Written by Katie Byrne, published 21st mar 2017
Joanne and Joseph tied the knot in a vibrant celebration, filled with bright blooms, vintage treats and quirky details
Joseph and Joanne tied the knot at Dewsall Court in Hereford on September 23, 2016.
We wanted to hold a relaxed celebration at a big country house. The moment we drove through the gates at Dewsall Court, it felt incredibly homely.
It's a cliché but it had everything we wanted, including a lovely church - meaning our guests didn't have to travel between the ceremony and the reception.
A bonus was that Dewsall Court also came with Emma, our wedding planner extraordinaire. This proved to be priceless as we were living abroad in Abu Dhabi when all the wedding planning was taking place, so without her coordinating everything back in the UK, the whole affair would have been a lot more stressful.
We wanted something fun. I've always adored bright colours and we both really loved the quirky little ideas around at the time, e.g. novelty straws, ferris wheel cake stands and so on. We chose keywords, rather than a colour scheme: ‘party’, ‘bright’ and ‘carnival’.
The wedding breakfast and evening party took place in The Wainhouse (a converted barn). Again, our influences were bright, fun and colourful and we took the ‘less is more’ approach.
We had bare wood tables without linen, and chairs without covers. There were coloured pompoms hanging from the beams and festoon lights inside and out. Outside, a fire pit, with marshmallows for toasting, and inside, a table full of old skool sweets, mint matchmakers, M&Ms and our wedding cupcakes. We also displayed a few photos of us as a couple and our parents’ wedding photos, on an easel.
My wedding dress was by Justin Alexander, which I paired with a lace shrug by Stephanie Allin.
I loved my dress... It made me feel like a princess! Day-to-day, I'm not particularly 'girly'. I never have been really and will usually be found in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt so I wanted something that would make me feel special. Many of my friends had told me that you know when you find the right dress. I bought two wedding magazines for some inspiration and had a look at various bridal stores online, but didn’t go too mad. I knew that if I started to fixate on the minutiae, I’d be in big trouble!
Initially, I was looking for a cool little 50s tea dress style, or a sleek close-fitting dress, but once I’d tried on the Justin Alexander dress with the shrug, I loved it and felt like a million dollars. Funnily enough, I thought I’d chosen something totally different to what I’d planned, but when I got home and looked back at the three dresses I’d picked out as my guide, one was the same style as the Alexander dress!
I customised the dress a little by asking Rhiannon Brown of Cardiff Alterations, who fitted my dress, to make a yellow waist band and a big bow. I wore this for the evening, without the shrug.
Joe was delegated the important job of 'suit choice'. Due to the logistics of being so far from the UK, rather than getting a tailored suit, he opted for the off-the-peg ‘Royal Ascot’ package from Moss Brothers, in Cardiff. He found the customer service was excellent.
Sara, my Matron of Honour and Beth, my Bridesmaid of all bridesmaids wore a coral lace and pleated dress, from BHS Wedding. I wanted the dress to be bright and fun and have a colour and style that would suit both ladies as they have different hair colour and skin tone and figures!
For the flowers, we wanted something bright and fun - and fragrant! I spoke to Dorothy Hill, of The Great British Florist, who was incredibly knowledgeable and very patient with all my questions and, after I bombarded her with pictures, was very forthcoming with suggestions.
I finally went with celosia (Cock’s Comb variety) as the main flower, with craspedia, mini gerberas, dahlias, lavender, eucalyptus foliage, white gysophila, alchemilla and some feathers. Dorothy made our buttonholes and provided us with the bridal flowers which my friends Sarah & Lorna arranged.
When the ceremony was over, Emma, Dewsall’s wedding planner extraordinaire, & her team, moved the flowers from the church to the Wainhouse tables for the wedding breakfast and colourful confetti was sprinkled on the table. We had a u-shaped table arrangement and didn’t have centerpieces as such, but had a few pots of coloured heather and celosia on the head table.
Instead of a traditional cake, we opted for cupcakes. We also had a few coeliac guests, including the groom and Katie’s Cakes of Newport made us some delicious gluten free ones.
I think our favourite moment was after the speeches, when everyone started to unwind and the party was underway. There were so many friends and family who hadn’t seen each other for years and it was so lovely seeing everyone reunited. Because of the no-kids rule people could spend that very rare child-free time with friends, drinking, dancing and catching up.
We thought it was a good idea but, as parents of two children, we know it’s not always easy to arrange childcare. Sarah Atkins, of Cicciona's Wedding Crèche Service, was wonderful and came to look after our two daughters (aged one and three) during the wedding breakfast (three hours).
They had so much fun with playing with toys and dressing up and doing crafts in the house. Imogen, our eldest was very excited to tell us what she’d been up to…she was even given a goodie box! They had so much more fun with Sarah than they would have being made to sit quietly at a table with all the grown-ups.
It meant so much to us to know, that because so many of our guests wanted to be there, they made it work, for us. It was just lovely watching everyone talking and having so much fun!
Steal their style!