WWW readers Natalie and Nick married on the 21st September 2013 at Honnington Farm Gardens, Kent. They wanted their wedding to be colourful and fun, with a play on their surname ‘Candy’, with a sweet theme which ran through their day.
I adore the multicoloured décor, from the pom poms to the stationery and blooms. Natalie looked utterly gorgeous in a Lyn Ashworth dress from Frou Frou Bridal, while Nick donned a dapper Cad & The Dandy suit.
A flooded marquee, cake collapse and missing DJ didn’t affect their day one little bit.
Thanks so much to Juliette Harrison for sharing her wonderful imagery with us this morning.
The Proposal… In June 2012 after 7 years together, Nick whisked me away to Paris for my 29th birthday. It turns out there were a lot of moments during the first day of our holiday when the proposal might have happened, but due to various (comedy) reasons (too many tourists, me moaning about aching feet, the city lights going out) it finally happened during a midnight walk along La Seine when Nick got down on one knee, with a beautiful ring, and asked if I would marry him. Sensing the nerves I was so overwhelmed my response was ‘of course I’ll bloody marry you’… not quite as elegant as I might have hoped, but it at least made for a great Groom’s speech on the big day.
The Vision for the Day… Very early on we were given some great advice to decide on a few words that best summarised what we wanted out of a wedding and then keep them as a focus throughout. We decided on ‘fun & colourful’ and this really did come in particularly handy when I would be constantly sidetracked by stunning weddings (on blogs like these) and suddenly wondered if I in fact wanted a ‘vintage’ or ‘glamourous’ wedding, stick to the brief, stick to the brief…
My husband to be’s surname also gave us a lot of inspiration… Candy was to be our surname as a married couple, which gave us some great ideas for little touches like the favours and the design of our invites.
We really didn’t want a colour theme as such, although having stressed out the mums with this one (wouldn’t it just look a mess?!), we finally decided on a palette of five colours that would pull everything together; duck egg blue, slate grey, coral, orange and hot pink.
The Planning Process… We had 15 months to plan which gave us plenty of time to save and take it step by step and do our best to be organised. We were also very lucky to get lots of advice and use some suppliers of our family and friends’ weddings which helped cut down on all the research and meant we could feel confident about knowing what we would get for our money.
The Venue… After a lot of research we visited about six venues around Kent, Surrey and Sussex. We knew we wanted somewhere that felt very relaxed, with great views and flexible when it came to using suppliers (no corkage was a priority!).
Honnington Farm Gardens near Tunbridge Wells was the first venue we visited, it had the informal, country feel we were looking for within the all important budget and on second viewing, with reassurance from parents, we decided to go for it. The set up was to have the ceremony in the beautifully converted Old Barn, canapés on the lawn to enjoy the views and the reception in a marquee.
A major benefit was that Honnington is a DIY venue, available from the Wednesday to the Sunday so it’s all yours to set up the day however you want to. We could also supply our own alcohol (saving a lot of money) and choose all of our suppliers.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was ‘Scarlett’ by Lyn Ashworth, a beautiful, ballerina style dress with vintage beaded straps and sash pulled into a big bow at the back and a rather dramatic full skirt and train.
Having teeny size 2.5 feet, I always said I would treat myself to some designer shoes for my wedding day, but I completely failed to find any I loved enough. In the end it turned out I had the perfect pair at home. Nick had bought me a beautiful pair of ivory satin Armani shoes a few years back that I realised would go with the dress and importantly would be comfortable all day. I had originally wanted to dye them navy blue but no-one would touch them, so with some love, care and cleaning by my patient mum they came up as knew and became my ‘something old’.
For my something(s) new… Nick gave me a beautiful Tiffany pearl bracelet on our 7th year anniversary a few weeks before the wedding to wear on the day which was very special and my mum bought me some gorgeous vintage style earrings for my 30th birthday. My ‘something borrowed’ was a very pretty veil from my sister-in-law and for ‘something blue’ my mum gave me a garter on the morning of the wedding.
Finding the Dress… I always imagined wearing a slinky number with a dramatic back, but oh how wrong I was. It soon became pretty clear that at a very petite 5’2 this look wasn’t going to work for me. In every shop the advice was that I needed a full skirt and it wasn’t long before I got a bit hooked on trying on the beautiful ‘big’ dresses.
The first shop I visited was Frou Frou in Tunbridge Wells which is where I tried ‘Scarlett’, it was a sample sale dress so would need a lot of fitting but was utterly beautiful. However, not quite convinced I wanted to do the due diligence to make sure it was right. One thing I did know though was that I absolutely loved Frou Frou, Nicole and Helena were so welcoming and helpful I was really hopeful I would end up buying my dress there. As luck would have it a few months later, I ended up back at Frou Frou for a different dress and while I was there they pointed out that Scarlett was still available. One more try on, lots of swishing, tears from my mum and the all important thumbs up from my maid of honour, the decision was made.
