A very warm welcome to WWW followers Ben and Abi today as they share with us their gorgeous wedding at Butley Priory in Suffolk on the 27th July 2019. They described their wedding to me as “romantic, woodland/foresty, intimate, colourful” which I think really sums up their celebrations perfectly. They had a really rich, vibrant colour scheme with opulent reds, purples and pinks all used throughout, especially in the super dreamy blooms. I can see why the flowers were Abi’s favourite element of their day.
There was also some serious style courtesy of their outfits, Ben had his blue check suit custom made and Abi wore the Willowby by Watters Galatea gown, they both looked amazing! Also keep an eye out for the extremely delicious looking semi naked cake, the flavours sound awesome too.
I have to say I really loved their song choices and I searched out their special tracks on Spotify, they really are the epitome of romance and emotion, so touching. Huge thanks goes to Sally Rawlins Photography for sharing with us these spectacular shots. Oh my.
We got engaged on February 18th 2017 in Florence during a long weekend exploring Italy. We’d spent the day wandering around the museums and climbed the Duomo before heading out for a walk along the Ponte Vecchio and stopping in Piazzale Michaelangelo at sunset before dinner.
This stunning square is popular because it has panoramic views of Florence and it’s here that Ben got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I couldn’t say yes quick enough – we were both laughing and crying, and so excited to celebrate!
We knew we wanted to incorporate our love for Italy throughout our wedding. Initially we’d considered getting married in Tuscany but it was too complicated and meant some family wouldn’t have been able to come, so we kept looking at places in the UK – and then we found Butley Priory! Our Limoncello favours and Italian wine selection were a nod to our love for Italy and were just enough to compliment the Tuscan-villa feel that Butley Priory has.
The Planning Process
Once we’d booked Butley Priory in the October, we secured our main suppliers as we knew they’d start getting busy, but we didn’t start planning again until the New Year.
We both felt pretty relaxed about the planning process and wanted the same things so it wasn’t as stressful as we thought it might be – I think we just felt the pressure the closer it got to the day with all the last minute bits to sort (I never want to make a table plan again!).
We’re both really proud of the fact we stuck to our budget which came to around £23,000 in the end. We didn’t want lots of extras like photobooths, ice cream vans etc, so I think this helped to keep the cost down too.
We both had ‘one thing each’ that we wanted to ensure we spent money on – for me it was the flowers and for Ben it was the food. We then both agreed that it was essential to have an incredible photographer to capture our day!
My sister-in-law offered to do my bridal party hair and I’m so glad she did – there’s no one else who does my hair quite like Sophie does! She knows exactly how I like to have it cut and styled, she did such an amazing job and all of my bridesmaids looked so beautiful.
I booked a makeup artist from Beauty Call and had a trial with my sister (MOH) a few months before the wedding. On the day, Sarah came early and set up ready to do makeup for all of my bridesmaids, my mum and for me. She was great fun and kept me feeling calm all morning – I can’t thank her enough for how wonderful she made me feel!
I’d stumbled across Butley Priory by chance (a last attempt to find something intimate and quirky in the UK led me to search on Airbnb) and as soon as we saw it we fell in love with the Italian villa-style ceilings and intricate details – it honestly felt like we’d stepped into a Tuscan villa when we first went to see it (even though it’s an Augustinian Priory founded in 1171 with no Italian heritage at all!).
We wanted an intimate wedding with our closest friends and family, and for me, the flowers were the most important part to tie in with our woodland/forest-y feel! There wasn’t much we wanted to do to decorate Butley because it is just such a beautiful place, it dresses itself!
The Readings & Music
Both of our mum’s chose and gave a reading, Ben’s mum read ‘The Monkey and The Giraffe’ and mine read ‘The One.’ They were such lovely words and it was really special having our mum’s share such sentimental poems in front of our friends and family.
Ben and I wanted to include a variety of our favourite songs throughout the wedding. We’d picked our first song over a year before we got married – it was a song called ‘Lover Come Back To Me’ by City & Colour, and we had a mix of Ben Howard, Jessie Ware and Hozier throughout the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to a cover version of ‘May I Have This Dance’ by Meadowlark, and it still makes me teary eyed listening to it now.
In the evening we had such a brilliant DJ (The Wedding DJ) who came armed with the most fantastic confetti cannons – we kept these as a surprise so it was great to see everyone’s reaction when they went off during our first dance, there was white confetti falling everywhere!
The music really helps to make the day special – even now I’ll be walking to work and a song from our ceremony will come on, it will instantly take me back to our wedding day!
The flowers were probably my most favourite element of our whole wedding – they were just so beautiful and our florist, Helen Newman, was simply amazing. She came early and dropped the flowers off, helping the team at the venue set them up in the ceremony hall. Helen came back again during the changeover to move the flowers around and set up the candelabras for us – she was just fantastic, and we can’t thank her enough for how wonderful our flowers were. They were so special!
