We haven’t shared a wedding with sunflowers for a while, so it’s lovely to bring you Hazel & Charles rustic big day from Packington Moor, which is just brimming with the gorgeous blooms! They really can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
As well as the pretty sunflowers, Hazel & Charles had the genius idea of giving guests adorable seedlings of the trees their tables were named after. Not only did this look fab, but isn’t that such a lovely way for people to remember your big day? Imagine having a commemorative tree in all of your guests gardens – it’s such a lovely thought.
The whole day has been captured by infamous husband and wife duo, Anna and Simon from WE ARE // THE CLARKES – who always manage to make their couples feel completely at ease. Oh, and if you love Hazel’s dress, make sure you check out more from Naomi Neoh in our Look Book.
Whatever you are doing today and however you are feeling, I promise that this wedding will make you smile.
There are sunflowers for a start – possibly the happiest flowers of all time. And the biggest, most fluffiest rabbit that I have EVER seen. And lots of lovely yellow things – yellow socks, yellow ties, yellow wellington boots and a yellow VW Camper van.
Ali and Ian held their joy-filled ceremony and reception at Ian’s parents’ house. The effort that they all put in is phenomenal. Ali created her own jewellery bouquet from vintage brooches collected by her and her family. They also made the bunting, the too-cute yellow gingham stationery and the rustic signage.
The Father of the Groom spent months preparing the lawn (This must be a Dad thing – I know mine would be envious of those perfect green stripes) and Ian the Groom rigged up generators, power cables, microphones and speakers.
But the hard work was definitely worth it – this wedding looks like it was an absolute blast.
Personal & Warm
Ali the Bride: We got married in September 2012, in Ian’s parents’ garden in Nottinghamshire. We had a humanist wedding, as we wanted the freedom to have the ceremony where we wanted, with words that meant something to us. This was a great decision, as Ingrid, our celebrant, did a fantastic job, creating a service that was so personal and warm. It also meant we got to have two weddings, as we did the ‘legal bit’ a few weeks before at the local registry office, which was a great excuse for a slap-up meal, plus a second wedding dress!
Polka Dot Tulle
I always knew I wanted a shorter-length dress, so that narrowed my search quite quickly as they are relatively thin on the ground. I did try on a whole range with my mum and aunt, just to be sure, but they agreed with me that the 1950s-style dresses worked the best.
The assistants kept trying to put me in lace, and, much as I like it on other brides, it’s not me at all – I wanted clean, simple lines. I never thought I’d find a dress that met my ever-growing criteria (not strapless, no lace, with polka dot tulle…), and was about to settle on a perfectly nice dress, when one day I was working over near Manchester and finished early.
A few weeks earlier I’d found a place near Liverpool, that was the only UK stockist of Fancy New York dresses, but it’s so far from my house, I couldn’t justify a special trip. But when I found myself nearby, with a spare couple of hours, I thought it was worth a try. I rang Emma at Look Darling and she agreed to see me straight away. I dashed over, tried on the Madeleine dress – and that was it. It was just what I wanted. Emma was so helpful, and arranged for me to get polka dot tulle, that featured on another dress, added to the Madeleine. To top it off, it was less expensive than others I’d been looking at. So well worth the drive!
I got my petticoat made by David at Petticoat Perfection, who was absolutely lovely, and spent a great deal of time on the phone to me working out what I needed. I never realised there was such a science to petticoats – layers, tiers, weight of fabric, binding…but it arrived a week later and suited the dress perfectly.
The dress alterations were done by my friend Zoey at the brilliant Iris Bartholomew Couture. She is very used to dealing with stressed out brides, and did a fantastic job of calming me down at my final fitting two days before the wedding, as well as making my dress fit perfectly.
She also made my veil, from an extra piece of polka dot tulle I’d bought with the dress. Originally I’d wanted a proper birdcage, but they are normally made from very loose weave net – with my fabric, I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing. So she created something close to that, which allowed me to not trip over! She also made me an ivory 1960s-style shift dress for our civil wedding a few weeks before.
Although normally I’m a fan of big dangly earrings, I decided with the veil there was enough going on, and went for simple pearl earrings, my ‘something borrowed’ from my mum.
