WWW readers James and Alex tied the knot on Saturday 26th August and what a magical and fun filled day it was. They held both their ceremony and reception at Alveston Pastures Farm and instead of having evening guests, continued the celebrations the following day with an extended guest list.
The ceremony took place outside in the glorious sunshine and the fun continued late into the night, all beautifully captured by Will Patrick, thank you so much for sharing with us Will.
Our pair really wanted the the day to be relaxed and fun for their guests, who certainly weren’t short of activities with table games, a silent disco and even a maze to entertain them! The colour palette was informed by the glorious pink floral bridesmaids dresses without being too matchy matchy, look out for a few fairytale touches too. They really wanted the wedding to be completely personal to them and I think you’ll agree that their day has personality in spades.
I absolutely LOVE the idea of appointing a ‘Drinks Director’ for each table to make sure everyone is always topped up – the floral badges for these important guests are just beautiful too. Make sure you take in all the stunning details, you’re in for a treat WWWers!
THE PROPOSAL | James proposed on Sunday 29th January 2015 at the top of a hill in the country park, Burton Dassett, which is on the edge of the Cotswolds. From the beacon where he proposed you could see Worcester, where I grew up, Solihull, where James grew up, and where we live now in Warwick. Prior to the walk at Burton Dassett James planned a weekend filled with great food, a meal at our favourite restaurant and a lazy Sunday morning breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (food plays a big part in our relationship!). Before he actually proposed James (always the joker), said ‘I’ve got a present for you’ and picked a blue plastic ring out of his pocket (which he’d got in a cracker at Christmas!). My heart was beating so fast as I thought he was going to propose…which after about 30 seconds of me looking confused and disappointed he did! He swiftly discarded the joke ring, got down on one knee, opened up a ring box with a beautiful diamond ring and asked me to marry him.
THE VISION | I work in events and marketing so really wanted to have control of the whole process (much to the delight of James…!). We have a big group of friends and both love food and sport so the social side of the wedding was a huge part of our vision. We didn’t want anyone going hungry (or thirsty!) and most importantly we wanted the day to be fun for everyone – a wedding that everyone would remember with a big smile.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I absolutely LOVED planning the wedding. So much so I’ve set up my own wedding planning business, Hargreaves Ever After, since our wedding to help other brides create their dream wedding. I love being organised so we had a huge amount of spreadsheets, lists and even a scaled down plan of the venue pinpointed exactly where everything needed to go! My Mum was an amazing help as she has worked at lots of weddings with her catering company so knows the drill on what works and what doesn’t.
BUDGET | We didn’t want to go overboard with budget but did want a big wedding. We had 150 guests on the Saturday and an extra 60 on the Sunday as part of our ‘day time evening do’. We were very lucky that family supported us and offered to pay for certain aspects and we have very talented people in our lives – it was a definite DIY wedding. My Mum did the catering, which saved us a small fortune. We bought all the alcohol ourselves (with help from family who were passionate about booze!) which meant we could have a free bar (with no corkage). My Granny and one of my bridesmaids did our flowers. I also made as much as I could from all of our wedding stationery, to the table plan (made out of two old bike tyres). We also borrowed as much as we could from friends and even managed to find a huge gold mirror in a skip to use as our bar menu! It’s difficult to say exactly what we spent as so much was goodwill/time/presents from family. Things we did decide to spend more money on though were my dress, music and the photographer as these were really important aspects for us.
THE VENUE | We wanted complete control of the planning of our day so needed a venue which would be a blank canvas and didn’t stipulate what we could and couldn’t do. After searching and searching we only found two venues (in the whole of the Midlands) that would let us have our own caterer and wouldn’t charge corkage. Out of the two there was a clear winner – Alveston Pastures Farm. Not only was Marion, the owner, fantastic, it was a stunning venue complete with a barn, beautiful gardens, space for a marquee and its own maze! Finding the perfect venue was the key for us to be able to fulfil our wedding vision and we couldn’t have been happier with Alveston Pastures.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I can’t remember the designer but the dress was from The White Boutique in Royal Leamington Spa.
Hair clip from Debenhams
Shoes (which were sooo comfortable!) from ASOS
Something borrowed: a gold bracelet from my Granny
Something new: My dress!
Something blue: Blue Disney shoe transfer with Happy Ever After on one shoe, and Beauty and the Beast on the other.
Something old: My Great Grandmother’s engagement ring which she was given in 1890.
