Images by Courtenay Photographic.
It’s so lovely to be kicking off the New Year with a love story at one of our newest venue additions – Axnoller.
This is the story of Rebecca & Bobby and their classic affair of a wedding weekend. Think luxurious and romantic surroundings, spectacular décor in the softest of blush pinks, coastal influenced feasts, boys in tuxedos and the most perfect Manolo Blahnik shoes ever.
Yes, there’s all of the above in this treasure of a real wedding feature, but what I love most about this story is that Rebecca loved her wedding venue so much that she has made it her career. With a background in London Event Management, Rebecca left her job and now works closely with Alo Brake, the owner and founder of Axnoller creating beautiful weddings for other Brides-to-be. Pretty special don’t you think…?
Over to the newlywed herself…
Notes from the Bride
It was my mother, a keen photographer who came across Axnoller one Sunday afternoon. I just knew from the moment I went on the website that it was what we were looking for! Five days later we headed to Dorset. As soon as we turned down the drive we both fell in love with the venue, it was a hidden gem nestled in the Dorset countryside. I remember we both tried to contain our excitement! We were greeted by Alo Brake who is the owner and the most glamorous lady in the South West, with a designer wardrobe to die for. As soon as the door opened we both knew Axnoller was the venue for us. There was no curfew, you could bring your own alcohol if you paid corkage, you could get married onsite and Alo was extremely flexible. Her attention to detail was impeccable. I knew from the moment I met her and saw her vintage Gucci heels that we were going to get on just fine!
Shopping for a wedding dress was not how I had dreamt and imagined it would be. In my head I thought it would be like the movies where you would get treated like a princess for the day but in reality it did not live up to my expectations. After trying on nearly 100 dresses I finally found the one when I entered Caroline Castigliano in Knightsbridge. It oozed elegance and glamour. Something that would not date. It was the last dress I tried on and I found it very refreshing. There was no lace or jewels. I know lace is extremely popular at the moment but it just wasn’t for me. The staff were friendly and their seamstress Lisa was lovely. My dress was again not how I had dreamt and imagined it would be. I had always thought I would wear a fish tail style dress but in reality it didn’t compliment my body shape! Being a lover of bling, most dresses I tried on were covered in either jewels or lace so I knew that I needed some sparkle for the evening so I customised a sash on Etsy from Abigail Grace Bridal and wore my blue Manolo Blahnik shoes that my fiancé had bought me to add that pop of colour.
Once I had chosen my dress everything else fell in to place. As my dress was simple and classic, I wanted my bridesmaid’s dresses to compliment the style so I went with Ghost dresses in ivory. They had lace detailing on the arms and chest which worked well with my wedding dress. Some may say putting your bridesmaids in ivory was very controversial but I knew in my mind that it would work really well on the day with the ushers being in black tie and if Kate can do it then I can do it!
The ushers where put in black tuxedos with bow ties. We wanted all the suits to match so we decided to hire them for the day. They all looked extremely dapper. It was lovely seeing my brothers looking so smart and groomed! As a wedding gift we bought them all black patent shoes with baby blue laces just to finish off their outfits.
Make Up & Hair
I used a lovely makeup artist called Vanessa Smith. She lived locally to me back in Gloucestershire and was happy to travel to Dorset. I am a big makeup lover and knew that I wanted to look feminine and not over the top. My skin was very dewy and my eye shadow was pale pinks and brown. I had big volumous hair created by my talented friend Carrie Boys who was staying at Axnoller for the wedding weekend. It was too much to ask for her to do all the bridesmaids hair, so I arranged for them to have blow dries at Salon on the Square in Beaminster. They all came back looking fabulous!
Bobby wore a Hackett black peak lapel single breasted dinner jacket and trousers with shoes from Barker. He finished off the look with his white Hermes pocket square which I gave him as a gift. In the evening he changed into a black velvet smoking jacket from Gieves and Hawkes.
