This wedding has a feel of a romantic fairytale.
Sean and Jo held their summer wedding celebrations at Jo’s beautiful family home. With a contemporary marquee in the gardens they created an English bloom filled space which was just magical. Peonies, Roses and a selection of gorgeous florals must have had a scent as beautiful as they looked. Dramatic lighting and fun cocktails transformed the marquee into a real party in the evening.
Jo looked so elegant in her lace Pronovias gown with her hair in a pretty half up half down style, while Sean opted for a custom made grey suit. Utterly lovely.
Thanks so very much to Sansom Photography for sharing such gorgeous photographs with us.
THE PROPOSAL | August bank holiday 2013. Having bought an old house the previous year, we were making our way through the never ending DIY job list (I say ‘we’, however I had been given more of a supervisor role, despite persistent attempts to whip out a paint brush). ‘We’ had just ripped up all the old floorboards and were halfway through relaying them that weekend. On Sunday, we spent an unglamorous day covered in dust, making runs to the rubbish dump and hammering the floorboards back down and I was looking forward to dusting ourselves down for dinner that evening to mark two years since we met. Sean got ready in a whirlwind and went downstairs, while I took my obligatory hour to preen and polish. As I descended the stairs, he shouted for help, claiming he had just put a nail through a water pipe. I found him in our upturned living room, kneeling in a staged water puddle, and demanding that I hold a spanner in his outstretched hand. After the spanner, came a hammer, followed by a screwdriver and a wrench. Finally a vintage black leather ring box appeared from under the floorboards and the rest, as they say, is history.
THE VISION | To create an unforgettably beautiful and happy day.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I LOVED planning our wedding. Every single step was an opportunity to have fun and design the most elaborate personal celebration we will ever experience. There was no stress, no drama, and no arguments. My mum is very creative and took on the role of chief wedding planner – we couldn’t have done it without her.
THE VENUE | The ceremony took place at my local church in Bunbury, Cheshire, a magnificent and vast 14th century building. I had attended the church as a child at school, so it suddenly felt very surreal to be all grown up and walking down the 100 ft. aisle. We chose to have the reception was back at my family home. My parents bought a beautiful dilapidated gothic cottage at auction 15 years ago and my brother and I grew up helping them put it back together again. It’s a special place so there was no other spot in the world that could rival it for me. Plus, we didn’t want the party to end. The invitations stated carriages at sunrise.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress: Pronovias, Shoes: Miu Miu (something new), Lingerie: Rigby and Peller (something blue), Earrings: 1920s from John Joseph (something old). Bracelet: My mother’s (something borrowed). Garter: Stella McCartney. And my engagement ring of course.
FINDING THE DRESS | I headed straight to Pronovias. It’s impossible not to fall love with something in their vast collection and the service is as seamless as the dresses.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Made to Measure three-piece suit from Thom Sweeney. Shoes: Edward Green. Watch: Jaegar-LeCoultre.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We chose our brothers and Sean’s mum to read: Union by Robert Fulgham, Gravity by Albert Einstein, Song of Soloman 2.1. I teared up in every reading.
My old school choir (Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir, Chester) agreed to sing for us on the day. Led by the Director of Music, Mr Stewart Smith, they are world class. Having not seen him or the choir since I left school 13 years ago, I ended up overcome by nostalgia and cried my way through the opening hymn. The sound in the church was thunderous. I walked up the aisle to Gloria by Vivaldi and exited to the Hallelujah Chorus. For hymns we chose How Great Thou Art and I Vow to Thee My Country. Sean and his family are Irish so the choir sang a beautiful Irish Blessing by Phillip Stopford between readings; even a few rugby lads struggled to remain dry-eyed.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My three beautiful partners in crime and my stunning sister-in-law. They wore J Crew gowns in Seashell.
THE FLOWERS | Designing the floral installations was by far my favourite part of the planning process. The vision? Flowers so beautiful and feminine, they looked as though they had tumbled off the pages of a Tim Walker editorial. In keeping with the reception setting we went for English garden blooms and herbs; sweet scented roses in pink and apricot, tissue paper peonies, Lilly of the Valley, hydrangeas, amaranthus, aromatic rosemary and mint. I will never forget the heady smell of summer as you walked into the marquee. We kept the table centres loose and romantic and low enough for guests to look across tables; nothing frustrates me more at a wedding when a dreaded candelabra closes off your conversation with those opposite. Tentrils of rosemary and mint trailed in between the glassware and place settings. Three apple trees had to be incorporated into the marquee, which became centre pieces. Our incredibly talented florist, Sarah Ewer, hung roses and tea lights all over them and one tree wore a floral garland which swagged through its branches. Stone lions sported hydrangea wreaths around their necks, a canopy of flowers poured off the front porch and rose hearts hung off the doors… it was fairytale. The top table was positioned in front of a crumbly old garden wall, partly obscured by rose bushes, delphiniums and hollyhocks. It was a backdrop dreams are made of.
The bridesmaids carried pink peonies and my bouquet was made up of Lilly of The Valley, peonies and roses from the garden. It was too special to throw, so instead I elected the most worthy and deserving single woman on the guest list – my grandmother.
THE CAKE | I decided to go for a ‘simple’ Victoria sponge cake; a traditional English summertime dessert seemed to suit the mood of the day. However, when it caught my eye from the top table I nearly toppled off my chair. There was nothing simple about it. Dougherty and Allen our caterers had taken the time-honoured recipe and elevated it into a 20 tiered masterpiece, cascading with summer berries and flowers. The layers were filled with rose water infused butter cream and champagne strawberry jam. Total perfection.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Chris and Verity of Sansom Photographers, were a super talented and considerate duo. They captured unforgettably special memories without intrusion. On your wedding day there are always a handful of stand out moments so extraordinary you wish you could bottle them and relive them later. Being able to look at those moments in pictures is a priceless gift.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We wanted to create a clear contrast between day and night, so we split the marquee in two. On one side was a very elegant dining tent with dimly lit antique chandeliers suspended low over the tables. The flowers were the focus, so tables were dressed with white linen, dove grey napkins and plain crystal glassware, while discreet ghost chairs created a feeling of space. Tables were named after our favourite cocktails, hinting towards what the guests would be drinking later. I scrapped wedding favours for the boys, and put the budget towards the girls. They each took home an Essie nail polish in a bridal shade; Who’s the Boss, No Prenup, True Love and Blushing Bride.
In contrast, we wanted the other side of the marquee to rival the opening night of Pasha. An electric blue cocktail bar illuminated the blacked out tent and giant paper moons floated over the black and white striped dance floor.
At 10pm a whiskey and cigar lounge opened up for any boys in need of a gentleman’s ‘pardon me’. Some of them never found their way out again.
The DJ played until 5am. Sean and I were the last ones to leave.
THE HONEYMOON | A three week adventure travelling through South East Asia.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Having tea and toast with mum and dad in front of a fire pit at 6am while the sun came up and birds started chirping. We just didn’t want it to end.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t stress about anything. Just enjoy every second of the journey… it’s all over too soon. Also (and it sounds trivial) but do not run out of ice under any circumstances. Nothing dampens a party spirit like a luke warm cocktail. We bought 30 spare bags just to be sure.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Marquee and Event Planning | Tent and Garden
Catering | Dougherty and Allen
Flowers | Sarah Ewer (no website)
Lighting | Lightech
Photographers | Sansom Photography
Videographer | B2BProductions
Stationery | Emily and Jo
Sounds like a very special day indeed. Not to mention I am pretty jealous of the girls who were gifted Essie nail polish, fabulous.
Thank you so much Sean and Jo for sharing your delightful wedding story xo Lou