There is SO much personality infused into this beautifully classic real wedding with a twist. Think Disney, Harry Potter and other film influences, squeal.
WWW readers Stephanie and David were hitched on the 27th March 2016 at Mountains Country House in Kent. They envisioned a happy day with an “eclectic mixture of vintage, tradition, fun and geekiness”. Sounds pretty awesome right? Well it was. I have a shared love of Harry Potter and I adore that they used Harry Potter music in their ceremony, it’s a really wonderful way of adding movies into a wedding. They also went to Diagon Alley on their honeymoon, be sure to read more about it in their report at the bottom of the feature. There was a lightsabre wedding ceremony exit, a Beauty and the Beast top table theme and Disney karaoke to name a few.
Stephanie chose a really romantic long sleeve lace gown by Pronovias named ‘Best’. She accessorised her timeless look with a lace edged cathedral length veil and three pairs of shoes to cover all weathers. She looked utterly stunning, I especially love her vintage hair and make up choices. David and the boys opted for traditional morning suits, while the bridesmaids wore lace sleeved blush dresses, which coordinated perfectly with Stephanie. I also have to rave about the dreamy blooms in pink and blue, they looked stunning.
Thanks so much to Laura Debourde Photography for providing these remarkable shots.
THE PROPOSAL | 6.08.2014 at Disneyland, California: In the summer holiday after completing my NQT year, David and I had gone on a two-week trek across the West Coast of the US that was finished off with a visit to the original Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Being a complete Disney fanatic, this was a momentous occasion for me but as I had seen no ring in our shared suitcase, the idea of a proposal seemed highly unlikely. So, on our first day, David became obsessed that we had to watch the fireworks over the castle, even though we had seen them the night before from our hotel balcony. Finally, it came to just before the fireworks were about to begin over the castle and David announced now was the time we had to go on The Storybook Land Canal Boats – it made no sense to an oblivious me! The ride itself was beautiful, with fairy lights draped everywhere, when we suddenly we stopped in a little clearing as the fireworks began to explode right above us when David got down on one knee. From that point on, it was sob city – I just about managed to get a yes out – then sobbed some more. It was, undoubtedly, one of the most magical evenings I have ever had and David could not have planned a more perfect proposal (or been more sneaky with his hiding of the ring!).
THE VISION | Our joint vision was always to have a day that was filled with good company, good food, fun, laughter and happiness. We wanted to have traditional elements but also to be relaxed as well as unique to us rather than just a formulaic wedding. In the end, it was the ideal eclectic mixture of vintage, tradition, fun and geekiness.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had 19 months to plan for the big day, so we were quite lucky that we had an extended period to get everything ready. We knew our priorities for outside suppliers were very much: venue, food, music, photographer and dress (the last one is more mine…), and we were flexible with our date just knowing that it would be 2016 as I was completing my Masters during 2015. We also knew we wanted to create a lot of the wedding ourselves such as with décor, stationery, readings, etc. to create a day that would feel personal to us and reflect us as a couple, so a lot of planning went into how we could make that come about.
THE VENUE | We chose Kent as our base to find a wedding venue, as we had met whilst attending university in Canterbury and therefore the county had significance for us. We researched a few venues but it was Mountains Country House in Hildenborough that we instantly fell in love with. It combined the aspects we both wanted – an English country house for me, a marquee for David, and surrounded by lots of gorgeous woodland for us both. Mountains also offered an inclusive package that came with a brilliant wedding co-ordinator and superb in-house caterer that suited our budget perfectly. Kyra, our co-ordinator, was incredible from the moment we toured the venue to the end of our wedding day, always too happy to answer my thousands of questions and ensured the day ran smoothly so that I could remain stress-free.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My wedding gown was the Pronovias ‘Best’ dress from their 2015 collection, and it is still the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. Once I had it on, I didn’t want to give it back to the assistant. To go with it I had a two-tier Cathedral veil (with a delicate, vintage lace edge my mother and I sourced at John Lewis and which she then painstakingly hand-sewed on!), a dainty silver, pearl and crystal vintage headband, lace gloves, and a white feather bolero for the evening.
Shoes – I had three pairs to go with all weather eventualities – the curse of the British bride. A pair of Roland Cartier gold glitter pumps for the ceremony, Joules navy blue and white polka dot wellies for getting our photos taken in the woodlands, and Ted Baker ballet pumps in their ‘Hanging Gardens’ pattern to wear for the rest of the day/evening dancing.
