It’s the perfect way to end the week, with a colour packed, super fun, mega watt smiles all round wedding.
WWW readers Clare and Khaled were married on Saturday 30th April 2016 at Bedford School in Bedfordshire. They envisioned a multicoloured celebration with a relaxed atmosphere and great food, drink and music too. Their guests really were spoilt rotten with a live band that entertained in the evening, oodles of beverages on offer including Lemoncello and a delicious cake to finish the meal. There is so much I love about this day from the vibrant blooms by Elworthy Flowers to the cute pinwheels and lanterns decorating the hall.
Clare looked so elegant in her lace Justin Alexander gown, which she wore with a dreamy veil and flowers in her hair. Khaled opted for a grey suit while his groomsmen donned navy, it worked so well. Enjoy every image and the brilliant report below too.
Cat Lane Weddings, thank you so much for sharing these really wonderful images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | Wrest Park is a beautiful stately home with gorgeous gardens in Bedfordshire, and is one of our favourite places for a wander and a picnic. When Khaled suggested we should splash out on taxis so we could have a boozy picnic there, my suspicions should have been aroused!
After our picnic where, on reflection, I spent more time than Khaled would have liked feeding a friendly crow, we walked over to our favourite spot in the gardens – beneath a beautiful weeping willow which normally has branches so full of leaves that it’s like a curtain shielding you from view. As it was early in the year (April) the tree was looking a bit dead and bare and I couldn’t work out why Khaled was so disappointed!
When we got under the tree Khaled told me he had bought me a present and to close my eyes. When I opened them he was down on one knee with a beautiful sapphire engagement ring asking me to marry him. I cried (a lot) and said yes!
THE VISION | We wanted a relaxed and fun day that was full of good music, good food, good booze and lots of colour! We knew we didn’t want a religious ceremony and are not particularly traditional so we wanted a more relaxed and informal feel to the day.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We got engaged on 18th April 2015 and were married on 30th April 2016 so the wedding took around a year to plan, though it wasn’t constant wedmin throughout that period. I’m a Project Manager and love a spreadsheet so the first thing I did was put together a budget and a plan so we knew we were organised and on top of the finances.
We knew we didn’t want a really long engagement so we wanted to get a venue and date sorted quickly which we did within about a month, followed by the band and the photographer pretty soon afterwards. After that our planning proceeded a bit more slowly, picking up a lot of ideas for things like décor and place settings through Pinterest and wedding blogs (with Whimsical Wonderland Weddings being a particular favourite!) Local suppliers for things like photography, hair and make-up were found by asking for recommendations on a really helpful Facebook group called We Are Bedford.
THE VENUE | We had both our ceremony and reception in Bedford School, De Parys Avenue, Bedford. As soon as we got engaged we knew that Bedford School had to be one of the venues we visited. A few years ago I was doing a lot of fundraising for Oxfam and the Theatre Director at the school had kindly let me put on an event there. As we were leaving that night we passed The Great Hall which has beautiful huge windows. ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless was blaring out, there were lasers and lights which looked amazing, and both of us were instantly dying to crash that wedding!
Having looked at about seven or eight other venues, none of the others could compare to Bedford School’s stunning room, beautiful grounds, and really competitive price, as well as having this great connection to something we’d done together as a couple.
We held our ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception in the Great Hall, which is an absolutely breath-taking space. Between the ceremony and wedding breakfast we moved to the Music Recital Hall for our drinks reception which is a really different, modern space with fantastic light. It was great to have everything in one place but to be able to use a different space for the drinks reception whilst they turned the room around from the ceremony to the wedding breakfast – it meant re-entering the room had real wow factor.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was a full length, lace dress with a big train from Justin Alexander. I added an Italian tulle cathedral length veil, with a single pearl drop necklace and earrings I picked up from independent shops in Nottingham and Staffordshire. My shoes were Fabia by Rainbow Club and I had them dyed a bright teal shade as I wanted a pop of colour under my dress and to be able to wear them again. I also bought the Ravina clutch bag by Rainbow Club and had it dyed to match the shoes.
In the run up to the day I was increasingly nervous about my ability to last the night in heels as I rarely wear them. So my sister kindly bought me a pair of sparkly silver peep toe sandals with a low wedge from Head Over Heels by Dune. I danced all night in them and got loads of wear out of them on our honeymoon too, they’re fab!
