Happy Monday lovelies. I have a perfectly gorgeous summer wedding to share with you today, filled with love, smiles and a LOT of style.
WWW readers Kara and Daniel tied the knot on the 26th June 2015 at Southwood Hall in Norfolk. The barns provided a wonderfully rustic setting which was enhanced by simple and pretty décor. One of my fave things about Kara and Daniel’s day has to be the dreamy blooms, all fluffy, peach and blue inch of them. They worked beautifully against the sage green bridesmaid dresses.
The gents looked brilliant in country feel tweed waistcoats, knitted ties, braces and bow ties. Kara meanwhile looked sensational in Southern Comfort by Sarah Seven, her boho look was complete with beachy waves and delicate gold accessories. Such a stylish affair.
Thanks so much to the fabulous Katherine Ashdown for sharing these amazing photographs.
THE PROPOSAL | We had already discussed getting married and I was pretty sure it was going to be on the cards at some point. However I am terrible at letting people surprise me; any whiff of something out of the ordinary and I would guess the plan and spoil it! This led to conversations about big, grand gestures and that actually I would be content with something simple, somewhere that was already a happy place to us, where we could re-live the moment easily and often.
The proposal ended up being me enjoying the suntrap in our garden (no makeup and wet hair!) when Danny came home unexpectedly and dropped down on one knee, with two dog tags with Lenny and Phoebe engraved as “the commitment” (the puppies I was desperate for that we had named!), until we found a ring together. He totally surprised me and it was really romantic to us!! The promise of getting the dogs in the future was the icing on the cake, I didn’t miss a ring, not initially anyway! After a while it became a little tiresome with people asking after a ring and having to explain the story and that we were waiting for time to travel to the European Antiques and Collector’s Fayre in Newark (held approx. every quarter), to try and find an antique art deco ring. When we got to the fayre a few months later I was told by the dealers that even with a blank cheque and a year to look, a ring like I had found on google images may never be found. There was nothing else I had seen there that grabbed me so we ended up leaving early to go back to Norwich to look in some antique shops, reluctant however knowing how much more expensive this would be. As it transpired we got a phone call from my cousin who was still there searching when we were half way home, with a gorgeous ring that a favourite dealer of ours had procured knowing the sort of thing we were after. So we charged back up to Newark, arriving 10 minutes before closing, doubled the budget (this is a theme J) and found the ring!
THE VISION | The vision after scouring blogs and magazines for inspiration was for natural, soft and romantic colours, shapes and materials contrasted with a bit of rustic and a little bit of luxe! So it was a mix of everything I liked rather than one look, but I think it worked. I ultimately wanted something that was just really pretty and quite natural.
BUDGET | Budget started off as £15,000 but it soon became clear that with the number of guests/bridal party and all the other “essential” aspects this was going to be unachievable. I also had no idea how much or how little I would be willing to spend on a dress until I had seen some and found the one. Once we had started the attitude changed to in for a penny in for a pound, we’re only doing this once, we can always earn more money, you can’t have this and then scrimp on that, what would we regret if we didn’t have it. So we doubled the budget and then stopped counting once we’d gone over that……
THE VENUE | This was one of the easiest decisions. We had never even heard of the venue yet it was very local. My cousin’s husband told me about it as he knew we were after a barn. We went and viewed Southwood Hall and booked it on the spot, we didn’t bother with anything else and haggling was pointless, it was such a sought after venue. We wanted to get married on our 2 year anniversary, but this date was taken so we settled for the Friday before as actually all summer Saturday’s were booked. Cue much “cheapskate” heckling from some guests! It was a worry and we felt bad asking people to take time off work, but our guests were all so amazing some travelling far and wide to be there on our special day.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I wanted something that would reside in the floaty/boho category. This isn’t really my day to day style, I’m more a jeans and t-shirt girl but I knew this was how I wanted to look on my wedding day; relaxed, comfortable and even a little understated rather than outrageously glamorous. I wanted to look and feel like (the best version of) me as much as possible considering I would be feeling conspicuous enough as it was! I tried a few dresses on locally in Norwich and some at Les Trois Soeurs, Canary Wharf and at London Bride Couture, Pimlico but had reservations and it was a total minefield on the internet. Etsy though was where I eventually stumbled across the designer Sarah Seven where I absolutely fell for her whimsical, romantic, ethereal gowns, all handmade in California from natural materials.
