Wowee, what a gorgeous wedding we have in store today! Lara and Ben wed at Huntsham Court, Devon the on 29th April 2017. Our gorgeous pair wanted a 1920s feel to their day and put everything together themselves to create an atmosphere that was both vintage and glamorous. They tracked down a venue which allowed them to essentially have a weekend long house party in the old fashioned sense of the phrase, and what a time it looks like they had.
As a fellow Capricorn, I am totally on board with Lara’s exceptionally organised approach. Mind you, when you have bottles to collect and so much DIY to do yourselves, it’s always a good idea to start early! This wedding has sweet touches in spades. From the handwritten messages written beautifully on mirrors to the paper moon cake topper, there are just so many details to enjoy here. Of course, what vintage wedding would be complete without a Champagne coupé tower, such fun.
The vintage glamour continues with the couple’s outfits. Lara’s simple Charlie Brear dress is just stunning and the tassel skirt she wore over the top for the evening is absolutely flapper worthy. Ben began a lifelong affair with bespoke suits with his Suit Supply number and added a pocket watch, which was a gift from Lara, amazing.
Thanks must go to the brilliant Bears Collective for sharing these wonderful, atmospheric images of the day with us.
THE PROPOSAL | Very understated, and didn’t quite go according to plan! I (Ben) always wanted to do it at home but once I had the ring I knew I would need to do it fairly quickly or risk blurting it out at the wrong moment. We had both been away separately, so the first weekend we had back together we stocked the fridge with some champagne and nice things to eat for breakfast (our favourite meal of the day). We also had a lot of boring grown up things to do that day and I had planned to go through the to-do list with Lara saying “we have to go to the bank, do a food shop…and you have to say yes to marrying me”. I didn’t pull it off as coolly as I’d hoped and nervously shoved the box towards Lara without opening it. She was a little confused at first, and even when I opened the box and gave her the ring she just carried on eating her breakfast. Five minutes later she burst into tears, with happiness I think!
THE VISION | Ben is a huge Rat Pack fan and I love anything Art Deco, so we really wanted a vintage-inspired day. The most important thing to us was that it be fun and relaxed, so we tried to balance the glitz and glam of the Gatsby era with a laid-back house party feel for the weekend. Our venue was a gorgeous old country house with grand rooms and fabulous (and expensive!) furnishings, which suited the style we were going for perfectly, but we kept everything else very informal with a non-traditional ceremony outside followed by self-service drinks and family-style food. We didn’t want to follow traditions just for the sake of it so I didn’t have bridesmaids in matching dresses, while Ben had three best men (who also wore their own suits) and we walked down the aisle together for a celebrant-led ceremony with vows we wrote ourselves. We feel so lucky to have found Samantha Kelsie, who not only wrote the most beautiful, funny and heartfelt ceremony for us (including a very special crystal ring blessing for my sister to perform) but was also a huge help on the day keeping us to time and keeping me calm! For the reception, I asked my mother and best friends to give speeches (why should the men be the only ones to talk!?) and instead of a top table, we had sweetheart table for two with two extra chairs for anyone who wanted to join us!
BUDGET | We initially planned to spend no more than 25k which quickly turned to 30k – which we came under (just!). Our main priorities were the photography, music, and the food and drink, so we decided not to skimp on that and tried to do everything else ourselves to save money.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I am a typical Capricorn and go completely overboard when it comes to planning and organising anything. We chose our date and booked our venue within 6 weeks of getting engaged, leaving us with 18 months to plan the wedding – which was plenty! I had dozens of spreadsheets with supplier shortlists, budgets, shopping lists, to do lists… but if I hadn’t been so organised I honestly don’t know how we would have pulled it off. Doing all the decor ourselves, supplying the alcohol for 115 guests, as well as feeding more than 60 people who stayed at the venue with us for whole weekend ended up being more complicated than we thought. Luckily our venue co-ordinator was an absolute dream who led us through everything we needed while we were there, from the hiring of staff to how much butter to buy for breakfast!
THE VENUE | As we didn’t want a traditional or formal wedding we originally looked at hiring a barn or having a tipi- style wedding, but the moment we saw Huntsham Court we fell in love with it. A lot our friends’ weddings had been abroad and where everyone stayed together in the same hotels and partied late into the night without being kicked out, so we wanted to do the same with all our family and closest friends under one roof. With 30 beautifully decorated rooms, Huntsham was one of the few places we found that allowed us to do that – and as it is dry hire, we were able to bring our own booze (no corkage!) and stay up drinking and dancing until the early hours.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I wore a silk crepe slip dress by Charlie Brear for the first part of the day, and put a tassled floor-length skirt on over it for the evening. I fell in love with Charlotte Mills’ Gold Becky block heels and managed to buy them in a Christmas advent sale, and found a stunning 120-year old vintage headpiece from Crystal Heirlooms at the Vintage Wedding Fair. My mother lent me an art deco cuff and my late grandmother’s simple pearl earrings (although I forgot to put them on before the ceremony!) and as my dress had quite a low back, I ordered a delicate yellow-gold back necklace from Etsy. My hair and makeup was done by Grace from Lips and Locks, who is an absolute dream. She understood exactly what I wanted, and was so calm despite all the chaos while I was getting ready!