It’s not really ‘accessories’ but I also can’t look back on our day without being so grateful for the amazing work of Kate and Ali, the hair dresser and make-up artists. I really felt glam, polished and beautiful all day long thanks to their amazing work. They really understood my brief of, “I want to look like me. Only better.” The bridesmaids and my Mum all looked so beautiful too – all getting ready together was a really special part of the day.
FINDING THE DRESS | I wasn’t really looking forward to dress shopping at all. I was a size 18 at the time and knew that the majority of sample dresses in the shop wouldn’t fit me. One of my bridesmaids Marcia kindly took care of all the planning, drawing up a list of potential options in Nottingham where she lived and where we thought we’d be able to visit a good number of shops in one day without paying a fee. Khaled and I live in London and I was shocked to discover that a lot of bridal shops make you pay for the privilege of going in just to look at and try on dresses! The plan was for Marcia, my Mum and I to go so I had some second opinions, but didn’t have to cope with lots of people staring at me in dresses I knew wouldn’t fit.
We had three appointments booked for the day and before we’d even got to the first shop I was already really stressed out. The shop had moved location and we couldn’t find its new address on the internet and when we finally arrived for the appointment (having run so as not to be late) there was only one assistant who was helping another customer and who ignored us for about ten minutes. I HATED the first dress I tried on. The shop assistant had been quite insistent on the style that would suit me and ultimately she was right, but this dress was everything I didn’t want; strapless, shiny, covered in big…. flower things and I had to come out of the changing room into the middle of the shop to show my Mum and Marcia in front of about a dozen friends of a bride having her final fitting and several other random shoppers. I just wanted to cry.
However, the assistant was right about the shape – she had insisted on a long bodice – so dress number two was better and by dress number three I was smiling. We left the shop and I said, “That will do. If we don’t find anything I like better today we’ll go back and buy that dress so I don’t have to go through this again.”
By the third shop, with the help of a bottle of prosecco over lunch, I was much more relaxed and we picked up three or four dresses and headed into a huge, private, air-conditioned changing room. I put on the first dress and immediately realised it was the third dress I had tried on in the first shop, the ‘That’ll do” dress. But this time I knew I loved it and felt it was a sign. I bought the dress straight away and we spent the rest of the day celebrating over lots of wine!
The shop where I bought the dress was Beautiful Brides in Nottingham and they did a wonderful job of making the experience relaxing and fun, as well as turning around some significant last minute alterations as I lost two stone in the run up to the wedding and the dress that had originally only just done up had turned into a bit of a sack! To me they provided the wedding dress shopping experience I think every bride should have.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | We spent a day traipsing around Oxford Street looking for the perfect three-piece suit and were just beginning to lose hope when we walked into Hackett and found exactly the kind of thing Khaled had in mind. We bought the ties and pocket squares for Khaled and the ushers from The Tie Doctor in a vintage market near Spitalfields and his shoes were by APC bought online from Oki-Ni. We found and bought the cufflinks before we’d bought pretty much anything else, in a Richard James sample sale in Brighton – they were an absolute bargain! The ushers suits were from Next – Khaled had wanted to stand out from the ushers and we both think that combination of him in grey and the ushers in navy looks great.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We knew civil ceremonies can be really short so we wanted a few readings to make the official bit last a bit longer! When we got engaged a family friend Rosie wrote us a lovely poem so we had that as our first reading, read by Amy, a friend of mine from school. For our second reading, my school friend Andy read “Union” by Robert Fulghum which we had found online and both loved its sentiment. The final reading was by Khaled’s uncle Tim who is a bit of a literary buff so he chose his own, picking “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe.
Music is really important to us. When we were first dating we spent a lot of time bonding/arguing over music we loved so we really wanted to find music which reflected us. We’re both also huge fans of 90s indie music so we knew that had to feature somewhere. For signing the register we had “Made Up Love Song #43” by Guillemots as it’s just so happy and joyful. We also chose “Something Changed” by Pulp as we both love Pulp and could really identify with the story behind the song about the serendipity of meeting someone who you come to love.
For our exit music we had “Movin’ On Up” by Primal Scream. We felt it was a great song to mark the start of the party and the lyrics really summed up how we felt.
