Some may think that staging a big day at home makes the whole planning process that bit easier, but as this morning’s real wedding goes to show there’s a lot to consider and organise when hosting the celebrations in your own back garden.
Bride Jennifer and groom Warren, chose Jennifer’s parents’ garden as the perfect location for their wedding, enjoying an open-air humanist ceremony followed by a marquee reception.
Though thoroughly beautiful from beginning to end, the element that stands out to us most is all the fabulous florals, from the arch on the lawn to the suspended arrangements in the marquee and the beautiful 3D detailing on Jennifer’s dress – we’re in love!
With images by Tim Simpson Photography.
jennifer says: We got engaged on 11th October 2013, at Rex Lookout, East Coast Australia, which is located approximately half way between Cairns and Port Douglas. We were embarking on a tour of the East Coast and had just collected our campervan from Cairns. On route to our first stop of Port Douglas we came across this amazing beauty spot and this is where Warren totally and utterly surprised me by asking me to marry him.
We set the date for 27th June 2015 as we wanted an outdoor ceremony and thought this time of year was our best chance for dry weather. We set a date pretty quickly as we had guests from Australia, Sweden and France and wanted to make sure that we gave people as much notice as possible.
Due to us having a humanist ceremony it was necessary to also have a legal ceremony at our local registry office – we did this one week before the actual wedding day. It was an intimate affair with just family and two close friends. It was just lovely, a very simple ceremony and then a pub lunch which brought everyone together to mark the start of the official wedding week!
Warren and I got married at my parents’ house in Oldham. Ever since watching Father of the Bride as a child, I always knew that I wanted a wedding at home and fortunately Warren agreed that this would be the perfect setting for our special day. It would be comfortable for both of us and our guests and we would have free reign on how the day would be from start to finish.
The layout was perfect with the beautiful garden created and maintained by my dad, Derrick for the ceremony and the paddock area lovely and flat and ideal for a marquee for the reception. The marquee was supplied by Marquees.com. Craig and his team were great. We opted for a clear span marquee with a window wall which was actually left open on the day as we were blessed with beautiful weather. We had a pea light canopy throughout the marquee which twinkled all day long and really brought the marquee to life in the evening. Craig also supplied the dancefloor, carpet, chairs and tables. We opted for a mixture of square and round tables to accommodate guests. Marquees.com also supplied uplights for the garden area which was really effective. Craig and his team erected the structure three days before the wedding to give us plenty of time to play around with layout. Nothing was too much trouble and Craig was patient with my constant chops and changes. The toilets were provided by Luxury Loos, who provided a friendly and reliable service.
I would call our chosen theme ‘country chic’. Our wedding was very individual to us – It was all of our favourite people and things altogether in one of our favourite places. There were some quite rustic elements to the décor, with things like oak barrels as poser tables, which my dad and Warren spent considerable time sanding and varnishing; hay bales in the bar area for seating and lots of wild floral arrangements in kiln jars and wooden crates in and around the marquee. I found an antique bureau at a local second hand furniture shop for the guest book area which fit perfectly with the typewriter mentioned above. Alongside this vintage/rustic look were quite polished and sophisticated elements such as the suspended floral arrangements down the centre of the marquee and the centrepieces. The ceremony seating area was very structured and fresh in bright white with formal floral pieces and giant flowers covering the arch under which we were married. We had giant ‘J&W’ lit letters on the dancefloor supplied by AddVintage.com. I also really liked my seating plan, which I made using an old vintage mirror and luggage labels. We both love the colour green so this was the main colour of the day, teamed with pinks, beiges and whites.
I just totally and utterly loved my wedding dress and it just would not have been possible without the absolutely wonderful Janine at Timeless Bride in Poynton, Cheshire. I cannot recommend this boutique highly enough. Janine, together with her seamstress Janet, gave me a dress I couldn’t have envisaged in my wildest dreams! It was completely unique; the back detail, the 3D effect embellishment, the shape, the fit. It was very me and perfect for our garden wedding.