FINDING THE DRESS | I made an appointment at Charlie Brear (formerly the Vintage Wedding Dress Company) on my first day of dress shopping and felt amazing in her Payton slip dress and Isere skirt. She makes lots of different separates and additions like beautiful lace sleeves or overlays, but I decided to keep it simple and wear the Payton on it’s own for the ceremony. It took me a while to commit, as I struggled to find the right underwear to wear with a slip dress and didn’t want any bra straps showing. I went back 3 times to try the dress on with various options, but the girls at the showroom were so incredibly helpful with finding a solution. I made the last trip with two of my best friends and mother (who hadn’t seen it yet) and the look on their faces when I put on the tasseled skirt said it all!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | My parents bought me my first ever tailored suit as a joint wedding/30th birthday present from Suit Supply. I think it’s started an unhealthy appetite for bespoke suits! It was a blue with a grey waistcoat, which I wore with the vintage pocket watch Lara gave me as a wedding gift. My shoes were blue and brown brogues from Barkers, and I was also wearing Lara’s late grandad’s silk tie.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Ben’s brother did the first reading, which he kept as a surprise to us both. He has a Phd in physics and wrote his own piece inspired by astronomer Carl Saga about the probability of two people living at the same moment in the history of the universe being so perfect for each other. The second two readings were by two of my closest friends – ‘What Goes With What’ from Nigel Slater’s book Appetite and my favourite poem by Simon Armitage, ‘Let Me Put It This Way’.
We didn’t have ceremony musicians but created a playlist of our favourite love songs, including Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and ‘Love and Marriage’ by Frank Sinatra. We walked down the aisle to ‘Coming Home’ by Leon Bridges, and walked back up to Ben’s favourite artist, Dean Martin’s ‘Volare’.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We didn’t have a traditional bridal party, and my only official bridesmaid was my cousin Lisa. As Lisa lives in South Africa and my older sister (who was involved in the ceremony) lives in Cyprus we weren’t able to go dress shopping, but luckily they both love green and ended up wearing beautiful green dresses. I gave them each greeny-blue vintage dressing gowns in the morning and they had gypsophila in their hair. I also gave my 6 best friends flowers to wear on their wrists, and asked them to play a part with a reading or speech.
THE FLOWERS | Initially we were going to try and do the flowers ourselves but after a visit to a wholesaler and consultation with a florist recommended by the venue, we decided to let to professionals do what they do best! Sophie from Earth Gallery works at Huntsham nearly every weekend and supplied all the jars and vases at no extra cost. We had posies of white flowers with lots of green foliage in jars that we hung on the benches outside and moved to the tables for the wedding breakfast. My bouquet had a a few extra deep red blooms in for contrast, which I reused as decor in the reception room after the ceremony.
THE CAKE | The cake was another thing I was determined to do ourselves, but neither of us are fans of icing and I soon realised a nearly-naked buttercream cake is not something that can be done in advance. We found Rachel from Sweet Satisfaction through our caterers, and she made the most the delicious sponge cake with four different flavoured tiers, including lemon gin and chocolate bourbon to fit in with the rest of the wedding. Sophie from Earth Gallery decorated it simply with some matching flowers.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | The photographer was probably the second most important decision for us in the planning process. Like our wedding, we didn’t want anything too traditional and were keen to have two photographers to shoot both Ben and I in the morning and to get all the details of the day. We loved Bears Collective’s natural style, the moments they captured and their beautiful work with lighting, and after a brief Skype call with them we knew we wanted to book them. Karolina and Michal were so easy to work with and it was so lovely having them with us the whole weekend. We sadly didn’t get the stunning golden hour shots I’d hoped for as it became overcast before sunset (ah, the British weather!) but there’s no reason not to have an anniversary shoot one day ;)
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We did all the decor ourselves, collecting empty gin and whisky bottles to use as the centrepieces, making and bottling mini bottles of sloe gin and whisky cocktails as favours, and handwriting quote signs, welcome signs, order of the day, table plans…and more! We also ordered lots of little bits online (gold bunting signs, striped straws, and champagne bubbles!) and if I’d thought about the fact that we would have to take it all down to our venue 3 hours away in Devon the day before the wedding, I might have made a different plan! But in the end it was definitely worth it. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed being creative and it really felt like the wedding was ‘us’.
THE HONEYMOON | The wedding took place on Saturday and that Monday we flew out to Las Vegas for four nights, going business class with our own beds thanks to a companion ticket and air miles (another reason it helps to be super organised)! We registered for gifts on the Wedding Shop, which allowed us to ask for honeymoon contributions as well as actual gifts. We listed activities we wanted to do on the registry for guests to contribute to, so as well as having our legal ceremony in Vegas we saw a Rat Pack show, had the best steak ever at Sammy Davis Junior’s favourite restaurant, and took an incredible helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon. From there we flew to Tulum in the Mexican gulf which was amazing, with white sand, warm ocean water, and AMAZING food.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The whole day was such a blur, but my favourite moments were meeting at the bottom of the stairs before the ceremony and our first dance. We danced to ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frank Valli, and halfway through split up to dance with our parents as everyone else joined us on the dancefloor. We also had LOTS of fun with sparklers in the evening. I was worried it would be a cliche but it really is an amazing experience running through a tunnel of all your friends cheering!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t be afraid to rope in family and friends to do things for you. We tried to do everything ourselves and it became a bit much, but we have such amazing people in our lives that they did EVERYTHING the morning of the wedding without us even asking. They hung festoon lights, laid tables, decorated rooms – I don’t know what we would have done without them!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographers | Bears Collective
Venue | Huntsham Court
Videographers | Mrs Mashup
Celebrant | Samantha Kelsie
Band | Redstone Collective
Hair and Makeup | Lips and Locks
Shoes | Charlotte Mills
Jewellery | Necklace by HedgehogProject
Hairpiece | Crystal Heirlooms
Caterers | Dartmoor Kitchen
Cheese | The Fine Cheese Company
Cake | Sweet Satisfaction
Cake topper | Jolie En Rose
Flowers | Earth Gallery
Popcorn machine | Pop Goes The Weasel
Photobooth | Beach Hut Booth
Just brilliant. Thank you so much Lara and Ben for sharing your beautiful day with us. Rachel x