Wedding Planning: An English Country Garden Wedding

(Edit: If you want to see how it all came together, click to see our English Country Garden Wedding!)

It's been a while since I mentioned anything to do with the wedding and since everything is pretty much planned now and with just under 6 months to go, I thought I'd give an update. After the romantic proposal (which can be read here) I jumped straight into planning our wedding and I've absolutely loved it. Creating moodboards, considering different colour combinations and what kind of feeling and atmosphere we want to create on the day, it's all been magical. We've had quite a long engagement so I've had time to indulge in all the little details which I've loved. I've spent days browsing through wedding blogs such as Style Me PrettyRock My Wedding and Love My Dress, which have been amazing resources for getting inspiration from real weddings.

There have been tears (when I panicked we'd been too hasty in booking our venue), wobbles (when I thought I'd found my dream dress then tried another dress on in a completely different style and loved it) and general panic (when I'm lying in bed at night and the huge list of what still has to be done runs through my mind). Planning a wedding can be overwhelming but luckily these moments pass as quickly as they arrive.

The Theme
Whimsical, soft, romantic. Shabby chic meets an enchanted English country garden.

The Colour Scheme
I thought pastel sorbet colours would be lovely for a summer wedding so the colour palette is pink and ivory, perfect colours to tie in with the theme.

The Venue

I've always loved Church's. There's something so special about them and I find them so peaceful, beautiful and serene. For us, getting married in a Church was the only option, we couldn't imagine doing it anywhere else. I was delighted when we found a lovely Church very close to our venue. Even better was that it had a long aisle - I won't be one of those brides who rushes down, I want to make the most of it!

The Reception Venue
We wanted our wedding reception somewhere beautiful and personal to us. Although hotels can be made to look lovely, I think we've been scared off them as a venue due to some ghastly patterned carpet and curtains we've seen over the years! We did consider country homes, but again they felt quite generic and impersonal and something wasn't clicking. Then we found 'the one.' What we discovered was 15 acres of woodland garden, expansive lawns, rose gardens, tonnes of flowers and ornamental ponds.

We had a stroll around the gardens and fell in love with the place, it was everything we wanted it to be; beautiful, charming and romantic. It was blissfully peaceful and the perfect setting for a marquee wedding. There are lots of nooks and crannies which provide the perfect backdrop for photographs: a lake, a little bridge, hidden sculptures and fountains, it's completely enchanting. 
 With the idyllic surroundings and the option of a marquee, it was the perfect choice of venue for us. I've always loved marquee's, there's something special about them and the white and softness of the walls creates a feeling of elegance and romance. Marquee's can be rather expensive and this one was no exception, but we felt it was worth it as the venue was one of the most important parts of the day for us and it allowed the freedom for complete personalisation and customisation - we even get to choose the carpet colour!

I've loved planning on how the marquee will be decorated. There will be bunting, candelabras, lots of little candles and fairy lights. We'll be having the traditional top table along with round tables to seat the guests. Pastel pink sashes will add a gentle wash of colour to the limewash chairs. We were undecided about the table centres for a while as we'd seen so many beautiful options, but in the end we opted for a mixture of birdcages and enamel jugs filled with flowers. The tables will also feature a scattering of rose petals, candles and perhaps some teeny tiny fairy lights intertwined in the flowers for a romantic glow after the sun sets.
Whether permitting (and I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst case scenario - torrential rain, thunderstorms and strong wind) I want to continue the decoration to outside. Birdcages hanging from trees, signposts on tree trunks to guide people, fairy lights in the trees and tealights in glass jars lighting the pathway. Perhaps also some floating candles on the lake.
I had no idea just how expensive flowers were until we received a quote. For that reason, we're having the florist do my bride's bouquet and the flowers for the table centres, but we're considering making the bridesmaids posies ourselves. But we shall see, it may not be worth the added stress!

As for my bouquet, I adore peonies but sadly I've been told they won't still be flowering at the end of August and imported peonies won't open fully, so they'll be replaced with another fluffy flower. I'm planning on my bouquet looking something like this...

For the marquee, we'll be featuring romantic, shabby chic styles like this...

The Dress
I'd had my eye on Caldera by Enzoani from the beginning of our engagement but it was only in December when I actually got to try it on after finally locating a bridal shop that stocked it. Despite trying the dress on in a size 16 when I'm a size 8, I loved it as soon as I looked in the mirror. I adore the soft, romantic ruffles, the length of the train and the touch of sparkle on the bodice. The back of the dress is simply beautiful and I'm so excited about gliding down the aisle in this magnificent dress! I'm planning on having the neckline altered into a gentle sweetheart neckline.

As I'm already 5'9 and I want to be comfortable on the day, it was a choice between flats or a small kitten heel. Flat shoes can make me feel a little frumpy and I find it easier to walk in heels and I want to feel elegant on our wedding day so I decided to go with a small kitten heel. I'd seen some lovely wedding shoes from highstreet stores on wedding blogs and as they won't be seen on the day and I won't be wearing them again, I didn't want to spend a lot. I adored these Rachel Simpson Isabella shoes, but at £160, they were far too pricey for me.
Finding a suitable small kitten heel sounded simple enough, but it took a lot of searching. There were quite a few shoes with kitten heels, but I hated the shape of the shoes. They often looked clunky or unflattering. I was over the moon when I found the ideal shoes in New Look of all places. With the perfectly sized heel, satin material and sweet little bows on the end of each gently pointed toe, these dainty little shoes were what I'd been looking for for months on end. Best of all, they were only £19.99!

