Today we are in sunny Somerset for the gorgeous laid back wedding of Gemma and...
Happy Wednesday everyone, I hope you are having a wonderful week so far?! Today we are taking you off to Kent for this fantastic festival themed wedding day. Bex and Mike met at a festival, so it seemed fitting that they brought in as many festival elements into their day as they could. From the marquee to the hay bales, the flowered bridesmaids dresses, to the wild flowers and DIY projects. This wedding is brimming with wonderful and fun details. Big thanks to Schryver Photo for the wonderful images.
Bex and Mike were married on the 2nd September 2016 at St Augustine’s Priory, Bilsington, Ashford inKent ‘As soon as we saw the venue, we knew it was right for us. Mike had been contemplating a church wedding for a while but I wasn’t keen so when we visited this venue, it instantly ticked all the right boxes for us both. Not to mention the team at Bilsington Priory made it an even easier decision to make- they were so friendly, welcoming and professional from the moment we arrived. Libby’s family own the Priory so not only is it a beautiful wedding venue but it is a beautiful family home with centuries of history. The day wouldn’t have been so special if they hadn’t been there in the involvement of it. The same goes for Rob & Jonathan, our caterers, who went above and beyond in ensuring all the guest dietary requirements were fulfilled and everyone’s plates and glasses were kept full from start to finish. We had 103 day guests and an additional 15 in the evening. We got engaged in March 2014 and set the wedding date in May 2015 for September 2016 so we started planning officially after we set the date – so it took approx 15 months, with the final 6 months being the most full on.’
How they met
We met at VFestival back in August 2010 and officially got together that October/November. Myself (Bex) and a couple of friends were sitting in one of Bluewater’s car park waiting for the coach to take us to VFestival in Chelmsford, Essex. Picture the scene- a warm and sunny morning (pre 11am!), three 23 year old girls sitting on a curb, in a car park, drinking blackcurrant Strongbow! A couple of guys came to chat to us and it was Mike and his friend. Thinking nothing of it, after we got onto the coach we didn’t chat to them again and that was that. One of the girls had to go to queue up to collect our tickets whilst me and the other had another cheeky drink whilst we waited. We got a call from her to come and meet her and she told us that she had bumped into the guys from the coach. Again, not being phased by this, we just walked with them til we found our other friends at the campsite and it turned out that Mike’s friends had set their tents up in the same area. So our groups ended up spending the weekend together – needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I was smitten!
We were in Airlie Beach in Australia. Having just spent 5 days in Sydney visiting friends who had moved there, we had planned on a few nights break together, just us, before our friends from Melbourne joined us for the weekend. It was Friday morning, the day our friends were due to arrive. Every morning over a cup of tea before we made our plans for the day, we would play our magnetic travel scrabble.
That morning, Mike left me in charge of setting up the scrabble board. As I opened the scrabble box, I hadn’t noticed that Mike was in fact still behind me, and when I opened the box it revealed ‘Bex will you marry me’ on it. I turned to my left to see Mike on one knee presenting me with the most beautiful ring, saying the most kind and loving words. Naturally I thought it was all a joke so whilst crying inconsolably, I kept asking if he was joking, but luckily realised that he wasn’t, I screeched yes and that was it! Our friends then arrived and the excitement and screeches continued!
How did you allocate your budget?
The large majority went on venue hire, catering and drink provisions. For us, it was all about ensuring our wedding was a big party.
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We splurged on the booze in terms of finances but our time splurge was mainly taken up by the personal touches.
How did you choose your photographer?
We found Helen by looking through Google and searching for photographers in Kent. As soon as we saw her photo style and read her ‘about me’ section on her website, we knew we had to contact her to see if she was free on our date. Luckily for us she was! Helen was charming, friendly, fun and down to earth from the moment we started chatting. When we met her in person for the first time she made us feel at ease and it felt like we had known her for ages. She was so professional on the wedding day and took an insane amount of photos. She was our ‘ninja of the night’ – Helen was here, there and everywhere ensuring she captured every single moment, no matter how big or small. Her attention to detail was fantastic and as a result, we have the most beautiful wedding photos.
I found my dress in Bows Bridal Boutique in Ashford, whilst shopping for my cousin’s wedding dress. It was the ‘Verina’ by Maggie Sottero. As soon as I put it on I knew it was the dress for me. I wanted long sleeves and a low back, not thinking for a second that the dress I would buy would be champagne in colour. But it was the most perfect fit! I lost 1.5stone for the wedding so the dress went through some big alterations but Alison at Bows did her magic and the dress fit like a glove once more, and it looked better on the wedding day than when I first tried it on, a year prior! My shoes were Kurt Geiger and I had a hair slide from Accessorize. I bought my veil as a last minute addition from the bridal shop where I bought my dress. Fran, the owner at Bows Boutique was the loveliest lady, I felt lucky having found my dress in her shop.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Suit was handmade and personalised by Moss Bros. Mike chose his tailoring, trim and suit colour with a helpful tailor’s assistance. He had champagne coloured lining on the inside of his jacket and the reverse side of his waistcoat (to match the champagne in my dress and the flower girl dresses. I had to persuade him that the champagne was the best choice of lining without telling him as to why!). I found the bridesmaids dresses on ASOS and instantly knew they fit in with our relaxed, festival theme. Luckily the 5 bridesmaids loved the style too and could opt for a V front or V back to make each of their dresses slightly personalised depending on which they felt more comfortable with.
