Who doesn’t love a good old picnic? Classic summery cuisine all perfectly packaged and ready to take somewhere beautifully scenic. With a relaxed garden party vision today’s couple opted for a picnic wedding breakfast and a country marquee wedding emerged oh so gorgeously.
Charlotte and Steven were married on the 2nd July 2016 at Blackfriars’ Hall in Norfolk followed by a reception at Charlotte’s Mum and Granny’s house. They hired some stunning marquees to host their day in different areas, the main space being a pole tent, which they decked in the loveliest of decorations. Think heaps of colourful blooms, gingham fabric, lashings of bunting and fun flag table numbers. With a large guest list attending the whole day and evening, it was important to them to feed and water their guests throughout the celebrations. What a treat. Talking of treats, just wait until you see the mega naked cake. Hearts for eyes. Wooden touches also made an appearance in the decor, with wooden signs and a pallet seating plan.
The happy couple looked so gorgeous alongside their fave guys and gals. Charlotte wore an Enzoani tulle and lace gown called ‘Beautiful’ and I can see why! Steven chose a navy suit and check waistcoat, which looked really very smart. I’m loving their tips here today too, be sure to check them out in their report below.
Binky Nixon Photography, I cannot thank you enough for sending over these incredible images.
THE PROPOSAL | It was June 15th, 2015. It was also Charlotte’s 30th Birthday and our 4 year Anniversary of when we had first met. We both love nice hotels and good food so I had booked us into Galton Blackiston’s wonderful Morston Hall near Blakeney, in North Norfolk for the night. It’s a very special place holding a Michelin Star, but I was hoping I could get away with going here without it being too obvious I was planning to propose because of the significance of the date! The plan was to walk out along Blakeney Quay to the old lighthouse at the end, where I would drop to one knee! However, it didn’t quite go to plan as we only got half way down, before Charlotte wanted to turn back and go back to find somewhere for lunch! So, to cut a long story short, I eventually proposed back at Morston Hall, in our private garden area, which was still lovely.
THE VISION | We didn’t want, or see the need to wait too long to get married and set our minds on the summer of 2016. We both have a large group of family and friends who love a good party so it was always going to be a pretty big affair! Neither of us wanted it to be too ‘traditional’ and the vision was more a relaxed, garden party type theme with country/ rustic décor. We soon decided on a picnic style wedding breakfast, which fitted our more ‘informal’ theme perfectly and we also thought it would allow people to share food and therefore encourage more interaction on their tables (this worked so well and we would definitely recommend it).
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I am naturally very organised and so the first thing I developed was a good spreadsheet for my Wedmin! We had decided we wanted to have our wedding reception at Charlotte’s Mum’s house so we only needed to find somewhere to actually get married.
We drafted a guest list so we had an idea of numbers and it was around 230. We decided we didn’t really want day and night guests and that everyone would be invited all day.
Although we had over a year until we wanted to get married, finding a suitable venue to host us (especially just to get married and with no reception) proved tricky. We were lucky to find Blackfriars’ Hall in Norwich and they had availability on 2nd July so we decided on this! This date also had significance to the family, as it was the same date Charlotte’s Granny and Grampa got married, so that was also a nice touch.
Because the ceremony venue was 30 minutes or so from our reception venue, we also hired a vintage Routemaster bus from Awaydays, to transport some people, which was great fun and a lovely addition to the day, as well as helping with logistics for guests.
The planning and organisation really was a team effort. Charlotte is pretty creative so she worked on the decoration and ‘feel’ for the day. I did a lot of the administration (Wedmin!), budgeting and liaising with suppliers etc and our parents helped with the rest!
Once we had the date, the next stage was booking a Registrar. After this was sorted, we moved on to choosing a photographer, videographer, band, hiring a marquee and booking the caterers (I had also always wanted a magician at my wedding so I also booked him ASAP!). All of this was done by the end of July 2015, so almost a year before our wedding was due to take place.
