Wowee! What a gorgeous day we have to share with you today, sit back and enjoy Amy and Geri’s nuptials at Rownhams House held on the 6th May 2017. The florals are really something special and there are so many wonderful details to take in. From the beautiful trailing bouquets to the elegant signage throughout, and what about that amazing cake. Pinterest fingers at the ready!
Securing two brides’ dresses without each seeing the other’s or ending up in the same gown was never going to be easy but thanks to the maids of honour being in cahoots and some tactical activity by the boutique staff, Amy and Geri ended up with two very different but complementary dresses. I think they both look simply perfect in their Wed2B purchased gowns.
Amy and Geri’s words should also reassure couples who are concerned about not having a vision for their wedding at the beginning of planning. This pair found that everything just came together, and including things that they like and their personal styles turned out beautifully. Their lovely venue complete with ever so helpful hosts had a number of different spaces to enjoy and the brides came up with a very clever way to arrange their perfect entrance for the ceremony.
Thanks must go to Photography by Paloma for providing us with such stunning imagery of Amy and Geri’s big day.
THE PROPOSAL | 10th July 2016
Amy: So it was just an average Sunday afternoon (or so I thought anyway) and we were wandering through the town centre looking for a birthday present for Geri’s Mum. We had gone into most of the jewellery shops, looking at various sparkly things under the pretence of buying something for Geri’s Mum. One of the shop assistants asked how long we had been together and joked that one of us should pop the question! I laughed this off and we carried on looking for presents… We later purchased a little gift and started making our way back to the car through a really pretty park in Southampton. I had once shared with Geri some of the lovely childhood memories I had made in that park and, because it was such a beautifully sunny day, Geri suggested that we get a drink and sit on the grass for a while. We sat there in the sun sharing memories and talking about our future together; how we wanted to get married, buy a derelict old house to do up, have babies and all of those lovely things. Geri then asked me if I really did want to get married and I said “yes, of course I do”… She then said “well, you had better have this then” and handed me a box tied in a ribbon. Inside was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen in my life. It truly took my breath away: I was so completely overwhelmed with emotion. I just about managed to say “well are you going to ask me then?” and Geri, through her tears, asked me to marry her. And of course, I said yes. We sat there for what seemed like hours after that in our own little bubble.
A few days later I surprised Geri with a matching ring to mine and asked her to marry me. It’s not so nerve-wracking to propose when you already know the answer! We didn’t want to announce our engagement on social media straight away and so spent all of that week visiting and calling family and friends in person to tell them our news. My Grandad was so happy that he offered to bake a cake!
THE VISION | Hmmm… Despite our best efforts, we didn’t really have a vision as such, just that we wanted our wedding to reflect our relationship and personal styles (which are a bit of a mish-mash to be honest!) We love anything that’s a bit gaudy (one of us is an Essex girl after all!) so we relished the opportunity to lavish various parts of the day with gold and splashes of colour.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Geri: We started looking at venues quite soon after getting engaged as we knew that a “one size fits all” hotel package wasn’t going to work for us and that it might take a bit of research to find a venue that we both loved. We both agreed that we wanted to have the freedom to bring in our own suppliers and allow our day to move at its own pace (much like Amy does in general!) Our first thought was to find a creaky old barn somewhere in which to have a simple reception bash involving a good dose of food and booze, after getting married in a local church. However… we soon realised that the barns and associated costs were beyond our budget and the ones that we visited wouldn’t be able to accommodate our idea of both having a traditional entrance to the ceremony.
We were also faced with the additional issue of not being able to get married in a church; this was not something that we had envisaged as some denominations have publicly said that they support same sex marriage so we didn’t think that this would be a problem. However, when we enquired with the elders of these churches across Hampshire, we were unfortunately advised that their particular church did not support this; this happened quite a few times which was, to be truthful, quite disheartening and forced us to rethink how our day would work. Very luckily and entirely by chance, we soon stumbled across Rownhams House via the wonder of the internet: We went to have a look, were completely captivated with both the house and its wonderful owners Nigel and Helen and knew that this was where we wanted to get married and celebrate our day.
Amy: We knew that we wanted either a spring or autumn wedding so looked at available dates with Rownhams. Before I knew what had happened, Geri had somehow persuaded me that a May wedding would be perfect… May 2017, to be exact; giving us less than ten months to plan and pay for the day!
