PICKING THE DRESS
I couldn’t wait to go dress shopping and decided to try everything on and keep an open mind. That said, I always swore I’d never go for a tight dress, I thought I’d go for an a-line design as it’d be more flattering. However, that wasn’t the case - dresses I thought would suit me just weren’t right and I ended up going to six shops and before I found the dress for me.
In the end, one of my bridesmaids suggested a tight fitting Maggie Sottero dress as a wild card and I loved it the second I put it on. I adored the detail, the cut and the antique ivory colour - it was the first dress that made me feel truly special.
SUITED & BOOTED
Sam treated himself to a new suit from Gray Palmer in Saffron Walden, which is also where we hired suits for the groomsmen. I felt it was equally as important that he felt as special in his suit as I did in my dress, and buying one that was best cut to his shape made such a difference. The groomsmen’s suits were a similar colour, but Sam wore a contrasting tweed waistcoat.
We went shopping together and we agreed unanimously on the same one. He looked gorgeous!
THE VENUE & DECORATION
We genuinely had no idea what sort of venue we wanted, and had loads of fun exploring country houses, castle and hotels. However, none of them felt right - for many reasons. Our photographers recommended the Granary Barns, which we hadn't heard of before.
We visited on a cold winter’s day when the stunning Christmas tree and decorations were up and it was definitely love at first sight. Along with the striking beauty of the barns, we loved the team too. We felt they absolutely got ‘us’ as a couple and knew we could trust them to deliver the best possible day for us. At lots of venues you feel like you’d be ‘just another wedding’ but we never got that feeling at Granary Barns. We talked about the venue all the way home, full of ideas and excitement - that was the only venue that made us respond in that way.
We didn’t feel the need to massively decorate the barns as they are so uniquely beautiful already. The only ‘major’ addition was fairy lights twisted round the beams in the Flint Barn and draped over the dance floor in the Granary Barn. We wanted the day to really reflect us as a couple, so while we made a nod to Sam’s love of football at the church ceremony through our order of service and signage, we opted for a radio theme at the Barns because we met working in radio and we really love it still. We sourced old fashioned radios on eBay, our tables were named after radio shows and Hall & Co. - whose team created our beautiful centrepieces using the radios - lent us a wonderful old radio sideboard which stood proudly in the hallway.
Our colour theme was ‘colourful’, so bright spring flowers were one of the main focuses of our decor. In addition to the beautiful centrepiece displays we placed our bridesmaids bouquets in vases and dotted them around the venue, and we re-used our pew ends from the church, hanging them outside. We had a few smaller touches too - creating a ‘wish you were here’ table in the hall in dedication to close family and friends no longer with us and we had table football in the courtyard; the scene of many well-contested games during the day!
Our flowers were done by Julia Pasfield at The Little Wedding Shed. We met her at a wedding fair, and while it was clear she was brilliant at her craft, we got on with her so well and felt she’d be truly invested in our day, so that sealed the deal. I also liked that she sources her flowers locally.
We opted for seasonal spring flowers and we wanted them to be a variety of bright colours and textures. Julia set up a Pinterest board suggesting different options based on what was in season, but to be honest I trusted her to choose. I was lucky that peonies and ranunculus were in season - the bouquets and displays were stunning, she absolutely delivered.
I had four bridesmaids; my closest friends and my cousin.
I was really worried about bridesmaid dresses, as I really wanted each of them to feel really confident and happy in their outfits. The only thing I was sure of was I wanted a neutral colour so the colourful bouquets stood out, but I was relaxed in terms of style - I just wanted them to feel good. I ordered loads of dresses in different styles from ASOS and amazingly they all loved the same one, so it was actually really easy and they all looked gorgeous in them.
Getting ready with my bridesmaids in the morning was the perfect start to the day. The sun was shining, we had the best team doing hair and make up, my dad took his job of keeping Prosecco flowing very seriously and it was just so relaxed and happy. We walked together from my parent’s house to the church singing wedding songs and had a huge hug outside… I loved every second of it.
I felt the most excited and happy I’ve ever felt about anything. I guess there was some nervous energy but I genuinely couldn’t wait to see Sam and become his wife!
Our top priority when planning the wedding was making sure we could afford to have all our family and friends there. It meant we cut costs on luxuries like a cake (which I baked myself), we didn’t have a wedding car and we created all the stationary ourselves.. with the help of some talented friends. I am so glad we did, as it was one of the best things about the day knowing all our favourite people were there with us.
