Jamie and I met through a mutual friend about eight years ago. A few years back, we went on holiday in the British Virgin Islands and Jamie went into a jeweller to look at a watch and I started (inadvertently) shopping for rings! Although we told the proprietor we didn’t plan on getting engaged, little did I know Jamie bought my ring only a few months after we got back. He proposed on a walk one day and it took me completely by surprise.
Jamie had the ring sent to his grandparents so they could keep it in their safe. They forgot the code and lost the spare key, so it remained unreachable for quite a while. The ring itself was beautiful – an oval diamond with a hidden halo and diamonds flanking the band – and it came all the way from New York. Really classic, really me.
Despite the chaos of 2020, we decided to get on with the wedding planning. We were working on an 18-month lead time – our wedding date was 22.04.22 – and just hoping that everything would calm down in time. Jamie ended up being furloughed for a couple of months around December, so he was able to get on with a lot of the wedmin. We’re both efficient, which helped – plus, we really knew what we wanted. We’d originally thought of getting married in France, but the pandemic made that a riskier choice. Instead, we started looking for a venue in the UK that had a European feel.
We found Wasing Park in January – it was only about 20 minutes from our house. We knew we wanted a church wedding, so being local made sense. It wasn’t exactly dry hire – they have internal suppliers – but we effectively treated it like dry hire. We even hired our own cutlery, tablecloths, napkins and glassware.
The Dress & Accessories
Jamie proposed in October and, by December, I had my dress. I had a real vision from day one – timeless but with a modern twist – and knew exactly which designers I wanted to look at. I went to The Wedding Club because they had an array of names, and the minute I walked in, I saw it. It was the first dress I tried on and, secretly, I knew it was ‘the one’, even though I tried on some others. It came from Pronovias, and I called The Wedding Club the next day and bought it. I also had a custom overskirt and a French tulle veil custom made by Sarah Murphy from Bellanude. She totally understood my vision. You’d think the rest of the accessories would come later, but I actually bought my wedding shoes before Jamie proposed! I wore Sophia Webster’s ‘Wifey For Lifey’ shoes with Swarovski jewellery and a pearl and diamanté headband. I also did my own make-up and brought in Deborah Lola to do my hair. Jamie wore a Paul Smith suit and Crockett & Jones shoes.
The Bridal Party
I had two bridesmaids and a maid of honour – all their dresses came from TH & TH. Because it was a church wedding, the looks needed to be relatively modest, but I still wanted them to feel comfortable. They ended up in ruffled navy dresses with a high neck that were quite fitted and flared out at the bottom with a train. Jamie had three groomsmen and a best man, all of whom wore Charles Tyrwhitt.
The Flowers & Décor
We used Hannah from The F Word florist – who only started her business in lockdown. Again, she’s local to where we live, and she popped up on my Instagram Explore page. It felt nice to support a small, independent business that we knew would go the extra mile for us. The night before, she dropped off the flowers at the cottage we were staying at and my mum created all of the wedding party bouquets and buttonholes – she’s big on flower arranging and used to have a business planning events, so it was another nice way to include her. We also had Bubblegum Balloons rig up some installations for the ceiling on the day itself. Once it was over, we donated all our flowers to the Royal Berkshire hospital.
Our church was on site, which was handy. At the ceremony, Jamie and I exchanged traditional vows, but we did ask his cousin to recite an Irish blessing – Jamie’s whole family is Irish and some of them couldn’t make it, so it was a lovely way to include them. Both our mums lit two separate candles then Jamie and I went up and, taking flames from each one, lit what’s known as a ‘unity candle’, which felt really meaningful. Both Jamie and I are Christians and we felt strongly about having a traditional religious ceremony.
Our photographer was James Fear – Jamie found him, which was probably for the best as my husband can be quite particular about imagery! We did a mini test shoot with him about a year before the wedding, which is also something I’d recommend doing. It made me feel much more at ease on the big day itself.
The Food & Drink
Three months before the wedding, our venue hosted an evening for about four couples due to get married there – to sample a selection of the food, from canapés through to desserts. They had set packages, but you can also mix and match, so we went for scallops as a starter, beef shin for the main (done bourguignon style), then a trio of puddings: a compote, a lemon tart and a chocolate and rum cheesecake. We also had a surprise course in between the starter and main of blackberry and gin sorbet with popping candy. It was all followed by truffles and coffee before the wedding cake came out later. One of Jamie’s mum’s friends made it for us, which was really sweet, and it was a mix of Victoria sponge, lemon curd, chocolate orange and carrot cake. Oh – and we had a Jamaican rum cake on the side!
I’d always wanted a string quartet – it was one of my non-negotiables – and we used one for the ceremony and the cocktail and canapé hour. We then had The Red Lemons as our band. We love 70s and 80s music and I’d seen them live at The Jam House in Birmingham years earlier. A DJ came in afterwards – Tommy Touch – to play into the early hours. Music aside, Jamie also ended up finding Silhouette Sarah, which our guests loved.
The Day Before & After
We had exclusive hire of our venue, which meant we could bring some of our family and friends together after our rehearsal for a pre-wedding supper at one of the local pubs nearby. The day after the wedding everyone who was staying at the venue stayed on for a group breakfast – okay, brunch at that point! – and we then left to go home and out to dinner just the two of us. Our honeymoon was spent in Jamaica.
Advice For Other Couples
From a practical point of view, get a shared email address to deal with everything wedding related. That way, if one of you is tied up with work and can’t get back to someone quickly, the other can take over. Then, you can see what they’ve said and follow the chain. Also, decide your priorities early on – for us that was music, food and the venue. Finally, remember to be as present as possible with your friends and family.
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