There is something so romantic and beautiful about a walled garden. I think it’s the secrecy of it and the sensory experience it provides – the smells, sights and sounds of flowers, plants, birds and animals.
Nancy and Andrews secret garden wedding encapsulates those things beautifully, the colours are subtle and delicate and the flowers are fresh and natural. The ceremony looks intimate and moving and it’s just a very private affair.
The cute couple went down the homemade route which worked perfectly with this venue – the cake table looks particularly inviting. As does the very well stocked bar! One of the main reasons they chose the Walled Garden was that they could have free reign of the place – no rules or recommended suppliers.
The images captured by Laura from Babb Photo of Nancy and Andrew failing to hold back their emotions as they make their vows will have you in pieces. The film by Yay Films is gorgeous too, and reflects the atmosphere of their day perfectly. Tissues at the ready people.
The Great Outdoors
Nancy The Bride: Andrew and I knew from the outset that we wanted to get married somewhere a little different. Neither of us are religious so a church was out of the question. Andrew grew up on a farm and loves the great outdoors and ideally would tie the knot in a tree if he got his way.
We started by scouring the internet for different locations that were within budget, preferably outdoors and all contained in one space. Wasing Walled Garden was the first venue we visited. It blew us away. It is the former Victorian vegetable patch for the main house on Wasing Park estate. The guests don’t get to see inside the looming wall until after the ceremony as finished, creating fun stages to the day.
The Secret Walled Garden is very basic, having just a water stand-pipe and an electrical hook-up, but that meant we could fill it with whatever we wanted and weren’t restricted by ‘preferred supplier’ lists.
Because my dress was really decorative I wanted my hair to be modern and sleek. I was inspired by the hair of Grace Kelly in the 1950s. I didn’t want my hair to look too ‘wedding-y’; nothing too elaborate or set. I set about, with my hairdresser friend Jack to work on some style ideas, usually at each other’s houses and usually over a glass of wine.
In place of a veil I had three ivory roses with yellow centres to match my bridesmaid’s dresses. I am a fan of Bobbi Brown so visited their store for a tutorial. Their staff were excellent at giving me ideas and techniques so that I could apply my own make-up on the day. I am not used to using foundation and I didn’t want to look over made up on the day so I found mixing a dab of foundation and light face cream (ration 1:3) gives a more natural look. I used Opi nail polish which is great as they have a large variety of natural colours, specifically Bubble Bath which I found highlighted my natural nail colour.
As a treat and to get my skin as good as it could be, I would highly recommend an Elemis brightening facial once a month leading up to the wedding, it gave my skin a fantastic natural glow and it was noticeable from the first treatment. My wedding scent was a mixture of Boucheron, which I find so elegant, and mixed that with Ellie Saab.
I am a massive fan of Vera Wang bridal and used her style as an inspiration when looking for wedding dresses. Through blog and magazine research I found this great designer, Paloma Blanca – her style being classic but contemporary – and fell in love with her dresses. By chance, when visiting the bridal shop Morgan Davies on St John’s Street in London, I happened to come across one of her dresses. At first sight it seemed far too ‘pouffy’ and big, but after trying it on I just knew it was the dress for me. I would recommend any bride to always try any dress on before discounting it as they look completely different on.
Morgan Davies pointed me in the direction of a great seamstress in Stratford who also made my long silk sash. She suggested that when buying sample
dresses, as I had done, not to buy one too far out of your own size and shape as if you take a dress in too much it dramatically changes its shape. It will also be very costly on the large amount of alterations required.
As my dress was so flamboyant I wanted some fairly understated jewellery that also linked into the theme and ethos of the day. I chose ‘Cherry Blossom’ diamond studs and matching bracelet in rose gold from British designer Shaun Leane, his designs are romantic and beautiful made. I wasn’t that fussed about wedding shoes so I wore white low heels that would be comfortable.
Andrew wore blue, cream and brown brogues from Office. Wooden tree slice cufflinks from Folksy for both himself and his Best Man. Andrew chose this as it wasn’t too formal, and also reflected his love of woodlands and nature.
The bridesmaids wore lemon yellow day dresses by Zara. I wanted them to be able to wear their dresses again and dresses that weren’t too ‘traditional bridesmaid’ looking. The colour scheme of yellow is because my maiden name, Wong, in Chinese means yellow.
Whimsical Woodland Feel
We wanted a very relaxed wedding day, full of fun and whimsy. We originally wanted a woodland wedding, so a nod towards that theme was included. We spent weeks making and decorating papier mache mushrooms for the cake table as cake stands and personalised Heinz Soup tins as table settings there was a joke there between us to see if any of our guests would noticed that we have changed all the text in the Heinz label. It was clear that everybody loved them as they took them away at the end of night, we get regular updates from our wedding guests on how their plants have blossomed some have become very competitive on who has grown the best and biggest Pak Choi!
