Finally, nearly a year after the event, I have managed to finish the final series in ‘Our wedding journey’ and it is likely the instalment you have all been eager to read. Below I share all the ins and outs of everything that made our day so magical.
The night before the wedding, George stayed with the grooms party in a hotel close to the venue. I stayed at my parents B&B (yes, my parents own and run their own Bed & Breakfast in Torquay, go check it out) with the bridal party. We enjoyed some pizza, nibbles and prosecco whilst we chatted! I’d organised some gift bags and it was lovely watching my bridesmaids open them all. I had written special poems for each of them and we all got a bit teary as one of my friends read them out to everyone. We were very sensible and got an early night - I wish I could say that as soon as my head hit the pillow I was asleep but unfortunately I don’t think I slept a wink that night. I remember giving up at 4am, going downstairs to make myself a cup of tea, eat some biscuits and watch friends. I don’t recall feeling nervous, I think it was merely all the excitement and adrenalin for the day ahead.
When my alarm finally went off at 6:30am, I was up and ready to go. The night before we’d organised a timetable for everyone’s hair and makeup. I chose Ellie from The Up Do Girl, to do my hair - her wonderful Instagram page is what caught my eye first. She creates beautiful, intricate yet relaxed hairstyles that I fell in love with. For my make-up, I chose Elysia from Elysia Wylie Hair & Beauty. Elysia manages to bring out the natural beauty in everyone and that is why I chose her! Although I wasn’t the first in the chair, I happily made everyone cups of tea, as one by one my bridesmaids came to get ready.
We were all in matching PJs that my Mum had hand-sewn flowers onto. I wasn’t keen on the silk style robes that a lot of bridal parties wear, so I searched for some yellow tops and ordered these lovely floral shorts for us all instead. As you have probably guessed, from the inspiration boards in part two of this blog series, the colour theme for our wedding was yellow - with a hint of ivory, green and greys, so these PJs matched that theme.
My Dad was on hand in the kitchen, cooking the bacon for our bacon sandwiches. I think he was relieved to have a job to do and to be out of the way of all the girls getting ready. Before leaving the house, my hair had been curled and my make up was done. All still in our PJs, we piled into the cars and drove to the venue to finish off getting ready.
We chose to get married at Rockbeare manor, a Grade I Listed building, built in 1760 for Sir Jogn Duntze, a wealthy Exeter woolen merchant and banker. The Manor is steeped in history, making its way through the generations of ‘Nation’ family for 160 years. Over the years, it has been restored and modernised but there are lots of original features and sentimental charm that still remain - this and all the natural light is what I loved about it.
When we arrived at the venue, things started to feel very real! We were greeted by the staff at Rockbeare and our photographers (Lee and Xanthe) and videographer (Jordan - a school friend who also happens to be an amazing videographer). Rockbeare has this beautiful bridal room and we used this space to finish off getting ready. The boys had a billiards room downstairs - I think this room was one of the reasons why George loved the venue so much!
There was a flurry of activity as the finishing touches all started to come together. My Mum helped me get into my dress, with the tricky task of lacing me up. I’d previously been warned by my dressmaker to leave lots of time to get into the dress, and I am glad she told me because it did take a while. Ellie (The Up Do Girl) added my veil, designed with a bespoke secret message on the trim by Rebecca from Rebecca Anne Designs, and as soon as it was on, I felt ready!
My dress was a real mixture of creative talent and has a bit of a story behind it! I tried on a variety of dresses at a number of different shops before we went into lockdown. Then, when we went into the first lockdown, I impulsively ended up buying the lace part of my dress (‘Wynter’ by Cathleen Jia) in a sample sale. I remember trying the full dress on when I visited Heart A Flutter, before realising it was a little bit out of my budget - so when I saw it was in the sale, I decided to go for it. It was two sizes too big for me so for months, I had this beautiful lace piece that didn’t fit and without the underlayer. I went through a frantic phase of wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake, whilst the country was in lockdown and I was unable to speak to anyone about it. Finally, lockdown restrictions began to ease and Cara from Story of my Dress, very kindly, put me in contact with her dressmaker, Gill and allowed me to use her shop as a base for all my fittings. I discussed with Gill what I wanted the final dress to look like and we made a plan. We then went into another lockdown and I remember George having to measure me with Gill’s guidance, over a Zoom video call, so that Gill could start on the underlayer and alterations of the lace part. Again, the restrictions began to ease and Gill and I were able to resume our face to face appointments. She worked her magic, made a size 12 dress into a size 8 and created a beautiful underlayer. In the end, all my worries and stresses about my impulsive sample sale purchase all disappeared because somehow, Gill had managed to transform it into my dream wedding dress.
