Sarah the Bride:
Phil booked a surprise weekend away and proposed on a walk in the Peak District 10 years to the day that we met. The next day we went to Nottingham where we met at Uni and visited our old haunts. While sitting in a cafe we talked about different venues and jokingly phil said what about having our reception in our garden. We had recently moved to a house in a small village in kent with a big, overgrown garden. We both laughed it off as a mad idea but the more we talked about it, it made complete sense. Home is a special place to us, we wanted a personal, relaxed wedding and also needed an incentive to sort the garden! Saving money on a reception venue was also a plus.
We chose Swarling Manor
as our ceremony venue where they hold ceremony in the grounds of their beautiful Georgian manor nestled in the valley of the Kent downs. We often admired it when walking past on walks.
We wanted a very personal handmade wedding and the garden suited a floral, vintage fete vibe. Choosing a colour scheme was impossible - too many amazing colours so I just went with whatever colours I felt like at the time!
Next we sorted the food and went for afternoon tea by Vintage Rosebud who also use vintage china. Sarah and Jo were so helpful and ran the reception for us. We also hired some vintage games from them which went down well getting everyone talking. My step mum Dee made handmade chutneys which were a nice touch.
For the place settings I sprayed dinosaurs gold with a name card around their neck. Phil and I bonded over a love of Jurassic Park so the dinosaurs featured throughout the wedding- even in my bouqet.
For the dress, I fell in love with the Jenny Packham
style- glitzy but informal. This was out of my price range so eventually found one on eBay after dragging my bridesmaid Zara around half of London.
Being in the garden flowers were an important part. We found a great supplier called Blooming Green
who do pick your own flowers. In early September the colours were so vibrant and it felt really personal individually picking the flowers. My bridesmaids and I had grand plans to tie our own bouquets but Michelle a family friend came to our rescue and took charge of flower arranging. Thank you Michelle they were so beautiful.
By February we realised the mammoth task of sorting the garden. It was once very well loved but after years of being left it was a wilderness infested with ground elder, one of the most vicious weeds going. Nearly every weekend Phil and I spent in the garden, rain or shine. We're so grateful for all the help we had. Phil's parents and two family friends Myles and Michelle were our gardening saviours - we couldn't have done it without you, thank you.
With a month to go I realised quite how much there was to do so started to approach it like a work project. We had an army of helpers the week before the wedding so had a day by day plan of what needed to happen with each area of the garden broken down into zones and assigned a lead. It
may sound OTT but took away the stress and meant we could have fun whilst satisfying my control freak urges!
I had quite a haphazard approach to decorations- I had an idea or saw something that I liked and I made it and worried later about how it would all fit together. The photo wall was an fun project that Phil did with my dad. I think there's a lot of pressure to have an perfectly pruned day so we were conscious not to put too much pressure on ourselves. One of my bridesmaids is an organisational queen so kept me in line!
My bridesmaids were truly amazing and made what would have been a painful experience.... bridesmaid dress shopping loads of fun. We went for blue classic dresses which worked well in contrast to the floral colourful garden.
I asked one of my bridesmaids Zara to do my cake-for years I’ve enjoyed her yummy treats so it was very fitting. The cake was so beautiful and tasty with real flowers which cascaded down the side.
The actual ceremony didn't need much decorating as it spoke for itself. Out of the whole day we really enjoyed the ceremony as it brought home what the wedding was all about. We had 75 guests which was which was a nice size meaning we got to spend time with everyone. Having it in our garden felt really personal. We forgot a cake knife so just grabbed one from our kitchen. We also needed an axe to chop wood for the fire so I went into the garage, climbing over the lawn mower. We danced the night away with the Bad Pandas and fireworks.
Our photographer was Helen from Helen Schryver
. She was really fun and relaxed during the day. We're so pleased with the photos and she really captured the essence of the day. Thanks Helen!