I’m so excited to be bringing you this blog. Sarah has been a close friend for over 15 years and I was so extremely happy for her when she announced that John had proposed. When she asked me to shoot their small intimate Wedding last year I obviously immediately said yes but felt so privieldged to be asked to share this special day with them. The Wedding day was nothing short of perfect. It was December 22nd and a perfect winters day. The sun shone all day allowing us some beautiful light and photographs outside, Once the sun was down the speeches brought so much love and emotion. John has very kindly allowed me to share some of his speech as I thought it was so romantic…
“I don’t know about you, but I was speechless when I saw Sarah walking down that aisle today. Even though I’ve seen her pretty much every day for the past six years, it felt like I was seeing her for the first time. I discovered Sarah all over again. And in that moment I discovered an overwhelming sense of happiness.
There is something inherently romantic about travelling; the thrill of the unexpected, a voyage of discovery, with new sights and sounds and smells, learning (well, trying to) the different languages and cultures, never knowing quite what will happen next.
And love is a bit like that too.
Every big and small moment, every smile, is a stamp in the passport of life. You learn more about each other – and discover more about yourself – and the stamps keep coming. You never know what you’ll face next, but you’ve got your ‘emergency contact’ to help you when times get tough.”
I hope you enjoy looking through this blog and hearing all about Sarah’s and John’s Wedding planning…
So we are all wanting to know…
How did John propose?
We were on holiday in New York at the time. We’d been together for five years, and had spoken about marriage, but never very seriously. We have a mutual love for a show called ‘Cake Boss’, which is a documentary about an Italian-American family with their own chain of bakeries across the USA. Unknown to me, John had been in touch with them about baking a special cake with a proposal message written on it. We visited the bakery, picked up the cake then walked to Central Park to eat it. I thought it was odd, who pre-orders a cake to have during their holiday?! We were sat in a beautiful wooden pagoda, which was covered in flowers, and bathed in autumn sun. It was really magical. I opened the lid of the cake and saw the message. It said: “Sarah, John has a question to ask you”, and before I knew what was happening he was down on one knee with a gorgeous ring in his hand asking me to marry him.
The Wedding Day | 22.12.18
We wanted the wedding day itself to feel very relaxed and family focused. We wanted each guest celebrating with us to thoroughly enjoy the day, either through delicious food, heartfelt speeches, laughter and dancing or all of those things. We wanted as little stress and as much magical moments as possible. We were extremely lucky with the weather being on our side – we were able to have all our photos outside, in the sunshine in December! This added an unexpected bonus to the experience as we were able to use the beautiful grounds of the Grove.
What suppliers did you use?
My dress was the one thing that caused me some stress. I didn’t have long to order and have alterations ahead of the wedding, so after an unsuccessful shopping weekend I was feeling a bit flat. I popped into David’s Bridal after work on a whim and ended up finding ‘the one’. I had gone into the store on my own, with low expectations, so when I thought I had found the perfect dress my mum rushed round the M25 to meet me and confirmed it was the dress for me.
John got his suit from Hockerty. They’re an online bespoke suit maker – you take your own measurements, select from hundreds of different styles of fabric, lining, collar styles, buttons, literally every aspect of a suit, and then they custom make it for you. That was great because he could get a suit that totally worked with the colour scheme for the day. His tie was from Reiss, and shoes were two-tone burgundy and navy, from Dune.
We held our wedding at The Grove, a venue close to Sarah’s family home that we’d been to for special occasions over the years. They have a package for small weddings that was absolutely perfect. It meant we were able to have an intimate, entirely private wedding and tailor it exactly to what we wanted for a small group of people. (Which is actually quite hard to find!). We had the exclusive use of three beautiful rooms and an outside space to enjoy our day. Because the rooms were so lovely, we kept our decorations quite minimal and focused on the personal touches we knew our guests would love.
We chose Rosanna’s florist for our wedding flowers, having had great experiences with them before. Dewy, the wedding specialist there spent a lot of time with us, to ensure she was able to deliver exactly what we wanted, even ordering in some sample flowers nearer to the time so that we would be 100% happy. We wanted a mix of complementary winter colours and styles, rather than uniform bouquets. The flowers looked stunning on the day, we were extremely happy with them.
