By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Colourful, family, autumnal, bright, funny, sunshine, joyful.
Siobhan and Jesper
Oh what joy! I am so excited to be sharing Siobhan and Jesper’s Coombe Lodge wedding in Somerset, which was held on the 25th October 2019. Their wedding vision was all about autumnal colourful style, with references to their favourite books and TV shows as well as oodles of happy confetti. Hooray!
They included some really unique touches which I just love, there were paper bouquets made from book pages, gin bottles filled with artificial flowers and an incredible cake. Whoa. I also adore their outfits, Siobhan looked amazing in her flowing gown with colourful sash and flower crown teamed with statement earrings and Jesper was suited and booted in a blue Ted Baker suit and paisley tie, very dapper indeed.
Holly Collings Photography thank you so very much for sharing these vibrant and fun images with us today.
We had discussed getting married a lot already, and when we both decided that this was the time, we started planning. I wasn’t bothered about having a ring and a proposal, but Jesper decided that he wanted to do it, so we compromised! We bought the ring together – I chose it and customised it (on etsy), and then Jesper ordered it and hid it so that I didn’t see it in person. We also booked the venue before we were technically engaged – why wait?! Once we had the ring and the venue, we said that he was free to propose whenever he chose. So he did it on the Ferris wheel at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, one of our favourite places in the world, when we were at the top of the ride so nobody else could see. We celebrated with a hot dog, and spent a few hours just us before telling our families.
We had two different branches of inspiration. One was autumn – so lots of leaves, copper – and the other was multi-colour. Jesper had to reign me in a little on the colour, because he said that it could risk looking like a children’s birthday party (which I would have been fine with, tbh!). But the venue was just so perfectly what we wanted in terms of period, architecture, etc., that we just didn’t really need to decorate it any further. The table decorations became a mish-mash of autumn and multi-colour, as was my look, I suppose.
What we really wanted was for it to be a big wedding in terms of people, but a small wedding in feel. All children of our guests were invited (although many guests decided to get a babysitter for the night!), and we had family and friends coming from all over the world. So we wanted it to have a truly fun and community vibe.
The planning process was incredibly smooth, organised, and it felt easy. Both of us are spreadsheet people, and we both had separate spreadsheets tracking everything – invitees, attendees, expenditure, design work, table plans, and anything else you can write on Excel. Our families were nothing but supportive and actively helpful, and we had no disagreements about who to invite or not to invite. I don’t know whether we were just lucky, but honestly the whole process was smooth and calm and as focused on our marriage and future as it was on the wedding itself.
We were as frugal as possible with the whole wedding, and tried to keep the costs down. Coombe Lodge was actually the cheapest of the venues that we saw – which we couldn’t believe at the time because we loved it so much – and the reason for that was mostly because we invited so many people, so we had to look at venues with that capacity. So we enlisted help where we could from family members and friends, and did absolutely loads of stuff ourselves. We knew where we were happy to spend the money – venue, food, photographer – and where we were happy to save it – flowers, cake.
These were two things we both took very seriously – we’re both avid readers (I’m an English Literature specialist), and both musicians, so we put so much thought into what we wanted to represent us during the ceremony.
The hardest song to choose – by far! – was my entrance song. We wanted something that was original and different but sweet and fitting; something that represented us as a couple but wasn’t sentimental or clichéd. Eventually I found – and was instantly sold on – the acoustic version of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ performed by Noah Reid in the amazing TV show Schitt’s Creek. It was just perfect, and now whenever we hear that song (the cover or the original!) it reminds us of that moment.
For signing the register, we chose Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac, the second of ‘our song’s, followed by I’ll Be Your Mirror by Velvet Underground, Budapest by George Ezra, and Wild Fire by Laura Marling. And for our exit music, we chose Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe & Wise. There was no particular attachment to this song in particular, but it really encapsulated the joy of the day!
Incidentally, our other ‘our song’ was the one we used as our second first dance – ‘Life’s A Happy Song’ by the Muppets.
We asked my cousin Kerry to read ‘Don’t Hesitate’ by Mary Oliver, and our mutual close friend Michael to read an excerpt from The Princess Bride by William Goldman:
“Do you love me, Westley? Is that it?”
He couldn’t believe it. “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches. … I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids.
… I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I ell-oh-vee-ee why-oh-you. Want it backward? You love I.
