This afternoon’s wedding reminds me just how much I love a gown with a gorgeous back. And this one is pretty special – just enough skin to be sexy yet still demure, and embellished with beautiful silver detailing.
Daphne by Jenny Packham looks like it was made for gorgeous Bride Missy – it’s sweeping, elegant and Grecian, but has lots of pretty sparkles too.
Missy and Dom planned their Norfolk wedding at Chaucer Barn from their home in South Africa. They decided to marry legally in their home country, but held a Wedding blessing ceremony in Norfolk so that Missy could have readings from loved ones, a first kiss and her Dad walking her down the aisle. A moment which Katherine Ashdown has captured wonderfully.
I went shopping with my Mum and a very open mind but I had a sneaky suspicion I would end up in something floaty and unstructured. The Bride in St Albans was our first appointment. After going through the racks I had picked out a variety of styles from different designers to try on but I was really drawn towards the relaxed shapes and jewelling on the Jenny Packham dresses.
I know lace is very fashionable at the moment but when I tried lace dresses on I felt like I had raided my nans wardrobe or a dressing up box, they just weren’t me. I also didn’t like the way the more structured corseted dresses felt…like I couldn’t relax and be free. I knew I wanted to be uber comfortable on my wedding day and be able to sit down and enjoy the food etc. and these dresses did the opposite! We left the JP dresses till last and I knew as soon as I tried Daphne on she was the one. I immediately fell in love with the jewelled open back and flowy skirt. I went to just 2 other bridal boutiques after that but none of them measured up to Daphne.
I was very cautious when choosing my accessories as I wanted the dress to really shine and didn’t want to dilute it by adding lots of accessories. I bought a simple pair of teardrop diamond earrings by Jenny Packham from The Bride which matched the shape of the beading on my dress. Then in the days just before the wedding when I was trying my dress on at home with my mum, we picked out a simple chain-link bracelet with elephants on that Susie my ‘to be’ sis-in-law had given to me for my Birthday back in February to wear (this was my little piece of Kenya ☺). And my Mum gave me a blue sapphire and gold ring to wear which was my ‘something old, borrowed and blue’. My something new was my dress!
If it was up to Dom he would have pitched up in a pair of board shorts, t-shirt & flip flops. So we always knew he was going to end up in something smart/casual. I bought his outfit myself (which wasn’t easy!) on a trip back to UK in March 2014 with my Mum. I had done a fair bit of research on the internet and we had decided that Dom would wear a navy blue suit with white open neck shirt (NO TIE!) Accessories were simple, brown shoes and a belt. Although, I did get him a pair of yellow socks to tie in with the colour scheme.
The venue and more specifically the location was probably one of our hardest decisions we had to make throughout our whole wedding journey. Living in Kenya, and with friends and family on both sides of the equator it was always going to be difficult. I had always dreamed of having my wedding in the family home that I grew up in but sadly my parents sold our family home back in 2012, however we also have a family home in South Carolina, USA and initially we were both really keen to have the wedding there. It would have been small & intimate with the ceremony on the beach. Unfortunately due to logistical problems we ruled this out. So as my parents were hosting the wedding we plummeted for UK and more specifically North Norfolk which is where Dom & I actually spent our first weekend away together back in 2010.
Our family had also started to holiday there in recent years so we had many memories to draw on from the area which was really important to me. So on a day trip up to Norfolk just weeks after being engaged I had organised to visit 3 venues one of which was Chaucer Barn and first on our list. Although in a coastal area of Norfolk not so familiar to us I think I knew as soon as we arrived that this is where I wanted to get married. It is sold as your home away from home and that is exactly what I wanted!
It had a sense of warmth and familiarity to it and I loved that you could stay there for a few nights and really feel at ease in the house like it was your own. The gardens are beyond beautiful and that was another big positive factor. We always knew we wanted to have the ceremony outside and there is a beautiful wild flower meadow with a path running through it that was just perfect! I think the fact that we were there for a good 3 hours said enough. We continued on to the other 2 venues both hotels that we were familiar with but upon arriving back in Kenya and sitting down with Dom and talking him through all the different options and looking at pictures on the internet we chose Chaucer Barn.
Our colour scheme grew very organically. I started off wanting a mint green/duck egg blue centred colour scheme however we ended up with lemon yellow taking centre stage. Accompanied by the traditional whites, creams and ivory, navy blue also played a large role in the men’s attire. Otherwise, the florist was very influential in forming the rest of the decor colour scheme in which she added soft apricots and a touch of duck egg blue into the foliage to the other already chosen colours.
With the venue and gardens being so stunning themselves I didn’t want to go overboard on the décor so I decided that fewer more standout pieces were the key. A lot of my inspiration came from Pinterest and I think the first piece of Décor I bought were my paper lanterns to go in the marquee in soft yellow, ivory, peach and duck egg from the The Hanging Lantern Company.
I then also found a really cool guest book idea from Bspoak called a ‘Drop Top Guest Book’ whereby guests would write a message on wooden hearts and then drop it into to the top of the frame.
Not being in the UK for the majority of the planning was always going to make this side of things a little tricky, but through my photographers private Facebook group for her brides I found Kelly from La Belle Amour who came to my rescue. Through her I hired items such as chalk boards for signage (Seating plans & Order of the Day), tea lights, balloons, hurricane lamps etc. She also then came to the venue on Wednesday the day before the Wedding and helped with styling. She was a godsend!