Jewellery – Due to the neckline of my dress I only wore earrings and a bracelet on the day, as well as my engagement and wedding rings. My mother bought me a pair of simple crystal drop earrings from Swarovski as my ‘something new’ and David’s wedding gift to me was a Tiffany and Co. pearl bracelet. I also had my great-grandmother’s brooch attached to my bouquet as my ‘something old and borrowed’ and a tiny Tinkerbell charm with a blue crystal as my ‘something blue.’
HAIR AND MAKE UP | I had the wonderful Lou Seymour and her friend Kari create my hair and make up to match the vintage style of my dress. Lou is one of the loveliest people I know and such a comfort on the day of the wedding, even co-singing Disney karaoke with me. For make up, I decided to just go for a more perfected version of my usual, 1950s evening make up. For hair, I had a small victory roll pinned to one side of my hair and barrel roll curls to create a 1940s, Hollywood look. I don’t know how they did it, but my make up and hair were flawless all day despite the wind, rain and tears!
FINDING THE DRESS | When we came back from the US after getting engaged, my mother and I instantly went to visit a local bridal shop just for fun. After all the horror stories I had read of brides not being able to find a dress and hating the experience, I was a little nervous – especially as the style of dress I wanted was not a cut off but rather a 1940s/1950s style dress with mid-length sleeves and a long train, encompassing the elegance of Grace Kelly. Fortuitously, I found ‘the one’ in the second dress I ever tried on, with all other dresses failing in comparison after that. In the dress, I just felt comfortable and when I looked at my reflection I got butterflies in my stomach; it could not have felt more right. It was confirmed when my Maids of Honours and mum teared up when they saw me.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had two maids of honour and one bridesmaid – the two MOHs were my best friends from university, we met on the first day of lectures and have been inseparable since. I could not have imagined the day being nearly as wonderful if I had not had the two of them standing by my side. They also threw the best hen party imaginable that began with a surprise night stay in the Wizard Chambers at the Georgian Hotel followed by a day of afternoon tea, swing dancing lessons, dinner, and cocktails! My bridesmaid was David’s younger sister who came back from Australia just for the occasion and it was lovely having her involved throughout the process even with the distance.
For dresses, it took quite a bit of time to find the right ones, as like me, the girls wanted to have sleeves (cold weather and all) and nowhere seemed to have sleeves! Luckily, Chi Chi London came to the rescue with their Sharnie dresses that mirrored the off-the-shoulder, ¾ quarter length sleeves, and lace style of my wedding dress but in a soft, blush pink and champagne gold overlay. I also managed to get student discount when buying these dresses so they were a bargain (always a huge plus for the budget conscious bride) and the girls looked absolutely stunning in them. We bought champagne gold sashes that tied around the middle, and I bought the girls blush pink and ivory roses to wear in their hair from Accessorize.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | David had several different ideas about what suit to wear for the big day – initially, he thought about a grey or navy suit but ultimately decided he wanted to wear a traditional morning suit. We had looked into having his made by a Savile Row tailor, as I felt it was unfair that I got to keep my dress but he didn’t get to keep his suit, but eventually he decided that he wouldn’t have an occasion to wear it again and it would take up limited space in our wardrobes. On the day, David and his groomsmen suits were rented from Moss Bros. with his being an Ascot morning suit with a champagne gold tie, and the groomsmen having dusky pink ties. The gifts to the groomsmen were cufflinks and Marvel superhero socks which they all wore on the day.
THE CEREMONY & READINGS | As we didn’t want to write our own vows but still wanted our ceremony to be very personal, we invested a lot of our time into choosing readings that were close to our hearts as well as the music that would be included. We selected three readings that we had read by two of our closest friends and one by David’s mum. As David is obsessed with penguins, our first reading was ‘My Personal Penguin’ by Sandra Boynton that was cute and funny; it was then followed by ‘You Were Meant for Me’ from Singin’ in the Rain as this is one of our favourite films; and the ceremony was finished with an excerpt from ‘A Prince’s Tale’ from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as we are both huge Potterheads, so for us, ‘After all this time?’ it will ‘Always’ be Harry Potter.
