By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
We’re beginning the week with this bright, breezy and beautiful wedding by the sea. Today’s couple had a day in two parts, let me tell all.
WWW readers Victoria and David chose to get married on Saturday 16th July 2016 at Hythe Town Hall in Kent followed by a bistro lunch at Ginger’s Kitchen for 30 of their nearest and dearest. 200 guests then descended upon a family owned field for their festival fete extravaganza. Think live bands, oodles of games, and the cutest marquee you ever did see decked out in peach and mint décor. Being an event manager Victoria had every little detail covered and was extremely well organised.
I love that Victoria had the whole story about her original vintage wedding gown, it was just stunning with it’s lace sleeves and high neck line. David chose a blue suit with mint tie, which the bridesmaids dresses were then coordinated with. This really is a gorgeous day filled with wonderful moments galore.
Many thanks to Benjamin Stuart Photography for sharing these marvellous images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | The proposal took place on my birthday on 9th September 2014. Although we had discussed marriage, I hadn’t been expecting a proposal anytime soon despite at the time being together for 5 years. David had completely thrown me off the scent by buying me some pretty random birthday presents in the morning (oven gloves and earrings when I don’t have my ears pierced!) We then spent the day together in Whitstable and had a late lunch, so I was surprised when he asked to go and get fish and chips on the beach only a few hours later. I was still full from lunch and couldn’t understand why he wanted to take champagne and a blanket to the beach as it wasn’t a special birthday.
We live near Fisherman’s Beach in Hythe, and despite the early timing of the fish and chips and still being full from a birthday lunch, it was all part of David’s master plan. It was early September so the sun starts to go down at 6.30 and now I know the reason he wanted to go so early to the beach is because he wanted to spend the rest of the evening going round to tell family our news!
The ring itself was my late Grandmother’s ring and he had tied it around our beloved pooch Lilly’s neck. As we were both sitting down, when I saw the box around Lilly’s neck I still was none the wiser what was inside, and presumed it was a late birthday present to make up for the questionable presents earlier in the day. It all suddenly clicked into place as David said those 4 little words…
THE VISION | As an event manager by profession, I spend my life running very formal corporate events in hotels and venues all over the world, so I knew from the beginning I wanted something so far from my world of work and wanted to have a very casual, informal and festival feel. I didn’t want any formal drinks receptions or complicated table plans and
I also knew I wanted a chance to use my inner creativity, which at corporate events is often suppressed. We knew we wanted to have a very small ceremony, with only our closest friends and family followed by a light Bistro wedding breakfast with our favourite food and drink. But our main vision was for our large festival of celebrations, which was to be filled with festival music, Kentish food, village fete games, a cake bake-off and vintage decorations.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Originally we wanted to have a long engagement, but once the initial excitement and celebrations passed, we decided to set a date in the year of 2016 (2 years after getting engaged). At the time it felt ages away, but it came round very quickly. In the November after getting engaged I took my Mother to my first, and only, wedding fair. It was here that I swiftly realised I wasn’t a traditional bride.
The date was finally set on the availability of our main band and the availability of the Town Hall for the ceremony and it was soon full steam ahead with the planning and getting the Save the Dates out.
As an event manager, I live my life in spreadsheets and from the outset I kept a spreadsheet of my overall list of suppliers and individual items, with estimated costings to create an overall budget. This then became my wedding ‘bible’ and checklist, which month by month I ticked off the list.
THE VENUE | We were very lucky to have a large field within my family that my Grandfather purchased after the end of WWW2. The field has never been used for any events in the past and other than a few horses and the neighbouring farmer’s sheep, it has stood empty for over 70 years. The field provides stunning views of the sea, Saltwood Castle and a view over our small home town of Hythe, we knew it would provide the perfect backdrop for the ‘festival’ theme wedding we dreamed of.
For the ceremony itself, we held it at the local Hythe Town Hall, which is opposite David’s parents house. It was important to keep as much of the wedding within walking distance of our favourite places in Hythe, our home town that we love.
