I’m so excited to feature Bea & Chris’s wedding on the blog today. I don’t know Bea very well as we’ve only met a handful of times, but throughout her wedding planning journey we kept in touch and I was updated via email the occasional update. From what I do know of her, she’s rather lovely 🙂 The happy couple got married in Cheltenham and had a traditional affair with close family and friends. I suggest you watch the wedding video before scrolling down for all the lovely details…
Wedding date…. 9 August 2014
The venue… St Mary’s Church, Charlton Kings followed by Cheltenham Park Hotel, Cheltenham, UK
Number of guests… 120
The planning process… We got engaged on 7 August 2013 and knew we wanted to get married the following summer. Our first process was to identify our top 3 non-compromises…which were enough space for all our family & friends, a traditional church wedding near my family home, a Saturday in summer. After this we wrote down the names of all the people we would want to invite. We got both sets of parents to do the same, then we brought our lists together and were relieved that the number wasn’t much over 120 so we only had to prioritize our lists slightly.
Then we had 1 week left of holiday in the UK to find a suitable venue that wasn’t already booked, was within our budget, fitted 120 people for a sit-down meal, and matched the dates we could book a church and our vicar!!! It was stressful to say the least as most venues in the Cotswolds book up 18months to 2years in advance, and don’t cater for more than 100 people. On the last day before we flew home we viewed Cheltenham Park Hotel – the location was 5minutes from our church, it had plenty of space and could accommodate lots of guests who were travelling in for the weekend.
The rest of the planning I did – we had a strict budget and wherever possible I’d stick to it. I did loads of research before booking anything, and we were SO blessed to be gifted so many things which were just amazing (the vintage Bentley, our wedding cake, flower arrangements, bridesmaids bouquets, etc) My mum was also a huge help in drying confetti from roses in our garden, and making loads of English fudge for our favours. For any bride Pinterest is the BEST resource ever for inspiration!
The wedding dress…
Dress – Sotterro and Midgley, Diamond Earrings and watch – borrowed from my mum (originally my granny’s), Veil – bought it off ebay, Diamante Hairpiece – from etsy.com, shoes – No.1 by Jenny Packham at Debenhams (I used to work on their footwear buying team, so I knew I could get great quality at affordable prices. These shoes were AMAZING! So high AND comfy, and I can wear them again!)
Finding the dress…
My amazing mum and sister (with 2 week old baby!) were with me at every appointment over a very intense 5 days in the UK to find “the dress”. My dress was from Soterro and Midgley and I got it at a boutique in Cheltenham. It was actually the first dress I tried on, and after trying on hundreds of others, I came back to it and knew it was the one. All I had to alter was the skirt length which my incredible seamstress, Alison Anthony, did for me.
Chris wore traditional Navy Tails (Summer Morning Suits) a silver waistcoat, tailormade shirt and a white tie. He got his shirt made at Royal Fashion, Souk Madinat – great service and affordable prices.
The readings & music…
Our service was SO special to us. We both are really involved in church, and so we knew we wanted the whole thing to be about God and His view of marriage. I walked in to my dear friend Sarah playing The Bridal march on the organ. Then, through the service we had modern worship music which our friends lead as a band (drums, guitar, keyboard, vocals). While we signed the register our friends Adam and Louise entertained the guests with 1000 years – Christina Perri and When I Go – Slow Club. The highlight for both of us was singing Cornerstone (by Hillsong) when Sarah joined the band on the Organ and the whole church was full of incredible joy.
We had traditional bible readings from Genesis and Ephesians which our vicar then preached to us on. (Watch our highlights video…he did an amazing job!)
My best friend Shelley was my chief bridesmaid, and my sister Debbie was also a bridesmaid. Chris’ niece was our stunning flower girl. They all wore custom made dresses from China (via Etsy.com) – stunning dresses and an absolute bargain at $130 each! I wanted a vintage theme of blues, white and pink which the dressmakers matched swatches to. I also had my cousin as a page boy and he carried a ring cushion which I made and beaded after being inspired by one I saw – and couldn’t afford – in Galleries Lafayette, I bought all the bits from Satwa which cost about 60dhs to put together.
