WWW readers Hannah and Oli wed on the 24th June 2016 at Lewes Castle with a reception afterwards at the nearby Pelham Arms. It was a gorgeous summer’s day and you can almost smell the lavender against the backdrop of the stunning castle. The pair had rather a lot on their plate during the planning process so wanted to keep décor quite simple, but with some help from their lovely family and friends included gorgeous details, think reams and reams of bunting, a family-painted hessian aisle runner and reclaimed pots and tins full of lavender.
Clever Hannah made not only her own beautiful long sleeved dress with a stunning low back but the bridesmaids’ too! Her dress had a slip underneath for a more relaxed look in the evening and she even made a tie for Oli that matched the beautiful bridesmaids. Oli settled on a three-piece suit from Ted Baker and I think you’ll agree that he looks rather dapper.
Hannah has some great words of wisdom for couples who are getting overwhelmed by Pinterest about what is really important on the big day, but first, feast your eyes on all the pretty…
Thanks ever so much to the excellent Parkershots for these dreamy images.
THE PROPOSAL | We’d been together nearly 9 years before Oli proposed, so discussed marriage and getting engaged, so it wasn’t a total surprise. We planned an evening in London with a meal up The Shard. Oli proposed after the meal whilst we were walking down the riverbank of the Thames. It was a lovely warm June summers evening, so the setting was perfect
THE VISION | We didn’t have a particular theme. We kept the colours similar throughout, but we weren’t strict with it. We wanted a day that was relaxed and fun. We were keen to try and make or borrow as much as we could for the day and to keep as much of our suppliers local to Lewes or Sussex. A special thanks needs to be given to my mother and her partner for all their help with organising the day, to my mother-in-law for the beautiful table flowers she crafted, and to many other amazing friends and family for lending or making us items for the day. We’re so lucky to have so much support.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Being busy people we didn’t have a lot of free time to plan the wedding. From engagement to marriage we had almost exactly 1 year, but during this time we only had brief periods of free time to plan. I’m currently studying and work part-time and we got married exactly one week after my year 2 medical exams. This perhaps wasn’t the best planning, but in all honestly meant that I didn’t have time to turn into a total bridezilla or go over the top with planning loads of decorations and details that probably would have been unnecessary, so it turned into a good thing. We also bought our first house at the same time and only got the keys 3 days before our wedding. So although sitting exams, working, buying a house and planning a wedding at the same time was difficult, it meant we had the whole summer to enjoy married life in our new home.
THE VENUE | There was never any doubt that we would get married at Lewes Castle. We’ve both grown up in Lewes and getting married in our hometown was important to us. We saw Lewes Castle as the perfect venue that overlooks the town and is a beautiful place. We were anxious about it being an outdoor venue, but thankfully the sun shone for us. Hannah Miles who works at Lewes Castle and coordinates the weddings was great at helping us organise our day and was a really attentive host. For the evening part of our wedding we keen to keep to the relaxed atmosphere of the day so we chose The Pelham Arms, a pub just up the road from the castle, as the pub has a great friendly feel to it. The location was ideal as we didn’t want our guests to have far to travel between venues.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I tried on a few dresses in a couple of shops but struggled to find ‘the one’. I go to a sewing group in Brighton, called Sew Retro, once a week and the lady, Sarah, who runs it suggested I made my dress. At first I thought that there would be no way that I could do this, but after more failed searches for the perfect dress I thought I would give it a try. I sketched out how I would like my dress to look and Sarah made the pattern for me. I made a mock dress at first in cheap fabric to see how the dress looked and fitted, then after sourcing my fabric I got to work on the real thing. I really enjoyed the experience of making my dress and was so pleased with the final result. It was great fun working on it one evening a week as it allowed me to set aside a small section of time to think about our wedding amongst my hectic work/uni schedule. I owe Sarah a lot for all the help and encouragement she gave me in getting the dress exactly how I wanted it. I decided for the day I’d like a dress with a low back and long sleeves, as both my mother and grandmother had long sleeved dresses on their wedding day, but the low back gave it a more modern look. I used a beautiful lace for this part of the dress. In the evening I thought it would be nice to have something more free to move in, so under the lace part of the dress I used a soft double crepe silk. The idea was that for the evening the top lace part of the dress came off, leaving me with the under silk dress for the evening for me to dance in. I loved having two dresses for the different parts of the day and felt both dresses reflected the different aspects of the day.
