WWW is all about the fun and love in a wedding celebration. Today’s wedding is the epitome of that ethos and so I am over the moon to have the honour of sharing this day with you all.
WWW readers Sharelle and Benedict tied the knot on the 14th June 2014, holding their ceremony at Bodicote House followed by a reception at Hadsham Farm and Lake. They wanted to create a party, which turned into a colourful kid friendly extravaganza. In fact Sharelle enjoyed the planning and crafting so much she set up her own wedding planning company – Apple Tree Events.
There were multi coloured chairs, bunting galore, a kids table filled with treats and soooo many smiles all day long. Not to mention a super stylish bride and groom and their sweet dog who joined them to party.
Thanks goes to the awesome Assassynation for sharing these photographs today.
THE PROPOSAL | It’s a funny story in a way. Like most couples we had on the odd occasion discussed what type of wedding we would have and I had looked around on the internet at nice places where the grand day could be.
Then one morning Ben mentioned how as I never wear jewellery at some point soon I would need to get my ring finger measured, ooh, huge clue number 1. So I dutifully went to the nearest jewellers and provided him with the answer. Then, clue number 2; he booked an amazing weekend away in France, along the coast in a beautiful hotel. Final clue, he then booked a romantic evening in a fancy Michelin starred restaurant. I thought, ‘This is it! He’s going to propose.’
Knowing that a proposal was imminent and after the many hours of looking I found Hadsham Farm and Lake, it looked amazing and so I contacted them to ask about costs and if we could look around sometime in September(after France) – jumping the gun, I know.
Then France came and went, it was lovely, but no proposal. Oops! I got it wrong.
A couple of weeks after France, Ben and I were working together at a big jewellery show called IJL (at the time we both worked for the same events company) and he suggested that we have a look round at engagement rings as he had no idea what I would like. And we found it together, it was gorgeous! A four pronged, twisted diamond engagement ring. But he wouldn’t let me just have it there and then… he wanted to propose properly.
I decided that we should still go see Hadsham Farm and Lake seeing as I knew was definitely going to propose at some point, he’d bought the ring… so we drove there on one sunny Saturday in September with our little dog Martha and it was perfect. Whilst we looked around Ben asked me if this was the place we were going to get married a dozen times and my answer was yes each time. We took a walk up to the highest point of the farm under this big tree and Ben called the dog over and bent down to pat her, before I knew it he was holding my hand and asking me to marry him. It was very romantic and surprisingly I really wasn’t expecting it.
THE VISION | The most important thing for us was that everyone would have fun, we wanted a massive party. We had lots of fun games, toys, sweets and presents for the kids, and great food, booze and a band for the grown-ups. We wanted the day to feel relaxed and informal, with lots of flowers and cut glass, I didn’t really want a colour scheme – more of a feel of it being light and colourful.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | It was important to me that everything was quite personal to us as a couple and as I love crafting I chose to do a lot of DIY elements myself, this added something special for us and made it so that everything was just as we wanted it. I also love a good spreadsheet and my wedding one was mammoth, with 16 tabs including the budget, table plans, guest lists, and our timeline. When I wasn’t near my computer I kept a little design journal so that I could scribble ideas down or draw out a plan, stick in some cuttings from magazines or write advice people were giving me.
We also decided that we were going to do our invites online and so I created a website with the food choices, details of the day, local hotels, directions to the ceremony and reception venue, as all but one of our guests were online this worked out really well for us.
All in all the planning took about 10 months from start to finish, it was stressful at times but I loved every minute of it. So much so, that I quit my job to start my own wedding planning company called Apple Tree Events.
BUDGET | £25k
THE VENUE | Bodicote House for the ceremony and Hadsham Farm and Lake for the reception.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was the ‘Carolina’ from Phase Eight, my veil was a Juliet cap style by Melinda Rose Design and my shoes were from Marks and Spencer. (I ordered 16 pairs of shoes and sent them back before settling on the ones I wore).
