Don’t you just LOVE it when you uncover a hidden gem? Well today’s couple did just that when they found their wonderful venue, a spot I have never heard of and I live near Hertfordshire myself.
WWW readers Alessandra and Michael were married on the 12th September 2015 and held their wedding party at Loudwater Farm in Hertfordshire. They envisioned a vintage feel country fete wedding and it all worked out perfectly. There were fun games to entertain their guests, ice cream and quaint DIY décor by the bucket-load.
Alessandra found her divine frock in Fur Coat No Knickers and Michael donned an ASOS suit and pink tie which coordinated nicely with the groomsmen. Keep en eye out for sweet crockery, natural blooms and a cute dog too.
Thanks goes to the wonderful Caroline Hancox for sharing these photographs.
THE PROPOSAL | I arrived home from work having just been promoted. Michael, who had already decided to propose in the next few weeks, decided to bring plans forward. He suggested we go out to dinner to celebrate and called my parents to let them know he was going to propose. We went to an Italian restaurant in St Albans, then Michael suggested going for drinks afterwards. Having been at work all day I was quite tired so I suggested we just go home(!) We went for a short walk around the Cathedral and then Michael agreed to go home. He couldn’t back out though as he had already told my parents about his plans! We were living with my Nana at the time, as we were saving up for a house, and so Michael ended up proposing to me at the bottom of my Nana’s stairs. It was perfect though as I loved that it was just the two of us.
THE VISION | We wanted a wedding with a vintage theme and to put our own stamp on it. Having been to a few wedding venues to have a look, they all felt a bit too commercial and there wasn’t much scope for personalisation. We eventually decided on a loose theme of a country fete with games to keep our guests entertained and LOTS of bunting.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I spent a lot of time exploring ideas with my Mum, looking through various wedding websites for some inspiration. We visited a few wedding fairs but didn’t end up going with any of the suppliers that we saw. In the end we decided on what we wanted for our big day, and then searched the internet for local businesses that could offer us what were looking for.
THE VENUE | We came across Loudwater Farm whilst browsing for wedding venues online. It’s hidden away in a gorgeous countryside location, alongside the River Chess, has beautiful rustic scenery, and plenty of space both inside and out. The venue has a large barn, two halls, a sitting room, a kitchen, and a number of bedrooms in the farmhouse building for some of our guests to stay the night. We were also free to bring in any external suppliers of our choice, which was exactly the type of freedom that we wanted. Nearly every venue that we had previously come across only offered package deals for the wedding using their own suppliers. At the time of our booking, Loudwater Farm did not have a licence to have our wedding ceremony on site, which was almost a deal breaker for us until we realised how nice St Albans Registry Office was. We were initially against the idea of using a Registry Office for the ceremony, as some of them can be quite bland, but the one in St Albans was lovely.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | “Champagne Fizz” was the perfect mix of a vintage feel but made to measure for me. The lovely ladies at Fur Coat No Knickers will let you change almost whatever you want on the dress so it is perfect for you. I decided to go for long sleeves and also left as much material as I could at the back so that you could see more of the gorgeous metallic lace. The dress was so beautiful I just had a pearl necklace that Michael had bought me and some white gold and diamond earrings that my grandparents had bought me for my 21st birthday. My mum made my veil which made it all the more special. My shoes were from Next, I found some lovely sparkly heels that made me feel like Cinderella but were super comfortable to walk in. I changed into some white lace Toms for the evening do so that I could dance without twisting an ankle. I had a fantastic make up artist to help me get ready in the morning who was a god send and helped me stay so chilled in the morning, I had my hair done at my local hairdressers, I walked back from the hair salon in my tank top, comfy trousers and my veil with my sister-in-law which was a surreal experience!
FINDING THE DRESS | The dress was from Fur Coat No Knickers in London. I had originally set my mind that I wanted a ballerina length dress as being short I thought a long dress would make me look like I was playing dress up. The first shop we went to was FCNK and I tried on all the short dresses they had. Nothing jumped out as THE dress so we went looking elsewhere. The experience at FCNK was so lovely though that when I realised that it was a longer dress that I wanted I went back there and we found my dress.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Michael wore a navy blue tweed 3 piece suit with brown buttons from ASOS, a white shirt and slim pink tie from T.M. Lewin, a pair of steam punk watch cufflinks from Thornhill Jewellery, and a pair of brown Ted Baker “Hann” shoes. Michael’s brother and best man, Danny, wore the same suit, tie and shoes, but his two ushers Akers and Alex wore their own navy suits.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We picked 5 or 6 songs to play on a loop at the Registry Office before the ceremony began including “Marry Me” by Train, “Real Love” by Tom Odell and “All Of Me” by John Legend. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” and we walked out to an acoustic version of “Best Day Of My Life” by American Authors. My brother did the only reading entitled “Marriage Is…” towards the end of the ceremony.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My gorgeous bridesmaid Zoe wore one of her own dresses. I wanted her to be comfortable and as she was my only bridesmaid we didn’t need to worry about her matching anybody else.
