For months before our wedding we were wondering if we were missing something. So many people had told me that planning their wedding had been the hardest and most stressful thing they’d ever done, yet we were completely relaxed and wondering what people could possibly worry about. Maybe we just got lucky that our suppliers and venue were so incredible, maybe the significance of the day didn’t really sink in (I’m still not sure it has!) or maybe it was because I’ve never been one of those who has ever pictured a “dream wedding” in my head but I wanted to post about the people/companies who really went above and beyond to make our day run so seamlessly so that they get the credit (and hopefully future business) that they deserve. This is not a sponsored post and I’m not affiliated with any of the companies or people mentioned in this post – any suppliers that we weren’t impressed with/wouldn’t recommend simply aren’t mentioned 🙂
Firstly the venue. The staff were incredible – so helpful in the run up to the wedding and incredibly polite and attentive for the entire day. We went for multiple menu tastings, they were accommodating of all of our guests with an array of dietary requirements, they allowed us to tailor drinks packages, bring some of our own food (I wanted to make some treats for a little sweet table!) and they were kind enough to offer me a huge room upgrade the night before so I could get ready and have photos taken with my bridesmaids. The concierge even brought champagne for our parents as they were trying to figure out how to fold their pocket squares and what on earth to do with their corsages, which we all thought were meant to go round the wrist – apparently you can get pin on ones! The waiters made it round everyone with trays of the most incredible canapés and they never let anyone’s wine glass be left empty. The restaurant was beautiful, the food was incredible (I’ve never seen mass catering done so well!) and they have beautiful grounds and a lovely outdoor terrace that we were lucky enough to be able to make full use of as the weather was perfect. Having the ceremony and the reception at the same venue obviously made things easier but there was a seamless turnaround and the staff (and Marcus’ incredible best man) made everything run so smoothly – I literally didn’t have to think about a thing on the day.
The run up to the wedding was stress-free too though. My maid of honour happened to know an absolute gem of a bridal shop which made my life so easy. I feel like it’s the kind of place you’d never find unless you knew about it – it’s off the beaten track to say the least but it’s a huge warehouse with every style of dress you can imagine at incredibly good prices. Other shops I visited seemed to stock one designer or very few styles of dresses but Stars Bridal made life so easy.. even if you don’t buy your dress from there it’s a perfect place to start if you’re like me and haven’t even the slightest clue what style you want/what style suits you, as they have rack after rack of dresses and are happy for you to try on as many as you want. In fact they actively encouraged it, bringing other dresses and making suggestions, unlike at other stores where I almost felt guilty saying I didn’t think the dress suited me and wanted to try some others. Although I visited other shops in and around London I actually ended up back at the outlet to buy my dress and it happened to be the first dress I’d tried on!! There are only two people working there that I know of, but they’re both absolutely lovely – offering honest advice, helping me out when I didn’t have a clue and neither of them put the slightest bit of pressure on me to buy anything – they even suggested cheaper options for me to buy hair accessories and shoes! I seriously recommend going here – there’s plenty of parking on site and if you don’t leave either with a dress, or a very good idea of the type of dress you want I’d be surprised – they have an unbelievable range!
I think entertainment is a huge part of what makes a wedding and can definitely make or break the evening. I can’t take any credit for choosing the band but Marcus did an incredible job – we went with The Hot Shots – and though they aren’t the cheapest we agreed that they were worth every penny. They played a huge mix of classics and newer songs so everyone felt included and they were so incredibly talented.. I think we convinced them to play “one last song” about five times! You can request certain songs from their repertoire, or even ask them to learn new songs but we didn’t and we’re glad we didn’t bother as their sets were perfect.
