Me & My Wedding: A Family Affair In Shropshire

From the proposal to the cake, the flowers to the dress, we love hearing what goes into making someone's big day their own. If you're after some inspiration, look no further – we’re shining a spotlight on some of the most stylish weddings out there. For Freya and husband Rich, getting married at the same church as her parents and celebrating afterwards at their Shropshire home made the day all the more special.

The Proposal

Rich proposed early last year in April, when there were still quite a few Covid restrictions in place. He often goes on bike trips with his friends to places like Brighton – and suddenly, when his friends started posting their latest trip on Instagram, it dawned on me that he was missing out for some reason. The reason, of course, was that he planned to propose at home that afternoon. We met on Bumble six years ago and, while we had talked about marriage, I wasn’t expecting it to happen as it did, which meant it was a lovely surprise. I’m so glad it was just the two of us as well.

The Ring

Rich proposed with a plain gold band and told me he wanted us to design my engagement ring together. I’m not exactly picky but I know what I like. After the engagement, I found an antique ring online which I fell in love with. Rich proposed on the Saturday and we picked it up in Hatton Garden on the following Wednesday. Don’t worry – I made him repropose after he got back from work that night!

The Planning

One of Rich’s sisters lives in Australia and we knew we wanted her sons to be pageboys, so in April 2021 that was the biggest factor in choosing a wedding date. We gave ourselves just over a year and set a date for the end of May 2022. Luckily, we were fine and restrictions in Australia lifted just in time for them all to make it.

The Venue

We decided on a religious ceremony at the Catholic church in Ludlow where my parents were married many years ago. It was very sweet, actually, because a family friend (who is now in his 90s) was the one to marry my parents and he married us too. We had about 175 at the ceremony and this went down to about 140 in the evening. We then had our reception at my parents’ house in Shropshire – it had always been my dream to have our wedding there and seeing as Rich’s family is from Gloucestershire it still felt like mutual territory. It’s a stunning setting on top of the hill and we hired a marquee from Covered By Canvas. The team was great, really helpful, and decked the whole of the inside and out in fairy lights. They also provided all the tables and chairs, which was a load off our mind.

The Dress

Soon after the engagement, my sister sent me a dress on Instagram but I had no idea who it was by or where I could try it on. In the end, that was the dress I wore although it came to me in a very unusual way. I’d been browsing on the Stillwhite app – which lists pre-loved wedding dresses. There was a girl on there selling hers – and it was this same dress by Suzanne Neville. It was really meant to be – we were the same height and build, and it fitted me perfectly. I never tried anything else on – I’d always enjoyed going to my friends’ wedding dress appointments but it just wasn’t something I thought I would like. For the evening, I had another dress made by Maries of Ludlow. It was similar to the first dress but with a glittery overlay over it. My shoes were Loeffler Randall and my jewellery was a mix of Christie Nicolaides and pieces inherited from my granny.

The Hair & Make-Up

A family friend, Lauren, did my make-up and I did do a trial beforehand. I wanted something quite natural looking – nothing too glittery or over the top. Wedding day make-up is interesting because while you want to look like yourself, you generally need to wear a bit more make-up than normal to look good for photos. I didn’t bother with a hair trial – I just knew it should be up in a low bun – and a local hairdresser, Charlotte, did a great job.

The Bridal Party

I had six bridesmaids and Rich had seven ushers on the day (it should have been eight but one got stranded in Hong Kong). Then we had three younger pageboys and one mini bridesmaid. This wasn’t a part of the process I loved – I ordered so many outfits and couldn’t decide on whether the bridesmaids should all be matching or not. In the end, I found six identical sage green dresses that looked great on everyone. The groomsmen all wore morning dress and Rich wore a waistcoat from Oliver Brown. We wanted the little ones to be quite casual – their outfits came from Angel & Rocket and Roco Clothing.

The Flowers & Décor 

Our florist was another friend of the family, Alice at Borage & Blossom. We had the most gorgeous flowers that matched our invitations – done by Rotary Creative Group –  with lots of pinks, greens and burgundies woven together. We moved a lot of them from the church to the marquee, and we bought birch trees to dress the altar. These also came back to the house with us and we have since replanted them in the garden, which is a lovely touch. Hiring the décor was easier than it sounds. It was all done through Taste Herefordshire and we went with simple linens to save on stress. We then added a couple of personal touches, like baby photos of me and Rich on the tables.

The Ceremony

I was raised Catholic and my grandparents are very religious, and I always knew I wanted to get married in the same church as my parents. To do that, Rich and I had to take a pre-marital course and meet regularly with the priests. I actually found it very helpful and would recommend it to anyone in a similar position. A lot of people commented on how personal our ceremony was, even though we exchanged traditional vows. We had the Moor Park School choir sing, then Rich’s sisters did some readings.

The Food & Drink

Planning the menu was such a fun part of the process. We used a local caterer in Herefordshire that we’d used several times before. We had smoked salmon to start followed by beef and wholegrain mash and blackberry posset for dessert. Our cake – from Cakes by Karen – came in four tiers with pressed petals all over it. Although we cut it, we never got round to eating it on the day! Prior to the wedding we also went for a wine tasting at Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith and settled on English sparkling wine from Gusbourne with another white and red for the meal. Later on, Jimbo's Bars were in charge of drinks.

The Entertainment

After the school choir sang at our ceremony, we had a saxophonist and 29 Fingers entertain our guests. They played so many fun classics and everyone was dancing until 1am. Rich and I had our first dance at around 10pm. I was dreading it, but thankfully the song we chose had an early chorus and that way we could get everyone else on the dancefloor quickly!

The Photographer/Videographer

I found Rebecca Searle on Instagram – she had one date left which happened to be that of our wedding. She knew a videographer so she edited our wedding video as well. I’d says she has quite a romantic style – on the day, she asks you to do things that feel quite unnatural but they end up looking amazing in photos. She’s bossy in the best way possible!

The Day Before & After

We didn’t have a formal rehearsal dinner. Rich just hosted a BBQ for his ushers and members of his family the night before. The day after the wedding, we invited the bridal party back to my parents’ house. The same caterer made us a lovely lunch and it was a great way to use up all the spare drink!

The Final Piece Of Advice

Try to enjoy the fun parts of the planning process – things like the food and wine tastings – and get some of the big-ticket items locked in quickly. Also, divide and conquer with your fiancé and play to your strengths. For example, Rich is bit of a wheeler dealer and I’m the researcher. Then, try to enjoy the moment when it comes. We managed to leave our bouquets at home on the way to the church by accident, which slightly held up proceedings. So that would be my very final piece of advice – don’t forget your flowers!

 

Photography by Rebecca Searle

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