Kate is from Norfolk, and Ben is from London, where they now live. They met whilst working in TV so it figures that their wedding would be a creative affair. The venue was Spixworth Hall Cottages, a little known gem which happens to have a rather large barn on site which they decorated entirely themselves… The DIY is A-Mazing from the paper cranes to the juicy green apple place settings to the picnic boxes full of delicious local produce that they served as their wedding breakfast.
Kate The Bride: My dress was actually the very first one I tried on! Like many other brides it was not the style I thought I wanted. In my mind I had something quite classic and most definitely lace, something that would tie in with our country wedding. But there I was standing in a very fitted non-laced and quite simple tulle dress and absolutely loving it! I couldn’t possibly buy the very first dress so cue another 6 months having a great time trying on different beautiful gowns until I knew I had to try the first one on again. I tracked it down in Dreams in Norfolk (who were all so lovely and friendly) and tried it on with my mum, Maid of Honour and Norfolk Bridesmaids… and never wanted to take it off! My awesome Maid of Honour Gemma even managed to negotiate a discount (if you don’t ask you don’t get) so it was meant to be! I knew I wanted a statement headpiece, especially after choosing an unembellished dress, but was overwhelmed by the choice out there. Then I came across Debbie Carlisle on RMW and knew she was the designer for me. A quick visit to her website and I knew it was fate as she had started making London appointments meaning I was able to meet with her and try on all of her beautiful pieces. True to form I fell in love with the first one I tried on, the Rosa, I loved the gold tones and the fact that it was a statement piece without being too blingy. Debbie was incredible and a few tweaks later I had a bespoke piece I will treasure forever.
To compliment the statement headpiece I chose a simple veil from Etsy and earrings from high street favourite Accessorize. My hair was styled in a relaxed bun with plaits by the brilliant Belinda Bone. As I’d only be wearing the dress once I wanted shoes that I would wear again. I entertained the idea of some Louboutins but just couldn’t justify the price. I came across the Topshop Jazzhands shoes online one day and fell in love, unfortunately they were last season’s so not available to buy in store anymore but after keeping an eye on Ebay for a while my luck was in and I had some awesome bridal shoes that I have already worn again (including on my hen do before the wedding, I couldn’t resist) and all for the bargain price of £30!
Ben really wanted a suit that he would wear again. He followed the advice of married friends who had spent a lot of money on wedding suits only for them to sit in the wardrobe and so opted for a brilliant Navy suit from M&S, tie from Calvin Klein and brogues from Jigsaw, he looked very handsome!
We live in London (which is also where Ben is from) and whilst we toyed with the idea of a reception in an East London pub my heart was always going to want a country wedding and luckily Ben agreed so up to Norfolk, where I am from, it was! The first thing to organise was the church, my Dad is a Reverend and it was important to us to be married in one of his Parish churches. For a moment we debated him marrying us too but he wanted more of a Father of the Bride role which we completely agreed with. We were very blessed that our family friend The Reverend Canon Derek Earis agreed to take the ceremony and we chose All Saints church, Edingthorpe, a small thatched Saxon church, to fill with our 110 guests, giving us the beautiful intimate ceremony we
The one thing that was important to us when choosing a reception venue was that it was a blank canvas we could make it our own. Although not advertised as wedding venue, we had heard of Spixworth Hall Cottages through the grapevine. It is a converted farm with cottages you can rent out for the week of the wedding (perfect for us and all our London guests) and there is also an empty barn on site that works as the reception venue. It definitely is not for everyone but I really enjoyed the idea of creating something from nothing and together Ben & I spent our 18-month engagement planning how to make this barn ours. Turning up a few days before the wedding to an empty cold barn we did wonder if we were mad but slowly all our ideas came together, with the help of our army of friends and family, many of whom turned up days before the wedding which was incredible and really added to the party feel.
We didn’t really have a theme; it was a mismatch of things we liked. We made all of the decorations. One of the main projects we took on was folding and hanging 1000 paper cranes. Yes they took about 8 months & at times we wondered what we were doing but they looked brilliant behind the top table and cost less than £50! We also made bunting out of old books which was very cost effective and my fantastic Dad made us huge ‘K’ & ‘B’ lights! We made personalised beer badges for the kegs, named after our two Best Men and signs for the toilets featuring our male and female cats. We strung up meters and meters of fairy lights. I say we, it was actually Ben’s brother Joshua who plays baseball at University in America and has a very good throw – straight over the high beams! Our table names were favourite London landmarks (mainly pubs we’d been to on our first date pub crawl) and we had a giant map of London as our table plan. Once we had finished decorating the barn I did joke that it looked like my Pinterest board had thrown up in there but hopefully it all worked together!
We loved the simplicity of white and green flowers and so my incredible godmother created relaxed individual centrepieces using an array of flowers including baby’s breath, sweet peas, peonies and my favourite white hydrangeas. My mum used similar flowers to decorate the church and we briefed the florist to do the same for the bridal bouquet and the buttonholes. The flowers were stunning and perfectly tied together the church, reception venue and bridal outfits.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I had one Maid of Honour and seven bridesmaids…. yes that’s right, a grand total of 8 gorgeous ladies in my bridal party! For anyone debating a large bridal party, maybe worrying that it is too many, I say just do it! These girls have been with me in the good times and the bad times and I couldn’t of done it without them, they had to be by my side. Of course buying eight dresses has certain restrictions, I quickly ruled out identical dresses (slightly worried they would look like some sort of cult) and settled on a pink shade I liked and asked them to pick a dress they loved in that colour. And wow they looked amazing! The all have such unique styles and were able to show that on the day… on and luckily they all fell in love with high street dresses so it was purse friendly too!
