The very lovely Vanya & David chose to get married at The Granary Estates which made the perfect rustic luxe setting for their subtle Game of Thrones inspired wedding day (also see this article if this vibe floats your boat). Vanya looks stunning in her full skirted gown, the golden hour portraits of her swirling in the fields are just beautiful.
Ania Ames has captured the day perfectly, as well as those portrait shots I mentioned, check out the wedding party shots where everyone looks so joyful…and the lovely details, amazing sweet treats and firepit hangs – there’s so much to see!!!
Vanya The Bride: From the moment we started planning our wedding we knew that we wanted this day to be a representation of us and our love for each other – a fun celebration, full of colour, rustic around the edges, probably a bit geeky with a mixture between Bulgarian and English traditions and a day for everyone to enjoy and remember. Obviously that does not come under one category so instead we did not have a theme and we just went for things which made us happy.
Having decided on a civil ceremony our venue search began. We knew we wanted something different, less formal but full of character. We really liked the idea of getting married at a barn especially when Dave grew up on a farm it felt like the right idea. We were also looking for more flexibility in terms of choosing our caterer and entertainment. Last but not least we had to make sure we will be allowed to incorporate some Bulgarian traditions throughout the day. After quite a few viewings we decided on The Granary Estates, Newmarket. An hour from our home, upon entering we could not have been happier! We were mesmerized – the stone walls, high ceilings, old beams, the beautiful light which came through the windows (slightly reminded us of Game of Thrones but more about this later) and of course the beautiful fields surrounding the estate. As a bonus it has not one, but two barns connected by a long corridor which opens to a private courtyard. The flint barn held the intimate ceremony and the larger Granary Barn had space for a bar, tables and dancefloor. This allowed for seamless transition from the ceremony to the celebration. We felt this also gave us the flexibility in case of bad weather after all this is England! The management team could not have been more excited to also try new things and offer us ideas of how best to mix Bulgarian and English into the wedding. We knew this was our venue instantly and the team were great throughout.
The venue grounds do not allow confetti outside the barns. However, the team at the Granary Barns had the perfect solution for us – confetti canons during our first dance. We had never seen them being used but we went for it and what a wonderful idea that was. As the chorus of our first dance started we were truly in a fairy tale. It was magical!
For the evening we hired the firepit which was a great hit with everyone especially the children. There were marshmallows and sparklers everywhere!
To begin with I did not know what I wanted my wedding dress to be. At this stage of the planning, I lived on Rock My Wedding and Pinterest and knew what I liked and did not like, but the “right” dress was eluding me (and trust me I tried on quite a few). This all changed the day I visited The Fairy Tale Weddings boutique. I would like to say if anyone tells you that there is no such thing as “you instantaneously know”, they are not right. The moment I put my dress on I knew it was the one because I felt happy, I smiled, I started spinning in the middle of the room and all I can think about was David seeing me in it walking down the aisle. It was by Ellis Bridal and made from the lightest organdie material and the skirt just flowed when you moved (which meant I could also easily dance in it!) The bodice was delicately decorated with lace, illusion tulle on the shoulders and satin buttons on the back which were a must for me.
With the style of my dress there was not a need for a lot of accessories. Of course, there was the beautifully soft veil by Joyce Jackson. I liked it mid length as it still showed off the back of my dress. I added earrings and a bracelet from Swarowski. I had two pairs of shoes – a formal one for the ceremony from Rainbow Club (they were so comfortable!) and a dancing pair – gorgeous glittery trainers by Kate Spade. I had to order the trainers from America, but it was well worth it – my sparkly something new. My last accessory was for my hair – a floral hair vine. I found it on Etsy by MimosaCouture. It was handmade, and I was really pleased by the quality. It was great for when I took off the veil and it added another aspect to my bridal look.
Our hair and make-up were done by Ashley Kay Gifford. I was struggling to find anyone at the time and it was actually David who found her! She is based in Ely and she had previously done weddings at the Granary Estates. She knew exactly how to achieve the look I wanted. She was even happy to do a second trial as I tried something different. As there were 6 of us she had also arranged for help on the day ensuring everyone was ready on time and we really loved the end result.
David is lucky enough to have known Michael Damiano at Image Barbers for years, so he arranged to sort the boys out and get them looking dapper for the day.
Choosing the decorations was probably the easiest task for us. The barns were already gorgeous, and we knew we did not need to do a lot. It was all about the little touches. We liked the rustic look with natural colours and country feel which suited the barn. We used handmade log slices for the centre of the tables on which we put mixed styles of candle holders, bottles and vases for the flowers (thanks sales!). We only wanted small bunches of flowers on each table as it felt more intimate and relaxed as opposed to big centrepieces. Further, we added pops of colour with beautiful floral lace table runners. We even upcycled an old pallet which was a great way to display some of the fun memories we have had with our family and friends in polaroid style pictures.
As we were introducing some of our guests to Bulgarian wedding traditions, we thought it will be a good idea to add a little guide of traditions and what they mean on each table. The only decoration we ordered were the fairy and festoon lights from Elizabeth Hall. We wanted as many lights as possible as both me and David really liked the atmosphere they create. We used the festoon lights to separate the dance floor from the rest of the barn and give it a festival feel.
