PUTTING THE WED INTO WEDNESDAY
Happy WEDnesday! For all of us event suppliers it’s certainly full throttle into wedding season now. I’ve been a part of some beautiful weddings so far this summer, but I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to one particular wedding nine Wednesdays ago – my own! We literally put the WED into the Wednesday. For any brides-to-be looking for inspiration, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share an insight into our day, and recommend some of the excellent suppliers who made it so magical.
Having performed at and seen so many different weddings over the years, my husband Chris and I had a good idea of the type of thing we wanted, and what sort of party we wanted to hold. As both of us are freelance musicians, we wanted have the wedding before the summer season when our work would get busier, so we went for a midweek date in April just before the Easter weekend. This gave us just 6 months to plan everything – no pressure then!
I’ve always loved performing at beautiful barn weddings over the years because of the rustic feel, and I had a feeling that Chris wouldn’t want any venue that was too overly formal... Just to give you an example of how he feels about wearing formal attire: we met (for the second time!) during a ‘formal night’ whilst working as guest entertainers on-board the P&O Oceana cruise ship wearing what he considered to be black tie, i.e. double denim and flip flops.
Choosing a venue for the wedding was pretty easy for us. Getting to play at lots of stunning wedding venues has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it gave us a good idea of the kind of venue we preferred. On the other hand I knew I didn’t want to get married anywhere that I had performed before, which definitely narrowed down the options! We also wanted somewhere that was near our families in either Hertfordshire or Buckinghamshire and easy access from London.
Having visited a few wedding venues that could suit our guest numbers and budget, we came across the beautiful Lillibrooke Manor in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
We fell in love with The Great Barn, which is one of the biggest converted barns I’ve ever seen and also had the advantage of having the bar in the main reception area; a key feature for me! (I didn’t want guests too far away from the action on the dance floor when getting a drink). The venue also had the lovely Small Barn which we thought would be perfect our ceremony, the Cottage Room for last-minute bridal preparations, and the Engine Room which was a great versatile space attached to the Great Barn which we used for children’s games, photo booth and as an area for guests to sit in away from any loud music if needed. Lillibrooke ticked all of our boxes and more, and it happened to be a stone’s throw away from where Chris went to school!
Once we had the venue booked, we had a chat about colour scheme and general theme. Because we had (re-)met on a ship, we thought it would be absolute jokes to have add a cruise-theme to the wedding. We tied this into our ‘colour palette’ with nautical hints of navy, white, coral and blush. This was reflected in all our wedding stationery that Chris designed himself (VERY handy!) As a wedding invite we sent out boarding cards with all the details on which linked to a wedding website I created with Wix via a QR code. Designing all the stationery was a time-consuming process but kept costs down and meant we could put our personal stamp on everything. Chris also created a cruise itinerary for the day for everyone (or 'Horizon' as they’re called on P&O), a table plan, and table signs named after famous ships. For favours, we decided to give our guests a bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs after our recent quiz performance on BBC2’s ‘Eggheads’. We also decided to put on our own quiz for the guests during the meal, naturally.
Throughout this blog, you’ll see the beautiful images captured by Lucy Davenport, our photographer for the day. Lucy was a dream to work with and was super lovely! She was so responsive via emails and made everything so straightforward on the day, being so unobtrusive that we forgot she was there most of the time! When we got the photos through, we were so delighted with how they turned out, I’m so glad we found her! We have also ordered some of her elegant wedding albums.
Louise at Wild & Thyme Florists provided our flowers. She did an incredible job arranging the beautiful bouquets, buttonholes, pew ends and table flowers. I absolutely loved the vibrant spring colours she used which fitted perfectly with our colour theme.