FINDING THE DRESS | The White Boutique in Leamington were amazing, I went a few times to try on the dress I thought was ‘the one’ but ended up with something completely different! The dress I ended up with was a last minute try. As I was walking out of the shop after still not being sure of the other dress, Katie (who was brilliant) said…how about the one in the window? I reckon it ticks a lot of the boxes…and she was right! I tried it on and immediately felt wonderful and ready to walk down the aisle.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | James loves to look smart and had an idea in his head of what he wanted so when I finally managed to drag him to start looking at suits I thought we were going to be in for a really tough day…and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first shop we went to was the one we ended up getting everything from! Moss Bros in Leamington were amazing. We used their ‘tailor me’ service to make the suit he liked personal to him. He got to choose the lining of the suit and waistcoat, the button colour, the shape of the fit and even had our names and wedding date embroidered on the inside of his jacket. He went for a mid-blue suit, grey waistcoat with pink lining, and a pink tie and looked very handsome. We ended up hiring the groomsmen’s suits from Moss as well as the boys could go into any store and try them on which was very handy logistically. Even my Dad got his suit from there!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had the formal part of the marriage at a registry office the Wednesday before our big day with just our immediate family present which meant we had free rein on the ceremony and really went to town on the format with the help of our fantastic celebrant Jessica May. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, played on a piano by the amazing Calvin Santana.
When we were looking at readings we didn’t feel connected to anything we could find online and really struggled to work out what to do. It was James who came up with a solution, based on my love of Disney and writing stories…he suggested I write the story of how we got together in a fairy-tale format (but with a comedic twist!). I had a go and came up with ‘Beauty and the Bearded Prince’, complete with cartoon versions of the bridesmaids and groomsmen (and women). We chose to sing The Monkees ‘I’m a Believer’ to complement the fairy-tale story – this was one of my favourite moments of the day as the whole congregation sang their hearts out under the sun. After we finished our vows (which we wrote together and unexpectedly got lots of laughs from!) we walked back down the aisle, whilst being pelted by confetti, to ‘You and I’ by Crystal Fighters, a song we both love.
Calvin continued playing throughout the drinks reception and also played some specific music at specific times…
He played ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast, as guests made their way from the garden into the marquee for the wedding breakfast – which led to people dancing and singing their way to their seats! He also played an incredible version of ‘Mr Bluesky’ (a big Birmingham City song!) as James and I walked into the marquee.
Later in the evening Carl Sinclair and his band arrived and took over the barn from 8pm-midnight. We had seen Carl perform in a bar in Leamington and he was incredible. Our first dance was ‘I Always Knew’ by the Vaccines, which swiftly moved into some absolute classics! The band were so good and had everyone dancing.
We had the venue until 2am so decided to put on a ‘surprise’ for guests after the band had finished…a silent disco! This was James’ idea and went down brilliantly.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had six beautiful bridesmaids. My sister, Georgi, James’ sister Kellie, my two best friends from school, Alice and Holly and two best friends from University, Claire and Jo. They were brilliant from the moment I asked them to the end of the wedding weekend (helping clear up and take everything to the tip!). They also organised the most incredible hen do in Exeter which was even better than I could have ever imagined and left me in tears of happiness!
The girls tried a few different dresses, but we quickly realised the nude colour dresses I had in mind weren’t going to work and we needed something more vibrant. I found the ones we went for on Black Friday from AX Paris with 40% off! I couldn’t believe it and when the girls tried them on I knew we’d hit the jackpot. With a little bit of magic from my talented Mum on the sewing machine we had six dresses that fitted perfectly and were ready to go.
THE FLOWERS | My very talented granny created our table flowers and bouquets which were a mixture of carnations, roses and lilies and perfectly matched the bridesmaid’s dresses. We also had lots of jars of gypsophila dotted around the venue, as well as lining the aisle hanging off shepherd’s crooks, which one of my bridesmaids put together for me. I ordered the gyp from Morrisons and picked it up the day before the wedding.
