Image by Ruth The Bride: The very first thing that Tom and I decided upon was the venue. We had been to the literary festival at Voewood a couple of years before and had fallen in love with the house. Each room is utterly unique and the house is filled with the owner’s unbelievable art and book collection. Voewood also has the most beautiful garden and grounds. We tried to find somewhere similar nearer to Leicester but no other venue came close. We decided it was worth the distance, especially considering you have the house from the Friday morning until the Sunday afternoon and there would be room for all of our close friends and family to stay there with us!
The next thing I started thinking about was my dress. I tried on lots of stunning dresses but there was always something that wasn’t quite right. I was starting to panic when about 6 months before our wedding I came across a photo of a bride wearing the most gorgeous dress whilst trawling through Voewood pictures. I found out the dress was made by a designer called Dana Bolton who is based in Muswell Hill. I was very lucky to get an appointment with her as she was extremely busy but I’m so glad I did because as soon as I showed Dana my sketches she seemed to understand my ideas completely. The dress she made was absolutely beautiful and I felt completely comfortable and myself in it. I love it all the more now the bottom is covered in grass stains, mud and red wine. I had planned to sell it afterwards but can’t bring myself to do that now. Dana also made my veil which I absolutely adored wearing. I was also incredibly happy when I found the Shepherd’s Purse in Whitby who made all the flower crowns for the bridesmaids and I. They were made of velvet flowers and fitted the bohemian look of the house perfectly. They also sent me some extra flowers which I used to make a head band for my mum and a hair clip for a flower girl.
Finding Tom’s suit was much easier! We walked into Decorum Menswear in Holt and found a gorgeous blue Ted Baker suit in the sale which fitted him like a glove. We then bought waistcoats and ties for the ushers but as we didn’t want them to entirely match each other we asked them to get whichever trousers, shirts and shoes they wanted. They ended up looking great.
I also wanted the bridesmaids to have their own styles so they all bought different dresses in ivory or cream but that they felt completely comfortable in. They all looked beautiful.
We decided upon our caterers quite early on as well. Byfords have many pubs and restaurants in Norfolk which we have visited and we even got engaged at ‘The Pigs’ so their catering company Back To Your Place was an obvious choice. We wanted to have picnic food so that everyone on the tables would have to share out the food and it would immediately get people talking to others they hadn’t met before. We decided upon a cheese cake rather than a traditional wedding cake as we both love cheese! Country Fayre in Leicester Market did an amazing job of packing all the layers up in cool bags so we could get it to Norfolk and even lent us a big slate! There was lots of cheese leftover but we sent everyone who helped tidy up on the Sunday away with a big lump of it! To make sure there were also some sweet things we asked all our guests to contribute a dessert or pudding. We never expected them to do such an amazing job. The dessert table looked incredible. I just wish I’d had a chance to eat some of it! I am especially grateful to my mum who not only fed the 30 people who stayed in the house on the Friday night but also made loads of cakes and pies for the dessert table. She’s the best. To make sure guests had something to eat straight after the wedding, we asked my sister in law Mareile to make some canapés as she is an amazing cook. She spent all of the Friday slaving away in the Voewood kitchen and made the most delicious canapés I’ve ever had. We are so grateful to her. To make sure everyone had something hot to eat in the evening we hired Christophes Crepes to bring their stall and set up out the front of the house. They served savoury and sweet crepes until everyone was completely stuffed!
Our wedding had no particular theme. We just wanted it to be very fun and relaxed, and not at all formal. We very much wanted the ceremony to reflect this. We were very lucky on the weekend as the weather was beautiful. It had always been my dream to get married outside and I still can’t believe we were able to. The best moment for me was when I came out of the house on my dad’s arm and stood on the terrace. The sun was shining and I could see Tom and all of the people I love waiting across the garden for me. I only just managed to keep it together at that point. Tom and I had written our own vows together but had kept them very short and poignant which is lucky as were both on the verge of tears! My mum read the touching lyrics of her favourite song ‘The Pebble and the Man’ by Bridget St John which had all the ushers welling up. Tom’s sister is incredibly good at reading poetry aloud and she chose a beautiful poem called sonnet 17 from “One Hundred Love Sonnets” by Pablo Neruda. Annoyingly not all the guests could hear during the ceremony because the registrar had us standing a bit further back than I had planned but I tried hard not to be frustrated by little hitches like that when most of the day was so perfect. Our friend Anneka is a jewellery designer so she made our wedding rings for us and we absolutely love them. It was very special for me that my nephew Theo carried the rings for us and that all of our nieces and nephews played such major parts in our day. They were all so lovely for the whole weekend and they had the best time staying in the house all together.
For entertainment we had loads of garden games like French cricket and badminton on the lawns but we also bought some sacks and there were quite a few sack races. After the ceremony we had the DixieMix Jazz Band playing on the terrace. They were terrific and really got everyone dancing. In the evening we set up our own disco using a spotify playlist and a friend’s lights. We hadn’t been sure whether to have a first dance but we’re so glad we did as when we look back it was one of the most special moments when everyone joined in with us. Unfortunately at 11pm the speakers blew and had to be replaced by a portable speaker in a tin bread bin but that was fine as we had to turn the music down at midnight anyway. The party carried on until the early hours with friends who are musicians playing the piano and their guitars.
I love flowers but knew there wouldn’t be much room on the tables for vases due to the picnic baskets. So when I met with Karan from Blooming Blooms I decided upon wild looking posies of pink and peach roses and blue hydrangeas for the bridesmaids and I, with similar looking bouquets to be dispersed around the house. It ended up looking really beautiful. The button holes also looked brilliant and were very important to me as they made sure that Tom’s dad and my brother were also very clearly part of the bridal party.
I made a car full of different sized tissue paper pom poms in blue, pink, peach and gold. To fit with the picnic theme we decided upon palm leaf plates and wooden cutlery. I ordered lots of giant balloons which the ushers blew up in the morning. I attached some to the picnic baskets using fake ivy and had some with tassel tails dotted around the garden. They were worth every penny and all the effort. I was very sad to let them all go on the Sunday afternoon. Our friend Sam runs a prop hire company and we borrowed all the blackboards and the post box from her which was really helpful, and my friend Kate did a brilliant job of writing all the important info on the blackboards. We decided upon a bird theme for the tables, purely because we love birds. We had a little fake bird on top of the picnic basket on each table which along with the balloons added a nice whimsical feel to the grand main hall of the house.
One of the best decisions we made was hiring Kerry to take the photographs. She has done the most amazing job and we really will cherish all the amazing shots she has got of our family, friends, and the house, as well as of us. She was also such a calming and fun person to have around on the day. I personally found her a very helpful and reassuring presence when at moments it all got a bit overwhelming. I could not recommend her more!
I am really pleased that we organised and made so much stuff ourselves as it meant we felt even more proud of how well the day worked out. However, being a bit of a control freak, I did let some of the tiny things that weren’t quite right distract me at moments during the day which is such a shame as to everyone else it appeared to be perfect. My tip to anyone else would be to remember that the day really does fly by and no one else will notice all the little tiny things that aren’t quite how you envisaged so just enjoy every minute!