We are joined by Carolyn and Francis today, who were wed on the 1st June 2019 at the South African Cloister in Charterhouse School followed by a reception at Chichester Hall in Surrey. Their wedding was perfectly relaxed and super fun too, I always love a village hall wedding and this celebration totally stole my heart. I love how they decorated the space with festoon lights, long rustic wooden tables complete with greenery and white blooms, the result is fresh, modern and so very stylish.
Talking of style I just adore all the outfits. Carolyn chose a strapless fit and flare gown and Francis wore a blazer, chinos and brogues. The groomsmen chose their own attire, which worked together just wonderfully and the bridesmaids wore cool Topshop slip dresses. So on trend!
Three Flowers Photography captured their day in all it’s glory and I am just loving these stunning shots, which I am so thankful to be sharing today.
I had just finished my training contract and Francis was starting a new job and so we arranged a holiday to Italy with my now sister in law and her husband to celebrate. We arrived and had a gorgeous meal altogether at the restaurant in our hotel. After dinner, Francis suggested that we take a stroll and he led me to a beautiful spot overlooking the Umbrian Hills. There was nobody else around and Francis asked if he could take a photograph of me looking at the hills (which replicated a picture he has of me in the Cotswolds). I obliged and faced the hills; Francis then called my name, I turned around and he was on one knee with a ring in his hand and he asked me to marry him. I remember that I didn’t say anything at first (I can honestly say it was a total surprise) and then I said “the answer was always going to be yes!” It was perfect.
We both come from Leicester and so our early wedding endeavours meant that we hunted for venues in that area as all of our family is also from there. However, when we moved to Surrey and decided we wanted to build a life for ourselves in this region we decided to look for suitable locations in the area. We started out by eliminating what we did not want. We knew very early on that we did not want a package wedding. We wanted to put our stamp and style on a place and create something that felt like “us”. We therefore considered several different options (a tipi in a secret garden was something we seriously considered) before settling on the stunning South African Cloister at Charterhouse School and the gorgeous Chichester Hall for our reception (we were won over by the fact that a cricket match would be played on the grounds the day of our wedding; we knew this would be a lovely addition and quintessentially English). We knew that we wanted something relaxed and informal where our guests felt completely comfortable. We therefore opted for a casual dress code, which our guests told us they really appreciated. Our main focus was food and booze and so we spent most of our money on these two factors, ensuring that we had a free bar (cocktails featured heavily), ice cream van and pudding table. We also knew we wanted some form of live music and selected a string quartet (the amazingly talented Giardino Strings) to play on arrival and throughout dinner. They were fantastic and so many people commented on their performance.
The Readings & Music
Music walking down the aisle: Father Kolbe’s Preaching by Wojciech Kilar
Music on exit: Song for Zula by Phosphorescent
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres read by Mary Kearns
On the Road by Jack Kerouac read by May Wilson
The Planning Process
We had a period of 2 years to plan but we did not have a particular strategy in mind. We booked Charterhouse and Chichester Hall fairly early on. We had also seen a previous blog of a wedding at Chichester Hall and liked the style of what they had done and so we contacted some of the same suppliers, adding our own twist as we went. I did not get my dress until the January before the wedding (which stressed some of my friends out!) and Francis got his suit perhaps a month or two in advance, A family friend, the wonderful Mrs Bridges catered the event and friend of a friend, Kat Bakes, provided a gorgeous pudding table of miniature puddings. We had also been to Francis’ sister’s wedding where she had an amazing cocktail bar, hosted by the enthusiastic and brilliant team of Mambo Bars (we were told the Espresso Martinis were a particular favourite).
We did not really have a particular budget in mind (although we mooted around £15,000) and spent around £25,000 in total (so not at all efficient).
South African Cloister, Charterhouse School and Chichester Hall
The Details & Décor
We wanted the hall to have a light and airy feel and opted for white drapes and festoon lighting overhead. We added rustic benches and chairs and had white and green flowers in different sized bottles. We added in a giant F&C sign on the stage and that added a nice impact upon arrival and became mood lighting when the disco started.
Flowers by Rosemary in Godalming. We wanted green and white flowers and they absolutely nailed it.
We decided not have one. However, my parents bought a Colin and Connie the Caterpillar cakes.
Your Outfits & Accessories
My wedding dress was from Wed2B. I had tried a few designer dresses on and was not sold on any of them. Somebody recommended Wed2B, I looked online at some of their dresses, went into their Camberley store with my sister, niece and nephew. I tried 2 dresses on and bought the second one I tried on there and then. It was a steal as they are off the rack and you have to buy them on the day as they sell out quite quickly. I then had it tailored by the Sewing Room in Haslemere, who did a sterling job with the alterations!
I was given a gorgeous Tiffany bracelet by my bridesmaids which also served as my something blue as it has a light blue gemstone. In addition, I had an old bracelet with a green stone in from Whistles and borrowed one of my bridesmaid’s earrings for my something borrowed. My shoes were Kurt Geiger which I bought from Selfridges.
Francis wore a mix of Cos, Zara and Noak.
Jodie by makeup- the wonderful Gina did hair and makeup for me and all my bridesmaids and my mum.
The amazing Charlotte of Three Flowers Photography.
Mini-Moon to Lake Garda a week after the wedding which was fantastic and so relaxing after planning the wedding. We are planning a trip to Japan next April for our main honeymoon.
- Walking down the aisle and seeing Francis’ face.
- The morning getting ready with my bridesmaid at a beautiful house in the country.
- The car journey with just Francis and I after the ceremony on the way to the reception enjoying a glass of bubbly!
- Seeing the hall upon arriving at the reception with all the finishing touches.
- The speeches (I actually gave a speech myself).
Topshop – they all looked gorgeous, I was so pleased with them!
They wore their own outfits, no requirements from us!
Advice For Other Couples
If you do go down the DIY route, do not underestimate how long the day before will take you to set up. We spent an entire morning and afternoon sorting things out in the hall. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, we could not have done it without help and people are so keen to get involved.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Three Flowers Photography
Drapes & Festoon Lights
Cutlery, Glasses, Chairs & Tables
Classic Crockery Hire
Locke and Busby
Table Plan & Numbers
Elle Bee Design
The Ice Cream Cab Company
Flowers by Rosemary
Oh so stylish.
Carolyn and Francis, thank you ever so much for sharing your very special wedding story with us xo Lou