After the ceremony, we walked to a local Bistro for a light wedding breakfast at Ginger’s Kitchen, owned by our friends who created a very personal and intimate setting and with amazing food and drink.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress was an original vintage Jacques gown named after the Parisian designer of the dress ‘Jacques Heim’. He was born in Paris in 1899 and he specialised in couture. His ‘maison de couture’ opened in 1930 and closed in 1969 two years after his death, during this time he designed dresses for the likes of Sophia Loren and the queen of Belgium! My dress dates back to the 1950’s with its exquisite French lace, sweetheart neckline and button up back. I made a few alterations to personalise the dress to me, including removing a couple of layers to make it straight and lower the back to a deep V, but the dress was utterly timeless! One of Heim’s wedding dresses can be found in storage with the V&A museum.
The dress itself was so breath-taking that I decided to have minimal accessories. Due to the neckline I decided not to wear a necklace, and just wore a simple pearl bracelet. For the ceremony I wore peep-toe T bar shoes from Rainbow Club shoes, but once in the field my inner-hippy came out and I went barefoot!
Also, as a nod to the festival theme I choose to wear a gypsophila flower crown instead of a veil and also to show off the deep-V on the back of the dress.
FINDING THE DRESS | I was very apprehensive about the thought of shopping for my ‘perfect dress’, so it was a big relief and to my amazement that my dress was the first and only dress I tried on! I found the dress in small vintage wedding fair on a clothes rack with less than 20 beautiful vintage wedding dresses. I was admiring the range of dresses from 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s but not expecting to find anything that would catch my eye. After speaking with the lovely Cara (from Story of My Dress) and described what sort of dress I was looking for, I was very hesitant when she said she had that exact dress. Before I even tried on the dress I had fallen in love with the history of the dress and the fact that she researches each dress’s unique ‘story’. I tried the dress in a small corner of the display, separated with a thin curtain and instantly knew the dress was ‘The One’. For me, the dress and it’s story would become one of my favourite elements of the wedding and I provided a book all about Jacques Heim and the story of my dress for my wedding guests to read on the day.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | We were lucky enough to holiday in Thailand a year before the wedding, and we took full advantage of the amazing tailors of Thailand. When we arrived we immediately took a taxi to a recommended tailors and David soon got measured for a bespoke suit. Being a 6ft6 former rugby player, we knew he couldn’t get an ‘off-the-rack’ suit, so it was important for us to have a completely bespoke tailored suit made. After just 48 hours, David’s 3 piece Hugo Boss Blue suit was created along with matching groomsmen ties, pocket squares and bow ties for the page boys.
Once home, we matched the three best men with two piece blue suits and David purchased his two-tone brown leather and blue suede brogues.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | As we didn’t want a very formal ceremony we choose to have 2 light-hearted readings during our ceremony:
‘Yes I’ll Marry you my dear’ By Pam Ayres and read by my Godmother Sandra Robinson.
‘ A Vow’ by Wendy Cope and ready by our close friend Katie Nicholls.
Entry Music – James Bay ‘Your Love if Lifting me Higher’.
Signing the Register – Jason Mraz ‘I’m Yours’.
Exit – The Lumineers ‘Hey Ho’.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We knew we wanted green as our wedding colour, a nod to my late Grandmother who married in the 40’s in a green dress, but as it was Summer we went for a soft pastel mint green. We had already found the colour in Thailand for the groomsmen’s ties, so we had to cleverly match the colour for the bridesmaid dresses and flower girls.
For the bridesmaids dresses, we knew we wanted knee-length (as we were in a field) and vintage lace style dresses that didn’t look formal. After much searching online, we finally purchased the dresses from Kaliko and were amazed that the colour was a perfect match to the ties, the fit was perfect with no amendments required and they were in the sale! For their shoes, again we looked online for vintage peep-toe T-bar heeled sandals and finally settled on matching pairs from Pink by Paradox.
For the flower girl – a mint and cream lace dress was purchased from Next and was paired with a matching Gypsophila flower crown.
