Kate and Toby had a relaxed and stylish wedding at Buxted Park. Kate looks effortless glamorous in her fishtail Benjamin Roberts and Toby rocked the Reiss in style. With friends and family arriving to celebrate from all over the UK, Buxted Park offered the perfect solution for the ceremony, reception and accommodation, not to mention beautiful interiors and views.
A restaurant (or in this case Gastropub) wedding has a special place in my heart because thats what I did, but it’s also a genius idea when it comes to the budget… get the right kind of place and they often only charge for the food/drink consumer disposing of costly hire. And when they have as much character as this venue, you save on decor too!
Genius all round… lets get back to the snow filled Christmas cheer!
Most couples worry about how much they spend on their wedding, but for us it had extra significance as Andy found out he was being made redundant not long after he proposed. We knew we still wanted to have a proper celebration for our wedding, but it certainly kept us focussed on the budget! We sat down and prioritised what we felt was really important and what came out on top was the feeling of having a great party for our family and friends – great food, a cracking DJ and a decent amount of booze to get everyone in the mood. Having people who played a key part in our lives was also important, so we kept the guest list to just 60 people and didn’t necessarily invite family if we didn’t actually have that much contact with them. We quickly ruled out traditional wedding venues and started looking at restaurants that would be able to offer a more informal atmosphere.
The Peasant gastropub in Clerkenwell really fitted the bill. Nick, the manager, is passionate about the amazing food served there and he totally got our ideas about a party rocking late into the night. With a minimal hire fee we were able to put our budget where it mattered – on the menu and behind the bar! The pub had a set menu agreed with us which people chose from on the night, and to save money we had a choice of desert or a cheeseboard rather than both. As we had a wedding cake later in the evening we felt everyone’s sweet tooth would be catered for.
On the night the food was a-ma-zing, everyone loved it. The team at the Peasant really put everything into making sure our guests were enjoying themselves and so many of our guests have said they want to go back there for another meal. They also really cared we had the party we wanted – the snow had affected their deliveries and the wine we had chosen hadn’t arrived at the pub. They chose a more expensive wine which they gave us at the same price as the original so we didn’t have to stress when we arrived. Nick even stepped in when we realised we had forgotten the silk tie to bustle up my lace train – he dug out a piece of string and a penknife from the kitchen which did the job!
We were really lucky with our reception venue – the Peasant is such a funky pub it didn’t really need much dressing. The downstairs bar is filled with posters from classic bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols, and the upstairs room has a fabulous circus theme. They already had amazing vases of flowers on the bar, and because it was Christmas there were a lot of fairly lights and candles. They recommended Violets and Velvet as they normally do their flowers and Sam really got the look we wanted.
Annamarie Stepney was a fantastic choice as a photographer. When we first started meeting photographers a couple of them brought their portfolios and they were all of stick thin brides in sun-drenched French chateaus, while we really wanted to know what they could do with a London registry office on a dark winters evening. Annamarie got this and had a portfolio with quirky city weddings, funky receptions and winter days (and nights). She does also do a skinny sunny wedding though, so if you are having a classic summer wedding in 2011 then do give her call!
On the day she was worth every penny. The snow had started to close off roads and train routes so the day before the wedding she actually stayed in a London hotel close to the venue to ensure she would make it. When we were ready to leave the hotel for the venue the hotel revealed that the elegant wedding cars we had booked weren’t going to make it, and they didn’t seem to have any constructive ideas about how I was actually going to make it to my wedding. Annamarie got stuck in and ran up and down the street trying to hail a cab. After some negotiation with a group of guys on their way to a fancy dress party we had a giant people carrier to ferry us all there. It might not have been what I had in mind when I envisaged arriving at my wedding, but we were on the move and that’s all that mattered.
Annamarie had to repeat her efforts after the ceremony – the red London Routemaster we had filled with champagne to take us to the reception was stuck in snow so all our guests were tramping around in the snow with Annamarie standing in the middle of the road flagging down taxis. There’s actually a really funny picture she captured of Andy pulling a face as another wedding party drove past in their red bus – obviously their company had better shovels!
Andy and I had already decided that we didn’t want to disappear for hours on our wedding day to have photographs taken; we wanted to crack on with the party. Poor Annamarie had about 20 minutes in the dark to capture her shots and I think they were just amazing. My whole family fell in love with her and she was great at just getting to know everyone so we didn’t have to worry about fetching people for photographs.
