Juls and Steph had one amazing celebration back in June. They chose to marry at Narborough Hall and Gardens, Norfolk with a Jewish ceremony and pretty marquee reception.
They had a vision of a relaxed day with an English country feel. There were beautiful blooms, a super stylish couple and the cutest page boys and flowergirls. Everyone looked like they had the most wonderful day.
Thanks so much to Katherine Ashdown for sharing her gorgeous images with us today.
The Proposal… Watch it on you tube: Popping the big ‘Q’ thru the medium of Pyrotechnics. Christmas Eve 2011, we drove to Nottingham to spend the Christmas period with my big sister and my 2 nephews. I went to watch my nephews in the Nativity play, whilst Juls stayed at home with my brother in law (I thought just drinking beer and watching rubbish TV, but actually plotting the proposal). When we got home we have fish & chips for tea, and then Juls told us he and my brother in law had set up some fireworks for us to watch…I thought it would be a bit lame (and cold!), and said I’d stay inside and wash up, but they were all adamant, so I went out to have a look…
At which point some heart shape rockets went up…( I was thinking, “What was he thinking?! Pink, heart shape rockets…for my nephews?!”)…then he turned round, my brother in law lit a big ‘MARRY ME?’ firework at the end of the garden, and Juls proposed. My nephews were convinced it must say Merry Christmas (Merry is quite like Marry to a 5 and 7 year old)!
The Vision for the Day… We had differing visions for the day…. Juls and his parents are big socialites and like a lot of p-zazz, me and my family are more low key (I hate being centre of attention), so it did take a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about the way we would all feel happy with the wedding day. In addition to that, Juls is Jewish, and I have converted from Christianity, so there was quite a lot of discussion about traditions and how to make sure everyone felt comfortable and relaxed, dietary requirements etc.
The Planning Process… I have 2 sisters and a brother, all of whom are married, so my mum and dad are old hands at weddings! Juls on the other hand is an only child, and an only Jewish child at that, so his parents were really happy and excited to take part in planning the wedding. As we are both mid-late thirties, our parents pretty much trusted us to get on with it after making their suggestions, and keeping them in the loop… Which in turn meant that Juls (being a typical man) left me to get on with it!
As we had friends coming from all across the UK (and a few from farther afield), we wanted to make sure that the whole weekend was fun for everyone. A key part in this (and Juls’s key area of concentration), was hiring Cliff Barns nearby (cliffbarns.com) for all our friends to stay. The idea being to have a party/ BBQ on Friday night, chill out on the beach on Saturday, and the wedding on Sunday.
Budget… We didn’t have a budget and differed hugely on what we thought a wedding should cost (I thought 15k, Juls thought 50k). I would have liked 50 people and a quiet ceremony, Juls would have liked 300 people and a lavish banquet and party….. In the end we compromised and had the best of both worlds! I don’t want to think about budget though…. :-)
The Venue… I fell in love with Narborough Hall as soon as I saw it… somewhere where we could feel at home, and relaxed. We were originally going to get married in Ibiza, but my family are farmers, so they couldn’t be away from the crops and the animals for any long amount of time, not to mention that my grandad wouldn’t be able to travel that far.. Narborough ticked all the boxes in terms of being a bit boho and absolutely beautiful, and somehow really tranquil and fun.. not at all stiff or pompous.
Joanne, the owner, was amazing at understanding my vision, and has an incredibly calming presence, and Georgie, her events coordinator followed in the same happy-go-lucky, yet efficient manner. The fact that the flowers could all be sourced from Narborough’s own gardens also made it feel very natural and not ‘plastic’ or put on.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was by Donna Lee, strapless, with a vintage looking diamanté and seed pearl application under the bust, and lace overlay, fading off towards the bottom. The body was fitted to mid hip, then flaring out into a full skirt with a short train. I had a fitted top with slash neck made out of fine mesh and the same lace as the dress, to cover my arms (to fit with Jewish tradition), which went under my dress. My tiara had very similar pearls and diamantes to my dress, in a pattern very similar to the lace. My veil had teeny tiny diamantes all over it and along the hem edge and was very simple..
Finding the Dress… First of all I went with my mum.. I tried on lots of dresses and loved them all! Most of which were a classic bridal shape- bodice top, nipped in waist and full skirt. I had always imagined myself in a Vivienne Westwood style, and didn’t think anything else would suit me…. then I went on my own to try and get my head around it all!….Then I went with Raquel, my mother in law to be, and tried on some completely different shapes, one of which I really loved, which totally confused me!….So then I went with my big sister, mum and dad for the final verdict. I found a shop in Nottingham (Dream Wedding Dress) that had my favourite from my day out with mum, and a similar style to my day out with Raquel… My dad cried when he saw me in the second option, so that was decision made!
Groom’s Attire… We both work in fashion, and Juls is renowned amongst his group of friends and family as dressing well, and sometimes a bit ‘differently’…so all eyes were on him for what he would be wearing at the wedding, probably more than my dress! In the end he went with a light blue blazer from Mr Start in London, dark blue slim fit tailored trousers, and a white shirt, with navy bow tie and navy polka dot handkerchief in his top pocket. Even the Rabbi commented on what he thought Juls might be wearing as part of the sermon!
The Readings + Music… It was a traditional Jewish ceremony, which is pretty short and no readings. We did however have a cantor (Singer), who sang traditional Jewish hymns and blessings, before we exchanged rings, Juls stamped on a glass, and everyone shouted Mazeltov!.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… Bridesmaids were somewhat outnumbered by page boys and ushers. (I have 5 nephews under the age of 10, and Juls’s cousins also had 3 boys we wanted to be page boys, compared to one niece and one cousin’s little girl). So in total I had 8 page boys, 2 flower girls and 3 bridesmaids.
The page boys looked super cool in outfits similar to Juls’ light blue shirt, navy shorts, white converse and I made them each a bow tie from different fabrics in shades of blue/grey/green.
The flower girls had soft vintage pink and sparkle dresses from Monsoon, and my little toddler niece Emilia had the cutest little bolero on over the top with almost feather like fabric trims on the shoulder.
My bridesmaids wore dresses from Alfred Sung.. all the same fabric and shade of Royal Blue, but in different necklines, so that they each had a shape to suit them. I ordered extra fabric for belts that form bows at the front, so that they all had this in common too.
The Flowers… Were produced by Joanne at Narborough Hall with flowers grown on the grounds. It all felt perfectly natural, and blended in with the beautiful grounds and colours of the wedding perfectly. Every table had a different vase and flower arrangement, and my favourite piece of all has to be our Chuppah (wedding canopy). We had originally wanted the ceremony to be outside on the lawns towards the lake, but the English weather was having none of it! The day before the wedding we decided to move everything into the barn building, which is perfectly dishevelled. It reminds me of the wedding in Friends when they have to get married in the destroyed church (although I have to point out that the Barn is much more in good nick than that). Joanne and her head gardener put together a willow frame for the Chuppah, decorated with ivy and garden flowers. It was truly stunning.
My Aunt also made posies for each row of chairs in the barn. They were made of Pinks (My nan used to grow them), Lavender (a theme throughout the wedding) and wheat (my dad is a wheat farmer). All tied up with raffia and measuring tape effect ribbon (a nod to our fashion background).
The Cake… We had a 4 tier cake in different flavours, decorated with sugar paste flowers to match the colour scheme of blues, soft vintage pink and light greens. Then we had some sugar paste buttons added as centres to the flowers/ bunched around the cake, and the same measuring tape as on the chairs in the ceremony around the base (again a reference to our fashion background).
Your Photographer… The wonderful Katherine Ashdown :-) I can’t believe she managed to stay calm, even when half of the party refused to come outside when it looked like it might rain and their hair might get ruined (even though it didn’t!, and I, the bride, was stood there waiting for them!) The photos are amazing, and every morning I wake up and scroll through them on my phone before I do anything else…I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of looking at them!
The Details + Decor… The main details were the measuring tape ribbon and buttons, which I carried through in heart shapes made out of mother of pearl buttons. Each table setting had a menu and ‘guide’ to the ceremony and traditions so that everyone felt included. I had designed it using some photos of Narborough Hall, and reworking them by hand and with photoshop, then had them printed onto textured matt card which worked beautifully. I used luggage tags as place settings, tied around the cutlery with measuring tape ribbon. Then we inserted a stick of lavender into each setting.
The Honeymoon… We didn’t have a lot of time to spare, as our business is relatively new and working in fashion, early July is the busiest selling period for us. So we went to Ibiza, totally hid away from everything at the Hacienda Na Xamena Hotel and relaxed…..and giggled and reminisced for 4 days in luxury!
Memorable Moments… Watching Juls and his stags all walking across the grounds from Cliff Barns to Narborough Hall, without them spotting me with butterflies the closer they got!
The Bedecken. This occurs immediately before the wedding ceremony and is the first time the groom sees the bride. I was in a room with just my mum and dad, and Juls walked in with his parents. I immediately welled up and just wanted to jump up and hug him! Then he confirmed it was me he intended to marry (as according to Jewish tradition), and then lowered my veil and left to get to the barn.
Advice for Other Couples… It is your big day, but remember to listen to everyone’s point of view. It doesn’t mean you have to follow it, but it is a big and important day for more than just you.. Start saving as soon as possible!
Buy a nice dressing gown to wear on the day so you look good in the getting ready photos! Also make sure you have a nice hanger for the dress shots.
Don’t get bogged down with the details. If you’re both there and everyone who really, really means the most to you in the world is there, then that is all you need. Juls nearly had a melt-down that we were going to get married in the barn instead of by the lake, but it was truly beautiful and we were getting married, so who cares where it was!
Take time to meet the suppliers you are using, chat, see if you can get on and understand each other, and remember that they have probably done this a lot more than you, so sometimes there is a point where it is best that you take a step back and let them do it.
Relax! You don’t want to look rubbish on your wedding day!
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Food: Owsley Brown: http://www.owsley-
Venue: Narborough Hall Gardens: www.narboroughhallgar
Videographer: Sugarfish: http://www.
Makeup: Melissa Abel: www.melissaabel.co.uk
Venue/ Accommodation: Cliff Barns: www.cliffbarns.com
Dress: Donna Lee: www.donnaleedesigns.co.uk