Neil and Nikki were married in May at the beautiful Quinton House followed by a reception at Staverton Park.
They wanted their day to be whimsical, creative and fun for their guests. With an Alice in Wonderland tea party theme, face painting (for the adults), garden games and a bouncy castle, this is one wedding i wish i were a guest at.
These two are super fun, totally gorgeous and so in love. I love the 50s inspired maids dresses and of course the amazing photography.
Thanks so much to the brilliant Aaron Storry Photography for sharing his incredible images with us this morning, here is what he had to say about the day;
“I remember speaking to Nikki back in November last year about her wedding photography. Nikki had made contact after searching for a Reportage Wedding Photographer in Northampton and had some particular idea’s about what she was looking for.
We shot some pre-wedding images at the beautiful Delapre Abbey (http://www.aaron-photography.com/blog/2012/march/09/neil-and-nikki-pre-wedding-engagement-shoot/), both Neil and Nikki fell in love with my style of shooting and I adored their camera presence. Neil and Nikki were planning a wedding at Quinton House, a gorgeous school house set in the heart of Northamptonshire, with a reception a few minutes down the road.
On the day itself I set about capturing the preparation / guests arriving and finally wedding in a very relaxed style which I’ve become well known for. Using only natural light and my top grade equipment I was able to get some stunning shots without the bride, groom or guests even being aware!”
Names…. Neil & Nikki
Wedding Date…. 5th May 2012
The Proposal…. The proposal nearly never happened! The night before Neil gave me ten envelopes and the one I chose had a riddle to help me find my next clue. The next day we went on a treasure hunt – ending up 50 miles away in Stanmore – still following the cards with clues, like in Hansel and Gretel, until the weather nearly ruined it. It was a few days before Christmas and that Saturday 5 inches of snow fell in an hour which led to even Heathrow Airport being shut for days! In the end, we had abandon the car encased in snow and catch the tube to Central London and there, amongst the winter wonderland chaos and drifting snowflakes, he got down on one knee and asked me!
The Vision for the day…. We wanted a fun and creative day where our guest’s imaginations were captured. Our most important guests at the ceremony were our 2 little dogs. Everyone thought we were a bit mad including them but they are the ones who share our laughter and our tears more than anyone else so we felt they should be there to witness our family ties becoming stronger.
We originally had hired an old barn to hold the wedding reception but they let us down at the last minute so it was all hands on deck to find another venue! The plan was to have a village fete-type theme with a Coconut Shy, lots of bunting and an Afternoon Tea-style Wedding Breakfast. We were devastated when the venue pulled out but, in the end, we were extremely pleased with the venues we chose instead. We managed to keep a lot of our original ideas which are guests really enjoyed and were very budget-friendly including a face painter, garden games and a bouncy castle. What was most important to us is that our guests weren’t bored. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in having photographs taken after the ceremony whilst the guests are sitting around dying of hunger!
The Planning process… We were engaged for nearly a year before we started arranging the wedding as we were just so busy and we knew that as soon as the day was booked that we would become engrossed in planning every little detail! Nikki’s friend Claire was an absolute Godsend when it came to choosing everything, we couldn’t have done it without her. We were also quite conscious of how the budget could spiral out of control really easily so we were really careful to save money where we could. Neil suffers from hayfever quite badly so we knew we didn’t want flowers. This opened up a vast array of options for decoration, centrepieces, buttonholes and bouquets but choosing which to use was really hard! The lady who arranged our ceremony told me that “no-one remembers all the little details” so we were determined to make sure that all the little details were big!
We didn’t want to be restricted by a colour scheme and with the fantastic assortment of inventive and creative ideas for wedding options that there are, we were spoilt for choice. We used the Alice in Wonderland books for inspiration on many different elements for the day but our theme was more ‘Whimsical’ rather than strictly sticking to parts of the books. Saying that though, we had lots of fun picking different elements and utilising ideas from all of the colourful characters.
