Oh be still my beating heart. I am in pure wedding wonderland heaven this morning, the perfect way to begin a mid November Monday me thinks.
Johnny and Izzy were married on the 16th of July 2016 within the woodland at Paper Mill in Kent. The setting was just so beautiful and suited their meaningful ceremony to a T. Their loved ones surrounded them and helped them to craft a day to dream about long into the future. With DIY blooms nestled in the gazebos, hand made skirts for the bridesmaids and illustrated stationery to name a few. There were plenty of sweet treats in store too thanks to Carrot and Crumb‘s Benjamina from Great British Bake Off fame.
Izzy chose an original vintage wedding gown dating to 1905 and she looked just amazing in it teamed with a striking wild bouquet. Johnny envisioned tweed and had his ensemble custom made with Izzy’s home made bow tie completing his look. What an absolutely marvellous celebration of love.
Thanks so much to Jenna Woodward for sharing these utterly wonderful shots with us.
THE PROPOSAL | On the 30th of December 2014 I went to meet two of my best friends for a walk on Wimbledon Common (where we had our first date). It was a gorgeous winter’s day and I was so excited to see them! As we walked down the path I saw a message in a bottle – on the message was a map that said we should go to this specific spot. I totally just thought it was something left from some drunk people the night before, and proceeded asking my friends about their Christmas. We turned around the corner and there Johnny was, sitting on a picnic blanket with champagne, flowers and snacks (and looking very cold!) I was completely shocked and walked slowly up to Johnny who got down on one knee and apparently asked him to marry me, except that I was so speechless that I had to ask him to do it again! At some stage I said yes and I received the most beautiful ring that Johnny had designed and my godmother had made!
THE VISION | Johnny and I are Christians and when we look at the cross of Jesus we see a God who loves people so much he gave his whole life to set them free. God’s love, we believe, brings joy, fun and laughter and marriage is a part of that picture. Marriage is given for two people to participate in with God but also for many to participate in together – it reflects God’s heart for family and community. So our vision for our wedding was to reflect this joy and love that comes from God, and honour the One who started all that joy and fun in the first place! Therefore everything we did was to ensure that everyone felt included, loved and personally invited into a marriage that is for all to enjoy.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had a long engagement because I was still at University and had my big final exams a month before the wedding, so the planning process was long journey! We started by looking for a venue as that would influence everything else, and got inspiration from endless Pinterest searches and blogs. But since we both just love a more vintage look and an explosion of colour, we didn’t really plan things in a systematic way but just enjoyed picking things up from all over the place!
THE VENUE | It was probably expected of us to get married in a Church since we are Christians. And although we absolutely love our Church, it isn’t the most beautiful building nor in such a stunning location. But God made the glorious trees and the birds that sing – so where better to get married than in the midst of his wonderful creation?!
I found this venue (Paper Mill, Hawkhurst) on a blog somewhere and went on a wild goose-chase to find the number for it. In the end I did and we went to meet the loveliest owner and their family-owned land. It was the third venue we had seen, and Johnny and I absolutely knew there was no doubt we had to get married here.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | As mentioned, I love vintage stuff! I love the idea of wearing something that already has a story – and is generally more beautiful anyway!! I have to say trying to find the right vintage dress was a challenge though, as it is just trial and error really. After six dress shops I was pretty ready to turn up in a jeans and t-shirt. But on a miserable and wet Friday in July, when I had little hope, we tried this little shop in Kingston. It was such a treasure trove of amazing vintage lace wedding dresses. I tried on a few but kept asking to try on the one in the window, and as soon as I did, I never wanted to take it off. So delicate and beautiful – and from 1905!!
Jewellery is a very important part of my life, and as a very big treat after all she had done, my amazing mama took me to Alexander Monroe. She bought me these gorgeous bluebell earrings and a necklace that has two birds on a twig – we felt it represented where we were getting married!
I bought my shoes from the American store ModCloth. Johnny isn’t very tall so I spent hours and hours looking for a pair of shoes that were sort-of vintage looking, went with my dress and wouldn’t catch on the lace, and weren’t too tall!! In the end I got these cute little shoes – although I have to admit they weren’t the most comfy!
