Planning our wedding was the easy and fun bit – and being very decisive, it didn’t take us long. We knew we wanted one venue for the ceremony and reception, and wanted it to be in a picturesque and rural Kent location; we visited Bradbourne House within a few weeks of being engaged and were completely mesmerised by the grand exterior, stunning grounds and Great Hall. All of the other details came together very quickly – a few weeks of Pinterest research and I knew exactly what I wanted. Our venue, with its orchards, lake and walled gardens inspired our theme – The Secret Garden. Our incredible florist helped guide me with my overall vision, but very limited knowledge of flowers other than ‘I like purple and meadow flowers’ into her elaborate creations with lavender, astilbe, sweet peas and lisianthus, whilst still having the whimsical and meadow feel. My incredibly creative friend Louisa, helped make our seating plan; a gold gilted picture frame, covered in moss and hanging keys with guest names; we had piles of books with individually made table number signs, made out of wood and old mismatched doorknobs (a great Etsy find); all stationery designed by Billy, who was graphic designer before going into teaching; and my biggest (but most troublesome) centrepiece idea – candelabras with china teacups and saucers with flowers in them. This was a headache from start to finish and wouldn’t have been possible without Kevin, a dear and wonderfully gifted friend from work who tirelessly secured each piece of china to the candelabras.
Clothes didn’t take us long either. I knew I wanted something form fitting, beaded and with elaborate back detailing. After picking up a business card for Great Expectations Bridal from a wedding fair, it was the first and last wedding dress boutique I went to, which was especially special having my mum, who had flown over from Northern Ireland, to be with me. I had my Louboutin shoes with me (priorities – shoes before dress!), my mother was plaid with champagne and the ladies working there completely understood what I was looking for and very quickly found my perfect dress – a heavily beaded Madison James Art Deco style sheath dress with a cafe coloured underlay, sheer panelled back and with pearl buttons. One shop – done! Billy, loving his fashion even more than me, found his perfect outfit from Ted Baker, combining a stone coloured blazer, with blue waist coat and trousers with a silk scarf knotted underneath his shirt.
ON THE DAY
It’s hard to explain how incredible our day was: I was brimming with excitement when I saw the flowers and cake arriving at the venue, and loved the relaxed atmosphere of the bridal party getting our hair and makeup done exactly how I envisioned it. What I wasn’t expecting was how emotional I was all day; it was so overwhelming to be surrounded by the people you love most in the world all in one place and is something we will forever treasure. James, our photographer, felt more like a guest and friend, and caught beautiful candid shots throughout the day. We were so lucky to have a string trio as I walked down the isle and after the ceremony, and a band in the evening who were incredibly accommodating. They were so sweet and performed our first dance, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games, despite it not being on their playlist.
Highlights of our day are:
- Having Jack, a past student of mine – and ridiculously talented composer and cinematographer – film the most stunning wedding video which perfectly captures the feel, and special moments of the day.
- My dad’s father of the bride speech – something he has been collecting material for, and threatening me with for years. From a family who all like the sound of our own voices, he didn’t disappoint. I managed to stop video footage being shown, but he had props including a dumbbell, a branch and a toilet brush!
- Our evening ending with a much hyped drum-off, between Billy’s best man, Mark and his dad Mickey. The stakes were high with Mickey being a member of Nine Below Zero (a band that toured with The Who in the 80s) and Mark, who gave an expert performance of ‘Wipeout’. Jaws hit the floor as the competition heated up and everyone screamed like fan girls.
Top tip(s) for other brides:
- Accept help from your friends – it makes the small details even more special
- I wish I’d known not to eat before the cake tasting – savour every morsel offered!