As soon as I saw a brooch bouquet, I knew that was what I wanted. I know 99% of brides won’t agree with me, but I’m really not that fussed about flowers, whereas I LOVE jewellery, so holding a bouquet of sparkly jewels really appealed to me! I started collecting brooches from charity shops, with a vague idea I’d make the bouquet up nearer the time.
Once friends and family found out I was collecting, they gave me pieces too, which was lovely. Even my dad got into it, and found me some costume jewellery that had belonged to his aunt, so it felt like every piece had a real story. In the end my mum and I made the bouquet 3 days before the wedding. She came to the rescue with a flower holder and lots of wire, and we spent the evening weaving it all together. I actually had tiny scratches all over my hands on the wedding day!
Whilst browsing for brooches, I came across a lovely 1950s set of white jewellery – a big brooch and matching clip-on earrings. I wore the brooch on my dress, and the earrings as shoe clips.
Shoes For Something Blue
I really struggled to find the right shoes. I wasn’t sure on the style, but definitely wanted them to be blue. I always thought I’d treat myself to some Manolos or Louboutins for my wedding, but as we were having it on a field, I knew I’d ruin them within 10 minutes, and really couldn’t justify it. In the end, I found two pairs and couldn’t choose between them, so I wore them both!
For the ceremony I wore pale blue suede shoes from Faith, with the earrings as shoe clips. In the evening I changed into some bright blue shoes from Rachel Simpson. They were in the sale for £25, which for her beautiful shoes is an absolute bargain.
A Neater Version
I went to Mac with my sister for a make-up lesson and treated myself to a load of new products, so on the day I did it myself, with Kate reminding me what we’d been taught.
I wanted my hair like a neater version of its usual wavy self, probably a nightmare brief for a hairdresser. But Tim from Catherine Carter did a great job. He had me in rollers overnight, which caused much amusement when we all went to my local pub the night before the wedding. It worked though, and on the day itself, the big 50s waves stayed in all evening.
My bridesmaid Andrea lent me her lovely sparkly pearl hairband she’d worn at her wedding, which I wore after I’d taken the veil off.
As I said, I’m not that into flowers generally, but I do love sunflowers for their yellow, cheery disposition. Luckily they were just about still in season. So we ordered 40 sunflowers from a local florist, and dished them out. My bridesmaids held three each simply tied together with ribbon, and the rest of the wedding party had a sunflower each as an oversized buttonhole. We put the last sunflowers in the wedding cars (our campervan, and Ian’s sister Helen’s campervan) and around the venue.
I liked the idea of having plants rather than cut flowers on the tables, so in theory they would last (not sure why I thought that, as pot plants only last about a week longer than cut ones in my house, but I live in hope!). Chilli plants are my favourite, so we potted them in Heinz tomato soup tins – I’m a big fan (my perfect hangover cure!) so had plenty of the tins around.
Bright Blue Skies & Sunshine Yellow
Of my four bridesmaids, two live outside the UK, so a joint shopping trip was never going to work. Plus they are all very different, and all have good taste, so I simply asked them to pick a bright blue dress of their choice. There were a couple of changes in the lead-up (one due to pregnancy, one due to an incident with hair dye!) and on the day, they all looked brilliant and complimented each other perfectly.
I got them all the Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes in different colours, which are so cute anyway, and having plastic shoes on a field seemed a sensible idea. George even wore hers again a few months later at her own wedding.
Ian asked the groomsmen to wear a suit of their own, and he gave them a yellow tie each and a pair of yellow socks. He didn’t want a formal look for them, so they all looked individual and themselves which was great. We also gave our dads the yellow accessories.
Ian always, always wanted a brown 3-piece checked suit with a blue thread. After searching the high street, he realised he was not going to find it, and went to a local tailor to enquire about getting one made. He was happy to make it, but only had Harris-type tweed which is far too heavy for the style Ian wanted. But, after a trip to a mill shop in Bradford, we finally had the fabric and a tailor. Ian’s best man Ali decided to go for it as well, so the tailor made up the two suits. After a bit of debate around the cut (they wanted slim-fit, not standard ‘farmer’ tweed fit!), they turned out spot on.
Ian also upped the ante and got a matching cap made out of the fabric, so he ended up with a 4-piece!
