Oh the joy, the love and the happy times radiating from this real wedding is just so wondrous! It really is a delight to be featuring Josh and Esther’s summer wedding, which was held on the 4th August 2018 with a very meaningful church service followed by a rustic reception at Damerham Village Hall in Hampshire.
There is just so much I love about their celebrations, firstly though it just has to be the happy and bright yellow colour scheme. The hue was used everywhere and it really brings a fun and pretty element to their celebrations. Think daisies in the bouquets, pot plants along the aisle, bridesmaids in floral frocks, groomsmen donning vibrant socks and so much more. The homemade vibe really shines through, with reams of bunting, stamped name tags and mini drink favours all featuring. Do keep an eye out for beautiful outfits, dancing and sparklers come evening.
On hand to capture the wonderful moments in all their glory was Lisa-Marie Halliday Photography. These images really are beautiful and we are super grateful to be sharing them today.
The proposal wasn’t big, extravagant or worthy of a viral video. In fact, most of it was unplanned. The Christmas holidays were just beginning and Josh had, unfortunately, come down with an illness which meant that the day he had planned to propose, was replaced by a day in bed trying to recover. Therefore, plans had to change, and Josh ended up proposing on December 21st 2017; the Winter Solstice.
We went for a chilly walk by the Sea, at Hengistbury Head, all wrapped up in our winter wear. Hengistbury Head is somewhere Josh and I had been many times before, and where Josh had taken me on one of our very first dates. Josh found a quiet spot, next to a tree, knelt down on one knee and proposed. It was a complete surprise, and of course, I said yes. Josh had the ring especially made for me; a beautiful emerald ring with leaf-shaped diamonds to capture my love of nature. There was something beautifully simple about the proposal which made the overcast day not so overcast in the end, and made the shortest day of the year eternally memorable.
Both Josh and I have a faith in God that is central to all that we do. We see marriage as a gift from God and the wedding day was to be a celebration of a God-given gift. To us, marriage works best when God is at the centre. Therefore, we wanted all the plans for our wedding to be focused around the image of God’s love.
There were definitely a few shared ideas we envisioned for the wedding day itself; including a bustling atmosphere with lots of friends and family present, a countryside feel, with rustic, homemade vibes, and bursts of yellow popping up throughout the day. These were a few things that shaped our ever-changing vision for the wedding day.
The Planning Process
We had just over 7 months to plan the wedding; which felt slightly pressured at times, but definitely manageable. The timeframe meant that we had to make decisions relatively quickly, which prevented us from wasting time.
We tried to make the planning process as fun as possible – lots of coffee-shop hopping and plenty of beach walks. However, when things did feel stressful, we sought solace around the kitchen table at Josh’s parent’s home, where we received encouragement, perspective and, of course, many cups of tea. Our friends were also a huge help during the planning process; especially when coming up with fresh ideas and helping with all the practical organising and creative planning.
The service was held in our home church – Lansdowne Church – in Bournemouth. It was really important for us to have our service where we worship, with our church family. It’s really a home from home for us.
The reception venue was slightly challenging to find, because we wanted somewhere rustic in the countryside, but also somewhere that had the capacity for lots of guests, as this was really important for us. After lots of research, we stumbled across Damerham Village Hall; a real gem. The hall was bright and spacious, with wooden beams running along the ceiling, which looked rustic and barn-like. The outdoor space was beautifully quaint; with wonderful drooping willow trees, a gentle stream with a white bridge, and ample green space for guests to enjoy. We are very thankful to have found a venue that truly captured our vision, but that was also inexpensive, and well-within our budget.
Your Outfits & Accessories
My wedding dress was from Bride to Bee; a little wedding dress shop near Southampton. I chose the dress because I felt it was the perfect balance between pretty and elegant. I felt really comfortable and confident wearing the dress, and I knew Josh would love it too. My long, single tier veil was an ex-display bargain in a local wedding dress shop in Poole, and my yellow shoes were from TK Maxx.
Josh and the Groomsmen wore the same outfits. Their navy suits were from Beales, and were chosen with the excellent help from John in the Suits Department. The grey tweed waistcoats, from Samuel Windsor, were a great find, as they had subtle yellow hues amongst the tweed. The yellow ties, with a blue fleur de lis pattern, were from Charles Tyrwhitt. The outfits were accompanied with a pair of statement yellow socks and brown brogues.