The Venue… We were married at Quinton House which is a private school set inside Upton Hall in Northamptonshire. Before the wedding, a few people were quite dismissive of us getting married inside a school but we had decided that, as we weren’t religious, we didn’t want to get married inside a church. Unfortunately, the options for Civil Ceremonies are quite limited with most of them being held inside hotels which we knew we didn’t want. As soon as we walked inside the Ballroom at Quinton, we knew that was the venue for us. It’s a fantastic looking room with some magnificent features.
Staverton Park was the reception venue and was at the end of a very long list of possible places to hold it. It was on one dark evening that we eventually managed to get over there and we were blown away by the Staverton Suite. From the tartan checked-carpet, sand chair covers and antler light fittings, it ticked every box for us. Additionally, the staff are extremely attentive, particularly Laura Jones-Finch, our coordinator, and Kristina, who was the Suite Manager and was responsible for making sure the day ran smoothly. They were so accommodating and encouraging even at my most stressful points!
The Dress + Accessories….. Again, we knew this was an area that we knew could spiral out of control budget-wise so Nikki set herself a budget of £200 for the dress and £50 for accessories. Nikki ended up going to Hair We Go which was recommended by her hairdresser and buying her headpiece for just £12.50; her bouquet was made at home out of felt, buttons and florist wire, and she ended up re-using special pieces of jewellery and her Irregular Choice shoes.
Finding the dress…. The wedding dress was an Ellis design from 2011. As it was bought it in 2012 it was considered “last years” so it was a bargain basement price. Many people commented during the day that they thought it was a vintage dress – it truly was a very special gown. I’ve never been the kind of girl who has dreamt about her wedding day so I wasn’t sure what I wanted. After going to a few shops and looking in magazines I thought I wanted something simple, plain, satin, with a small amount or no embellishment. What I ended up with was an appliqued and beaded dress with a fantastic tulle skirt – it’s true that you end up with the opposite of what you thought you wanted!
Groom’s attire… For the Groom and Ushers we wanted something classic and, in keeping with the theme, not at all fussy – so we opted for grey mohair lounge suits with matching waistcoats and black ties. We have a bit of an obsession with funky socks so this was part of the attire too. The buttonholes were ribbon corsages with little white rabbits in the centre as a nod to Alice in Wonderland.
The Readings + Music…. During the ceremony, we had 2 readings which were Yes, I’ll Marry You by Pam Ayres and On Your Wedding Day, Author Unknown. The first was light-hearted and read towards the beginning of the Ceremony; the second was read after the signing of the register so was more sombre. It was lovely to have some special people involved in the Ceremony for those readings. During the signing of the register we had Bob Marley – Is This Love as that always makes us smile and then for the recessional we had Queen – You’re My Best Friend. We did have a few issues with the wrong tracks being played during the different bits of the Ceremony but this actually helped relax us and remind us both that being too formal or rigid wasn’t the point of the day.
Beautiful bridesmaids….. We had 4 Bridesmaids and they were kitted out in beautiful Hell Bunny floral May Day dresses with mismatched shoes. We love the 50s swing style so these dresses were perfect. We really wanted the Bridesmaids to choose their own hairstyles and accessories to represent their own personalities so that they would feel really comfortable on the day and they didn’t disappoint.
The Flowers… We chose not to have flowers as not only is Neil’s hayfever awful but they are expensive and not very environmentally friendly. It always irks us when we see flowers chopped down just to be held for an hour and then left to wilt on a table in a corner somewhere. Instead, Nikki made a button and felt flower bouquet and the Bridesmaids had different coloured parasols which looked fantastic in the photos and kept the Bridesmaids dry for the few spots of rain we had!
The Cake… Our cake was made up of a tiered stand of vibrant grassy green cupcakes and each had one white and one red rose on (as in painting the roses red) with a Mad Hatters Hat top tier for the cutting of the cake. They were fluffy and light and tasted absolutely amazing! We used Ingrid Khan at Design Me a Cake who was fantastic.
Your Photographer…. We found Aaron through a shared interest on reportage photography. He has a fantastic eye and really understood what we wanted to achieve with our images. We’re so glad he was there on the day as not only has he given us some fantastic images to cherish but he has an excellent calming manner which was definitely needed! We also had a pre-wedding shoot which I would definitely recommend to other brides. In the few ‘posed’ shots we did have on the wedding day, we knew what would come out well and felt comfortable in front of the camera – something which lacked in the pre-wedding shoot!