THE FLOWERS | I met my florist at a yoga class in Hythe, and in attempt to keep all of my suppliers local and personal to us, I was delighted when Chris from Saffron Rose Floral design agreed to be our wedding florist. Chris even invites you to her beautiful home for bubbles during the initial consultation!
During the initial brief I described my overall vision for the wedding; non-traditional and nothing formal and this is exactly what I wanted for the flowers as well. For the bridal party flowers, we wanted natural pastels with lots of foliage and gypsophila, loosely tied together with natural twine string. My favourite flower are Peonies and these looked stunning in all bouquets.
My vision for the flower decorations in the field was to look as if they had been freshly picked from the field itself and just loosely placed into an abundance for miscellaneous vases, jam jars and vintage vessels, which we had collected and decorated for months in advance. Along with Chris, we were very lucky that the father of the groom is a green fingered enthusiast and spent 6 months before the wedding nurturing an abundance of flowers in the garden, which we then transported up to the wedding field and used for additional decoration and the perfect home-grown natural look.
THE CAKE | We were very lucky to have a very talented close-friend who is an incredible creative baker in her spare time and we were delighted when Sarah offered to make our beautiful wedding cake. Although a full time teacher and 7 months pregnant at the time, Sarah created a 3 tiered Victoria sponge in Vanilla, Chocolate and Lemon, decorated with summer fruits and loose flowers. Along with the wedding, we didn’t want anything formal and so we decided to have a ‘naked’ cake that was rustically decorated, and we even loved that due to the unstable flooring in the field, the cake was wonky for the whole night!
We also decided to have a 5 tiered cheese-cake for our evening buffet, served with port, sausage rolls and pork pies. All the cheese was locally sourced from Macknades Farm Store in Faversham and made the perfect evening snack for our guests.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | With my event background, I have had the honour of working with a multitude of event photographers all over the world, but I had always ever only had one photographer in mind for the big day; Benjamin Stuart Photography. I had worked with Ben on a number of events previously and I loved his natural style but most importantly his ability to blend in and become one of the guests for the day. For someone that hates having their photo taken, I knew I wanted a photographer that made themselves invisible and took only natural photos.
We decided to have only 7 set photos (for the family) immediately outside of the ceremony hall and on Ben’s recommendation, David and I took 15 minutes out together back to our engagement beach for a few couple shots.
Ben and his wife Zoe make the perfect team and their wedding expertise came in handy on the day as they kept track of time, helped secure button-holes and were on hand for any last minute advice and words of wisdom for the day.
The photos captured from the day our beyond what we could have ever imagined and really capture the amazing ambience, vibrant colours, stunning weather and every moment of our wedding.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We decided to keep the ceremony room empty from decoration (it is a Town Hall with many memorable photographs from Hythe) and Ginger’s Kitchen for the light Bistro lunch we used the wedding favour bags for decoration, which were individual brown craft bags with personalised presents and miniature alcohol bottles per guest. As our ceremony and Bistro lunch were only for 30 people, we decided that our main decoration would take place at the field.
With two large marquees and a whole field, we really did have a blank canvas and with the help of a very creative Mother of Bride and excellent ‘decoration committee’ (made from bridesmaids, close friends and mother of the groom) we managed to turn the empty sheep-field into the best festival reception.
We decided to have a ‘Food Tent’ and a ‘Dance Tent’ with a central outside seating area in-between. The outside seating was a mixture of straw bales and children’s plastic play balls in large nets situated around used pallets for a rustic and vibrant seating area.
The ‘Food Tent’ was decorated in vintage florals, pastel paper pompoms and hessian lace table runners. In contrast, we decided to keep the ‘Dance Tent’ as empty as possible to allow enough space for people to really let their hair down and the amazing Shack Revolution Bar provided the best back-drop for the party tent.
