Avid Tennis fans Rebecca And David married in June 2012 – right in the middle of Wimbledon and only four months after they got engaged. They reflected their passion for tennis with an english garden party style affair – think Pimms, croquet on the lawn and afternoon tea.
They married at Narborough Hall Gardens in Norfolk, a beautiful Grade II listed building in the depths of the Norfolk countryside. Rebecca explained that Narborough Hall encapsulated everything they wanted from a venue: Elegance, sophistication, the most gorgeous english country setting and… Tennis courts.
Photography today is by Katherine Ashdown.
The Spanish designer, Pronovias, designed my dress. Pronovias are known for their beautiful lace and the dress that I chose was made from the most gorgeous vintage lace in a fishtail style. Additionally, I had the whole dress beaded with hundreds of iridescent beads, which gave the most gorgeous shimmer! Funnily enough, parts of the dress were very similar to my grandmother’s dress who got married in 1935.
Even before going wedding dress shopping I knew that I wanted a timeless, elegant lace dress. With that in mind my best friend and I went to the Pronovias store on New Bond Street. Each appointment lasts an hour and right at the end of the appointment (and after trying on 5 other dresses!) I saw a dress hanging up on the rail that I hadn’t noticed before. Although we had run out of time, I quickly unchanged, put the dress on and knew it was the one. I didn’t even leave the fitting room!
A Bit Of Bling
I’m not big on ‘bling’ but as it was for a very special occasion I went to see Gillian Million in Teddington. We spent an hour in her showroom going through the most amazing jewellery, talking about my style, what I liked and getting ideas for what I wanted for the big day. In the end we decided on a beautiful pearl headpiece with matching bracelet and earrings, which went perfectly with my dress. For my neck, Gillian designed the most beautiful Art Deco necklace. She also designed hairclips for my bridesmaids, each different but taking in elements from my jewellery. Gillian makes everything bespoke so you know that no one else will have the same, which is a really lovely touch.
My veil was also from Pronovias. At first I was going to go for a shorter veil but in the end I plumped for a full cathedral length veil with beading at the edging for the dramatic effect!
Take A Walk On the Wilde Side
My shoes were actually the first thing I bought, even before the dress! I met Harriet Wilde at the Designer Wedding Show in Battersea and fell in love with her peep-toe Marcie shoe. They were a fairly low heel (I am 5’9 so would be a giant in anything too high!) with a gorgeous lace trim on the heel and a net corsage on the front. Unbelievably, they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned!
I’m not a hair-up kind of girl so I knew that for the wedding I wanted to have my hair down! I met up with Louise Walsh in Norwich and together we decided on loose curls for a relaxed but glam look with my Gillian Million headpiece. For my make-up I wanted a sun-kissed, natural look with red lips! I love the 1940’s style and while I didn’t want to go all out, I wanted to nod to that era in a little way!
I actually had several florists! I love flowers, which was one of the reasons we picked Narborough Hall as it has award-winning gardens with a stunning array of the most beautiful flowers you will ever see. This fitted in perfectly with the look I was going for – an elegant, sophisticated take on the English country garden. For the barn area of the venue we went for a more rustic-chic look to keep in with the surroundings. The flower arrangements around the venue came from the gardens of Narborough Hall whilst the button-holes, corsages and bouquets came from Arcade Florist in Great Yarmouth. The flowers we used were avalanche roses, hydrangeas (which are my absolute favourite flowers), eucalyptus, bouvardia and gypsophila. We chose flowers that had a delicate scent, which left the most gorgeous smell when we walked past! For the table centrepieces we hired beautiful silver candelabras and antique rose bowls from La Belle Amour and Starlings florists provided the hydrangeas and green fashion roses which Joanne, the owner of Narborough Hall, made in to the most stunning arrangements I have ever seen.
To keep in with our elegance theme, we went for black tie for the groomsmen – there’s nothing more stylish than a man in black tie! As the groomsmen were travelling over from New Zealand and Australia we decided to hire their suits from Moss Bros.
The bridesmaid’s dresses were designed and made by my mum in gorgeous champagne silk. We wanted different styles to reflect the different personalities of the girls but kept the colour scheme the same to bring it all together. They were absolutely stunning!
David joined the groomsmen wearing black tie. He looked the most gorgeous I have ever seen him – like a kiwi James Bond!
Our photographer was the ridiculously talented Katherine Ashdown. We didn’t actually meet Katherine until our engagement shoot (we are based in London rather than Norfolk) a few months before the wedding! But from seeing her incredible work online, chatting with her over the phone, I knew she was going to be perfect. Her shooting style is relaxed and fun and our photos have turned out so much better than we could ever had imagined. We even did a retro style tennis shoot in our wedding outfits, which had a hint of a Ralph Lauren vibe to it!
I also decided to hire a videographer. David didn’t know anything about it, it was part of his wedding gift from me! Needless to say he was quite surprised when the videographer turned up to film his cricket match on the morning of the wedding! After trawling through many websites and blogs I found Nick and Maria Bentley of Studio 1208. They are based in the north of England so we chatted via email and on the phone so they could get a sense of what we were like as a couple and what direction they would go with the film. Nick and Maria are two of the most incredible people I have ever met – funny, cool and so talented. The film they created for us is not only so, so beautiful but is produced like a Hollywood movie! It’s amazing to have a keepsake of our wedding day and we get to see all the details we wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. We were completely lost for words.