HAIR & MAKE-UP
I was extremely lucky with my hair and make-up recommendations. The moment I met both ladies for my trials I knew I was in good hands. Zoe recommended Jo Saville make-up to me as she had previously worked with her. Jo made us feel so comfortable, listening to each of us and accommodating every wish. I was able to completely trust Jo; she made us all feel beautiful and gave us the perfect amount of festive sparkle! Jo in turn recommended Jennifer M hair. I was glad that they had both worked together before, especially when we had 6 people to work with the morning of the wedding! Jen was also amazing – without much direction she created a style that I loved during my trial, adjusting the look to be just perfect. On the day she created different, but complementary styles for my bridesmaids. Both ladies had a very calm approach, which certainly helped to keep the morning stress free. A real testament to their amazing work was going to our honeymoon the next day with my eye make-up and hair still intact – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them both.
Being a winter wedding we kept the colour scheme quite minimalist, mixing rich tones of burgundy and navy, with softer shades of sage green and champagne gold. We didn’t overdo the amount of colour, but wanted enough to keep everything quite cohesive and complementary – particularly across our flowers, cake and wedding stationery.
The Grove has amazing restaurants, and their chefs cooked our wedding breakfast. We had a salmon starter, Lamb main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. John didn’t eat much of his as he was focused on his speech, but there were clear plates all around otherwise!
Zoe and Sarah have known each other since secondary school. We’d always had Zoe in mind for our big day as we’d seen so much of her fantastic work on Instagram. It made a massive difference having someone we knew taking the pictures – but Zoe worked really hard to charm our guests, which made everyone so comfortable. Zoe was incredibly committed to getting the best shots for us – she even lay on the ground to get the best angle at one point! We loved how her style was really understated, rather than being loud and controlling like some other photographers we’d experienced before. The result was a beautiful array of pictures that really captured the intensity and range of emotions we were feeling, rather than lots of tired, clichéd poses. Much like the day itself, they took our breath away. We’ can’t stop watching the slideshow Zoe made for us to remind us how perfectly everything went.
We wanted the wedding to feel very personal – so as part of the decorations we got a lot of pictures printed and pegged to sting to decorate the Christmas tree and tables in the drinks/party room. We had pictures from our childhoods, our family and our friends and of course memories from our time together as a couple. We also upgraded our bride and groom chair signs, by spray painting gold and adding the fake rose garland.
John surprised me on the morning of our wedding with some beautiful diamond earnings – they’re in the shape of Protea flowers, which symbolise transformation – and they were really complementary to the jewelry I planned to wear. I borrowed my nan’s diamond engagement ring from my mum to wear on the day – it holds a special sentimental meaning. And I wore a necklace from David’s Bridal.
CAKE & FAVOURS
My sister recommended our cake supplier, via a friend at work. Her company is called ‘Only Bakes & Cakes’. Izzy was really receptive to our ideas and provided some sample cakes for us to try as we were undecided on the icing style to decorate. We opted for a 2 tier cake made of a chocolate layer and a lemon drizzle layer and some vanilla cake pops. It was all super delicious. Izzy also made our iced ginger biscuit favors. These went down a treat with our guests.
We were really lucky to book an amazingly talented Irish harpist, called Lisa Canny, who performed for us before, during and after the ceremony. She’s a rarity because she sings as well as plays, so it was incredibly moving, and the songs were a mix of classical and contemporary. It was perfect music for the venue and the atmosphere on the day.
We opted for some winter sun in the United Emirates, flying to Dubai and staying in Ajman (North of Dubai) over Christmas and Abu Dhabi for New Year. We had a wonderful time, mixing relaxation on the beach, lots of amazing food and the thrill of the fastest rollercoaster on Earth at Ferrari World. Highlights were meeting up with some great friends, taking a beautiful yacht along the coastline and visiting The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Dress: David’s Bridal
Venue: The Grove
Florist: Rosanna’s Florist
Make – up: Jo-Saville Make-Up
Hair: Jennifer M Hair
Photographer: Zoe C Photography
Cake: Only Bakes and Cakes
Harpist: Lisa Canny
What made you go for a small wedding?
Having an intimate special day to remember with your true nearest and dearest was Sarah’s dream wedding. We have quite different sized families, so ultimately opted to have immediate family and a handful of friends attend our wedding day and then hold a big wedding party for extended family and friends a month after. It meant we were able to extend the celebrations and have exactly what we wanted – keeping things relatively stress free! It also meant we were able to spend quality time with every guest on the wedding day, which is a rarity!
What would you recommend for couples planning their wedding?
- Planning a wedding in three months is totally doable – setting a date that’s one or two years away doesn’t make it any easier.
- Don’t spend too long agonizing over decisions.
- Don’t be afraid to be different and do exactly what you want to do.