We’re at the seaside today and Whitstable on the Kent coast to be exact for WWW readers Alexandra and Wes’ beachy nuptials. They tied the knot on 20th June 2019 at the East Quay Venue. Everything was super relaxed which is just the way I like it and there are lots of pretty touches to enjoy.
Although the venue is magnificent on its own and doesn’t need too much fussy decor, Alexandra and Wes created lots of little details to enhance their guests’ days and I think you’re going to love them. From the flip flops for tired dancing feet to the epic cake table, you’re not going to want to miss this one!
It was my birthday and nine days after having our little boy. He gave me a ring as part of my birthday presents- as he quite often buys me jewellery as a birthday or Christmas gift I didn’t think anything other than it was a lovely gift. I put it on and then a bit later on we were busy, out with our little boy he told me I was wearing it on the wrong finger… I still didn’t twig and had to have it spelled out for me!
We both wanted a wedding that reflected us, relaxed and fun but still beautiful with lots of little touches making it personal to us. Wes has always lived by the sea, so a seaside location was important too. We wanted our children to be involved as well, so each of them even down to our two year old had a part to play in the wedding itself. Dylan, Wes’ eldest was his best man and ring bearer- he’s autistic so this was a huge job for him which he did brilliantly, Wes’s daughter Arwen was one of our bridesmaids and the two youngest boys were both page boys alongside our nephew.
The Planning Process
Wes had taken shared parental leave for the first six weeks of my maternity leave so we got straight into venue research. We booked in visits to venues in both Kent and Essex that looked like they could be in our budget and I came across East Quay Venue in Whitstable- we visited on a very sunny weekday in June and as soon as we saw it we fell in love!
After that we visited a wedding fair in September at the venue and met many of the suppliers we ended up booking for the day. It was fairly easy to choose our suppliers as the venue had so many lovely recommended ones.
My bridesmaids’ dresses were from ASOS. I had an idea in mind for them- I wanted pale pink, easy to wear and something which would suit a 15-year-old as well as two thirty-something bridesmaids. I was really lucky with these dresses as they suited them perfectly and were so flattering. I let them choose their own shoes, but suggested a metallic colour. They all chose different shoes but it went together brilliantly.
I bought the girls all a rose gold Kate Spade bracelet to match my own, and bought them each a rose gold heart necklace to wear as well.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I had a designer in mind from day one when I was searching for wedding dresses: Lucy Can’t Dance, based in Chelmsford, Essex. However I decided to go to Rock the Frock Bridal also in Chelmsford to allow myself a bit more choice in dresses and designers (just in case!). In my mind I was set on a dip dye dress from Lucy Can’t Dance, however when I got to the boutique they got me to try on five dresses, two of which were two pieces, which I never would have even considered, if I’d have been left to my own devices! I ended up falling in love with a two piece from Lucy Can’t Dance, her Tropicana lace top and Soul Love skirt in Blush. Proving I can’t be trusted to go shopping solo!! It was completely made to measure and even better, my lovely mum paid for it. I have to credit Rock the Frock for taking the outfit out of the window and getting me to try it on as it was completely out of my comfort zone, but now I can’t imagine having worn anything else!
I had pink block heel sandals from Kurt Geiger for the daytime as I wanted to wear a heel but still be comfortable and my rose gold jewellery was from Kate Spade. I also wore my nana’s amethyst and diamond ring as my something old.
One of my best friends and bridesmaid got married the year before so she loaned me her veil for the day which was complemented by a Crown and Glory “Aerwyn” Gold Leaf Crown to wear in my hair; which was so beautiful and so many people commented on how lovely it was.
For the evening I had a pair of White Dr Marten’s with pink ribbon laces, which my lovely bridesmaid Jane customised for me with an anchor and flowers similar to our invites along with our wedding date.
I ordered a custom leather jacket from Painted by Lucky. I must have ordered this over 15 months before the wedding, even before I had chosen my dress as I fell in love with them. My jacket had “Hopeless Romantic” on the back with our wedding date and my new name “Mrs Fitzgerald” on the sleeve.
I didn’t want anything too traditional, but equally I didn’t want to be so out there that it wasn’t me anymore. I love pink, I love rose gold and a bit of glamour but I also like to wear leather and Docs so this was the perfect combination!
I knew who I wanted to do my make up from day one, the lovely Kelly Jenner had worked on a friend’s wedding where I was bridesmaid and I know her work is beautiful, glamorous and she makes your skin look like it’s airbrushed.
I love my make-up, I’m a make-up artist myself and I like to look like I am wearing it, particularly on a night out so I knew the traditional bridal look wasn’t for me- Kelly gave me the most beautiful bronzed smoky eyes, lashes and perfect skin. It lasted all day and all night! I took a photo at 2am before I washed my face and I still looked perfect (maybe a little wine-tired!). I didn’t sleep the night before the wedding and Kelly made me look fresh faced!
