A Country House Sun Shining Classic Wedding

Somerset Orchardleigh House Wedding http://www.annaclarkephotography.com/

Anna and James married in a church service and a reception followed at Orchardleigh House, Somerset. With a vision of a big country house wedding they had a relaxed and personal feel to their day.

Anna wore a gorgeous Ritva Westenius customised dress, with sparkly Jimmy Choo shoes and her hair in pretty plaits. James opted for a custom made three piece dark blue suit with Aldo shoes. The bridesmaids looked super stylish too in mismatched navy dresses with beautiful blooms.

There were sunshine, smiles and the most delicious looking wedding cake ever.

Thanks so much to Anna Clarke for sharing her lovely images today and to Simon Clarke for sharing his wonderful film with us.


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The Proposal… James proposed a couple of months after we’d returned from the trip of a lifetime travelling through South America for six months. Instead of choosing one of the monumentally beautiful spots by the edge of a Patagonian glacier, or in the Galapagos, he chose a canalside in Bradford upon Avon! It was a wonderful warm Autumn evening as the sun came down. I did wonder why we were taking SUCH a long walk before dinner – turns out he was trying to find a dry spot on the towpath to go down on one knee! I was so surprised, I forgot to reply. He looked a little worried and prompted me for an answer – but it was a definite yes!

The Vision for the Day… We got married at Orchardleigh House, which has so much character it didn’t need much dressing up. We wanted a big country house, but with a relaxed feel where everyone could stay over. Basically a big house party! We also made an effort to include as many personal touches as possible so it felt very much about us and our guests. James did (jokingly I hope!) suggest we had a Narnia theme where he could dress up as Mr Tumnus – that one quickly went onto the reject pile!

The Planning Process… At the beginning, we didn’t really know what we wanted so we spent a lot of weekends planned with military-style logistics visiting venues and narrowing down our requirements. We had to buy a car to enable us to get to all of them! Then it was spreadsheet and project plan central – coupled with lots of inspiration from wedding blogs. Generally quite stress free though as James and I generally agreed on what we wanted.

Budget… I think we spent about £30k in the end.

The Venue… We got married at All Saints Church, Lullington with the reception at Orchardleigh House near Frome in Somerset.

The Dress + Accessories… My dress was a customised version of Ritva Westenius’ Thea dress. I really wanted to wear lace, so Chenka at the Marble Arch shop suggested combining it with a beautiful lace bolero. It also meant to could take off the bolero in the evening and it became a completely different dress. It was totally not what I thought I would buy at the beginning – though I’d go for something slinky; in the end it was massive! But I loved it. Shoes were some very glittery Jimmy Choos and my “something borrowed” were some antique diamond and sapphire earrings from James’ granny.

Finding the Dress… Was harder than I thought! I had some terrible experiences at the start – being bulldog clipped into a dress 2 sizes too small was horrendous (why do they only stock size 10?!). I was also really indecisive. We originally found the Thea dress up in a shop in Birmingham. It was only when I tried it on with my bridesmaids in the Ritva Westenius London shop that I decided to combine it with another dress and then it became perfect for me!

Groom’s Attire… James wanted to take the opportunity to get a suit made, as he’d never had one that fit perfectly. King & Allen was recommended by a friend and they were great – he chose a three piece dark blue suit with a pocket square and some shoes from Aldo. He looked fantastic! And yes – he’s already got more wear out of it than I have out of the dress!

The Readings + Music… Our readings were by James’ Auntie Sa who read the famous passage from Corinthians. We looked for more original readings, but there’s a reason Corinthians is so popular! The words are lovely. The second reading is one of my favourite poems by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda – Sonnet XVII – which is just beautiful. We were quite traditional in our choice of music – Lord of all Hopefulness, Make me a channel of your peace and then Lord of the Dance to make everyone feel ready for the celebrations!

Beautiful Bridesmaids… were Sarah Whitton, who I met on my first day of uni, Sarah Halaka, who’s been one of my best friends since we met at our first job after uni, and Rachel Bowden who was my and James’ upstairs neighbour until recently. All of them looked fabulous – I didn’t want to force them all into the same dress, so they went for different styles all in midnight blue with hair / jewellery as they wanted. They looked fab.

The Flowers… were beautiful! It was hard to find a combination of flowers that worked for the midnight and ivory colour theme, but Grace at Bramble & Wild did an amazing job. My bouquet was white with hints of blue with campanula, anemones, delphinium and viburnum berries. The bridesmaids had bouquets all in white. The decorations were similar flowers, while the table centres were topiary trees of gypsophila which were stunning but not too overstated for the grand dining room.

The Cake… We love cake, so had a lot of it! We used a friend of a friend from work for the main cake – which was a delicious chocolate sponge with salted caramel icing topped with blueberries. It was one of the tallest cakes I’d ever seen! She also made us some red velvet cake pops and my friend Julie made us some stunning cupcakes. We also had a huge cake of cheese which went down a treat when we put it out later in the evening.

Your Photographer & Videographer… We used Anna Clarke and Simon Clarke, who were absolutely brilliant. We’d met them beforehand for our engagement shoot and knew they were fun and relaxed people. It was really important for us to have people  at our wedding who we liked and felt comfortable with! We also really liked Anna’s style of photography – which was definitely not cheesy, quite relaxed, but stunning. Si was our videographer – we decided last minute to get a video and were so pleased we did. It’s such a brilliant addition to the photos and really brings the day to life! So many wedding photographers and videographers were really cheesy – Anna and Simon really reflected the spirit of our day. Anna also put on the Bonkers Box – a dress box where she takes pics of our guests in silly outfits after dinner. It’s given us some of our favourite pics of the day!

The Details + Decor… We had lots of little touches to make it feel like our wedding. We included an envelope on each table which explained the reasoning behind the table name – which were all places important to us. Also in each envelope were retro postcards from that place and we encouraged everyone to write us a message from their table and then pin it to some picture frames in the venue. We got messages from nearly everyone – some a little more drunken than others! I also made my own order of the day / menu with some chalk paint on black board; and James’ mum renovated a vintage suitcase for our cards. We also created some Anna loves James temporary tattoos which our guests loved (until they struggled to get them off the next morning!)

The Honeymoon… We had a week long mini moon after the wedding to recover / digest the experience! We spent it around Somerset and the Cotswolds. It included a few days in Babington House which was ridiculously expensive, but worth every penny. We had our proper honeymoon a few months later, when we travelled to Borneo for two weeks. An amazing honeymoon destination – we chilled out on beautiful beaches, explored rainforest, did some diving and hung out with orang-utans! We wanted a mix of relaxation and activity so was the perfect mix for us.

Memorable Moments… The dress up box was brilliant – seeing my Great Auntie Dot dressed up as a bunny rabbit sticks in the mind! The whole day was a series of brilliant experiences – couldn’t have wished for better.

Advice for Other Couples… Don’t stress too much – it will never run perfectly, but it will still be one of the best days of your lives. And remember – it’s just a big party!

Credit Where Credit is Due…

Photography – Anna Clarke  – http://www.annaclarkephotography.com/

Videography – Simon Clarke – http://www.simonclarkefilms.com/weddings.php

Flowers – Bramble & Wild – http://www.brambleandwild.com/

Cake – April (Rhubarb & Rose) – http://www.rhubarbandrose.co.uk/

Dress – Ritva Westenius – http://www.ritvawestenius.com/

James’ suit – http://www.kingandallen.co.uk/

Venue – http://www.orchardleigh.net/

So beautiful and what a honeymoon! Thanks so much to Anna and James for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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