For their late summer wedding Sarah & James wanted something relaxed, quirky and quintessentially English So they opted for a tea party style reception in the Suffolk countryside. The wedding was held at Otley Hall, a 16th Century moated hall surrounded by 10 acres of gardens and which has been voted one of the top 20 Historic Houses in the UK.
“We don’t like conform to the traditional”, began Sarah, “so we didn’t go for the big bank busting do to show off and invite hundreds of people we didn’t know. We wanted a day to celebrate our love for each other and to share it with the people we cared for. It was a day to show who we were as a couple in a setting that suited our individuality and to have a celebration! I suppose you could say our inspiration came from a collection of things we liked; we wanted it to be a celebration of us.”
“Our theme was English country garden party with a vintage homemade feel. There wasn’t a specific colour palette, but we decided to go with blue scale for the wedding parties’ attire. We decorated the space ourselves including a sweet stand for jars of sweets made by James’ dad, with handmade doily cones (made by James!) I customised the stand with bunting to match the bunting around the room and outside space made by my sister Aime.”
Nic & Will hired the gorgeous Cliff Barns in Norfolk for the entire weekend (and then some!) for their wedding. The venue sleeps 20 and with family coming from far and wide they decided having the space from the Thursday to the Tuesday would make for a nice mini break for everybody with a wedding thrown in to boot! “We decided to make a long weekend of it, and invited our family (from NZ, NYC, Canada) over to stay in the house with us for 4 days”, Nic told me. “It gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and meant that we didn’t feel like we had to squeeze all our ‘hellos’ into one day.”
“We were looking for a relaxed and intimate vibe for our wedding and liked the idea of a festival style wedding, and Cliff Barns leant itself perfectly to that. You can’t help but be relaxed and playful in a venue surrounded by such treasures. I was particularly fond of the tipi and fancy dress outfits!”
Jess & Dan’s wedding was quintessentially British with the theme carrying through from the attire to the cake to the DIY reception decor. Why the theme you ask? Well the wedding was held on the weekend of the Queen’s birthday!
The couple were married at Edes House, Sussex and had two reception venues, both of which were within the grounds of Chichester Cathedral. Their afternoon wedding breakfast was held at Vicars Hall and the evening party was at George Bell House.
“For us, our wedding was all about having fun and celebrating with those closest to us, we didn’t want a typical wedding and very quickly built a list of all the things we didn’t want!” the bride told me. “We even discussed having Sambuca shots for after the speeches but the venue felt that this maybe too much at 2.30pm in the afternoon. Considering we were having 4 speeches they were definitely right. Although we personalised our day with the things we like what really surprised us in the end was how traditional we actually were.”
“My Mum gave me away as my Dad passed away some years ago and in light of this my sister did the ‘Father of The Bride Speech’ which was very well received. I too did a speech, as someone who likes to chat the lure of a captive audience was too great! The best man had put together a Powerpoint presentation with images, videos graphics and even props. Half way through the presentation it developed an IT malfunction, the best man recovered well by breaking out into a rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’ (the song relates to something that happened on the Stag) while the staff fixed the problem.”
“For the meal we had steak and ale pie which people are still talking about. If our guests remember anything from our wedding it will probably be the pie. Our compliments go to the chef as it was a pretty spectacular. We had cupcakes for dessert which were a gift from the Best man and his wife. In the evening we had a BBQ and a sweet table followed by a cheese wheel cake; we even got the DJ to announce that we were ‘cutting the cheese’! This was served with a selection of chutney and crackers.”
“We wanted to create most of the wedding details ourselves partly to save money but to also give our wedding a personal touch” Jess continued. “Dan is a graphic designer so created all the stationery and printed materials. We spent many hours cutting and sticking our invites together.”
“Inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo, Dan created the flowers out of paper using an origami pattern for a kusudama flower and the buttonholes were made in the style of a rosette. I made all the wedding favours using buttons, the boys got cufflinks and the girls rings.”
“Our theme was definitely ’Eclectic, British and most defiantly us’. We went for a British, red, white and blue theme as we got married on the weekend of the Queens Birthday. It’s also a very patriotic year in the UK with the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics.”
After a New Year’s Eve proposal (“not at midnight, we’re not that cheesy!”) Chloe & Emma set to planning their tea party wedding for the end of March. Being two girls, they knew their wedding would stand out and they wanted that as well as to put their own stamp on their day. As Chloe explained “Obviously as two girls getting married our wedding was always going to be a bit different. People kept on asking which one of us was going to wear the suit but we were both determined to be complete princesses on the day. We knew we wanted a vintage tea party wedding and we looked at lots of different ways to achieve it as we had a tight budget. In the end my mum who found Jam and Tea, who provided the tea & cake catering, online (she is an expert Googler) and the rest of the wedding fell into place from there.”
“Maryanne of Jam and Tea was the heart and soul of the whole day. Her food is insane and totally yummy and so beautiful to look at. We came away from the food tasting completely high on sugar and knowing the wedding was going to be perfect. I guess the other thing we did that was Rock and Roll was only use independent female British businesses. From the caterer to the dresses, photographs and head pieces, we tried to promote great British girlies as much as possible and they were all amazing!!”
