Things are about to get very colourful and really fun around here because Tim and Jess are joining us with their joyous wedding celebration. They were married in a church ceremony followed by a really entertaining party at Anstey Hall in Cambridgeshire on the 11th October 2019. They opted for multicolour vibrant touches rather than traditional autumn colours and they worked so so well. I especially love the vibrant bouquets complete with ribbons, swoon.
Guests had so much to keep them entertained, with live music, human hedges (something I have never seen at a wedding in almost 10 years in the wedding industry!), a speeches sweepstake and even cardboard cut outs. All day long you will see happy smiling faces and a lot of love! There is also a lot of style with Jess wearing a beautiful tassel dress and Tim choosing a navy suit and tartan accessories. They looked just gorgeous.
Huge thanks goes to Jonny Barratt Photography for sharing with us these fantastic images filled with personality.
13.6.17 – Croatia over a ‘nudist’ sign by the side of the sea. SO ROMANTIC… genuinely.
We left for Croatia at 2.30 in the morning and travelled to a stunning hotel on the Croatian coast.
I knew something was up because Tim didn’t take his hand out of his pocket in the room and wanted to eat early without getting a drink in first – so I quickly got changed into nicer gear, wanting to wear slogs due to our long ass days travel. We walked along the sea front in the blistering heat where we came across a jetty. There were a few Croatian babes with their melons out so I ushered him on. We then arrived at a beautiful arch with steps carved out of stone. And this is where he did it. To which I panicked and said ‘don’t get down on one effing knee’. So he asked me in a squat. I said yes and when we looked down in dark blue capital letters it read ‘NUDIST’. Romantic!! We then sat in a restaurant, just us – Tim had sweet talked the manager to open early! Where there was a wasps nest (Tim’s VERY allergic), a dog (I am nervous of dogs I don’t know) and we got insanely burnt feet! BUT, it was imperfectly perfect and very ‘us’.
To hit all the senses and just be fun!! Beautiful surroundings with a really relaxed feel for everyone to enjoy. We had a longer engagement for various reasons so had about 6 different weddings in that time. We were going to have all white classic, star themed, ‘this is our life’ themed – however narcistic – feathers which was declined sharpish, romantic and I’m sure much more.
In the end we decided to go colourful, from the flowers, to the décor and the food itself. A treat for the eyes and senses. And the ‘theme’ ‘big hats and bow ties’ to which everyone looked AMAZING!
We knew we wanted a lot of music included so went a little OTT and had a bagpiper, pianist, band and followed by disco. Although it wasn’t enough because when the music finished we sung for an extra hour to all the classics.
I was adamant that just because it was Autumn we didn’t go down that colour palette route. We just wanted fun!
The Planning Process
We had a long time which flew by!! The main parts where organised first which basically meant music, church and food. I fell for the venue straight away although next time I would read reviews!
The Mums were instrumental in the planning. And as Tim said in his speech the Dads did their bit by staying out of the way. Although they did attend a wedmin family day – making and assisted with all the church décor to their horror I think.
I did most of it, with Tim agreeing to most things. I didn’t want anything you would expect! I just wanted it to be 100% us, family and friends inclusive with a bit of cheek (googly eyes in the programmes for where to sit for example).
I had spreadsheets galore and without these would have been useless.
We stayed on budget and agreed at the beginning what it would be – project planning at its finest. Where we came in under-budget we re-spent the money elsewhere – things always come out of the woodwork which you don’t think you’ll need or cost more. In fact we came just under much to our families’ amazement.
We chose our venue because it is a really beautiful old manor house with so much character and not perfect. We didn’t want perfection, a) because we’re not and b) it takes the pressure away a little bit.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I personally don’t really like wedding dresses too much. Every bride looks beautiful, but I’m just not a fan. I had seen the Halfpenny London dress early on in my search and knew it was the one for me. My only worry was whether it would get over my ass! Alas, it did thankfully and I was so comfortable and happy in it all day. I hunted high and low for shoes; I tried designer, high street and everything in between. In the end I settled with a £20 Topshop pair from ebay which are the most comfortable shoes and EXACTLY what I wanted. It’s very easy to think you need the feathery Jimmy Choos – beautiful. But not for me! I desperately regret wearing a bra because being strapless dug in to my back – but it was nips in church or dig. My earrings were a gift from Tim the morning of the wedding; Sophie Lis stars which I adore. The veil was from a shop in Cambridge when mum and I were passing one day just by chance. I wore my everyday necklace which Tim got me along time ago with an acorn on to symbolise my Pops who is no longer with us. Nails could only be gold and glittery which the bridesmaids and my Mum had done too (and we went with my mother in law to get hers done in her colour too).