After fully confirming our guest list, next on the to-do list was sending out ‘Save the Date’ cards, picking our Groomsmen and Bridesmaids and looking at Honeymoon destinations!
After that, Charlotte started dress shopping, we booked our wedding car and talks started regarding our Stag and Hen dos!
With about 6 months to go we sent out our invitations, bought our wedding rings, confirmed our Honeymoon and Charlotte booked her make up and hair stylist.
We found that there was loads to do at the start of the planning process but then it seemed to go quiet with 4 or 5 months to go until the wedding before fully kicking off again with 6 weeks to go! No matter how organised you are, some things can only be done much nearer the time so it is always going to be like this.
BUDGET | Because of how many people we were inviting and the fact we were inviting everyone all day and providing all food and drink (so no guests had to pay for a drink all day) our budget needed to be significant. We were lucky we were in a position (with huge help from our families) to be able to do this. Our overall spend was around £45,000.
THE VENUE | We had our ceremony at Blackfriars’ Hall, situated in Norwich city centre. This venue has so much history and is very grand, including housing the last ever portrait of Admiral Lord Nelson, painted in 1802 three years before he died. It can also seat over 200 guests.
We had our reception at Charlotte’s Mum and Granny’s house – Brunstead Grange, near Stalham in North Norfolk. We have lots of room there so we had a large marquee, a smaller marquee for the band and dance floor and a large gazebo.
We had lawn games for guests and the weather was perfect so Pimms on the lawn worked just as we had hoped! The magician was brilliant as well going round entertaining and amazing everyone!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Charlotte’s wedding dress was a soft tulle, illusion sweetheart neckline and illusion back with corded lace. The gown was by ‘Beautiful by Enzoani’. She also wore a beaded hair comb, a diamond and pearl bracelet (my gift to her on the morning of our wedding!) and her Granny’s stunning diamond earrings.
FINDING THE DRESS | It was 3rd time lucky! Charlotte had been to two wedding dress shops but felt the dresses were a little too formal for what she was looking for. Then she and her Mum stumbled across ‘La Belle Angele’ in Norwich as they were sheltering in their doorway from the rain! It must have been fate! The staff were so welcoming and friendly and they had great fun trying on lots of different styles. She explained she was looking for something more relaxed and suitable for our theme. With that in mind, they recommended a dress that she said she would not have picked herself, but she loved it as soon as she tried it! It was comfortable and different to others she had tried on and that was decision made.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | I went for a navy lounge suit with a grey tweed waistcoat and navy tie. My groomsmen were in grey lounge suits, also with the grey tweed waistcoat and navy ties so I stood out a little from them. I hired the suits from Pure Brides in Norwich and the staff there were really helpful. The bridesmaids wore navy dresses so this colour scheme looked great in the pictures of us all together and we were really pleased.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | In terms of music, we made our own playlists for the ceremony venue, vintage bus and for background during our wedding picnic. We had the Scratch band to play in the evening, who are brilliant and everyone loved them! We also just did a couple of other playlists to cover the band’s breaks and the very end of the night.
Charlotte walked down the aisle to A Thousand Years by The Piano Guys and for our first dance we chose Little Things by One Direction.
We had two readings during our ceremony which were, ‘He Never Leaves the Seat up’ (which Charlotte thought was very apt for me!) and ‘On Your Wedding Day’. We asked four of our longest and closest friends to read them for us in pairs and they did a brilliant job.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | The maid of honour was Charlotte’s sister Emma. The other bridesmaids were a couple of her closest friends from school – Sammy and Gemma. They all looked amazing and helped us so much with the whole day.
The bridesmaid’s navy dresses were purchased from ‘DIY Dresses’. They were ordered online, which we knew was a risk, but they were exactly what we were looking for and a very reasonable price, which was a bonus! They fitted really well, were good quality and only needed a couple of minor adjustments so all good!
THE FLOWERS | A very generous and talented family friend, called Shirley (Sammy the bridesmaids’ Mum), kindly did all our wedding flowers and bouquets. Charlotte’s bouquet consisted of baby breath and blue hydrangeas tied with a navy ribbon and the bridesmaids had gorgeous baby breath bouquets. We then had wild flowers in jars on the tables at the reception venue, which an army of family and friends helped set up the day before!