FINDING THE DRESS | I couldn’t consider anything else until I had viewed the Sarah Seven dresses for myself. The snag was there was only one UK stockist and they didn’t stock all her designs; I was so obsessed by the dresses at this point I was even considering a long weekend in New York to go to one of her flagship stores! Luckily it didn’t come to that and after a day at work in Canary Wharf I got myself on the train to Tunbridge Wells, Kent for a late appointment and found THE dress. It was one I had dismissed many times online, the pictures just didn’t do it justice. The material was so beautiful, layers and layers of chiffon silk with a lovely shaped bodice, so comfortable with just a zip and an internal bra yet fitting like a second skin. The bodice also had a kind of rougher look around the sweetheart neckline with whisps of lace, that went well with the contrast of different materials I was going for and not wanting to look like I tried too hard! (Weird I know for your wedding day). And as for the colour well it was the most flattering ivory/gold tone that made me feel like I was glowing. When I walked I glided, and I am not a graceful girl! It was just perfect and I was in love. After that I asked the price and it was half that of some others I had tried on and considered and after speaking with other brides really not that expensive. I suppose when you factor in 1000 miles of fuel to drive from Norwich to Kent and back on the weekends for second viewings and fittings that put a little bit of extra expense on it! I would travel them all again though, I felt like it was meant for me. The girls at the shop were also so friendly and helpful, I was totally neurotic about them/Sarah getting it spot on, especially after I had read some mixed reviews about the designer. But they were right, I was worrying unnecessarily and it was just perfect. The dress was the “Southern Comfort” by Sarah Seven and was £1850 + £150 for alterations.
I had also wanted her headdresses and belts, but the headdress was discontinued and I couldn’t view the belt in the shop before ordering. As it happened the shop had just started stocking a local girl’s handmade, bespoke accessories and had sent me some images suggesting I would actually like these better. I did and they were half the price! Charlotte made everything to my exact specifications and went above and beyond to ensure I had what I wanted. I ended up with a beautiful and bespoke delicate gold and pearl headdress and a more rustic belt including a base of thick twine, which went brilliantly with my contrasted theme of rustic/luxe/soft/pretty. I couldn’t have imagined wanting anything else once I saw them either! The headdress was £120 and the belt £150. My Nanny had also given me her engagement ring and it meant a lot to wear this on the day – it was gold, diamond and pearl and also seemed like a sign! I kept the rest of the accessories simple, a Tiffany rose gold necklace I already had and I bought some classic diamond studs that I could wear again and again. I didn’t think I would have a veil, neither did Danny in fact he was quite vocal about not liking them/thinking they would suit me. However the dramatic, opaque, cathedral length veil really finished off the look and made me then feel 100% bridal!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Considering the venue and the season we wanted something fairly laid back, cool/comfortable and country themed. So tweed seemed like the obvious choice plus it was in fashion and so should have been easy to find something. However Danny was always going to have to have a waistcoat tailored to fit him and we couldn’t find any material suitable in Norwich nor from online samples. During a lunch hour I saw some tweed in the window of Hackett in Canary Wharf. They ordered me samples to bring home and Danny was also keen. So another long trip from Norwich to London for a fitting! We wanted to avoid a) the expense and b) the bother of trying to get all the wedding party to London and Kent so the other outfits were sourced off the peg, locally. We also liked the fact that Danny stood out from the rest of the boys and we differentiated the best men from the ushers with tweed waistcoats and ties for the best men, and tweed bow ties and braces for the ushers. We saved money buying standard blue chinos, white shirts and blue knitted ties from Next; the bowties were from Amazon! We could have spent quadruple the money for a similar thing by more prestigious designers but they looked just fine and it was nice to know everyone looked fabulous without having broken the bank! Plus they’ve all had good wear out of their outfits since which makes us happy!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | The music was so important to me for the whole day, I wanted to choose every single song played to get the right feeling and atmosphere (even if only for how it made me feel!) and reflect our taste and even personalities!! This took up much of my time when staring out of the window of the train for hours and hours every week, for months, with my ipod for inspiration.