Annamarie also helped cheer us both up after the wedding. After seven hours at Gatwick the following day, our honeymoon was cancelled due to snow. We’d been looking forward to it for months so coming back to our flat afterwards felt like we’d landed back to reality with a giant bump. Annamarie found out and worked through the night to produce a mini selection of photos in a couple of days to remind us of how lovely the snow actually looked.
I hadn’t initially given our cake much thought, I knew that formal wedding cakes could be very expensive and neither of us liked a traditional fruit cake. Then someone told me that their wedding cake was from Konditor and Cook – a fantastic London bakery that I go to regularly. They were able to do a tiered version of their classic lemon cake, topped with a delicious butter cream icing.
We came up with the idea for the cake topper because Andy and I originally met in a canoe – we were both on holiday in Slovenia and a group of us went white-water rafting down the Soca River. I didn’t have a canoe so I hopped in with Andy and the rest is history……
The Dance of your Life
An old fashioned cheesy disco was always our favourite choice; we wanted everyone to be up and dancing all night. DJ Catfight was recommended by the Peasant and he was fantastic. He kept the energy going with some party tunes, weaving in some indie classics towards the end of the night. We gave him a list of the sort of music we liked with some no-nos: no songs with official dances and no Black Eyed Peas (sorry guys but I just HATE their music).
Music is really important to Andy and I, we go to gigs all the time and we wanted to be able to express this during the ceremony and reception. Choosing our favourites turned out to be quite a daunting process – we needed the sentiment and the tempo to fit the situation.
In the end I walked down the aisle to ‘Can’t help falling in love’ by Elvis, a classic song that we love and also the team theme song for Andy’s beloved Huddersfield Town football club. While we were signing the register we played ‘You are so beautiful’ by Joe Cocker and ‘Something changed’ by Pulp, two amazing songs and both favourites of ours. To walk down the aisle we truly embraced our inner geek and played the theme from Star Wars. It’s a cracking piece of music, we love the original films and our friends all laughed and cheered at our choice.
Our first dance was ‘Baby I love you’ by the Ramones. It’s a brilliant song, with just enough rock and roll to keep Andy and me happy, whilst still having a romantic sentiment. We didn’t practice in the build up, because the song is up-tempo we were able to swirl each other around the floor in a fairly competent manner. In all the photos we are either singing or laughing our heads off at this point, which I think is a good thing.
Because we were getting married on a tight budget we decided that we wouldn’t have favours as it was something that our guests wouldn’t miss. My mother offered to buy them for us and she chose mini Christmas crackers with a personal message from the bride and groom. However, the heavy snow in the weeks before the wedding meant that delivery was delayed and so they didn’t reach us in time. The company who were supplying them were obviously really concerned and kept on sending more boxes. Rather hilariously they all arrived just after the wedding at Christmas so my mother now has 240 crackers in her garage that she’s not sure how to use!
Reminiscing over Decor
We didn’t need to do a lot to decorate our venue, but we still wanted to add some personal touches. We knew both sets of parents were initially disappointed we hadn’t gone for a more traditional wedding so we wanted to show family was important to us. We made our own invitations using old photos of our grandparents and parents on their wedding days, and we used these photos again in the table decorations. Our table plan was actually a memo board turned on its side with the plans and more photos clipped on.
At our ceremony my friend did a reading of ‘I do not love you’ by Pablo Neruda. Despite the slightly contentious title, it’s actually a poem about how love isn’t actually about an over-idealised romantic view of the world but about something real and straightforward between two people. I didn’t realise how significant it would actually be on the day, but as more and more elements fell victim to the snow and so many of our guests called and texted to say they couldn’t make it I realised that I just wanted to marry Andy and nothing else mattered.
The parts of the day that I remembered were all about people – I remember my mum and dad giggling away as we skidded about in our wellies, my sister and Nick trying to tie up my bustle with some string, Emma and I trying to work out how to use the loo with a 3 foot train, the wonderful speech from my dad that reduced me and my mother to tears, the friends and family that travelled for so long in horrendous conditions just to get there and everyone on the day gamely getting involved and being so happy to see us get married. Mostly I remember saying my vows to Andy, feeling so happy and meaning every single word.
Advice from a Bride
So, my advice to other brides is to not sweat it. If you’re getting swept up in all the planning and feeling the stress then remember that even if things go wrong on day it really doesn’t matter. If someone had told me before my wedding how many of my careful plans would fall by the wayside, I would have had a full on bridal melt-down. But on the day, with the people closest to you all just smiling and cheering, and the man you love beaming as you walk down the aisle towards him, then you do remember what your wedding is all about.