A BIG PARTY! From the moment we got engaged, our focus of the wedding was bringing our closest all together and celebrating! Sharing happiness, having a good giggle and making memories to last a lifetime. All whilst ensuring no-ones glass run dry, of course!
Joe and Helen
Dove Grey Wedding
A very warm welcome to Joe and Helen today, who were married on the 3rd May 2019 at Gaynes Park in Essex. They opted for a chic and classic celebration incorporating a divine colour palette of dove grey, white and dusky blue. I really think you are going to love their beautiful images captured by Danielle Smith Photography (thanks for sending them over Danielle) and their detailed wedding report below.
First up it’s great to see two of our Supplier Love directory members are featured today, their live band was Electric Soul Club via Bands For Hire and the pretty confetti moment was with confetti provided by Shropshire Petals, hooray! I also have to rave about the dreamy, romantic flowers adoring the venue throughout and the super stylish outfits all round.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for Helen’s amazing hair do, the elegant welcome sign and the fairy lights everywhere. Oh so lovely.
It was the day before Joe’s 30th Birthday, a lovely sunny, crisp February morning.
We decided to go for a walk around Ashridge – our local national estate. It was a Friday morning, nice and quiet. We were walking along with a coffee, enjoying the glorious sunshine and Joe grabbed me for a hug. I could feel his heart beating – so immediately thought he was about to break up with me! What a way to do it, I’d planned a whole surprise dinner for his 30th in London the next night with all of our friends! Of course he wasn’t breaking up with me, quite the contrary. He then said a few really sweet words, and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was in total shock (and somewhat relieved! Haha). I said yes – of course! I still had my coffee and flapjack in my hands (tough to put down for a girl who was yet to have breakfast!), so Joe couldn’t put the ring on until I’d put them down (safely as to not spill my flat white!).
Joe had arranged lunch with my family under the veil of being his birthday, and when we turned up we could surprise them with my beautiful brilliant cut diamond ring!
I have never been one of those girls with a scrap book of how my wedding should be. Not a hugely girly girl, and quite particular; I know what I like and I knew what I definitely did not want for my wedding.
Joe is a man of simple tastes, classic, clean lines – everything would be white, grey or black in our house if he had the chance!
Our vision was a wedding of understated elegance. Something classy, but romantic. Not too ‘wedding-y’ with lots of props and gimmicks, but still keeping a personal touch.
A palette of white, dove grey, and dusky blue was our colour theme. Silk tails and rustic bouquets of simple and clean coloured flowers.
The Planning Process
Joe often calls me Mrs Filofax. He takes the mickey that I like a plan, like to know what we are doing and to get things organised early. Little did he know this would come in very handy for our big day!
Initially we were contemplating getting married abroad. We went out to Tuscany and met with a fabulous wedding planner who showed us round four gorgeous properties. One of which we fell in love with, and immediately knew it was the place for us. However, back in the reality of the UK, we started planning out the budget and soon realised that the type of wedding and number of guests we wanted, was going to price our dream out of the equation.
We had to re-focus on the UK, which was hard having the beautiful Tuscan property as our benchmark! Step one was to find a venue and a date. Once that was set, we wanted to book the suppliers which would get booked up quickly, such as the photographer, videographer, and band who once a date is gone, it’s gone.
After booking these, we focussed on a hairdresser, make up artist and THE DRESS! Everything else after that fell into place as the vision of our wedding was coming to life.
Joe often wears a suit for work so wanted something special. After much deliberation, he settled on a gorgeous black tuxedo with waistcoat from Suit Supply. It had a textured feel to the material, and was really well fitting. The suit was really well made, and made Joe stand out as the groom should.
Joe’s groomsmen also wore smart black tuxedos, with a smooth texture and without the waistcoat. Theirs were from Charles Tyrwhitt.
Hair: I wanted my dress to do the talking, so decided on a simple up-do. I chose a stylist from Essex, so that it was convenient for the venue. As soon as I saw Clare Louise’s website, I knew she was an artist I could trust in. I booked Clare Louise, and travelled to Chelmsford for my trial. Nothing was too much effort, or hassle. Even after showing her EXACTLY what I wanted, and realising after hours of her trying, that my anticipated style just wasn’t going to work with the length of my hair.