I had wanted my entrance music to be a surprise and had been struggling to find something I felt was just right. Then one day I stumbled across a cover of “Baby I’m Yours” by Arctic Monkeys which I instantly loved and felt was the perfect song to walk in to; meaningful, beautiful, but a bit fun.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had four bridesmaids; my sister Nikki, my closest friend from school, Marcia, my closest friend from university, Helen, and my closest friend from my years immediately after university, Rachel. It was fantastic that all the ladies who’d been such a huge part of my life at all stages could be part of our day.
All the bridesmaids wore John Lewis jersey maxi dresses which looked dreadful on the hanger but amazing on the girls. They were the first dresses the girls tried on. Helen came out of the changing room first, looked incredible and we knew immediately that had to be the dress for her. I hadn’t been at all worried about the girls matching – I was happy for them all to be in different colours, lengths and styles if they wanted, but they wanted to try on the matching dresses. One by one they tried them on and they all looked fab. We went for two in blue and two in green and we all think they look fantastic and really work well with the brightly coloured flowers.
THE FLOWERS | We’ve had so many compliments on the flowers – Catherine at Elworthy Flowers did a simply incredible job. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted and Khaled was very happy to leave me to it on this aspect of the wedding! I wanted a wild flower kind of feel with a mix of bright colours – nothing matchy-matchy, no symmetrical posies, and no pastels. I really loved poppies and cornflowers but knew they wouldn’t be in season so gave Catherine the sketchiest of briefs along the lines of the above and she turned the picture in my head into a beautiful reality. I very nearly cried on the day when I first saw the flowers – I couldn’t believe how right she had got it and I was over the moon with the bright colours. Plus they smelt absolutely gorgeous!
THE CAKE | We knew we wanted a naked wedding cake as neither of us are really fans of traditional wedding cake and we think naked cakes look fab. We found Mr Cake online – people may have seen his work before, he went viral on social media when he iced his resignation letter to the UK Borders Agency on to a cake and handed it to his boss to give his notice! The cake was so beautiful, especially when decorated with the extra flowers from Catherine our florist. We had four tiers, two tiers of chocolate Baileys flavour and two tiers of a flavour called St. Clements which is orange and lemon. The cake was absolutely delicious, we’re only disappointed that we couldn’t eat more of it as it went so quickly!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Cat was one of the first suppliers we booked – we actually reserved two dates with her when we were deciding between two potential venues. We knew we wanted a really relaxed and informal style to the photography with minimal posed shots and no moody atmosphere shots or ‘casual leaning’ on random things! Having seen Cat’s work online we could see that she had exactly the style we were looking for and that her shots were incredibly beautiful. We also loved the fact that she works with her husband Graham which meant we had two different perspectives on the day. This was particularly good for the morning when they could capture us both getting ready separately, as well as for shots during the ceremony when Cat could be nearby getting discreet close-ups whilst Graham took some amazing shots from the balcony. We can’t recommend them both enough, we absolutely love our photographs and on the day having the pictures taken was actually really enjoyable despite the fact that neither of us love posing for photographs. They managed to capture every tiny detail whilst being almost invisible at times – Cat in particular is really the queen of stealth photography mid-ceremony!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We made our table plan out of MDF covered in floral-printed sticky-backed plastic on which we hung a range of different coloured and sized photo frames, each of which contained the details of a table. It sounds terrible but looked great on the day! Our table ‘numbers’ were the names of gigs or comedy shows we had been to so for our table centres we photocopied the original tickets and put them in a frame which matched the frame on the table plan.
Because we were getting married in a school I thought it would be fun to get a photograph of each of our guests from when they were at school and to use them to make another large version of the table plan with no names on which people could look at during the drinks reception and play ‘Guess the Guest’. It was a bit of a faff to get hold of all the photographs but totally worth it, if only to see how cute some of our guests were when they were at school!
For our guestbook we had a selection of photographs of us and places we had been printed onto postcards. We asked guests to choose their favourite and send us a postcard and we bought a cardboard postbox from Hobbycraft which we decorated to look like a real postbox so guests could post their completed postcards.
We splurged a little on confetti and bought a huge amount of really bright and colourful confetti in heart and butterfly shapes. The splurge was totally worth it, the confetti shots are some of our favourites and having a really long walk with tonnes of confetti being thrown at us for every step was a really unique, memorable and happy wedding moment.
I had lots (and lots) of ideas about decorative details and little extras that could go into the day and actually the volume of work involved in turning this into a reality was probably the only stressful bit of the planning.
