Could there be anything more special than hosting your wedding reception in a friend’s garden? Today’s couple did exactly that – and we simply adore everything about their laid-back and very personal day.
Hayley and Gary exchanged their vows at the most picture-perfect, quaint church, before heading onto a close friend’s house to celebrate inside a beautiful marquee decorated with paper lanterns.
We think this might just be country chic at its very best.
Images by Kimberley Waterson Fine Art Photography
hayley says: Gary proposed on 23 November 2014 in Grand Central Station, New York.
Firstly, Gary surprised me with the trip to New York. I knew I was travelling overseas, I just didn’t know where that was until we arrived at the airport. I even carried my engagement ring in my hand luggage without realising!
Little did I know until after the proposal that Gary had been having a nightmare with his three chosen locations for where to propose, due to TV film crews, swarms of seagulls, children throwing food, and busy crowds in unexpected areas. We eventually arrived at Grand Central Station in the afternoon where he made an amazing job of asking me to be his wife!
We got married two years later on Saturday 27 August 2016. We always knew we wanted to have the wedding on a bank holiday. In order to plan and save for the day properly we picked this month. We also hoped for sunshine with it being in the summer!
Although we are both originally from Co Durham in the North East, Gary’s work has taken him to the south. We decided to get married in the small local church in Lindsell, Essex. This is where Gary now works and lives. We then had the wedding reception in Gary’s employer and very close friend’s garden at his home.
Gary is a professional carer for individuals with spinal injuries. He works and lives with the man who he cares for. Martin, or Tiny as everyone knows him, is a very special person to both of us. His extended generosity to hold the wedding at his home is precedent for the loving and caring man he is. He is very much like a father figure to us both; so much so that he provided the Father of the Bride/Groom speech on the day – and did a fantastic job!
The main wish for our day was for everyone to be as relaxed as possible and to have fun. We therefore adopted a theme for our day of an informal garden party. Our chosen style was vintage country.
The main colours for the day were mint green, dusky pink and gold. I always imagined these colours would work well together and we both agreed these complimented the vintage country style.
I wore a bridal gown named Elsa from designer Eliza Jane Howell, purchased from Kathryn S Trueman Bridal and Occasions in Morpeth. I initially did not have a preference for a style or shape of dress. I wanted to find something I could move around and eat in – and something unique!
After trying on lots of dresses, I knew I wanted something with a higher neckline and coverage on my arms. This designer has such a 1920s vintage style and this particular dress was lightweight, with a soft sequin covering, small train, ¾ batwing sleeves and high neckline – perfect! I knew it was the one when my mam cried when she saw me wearing it. I felt like a perfect bride!
Gary wore a blue three-piece contemporary tweed lounge suit with corduroy trousers and dusky pink cravat by North East local designer Carl Francis. Carl is the owner of Most Suitable in Newcastle upon Tyne. The top portion of the suit (jacket, waistcoat and tie) was hired and the rest of the suit (shirt, trousers and shoes) was purchased. Gary also opted for custom-made marble cufflinks in dusky pink, also purchased from the same store.
The two groomsmen wore the same attire as Gary and purchased from the same store. Meanwhile, the two pageboys wore a white shirt from H&M with a blue dicky bow tie, navy blue corduroy trousers from Next and brown brogue shoes from M&S to match the groomsmen.
We are both very fortunate to have friends who own classic cars and they allowed us to have these cars for the day.
I travelled to and from the church in a Morgan Plus 4, my bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride travelled in an Alvis TD 21 Drophead Coupe, and Gary and the groomsmen travelled in a BMW 2002 Cabriolet. All cars are beautiful and added a more personal touch since they belonged to our friends.
Our photographer was the amazing North East based and award-winning Kimberley Waterson Fine Art Photography. Kimberley was kind enough to travel to Essex from the North East. It was very important to both Gary and I to have lasting memories and capture the atmosphere of the wedding. We both also prefer natural images rather than the typical formal images you normally see from weddings. The unique, relaxed and authentic style of Kimberley’s photography did exactly this. She captured every single moment of our special day from start to finish. She is so easy to work with and has a very creative mind that allows for fantastic original images. She constantly interacted with everyone throughout the day, but also ensured she wasn’t intrusive. I can’t recommend her highly enough!