… I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said ‘Farm Boy do this’ you thought I was answering ‘As you wish’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard, and you never heard.”
Coombe Lodge was just our favourite of all the venues that we saw by a mile. We weren’t expecting to ‘fall in love’ with a venue – we thought that it would be a more practical consideration and we’d love the venue enough. But we really did have the clichéd ‘falling in love’ moment with Coombe Lodge. As if the Bath stone building, the gorgeous on-site bedrooms, and the gorgeous views and gardens weren’t enough, the huge Georgian leaded windows and doors were! Additionally, we knew that we wanted to get married in the autumn, and the autumnal foliage around the building was perfect, orange and copper and golden. A few other venues that we’d seen were lovely but were seemingly reliant on summer flowers and plants, and that wasn’t the case here. It just ticked all our boxes, and the staff were wonderful throughout the entire process.
I was worried about all my bridesmaids finding one dress that they all liked – they all have different body shapes, skin tones, and tastes! One of my sisters (one of my bridesmaids) was in America, and started looking for a dress, and found this one. Everyone was on board, and that was that! I don’t even know where it was from – all I cared about was that they were all happy in the dresses, so it was a bonus that they were so gorgeous!
Our flowergirl’s dress was made by the groom’s mother to match the colour of the bridesmaid dresses – she absolutely loved it, and looked so adorable!
I knew I wanted paper flowers – partly for cost, partly because you get to keep them in great condition forever, and partly because I genuinely love the way they look. This Scotland-based small business was recommended to me by a friend. I requested a custom-made bridal bouquet with bold rainbow colours, and the pages of my favourite book (Persuasion by Jane Austen). I then also bought three bridesmaid bouquets (standard from her website made from Harry Potter books, even though I don’t like Harry Potter much, because it’s the one book that all the bridesmaids like), a flower girl wand, three buttonholes (made with maps, because Jesper loves maps), two corsages, and table confetti (which was also from my favourite book!). I chose the ribbon colour for the stems, which Nicola sourced for me, so they were just exactly matched with what I wanted. I just absolutely loved them, and they’re now in an empty gin bottle in my bedroom!
Jesper got his suit (Ted Baker) at Moss Bros in Exeter. He knew he wanted it to be Ted Baker and blue! He got a pair of fancy shoes from a specialist independent shoe shop in Exeter. Christian (Best Man, Jesper’s brother) bought his in Denmark just to match, but there was no coordination beyond that.
Our photographer was the incredible Holly Collings Photography. Holly was our first choice for wedding photographer when we started to plan our wedding. We loved her portfolio and, after we had an initial meeting, we knew she was the right person for our day. Holly was fantastic every step of the way, with timely communication and updates; we were really nervous before our pre-wedding shoot, but she made it so natural and relaxed! The wedding itself was fantastic; several guests asked if she was a friend outside of being our photographer because she just understood everything about the day! She blended in perfectly, and got the most beautiful candid photos of us and our guests. I hate photos of myself normally, but I felt so relaxed with Holly that we came away with so many photos of us that we just adore!
My wedding dress was purchased from Pirouette in Exeter, which is an absolutely fantastic shop. The owner Marian was in my first appointment, along with a seamstress called Fiona, and brought out ‘my’ dress about nine dresses in. Fiona (whose business is called ‘Lovely As It Seams’ and I think she’s based in Torbay, although obviously works at this shop) then did all my amendments and created the colourful satin belt out of fabric I chose and purchased from a shop in my hometown of Walsall (West Midlands). They were amazing, and totally understood what I was going for! I actually had that clichéd moment of ‘oh my gosh, I think this is ‘The Dress’ when I first saw the dress, and when I tried it on, and every time after that – I truly wasn’t expecting to feel that way! When I came for my final fitting, I bought the shoes, jewellery, and borrowed a flower headband from the shop to give as full an idea of my look for the day as possible, and all the staff came to the room to see!
I also had it cleaned, pressed, and stored in a presentation box by a local dry cleaner who specialises in doing so, about a month after the wedding.
Earrings: Little Moose. I knew I was wearing my hair up, and that my dress was relatively low cut, so I knew I wanted some big and colourful earrings. Little Moose did the trick!
Hair: Rachel Gough
Rachel and I used to work together as waitresses while she was training to be a hairdresser, then I started to go to her once she started working as a stylist – so about eight years ago or so. Wedding hair (and general event hair) is one of her specialities.