The lovely flowers…
The brief was “soft, English summer flowers” and they used Hydrangeas, gypsophela (pink and white), roses and lots of other pink and white flowers which I don’t know the names of! My bouquet and the church flowers were done by a friend of my mum’s and my bridesmaids bouquets were made by my Aunty. To save money we bought the flowers from a flower market before the wedding. My friend and I decorated vases and jam jars with hessian and ribbon and then my Mum’s friends Jean and Carolynn also did all the flowers on our tables. Our Table plan was also so special – we bought lacy pots from Ikea and hung them on a trellis filled with summer flowers and lavender. I made labels for each table which hung on the pots. (see the video to see what I mean!)
The wedding cake…
We found a design we liked on Pinterest and then my mum offered to make it. We opted for 5 tiers – 3 for our UK wedding and 2 to bring back for our Dubai blessing. It worked out so well!! The cakes were fruit cake, chocolate mousse cake and carrot cake. Mum hand made all of the giant sugar roses and put together the final tiers on the morning of our wedding. Everyone commented on how delicious the cake was! We’ve kept the decorated top tier on display in our flat.
The details & décor…
Carrying on with the vintage theme we used lots of doily style decorations, brown card and ribbons in the same theme colours. For place names Chris and I handmade all of the luggage tags, and then cut chopsticks to hang the name tags on in Champagne glasses. Evening guests also had name tags which were their drinks tokens on arrival.
Our table plan was a wooden trellis with white lacy pot plants for each table. My mum and dad made this from scratch and planted all the flowers weeks before to make sure they were grown in time. I tied on table plans for each table. (I’ll try find a photo of this as somehow no one got one!)
My mum also handmade English fudge and I bagged it up as our favours. My sister-in-law Daiga designed the little tags to tie onto them which said “Love is sweet, thank you for making our day complete, Mr & Mrs Ellaby”.
Because the venue and location were so pretty we really didn’t have to decorate any more than that. 🙂
The morning after our wedding Chris whisked me away to Santorini Island in Greece for 10 days of relaxing bliss followed by 2 days of crazy sightseeing in Athens. It was just what we needed to rest and get off to a great start in our marriage. Full of lots of sun, fun and delicious food.
Praying with my dad in the car on the way to church….then walking into the church to see Chris was amazing – I was so excited ALL morning to see him (no nerves!) and all I could focus on was him walking up the aisle. Another huge and special surprise was Chris serenading me in front of all our guests on the dancefloor. He played John Legend “all of you” on the guitar and sang to me – he’s usually quite shy so it meant so much to me. I think some of Chris’ highlights were being taken for a spin in an Aston Martin DB9 the day before and then being surprised on the morning by his best friend who flew in from Australia for the wedding – he spent more time in the air than in the UK!!
Advice for other couples…
Remember why you’re getting married – your engagement is such a testing time, sometimes you just have to laugh through the stress! Decide your top 3 priorities which you won’t compromise on (eg number of people, venue, dress, food– whatever means a lot to the two of you), and then accept that the rest you might need to compromise on for the budget, or more than likely to please the parents. Also, Chris and I didn’t live together before getting married, and so the change from engagement to getting married was so significant. Loads of our friends agree, if you’re living together before being married try and spend the last few months / weeks living separately, it makes the whole wedding and first night together so exciting!
Credit for suppliers & friends…
We want to thank the following people who blessed us so incredibly and made our dream a reality: our loving and generous parents Mike & Sue Bowles, Ray & Mary Ellaby; our Bridesmaids & Bestmen: Shelley Hartland & Debbie Biles, Alex Howard & Matty Rowlandson; our friends and photographers: Tristan Blaine and Daiga Ellaby
We are also extremely thankful to Simon Bellamy who leant us “Betty” the car – what a beauty; the amazing “crew” who were our musicians: Adam, Louise, Tom, Sarah F, Jonny, Sarah U; and our very special vicar: Rev. Canon Jonathan Wilmot.
We also would like to acknowledge our suppliers who went out of their way to make everything perfect:
Hair & Makeup: Lucie Richmond
Videography: Capture & Cut
Dress: Lexi @ Wedding Days, Cheltenham
Alterations: Alison Anthony, Cheltenham
Church: St. Mary’s Church, Charlton Kings
Reception venue: Cheltenham Park Hotel
Stationary Printers: Karl @ Star Digital Prints (Dubai)