My hair and make-up were done by Shelley Gordon who was absolutely fabulous, and helped me to feel really calm on the morning of the wedding.
My make-up was very natural and soft, with a subtle rosy-glow, and my hair was styled in a braided updo with loose curls and a beautiful fresh flower clip.
I had eight bridesmaids altogether; which matched the number of Groomsmen Josh had chosen. I had my sisters, Alice and Bex, my now sister-in-law, Miriam, close friends from growing-up, Ella and Chloe C, great friends from university, Eva and Chloe. M, and my close church friend, Lucy.
I asked the girls to be my bridesmaids by giving them each a little bracelet with a bumble bee charm, with the message “Will you BEE my bridesmaid?”. I love bees, so I tried to interweave them throughout the wedding as much as I could.
The bridesmaid dresses were from Joanie – an online shop that I stumbled across. The dresses were fun, quirky and wonderfully yellow, and truly captured the quintessential country style we envisioned. The girls looked fab in yellow!
The Readings & Music
The importance of having a God-centred service was integral to the day. For those that had antiquated views of church or hadn’t been to church for a long time, we wanted them to feel at home, and for them to hear a message they maybe hadn’t heard before.
The worship band was led by Ben, one of the Groomsmen, and included the songs “The Creed” (by Hillsong), “10,000 reasons” and “Blessed be your name” (by Matt Redman) and “Before the Throne of God Above.” All of the songs that were chosen encapsulated what we wanted our marriage to be – an echo of a bigger love.
Ben also played two songs when we were signing the register: “Home” (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and “The Secret Place” (Phil Wickham). The second song is a particularly beautiful acoustic song which focuses on the safety and warmth of God’s love. Ben was excellent.
Our readings were from Psalm 63 (vs1-8) and Ephesians 8 (vs14-21). We wanted an Old and New testament reading to show how the concept of love spans the Bible and is so important to life.
We found our photographer, Lisa-Marie Halliday, online and we are so glad we chose her to capture our day. From the very first email conversation we exchanged, to the provision of our final photographs, Lisa was consistently helpful, efficient and practical.
We met with Lisa a few months prior to the wedding, which was a really useful time to share our thoughts and ideas, and to unpick all the details of the wedding day. Lisa also arranged a pre-wedding shoot which helped us to relax in front of the camera, and helped Lisa to know how best to capture our wedding-shots.
Throughout the day, Lisa was organised, relaxed and made us laugh. She managed to capture every part of the day; with a balanced mix of both natural, and structured shots. Thanks to Lisa, we have a collection of wonderful photos, bursting with joy and warmth, which we can enjoy for years to come.
King Depiction did a fantastic job in creating a video of our wedding day. Anthony and James were easy to work with and had an eye for encapturing the atmosphere of the day. We were very thankful that they were able to interweave the church sermon throughout the video which reflected our vision of a Christ-centred wedding to glorify God. We have experienced something uniquely warming when watching our wedding video, which we are certain is a feeling that will naturally return every time we press play.
When it came to Groomsmen, I wanted to pick guys who had made an impact at different points of my life, or on the relationship between Esther and I.
Unconventionally, I had my three brothers (Caleb, Jake and Joel) as my best men. My brothers have been in my life the whole time and to grow up with them as friends has been great. Throughout the day I knew that they would be brilliant.
There were six other Groomsmen on the day. Sam and Ben were friends that I had grown up with in church; Tom and John were friends from church presently; Alexei is an old school friend and, then there was a last-minute addition of Charlie, who was originally going to be adventuring around South East Asia but came home earlier from his travels (which was a real blessing).
My Mum is an excellent baker and kindly offered to make our wedding cake, which also doubled up as the dessert. To keep within our rustic, countryside theme, we chose simple (but delicious) chocolate logs. We arranged the chocolate logs on tree trunks, surrounded by foliage and berries.
Our flowers were arranged by Rose Courage, from the Florists Gallery, who was recommended to us. When Rose first asked me what my vision was for the wedding flowers, my answer was along the lines of “I’d like a bouquet that’s bright and country-like, and both delicate and wild”. Somehow, Rose had a wonderful way of shaping my vague, hazy idea into a design full of character.
