Lets start the week with a bang :-)
Alex and Sarah were married in August of last year, in a 2 day extravaganza, starting with an intimate ceremony and meal on the Friday, followed by an amazing outdoor fete at a relatives farm on Saturday.
I so love the contrast of the days, with their wedding being intimate and classic, whilst the fete is totally fun. With games, a cake competition, and so many pretty flowers. Oh there is so much inspiration here lovelies :-) this is one wedding i wish i was invited to!
Thanks so much to the fabulous Caroline Alexander Photography for sharing her beautiful images with us today.
Names…. Alex and Sarah
Wedding Date…. 19th & 20th August 2011. We decided to split the celebration over two days so that we could have a small intimate ceremony on the Friday followed by a dinner just for close family and friends, and then follow it up with a relaxing and much larger party the following day.
The Proposal…. We had a week to ourselves in the Lake District after a family Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve went for an amazing meal at L’Enclume in Cartmel. As midnight approached we went out into the village square which was filling up with people, and as the clock struck twelve and a piper played in the New Year, Alex asked me to marry him. I’m afraid I rather spoilt it by replying ‘really??’, but I soon said yes!
The Vision for the day…. We both agreed that we really didn’t want an enormous wedding, and even considered getting married abroad to keep it small. But what we did want was an enormous party! That was where the idea of having it over two days came from, and we absolutely had the best of both worlds – a gorgeous intimate wedding and dinner with about 40 guests on the Friday, followed by a raucous and enormously fun party for 150 the next day.
The Planning process…. Was genuinely pretty stress-free. Both sets of parents were remarkably restrained and really let us create exactly what we wanted, even when they thought we were slightly mad – for example our cake competition raised a few eyebrows… The best advice I can give is to really handpick your suppliers, and make sure they are people you would invite to your wedding anyway, because that is the very best way to ensure that the process runs smoothly.
The Venue… We obviously needed to pick more than one venue seeing as we were having two days of celebrations, but the Saturday venue was the easiest and most generous of all in that it is Alex’s sister and her husband’s farm. Once again we were very lucky to have such a patient family as they put up with all sorts of odd requests, and made sure the farm looked its absolute best.
Once we knew Saturday would be at the farm we knew all our other locations would need to be in the Cotswolds too so we chose a church just down the road from Alex’s parents house, so that Alex could walk there on the big day. It helped that the local vicar was the most reassuring and kind man you could imagine, and he really made the service magical.
The Dress + Accessories…. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to wear, but I did know that I didn’t want to spend long looking for it – I’m not much of a shopper. So I took my matron of honour, Mary, out to Wimbledon for the afternoon and we went to two shops and I tried on about 20 dresses in all. The dress I ended up falling in love with was the second dress I tried on and I think I knew straight away really. Then, once I found out it was called the Alexandra, I knew it had to be for me, and so I ordered it there and then. It is designed by the wonderful Mariola who owns and runs The Wedding Dress shop, and it was named after her son which made it even more special. The whole thing was an absolute pleasure and the fittings were always incredibly relaxed and reassuring. I couldn’t recommend them more highly. And then the shoes… well they caused quite a stir and an audible gasp as I lifted my dress when we walked back from the altar! But I was determined to buy shoes I could wear again, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t wear white shoes again!
Groom’s attire… Alex is a major in the army, so his outfit for Friday was as easy as anything, and incredibly dapper. As the theme for Saturday was a village fete, we bought him a very smart linen suit which he’ll be able to wear again and again.
The Readings + Music…. The readings were Song of Solomon chapter 8 verses 6&7 and A Marriage by Michael Blumenthal. I think the image of holding up a ceiling together for a whole lifetime is fantastically romantic and down to earth at the same time, and really reflects what we had promised each other in our vows. We chose favourite hymns and music that was special to us, and as we signed the register we had our organist play a medley of fun tunes that would make our congregation smile – There May Be Trouble Ahead, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Flower of Scotland (we’re both big rugby fans but support different nations…) etc. We recessed to Spring from The Four Seasons which is so joyful and we have always loved it, and then completed our order of service with a poem that we hoped summed up the whole day:
Today I married my best friend,
Our bond complete, it hath no end,
We share one soul, we share one heart,
A perfect time – a perfect start.
Rachel Elizabeth Cooper
Beautiful bridesmaids….. I had two grown up bridesmaids – Mary and Tashy – who have both been my best friends forever, and then three littlies with my goddaughter Amelie, Alex’s goddaughter Sophie, and my godson Harry. The dresses for the little ones came from Monsoon and the big girl dresses came from Coast. We hadn’t gone shopping thinking we’d end up with white dresses for them all but they just proved to be our favourites, and I loved how they let the flowers and decorations take centre stage too.