There were plenty of songs with great lyrics that worked or songs that meant something to us but I just couldn’t make them gel as a set for the church. Even with having a live singer who I booked straight away as I just loved her, it didn’t seem right to blend so many different genres/eras etc. I had always loved Elvis and his music is special to me as it reminds me of my Nanny – once I convinced Danny this was the way to go it was easy to agree the songs that had the right feelings and biographical lyrics. It was harder though to find backing music for a female singer singing male songs, so in the end I asked the singer for an acoustic set out of necessity really, but it ended up being so much better that way that I didn’t know why we hadn’t come to that conclusion much sooner! The exit music was the Happy Days theme tune as I just thought it would be so celebratory and uplifting, it’s such an iconic, fun song and encapsulated the mood I knew we’d feel at that moment. I worried what the vicar would say about it all but he just shook his head really and let us get on with it. The music for the church was:
Seating guests – Love me tender
Waiting for bride to arrive – It’s now or never
The entrance – Can’t help falling in love with you
Hymn – Amazing Grace (Elvis version) led by Helen Ashton
Signing the register – Because of love, The Wonder of you
Exit – Original music played – Happy Days by Dustin Robinson
I also made play lists for the drinks reception, wedding breakfast, evening and DJ sets between band sets! I chose songs from 50s to current day that followed chronologically and had something for everyone. The entrance song we had played when joining our guests for the wedding breakfast was In Sickness and In Health by Chas n Dave! Our first dance was For Lovers by Pete Doherty and Wolfman. Whilst the day was very romantic, there had to be a little humour too and our guests were laughing about it’s Now or Never and clapping us down the aisle to Happy Days – a moment I’ll never forget and it was fun to know that it had surprised people and made them smile, along with some of the more sentimental songs that brought tears to their eyes.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had originally wanted nude/peach bridesmaid dresses, however that colour didn’t work well with my dress and wasn’t particularly flattering for anyone when we started trying them on. So I switched to looking for pale blue or pale green. In the end Coast had what I was after and for a reasonable price, however the dresses were seasons old and were hard to track down the sizes! I didn’t give up and managed to get them all with no one needing any alterations either! The shoes were a champagne peep toe from Monsoon, not the most comfortable I’m told but they looked good! My gorgeous flowergirl’s dresses were satin and tulle (Monsoon again) in a gorgeous ivory and gold that complimented us all brilliantly – they stole the show and got on so well, they held hands all day!
THE FLOWERS | This was something else that was really important to me, I spent hours with my florist trying to explain what I wanted and finding pictures of things I liked but that still needed tweaking. Given I know the names of about 4 flowers this must have tried her patience but Sarah was just brilliant and seemed to know exactly what I wanted. To incorporate the peach I had originally wanted in the colour scheme I stuck to pale peach, golds and cream as the main colours, with pale blue accents. To me that combination of colours was so soft and dreamy and delicate and would look great with the rest of the outfits and venue. The flower’s used in the displays and bouquets were Roses, Stocks, Delphinium, Lily of the Valley, Peonies, David Austen Roses, Hydrangea, Sweet Peas and loads of others probably that I just cannot think of!
THE CAKE | This was simple with a rustic feel to it with three tiers, a rough icing and a trail of flowers. The cake topper was a lovely Willow Tree figurine that could be kept. All tiers were different flavours of sponge cake, it was the most moist and delicious cake!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | It didn’t take long to find Katherine on the internet and having compared from a short list of favourites we kept being drawn back to Katherine’s pictures, where the colours just seemed to pop out of the screen. After meeting Kathy and realising how energetic, confident and personable she was we booked her immediately.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | As the barn was already so gorgeous (and big) going to town on decorating it didn’t seem worthwhile. We simply had candles in the slit windows and on the terrace. We moved the flowers from the church to the venue and the tables were left uncovered, as they were beautiful oak. My mum found some great lace doilies and I ordered old gold coloured crystals and tiny engraved wooden hearts from Amazon to scatter. The favours were made by my mother-in-law and were little brown paper packages tied up with string that complimented the rustic invitations I had made. Every table had a beautiful flower display on them that were given to friends and family to enjoy for another week after the wedding.