A Video Surprise
Anna Clarke was the first thing we booked. She has a way of using light and colour that is really distinctive. We met Anna and her husband Simon at our engagement shoot, and we all got on really well. They got photos of Ian smiling, which no-one before has ever managed to do, so I knew they had special talents! On the day itself they fitted in seamlessly, and we are so thrilled with the final pictures.
Simon is a videographer and he did us a ‘mini’ wedding film, which was a complete surprise and cheered us up immensely when we returned from our honeymoon feeling rather flat. I never thought I wanted a video, but I’m so glad we have it now.
We went for a cake-of-cheese, which was really an excuse to visit The Cheese Society in Lincoln several times for tasting sessions. We chose delicious local cheeses and it didn’t all get eaten on the day, meaning we had a ready supply in the freezer for several months.
Ian’s mum also made us 2 cakes as a surprise, one with tractor cake toppers as a nod to the farm setting, and one with bunny cake toppers, to represent our two pet rabbits who I reluctantly admitted couldn’t be there on the day. So in the end we had a cake table with 3 cakes!
Our catering was by Black Peppermint, and we can’t praise them enough. Food and booze are very high on my list of things that make life worth living, so we wanted a proper feast, and that’s exactly what we got.
Adam came up with the idea of a mini picnic as a starter, which perfectly suited the picnic-benches-in-a-tent feel of the day. We wanted everyone to dig in and share. We also ended up with a fourth course, a ‘pre-desert’ of lemon brulee, because we couldn’t chose between that and chocolate tart for pudding – so we opted for both!
The Perfect Soundtrack
Everything else about the day was relaxed, but we wanted something to be formal to signify the importance of the day. So we chose The Heyes Ensemble to play during the ceremony and drinks. Ian knows them through work, and it was lovely to have a classical touch to the day. Our friend Nick is a great musician, and he played and sang ‘Your Song’ for us during the ceremony, which was beautiful.
In the evening, we had a band called the Hijackers who we found through an agency. They were fab, and played just the right mix of songs. After they finished, DJ Ian took to his decks and it turned into a bit of a 90s club for an hour or so! Our friends loved it, our parents less so!
Ian installed the sound system in the tent. There is nothing worse than not being able to hear the speeches, so we wanted a system that could be used by everyone from my dad to the band. It worked a treat for us as we had all the different performers use the one system, including everyone doing their bit on iTunes into the small hours.
We chose ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ by Randy Newman, from Toy Story, because the lyrics are adorable, and it’s short, and because we like Buzz Lightyear!
As our venue was Ian’s parents’ garden, they did tons of work to make it look special in the months leading up to the wedding. The flowers in the garden were lovely, and Ian’s dad mowed the lawn twice a week all summer so it was perfectly striped on the day.
Our venue was two giant teepees from PapaKata, who were so professional and helpful. The teepees are beautiful structures, which look great in the day, and get even cosier at night if they are lit properly.
The music and lighting were really important to us. Ian has now set up a company doing music and lighting for weddings, because we realised it’s so hard to get what you want.
For the ceremony we had bright lighting so everyone could see, and then as dusk fell, put on the fairy lights we’d strung up everywhere. We installed pin spots in the roof structure to light up the tables – we wanted a cosy ambience for the meal, but you still need to see your food.
For the evening, we lit up a mirrorball which filled the tent with twinkles, and changed the atmosphere using colour washes of blue and purple. To give it a real edge, we hung scanner lights to get the party going.
Outside, Ian installed festoon lighting, which made the site feel like a proper festival. Helen and our friend Kati made what seemed like miles and miles of bunting, which we used inside and out. It really gave the whole venue a ‘decorated’ feel and we are eternally grateful to them for doing such a mind-numbing job, which neither of us would have got around to.
Helen also made us yellow gingham napkins for all the guests, and a table cloth for the cake table, which added to the picnic theme. What a star.
We made the wedding stationary ourselves, based around the yellow gingham. Ian drew a cute annotated map for the invitations, and I did matching menu cards and orders of service. They were printed up by Lefaprint, who turned them around in 48 hours which was excellent, and very necessary as like a lot of things, we left it to the last minute!
There Is No ‘Should’
During the planning, we got sick of people saying ‘should’ – you should have this, you shouldn’t do that – so the only advice we can offer: there is no ‘should’. Do what you want, because no-one else will notice at the end of the day apart from you two. They will all have a good time regardless.