The Flowers… Were done by the very wonderful Caroline McShane, and she epitomises the advice of choosing people you’d have invited to the wedding anyway as she really did feel like a friend throughout the process. We gave her an horrendous task by asking her to do nearly 100 small displays for the Saturday, and our brief was unforgivably vague – I think I said I wanted it to look like a wild English country garden and that was it! On both days she absolutely cracked it and we had SO many compliments about how beautiful both the church and marquees looked. I would also recommend thinking about how your wedding is going to smell… Caroline filled the church with lavender and it smelt heavenly for the whole service, as did the marquee the following day. Last but not least she interpreted our ideas above and beyond our wildest dreams, and the idea of the wellies was all hers – as were the wellies. Caroline is an absolute marvel and a total joy to have around.
The Cake… When we talked about other weddings we’d been to it soon became clear that neither of us had actually eaten a bit of wedding cake… It always seems that you watch the couple cut it and then it’s never seen again, and when we saw how much they cost that seemed daft. So instead, we decided to use our fete theme and have a cakey bakey competition complete with prizes and rosettes. We knew our friends and families would do us proud but I don’t think either of us expected the amazing entries we had, and just the huge amount of work that went in to them. It was very very hard to choose the winners and they provided some of our favourite photos.
Your Photographer…. Was the wonderful Caroline Alexander, yet another person we would have wanted at the wedding anyway! She was a total dream to work with, and we knew right from the first day of planning that she was the person we wanted to work with. We both agreed that the photos were what really last forever along with your memories, so choosing Caroline was our first decision. It was lovely having her with us for both days, and I’ll always treasure the memories of our time wandering through the beautiful fields after the ceremony and before the Friday dinner, and feeling like it was just the two of us. We were incredibly lucky with all our suppliers, but Caroline really stands out as the calmest, funniest and most reassuring person we saw for 48 hours!
The Details + Decor…. The most important thing for us on the Friday was to keep it intimate so the details were really kept for the Saturday when we went all out. My mum made masses and masses of bunting and fabric hearts. We took the fete theme as far as we could with our barn dance band playing outside all day, fairground games for the adults and the many children we invited, the bouncy castle, the sports day for the children, BBQ for the adults and picnic for the youngsters etc. etc. It was very important to us that everyone had as much fun as possible, and it was so relaxing to know the actual nerves of the wedding were long past us from the day before and we actually got to see and speak to everyone. We had our wonderful on the day planner, Ruth Hunter from Finesse Planning who ably took all the stress away, and we really did just turn up and enjoy ourselves. In fact, I can’t recommend having an on the day planner too highly if you are organizing the day for yourselves because Ruth turned our vision into reality, and was on hand to deal with any last minute hitches so we didn’t have to – priceless!
Memorable moments… Far too many to mention but they include… catching sight of Alex in his uniform for the first time at the end of the aisle. Smiling non-stop for 48 hours. Waking up on the Friday morning and looking out of the window to see the sunshine burning down (after a whole week of rain!). Walking through the fields together after the service and realizing we were finally married. Turning up on Saturday in Alex’s favourite car – the General Lee – complete with horn to a field full of our friends and family as the sun finally came out and stayed out. Walking in the stubble field as the sun went down on Saturday and seeing everyone having such an amazing time at our wedding. I could go on! They were simply the most magical two days ever.
Advice for other couples… Do it your way and ignore the details you’re just not interested in, for example we spent much more time on the rosettes than we did worrying about napkins etc – in fact I’m not even sure we chose the napkins… Choose the people you want to spend time with. We weren’t let down by a single person, and from the calmness of our amazing hairdresser and make-up artist, to our wonderful driver, to the Carolines, our incredibly professional caterers – I could go on – between them they made the whole thing a dream come true rather than a stressful headache. And if you can afford it, and it really is less than you think, get an on the day planner – Ruth saved our bacon many times and was worth every penny! If you’re going to have lots of children at the wedding, try to think of ways to entertain them so that the parents can have fun. We had two nannies there for the day who ran a sports day, supervised a picnic and generally kept them all busy, and we ahd so many thanks from the parents. And lastly, and most importantly of course, take the time to actually spend time with each other and your guests. Even with two days, it went so quickly, and the things I remember most fondly are the conversations with friends, dancing with Alex, chatting with my parents – you get the picture! It’s all about the people not the napkins…
Credit where credit is due…
Hair – Shen Hassan at Beautiful Hair http://www.weddinghaircheltenham.com/page/beautiful_hair_gallery
Make-Up – Sophie Everett (another one who was an absolute joy to work with!) http://www.sophieeverett.com/
Friday car – Chris Hill from One Man and His Jaguars http://www.onemanandhisjaguars.co.uk/
Dress – Mariola B at the Wedding Dress Shop http://www.theweddingdressshop.co.uk/
Photographer – Caroline Alexander http://www.caroline-alexander.co.uk/
Flowers – Caroline McShane http://www.wedding-flowers-cirencester.co.uk/
Wedding planner – Ruth Hunter at Finesse Planning http://www.finesseplanning.co.uk/
Catering – the unflappable and utterly charming Crown Catering http://www.crown-catering.co.uk/home.html
Music – Jiggerty http://www.jiggerty.co.uk/
Marquee – GP marquees http://www.gpmarquees.co.uk/
WOW!! Thanks so much to Alex and Sarah for sharing their amazing wedding with us today :-) XOXO Lou
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