Ellie and Jonathan’s wedding theme focused around wild flowers, brown paper, wood and greenery. They wanted as many people to celebrate with them as possible and Firle Place offered the rustic yet formal feel they were looking for.
Ellie has been kind enough to share details of her planning journey, top tips and supplier list…
Q. What was most important to you when it came to tying the knot/celebrating your marriage?
A. Definitely having as many people there as we possibly could and for everyone to have a really good time! We decided good times = good people + plenty of food + tasty drinks.
Q. How did you chose your venue and suppliers?
A. Having decided we wanted to have as many people there as possible, we hit Google searching for venues that were 150+ and near our close family (Surrey/Sussex). We also required somewhere that didn’t charge for corkage, once you start multiplying everything by 150 things get pricey pretty quickly! We thought we wanted something quite rustic, but after viewing some rustic options we realised we wanted somewhere with more of a sense of formality than the boho festival vibe. It also needed to be somewhere we could make our own, so the day could be about us.
Jonathan’s brother got married in the same area not long before us and had a magnificent hog roast so, once we had secured the venue, we booked him. They couldn’t speak more highly of him saying how lovely and flexible he was. We really wanted to enjoy organising the wedding so having suppliers who were lovely and personable meant a lot to us.
We spent time searching for local photographers online and narrowed it down to three, who we got pricing and general info from. There were two within our price range, so I set up a call with each for a general chat. Despite both being lovely, Ally was SO easy to get on with, it was like I had known her for years! I figured this was a good sign so set up a Skype call so Jonathan could meet her too. We both agreed we got on like a house on fire, and felt excited for her to share the day with us.
The cake was next! Again I searched for someone local who produced natural-looking naked cakes. Ellie’s website immediately stuck out; the images were beautiful and it all looked really organised. We set up a meeting to go and taste the cakes, which was SO much fun. She had baked cupcakes of about four flavours for us to try over a cup of tea whilst we nattered about all sorts! Again, she was super lovely, and clearly made delicious cakes so the decision was made!
I think its really important you feel like ‘you’ going down the aisle.
I’ve always adored mosy-ing down Brighton’s North Laines. It’s an amazing haven of independent shops including a lovely Floristy shop; Gunns. Their shop window pretty much looked like the Pinterest board for the wedding so if they had availability and their price was right, I knew they would be perfect. Kate there was fab. We shared a Pinterest board and she sent me away with a list of flowers and greenery to google to check it was all ‘on theme’. They even grow some of their own there, so the week of your wedding they select some more adhoc items. I loved the fact that there would be an element of surprise. The flowers are a little tricky as you don’t really know what they’ll be like until the day, so its important to get someone you trust and then leave them to work their magic (I think anyway!). We actually ordered heaps of cut flowers and arranged them at the venue ourselves, which saved some money. The bouquets and button holes were all professionally arranged though!
The band was tricky as I have pretty high expectations when it comes to music! Google is an absolute minefield! In the end, a friend who has a band herself put a shout out on her musicians Facebook group, which produced loads of options. It was hard for us to decide on genres, but we could agree that we wanted tunes people would know and be able to dance to. After watching a lot of videos, we found Gold Love who were incredible.
Hair and make up took a while to find because no one was free on the wedding date! Luckily all the ladies I contacted put me in touch with someone else and eventually I found Alice who was nothing short of fantastic and really went above and beyond.
Q. Where did you get your ideas and inspiration?
A. I must admit a lot came from Pinterest! It can be a bit addictive though so I tried to be strict with myself and say that once I had found/bought something I would stop looking. There are so many lovely things out there, I didn’t want to become discontented with what I had, and wish for something else. Aside from Pinterest, I really enjoyed looking through photographers websites at their blogs for ideas and also venue’s Instagram pages.
Q. Tell us about your dress…
A. I’m not someone who has spent much time thinking about their wedding day much prior to getting engaged so I had no idea what I would like! I loved vintage dresses, but found that when I tried them on, I didn’t quite feel like myself. I think its really important you feel like ‘you’ going down the aisle. In the end I went for a Grace Kelly type look. I found a beautiful floor length lace jacket in the shop, which happened to have an equally beautiful satin dress to go underneath. It worked out really well as I took the lace jacket off for the evening so it was like having two dresses!
Q. What was on the menu (food and drink)?
A. Drinks on the lawn were good old Pimms, Aperol Spritz, Prosecco and elderflower fizz.
To start we had a fig, Parma ham and goats cheese salad, followed by lamb shank topped off with a duo of tarts – salted caramel and lemon. It was all delicious! In the evening we had plenty of cheese and biscuits plus chicken or halloumi wraps and hot dogs and burgers too. Sadly I was dancing so much I missed out!
We had caramel wafers as our favours for everyone – something my Grandad always used to have in the tin when we went to visit! Hopefully everyone got one… my nephews I think ate a few when they were putting them out!
Q. What was the quirkiest element of the day?
A. A friend couldn’t make the ceremony but wrote us an amazing poem so we played the voice note through a speaker. It wouldn’t have been the same if someone else had read it. Our Maid of Honour also put together the most amazing arrangement, which was sung by a group of friends I went to drama school with – it was incredible (and I cried all the way through). Oh, and our vicar chose ‘you may now kiss the groom’ which I thought was brilliant and tied in nicely with the fact that both myself and the Maid of Honour did speeches too.
Q. What advice would you give other brides looking for a similar style of event?
A. DIY weddings are a huge amount of work! We really enjoyed doing it and had a great sense of satisfaction, but if you want the day before your wedding to be a relaxing day where you get your nails done – perhaps opt for less DIY! We also had an enormous amount of help from family and friends so make sure you have a good support team… you will need it!
There is so much choice for everything out there, its easy to get overwhelmed. I decided that if I made it all mismatch and imperfect, then no one could spot the imperfections! It’s also really easy to keep spending, spending, spending! We looked at each item and considered what it would offer and also whether it would go to waste at the end. This helped keep costs from spiralling out of control!
Q.What was your favourite memory from the day?
A. I have so many fabulous memories its hard to pin it down to one, but we often talk about the moment where we entered the reception room. It was incredible to see all our friends and family in one space, cheering us in – it was really special (and loud! There were a lot of them!)
Our friends singing during the ceremony was also epic! This, and many other parts of the day, reminded us just how lucky we are and what amazing friends and family we have.
Q. What was your first dance to/what did you walk down to the aisle to?
A. I walked down the aisle to Jonathan’s friend playing ‘All of Me’ by John Legend on the piano. Our first dance was ‘Lost Stars’ from the film ‘Begin Again’ (which is lovely if you haven’t seen it!)
- Allison Dewey Photography – allisondeweyphotography.co.uk
- Alice Rose Brides – Hair and make up – www.alicerosebrides.com
- O Zone Bridal (dress and shoes) – www.ozoneweddings.co.uk
- Bunston Bakes – www.bunstonbakes.com
- Kate Turnbull @ Gunns Florist – www.gunnsflorist.com
- Gold Love (band) – www.godynamite.com
- MD Food4Thought – Martin Doyle caterer – www.mdfood4thought.com
- Firle Place (venue) – www.firle.com
- McCann Bespoke (Jonathan’s suit) – www.mccannbespoke.co.uk
- Ted Baker (bridesmaid dresses) – www.tedbaker.com