One of the stand out elements from this glorious wedding day, has to be the remarkable venue choices. Firstly WWW readers Emma and Ashley were wed at Norwich Puppet Theatre and then they held their reception at Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk on 21st July 2018. The ceremony in the theatre was atmospheric and so romantic thanks to the cosy vibes, candlelight and music choices. Then the Cathedral had the best of both worlds, with the historic setting and contemporary reception space. They didn’t really need to add much décor to their reception room and it’s easy to see why. What they did add though was modern perspex signage and a lot of lush greenery. The result was gorgeous. Also keep your eyes peeled for a show stopping drip cake, the ceremony arbour and beautiful blooms.
Emma and Ashley both looked very stylish in their chosen outfits. With Emma wearing a lace fit and flare strapless gown with a flower crown and Ashley donning a navy suit and grey waistcoat with bow tie. The gents coordinated just so, and the bridesmaids wore sage green dresses as a contrast. The whole wedding party really did look wonderful.
Many thanks goes to Camilla Andrea for sharing these light filled, dreamy and quite frankly ethereal images with us. I think you are going to just love them.
Ashley proposed on boxing day, my favourite day of the year, 2012 – in front of my whole family at my parents house on our annual boxing day party. We weren’t living together at the time and I was still studying at University so it was a complete shock – so much so that he (and everyone else!) thought I was saying no at first! We still cringe and laugh about it every so often and I’m not quite sure I’ve forgiven him for doing it in front of so many people, and after I’d got out of my party dress and into leggings and a jumper!
This changed a lot during our five and a half year engagement! Wedding themes and trends come and go so while I initially wanted the whole rustic / jam jar / wooden crate / chalkboard wedding, I ended up wanting a more contemporary wedding with lots of lush green foliage and perspex signage! It was also really important to us to have a chilled out, relaxed wedding which reflects us as a couple, while still keeping with some of the traditional elements like a sit down meal – although we opted for an afternoon tea style meal with sharing platters to make it less formal. We liked the idea of a party with all our favourite people and so the DJ was super important to us.
The Planning Process
Although we were engaged for a really long time we didn’t start properly thinking about the wedding or making concrete plans until after be bought our house in 2016. We then went to a family wedding early in 2017 and that really kicked us up the butts to get a date booked in the diary, so we ended up having about a year and a half to plan everything. We ended up doing so much ourselves to keep costs down so the months and weeks leading up to the wedding were really stressful and busy! Co-ordinating with the different vendors ourselves, constructing, painting and organising all of the finer décor details, packing everything up, dressing two venues and then de-rigging them after the wedding really took its toll but I’m now really enjoying all the free time I have and have even picked up a few books since the wedding!
The Readings & Music
We created a playlist for the Puppet Theatre as guests were arriving and being seated, which ended with Angels by the XX just before I walked in. Ashley said it was really atmospheric and sounded amazing in the theatre, building a bit of a tension!
I walked down the aisle to Ella Henderson, Yours. I only actually stumbled across this song on Youtube about 5 weeks before the wedding and instantly fell in love with it. I had to contact the registry office and change it on the paperwork last minute. We had the timings sussed out with the bridesmaids walking in one at a time, building up to the chorus where I would walk in with my dad but because the bridesmaids had never seen the inside of the venue before and had steps to contend with as well so there was a bit of panic and they ended up walking down much faster than planned! It meant me and my dad walked in at the wrong time and there was a lot of the song still to play by the time we got to the bottom of the aisle but no one else would notice these small details – only you!
During the ceremony we had a reading called ‘The Future’ by Emma Salmon although we tweaked some of the wording to make it more relevant to us and also to include our little puppy who was at doggy day care for the weekend!
We signed the register to a number of songs – Cat Power – Sea Of Love, The Lumineers – Hey Go, Tom Odell – Grow Old With Me and Ben Howard – Only Love.
We walked back up to the aisle to Don’t Look Back Into The Sun by The Libertines. The lyrics don’t really relate to us or the wedding in any way but we just absolutely love the song and wanted something really upbeat and alternative to walk back up the aisle to. We had some Libertines fans in the audience too and I think everyone just loved how different and fun it was and it really set the mood for the rest of the day! There was definitely a sense of – OK, the formalities are over now let’s get the party started!
Lots of guests commented on how much they loved the music and how it beat the more traditional choices.
For our first dance we had Video Games by Lana Del Ray. Again, it sounded so atmospheric and beautiful in the Cathedral and it is such a gorgeous song. We then launched into David Bowie Let’s Dance which got everyone on the dancefloor. For our last song we chose Stand By Me by Otis Redding.
The wedding ended up around 16k which we were really pleased with. I’m really thrifty and will make sure I’ve exhausted all the cheaper options before I commit to buying anything and we saved so much money doing all of the décor and foliage around the venues ourselves.
