WWW readers Teddy and Catherine wed in very personal ceremony at their local church and planned a fabulous reception, firstly in their garden and then on a friend’s farm on the 13th May 2017. I’m a real sucker for a sperry tent and our lovely couple kept the décor inside it very simple to really show its spacious beauty. Our pair didn’t blindly follow convention and really made the format of the day their own.
But let’s talk about that dress! I can barely contain my excitement when I see a bride in her mother’s dress and this 70s number is just the most divine gown. Catherine’s cathedral length veil finishes the look off just perfectly. Teddy matched his bride in the style stakes by getting a bespoke suit made for him in Vietnam and I happen to think he looks very dapper.
There are just so many moments and special touches to enjoy here, make sure you take every single one in. Think heaving hampers of food, rustic bar, festoon lighting and bunting. Catherine also has some marvellous pragmatic advice for you planners, especially if you’re looking to do things a bit differently, enjoy!
Thank you to the wonderful Magda K for providing us with the beautiful images of the day.
THE PROPOSAL | Teddy picked me up when I had broken down on a bike ride. We lumped the bike into the boot of the car and he gave me a kinder egg as I climbed into the passenger seat. Inside the tinfoil wrapper, inside the chocolate shell, inside the yellow plastic was an engagement ring! Big surprise! He had designed it and had it made with our two birthstones, equal-sized, side-by-side. Apparently, it took three attempts to conceal it within the chocolate.
THE VISION | After ten years as a couple, we wanted to bring our dearest friends and family together to witness our vows, to reminisce over what has been, to celebrate our love and to look forward with anticipation to the beginning of forever. We wanted everyone to have a brilliant time.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We talked dreamily for a good couple of months before we committed much to paper. Then we dedicated a day to listing out our plans – who would do what, by when. Thereafter we had the plan to refer to and we very much moved from “planning” to “doing”. Teddy is a chef who has run restaurants and big events and my Dad is a priest – we had fabulous expertise on both the planning and the doing teams for the service and reception(s).
BUDGET | The biggest budget item was our marquee – from soon into the research, we knew that a Papakata sperry tent would set the scene for us – simple, spacious and beautiful. My suggestion for budgeting would be to put your resources to the things that matter to you and be really considered in other costs. Don’t unquestioningly spend money ‘just because’ on elements that you could do without. Teddy loves cars but everything was in walking distance so we did without and hitched in our photographer’s Citroen.
THE VENUE | We were married in our parish church which is across the road and visible from our kitchen window. At the end of the service, we processed down the aisle, out through the church yard, around the corner and into our garden. We had a reception at home for 1.5 hours where friends served prosecco, my uncle made a brief toast to the bride and groom and we cut and shared the wedding cake. Rather than inviting our extended circle to the ‘evening do’, we invited everybody to church and to the garden reception. It meant they were with us for the most important part and could come for a day-trip. After the garden reception, those who were invited to the wedding breakfast and evening of celebration walked/drove half a mile down the road to our friend’s farm; to the sperry for the remainder of the day. We took an hour to ourselves during this transition and went to a local country park with Magda, our fabulous photographer. It was a great window to be just the two of us.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | When I bought my bridal underwear at John Lewis, I excitedly told the cashier it was all I was buying to wear on my wedding day. There are, I soon realised, two ways to interpret that statement. He asked, “and…are you wearing anything on top?” Indeed I did! I wore my Mum’s dress and then, from three different girl friends, shoes, earrings and a garter. Our wedding ring had been Teddy’s Nanna’s wedding ring from his grandparents’ marriage in 1944; we had it reshaped to fit around my engagement ring.
FINDING THE DRESS | I was keen not to wear something purchased just for one day. That said, I did greatly enjoy visiting the high street and some boutique wedding dress makers – it is your one opportunity to be greeted with fizz on a shopping excursion…it is a lot of fun and good research for what you do and don’t like. After trying on a couple of friends’ dresses and various off-the-peg options, I headed home and discovered Mum’s dress fitted me! I knew it was the right dress because whenever I put it on, I grinned from ear-to-ear and didn’t want to take it off. Mum wore the dress for their wedding in 1975 and it was in fact Dad’s Mum who had bought it for her…very special.
I really wanted a long veil but nothing restrictive or weighty around my face and head. Teddy’s cousin Jennie (at WhatOhBridal) made the veil – using lace taken from the hem of Mum’s dress to produce a Watteau style veil, affixed at my shoulders.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Ted is not an off-the-peg shape. He has been in the bridal party for friends and, for him, hired ‘fitted’ suits never really fit. The cost of bespoke suits from the UK is really prohibitive. Ever the problem solver, he researched having a suit made in the Far East and, even with a flight ticket, this was far more attainable! He flew out to Vietnam and chose every detail of his suit from the fabric and the cut, down to the buttons and the thread. He also had bespoke waistcoats made for the eight men in our bridal party. This all came in at far less than the cost of one tailored suit in the UK. I consciously avoided seeing him in it until the day; the anticipation was brilliant.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | I walked up the aisle, holding hands with my Mum, to Handel’s “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” blasting on the organ. Because he was marrying us, Dad was at the top of the aisle with Teddy and the ushers to greet us. For our three hymns we had “Praise my soul the king of heaven”, “Brother, sister let me serve you” and “One more step along the world I go”. Our readings were from Colossians chapter 3, verses 12 to 17 and The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson. During the signing of the register, we had a pop up choir. We invited various friends and family to be a part of it and to arrive 30 minutes early if they wanted to join in. The tune was Thaxted by Holst (think I vow to thee my country) and 4 verses were sung back-to-back but actually were from two different sources – We have pledged to one another (by Jill Jenkins) and Oh God, beyond all praising (by Michael Perry). Andrew, our organist, suggested we change ‘we’ to ‘you’ (etc) because we were not singing it ourselves. It made it very personal indeed! We processed out to Widor’s Tocatta.
