WWW readers Charli and Mark married back in November on their 9 year anniversary. They married at Knowle Country House, Kent and had a super personal ceremony which sounded just perfect.
I just love the earthy natural feel to their Autumnal day, with an array of earth tones. There were pretty natural blooms, pine cones, moss and so many hand made touches. Gorgeous.
Thanks so much to Kate Hennessy Photography for sharing her lovely images with us.
The Proposal… 7 years ago, I arrived home from work (at 11pm!) to find that Mark had cooked a curry – anyone that knows Mark will know that his forte would probably not be described as cooking!!
Having finished eating the (slightly burnt) curry, Mark walked towards the oven only to tell me that he had also cooked dessert, before pulling out a huge pot with a lid.
I will admit that I was slightly worried as I wasn’t sure I could eat anything else! Fortunately, dessert consisted of a very cute ‘Me to You’ Bear (courtesy of Mark’s Mum) and a stunning ring. And so the 7-year engagement story began…
The Vision for the Day… Having been together for 9 years and engaged for 7 years, we wanted something really personal and unique to us.
I remembered studying and re-enacting ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ whilst at school and this became the base of the vision for the day. We wanted lots of natural colours, with a real earthy feel (think moss and pine cones), and lots of gentle lighting in the form of fairy lights and candles.
The Planning Process… We had kept meaning to book the venue for years but there was always something else to pay for so we kept putting it off. In the end, we booked the venue in November 2011, leaving us 2 years to plan for our special day. I am a slightly over-organised person and so the spreadsheets and tables begun!
Budget… We decided on a budget of £10,000 as we wanted to make sure we came out as a married couple without any debt! We succeeded with this budget, coming in at just under £10,000, although, this didn’t include our honeymoon which was a present from my (Charli’s) parents.
The Venue… The Knowle Country House, Kent. We fell in love with this venue as it suited the feel of our day perfectly.
It is an old gothic style country house with beautiful features inside. We didn’t do much in terms of décor on the day as the house has such character by itself it would have been a shame to have changed it.
Michael (the owner) actually lives in the house and I have to say that he was fantastic on the day, along with the waitresses, bar staff and everyone else who helped set up in the morning.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was an Ian Stuart design. I knew I wanted a slight fishtail look to the dress and I adore lace and detail so when I saw the dress I knew it was the one. I also didn’t want a white dress – I don’t really ever wear white and the light champagne colour of the dress matched perfectly with our earthy and magical touches to the day.
My jewellery was a present from Mark and we had gone shopping for this together. I knew I wanted some sparkle and pearls and I couldn’t let Mark know that the dress was not white so it was easier for me to pick out the jewellery.
Finding the Dress… This was quite an easy process. I was actually wrapped up in bed with the flu when I searched for wedding dresses on Ebay. This had never initially been my intention but there it was, my perfect dress, staring back at me!
I contacted the lady who was selling it and she was so lovely. We met in London so that I could try the dress on and we both shed a few tears. She said it was really nice to know that her dress would make someone else so happy on their wedding day. It really did. It was perfect.
I did have the dress altered slightly and I also had the belt made and then added to the dress to make it slightly more unique to me.
The veil was a slightly more difficult find as I knew what I wanted – something long and with lace around the edge – but the colour caused a lot of Google searching. I ended up having this handmade via a seller on Etsy who is based in the US and she did a beautiful job.
Groom’s Attire… Mark’s suit was brown, again in keeping with the earthy colours. We went for a wool tie which was slightly different and really stood out on the day. The shirt was a light cream so that it matched in with my dress. All of the suits were from Next, shirts from TM Lewin and shoes from Marks and Spencer.
Mark wore Links of London cufflinks, which contained little scrolls with messages on. I arranged for these to be given to him as a surprise on the morning of the wedding. They were in a little box that I had purchased from Etsy, which has a heart shaped map on the front showing The Royal Naval College in Greenwich (where we first met at university).
