Morning lovelies. I have a glorious summer celebration to share with you all today :-)
Sarah and Tom tied the knot in May holding their ceremony in their family church followed by a reception at Bartley Lodge Hotel, Hampshire. They wanted a vintage feel to their day, which was traditional with a twist.
I so love all the home made touches, from the cake to the brooch bouquets, the balloon decorations and the floral bridesmaid dresses. Sarah looked gorgeous in Pronovias, with a lace edged veil, while Tom found his sharp suit in Moss Bros. Perfect.
Thanks so much to the fabulous Mia Photography for sharing her photographs with us today.
The Proposal… Tom and I had discussed getting married and had been to look at rings together. He needed some help, as every time he asked what kind of ring I liked I would show him something different! I tried on a few rings with him, which was really exciting, then I left it up to him. Tom put me off the scent somewhat, as he kept talking about buying a new MacBook, at which point I thought it was never going to happen!
The actual proposal I’d like to keep between us. All I will say is that Tom asked me to marry him on our six-year anniversary, in the home that we share, and it was perfect. Then Tom bought himself a new MacBook.
The Vision for the Day… Traditional with a twist. We knew that we didn’t want a matchy-matchy wedding where the bridesmaids’ dresses, ushers’ ties, chair covers, flowers etc. are all exactly the same colour. Instead we went for a mix of coordinating colours, which was guided by my bouquet.
I also admire the fashion and style of the 20s and of the 50s/60s, so used this as inspiration without making it look like a costume drama. As we are both quite creative people (I’m into arts and crafts and Tom is a graphic designer) we knew from the start that we wanted to do as much of the decorating and stationery ourselves. All of this naturally led us toward the vintage look.
The Planning Process… We wanted to enjoy being engaged for a while before starting to plan our wedding, but we also didn’t want to wait too long before we got married. Our plan was to get married on a Saturday in the summer of 2013. We started by looking at hotels around southern Hampshire for the reception, and were worried that most venues did not have many Saturdays still available, if they had any. We didn’t expect that venues would be booked already for 2015 and beyond!
The venue we chose was Bartley Lodge Hotel in the New Forest, who had one Saturday free in the summer. This happened to be 7 years to the day of our first date! It was also within six months of us booking, which meant we got a discount, which in turn made my parents very happy! Soon after we booked the venue, we booked the other elements that need to be booked well ahead of the date, like the church, the cars, the photographer and the band. After these things were booked, we were able to focus more on the finer details of the day.
Budget… We didn’t really have a budget. Our parents kindly helped us out with the reception and the refreshments at the church. We were also lucky to have a lot of talented friends who donated their skills for free, like the organist and singers at the church. Everything else we paid for ourselves. Our aim was to keep an eye on what we were spending and to not go in to debt, but to still have the perfect day that we had imagined, which we managed to do.
The Venue… Our ceremony was held at Highfield Church in Southampton. Tom’s family are good friends of the church, so there were plenty of friends that came to the ceremony to see us get married. We were also free to decorate the church however we liked. We served refreshments at the church after the ceremony for the people that we weren’t able to invite to the rest of the day.
Our reception was held at Bartley Lodge Hotel in the New Forest. Bartley Lodge was the first venue we visited, and every time we went back we loved it more. It has beautiful grounds and feels very cosy, almost like having your reception in your front room. The whole team at Bartley Lodge did a fantastic job, and Samantha and Peter in particular took care of everything to make sure our day was as stress free and enjoyable for us as possible.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was by Pronovias, and my veil was by Richard Designs. I bought both at Anya Bridal Couture in Droxford. I had originally planned to wear my Mum’s veil, but when I tried it on with my dress at my first fitting it was the wrong colour and looked terrible. The seamstress brought out a few of the veils that they had in stock, and when I tried my veil on it just looked perfect!
I didn’t really see the point in spending a lot on my shoes, as they would be hidden beneath my dress for most of the day. They were sparkly ballet flats by Faith, which I found on ASOS. The only jewellery I wore on the day was a pair of pearl earrings. These were originally a present from my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother on their wedding day. My Mum wore them on her wedding day, and she lent them to me as my something borrowed. I had hoped that they would be my something old (although she has since given them to me)!