“We also made a lot of items for our wedding as we are both creative people,” she continued. “I guess the biggest thing we made was the wedding invites. We hated anything that said ‘Civil Partnership’ on them and found traditional ones so impersonal. I love to bake and Emma has a degree in industrial design so we decided to do it ourselves with a £50 budget. We also made little boxes with teapot sugar cookies inside as favours. They were a complete hit and everyone said they were the best wedding invite they ever had. They also came in under budget.”
Chloe wore a short, 50s style dress which she had made by Dolly Dare in Spitalfields Market, London, and Emma’s gown came from Ghost. “We would love to add a special mention to Nazrine Elms of Dolly Dare for making the most amazing dress for me,” Chloe raved. “We went into the shop looking for shoes (they sell Irregular Choice shoes) and accidently bumped into an amazing dress designer. She does not usually make wedding dresses but was willing to give it a go and put up with us in her shop every Sunday for 3 months. It was a complete creative process and the dress is 100% bespoke and unique. I can’t thank her enough for her brilliant creative mind. I would recommend her to anyone.”
The girls chose Shell de Mar to shoot their wedding as they fell in love with her bright and fun style. “Shella made our wedding pictures look like the ones I had been looking at as inspiration for years, except better. I’m still blown away by how she made our wedding look. I knew it was a beautiful day but the light and the softness she managed to capture (on a particularly crappy March day) was phenomenal. If she and Maryanne of Jam and Tea ruled the world it would be an extraordinarily beautiful place.”
Carina & Chris chose The Walled Garden at Cowdray, West Sussex as the venue to host their March wedding. “It was a fantastic venue where we were really able to personalise for our day,” the bride told me. “They were very relaxed and the venue’s informal spaces were perfect for us and our guests.”
“We spent the last year since getting engaged planning all of the details of the day”, she continued. “We spent our weekends rummaging in charity shops collecting china and glassware. We spent a long time making all of the bunting, menus, paper flags and lots of other items ourselves and needed someone to make it all look pretty on the day so that I could relax and enjoy getting ready! For this we worked with Lucy at Love Lane Vintage. We met her at the venue and she worked closely with our plans and our items, as well as my many sketches to style the venue! We also hired her vintage china teacups and cake stands to style the table and serve our mini afternoon tea – in place of canapés – for the drinks reception! The macaroons and mini scones looked stunning, as did the piles of teacups and teapots for guests to use!”
“Spriggs Florist in Petworth also immediately understood the vintage feel of the day – really relaxed, seasonal flowers arranged in the jars and a mix of vintage glass bottles we had collected – as if freshly picked and placed on the tables and around the venue. My bouquet had the 50s wow factor – full of sweat peas and big blousy peonies. Bridesmaid’s flowers complimented these using sweat peas again. Fresh rose petal confetti was supplied for guests to throw – handed out by our bridesmaid form a pretty vintage wicker basket.”
“Everything we used on the windowsills and sweetie tables we had collected, been given by family or friends or made ourselves. It was so much fun to see it all looking so beautiful! The cups, plates and bonbon dishes we collected looked amazing full of sweeties and flowers on the cake/sweetie table. As well as the bunting and vintage china, we designed and made all of the stationery for the day, guests really embraced the fabric covered badges and name tags on the tables and wore them during the evening dancing! It was great seeing friends and family collecting ‘souvenirs’ of the day to take home at the end of the evening!”
The bride were a short vintage-inspired wedding dress which she’d had designed and made by the fantastic House of Mooshki. “They make amazing vintage-inspired wedding dresses and they were fantastic to work with. Olivia, the designer, really understood what I was after and the dress was not only beautiful but and comfortable (amazing for dancing in the evening!)”
“We wanted a very relaxed day where friends and family could come along and fully enjoy the day without feeling formal,” Carina concluded. “We knew we didn’t want it to feel too ‘wedding-y’ with the same old things you see in a lot of magazines and wedding shows! We did exactly what we wanted to do at every step of the way and only worked with suppliers who ‘got’ this including the amazing Lisa Devlin. After we had seen her work, we knew she’d be perfect to capture all of the detail of our day.”
When Mark & Manilla’s colourful wedding landed in my inbox I just about burst with excitement. There’s nothing quite like a rainbow wedding in my opinion!
The South African wedding was held at The View Boutique Hotel, a glamorous hotel in the heart of Johannesburg. “I felt that the ceremony should be the serious part of the day but I wanted the rest to be a very relaxed and festive carnival style celebration!” the bride told me.
“My final wedding for last year was an instant favourite,” wedding photographer Rensche Mari wrote. “As soon as I walked into Manilla’s home I knew it was going to be one of those weddings where I was just going to be wowed the whole way. The wedding had a carnival feel to it, the bridesmaids all dressed in different shades of green and each outfit was unique. Manilla’s whole look was so refreshing and just a lot of fun, her dressed popped with the beautiful colours and her dress even had the same green velvet as her shoes.”
Manilla’s stunning dress was made by Arwen Corsetry. The colour scheme she chose was complimented beautifully by all the wedding details – including bunting handmade by some ladies in an retirement home and all the DIY stationery and reception decor. The couple designed and handmade everything they possibly could. I’m loving the multi-coloured balloons on the ceiling!
Their wedding car was their own, which they decorated with brightly coloured ribbon and streamers.