For music, I chose to walk down the aisle to ‘The Balcony Scene’ by Craig Armstrong from Romeo & Juliet as it is such a beautiful and emotive piece of music. David and I then decided to have ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Hedwig’s Song’ and ‘So Close’ performed during the signing of the registry, and we exited to ‘The Throne Room’ from Star Wars that was accompanied by a surprise lightsabre arch to everyone’s delight!
THE MUSIC | From the very start, we both knew that we wanted a string trio to perform on the day, as we both love classical music and film scores. After some dedicated research, we found Premiere Quartet who were brilliant throughout the whole planning process and on the day. We even found out that a couple of their musicians had performed on the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince soundtrack, so it was definitely fate to work with them. We had them perform as guests were arriving for the ceremony, the ceremony, the drinks reception, and the beginning of the wedding breakfast. Every time we heard them playing throughout the day, it made us break out in huge smiles and loads of our guests commented on how much they enjoyed them.
For the rest of the wedding breakfast, David had created a Spotify playlist of some our favourite songs/pieces of music all as instrumental versions and resulted in me chiming up at various points ‘I love this song!’ For the evening, we had the in-house DJ play a list of song requests that our guests had sent in with their RSVPs to make sure that everyone had at least one song they wanted to dance to! We also threw in quite a few of our favourites that we always karaoke with our friends, so the dance floor was never empty. Our first dance was to a recording of Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’. It is one of our favourite songs and reminds us both of our grandparents who were not able to be there with us on the day, so it was really close to our hearts.
THE FOOD | As with David, my family and friends, and my dogs, food is one of the great loves of my life. If I’m not eating, I am either talking or pinning about food, so with the wedding of course my mind turned to what we would be eating on one of the most important day of our lives. Our caterers were Glaze Catering, who were brilliant throughout the entire planning process – allowing us to tweak the dishes as much as we wanted and listening to all of our ideas of what we wanted.
For canapés, we had sirloin steak with béarnaise sauce and pomme frites, mini baked and breaded Camembert with olives, and tempura prawns with sweet chilli sauce. With all of the photos, I was seriously concerned that David and I would miss out on these but the ever forward-thinking Chris (catering manager), had already instructed the servers to make sure trays reached us wherever we were.
For the wedding breakfast, we deliberated for a while about what style of wedding breakfast we wanted and what should be included – a BBQ, sit down meal, a huge roast?? Eventually, we settled on a three-course sit down wedding breakfast but with three choices for each course so guests had some flexibility in their choices. The main options were: Rare roast beef with all the trimmings, Kentish sausages with spring onion mash and glazed vegetables, or Mediterranean vegetables in filo pastry; with Eton Mess or a dark chocolate and salted caramel tart for dessert.
For the evening, we chose a hot buffet with about ten different options for guests to choose from (and to sustain their energy for drunk dancing!) as well as an enormous cheeseboard. Being quite the cheese fiend, I spent about a month choosing the types of cheese I wanted included, settling on Brie, Jarlsberg, Cheddar and Stilton. I had hoped that I would be able to sneak some cheese home with us at the end, but it had all gone by the end of the night!
THE CAKE | One of the absolute best aspects to planning the wedding was the cake – especially with the free samples that arrived in the post! Our supplier was the incomparable Flour Pots Bakery whom my best friend, who had just married my brother in August 2015, recommended after they created their incredible book-themed wedding cake. Run by the talented and charming Jo and Laura, they created us a three-tier blush pink and gold cake with a Cinderella castle silhouette painted onto the top tier and finished with two figurines of David and myself dressed in Hogwarts robes with wands and Mickey ears. The tiers were Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Orange, and Victoria sponge, and we thoroughly enjoyed eating the leftovers for the two weeks before our honeymoon!
THE PHOTOGRAPHER | We found Laura through a competition she was running on a wedding blog and we ended up exchanging essay length emails to one another on everything from Harry Potter to travelling. From that moment we knew she would be someone that we wanted to share our day with and who would understand the vision we had, becoming a good friend of ours through the process. Laura has this brilliant style of making all of her photos have a dreamy, romantic air to them in a fine-art style but still being able to capture the silly moments and having a relaxed feel to them – everything we wanted from our photographs. On the day, she (and her second shooter, Marianne Chua) worked so hard to make sure everything was organised, every little moment was captured, as well as getting soaked in a downpour trying to capture a couple shot of us in the dark. Even months on, I love looking at our wedding photos just as much as when they first arrived and there are so many moments or expressions that they both captured on the day that I had missed in the excitement of it all. On our honeymoon, she kept sending us photos from the day as she edited them and she was just excited about them as we were. She’s one of the loveliest people we know and I would recommend her photography skills to everyone.
