Ness and Ben’s Celtic and Caribbean Mix Wedding all Planned in 4 Months

It’s Friday! Yay! I really have no idea where the week has gone but it has whizzed past at super fast speed! I have a lovely purple themed wedding for you today sent to me by Philippa James photography . It takes place in the gorgeous area of Stratford-Upon-Avon and it has a unique mixture of Celtic and Caribbean traditions with a traditional bagpipe player along with some amazing Caribbean food. (my favouite!…..the food not the bagpipes!)

Celtic Caribbean wedding

It’s the wedding of Vanessa and Benjamin Frank who were married on 12th February at Ettington Park Hotel, Ettington. They had 96 day guests and another 54 in the evening, it only took them 3-4 months to plan the day, proving that weddings don’t need to take 2 years to organise!

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They describe their day as ‘Such an overwhelming experience of joy and happiness. A fun packed day in a stunning setting filled with smiles, laughter and a few cheeky bits too.’

How they met
Ness: Oh I love our meeting story; it confirms all my beliefs in fate. I was on a night out with one of my closest girl friends Leanne. We had been on a bit of a pub crawl around Birmingham and decided to go to town for a boogie. We stopped at a cash point and a man in front of us told us he was kidnapping us & taking us to his friend’s birthday at a bar & wouldn’t take no for an answer. I turned around to the man behind us (Ben) and asked if he was with him. Ben replied “no just a cash point person”. I was a tad disappointed as Ben is clearly very handsome & Leanne knowing me so well decided that if we were going Ben had to come too. So off we went the three of us for a drink. We made a pact to stay for one and go our separate ways. Leanne was chatting with Ben & discussing who he was going to meet next. Ben was going to meet a guys called Matt & it turns out this Matt is someone I used to work with, spooky! The night was lots of fun & when Ben asked if I’d meet him for a date I didn’t hesitate as he was gorgeous & knowing one of my friends made me feel a little more secure in saying yes.

Celtic Caribbean wedding

The Proposal
Ben: It was coming up to the first anniversary of us being together and I had already decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Vanessa. She is just a perfect fit for me- not only strikingly beautiful, but also caring, funny and virtuous. I have a reputation for being quite laid back, meaning I rarely get excited about things, but the prospect of spending a lifetime with Vanessa was definitely an exception to this. I had a good idea of the ring I wanted to get, so I had been making trips to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham during my lunchtimes. The jewellers I was using were a small, family run outfit, who were making the ring to order. During the previous Christmas, we had a really lovely holiday in the Cotswolds, so I was planning to propose there on a weekend away for our anniversary. However, due to the summer’s riots, the jewellery shop was closed, meaning I was not able to pick up the ring before we went. We still had a nice trip, but I had to come up with another plan for the proposal. A couple of weeks later, I booked a room at Hotel du Vin in Birmingham and took Vanessa there for a surprise stay.

Ness: I had always wanted a bath in a roll top bath so was chuffed to bits to stay in such a lovely room. Ben kept asking me to look at the toiletries. To be honest I kept overlooking them as I was so excited about staying in such an enormous hotel room that I was rushing around like a child looking at all the fancy facilities. As I walked past the bath I saw a little box mixed in with all the hotel toiletries and froze. We had discussed getting married in the future but I had no idea it was going to happen then. Ben said the loveliest things to me and I just blubbed and blubbed and blubbed. Bless him he did have to ask “is that a yes?”! Of course it was a yes. Ben is the most patient, kind and honourable people I have ever met & has made me truly happy since the day I met him. I was so excited after being proposed to, that I decided to propose to my bridesmaids to see if they would like the job. I sent them a parcel with a photo card of themselves with me. It read “I said yes now it’s your turn…” also inside was a huge purple rock sweet ring. My two nieces Jasmin & Ellie screamed when they received them!

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The Venue
The venue is on the edge of the Cotswolds, where we have shared so many great experiences. It is like a hidden gem full of character and history. The building and grounds are spectacular. Above all however, the friendliness of the staff was the deciding factor. We had looked a couple of venues in the area, as well as in North Wales (where Vanessa is from) and Birmingham. The staff at Ettington Park were so approachable and eager to help with even the smallest things, that they made our decision to use the hotel as our venue extremely easy.

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Rachel Simpson shoes ‘Mimi’ Style. My mum had shoes like this when I was a little girl.  Necklace & earrings were borrowed from my sister Jillian and niece Ellie.  Hair clip was from ‘The Wedding Club’ Edgbaston.

The suit and bridesmaids
Suits hired from Formal Affair, Ben wore his own tie. Bridesmaids from Fenn Wright Manson with shoes & accessories from Monsoon

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We had a few themes; Celtic/Caribbean, Maps we both love travelling & Ben’s favourite colour chocolate box purple.