Then there was our photographer, Lindsey. From the moment we met her we were sure she was going to be brilliant. She invited us over for an initial consultation at her beautiful home office, showed us examples of her work and even took us out for a pre-wedding shoot so we could get used to having our photo taken and we picked our favourite shot which she then framed for guests to sign at our wedding. We both hate having our photo taken but she put us entirely at ease and considering she was there alone she seemed to be everywhere at once, capturing all of our best moments without us even noticing. Somehow she was both everywhere and yet nowhere to be seen – seemingly invisible yet everywhere at the right time taking the most beautiful natural shots and whenever I was with friends and wanted a photo taking she was there in an instant.
She captured so many moments that we hadn’t even seen ourselves and somehow managed to eat her meal whilst photographing so many parts of us eating ours – I hadn’t even seen her throughout the entire wedding breakfast so we’d assumed she was taking a well earned break to eat, then when the photos came through she’d caught our most wonderful moments on camera – the flower girl’s grandparents giving us the most beautiful gift and an unbelievably cute photo of our two youngest guests. She even turned up early on the day to get extra shots of me getting ready with my bridesmaids and posted a few sample shots the very next day.
How cute are these photos!?
After our wedding she posted the most beautiful wooden box to us, and inside was a personalised engraved USB with all of our images, a few prints and a lovely message. There are undoubtedly many important parts of a wedding day but in my opinion a good photographer has to be up there with the most vital – thanks to Lindsey we can relive our best moments and look through the ones we missed 🙂 I can’t recommend her enough and if you’re getting married in the Hertfordshire region there’s the added bonus that she knows many of the venues well (which is testament to her popularity!).
It was thanks to Lindsey that I found Danielle from The Makeover Box. Despite being friends who had worked together a number of times before, this was anything but a “do-a-friend-a-favour” recommendation – Danielle was brilliant. She came over to do a hair and make up trial with me before the big day, which was perfect, and much needed as I had no idea what I wanted! I’d never had my hair or make up done before and whilst Danielle was always asking for my opinion or asking what I’d like best, she was also perfectly happy to use her knowledge and expertise to decide what would suit me best when I didn’t have a clue (pretty much every decision – I’d never even heard of half of the products she used and I thought airbrushing was just something done on the computer to edit photos!!). On the day she turned up early and said she was surprised at how relaxed I was but I knew I was in good hands, she was so friendly and lovely that it was impossible not to be at ease, and once I’d seen my mum’s incredible transformation (Danielle literally made her look 20 years younger!) I had no doubt she’d do the same for me. I absolutely loved my hair and it somehow stayed in all day, despite me doing a great job of trying to ruin it (I got my veil stuck a couple of times which I was convinced would have pulled it all out!) but after a whole day (including a lot of jumping around in my attempt to dance!) it was still just as perfect as when she did it. She even stocks a variety of hairpieces on her website and brought a beautiful one for me on the day.
One of the most important parts of our day was of course the cake. With us both being hugely into food, particularly sweet stuff, I felt like there was a lot of pressure on us to have great food and an amazing cake. One of our friends, Endang Gonzalez, who works as a chef kindly offered to make our cake for us. After one bite of the cakes which she baked us as samples I was sold. Not only were her cakes absolutely delicious, she let us design every detail down to a T (but was happy to take over when I couldn’t picture how something would look!). We chose raspberry & white chocolate, red velvet and salted caramel for our three tiers, and I had some ideas about how I wanted it to look. I knew I wanted buttercream frosting (I hate fondant!) and I knew I wanted a mixture of textures and a few colours including roses piped in an ombré style on the bottom tier. Truthfully though, I couldn’t picture the finished cake in my head and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I needn’t have had the tiniest of doubts though – it was absolutely stunning. Quite literally the most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen. Tall, beautiful, elegant and so intricately decorated and somehow on top of all that it was also up there with the best tasting cakes I’ve ever had too. People joked that once the cake was cut I wasn’t seen without a plate of cake in my hand and I even took a plate of leftover pieces up to my room once the wedding finished! But if you can’t stuff your face with wedding cake until you feel sick on your wedding day then when can you!?