THE CAKE | We had three different cakes which replicated the style of cake from our favourite coffee shop in Leamington, Coffee Architects. My amazing Mum made all three – we had a naked Victoria sponge cake covered in fruit, a lemon and blueberry cake and a chocolate cake topped with two boxes of chocolate! They looked incredible and tasted even better.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was the amazing Will Patrick. Will and I know each other from University and I had seen some of his amazing work before, so when he messaged me to say he was now a full time wedding photographer he was our obvious choice. The main thing we wanted was to capture the whole feel and essence of our big day and Will did not disappoint, providing us with the most incredible photographic story of the best day of our lives. We also had an engagement shoot with Will which was great fun and meant we were completely comfortable in front of the camera on the day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We wanted a bright, vibrant wedding and ended up matching the flowers, table décor and anything else we could find to the bridesmaid’s dresses and shoes (pinks, reds and gold!). We weren’t overly fussed if things didn’t match so there was a bit of a mismatch of decorations but it worked out well as we didn’t want everything to be too formal. The big thing for us was lighting – we had hundreds of battery powered tea lights, lanterns and fairy lights draped in trees and in every space possible to keep the magical feel of the day going into the evening.
Our friends and family are incredibly important to us so to celebrate them all we hung photos around the whole venue from when we were born to the moments before the wedding – featuring every guest (more than 300 photos in total)! There were also frames with our favourite book quotes dotted around the venue, each table was named after a place we’d been on holiday with a photo of us on the holiday, I’d made all the place names by hand, each guest had the brides/or grooms favourite sweets as a little gift, all guests that came on the hen had a little handmade thank you card, we had photos of our families on their wedding days pride of place on the gift table, a wedding message book and huge canvas of our engagement pics to sign around the frame as well as advice cards, a games arena, a table football table (my wedding present from James) blankets for guests, a photo booth, photo challenges and a speech stake…I don’t think the guests ever got bored!
THE HONEYMOON | We thought we’d make the most of the opportunity and had both a mini-moon and, what our friends referred to as, a ‘monster-moon’! We went to Italy two days after the wedding to one of our favourite places in the world, Villa La Palagina in Tuscany. We’d had one of our favourite holidays there and couldn’t think of anywhere else we’d rather go to relax in the days after our wedding.
The ‘monster-moon’ was a big trip to Australia and New Zealand at Christmas. The plan started off with just going to see the Ashes (we are both big cricket fans) and turned into a month long trip up the East coast of Australia and then onto New Zealand to stay with family and explore the South Island. It was an unforgettable trip, full of adventure and the most wonderful memories.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There were so many – the ceremony, the speeches, a boat race between the hens and stags, people getting lost in the maze…but our top few moments are probably:
Hey Jude – the band played Hey Jude as one of their last songs, James and I stood at the front with everyone surrounding us singing their hearts out – I have never felt so happy – the song ended with me in tears feeling completely overwhelmed!
Worm Off – half way through the evening three of my friends decided to have a ‘worm-off’ – bring on lots of cheering and crowd participation as the girls threw off their heels and performed their best worm for the audience (and photographer!)
Netball bibs and line up – part of the photo challenge given out to guests included the two netball tables at the wedding having to get a picture with all players in netball bibs lined up for a team photo…they managed this and even got my uncles involved…the photo made it into the Netball UK magazine!
Silent Disco – The best man put together three different playlists for the silent disco – I have never laughed so much after taking off my headphones and listening to a whole room of people singing their hearts out to 3 different songs with no backing music…priceless!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t get caught up with everything needing to be ‘perfect’ – I started to and found myself getting completely overwhelmed, instead I tried to enjoy the whole process by making it all about us. With the time and love you put into the planning it will all work out perfectly for you as a couple – which might not look exactly like it does on Pinterest/in magazines but will be unique to your wedding and perfect for you.
Talk to each other and share your ideas and vision for the day early on so you don’t start planning only to find out your other half hates the idea!
My husband was actually the person who helped me most with any stressful times by reminding me that the reason we were getting married wasn’t about the wedding day but was because we loved each other and wanted to be married – he kept telling me how excited he was about what was to come after the wedding which helped put things in perspective. We ended up referring to the wedding as a big party which helped lower the stress levels!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Will Patrick
Ceremony and reception venue | Alveston Pastures Farm
Caterer | Jo and Co
Wedding dress shop | White Boutique, Leamington
Suit supplier | Moss Bros
Wedding planner/tasker – pre-wedding | Hargreaves Ever After Weddings
Wedding planner/tasker – on the day support | The Capston Second
Marquee | Be Upstanding Marquees
Wedding Celebrant | Jessica May
Stationery | Hargreaves Ever After Weddings
Wow! What a a gorgeous fun-filled day you had. It’s been such a pleasure to share your day Alex and James! Rachel x