Groom’s Attire… After a somewhat disastrous episode with one company, Nick turned to Cad & The Dandy who saved the day. With the best men, ushers and dads in navy, he chose a bespoke mid blue three piece suit to stand out and have something different from work suits. It was definitely the right choice and he looked completely gorgeous when I saw him at the end of the aisle. So many people commented on how great the suit and colour was. All the men wore blue gingham ties from Timothy Everest at Superdry and an array of bright socks for another flash of colour.
My present to Nick was some handmade cufflinks, one had the map co-ordinates for the bench where he proposed in Paris and the other had the co-ordinates for the barn where we’d say our vows.
The Readings + Music… We spent a long time looking for the perfect readings and after much research found two we loved. We wanted them to feel like they were from us, not just readings for the sake of it, or anything too serious. The first was a lovely extract from The Velveteen Rabbit called ‘What is real?’ about growing old together, read beautifully by our dear friend Sian. The second was ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss, read by another close friend Barry, a very humorous one about starting our adventure together which was the perfect end to the ceremony and start of the celebrations.
Music was a really important part of our day, we wanted it to reflect us and not be anything too traditional. We were lucky to have a very talented family friend who played acoustic guitar before and during the ceremony. I walked up the aisle to ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (Dire Straits), whilst signing the register we chose ‘Ho Hey’ (The Lumineers) and ‘Mrs Potter’s Lullaby’ (Counting Crows) and for our big exit as man and wife we went for ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
As we greeted everyone after the ceremony, we had a three piece strolling jazz band strike up to set the tone for celebrating. After the confetti moment, the band led us through the gardens to the drinks and canapé reception. They were a real hit, so much so we had people giving requests, dancing and singing throughout the afternoon.
During the dinner we went for some classic big band background music before the disco kicked off to keep us dancing into the night.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… It was really important to us that our family and friends were a big part of our day, so I was very lucky to have a fabulous maid of honour and four beautiful bridesmaids to include my closest friends, sister-in law and Nick’s sister.
Finding the perfect bridesmaid dress was a little tricky, including racing across Kent to various shops to get what I thought were the perfect ones in the sales after Christmas… only to decide they weren’t right after all – sorry Mum!
We were after a neutral colour that would work with bright flowers and accessories, and with a big group was keen that they wouldn’t all look like ‘bridesmaid robots’ in the same outfits but could feel comfortable in a style that suited each of them. Luckily M&S came to the rescue, with their twist and wrap dresses in gunmetal grey (at a fraction of the price of the well known originals) and looked perfect.
On the day the girls looked absolutely stunning and unlike the cliché of brides who say they choose bridesmaids dresses that can be worn another time, it makes me much, much happier that they had such a good time at the wedding I’m not sure the dresses would be fit to be worn again!
The Flowers… Colourful flowers was the brief! We were very lucky that a florist friend of Nick’s mum was available for our big day. We were after something very natural, unstructured, so no big arrangements and instead wanted a variety of glassware on the tables that would fit in with the feel of the day. This lead to many months of hunting down sundae glasses, jars, milk bottles (thanks nan!), vintage bottles from anywhere and everywhere (family, friends, charity shops and boot fairs) and then afternoons decorating them with paint, string and ribbons.
Jackie, our florist, loved the ideas and along with the mums we had a great time visiting wholesalers to look at different flowers and colours and then a couple of afternoons playing around with how they could look.
We were absolutely thrilled with the flowers, they were beyond how we had imagined to be and we had so many lovely comments about them. I’ll admit there was a tear getting my bouquet on the wedding morning!
The Cake… My mum makes wedding cakes (and lots of other celebration cakes) for a living, so there was never any doubt as to who would make ours. Choosing one though was a little more difficult. We knew we wanted something a little different so after much searching (Pinterest to the rescue) we chose a four tier idea which brought in the duck egg blue colour, oversized hot pink corsages, stripes and a fun frilly layered bottom tier which was a bit like the tissue pompoms.
When we saw the cake for the first time it was fantastic, mum and her friend had put so much effort into making it perfect. Unfortunately what we didn’t expect was a phone call on the morning of the wedding (mid make up session) to hear that the cake had been delivered, set up, but then the table had collapsed!! The bottom layer was ruined and a few flower petals broken, cue cake panic and mad phone calls by my maid of honour to local cake shops for help. Luckily it all came together and with a lot of help by mum’s friend, she mended all the problems and made sure it was set up again by the afternoon, minus the frilly bottom but it still looked great. We’re glad she was a guest to enjoy a well deserved glass of wine to relax!