My shoes were Rachel Simpson T-bars in mint green and my hairpiece was created by Ann McKavney at Eleventh Heaven. It was a bespoke piece in rose gold and copper tones made with carved mother of pearl flowers and Swarovski detail. Ann provides frames with her hairpieces which means you can display them after the big day which we thought was a lovely touch.
My hair and makeup artist on the morning of the wedding was Clare Ardern of Harry Jon. My airbrush makeup stayed in place all day/night and looks amazing on the photos and video.
I didn’t have any bridesmaids on the day as I’ve never been one for getting ready in large groups and wanted a peaceful wedding morning with my parents.
Warren designed his own suit. I did not have a clue what he was going to wear until I saw him at the end of the aisle and I think everyone would agree that he did an amazing job. He has impeccable taste and looked super-hot! The three piece Scabal fabric suit created by James Personal Tailor, based in Manchester, fit him perfectly. He finished off the look with amazing shoes from Barker’s Creative Collection and a pocket watch. My dad also had a suit made by the same tailors. Warren’s good friend Ian arranged for Warren to have a shirt made by Frank Rostron Bespoke Shirtmakers as a wedding gift, which was a lovely gesture.
Warren’s best man wore his own suit and looked particularly dapper as he delivered an exceptional speech which had everyone crying, laughing and crying again from laughter!
I stayed at my parents’ house the night before the wedding so did not require transport on the day. Warren meanwhile arrived in a Morgan Three Wheeler, which he hired from Oakmere Motor Group. It really was a quirky car and provided lots of fun for many of the guests.
Our photographer was Tim Simpson. We had viewed many different photographers’ work online but when we met Tim we knew he was right for us as he instantly made us feel at ease and the unique style of his work fitted well with the unique day we were creating. We had an engagement shoot with Tim and his partner Amanda at Victoria Train Station in Manchester, a month before the wedding and this was a great day which gave us a taste of being in front of the camera. The reason we chose this location being that we had actually met on a train from this station in January 2009 and we have been inseparable ever since!
Tim was really flexible and turned the photographs around really quickly. We had two photographers on the day and ended up with 1,600 images! Tim and Amanda are really enthusiastic and Tim will do whatever it takes to get ‘that shot’, be it lying on the floor or climbing up gate posts!
Jodie and Vicky of Eden Floral Styling, based in Uppermill, were our florists. My bouquet was a simple arrangement of chins formed into a dome shape, with Swarovski crystals to match my stunning hair piece and dress.
Warren and I had a sweetheart table for the wedding breakfast which we thought was a great idea as we had the chance to chat and spend some time together but also spent time mingling between courses and speeches. Eden supplied a lovely simple hourglass shaped vase for our table and I then used my bouquet as the decoration.
It is hard to believe that just two girls created the fabulous floral displays for our wedding. There were wild flowers in and around the marquee in kiln jars and bottles that I’d collected. Mum surprised us with two quite formal arrangements at the end of the aisle which really suited the vibe we were going for.
The suspended arrangements inside the marquee really stole the show and featured blooms including pinkie green hydrangeas, green amaranths, trailing ivy and mixed foliage. In the centre of the tables were mixtures of small bubble bowls with single pinkie green toned hydrangeas and tall clear round based glass lily vases with posy bowls on top full of hydrangeas, ivy and amaranths. I acquired an old wooden ladder which I painted and balanced ‘love’ letters on at the entrance of the marquee. The Eden girls then gave it their magic touch adding vases of wild flowers. Jodie also suggested that we used plants that we could take away after the wedding and plant in our garden to remind us of our special day so some of the vintage style buckets I had were filled with plants in keeping with the rest of the florals. Mum also got involved with this and planted varieties of flowering plants all around the garden and patio area – she did a splendid job. Jodie and Vicky certainly made my floral dreams come – their work was beyond my expectations and really gave our marquee the wow factor.