My nails were done by the amazing Kate S at Pinky’s Beauty where I go for all my beauty treatments, I think I scared her slightly as I hadn’t warned here when I booked in that these would be my wedding nails, but they were so beautiful with nude pink and silver glitter, they were completely impractical length (luckily I had a new husband to run around after me), but they looked amazing for our day.
I found Kim at She Said Yes Bridal Hair on Instagram as I was searching online for a wedding hair stylist. Hair and Make-up was one the most important details I wanted to get right so I needed to find the right person. Kim does a lot of weddings and creates amazing hair for her brides and bridesmaids. At my trial I gave her a rough idea- plaits, nothing too formal but all up so you can see the back of my dress. She created a look I couldn’t have even imagined for myself! It was exactly what I wanted. She even showed my bridesmaids how to remove my veil without messing up my hair.
For my bridesmaids hair she gave them all slightly different plaits in their hair and placed the jewelled bobby pins differently so their look was cohesive but individual to them.
I had Luxurious Glitter run a glitter bar for the evening reception as I LOVE glitter.. I booked them without telling Wes… I had to tell him when I needed to pay them! I’d been desperate to have one and hadn’t stopped going on about it to him so he had guessed anyway!
Claire at Luxurious Glitter was fab and so many of our guests got glittered up for the evening (both men and women!), there were so many glitter beards.
I loved it so much, I am now training to be a glitter fairy as part of the Luxurious team!
We aimed for around £10k although it came in at just over £12k, we had figured that might happen despite our best efforts!
As soon as we walked into East Quay Venue we knew we had found our venue, it is right on the beach in one of the most beautiful and quirky little seaside towns in Kent. Not only was Wes happy with a seaside venue, but Whitstable has always been one of our favourite places to visit, even more so as Wes can see his beloved Southend across the Estuary on a clear day! We had other viewings booked in at very different venues but we immediately cancelled them as we knew this was the place for us.
East Quay was the original Oyster grading room of the Seasalter and Ham Oyster Fishery company with beautiful brickwork, beams and stone floors and you can really make it your own inside. It is also one of those venues that doesn’t need a lot of decoration to bring it to life. It’s right on the seafront and has it’s own roped off beach area which was perfect for our drinks reception. We provided Pimms, Prosecco and a “Pimp Your Prosecco” station for guests along with giant bowls of crisps and nuts rather than canapés.
Our dinner was a boxed Fish & Chips which was perfect for the seaside! We provided sausages, halloumi and tempura vegetables as our alternative options. The portions were huge!!!
We then had a dessert table with every type of sweet item imaginable- from Donuts, carrot cake and chocolate fudge cake to cinnamon rolls and vegan gluten free brownies. We also had a cheese tower, decorated by my dad! Our lovely friend Mike at Honestly Tasty made us a beautiful vegan cheese tower as well which I have never seen before and was so popular with both vegan and non-vegan guests. We had so much food we probably could have fed three times the number of guests we had, but it was important to me that everyone was catered for and that no one could possibly go home hungry.
For the evening we ordered in Papa John’s pizzas and had a sweetie table for guests to help themselves to! No matter what else happened that day, no one was going home hungry!!
The Readings & Music
We had Katie Keen from True Blue Ceremonies conduct our ceremony and she wrote a perfect script for our ceremony, telling our story of how we met and how we had gotten to our big day. We had so many comments on how lovely our ceremony was and how great it was to hear how we met as some people didn’t realise we were a Tinder match! Katie also suggested one of our readings for our fifteen year old to read as some of the readings out there aren’t suitable for a teenage girl to read about her dad! She read an excerpt from Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith and my friend and bridesmaid Beth read “He’s Not Perfect” by Bob Marley. She gave the most perfect dramatic pause after the opening line “he’s not perfect” which had everyone laughing.
We had The Redfords acoustic duo perform during our ceremony and drinks reception. I walked down the aisle to their cover of Times Like These by Foo Fighters which nearly made me cry, then during the signing they played Luther Vandross’ Never Too Much which is something we danced to on our first date on the Southbank in London and finally we left to Three Little Birds by Bob Marley which is a song that means a great deal to us and our little boy was born to that song.
The Redfords then continued to play out on the beach during our drinks reception which just added to the relaxed beachy vibe we were going for.
My flowers were created by Emily and her team from I Do Devoted Dreams who also did most of our venue decoration. I gave her a little bit of direction; I wanted a hand tied bouquet with lots of wild flowers and seasonal flowers- something colourful but tied in with our blue and mustard colour scheme. The bridesmaids had gypsophila bouquets with white roses and the groomsmen had a white rose to represent Wes’ dad’s favourite flower with a blue thistle and foliage. The table flowers were all wild flowers in mixed jars and vases and my pew ends were small hand tied gypsophila bouquets. Guests were able to take home all the jars with flowers in at the end of the day as a keepsake.
The Details & Décor
We hired a vintage VW camper van and VW Beetle to take us to the venue from VW Brides- they were so beautiful and got a lot of attention as we drove through the streets of Whitstable to the venue. We only used them for a short while but they were well worth hiring!