Clare Louise made a couple of suggestions, and created two styles she felt I would like based on my original brief. Clare Louse created both styles, videoed and photographed them and told me to go home and sleep on it. I booked another trial a month later to confirm my final style. I went for a simple chignon with a side parting, and the hair framing my face twisted loosely back into it. This added texture and a bit of detail, keeping an understated and elegant feel. I had a couple of simple diamante pins, to draw out the diamantes in my dress. Clare Louise gave me a blue diamante pin as ‘something blue’, which was a really sweet touch.
For my bridesmaids, I left their hair styling to them – just a ½ up, ½ down style, however they wish it. I gave them a few pins with diamantes to add into the back of their hair.
Make up: I wanted quite simple and natural bridal make up. I don’t wear loads of make up day-to-day so wanted to feel myself but of course, as every bride does, to feel special. Again, I went for a make up artist near my venue, and found Abbie Owen MUA on Instagram. Abbie’s work looked elegant and chic and I booked a trial about 9 months out.
I opted for a rose gold eyeshadow, coral blush and pale peach/pink lip. I chose to get eyelash extensions so I didn’t have to worry about my mascara ruining my make up on the day!
For my bridesmaids, I got their make up done by my MUA, who brought along a colleague to help. Make up tones and style was up to the girls, as long as it was a relatively neutral palette.
I got the bridesmaid dresses on ASOS by a dress maker called TFNC. I was really lucky with the style because my six bridesmaids were all different shapes. I know how difficult it is bridesmaid dress shopping, meeting the needs of everyone so they feel comfortable on the big day. I needed something that flattered them all… if this was possible!
The dresses were a floor length empire line shape and a very pale grey/blue colour. They had a delicate pleated cross-over neckline and Grecian beaded detailing on the straps. A nod to my partial Greek heritage.
We visited Gaynes Park on a freezing and rainy Sunday in April. We were late due to diversions and our sat nav not re-routing us. We were in a bad mood because we had 15 minutes to view the venue and get back on the road as we were hosting friends for lunch!
Considering the poor start to our day, we were not expecting to like the venue. At all! .…. Welcomed by a warm and unimposing team, our mood softened. We were persuaded to have a quick show round and promised we could return whenever we wished. I knew from the moment we stepped foot into the Orangery, this place was hard to beat. We had seen a few barn venues beforehand, and both agreed that only having one space seemed a bit limiting. We were really pleasantly surprised by the amount of space at Gaynes Park, and the versatility of the property. On leaving the venue we instantly knew this was the one for us! Due to popularity of Gaynes Park, we only had 3 dates for the following summer to choose from. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, we booked Friday May 3rd 2019 in the car on the way home!
The venue is absolutely stunning. Words cannot do it justice.
Access to the ‘Apple Loft’ is from 9am, where the bride squad get glammed up. The attention to detail in décor is incredible, and it was the perfect prep for our big day.
We chose to get married in the Orangery. The long walk through the gardens was my aisle, with the congregation facing, and Joe at the long wall. The orangery is all glass and wood beams with panoramic views of the walled garden. It felt intimate but light and airy, contemporary but had a warmth to it that set the tone of our day.
After the ceremony, we had our confetti throw down the long walk, and reception drinks and canapes in the garden whilst listening to Thom Music – an acoustic guitarist and singer we met at our local pub!
The wedding breakfast was in the beautiful Mill Barn. What we liked most about the barn was it had such high ceilings and was square in shape, rather than those traditional long narrow barns of other venues. There is also a mezzanine overlooking the ground floor, which we utilised as a ‘quiet’ area if people needed throughout the evening.
Post-breakfast we moved back into the Orangery to greet our evening guests. Whilst there we had a cocktail bar and a gin bar, music on and the party was really in full swing! This gave the venue time to clear away and prepare for the evening back in the Mill Barn.
The Readings & Music
Readings were personal creations from our sister-in-law, Myriam and my Uncle George. They were upbeat and spoken from the heart.