THE HONEYMOON | We flew off to Sorrento, Italy the Monday after the wedding for ten nights. It was just what we needed and we could be as active or inactive as we wanted. After having spent everything on the wedding it didn’t seem right to have the holiday of a lifetime straight after plus it was all so much at once, the low key honeymoon suited us perfectly (and even more so as I was carrying our first child and looking excitedly but anxiously to the 12 week scan on our return!).
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Delivery of the bouquets – they were beyond my wildest expectations, I could have melted into them I thought they were just so exquisite, I couldn’t believe how well Sarah had interpreted my ramblings and random pictures. I think because the flowers almost didn’t make it across the channel due to the ongoing issues in Calais made them even more special!
Having to be prised into my dress! It was touch and go whether it would do up and so was a slightly panicked moment – I thought it would be fine!
Walking into the church on my proud Dad’s arm and seeing it packed full of loved ones and beautiful flowers and then greeting Danny at the altar – I could barely breathe it was so incredible and overwhelmingly emotional. Having live music also made the ceremony all the more special. I well up reliving it as I write this.
Having my Nanny and Granddad as 2 of our 4 witnesses who had gotten married at the same church 60 years previously – this is a very special memory and having their signatures on our wedding certificate makes the document even more treasured.
Everyone laughing and clapping as we walked back down the aisle together to Happy Days!
My Dad arranging for our black Labrador Lenny to surprise greet us outside the church – another wet eye moment!
Going round a sharp corner and the flower pedestals I wanted moved from the church to the venue falling over and getting water on the bottom of my dress! Luckily it dried off OK!
The speeches – let’s just say one of our best men drank so much he just stopped working, they were a bit of a car crash in places but have given us many laughs since!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | The planning of a big wedding is a marathon and it takes some stamina! There’s always something to do and after a while it can at times feel all a bit too much. Keep going, it’s all worth it in the end! And yes something will inevitably not go to plan but it’s your wedding day so will be perfect for you.
If there’s one thing that you may consider as optional please don’t – have the day filmed, it’s the gift that keeps on giving and you will be so glad you get to see it all back as the old cliché about the day being such a blur and going so fast is true.
Go with your instincts with your suppliers, only work with people you feel you can trust to do a good job and get on well with – they are a big part of your day too!
I’m really glad we decided not to spend on wedding cars when there was hardly any miles to travel – if you’re lucky enough to have close friends/relatives with decent cars, ask if you can borrow!
We had wanted a magician but then as costs grew we decided not to. However we attended an open evening at the wedding venue and my Dad was blown away by a magician there and booked him on the spot. This really made the day for our guests, young and old. And if you have a lot of kids to the wedding, entertainment for them is also crucial!
Brides: You will know if you’ve found THE dress. If you don’t get the feeling and you have to think about it to convince yourself, then it’s not the dress for you. Be prepared to look further afield to find it. If you want comfortable feet, Rachel Simpson shoes are fantastic! I bought 3 other pairs but wasn’t happy with any until I saw hers on a blog and thought they looked so vintage and comfortable (and I have huge feet!), the first pair I ordered were kept. Her shoes are beautifully made of the softest leather, it was great not having to change into flats if I didn’t want to.
If your hair won’t grow take the plunge and have extensions – I looked so much better because I had the hair that I needed to pull off the look I was going for!
Follow/Read/Sign up to as many wedding blogs, websites, facebook pages etc – the real life inspirations are much more relatable, accessible and affordable than a lot of the magazines.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Katherine Ashdown
Singer | Helen Ashton
Magician | Simply Magic
Videography | Studeo Media
Florist | Bramble and Berry
Venue | Southwood Hall
Cake | Vanilla Patisserie
Band | The Dukes
Aww I love that their puppy attended too. So cute.
Kara and Daniel, many thanks to you both for sharing your wonderful wedding with us xo Lou