We went foraging for large logs to make a holder for some chocolate dipped strawberries and used anything left over as centre pieces for the tables. We needed a rain cover for the ceremony but to save money hired it without any linings or sides. To make it more attractive we bought 500 sheets of tissue paper and set about making out our own pom-poms; Green, ivory and gold. Fluffing them and hanging them up took so much longer than we thought that we ended up shipping in friends and family to assist in the hanging.
Seasonal Textured Blooms
After much too-ing and frow-ing between Covent Garden Flower Market and B&Q, we ended up getting our bridal flowers from the lovely Emma at Green Parlour in Pangbourne. The brief I gave Emma was that it had to be wild flowers but without looking too wild. I wanted to keep the classic round shape but without it looking too formal. I was after pastel colours with flowers that were in season and lots of textures Between Emma and I we chose English roses, ivory peonies, miniature daisies, lavender and scabiosa seed pod heads… I loved my bouquet. Emma really understood the brief.
Tears Of Joy
Andrew and I had planned a walk in song (Oh My Love by Riz Ortolani) which we had listened to again and again on the year leading up to the wedding day. That song meant so much to us and carried so many connotations that as soon as it started playing on the day, both Andrew and I started crying, and pretty much didn’t stop until after the ceremony had finished!
My mother and one of my sisters both did a beautiful reading that Andrew and I chose together and it meant a lot to have them speak on the day. Once we could see through our tears, we read our vows to each other, exchanged rings and had about thirty cows come up to see what was going on. It really lightened the mood and brought a smile to everyone’s faces!
Free And Easy
We had a sit down hog-roast for the wedding breakfast in a marquee. The trestle tables were arranged long-ways allowing guest conversation to flow freely. Our original DJ choice let us down a month before the big day, so we asked a friend if they wouldn’t mind standing in. It turned out to be the best decision as he already had amazing contacts to hire equipment and his music taste was exactly in line with mine and Andrew’s.
We chose ‘A Very Special Love Song’ by Charlie Rich as a first dance after hearing it on Tony Blackburn’s Pop Picker’s radio show. Andrew and I have lots of songs that are meaningful to us, but all the lyrics seemed inappropriate. We heard ‘A Very Special Love Song’ when driving back from the venue one day and both looked at each other and we knew right there that would be our first dance. We had tried to practice some moves so as not to completely embarrass ourselves on the day, but when it came to the crunch we forgot everything and Andrew ended up spinning me around for two and a half minutes.
Homemade And Heartfelt
We wanted the day to be as homemade and heartfelt as we possibly could so decided early on that we would try and make as much as possible. Andrew researched jam and chutney recipes whilst I went berry picking with my family, who were over from Hong Kong. It was the first time we had all done something like that and was such a treat. It is not the cheapest way to buy fruit but it is definitely the most fun.
We also set to work making Limoncello and raspberry vodka to add to our well stocked free bar. We had four friends assist in making the dessert table taste as good as it looked. We had tarts, loafs, brownies and fun-bags. Andrew made the wedding cake; a three tier affair made out of victoria sponge, strawberry cake and a chocolate cake. All held together with homemade jam and butter cream. It weighed 9lbs and was nearly a foot tall.
Invites Set The Tone
Andrew and I believe the invitation to a wedding set the tone early on and so put many hours of toil into getting it right. We went for the theme of Secret Garden, so had two hidden doors on a wall background. In the foreground we placed mushrooms in the style of Victorian children’s illustrations. It was a lot of fun when guests asked us when the ceremony was happening and we explained to them to fully explore the invitation to find the answers. Many people missed the secret doors! It involved a lot of cutting and sticking to get the effect right, but we were very pleased with the end result.
Under The Apple Tree
It is such a cliché, but the single most important bit of advice would be to take a few minutes out and enjoy the day for what it is. If everything goes to plan this is the one time you will be getting married, so make the most of it. My overriding memory of our day was taking twenty minutes out in the evening where Andrew and I exchanged gifts under an apple tree in the dark. It gave us the opportunity to take in the enormity of what we had achieved and was a very special moment indeed.
Also, delegate as many of the jobs as you can to bridesmaids and ushers before the day and let them deal with suppliers so you can both relax and mingle with your guests. We had so little time to get everything together that on the day Jack, my hairstylist ended up making butter icing and I was piping the wedding cake in my dress. It’s funny now when we look back at it but at the time it was all a little stressful!
Brides Gown – Paloma Blanca at Morgan Davies Bridal
Jewellery – Shaun Leane
Hair – Jack Furnival at Whites
Bridesmaids Dresses – Zara
Florist – Emma at Green Parlour
Hog Roast – Big Fat Pig
Venue – The Secret Walled Garden at Wasing
Photography – Babb Photo
Videography – Yay Films
I hope you’re all suitably teary eyed now.
I can’t believe their wedding cake weighed more than the royal baby!
Great advice from Nancy too, you can pick and choose which details you want to DIY – if things are getting too much, get someone else to do it.
Lots of love,