We were very lucky as our friend Ronnie did all of the flowers for us. She knew exactly what we wanted for a summer wedding – natural colours to stand out in different places throughout the venue. The pink, green, coral and yellow complimented the burnt orange ties and pocket squares worn by David and his groomsmen. We were lucky enough to have beautiful sunny weather (even if it did threaten to rain all week!) and it followed us inside through the windows and large barn doors. During the ceremony, gypsophila and roses adorned the end of the rows of chairs. The theme was the same for the bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets tied with ribbons. We loved their natural summery feel.
Of course, it would not have been our wedding if there was not something geeky about it. We bought some super hero props for our guests to take selfies with an instant camera. However, the biggest surprise was when Dave managed to hire a replica of the throne from Game of Thrones. He even had two banners made for each of our names/houses. Everybody absolutely loved it and had great fun pretending to be King or Khaleesi.
During the drinks reception we hired Barny, a musician from Norwich that we had seen perform previously. He is extremely talented and played a laid back set for our guests.
For the evening entertainment we found a band named Vinyl Cut through Entertainment Nation. We were looking for a band that had a large playlist and played some of the 80s classics we love as well as newer songs. They were fantastic and extremely professional. They did three sets of 40 minutes and played our first dance song live for us. They were even happy in between sets to play our Spotify playlist which included some traditional Bulgarian music. This meant we had the famous “Chicken and Cake” dance off (the less you know the better).
The ceremony was exactly what we wanted – intimate and relaxed. In the build up we were both quite nervous and very emotional. We even asked our registrar for the shortest version on the day. From the music that was played, which was very important for us, to the beautiful reading of Johnny Cash’s “I love you because” by Dave’s sister it was perfect to us. I also decided to surprise Dave with a little sign carried by his beautiful nieces (our flower girls) reading “Uncle Dave, Here comes your Bride”. I saw it on the internet and I knew I needed to have it. It turned out David was barely holding it together before he saw the sign, so it did the trick!
For our favours we had small jars filled with popcorn. We personalised them with ribbon and a little sticker with “David & Vanya”. On top of each jar we had the guest’s name. We found this fantastic place on Etsy (Rayvenstudiolaser) where you can have personalised wooden laser cut names. This a great combination of a little memento plus who does not like popcorn? From the Bulgarian side my family sent 100 little bottles of rose oil from Bulgaria for each guest. Bulgaria is famous for its beautiful rose valleys and I could not resist adding something from home.
David hired the suits from Suitors in Northampton for him, the groomsmen, his brother and his dad. He knew very early on he wanted to have a three piece navy suit. We added the colour with the ties and pocket squares which were burnt orange. We eventually bought them from Next although we now have a wardrobe full of varying shades of orange ties that were ordered to find the right one. For presents Dave ordered personalised cufflinks for each groomsman with their initials. In addition he wore a personalised tie clip with the date of the wedding as did both of our dads.
Dave already had a pair of navy brogues from Jefferey West which he adores. So he knew where to look for his shoes for the wedding. He chose walnut shade brogues with a matching belt. He looked dashing.
Kudos to the beautiful bridesmaids for trying on quite a few outfits but we all loved their blush pink maxi dresses by Eliza J (from House of Fraser). As the dresses already had a sequin top and tulle skirt they did not need a lot of accessories but I made sure they had a bit more sparkle with different colours bracelets and shoes in rose gold by Dune. For the maid of honour, we had to wait 2 weeks before the wedding to order the dress. My sister was pregnant, and I wanted to ensure whatever we got it was comfortable for her. It was lucky we found a very similar maternity dress. It was a different shade of blush pink from ASOS. She absolutely glowed.
What can we say about Ania but that we were extremely lucky to have found her. The style of work was exactly how we envisaged our photos. Ania was absolutely amazing from our pre-wedding shoot to the last picture taken on the big day. We felt comfortable and really loved working with Ania. It is one of the most important decisions when planning and it was the right one. Ania ushered us away from the dancefloor for a sunset walk in the fields and we had a great time taking some fantastic photos. It was a sunset we will never forget and one of our favourite parts of the day. The final set of pictures we received were both plentiful and beautiful. We absolutely love them.
The Food & Cake
Our caterer was Elizabeth Hall. She was one of four caterers recommended by our venue. We chose her because her style was creative and the food yummy. She also hired props which was very handy. We chose an ice cream cart because we knew it will be a hit even if we had to eat it ourselves. For the main course, we continued with our Game of Thrones props and arranged for one guest from each table to receive a personalised apron with the words “Dinner is coming”. They were our designated carvers. It was a bit of fun for our friends and family to interact with those at their table.
Cake…now we’re talking. We met Lucy at the Windmill Bakery who heartlessly made us narrow down our cake choices from all of them to most of them. We used our cake as dessert together with a massive vintage ladder displayed with a variety of small cakes for guests to help themselves. We didn’t want anyone to be left wanting so we had a choice of flavours. Later Elizabeth Hall once again delivered with a warm buffet for those that needed a pick me up.
We wanted the day to be personal and share our love with our closest which is why it was important to stay true to ourselves. We were lucky enough to have attended the weddings of close friends and family in the year leading up to ours. They were all incredibly enjoyable and we loved them all, however different they all were. This made us very nervous as we were not sure if ours would live up to them. Speaking to a guest after our wedding we asked if they enjoyed it and they said that they did and that it’s hard not to when you care about the people involved. So as much pressure as there is and as many ups and downs as there may be planning it, those that matter most to you will love it because they love you.