For our favours, Giovanni and Maria, friends of my parents, very generously made us 100 bottles of Lemoncello in small bottles shaped like a trullo (a traditional building in southern Italy) as well as a number of larger bottles especially for the top table. Leonardo and Belina, other friends of my parents, made us 100 individually numbered A2 prints of an original painting of a trullo that Leonardo had painted as well as a dozen further prints of another of his paintings specifically for the wedding party.
For the place settings, I had always had a daft idea in my head about having coloured pinwheels with the names written on washi tape, as the bright colours matched the ideas I’d had about the wedding colour scheme. We ordered a number of pinwheels from China which never arrived and buying the number needed in the UK was going to be too expensive. But I couldn’t let go of this pinwheel idea. So I found a lady on Etsy who makes pinwheels to order and she made 110 on drinks stirrers in a range of colours. My Mum then made 120 bottles of Cherrycello, Strawberrycello and Raspberrycello and we attached the pinwheels to the back of the bottles with sellotape. Because that wasn’t already fiddly enough, my Mum then tied curled ribbons round the neck of each bottle. They were a huge amount of work to do but they looked fantastic – exactly the bright, colourful and fun thing I had in mind from the beginning. Plus the guests loved all the extra free booze!
We wanted a bit of a statement to change the Great Hall from the daytime ceremony into the more party venue for the wedding breakfast and evening. So we ordered 100 paper lanterns from eBay in ten different bright colours and Khaled spent a long afternoon tying tiny lights into each one. When we went back into the Great Hall before the wedding breakfast began to see the room it was amazing to see how all our ideas had come together in a massive explosion of colour!
In the evening we put out a basket of flip flops and it was brilliant to see the ladies, and some of the gents, gleefully kicking off their shoes and dancing.
THE HONEYMOON | We had a great time drinking champagne and generally being treated like royalty whilst booking our honeymoon at Kuoni on Kings Road. Huge thanks to Donna there for her help in giving us options and accommodating our random questions! We ended up going for four nights in Hong Kong, followed by 11 nights in Bali split between Ubud and Seminyak. We did a bit of a splurge on our Bali hotels to have a private pool in each and it was absolutely worth it to have lots of luxury, privacy and space on our first holiday together as Mr and Mrs. We’d really recommend Bali for honeymooners, it’s such a beautiful and interesting place and the people are so wonderful and friendly – they really go out of their way to make sure you’re having a wonderful time!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | So many memorable moments!
Leaving my parents’ house to go to the ceremony and the neighbours coming out to wave us off – I think this was the moment it really hit that we were getting married!
Having signed the register, looking out at all the people we love and realising they were all here to celebrate the day with us
Getting the first look at the Great Hall set up for the wedding breakfast before the guests came in and realising it was even better than the picture we’d had in our heads
As the band started up and everyone was on the dancefloor, looking around seeing what a brilliant time everyone was having and realising it was going to be an awesome night
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Everyone says the day goes so quickly, and it really, really does! We went for a little drive in one of the wedding cars immediately after the ceremony which was fab as we had a chance to say, “We’re married!” and to catch up on each other’s morning. Do try and get some time alone together during the day and to step back and soak it all in. You did all this, together, so take a moment to really share it and enjoy it!
On the details, if you’re into music and have the budget it’s worth getting a live band. We had an indie covers band Shine On and they were absolutely amazing. Khaled’s uncle danced more than he had for 20 years, all the guests were on the dancefloor throughout their set and they really made the evening reception the fantastically fun night that it was. Our guests haven’t stopped raving about how amazing they were and we’re all secretly hoping they stop doing weddings and start touring so we can go and see them again!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Cat Lane Weddings
Venue | Bedford School
Flowers | Elworthy Flowers
Band | Shine On
Cake | Mr Cake
Wedding Cars | Rayment Lewis Wedding Cars
Wedding dress shop | Beautiful Brides
Bride handbag and shoes | Rainbow Club
Hair | Kate Atalay
Make-up | Ali K MUA
Groom suit | Hackett
Groom shoes | Oki-Ni
Ties and pocket squares | Tie Doctor
Engagement ring | Steven Stone
Wedding rings | Gold Arts
Confetti | Confetti Lane
Pinwheels | Etsy
Such a bright beautiful celebration.
Thanks so much to Clare and Khaled for sharing all about their wedding, it’s been a pleasure xo Lou