Sarah from Bramble & Berry was recommended to me by the venue and our photographer and by simply going on line and looking at her beautiful work I booked her. With the majority of the wedding day taking place outside in the gardens at Chaucer Barn I was cautious not to go overboard on the flowers, so just chose to go with the essentials (bouquets, button holes & table centres) plus a couple of extras; a pair of olive trees at the entrance to the marquee, some very loose and natural arrangements at the base of the willow arch where the ceremony took place and a flower crown for my niece who was a flower girl which she LOVED!
We chose predominantly roses as they were perfect for the time of year in whites, creams, soft yellows and apricots with bluey/green foliage. I wanted the flowers to be somewhere in the middle between structured and free form and she achieved just that.
I must say my flowers on the day were one of the things I LOVED THE MOST, I think because it wasn’t something I overly thought about. I wish I could carry around my bouquet every day!
The Wedding Party
I was originally dead set on putting my Bridesmaids in a minty green/duck egg blue colour, however after a ton of internet shopping and a big trying on session at home none of them worked. So we went shopping the next day with a very open mind and ended up choosing a soft lemon yellow dress from Ted Baker. It was a lovely shape and although not a colour I had even thought about using in the wedding decided to go with it as it looked so lovely on!
The flower girls were easy. My seven year old niece wanted to look very traditional and as long as she could twirl in her dress she was going to be happy. So I ordered about six dresses online for her to try on, and my favourite was also her favourite! I’ll never forget the moment when she tried it on along with her two year old younger sister…they grabbed each other’s hands, cheered with joy and swirled each other around, it was adorable and a rather emotional moment.
My two year old niece was also seen wearing a second dress which had little elephants and giraffes on it (another nod to Kenya). Their older brother Fred was my ‘Ring Dude’ (note: ‘dude’ NOT ‘bearer’). He followed the mens navy blue and white theme in a pair of navy shorts and a white shirt both from J Crew Kids and a pair of Birkenstocks. The Groomsmen wore the same white linen shirt as Dom from John Lewis and a pair of navy blue suit trousers from M&S. Simple, smart and unfussy.
Due to the legalities of Dominic being a British Citizen but unable to register his intent to marry in UK, we decided to legally wed in Kenya. We went with two friends one Monday morning to Mombasa registry office and 15 mins later we were married! A slightly bizarre, but, still meaningful moment in our wedding journey.
I still very much wanted a proper wedding ceremony…for my Dad to give me away, readings from loved ones and a first kiss! So after a little internet research I found a lovely lady called Tina from Mulberry Days who could perform a Wedding blessing ceremony. After a few email exchanges we booked her. Everything was exactly as you would expect from a normal ceremony just without the signing of the register and the freedom for things to be made more personal.
We chose our own words to say to each other during the exchange of rings and vows, we also had a hand blessing. There were two readings one of which was a self-written poem by my eldest brother Daniel called ‘The Sun and the Honey Bee’, my name Melissa meaning Honey Bee which was SOO beautiful and very personal. Bringing many guests to tears, including myself.
Disco Wed were recommend to me by the venue and our caterer. They are a London based company whose main business is called Disco Shed in which they perform at festivals and London events. Paddy was our DJ and also included in our package were some lawn games to keep the guests entertained during the reception. Paddy said he has never seen the Jenga tower get so big!
Alex Chef was recommended to us by the venue and after my Mum and Dad kindly took a trip up to Norfolk to meet with him, we booked him! We chose to have canapés during the reception, a three course sit down meal and then a ploughman’s buffet in the evening. Deciding our food options was fairly easy as after tasting Alex’s food we had no doubt it would be delicious whatever we chose! We went for six canapés; two meat, two fish & two fish to make sure there was something for everyone! They were: oysters on the half-shell, with a sharp chilli tomato shot, salmon teriyaki with sweet ginger soy dip, quails egg scotch eggs with a mustardy piccalilli, thai chicken croustades with fresh mango, asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce, crispy vegetable spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce.
For dinner we had serrano ham, manchego shavings, rocket, fresh figs and Spanish olive oil, followed by ribeye steak with thrice cooked chips, green beans and thick béarnaise sauce or roasted halibut, thrice cooked chips, samphire and hollandaise sauce or roast heritage tomato and Norfolk white lady tarte tatin served with a ruby chard salad. And for dessert a deconstructed mulberry, mascarpone cheesecake, lime syrup, hazelnut pralines followed by Coffee/tea and petit fours.
The ploughman’s buffet consisted of handmade breads, cheddar cheese, sliced baked ham, sausage rolls, celery, apples, classic English salad, chutney and mustard. Perfect pick me up food after a bit of dancing! It was all delicious!
Katherine Ashdown was first recommended to me by Margaret at Titchwell Manor Hotel (one of the venues we considered) and then again by Chaucer Barn. After some further research online looking for wedding photographers based in the North Norfolk area. Both Dom and I decided we liked the style of Katherine’s photos the best! So yet after another trip up to Norfolk by my Mum & Dad to meet with her, we booked her. And I think took her last slot for 2014, so were VERY lucky!
I could not have wished for anything more from our photos, they truly captured the happy, fun, relaxed atmosphere of our day and are just beautiful! They will be cherished not only by us but by our family and close friends for all our years.
A Taste Of Kenya
One highlight from our day was the presence of Tusker Beer. Tusker Beer is an iconic beer in Kenya and we knew we HAD to have it at the wedding! Luckily there is a distributor selling it on Amazon so we bought 100 bottles and guests from both Kenya & UK thought it was awesome!
– Trust in peoples recommendations.
– Don’t become a Pinterest Wedding Victim.
– There are NO good Wedding Apps, Excel will become your best friend!
– If you are short of time, don’t give yourself too much choice & go with your gut!
– Don’t stress on the day when things go wrong, because they will!
No Wedding is perfect and that’s what makes it beautiful ☺