I’d had a vision of my wedding hair for so long, and luckily it completely worked out! I wanted a dutch crown braid with flowers, and I’m so glad it worked – it helped to have such a talented hairdresser. We even did two trials, just to make sure that the whole plan would come together and look good.
I went to a local florist (Blooms of Exeter, @bloomsofexeter) the day before the wedding and bought a small selection of flowers that I liked the look of, that were brightly coloured, and that had soft stems. I don’t even remember what kind of flowers they actually were – I just went with the colours!
Make Up: Danielle Healey
Dani is one of my best friends; we met at uni in 2006. Since she does make-up, she was the obvious choice – and since she knows me so well, she knew exactly what I wanted to look like. I hardy wear make-up anyway, so I wanted to look the same as I usually do, just enhanced. We did a make-up trial at my hen-do, which gave us both a good idea of what I wanted – copper eyeliner and defined eyebrows.
Decorations: A hodge-podge of home-made and bought! We collected beautiful gin bottles (mostly donated from friends) and allocated them to tables based on matching people up with them (so the table of my Scottish family had two Scottish gins on it), and bought cream IKEA jugs (one per table). Then I just bought some artificial flowers (multi-coloured tulips and yellow crocuses), some table runners, and some copper wire card holders for the table names and menus. I also had the table confetti from the flower company, and bought some autumn leaves confetti and some other colourful table confetti. It was very much a mish-mash of different things!
Throwing Confetti: Etsy
Honestly I just searched for brightly coloured confetti and chose the one I liked the best! We only decided to do a confetti shot when we were completing your questionnaire about two weeks prior to the day; we weren’t going to do one, but then your photos actually convinced us otherwise. We spontaneously bought the confetti, and we’re both SO glad we did because the photos are amazing!
DJ: Kieran Clarke DJ
Kieran was one of the recommended DJs from our venue, so this was the most straightforward decision. We specified what kind of music we wanted, and that we were having two first dances, and that one of our first dances was being played on the accordion and the other was a custom-edited song that we would give to him to play, and that was that! He was great, playing loads of our personal requests, and there was only one embarrassing moment when he closed the night out by calling us “Mr and Mrs Pedersen” – which we are not!
My sisters designed and produced all the invitations, table name signs, menus, the seating chart, order of service cards, and a custom sign telling people about our instagram hashtag. They looked incredible, and so professional.
The cake itself was M&S’s finest – but my sisters and mum decorated it.
This was definitely the best way for us. My mum and sisters really wanted to decorate – my youngest sister is incredibly artistic, and she had loads of ideas. We ordered the cakes (choosing the type of cake that we wanted, which was ideal) for delivery to my mum’s house, and then they decorated it in secret. The decoration was IN. CREDIBLE. We were blown away by it. Marzipan bees!
The cake topper was from an Etsy company (where else!) that we customised to say ‘Dr & Dr’.
We’ve not properly been on holiday together, so we decided that we wanted to do a ‘mini-moon’ right after the wedding, and then plan for a proper honeymoon in the new year. So we headed to Paris a few days after the wedding, with wedding cake for a Eurostar snack, and spent a wonderful and chilly few days at a lovely boutique hotel there. We were both so happy that we had that time between the wedding and going back to reality – and even more so because covid-19 completely trampled our bigger honeymoon plans!
So many to choose from! Seeing each other for the first time since that morning as I walked down the aisle, the confetti walk, our two first dances, the four hilarious speeches, our last dance with the guests still standing – and of course our two wedding crashers (no, really!).
But aside from those moments – which we expected to be memorable – the one moment that really sticks out for us was just after the ceremony. As our exit music played and we walked out, our wedding coordinator (from the venue) closed off the aisle to our guests as they left the room by a different exit, handed each of us a glass of prosecco, and told us to take a moment to be by ourselves. Holly (our photographer) stayed with us for a minute or two to take some pictures, and then also left, leaving us alone as a newly married couple, to soak in the feeling and take some time to reflect and appreciate that we were married. It was a gorgeous reminder that the day was about our marriage, and we really appreciated being given that time to breathe.
Make sure you get that moment to yourselves, just the two of you, at some point during the day – take some time to breathe and take it all in.
Holly Collings Photography
Just so bright and beautiful. Not to mention totally filled with personality.
Siobhan and Jesper thank you so much for sharing your fantastic wedding story with us and I do hope you get to head off on your honeymoon soon xo Lou
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