By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Photos by Grace Dove Photography
They kept their day super intimate with 33 guests altogether so that they could have their dream day within budget. They then had a marquee celebration a few days later with all their loved ones. Having a small wedding is such a great way to save money and create a really special atmosphere.
I also love how they combined their Scottish and Jamaican heritage with the most amazing-sounding food and drink. Not to mention the stunning outfits, the pretty blooms and a really special confetti moment. Plus WWW wedding supplier fave Entertainment Nation provided the live musician.
Grace Dove Photography, thank you ever so much for sharing with us these absolutely incredible images of Catriona and Jon’s Cotswold celebrations.
It was my 30th birthday during lockdown, July 2020. We live near Ashdown Forest and regularly walk there so Jon has planned a picnic for us.
The morning of my birthday I received a gorgeous wicker picnic basket full of goodies ready for the day. Unfortunately, classic British summer weather hit so we had to take shelter in the forest under a tree.
After making our way through the picnic, at the bottom of the basket was a birthday card that said to my fiancé, I looked up and there he was on one knee with the ring 😊. I was so happy I insisted on showing every dog walker my new ring on the walk back!
It always had to be the Cotswolds, it’s somewhere we visit frequently and love the natural beauty of the place. The issue was our budget.
We wanted tasty, local food, a stunning traditional venue and for our guests to be completely taken care of. We couldn’t afford to do that for everyone, so we did what any normal couple does and has two weddings.
Our main wedding was to be traditional, outdoors, very English country garden vibes with individual nods to our heritage – Scottish and Jamaican.
We had whiskey cocktails and rum punch for all our guests after the wedding breakfast. We also served Caribbean food as our evening meal after lots of drinks and invited all our guests back for a traditional Scottish breakfast the next morning.
We then held a marquee wedding celebration back in Sussex a couple of days later where we danced the night away.
Manor by the Lake in Cheltenham. Booked before we had even seen it in person due to lockdown.
My dress was completely the opposite of what I thought I wanted but I ended up loving it so much, I wore it twice!
I went to a lot of different bridal boutiques and tried on every style of dress imaginable, not because I was indecisive, but because I wanted to completely milk it! In the end, I knew I wanted a two-tone, ballgown style with lots of glitter and bling and I found one I loved.
The boutique that I found it in didn’t have it in the colour tone I wanted so I turned to Tanya at a local new bridal boutique in East Grinstead, Lily Jacobs. She went over and above trying to source this dress for me but in the end it was so popular she couldn’t get it.
After visiting Tanya and trying on multiple dresses we settled on a very similar one. Throughout my appointment, she kept asking me to try on a new arrival she had (Designer – White Rose Bridal). I didn’t like it on the hanger so I declined until after I had chosen my dress.
Well, I finally tried this dress on and I fell head over heels in love, my mum, sister and I all cried and I didn’t realise I had been waiting for that moment. I added a small layer of glitter to the dress but apart from that, it’s completely unchanged. No one saw my dress (apart from my mum and my sister) until the big day.
Jon’s suit was an easy choice, it had to be green. It was the colour theme of our wedding and he looked incredibly handsome in it. Our biggest issue was sourcing a green suit that suited our budget as there weren’t that many around when we were enquiring.
In the end, he brought/hired them from Moss and I think he looked gorgeous.
We had a string quartet playing during the ceremony who performed ‘Etta James – At Last’ as I walked down the aisle. Such a gorgeous piece of music, even without the words. They then continued to play after the ceremony during cocktails and lawn games.
After dinner, as it was an intimate wedding we hired a very talented singer and guitarist (Johnny Romance via Entertainment Nation) to play whilst we all enjoyed cocktails outside as the sun began to set. It was a great way to get everyone in the mood without feeling lost on a huge dancefloor.
We struck gold with our photographer. I still cannot believe that the stars aligned, and she was available for our date so last minute.
We originally had another photographer booked however over the course of the year, as the style of the wedding became clear. We realised that the photographer’s style didn’t match what we wanted to achieve. It was a huge risk cancelling them, but that risk paid off better than we could have imagined.
I actually had one of Grace’s images saved on my Instagram to show my then photographer what I was after. I never in a million years thought that we could actually have her work with us!
We had an unofficial videographer. Despite most brides saying that a videographer is something they wouldn’t have changed our budget didn’t stretch for it. Instead, we decided to give a Go Pro to our wedding party and see what they come up with!
Luckily, one member of our party took this in his stride and captured the most beautiful moments. The video he created is even more special knowing that he did this for us, and that he was a part of those special moments. We love it so much!
The honeymoon was booked before anything else, we love to travel so this was always going to be special for us.
We spent a couple of nights in Santorini before moving over to a small, quaint, idyllic Greek island called Milos. It was utter bliss and we turned off our phones for the duration. It was the best idea to go directly after the wedding so we could fully relax and enjoy our time as newlyweds.
Our biggest goal was wanting to reuse as much as we possibly could for the wedding celebration back home a few days later. Because of this, it seemed as though no florist wanted to take the risk that their flowers would last that long.
That is where the wonderfully talented Nicki came in from Lilia Rose Floral Design. She was exactly the creative florist that we were looking for and suggested that we build the majority of our displays and bouquets out of dried flowers – genius! We gave her our budget, told her we wanted lots of greenery filled with pastel/neutral flowers and off she went. She created something that I had never seen before and I LOVED IT.
Nicki also put us in touch with Lucy Philips from Something Borrowed Flowers who was the artist behind all of the dried flowers. The day after the wedding, Lucy came and collected all of the fresh flowers from the day and has created the most insanely beautiful dried flower wreath to hang in our home.
Our cake was homemade by Jon’s wonderfully talented auntie. The welcome sign was purchased from Etsy and the seating chart was homemade.
We kept the guest list small out of necessity but I’d choose it that way 1000 times over. We got to spend lots of time individually with everyone and sometimes just the two of us. It was perfect.
As our venue was a few hours from home we made a few days of it and organised a meet-up in a local pub the night before the wedding and also breakfast back at the venue the morning after. It’s so special having all your favourite people together, one day didn’t seem like enough!
Also, surround yourself with suppliers who understand you. They really do handle everything for you. I’ve never organised a wedding before, but they do this day in day out, leave the details to the professionals!
Catriona and Jon, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your epic Manor By The Lake wedding story with us.
→ This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase – at no additional cost to yourself.
Credit where credit is due
Photographer Grace Dove Photography
Filmmaker Daniel Bengtsson
Venue Manor By The Lake
Florist Table Setup & Name Settings Lilia Rose Floral Design
Dried Flowers Something Borrowed
Dress Designer White Rose Bridal
Want In On My Happy Wedding Letter?
Join over a thousand engaged couples (and counting) who have snagged my fun no-nonsense regular wedding advice and inspo straight to their inbox. Plus you'll get planning checklists & spreadsheets for absolutely nada.