FINDING THE DRESS | I went to try on a few dresses in a boutique near where I live, but I didn’t really find anything that was as relaxed as I wanted and I also didn’t want to spend a fortune. I looked online and found the Carolina dress at Phase Eight, it looked really lovely, so I just ordered it. When it came it was like Christmas day and I loved, loved, loved my dress, I knew I’d be able to dance all day and night in it and the lace and beading were simply beautiful.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Ben’s suit was a semi-bespoke three-piece from Souster and Hicks in Woburn, the waistcoat was a slightly darker grey to the rest with a light grey satin back panel. He wore a white shirt and a baby blue bow tie.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Ben’s sister, Claire read a beautiful poem during the ceremony called ‘The One’ which was very emotional and very much suited the ceremony. Then my bridesmaid Evie read ‘Foxtrot from a Play’ by W H Auden, which made everyone laugh and ended the ceremony perfectly.
We both thought that choosing the ceremony music was one of the most difficult tasks during the planning, bizarre as it was only 4 songs. I walked down the aisle to Ellie Goulding ‘How long will I love you’ and we had Tom Odell ‘Grow Old With Me’ and Ben Howard ‘Only Love’ whilst we signed the register. Then we exited to Clean Bandits ‘Rather Be’. We love that song.
We had a super cool and amazingly brilliant 7 piece soul band for the reception called Backbeat Village, all our guest loved them and they had everyone dancing. Our DJ who was also from Backbeat Village played a list of requested songs along with eclectic genres that we had asked for.
We also had a silent disco late into the evening which was hilarious.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had two fabulous bridesmaids, my friends Evie and Libby. They both wore their own dresses as I didn’t want them to be matching, I just asked for pastels to tie in with my dress. I also had two great friends, Kirsty and Michelle, who were with me on the morning of the wedding, they kept the music flowing and topped up my champagne whilst I was having my hair and make-up done. Everyone being there made the getting ready bit very fun and exciting.
THE FLOWERS | I ordered all the flowers online from a wholesaler, 1200 stems in total of garden varieties, lots of peonies and roses, along with astilbe and gypsophila. My wonderful friend Kylie from Sweetpea Floral Design produced my bouquet, along with the bridesmaid’s bouquets and the button holes.
I then had a hoard of helpers and myself to produce the centrepieces. We were really proud of what we achieved in the end and the marquee smelt incredible.
THE CAKE | Ben’s friend made the cake for us, neither of us are huge fans of icing so we decided to have naked cakes in all different flavours – cherry and chocolate, chocolate and orange, vanilla, lemon, and banana and fudge. They looked amazing. But most of all they tasted unbelievable!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was Sassy Lafford from Assassynation, I found her photos on WWW and instantly fell in love with them. We were so happy to find out that she was available on our big day. We met with Sassy about 2 months before the wedding and she walked us through how the whole day would work from a photography perspective and talked about the options that were available to us, it was really fun. It’s meetings like this which make everything start to become real and you get excited. We walked away from that meeting knowing we were in good hands.
On the day Sassy and her second photographer Charlie, came to my hotel first, there were quite a few of my friends, my bridesmaids and a couple of my aunties all getting ready or milling around my room. We all had the best laugh and I felt that Sassy and Charlie were part of the group.
Throughout the day Sassy was brilliant, she worked with our schedule and broke up the sessions of photos so that we weren’t away from our guests for too long at any point.
The photos she has taken will give us a lifetime of happy memories and I can’t thank her enough for how well she captured our day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | This is the part that I loved the most about the planning, each little detail of the day.
We handmade 250m of bunting in a range of floral and pastel fabrics, I handmade the six table runners in different coloured polka dot material all with different trims. The table plans were fabric wrapped around a timber frame with satin bows in the colours of the table runners with handwritten name tags.
I made all of the place cards, each one with 8 little triangle cut out for the bunting and all the names ink stamped, the kids ones even had a little cut out caterpillar on them. We wanted a festival lanyard type thing for the order of the day and I drew and water-coloured a map for the front, I’m not very good at painting but it was fun to do.
We collected hundreds of jars and Ben wrapped little fabric bows around each one to hold the candles. We had 1200 stems of flowers arranged into the cut glass vases, teapots and planters we had collected from charity shops.
