A Sweet Homemade Afternoon Tea Wedding

vw camper wedding surrey afternoon tea



Kat and Matt wanted their wedding to be relaxed and personal. They had a church ceremony followed by a reception at Parkside School, Surrey.

Kat opted for a flirty polka dot 1950s style dress which she wore with a short veil and natural hair style. While Matt wore a grey suit from Next with pink accessories. Gorgeous!

They homemade much of their day, with Kat baking the cupcakes, crafting the stationery, bunting and favours too. Not to mention a fab VW camper van, afternoon tea and the loveliest blooms.

Thanks so much to the brilliant Jacqui McSweeney Photography for sharing her photographs with us today.


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The Proposal… In the Brecon Beacons in July 2011 whilst on holiday in a secluded lodge on a lily pond – perfect!

The Vision for the Day… Relaxed and personal, we wanted our day to reflect ‘us’ and everything we like and everyone we love.

The Planning Process… We began by looking for a venue, which ultimately determined when we were getting married! The venue was a private school which only held weddings in summer and Easter holidays. The last available date in 2012, Saturday 25th August was my birthday, so we decided to wait until the following Easter to get married.

Once we had booked the venue and church, we began planning all the things we needed to make and collect before the wedding. We set a budget and worked from there.

Budget… Approximately £13,000 (probably a bit more with all the extra bits we bought along the way but shhh, let’s not think about those…).  We were very lucky that both sets of parents contributed heavily to funding our day, but it was important we contributed some ourselves, too. We saved lots by making lots of things and using sales and vouchers to purchase various items.

The Venue… We married in St James’  Church in Weybridge. With my parent’s blessing, we agreed it wasn’t really practical to plan a wedding in my hometown in Nottingham (150 miles away), so we agreed to get married in Matt’s hometown instead.  The church is in the heart of the town and is the first thing you see when you arrive, so it will always be a lasting reminder of our day.

Our reception venue, Parkside School, was a bit of a gem that we stumbled upon! We knew we didn’t want the traditional hotel package wedding – I wanted to serve afternoon tea to my guests from my beautiful vintage china, and being a wine buff, it was important that Matt could choose his own wine to serve on the day. We spent a long time looking at village halls and cricket pavilions for our vintage theme, but came to the conclusion that they were both going to be surprisingly expensive once we factored in all the equipment we would need to hire.

Parkside was perfect – a stunning Listed building backing onto the River Mole with lots of quirky character inside and the total freedom to do exactly what we wanted. The building is very much part of the school during term time (the salon is used for table tennis, the bar area is the staff room and the boys eat their lunch in the room we served our afternoon tea in!), and the transformation was amazing. We got to choose every item on the menu, including the BBQ we served instead of a traditional wedding breakfast, and the wine Matt sourced was served corkage-free. In the evening, we hired local band Glo, who were simply amazing – really talented 3-piece band who kept the dance floor busy all evening and went well beyond their agreed set times to keep the party going.

The Dress + Accessories… My shoes were by shoe designer Filipa Scott and were a bargain at £40 (rrp £150) at T K Maxx! I originally wanted a birdcage veil, but decided they looked silly on my head, so at the last minute decided to wear my hair down, simply, and borrowed my sister’s elbow length veil.

Finding the Dress… I lost almost 3 stone in weight prior to the wedding, so didn’t start looking for a dress until July 2012, once I’d lost about half the weight. I knew in my head I wanted tea length, 50s style, but tried on lots of other styles, just in case and to make sure I was getting what I wanted! I would definitely suggest trying on lots of dresses, just to be sure, and visit lots of different stores. I tried lots of ‘off the peg’ but, being ‘big up top’, and still losing weight, knew I would be better with a made-to-measure dress.  I took Matt’s sister in law, Sonya, who is one of my best friends, with me – she was brilliant at calming me down beforehand and honestly telling me what she thought and how the dress should be tweaked to fit me.

