In February 2020 we went for a long weekend on Isle of Wight, somewhere Alistair spent a lot of time growing up. Whilst I hoped engagement might be on the cards soon, it happened to be Valentine’s Day and, being a couple that don’t really celebrate it, I didn’t think there was any chance he’d propose on the 14th February! We set out on a very blustery coastal walk and as we got onto the top of the cliff top, he got down on one knee overlooking the sea. Tears and an obligatory selfie followed before he took me for lunch in our wellies at The Royal hotel in Ventnor.
We got married in the small church of St Nicholas in Henley-in-Arden with 50 of our closest family and friends. It was just perfect. On an August Saturday it poured it down with rain and I can honestly say we didn’t care! After 18 months of Covid rules, restrictions and isolations, to finally be walking down the aisle with our loved ones looking back at us was incredibly special.
Having started planning a barn reception with 110 guests for March 2021, we soon reduced to 45 at The Malt Shovel pub in Barston for August, determined we wanted to get married that summer! It was relaxed, intimate and gave us the opportunity to spend time with all our guests. The Malt Shovel terrace was the perfect setting for a champagne reception, even in the pouring rain, as well as for evening dancing where Ben Paveley and his band Juniper provided the music.
We couldn’t stop smiling and ironically the day was far more ‘us’ than the big barn wedding we had originally planned.
We must say a huge thank you to Philippa and Ian from Scaramanga Photography for capturing the day beautifully despite the rain changing photo plans. During a gap in the rain at 7pm we had our formal family photos, and Ian went above and beyond to erect lighting quickly when needed – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photographer with back up lighting before!
My mum and I went to Madi’s in the week shops opened after the first Covid lockdown. Despite the masks, Madi was welcoming, knowledgeable, patient and instantly put us both at ease. She picked out different designs I’d have never chosen myself and was focused on finding a dress that would suit me and my personality. I loved trying on an array of styles and was surprised some of the styles I’d liked online just didn’t feel right.
Having whittled it down to a final couple, when I tried the Jesus Perio for the second time I knew it was ‘the one’. I went to one other pre-arranged appointment but the dresses didn’t come close. I went back to Madi a week later to try it on for a second time, this time bringing my Dad with me. Seeing his and my mum’s face as I came out of the dressing room said it all – there was no question this was my wedding dress.
I loved that the dress felt ‘bridal’. Lots I tried on felt like a nice evening gown but this one sparked the feeling of “I’m getting married”. It was nothing like I imagined I would choose, but so perfect. The Jesus Perio designs are beautifully unique and the fabrics are of gorgeous quality. Not that I realised it at the time, but the pockets were also incredibly useful on a wet day!
After a tough year of Covid, we wanted a relaxed, happy atmosphere with great food and music. This led to a décor of simple, elegant white flowers and eucalyptus from Lily Loves Flora which scented the church and reception venue, with white candles and a hint of bright pink in our stationary and cake. Our mothers put together hessian vases of more white flowers – a homemade touch and one of their lockdown projects! The amazing Mode Bridal team did the bridal party hair and make up. The natural look and classic updo made me feel amazing and lasted all day.
Plan your day as you want it to be, not how you think it should be done – your family and friends want you to have the happiest day of your lives and we found they would do anything to make that happen. For us, that meant intimate and classically simple with champagne flowing and laughter with our guests. It can be easy to overthink the little details and whilst some will be important and make the day yours, I’m glad we didn’t go over the top – in reality guests don’t notice half of them!
After sending save the dates, we changed the venue three times, the date three times, the church twice and had to uninvite 65 people. We were hugely grateful to our family and friends for being so understanding.
- Photographer: Scaramanga Photography
- Hair & Make-Up: Mode Bridal
- Florist: Lily Loves Flora
- Venue: The Malt Shovel, Barston
- Band: Ben Paveley and Juniper