Step aside Pippa Middleton there's a new lace dress in town; the absolutely breathtaking gown of bride Michelle's with its delicate illusion back and long sleeves. Michelle also has an equally stunning entourage of ladies in mint green Ghost Sylvia gowns, which are so elegant & chic. And not to be outdone by the ladies are the groomsmen in very dapper navy suits & bow ties. I simply adore the picture by Hollie Carlin Photography of the boys outside the sheds, and did you see their gentleman's cigar and whiskey bar? Northbrook Park in Surrey is a gorgeous light and airy venue and perfectly complimented Michelle & Joe's classic pastel wedding. The blooms are out of this world, featuring some of our absolute favourite stems; David Austin Roses, Hydrangeas, White Astilbe, Dahlias and Eucalyptus, with the hanging paper lanterns and gorgeous stationery also adding the wow factor.
Our StoryJoe the Groom: Michelle and I met 10 years ago when my two best friends Nick and Nigel lived next door to her at their university halls of residence. 8 years down the line I proposed on Christmas day (our favourite day of the year) … and in doing so ruined Christmas dinner! 3 bottles of champagne down before cooking meant that dinner for all the family didn't quite go as planned, but for all the right reasons!
The VenueMichelle the Bride: We must have viewed over 20 different wedding venues! But just couldn't see ourselves getting married in any, until we came across Northbrook Park! The second we drove into the beautiful grounds we knew that this venue was the one. We were really happy we had hung out for a venue we completely fell in love with. We were married in the stunning vine room and even though the rain didn't stop all day the room is beautiful and bright and once the ceremony started we totally forgot about the weather. We had our reception in the Orangery, which even without decoration is beautiful in itself with its exposed brick walls and trailing plants covering the walls.
The Bride and BridesmaidsI must have tried on 100 dresses! (There is a pattern here!) It was something I thought would be easy to find and I really thought the first shop I went into I would have that moment of finding 'the one'. I knew that I wanted sleeves and most wedding dress shops only have a couple in this style so the selection was always very limited. In the end I got my dress from Amorae Bridal in Ongar, Essex. I knew as soon as I looked through the rails I would walk out with my dress, which was a huge relief as at the point of visiting this shop the wedding was only 4 months away! I am tall so I chose some Badgley Mishka shoes with a small heel which I got my brother to bring over from America where he lives, and I bought a pair of glitzy flats to change into in the evening. I didn't wear any jewellery as the dress had quite a lot going on and I didn't want it to look too busy. I chose to wear a cathedral length veil as I thought this added great drama to the dress, you only get to do it once so you may aswell go the whole hog! I had some fresh flowers from the florist and plaits in my hair so I still had some detailing once my veil was taken off. I had 3 bridesmaids, and the very first dress my maid of honour Kerry tried on was the Ghost Sylvia dress. She fell in love with it and in her words 'there was no going back after it!' I originally wanted them to wear all the same colour (dusty green) but different styles, but they all ended up loving the same style, and they looked absolutely stunning. They each chose their hairstyles and makeup themselves as I wanted them to feel comfortable and look like themselves all day. My flowergirl had a lovely dress from John Lewis, and a beautiful flower crown which the florist made, I was a bit jealous and almost wish I had of had one made for me too!
The Groom and GroomsmenJoe the Groom: Including both of our dad's, I had 14 groomsmen in total! One of Michelle's brothers lives in Miami, and I had groomsmen in London, Liverpool, Bolton and Birmingham so it was a job in itself finding a shop that could cater for all of the different sizes we needed. Not only that we had to hope that when everybody arrived for the wedding everything fitted everybody (it didn't and we had a last minute rush to swap suits a couple of days before the wedding) but we got just the blue/navy colour we wanted and everybody looked so handsome. The nights leading up to the wedding Michelle and I made gift boxes for all of my groomsmen which included their favourite spirit for some dutch courage that morning, some socks, cufflinks, braces and bow ties so they had everything they needed for the day.
The Photographer/VideographerMichelle the Bride: Our original photographer let us down and I got in touch with Hollie Carlin with only about 8 weeks to go before the wedding. It would have been one of the only Saturdays she had free in the whole year and she was supposed to be going on holiday that week, but she agreed to do the wedding for us. We are forever in her debt! Hollie was fantastic and I couldn’t recommend her enough, we felt like we had a friend photographing us. I didn’t expect to love the photos as much as I did, we were absolutely over the moon with them! I would highly recommend Hollie to anybody. We had Russell from Bride & Zoom there to record the video for us, and he was absolutely lovely, I didn't met him until the day and he was just fantastic.