THE CAKE | Our cake was made by one of my best friends, she’s like a sister to me – Zoe. It was a four-tier, naked Victoria sponge cake and it was perfect, plus absolutely delicious! Zoe also made loads of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, which were totally amazing!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | It could only be our lovely and extremely talented friend, Binky. We have always loved Binky’s work and how she just seems to capture those perfect moments so expertly. Her pictures look incredibly natural, rather than staged, which is exactly what we wanted. She also makes you feel really special and very comfortable, which was important to us.
We also had videographers and Capture Media did this for us. The guys were great and because there were two of them, one could be with Charlotte in the morning and the other was with me. This was nice as we have footage of us both getting ready. The end result looked really professional and the music they chose for the video was perfect.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Our rustic, country, garden party theme included, old tin baths to put all the bottles of drink in, rustic wooden signage, vintage bikes, old farm milk churns and gingham bunting. Flying Cockerel, our caterers (who we can’t recommend highly enough) even sprayed the wooden crates in our colour scheme and added a ‘C&S’ logo and the date and everyone’s picnic food was brought out in these. These were then stacked up so people could take one home as a souvenir if they wished, which we thought was a nice touch.
We had a wooden arch made, which we decorated with flowers and also used old wooden boxes and crates and filled them with beautiful flowers.
Our table plan was displayed on a wooden pallet with some fairy lights and ivy and looked lovely. We have actually since gone on to set up a wedding and prop hire business called ‘Love and Loan’ and use several of the decorative pieces we had at our wedding.
THE HONEYMOON | We went to Sandals in Antigua as a real treat! The people were so friendly, the service was great and the beach was just out of this world!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | For me, it was turning round and seeing Charlotte walking down the aisle. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true and it’s something I will never forget!
At one point in the day, Charlotte and I went upstairs into the house and sat on the window, looking out at everyone having a good time below us on the lawn. It was a lovely and quite emotional moment, to see so many of our closest friends and family, all in one place, smiling and celebrating our day. That moment made all the planning, stress and effort worthwhile.
Also, I need to mention my best man, Chris. He put together a hilarious and really clever speech, using a video he had filmed over time. It was essentially about him forgetting his speech on the day and rushing off to find it! This even included sneaking into my house when I wasn’t there to film some footage! It lasted 20 minutes and he put such a huge amount of effort into it. So many guests said it was the best, best man’s speech they had ever seen and we were so touched and appreciative that he went to all that effort for us.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Be organised, plan and have a good spreadsheet! The more organisation and planning you can do in advance the better we thought. Hopefully this will mean you can then enjoy the lead up to your day rather than getting stressed about it! If you can afford it, have a videographer as well as a photographer. Photos are obviously brilliant but a video gives it another dimension. Also, try and pay more than just the standard 10% or whatever in regards to deposits when you book things. This way, you will have less money to pay nearer the time when everyone starts calling in final balances!!
Finally, I know everyone says it, but try and make sure you have some time alone on the day, as a newly married couple, to take it all in and have a bit of ‘you’ time.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Binky Nixon Photography
Ceremony Venue | Blackfriars’ Hall
Dress | La Belle Angele
Jewellery | Winsor Bishop
Bridesmaids | DIY Dresses
Suits | Pure Brides
Transport | Celebration Cars
Marquee | Party on Marquees
Toilets | Elite Toilet Hire
Caterer | The Flying Cockerel
Band | The Scratch Band
Bus | Awaydays
Magician | Sean Goodman
Hire | Lou Lou Loves Vintage Hire
Video | Capture Media
Hair | Laura Hughes
Make Up | Laura Dossett
Honeymoon | Sandals Antigua
Stationery | Let Us Invite You
Oh so heavenly.
Charlotte and Steven, thank you both so much for sharing your wedding story here today xo Lou