As we had the wedding at home, we had to deal with all the boring stuff that a venue would normally takes care of – loos, generators, power lines – but it was worth it to get the sort of day we wanted. We were also lucky that all our wedding party and partners turned up the day before to help out with all the last minute stuff, which was so kind, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
Ah Spring can be cruel. After the weekend of glorious weather I’ve been even more depressed than before at the gloomy skies and biting winds since. This mornings wedding however is a complete ray of sunshine. With a super smily bride, a super cheerful yellow colour pallette complete with rubber ducks (love) and super bright photography by Chris and Dani at C B Media… Trust RMW to bring the weather to you 🙂
Sunflowers are my favourite flower and I love yellow anyway so they were a natural choice, we also chose the bird theme as it was a bit unusual and you can get some lovely bird decorations from craft shops and online.
Memories are made of this
For me I think walking down the aisle and saying the vows to Adam was the most memorable part of the day.
The nerves kicked in about ten minutes before I had to go in and there were a few nervous tears but I was proud to walk in with my Dad on my arm and seeing Adam smiling at me made me calm again, so when we had to say our vows I was relaxed and just forgot about everyone else and focused on Adam.
It’s the little things
Obviously the dress was my favourite purchase as it is such a unique experience to choose the dress you are going to get married in.
But also I really enjoyed all the little things like going to craft shops to get bits and pieces and putting all the little touches together, craft is a bit of a hobby of mine so I really enjoyed it. It was lovely to see it all come together on the day and know that we had chosen everything ourselves.
The Happiest Day…
The whole day just seemed to go in a flash! Getting ready in the morning was quite relaxed until about an hour before we were due to leave, that’s when it all got a bit manic but luckily everything came together just in time. I managed to get five minutes to myself while my bridesmaid fetched my Dad so they could carry my train for me, and I remember just thinking that this was going to be the happiest day of my life and I wanted to try and soak all of it up.
When we got to the venue I had a slight moment of nerves but it passed, and as soon as I walked down the aisle I was just so happy to see Adam waiting for me I knew I was going to be ok. The room was beautiful and better than I had expected it to be, the whole room was white, with our sunflower displays making a splash of colour here and there.
Two of our friends did readings during the ceremony, and they did us proud, we had an Excerpt from ‘A Million Little Pieces’ by James Frey and a piece by Ernest Hemmingway which were both personal to us.
We had a string quartet to play during the ceremony and the drinks reception which was my Dad’s idea and worked really well, it was a great touch, they played ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ by The Beach Boys as we walked out.
We had lot’s of photo’s and champagne and tried to speak to all of our guests, (which was quite hard!) and everyone milled around outside having canape’s and chatting.
After a couple of hours everyone sat down inside and we were announced into the room as husband & wife which was quite strange but in a good way! The food was great although I didn’t eat much due to the excitement and getting carried away with talking to people and having more photo’s.
We came up with having yellow rubber bath ducks as our favours as they tied in with our themes and we both wanted something that would make our guests smile and a token gift which they could take home and keep as a souvenir from the day.
All the speeches were brilliant, My Dad was first, then Adam and last was our best man Lee. I was really proud of all the lads, they said some very touching things about me, and Lee embarrassed Adam just the right amount!
The evening was the part of the day which went the fastest for me, more guests came which meant so many more people to try and speak to! The band played and went down a storm, the dance floor was packed and the drink was flowing, it was just how we wanted – everyone having a good time. My Dad and Brother are both musicians so they got up with the band and did ‘Johnny Be Good’ which really made the night go out with a big bang!
Quite a few people went back to the hotel and we carried on the party, and the memories from this point on get a little hazy! All I know is that I loved every second of the whole day, and we really appreciated going on honeymoon to relax after all the excitement, we definitely needed it!
We found Chris & Danni on the internet, we searched for wedding photographers in and around our area and they were one of the many that came up.
They’re photos really stood out from the rest as they were so original with lots of natural shots that looked great. They were just what we were looking for and we are really pleased that we found them!
Advice from a Bride
Get a plan of all the things you need to do (you can get advice off the internet) and just work through it one by one together, don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do everything straight away. You’ll enjoy it more and between you and some family and friends everything will come together if you plan it.