Hair was by A’Diva salon in St Ives, who just so happens to be one of our closest friends. It was SO nice to have a friend there in the morning who we all know and love her styling. I actually had my hair chopped the morning of the wedding too – a good 6 inches – which Tim didn’t even notice.
Beauty was Cambridge Makeup Artist where Kerry rocked all of our make up and went with everything I wanted – so not classical and lots of glitter. I needed red lips and the end result was perfect.
The Readings & Music
The readings were done by two of our closest and oldest friends. Rob read the church reading ‘Song of Solomon Chapter 2 verses 10-18’ and Sophie read a caption from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. They both were amazing and we loved including so many of our nearest and dearest in the day. The church reading was the hardest because it needed to mean something, but not feel so old fashioned with the message. (We should also mention the hilarious practise the night before – everything went wrong so many times and it was a brilliant pre church. I felt the slightest bit nervous then, but just laughed and laughed – I think it set the scene for the next day and relaxed us all).
I got Tim a bagpiper as a surprise (booked so early on) to meet him at the pub and walk to the church with the family and friends just up the road. And then he played us in / out. We sadly lost Tim’s Scottish Grandad 6 weeks before the wedding, so I think this very much made him apart of it and brought a smile to the families’ faces. I was concerned, however he went down so well. Not to mention how lovely he was and helpful holding flowers, my veil and gin when needed. Brilliant.
The music! The service was the best – I think my favourite part.
We had ‘Jerusalem’ Tim and his friends old school song which they sung with so much gusto it was brilliant. Not to mention an older gen fave too.
‘One more step along the world I go’ – Up beat and fab.
‘Come and join the celebration’ to which the boys had had our names printed on signs and replaced Jesus with us every time. Brilliant and so funny. I was determined to have an Xmas song as my favourite time of year.
And ‘Give me joy in my heart’.
The organist said it was the happiest and loudest service he has ever played in the hundreds he’s done (he even rocked a bit of Harry Potter when people where finding their seats).
Our Mums also hatched a plan with the vicar and there was 15 child’s instruments put on the pews at the back so we had our own budget Love Actually choir. It was so much fun!!
At Anstey we organised a pianist which Tim gets annoyed that he didn’t hear much of him, but he played me Cher and had a sing along with the guests in the library. An extra we could have maybe not had, but friends loved singing along to current and classical music. (Our friends are all very musical – bands, singers, musicians so it all had to be good).
In the evening Tim booked Ear Candy who were fantastic! As mentioned we were under the spotlight a bit with our friends and in the run up to the day kept asking who were playing. Anyway, they were a huge hit. Other than The Alice Band, the best band we have seen live. The theme was Soul Fresh and it’s a ‘build your own’ set up. So we had a male singer, female singer, guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, saxx. I cannot gush enough about these guys it was brilliant. We got the package which includes first dance ‘God only knows’ sung by them and disco for whenever they are not playing. We sent through a list of definite songs to be played and it was a huge success.
Then when the music was no longer on we had not finished with the party! Our party made our own music without the instruments – it was brilliant singing Queen, Shania and any classic from the 90’s to now. It was such an amazing feeling and a true success. A positive of rooms on site definitely.
*Hip hip hooray*. We had Jonny and loved him from the start. We spoke to quite a few photographers, but he was the only one who wasn’t full of his own self-importance, and didn’t rush you for an answer on anything. I understand it’s hard – we are planning the best day of our lives and for these suppliers it is their job. But when you are planning a wedding you want to feel 100% confident, like yours is the wedding that matters etc and we really did with Jonny.
He was really informative and genuinely wanted us to enjoy our day. He got some epic pictures and captured the complete joy of the day.
We had a photobooth with reprints and a book at the end. It was brilliant! But we were useless and didn’t advise people, so I think 1/3 of the guests didn’t use it, including half my family – oops. The ones taken were great.
We also supplied an instax camera and guestbook which was BRILLIANT! The guests went from beautiful pics and messages to hilarious drunk pics and a scribble. One of the guests took her role as chief photographer in the eve and it was great!
We could not love our florist more! She’s even doing my sister’s wedding next August and was so lovely throughout.