Ribbon and String
My amazing mum made our wedding cake. We had 3 layers, each different flavours – raspberry sponge, chocolate and fruit cake. She decorated it herself with fresh hydrangeas, lace ribbon and strings of pearls to tie in with my dress. It was delicious!
Because we had guests travelling over from all over the world we wanted to entertain them with great music and lots of fun things to do. For music we had a string quartet that played before the ceremony and during our afternoon tea sit-down meal, which provided such a lovely atmosphere. I always wanted to walk down the aisle to Des’ree’s ‘Kissing You’ and I got to do it with the very talented Charlie Green signing. Charlie then sang Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife! She then sang throughout the afternoon, including a 1940’s set and a group sing-along on the lawn outside the hall with all our guests. It was magical! For the evening we hired a DJ who played some great tunes in the barn.
For our guest book, we had a Polaroid camera and asked people to take a funny picture of themselves, glue it in our book and write us a message. Some of the pictures were so creative and very funny!
And no English summer afternoon would be complete without croquet, so we hired a croquet set from the local Downham Market club, which our guests loved! In the early evening we had a vintage ice cream bicycle serving the most delicious ice cream ever! We also hired a caricaturist but unfortunately his car broke down en route so he never made it!
And of course, our guests could enjoy the breath-taking grounds at Narborough Hall and have a go on the rowing boat on the lake.
Lets Stay Together
Our first dance was Al Green’s ‘Lets Stay Together’. The words of the song felt very fitting for us and we wanted something we could really dance to! We decided to go all out and do a whole routine so David and I spent quite a lot of time on YouTube researching and working out our moves. We ended up only practicing 3 times before the wedding but surprisingly it went really well!
Our favours were a real family affair! Again, I wanted to keep the very English theme so my uncle and aunt made our secret family recipe of ‘Scrumptious Strawberry Jam’ and ‘Whisky Marmalade’. My mum bought the jam jars online and made the covers whilst Sam, my good friend who also happens to be a creative director (lucky me!) designed the labels. They went down a treat and some of our guests have tried to put in orders for more!
Elegant And Sophisticated
The general décor and theme for the day was an elegant, sophisticated English garden party – think Pimms on the lawn, croquet and afternoon tea! We also wanted a tennis theme throughout as both David and I are avid tennis fans so we named our tables after our favourite tennis players and sourced some vintage tennis racquets as decoration. Because the venue was so big, at first it was quite daunting to see how we could pull everything together but I was very lucky to have some amazing help. Being a creative director, Sam, was fantastic at designing all our stationery with a Union Jack and silver fern (for New Zealand) bunting theme. She made everything from our Order of Service to cocktail menus to personalised sweetie bags! My mum designed not only the bridesmaid dresses, but also the most fabulous table plan using lots of different photo frames and fixing them onto a huge framed board. The gorgeous Kelly at La Belle Amour provided us with the most beautiful hand made lace bunting for the marquee, along with the silver candelabras, vintage candle votives and antique rose bowls. We even ordered two heart trees to stand behind the top table!
For the barn area in the evening, we went for a rustic-chic look. We decorated the barn with ivy, willow branches, vintage tennis racquets, pictures of David and I from childhood right through to today, lots of fairy lights and silk lanterns. We used an old fashioned Welsh dresser in the barn as our sweet treats corner! We sourced vintage glass jars and decorated with lace and ribbon and mum even made a “Sweet Treats’ bunting. The sweets included some New Zealand favourites, Pinky and Buzz bars to name just a few!
Then outside the barn we hung fairy lights around the swimming pool and lit the fire pit to create a romantic but fun atmosphere!
Although this sounds a little cliché, what made out wedding unique was marrying David. Seeing him as I walked down the aisle with my dad is something I will never forget. It was, and probably always will be, the most special thing I will ever experience. Our wedding was also very ‘us’. It was both an expression of who we are as a couple but also of the love that we have for each other. The other thing that made our wedding so unique was the people. Having our friends and family all together in one place to celebrate David and I was just the most incredible feeling ever. My sister even wrote us a special poem called ‘Let Our Love be an Enigma’ which made the both of us cry during the ceremony! The main piece of advice I would give brides to be is relax, take it all in and cherish every moment. It is a memory that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Venue – Narborough Hall Gardens
Dress – Pronovias
Shoes – Harriet Wilde
Headpiece – Gillian Million
Photographer – Katherine Ashdown
Singer – Charlie Green
String quartet – Malt House String Quartet
Rebecca is from Norfolk originally and David is a Kiwi so they wanted to provide their guests with a quintessential English manor wedding… a la Downton Abbey. Well, I certainly think they succeeded.
The dress is perfect on Rebecca, David is “James Bonding” it up to the max and the maids and groomsmen all look stunningly turned out. I also love the nod to english sporting heritage, right down to the table names.