Where on earth do I start with this wedding feature? A feast for the eyes and a heck of a lot of love, all wrapped up into one colourful celebration.
Let me begin with the location, this wedding is super local to me, the village where the festivities take place is next to Hitchin, my local town. It’s such a wonderful place to be, with brilliant local businesses that WWW readers Hannah and Christopher took full advantage of. Their caterers were The Groundworks, which is co owned by Hannah’s brother, guests then feasted on Mexican cuisine by Cantina Carnitas. Another local fave, we actually had them at our own wedding so I can totally vouch for their scrummy food. Food was an important element to their day creating a really relaxed vibe.
The pair were wed at St Ippolyts Village Church on the 28th May 2017 and headed to the village hall to celebrate. The hall by the way looked so amazing, it sure is going to be stopping you in your tracks today. So much love and effort was poured into creating the rainbow unicorn décor of dreams, not to mention outstanding wild style floral displays created by their florist.
Then there were the outfits. How beautiful did Hannah look? She chose a Houghton NYC gown, cathedral length veil and loose waves for her tresses. Her fave girls donned mix and match dove grey dresses with flower crowns while Christopher was suited and booted in a dark Next suit. Oh my!
Claire Macintyre Photography‘s images have me hook, line and sinker today. Thanks Claire.
THE PROPOSAL | 2nd May 2016
Chris was at Hitchin Boys School and I was at the Girls school, he was in the year above and I first noticed him in Sixth Form, we both had other partners at that time, but our eyes met across the common room! Two years later we met in the Summer after my first year at university back in Hitchin town square on a night out. We were formally introduced for the first time by the best man Dan and realised we were both in Cardiff at University, we got talking and the rest is history!
After 9 years together Chris proposed to me at the Roman Verulamium in St Albans near to where we live. Chris got down on one knee in the middle of the amphitheatre and popped the question and we celebrated with a champagne picnic! My engagement ring is a 1920s ring handed down from my Aunty Bea, it is so special to me to be able to wear it and remember a fantastic lady.
THE VISION | We are at that lovely age where lots of friends are getting married and have been to beautiful days, I think there is a lot of pressure to be unique and when I began planning creating something ‘different’ seemed very important. As it got closer to the wedding I became more focussed on the atmosphere, planning became much more fun and that is where the festival theme came from, relaxed, fun, lots of food and music but also allowed me to use lots of colour and glitter! I like the enjoyment of finding hidden areas at festivals… I had to find a way to have the unicorn room and a tropical bar area!
Food was also a huge part of our vision and again having an independent venue let us be flexible. My brother Tom and his business partner Ben have a café (The Groundworks) in Hitchin and they were able to create a fantastic Lebanese inspired menu for the day. I am a vegetarian and having eaten goats cheese and red onion tarts at every wedding for the last 10 years I was ready for something different! The boys do an amazing cauliflower dish that we had for our mains and we loved the idea of sharing platters and guests getting to know each other through talking about the food and that’s’ how the menu theme evolved. The evening guests had gourmet nachos and burritos from Cantina Carnitas, we both love Mexican food and felt it was important for our evening guests to share in the foodie experience.
THE VENUE | St Ippolyts Village Church and Hall.
This was never a question for me, the church and hall in the village I grew up in had always been my venue. I am incredibly lucky that Chris grew up in the same area and was on board too. We had big ideas about food and decorations and having a venue that was essentially a blank canvas allowed us to create hopefully something unique! It was lovely going back to church in St Ippolyts and meeting all my dinner ladies, parents’ neighbours and even the village shop owners from my childhood, who all turned up for a peek at the ceremony.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress: Houghton NYC (Bride) – The London Chante Gown (Limited Edition)
Veil – Unbridaled by Dan Jones Hand Applique Lace & Tulle Veil.