Food was really important part of the day to us, which we picked Vanilla in All Seasons Catering to take care of. On arrival at the house guests were greeted with Mojitos or citrus coolers then after the ceremony canapes were served on the lawn. The wedding breakfast started with some handmade artisan breads from Bramhall Bakery and the first course was a choice of goats’ cheese rosti with beetroot puree and apple thyme jelly or poached egg and asparagus with a Hollandaise sauce. Main was a duo of Cheshire beef fillet with a red wine jus and shin of beef pie with roasted carrot puree, or roasted sea bass with asparagus and samphire. Dessert was a trio of our favourites: lemon tart, chocolate brownie and an Amaretto trifle. We finished with a cheese board.
For the evening we opted for bowl food which was a choice of green Thai chicken curry with sticky rice, five spiced apple braised pork belly with a calvados jus and shallot mash also wild mushroom and truffle oil risotto. We cannot speak highly enough about the whole Vanilla team – it was an absolute joy to work with them and we would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone seeking beautiful food, exceptional service and genuine hospitality.
As we had trio of desserts and there was a sweet table (created by my mum and I) at the wedding, we decided not to have a traditional wedding cake but were keen to do the traditional cake cut and so decided that we would have a novelty cake as a bit of fun. My brother, John organised this as a wedding gift and the cake was served the following day when some of the guests came back together.
To provide entertainment we had a five piece live band called Mulder and Co, which we booked through an agency called The Band Boutique. The band were outstanding, adding their unique twist to well-known tracks from Elvis to Pharrell and everything in between! They played an acoustic set on the lawn during canapes and then played three 40 minute sets in the evening.
The music and poems we chose for the wedding day were very special and sentimental. My entrance song was Gabrielle, Don’t Need the Sun to Shine as the words describe exactly how I feel about Warren. The song we walked back up the aisle to was from The Blues Brothers, Everybody Needs Somebody. This song reminds Warren of happy times growing up and it was a great upbeat track to mark our new beginning and the start of the party! Our first dance was James Blunt, Bonfire Heart.
Looking back the whole day was just perfect and there are so many stand out moments for us both. However, I think the most important and special part was definitely our ceremony, becoming Mr and Mrs Edwards and making our team official. From the moment we met BHA approved celebrant Hannah Wroe Gill, we both just knew she was the only person who could help us in celebrating our marriage. The process took around 12 months and involved Hannah getting to know us as individuals and as a couple. With Hannah’s guidance we devised our own promises and vows which we actually kept a secret from each other until the day. Hearing what each other had to say on the day confirmed what we had always known in our hearts; that we are a perfect match! The script she created was just beautiful and she certainly has the knack of moving guests to tears with both emotion and laughter.
We went on honeymoon to Sani Beach in Halkidiki, Greece, in the September after our wedding – and it was definitely worth the wait! We stayed at the luxurious resort for ten nights. It was literally heaven on earth and just what we needed after a wedding and house move!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – enjoy everything! From the proposal to the months after the wedding. Getting married is just the most amazingly special time. Also, consider a videographer. We were unsure but so glad we did as there are so many things you forget or miss on the day and having the video fills those blanks. We used Craig from Cherished Memories, based in Wales. He did an absolutely beautiful job of capturing our day and I could never tire of watching the clips of the ceremony and speeches. In general, choose suppliers you are comfortable with and trust. This is one of the most important days of your life and you want it to be filled with people you like and can rely on. Finally, if you are having a wedding at home remember the less glamorous things like sound/audio equipment, skip hire, generator, water supply and parking.
Having a wedding at home is a big deal and we had lots of help from family in the run-up to make it happen. It was particularly important to both Warren and I that my parents felt like guests rather than hosts. For this reason we hired Kristin Williamson as an on the day co-ordinator. This took some of the stress away from mum and she was able to relax and mingle rather than worrying about where the house keys were or whether the toilets were tidy. Kristen worked really well with Adam from Vanilla resulting in the day running like clockwork.