Petra and Jon’s wedding has got to be up there as one of my favourite weddings of 2016. Granted we’re still in January but there are so many gorgeous and beautiful details that I can’t help making such a bold statement. And when you look at all the gorgeous images courtesy of Sarah-Jane Ethan you’ll see why.
I’ve never been to a lakeside wedding much less one imbued with so much history as that of Sandhurst Military Academy but I can tell you that I would very much like to attend such a do.
Before I go on, can we take a minute to appreciate the boat…filled with drinks no less, oh and Petra’s Pronovias Dago dress too – isn’t it exquisite! And then there’s the men in uniform, the oversized peony bouquet, the MIRRORBALLS!! Click, click, click…that’ll be me pinning away. Come and take a look!
Petra The Bride: Deciding in which country to get married was a very tough decision for both of us (I am from New Zealand) as it meant one of us had to sacrifice having family there who were not able to make the 27-hour journey across the globe. This decision leant in favour of England as we were lucky enough to get married at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) where Jon is based. This was particularly poignant given my grandfather had visited during his time serving for NZ in WWII.
The Bride’s Fashion
Thanks to hours on Pinterest I had a very specific look in mind, none of which suited me in reality! Louise at Chobham Brides in Surrey guided me to try on the Pronovias Dago Dress – as soon as I pulled it on I knew that it was the one – something that hugged my figure yet still formal to suit the occasion and the style of the wedding. I had visions of the photos on the Academy steps, so a train and veil (also from Chobham Brides) were a must. Being more of a trainers and jeans girl I decided to splash out on Jimmy Choos and the bridesmaids had a similar style by Dune with Coast dresses which were simple enough to wear again. I don’t believe in spending money on a beautiful dress that can’t be worn again – well, except the wedding dress that is!
Hair & Make-up
Camilla from DeVallanger Design totally got me – during our consultation she said ‘right, I get it, you want to look like you… but better’; I think it’s odd if a bride doesn’t look like she usually does to her husband – he is marrying you for you, not what you look like caked in makeup. She emphasised my good points and hid my stressed out skin – my makeup lasted all night and I didn’t touch it up at all. I had a couple of hair trials with her and made sure I gave her really clear instructions on what I wanted. My hair had gypsophila weaved in through curls that were all my own after a year of growing my hair.
The Big Day
Whilst the kiwi ladies were enjoying themselves at Tylney Hall being pampered, Jon and his crew were setting up the BBQ area – throwing hay bales around, sanding down logs(!) and making sure they had a bit of a paddle on the lake for fun – not so much fun for my brother who has hayfever and nearly knocked himself out sneezing!
In keeping with tradition I arrived 15 minutes late and entered in to the Sandhurst Royal Memorial Chapel which is well known amongst all Officer Cadets training at the Academy. I entered through six Guards of Honour, who were individuals that Jon has served with over the years – despite the fact these guys are supposed to be rigid – they put me at ease and made me laugh on the way to the door – my hands were shaking so much the petals were falling off the flowers!
Jon booked the choir that they use for military ceremonies and the Priest (who is also a soldier) and a close friend of Jons. He made the ceremony fun and relaxed and added humour to the occasion. We finished the formal bit with a solo of Ave Maria while we signed the registry – which bought the house down – particularly my dad who is an old softie! The guests then were lead through Old College for photos on the Academy steps (where all cadets commission, including Harry and William) then down Kings Walk to the main event on the edge of lower lake.
The ceremony was very formal and we wanted to put people at ease, so the vibe changed when we led people down for a BBQ – I love mini food so the canapes were mini burgers with a tomato salsa shot, kumara chips and fresh fish, and mains were a BBQ – Canadian style which reflected where Jon proposed (Yukon River, Canada). My job involves working with small businesses so I was an advocate of having good local produce. Except of course the wine, which had to be from New Zealand – Mud House Sauvignon Blanc/ Pinot Noir and Champagne was ordered direct from a beautiful vineyard I visited with girlfriends in my single days.
We had no seating plan for the dinner as per our sign “One is a Kiwi, One is a Brit… You choose where you sit” as we had people from all over the world we wanted them to mingle and get to know each other. We have massively different music tastes and the DJ managed to read the crowd very well – the highlight of the dancefloor was my Mum getting her groove on to Snoop Dogg.
My big brother (honorary bridesmaid) has to have a special mention, aside from dancing the floor in to the ground, he hired a videographer to make an oddly beautiful video of his favourite moments of our growing up, but also arranged with my lovely cousin Andrew in New Zealand to get some family clips – this was an amazing gift and bought me to tears. He ALSO made some of the dessert – little fudge squares which I totally think he should sell commercially!
I wanted to make sure I knew our exit plan and arranged for the DJ to crank up Jon’s favrouite song – Space Oddity by David Bowie – he carried me to my waiting car and the rest is history! Now I am getting used to being an Army wife and it was honestly the best day of my life.
Beca Line-Perkis, fellow army wife and Great British Bake Off contestant created a lovely but simple Victoria sponge cake with Italian meringue icing – we both hate fruit cake so definitely didn’t want that!
The best advice I got in the planning was from my boss – ‘think back to the weddings you’ve been to – and what did you really notice’ this really helped me focus on what was important – good wine and good food! The setting was beautiful enough, we didn’t need to do anything to dress it up.
Also we were brutal with our wedding invites; if we hadn’t been for a drink with the people in the last year or we didn’t think we would see them in the next year, we didn’t invite them. With so many international guests, we wanted to make sure we had time to properly chat with everyone there.
Listen to what people usually whinge about after a wedding – not enough food or drinks, we over catered for that and didn’t hear any complaints, well maybe a few sore heads the next morning!
Oh and also Jandals (kiwi word for flip flops)…buy a box on ebay and your girls will dance ten times harder.