The amazing Fran Carter did my hair and make up – she managed to mix the woodland and vintage style and create the most amazing hair do which actually stayed up the whole day through energetic dancing!!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Johnny has always wanted a tweed suit and so we felt this could be his opportunity. We are big into ethical shopping and so we found this amazing shop off Brick Lane called Cock and Bull. Their tweed is hand-woven in Ireland, which was perfect as Johnny is Irish. So Johnny got a three-piece suit made to perfection, exactly how he wanted, by the lovely Andi. It will last him forever and he looked absolutely gorgeous in his Irish tweed. He wore his favourite red braces and I made him a wee bow tie to get with his attire.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had five worship songs that spoke of God’s love; Amazing Grace, Ever Be (Bethel Church), Be Thou My Vision, Holy Holy (Tim Hughes) and When I look at the Blood (Godfrey Birtill), which we played while we washed each others feet to represent that we want to have a marriage that is humble and serves one another and others, just like how Jesus serves us. I walked down the aisle to Pilot Me by Josh Garrels, one of my favourite songs!! And we walked out to Concerning Hobbits from Lord of the Rings, as we are big LOTR fans!
The two readings we had were Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11 which speaks of how the Lord brings beauty from ashes, crowns people with joy and freedom instead of captivity. The second reading was Colossians 3:12-17 which speaks of the call to clothe ourselves with love and humility, forgiveness and patience, which we had been told would be needed in a marriage!
Finally Johnny and I read out a Gaelic Blessing together:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I love my friends and, as mentioned, we wanted a wedding that included everyone. So I had 9 bridesmaids and Johnny has 9 groomsmen!! Because of this there was no way we could afford to buy dresses for all of them. So I went to Southall (partly because I love Indian fabric) and looked for suitable fabric that we could make into skirts. Finally a bridesmaid and I found three shades of chiffon that went beautifully together and matching lining and thread. I was planning on making them but my Dad’s wife is a seamstress and she offered, which was an incredible blessing. As you can see, she made the most gorgeous bridesmaid skirts, and it all cost £110!!! All the girls wore their own sandals and ended up buying the same white top.
I surprised them on the eve of the wedding by giving them all a pair of earrings that I had made, which was SO fun. I spent hours in the bead shop with an excuse to spend ages looking at gorgeous beads, and I was really happy with the way turned out in the end!
It was just as simple for the groomsmen who wore their own chinos, white shirt and brown shoes. We bought them red braces and I made them all bow-ties from scraps of Liberty fabrics I managed to buy cheaply.
The two little flower-girls are two best friends from our church who we adore, and we bought them some wee dresses from Zara. We also had two mini-ushers who are also besties from our church and they all enjoyed being involved and getting a special photo!
THE FLOWERS | My mum is a gardener so we didn’t really worry about flowers until the last minute. But when we got to it, blimey did mum and I have fun!!
Since I just love an explosion of warm colours and the plan for our wedding was for it all to be a rough and random style, we simply went to the market and bought bunches of things we loved without worrying too much how they would come together. We just got loads of wild flowers and matched them with some foliage, including some wild berries. The day before the wedding mum got everyone together to put them all in vases and hang them from lanterns over the tables. We also used some of it for my hair, the bridesmaids flower clips and the boys buttonholes.
My very talented mama also decided to go all Chelsea Flower Show in the woodland and placed the most amazing plants around the front of the wooden hut and covered them in hay. She also made a cross out of moss and hung out between two trees next to the altar, which was amazing!
My mum’s friend at the Battersea Flower Station did our incredibly amazing bouquets, which was such a fun surprise on the wedding day, as I hadn’t seen or chosen any specific flower.
THE CAKE | One of my great friends, Benjamina, is a baking extraordinaire and started a blog a few years ago (www.carrotandcrumb.com), which is full of scrumptious things! I asked her a good while before the wedding whether she would be willing to make the cakes for our wedding, and she said yes! Well, actually we asked her to make 10 – one for each table. We wanted everyone to try Benji’s cakes and so decided to have them for dessert rather than a separate section and allow each table to share a cake each. Little did we know that she had also applied to go on Great British Bake Off 2016 and got in – so her expertise was even greater by the time she baked for our wedding!! For the record – they were the most delicious and amazing cakes ever.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We chose Jenna and Ewan from Jenna Woodward Photography because we had seen the photos they took at one of our friend’s weddings and loved their natural and soft pictures. We met with them for an engagement shoot in Oxford where they took the most gorgeous photos of us and we were so excited for the wedding photos! We love our wedding shots because they so capture the day – full of fun and laughter, colour and joy, kids running around and yummy food being eaten. Thank you so much Jenna and Ewan!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | I totally used our wedding to take the opportunity to make as many crafty and Pinteresty things as I could. My main project was undoubtedly the eating area. We bought four gazebos, because we invited too many people eek, and so of course I had to decorate them! We bought rolls of Indian organza from Southall to drape across the gazebos which was put with fairy lights and tissue paper flowers. These flowers were my pride and joy, we spent hours making thousands of them – I would watch Strictly Come Dancing in bed, and Johnny would watch the Simpsons. I also bought lanterns from Burma (Myanmar), which we hung from the ceiling attached flowers to hang down.