As any event planner knows, the key is in the detail and I really went into detail with all decorations at the wedding and tried to think carefully about every little detail and the ‘Story’ of our day. I knew that I would spend my day telling people about the dress, the cake, the flowers and so in anticipation I provided printed frames with information for my guests to read. I wanted my guests to have lots to do at the wedding so provided lots of interactive ideas; pin map of where the guests are from, sign a Jenga block, village fete games and Great Baxter Bake Off. This was all accompanied by 3 live bands throughout the afternoon/evening, which along with personalised wristbands really gave the festival feel.
For all wedding stationery and on-the day items, we worked with Lydia Merrills-Ashcroft who is a fantastic print designer and illustrator who personally created all of our bespoke wedding stationery including our beautiful invitations with hand-drawn map of the festival field.
THE HONEYMOON | We decided to book our honeymoon for later on in the year to give us something to look forward to after the all the excitement and buzz from the wedding has passed. We have booked to got to Mauritius in November, a place that David used to visit as a child when he grew up in South Africa and a place we had always dreamed to visit.
We had a lot of guests travel for the wedding, and our maid of honour was over from New Zealand, so we didn’t want to run away on honeymoon immediately after the wedding but make sure we had time to catch up with everyone after the big day and have a full de-brief of how it all went. We did however book 4 nights away to Cornwall on the Monday after which allowed us to relax, catch up on much needed sleep and fully unwind from the big day. It was stress-free and no organisation required, we simply packed the car, took the dog and drove to our apartment.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There are so many memorable parts of our day but our wedding really was a wedding of two parts; the intimate ceremony in the Town Hall with a small bespoke wedding breakfast, and then followed by the large festival of celebrations in the field.
The most emotional moment was arriving outside the Town Hall ahead of the ceremony. I walked to the ceremony from my Parent’s house, along with my Mother, bridesmaids and beloved dog. When I arrived outside the Town Hall it seem like the world stood still and there was a random busker paying the saxophone, which had seemed to have drowned out the rest of the hustle and bustle of the high street.
After the ceremony and a few quick photos, we then walked down the high street to the Bistro restaurant as a large group with everyone stopping and wishing us well on our special day. We were very lucky with the British weather that we had clear blue skies and beaming sunshine and which allowed us to casually walk to the restaurant where champagne was ready for our arrival.
After the wedding breakfast all of our wedding guests made their way to the field whilst David and I took half an hour out to take a few couple photos on our favourite beach location and beach spot. By the time we entered the field our 200 wedding guests had formed a large confetti tunnel and our band played us into the wedding field with Florence & The Machine’s ‘You’ve Got the Love’….. this to us was the most memorable and overwhelming part of the day to see all of our loved ones together and the backdrop of our beautiful Baxter Festival at the field.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | On the lead up to the wedding a lot of people had given us lots of advice for the big day, but until you are actually there on the day it is hard to truly appreciate exactly what they mean. A lot of people had told us the day will go so fast and told us to ensure we take a step back and take some time out to really let the day sink in. Although they were right and they day does go exceedingly fast, we also enjoyed the whole lead up to the wedding and the planning process. Although at times it can be stressful, every part of the preparation all contributed to the big day and it is important to remember to enjoy every part of the preparation, not just the big day.
Throughout the planning we wanted to ensure that the day was what we wanted and what was important to us; include our favourite things; food, music, even the dog! Although by having a small ceremony we excluded a lot of people, it was something we decided and was important to us to only have a very intimate ceremony with our closest family and friends.
The most practical piece of advice would be; keep the bar next to the dancefloor so that the dancefloor is always full. Naturally people always congregate around a bar and then a slight shoulder shrug at the bar can easily lead to a full blown break dance!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Benjamin Stuart Photography
Catering | Ginger’s Kitchen
Dress | Story of My Dress
Festival Bar | The Shack Revolution
Fete | Rose Bud Vintage
Flowers | Saffron Rose Flowers
Hair & Make Up (Bride Only) | Elise Wilson Make Up
Stationery | Merrills and Daughter
Wowzer. What a fantastic and fun day.
Victoria and David, thank you both so much for sharing your spectacular story with us xo Lou
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