I really do pinch myself sometimes that I get to read such beautiful wedding stories and view the most sublime photography. Today is definitely one of those days.
Lucy and George chose to tie the knot on the 4th June 2016 in a church ceremony followed by a marquee reception in the stunning Suffolk countryside. They chose June for the stunning seasonal flowers available and the lush landscape, plus they envisioned an outdoor affair. The weather certainly was kind and the sun shone down on the meadow, just perfect for their dreamy portraits.
Being designers they both have a super creative and stylish eye and much of their day was hand crafted. Loved ones helped with the music, cake and little touches all round. Lucy designed the impeccable stationery and a subtle Oak theme emerged, with sweet Oak tree seedling favours. Lucy wore Polly by Shanna Melville in which she looked utterly radiant, George meanwhile donned head to toe Prada. So stylish. Be prepared to be transported back to the summer in an instant.
Many thanks goes to Jess Soper for providing these sensational images.
THE PROPOSAL | In Matera, Southern Italy, George got down on one knee whilst we were taking in the view of the breathtakingly beautiful Sassi. I thought he was joking . . .
We then wandered the gorge of caves in an excited daze and got drunk on prosecco!
THE VISION | We are both Designers by profession, so both have clear ideas about aesthetics. An outdoor wedding was what we wanted, but we also had to be wary of the unpredictable weather and likelihood of rain! We wanted a traditional church wedding with a beautiful English landscape setting and low key, well considered, subtle detail. The flowers and ‘greenery’ were important to us – which is why we chose to get married in early summer, when the landscape is in its first flush and everything is vibrant and lush. Early June is also a good time for flowers, which was important to us. We wanted to ensure the whole day came together and flowed, so we needed a venue which would be close to the Church. In the end we were able to have our guests walk down a pretty country lane, between the church and the venue, which we marked with chalkboard arrows to show the way.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I was uncharacteristically and ruthlessly efficient!! I had spreadsheets for everything and George didn’t dare deviate from protocol. Enter bridezilla…
I’m joking (hopefully I wasn’t that bad!) – I did have spreadsheets though. I have no idea how people planned weddings before excel. We cast the net wide and got ideas from everywhere we could – professionally we both need to think creatively; come up with ideas and then work out how to set them into action, so it wasn’t too tough for us.
Our major hurdle was limiting numbers enough to fit everyone in our tiny church. It was so difficult; we just wanted everyone we loved to be there to celebrate with us.
Our suppliers were excellent help with the planning – we were lucky to find such brilliant caterers especially, William and Sarah of ‘Handmade in Hundon’ were just so great. I really think if you have faith in all your suppliers and contributors all you should really have to do is sit back and let them do their job(s). Obviously, that is in principle, and when your budget is limited inevitably you are the ‘supplier/contributor’ for plenty of things!!
THE VENUE | A marquee in our friend’s field in Suffolk, the field had been split into 4 with native hedgerows and a small copse of sweet chestnut trees in the centre by Lindsey and Steven, about 20 years ago. Our idea was to have a marquee in the furthermost top corner of the field so our guests could journey up through the wildflower meadow , through the copse, and, at the top of the hill have a view out across the valley. The result of our plans and the incredible effort and hard work put in by the lovely Steven and Lindsey was quite stunning. Even the bulbs we planted flowered on time.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was made by Shanna Melville, it was called ‘Polly’, it was made from beautiful silk crepe and an unusual French lace. I also had a full length cathedral veil and vintage cream suede and gold medium height sandals. I made my flower crown after some advice from the lady we bought our flowers from (Triangle Nursery in Martlesham) who was very sweet and encouraging of my learn-to-be-a-florist-in-a-day attitude.
FINDING THE DRESS | I found it quite disheartening being told by the more well-known designers that they had a 6 month waiting list or that I would be charged £60+ just to view dresses! Where is the joy?! So a rocky start. I spent some time looking on ‘Still White’ but had quite a clear idea of what I wanted and all I could find were strapless frothy lacy numbers. A friend had spotted Shanna Melville’s shop in Wimbledon village and thought it looked ‘me’ so suggested it. I went along with my Mum and Sister and was so pleased to find a beautiful shop with even more beautiful dresses, all hand made to order by Shanna and her small team, on the premises. I tried on several and was torn between 3, but I think Shanna could tell which one I was in love with and as we left on that first day she wrote down the names of all 3, plus a small sketch of ‘the’ dress.
She was wonderful throughout the process, so chilled out, kind and helpful, and super talented; what an amazing skill, I found her very inspiring.