The flowers were crazy, none autumnal and a huge hit. It helped she knew the venue and gave us some really brilliant advise throughout.
I refuse to spend £500 minimum on something that guests might have a taste of possibly drunk and think is nice.
I was initially going to make a fake one and then have Costco chocolate cake in the background to be divvied. But then we found Colin and Connie / Clarissa from M&S with hundreds of babies. They went down SO well and tasted delicious. Tim’s Mum created a scene for them on grass with icing flowers and the families tartan butterflies. It was an absolute hit with everyone and saved us a lot of money to spend on other things.
The Details & Décor
We took an old school white Rolls Royce with beige leather seats from home to the church for me and my Dad. Then a couple of laps with my new husband and on to the church! They kindly added personalised glasses and a bottle of bubbles – so special and one of our favourite parts of the day. Just us and the nicest driver ever!… Who also helped me remember my veil – mid way into the church.
We went mental on detail which I know in 20 years nobody would remember but we loved it. It made the day feel special for everyone and the little touches were so enjoyable to make.
We started with hand drying all of our confetti over a 2 year period; it was made up of flowers from both parents gardens, florist bought flowers between our loved ones; just because, birthdays, congratulations and everything in between, and a lavender field and even the first flowers Tim ever bought me that I dried and used. On each little box in church we wrote where they were from with a little confetti quote. They looked incredible in the pictures and was really fun for everyone to get involved. We ended up making double needed too.
We did programmes for the day to include everything; where everyone would sit using googly eyes, the efforts everyone went to, the timeline, the songs and on the back had pictures of all of our families wedding which a) the family love and b) the guests like trying to work out who was who, who looked like who etc.
We had pizzas delivered to our Wedding Parties’ room at night which they enjoyed.
During speeches we did a sweepstake which was such good fun and there was a nice bottle of bubbles / box of chocs at the end. This was great because some tables did monetary sweepstakes and it got everyone cheering.
We had a hashtag of course and wanted it to be up in lights – so that is exactly what we did! We had it made into a warm glow neon sign which we propped against the mirror above the fire. It was really great and we now have it in our kitchen which looks amazing.
A wedding can be really wasteful and we were so conscious of recycling, buying second hand, reselling after. We were as kind to the environment as possible, with cardboard boxes, natural confetti, recyclable programmes and cacti for favours.
Our décor was really bright and we used multiple colours for the candles and pom poms on the cacti. My mum even sewed 8 different colour tassels to the corner of good linen napkins to brighten the table! We had dinner in the middle of the table so needed to get décor in where possible, hence the tall candles, napkin and pom pom colour.
We did do a (vegan friendly) glitter station and slippers in the bathroom which I was worried was a waste of time, however a huge success! Every pair of slippers went.
We had a full size cut out of Elton John, Cher, the Queen and Warwick Davis, these were so much fun and in a lot of pics. The queen is in once piece and the others not so much. Warwick was taken on holiday with friends and is in Leeds – ha.
We did a sweet table which I didn’t know would be a good idea or a bit cliché, or even used. The end result was all treats gone with all the classic sweets celebrated.
We actually didn’t want a filmmaker on the day because thought it a waste of money. However our friend put it to us that you will want to hear your parents speak, have videos of you relatives because one day you won’t have that for real. So this certainly sold it to us. We really love our video, however must admit because we had the initial brief a year before we didn’t get barely any family and it was all about us. Lovely but this an example of the week before briefs!
The speeches videos are great though and so nice to have after.
We tried on so many outfits with the girls, the first lot all of which were awful! But it was hilarious seeing a bit of pant, or near nipple misses. So funny. I wanted to really treat the girls – the positive when only choosing two. But in the end we went with asos favourite which now I completely agree looked the best for the day. Especially against the flowers. We all had hair, make up and nails. They wanted their own lower shoes and I got them a shawl / scarf ‘thing’ with it being October. One of which my Granny took a liking too and I think the other my Mum has!
Tim bought them some red Calvin Klein socks among other things for their ‘will you be my groomsmen’ gift. Tim went through every possible option for the lads suits and in the end asos! On a 20% sale – fabulous. Tim, Ollie his brother and Nick his Dad had specially made bow ties out of their family tartan, with Tim going that one step further and having his cummerbund the same. It all ties in so well!