I can remember everything… I think… but it did fly by. I’d been told by lots of people to try and soak it all in because it goes by really quickly, so I made a real effort to.
We chose the incredible Hall & Co. Event Design. We loved their menu and approach - the team was both friendly and relaxed but super organised - and from stalking their Instagram, I had a pretty good feeling the food would be outstanding and presented beautifully. We love food so it was really important to us it was of a really high standard, and they more than delivered.
Our food tasting was one of the best days of planning, I’m not going to lie! We chose a variety of vegetarian and meat canapés, including the hugely popular tomato soup shots with mini cheese toasties, mini Yorkshire pudding with roast beef and pea, mint and feta blinis. They were demolished! As I’m vegetarian I really wanted to make sure the veggie guests were well catered for, so we opted for shared antipasti sharing boards for starters and BBQ for main, which worked particularly well with the warm sunny weather we ended up having. The puddings were the showstoppers though - each guest had four mini puddings, chocolate brownie, sticky toffee pudding, lemon tart and pavlova and strawberries. So many brides apparently don’t eat much on the day… but there was no way I was missing out on those puddings. We had SO many compliments about how brilliant the food was.
The Granary looked stunning for the reception. Obviously the barns speak for themselves and as it was the height of spring, the grounds were full of colour. As it was a sunny day our drinks reception was held outside in the courtyard and it just looked beautiful.
We really wanted a busy dance floor all night long, playing our favourite tunes. We booked a friend of ours to DJ which meant we could ensure the playlist was as we wanted.
We found picking a first dance song so difficult and it took us months! We opted for Clean Bandit, Symphony. We both love Clean Bandit, the lyrics were ideal and as it’s up tempo, we felt it was a bit more fun too.
I spent most of the evening on the dance floor, singing and dancing with my favourite people feeling the happiest I’ve ever felt. It doesn’t get much better! And yes, I wish I could relive the whole day over and over.
The super talented and brilliant Lina and Tom were our photographers. I’d met Lina years earlier through work and after browsing their website I knew I’d want them for my wedding - luckily, Sam agreed! I loved that their photos seemed ‘real’ and natural, as well as hugely creative and beautifully composed. They are both so friendly I knew we’d love working with them and feel like we were in safe hands. I emailed Lina the day after we got engaged to see what their availability was in spring 2018 and got them booked before anything else!
We had a few preview images the day after the wedding, but the full collection arrived in just under two months. It was SO exciting when they arrived - we spent hours looking through them, reliving the day and getting a little emotional. As expected, the photos were beautiful and captured our day perfectly.
Tom took some amazing photos of our house rabbit, Clifford that we love! I’m not sure I could pick a favourite - although the sunset shots are probably the most visually striking.
A selection of prints are on the wall in our living room, and an album is on the way!
TAKE MY ADVICE...
I honestly look back at our wedding and know I loved every second of the day. Sam and I both agree that sitting at our wedding breakfast and seeing a room full of people we love all there to support us was the best feeling. Throughout the day there were so many special moments and highs; such as when I read a poem Sam had written before we went to the church, or walking down the aisle as husband and wife, or surprising Sam with a video featuring players from his football team during my speech or eating the delicious food or dancing the night away… it was just all the best ever.
I think if we did it again we wouldn’t change much at all. The only thing I regret is not getting photos with certain people - I don’t have one with just me and my brother, for example. I should have thought that through more beforehand.
I’m really glad we spent time on personal touches. For example, we found photos of either me or Sam with each wedding guest and had them printed, using them as place cards. On the back we wrote where and when the photo was taken. It took AGES! We weren't in the room when people sat down, but apparently the reaction from the guests was brilliant - so many people told us how much they loved them and a year on, when we go round friend’s houses we often spotted the photos one display. So I’d prioritise those details again for sure.
I think we’d possibly ditch the first dance and cake cutting. The first dance felt a bit cringe to me - we’re not really ‘look at me’ type people and it felt a bit like that. Plus… you kind of know that once everyone has taken a photo they just stand there awkwardly (sorry… I know that’s very cynical!). I feel the same about the cake cutting… it felt a bit pointless. The cake eating though, was great! Don’t be afraid to ditch any of the traditions if you think they’re not ‘you’.
If money is tight decide between the two of you what really matters, then prioritise those things and make savings elsewhere.
Invest in a good photographer and videographer. You spend a lot of time with them on the day, plus, you will always have those photos and videos to remember your day.
Make it YOUR day, personal to the two of you. There will no doubt be people who will have a less positive view on some of your choices but stick to your guns. It is absolutely worth the effort.