Ben’s two Best Men wore their own blue suits to co-ordinate with him. We asked the rest of the groomsmen to wear their own suits in whatever colour, we didn’t want anything too matching to keep in with the relaxed feel of the day. We just bought matching ties and buttonhole for everyone.
We had two readings, 1 Corinthians 13 but read by two voices: groomsman Daniel and bridesmaid Lorraine. It is a very popular reading but we loved the meaning of it (‘Love…. It bears all things,
believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends’) and having the two voices really helped to convey the message. Ben’s dad wrote a piece for us entitled ‘Happiness’. One line read ‘Happiness is England’s ball in the back of the net’ which lead to much laughter due to their abysmal performance in the World Cup the previous week! My mum also wrote prayers personalised to us which was very special. We had two hymns, Make Me a Channel of You Peace and We Vow to One Another, which is an adaptation of Thaxted I Vow to Thee My County. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D (thankfully not sobbing, I was convinced I would be crying coming down the aisle but luckily got the tears out at the rehearsal the day before) and our exit music was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, an oldie but a goodie! The ceremony and saying our vows to each other was definitely one of our most treasured and favourite parts of the day.
We chose to have a string quartet playing during the welcome drinks. We actually thought that if we got bad weather they would create great ambience inside the barn, but luck was on our side weather wise and they played a brilliant selection of classic and modern covers (including many Take That hits much to my delight!) in the barn’s gardens during the scorching hot Pimms and beer reception. We also wrote Ben & Kate quizzes for each table (which suspiciously the Top Table won) and a sweet filled piñata for the kids which was a great success although I suspect they wont let us attend future family functions without one now! In the evening we had a DJ. On our invitations we had asked for song suggestions, which meant we had a great playlist! Our first dance was Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’. We practised with a few options in our lounge during the planning months and the traditional slow dances just weren’t really working, we wanted something fun and upbeat and loved the lyrics. I also had a first dance with my Maid of Honour, Liberty X’s Just A Little; it’s a classic for us and really kicked off the evening of dancing!
We wanted to play to the venues strengths (and limited kitchen area) and also the relaxed feeling of day we were trying to achieve so early on we decided that a traditional 3 course meal wouldn’t be right for us. A friend mentioned that she had been to a wedding where they had sharing picnic baskets in the middle of each table and suddenly we had the perfect solution! My Dad recommended The Cockerel Group to us and after our first meeting with Mark and Claire we knew they were perfect. Their vision and attention to detail was amazing, I have never known a team of people to work so hard. The food was delicious; we had vegetable boxes (hand painted by Mark with our initials and the wedding date on) full of wonderful locally sourced traditional picnic food and the most delicious chocolate and raspberry tart! Everyone commented on how awesome and unique the food was and it was great to look around the barn and see people sharing and handing out the food amongst their table, also a great icebreaker if not everyone knew each other! Due to the venue not having a liquor license we were also able to supply all of our own booze with no corkage fee and so were able to offer guests a free bar, another icebreaker! The Cockerel also provided a fabulous BBQ in the evening with delights such as holllumi skewers and buffalo burgers, which unfortunately I was too busy to eat but I heard it was very good! Our super talented friend Darren made our wedding cake. We gave him an idea of what we wanted and asked him to incorporate the colours of the paper cranes but the end result was beyond words. It was delicious and completely devoured at the after party!
Our photographer was the amazingly talented Ellie Gillard. I first saw her work on RMW and a quick click onto her website confirmed she was the one for us; she lived round the corner in London but was a Norfolk girl too and she loves cats and craft beer…oh and her work is stunning. I cannot sing her and her assistant Paula’s praises enough. They both worked so hard on the day (after the ceremony I noticed that Ellie was covered in dust after rolling around on the church floor like some kind of photography ninja to get the perfect shot!). We are so happy with our photographs and will treasure them forever.
We knew we wanted the day filmed, luckily I work in production and one of our friends, film director Justin kindly filmed the ceremony and speeches and loads of other surprise moments like the first dance and bouquet toss. My bridesmaid Laura also filmed many special moments including us girls getting ready and so now we pretty much have the whole day on film which is amazing to watch back.
Advice From the Bride
I was so thankful for all the advice given by previous RMW posts. It can be an over whelming experience but my top tips would be:
- Marry your Best friend and enjoy planning the day together! We made pretty much every decision together which really made the day feel like ours.
- Keeps lists and excel sheets to organise, Dropbox is a lifesaver!
- Have 8 bridesmaids! I had 1 MOH and 7 Bridesmaids and wouldn’t change that for the world. Have as big a wedding party as you want; it’s your day!
- Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to achieve everything you have put on your Pinterest board, pick the things that mean the most to you both and concentrate on them
- Friends and family want to help and be involved – let them! We couldn’t have done it without their help and talents.
- Pick a photographer whose work you love and who you feel comfortable with. Film the day if you can, if having a videographer is out of budget ask a friend to at least film the ceremony and speeches!
Photography by Ellie Gillard
- Gown Mori Lee
- Boutique Dreams Bridal
- Vintage Engagement ring Berganza
- Vintage gold wedding band Andrew R.Ullma
- Earrings Accessorize
- Brides Shoes Topshop via Ebay!
- Headpiece Debbie Carlisle
- Veil Etsy
- Bride’s bouquet and buttonholes Pick-a-Lily florist
- Ceremony All Saints Church
- Reception Venue Spixworth Hall Cottages
- Caterer Cockerel Group
- Groom M&S
- Entertainment Arioso String Quartet
- DJ Connections Disco