Despite my normal camera-shyness, I’ve been longing to share some photos from our wedding back in May. I’ve had to wait until now because, excitingly, it was featured on a couple of wedding blogs and I wasn’t allowed to post anything beforehand, but now I’m free to reveal all! And for anyone planning their own wedding, I’ve added a few tips that we picked up along the way.
Chris and I both wanted our wedding to be elegant but also relaxed and intimate, and that set the tone for every decision we made. Being the minimalist that I am, I was also keen to avoid anything fussy or overly formal.
We didn’t have to think twice about which florist to choose: Kirstie from Ruby & The Wolf has been a friend for years, and we both love her dramatic yet natural style. She also introduced us to our photographer, Louise of Taylor & Porter, and as soon as we looked at her graceful, light-infused images, we knew we wanted her to capture the day.
Finding the right venue was trickier. We were keen to get married near Bristol and looked at countless places in Somerset and Gloucestershire, but nowhere seemed quite right. Some were too stuffy, others too impersonal, and I’ll admit that a couple were instantly dismissed because I didn’t like the carpet or wallpaper (a professional hazard!). So we widened the search and stumbled across Pynes House in the pretty Devon village of Upton Pyne. We turned up to view it during a torrential downpour, but we fell in love with it immediately. So many country houses are dark and cluttered, but Pynes is flooded with light and decorated in soft, neutral colours; it also has 12 bedrooms, which meant we could spend the whole weekend there with friends and family. In a strange twist, we’ve since found out that some of Chris’ ancestors came from Upton Pyne and were married in the village in 1786, so they would have been familiar with the house!
We had no decoration other than masses of flowers and flickering candles, as the venue just didn’t need it. Kirstie translated our vision to perfection, creating beautiful arrangements using white and dusty-pink hellebore, ranunculus, roses and astrantia, along with lots of trailing greenery. Our favourite feature was a pair of huge urns spilling with flowers and foliage, which she placed on Perspex plinths in the entrance hall.
As well as drawing on the setting, we took inspiration from Spain and Italy, where we’ve both spent a lot of time over the years. We booked a Spanish guitar duo to play during the ceremony, and my bouquet included jasmine. Our caterer, Posh Nosh, also helped us to put together a Mediterranean menu (including Spanish churros as a late-night snack), and Bristol-based cake designer Rosie Shaw created a beautiful naked sponge flavoured with orange-blossom water. Of course, me being me, grey featured heavily too – in the napkins, in the ribbons and ties, and in the Ghost bridesmaids’ dresses.
I was keen for my own dress to be light, simple and comfortable. Charlie Brear’s ‘Payton’, purchased from Perfect Day Bride in Bradford on Avon, was ideal, and I had it customised with lace cap sleeves and lace scallop edging. It had a puddle train that was supposed to be buttoned up for dancing, but I was enjoying swishing it around so much that it stayed down (after all, when am I going to get to wear a train again?), and I somehow managed not to trip over it. For the finishing touches, I added accessories inherited from my grandmothers, who are sadly no longer with us – a pair of diamond earrings from my maternal grandmother, and a maple-leaf brooch from my Canadian paternal grandmother, which I pinned to my bouquet.
Our stationery came from the talented Suzanne at The Whistle Press, who created bespoke letterpress designs using calligraphy from Megan Riera. I’d met Megan when I attended one of her calligraphy workshops, so when Chris and I got engaged we commissioned her to produce words which we then used across our invitations, menus and order of events. I hand-wrote matching place cards for the tables.
The whole day was magical from start to finish, and I wish we could do it all over again. Highlights included a surprise Canadian First Nations blessing from my brother, who had flown over from Vancouver for the wedding, and the groomsmen’s speech, which had everyone crying with laughter; we also loved watching our friends’ hilarious gin-fuelled antics on the dancefloor. But perhaps the favourite moment for both of us was turning to face the room after saying our vows, and seeing all our friends and family together in one place – truly special.
A few tips on wedding planning…
- Find suppliers you trust. My make-up artist said I was one of the calmest brides she’d seen, and that was because I had total faith in everyone involved.
- Everything will end up costing more than you think, so build a contingency into your budget. We soon realised we couldn’t afford everything we wanted, so we focused our cash on the things that were most important to us and paid less attention to other bits.
- Remember that it’s your wedding, not anyone else’s. I know that’s easier said than done, particularly if family members are helping towards the cost, but make sure you plan the kind of day you want, not what other people expect.
- Feel free to do away with traditions, unless they mean something to you. We had no favours and no receiving line, and I walked up the aisle with both my parents. Chris also had four groomsmen rather than a best man and ushers.
- Things book up really early, particularly if you’re getting married on a Saturday or in late spring / summer, so start researching venues and suppliers as soon as you can.
- Think about small, inexpensive ways to inject your own personality into the wedding. We served homemade gin infusions in the evening, and for our first dance we chose ‘At Last’ by Etta James – a bit of a joke for our guests, as we’d been together for 14 years before getting engaged!
Thank you to all the suppliers who made our day magical:
Venue: Pynes House | Photography: Taylor & Porter | Flowers: Ruby & The Wolf | Bride’s dress: Charlie Brear via Perfect Day Bride | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Ghost via The Mews Bridal | Cake: Rosie Shaw | Make-up: Helen Hamilton | Hair: Kirsty at March Hare | Catering: Posh Nosh | Wine: The French Wine People | Stationery: The Whistle Press | Calligraphy: Megan Riera | Groom’s suit: bespoke via local Bristol tailor Tux & Tails | Groomsmen’s suits: Moss Bros | Daytime band: Sin Compas via Alive Network | Evening band: Ruby & The Rythms
All photography by Taylor & Porter