Natalie & Tony's wedding day is just brimming with quirky and thoughtful details. They've used plant of the moment, pampas grass, to perfection - combined with rich berry toned blooms and gold details, the final look is relaxed, rustic, stylish and very inviting. Natalie looks gorgeous in her vintage inspired gown and her stunning headpiece adds a little touch of glamour to proceedings. Images come from the lovely Nichola at Lemonade Pictures who has truly captured all of the fun. As well as the magic of their stunning venue. Check out the ceilings! What a place to hold your wedding reception...
The ProposalNatalie The Bride: Tony proposed in the very beautiful Lake Maggiore at The Italian Lakes & I honestly had no idea. He isn't usually the most romantic person, but to pull that off was so special & such a surprise to me. We'd been travelling all day & I was complaining that I was tired, but he insisted that we take a taxi boat that he had arranged over to a restaurant which in its self was breathtaking. He really did his research & planned it to perfection. It was honestly the single most magical thing that ever happened to me. He still can't believe he pulled it off, I'm known for not usually missing a trick! Hehe! We got to planning the very next day.
The BrideI visited a few bridal boutiques in London & whilst I did find the style of dress that suited me, nothing was screaming '"choose me" I wanted something timeless & that I will hopefully look back on & still adore in years to come & possibly even passed down to my daughters. As luck would have it, a new bridal store Story Of My Dress was due to open in my village. I visited Cara on her first day of opening & rather excitedly found the foundations of my gown. It was a Sanyukta Shrestha 1930's inspired silk gown from the designer sample rail, & we totally redesigned it. I had a really strong idea of how I wanted it to look & I just knew that Cara totally got it. With the help of the very talented Gill (dressmaker) & many appointments later, we got to the point that we had all imagined & I could not have been happier. It was bitter sweet when collecting it, Cara was so fabulous & just lovely & it was a little sad knowing that that part was over. I had my heart set on the Manolo Blahnik (Carrie Bradshaw) blue heels from pretty much day 1. But stumbled across an almost identical pair from Dune at an absolute steel in comparison, total doppelgängers! I just couldn't justify the price difference. They looked wicked with my gown. I had purchased my tiara from a gorgeous local shop, it was hand made with vintage broaches & jewellery purchased at a Paris flea market, a complete one off & I just adore it. But I also really wanted a flower crown & so my florists made me one. I wanted to incorporate something seasonal being the Spring (my favourite time of the year) so opted for beautiful cotton blossom, Kelly & Vanessa added David Austin roses & again I just loved it. I really liked having the two different looks on the day.
The GroomTony loves a well cut suit & originally we had talked about having something tailor made but left it too late. We wanted to keep the relaxed Italian feel of the day so he & the Groomsmen chose Ted Baker & French Connection suits, no tie but it all looked really smart. I insisted on being part of this process as I had feared the 4 of them would spend longer in the pub than focus on the job in hand!
The Wedding PartyI like a mixture of colours & textures & wanted to incorporate metallics into my Maids looks. I had four Bridesbabes & a flower girl. My two besties (we have been friends since before we could talk), my two daughters & my cousins daughter. I was so happy when it all came together as until the day, you can only imagine how everything will look. Their gowns were from Two Birds, Topshop & Monsoon.
The FlowersI love flowers but wanted something really different. My bouquet was all foliage of eucalyptus, succulence & peacock feathers. My eldest daughter had a smaller version of mine & my youngest had a flower & foliage hoop to carry. My two besties wore wrist corsages. And my diddy flower girl had Angel Wings made from pampas grass which were just too adorable. We actually ended up with quite autumnal colours in the centrepieces, maids & buttonholes. I wanted to incorporate the deep burgundy reds & peonies are one of my favourites. I knew instantly at meeting Kelly & Vanessa from Wildfire Flowers that they were perfect for our wedding floristry. Again they just 'got me' from the very beginning. In fact we would often joke that we could read each other's minds! I thought that I'd be a bit of a control freak over certain aspects (and I'm sure I was at times) but it was so nice knowing that we were all so in tune & I pretty much just trusted that they would make everything perfect, & they absolutely did.
The VenueBeing so fond of Italy, we considered having our wedding there, but really wanted to share it with as many of our family & friends as possible, so decided to try & create a little Italy at our venue...We were originally going to hold our wedding party in our garden as we live in a pretty village with the church as our neighbour, but quickly realised that having our wedding at home wasn't the best idea. But we wanted something unique & not at all obvious. We were advised to go check out Nettlestead Place, if I'm honest, I didn't hold out much hope as we thought we had considered every possibility. How wrong we were, we fell completely in love with the place. Amongst so many other appealing factors, we were told on our first visit that our much loved dog was allowed to attend, we were never even considering not having him at our wedding so this sealed the deal! He was the most handsome 'Best Dog'.
The CeremonyTony & I have both been married before & were really keen to keep our day focused on bringing not only the two of us but our precious children together. There was something so special about having them all there to share such an incredible day with, all be it not really the norm. I made my entrance into the Undercroft by myself shortly following my girls. I am very close to my Dad who I adore but something didn't feel right about having him walk me down the aisle for a second time. I walked in to Bruce Springteens' 'If I should fall behind' the words are so profound & it was very emotional, in fact I was a blubbering mess! Our daughter gave a beautiful reading called 'The Art Of A Good Marriage' There's a lot to be said for second time marriages, I totally think it makes you appreciate every moment. A cliche I know, but I married my soulmate & best friend & it feels fabulous!
