Bride Katy is the wedding co-ordinator at Helmingham Hall Gardens in Suffolk so she knows the venue inside out, but it didn’t stop her from envisioning something a little different than their normal offerings for her wedding day. With the permission of owners Lord and Lady Tollmache who reside in Helmingham Hall, Katy went about transforming one of their old barns for the wedding reception. It began with an empty, cobwebbed, bird-nested wooden space with no warmth, but come the wedding day it was transformed into an inviting rustic haven with strung up fairy lights, hand carved wooden place mats, stag antler centrepieces and gorgeous greenery runners. I have to say I am in LOVE with every last detail and can’t wait to get my pin on.
I’m also blown away by the rest of the house and surrounding gardens. They have made the couples portraits captured by Kelsie Low Photography über dreamy, making you feel like you’re stepping into a secret garden. Almost stealing the show are the adorable Flower girls in floral Monsoon dresses and flower crowns, but there is not denying how beautiful Katy looks in her Phil Collins Bridal gown, with Groom Haka by her side complimenting the country vibe perfectly in chino’s and a tweed jacket from Moss Bros.
You ready to be transported?
Katy the Bride: Having been together for 9 years and deciding to finally take the plunge over a quiet birthday dinner we were very relaxed about the whole situation. I myself have been an Events Manager for many years and had recently implemented a wedding venue side to business of the Stately Home I worked at. Being involved in weddings on a daily basis I initially felt that it took the shine of the excitement and planning side of the process feeling that it was somewhat a “busman’s holiday”. This soon changed when going into the planning stage and it was certainly invaluable to have met so many amazing suppliers and wedding professionals through my job….I knew exactly who to call on as suppliers for my own special day.
Save The Date’s
We didn’t tell anyone about our recent wedding plans and instead ordered some beautiful handmade magnets with “Save the date, K&K, 27/08/16” stamped on them and posted them through people’s doors in the night. It was very funny to wake up to all the shocked texts the next day…some people even texting us to see if we had received one and who was it for!?
I found selecting a dress not as easy as expected…..but far more fun! I had a preconceived idea that I wanted a heavily beaded, slinky, Gatsby-esque dress. How wrong could I be! The first dress a tried on was perhaps initially for a bit of a giggle being huge, tulle, and pale blush with an embroidered bodice and a diamante and pearl waistband…..and I loved it! I then visited another 10 shops and tried on over 50 dresses…the slinky Gatsby number looking absolutely terrible! Finally I had to go against everything I normally like and go for the original Phil Collins Bridal number from Grace & Lace in Ipswich! I knew that no one would expect for me to wear anything like this and so although I was happy to have something different I was also very nervous! In the end I felt a million dollars, especially after having Sophie Saunders, Professional Make Up Artist make me up and Caroline Powell, Hair by Caroline, create my relaxed up-do.
I chose to have my three nieces Milly, Darcy and Ava as my little flower girls. They wore dresses from Monsoon and my sister Sally made them flower crowns as my mum had put together my bouquet. We wanted to keep the wedding quite relaxed and so chose a small bridal party. My husband and his best man Pete wore lovely tweed suit jackets and waistcoats with chinos from Moss Bros to fit in with the country wedding theme.
I couldn’t have been luckier with the venue….yes my place of work but also the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen and they hold a special place in my heart. We chose to have a civil celebrant led ceremony in the Grade 1 Listed gardens of Helmingham Hall. The gardens are moated and lead into the most wonderful walled kitchen garden with enchanting herbaceous borders and magical tunnels which grow ornamental vegetables and climbing flowers. Walking into the gardens, accompanied by Etta James – At Last, with my Dad, Tony Day was amazing. Bridget Garrett wrote a very personal ceremony for us which meant the world. She included secret questions about each other of which the answers were revealed on the day which was both emotional and also incredibly funny! One of my best friends Jo Ryland read a poem called “Marry your best friend” and it literally sums up exactly how we felt about each other.
Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship, in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with.
The kind of laughs that makes your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times. Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you.
A love that will never dilute – even when the waters get deep, and dark.
I didn’t have engagement ring as we decided just to get married…not engaged. My dream was of a vintage ring and that’s exactly what I received, a stunning 1920’s platinum and diamond ring with a beautiful cabochon sapphire at the centre purchased from Berridges. I absolutely love and treasure it and feel very proud to wear it and everything it symbolises.
Catering & Photographer
After the ceremony we had drinks and substantial Canapes (instead of a starter) on the Parterre provided by Lynn Barnard at The Food Station. Whilst our guests were enjoying these we were led off by Kelsie Low our amazing photographer for our couple’s shots. We had been very nervous about this part of the wedding as are both incredibly shy in front of a camera…only having a handful of photos together even after nine years! We chose Kelsie because of her very relaxed and natural style…also because she’s just so lovely! Kelsie instantly put at us ease and we just laughed throughout the whole time together….it was like being with a friend and time flew. I discovered after all this time that my new husband was actually a massive show off and loved every minute of it!
After the drinks reception we travelled a couple of miles up the road to a beautiful old barn that Lord and Lady Tollemache who reside in Helmingham Hall kindly leant to us for the reception. When I first had the idea of transforming the barn it was indeed derelict, inhabited by pigeons and mice and was a mess to say the least…I’m unsure anyone else could see my vision. After a lot of hard work by ourselves and our very good friends Alison and Angus we had transformed the barn into a venue with a canopy of fairy lights and various up lighting to show off the natural beauty of the brick walls. We chose to have two large banqueting tables run up the middle of the room with a table runner of eucalyptus and olive intertwined with antlers of which the deer on the estate had shed. We had simple milk bottles with singular stems of cream and white roses and dahlias from the gardens at Helmingham and we had slices of wood from the estate as placemats. I found an old tree branch in the deer park which had had its bark rubbed off by the deer that almost looked like driftwood and so we used this as a wishing tree for our guests to write messages to us on and tie onto the branches.
Our caterers, Lynn Barnard of the Food Station then served us a beautiful meal of sirloin of beef with potato gratin and seasonal vegetables and the trios of desserts, lemon cheesecake, salted caramel brownie and vanilla panna cotta. For the evening we had a street food vendor serving wood fired pizzas in one of the courtyards. We were having such a lot of fun we forgot to cut the beautiful wedding cake made for us by a friends mum, Ann Rackham as a wedding gift. We later cut this and wrapped it individually and delivered it to our guests with their thank you cards.
For the rest of the evening we danced the night away to Neal the DJ at Crystal Sounds who had compiled a playlist just for us, our first dance being Sam Smith’s Writings on the Wall….it really was a beautiful day.