My mum and I also collected stemmed glasses from charity shops for months, one for each guest to have as their own for the cocktails we made. We had flip-flops there for anyone, whose heels had started to hurt their feet.
I felted the bride and groom and a little Martha for the cake topper, they sat on little doll house chairs and had champagne glasses in their hands. They took forever but I think they were worth it in the end. We also had a little apple tree with apple shaped tags for people to write their well wishes on, and we also made little apples to hang on the tree for decoration.
All the kids got presents; I really didn’t want them to be bored. So they got lego and colouring books, crayons or felt tips. I up-cycled some jar lids by gluing little figures on them and spray painting them blue and pink, one for each child and they were filled with little plastic animals or cowboys or crayons.
We had giant foam letters that we painted in pastel colours and staked into the ground outside the marquee. Giant balloons behind the cake table with 12 different types of sweets. We had a backdrop printed for the ‘photo booth’ idea and collected fancy dress from charity shops.
I absolutely loved doing all of it…
THE HONEYMOON | We had 8 days in Nice, staying in a private apartment looking out onto the Old Port and then we had 5 days on the Amalfi Coast, we stayed in Amalfi and in Positano and visited towns around there. We even rented our own little boat for the day and sailed around Capri – it was an incredible day.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There are too many… My top moments would be:
Turning up at Hadsham Lake the day before the wedding and seeing the marquee and the bell tents in place. Then standing and chatting with my bridesmaids whilst cutting and arranging the flowers the day before.
Getting ready in the morning of the wedding surrounded by great friends and family, and listening to terrible music that we listened to when we were 18.
Seeing Ben at the front of Bodicote House, looking very emotional and hugging him when I got to the front.
Ben and I listening to everyone’s speeches and Martha (our little dog) snoring through some of them much to everyone’s amusement.
Our first dance to Etta James, ‘At Last’
Ben’s top moments… Seeing Sharelle arrive in the ceremony room and afterwards us leaving in a flutter of confetti.
Drinking champers in the car after we had got married on the way to Hadsham Lake, we had the dog on our knees and it was really sunny.
The speeches, it was great to hear everyone speak but will never forget Sharelle’s speech it was the moment when all of the main ceremony was over, people had eaten and started drinking but I think Sharelle got the party going with her words of encouragement ☺
The first and second dance; and then the following next twenty dances to the band and with our friends and family.
Family photos, getting everyone and the children to be in one place and looking the same way, Sassy had a job on her hands and did a great job.
Silent disco and lots of late night shots.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I would give 3 pieces of advice:
Enjoy your engagement; it’s such a fun time. If you can, grab a couple of nights away somewhere and limit the wedding chat. Talk about nice wedding stuff like ‘won’t our first dance be amazing’ but perhaps leave out the, ‘remember you have to finish off the playlist for the arrival drinks this week’.
Get a coordinator at least for the set up day and the wedding day. I wish I had relaxed the day before the wedding, instead I did 14 hours of work on setting up and got back to the hotel with burning feet and an achy back at 10pm. Ben also burnt his head badly and had to wear a hat for the whole of the honeymoon.
Give yourself more than a day between the wedding and the honeymoon. If you are planning on a wedding where you are responsible for the clearing of the venue and you have done a lot of the venue dressing yourself, the day after the wedding may be hard work (especially if you have had one too many glasses of champagne). Leave the honeymoon for 2 or 3 days after the wedding and then you won’t spend the first couple of days of your moon recovering from it.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Assassynation
Venue | Hadsham Farm and Lake
Marquee | Cotswold Marquees
Bouquets and button holes | Sweetpea Floral Design
Food | Day time foodieanna (referrals only) and evening curry – Khalids Restaurant
Band | Backbeat Village
Bell tents | Strawberry Hills
Sharelle’s Dress | Phase Eight
Sharelle’s veil | Etsy
Ben’s Suit | Souster and Hicks
Wedding planning and coordination | Apple Tree Events (Bride’s company)
If only I were a guest. It looked fantastic!
Thanks so much to Sharelle and Benedict for sharing their wonderful story with us XOXO Lou