Our cake was made by Helena from Neighbourhood Bakes, who I went to school with! We had been long-time fans of her work, having sampled many of her delicious cakes at local cafés and just knew that we had to have one of her creations for our wedding cake. She is the most talented, artistic baker and I would highly recommend her for any cake needs. Seriously people, just throw a party as an excuse to buy her cakes! We went for a 4-tiered creation with navy, blush and gold marble effect. The bottom tier was Victoria sandwich, the next tier up was chocolate with raspberry and vanilla cream, and the top two tiers were pistachio and rose with raspberry. She also decorated the cake with beautiful flowers. It tasted INCREDIBLE.
I managed to find my wedding dress very quickly, thanks to the wonderful team at Karen Forte, which was the first (and only!) wedding dress shop I visited. My wedding dress turned out to be the third one I tried on, and was a Pronovias dress. I went with a cathedral length Pronovias veil as well, teamed with a hair clip by Jon Richard, shoes from Dune and Alan Hannah bracelet. For the bridesmaids, we went with a nautical navy colour, and found two styles of Dessy dresses that the girls looked lovely in!
My bridal beauty squad were Claire Hayes Make-Up Artist and my hair stylist, Peter Russell. Claire did an amazing job getting me and my bridesmaids ready in the morning. What I found really helpful was her skin and beauty tips leading up to the big day, and she really went above and beyond to give advice!
Peter was such a calming influence on the day too and did such a lovely job giving me magical mermaid hair. He’s a true gem and has been my hair stylist now for many years.
Now it’s time to discuss the big one… MUSIC. Musical entertainment was, for us, the most important element of the day and we wanted it to feel as personal as possible. For the ceremony, I had my sister Lucy Potterton sing me down the aisle, which meant the world to me! For the exit music, she teamed up with Chris’s band mates from The Bluejays; Ollie on vocals/guitar and Dan on drums. Lucy and Ollie also performed our first dance later on in the evening. During the signing of the register, friends from various walks of my life assembled to form a string quartet playing tunes by The Beach Boys and Nat King Cole. They had never played together before except for a 10-minute practice beforehand, and it sounded absolutely lovely, I nearly cried. It was such a special thing to have friends get together to create something so beautiful and personal for us.
Talking of beautiful and personal, my wonderful friend Freya also wrote the most amazing poem (about us!) that she read during the ceremony. It was so witty and clever, and it was so lovely to have her read something so special and new! This was one of my absolute highlights of the day.
For the drinks reception, we hired The Mariachis who were just fantastic. I came across the Mexican band whilst performing at another event and just loved them. They put a fun and joyful spin on classic pop songs and were thoroughly entertaining – perfect for an al fresco drinks reception, and even the sun was shining!
For evening entertainment, I just HAD to get my colleagues and friends from Entourage in to start the party. André Saxman Brown and DJ Elliot organised everything and I had an absolute ball. Along with them we had Michael and Kyra on vocals, Deji on Percussion and Lily on trumpet. They smashed the party and Elliot was a monster on the decks, kindly playing all of my embarrassing cheesy requests. I even ended up in the air doing the Dirty Dancing lift by the end of the night…as did Chris! The sound was marvellously curated by Ian from Heathrow Sound Hire. What a legend.
As well as singing in the evening, Michael was filming a video most of the day as well, and I can’t wait to share some video footage highlights of the day. He runs MSK Media and is pretty nifty with a camera as well a being an awesome singer and showman.
We also had a ‘photo mirror’ for the evening party provided The Best Photo Booths. This was really fun and I would highly recommend a photo booth from these guys to capture some of the hilarity throughout the night as guests get worse for wear! Chris from The Best Photo Booths was excellent and went above and beyond to get us what we wanted, with a personalised nautical display screen, VIP backdrop, and some extra special cruise-themed props especially for us. The backdrop even mirrored the great pontoon lighting we hired from Academy Productions.
We had the most fun day and I can’t thank our amazing suppliers (and friends!) for making it so special. If you’re getting married soon, they are all pros and I would highly recommend them…and don’t forget to let us know if you’re looking for an electric violinist or a 50s band ;)