This afternoon we are back with our regular feature ‘Advice from the Married Side,‘ real life wedding planning...
Happy Monday everyone and welcome along to another week! Well January has gone you will be pleased to hear so we welcome in February, the shortest month of the year, before we know it it will be spring and many of you will be getting married! The longer days will be here and hopefully the end of this rubbish weather, can we order a summer like last year please, all those long summer nights and never-ending sunshine! Today’s wedding is a gorgeous September wedding with plenty of sunshine and a gorgeous couple! Set in a stunning sculpture garden Sarah and Dave were given free reign to create the wedding they wanted from scratch. Sarah went to town with all the DIY project from stationary to hanging decorations and created a bright and fun day with plenty of character! A wonderful marquee reception where they danced the night away into the early hours. Big thanks to Laura Babb for the photos.
Sarah and Dave got married on Saturday 14 September at St Andrew & St Mary’s Church, Watton-at-stone, Hertfordshire surrounded by friends and family. ‘We held our reception in a marquee set within the magical Gibberd Garden, Harlow, Essex. We decided to get married in the church in the village where Sarah grew up. She was christened there and used to sing in the choir when she was a child so it holds special memories for her and her family. 110 guests attended the ceremony and dinner and an extra 30 guests joined us for the evening party. It took us ten months in total to plan the wedding.’
How they met
We met through our now brother-in-law George, and hit it off straight away. We’ve been together for five and a half years now.
We got engaged while on holiday. Dave had carried the ring around in his pocket waiting for the right moment. It was the day that we trekked for four hours across a coastal path in search of a secluded cove that Dave asked the big question and I said yes straight away! The four-hour walk back went past in a flash, we were so happy in the moment.
How did you allocate your budget?
The wedding budget was split according to what we felt was important. Top of the list were the venues, photography and entertainment. We wanted to do as much as we could ourselves, to make the day more personal to us and we were mindful that you could easily get carried away with the detail.
Why did you choose your photographer?
We chose Laura Babb as our photographer because her work is exceptional. We had come across her photography online when searching for wedding venues. We then did a call out on twitter for recommendations and Laura was the first person to be suggested so we knew it was the right choice. She is in an exciting place as a photographer where she is really passionate about what she does and it really shows in the photographs that she takes. We were lucky to work with her.
Buying the dress was such a nice process. Sarah went to the local bridal shop in Hertford called The Dress Room. The owner Kirsty really knows her stuff and made the whole process so enjoyable and fun. Those moments of trying on dresses with the bridal party was such a wonderful part of the build up. The dress was by JLM Couture, the shoes were from Jones Bootmaker and the accessories and Matron of Honour’s dresses were from The Dress Room. Dave’s suit and the bridesmaid’s dresses were from John Lewis.
Theme or colour scheme
We didn’t really have a theme. We wanted the day to be outdoorsy, fun, adventurous, bright and colourful. We wanted to throw a massive party.
Table centres were a mix of perennials and shrubs bought locally the week before the wedding. This worked really well within the garden settings and everyone could take away a plant at the end of the day. Sarah collected a series of paper decorations in the run up to the wedding in bright colours, which were expertly hung up in the marquee by the ushers and best man the day before.
In the church Jacqui Rowland did the flowers – bright sunflowers, reds and purples, which were beautiful. The bouquets and buttonholes were made by The Real Cut Flower Garden, handpicked from their garden and were wild and gorgeous.
The Gourmet Barbecue Company provided food, which was an array of salads, meats and delicious deserts. They also ran the bar, which we organised ourselves.
The wedding cake was a joint effort, homemade by Sarah’s mum, dad and us. Making the cake together in the lead up to the wedding was so enjoyable.
Entertainment was a big thing for us. One of the draws of the Gibberd Garden as a reception venue was that it contained Sir Frederick Gibberd’s sculpture collection, set within the magical grounds of his garden. So we planned a sculpture trail through the grounds and a treasure hunt for the children. We spent hours creating playlists for the welcome drinks and the meal which included all our favourite songs. We love going to gigs so we knew we wanted to have a live band. We found Anthem when searching online. They seemed to have the perfect balance of indie, pop, rock and oldie songs. They seriously rocked out. The dance floor was packed. They managed to get Sarah and her sister Hannah to sing ‘Rappers Delight’ by the Sugarhill Gang and Dave got up and did a stint on the drums. It was epic.
Buy or DIY your stationery?
Sarah found inspiration for the stationary when her mum came across a collection of cards that her grandfather Syd had hand made for the family over the years. Each card had been individually painted, even the messages inside. This inspired Sarah to hand paint all the stationary – invitations, envelopes, the table plan, name places, order or service, even the signage around the venue. It added a special touch and was a lovely way to bring Sarah’s grandfather into the day.
The biggest surprise of the day was from Sarah’s sister Hannah and our brother in law George who had arranged the wedding transport – a 1969 vintage Morris Minor police car. We knew they wanted to arrange a car for us but we had no idea until the morning of the wedding what they had chosen. We were so shocked and delighted when we saw it. Hannah and George had arranged for a bottle of champagne for the 20-minute journey to the gardens and the driver provided ta pair of gorgeous vintage glasses. We hadn’t realised how fun and brilliant the journey from the church to the reception would be, particularly when we travelled down the road to the gardens and we could put the blue light and siren on. It was hilarious!
• Sarah and her dad walking down the aisle.
• The beautiful and very personal speech that Ann our vicar gave to us was certainly a highlight, as were the readings by Mel, Sarah’s cousin and John, Dave’s dad.
• Everyone’s reaction to Lucy letting off the confetti canon.
• The car!!
• Sarah’s sister Hannah doing all the announcements – she is a natural organiser and gets everyone going.
• Trekking through the gardens, across the moat and climbing up to the castle for our family photographs was so much fun.
• Having a few moments together alone as we walked through the gardens was really lovely – a bit of time to take in the magic of the day.
• Being announced as the new Mr and Mrs Hughes and entering the marquee to the Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash!
• The speeches! All the speeches seemed to go down pretty well and got a lot of laughs. Sarah decided she wanted to do a speech and this added more of a personal touch to the day, and brought a few happy tears…
• Seeing Sarah’s cousin’s son Alfie dressed especially as a soldier.
• Throwing a big party and seeing our friends and family rocking out on the dance floor was amazing as was seeing Dave play the drums – epic! We kicked off the party with a round of tequilas accompanied by the song Tequila by The Champs.
• Having our friends and family in one place was the most amazingly special thing. All the people you love there in one place. We were especially lucky that Dave’s brother travelled over from Hong Kong and Sarah’s friend from art school came over from Helsinki.
Advice for other couples
Our advice would be to enjoy the process of wedding planning as much as possible and see it as a way of spending time with your family and friends. The build up to the wedding can get stressful with the sheer volume of things to organise so choose what the important things are to you and spend time on those. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help. We were so lucky that we had amazing support in the lead up.
Keeping kids entertained means parents can relax and enjoy themselves on the day so it’s worth thinking about child friendly activities. Sarah would also highly recommend delivering a speech! It may be nerve-wracking, but adds a more personal dimension. Enjoy every bit of the day because it goes so fast and invest in a good photographer so you can relive the day again and again through your treasured photographs.
And lastly, when we asked people who were recently married for their advice, almost everyone recommended that we should invest in a videographer, which is something we hadn’t thought of and it turned out to be the last thing we booked. We were incredibly lucky to work with Bee and Mark from YAY! Films. Their work is unique and creative and has captured the feel of the day beautifully. They are a sheer delight to work with and have made us an utterly astonishing highlight film.