I am so excited to bring this divine wedding to you this morning, it literally screams romance, and magic, and I just want to be transported there immediately, and so will you. The secluded Normanton Church on Rutland Water is a little slice of heaven, residing in the most picturesque of locations and making for the dreamiest of portraits captured by the oh so talented White Stag Wedding Photography. Then there's the intimate secret garden reception at Castle Cottage Cafe, Oakham which has been styled to perfection by the bride herself, which lucky for you, she will soon be launching her own wedding planning business by the name of French & Belle. Plus I can't tell you how much I adore all the beautiful blooms by Michele Gledhill. Whether the stems are placed in bottles or they are hand tied in the most exquisite bridal bouquet, they are sure to knock your socks off, as is everything else. Pinning fingers at the ready...


Michaela the Bride: Andy and I always wanted our big day to be intimate and personal. Neither of us comes from a large family, and so we set our hearts on a small wedding with a relaxed, garden party-esque vibe. Our families live quite a way from our beautiful little town of Oakham, so early on in the planning stages we came up with the idea of splitting our day into separate parts and making it a bit different. As a graphic designer and illustrator it was important for me to control all elements of design direction for the big day. Ultimately we wanted to create a day to remember, full of love, creativity and ease.

Colour Scheme & Decor

I am obsessed with all things white or grey and loved the idea of having a simplistic and relaxed secret garden style wedding. Our vision from very early on was to keep the feel of the day as casual as possible. Neither of us wanted the day to be ‘formal’ and so we reflected this through details such as our washed grey linen table cloths and hand painted calligraphy. From the moment we saw Castle Cottage we knew the garden provided a great canvas for our reception. We combined old with new, incorporating my love for grey and white with the quirky café surroundings and vintage table wear. We purchased vintage glass bottles from eBay and lined these down each table with white linen table runners and simplistic wooden based table numbers made from beautiful khadi paper. We decided on an open marquee with light white drapes, festoon lights and suspended floral arrangement of foliage and white peonies entwined through a vintage wood window frame. As a child I loved the film ‘Secret garden’, and even though Castle Cottage was beautiful to begin with, I knew we could transform it into something dreamy and magical.


For the table plan we restored a Victorian sash window. We started by repairing the window, painting it in a white shabby chic style and replacing the single glazing with mirrored glass. Each table of guests were allocated a separate pane and it we sat it on a heavy duty artist’s easel. We enjoy DIY and tried where we could to make use of things we already had in the house. For our welcome sign we used an old picture frame that we repainted and wrote on using white glass pens. We also recycled wine bottles and scattered these around the reception venue with white drip candles. We tried to incorporate elements from Castle Cottage garden, filling a vintage crate with cozy grey throws and working with the quirky details Castle Cottage already had to offer. Vintage mirrors and plants adorned each brick wall around the garden, and vintage tea cups could be seen hanging from the trees.


Our wedding cake took pride of place inside a cute little summer house that we surrounded with candles and vintage bottle flower arrangements. I sourced handmade Khadi paper for table numbers and name tags, and used grey watercolour to hand write each one using delicate calligraphy. Table number bases were made from a scrap piece of wood that we cut down and sanded until smooth.

Special Moments

It is difficult to think of just one favourite moment as the whole day was perfect; however Andy and I absolutely loved the boat cruise that followed our wedding ceremony at Normanton Church. It was the perfect way to cool down on such a warm summer’s day, and the beauty of Rutland water never ceases to amaze us. We chose to keep the trip a secret from our guests until the day, so it was a wonderful surprise for them when the Rutland Belle pulled up alongside the church ready for us to set sail.


My favourite crafted detail was the delicate calligraphy name tags that we threaded through grey ribbon and tied round vintage cutlery with single olive branches. Each tag was lovingly hand painted onto white khadi paper stock using grey watercolour.


My one piece of advice for brides-to-be would be to enjoy the planning stages as much as possible and not get too overwhelmed with it all. As stressful as wedding planning is, it’s soon over and you will actually really miss it when it’s all done and dusted. I wish I could do it all over again.