The ReceptionThe Undercroft was not only used for our ceremony but also our wedding breakfast (this being our little bit of Italy) we filled the stone arch windows with lots of church candles & tea lights in my favourite scent & we had our breakfast tables adorned with eucalyptus & candle sticks. It was so romantic & perfect & felt as though we were enjoying a meal with family & friends in the Tuscan Hills! Theme was a rustic Italian, little bit vintage & boho. Colour scheme/decor, opulent textures of metallics, deep burgundy & foliage. Oh & tons of fabulous pampas grass!
The FoodCatering was again a big deal for us. We are real foodies & after being let down not once but twice by other caterers, we met with the wonderful Home Gurr'own. As with all of our choices, Nicci & Sophie were incredible!! So flipping organised (not our best trait) & accommodating. We wanted a relaxed, rustic, eye catching, sharing feast with our nearest & dearest & my goodness did they deliver. We received many compliments. Tony & I had a table for two at our wedding breakfast, it was so lovely to be able to have a couple of hours chatting alone & watching some of our nearest & dearest interacting & having a jolly nice time. I'd highly recommend that as it really was one of our favourite parts. Home Gurr'own are so much more than caterers though, Sophie (my right hand woman) was fabulous! Another person who Tony & I grew very fond of. Not wanting a wedding planner, I was fairly confident that we (I say that loosely) could pull it all off ourselves. Sophie was our coordinator on the day & without her it would have been chaos! Rebelling against quite a few wedding traditions, Tony & I decided against a traditional wedding cake & instead opted for a retro caterpillar cake from M&S. Bride & Groom Connie & Colin worked perfectly! You've gotta love a nostalgic caterpillar cake! We had cheese straws instead of canapés & our evening guests were served unlimited amounts of fish & chips & we had a fab hot stone pizza stand which worked really well.
The PhotographyPhotography was probably the easiest decision, but at the same time the most terrifying! I had seen Nicola from Lemonade Pictures' work on RMW & funnily enough she was highly recommended by Cara at Story Of My Dress. Turned out she was only 15 minutes away from us & it all just felt perfect. Photography was a big deal for us, neither of us wanted anything forced & too posed, but instead, quirky & fun with a little bit of editorial which is exactly what we got. Nicola is so lovely, & being the absolute pro that she is, she made us feel so relaxed & in the nicest possible way, we honestly didn't even notice her most of the time. We are over the moon with our photographs & I look at them every single day.
The VideographyWe decided rather late in our planning to have a videographer & again, so glad that we did. I had seen Shutterbox Films on a blog & we booked Lee without even looking elsewhere. As with the pictures, we were both quite worried that we would really dislike watching ourselves, but we were thrilled with it, Lee is so talented! We both shed a few tears when we received the films & again I've watched it about 200 times! We had the addition of a drone which captured the beauty of our venue perfectly.
The PartyDue to limited space in the house at Nettlestead, we had to have a marquee for our party, which was my biggest worry as I'm not that fond of them. But with the help of yet another great man who became a friend (Dave the marquee man) , we turned it into the best party room. We hired some vintage furniture for the witches tent, had a Moroccan cushioned lounge area, along with some white cube seating & poser tables. We didn't want too much seating as we wanted to encourage everyone to dance their socks off. We also styled the marquee with ginormous pampas grass chandeliers & huge galvanised vases full of pampas grass which our brilliant florists made & surrounded them with yet more candles, they looked incredible!! Blowing my own trumpet a bit but this part was my crowning glory which I am really proud of, it looked super cool boho & nothing like a standard marquee. Dave even got rid of all the faffy frilly bits of fabric that is typical of a marquee, & had clear windows installed to please me. It looked amazing! We worked with a local supplier to create our 'I bet that you look good on the dance floor' lit up sign, it looked so cool next to our fabulous band The Black Hat Band. We had seen them at Boisdale in Canary Wharf a couple of times & were so happy that they could play at our wedding. They really are superb! Tony had failed to give the band the correct playlist (rolls her eyes) for our first dance, so I spent most of it screaming in his ear asking how the heck were we supposed to dance a slow romantic first dance to Lady Antebellum, Need You Now! This being the only part of our film that makes us both cringe ever so slightly. We made sure that the correct song featured in our wedding film mind, so it wasn't all bad.
Final Thoughts & AdviceOur wedding really was not only about the two of us, but also a celebration of our blended family. Being limited on space for our ceremony & lunch, we gave our speeches during the evening for everyone to endure...ahem...I mean enjoy! It worked really well & everyone said it was a nice touch. So many times I read "don't sweat the small stuff" but the styling & detail was so massively important to me. We wanted it to reflect us & our tastes & were so thrilled with how everything came together. Tony even admitted that until the day he couldn't understand why my stress levels were through the roof! We went quite a bit over budget (sigh) but we had the most amazing day & feel it was worth every penny. Our advice...we made a pact before our day that we would pace ourselves with the pina coladas and we made sure we were together most of the time. We kept taking 5 to just soak it all up.
Bride: Story Of My Dress | Shoes: Dune | Groom & Groomsmen: Ted Baker | French Connection | Bridesmaids: Two Birds | Topshop | Monsoon | Florist: Wildfire Flowers | Venue: Nettlestead Place | Food: Home Gurr'own | Wedding Cake: M&S | Videography: Shutterbox Films | Band: The Black Hat Band | Make Up: Wedding Make Up By Nicola