THE FLOWERS | My Mum tied the bouquets for my bridesmaid and me. I had a bouquet of white lilies and Sweet Avalanche roses and Zoe had a posy of pink spray roses. We got the flowers from Flowers Flowers! in St Albans who also supplied the flowers for the table and venue decorations. My Mum’s friend Charlotte made the buttonholes and corsages, she used Sweet Avalanche roses and rosemary.
THE CAKE | My Mum makes a particularly tasty fruit cake so we borrowed some large cake tins from The Steam Trader Company in St Albans and she made two large fruit cakes which my Nana very dutifully fed with brandy for about 12 weeks prior to the wedding. A couple of days before the wedding she made the sponge layer which I then delivered to a local cake decorator to decorate with a lace motif.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | As soon as I saw Caroline’s photographs and bio on her website I knew she would be perfect. She was actually the only photographer that I called. We met at a pub with my Mum after a chat on the phone and I knew I was right. Caroline did a fantastic job and we would highly recommend her to anyone as a professional photographer. We were absolutely thrilled with the way in which she captured our special day. One of Caroline’s strengths is having the ability to harness her inner Ninja and take great looking natural photographs without anyone noticing.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We spent the whole of the day before the wedding setting up with family and friends that had arrived early. We found some glitter organza which we draped over the beams in the barn and filled with some LED light nets. We put gerberas and other colourful flowers in jam jars and antique vases for the tables and then around the farm we filled wine boxes with flower displays using the flowers from Flowers Flowers and greenery from my Auntie’s garden. My Nana grew pots and pots of white flowers in her garden and greenhouse which we placed around the farm as well. My Mum also made 30m of bunting to decorate the barn at Loudwater Farm. She has since turned the bunting into a gorgeous throw for our living room.
In the main farm house we decorated one room with heart shaped decorations that we had collected and photos of us over the years. One of our friends made us a sign so that our guests knew where to get cake after the speeches. The hall we used as the dancing hall was decorated with plain organza, ivy and more bunting that we had borrowed from a friend. Your Event UK provided the extra lighting in this room. In the farm yard we filled the trees with solar powered fairy lights and one of the trees was filled with the rest of the heart shaped decorations.
We had a sage green VW camper van to take me and my family to the ceremony and then Michael and I to Loudwater farm. The driver was fantastic, she helped me with my flowers whilst everyone else was getting ready and then had a bottle of fizzy wine for Michael and I after the ceremony. After the photos and before the meal we had outdoor games, Pimm’s and pub snacks to keep our guests occupied. We also had a vintage Ice Cream van serve our guests as they arrived. We had a hog roast to feed our guests in the evening with salads from the hog roast company and also some made by my Aunties. For dessert we had fairy cakes made by my Mum and decorated the day before the wedding by my Mum and Auntie. The wine was brought over from France by my parents.
THE HONEYMOON | We booked our honeymoon through Audley travel who were fantastic. We told them that we wanted a honeymoon that would be memorable and relaxing but not just two weeks as a resort. They came through with a two week trip to Thailand, we spent the first eight days travelling around the country with private tours around Bangkok and Chaing Mai and a stop at Elephant Hills, a reserve for rescue elephants, which included a night sleeping in tents that float on a lake! The final few days were to recover from all of that at a small resort on the island of Koh Samet.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Definitely the best man’s speech, Danny, Michael’s younger brother, trod the line between funny and sentimental perfectly. He had us all laughing especially when he brought out Michael’s comfort blanket from when he was a child. Other than that I would say having my niece, who was only 9 month old at the time, being able to join us from Mexico with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother was carrying her when he did his reading at the registry office and she was waving to everyone from the front which was incredibly cute.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Have something for your guests to do between the ceremony and the food. It is something Michael and I were very sure about as soon as we started planning. We enjoyed seeing everyone having fun and were quite jealous watching them whilst we were having our photos and mingling with the guests.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Caroline Hancox
Venue | Loudwater Farm
Dress | Fur Coat No Knickers
Make Up | Susan Bradfield
Hair | Hair in the Wood
Jewellery | Thornhill Jewellery
Flowers | Flowers! Flowers! 07813 647162
Caterering Hire | W.A. Carr & Sons
Lighting | Your Event UK
Hog Roast | Herts Hog Roasts
Ice Cream | Elsies Ices
Fete Games | Uber Games
VW | Fifties Chic
Many thanks to Alessandra and Michael for sharing their super lovely day with us xo Lou