The Readings + Music… I asked Mandi Harkett to sing during the morning of the wedding and the ceremony. I went to school with Mandi and it was so lovely to have her singing on such a special day for us. The songs we choose were: Power of Love, Gabrielle Alpin – to walk down the aisle, A Thousand Years, Christina Perri & True Colours, Cyndi Lauper – signing of the register, Songbird, Eva Cassidy – walking back down the aisle as newlyweds. My sister, Jessica, also did a reading during the vows which was a poem from the Magner’s advert (bear with me, the words are really beautiful!):
Now is a good time
When yesterday’s gone and tomorrow is near,
Why look for a thing when it’s already here.
And tell me you never once asked yourself how
Some people end up in the middle of the now.
Now is the beat of the feet on the floor,
Now is the then we were all waiting for.
It’s the strike of the luck. It’s the go with the flow.
It’s the sharing the luck with the people we know.
See, a wise fool once said,
Kinda out of the blue,
That life is a dream That’s already come true.
It’s less of the what and the where and the how,
It’s more of the you and the me and the now.
My sister had this printed and framed for us which was a really lovely gift and now hangs proudly in our apartment to remind us of the day.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… I had 5 bridesmaids: My sister, Jessica, Mark’s sister, Katie, And my friends, Kate, Lucy and Emilia. Two of my bridesmaids (Kate and Lucy) were pregnant on the wedding day and were sporting lovely baby bumps. They are both about to give birth in the next few weeks, which is very exciting!!
The bridesmaids all had dresses made-to-measure in an olive green colour. We had lots of guessing for the measurements of Kate and Lucy’s dresses as we had to order them in advance and it was difficult to know how big the bumps were going to be on the day! They did a fantastic job and they looked beautiful!
We also had a flower girl (Mark’s niece), Leanne, and a pageboy (Mark’s nephew), Alex. They both did so well on the day, with Leanne scattering rose petals as she walked down the aisle first, and Alex carrying the rings (tied to a cushion).
The Flowers… The flowers were absolutely stunning. I came across Amanda when I took part in the Wedding Industry Awards 2013. I had been regionally shortlisted for my photography business and I went searching in the florists category for someone who could help me achieve something really unique for the day.
Amanda from Distinctly Floral was so lovely when we met. I don’t really have a clue about flowers and she ran through the different options with me, before we finally settled on a woodland themed bouquet, buttonholes and corsages.
When the flowers were delivered on the day I couldn’t believe how stunning they were. They featured peacock feathers, with mini pinecones and lots of gorgeous woodland colours. Perfect!
The Cake… My bridesmaid, Kate, made the cake. I had bombarded Kate with photos of woodland style cakes and what she made was divine (it also tasted amazing!!). We wanted a three-tier cake with some woodland details, but not too much.
Amanda from Distinctly Floral sourced a tree trunk for the cake stand, which I hired for the day, and then we surrounded this with bun moss.
Your Photographer… I had a tricky choice when it came to choosing my photographer. I wanted someone who shared a similar style to my own wedding photography and I knew Kate was perfect. Kate had originally inspired me with her photography so it made perfect sense to ask her to capture our day.
It was important to me to be able to edit my own photos as I adore the editing process and it was really special to be able to do this for my own wedding. Kate captured all of the photos on the day before I then took the RAW files and spent some lovely time editing them.
The Details + Decor… We spent a long time on the details and planning all of the special personal touches that we had. EBay became my best friend during this process!!
Guestbook – this was handmade by an Etsy seller and forms a log cut in half with blank pages inside for people to write on. Table plan – I bought a large frame, which consisted of 5 frames together. I then prepared and printed the table plans for each of the 5 tables and placed them in the frame. Birdcage – I sourced the birdcage online and then bought vine and flower vine separately from Ebay and spent an afternoon decorating the cage. Our guests placed cards in the cage on the day.