I carried a posy bouquet with sweet avalanche roses, astilbe, astrantia, alchemilla mollis, gypsophila and eucalyptus tied with twine. The bridal bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets and buttonholes were all provided by The Rose Garden in Dunmow, Essex.
As we weren’t having a traditional wedding and the reception was held in our friend’s garden, we did all the flowers and decorations ourselves. Our wedding was unquestionably a community effort with close friends and family contributing to ensure we had a day to remember.
Decorating and styling a marquee was definitely stressful with lots of time and hard work required, but worth every second to say we accomplished it. We could not have done it without everyone’s efforts and will be forever grateful.
For our favours, we provided personalised wooden script names by VMBespoke.com. Each individual name was painted gold to coincide with our colour scheme. The names were also used as name placements on each table.
We chose a three-tiered naked cake topped with fruit berries with a different flavour for each layer; made by The Icing and The Cake based in Debden Green, Essex.
Gary and I knew it was essential that our guests never felt hungry or without a drink of any description throughout the day. We both have experienced lack of these at formal events in the past and personally felt that it can make or break the day. We also did not want a formal meal with everyone sitting at the tables, so our decisions were based upon informal and easy options.
We provided sandwiches and wraps of different varieties from Pear Tree Pantry in Hatfield Peverel, Essex. This was also accompanied by four different luxury handmade ice cream flavours from The Saffron Walden Ice Cream Company based in Saffron Walden, Essex when guests first arrived to the Reception. The ice cream was a particular highlight for many of our guests! For the main meal later in the afternoon, we provided a hog roast with side trimmings from Michael Prentice based Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire. The same company then provided a catering van with a selection of burgers and bacon sandwiches to end the night.
Because the reception was in the garden, we made the decision to provide all beverages for guests for the entire day. This included red wine, white wine and Prosecco all the way from Italy (seriously!) along with a selection of beers, lagers and spirits with mixers.
We chose a disco for the evening entertainment to give the diverse music mix we wanted from our evening dancing. The company First Bass Disco based in Norfolk made our night! The eclectic array of music which was played covered all age ranges of our guests and they made sure we all had such a fun time.
Our favourite special touch was our idea for a guest book. With the help of our photographer, we requested each collective wedding party to take a Polaroid image of themselves, write a small message underneath and peg this into a frame onto a twine line. The frame now has glass added to this and hangs proudly on our wall as a constant reminder of how great our wedding day was, and how we celebrated with our nearest and dearest!
For anyone who has considered having their own wedding in their garden and planning it themselves – I would definitely recommend doing this. It meant that we had the entire day exactly as we wanted with no restrictions, which some venues might have.
My favourite part of the day was walking down the aisle with my mam giving me away, and Gary turning around to look at me for the first time that day. I was fixated on him because I was terribly nervous and remember how happy he looked, which relieved my nerves, especially for how much I was shaking as I entered the church!
For our honeymoon we spent one month travelling around the central southern states of North America. We visited North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. This was an amazing experience where we met so many great people and had unique experiences we will never forget. Some of the highlights from our trip were hiking to waterfalls in Ashville, a concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, visiting Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, a prisoner participation rodeo and craft fair in Angola State Prison (yes you read that correctly!) and a Balloon Race in Natchez. Oh, and did I mention peach cobbler with sweet iced tea?!
My top tip for other Brides Up North that are planning their wedding is to be selfish. This may sound strange but at the end of the day this is YOUR special day. So wear the dress which makes you feel special and not what you think you should be in, invite the people you want to spend your special day with and not family or friends you feel obliged to, have the food which you like (because which other time can you choose your favourites?) and do whatever else it is that makes you happy and will put a big smile on your face. This will mean that you have no regrets when looking back and you can say you did it exactly how you wanted it. Adopting this approach meant that there is nothing that I would have changed for our wedding; the day was perfect!