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Highland drinks reception with hot toddies & homemade heart shaped shortbread.
Caribbean style wedding breakfast: smoked chicken with mango& salad, Blade of beef with sweet potato and plantain, Rum & Raisin cheesecake.
Evening was a Scottish tea party: smoked salmon sandwiches, tatty scones & coconut macaroons. Our friend Morwenna made us some fantastic marmalade & honey cupcakes with little thistles on the top.

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Eddie the piper, Caribbean steel drums, Greenclaws Entertainment for DJ & lighting.  Photo booth from ‘groovy booth’ for our guest book which was the most amount of fun for all ages!

Ivory roses, thistles and a range of purple flowers

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To be honest we didn’t have that many as the hotel has so much character with its own unique features we didn’t want to overdo it.
For the wedding breakfast we had candelabras for the tables, my sister Jillian brought all her cups and saucers which we filled with chocolate éclairs, we had some little hearts made from old maps too. For the tea party we found some purple Scottish bunting.

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Personal touches
• Our friends and family were a huge support. My mum & Ben’s parents helped us with getting our family and cultural traditions together so it would be a fusion of the two families.
• Ben’s mum Joanna organised a fantastic Jamaican rum wedding cake while his dad Gordon spent weeks finding the perfect Caribbean steal pan drummer.
• My nephew Joe made the invites and the table plan using his own cartoons of us and also stamps from our passports. They were amazing. Our friend Matt has beautiful handwriting so he wrote out the table plan & cards for us.
• My mum made the bridesmaids flower hearts and also spent hours drying flowers & putting glitter on them for the confetti.
• She also collected lots of keepsakes from my dad, who has passed away, to put into my bouquet. His medals from the army where like little treasure trinkets among the flowers. Ben also bought me some tiffany earnings which also went into the bouquet. There was no way I was throwing it at anyone!
• My sisters, mum and Ben got me the something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Thanks Sandra, the blue garter featured heavily in the photos. I had no idea that rhyme ended with ‘a sixpence in your shoe’ good job my friend Amy was at hand for that one!
• Deborah (Chief Bridesmaid) & Steve (Best Man) did an amazing job of organising the stag & hen dos. They were also such a huge support to us on the day.

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Special moments
Having all our friends and family from across the country all in one place, it has never happened before. We had put so much planning and preparation into the day that we were able to relax and enjoy the day.
Ben: The most memorable part for me was turning around to see Vanessa walking down the aisle. She looked so beautiful that I initially had to fight back some tears!
Ness: for me the chapel was a very special time. Ben & I waited for everyone to leave, listened to some favourite music & walked back over to the venue. Inside was a huge exciting party for us that we were able to spy on before we came in.

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Ben: Find a fiancé that is really good at planning things! Oh and try to chill out and enjoy the day.
Ness: Ask all your friends/family for wedding info on dos and don’ts dos but then make the decisions your own to what you both want. Eat! I’d been so busy I just forgot and at the end of the day I was ravenous.

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Biggest surprise
Ben: The secret wedding video Vanessa had made with her bridesmaids for the first dance.
Ness: A call from Australia from my nephew Callum & my sister Jillian telling the world how I’d thrown my shoes into a willow tree once in order to wish good luck in love on myself … CRINGE!

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Supplier Shout Outs:

  • Venue – www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/Ettington Helen Birtles was our contact at Ettington Park.  We would like to thanks all the staff there for their magnificent support and top class service but Helen was remarkable.  From day one she was on hand to assist us in every way she could.  She made planning and preparing so much easier.
  • Photography – www.philippajamesphotography.com Philippa James Photography.  This lady is amazing.  When we met her we felt liked we had known her for years.  All of our friends and family commented on how friendly she is and how comfortable she made them feel.  I have had friends that want to use her for their wedding and friends that wished they had used her. Her natural style makes her photographs amazing.
  • Stationery – .  www.joelawrencedesign.co.uk Joseph Lawrence – Joe did a wonderful job of making our wedding stationary unique to us.  He drew cartoons of us for the invites and different ones for the table plan and menus.  He was adaptable and has great creative style
  • Video – http://web.me.com/jamesreader28/Front_Row_Films James Reader Front Row Films did a fantastic job on the secret wedding dance video & really reasonably priced too!
  • Hair – [email protected] Sarah from Pink Fizz Hair was really lovely.  It was important to me not to be too styled and she created a lovely natural look for us all email
  • Makeup  – www.annamake-upartist.co.uk Anna Ashfield did all our makeup.  She was so flexible with our last minute timings and made us all look stunning
  • Dress – www.thewedding-club.co.uk The wedding club were brilliant with advice on dresses and had some lovely accessories.


For more information on Philippa’s work go to
Philippa James Photography
[email protected]
07968 501 851


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    Tracey Thackray

    Hi Hun aw you look lovely, i only remember you when you were tiny age 5. It’s brought tears to my eyes looking at your special day. Hope we met up soon Love Tracey xxxxx


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