BUDGET | We look back now and laugh our asses off at the ridiculous budget that we set ourselves for the day! From memory, we set our initial budget for our “super casual barn bash” at around the £9,000 mark… Which we easily doubled once we got sucked in to the world of wedding planning! There were a few moments in which we really did lose the plot and splash out on unnecessary items (our credit cards are paying for it now!)
We had no savings prior to getting engaged as we had only recently moved house so planning really was key; Geri created a spreadsheet which detailed every single payment and spread the cost across the ten months which was crucial to making things feasible. This became her best friend and my worst enemy! We also had some unexpected financial help from our families which meant that we could have some of the luxuries that we thought we would have to sacrifice.
THE VENUE | We really did fall in love with Rownhams from the moment that we stepped over the threshold; we are not one for a cliche but we truly did get a “feeling” as we first walked into the venue and remember squeezing each other’s hands every time we saw another room in the beautiful venue.
Nigel and Helen were so welcoming and were genuinely excited to be part of our day. They shared our vision for creating a unique ceremony with us; allowing us to both express ourselves but also maintain some of the traditions that we had both set our hearts on.
Amy: The grand library in the main body of the house is where we got married. We both wanted to be traditional “brides”; arriving and making our entrances separately and definitely not seeing each other before the ceremony. With a bit of creative planning with Nigel and Helen, we were able to set up the room with all chairs facing the centre; we subsequently walked into the room at the same time from different entrances and saw each other and our guests for the first time from opposite ends of the room. We were both given away (me by my Dad and Geri by her older brother) so this set up really did work brilliantly and was everything that we could have hoped for. This was a surprise for our guests who had been asking how various elements of the ceremony would work; some of our guests became quite emotional when our Mums and bridesmaids came in from opposite ends of the room in time to our chosen music!
After the ceremony, our guests enjoyed drinks in the grounds while we traipsed off to the woods with our magical photographer Paloma; the grounds and wildlife really are beautiful at Rownhams which provided a perfect backdrop, especially in the blazing May sunshine that we were lucky enough to have.
Following the drinks reception, we were back in the library for our wedding breakfast; we had around 70 guests and the room worked perfectly and resulted in a cosy, relaxed ambience for our friends and family.
Geri: We moved over to the coachhouse for the evening reception; this was a series of five rooms, all of which are laid out completely differently including a lounge, bar, dance room and two other areas as well as an outdoor area under the softly illuminated arches of the coachhouse. This again worked perfectly for our guests as it meant that as people went to dance, get food or go to the bar they had to walk through the other rooms which encouraged everyone to mingle and chat all evening! Nigel and Helen personally ran the bar in the evening and were on hand all day to ensure that everything ran smoothly; they chatted to our guests and took the time to share information with Amy’s Grandad about the wildlife which he truly appreciated.
Throughout the planning process, Nigel and Helen really could not have been more supportive and kind; they really did want our day to be perfect and made us feel at ease on the day. They also gave us full access to the venue for the whole day before the wedding to set up and were again on hand to help and to facilitate a full run through of the ceremony (which was essential, especially due to the kooky entrance that we had insisted on!) Nigel and Helen also organised a meeting on the Tuesday before the wedding with our caterers which again was really helpful. We really could not have asked for more.
THE DRESSES & ACCESSORIES | Geri: Well. The dresses. We both wanted to wear traditional bridal gowns and agreed that they needed to be different but also compliment each other, however… As we wanted to stick to tradition and not see each other’s dresses we were faced with a conundrum! We enlisted the help of our maids of honour and decided to go to the same boutiques to make things easier (cue lots of carefully arranged appointment timings and dresses being removed from rails between our appointments!) Both of our maids of honour had photos of us on their phones so there was a lot of cloak and dagger behaviour from both of them! We eventually both found our dresses and veils from Wed2B in Southampton, which worked both logistically from a “double-bride” perspective and also helped our budget considerably as dresses are off-the-peg and capped at £599 a dress. The ladies in there (in particular Lizzie and Ellie) were fantastic; they removed my dress completely from the shop rails when Amy went in for her appointment to avoid any possibility of her seeing it (or choosing the same one – as we had envisioned that happening on the wedding day due to us having very similar taste). Amy chose an ivory fishtail dress and I opted for an a-line, light champagne dress; both were heavily embroidered with lace so they ended up complimenting each other really well.