We re-arranged the order of service so that we got married as the very first thing. It meant we relaxed and enjoyed the readings and the address. The children were invited to sit in the aisle for the vows so that they could see what was happening. I love to think that this memory will stay with them always. The confidence to make these requests was helped by the fact that my Dad is a retired priest but the local vicar was so obliging, we really encourage you to ask for these changes.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My sister and my brother were our bridesmaids and walked in behind me and Mum. Megan wore a cobalt blue dress from Phase Eight. She had free reign of what to wear and her choice set the dress code. Rich then had a waistcoat made to match.
THE FLOWERS | We had great ideas about growing our wedding flowers. Despite our best intentions, and the loan of a poly-tunnel, it turns out you cannot will spring bulbs to all blossom on 13th May! Some had come and gone (and were enjoyed!). Others were green and full of potential! Various kind people resolved this for us as the day dawned – my cousin and aunt offered to arrange the pew-ends for us in church; Teddy’s cousin made the button holes; we bought indoor greenery from Covent Garden Market (at great prices, at 6am) that we put in the marquee and Megan, the day before the wedding, collected beautiful wildflowers from grass verges for the bouquets. One of our unsuspecting (and naturally creative) guests, Phil, who arrived early on the wedding day put the bouquets together for us.
THE CAKE | Ted, his Mum and my Mum made the cakes. They started early and fed them with a lot of sherry over the weeks! Mum then iced them all for us with royal icing. Teddy designed and practised the decoration and photographed it. On the day, it was our friend Matt who, using the photo and Ted’s ingredients, put it all together.
THE FOOD | Our idea to put together a hamper for each table meant we could tell our story through food and could have really high quality simple ingredients. Sharing food this way would break the ice on tables where people were meeting for the first time. We had no worries about timings, we could flex numbers up and down until the last minute and we covered all bases for special dietary requirements.
I, a girl from Gloucester, met Teddy, a Leicester boy, in the roman city of Bath. We sourced Red Leicester, Double Gloucester and Bath Blue cheeses from artisan suppliers and boxed them up with delicious fresh bread from the local Hambleton bakery. To learn more about our menu and how it told our story, visit www.storyshared.co.uk.
In the evening we had a fabulous Sri Lankan curry van (preparing, cooking and serving fresh street food onsite) and a VW van making real coffee (and giving out brownies made by our friends to Grandad’s recipe). Both were so well received – delicious offerings from lovely independent local businesses.
THE BAR – Where to begin? We hired a company called Speakeasy Libations who did an absolute sterling Job! Alex was fun to work with in putting the menu together and made everything was possible. Cocktails were served masterclass style to everyone and he poured my Grandad’s beer.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Magda was our legendary photographer. We had a fabulous day with minimal ‘photo-shoot’ moments and only when she delivered our pictures did we realise quite how much she had captured. She is a photography ninja – book her!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Everything in the marquee needed carrying in-to and out-of the field and that, in itself, makes you question the purpose of each element. Function over form! We are believers in space being a thing, not to be filled, and so our décor was minimal. Everything was simple, and the incredible view and nature that surrounded us was the best décor you could imagine. That said, Teddy’s parents painted our picnic crates, Teddy made the bread and cheese boards, Megan made bread bags from his Nanna’s tea towel collection, Teddy’s sister Kelly wrote the place names with slate from our old roof.
THE HONEYMOON | Ha ha! We were heading to Scotland with our beloved dog Hudson and our swag. We got an hour up the road and had to stop – we were bushed! We ended up camping in the neighbouring county and just spending a few easy days reliving The Day and revelling in the joy and the memories.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Hang out together for the day so that the majority of your wedding day memories are of each other. People will enjoy seeing you enjoy each other – there is no need to assume the approach of ‘divide and conquer’ to ensure that between you, you speak to everyone!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Everything is worth a conversation. We saved hundreds of pounds on champagne by asking our bar team if we could buy the champagne ourselves and pay them a service charge for providing the coups and pouring it.
Don’t forget your back of house. No amount of frills would make up for a lack of good cloakrooms, or lighting, or access.
Borrow! We made no bunting, on the basis that many people will have gone before us and done so. Don’t be afraid to ask your wider network and to make use of their handiwork. They will delight in it.
So many couples say “do not worry about the guests; it is your day”. We disagree – plan a great party for everyone to enjoy! Our advice is not to be protective of your ideas; not everything needs to be a surprise. This is especially true if you are doing something a bit “off the wall” – explain to people what will happen so that they can visualise it and it will help it to run smoothly. We served lunch to 130 people with no caterers onsite – that would not have been possible without clear communication. Also, do not be defensive of your ideas – sow them like seeds and leave them with people and return to them. You might find that they add to and improve on what you’d had in mind.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Magda K
Sperry Tent | Papakata
The Dress | Bride’s Mum’s from 1975
Veil | WhatOhBridal
The Groom’s Attire | HD Tailor in Vietnam
Hair and Makeup | Friends Jen and Hannah
Jewellery | Nicholas Wylde
The Bar | Speakeasy Libations
Hampers | Story Shared
Sri Lankan Curry Van | Kura Kura
Mobile Bathroom | Pea Green Toilets
Fridge | Big Fridge
Cutlery Hire | Outside Catering Hire
Thank you so much Catherine and Teddy for sharing the beautiful story of such a personalised day and the brilliant words of wisdom. Rachel x