Music was one of the biggest factors of our wedding. We knew that a playlist can set the tone of the day. This is something Joe was passionate about, and took responsibilities very seriously! We had several playlists throughout the day; pre ceremony, ceremony, drinks reception, breakfast, cocktail hour… even down to the last 4 songs of the night!
For our reception drinks we booked Thom Music – a singer we heard doing a set at our local pub! He was a fantastic acoustic singer with an eclectic range of songs from Sean Paul to Donna Summer! I would highly recommend Thom, and am trying to find an excuse to hire him again!
To continue the party, we booked Electric Soul Club – a band we had heard at our friends’ wedding the summer prior. They have a real soulful but very modern vibe, they even play (and perfect the rap of) Craig David & TS5!
Songs whilst signing the register:
Someone that loves you – Honne
Riptide – Vance Joy
Beyond By Leon Bridges & Luke Combs
Final 4 songs:
Mo Money, Mo Problems – Notorious BIG
Never Forget – Take That
Dakota – Stereophoncs
Save Tonight – Eagle-Eye Cherry
Hannah Louise Flowers
I wanted a florist with a similar taste in styling to me, to suit our understated elegant feel. I didn’t want anything too formal, and ‘done’ but on the other hand, I didn’t want my bouquet to look like I’d gathered them out of the garden!
Hannah Louise’s floral designs are very pretty, romantic and the perfect balance of naturally rustic and perfectly arranged.
The flowers that were a must have for me were thistle and olive – as I am part Scottish and part Greek. I also wanted to include ranunculus roses, along with any other seasonal flowers such as white anemone, and cream astilbe, with green and grey foliage from some added eucaluptus and dusty miller. I had pure silk white ribbon tails trailing from my bouquet.
We had rose petals lining the aisle, and a few small bud vases along the altar table, with two hurricane lanterns either end of the table with a ring of flowers around the base. On the wedding breakfast tables we had a mix of hurricane lanterns with a ring of flowers around the base and lanterns with bud vases dotted around them.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I went dress shopping with my mum and kept it a surprise from everyone else. The first shop we went to, the lady recommended I tried on every different style of dress. I’m so glad I did because I really loved styles I never thought I would.
I found two dresses I could see myself in. One was a beaded, low back, figure hugging gown with a small puddle train. The other was a fishtail gown with a beautiful ruffled train. However I knew neither was “the one”.
Pronovias was a designer I’d always admired, and we decided to go to their sample sale at the flagship store on Bond Street. As it was a sample sale, we were told that if we found ‘the one’ we had to pay in full and take it away with us that day! No pressure!
Starting upstairs in their Atelier boutique, the gowns were stunning. Exquisite detailing, beautiful embroidery and beading to die for, yet some very eccentric designs. Not feeling too inspired (by the design or the high price), we picked up one dress to try on ‘just because’. As soon as I stepped into it, cliché as it sounds; I knew it was the one. I didn’t want to take it off. It was a perfect combination of detailed and delicate. 3D lace and gemstone embroidery with a long tulle train. It had a sweetheart neck line, a scoop back and a fit and flare cut, with a train to die for!
Atelier Pronovias – the ‘Veranda’ Dress. A sample from 2016, so we were lucky to get it at a whopping 65% discounted!
My shoes were very simple – the Kurt Geiger Kross shoe. Mid heel-pointy toe, jewel embellished.
My veil was cathedral length and made of very fine lace – hand made by my seamstress.
We got our rings made by a goldsmith local to us – Lloyd Froud. We opted for plain platinum bands with our date and first dance inscribed on the inside.
My something blue was a diamond and sapphire ring from my late maternal grandmother.
Danielle Smith Photography
The wedding photographer was the most important supplier to get right, so it was really important to invest in a good one, whose style we knew would suit our tastes.
On researching wedding photographers we didn’t realise what a vast array of styles there were out there! This was going to take longer than anticipated. We made a shortlist of about 10 suppliers, and carefully compared packages, styles and the feel we got for each.
We decided to go with Danielle Smith based on the look and feel of her website, and the way in which she goes about capturing the emotion of each moment – not to mention the incredible examples of her work which were effortless and breathtaking.