Amy: We found a wonderful seamstress called Wendy, who was a family friend of one of my close friends. Wendy undertook some very clever alterations to my dress and subsequently also made a lace topper for Geri’s dress for which she used a corded lace that almost exactly matched Geri’s dress. Wendy is a wedding dressmaker by trade so we had complete faith in her abilities and she did not disappoint. Wendy also undertook the alterations for the majority of the bridesmaids dresses (some of which were very last minute i.e. a couple of day’s before the wedding) so she was an absolute godsend!
USHER’S ATTIRE | Amy: We didn’t really have an abundance of men involved in our day but my Dad, my brother-in-law and Geri’s brother wore matching suits from M&S. We made ruffled pocket squares from the off cuts of the bridesmaids dresses which tied in the colours easily. We also bought their ties from Moss Bros and gave them to them on the day.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Geri: We chose our music by mooching through our personal music collections: Thanks to both of our Dads, we have very similar music taste and opted mainly for jazz, blues and a sneaky bit of motown as our wedding music. Our entrance music was ‘A String of Pearls’ by Glenn Miller for our mums and bridesmaids and ‘At Last’ by Etta James for us. I was crying before I had even made it to the aisle, as was my brother!
Amy: We picked out a couple of readings that we felt suited us as a couple and asked my cousin and Geri’s nieces to read these. They did an amazing job, as can be seen in the wedding photos as everyone is crying!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Geri: We each had a maid of honour, plus five further bridesmaids and two flower girls, making a grand total of nine people to clothe! Our bridesmaids were all very different, both in appearance and personal styles. Amy and her sister are ginger so some colour options were immediately removed from the table, despite my best efforts to persuade them otherwise (I even dyed my hair blush pink in an attempt to prove my point that this could work, but to no avail!) We ended up taking an interesting day trip to Croydon to a lovely place called Sexyher… and by some small miracle managed to find a dress that everyone was happy to wear. We had a dress made in a complimenting colour for my youngest bridesmaid who was nine years old and our two flower girls (who were toddlers) wore dresses snapped up from TK Maxx.
THE FLOWERS | We were so, so, incredibly lucky when it came to our flowers. We had stumbled across our cake creator Harriot at a bridal boot sale in Winchester; after hearing our ideas, Harriot subsequently put us in touch with a friend of hers called Sarah, who had worked as a florist in the past but who no longer did it as a profession. Sarah had created the flowers for Harriot’s wedding and her style exactly matched our own so we were very excited about the prospect of her doing our flowers. We wanted to create flowers with an edwardian/victorian style; large, wild, unstructured bouquets with flowers sympathetic to the season in. Sarah knew exactly what we meant and educated us about plant choices using actual floristry books rather than by looking at bouquets on a screen. The whole experience of creating our bouquets was so exciting; we gave Sarah lots of creative freedom as we trusted her which meant that the flowers on the day were always going to be a lovely surprise. When Sarah and her lovely mother-in-law delivered them on the day, Amy’s mum cried her eyes out at the thought and care that had gone into them. Sarah had individually tailored the corsages and buttonholes to subtlety match each bouquet and had also prepared a full boot-load of vials, small vases and jam jar floral displays that we dotted around the venue the day before the wedding.
One last mention; we each had succulents in our bouquets and have since discovered that Sarah had prepped these in such a way that we have managed to replant them after the wedding – an especially thoughtful touch that we hadn’t expected.
THE CAKE | Our cake was a spectacular, three tiered mountain! After seeing Harriot’s work at the bridal boot sale, we were sold. We originally had voiced to each other that we weren’t bothered about spending money on a cake but after seeing Harriot’s work we soon changed our mind. Similarly to our flowers, we gave Harriot a colour theme and a rough idea of what we wanted and then gave her free reign to create what she felt would work. Harriot provided us with a beautiful watercolour sketch of her proposed creation prior to the day and it was exactly how we had imagined.
Amy: Geri was keen for the cake to have splashes of gold and Harriot made this work by dipping lavender in gold paint and brushing gold leaf onto blueberries; a subtle nod to Geri’s Essex ways!
Harriot also made meringue kisses to dot around the tables in the coachhouse; all of which were devoured by the guests in no time! Because Harriot and Sarah were friends, they perfectly coordinated the cake and flowers; we also supplied them with a small sample of the bridesmaids dresses to reference which worked really well.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Geri: Harriot again put us in touch with our fabulous photographer Paloma, as she had been the second shooter at her own wedding on the previous year. As soon as we met Paloma, we were besotted. Our first meeting with her felt a bit like a blind date; meeting awkwardly in a local bar for a cheeky gin on Worthing sea front! This being said, we really did hit it off with Paloma straight away and knew that we wanted her to capture our day. Our budget for photography was limited but Paloma put together a package for us that we could afford and that covered everything on our wish list.