We went for an amazing week the week after the wedding to Windermere, 4 days self-catered and 3 days in a beautiful spa. It was so good and we loved the pictures coming through. Walking and talking about the wedding was great.
Next year we go to NZ for 2 ½ weeks and travel North to South in a camper seeing where Tim used to live, Hobbiton and SO many other things planned. Then we fly to Maldives for 5 days to relax and enjoy pure bliss. So excited for it all. I booked it as a surprise with a friend secretly a couple of months before the wedding. Tim thought we were going to book in the NY sales and that it was just the Maldives. NZ was his number one forever and he didn’t think I wanted to go, so we both get the best of the holidays. We are so excited!!
When arriving to the church I forgot my veil, so the vicar had gone in, and then the girls, and then the chauffer shouted the bagpiper who shouted me. I shouted shi* to which everyone laughed and Tim’s face was a picture – apparently. And then we got sorted and started again. It was hilarious and got everyone in the mood.
For me the whole service was just magical and I really thought I would be nervous, however not one bit. I was SO excited the whole day. I think you need to actively make the choice to just take it in your stride and enjoy every second.
My Nan was brilliant at the wedding, drinking gin with us in churchyard, coming for a dance as soon as she could and just loving the entire day which is what it’s all about.
Tim dancing with his Grandma on the first dance was magical.
Seeing the boys faces, which was lovely.
The hedge men were bloody brilliant! I’d always been joking how much I wanted them for over two years because Tim was concerned our wedding would be an expensive joke said absolutely not. So I was pulling his leg all the time. Then when we pulled up in the car – guess what!!! He said that he couldn’t get the real thing so only had figures – then they talked to me and I spilt bubbles ALL over myself and screeched but it was BRILLIANT!! The videos of our friends and family meeting them was brilliant! They were so sweet and kept saying they were smiling. LOVED THEM! We were tasked with beating a Llama, and I think we may have just pulled it off.
There’s probably so many more I could write about but every moment was magical and there was so much love. So many people afterwards have said how much they loved it and congratulated us on pulling something like that off! I am sure everyone is as lovely about everyone else’s weddings but we did have A LOT of people saying it was the best wedding they had ever been too… I’ll take that!
The speeches – specifically my Dad’s… ‘first she ignored my advice, then she accepted by advice and now she gives me advice’. I was SO nervous running up for him but it was BRILLIANT.
Advice For Other Couples
Sit the family you want to see facing you on round tables and the olds near enough or next to a speaker.
Have deadline day – if they haven’t been together X amount of time, or don’t live together – they’re evening. We had to cut our day guests in half and actually I don’t regret it – would I have wanted a couple of other people there? Realistically 4-5 of the boys girlfriends, and a couple of old friends. But we still had 91! And it was more intimate, you have your best of the best, there’s nobody making an effort and your not obliged to chat to anyone you wouldn’t really want to. We downsized to the ballroom and I am so pleased we did – even with our closest 90 it felt intimate!
Chill out, if it’s going to go wrong it will.
If it rains get great pics, who cares.
If something happens someone will always come up trumps and it will be another story from your wedding to tell.
Don’t wear a bra with your wedding dress – I regret that so much.
Have a quick chat with all of your suppliers a week before the wedding and think they’re being briefed for the first time again. They do this a lot.
Go online and get things cheaper – when you say wedding the price triples, so get bargains where you can.
Write a note in the morning to your loved ones – that way you’re not getting gushy on the day and you’ve thought about it.
Give gifts out separately – everyone knows you love the people who helped etc etc… they don’t want to watch it particularly.
If you don’t want children there, don’t have them there.
Someone, somewhere along the planning process will get upset, but it’s your day and you do have to grow a pair at times.
Don’t second guess the details – the parents didn’t think there was any photo’s of them – so went and rein acted the day at the church etc – no need there is SO many of them!!
And just enjoy it!! Why would you want to look back and worry? You are marrying the person you love, EVERYONE is rooting for you and so happy, there is NOTHING to be worried about.
Don’t rush into honeymoon, have a couple of days to the see the family and friends before they go home, stay in the bubble and enjoy!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Jonny Barratt Photography
St Nicolas Church – Hail Weston
M & J Car Hire – best in the business!
Adiva Hair Design
House of Tartan
Cambridge Makeup Artist
Light Up Sign
Light Up North
Does a wedding get any more fun? I love the confetti cannons to start the party too.
Huge thanks to Tim and Jess for sharing their epic wedding celebration with us xo Lou