WWW readers Ali and John married back in November and kept their day simple yet oh so stylish.
They chose a quirky pub venue to hold their day and chose eclectic décor to reflect them as a couple. I love the rustic cake, stationery and jam jars, brilliant touches.
Ali wore a Ghost dress she found in John Lewis and had a pretty white bouquet, while John went for a grey suit, green tie and feather buttonhole. Oh and their wedding food sounded delicious.
Thanks so much to FitzGerald Photographic for sharing their lovely images with us today.
The Proposal… Took place on the medieval city walls of Boulogne in northern France, where John had taken me for a surprise, post-Christmas day out. John asked, I said yes, and we ate huge plates of steak frites in a cosy café to celebrate. We then spent the afternoon browsing Boulogne’s little shops – both in a happy daze – before catching the boat back home.
The Vision for the Day… Get married. Have fun.
The Planning Process… Took 11 months. Fun at times, stressful at others. Ultimately worth it.
Budget… Not very much but just enough!
The Venue… We were both desperate to avoid the run of the mill wedding experience (which, to be frank, still scares us both witless). However, finding the right venue on our tiny budget was always going to be difficult: no gorgeous tipis or rustic converted barns for us, sadly. We visited The Bell in Ticehurst on a grey January afternoon and knew straight away that we had found the answer. We are both local kids at heart, so a country pub wedding in a village we had known nearly all of our lives was the perfect solution. We both grew up within striking distance of Ticehurst, and it was lovely to be so close to home on our wedding day. The Bell is not a venue for the faint hearted. It is bold, brave and quirky to the core. If, however, you after a right proper knees up of a wedding, then look no further. Jhonnie and Zoe at The Bell were both superstars and worked so hard to make our day a very special one. Thank you!
The Dress + Accessories… I eventually found my dress in John Lewis; a beautiful Ghost dress called ‘Taya’.
Finding the Dress… Was something of a fiasco… but I have always been hard to please, so that was probably inevitable! A more traditional dress would never have suited me or the venue, and working to tight budget didn’t help matters either. After exploring numerous dress options (with the help of my endlessly patient Mum and Nan), I eventually settled on the Ghost ‘Taya’ dress, which turned out to be the perfect choice.
Groom’s Attire… John wore a charcoal grey Paul Costelloe suit, slim fit white shirt and British racing green tie. He wanted to keep it simple and stylish. To accessorise his suit, he treated himself to a pair of personalised cufflinks and a silver tie clip. He particularly loved his snappy brown shoes (with absolutely no grip on the soles: cue much walking about on our gravel drive to avoid dance floor disasters on the big day). I also made him a pheasant feather buttonhole and would definitely recommend going down the homemade route. It costs pennies (thanks for the feathers, Dad) and makes a lovely souvenir of the day.
The Readings + Music… Our lovely siblings kindly agreed to give readings. John’s sister, Emma, read ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum, and my brother, Paul, read an extract from our favourite book, ‘The Amber Sypglass’ by Philip Pullman. They both did a wonderful job. I walked down the aisle to a piano instrumental of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by the Beatles, and we left as husband and wife to the sound of ‘Everlasting Love’ by the Love Affair. In the evening, our friend James Gouldsworthy provided the music and worked like a trooper to keep the dance floor full. Thanks James!
The Flowers… The lovely Ruth at The Flower Boutique in Cranbrook saved my bacon! After a couple of uninspiring meetings with other local florists, Ruth listened patiently and was full of great ideas. My instructions were ‘all white blooms; lots of hedgerow greenery; nothing too structured; a bit vintage’. She hit the nail on the head and I was so happy with my beautiful bouquet. The rest of the flowers were a DIY effort. After a quick trip to Sainsbury’s, I spent the night before the wedding arranging white roses, lisianthus and other lovely blooms in jam jars and mismatching vases. Champagne in hand, of course…
The Cake… Was a complete triumph! Rather selfishly, I quickly decided that no one could make a better wedding cake than my Mummy. She then worked tirelessly for months; refining the perfect sponge cake recipe; picking blackberries for jam and turning failed attempts into trifles. Her hard work paid off in spectacular style. It was perfect: a complete show stopper. Thanks Mum! She even made us a cake diary; complete with photographs of the conscientious cake testers hard at work (thanks to the Cooper Burnett cake crew and the long suffering Pashley Manor gardeners).