In the end, I settled on a bespoke 50s gown by British designer Chanticleer. I loved the petticoats and polka dot tulle overlay! I tried it on at Beverley Lister in Godalming, but the shop was only selling the sample gown, which was too small. In the end I sourced it from a local bridal shop in Fleet, Hampshire. The dress was fully customised to have a sweetheart neckline and lace up back. I was lucky to have two of my fittings with the brand’s designer, Tracey Salt, who went through every little detail with me, from the length of the waist drop to the piping detail and pleating around the bustline. It was great to be able to choose exactly what I wanted and to have it made perfectly to fit my shape. It was a bit of an extravagance and blew the budget but hey, you only get married once!

Groom’s Attire… Matt didn’t want to wear traditional tails – he didn’t want to feel uncomfortable on his special day, and wanted to inject a bit of personality into his look. His suit was a bargain from Next – although we did have to get up at 5am on Boxing Day to buy it! His shoes were from Bertie, his braces from Topman and his shirt from TM Lewin. He wore his Dad’s cufflinks and the watch I bought him from Macy’s in San Francisco for his 21st Birthday.
We asked the ushers and best men to wear a suit and white shirt, and hired silk ties to match the bridesmaid dresses.

The Readings + Music… The readings were done by the best man, Jimmy, and my nephew, Ben. We chose traditional hymns which were family favourites.

Beautiful Bridesmaids… My adult bridesmaid was my older sister, Emily. I wanted her dress to be of a similar style to mine, and we found her dress by Alexia in Heavenly Brides in Nottingham. It was quite easy actually, as I only had one dress to find, and my sister’s shape is very easy to dress! Her dress determined the colour scheme for the whole wedding – I carried a small (and slightly scruffy) sample in my handbag everywhere I went! We ordered extra fabric to make a matching bolero and I ordered an extra petticoat from ebay to make the dress flare out.

My beautiful flower girls were Matt’s two nieces and looked devine! Their dresses were from Belles in Woking, and were handmade by Busy B’s in Lincolnshire. We had a bit of a disaster when one of the skirts arrived 6 inches too short, two weeks before the wedding, but we soon fixed it and the skirt was replaced. We had the bows made out of material to match my sister’s dress, and their tights and boleros were from Debenhams. We had such fun on the dance floor, spinning in our big dresses all evening!

The Flowers… My beautiful flowers were by Angela at Fleurs Amanda in Weybridge, who was recommended by Matt’s Mum, Pat. I actually cried when I saw my bouquet, it was so beautiful! I took in on honeymoon with me to Wales in a jar of water as I was too upset at the thought of it dying!

Angela was truly amazing- I arrived at the flower shop with a scrap book full of pictures and ideas, and from that she worked out which flowers I liked, what would be in season, and what would complement the colour scheme (from my scrap of dress fabric). I think she enjoyed the challenge of doing something a bit different – she had never made table displays in tea pots before! My bouquet was full of vintage inspired, seasonal flowers such as coolwater roses, lisianthus, wax flower, ranunculus and, my favourite, anenomes – or ‘bumble bee bottoms’, as Angela called them!

The Cake… Never ones to do things by half, we had two cakes – I made my own cupcake tower, and we ordered a cheese tower for Matt! I love baking and to me, there was nothing more special or personal than being able to make my own cake as part of my handmade, homemade wedding day. In total, my sister and I baked 72 regular cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes, all hand iced and decorated with handmade flowers! The top cake was fruit, which I made in the January before and fed with copious amounts of black rum – Matt’s favourite! I had a bit of a disaster trying to ice it though – to make the cake deep enough, I actually baked two cakes, but it ended being about 6inches deep! I ran out of icing and Matt had to make several dashes to various cake shops to try and source extra, whilst I contemplated ordering a last minute replacement from M&S. Luckily, we found some more fondant and in the end, it looked great once it had been decorated with flower heads by the florist.

The cheese was from thecheeseshed.com – an online artisan cheese retailer. The wheels of cheese stood on the biggest brie we had ever seen, and it was heaven! ‘Unfortunately’ we had about 2/3 left as people were too full to eat it in the evening, and had a wonderful honeymoon, eating cheese and wedding cake whilst drinking the remainder of the wine we had bought!

Your Photographer… What can we say, we loved Jacqui! We found her via Joanne Flemming’s website, and I have to admit, she was the first and only wedding photographer we considered! Her work is simply beautiful, quirky and fun – perfect for our day. Jacqui is so creative but, above all, a lovely, down to earth person who made us feel really relaxed. We had a pre-wedding shoot in Brighton a few weeks before, and I’m so glad we did as a) it was really fun and we got to eat fish and chips, and b) we got to know Jacqui and felt comfortable in front of the camera.