Décor and Styling
I am not really a pink kind of girl but for my wedding day I knew from the start I wanted blush pinks and white flowers. Most of my inspiration came from endless hours getting lost on Pinterest. There was one image I fell in love with. It was of an amazing marquee wedding in America, with wonderful pink up lighting. This image was one that stayed with me whilst planning my wedding.
It was essential to Bobby and I that we used local suppliers with the exception of Beyond Certainty who I worked for at the time. They are an event management company based in London and were the only ones I trusted in styling the marquees with their incredible lighting skills.
As we had no connection with Dorset we decided that we wanted the reverend Reynaud de la Bat from Bobby’s school to conduct the wedding ceremony. In order for us to do this we had a small very intimate civil ceremony on the Friday evening in Axnoller House with very close family and friends. Even though I was extremely nervous I have to say that it was one of my favourite parts to the wedding weekend. We had a larger ceremony on the Saturday afternoon in Burggraaf Courtyard.
As guests entered the courtyard we had an amazingly talented string quartet play called Nero. They were one of the first things I booked. Listening to them play gave me goose bumps.
I have a passion for flowers and it was one of my priorities to get them right on the day. I knew I desired something elegant and decadent to compliment my dress. They had to look incredible. I wanted the wedding guests to enter the marquee and instantly fall in love with the flowers just as much as I did. As the wedding breakfast took place in a marquee I had a blank canvas to work with. I found G Lily online and I worked closely with the owner Sabine Darrall to create amazing centrepieces for the tables as well as lovely simple yet elegant flowers for the ceremony. Sabine really paid attention to exactly what I wanted, having spent hours together on Pinterest. I wish I could have taken them all home afterwards and decorated my whole house with beautiful flowers. Instead I let all the bridal party take them home.
The food was very important and Bobby was given the task of coming up with a great menu not only for our wedding day but for the weekend. He worked closely with Gordie Sutherland to produce an array of delicious delights. Being down by the seaside we opted for a fish themed menu followed by an amazing dessert table. To start with we had a lobster and langoustine salad followed by sea bass. The dessert table consisted of mini bite size cinnamon doughnuts, rocky roads, brownies and cheese cakes.
The wedding cake was made by the talented Lisa Notley. I remember meeting her at her house with my mother one wet and rainy day. She greeted us with a cup of tea and a delicious homemade chocolate cake for us to try. I worked with Lisa to create a simple yet elegant cake that went with my overall theme. It was made of four tiers (chocolate, sponge, banana and fruit cake).It tasted delicious and was completely demolished.
The partying took place back in Burggraaf Courtyard where we had the ceremony earlier on in the day. Whilst we were busy having photographs and mingling Beyond Certainty turned the space in to an amazing nightclub with a starlit dance floor, gobos on the ceiling and great up lighting.
I made sure the dessert table was set up in this space so that guests could dance the night away whilst enjoying the bite size desserts when they fancied it. Later on in the evening we had the Jalopy Pizza Van. Which were a huge hit! My friends are still going on about the stone baked pizzas now!
Coco Photobooths provided an old vintage car which took pictures inside. This kept guests amused for hours and hours.
Having worked in events I already knew of a great band called iPop. I had booked them in the past for corporate events and knew I needed them to play at our wedding. Suzi the lead singer has an incredible voice and really knows how to make sure everyone is having a good time. There was never a dull moment on the dance floor and we partied until the early hours of the morning.
It was one of the best weekends, I just wish we could do it every year!
Venue Axnoller | Photographer Courtenay Photographic | Venue Styling Beyond Certainty | Bridal Dress Caroline Castigliano | Bridesmaids Dresses Ghost | Makeup Makeup by Vanessa | Groom Hackett and Gieves and Hawkes | Florist G Lily | Catering Gordon Sutherland Catering | Evening Food Jalopy Pizza Van | Cake Lisa Notley | Entertainment Nero and iPop
Lots of love…