Totally loved my dress – it was so comfortable and easy to wear, very grateful to Shanna and her team.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | George wore a dark blue suit with black belt and black Oxford shoes, all from Prada. We struggled a little with the tie colour. We didn’t want anything too matchy matchy, too flashy, too shiny, too officy, too quirky, too textured, too weddingy, too stiff . . . enter groomzilla. Finally I just ordered some champagne coloured ties from Hawkes and Greives and they were great. George had some silk handkerchiefs monogrammed for all his ushers, as a thank you present.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We both have very creative families, so that was reflected in the ceremony. My late grandfather wrote several beautiful poems, one of which was read by my godmother, his middle daughter – Jenny. George’s Mum and Dad, Jane and John, are both professional musicians so helped us choose the music and also played me down the aisle on the violin and cello, accompanied by Anthony, Jane’s brother, George’s Uncle, on the Organ. John played prelude No 1 of the Bach Cello suites in the place of a reading, which was so emotional and flawless. Megan, George’s sister read a brilliant and beautiful poem, by Pablo Neruda, which she chose for us. And my close friend Josh read from Song of Solomon, and gave me a little wink on his way to the lectern, which was so reassuring and made me beam.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Amy, my sister was our maid of honour, naturally. She is my hero – I have always looked up to her and she and I have always and will always be inseparable, fiercely loyal to each other and unafraid to tell each other when one of us is being a dick (usually me). Becky who is my oldest friend, I love her to bits and she knows way too much. Ruth who I met at art school and shares my passion for passion: we can ‘debate’ something we’re in agreement on for hours. She’s so much fun and brilliantly loyal. Lucy who I met at university, we will be dancing around one of our lounges drunk on cheap white and each other’s company for many many years to come.
They are my A team. I absolutely love them.
They wore pale pink chiffon dresses gold and neutral suede ‘vintage’ sandals which were the same as mine. They also wore oak leaf motif gold necklaces which I designed and had made by a close friend of George’s, Ed, who is a jewellery designer and was such a help! He also made our wedding bands and helped George with my wedding present – diamond earrings! Lucky wifey! I gave the girls the necklaces as thank you presents the morning of the wedding.
THE FLOWERS | I had so much fun with the flowers. Professionally I design planting palettes, so again I had quite a good starting point. I decided to buy wholesale from Traingle Nursery in Martlesham, who ship them direct from Holland. I came up with a palette of pale pinks creams and quite strong apricot/orange accents, I was also keen to have some sort of berry and plenty of green.
We ordered spray roses, garden roses, peonies, wax flower, freesia, veronica, trachelium and a few others, which came to more than I was expecting. The nursery were totally amazing and when we collected them they allowed us to swap in for other stock they had in to tweak the combination a little. We ended up with some amazing green stems which were very delicate and looked so pretty.
My genius mother was our florist. She put together the most beautiful bouquets, corsages and button holes with assistance from Maggie O, Becky’s Mum and one of Mum’s best friends.
For the other decorations in the church and the venue we had a flower army! Volvos filled with flowers and greenery from all over Suffolk came to the church and venues, and my amazing family led by my Godmother Aunty Sally got to work making everything beautiful. It was so special to have everyone involved, and so much fun. My Uncle John, Mum’s twin brother, was spectacularly shoddy at the flower arranging, which led to much hilarity, and some re-arranging of flowers!
THE CAKE | Our cake was by the amazing, talented, eternal star baker in our eyes: Ashleigh Brown. She is a truly brilliant baker. Not only was it perfect and beautifully adorned with flowers; each layer was totally delicious – light zingy lemon sponge on top, gooey rich ginger in the middle and fruity moist spiced carrot on the bottom. All were so delicious.
When George and I announced our engagement it was one of the first things she said to me, which made my face hurt smiling. She is a very dear friend, and very generously gave us our cake as a wedding present.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was the very talented Jess Soper. What is so brilliant about Jess is that she clearly genuinely loves it – you can see her thinking as she works, coming up with new ideas, pushing artistic boundaries, searching for ‘the’ shot. That is not to say she isn’t focused on the subject, she really invested emotionally in our wedding, which we are so thankful for. I think people relax with her because she is lovely too, which makes for cracking photos. She completely and immediately understood our vision, and was able to capture the day in a wonderful narrative of photos, which will be treasured.
Jess is also very discreet, she always pops up in the right place at the right time to get great photos but you really don’t feel like you’ve got a camera in your face all day. She was the best, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We designed our stationery. I drew a motif of native plants found in the meadow in early June – the main leaf that featured was oak leaves, which we made a sort of theme. We had the design de embossed by Knapp Studios, who did a brilliant job and were great at providing paper samples and advice on colour of text. Selecting the fonts was probably the most difficult part. We had two rubber stamps made up, which I also designed in a similar motif to our invitations. One said ‘Lucy and George’ and the date and the other had just the date. We used these with gold ink for our place names and order of services, which we printed ourselves and bound by hand. We had several décor extras, as we had a fairly blank canvas of our traditional canvas marquee. We borrowed birch trees, from the very generous Sturmer Nurseries, which we clustered around each of the main poles. We were also lent very smart presentation easels by one of George’s colleagues which we supported the menu, seating plan and drinks menu on – all written in my hand in chalk pen on blackboards. I illustrated them with little oak leaf motifs. All the signage around the venue was also hand written in chalk on black boards with the oak leaf illustrations.