THE VIDEOGRAPHER | Initially David and I had not planned to have a videographer, but instantly changed our mind after attending my brother and best friend’s wedding where, afterwards, we just wanted to keep re-living the day. We set about searching for a videographer that could give us a high-quality but natural recording of our day that wasn’t overly edited or shortened and didn’t break the bank (as it was not in our initial budget) – fortunately, Andrew ticked all of our boxes as well as being an all round great guy. Turning up at 7.30am and not leaving until after midnight, Andrew made sure that he was there to film all of the action and used multiple cameras to get all different angles. Within two weeks, we had received our wedding film trailer (he made sure we had it the day before we went on honeymoon to give us a great start!) and by the time we had come back from honeymoon we had the complete 50min documentary edit, full ceremony and full speeches waiting for us on our doormat. It is such a beautiful recording of the day, edited with music choices of our own, and captured everything. I honestly would recommend Andrew to anyone who wants quite an expansive recording of their day in a natural format, he’s fantastic!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The attitude we had to the décor and details of our wedding was very much if we could make it/do it ourselves, we would. I love being a bit creative (and may be a tad of a control freak) and we wanted the day to feel like a reflection of us, so we always knew that there was going to be a lot of DIY, sourcing and planning to create the right atmosphere. The overall theme resulted in an enchanted, vintage English country garden wedding with nods to Disney. For those bits that we couldn’t do ourselves such as the ceiling fairylights and for the actual set up of all of our DIY creations on the day, we had the wonderful Jenny at The Creative Venue helping us! Before the wedding, I ended up writing Jenny a ridiculously long document with how we wanted all of the bits and pieces set out on the day, and when I saw the venue on the day it was exactly as I how imagined it would look or if I had done it myself.
In terms of our wedding stationery this was a combined effort by the brilliant Kara Kelly and myself. I found Kara through a Facebook group and fell in love with a Disney themed book-style invitation that she had created for someone else. I submitted to her a hand-drawn design of how I wanted our invitations/RSVPs/programs to look, using her original book-style invitation as a base, with the font styles/floral clipart that I wanted and she created it into a digital copy. Kara was only ever too happy to keep working on the design until it was exactly how we wanted it to be and was just a really lovely person to work with. In the content of our wedding programs, we tried to inject a lot of our humour including a story of how David and I got together and a guide to the who’s who of the wedding party.
To create the enchanted, romantic atmosphere we wanted I knew I wanted to have a lot of soft lighting all over the venue. In the marquee, I had warm-coloured fairylights draped all across the ceiling and down the sides of the walls to create a sense of a starlit night as well as large candelabras on each table with lit candles. In the ceremony room, entranceway of the marquee, and on the pathway to the marquee, I had a collection of different types of lanterns that remained lit all through the day and night. Even in the trees, I had lots of jars that we had hand-painted with glitter hanging on branches with candles in them.
For the tables, each one was themed around a different Disney fairytale with the top table as Beauty and the Beast (a bit of a joke there). I spent months sourcing vintage-y props that would link well to the particular fairytale on that table. For table numbers, I collected the original Ladybird children’s books for each of the films, which both David and I had owned when we were children, and propped these up on mini wooden easels. For the top table we had: a rose floating in a glass bell jar (an illusion of my mother’s handiwork), a stack of vintage novels that were my grandfather’s, an antique gold candelabra, a vintage wooden carriage clock, a chipped teacup (painted to match Chip from the film), and an ornate silver hand mirror. We got so many compliments on the themes of the table and the use of books for table numbers, that it made the months of hunting and designing all worth it! The guest favours were little bags of mini eggs (our nod to getting married on Easter Sunday) as well as charity pins for Macmillan and Age UK in memory of family members who could not be there. It was really lovely to see throughout the night guests wearing their pins as it felt that those who couldn’t be there were still very much in everyone’s thoughts.
