Grant The Groom:
Early on we began to research venues online and then send them to each other. Any we both liked the look of we put on our list to go and view. We actually only viewed four, and the fourth was Preston Court
. I think we both knew as soon as we saw it that it was the venue for us but we were conscious that it was also considerably more expensive that the others. On our way home we clearly both still loved Preston Court so we listed our order of preference for the venues we had seen and both came out with the exact same order so there and then we decided to go for it, you only do it once. We didnʼt know exactly what we wanted at this stage but we knew we didnʼt want it to be traditional and the most important thing for us was for our guests to have a day they will still be talking about for years to come.
Our colour scheme was made as a consequence of the venue. After paying our deposit we took our families to see the venue and to measure up, and based our colour scheme on the colours of the organ within the barn. Due to the
decorative organs we made the decision not to go over the top with decoration. Luckily Marie, my sister is an Interior Stylist
by trade having worked for a number of interior magazines both here and in Australia so we essentially gave her free reign but with little bits of input along the way.
Zoe is not a girly girl, (both of us can be found taking on Obstacle Course Races most weekends), she is more comfortable in jeans than a dress so really didnʼt want anything too over the top and she wanted to feel comfortable in what she found. For Zoe the perfect dress was elegant yet subtle. Accessory wise Zoe kept it simple, she borrowed a bracelet from her mum and wore her great grandmotherʼs earrings given to her by her dad the week before for her birthday, the outfit was finished off with some gypsophila in her French plait to tie in with the flowers for the day, plus a surprise gift from me to Zoe on the wedding morning of some customised Adidas trainers for the evening bearing her new name, Mrs Nichols.
I decided from the outset that I wanted blue for my outfit. Due to the cost of wedding dresses, and the fact I wanted to kit out all of my ushers, we found a cheap option in Next
and decided to go for it. I then went back for a second visit with Simon (my brother in law and one of my ushers) and we found a nicer option so after a phone call to Zoe the two of us (me and Zoe, not me and Simon) decided to spend the extra. Simon and I felt that a jacket, waistcoat and trousers all in the same colour was almost too much so we took the waistcoat from the same suit but in a different colour which when viewing the photos was a great decision. For me, with a navy suit the only option for shoes and belt was tan, luckily I already had a suitable belt. The shoes and tie we both found in River Island, and the button hole was handmade by my mum and sister.
As you can tell from the button hole comment, our flowers were all done by my sister and mum the two days before the wedding. Armed with a budget of £600 Marie and mum were sent to a wholesalers, and somehow managed to come back with everything we needed for £250! Listening to the stylist in her we agreed that the table decorations would be big sprigs of gypsophila with Zoeʼs bouquet plus two bridesmaid bouquets to be used to decorate the top table and the remaining bridesmaid bouquet adorned the cake table. As well as these my mum handmade paper flowers for every single table setting in the lead up to the wedding.
The Wedding Party
Zoe had three bridesmaids but as she is close to her sister who was maid of honour the decision was made that her dress would be different to stand out, so she wore blue to tie in with the groom and groomsmen. The other two
bridesmaids wore pale grey to tie in with the waistcoats. From the outset I decided I wanted my groomsmen to have the same outfit as me, but minus the jacket so that it was clear we were the wedding party but to make it equally
clear who the groom was. The socks that my groomsmen and I wore were pastel shades but each of us with a different colour. Also the groomsmen and both of our dads were given small badges displaying their name and their job for the day, eg usher or father of the bride/groom. Our smallest members of the wedding party were our nephews, just 4 and 1. We were advised by Marie not to spend a lot as they WOULD get dirty, so we found them a matching waistcoat and short combination, along with a polka dot shirt which came complete with a bow tie. Their outfits were finished off with socks to match mine and some white converse.
For our entertainment we paid the extra to hire the carousel, all of the guests loved it and we would highly recommend it. We also had some games, which were homemade – hoopla consisted of bottles painted by Zoe and a crate to hold them made by me out of an old pallet, tin can alley with cans painted by Zoe, the stand again made by me from an old pallet, and bean bags made by my mum, we also had tug of war and sack races. For the evening we had a DJ that I have known for a number of years and he was one of the first suppliers we booked.
When choosing our ceremony options we initially had no plans for readings but one night when researching I found an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh which I showed to Zoe and we both loved it so we decided to ask one of her bridesmaids to read it for us.
For food we wanted to incorporate Zoeʼs Portuguese heritage and have the food come out as sharing platters. Zoe was solely responsible for researching caterers and seeing who could make her idea a reality. She could not have made a better choice as we have had no end of compliments on our food from the wedding. We supplied our own nachos rather than canapes per se just to give our guests something to snack on with their reception drinks. We went for a selection of cupcakes in varying sizes and flavours, along with a top tier cake for the ceremonial cutting. To tie in with the fairground type theme of the carousel and the games we opted for hot dogs and chip cones outside for our evening food.
We were lucky enough to have Emma
photographing our special day and she was amazing! We chose Emma as our photographer as we didnʼt want the traditional staged photos and felt that the venue would be wasted if we didnʼt have the right person documenting it from behind the lens. We couldnʼt be happier with the results as every photo looks like it was taken at the best party ever. The photos are truly unique, special ad super fun! We would highly recommend Emma if you want some unforgettable photos taken at your wedding!
We were lucky to have some really helpful family and friends involved. We had a home-made photo booth outside the barn with an instant camera. The photo booth was made from an old door found in the outhouse of one of my ushers,
and then delivered to another usher at work who then spent his lunch hours for the next few weeks tirelessly rubbing down the door, removing the metal kick plate, removing the glass panes and making an a-frame to support.
We also have to be very thankful for Simon my brother in law, as well as being my usher, he is also a top graphic designer which meant all of our artwork in the lead up to the wedding and for the day itself was completely bespoke, truly eye catching and tailored to our senses of humour.
There was rain for about 10 minutes while waiting for Zoe to arrive, which wasnʼt ideal given that the day before I had caved in and agreed to an outdoor wedding, but it cleared up just as she arrived and we both went on to have the best day imaginable.