For my veil I wore the veil that both my grandmother and mother both got married in. As my dress was ivory in colour but the veil white I had to dye it to match my dress. This involved boiling up a big pan of tea bags and dipping it in until I had the right colour- this was the most nerve wracking part of the whole dress/veil making experience as I only had one chance to get this right.
For my hair I had a real flower crown made from lavender and ivy made by a florist in Lewes. I gave them a few ideas of the themes of the day and they made it exactly how I wanted, I was so pleased with it on the day.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Oli decided on a grey three-piece suit and found a lovely one from Ted Baker. To accessorise it he had a tie that I made for him in the same sage/mint green colour as the bridesmaids. Oli let his groomsmen choose what they wanted to wear as he didn’t want everyone to look matching. In the evening Oli changed to a different tie- when a friend of Oli’s got a job at Sky Sports Oli joked that if he could get Jim Whites ‘Transfer Deadline Day’ yellow tie he would wear it on our wedding day. His friend not only managed to get the tie, but Jim White also signed it for him! Oli is a massive football fan so getting to wear his tie was unreal.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | The music we chose for the whole of our wedding service was all music from bands we have heard live. We’ve been to many gigs together so it was really fun choosing some of our favourite songs to have playing whilst people sat in their seats and waited for the service to start. The song I walked down the aisle to was ‘Lucky Bones’ by our favourite band The Courteeners, and we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife to a cover version of ‘Baby I’m Yours’ by another favourite band The Arctic Monkeys.
We had ‘Us Two’ by AA Milne and ‘The Art of Marriage’ by Wilferd A Patterson. We let our two friends choose the readings.
In the evening we had a live band called The Bears, who did an amazing job of getting everyone dancing and singing.
THE GIVING AWAY | My father passed away in 2012, so when it came to being walked down the aisle I found this decision really tough. I have three brothers and didn’t want to choose one, however they decided amongst themselves and came to the decision that my brother Edward would walk me down the aisle. I was really touched that he wanted to do this and it was great having him there before the wedding to calm my nerves. All three of my brothers took a turn each to do the Father of the Bride speech, which was so lovely.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had two close friends as my bridesmaids. The three of us met 10 years ago at university. Having them both there was such an honour. For their dresses I made the mad decision to make them after I’d finished making my dress. I was set on a particular colour for the dresses, which was in between a sage and a mint green and took a long time to source the right fabric. I was really keen for my bridesmaids to be happy in what they were wearing so took a lot of input from the two of them to get a style that would suit them both. The tricky part about making the dresses was one of my bridesmaid’s lives in Hong Kong and didn’t get to try her dress on until the afternoon before the wedding! Thankfully the dress only needed taking up slightly. Looking back, this was a great memory of the wedding- whilst most brides are trying to relax the day before their big day, I was sewing bunting triangles and hemming up bridesmaids dresses, having a laugh and catching up with both my friends. For accessories I got them both silver hammered heart pendants from Alexis Dove, the same jewellers who made our rings. I thought my bridesmaids looked stunning on the day!
THE FLOWERS | I went to a local florists called Lewesiana, which is just over the road from Lewes Castle. I gave the florist an idea of the colours and flowers I liked but gave her free rein to make the bouquet how she thought would look best. I totally fell in love with how she chose it and not only did it look fantastic, it also smelt great too! After the wedding I dried it and have put it in a glass lantern box and have it on display by our fireplace and it still looks great! For my bridesmaids I wanted simple gypsophila bouquets so that there weren’t any other colours distracting from their dresses.
THE CAKE | Neither of us particularly like icing so we asked The Pelham Arms to make us a ‘naked’ sponge cake with fruit and flowers on it. A friend of mine made us an origami bride and groom, which sat on the top.