Other than that, we had lots of little decorations all over the venue such as photo washing lines showing us through the years, our friends and family that were draped across the front of the wooden dresser in the ceremony room; two sets of wooden initials – one with a collage of scenes from Disney films and one in gold glitter that we made ourselves; lots of framed photos of us through the years; a mix of lace or glitter jars that held flowers; the table plan was created by me and used in a large aperture frame; we made an ‘Adventure Book’ from Up as our guestbook; and the confetti cones were made by my mum. Jenny also supplied us with some wooden crates that we filled with ivy, lanterns and our glitter initials and a second easel to hang a wooden board that held photos of both sets of our parents/grandparents on their wedding days.
THE FLOWERS | I had two florists for the day due to the distance from my parent’s house in Essex where the bridal party were all getting ready to the venue in Kent, so I had a Kent based florist for the venue and a London based florist for the bouquets.
Lily & Myrtle in Kent created stunning centrepieces, groom, groomsmen, mother and father of the groom buttonholes, and went above and beyond to create the enchanted garden/English country style that we wanted. As there were two different florists but we wanted a cohesive look, Lisa from Lily & Myrtle took into account all of the flowers being used in my bouquet so she could incorporate them into the centrepieces and styling. In the end we had a myriad of roses in white, ivory, blush with Eucalyptus, trails of ivy, hydrangeas, freesia, foliage, and lysianthus that were all styled in these loose, relaxed style.
For the bridal party bouquets and buttonholes, I had Daisy Burgoyne from Daisy Ellen design them. She understood straight away the style that I wanted, something loose but with a bit of structure and with a lot of variety. I have always loved white roses and so it was key that they were in my bouquet as well as Freesias that my mother had in her bouquet. My bridesmaids had smaller versions of my bouquets with just Roses, Gypsophilia and Eucalyptus and my mother had a buttonhole of white Freesia and Eucalyptus.
THE HONEYMOON | To recover from the rain and cold of March, we spent two weeks honeymooning in the sun at Orlando, Florida. For us, there was no better place to enjoy our newlywed bliss than exploring Diagon Alley or hopping on a train to Hogwarts before heading to a dinner reservation in Fantasyland with Cinderella & Snow White. For any couples who are Disney and Harry Potter fans, we would both highly recommend Orlando for a honeymoon – every cast member made us feel so special and just extended that excited/unbelievably happy experience of the wedding day for two weeks more. Even the other guests would congratulate us as we walked by in our ‘Just Married’ Mickey ears!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There were so many memorable moments from our day – the massive group karaoke to ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ on the dancefloor, the entire wedding party traipsing about in wellies in the woodland for photos, the bridal party having Disney karaoke as we got ready in the morning, and of course the actual ceremony itself where we became a Mr and Mrs, are all great memories from the day.
Nevertheless, my favourite moment (after the I Do’s) was surprising David with a lightsabre arch as we started our walk back up the aisle. My two close friends Bex and Sam who were part of the ceremony agreed to create the arch as soon as the trio began to play the music, hiding them from David’s sight under their chairs until then! David’s face was priceless when he first spotted the arch and broke out in hysterics, as well as with many of our guests. Laura and Andrew (photographer/videographer) managed to capture the moment beautifully and that photograph now has pride of place in our hallway.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t feel that you have to do anything because it’s the ‘done thing’ – it’s your day so have it the way you want it to be. Some people we knew were a little bit critical about the idea of including Disney in our wedding, but it’s a big part of our relationship so it made sense to us, and in the end, everyone loved it. Don’t feel you have to create a wedding to impress other people; it’s about the two of you so it’s your opinions that matter!
Try not to get overwhelmed/obsessed by the small details – I caught a bit of wedding fever where I was really concerned that all of the decorations had to be perfect and that everyone would notice the tiniest inconsistencies. Although our guests did comment on the décor, they were much more focused on how happy we looked on the day than the type of flowers.
Enjoy it! The day goes by so quickly and there are so many people that want to talk to you that it just flies by! I really appreciated the moments where it was just David and I having our couple shots or during our first dance as it gave us those moments where we could breath and just enjoy being newlyweds.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Venue | Mountains Country House
Caterer | Glaze Catering
Venue Decoration | The Creative Venue
Venue Florist | Lily and Myrtle
Bridal Florist | Daisy Ellen
Stationery | Kara’s Designs
Cake | Flour Pots
Dress | Teokath
String Trio | Premiere String Quartet
Make Up & Hair | Louise Seymour
How perfect? Amazing.
Stephanie and David, thank you both so much for sharing your wonderful wedding story here today xo Lou