Your Photographer… FitzGerald Photographic, the amazing Clare FitzGerald and her lovely husband, Marcus. They were recommended to us by a friend and we truly struck gold with this pair! They were efficient, professional, discreet, adaptable, creative and – most importantly – a genuine pleasure to have around. After twenty short minutes with us to take some post ceremony shots, Clare and Marcus disappeared into the wedding crowd and set about capturing some very special photographs that really do tell the story of our day. Looking back at the album never fails to make us smile! Thank you so much guys!
The Details + Decor… The Bell is already jam packed with quirky decorations and details so we were able to be quite lazy on this front! The pub has two main party spaces: ‘The Big Room’ is bright and opulent, whilst ‘The Stable’ is a much more rustic space with a long, sunken table and lots of exposed brickwork.
To add interest to the mantelpieces in the ‘Big Room’, we displayed photographs of our parents on their wedding days in ornate gold frames, as well as framed quotes from some of the songs that we considered for our first dance. I also made a poster which told the story of our relationship so far which we placed on an easel at the entrance to the room.
The Bell features a series of indoor trees, and we turned the birch tree that winds its way up the centre of the main staircase into a ‘family tree’ by attaching photographs of our relatives to the trunk and branches.
To decorate our very informal tables in ‘The Stable’, we filled jam jars with tea lights and little bunches of flowers, and placed these on piles of old books. We also used lots of photographs of family and friends, as well as childhood pictures of us, to personalise the space.
Food and drink wise, we served Aspall’s Peronelle’s Blush (cider blended with blackberry liqueur) and apple juice made from fruit grown on my husband’s family farm. Instead of a traditional wedding breakfast, we kept things very informal by serving lots of rustic finger food; homemade sausage rolls, scotch eggs and other pub classics. This allowed our family to keep mingling and enjoy one another’s company as much as possible. For pudding, we served our delicious wedding cake. In the evening, we tucked into some amazing British cheeses which were served in huge wedges on wooden cheeseboards.
The Honeymoon… A long weekend in Bath five days after the wedding, which we spent eating and drinking far too much!
Memorable Moments… For Ali: Forgetting my age when being interview by the registrar minutes before the ceremony. Saying our vows. Dancing with my lovely Nanny to ‘Boom! Shake the Room’. Our last dance to Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’. Arriving at our hotel after the wedding and sitting on the edge of the roll top bathtub (still wearing my wedding dress) with my aching feet in a bath of cold water to ease the pain! Opening our cards the next day and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the love and generosity of our friends and family.
For John: The moment in the ceremony when I first saw Ali as she got to the top of the stairs. Ali and I high-fiving in the ceremony when no one came forward with any ‘just cause’ as to why we should not be wed! Going outside with Ali for five minutes so that we could look at the party and take in the fact that all the people were there because we got married. Walking down the middle of the long table in ‘The Stable’ with all our family and close friends around us. Joe’s Best Man’s speech.
Advice for Other Couples… Go away the weekend after the wedding. Don’t be afraid to keep things simple. Don’t spend too much. Remember why you’re getting married in the first place.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Photographs| FitzGerald Photographic
Venue | The Bell, Ticehurst
Flowers | The Flower Boutique, Cranbrook
Dress | Ghost
Cheese | The Cheese Shed
DJ | Fusion Entertainment – James Gouldsworthy
Cider | Aspall’s
I just love how happy these two are.
Thanks so much to Ali and John for sharing their gorgeous wedding with us today XOXO Lou