Neither of us enjoy being in front of the camera but Paloma had included an engagement shoot as part of our package; we would never have chosen this ourselves but it was an invaluable and fun way to get used to being photographed whilst also providing us with some beautiful, natural photos of us as a couple before getting married. We went for a walk in the woods with our crazy, disobedient huskies and will treasure these photos and the fun of that day for a long time to come.
Before the wedding, Paloma took the time to come to the venue with us and spent time sussing out the best places to get shots on the day.
By the day of the wedding, Paloma was so excited to make the most of the venue that she had traipsing into the woods, resulting in some brilliant action shots of us fighting with brambles and beetles in our dresses! Watching two brides in the distance untangle each other’s veils from branches was a sight to behold for many of our guests but it made for some gorgeous photos in the end. Paloma’s style is very natural which is absolutely what we wanted; she refers to herself as a “ninja photographer” which is exactly what she is as she managed to capture lots of beautiful, fleeting, moments from the day without us even realising.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We made a lot of the decorations and signs ourselves, raiding local charity shops and boot sales, where we picked up some jazzy bargains such as gilt crockery and glassware.
Geri: Our family and friends set to work drying out petals in the run up to the wedding, resulting in us having a punch bowl full of beautiful, real confetti on the day. We also used this to decorate our tables, along with antique books from our shelves at home and the floral displays provided by Sarah. Amy’s Dad, Mum and little sister made signs, rag bunting and a very nifty screen that we decorated with photos of us and our guests.
THE HONEYMOON | We travelled to Cape Verde after the wedding; we are definitely more of a “city break” kind of couple but knew that, after planning the wedding, we would want to sit and vegetate in the sunshine for a week, which is exactly what we did! The break was lovely and gave us time to refuel as a couple but our next holiday will be back to our usual remit of adventuring through the back streets of a bustling city somewhere!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Too many to mention!
Geri putting her attire on in completely the wrong order, resulting in her nine year old niece having to crawl under her dress to put her garter and shoes on… Being waved at by passers by in the 1925 Sunbeam that took us to Rownhams… Geri’s brother skidding across the gravel with one minute to spare before the ceremony (late as ever!)… Seeing each other for the first time at opposite ends of the room… and then Amy’s face when she saw that Geri’s dress had sleeves… One of our bridesmaids accidentally launching a (thankfully faulty) smoke bomb directly at us during Paloma’s crazy photoshoot… Not being ladylike brides and eating crackling with our fingers on the top table… Seeing our beautiful cake for the first time… Going wild with our guests on the dance floor when Amy’s Dad played the drums with Still-Moving DJs… Being the last people left at the venue because one of our guests had stolen our taxi… And then having to chase the driver down the road at the hotel when he drove off with our bags and presents in his boot… And finally, seeing guests in the hotel do a drunken double take when the second bedraggled bride (Amy) traipsed into the bar at gone midnight, whilst the first one (Geri) jumped up and down trying to get a huge stag beetle out from the lace layers of her dress!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Everyone told us before the wedding to “make time for each other” and “take it all in” during the day. This was not an issue for us as anyone who knows us will attest to the fact that where one of us is, the other isn’t far behind…
Our advice to anyone would be to not sweat the small stuff; absolutely plan plan plan in the lead up to the day but once you are there, go with the flow and embrace the craziness. Timings won’t go to plan, people won’t do as they are told (think group photos!) and some things will go a bit pear shaped but try to laugh it all off and enjoy every moment.
Stay true to your ideas and feel free to ditch the norm (and remember that you can say no to your family and friends’ ideas of what you should be doing!) If you can create a day that truly reflects what you are about as a couple then you really will enjoy it and so will everyone else.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Photography by Paloma
Venue | Rownhams House
Cake | Harriot Collings (Instagram/facebook: Jemima_Cakes)
Flowers | Sarah Earing (Instagram: sarahjoannelouise)
Transport | Don Foss, Fosstalgia Cars
Music | Still-Moving DJs
Balloons | Make it Magic
Dresses | Wed2B
Bridesmaids | Sexyher
Alterations | Silk Creations by Wendy, ([email protected])
Make Up | Chloe Ellis, Emily Channel
Thank you Amy and Geri, it’s such a pleasure to share your beautiful wedding day. Rachel x