Rachael & James’ Avington Park Wedding

Written by Emma Hla
We have the epitome of Classic Elegance this morning thanks to Rachael & James’ elegant celebration at Avington Park in Hampshire. This privately owned stately home, which has all the grace and elegance of a fine Country House, provides the most marvellous setting for both a wedding ceremony and reception.

Come and see how our gorgeous couple used the house & grounds and be inspired for your own classic big day.

Notes from the Bride

Rachael says…

We chose Avington Park because it’s simply so beautiful.

Even when we first saw it in the rain on a cold winter’s day, I knew when I walked into the venue it was the one… a bit like love at first sight!

The location of the venue was convenient for James and my family to get too and its close proximity to Winchester town centre meant that guest accommodation was easy to find.

Unlike other venues, Avington Park allowed flexibility about which vendors we had to choose. The venue provided us with a short list of caterers, florists and photographers which helped us to make decisions. They also didn’t have a corkage fee so we could supply our own booze!

My dress was a strapless Vera Wang ballgown with a sequined sash around my waist to give it a bit of va va voom! I had a floor length veil speckled with silver sparkles. I wore rose gold coloured strappy heels to match my engagement and wedding ring and very simple swarovski studs, a present James had given me a few years ago.

I got my hair done at a local hairdresser on the morning (7am!). I didn’t have a trial as my mum had booked it as a surprise. I wanted simple, natural makeup so I did my own using products by Laura Mercier.

The bridesmaids wore an elegant, grecian style floor length gown with a criss-cross back. I had four bridesmaids who loved the dress but liked it different colours. So I decided that two of the bridesmaids would wear the dress in pale pink and the other two in dark purple – they were all very happy!

After many months of persuasion I convinced James and his groomsmen to wear tuxedos. James had a black bowtie whilst his four groomsmen wore pink.

The main theme of our wedding was ‘romantic’ with pink and purple as the key colours. I wanted the styling to be very simple, nothing over the top or theatrical as it wouldn’t reflect our personalities.

The Blooming Workshop was our florist and they provided us with exactly what we were looking for:

  • Brides Bouquet in a simple hand tied design with a short stem (for small hands!) with roses called ‘memory lane’
  • Four bridesmaids bouquets comprising of small posies of gypsophilla with a single rose tied with ribbon to match either the pale pink or purple dresses (these were then later placed in bud cases after the ceremony)
  • Buttonhole for Groom – a ‘memory lane’ rose
  • Button hole for Best Man – An ‘Akito’ rose and gypsophilla to compliment the Bridesmaids bouquets
  • Buttonholes for ushers, fathers and brides brother – ‘Akito’ roses with gypsophilla
  • Corsages on magnets for Mothers – blooms complimentary to their outfits
  • Cluster buttonhole for grooms sister – an ivory bloom with follage and gypsophilla
  • Table Decorations – gold candlesticks with a display of the wedding blooms and foliages
  • Top Table flowers
  • Cake flowers for a naked cake

Amanda Reilly Cakes, a local cake baker, did a fantastic job helping us to decide on our wedding cake. We opted for a 2 tiered semi naked wedding cake – 3 layers of sponge and 2 layers of filling per tier. The lower tier was a victoria sponge and the top tier was carrot and orange cake. The cakes were stacked and covered with a smattering of buttercream to finish. To complete, fresh berries decorated each tier and hand made icing initials (R&J) were placed on top of the cake.

Angela Ward Brown Photography was on the shortlist of vendors given to us by the venue and after looking at her website I knew immediately that she was who I wanted to photograph our wedding! James took a little longer to decide as he wanted to do research to find a cheaper photographer but after a skype interview with Angela he agreed that she had the approach we were looking for – friendly and relaxed.

On the day, Angela managed to perfectly capture the atmosphere of the day. We couldn’t have been happier with how she interacted with the guests and with the photographs she took.

Best part of the day

There were so many amazing parts of the day… playing badminton in my big dress, listening to the most heartfelt and funny wedding speeches I have ever heard, kissing my husband for the first time!

However, my favourite part of our wedding day is a part most couples dread – the first dance. We were so unprepared. We hadn’t even decided the song we were going to dance too, but when I heard the band practising ‘Stand By Me’ ten minutes before they were due to start I knew that was the song! We’re not naturally gifted dancers and we didn’t have any dance moves to impress our guests but we were happy just swaying in each others arms. Halfway through the song we called everyone to come join us and they all leapt onto the dance floor and started singing along to the chorus. We danced and sang all night ’til the venue closed and we had to leave!

From one bride to another…

Planning a wedding is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Make sure you ask for help from  friends, family and most importantly, your fiancé.

If the bride and groom are relaxed and having a good time, the guests will too and that’s what you will remember so don’t over complicate things. Get what you really want and leave the rest!