Remember that it’s your day so don’t do anything to try and please other people, you want your wedding to be special to you.
Most importantly, try not to drink too much on the day, it’s very hard as people are handing you champagne all day but get some water in there too. I learned this lesson the hard way!
There was a lot of love yesterday for the gorgeous Polly and Ralph and I’m not suprised, the so-in-love pair held a pretty, colourful and relaxed garden soiree that was filled with love, laughter and spectacular blooms.
Oh the blooms…..lots of gratuitous images of those lovelies!
I’m so having a purple and yellow moment right now.
And I can’t not mention Polly’s female guests, what a fantastically dressed lot they were – I want their ENTIRE wardrobe.
Iris And Ivy
I always knew I wanted sunflowers and iris at my wedding and I wanted my flowers to look quite natural and not too prissy. We therefore just found a local florist in Eye in Suffolk and she was brilliant at helping us choose what would go with them. In the end the bouquets were sunflowers, iris, gyp and ivy. For the button holes I found a picture on line of some button holes made with purple asters which have both purple and yellow on them and I emailed this to the florist and she agreed to make them up.
The bridesmaids and mothers had purple lisianthus in their hair. For the church we ordered two big pedastools from the florist of sunflowers, iris, gyp, daisies, ivy and lisianthus then we brought some more of these flowers not made up and my kind auntie and bridesmaids put four more flower displays together. Ralph’s mum kindly offered to help with the table decorations and she did a fantastic job with some old milk bottles, sunflowers, daisies and corn from the next door field.
Seeing is Believing
My cousin got married last year ( infact they were on RMW… Fran and David!!) and we were really impressed with her photographer. We asked for their details and were so lucky they were still free (we only took 5 months to plan the wedding) and we booked Christian Ward straight away. We have been so impressed with their service from start to finish and could not rave about them enough.
From the edgy pics from the pre wedding shoot to our gorgeous wedding ones, we feel they captured each moment so well we would recommend them to everyone!
We borrowed some hay bails from the local farmer and, as well as the main marquee, kind friends lent us a champagne tent and some gazebos in case of rain. We didn’t want people to get bored so we also set up some games around the field such a table tennis, croquet and a coconut shy.
We wanted the whole thing to have a relaxed feel and so most of our guests camped in the field next door.
Dancing ‘Till Dawn
My family is starting to get kind of a family wedding band as this is the third time we have used “Payback” for a family wedding. That is because they are SO good! Considering we only had a few months to plan we were really lucky they were free and we had seen them twice before so knew they were good.
They did not fail to impress and there was never an empty dance floor!
Mmmm the cake! Two of my bridesmaids are very close family friends and their mum has been making us the best chocolate cake since we were born! We therefore approached her to ask if she would make our wedding cake and she said yes! We wanted to stick to the country theme so had the cake displayed on slate on 3 trunks of wood. We cut the cake and then our amazing caterers Penni Black served it as desert (there were about 13 more cakes waiting out the back – thanks Jude!) with creme freche and tropical fruit skewers.
A Song For Sweethearts
Our first dance song was “Up Above the Clouds” by Turin Brakes. We met at university and this was one of the first songs Ralph played to me. It was very significant and yet not mainstream or too cheesy!
What made our wedding special was that all of our friends and family were there to celebrate with us. We are so grateful to our families for making the day possible. Oh and my advice? Just enjoy it!
To start your weekend the RMW team thought they’d give you even MORE real wedding pretty…..yay!
And just to keep it y’know different from the Silver Sensation, Classic English Rose soiree and Western Wonder we’ve posted earlier in the week we’re going all out on the bold colour scheme front with this South African influenced beauty of a Big Day.
Monochrome it seems is forever popular and I love the way Simon and Clarissa have added huge amounts of striking yellow to their Prested Hall affair. Not to mention all of the little personal touches and general merriment.
Oh and what just might be THE cutest flower girl outfit EVER.
Simon and Clarissa met on a blind date and as Simon said in his speech he knew she was the one he was going to marry from the first moment he saw her….
The proposal didn’t go quite as planned as Clarissa dropped the ring and they spent most of the dark night trying to find it!!
With my shoes I went for comfort over anything, I never wear heels and I can’t walk in them so I thought it would be best to get something I could actually walk in!