The Details + Decor…. We spent a lot of time trawling car boot sales to get some really quirky and unique bits. Each of our tables was named after an Alice in Wonderland character and each centrepiece then correlated with that, for example: the Queen of Hearts table had a topiary of artificial red and white roses with paintbrushes; the Mad Hatters table had a tall stack of teacups stuck together at irregular angles; the White Rabbit table had a tree trunk with felt flowers, a little white rabbit and signs showing “This Way” and “That Way”. Nikki’s Mum was a huge help with putting these together and she spent many a late evening sewing, punching and drilling!
We were really pleased with how our Table Plan came out as we used mismatched old pictures frames stuck together with a table in each frame. Many of our guests commented on how nice it was to have such a quirky design.
For our favours we had pink candy-striped bags with retro sweets like Popping Candy and Sherbet Dips inside. Each favour was less than £1 per person and so many people commented how the sweets took them back to their childhood. We had quite a lot of children so each child had an Alice in Wonderland printed canvas bag filled with colouring pencils, toys, sweets and games which kept them entertained during the Wedding Breakfast.
The Honeymoon…. We’re saving up for a trip to South-East Asia towards the end of the year but did managed to escape for a few days after the wedding to the Cotswolds where we stayed at The Greenway Hotel , indulged in some fine dining and spa treatments, and tried our hand at Clay Pigeon Shooting.
Memorable moments… When we pronounced man and wife by the registrar, our guests clapped and one of our dogs partook in the celebrations by getting a few woofs in! Arriving at Staverton Park to find the majority of our guests (mostly the adults!) had their faces painted by our face painter – it was a really nice surprise to see so many of the guests getting involved. Our Face Painter was fantastic, so professional and with a really lovely manner. Seeing Neil’s face when we walked back into the Staverton Suite for the evening reception to see a Photo Booth with Prop Box set up. I kept it as a surprise from him and he, and our guests, loved it.
Advice for other couples… We spent most of the day trying to grab a couple of minutes to talk to each guest. We were so busy we didn’t have a chance to speak to anyone before the evening reception and it’s so hard to try to have a proper conversation with anyone. Try to put some time aside for this otherwise you may, like us, feel quite guilty the next day!
We were a little disappointed by how many people didn’t sign the Guest book. We would definitely recommend to others to appoint a person or for several people to take turns to go round and take the Guest Book to guests rather than waiting for guests to go over and sign.
Have a wedding website! This was a really easy way for guests to RSVP and to check the details and timings so we didn’t get asked lots of questions in the run up to the big day.
Don’t be pressured into choosing things just because other people tell you too or because they don’t ‘get’ what you’re planning. We listened to others ridicule some of our ideas but those ideas are the ones that made the day special for others.
Credit where credit is due…
Photography: Aaron Storry http://www.aaron-photography.com/
Cake Maker: Ingrid Khan at Design Me a Cake http://designmeacake.co.uk/
Staverton Park http://www.deverevenues.co.uk/locations/staverton-park.html
Bridesmaids Dresses http://www.ripleysclothing.co.uk/categorylist/hell-bunny/
Bride’s Shoes: Irregular Choice http://www.irregularchoice.com/
Hair Accessory: Hair We Go http://www.hair-we-go.co.uk/
Suit Hire: Millers http://www.millershire.co.uk/
Face Painter: Dawn Gatehouse http://www.facebook.com/dawnsfacepainting
Photo Booth: Picture Blast http://www.pictureblast.co.uk/
Wedding Website http://www.gettingmarried.co.uk/
I love the fact these two did things that were right for them. Ditching the flowers, not letting a venue issue affect them keeping to budget.
Thanks so much to Neil and Nikki for sharing thier utterly fun wedding with us today :-) XOXO Lou
Tags: Aaron Storry Photography, Black Wedding Ideas, Ellis Bridal Wedding Dress, Fete Games, Floral Bridesmaids, Irregular Choice Wedding Shoes, Quinton House, Real Weddings, Staverton Park, Summer Wedding Ideas, Wedding Games
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