I love how long, loose curls give a soft and romantic look so I'm swaying towards this as my hairstyle of choice. I do also like the look of hair half-up, so I'll experiment with different styles over the next few months.

The Bridesmaids
My fiancé and I are from sister-less families so I'm having my brother's wife and my brother's fiancé as bridesmaids. I never wanted to spend hundreds on bridesmaid dresses as generally they're only worn once and and with our wedding being fairly informal, I knew I could find some beautiful dresses from highstreet stores that were more likely to be worn again. I began my search and found this lovely blush pink dress...

Soft and feminine with a gathered sweetheart bust and one shoulder of ruffled flowers, the dress fits perfectly with our wedding theme. Costing £69.99 from Fever, I thought it was a good price especially considering it's made from 100% silk. I love it, as do the bridesmaids!

Matt decided he'd buy a special suit for the day rather than hire one. He'll be wearing a light grey three-piece suit (no tails as it would look far too formal!) with either a cravat or tie in pale pink.

The Food
We've always been a bit disappointed by the 3 course meals we've had at other weddings, so instead, we decided to go for a buffet. It gives a lot more choice and variety and has a more relaxed feel to it. We've opted for a cold knife and fork buffet and the menu will feature delicious things such as tomato, mozzarella and Parma ham salad, sugar baked glazed ham with peach and fig compote, roasted new potatoes with rosemary and rock salt and goat's cheese, red onion and fig tart.

I also love the idea of having tea and scones, either before the main meal out on the lawn (if it's sunny) or after as desert. We already own quite a few vintage teacups which we've acquired from car boot sales and charity shops and my mum has plenty to offer too so it would be lovely to have them all set out on a table.
The Cake
The wedding cake was never a hugely important part of the day for us. I don't think I could bring myself to spend hundreds of pounds on something that is going to be gobbled so quickly! However, I still want it to look pretty so we've decided on a cupcake tower with the top tier being a sponge cake we can cut. A family friend will be making the cupcakes and we'll buy the top cake tier from Marks & Spencers for a very reasonable £12. Here are some pictures for how I'd like our cupcakes to look...

Instead of favours we love the idea of a sweetie table. We've bought a few lovely Laura Ashley glass jars in the sale in a variety of sizes for a vintage sweet shop feel and they'll look lovely around the house afterwards. There'll be miniature scoops and pale pink paper bags so guests can help themselves. To stick with the colour scheme all the sweets will be pink, so I'm thinking strawberry bon bons, rhubarb and custards, marshmallows, dolly mixture, coconut ice and lollipops.

Instead of a traditional guest book we'll be having a wishing tree. Here's the idea behind it...
We thought it would be a lovely addition to the wedding reception and create something more fun and interesting than signing the usual guestbook. Guestbook's can often be forgotten or overlooked at weddings but this creates a lovely focal point which will draw guests to it. It looks pretty too!

Finding a suitable photographer was an epic task. I did a lot of research. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Having a good photographer was such an important part of the day for us; after all the money that will be spent on the day itself we wanted to have the moments captured beautifully so we had a lovely keepsake we could look at for years to come. I viewed hundreds of photographers, making a shortlist, comparing prices and various other details. Ideally we wanted 2 photographers, and we were after a very particular style. There were so moments of disappointments when I found a photographer whose work we adored, and then they were unavailable. Our already large photography budget gradually began creeping up because we wanted the best, and the extra option of having all of the images on CD was proving expensive. 

We met with a few photographers and viewed various different photo albums which is how we first laid eyes on the Queensberry Album. Once we saw it, our minds were made up, we had to have a Queensberry Album (trust us to love the most expensive option!) Handmade in New Zealand, the albums are exquisite, beautifully presented and offer the choice of picking the size, material, colour and layout of the album. Some examples of Queensberry Albums can be found herehere and here. And so I began the search all over again, this time looking specifically for photographers who offered this option. Once we'd actually found a photographer who fit the ever growing list of criteria, we then had to hope we liked them. We had a bad experience with a photographer who didn't turn up for a second meeting (nor did he ring to let us know) and he never bothered to rearrange. He was struck off the list. 

Then I began thinking I would prefer a female photographer as I'd feel more comfortable having them in my bedroom as I was getting ready and all of the photographers work I loved seemed to be women.  And then we found the perfect photographers. A married couple who were just so lovely and who we felt so incredibly comfortable around. They took time to get to know us as a couple and they were so genuinely excited about our wedding day which was something we hadn't experienced with the other photographers. We knew as soon as we said hello that they were the ones! It will be an absolute delight to have them with us on our special day and their work is just what we imagined. An example of a beautiful wedding they shot can be found here, in three parts.

So there's the wedding update. Although it's pretty lengthy all together, each section is quite brief and there's a fair bit I haven't mentioned such as choosing a videographer, bridal cars, stationary and the many decorative DIY elements we'll be having. So do let me know if there are any specific wedding posts you'd be interested in reading, I could yak on about weddings forever!

(Edit: And if you want to see how it all came together, click to see our English Country Garden Wedding!)

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