It was important for us to have a dry run if you like. With both of us being quite awkward in front of the camera, we knew we needed to break the ice. We invited Danielle to Ashridge, where we got engaged, to discuss our dream, and of course to warm us up in front of the camera. From the moment we met, we knew we would be safe in Danielle’s hands. You don’t even realise she is there taking photos – and captures emotions you didn’t even realise were visible. Danielle is a true artist and an absolute dream to work with. With thanks to Danielle, we have a the most beautiful pictures capturing every intricate detail and intimate moment of our wedding, a visual storybook of the most perfect day.
Alex Thraves – Absorb Films
Alex is a friend of Joe’s sister. He doesn’t focus on weddings but said he would shoot our wedding. We loved his candid, natural style of shooting, and could work really easily with him. He was a legend for agreeing to film our wedding and thanks to him, we have footage to cherish forever!
The Details & Décor
The venue’s preferred supplier for décor was Mediterranean Occasions, whom fitted white drapes from the beams over the entrance of the orangery for us. We also had milk churns filled with faux flowers at the entrance, and a white ‘flower wall’ as a backdrop to get married in front of. The orangery and gardens were so beautiful that we felt this was enough for the ceremony.
On my walk to the ceremony, I was preceded by a traditional Scottish bagpiper, and we had booked a red double decker bus for guests to use to get to the venue – avoiding the issue of trying to pick cars up in the morning!
In the Mill Barn, we had fairy lights wrapped around the four internal pillars and draped between the pillars and the mezzanine balcony. To cover the bar and create a back drop for the top table, we had sheer drapes with fairy lights running throughout. I decided to order in dove grey table cloths to give a bit of depth to the table arrangements, and contrast to the white flower arrangements.
A donation to two charities close to our hearts took the place of any traditional favours, with a Prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s pin badge in lieu for guests to wear.
The wedding breakfast was a social affair, with a sharing board of the biggest portion of the most tender beef rib you have ever seen! A challenge for most tables to finish!
In the evening, we had poseur tables with grey floor length tablecloths covering, cinched at the waist with faux eucalyptus and a vase with candle on top. Dotted around the orangery and the Mill Barn were large barrels full of mini bottles of prosecco and beers, to try and reduce the wait at the bar.
We had a dancefloor in the centre of the barn, which was full all night thanks to our incredible band. I had purchased enough pairs of flipflops for all the women to keep dancing all night long, and had adorned the bathrooms with baskets of deodorant, hair bands, nail files, lip balm, mints… to keep our guests on top form at all times!
Outside of The Mill Barn was decorated with white festoon lighting for people to relax on the outdoor sofas – along with blankets we had sourced to keep chills at bay whilst guests enjoyed a pizza from the outdoor clay oven.
We didn’t place much importance on the cake, so just ordered a chocolate 3-tiered cake with solid white chocolate and silver ‘shimmering hoop’. We decorated it with a cake topper “and so the adventure begins” that I ordered from Hobby Craft and painted silver. £250. Bargain!
We honeymooned in Santorini the week after our wedding. We stayed at the Rocabella, and I would highly recommend it. It was a peaceful and much needed week of rest, relaxation, good food and wine – and of course, those famous Santorini sunsets.
Where to start!! Getting ready and the anticipation of Joe seeing my dress…. Walking down the aisle with my dad, to Joe!! I loved seeing Joe for the first time. Seeing how happy everyone was, and watching their faces during the speeches was so special. I will never forget the biggest party of our lives, and being lifted up onto our friends shoulders for the final songs!
Advice For Other Couples
Don’t worry about everyone else’s opinions. They will have them, they will impose them. It’s not their day, so don’t fret.
Weddings are as expensive or as inexpensive as you want them to be. Keep a close eye on your budget as it easily spirals!
Be present on the day. Enjoy and take in every moment as it goes way too quickly.
Go away straight after the big day – you will need it!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Danielle Smith Photography
Clare Louise Hair
Hannah Louise Flowers
Venue Styling Hire
365 Caterers Linen
TFNC at ASOS
Wedding Flip Flops
Rocabella Hotel Santorini
Wow, what a memorable and really special celebration. I really love the dove grey wedding scheme too.
Joe and Helen, thank you both so much for sharing your wonderful wedding story with us xo Lou