Sarah and Mike went to every effort to ensure their guests were fully involved in their wedding day back in June at Lillibrooke Manor, Berkshire. With selected guests carving the lamb, everyone choosing a song for the evening and all of the thoughtful home made details they crafted.
Sarah looked so beautiful with her hair tousled to perfection, Mike looking dashing in a traditional morning suit and the bridesmaids were pretty in dusky pink dresses. I so love the peony and rose bouquets, dove release and the rustic cakes.
Thanks so much to Fiona Kelly for sharing her utterly gorgeous photographs with us today.
The Proposal… Mike proposed in the middle of our living room a week after our 10-year anniversary in our first house that we had been in for a few weeks. We had been saving for our house deposit for several years yet Mike had somehow saved up to buy an engagement ring that we brought together after he proposed. It was a traditional proposal with Mike on one knee and we stayed up for hours talking about our life together for the coming years.
The Vision for the Day… We wanted our wedding to be relaxed and fun with all of our nearest and dearest friends and family. We decided straight away that we would hand make as much as we could to make it extra personal.
The Planning Process… We planned the wedding over 10 months as Mike went to Malaysia on business for 7 weeks soon after he proposed so the real planning started when he returned. We made an effort to have as much fun planning the wedding as we could as we were spending most of a year doing it. We set out a list of things that we were not willing to compromise on that were the most important things to us and after that, things just fell into place.
The Venue… We originally wanted a nice venue with accommodation for the guests on the premises but after looking at so many they all started to look the same, we booked a viewing for Lillibrooke Manor just on the off chance as we had a free morning and absolutely fell in love with it. It had character and charm and was perfect for what we wanted. We had a civil ceremony in the small barn with Pimms and Cider in the courtyard outside afterwards before having the reception in the Great Barn later on. As it was a barn and outbuildings, it was exclusively ours to use.
The Dress + Accessories… I was struggling to find THE dress for a while as there was something I didn’t like with every one I tried on. That was until I went to Cloud 9 Bridal in Cheam village, I found a dress I really liked but I didn’t like the skirt so they said that I can order my dress with the bodice of one dress and a different skirt, at no extra cost (no other dress shop had been so helpful with choosing the right dress) It was exciting as I wouldn’t get to see my actual dress until a few weeks before the wedding but it turned out perfect.
As my dress had quite a large skirt, I didn’t spend much money on shoes and they were actually in the sale from Faith at Debenhams (and are amazing). The headband was handmade from Rocks for Frocks and my jewellery was brought as a gift from Mike, which I didn’t see until the day of the wedding.
Groom’s Attire… Mikes suit was a three-piece tailcoat suit hired from Robert Tracey Tailors. We decided against typical black socks for the groomsmen and decided multi-coloured socks would fit in better with our fun and relaxed day. I brought personalised cuff links for Mike to open and wear on the day. That he knew nothing about.
The Readings + Music… Until we went to see the registrar we had no idea exactly how much we could personalise the ceremony. We wrote our own vows and ring exchange words to make it extra personal. As we met at school, and only really got together after the school prom, we chose Partners by Patience Strong and On Your Wedding Day and each was read out by one of our Mums. I walked down the aisle to Clair De Lune and we left the ceremony to I Got You (I feel good) by James Brown. Afterwards in the courtyard our friend Mike Conlon performed with his acoustic guitar and sang a song that he had written just for us!
Beautiful Bridesmaids… There were three gorgeous bridesmaids, Kat (Mikes Sister), Jenny (my best friend since Uni) and Amy close friend and Fiancé to one of the best men). They organised an amazing hen do over the course of a bank holiday weekend and included afternoon tea, theatre, cocktail making and a spa weekend.
We had two best men, Jamie and Joel, as they were both friends with Mike since school and there was no way that he could choose between them. They organised a weekend away to Benidorm for Mike which resulted in him coming home with a plaster cast on his arm, which luckily was a prank and came off when he got home.
The Flowers… The flowers were all white and consisted of white roses and peonies and were from Fleur De Lis in Maidenhead. Chris was so helpful and was the first florist that I spoke to that actually cared that they were for our wedding day. He demonstrated what the flowers would look like with the flowers in the shop and helped with the table decorations. Chris and Lisa completely put my mind at ease, as I knew they were just as worried about them looking nice on the day as I was. They were stunning and immaculately presented. Nothing was too much trouble for them including wrapping the flowers in hessian instead of ribbon to fit in with our theme.
The Cake… The cake was made by a work colleague and we actually had three cakes, one was chocolate with chocolate ganache, one was carrot with cream cheese frosting, and the other was vanilla with vanilla frosting. There was enough cake for 180 people (even though we only had 130) and all of it went! I saw relatives taking it home in little sweet bags we had put out for our sweetie table, that’s how good the cake was.
None of the cakes had egg in them, which was perfect for our vegetarian guests although you would never have known.
