremony

Gab and I are not overly emotional people so it was a real surprise to start walking down the aisle and feel overwhelmed by all our family and friends and then seeing Gab at the end of the aisle. I could not believe I was so emotional but it was a great moment. Gab who I’ve never seen cry in 6 years also had emergency tissue in his hand which made me even more teary. My oldest friend Miranda, read the first reading Kahlil Gibran, On Marriage, which she had chosen and we both teared up at that point, Miranda and me I mean. Our confident and beautiful niece Mia read He’s not perfect, by Bob Marley and my brother Mark read the Apache Prayer both of which we loved. We had a lot of help from our families to organise the day. Gab’s brother Tris was one of the best men and our teenage nieces Mia, Lydia and Octavia and nephew Floyd were our ushers. Our biggest supporter was my sister Bola without whom we wouldn’t have been able to get everything organised. We had such a magical day with our parents, siblings, extended families and friends.

The Entertainment

We had a string quartet London Studio Players play during the ceremony and the drinks reception. I walked down the aisle to MNEK Magic (Coldplay cover), during the signing of the register they played at last by Ella Fitzgerald (since we had been engaged for so long) and For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder played us out. Before Gab’s speech his foster brother Simeon played a piece of music he had prepared especially for the day on his violin which was beautiful. After dinner we had a DJ, Chris Bounce, who played everything from afrobeat to Cameo and Fela Kuti and the dancefloor was packed. We also organised fireworks around 10.00 p.m. which was a lovely surprise for our guests particularly the kids who were still going strong!

The Food

Parties To Go did a fantastic job. We decided to go with a buffet which meant more food and more choice. Carole was amazing and was really helpful with our guests as well as being discrete. A couple of her team noticed our naked cake (which I had been tasked with decorating) and decorated it with some flowers. They also saved us some canapes in case we missed it during having our pictures taken. Amazing food and amazing team.

The Photography

After sorting out the venue Jo, was the first supplier we booked. Jo was actually recommended by another photographer who wasn’t free on the day. It worked out perfectly as Jo was a much better fit for us. She also took our engagement photos to warm us up and made sure we were relaxed on the day. Gab and I never take photos so I was nervous at how they would come out. But Jo did a brilliant job of guiding us, taking natural shots and letting us forgot she was actually there. She captured so many intimate moments and everyone agreed that she did an amazing job.

The Videography

We went with Ben Foster, who had been recommended by a number of friends and after seeing his work it was exactly what we were after. Initially Ben couldn’t make our wedding date which was gutting. A few months later Ben got back in touch and I was so happy. He was so lovely on the day and so discrete.

The Childcare

Our wedding was a real family affair and we could not imagine getting married without our nieces, nephews, god children and friends kids there. But we wanted to make it fun for them too so we organised childcare and entertainment with Little Novas Bespoke Event Childcare. Tracey and her team organised two tepees in the huge garden which was full of games, toys and crafts. The children ate a little earlier than us with kiddies’ food in a separate room set up especially for them with a projector showing Frozen/Moana. A really fun moment was when the kids congaed their way into the venue to have their dinner. So many of the parents commented on how nice it was to know that their kids were taken care of and a lot of them didn’t see their kids for hours!
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Venue: Hampton Court House | Catering: Parties To Go | Flowers: Fairy Nuff Flowers | String Quartet: Allegro Arts | Cake: El's Homemade Cake | Film: Foster Films | Fireworks: F1 Pyro | Bride: Love Bridal | Groom: John Lewis | Groomsmen: Hawes & Curtis | Bridesmaids: Coast

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