I Do Devoted Dreams provided us with a lot of our decorations for the tables and the venue itself. We hired a lot of fairy lights from them to decorate inside and outside the venue. I bought pastel lanterns from a friend who had used them for her wedding and Emily and her team put them up for me over the dancefloor, they created such an impact. As I turned up at the venue I cried because it all looked so beautiful.
My bridesmaid Jane hand painted our name cards for us, our tables were named after bands we had seen together; we had mini chalkboards with our music themed table names and in the week before the wedding we decided to add album covers to each of the tables as well to really show off the music theme we had gone for.
I do Devoted Dreams provided wildflowers in jars for the tables, hessian table runners and we had tealights in lace covered jars.
Our table plan was from a seller on Etsy LoveMeDoDesign which featured records and flowers. I absolutely love our table plan and am framing it as a keepsake of the day.
Our favours were charity pin badges from two charities very close to us; I work for Demelza Hospice Care for Children and Dylan, Wes’ eldest son is autistic so we chose the National Autistic Society to support as well.
We provided a couple of Instax polaroid cameras for people to use and write in our guestbook, blankets in a basket for if people got cold in the evening as we were on the beach and a flip flop basket for those tired feet!
It was so lovely seeing it all come together on the day as I had worked so hard to try and think of little touches to make the day more special. It meant a lot that many of our guests told us how much they appreciated everything we had done. My nana and grandad even told me it was the best wedding they had ever been to which is high praise indeed!
We also hired a creche company to look after some of the smaller children on the day. This was probably one of our best hires! The ladies looked after the little ones so well we didn’t need to worry about them- they kept them busy with craft activities, toys and even took them down to the beach a few times to look for crabs and shells.
My friend Sam Atlee at Artcardia makes brilliant and unusual cakes; so I knew straight away we would be getting her to make our cake. We gave her a brief and some inspiration photos and let her run with it. I have never seen such an amazing cake in all the weddings I have been to (and I know I’m slightly biased!).
We had a seaside themed cake with a vintage tattoo layer (paying homage to some of Wes’ tattoos) and there was even a mini version of us on top of the cake. We went for fun flavours like dark chocolate and sea salt, vanilla and candyfloss and banoffee.
Originally Wes had chosen a three piece blue tweed suit from The Vintage Suit Hire company. We had gone to Bedford especially one Sunday morning for him to buy his; and we then ordered all our groomsmen the same suit.
However about a month before the wedding he felt that the three piece wool suit would be too warm for a wedding in June on the beach and we scrapped them completely. In the end everyone wore navy blue chinos from Next, Wes had a white short sleeve Ted Baker shirt, brown leather loafers from Next, navy and mustard polka dot braces, mustard bowties from Boyds of Bedford and mustard socks. He also bought all the groomsmen a watch from Brave Soul and matching sunglasses to wear on the day.
We wanted our three page boys to match the adults without them wearing full suits as we wanted them to still look like little boys! We went for mustard chino shorts, white short sleeve shirts, blue braces, yellow bowtie and navy espadrilles. Most of their clothing came from Next, River Island and Primark as we knew they were likely to get dirty at the first opportunity. And they didn’t let us down!
In the end their looks together was so striking and perfect for the venue!
We met Florence Berry at the first East Quay wedding fair we visited and I immediately warmed to her. She has a really relaxed style and makes you feel completely at ease in front of the camera. Having a little one herself meant she was brilliant with the kids as well.
Florence captured our day perfectly and took photos when I didn’t even realise she was there! She allowed us to be silly and got the best photos of us and our guests. She was there from about 11am and she stayed well after first dance into the evening capturing the more drunken moments of the night!
We chose to delay our honeymoon and are off to Seattle, USA in October for 10 days. We delayed our honeymoon for a number of reasons, the main one being so we didn’t leave the kids straight after the wedding when it had already been quite a crazy few weeks in the lead up! It also allowed us to plan our honeymoon post wedding and beat those wedding blues people often talk about.
We did have a minimoon a couple of weeks after the wedding to one of our favourite festivals – 2000trees where two of our favourite bands (and table names!) were headlining. It was the perfect getaway for us to chill out and enjoy each other’s company.
When we had finished our vows to one another our autistic son Dylan commented out out “Good job daddy” which made everyone in the room laugh and brought a few tears of happiness from our guests.
Advice For Other Couples
It’s what everyone always says but try not to worry about the little things- no one will notice if you forget a decoration or something isn’t quite right- at the end of the day it’s your day
Take time for each other and take in the day. I was so nervous/anxious all morning and into the ceremony I didn’t take it all in and I wish I could go back and do it all again!
After the ceremony we had five minutes to ourselves to just have a quick chat and take in our surroundings and what we had just done- this was so important!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
East Quay Venue
True Blue Ceremonies
Crown & Glory
Groom and Groomsmen trousers, braces and loafers
Groom and Groomsmen bowties
Boyds of Bedford
Flowers and Venue Styling
I Do Devoted Dreams
Vegan cheese tower
Carousel Creche Company
Thank you ever so much Alexandra and Wes for sharing your beautifully beachy day with us, what fun! Rachel x