Your Photographer… Our photographer was Fiona Kelly who is worth her weight in gold, she was fantastic right from the first phone call and was a very calming influence on the day when all the girls were getting ready in the morning. The photos are amazing and she wasn’t intrusive at all. Fiona also provided a photobooth in the evening and we all asked our guests to bring a prop with them to use.
The Details + Decor… Most of the details were home made, from the 50 metres of bunting for the small barn, to the hessian-covered bottles for decoration. The confetti cones were made from paper doilies and the confetti was all home made from dried petals over the course of a year. The table names were made from cheap frames from a local shop, which we covered with hessian, and mini bunting. The cake topper was home made and the cakes sat on logs that are from the end of our road. The gold Mr & Mrs Sammons that we had behind the bar were from a local craft shop that we spray-painted gold. The invites took weeks to make, mostly in the design, printing and cutting of the inserts, we ruined a guillotine making the invites, but we were pleased with the result. We hand made the Just Married hessian banner and the order of service, which was made into a fan just in case it was hot. We decorated tissues for people and left them on the chairs just in case they were needed during the ceremony. The place names were hand stamped, as well as the sweetie bags for the sweetie table and the stamped and labelled favour bags. We had a great time making all our own decorations together and coming up with ideas of what else we could do. It looked exactly how we wanted and we can say it was truly unique with all our home made accessories. We kept the theme rustic to compliment the barn and it looked fantastic on the day.
The Honeymoon… We will be going on our honeymoon to Thailand for three weeks in February 2014 which has been paid for by our guests. We are forever grateful and are very much looking forward to it.
Memorable Moments… I love surprises and was really pleased to find out that my parents had planned a dove release for us to complete after the ceremony. It was fantastic and I loved every minute, I didn’t find out about it until the doves were put in front of us on the day. Mum had also planned a few things for us the night before, during the wedding day and the day after which added to the experience.
On the morning of the wedding, my bridesmaids turned up with a Starbucks that Mike had brought me that morning; he had handwritten a message on the side that said, “for my beautiful bride” and on the other side “love Mike”. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and had my favourite coffee in. The bridesmaids perfected it by making a heart out of chocolate on the top of the cream. It made me so excited in the morning and we all agreed it was a lovely gesture.
The food was a surprise to everyone apart from us. For the main course we had a carving joint of lamb, which was given to a nominated person to carve and distribute to the rest of the table. My Dad was the first person to be given a carving joint and the whole room lit up with people gathering around and taking photos. (Dad was just as surprised to everyone else!) We ordered personalised aprons for the person who would be carving on each table, which was presented with the carving joint to keep it a surprise. It was a great way to get people more involved in our day and was a brilliant way of getting people talking to others.
Afterwards we hired a retro 1950s ice cream van for dessert, which went down really well. There were over 10 flavours to choose from and people could go up as many times as they wanted. Everyone said it was a really good idea and people were going up for seconds and thirds!
We asked everyone to choose a song for the DJ to play in the evening, it helped get people involved and hopefully people felt like they had a part in our day. They loved hearing their song when it came on over the sound system.
I remember seeing Mike for the first time that day, he looked amazing, like a husband, I couldn’t wait to hug him and say our vows.
As we were walking down the aisle and out of the small barn, a massive spider walked out right in front of me! It made me stop in my tracks as I am petrified of spiders and it was too big to just ignore. Mike luckily noticed it and stepped out in front of me to get it out of the way so that I could step over it. The photos look like we are falling over a little or I have my dress caught but its something I will never forget. He will forever be my hero.
Advice for Other Couples… Have fun planning the wedding, you will put so much time and effort into planning so make sure you enjoy doing it, it should be a labour of love with a shared goal in mind.
Admit that you can’t have everything, and its probably best that way.
Don’t have a breakdown over perfecting every tiny detail or you will think you are having a crisis. Calm down, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and put things back into perspective.
Have a good breakfast, there will probably be around 7 hours between breakfast and the next time you eat so make sure you eat something.
Take a few minutes out of the day to reflect on what has just happened.
Relax and enjoy the day, if you are married to the person of your dreams at the end of it, then it was a success and all worth it.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Dress – Cloud 9 Bridal wear – http://www.cloud9bridalwear.com
Headband: Rocks for Frocks – http://www.rocksforfrocks.co.uk
Flowers Fleur De Lies – http://www.fleurdelisflorist.co.uk
Suit Hire – Robert Tracey Tailors – http://www.roberttracey.co.uk
Bridesmaids Dresses Debenhams – http://www.debenhams.com
Caterers/Event Management: Crown Catering – http://www.crown-catering.co.uk
Ice Cream Van – http://www.daisyicecreamvan.co.uk
Photographer Fiona Kelly Photography – http://fionasweddingphotography.co.uk
Make up artist: Mandy Driver – http://www.bigdayhairandmakeup.co.uk
Venue decorations and post box hire: http://www.lavendersoflondon.com
DJ – DJ Paul Mac – [email protected]
Such a thoughtful and pretty day. Thanks so much to Sarah and Mike for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou