By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
With four months to plan their wedding Graham and Claire worked alongside their loved ones to create and craft their day.
They chose the 2nd May 2015 as their date and found Ettington Park Hotel to be their perfect venue where their outdoor ceremony was held in the chapel ruins. So very magical. They envisioned a bright Spring wedding and went for a vibrant purple colour scheme. There was lots of fun décor and many of the elements were DIYed including the cake, stationery and clay name tags.
Claire wore a lace gown with a pretty veil, Graham donned a navy suit and the bridesmaids looked lovely in short Coast dresses. Gorgeous.
Thanks so much to Source Images for providing these stunning photographs.
THE PROPOSAL | We had gone out for lunch with some friends for a catch up after Christmas and Gray decided we’d go for a little walk around Chesterton Mill in the frost. We had gone there often when we first started dating as it’s a beautiful old Mill set on top of a hill looking right over Leamington. We walked for a little while and took some lovely sunset photos when Gray started to take his gloves off. Confused because it was absolutely freezing I just looked at him, puzzled. That’s when he got down on one knee! It finally explained why he had insisted that I painted my nails before we’d gone out to lunch. I cried, happy tears of course! It was so cold he couldn’t get the ring out of the box and my fingers were bright red with cold so the ring only just went on! It was completely perfect for us.
THE VISION | I always fancied a May wedding for the flowers and blossom. Something that Gray wasn’t aware of when he proposed 30th December! I had pictured a colourful day, something that summed us up as a couple . Something that was relaxed feeling that wasn’t too over the top traditional. Pinterest had given me masses of design inspiration and it encouraged me to be a little creative and try and make as many aspects as I could within our time frame.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had just 4 months to plan our wedding once we had set the date so we made sure we didn’t give ourselves too many options for things. I think that was the key to our short engagement! If we had given ourselves more than 4 options to look at for every aspect it would have taken far longer to plan.
THE VENUE | We viewed a few venues before seeing Ettington Park Hotel. We were completely sold on it as soon as we entered the driveway to see a mod of deer cross in front of us. It has completely stunning grounds and had the perfect sized rooms for the amount of guests we had. We also had the option to have an outdoor ceremony and once we had seen the beautiful ruins of the chapel just outside the hotel we knew this would be where we’d get married. That in itself was quite emotional.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I found my dress at a local wedding fair.
I found my veil in a beautiful bridal shop in Leamington Spa just by chance as I walked past the window. My shoes were from Esty and were incredibly comfortable which was exactly what I wanted.
I wore an antique bracelet that Gray bought me as my something old. I won my earrings from a bridal magazine (yes, people actually win those things) and decided they could be my something new. My necklace was my sisters and the diamond heart pendant on it was my mums (something borrowed). I embroidered the wedding date in blue on the bottom of my dress.
FINDING THE DRESS | My mum and sister Gemma came along to a couple of bridal shops with me soon after the engagement. I knew I could rely on them to give me honest opinions on the dresses. I tried on lots of different styles but wasn’t quite sure. That’s when we went to a wedding fair at the Marriot Hotel in Peterborough and I saw the shoulder of my dress on the rail, it just looked different to others I had seen. I tried it on straight away and loved it, it made my mum go quiet when she saw. However, it was so soon after the engagement (just two weeks after) I needed a few minutes to think, I didn’t want my lifetime of dreaming of trying wedding dresses on to already be over. Just 5 minutes later I bought it and took the dress home with me straight away. It was a little surreal. The dress had been nothing like what I had gone in to the shops saying that I thought I wanted but it was just perfect for me.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Gray wanted a navy suit – after a long day at the shops searching we found a stunning Navy blue Baumler suit that fitted perfectly. We had our groomsmen wearing suits from Next that were an almost perfect colour match.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had my Dad open the ceremony by reading ’ Love Is…’ by Andrea Hill. He was incredibly nervous about reading this but it was beautiful to hear..
We had Graham’s dad read ‘A word to Husbands’ by Ogden Nash, short but it got a laugh. It was perfect to make the atmosphere a bit lighter. Our friend Ann read ‘Chapter One of One Thousand’ by O. J. Preston just after we said I Do.
We picked a classic with Pachelbel’s ‘Cannon in D’ to walk down the aisle to and then had a different version of the same tune to walk as Mr and Mrs.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We chose my big sister Gemma and my best friend Hannah who I have been friends with for 18 years. Hannah had insider knowledge of wedding planning as she got married almost 3 years ago. I originally intended to sew the bridesmaid dresses myself but when I saw the purple Coast dresses I knew my sewing skills couldn’t create something so perfect. They fitted Gem and Hannah perfectly and were nice and flowing.
I had a little flower girl, Hannah’s daughter Adyson too. She was just the cutest and let out a little wail just as the registrar asked if anybody had any reason we couldn’t be married. Perfect timing! It was so funny.
THE FLOWERS | Amanda Luther was our florist, she is located directly opposite Ettington Park Hotel and as soon as we met her we knew she was on the same wavelength. We spoke in length about the types of flowers available and the colours that I wanted. I showed her a few pictures of things I liked and we went from there. She was brilliant. She even placed all of the men’s button holes for them. The bouquets and table decorations were so perfect, I couldn’t believe how utterly spot on she had managed to get them. The table decorations encapsulated everything that I wanted. I just wished I could have kept them forever as they were so beautiful! I did have a few flowers from my bouquet made in to a set of earrings and a necklace.
THE CAKE | Gray fancied cupcakes and I wanted a tiered cake. So we met in the middle and had both. Gray encouraged me to be brave and make the wedding cakes myself as I have always sort of done that on the side. I had a few back up ideas for the cake just in case something went wrong but it was all fine! 2 Tiers, 60 cupcakes and 10 gluten free cakes later and I am so proud that I did it! I was made up with the end result.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We didn’t know where to start when looking for photographer really. Then I realised I had been looking at photos of other weddings at Ettington and seen some beautiful pictures by Source Images Photography and we loved the way she captured the closeness off couples and how fun and colourful her photos where. Amazingly she was available for the date needed too! She was brilliant on the day and organised everybody into the family photos superbly. I was overwhelmed when I saw the photos for the first time. She captured the whole day and made me relive each moment again. She made us feel so comfortable instantly and I couldn’t be happier with the result! She has a style that I feel is both unique and classic. We’ll most definitely be going to have a pregnancy photo shoot with her when the time comes!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | I wanted to be able to reuse most of the things we used. We didn’t want to worry about decorations colour matching exactly, or to have one block of colour, which is why we used all shades of purple with a pale blue to break it up.
Our friends Tom, Abby, Hannah and Dean and my family spent the evening before the wedding fluffing 50 different coloured tissue paper pompoms and 50 paper lanterns and then hanging them all up. A lot of work but the effect was beautiful. I also made bunting, little flags for the cakes, and table menus.
My mum had made all of the confetti to throw. She had a production line of rose petals drying for months for us. It looked so beautiful in the box and so colourful when thrown. I think she was really proud of her work!
I handmade clay heart name tags and used them as place settings for everybody. We found picture frames in charity shops and spayed them silver and wrote chalkboard style numbers in them for table numbers. I did the same for the table plan, it took time but it was so worth it. I could still tell you exactly who sat where.
Graham and I created the wedding invitations together too, sewing each invitation, sticking buttons on etc. It was great to have something creative that we could both do.
I had my sister do mine and my bridesmaids’ hair and make-up on the day. She has so much experience in this after being at dance college and I felt if I had somebody in I wouldn’t be able to tell then exactly how I wanted my hair. But my sister just knew.
My sister and I met a close up magician at the same show I found my wedding dress at. We knew he must be good because he had done a trick and left me with his business card before I even realised that he was a magician! We booked him right away to entertain our guests whilst we were off having our photos taken. He was fantastic and left everybody with dropped jaws. I still cannot work out how he twisted that fork!
THE HONEYMOON | We went to Rome for four days for a bit of sight-seeing and then went to Sorrento for 10 days to relax. It was an absolutely wonderful 2 weeks and was exactly what we needed after all that planning. Ice Cream, pizza and swimming.. Bliss.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | At the end of the night we had picked ‘Isn’t she lovely’ by Stevie Wonder to be played as a final song. In a somewhat impromptu formation everybody created a big circle and started to gallop around singing! It was amazing and completely bonkers. But definitely a fabulous ending to a perfect day!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Know the numbers of guests before you start looking at venues. If you’re planning on DIYing in your wedding invest in a guillotine! I can easily say we got our money’s worth with it, invitations, table numbers, menus are all made so much quicker by having this handy tool. Also, take a moment as the new husband and wife, and just take in all that is going on around you. It really does go so fast!!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Veil | White Boutique
Flowers | Amanda Luther
Photographer | Ines Banks at Source Images
Magician | Robert Gough
Venue | Ettington Park Hotel
The Rings | Hamlingtons
Graham and Claire, many thanks to you both for sharing your beautiful wedding with us here at WWW xo Lou
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