We spray painted glass jars with gold paint for the flowers to go in, and made hessian runners for the tables. We had pillar candles of varying sizes placed on little wooden coasters. We made the coasters by collecting straight-ish branches and taking them to our local timber yard who cut them into 1cm slices. We then had to dry them out.
We kept an eye out for pretty pots and had several galvanised steel tubs with flowers in and lots of vintage terracotta pots too. We bought all our plants from Ladybird Nursery in Snape, who have very high quality annuals and perennials for reasonable prices.
For our favours we collected acorns in the autumn before the wedding and grew them into baby oak trees in our house, we then planted them into tiny vintage terracotta thumb pots for each person.
We tied gold and cream balloons all the way around the edge of the dance floor at varying heights, and bought a cheap little disco ball light thing from ‘The Range’ which was brilliant for the dancing.
Outside the marquee we lit woodland walkways, the meadow pathways and the little copse with tea lights in jam jars, hung from trees or placed on the floor. Two of my cousins kindly went around lighting them all for us at the right time. We also had Swedish fire logs in clusters of threes with seating around them, which were amazing.
Also a good tip for outdoor weddings – provide a little bathroom kit including plasters (for blisters), insect repellent, and antihistamines for hay fever sufferers – it was a sunny day on our wedding day and all of the antihistamine we provided were used!
THE HONEYMOON | Sicily! It was bliss.
It was our honeymoon… Some things should not be blogged about.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The speeches! Were so brilliant, my little brother Pete did one as well and the usual line up and each one was so characteristic of each speaker.
The surprise carriage: I literally had no idea about this – George and his Mum organised for two stunning horses to pull George and I to our reception. I have a horsey past and a lot of love for all things equine. It totally threw me and I immediately turned into a sobbing wreck. Really amazing and thoughtful.
The scrum on the dancefloor! There was loads of boogying thanks to our AMAZING band The Dukes of York/ The Kings Parade but also a rugby scrum with George’s dad in the middle with a tie round his head. Speaking of the dance floor THE DANCE OFF! Serious moves were laid down: competition was fierce.
George’s attempts at fronting the band: a lot of cord flicking and bravado until finally Sam (George’s brother) stepped in and helped with the lyrics. It’s fair to say the Cullis musical talents are less impressive after a few drinks . . .
The cake cutting: We overlooked providing a knife for the cake cutting so my friend Ginny grabbed the lime knife from the bar! Everyone was quite drunk and the party was in full swing by this point – hilarious.
So much fun and hilarity on the day. Too much to list.
One really special and memorable thing was the amount people did for us to make it such a great day – so many friends and family contributed and did special little things for us. My amazing creative sister made these beautiful little guest books for each table and her husband Rog went round taking polariods to stick in them, it was such a great touch.
My brother Pete and his girlfriend Lucy were ridiculously efficient and amazing at helping in the run up, we just gave them lists and the nailed the lot and came back for more. My Mum as well was just a star throughout, all the support in the run up and on the day. It couldn’t have been done without any of them.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Get everyone involved! Our wedding was so special because everyone contributed, helped and got involved, it made it so much more fun.
Don’t listen to people who try to stop you drinking on the day! I needed the morning champagne to steady the nerves! Probably advisable to keep it under control though… keep it classy!
Invite who you want there. Don’t be distracted by politics, I know everyone says this but it is your day – no one else’s.
Save the notes from the speeches. That was advice from my sister – it’s so nice to have a read through.
Have as many hen dos as you can get away with… I went for 3; Hag, Uncensored hen, and Chilled hen. I’m thinking of having a Henunion.
Do not try to control anything on the day; let the ushers sort anything out – you’ve done your work, now enjoy!
Best tip yet: do not assume your groom will retain the knowledge of the location of the room keys to the honeymoon suite by the end of the party. Ahem.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Jess Soper
Make up | Rebecca Birch
Cake | Ashleigh Brown
Dress | Shanna Melville
Catering | Handmade in Hundon
Band | The Dukes of York (The Kings Parade)
Marquee | County Marquees
Bar | Frank’s Bar
Florist | Pemberley Florist Co.
Invitation Embossing | Knapp Studio (Julia Gatley)
I think that may just be the perfect summers wedding.
Lucy and George, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wonderful story here today xo Lou