By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
WWW readers Hannah and Josh’s Morden Hall wedding was a masterclass in being totally authentic. I love how they centred their day around what was important to them and what represented their relationship.
That being said, their top priority was making sure their guests had a great time. So having fun without any stuffy atmosphere was key to their celebrations. Think live music, great food and cocktails, oh yes!
Hannah and Josh really looked amazing in their attire, there were hints of dusky pink in their flowers and just wait until you see the faux cheese tower. I had to do a double-take, it looks totally real!
Mark O’Brien thank you so much for sharing with us these fun and happy shots, what a treat!
Our first trip together just the two of us was to Paris. Five years later we returned for another visit, we had lots of fun things planned in our favourite spots and some things we had missed the first time.
However, Josh seemed in a terrible mood the whole journey there. Little did I know that it was all due to nerves. I decided to try and cheer him up by playing a game of cliché bingo, spot a tiny dog in a bicycle basket, a beret, a proposal under the Eiffel tower or someone carrying a baguette you get points.
So the first night we went for a walk along the river and Josh became adamant that we cross a specific bridge, for some then unknown reason, but I was tired from the journey and just wanted a short stroll to see the Tower and back to our gorgeous hotel. Each time we came to a crossing he would say, just a bit further and we would continue.
Then all of a sudden he turns to me gets down on one knee and says ‘I know you think this is cliché, but will you marry me?’ in total shock my initial response was to ask if he was joking, but eventually, I let him get up from the pavement and with tears in my eyes said ‘Of course I will’.
The ring was a little snug, so when trying to adjust it on my finger it flew across the street, very close to a drain. Josh’s proposal and my reaction perfectly sums us up as a couple, we go into everything with hearts wide open no matter how cheesy or how it might look to others, and we don’t let near-disasters ruin a good moment.
We started planning the wedding almost straight away. A year seemed like a good length of time to take to organise everything and we had talked about what our wedding would be like before the proposal so we had some idea of what we wanted.
We both knew that we wanted a wedding that would be fun and not stuffy. Elements of the ‘traditional’ wedding really appealed to us, but we didn’t want our guests to get bored or for us to be worried about running to the next item on the schedule throughout the day.
Our guests’ enjoyment was top of the list of must-haves, and as we both love a party we wanted to get that relaxed garden party turned dance party atmosphere. Lots of music, food and drinks and fun things like cocktail options at the reception and pizza for everyone in the evening when one too many cocktails may have been consumed.
Our faith is also very important to us both, so getting married in a Church was a definite. Luckily we were able to plan our ceremony at the same Church where Josh’s parents were married. This felt very special to us and kick-started the whole planning process.
The vision for our reception venue was somewhere formal but fun and with gorgeous surroundings so that we didn’t have to spend too much on decoration. After seeing a few places Morden Hall seemed perfect, we knew it was the place we wanted to spend our first day as a married couple and booked it almost straight after the viewing.
We were very lucky to have help from our family when it came to our budget. Costs were kept lower by doing a lot of the décor ourselves and our biggest expense was the food.
We are both food lovers and felt like a disappointing meal at a wedding can often leave guests feeling lack-lustre. Including everything, even wedding party gifts and accessories we spent just under £20k. It felt like so much money but with the venue and food covering more than half of that we felt comfortable with that.
Morden Hall is a gorgeous venue in South London, which we loved as it meant that our guests could easily make their way home when the party was over and there was lots of accommodation nearby for visiting family.
The grounds are beautiful but what sold it for us was the interior design inside. Each room is beautifully decorated, which meant that we only needed to provide a few candles and flowers here and there. It also gave us lots of different spaces to use throughout the day. Including a room upstairs that is often used for the bride to get ready, but was perfect for us as our niece was born 2 weeks before our wedding so we had the perfect bridal make-up room/quiet nursing station for my sister to take a few moments away from the noise downstairs.
Our day at the venue started with a cocktail reception with canapés, after arriving from the Church in a gorgeous classic Bentley driven by a close family friend. As we were the first to arrive we spent a moment alone before joining our guests, descending down the beautiful staircase decorated with a floral wreath.
We took photos on the lawn with friends and family and then went to the Mulberry suite for the wedding breakfast which was delicious. There was so much to choose from when it came to the food and we were able to pick things that we knew would be delicious after tasting them at an event hosted by Morden Hall where the venue was fully decorated and we were treated to a sit-down meal with wine tasting and other fun perks.
Our guests had a fabulous time and although they will always say that, it did look like they were having fun too.
The journey to finding a dress was a strange one. Starting out looking for one thing and falling completely in love with something totally different.
After going to a few stores I felt deflated, but Aurora Bride were incredible. We were helped by Laura who was so knowledgeable and made me feel like there was all the time in the world for you.
We tried on a few different styles and each time got closer to what I loved. She would ask what I liked or didn’t like about each dress and when I tried on a soft fishtail Mikado V-neck gown called ‘Jasmine’ by Essense of Australia I knew that was what I wanted to wear.
The material and shape were so flattering and the simplicity of the gown blew me away. I wore some jewellery and a waist-length veil from sellers on Etsy and as my something blue were my faux suede shoes. Perfect to peep out from under my dress.
I have always loved fashion and am known to my friends as someone who will be the one in the ‘loud’ shirt or ‘funky’ shoes. So for my suit, I wanted to stand out a little whilst keeping the classy look. We went for a Ted Baker navy grid check suit from Moss Bros in the end and my groomsmen wore matching pocket squares and ties, whilst mine was a different colour to theirs.
I also had an extra spring in the step with some fantastic purple soles on my tan leather monk straps. It’s not just the bride who needs to feel special in what they’re wearing. Having not seen Hannah’s dress I’m glad she was able to offer advice on what I liked as we looked great together on the day.
The ceremony was held at St John The Evangelist Church in Coulsdon, where Josh’s parents were married. We curated a playlist for when the guests arrived as it can feel a little awkward if you’re not used to being in a Church, walking into a huge room filled with silence and people having to whisper.
We wanted to start the day as we meant to go on with some romantic poppy tracks to help our guests settle in. Hannah walked down the aisle to George Ezra’s ‘Hold my girl’ an artist both of the couple love and had seen live the year before.
I was trying not to cry and my Dad did a great job of keeping me steady. I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the aisle to see Josh. He had been told by the Reverend not to look back so it was a long wait to see him.
I was glad I didn’t turn around as I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to keep it together, Hannah looked so beautiful, as she does every day, but it suddenly hit me that we were about to be married and I get to spend the rest of my life with her.
The Reverend was great and having met them before and doing a rehearsal of the ceremony made things so much more relaxed. We knew what to do and where to go so luckily there were no awkward slip-ups.
We chose some modern Hymns to be played by some very talented friends of ours and the Church was filled with amazing music, it was very moving and exactly how we wanted it.
Once we were married and the certificate had been signed we paraded out of there to ‘This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)’ by Natalie Cole and were showered with confetti on our way to the Classic Bentley sitting outside. Being married in a church close to where we live was amazing, now every time we drive past one of us will point and say ‘we got married there’ and smile.
Mark and his assistant Charlie were absolutely fantastic. We made the most of an engagement shoot with Mark the summer before we were married, which really helped us to understand his style and get comfortable in front of the camera – something Hannah was particularly concerned about, not usually being particularly fond of having her photo taken.
On the day itself, Mark made us feel so comfortable, which is not to be taken for granted. I can’t imagine what it would have been like turning up to your wedding not knowing how it’s all going to be captured or what the photos would look like. Mark is a family friend so we knew him before we asked him to photograph our wedding, but it was so wonderful being given every opportunity to talk through his previous work and what we want to get out of the day. He makes you feel so confident and his creativity is incredible.
The photos are stunning. I look at them often and our wedding album is sitting pride of place in our flat. It’s a mix of candid and more formal group shots and totally captures the love Josh and I have for each other and how wonderful the day was. I think one of my favourite parts of the day was when Josh and I got to take some pictures around the grounds just the two of us. We sometimes forgot Mark was even there and those pictures are the best.
I would 100% recommend Mark to anyone looking for a brilliant wedding photographer, he’s top notch!
The decoration was a family affair. The confetti was hand dried petals and we got everyone involved, if you had roses you were making us confetti. We so very nearly had enough, but as our church ceremony was an open invitation we had some very welcome extra guests to cater for.
All of the flowers were supplied by a florist in Epsom who were amazing. We had been trying to find anemones and ranunculus everywhere but to no avail until we found Simon Smith Flowers who were so helpful. They were paired with some blush roses and lovely green foliage to make a delicate colour palette with big statement flowers.
Hannah’s parents picked up the flowers a few days before the wedding and her mum and aunt arranged the bouquets and boutonnieres. They were so lovely we kept some to frame as little keepsakes of the day. The rest of the flowers were used as table decorations, with big bunches placed in different sized vases next to floating candles on the linens and table settings all supplied by the venue.
The table names were places that Josh and Hannah visited on their trips to Paris. Hannah drew illustrations onto card of each of the Parisian landmarks and stood them on the tables by creating little stands from wine corks. These were also used to stand the guest’s place names at their seats.
We wanted to make as much of the décor ourselves and I asked my bridesmaids to help design and make the seating chart, a welcome board, some paper pom-poms to decorate the temporary tattoo station. This saved us a lot of money and was actually really enjoyable in the run-up to the wedding, to craft things that you know will be there on your special day that were made by those closest to you.
Our cake was made by my bridesmaid Rachel and I am told was delicious, as we didn’t get a piece before it was all gone. Josh and I couldn’t decide between cake or a selection of cheeses, so Rachel made us a cake that looked like a stack of cheeses, with grapes and crackers and everything! She is so talented and it looked amazing. I did manage to sneak a grape when we cut the cake before being whisked away for our first dance.
When deciding on a date for the wedding it was actually down to the timing of the honeymoon. We had always wanted to go to the Maldives and seeing as we got engaged in March 2019, thought that March the following year would be the best time.
Already living together and not needing any wedding gifts we asked instead that if our guests wanted to give us something that they could contribute to our dream honeymoon. Using the Prezola website our guests could buy an experience for us like a trip to the tropical spa, or breakfast in bed. We were floored by everyone’s generosity and nearly had the whole trip covered by our wonderful friends and family.
Although looking back on it now it may seem like this could turn into a horror story with the timing of the trip we were so very very lucky. We flew out just a few days after our wedding and had a stunning 10 nights in paradise. We stayed in an idyllic overwater villa and splashed out on the all-inclusive to make the most of cocktails and restaurant dining.
The Spa was gorgeous and we loved our very romantic couples massage and jacuzzi so much we used our remaining credit to go back and get more treatments. There was a sunset cruise organised for us and a few other guests and Josh went scuba diving for the first time, which was incredible.
Our trip was interrupted by the British news coming on the television, a sign of what was to come, a few days before we were due to leave the island. We were so fortunate not to have to cut our trip short and were able to fly home safely on our planned date, to be home just a few days before the First National Lockdown. With everything that has happened since we are both so grateful to be safe and well and that we got to spend that time together to relax into married life before the year that was to follow.
We did have a few hiccups on the day, and although people tell you ‘not to worry, you won’t hear about them at your wedding, someone else will sort it for you’, we heard all about it.
However, the memorable moments that stick are good ones, being pronounced husband and wife and smiling like two idiots at each other in front of hundreds of people, having my sister by my side as bridesmaid after giving birth two weeks before (she’s superwoman and I will be forever grateful), finally getting to hear the speeches from father of the bride, bride, groom and best man and the crème brûlée, oh my goodness the crème brûlée!
Everyone says it but it’s worth saying again, only do what you want to on your wedding day.
Invite who you want there, wear what you like, cut out anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and enjoy yourself. And if things don’t go quite to plan don’t stress, take a deep breath and move on.
These days can be expensive and stressful but can also be so much fun. It’s you marrying your best friend, make sure you enjoy yourselves. Our wedding could have taken a hundred different forms, but the thing we loved the most was that we were by each other’s side all day doing it together like we will be the rest of our lives.
St John the Evangelist, Coulsdon Surrey
Simon Smith Flowers
Made By Bridesmaid
Moss Bros Hire
So much FUN!
Hannah and Josh, I can’t thank you enough for sharing with us your stunning Morden Hall wedding in London.
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