The FlowersA friend recommended Steph at Belle Fleur to me, I went to visit her at her home one Saturday afternoon and had booked in with her by that evening. I wanted the flowers to be quite wild looking, but still soft and romantic. She was fantastic, and despite being very ill in the run up to our wedding she still managed to deliver the most beautiful blooms of David Austin’ Roses, White Astilbe, Astrantia, Dahlias, Eucalyptus and mixed foliage. I bought all of the vases myself in different sizes, and collected lots of tea light holders from various shops to decorate the tables.
The FoodFriends of ours who married earlier in the year recommended our local pub, The Kings Arms. Peter and Jack were amazing and so many people commented on how good the food was. One thing we loved about our venue was that we had no restrictions on food or drinks, we could use whichever supplier we chose and there was no corkage so we were able to provide a free bar for guests all day and night without it breaking the bank. We loved having total control of our menu and gave our guests a selection of canapés, the option of thai king prawns, vegetable tian and duck terrine to start, followed by some of our favourite meals - roast lamp rump, seabass or butternut squash risotto for our main course. This was all finished off with a trio of our favourite desserts - lemon tart, brownie and cheesecake. We had a hog roast with loads of trimmings for the evening buffet. We were able to get a bit creative with the drinks, we had big barrels full of bottles beer, pimp your prosecco, 3 dispensers which were filled with pimms, water, pink lemonade, and for the evening we had a gentlemans corner with brandy, whiskey, rum, cigars etc. This went down very well (with the ladies too!). We also had mini Jagermeisters as our favours, which we all did at the end of our speech to get the party started!
DetailsThe venue was stunning so didn’t need too much decoration, in the morning the groomsmen put up lanterns from The Hanging Lanterns Company inside the Orangery. We had a Polaroid camera for the guest book, and a picnic basket full of flip flops which went very quickly! My bridesmaid Kerry made us framed pictures of Joe and I as children with a 'MR' and 'MRS' printed on them to stick on the ladies and gents doors. My sister Jane was amazing both before and the morning of the wedding, I don’t know what I would have done without her! She is an artist and very creative so she made all of our invites (including a website for peoples menu choices which made passing it onto the caterers so much easier), I just gave her an idea of colours and she went off and designed something better than I imagined! She then did our place names and table plan in the same style, our signage (welcome to our wedding, pimp your prosecco, choose a seat not a side, gentlemans corner etc). She also supervised where everything was going the morning of the wedding which was great as I knew I could 100% trust her without having to go and check over anything myself, so I was able to enjoy the morning.
EntertainmentWe had a string quartet playing before, throughout and after the ceremony and throughout dinner, The Dotted Crochets. I walked down the aisle to Pachabel Canon in D which makes me cry every time I hear it! The Recessional was Signed Sealed Delivered. My sister in law Raj did a reading of the Time Traveller by Terah Cox, and my bridesmaid Sophie did a reading of I will be here by Stephen Curtis Chapman. For the evening we had a band called Recover who played a mix of songs that kept us on the dance floor most the evening. We ended the night on a Dirty Dancing medley which a DJ friend of ours put together for us as we both love the film, and I ended up being crowdsurfed for the last 5 minutes which was a great high to end the evening on! Most of us then continued the party into the very early hours as there are cottages on site meaning most people were able to stay at the venue - it was great not having to go home at midnight! When Joe proposed I really thought that I would be planning the wedding by myself and that it would be something he would have no interest in, but I was so wrong and I was so glad of that! Every decision had to be ran by him, and more often that not it would be him emailing me with ideas, not the other way round! He was really excited about getting married and that's something that I will always love remembering.
AdviceNot everything goes exactly how you plan for it to and that’s ok, nobody notices the small details apart from you and in the grand scheme of things they are really not important - if at the end of the day you are married, you have food, drinks and music I would call that a success! Although it took me a while to find the dress, venue etc, I very rarely got stressed throughout the whole wedding planning. One thing I always felt was very lucky to be able to have the wedding of my dreams and to be marrying my best friend that I tried to never take any of it for granted. Try and enjoy every minute as when it's over you will miss it! Everybody in the room is there for you both and you can really feel the happiness everyone has for you, that was the best feeling in the world! It really was the best day of my life and I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
Videographer: Bride & Zoom | Brida Boutique: Amorae Bridal | Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mishka - Libretto Kitten Heel | Hair & Makeup: Lydia London Makeup | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ghost - Sylvia | Flower Girl: John Lewis | Venues: Northbrook Park | Florist: Belle Fleur Florists | Catering: The Kings Arms | Cake: My Little Shop of Cakes | String Quartet: The Dotted Crotchets | Lanterns: The Hanging Lantern Company