Shoes – Aquazzura
Garter by The Wedding Garter Co in Bath
FINDING THE DRESS | I was incredibly lucky to have a friend working in a high end bridal boutique who allowed me to have an evening of trying on dresses to work out what suited me and the venue. I thought I had found ‘the one’ but my love of clothes and fashion had me wondering what else might be out there. I trawled social media everyday and realised I loved the relaxed boho vibes of the American and Australian designers, which landed me at the door of Charley at the Lover’s Bride. I could have bought all of the dresses but landed on the Chante Gown – only available in London and Charley was the only stockist so I knew it would be unique, church appropriate at the front and party in the back! I can’t resist a bit of drama so I had to have the cathedral veil, it definitely brought the tears on.
I found my dress with my maid of honour but went back with my mum, mother and aunty of the groom for approval. My mum really got into the wedding dress spirit we watched hundreds of episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and she loved yelling ‘lets jack her up’ when adding accessories!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Italian Grey wool three piece suit from NEXT
Tie from Reiss
Belt and cufflinks from Montblanc
Chris’ look is classic, sharp suit, gold accessories and Grenson Chelsea boots, he likes the Peaky blinder style but didn’t want to go vintage so we tried to take the elements and make it modern.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Our guests listened to tracks from all our favourite films whilst they waited, Hedwigs theme from Harry Potter, Your Song Moulin Rouge, Kissing You by Des’ree from Romeo and Juliet.
Entrance Music – Ludovico Einaudi – Nuvole Bianche
Hymms – All things bright and beautiful, Jerusalem, Morning has broken
The Recessional – Mendelssohn – Wedding March
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
Corinthians Chapter 13
Union by Robert Fulgham
Chris isn’t keen on anything too soppy, but Union describes the sentiment exactly for us, we are always talking about what the future holds for us both and planning for the next adventure. I read the Northern Lights trilogy as a teenager and it has always held a special place in my heart, it was read by my brother who also loves the series. He originally read it aloud when I was getting the familys’ opinion on which reading to choose, when we heard the emotion in his voice we knew he had to read on the day.
I would say to other couples not to worry if you aren’t literary kings and queens! We used wedding blogs, church blogs, pinterest and friend’s wedding to get ideas for readings. As long as you know the sentiment you want to get across you will find the words.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I have an amazing group of friends all met it different circumstances who came together in an explosion of cocktails and laughter on my hen do in Lisbon. My maid of honour Jess did an amazing job of organising my hen and an even better job of helping me dispose of by stick on bra, which fell off in the church as it was so hot that day… so much for all the trial runs! I had six bridesmaids Rachel and Rachel, Emma, Peri, Debbie and Sarah all absolutely stunning, I couldn’t have had better people around me. The girls wore an assortment of dove grey dresses sourced on ASOS and rose gold shoes, accessorised with beautiful flower crowns. Jewellery from And Other Stories.
THE FLOWERS | Alice from All in One Season is another incredible local business, her Dutch styling always bring something modern and unique to the table and we were both desperate to have her work on the wedding. She is an amazing talent and we knew when we brought her printouts of hanging floral displays she would be able to create something amazing and we weren’t disappointed! I gave Alice free reign to create the suspended display, flower crowns, table centres and bouquet, the brief was colour and wild and we were so happy with the results. The ribbons for my bouquet were by @silkandpurl discovered on Instagram, the colours were so vibrant and the quality was very high but with a very reasonable price tag!
THE CAKE | The cake was another no brainer, Claire founder of Vanilla Clouds has been making amazing cakes for my brother and Ben at The Groundworks almost since they opened. Her cakes are always stylish and delicious and Claire is incredibly professional. Deciding on the cakes and the style was a different story all together! After much deliberation and lots of cake we decided on a salted caramel and chocolate layer, a coconut and raspberry layer and a gluten free lemon layer. To continue the theme of the wedding we decided on magenta pink and gold leaf with floral decorations. After all the planning, on the excitement of the day we forgot to put on the cake topper!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I found Claire through a friend of a friend who was writing a lovely wedding blog at the time (bonjourbride.com). Claire was a perfect match; she was so enthusiastic about our love of colour and glitter and unicorns of course. She shared her amazing wedding knowledge and actually sourced the unicorn we ended up using. Throughout the day she worked incredibly hard and made us laugh so much with her ‘light gasms’! Claire does amazing couples portraits particularly at sunset, after the wedding me and Chris felt that this was one of the best parts of our day; not only did she capture some beautiful shots but it gave us some time out of the day to be with each other and just absorb what had happened. Best of all she captured the day perfectly and we have some fantastic shots to treasure.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The invites, posters and menus were all designed by myself, Chris and my brother (photoshop wizard). I hand drew all the illustrations. Being in the medical profession I don’t often have a chance to be creative and I really enjoyed this process and glad we took the time to do it so we had something unique to us.