We used the amazing White Stag Wedding Photography for our wedding photography. We came across a previous RMW submission that they photographed and knew straight away that we had to book them for our big day. Their light and airy editorial approach captured the feel of our day perfectly, and it was amazing to see so many natural shots of laughter and smiles on people’s faces. Andy and Catherine made us feel extremely relaxed, and are wonderful people through and through. We couldn’t have expected any more, and their passion for photography definitely reflected in the finished pictures.


We chose Normanton Church on Rutland Water for our small candlelit ceremony. Andy and I fell in love with the history, beauty and romance of this beautiful little church sat right on the water’s edge. It was different to anything we had ever seen before, somewhat magical on its own little island surrounded by swans and white sailing boats.

Grooms Attire

Andy wore a cream herringbone tweed suit from Marc Darcy and Goodwin Smith brogues. He had been searching for a suit that wasn’t too formal, something timeless that he could wear again in the future. Marc Darcy offered quality and attention to detailing without the designer price tag.


My sister Danielle was bridesmaid, and our beautiful nephew Spencer was page boy. I gave Danielle the freedom to pick a dress that she felt comfortable in and would perhaps want to wear again in the future. After trying on numerous options she opted for a beautiful navy maxi dress from Debenhams, with cold shoulder ruffle design and keyhole neck detail. For spencer, we found a lovely little linen short, striped shirt and braces set from NEXT kids.


For my bridal flowers I chose a hand tied unstructured botanical bouquet filled with white delphiniums, peonies, stocks, and other varieties of white wild flowers, with touches of plum astrantia and a blush protea with mixed foliage and trailing ribbon handle in tonal shades of grey. Our reception venue was decorated with a suspended vintage window dressed with greenery and white peonies, soft ruscus foliage garlands twisted around the marquee poles, small floral and foliage arrangements for the vintage glasses bottles on each table and two large sprays of foliage on the gateway entrance to Castle Cottage with trailing grey ribbons.

Bridal Gown

Ever since I can remember I have had my heart set on a mermaid shaped wedding dress. After trawling through endless images on pinterest and instagram I found the perfect Pronovias gown and decided to hunt it down. I have always had very particular taste and new what I wanted so it was an easy decision to make. I finally found the dress stocked in a beautiful bridal boutique in Warwickshire called Rachel Ash Bridal. It was everything I hoped for with its sweetheart neckline, and delicate ivory tulle detailing. I knew there and then it was the dress for me.


For the adults we filled glass bottles with port, and decorated these with grey ribbon and handmade Khadi paper labels. Children were given grey and white striped sweetie bags.


My sister Danielle made us a beautiful two tier semi-naked vanilla velvet cake with white chocolate drip ganache. Our florist, Michele Gledhill decorated the top tier with a delicate unstructured floral and foliage arrangement, incorporating elements of my bridal bouquet.


Andy and I love acoustic music, and after seeing Ben Vickers play at his cousins wedding we knew he would be perfect for our big day. Ben is extremely talented and offered a relaxed and soulful musical accompaniment throughout the day - he played myself and my father down the aisle, and really set the mood for our intimate and emotional ceremony. Into the evening he alternated between DJing for us and treating us to some more fantastic live performances. He has such an individual and unique style and the crowd loved him, we can't imagine anyone more perfect to have entertained us and our guests on our special day!


Elizabeth Clarke, from Elizabeth Clare hair & makeup artists did our hair and makeup for the big day. My sister and I opted for loose waves with airbrushed foundation, smoky eyes and soft brown lips. Elizabeth followed the brief exactly, and made us feel more beautiful than we could have hoped for.
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Pronovias | Bridal Boutique: Rachel Lash | Hair Accessory: Ivory & Co. | Bridal Shoes: French Connection | Hair & Makeup: Elizabeth Clare | Bridesmaid Dress: Debenhams | Page Boy Outfit: Next | Grooms Suit: Marc Darcy | Grooms Bow Tie & Braces: Mrs Bowtie | Grooms Shoes: Goodwin Smith | Venue: Castle Cottage | Tipi: Rutland Marquees | Florist: Michele Gledhill | Boat: Rutland Water Cruises | Musician: Vickers Beard

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