Choosing the theme for your wedding can influence all aspects of your big day, and...
I have a wonderful wedding for you today set in the Berkshire countryside, it is full of homemade details lots of lovely food, lawn games, an ice cream tricycle, everything an English country wedding needs. The thing I love the most though is the couples book theme, due to their mutual love of literature! They have really gone to town with the theaming and even managed to squeeze in a mini book themed photo shoot along the way!
The lovely couple are Steffi and Ashley who were married on 18th August 2012 the ceremony was held at Basildon Park with the reception at Herons Farm in Berkshire.
‘We were looking for a formal ceremony venue where the importance of the occasion could be emphasised by the grand surroundings. Basildon Park allowed us to have this, and the beautiful approach to the building definitely impressed our guests. After the ceremony we were able to relax on the croquet lawn, which provided an amazing backdrop to our formal photos.
When we left Basildon Park we wanted to go somewhere where everyone could relax and play a few lawn games and truly feel at home: Herons Farm had an amazing quaint and homely feel to it when we visited it, and we immediately knew that we had a perfect venue for our home-made and individual wedding. We had 70 of our close friends and family as guests’
How they met
We met whilst studying in York. It was May 2010, and Ash was wearing a Christmas t-shirt; I was head to toe in blue paint dressed as an Avatar. We were outside the cheesiest club in York, and Ash’s friend was interested in the girl that I was talking to – Ash played wingman in an attempt to help his friend out. Unfortunately nothing happened for our friends, but in our case the rest, as they say, is history!!
It was New Year’s Eve seven months after we had met. We were at a house party with Ash’s close friends, one of whom jokingly asked Ash when he was going to propose. We had talked about it previously, but not seriously, however I turned to Ash and simply said “please”. He surprised me and got down on one knee, whilst said friend fashioned a ring out of some handy plastic. I said yes, and we ran off down the street into the night hand in hand. The next day we went into Wolverhampton to buy a ‘proper’ ring, and Ash found a romantic spot to propose again.
When we got engaged we weren’t meant to be planning the wedding as we were both studying and weren’t due to graduate until July 2012. However, I was pretty keen to start looking straight away – Ash says that there was nothing stopping me once I’d got that ring!! So I suppose you could say that we planned it for the whole of our 20 month engagement.
Why did you choose your photographer?
We did a lot of internet research into various photographers, and we came across CTI Photography. Clare seemed really approachable, and the quality of her work is top-notch. When we met up she really embraced our individual ideas, and didn’t make us feel like we were just another wedding: she really seemed excited by our ideas and plans. Looking at the photos now we are SO pleased we chose her, and the book-themed photo shoot where we were alone with her is one of our favourite memories of the day.
The suit and bridesmaids
Suits: Marks and Spencer’s Bridesmaid dresses: Vivien of Holloway
Theme or colour scheme
Steffi studies Literature and we both enjoy reading to each other, so having a book-themed wedding was an immediate choice. Our tables were named after our favourite books, and Jay Archer Floral Designs did an amazing job on our flowers, theming our bouquets to match the books. We also cut vases out of books for some of the tables. We had Oscar Wilde quotes dotted around the venue, and even had book-themed signature drinks and toilet signs!
We had personalised canapés at Basildon Park. Zaira and her team did an amazing job tailoring them to our individual preferences and the dietary requirements of our guests. We then had a tea party at Herons Farm, with scones and tea provided by Linda from Herons Farm, and Steffi’s mum and brothers made some delicious gluten-free cakes to go alongside as a special surprise for Ash. Afterwards we had a hog roast with salads followed by a buffet of desserts – finally we had a cheese wedding cake, topped with mice which matched our outfits, and with Ash’s Nanny Ross’ home-made chutneys to accompany them.
Ash’s sister and her boyfriend are an amazing duo called The Lady and The Sax who play rock n roll and swing. We were really lucky that they offered to perform for us, and they did an amazing job despite the heat. Afterwards we had a mix of our favourite songs lovingly put together by Ash’s Godfather.
Jay Archer Floral Designs did a superb job with our flowers. The buttonholes were made with cornflowers, wild-strawberries and herbs, and Ash had a special ‘Alice in Wonderland’-inspired top-hat in his. The bouquets were full of seasonal and British flowers, and tied together with book-inspired lace. We had table-bouquets inspired by ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’: the former had top-hats, tea-cups and playing cards in, whilst the latter had cards with quotes from the play written on.
Steffi’s mum also lovingly grew and potted some herbs for the table settings – we loved that the barn smelt of rosemary, lavender and basil.
We left the decorations at Basildon Park as they were: the room was certainly decorative enough! At Herons we just added vintage table-cloths collected by Steffi’s mum from charity shops, and our flowers, herbs, stacks of books and home-made book-vases.
Linda decorated the beams of the barn with ivy.
Personal / DIY touches
Homemade cakes; charity-shop bought vintage books and table clothes; book themed decorations and drinks; polaroid camera guest-book; home-painted table plan; and entertainment by Ash’s sister and her boyfriend.
– Our book-themed photo shoot with Clare
– Travelling to Herons Farm in the convertible Beetle with the roof-down
– The cheese was scrumptious!
– Playing croquet on the lawn with an icecream
– Dancing to The Lady and The Sax with all our family and friends
– The readings at the ceremony – Steffi’s brothers read an extract from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost; Steffi’s mum read one of Shakespeare’s sonnets; and Ash’s youngest sister Helen read an adapted version of The Promise by Eileen Rafter.
Find a few key things that are really important to you in your day-to-day life and try and incorporate them into your big day – we found that this really personalised our day and made it truly special.
Make sure that you build good relationships with your suppliers – having them really understand what we wanted meant that the planning process was really enjoyable and they were more able to facilitate our vision for the day itself.
We both loved the fun and very comical speeches which everyone seemed to enjoy – they definitely weren’t the ‘dragging on’ type!
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