Images by Fiona Kelly Photography.
Gaynes Park in Essex really is the best of both worlds. You have a beautiful Orangery style ceremony room to say your vows and then a rustic barn for the after-party! For Amanda & Steve it was love at first sight and they chose Gaynes Park for their big day last Spring…
Notes from the bride
Steve proposed during a trip to Thailand for his 30th birthday. He had planned to propose about half way through the holiday and had booked a private table on the beach. However, the stormy weather meant that he had to come up with a plan B. Instead he booked a restaurant overlooking the ocean for a couple of days later and had organised for us to be the only people in that area. He ordered Champagne cocktails before getting down on one knee as the sun was setting. I had suspected that a proposal could be on the cards that holiday!
The first thing we did in planning was to look for a venue. We didn’t originally know exactly what we wanted but after looking at lots of venues online we decided we wanted a barn venue. Our favourite venue was Gaynes Park, and we loved it when we saw it so didn’t look around anywhere else.
We booked 14 months in advance. When we went to view the venue in February, we originally wanted a summer wedding, but all the Saturdays were booked all summer so we ended up booking Good Friday. I’m really pleased we ended up booking this date as it had a spring feel to it, and it meant everyone had a long weekend afterwards which was good for people travelling from further afield.
Once we decided on a barn venue, we wanted to go for a rustic theme in keeping with the venue. We wanted there to be a relaxed feel to the wedding and for everyone to just have a good time!
The music throughout the day was very important to us so we chose every song ourselves – we wanted it to reflect our tastes and make sure the dancefloor was full all night!
Being an accountant, I immediately set up a wedding spreadsheet! To get ideas of budgets we asked friends who recently got married and also researched rough costs by reading articles and looking on suppliers’ websites. We also worked out how much we needed to save each month straight away so we were always within our budget (even if we sometimes needed to add a bit extra in!)
In the Orangery we had a vine around the ceremony table arches, flowers on the chairs and on the table. We also had reserved signs for the front row so people would find it easier to know where to sit. We had a table with a Polaroid guest book on, which was then moved into the Mill Barn for the evening.
In the Mill Barn our centrepieces were wooden slices with flowers in jam jars. Our table names were holiday destinations that we had visited together, so we had vintage post cards from each place on the tables. We had festoon lighting up, and for the evening we had a centre white lit dancefloor and cocktail tables around it which were good as it meant people stood at the edges of the dancefloor rather than sitting down.
We had lots of mason jars (which I got free from work), which had floating candles in – these were put around various parts of the venue, including lots in the Orangery for turnaround time.
We didn’t want to spend lots of money on a wedding cake as we felt people rarely remember eating the cake and we didn’t like the traditional style of wedding cakes. My Mum’s friend made us a naked 3-tier cake which we decorated with flowers, fruit and a wooden cake topper.
For favours, we filled small mason jars with mini eggs. We both love mini eggs, and with it being Good Friday it was a nod to the Easter weekend.
We chose our photographer by searching online for any photos from the venue. We loved the photos our Fiona had taken at Gaynes Park as she had captured so many good moments and used a soft lighting we liked. Also she focused more on natural photos rather than having a lot of posed shots, which is what we wanted.
I found my wedding dress at Angelica Bridal in Islington. I had been to a few shops previously but hadn’t loved any of the dresses. When I had tried on a few dresses the woman in the shop suggested one that she thought would suit me – I didn’t like it but thought I might as well try it on. When I put it on I loved it and thought it looked better on me than any others. As it wasn’t what I had in mind originally I went to see some more dresses, but came back to that one.
From one bride to another…
I think a spreadsheet was a really good way of tracking costs all the way through, putting planned costs then updated once we had prices.
We booked what we thought were the most important things first – the venue, photographer and flowers to try and avoid any stress closer to the wedding. I also started looking for my dress straight away. We left almost nothing to do the month before so there was no stress or last minute panics.
Consider having a round table rather than the traditional top table – although it was good for the speeches, a round table would have been better for talking to everyone.
Venue Gaynes Park
Photography Fiona Kelly Photography
Florist Lily & May
Bridal Designer Essence of Australia
Bridal Boutique Angelica Bridal
Venue Stylist & Lighting Mediterranean Occasions
Invitations Olive Weddings
Music Laura James Music
Wedding Favours Confetti