My hair – Vicki Lord is an incredible stylist. I wanted something different to the norm and so many people commented on my hair on the day – she did a brilliant job. Makeup – Lucy Jayne Parker did my makeup beautifully. I do adore my eyeliner and she created a lovely smudged look with brown eyeshadows and then a nicely defined flick with eyeliner.
Favours – these were little jars filled with honey. My sister sourced the jars and honey locally and then filled them all (along with the help of her boyfriend, Chris). I wrote out little labels for all of the jars and then my Mum and my Godmother tied all of the labels on. A real group effort! Table name tags – I sourced some champagne coloured pinecones locally and then ordered some luggage tags from Ebay. I spent a whole afternoon hole-punching little heart shapes into the ends of the tags and then writing everyone’s names on them. Table numbers – these were handmade by an old school friend, Debbie (Love Letter Crafts). I had wanted something to fit into our style of wedding and suggested heart shaped numbers covered in moss. Debbie did these beautifully and they really suited the décor and magical feel. Candelabras – we had candelabra’s on each table, which added to the mood of the day. I bought some pearl necklaces and vine from Ebay and hung these over the candelabras on the night before the wedding. Toastmaster – Jim definitely deserves a mention, he was ace on the day and we couldn’t have done it without his help. He kept everything in order and really helped us to just relax and enjoy the day!
The Honeymoon… My parents treated us to a cruise to the Caribbean for our honeymoon. This was absolutely beautiful and great fun. We had never been to the Caribbean before, so it was a really nice way to explore all of the islands. Barbados and St Kitts were our favourite and we definitely have future plans to revisit these islands.
Memorable Moments… Seeing my Dad trying not to cry when he saw me in my dress – resulting in a lot of hand waving and looking up at the ceiling from everyone. Walking down the aisle and seeing Mark’s face smiling back at me. Saying our personalised vows. Speaking to Mark after the ceremony whilst we had 10 minutes alone – it was so lovely to have that one quiet moment. The speeches. Standing in the rain with an umbrella for photos and not caring how cold we were. The first dance – which we had spent months teaching ourselves.
We definitely need to go into more detail on the first dance. We wanted to do something special that would surprise people and had planned on doing a montage of various songs with some wacky dancing. Sadly, this was not to be when I learnt that I had torn the cartilage in my hip, meaning months of physio leading up to the wedding and I am still continuing with physio now.
We opted to do a waltz and set about teaching ourselves a routine (based on some moves from Strictly as well as my Mum’s advice – she used to teach ballroom dancing). We choose ‘I’m Kissing You’ by Des’ree as our first dance song and, despite me forgetting a few steps due to nerves(!), it was a truly memorable moment. Mark is not a dancer and will openly admit to having no rhythm so he did especially well learning what was not the simplest of dances.
Advice for Other Couples… Don’t get too stressed with the planning! I was fine up until the last couple of weeks and then all of the DIY bits we had decided to do started to dawn on me. Be true to who you are as a couple and really hunt around for bargains; there are plenty to be had.
Enjoy the day and take a moment to stand there and breathe. It is amazing how fast the day goes and it was really nice to have 10 minutes alone with my new husband just to speak to each other about how the morning had been and how amazing the day was.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Photography | Kate Hennessy Photography
Image Editing | Charli Photography
Videographer | Les Watts
Venue | Knowle Country House
Wedding Dress | Ian Stuart Design
Dress Alterations | Yvonne Reed, London
Bride’s Shoes | Perdita’s Wedding Shoes
Grooms Attire | Next, TM Lewis and Marks & Spencer
Makeup | Lucy Jayne Makeup
Hair | Vicki Lord
Flowers |Distinctly Floral (Amanda)
Cake |Petal’s Patisserie
Singer | Amanda Harkett
Toastmaster | Jim Cattermole
Table numbers | Love Letter Crafts
Thanks so much to Charli and Mark for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou