WWW readers Kat and Ben are here to brighten this chilly January Monday morning, with their beautifully colourful nuptials, which were held on the 25th August 2018. They chose to host their day at the stunning Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire, it was the perfect setting for their countryside wedding vision.
I just adore the bright coral and raspberry florals they chose to adorn their celebrations with. I mean just take Kat’s sensational bouquet which was filled with peonies, roses and clematis to name a few. They really are show stopping and look perfect against her divine lace gown. Wow!
Music was a really important part of their wedding, they had three live acts to entertain, including two from WWW faves Bands For Hire. They also included a nod to music with the vinyl record table names and the lovely stationery.
We really are thankful to be sharing these exquisite images with you today courtesy of Alexandra Jane Photography.
Ben decided to propose on New Years Eve 2017 at a 1940’s Blitz Party. He had planned to do it at midnight but was too nervous/excited so he ended up popping the question at home with champagne before we went out. Needless to say it was an unforgettable party and double celebrations!!
Ben works in the music industry and has a major love of 1950’s Rock n Roll. Kat can’t resist the dance floor either so we knew that music would be an important part of the wedding. Kat also adores bright colours so wanted this to be reflected in the décor. We wanted our wedding to be unique and personal and whilst we like certain traditions, we wanted to make sure that the traditions we followed for our big day made sense to us. There wasn’t a theme as such, as we felt there was a risk of going overboard with a particular theme. We just wanted a fun, tasteful and entertaining day that we and our guests wouldn’t forget! Hopefully we achieved that vision.
The Planning Process
We had just 7 and a half months to plan our wedding once we found our ideal venue. This short time frame was initially a little daunting – particularly panic inducing when dressmakers tell you that ordering a wedding dress six months in advance is a must! However, in the end having this deadline was actually a good way of getting us to make quick decisions and minimising any agonising fuss!
We live in Wimbledon, South West London and whilst we considered getting married in London, the fact that both of us are originally from the countryside meant that we actually had a strong desire to get married somewhere more rural and spacious. We knew that a country house or barn style venue would be the ideal place to create the atmosphere we wanted. Notley Abbey was the second venue we looked at and from the moment we stepped inside we knew we’d found THE ONE. Previously owned by Laurence Olivier and Vivienne Leigh, and restored as a wedding venue by Bijou Weddings, the old abbey had retained its original lead windows and beams making this both a cosy and atmospheric house as well as having an air of sophistication and glamour. From the 4 poster bed in the bridal suite to the beautiful fireplaces, stunning mile long drive way and perfectly manicured gardens. It’s key attraction was the exclusive hire for 24 hours meaning that we could use each room for a different part of the wedding, decorate it as we wanted and really make it a unique event.
Your Outfits & Accessories
The dress was by Justin Alexander Sincerity and purchased at Daisys Bridal Boutique in Raynes Park, London. I tried on about 25 dresses before settling finally on this one. Dress shopping was challenging as I really had no idea what would actually suit me but I loved the long train, lace and the fact that the lining was stretchy and allowed me to be comfortable!
The mesh back was a surprise touch with buttons all the way down to the bottom of the train. Kat opted not to have a veil but instead chose a vintage beaded hair slide on the side.
Ben wore a navy blue Prince of Wales 3 piece suit by Ottavio Nuccio. He ordered it direct from the supplier in Italy so it was certainly a relief when it arrived just a week before our big day! He opted to wear a bow tie from Swagger & Swoon which matched flower girl Poppy’s vintage rose coloured dress.
Our photographer, Alex, recommended the lovely Holly, of Oxford Hair & Makeup. Working with Holly was great. She was so chilled out and relaxed and really knew how to create a perfect look in a limited time frame! I definitely recommend having a trial first as it helps you get to know each other and made getting ready on the day so easy as Holly had written notes of exactly how I was going to wear my hair and what colours we had selected for my make up – there was no way I would have been able to make decisions on the day full of nerves!
Bridal hair was curled, swept to the side with a decorative vintage beaded hair slide. Make up was low key and fairly natural, with nude pink lips and big lashes. The bridesmaids hair was curled and pinned up and decorated with gypsophila for a boho look.
Kat chose to have best friends Katie and Charlotte as well as Ben’s beautiful sister Hannah as her bridesmaids. They wore the stunning silky raspberry “Olivia” dress from Issa at House of Fraser. This dress was super flattering and suited all the bridesmaids beautifully.
8 year old Poppy, Kat’s niece was excited to be flower girl and she wore a vintage rose coloured lace bridesmaid dress from the childrenswear department at John Lewis.
The Readings & Music
The ceremony was very personal and informal, taking place in the stunning Monks Refectory, surrounded by bright floral arrangements. We had two readings, and selected one each. Kat’s brother Duncan predictably shed a few tears during his reading, the beautiful poem “Love” by Roy Croft. Ben’s mum, a former head teacher, delivered an incredible extract from Winnie the Pooh, complete with ‘all the voices’. It was a very memorable moment from the day.
Music was obviously a key part of our day. As they arrived, our guests were entertained by the gorgeous string quartet, Bowfiddle. The female foursome played classic 60’s tunes that we love – from the Beach Boys to the Beatles throughout the ceremony. During the brief interlude whilst we were signing the register, they also played a very special piece that composer Ben had written just for Kat (as the wedding day was also her birthday!) and it was an emotional moment when it was revealed, with many of our guests requesting a recording afterwards!
Our videographer Adam Smith was certainly entertaining on the day! Unfortunately we haven’t yet seen the final film yet as it won’t be completed for another few months, however, the stills he took on the day are a great sign of things to come! We’re very excited to see the final product!
We were incredibly happy with our choice of photographer, Alexandra Davies. She was so easy to work with and having our pre-wedding shoot meant that we felt totally comfortable on the day and were able to get some fantastic formal shots in a really short space of time, minimising our time away from our guests! We loved Alex’s candid style which captured the emotions and atmosphere of the day perfectly. We have some amazing moments to treasure forever.
These were a real surprise! The stunning flowers were arranged and delivered by “Twigs & Twine” of Thame. Kat had a brief discussion with Gail the florist the week before and without a clear colour theme, we decided to go for all of them! Guests were wowed in the ceremony room with the rainbow of raspberry and coral coloured roses, pink peonies, purple clematis and red hypericum amongst many, many others. The bridal and bridesmaid bouquet were colossal arrangements and hand tied with trailing ribbon in signature raspberry and coral ribbon. The table decorations were simple but effective. A trio of jam jars of the same collection of flowers, tied with bright ribbon and sitting atop a wooden tree slice.
Ben’s best man and life long best friend Mark, wore a teal suit from Paul Smith and our 10 year old usher Harry (also Kat’s nephew) wore a beautiful blue linen 3 piece suit from the childrenswear department at John Lewis. MC Ross, Kat’s brother, wowed everyone with his blue suede shoes (retailer unknown) – a nod to Elvis we think! The boys all wore pink ties, in the same colour as Ben’s bow tie.
The Details & Décor
Notley Abbey is such a beautiful venue it really didn’t need much in the way of decoration. Our florist provided much of the flowers but our mums also visited the flower market the day before and brought in about a dozen vases to be spread across the reception halls and drawing room. We collected ivy the day before to decorate the mantel pieces along with candles and storm lanterns for a real rustic look. We had garden games outside for the kids, and the more competitive adults and continued with the games with a Mr & Mrs Quiz for guests on their tables.
We enjoyed a menu tasting at Notley Abbey a few months before the big day and chose the Hot smoked Salmon with beetroot and edible flowers, Braised Beef and pureed parsnips and a ‘quad’ of desserts – chocolate mousse, lemon cheesecake, creme brulee and grasmere shortbread. This was following a reception where guests were served prosecco, pimms, pink lemonade and a selection of beautiful canapés as well as being entertained by 3 piece Jazz Band, “On the Rocks” and a caricaturist!
Our stationery was designed and produced by the very clever Gemma at Love Me Do Designs, all inspired by vintage records and florals. We used the same designs across our Save the Dates, Invitations and A2 table plan.
Kat employed a bit of DIY with the table names. Ben sourced some old 45 inch vinyl records which Kat then created new table names for inspired by classic 50’s and 60’s Rock n Roll artists, tying the whole music theme together nicely!
After our evening meal, we hit the dance floor accompanied by the amazing “Rocking Rhythms” – a three piece rock n roll band who were a definite hit – particularly with the single ladies. We also had a photobooth and guest book which was, as expected, well used!
Our delicious three-tiered cake was made by Karen at Cakes by Kit. Karen invited us to her home for a cake tasting after which it was very challenging to choose just one flavour so we opted for 3! The bottom tier was chocolate fudge and orange, the middle was lemon and lemon curd and the top tier red velvet. This was all covered in buttercream icing for a rustic finish with a subtle pink ombre look. Fuchsia pink fresh flowers were the final eye-catching finish to this tasty cake!
We enjoyed a 5 day “mini moon” in the south of Italy following the wedding. Ben chose the beautiful 5 star converted convent “Villa Paola” on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. We enjoyed a week of sunshine, wine, seafood, gelato and even managed some parasailing!
We’re now planning our official honeymoon – a 3 week trip to Bali in April.
Our most memorable moment without a doubt has to be exchanging our vows. As many married couples will say, the day goes by incredibly fast but this was the only part of the day that time seemed to slow down enough for us to fully appreciate and be in the moment.
Our speeches were also a brilliant moment, peppered with hilarious anecdotes and messages of love.
Advice For Other Couples
Spend your money on the things that matter most to you and your guests – the food, drink and entertainment. Don’t get caught up in the details that your guests probably won’t notice and you will be too busy to appreciate on the day!
Make sure you take a few opportunities during the day with your new husband/wife to step back and appreciate the moment, watch your guests enjoying themselves and share in it together. Everyone says this, but it really is important as it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Alexandra Jane Photography
Hair and Make-Up
Twigs and Twine Florist
Justin Alexander from Daisy’s Bridal Boutique
Such a happy and meaningful celebration! Kat and Ben, thank you so much for sharing your wedding story with us xo Lou