I actually first saw Shilstone on an episode of Don’t Tell The Bride, the part where the bride-to-be visits her dream venue while the groom is off making rather questionable choices! Even though we weren’t even engaged at that point I told Jase that if we ever did decide to get hitched it had to be there. When he did ask (after my subtle hints…) we decided to be open minded and put together a shortlist of venues, even though I knew in my heart where I wanted. The second we turned off the tiny country road and caught site of Shilstone for the first time we both fell in love. Everything about the venue was perfect, and completely us. The fact that the team there were incredible made the decision even easier. We felt so at home and relaxed, and what more could you want for your special day.
I decided on my headband about two and a half years before even getting a dress! It was a beautiful, bespoke, handmade piece from a lady called Tracy (White Designs Bridal). I tried a version of it on at a wedding fair, and that was when I had my first tears-and-all bridal moment. I then worked the rest of my outfit out around it. My dress was called Summer from Wed2B and was the complete opposite of the wedding dresses pinned to my many Pinterest boards. Shoes were from Ted Baker, although they were stunning and I loved them, I did spent majority of the day barefoot.
I had a total of 10 in my bridal party, two bridesmen, 7 bridesmaids, and the most adorable flower girl. We had a small budget and a large party so it was an interesting challenge! The dresses were from SilkFred and were perfect; my party was made up of the most beautiful body shapes and sizes and to have found a dress that suited them all was fantastic. The shoes were from trusty Tesco (on sale I might add!). The flower girl, who really was the star of the day, had two dresses, the favorite being the one from Primark.
The boys all wore navy suits, with the groomsmen wearing navy ties and the bridesmen with floral bowties.
Laura Elisabeth Avery did my hair and make-up, and my word, she was an angel. She was calm, kind and honest, everything you could ask for. I knew I was in good hands and she did an amazing job.
The buttonholes and bouquets were hand made beaded Proteas, made for us by a street vendor in Durban, South Africa. Beaded artwork is a big part of South Africa and the King Protea is the national flower, so it was so special for me to have a touch of home on the day.
We wanted bright, bold florals, and what better time than an English Summer to get just that. The gardens at Shiltone are tended to with such love and care and are just breathtaking. The venue hardly needed any decorating at all, there is just so much natural beauty there. We both come from large, loving families so it was important for us that the focus was family, food and a good time.
Two days before the wedding a few of us got together to pick flowers from the gardens of friends, family and neighbours. It was such a wonderful community effort and we were so grateful for the donations of a few stems here and there. We had family members collecting any shape and sized glass jars for about two years and so the day before the wedding we sat filling jars with wild flowers. It was a beautiful collaboration of so many different styles and colour choices, each jar was completely unique.
The Great Wedding Bake-Off – We have a family of bakers and food lovers so instead of the traditional wedding cake we had Janns (aunt of the bride) Fruit Cake, Callum’s (Bridesman) vanilla cookies, Mandy’s (mother of the groom) cheese straws, Zoe’s famous Guinness Cake and just so many more! Because I work in the food industry we had kind donations of homemade sausage rolls and quiche from Cobbs Farm Shops and gorgeous Hikers Bar from Hobbs House Bakery. It was a feast of cakes and treats all homemade. My gran was so kind to gift us a Cheese Cake for us to cut. Shilstone catered the reception and did an outstanding job. We opted for harvest table style dining and they included biltong and boerewors, all touches of South Africa. Our friends still rave about the food now, it was sublime.
The moment I met Clare Kinchin Photography I felt like we had been friends for years. She settled into the chaos of us all getting ready straight away and was so lovely to have at such a special time. She is a professional through and through and had the ability to get exactly what she needed without making any fuss. Neither of us are big fans of having our photo taken, but Clare made everything so easy and so relaxed. She had a knack for sensing when I was started to get emotional and would keep the mood light and keep me smiling (saving my make-up countless times!). My brother who is a wedding officiant in SA commented that of all the weddings he has ever worked, he has never met a photographer more professional or talented than her. I think her photos speak for themselves, what more could you want?!
Best part of the day
Is it cheesy to say all of it? It was perfect from start to finish, we had our families come together from all over the world, great food, good music and each other.
From one bride to another…
Enjoy the process! Make every part of planning your big day special, whether it’s looking at venues or writing addresses on envelopes. It’s the most exciting time, just enjoy it. Chances are your guests will throw away the save the date after the wedding for example, but you two will always remember the time spent together making them, make that count.
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