Your Photographer… We met Juliette Harrison when she photographed our close friends’ wedding and just loved her style and the beautiful photos she took of them. That plus the fact I am notoriously bad at having my photo taken and she managed to snap me better than anyone else ever had. As well as being fantastically talented, Juliette is really lovely and easy to get on with, we had a great time showing her the venue and talking through the types of photos and spots to use there. She had great advice about the number of formal photos to have (or not have) and the results were just incredible. We had 1600 photos of our day that captured every moment and detail and have had so many compliments on them, I would recommend Juliette to anyone.
The Details + Decor… Working for a brand design agency, I was incredibly lucky that a very talented designer friend, Jo Gold, came to the rescue upon hearing we were ‘probably going to do the invites ourselves’. We found some ideas on Pinterest and Jo worked her magic to create gorgeous navy and white striped, carnival-esque designs loosely based on a sweetie jar label. We wrapped the invite and rsvp with brightly coloured bakers twine and used a small luggage tag to write names on. We loved the invites so much that they became a theme for the order of ceremony, menus and table plan. We can’t thank Jo enough for all her help with the stationery and making all our details so special.
We ordered lots of tissue pom poms in our colours and hung them all over the marquee ceiling, the effect was great (and they came in useful for dancing with too). For table names we found 12 old records of some of our favourite music and gave each table a pen to write on them so we have lots of messages to keep. We also had a photo booth with brilliant fancy dress outfits which made for some great photos in the guest book, especially the vegetable outfits!
We loved the idea of having some light up marquee lettering and searched high and low for an affordable option. Luckily we found West Trading Vintage Co on Etsy who made us our Candy lettering. We were so pleased with them and they were a brilliant feature on the day that got a lot of attention, plus they’re now a lovely reminder of our day and will definitely feature on a wall at home.
I was lucky enough to win a competition to have a candy stall at the wedding, so we bought loads of sweets and gave everyone a sweetie bag to fill up for the favours.
Our caterers, Glenie Gillies, were fantastic and flexible to provide anything we were after. We had a delicious tasting to narrow down the menu which was a hit on the day, and to keep everyone going in the evening we had hot dogs complete with our own bespoke 50’s sign made by a very talented usher.
All credit to my mother in law for supplying 117 peashooters for the tables and her promise it would work… indeed it lead to brilliant carnage and was a great way for tables to interact with each other. The photos are priceless!
Having danced a lot in my younger years I had one little wish to have a great first dance. We were lucky enough to have some family friends who happen to be World Ballroom champions (teachers of the Strictly professionals), who kindly put some moves together for us to the Bruce Springsteen classic Dancing in the Dark. We only had time for a few secret lessons which were brilliant fun, and ran out of time to practice during the few days before the wedding so needless to say were a bit nervous on the night but think we pulled it off. The best part was that we didn’t tell anyone so it was amazing to surprise everyone on the night.
The Honeymoon… We bought our first home a few months before our wedding so honeymoon plans were put on hold until the last minute. Having toyed with all sorts of places and adventures, we ended up booking it on a whim 5 weeks before the wedding when we walked into a Kuoni store and asked them to help. We ended up going to Reethi Beach in the Maldives for 11 nights which was absolute paradise and the best decision we could have possibly made. Everyone says you’ll be worn out and need the break and it’s completely true, we had the holiday of a lifetime and completely relaxed after a rather hectic year.
Memorable Moments… Too many to mention… Being given an album full of memories from my bridesmaids, putting on my dress with my mum and feeling like a bride, seeing the beautiful car that my Dad had arranged as a surprise and our journey to the ceremony, a LOT of laughter in the ceremony (we’re laughing in most of our photos, oops), the brilliant speeches, our first dance, sitting on a bench in the evening for a few minutes on our own looking at everyone enjoying themselves and thinking “wow we actually did it” and ridiculous photo booth poses are just a few. But most of all I will simply never, ever forget the look on Nick’s face as I walked up the aisle, it will stay with me forever.
Advice for Other Couples… I won’t say don’t stress about the small things, because it’s easier said than done. Although I can honestly say there really is no need to worry about the colour of your invite envelopes, there are some things that people really won’t notice… they were duck egg blue by the way…
Things can and do go wrong… a flooded marquee, a missing DJ, a cake catastrophe, but you just won’t care that much on the day, plus everyone loves a good wedding story.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Photographer |Juliette Harrison
Stationery | Jo Gold
Food | Glenie Gillies
Marquee | Cavendish Marquees
Cake | Val Coombes
Flowers | Jackie Hopkins
Hair & Make Up | Nicoll Moss
Venue | Honnington Farm Gardens
Dress | Frou Frou
Band | All Live Music
Groom’s Suit | Cad & The Dandy
Photo booth | Snapbros
Candy stall | SweetThingz
Light up letters | West Vintage Trading Co
Wow, such a fun and bright wedding day :-)
Thanks so so much to Natalie and Nick for sharing their wedding story with us XOXO Lou