We used a lot of local suppliers and were often surprised with how reasonably priced they were. Particularly our florist – she runs her business from home and so doesn’t have the overheads of running a premises. Our DJ isn’t a typical wedding DJ so he was unbelievably affordable too. For the décor, we made and built so much ourselves including the arbour we had at the ceremony and the backdrop my dad made for the photo booth at the evening reception. I saw everything I had to buy as an investment too as it is so easy to sell on afterwards. Instead of flowers we used a lot of lush green foliage which came from either our local market or my mum’s back garden and we arranged this ourselves – we had a few trials before the day! We bought all of our wine from majestic wines and paid the corkage which still made it cheaper than going with the venue’s options. We really love our wine so had great fun at all the tastings and got a few compliments on the wine we had chosen. It also means we can pick up the same bottles again and enjoy them at home.
Even the venue hire for the Cathedral we found to be really reasonable and looking back at the photos now I think people would be surprised at what we paid for the wedding – it could have easily cost a whole lot more. I would say don’t be afraid to ask people for quotes – some of the suppliers I had assumed would be out of our budget range actually surprised us.
We got married at the Norwich Puppet Theatre which isn’t really known for conducting wedding ceremonies – they have only done a handful to date. We originally wanted an outdoor festival wedding or a barn or tipi, somewhere in the middle the Norfolk countryside, and we looked around a few gorgeous venues. The problem was that neither of our families are from Norfolk and so accommodation and transport options were really awkward at these types of venues. We then decided to look for a venue in the city but we didn’t want a hotel and although there are some gorgeous smaller boutique restaurants our guest list was too big for somewhere like this. We found out the Puppet Theatre did weddings and Ashley and my parents fell in love with it. I was a bit less sold on the idea but thought that if Ashley chose the venue I could decide on the rest of the day! But I have had to apologise since, it was just the best decision. Everyone has commented on how different and memorable the ceremony was and the photos turned out amazing. It was funny because a lot of people thought it was a church, which it was hundreds of years ago, but now it is a non-religious building and our guests were amazed to find out to find out there was a bar inside! We got married on the stage under an arbour my dad made with lots of candlelight. It was really romantic. Everyone sat in the tiered theatre seats which meant we could see everyone from the stage and we served popcorn too.
We then all did the five minute walk together to the cathedral which made for some great photographs. We had arrival drinks and canapés in the cloisters, before making our way to the wedding breakfast room. We then used a different room in the evening for our reception. The cathedral is beautiful because you have this mix of old and new. Even in the modern extensions filled with light wood and lots of glass and skylights, you can see the old stonework, cobbled walls and the spire of the cathedral. After our meal we all played games in the courtyard which was the perfect setting and the photos are just amazing. We also had use of the cathedral close for our couples shoot where there are lots of cute little stone cottages and cool stable doors and archways. There is also a river and ferry at the bottom of a cobbled lane.
Your Outfits & Accessories
My dress was a lacy fit and flare Mori Lee with straps, sheer sides and a low sheer back. It had a really long sweeping train which could be tied up in the evenings for optimum dancing! I originally wanted something off the shoulder but never actually got round to trying on a dress like this.
I actually tried on about 20 dresses and even tried on dresses after this one but we kept on going back to it. The back and the train were my favourite. The dress was over double my initial budget, I hated the idea of spending so much money on one dress, but we took my parents out to dinner to say thank you for buying it and when my dad found out the cost of the dress he kept on ordering more wine for us to pay for!
I also wore a long narrow cathedral veil – I wanted something dramatic from the back but unnoticeable from the front and because it was narrow it meant you could still see the back detail on my dress. I actually found the veil online and it cost me £15. It seemed ridiculous to wear this with a 1600 dress but the lace on both the dress and the veil were such a perfect match I decided to go with it.
For my shoes, I wanted something simple and flat so opted for an ivory satin ballet pump from ASOS bridal and my mum sewed ribbons into the back so that I could tie them up round my leg.
For my something old I wore an old sixpence of my dad’s in my shoe, for my something new my parents bought me a Tiffany Bracelet, something borrowed I wore my aunt’s platinum stud earrings and my bridesmaids bought me a blue garter for my something blue.
Ashley’s suit was a dark blue Ted Baker which we hired from Moss Bros. He initially wanted tweed but we couldn’t find anywhere that hired these and in hindsight it’s a good job he didn’t – the wedding day was scorching hot and I don’t think he would have coped! We hired the 2 piece suit for Ashley but bought a grey tweed waistcoat, dickie bow and pocket square. He wanted to stand out slightly from the rest of the groomsmen who had the three piece blue suit. Ashley also wore a Catalonian badge which his best man gave him on the morning of the wedding – a private joke from the stag do in Barcelona!
We chose a blue suit because Ashley had a grey suit back in the day which he wore to every event we had for about 6 years! We also thought the photos would like quite light and washed out if the guys were in grey and the bridesmaids in light green. We liked the contrast of the dark and the light – despite people telling us that blue and green should never be seen!
Our groomsmen consisted of our dads, brothers, nephew and best man and they wore the three piece version of Ashley’s suit. We opted against the full suit packages as we wanted the guys to have mismatched brown shoes and we had already bought dusky pink dickie bows and pocket squares to them to wear from Etsy.
My hairdresser came to my mum’s house to do mine, the bridesmaids and my mum and my aunt’s hair. I wanted our hair to be really casual and so me and the bridesmaids all had our hair down with loose curls/beach waves. I wore a fresh flower crown which our florist made. She also made the girls a small flower piece on a clip which matched their bouquets.
For make up, I had a matte look with gold tones on my eyes and a dark pink lipstick. The girls went with more pinky tones on their eyes and lips.
I went to a Jo Malone wedding scent experience with my friend to choose fragrances for the wedding. I wore Peony and Blush Suede and Ashley wore Sea Salt and Wood Sage.
Our bridesmaids consisted of my younger cousin and three of my best friends. Their dresses were sage, high neck, maxi dresses from Little Mistress which I found on ASOS. They actually only had ‘tall’ dresses left but I loved them so much I just bought them then got them taken up – by quite a lot!! The alterations were actually more expensive than the dresses.
The bridesmaids each wore different shoes – one wore nude heels and the other three wore silver sandals. The dresses were full length so you couldn’t ever tell and I wanted them to be comfortable in whatever they wore so they chose their own.
We were lucky enough to have the flower fairy that is Katy from Bracken and Twine to do our flowers and they were the thing I was most excited about seeing on the day. I knew I didn’t want any formal structured arrangements around the venue but Katy made my bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets, the buttonholes for Ashley, our dads and the groomsmen, corsages for our mums, a small flower arrangement for the cake and my incredible flower crown. Again, I first came across Katy on Instagram and then met her at her home where she runs Bracken and Twine. Katy is just the sweetest and is totally passionate about flowers and what she does. I loved visiting her and talking through my ideas.
I had a good idea of what I wanted but I also trusted Katy and wanted her to do her own thing. The brief was for a messy unstructured bouquet with dusky pinks flowers, ferns and succulents and trailing ribbons.
So many guests commented on the flower crown and the bouquets and thought the flowers were artificial because they were just so beautiful and unusual. I hadn’t planned on wearing the crown all day but it was so secure and I just loved it so it ended up staying.
We decided against floral arrangements for the tables or the rest of the venues. We had tall white candlesticks wrapped with ruscus which my mum arranged the day before, as well as a big arrangement on the top table which she constructed with random greenery and branches from her garden! We also bought eucalyptus which we used to decorate the perspex signage.
The Details & Décor
This is where we got to personalise our wedding the most. I do a lot of design work for a living and so got a bit obsessed with the details and décor. It probably started with the invites – I bought a stationery template on Etsy and did all the invites myself, I then used the same template for our on the day stationery – I printed menus and designed little info cards for our guests with the numbers of local taxis and hand drew a little wedding map with our venues on.
At the theatre we had an abundance of candles in tall glass pillar vases surrounded by green foliage. We also had a popcorn stand for guests to help themselves to and a wicker hamper filled with personalised hankies which my aunt had embroidered for us. Me and the bridesmaids also made wedding wands with green and pink ribbons and little bells for our guests to wave around in addition to confetti.
At the cathedral, we dressed the tables with the white candlesticks wrapped in ruscus and I bought light grey gauze runners from Etsy. I hand stamped little wooden coasters for the name places and placed these on top of a sprig of rosemary which my parents grew at their allotment in remembrance of my grandad. For the favours we had either soy candles or lip balms in little glass jars or flower seeds wrapped in fabric for the women, and beer butter soaps which we sourced from California for the guys. They had a little ‘something old, blue, borrowed, brewed’ label on them. Against the top table we had a ‘just married’ hoop which was literally a hula hoop we sprayed gold, wrapped with green vines and hung bunting inside. The cathedral hired us in the chiavari chairs although the room was so gorgeous it didn’t really need too much to dress it.
We had a perspex table plan with modern calligraphy hung in a gorgeous gold frame – an idea I’d seen on Pinterest, and perspex numbers on each of the tables. On the cake table we had these giant white balloons with foliage tails which we’d also used either side of the drinks reception table.
In the evening reception room we transformed what is used as a cafe during the day time using white paper lanterns which he hired and had hung from the wooden ceiling beams, and I had handpainted a huge hessian sign with Arctic Monkeys lyrics which my dad assembled in a frame just before the evening guests arrived.
Our cake was made by Debbie at Dust With Cocoa who I met at a Most Curious wedding fair then started following on Instagram. The idea for the cake came from elements of lots of different cakes I had seen online and I ended up sending Debbie a bunch of different screenshots. I was actually really worried about how it would come together, having not seen it all together before either in real life or in one image but it looked incredible on the day. The top two tiers were semi naked with gold drips and gold leaf and the bottom tier was a kind of green ombre buttercream. I bought the topper from Etsy and sprayed it gold to match the cake stand which was actually an upturned fruit bowl I bought online. We decorated the table with candles in brass candle holders and fresh ruscus from Norwich market and the cake had a small flower arrangement from our florist.
The detail I probably paid least attention to was the cake flavours! I know some people have really adventurous flavours and fillings but we stuck with lemon, salted caramel and chocolate. The cake actually never got cut up for the evenings guests so my mum and uncle lugged it back to our hotel after the wedding and we served it with coffee at our wedding brunch at my parents house the next day. It went down a treat and everyone got to see it through sober eyes!
We had the photographer of dreams, Camilla Andrea. Another photographer kindly recommended Camilla and I fell in love with her website and started following her on Instagram. She has a laid back, natural, documentary style and her photos are simply gorgeous.
We had a couples shoot before the wedding and are still so in love with the photos, despite having the wedding ones back. On the day, you wouldn’t notice Camilla was actually there. She fluttered about like a butterfly taking sneaky close ups and she captured everything – even the things we thought she had missed. Lots of our guests said they loved that she just moved around capturing everything in such an unobtrusive way. She’s also the friendliest person and so easy to email and chat to.
My lovely friend and previous colleague Melissa agreed to do our wedding video for us. She started work at the same place as me and within about three weeks I had hounded her into doing our video! I saw some of her shoots and previous work and loved her style. It was natural and relaxed which fitted in with our theme and would also complement Camilla’s photographs. We are so so grateful to her for joining us and capturing the day. Melissa was also a great help leading up to the day, tagging me in lots of Insta inspo and chatting through our ideas with us.
I couldn’t bare the thought of having to research and organise a honeymoon at the same time as organising our wedding so we decided instead to wait until after the wedding to book a honeymoon. We went away a few days after the wedding once our guests from overseas had travelled home – we explored the Cotswolds and then Bath. We are also going away for a week in the UK in Sept with our puppy, but we have booked our official honeymoon for next April and we are off to Jamaica. We’re going to Couples Negril – an adults and couples only resort with all the watersports included.
One of the bridesmaids couldn’t do her dress up the night before which was actually hilarious. We’d each had a pizza and I knew it would be fine the next morning.
Ashley and I loved taking a moment after signing the register to look back out into the theatre and see all our loved ones looking down at us from the tiered seating. As we were sitting at a table on the stage it felt like we were in a play they were all watching.
Just having all of our friends and family together in our city. For so many of them it was their first visit to Norwich and it was amazing to have them all there, exploring and posting photos of their trip the day before.
We had games on the lawn at the Cathedral after our wedding breakfast and Ashley’s family decided to play tug of war – girls vs. boys. At one point the rope broke in two and one of Ashley’s cousins ended up on the floor – the girls won! We had a few sack races too which were really fun.
The best man’s speech. It was actually hilarious and we’ve watched it back loads of times since. It never gets old. He started by asking everyone to stand up, and for the guys to put their arms outstretched and for the girls to put their hands together. He then took a photo on his phone and said that if all goes wrong at least it looks like he got a standing ovation.
Our DJ. He was incredible and we were so gutted when the last song had finished. He’s not a typical wedding DJ and at one point it felt like a little rave with all our favourite people rather than a wedding reception – he did a short prodigy set and everyone went nuts. Nobody wanted his ‘set’ to finish – including him.
Advice For Other Couples
It sounds so cliche but don’t sweat the small stuff. You genuinely won’t have time to think or panic about whether the best man remembered to bring the rings or whether a particular guest will or won’t turn up. You probably also won’t take the time to top up your lipstick or perfume with the one you specifically went and bought to match the one your make-up artist will use!
I stressed about every logistical detail before the day – what time guests would be arriving, whether they would find the venue(s) okay, how they would check into their hotel if the ceremony starts before the hotel allows them to check in, where they will park, how they will get home. Your guests are adults and will sort themselves out – the same as you do when you go to weddings!
Try and do something different and really memorable. We steered away from doing things we knew our guests would have probably seen at the last five weddings they’ve been to.
If you’re providing your DJ with a playlist, put some songs on there that you really dislike! It will get you off the dancefloor and mingling with guests. I really regret not leaving the dancefloor to eat our buffet food or chat to people more. I was on the dancefloor the whole night!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Make Up Artist
Dust With Cocoa
Many thanks to Emma and Ashley for sharing their incredible wedding story with us, it’s been a delight to read from beginning to end xo Lou