We bought all the German trestle tables and benches from a massive wholesale market and Johnny sanded them all down from orange! To cater for everyone at these tables, we looked out for endless silver cutlery, plates and various antique/vintage-esque décor. Johnny and his friend made a quiz per table so that people could have a laugh when conversation ran out!
We decorated the barn with photos of us when we were small, with our friends, together and our families. The fields were covered in bunting my Grandma’s friend made. The walk to the woodland was accompanied by the words of 1 Corinthians 13 in watercolours, placed in frames on the trees. The canapé and drinks area in the woods was decorated with more tissue paper flowers, Burmese lanterns and in the end a lot of lavender confetti!! Not to mention the overly-decorated toilets to compensate for our loos – we had jokes in the toilets and beanos, Lush soap and hand cream next to the enamel basins and hand-mirrors hanging down from ceiling.
One of the most beautiful bits of decoration though was actually the Invitations, Order of Services and Seating Plan. One of my best friends illustrated and painted everything, and they were absolutely stunning. Definitely a key part of the décor!
We also had the a Treasure Hunt for the kids, which resulted in bags of goodies to have fun with for the rest of the day. Outside games like Boules and Croquet were free to be played all day, alongside the make-shift photo booth, which contained the most random items in our house! Evening entertainment included a Ceilidh, run by Johnny’s friend, an INCREDIBLE band and Spanish hot dogs and cheese.
THE HONEYMOON | Our first year of marriage entails Johnny and I going to Asia and South America to work with women who have been trafficked and orphans in the context of church. Since we were going away so quickly for so long, we decided that we would go on a short honeymoon. So my friend offered to organise it, which was revealed to us on our wedding day! First we went to this little wee converted vintage horsebox which was AMAZING for two nights, we had BBQ’s and breakfast in the field outside and lazed around reading our book in the quiet. Then we went off to Budapest for 5 days which was wonderful, we stayed in the centre of town in a very cool apartment and pottered around the cool bars and relaxing baths.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | My favourite moments included singing in my mums’ van on the way to the wedding (yep I just wanted a fun sing-a-long to our wedding), finding Johnny’s face through the trees as I arrived and seeing his loving face. I loved worshipping with my husband and seeing the sun dappled through the trees while the birds sang. I loved watching the kids run around and have fun. I loved our first dance to Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini, singing ‘Isn’t she lovely’ with the band and Johnny, and leaving through a tunnel of sparklers. It was all so special.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | You hear a billion times that your wedding day will be the best day of your life, and to be honest it gets quite annoying because it all gets too mushy! But do you know what it is, and not because of everything being perfect or because of anything any individual or couple can do. It is such a wonderful day because you have everyone you love together and because marriage is a blessed thing – it brings joy, it brings people together and it is a cause of celebration. The atmosphere of celebration, joy and love with all of your favourite people that reflects the very heart of God is what makes it the best day. So if things aren’t always coming together, don’t freak out – it won’t be the thing that gives you joy in the end anyway. In the end, although I am a perfectionist at times, it is the people together that makes it magical and your vision somehow, I felt (!), miraculously come together! So fear not, appreciate and enjoy the people around you and the once in a lifetime moments that you experience when organising such a day!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Jenna Woodward
Venue | Paper Mill, Hawkhurst
Food | Vamos Paella
Hair and Make Up | Fran Carter
Dress | Vintage Wedding Dresses
Suit | Cock and Bull
Flowers | Battersea Flower Station
Band | Line Out Functions
Cakes | Carrot and Crumb
WOW. I am dreaming of the woods, time for another visit this week I think.
Johnny and Izzy, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your simply beautiful wedding story here today xo Lou