Our wedding bands and my engagement ring were custom made for us by Kyle McIntosh at Baroque Bespoke Jewellery in Brighton. I made my own garter, but what it looks like is a secret that I keep with Tom ;)
Finding the Dress… Before I started shopping for my dress, I knew that I wanted something lace and fitted. I also have a complete aversion to strapless dresses. When I first started trying dresses on I loved all of them. The more dresses I tried, the pickier I became. I finally found the one at Anya Bridal Couture in Droxford. The shop is in a beautiful barn out in the middle of the countryside, and all the girls there were lovely, which made the whole experience wonderful. At the wedding, everyone said my dress was exactly what they had imagined it would be like, which was lovely to hear.
Groom’s Attire… Tom wore a navy morning suit, ivory waistcoat, and wing collar shirt, all of which we hired from Moss Bros. His cufflinks were Optimus Prime and Megatron, which he bought from Amazon. He also wore traditional black brogues that he bought from W.J. French and Son in Southampton. Tom’s parents used to take him to French’s to buy his school shoes, so this brought back some strong memories, not all of them good! His tie and pocket square were from M&S.
The Readings + Music… At our ceremony I entered to Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremiah Clarke. Our hymns were Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, Amazing Grace, and Lord of the Dance. These were chosen not only because we liked them, but also because we thought most people would know them. We also had singers to lead the hymns. During the signing of the register, we had an iPod playing songs from the Amelie soundtrack, Final Fantasy, and Claire de Lune by Debussy. Tom and I walked back down the aisle to La Rejouissance by Handel.
We had one reading; 1 John 4, verses 7-12. This was read by Tom’s Dad. Tom’s Mum then led the prayers.
At the evening reception we had live music by Freddie and the Freeloaders. We booked them on the recommendation of our photographer Mia, who had them play at her wedding and said that they made the day. We hadn’t actually heard them play live at the time we booked them; instead we went to one of their gigs a couple of months later. At that gig they totally blew us away, and we were so excited for them to play at our wedding. Needless to say they didn’t disappoint. They played for our first dance (to You Belong To Me by Jason Wade) and then had everyone up on the dance floor until the last song. We also made a few iPod playlists to play throughout the day, including between the band’s sets.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… I had two bridesmaids, Rhiannon and Carri, two of my best friends. Rhiannon is also Tom’s sister. They wore 50s style tea length dresses. The dresses were made by Tom’s Mum, which meant that each dress could be slightly different so as to suit each of their figures. Both the girls looked stunning and the dresses looked amazing. I’m quite jealous I didn’t get a similar dress made for me! They both wore gold glitter peep-toe pumps from Kurt Geiger, which were a bargain find in the sale. We kept jewellery simple so it didn’t clash with the bouquets.
Their hair (as well as mine) was styled by Ross, who has been my hairdresser since I’ve had hair and my Mum’s hairdresser since she was 18. Their hair looked fab and totally suited the dresses without looking costumey, and what’s more he did each style in about 5 minutes!
We all did our own make-up. We had been to the Bobbi Brown counter in John Lewis for free make-up lessons. This was really helpful for finding out what products suit our skin and how to get our make-up to last all day. It was also a really fun, girly thing to do together, and I highly recommend it to other brides who are thinking of doing their own make-up.
The Flowers… I made brooch bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids. It’s lovely to have my bouquet to keep forever, and for the bridesmaids to keep theirs’ too. I had actually started my bouquet at least a year before Tom and I got engaged. I had seen the idea on the Internet and thought they were beautiful, so I really wanted to have a go at making one myself. When we got engaged it seemed silly not to use it for our wedding, although that meant I had roped myself into making two more! I collected the brooches from car boot sales, charity shops, eBay, Primark and in the Accessorize sales. I had my Mum keep an eye out for brooches too. It was the talking point of the day, as everyone stopped me to look at it and ask me about it, and to feel how heavy it was. I definitely didn’t throw it!
For the table centrepieces, we bought pretty birdcages from The Range, which were filled with flowers by the florists at Mills in Bloom in Winchester. They incorporated some origami flowers into the arrangements that we had learned how to make during a holiday in Japan.
Mills in Bloom also made the buttonholes for the boys. For Tom’s buttonhole, they added in some of the brooches that I had left over from the bouquets.