I couldn’t bring myself to let them die so I preserved them in silica gel and framed them, so now we have our wedding flowers on display, and I love being able to see them every day! I’ve even set them in resin and made jewellery out of them purely because they’re so beautiful and I wanted to be able to remember the bright, beautiful colours forever.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Abi: I found my dress at Heritage Brides at Hatfield House. It was the first wedding dress shop I went to and it was the most beautiful boutique I’ve ever been to! The shop is in a converted barn with fairy lights, feathers, sequins and glitter adorning the walls amongst the rows of beautiful and quirky dresses Sam has in stock.
I fell in love with every dress I tried on but I kept coming back to the same one because it was just so different from anything I’d seen before. I chose the Willowby by Watters Galatea dress in ivory and added a chapel veil with small embellished details. My dress was an A-line with a plunge neckline, covered in beautiful floral motifs with two rows of velvet ribbon wrapped around the bodice. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever feel as amazing as I did in that dress.
My shoes were Rachel Simpson and were a nod to my Opal engagement ring as the flowers that embellished the toe straps were a shimmery Opal colour – they were really fun and something a bit different!
All my jewellery was Kate Spade – I wore long drop floral earrings that Ben bought me for my wedding gift, which matched my bracelet and my watch. They were statement pieces that I think just added to the floral motifs and quirkiness of my wedding dress.
Ben: I knew finding my suit was going to be extremely difficult, I’m very particular when it comes to clothes, I can’t tell you want but I know straight away when I see it.
Obviously this is not helpful when people are trying to show you what you might like but Pippa and Josh from Trotter & Deane in Cambridge were brilliant and extremely helpful – they were so patient and went through all their books of fabric with me until I found the right cloth and colours I liked, matching it all up to make a bespoke three-piece suit with waistcoat and tailor-made shirt.
They helped me with all the details from the lapels, buttons, stitching, pockets and lining – it was such an enjoyable experience to create my suit and every little bespoke detail added to the overall look.
I was so happy with the final outcome of the suit; it was everything I wanted, and I can’t recommend Pippa and Josh enough.
Where do I start? Our photographer, Sally Rawlins, was like our fairy godmother on the day and captured our wedding so perfectly. Our pre-wedding shoot put us at ease straight away and it was so lovely to have these special photos even before we got married. Sally helped coordinate and organise everyone for our group photographs and managed to capture stunning individual photos of all of our friends and family.
She was so professional and so friendly, we can’t recommend her highly enough – our photos are so special and it’s so lovely to see parts of our wedding that we missed whilst speaking to different people – we get to relive the day all over again and she captured our vision perfectly!
Ben: The groomsmen suits were the Lazy Lounge faded blue 3-piece Ted Baker suit with a blue knitted tie from Moss Bros.
These suits worked perfectly as it was difficult to match the check on my suit, but these had a really nice look and fitted in really well.
Abi: We bought the bridesmaid dresses from Phase Eight and I knew they would be perfect as soon as I saw them.
My bridesmaids had tried on lots of dresses, but none were quite special or bright enough for what we wanted. The dresses from Phase Eight were midi length with capped sleeves in a bright magenta pink. They looked beautiful with the types of flowers we’d chosen and really complimented all three of my blonde bridesmaids!
The Details & Décor
Butley Priory dresses itself so we really didn’t add any extra decorations. We wanted everyone to see the old monastery exactly how we did when we fell in love with it – the main reason why we wanted the ‘house wedding’ and not a marquee on the lawn.
Two Little Cats bakery made our cake and Helen adorned it with her magical flowers! We had a bright pink tier and some gold leaf on the top tier, the flavours were delicious and we chose vanilla, strawberry & champagne for one tier, black velvet for another and white chocolate & passionfruit for the third.
The Monday after our wedding we flew out for our little minimoon. Our love for Italy took us to the lakes and it’s a place we’ll never forget. We had such a wonderful time in Lake Como and stopped in Milan on the way home – vastly contrasting the scenic lakes but every bit as special (and full of even more Aperol!)
We’re also going to South Africa for two weeks in February 2020 for our ‘proper’ honeymoon, but as August wasn’t the right time to go weather-wise, we wanted a little Italian break to celebrate together straight after the wedding.
Abi: I will never forget reading the letter Ben wrote to me on the morning of my wedding – I was getting so nervous but as soon as I read his words it calmed me down and I just couldn’t wait to see him.
Ben: I knew Abi had bought me a watch for my wedding gift but I couldn’t wait to wear it on the day, so taking time out in the morning to read my card and open my gift was really special, even though I was starting to get nervous before the ceremony!
Advice For Other Couples
Abi: Take time to enjoy the little moments throughout the wedding planning process and don’t let the unnecessary things that you think you might need get in the way of what it’s really all about.
Also make sure you take time out during the day to just be with your partner – the day goes so fast, so stealing a few special moments together to really take it all in is so important!
Ben: It will be one of the best days of your life! Do everything you want to do, don’t feel like you have to stick to any “rules” – just have everyone you really want there and do everything that makes you happy. Then, get a really good photographer like Sally because you will want to relive those moments again and again.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Sally Rawlins Photography
Beauty Call (Sarah Crick-Linton)
The Wedding DJ
Oh so wonderful.
Ben and Abi, thank you so very much for sharing your wedding with us and for following us during your wedding planning journey xo Lou