The village hall is a brilliant blank canvas and allowed us to go wild with the decoration. To get the festival vibe across I wanted to create different themed areas.
We created a magical area in the conservatory as an alternative to a photobooth with astroturf, a handmade ribbon wall (top tip ribbons are heavy, and you will need more hooks to hold them than you expect!), fairy lights and of course the life size unicorn. The unicorn had been in my parents garage for the last few months, when it was delivered I think they were a little shocked by the size, that was until they saw the 10ft great white shark also travelling on the lorry!
With the help of hired crates from Classic Crockery, and borrowed plants we created a tropical bar area, My lovely friends were enlisted into spraying pineapples rose gold and did an amazing job. We also created a balloon ceiling in the entrance so that the quests had a concealed view as they walked in before seeing the suspend flower arrangement.
We had an excellent afternoon tie dying the napkins and tablecloths a few months before the wedding, mixing the dyes like witches over cauldrons and having to explain blue fingers at work the week after. My mum can take sole credit for the ironing of it all though! This allowed us to inject even more colour into the day.
THE HONEYMOON | We didn’t head on honeymoon straight away as Chris is a surveyor and had a membership exam soon after the big day. We enjoyed a week at home, which I would really recommend to any stressed brides, it gave us time to go through all the wedding props and lovely gifts and send out all our thank you cards. We have since been to Skiathos a little island off the coast of Greece. We had an incredibly relaxing time drinking Greek beer and consuming far too much feta and pitta. Days were spent reclining on the beach, taking boat trips, exploring on quad bikes and we had a fantastic evening watching Mamma Mia on the islands open air cinema.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | This was truly a village wedding, both the bridesmaids and the wolfpack (groomsmen), friends, parents, all my mums friends from book club and their husbands, aunty’s and uncles and the fantastic village hall warden Phil all came together on the Saturday before to spend the day decorating the hall, we had music playing and a huge picnic lunch. Chris and I could not have been more overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family
Ginni our fabulous vicar dancing with mine and Chris’ brothers to our amazing friend Josh singing out ‘I love you baby’ with the whole congregation belting out the words whilst we signed the register.
Ice creams by Tasha at IceIceBaby on the village green in the sunshine after the ceremony then walking down the park to the village hall in procession with all our guests.
Chris’ best men Dan and Sam producing a very personalised pack of top trump cards featuring some of lets say Chris’ more ‘colourful’ moments during the wedding speeches and watching our grandma’s squinting at my naked husband’s bottom!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I was incredibly stressed with all the preparations and now it is all over I wish that I had been more mindful of the moments that were taking place. Enjoy the times spent with friends and parents picking things, at the time you agonise over the small details but try to enjoy the company and time your loved ones are giving you it’s priceless.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Claire Macintyre Photography
Rings | Laura Lee Jewellery
Florist | Alice Calcasola – All in One Season
Cake | Claire Saunders – Vanilla Cloud Cakes
Local artists | Josh Sharp and Sarah Kelly
Hair/Makeup | My hair was co-ordinated by our amazing friend Narad Kutowaroo who couldn’t make it to the day as he was styling at Radio 1 big weekend for which we are so proud and the amazing Chloe Sandoz stepped in.
Make up | Emma McCallum and her brilliant assistant Hannah Edwards
Catering | The Groundworks
Evening food | Cantina Carnitas
Ice cream | Tasha Laws Ice Ice Baby
Chairs, cutlery, tableware and crates | Classic Crockery
Unicorn | The Jolly Roger Models
Hannah and Christopher, thanks ever so much to you both for sharing your epic wedding celebrations with us xo Lou