The Cake… I really wanted to be involved in some aspect of our wedding cake, as baking is one of my favourite hobbies. In the end I made the top tier, and Tom’s Mum made the bottom two tiers. Tom and I don’t particularly like traditional fruit cake, so instead we had three different flavours of sponge cake; the top tier was red velvet, the middle tier was vanilla madeira, and the bottom tier was chocolate fudge. They were all delicious.
Tom and I designed how we wanted our cake to look, then our friend Kathryn iced the cake for us, which she did beautifully and better than we had imagined. Our cake toppers were two blue birds, which tied in with the birdcage centrepieces and the pattern on the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Your Photographer… Our photographer was Mia Hooper of Mia-photography. We met Mia at a wedding fair, where she was literally the only thing that we liked. After we had set the date, I emailed Mia straight away to make sure she was available; luckily she was! We met with Mia a couple of times before the wedding to discuss what we wanted our photos to look like, and the parts of the day that were most important to us that we wanted to make sure were captured. We didn’t want too many posed photos, but more candid snapshots that captured the atmosphere of the day. Mia understood this perfectly.
On the day Mia was fab, had so much energy and worked so hard despite being in the later stages of her pregnancy. Everyone commented on how organised and on top of everything she was; all our guests loved her. We also have to thank James, her second photographer for the day, who was brilliant as well.
During our honeymoon, Mia uploaded a couple of photos to her Facebook page as a taster of what was to come and made us really excited to see the rest. After our honeymoon, we spent a lovely couple of hours looking through our photos. They were absolutely magical and captured our day perfectly. The portraits of us as the sun was setting are some of my favourites and looked like a fairy-tale, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Out of everything we booked for our wedding, hiring Mia was definitely the best money we spent.
The Details + Decor… We decorated the church the day before the wedding with giant balloons, streamers and paper tassels. We “borrowed” the flowers from the previous week’s wedding, as they were the colours that we were using. We bought real flower petals to hand out to our guests as confetti, and put a handful in striped sweetie bags. At the refreshments after the ceremony we had glass bottles of coke and striped paper straws, and old fashioned party food like cocktail sausages and cheese and pineapple on sticks.
At the reception we displayed the vintage postcards that had been used as RSVPs. We used Tom’s grandmother’s suitcase, which I had lined with pretty paper, to collect cards. Our wedding cake was surrounded by pictures of us as children, and of our parents’, grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s weddings.
One of our shared loves is film. The names of the tables were some of our favourite films. Tom designed vintage style film posters, which we displayed on the tables in DVD cases. Each guest received a box of love heart sweets.
The Honeymoon… We left for our honeymoon the Monday after our wedding. We had two days in Orlando, visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal Islands of Adventure, then we drove down to Miami and spent a week by the beach. On our last day we even managed to see the Miami Heat play in the NBA playoffs, which was a dream come true for Tom!
Memorable Moments… Our strongest memory of the day is of all our friends and family being there just for us, and everyone being so happy for us. With us being so consumed with the planning I don’t think we realised before the day what that would feel like, and it was quite overwhelming.
Advice for Other Couples… Ignore wedding fairs and bridal magazines! Nothing that they say is “essential” for a perfect day actually is. Have the day that reflects who you are as a couple, and have confidence in your own ideas. Not everything you plan will turn out perfectly and things will go wrong, but don’t panic. You will still have an amazing day, and none of your guests will know that something is missing unless you choose to tell them! No matter how organised you are, expect the couple of weeks leading up to the day to be very stressful. You can find almost anything you can imagine on eBay and at a bargain price if you look hard enough!
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Bartley Lodge Hotel http://www.newforesthotels.co.uk/hotels/bartley-lodge-hotel-cadnam/
Anya Bridal Couture www.anyabridal.co.uk
Mills in Bloom www.flowershopwinchester.co.uk
Baroque Bespoke Jewellery www.baroquejewellery.com
Mia-Photography www.mia-photography.com (second photographer – James Musselwhite http://www.closerphotography.com)
Freddie and the Freeloaders www.freddieandthefreeloaders.com
Just beautiful! And that rainbow shot at the end…. gorgeous! Thanks so much to Sarah and Tom for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou