By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
It’s time to share the second and final instalment of our wedding story. You can read all about our wedding ceremony over here, but for today it’s all about the party.
We held our wedding reception on Friday 9th October 2015 at the Henlow Bridge Lakes in Bedfordshire. Our wedding party was a rainbow, gold, camping, outdoor, festoon lit extravaganza with a little DIY thrown in for good measure. Nothing coordinated in particular, we just picked the things we loved and it all came together.
We decided to uphold a couple of traditions as we had an alternative ceremony. So there was a first dance and cake cutting, which was nerve wracking. But I am so pleased we included those moments. It feels so good to be sharing these images today and they really mean the world to us.
Many thanks again to the incredible Alexa Loy for capturing everything just so perfectly.
THE VISION | We decided we really wanted a party to celebrate with our nearest and dearest. So our reception was to be a colourful, camp out, super fun evening four weeks later.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | After we got married we started to plan the party which gave us around 3 weeks to sort everything. It was important to me to support local businesses and all of the suppliers were really near by. Knowing of some really great local wedding folk meant it was pretty easy to trust them to make our vision come to life. It was a breeze. Thanks guys!
G: At the point of booking the ceremony we thought about having a party, but decided it would be too much for Louise. So we decided to get the ceremony we wanted and see where we were after that. We were on such a high after the ceremony that we thought ‘why not’.
We both agreed we didn’t want anything too big or extravagant, just something where we could celebrate with our family and friends and have a great time. We scouted out a few places, with Louise seeing sooo many different and amazing weddings it was hard to choose something she could put her own stamp on. We kept being drawn to an open sided, fire pitted gazebo like campsite location in the village where Louise grew up. I was sold straight away, but Louise had a few reservations ‘an open sided location at night, in the middle of October, it would be freezing’ is the response I normally got. After being persuaded by the manager that with the fire pit going the place would feel not warm but hot, we put the deposit down and it was booked. This meant we had 3 weeks to bring all the details for this amazing location together. Luckily as Louise is in the industry (as if you didn’t know) she had already many, many, many people in mind who she always had wanted to work with if our day finally came. There was emails and phone calls a plenty and everyone took our ideas on board and we even had a bit of time to do some DIY things.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Now I love a DIY wedding and I adore crafting. But since having W 16 months ago now, I haven’t had time sadly. Plus with 3 weeks to plan the reception I just had to ‘let go’ that I wasn’t going to be able to craft up a storm and have a detail heavy wedding. We spray painted jars and bottles for the flowers. I also put together the white board magnetic signs and decided on a Jenja guest book. In fact that reminds me we still haven’t read those whoops hehe. We also spray painted our hand prints onto a US mailbox for cards and brought a cinema sign from Goodwin and Goodwin which is now on our dining room wall. For favours we put together smores to toast over the fire, although it was so hot everyone struggled to get close enough. We chose to bring along our favourite tipple, cider and some J2Os for the non drinkers, the venue didn’t charge us corkage so that was perfect. I used the Cheerz garland to display some of our fave family photos past and present too.
I also hand illustrated our invitations. I scanned my design into my phone and printed them onto kraft paper using Printed. It was really simple to do, although I am not sure just how great my artistic skills were hehe. They also directed our guests to our wedding site with all the additional info needed.
The rest of the décor was down to the brilliant Fleur De Lace. Alice worked so hard all day setting up for the party. She put up festoon lighting, crepe paper streamers, a ribbon backdrop, a rustic ‘toast the bride groom’ sign she made specially, the CAKE balloons, oodles of lanterns, lent us the booze bath and supplied the multi coloured table runners. She really got our vision and we could not have done it without her. Amazing!
THE FLOWERS | Noeleen from The Basement Florist supplied the buckets of local seasonal flowers which I then arranged during the day along with G’s dad’s partner into bottles and jars that we had collected and spray painted metallic golds and copper in our garden. You can see the tutorial on WWW here. I just hope that I did the gorgeous stems justice.
THE VENUE | Choosing the venue for the party was probably our hardest decision. I love so many different types of venue but we wanted one that reflected us as a couple best. We looked at quite a few local village halls but nothing quite felt right. I love barn weddings, but they didn’t really fit in budget wise and it felt silly to pay over the odds for an evening only do. So when we remembered that The Henlow Bridge Lakes did weddings we popped over. We live a 5 minute drive away and I grew up in the village so it meant a lot to us. We loved the site, the alfresco venue was unique and the camp fire atmosphere was just what we dreamed of. I was worried we’d be chilly in the October weather, but the huge fire kept everyone super toasty warm. The staff were phenomenal from the visits to the site to the evening itself and clear up after. We can’t wait to go back for a camp out with the kids. We decided not to stay over that night, so will definitely be heading back. It’s lovely gazing in each time we drive past now.
THE CAKE | As we were having an evening do we wanted cake to double up as pud. So we went for an indulgent dessert table. Minkiemoo Bakery was so enthusiastic and was able to cater for my gluten free diet too.
What she came up with was just outstanding in terms of visuals and taste. She supplied brownies, cheesecake brownies, lemon meringue cupcakes, battenburg cupcakes, strawberries and cream cupcakes, orange and almond mini loaf cakes and three large single tier retro cakes. One rainbow sponge, one ombre sponge and one red velvet all decorated with bright buttercream icing. So many people keep telling us how tasty the treats were and they were scrummy. She set them all up and even lent us the cake stands. I couldn’t rave more about what she did for us.
G: Gluten Free was my only consideration for the cake. It doesn’t bother me what they look like, I just love the cake. Louise did an excellent job finding someone who could cater for her needs and also make them look and taste soooo amazing. There was sooo much cake, but I wasn’t complaining.
BUDGET | We are pretty sure we kept to within £10 000 for both days including our honeymoon. We kept a rough note of budget/costs but I don’t want to add it up now just in case we went over hehe. We were keen not to spend outside of our means or get into debt. Providing for our family and saving for our dream house was more important to us and I think we had everything we wanted within budget anyway. YAY.
ACCESSORIES | As I said before, I wore sequin gold pumps from Debenhams for the ceremony but they stuck to the tulle on my dress. So I ordered some heart flats from ASOS for the party. There was no way I wasn’t dancing. I teamed them with ankle socks from New Look for extra warmth. I also ordered another flower crown from The Basement Florist, I loved it so much on the day and when would I get the excuse to wear one again?
FOOD | We also wanted some delicious food which was gluten free for me. We have enjoyed feasting our on Cantina Carnitas too many times and always said we’d love them at our wedding. We were so happy they were available and our guests just loved the colourful, fresh Mexican flavour. We will be heading back for more soon that’s for sure.
THE MUSIC | For the party we definitely wanted a live band. I got in touch with Warble Entertainment who have worked with WWW for a while now. Matt was brilliant and Warble made the suggestion of The Indie Killers as a perfect fit for our style and budget.
Damo, Luke and Andrew were awesome! We had sound restrictions and the music had to finish at 10:30pm but they worked so hard to get the party started. They were interactive with the guests and played our first dance song Snow Patrol ‘Chasing Cars’ perfectly. They even took requests from guests that they had never played before, rocked out on the tables and learnt a Mumford & Sons song for us which was really touching. I hope we get to party with them again in the future.
THE HONEYMOON | Being parents of 2 young boys we were never going to leave them for too long or go too far away. In fact I have never left A over night and he is 6, apart from being in hospital having W hehe.
We searched in vein for the perfect self catering cottage. We have always wanted to visit Bath and were planning to go there on our original honeymoon. So we booked a cosy cottage really close to the city. We enjoyed sightseeing, the Christmas Market, lazy lunches, a cinema trip and just being self indulgent really hehe. You can read about our trip over here.
G: We knew this was going to have to be a short break and we wanted it to be soon after our marriage. We have both always wanted to go to Bath, it has a bit of everything, Spa for relaxing, Roman Baths for history and some great shops. Plus its close enough for us not to be too far from home ‘if’ we were needed for any reason. We wanted a self catering place so that Louise could relax and prepare our own meals if we needed to. We decided to go for a lovely cottage just outside Bath with everything we needed, log fire, bath in the bedroom (one of Louise’s main requests), rural location but close enough to bath. We arrived late on the Friday night and to say it was rural was an understatement, single track lanes, no street lights, Louise called it the cottage from the film ‘The Holiday’, it was perfect. The cottage had even left us some bubbly in the fridge as they knew it was our honeymoon. We had a plan for the next day, to get to the Spa fairly early to miss to queues. The Spa was great and definitely what both of us needed, hot steam rooms, rooftop pool and just general mooching around was something we had not been used to having two little ones. It was nice to have some us time for once and in such a relaxing place.
Having booked so close to Christmas, the Bath Christmas markets we there. It was huge, hut after hut of all things crafty, Louise was in her element. The different sights and smells was of Christmas were everywhere, mulled wine, those cinnamon things you hang on the tree, roasted chestnuts, decorations (we brought too many, lol). We spent hours wandering around it was lovely. Sunday came and we decided we wanted to see a bit of history, so we wandered up to the Royal Crescent, iconic to Bath. It does look amazing, Bath it full of Georgian houses a style Louise and I love. We then attempted to see the Assembly Rooms, but unfortunately they were closed and last on the list was of course the Roman Baths. I found it pretty amazing, not sure Louise did, but hey. Even enjoyed drinking the water from the hot spring.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Preparing for the party with Alice during the day.
Driving up to the venue from a distance and seeing the twinkling lights and roaring fire. It looked magical.
Greeting our guests.
Our first dance was so special, it felt like we were the only ones in the room. It was so funny when my sister couldn’t get the confetti cannon to work and our friend Rachel stepped in. Also be sure to buy the bigger cannons, I got the size too small for the job really hehe.
Dancing with my dad.
Dancing pretty much the whole time.
Looking around and seeing everyone in the same room, cosying up to the fire, enjoying the grub, with the kids playing.
G: The heat from the fire pit and the manager saying ‘I told you it wouldn’t be cold’.
The amazing band, who learnt a new song for us as they knew we loved Mumford and Sons.
My Sharona, lol.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Alexa Loy
Venue | Henlow Bridge Lakes
Styling & Set Up | Fleur De Lace
Cakes | Minkiemoo Bakery
Food | Cantina Carnitas
Band | The Indie Killers via Warble Entertainment
Dress | Enzoani from Clifford Burr
Alterations | Snippets Needlework
Pumps | ASOS
Clutch Bag | Alphabet Bags
Flowers | The Basement Florist
Cinema Sign | Goodwin & Goodwin
White Boards & Letters | Wilkos
G’s Shirt | Fred Perry
G’s Waistcoat | Ted Baker
G’s Tie | Victor Valentine
G’s Trousers | Lacoste
G’s Shoes | Linea
Boy’s Shirts & Bow Ties | Monsoon
Boy’s Chinos | H&M
Boy’s Shoes | Matalan
A’s Waistcoat | Zara
Invitation Printing | Printed
Wow, so many images there hehe. It is super hard to choose your own wedding images to feature it seems 🙂
Thanks so much to everyone that has supported G and myself through my anxiety struggles over the years. And also for supporting our alternative style wedding plans. It means so much to the both of us and being Mr and Mrs finally feels amazing.
I’ll be back soon with some features about some of our wedding choices. But for now I think that’s a wrap. It’s time to hand the blog back over to you guys and your gorgeous celebrations and stories.
Much love, Lou and G xo
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The colours are so fantastic. Elements of your wedding just make me think of the things chosen for ours which is coming up this year. Good choices and congratulations.
YAY! You look like you had an awesome party. I’m so pleased for you. x
annabel- Dolly Dimples Weddings
Beautiful Wedding, congratulations Lou and best wishes for the future 🙂 xxx
Thank you all SO SO much 🙂 You are all so very lovely xo
Alex | Belle The Magazine
The sense of family and joy in this wedding is beautiful !
It all looks utterly amazing!!!!! SOOOOO thrilled to have played a part in this very special and quite awesome party! BIG love xxx
Lou this is AMAZING!! How many people did you have for the evening? I love this venue! X
Ah thank you. We invited about 100 guests. Get in touch with them, they are fab xo
Totally fabulous, you look so happy, love this wedding party so much. AND CAN YOU STOP IT WITH ALL those gorgeous cake PHOTOS!!! wow, delicious looking.
Beautiful. 🙂 x
Cebu Wedding Photographer
Great wedding and all captured nicely!
Hey, I really want to hire out the Henlow bridge lakes for my 21st.
Could you let me know why their was restrictions on the music being played after 10:30?
I hope you dont mind me asking! Your wedding looked beautiful.
Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Thanks so much guys!
Sarah, deffo get in touch with the venue, they can let you know all the info 🙂 Thanks so much xo
My partner and I have fallen in love with henlow bridge lakes for our wedding but we only have 35 guests and I’m worried it will look a little empty, can I ask how many guests you had at your reception please as it doesn’t look empty at all it looks perfect?
We invited around 100 guests, but had slightly less than this attend. I’d suggest, taking out tables you don’t need, and moving them into a smaller group at one end of the venue to create a more cosy feel.
It’s such a cool party venue, we loved it xo
That’s a great idea, thanks Lou xx