We asked the catering staff to save us a slice from each tier too (in case we didn’t get much on the day.. ha!!) and they saved us absolute slabs, which we had only a couple of days to eat before heading off on honeymoon. Needless to say we managed it 😉 On a serious note though, I can’t thank Endang enough. Unfortunately for everyone wishing to order a cake for a special occasion she works as a chef (so her free time is pretty limited) but if she ever chooses to go into the professional cake business I’ll be sure to spread her details to absolutely anyone who will listen to me – she’s brilliant!!
A couple of days before the wedding I had my nails done by my lovely friend Georgie’s cousin, Holly. Holly is amazing – a lovely person inside and out offering a range of beauty services. I’d never had my nails done so I had no idea what to expect but after getting a few quotes I decided to go with Holly and I’m so glad I did! My nails were filed and polished to within an inch of their lives and the colour was beautiful 🙂 She does gels at a fraction of the price of salons in a huge range of colours (and added extras like glitter which I had on my toes and surprisingly loved!) and she even does home visits which is perfect for someone like me who struggles hugely to make it home from work at a reasonable hour! Not to mention you get to relax in the comfort of your own home rather than being gassed by nail polish fumes in a salon.
Apparently not satisfied with the low stress levels in the run up to our wedding I decided to make my own favours. As it turned out that was actually quite fun, even if the excitement had started to dwindle a little by the time I was down to the 80th one!! I used Wares of Knutsford to order jars – they offer jars, bottles and other craft items which are perfect for favours. Having ordered a jar I thought was perfect, I actually found it a little too shallow and wide for the little hot chocolate jars I wanted to make. Some of the delivery times can vary if they’re waiting on stock from the warehouse but on calling them they arranged courier collection by DPD, sent out a sample of a different jar to check the dimensions were more in line with what I was hoping for, and despatched the new jars all within days. All of the staff I dealt with there were incredibly friendly and helpful and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again!
Finally, I’ve blogged about The Happy Mail before, but the lovely Tina behind such epic chocolate creations kindly sent us some beautiful chocolates for part of our sweet table. I didn’t have my phone with me for the entire day (and everyone was apparently far too busy eating/complimenting her amazing chocolates to take photos) so below is an old picture, but she makes beautiful bespoke chocolate orders to suit any occasion and I’d highly recommend her products as a wonderful unique gift for any chocolate lover!
Even our youngest goest was a huge fan! 😉
We had an absolutely perfect day, and to all of our friends and family who joined us we were honoured to have you with us and we can’t thank you enough for making our day so special. Whilst I can see how certain aspects may be stressful and I get that there’s a lot to organise at the end of the day, your wedding day is your day. All of your closest friends and family willl be there and not one of them is judging whether the colour scheme matches perfectly, whether a flower is out of place or whether your dress cost £100 or £10,000. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Ellis family and I feel so lucky to have the best in laws I could have possibly hoped for but above all I feel incredibly blessed to be able to call Marcus my husband – I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve someone as precious as him but I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together 🙂
Link to suppliers websites/social media below:
Venue – St Michael’s Manor http://www.stmichaelsmanor.com / @stmichaelsmanor
Bridal shop – Stars Bridal https://www.starsbridaloutlet.co.uk / @starsbridaloutlet
Band – The Hot Shots – http://www.thehotshots.co.uk / @thehotshotsband
Photographer – Lindsey Brook (Lindsey Brook photography on Facebook) – http://www.brookphotography.co.uk / @lindsbrookphotography
Hair & make up – Danielle (The Makeover Box) – http://www.makeover-box.co.uk / @makeoverbox2015
Cake – Endang Gonzalez – @endanggonzalez
Chocolates – Tina @thehappymail / http://www.thehappymail.co.uk/
Nails/beauty – Holly Clarke – http://www.hollysbeautymassagetherapy.com / @hollysbeautymassagetherapy
Favours – Wares of Knutsford – https://www.waresofknutsford.co.uk / @waresofknutsford