The Details + Decor… I wanted the stationery, decorations and favours to be handmade and for the favours to be genuinely made out of love for all our guests! I soon started to regret this after painstakingly hand making about 200 miniature bunting flags for my invitations, but it was really worth it and everyone loved their bespoke invitations! I used paper from ImagineDIY, an online stationery company, for the patterned paper, and chose it match the Cath Kidston-esque fabric we sourced from Ikea to make the other decorations.

Between us, my Mum and I stitched about 50m of bunting and 40 lavender-stuffed hearts, which were favours for the ladies. My older sister is the chutney queen and made 40 miniature jars of chutney for the boys, which we topped with the same fabric and tied with ribbon. I made little luggage tag labels for all the favours – fiddly, but worth the effort for that extra special touch.

The afternoon tea was served on vintage china, all of which I collected or borrowed from friends and family. The collection started from a beautiful china tea set I had inherited, and it was really nice be able to incorporate it in the day. My mum saved me a massive bag of lace doilies from a church fete she was running, which we used to decorate the tables. On the morning before the wedding, my mum and sister filled jam jars with roses to decorate the afternoon tea tables.

We had lots of other personal touches – my sister crocheted us a beautiful doily, which we displayed out engagement shoot photos on, next to our card box, which was, naturally, a wooden wine box! Our table numbers were named after our favourite albums and my dad, bless him, was tasked with making the table numbers the morning before the wedding out of the last few remaining scraps of card we had!

However, the best ‘accessory’ on the day had to be the VW camper van which was our wedding car! It belonged to Matt’s uncle, and as wedding present, they had decked it out with bunting and flowers, and even made us bespoke ‘just married’ signs for the journey to the reception, which we later stuck to our car for our drive to Wales for our honeymoon! The camper was so much fun, and such a talking point for all the guests!

The Honeymoon… We are saving for lots of other things at the moment so couldn’t afford a huge honeymoon this year, so for our ‘mini-moon’ we hired a luxury cottage in rural wales. It was lovely to get away for a few days and relax together. We had a great time, eating our wedding cheese and drinking champagne in our roll top bath – heaven!

Memorable Moments… I cannot remember walking down the aisle, but saying our vows in that big, atmospheric church, it was as if no-one else was there and was really special to us both. However, that didn’t stop Matt trying to put my ring on the wrong hand! Later, at the reception, my sister and I had some serious Marilyn Monroe moments in our big dresses in the wind, which was great fun, and watching the photographer chasing my runaway veil will always make me chuckle. But I think the most memorable thing was seeing everyone so happy for us and being able to share our special day with our loved ones.

Advice for Other Couples… Do it your way. Seriously – don’t let others try and tell you can’t do something a particular way, they’ve had their day, this is yours! Enjoy planning your day, you only get one chance. Spend your money on whichever bits are important to you, and don’t sweat the small things. Don’t be scared to have a go at making stuff yourself – it’s cheaper, far more personal and good fun if you get others involved. Just leave yourself plenty of time and enough budget to buy all the things you need – glue, card and ribbons all add up when you multiply them by 80!

But above all, take time with your new husband or wife to stop for a minute on the day and drink it all in – your wedding day will be gone in an instance, but your memories will last you a lifetime.

Credit Where Credit is Due…

Chanticleer gowns http://www.chanticleerbrides.co.uk/

Jacqui McSweeney Photography http://www.jmcsweeneyphotography.co.uk/

Parkside School, Cobham http://www.parkside-school.co.uk/

Fleurs Amanda http://www.fleursamanda.co.uk/

Cheese shed www.thecheeseshed.com

Hogs Back Event Hire (vintage crockery) www.hogsbackeventhire.co.uk

Glo Party Band www.glopartyband.co.uk




So sweet! Thanks so much to Kat and Matt for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

7 thoughts on “A Sweet Homemade Afternoon Tea Wedding

Congratulations Kat and Matt! (I love how your names match :)
What a gorgeous couple, a fab wedding and I love all the details.
Claire x

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