The make was Rainbow and they were great, I kept them on all night!
My Mum really wanted me to wear one of her necklaces but unfortunately it would have been too much with my dress so in the end I just wore some pearl bracelets which I already had.
An Unlikely Choice
My Dress was from Berketex in Oxford Street by the dresser Rosetta Nicolini. I tried six on in this one shop and I ended up going for the second dress, I didnt go for it first off because it’s really not what I wanted!!!
I would never wear lace and I can’t believe I choose it. One of my bridesmaids came with me and she said “that’s the one” and I knew when i tried it on again it WAS the one!
I felt amazing, the lace was beautiful and it had a fitted corseted bodice which gave me a great shape. I like the idea of wearing something that i wouldn’t normally wear – it made the day feel even more special.
World Wide Maids
We got the bridesmaids dresses from Debenhams and they were perfect, they really matched the black and white theme I had going on. I brought a little bit of zebra print in where I could and although my bridesmaids didn’t look like zebras (!!) the white strip down the middle was perfect.
I had to send one to one of my bridesmaids in Canada and one to South Africa as I wanted them to try them on and see how they felt.
Simon’s Suit were hired from our local Debenhams. Simon knew what he wanted before he went so it was really easy for him to choose.
I had my hair done by someone from a salon called Take-Two in Kelvedon, I had it the style I did because I always wear it up and I was going to have it up for my wedding day…. but the lady at the salon said she would try something different! She thought it best if I at least try something I never normally have and after she did a test run I absolutely loved it!
My make up was done at the salon at Prested Hall. I wanted something really natural, the service was great and I had exactly what I wanted.
Floral Wow Factor
My flowers were done by Michelle’s Floral Design in Witham. I took her a picture of how I wanted my bouquet and she make them exactly like the picture – they were amazing. My auntie Kath did my bridesmaids flowers and table decorations which were all sunflowers, I loved the yellow contrast with the Black.
South African Influences
As I am from South Africa i wanted my favours to have a touch of it, i got black bags from organza bags and some zebra printed napkins which i lined them with and I got Mr and Mrs sweets on line from ” The wedding Shop” . I put a Zulu love letter from south Africa in the ladies favours which is a love message woven in beads by Zulu Maidens to be given to their lovers as symbols of love and affection. Each colour bead has a different meaning, like Green ” I have become thin like the sweet cane in a damp field and green as the first shoots of trees because of my love for you.”
The men had a small bottle of Amarula Cream made from the fruit of the Marula, or “Elephant” tree. When I took a trip back home I also got some really cool name place holders in the shapes of all different animals they looked really affective and I thought they fitted in with the whole theme really well.
We chose our photographers Craig and Kate because we loved the website and when we met with them we got on really well, they just seemed really approachable. The Pre-Wed shoot was a great idea and no one else seemed to do it and it’s something we really wanted as I was REALLY nervous about getting my picture taken! It really made me ready for my wedding day.
Their style was exactly what I wanted so we were really pleased we found someone.
My big cake was made by my 86 year old grandma which I loved as she really wanted to contribute to the day and we were really happy for her to do that. It was iced by a company called ” Sugar Box” in Cirencester and they also made our lovely little cupcakes, we got them to follow the Sunflower theme they were all fruit cake….. mmmmmmm lovely!
We had the people made for us which we put on top of the cake they were meant to be of Simon and I, I sent a picture and they made them to look like us. Check out Simon as a cool fireman!
Our first dance was by Eva Cassidy ” Songbird” we both really liked it anyway but we didn’t find out until we heard it on the telly and both said how much we loved it!
Advice For Brides
If I was going to give some advice for future brides out there it would be not to stress, I did and it wasnt nice, there is a lot to do especially if you both have full time jobs. The internet is a great source of information and ideas if you have the kind of job where you can get away with looking on line (!) Shop around and you might find different prices else where, but never scrimp on the things that are most important to you. Things can get really overwhelming but try not to let them and keep calm. Always look at more than one wedding venue – that’s the biggest chunk of your money so make sure its right for you and ask them loads of questions!
Oh and Simon has said to all future brides out there always marry a Fireman!!! 🙂
How lovely on a cold November day, a whole page of sunshine, love and together foreverness…..