THE FOOD | As the food at The Pelham Arms is so delicious we decided to ask them to do the food for us at our wedding. We always knew from the start that we fancied a BBQ as our wedding breakfast. We wished to let our guests have a variety of food choices and didn’t like the idea of a stuffy three-course meal where people felt they had to be glued to their seats. The food was fantastic and it kept with the relaxed informal vibe we hoped for. All the food was locally sourced, an element that was important to us as we tried to stick to local businesses wherever we could. We also hired The Lime Bar, a mobile bar, to serve the drinks to our guests. They were a brilliant company to work with and made sure the drinks were flowing all day!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | My brother Sam recommended Parkershots to us. We both loved the portraits he took of our niece and loved the work on his website. We’re both over the moon with the end results and many people have commented on how well the photos captured the day. We’re also really happy that we were able to have photos taken with my Grandpa as he sadly passed away 3 weeks after our wedding, so having memories of him enjoying himself at our wedding was really special to us.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We felt both venues were already well dressed so we didn’t go too overboard with decorating them. For the castle we borrowed bunting from a family member and made an extra 25 metres as we needed around 100metres in total to decorate the hand railings on the steps leading up to the top of the castle. My mother, her partner and I made the aisle runner by painting onto hessian fabric using the main colours of the wedding (mint/sage green, lavender, pale yellow and cornflower blue). We had great fun splashing paint around that day. We had coloured tin buckets of lavender down the sides of the aisle and little bunches of dried lavender hanging on the seats. Oli’s mother made our table decorations using recycled blue ceramic yogurt pots (from Le Fermiere), which had flowers and foliage in. These were kindly donated by one of my bridesmaids, who had been collecting them from her Granny for months. These looked great on the centre of the tables. A couple of my friends from the sewing class made me some bunting as a surprise wedding gift, so I used this to decorate inside our marquee. Oli made a burger relish as our wedding favours to go with the BBQ. He used mini kilner jars to put this in. Each jar also acted as the name place setting with our guests name on a little luggage tag tied to the jar.
THE HONEYMOON | We went on a mini trip to South America starting off in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, exploring the cities sights, then trekking to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail in Cuzco, Peru, finishing off in the Peruvian part of the Amazon rainforest in an Amazonian lodge exploring the amazing array of wildlife. We’re not ones who can sit and sunbathe for hours on end so needed a ‘doing’ holiday. Although some people may see camping on their honeymoon as their idea of hell, the sense of achievement of trekking to Machu Picchu and seeing the breath taking views made sleeping in a tent for 4 nights totally worth it!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The whole day was totally fantastic and everything seemed to flow perfectly. We were so fortunate with the weather as the days leading to the wedding were rainy, whereas we had beautiful sunshine. Being able to spend time with our closest friends and family was the best memory we could ask for and hearing how much fun everyone had made it even more enjoyable. All our suppliers were amazing and we’d choose them all again without a doubt.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t get hung up on loads of minor details and going mad on pinterest ideas, as on the day you’ll soon realise that these can easily get overlooked by people- so focus on the most important details that bring out what your wedding means to you. Also don’t get too disheartened if small aspects don’t go to plan- only you will notice, everyone else will be having such a fantastic time, so join them and don’t worry about it.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Parkershots
Bride’s gown | Made by bride with help from the fantastic Sarah Windsor at Sew Retro
Shoes | Harriet Wilde
Veil / Headpiece- Veil- brides grandmothers, flower crown by Lewesiana
Perfume | ‘Grapefruit’ and ‘Lime basil and mandarin’, Jo Malone
Hair Stylist | Langtons Lewes
Make-up Artist | Langtons Lewes
Florist | Lewesiana
Rings | Alexis Dove
Marquee | Party on the Grass
Furniture | Chairs, tables, cutlery from Hire All
Cake | The Pelham Arms
Caterer | The Pelham Arms
Drinks | The Lime Bar
Bridesmaids Dresses | Made by bride with help from the fantastic Sarah Windsor at Sew Retro
Groom’s Suit | Ted Baker
Confetti | Confetti Direct
Band | The Bears
Thanks so much Hannah and Oli for sharing your wonderfully special day. Rachel x