Theme or Colour Scheme
As we met at a festival, we tried to incorporate a festival vibe into our wedding day. Wild flowers, floral bridesmaid dresses, hay bales, cocktail reception with cocktails in milk bottles, live band.
We chose wild flowers. The venue has a recommended florist who offer a very competitive package deal with the hire of the venue. As soon as we met Beth we knew she had the same vision for our flowers as we did. They were everything we dreamed of and had imagined when we described them to Beth. I cried with happiness when I saw the marquee dressed for the first time after Beth had displayed the flowers ready for the big day.
Outside we had a bar that we provided along with help yourself ‘pull your own pint’ signs, a beer pong table, hay bales and blankets as seating, photo frames and fairy lights lined up with Pom poms hanging from a tree (our photo booth) – a large chalkboard of photo booth instructions. Inside the marquee there were fairy lights, bunting, a sweet cart decorated by myself and Mike using a variety of lace ribbon and trim and glue guns.
We also decorated all of the jam jars that Beth put all our flowers into. We also made two signs from old wooden palettes- the one upon entry to the venue was one that I created- the order of the day with additional fairy lights and dried lavender for decoration, that I bought from a local lavender field shop, and one that Mike created upon entry to the chapel – ‘Pick a seat either side, you’re loved by booth the groom and bride’.
Our lovely bridesmaids decorated our gift and guest book table by scattering lavender sprigs around the guestbook, which was alongside a photo frame that housed photos of myself and Mike from all the festivals we had been to together (which were also our table name settings).
During the cocktail reception we had beautifully presented and delicious canapés- butterfly tiger prawns, beef teriyaki, chicken fajita bites and a vegetarian option.
For starter everyone had baked brie with homemade sourdough crostini and homemade apple chutney.
Main was a trio of pork (sausage, stuffed pork loin and pork belly with crackling) on a bed of bubble and squeak with an apple jus. Served with seasonal veg and potatoes.
Dessert was an assiette of desserts- chocolate mousse, apple pie and home made shortbreads with strawberries and cream. We were well and truly stuffed!
Our wedding cake was honestly the best we have ever eaten. Mike found Maria and Catherine’s website when he was frantically googling local cake makers. We left it quite late organising the cake so needless to say we were so happy when we found them. We knew we wanted a 3 or 4 tier naked cake so when they said they could provide this, we were so excited. We had a fully loaded chocolate sponge cake with chocolate ganache filling, a traditional Victoria sponge and a lemon cake. Words cannot describe how amazing their cakes tasted
We hired a band called GoldBeat via Alive Network. I, Bex, was in charge of looking for music and as soon as I found these guys samples online I sent them to Mike saying ‘this is our band’. They had such great energy on their samples that we could really imagine them playing to our guests in our venue. They did not disappoint on the night- they were charming, energetic, seemed really fun loving and got the whole party started. The dance floor was packed all night long and everyone for weeks later were asking where we found the band and saying how great they were.
One of my oldest and best friends, Becky, designed our invites, table names, seating plan, and save the dates for us. She is a graphic designer so I knew her creative skills would do us proud. Once she had designed everything, we ordered all the prints via VistaPrint and a shop near where we live, called Repro. Couldn’t fault either of them- both provided speedy, reliable and affordable services.
We tied 3 separate pieces of the invite together with striped string and wrote all the names and addresses by hand. We also created ‘wedding speech bingo’ and tied scrolls of paper along with a pencil together for each person. We provided small colouring books for the children. My Mum and I went to a pick your own strawberry farm and picked 12kg of strawberries for the jam favours that we made. Mum spent a few weekends making rhubarb and ginger and strawberry jam. This lovely saint slaved away for hours making these cute little tokens for our guests. Mike and I then spent more hours cutting out fabric with pinking shears and tying string and a handwritten name tag to each lid.
Also, see above for the wooden palettes, jam jars, sweetie jars, photo booth. These were all homemade by myself and Mike. We also used leftover dried lavender and a couple of spare jam jars to add some decoration to the cake table.
Special Moments or Highlights
Our top 3 highlights of the day (in no particular order) were:
Advice for other couples
Keep a spreadsheet of all finances as they can definitely run away with you. Keep clear lists of everything so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the fear that you’ve forgotten something. Having experienced going through this wedding process, we honestly couldn’t now tell you why it seemed stressful leading up to the big day, and it does sound like a cliche, but it all comes together so wonderfully that you forget why you even had any moments of stress beforehand. The day itself, just enjoy every minute. Take time to look around and enjoy watching everyone you love dearly having fun and celebrating you both.
Make sure you put each other first on your wedding day. It is so easy to be pulled from guest to guest and time will run away with you, but make sure you always both end up together on the dancefloor.
– For me (Bex) it was seeing Mike cry for the first time ever when I reached him at the alter. It was a lovely moment and it made me love him so much more. I was so shocked though as I know he’s not cried in front of me before.
– For me (Mike), it was her dress. I was taken aback at how gorgeous she looked in her dress- it blew me away.