We decided on a rustic, posy-style bouquet with bursts of yellow (Solidago, Fresia & Billy Buttons), white tones (Daisies & Scabious), and pockets of greenery and wheat to give the arrangement the country-feel I had envisioned.
The bridesmaids had a simple bouquet of daisies, which beautifully complimented their vibrant yellow dresses, and the groomsmen’s buttonholes were a combination of billy buttons, wheat and greenery. Rose also created a hair garland for our Flower Girl, using the same flowers that were chosen for my bouquet.
I had a vision of having potted daisy plants down the aisle in the church, which we decided to buy and care for ourselves using Josh’s parent’s garden. Unfortunately, despite our daily attempts to nurture the plants, the summer heat scorched the daisies just weeks before the wedding day. Thankfully, with help from my parents, we found a beautiful group of tall, yellow Rebekia plants which looked wonderfully quirky down the church aisle. We also used the plants as gifts for those that had been involved in the planning of the wedding.
The Details & Décor
Designing the décor was definitely one of my favourite elements of the wedding planning process. I enjoy being creative, and so do many of my friends, so this was an especially fun time.
Josh and I decided on having four very long tables in the hall, with white table cloths and wooden fold-up chairs. We had hessian strips, and rows of rustic foliage which ran the length of the tables. Each person had a stamped name tag, with a bumble bee printed, and a billy ball threaded through. This formed their place setting. My Mum cleverly made each person a mini-bottle of limoncello for their favours which kept within our yellow-theme.
We named each table after ‘Untranslatable Words’ which is something Josh and I bonded over during our very first date. For example, one table was called ‘Forelsket’, a Danish word which means ‘The euphoria of falling in love’, whilst another table was called ‘Gezelligheid’, a Dutch word which means ‘The warmth of being with loved ones’.
My Mum made heaps of yellow bunting which we strung, amongst fairy lights, across the hall and between the trees by the stream. We also had hay bales scattered about outside, for people to use as seating, and cable reels which we used as mini-tables. We had blankets for people to cosy-up with in the evening, which we rustically displayed on a wooden ladder outside.
In the foyer area, we had a table of little activities for people to dip in and out of throughout the day. This included a guestbook, a fingerprint tree and a jar of teabags with a little yellow-heart tag for people to write their names on. We also had pallets with pegged photographs of both Josh and I.
In the bathrooms, Josh’s Mum put together little baskets with all the essentials any guest would need; from tooth picks to mascara, and deodorant to hairspray. Of course, she made sure that everything was yellow-themed!
We headed to Croatia, on the Dalmatian coast for a week-long honeymoon. We used TUI to book an all-inclusive resort – the company were excellent at arranging the details and providing help when we arrived.
Croatia is a beautiful country. We managed to book two excursions: one to Dubrovnik and one to Krka National Park. Both were breath-taking in their own individual way. The tour guides were engaging and were fountains of knowledge about the history of the country.
The fact that we had such wonderful weather amplified the beauty of the reception venue. The sun burst through the willow trees and really brought things to life. The atmosphere was authentically radiant; with people mingling amongst the hay bales, children bouncing around on space hoppers, and people dipping their toes in the stream.
The best men made a speech that won’t be quickly forgotten and a video that had the guests in fits of laughter. It included lip syncing, dancing and brothers in some questionable outfits!
The food by Oyster Catering was unbelievable. Seth and the team were so helpful and put on a delightful feast. The number of comments we received about the food kept growing throughout the day, which truly reflected the standard and quality of the service.
We had a Ceilidh in the evening which was heaps of fun. The band were great and not only played our first-dance song, but also organised an entertaining evening of waltzing, spinning and dosey doeing.
Advice For Other Couples
- Things are expensive, so focus on the areas that reflect the character of the wedding.
- Prioritise people over presentation.
- Get to know the people you’ll be working with (caterers, photographer, florist etc), and let them get to know you.
- Seek advice from people who have planned a wedding before, and from those that know you as a couple.
- Don’t forget to invest in each other – your marriage is for life, your wedding is just a day.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Lisa-Marie Halliday Photography
Tweed in Bourbon
So very beautiful.
Josh and Esther, thank you both so very much for sharing with us your wedding story xo Lou