Our special day…
We got married at Tower Hill Barns in 2016. Right from the moment Dave proposed to me, the first questions on my mind had been things like, where are we going to get married, and what am I going to wear?
Our priority was of course the venue. So, straight away, we started talking all about what we wanted from a venue and what kind of a wedding we were hoping for.
Dave was fairly easy going about the theme, but we were both in agreement that we wanted a very personal and relaxed day with a neutral colour scheme. We researched a lot of venues and spoke to quite a few wedding planners, but nothing really stood out for us.
I was a little obsessive about the chairs and flooring in the venues we looked at, so that helped us rule out many of them straight away.
When we finally found Tower Hill Barns on the internet, we were extremely interested to find out about the new building plans for the barns, and we made a viewing appointment immediately. At the viewing it was obvious that Sally and Andrew were extremely passionate about the venue and had such high hopes and ideas.
We loved every detail. Just a week later, we paid the deposit and set the date!
With that organised, my attention turned to the dress next. Originally I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but after a trip to Chester with my mum, trying on many dresses in 3 different stores, I became a little unsure. However, a trip to another store a couple of weeks later was more productive.
When I was looking through rails and rails of dresses, one stood out immediately for its simplicity. I had to try it on, and as soon as I walked out of the dressing room I knew it was the one I wanted. Both my mum and Dave’s mum, were with me, along with my sister, and the dress received their overwhelming approval.
On the wedding day itself
My original idea for the wedding theme was relaxed vintage, but as Dave was in the Royal Navy when we met and we are both keen book worms, I had other ideas too about themes that needed to be in the mix. The neutral colour theme went out of the window, following a shopping trip in London with my bridesmaids to buy my shoes. In Harrods, a pair of beautiful Monolo Blahnik courts in coral caught my eye, and I knew I had to have them. (Those shoes were the reason the men at the wedding wore coral coloured braces. They forgave me eventually I think!)
I love arts and crafts, and so I decided from the beginning that I wanted to make my own flowers, incorporating fresh peonies and roses. After a bit of trial and error I found a way to make roses out of books, and used Pride and Prejudice, and East of Eden to make over 120 flowers, as well as 3D heart table confetti. Those books are my favourites. Dave’s too.
Our florist, Laura, was really enthusiastic, and she understood I wanted to make sure the flowers were the centrepiece of all arrangements. My mum is a keen card maker, and she sells bespoke cards through her Facebook page. So I knew she would love to make all the stationary. The favours we gave to guests were second hand books, mostly bought from charity shops, and beautifully tied in various laces or ribbons to match the theme. They each had a name tag attached. We tried to match books to our guests’ personalities to add a special little personal touch.
It was all going so well. But then, the day before the wedding, a mixup at the dress shop meant no one was when I went to collect the dress. That meant I was unable to contact anyone until the morning of the ceremony, and that was only with the help of my hairdresser, who managed to use her contacts to get hold of someone. So much anxiety! But thankfully it got sorted out. The dress finally arrived at 11am on the wedding day, just 4 hours before I was due to say ‘I do.’
That morning, my preparations, as well as my parents and bridesmaids, took place at my house, while Dave and his family got ready at a rental cottage close to the venue.
Here’s where it got really complicated – in fact the story went viral on social media. Delayed taxis for the bridesmaids meant they had to do some hitchhiking to get there on time. But even that didn’t stop us. By the time I arrived and was waiting to make my big entrance, I knew there was nothing else that could get in the way. It was quite an overwhelming feeling, but I was so happy that I found all my pre-wedding fears of crying while walking down the aisle were completely gone.
Hearing our special piece of music as I walked down the aisle with my father made me feel so proud – elated that our special moment was finally here. The ceremony was so personal and relaxing under the beautiful bridge, and we couldn’t have been any happier. Even when our overexcited dog (who was the ring bearer!) decided to escape, it only added to the moment.
Following the ceremony, we enjoyed cocktails and canapés in the beautiful bar and courtyard area, with the really nice touch of a specially commissioned ale from a local microbrewery. Singer and pianist Jennie Sawden serenaded us in the background. We asked the photographer not to take too many posed photographs as we wanted to make sure the enjoyment of the day was captured naturally.
The rest of the day went extremely fast, but we loved every minute of it. The meal that Tower Hill Barns laid on was beautiful, and the speeches were short but extremely touching and funny. Our first dance was to Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen, and after that was finished we made sure we stuck to our plan of dancing the night away to songs selected by our guests, while we chatted with them and enjoyed the lovely crepes. Even with all the drama, we both loved our special day.
Here are my top tips for other brides
If you have any niggles or doubts about anything leading up to the day, make sure you ask all the questions you need to. Things I wish I’d known? That my dress would turn up eventually! That way I would have been able to sleep!! A lot of things went wrong – a wedding dress went missing in action, our cheese tower/wedding cake was a day late being delivered, only just arriving on the morning of the wedding. Delayed taxis for the bridesmaids resulting in them hitchhiking! But it was all good in the end.