I then had a beautiful moment with my Dad, when he walked in to see me in my dress for the first time. Prior to the wedding day he said he did not want to see any pictures of my dress as he wanted to be surprised. I could see that he felt proud and it gave me the confidence I needed to continue with the rest of the day.
The florist we chose was a lovely lady named Laura from The Flower Sessions. In the lead up to the big day, I became very friendly with Laura - we’d whatsapp message each other in outrage at Boris’ backwards logic and send images of floral inspiration we’d found. She went above and beyond, creating the most beautiful bridal bouquet with miniture versions for the bridesmaids. I wanted the flowers to feel relaxed and have a wild and whimsical look to them - and she hit the nail on the head with her designs.
I was stood with flowers in hand and ready to go, for what felt like ages. I was waiting for the registrar to come and speak to me but there had been a mix up with our vows and George was quickly trying to rectify everything. When this was relayed to me, I even surprised myself at how calm I was. I think I was just so desperate to walk down the aisle, that nothing seemed to matter.
Finally, the bridesmaids, myself and my Dad were all heading downstairs and getting ready to make our entrances. When we rehearsed the walking down the aisle, the day before the wedding, I remember feeling extremely nervous - but on the day, I felt absolutely fine and just couldn’t wait to see George standing at the other end. As soon as I entered the room, whilst the song ‘The One’ by Kodaline played, it was like someone had pressed the fast forward button on the remote because time flew by faster than I have ever experienced it before.
As I walked towards George, I kept catching peoples eyes and it just felt so incredible seeing all the faces of my friends and family, after not being able to see anyone for so long. When I finally reached George, he looked a little nervous and emotional. The photographer took a photo of him, standing at the top of the aisle, waiting for me to join him and it is probably one of my favourite images. We had both waited, with bated breath for this moment to happen, it’s no surprise that a few tears were brought to the surface.
During the ceremony, my Mum prepared a reading and I’d written a poem. My Mum’s reading was beautiful and I was so pleased she’d agreed to read something for us, it really captured how we felt and what we have to look forward to as a married couple. The poem I read hinted at details of all the ‘Loves’ I’ve experienced over the years - the primary school love, my first love, the loves I regretted and the loves I learnt from, before landing on my ‘one true love’. Surprisingly, my Mum and I managed to get through them, without many tears!
As my Mum read her reading, I remember seeing for the first time, the wonderful floral arrangement that Laura had created. It was truly stunning and really added that wow factor to the space. This was the only decorative element we had in the room during the ceremony and I was worried that the space would look very bare - but in all honestly, it didn’t really matter. The focal arrangement, placed at the front where everyone can see it, was all we needed.
We exited to the song ‘Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson and George did a little jig as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. After the ceremony, our photographer took us straight out for some photographs, whilst our guests enjoyed some welcome drinks and canapes. We were up against the weather so we had to act fast. He took us to the front of the property and swiftly captured some photos of us in front of the Manor. He then got us to walk through the wildflowers on the grounds. Initially, I was thinking ‘you want me to walk in there?’ but I am so glad I did because I love the photos he took of us amongst the long grasses.
He then gathered all the guests and took some of our group shots in front of the house before the rain began. We had to finish the rest of them inside but this didn’t matter as it was actually nice to have a variety. Whilst this was taking place, the staff at Rockbeare re-arranged the ballroom ready for our sit down meal. The day before, with the help of my bridal party, we tied name tags onto lemons using raffia string and some sprigs of olive. These, along with the floral arrangements on the tables, really made the room look so bright, summery and happy - which is exactly what we intended.
Around 4pm, we all were seated for our wedding breakfast. We chose ham hock terrine for starter, duck leg for main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. By the time it came to eating the dessert, I was stuffed. The speeches followed the food and this was one of my favourite parts of the day because each person who spoke, did a wonderful job!
I don’t know where the time went because before I knew it, the evening guests were arriving and we were cutting our cake and doing our first dance. Our cake was a beautiful four-tier creation, each with a different flavoured tier. Designed and baked by the talented Clare from Clare Makes Cakes. We chose a semi-naked style, decorated with florals and lemons. It was beautiful.
Swiftly after cutting the cake, we went into our first dance. I was slightly nervous about this because when we practised, we felt very stiff and uncoordinated. Thankfully on the day, we managed to pull it off with a bit of swaying, a couple of turns and a few giggles along the way. We danced to a few choruses of ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, a song that was playing when we first said ‘I Love You’ to one another all those years ago - before the DJ asked our guests to join us in a dance to ‘All of Me’ by John Legend. We did this because both of these songs meant a lot to us and we didn’t want to have to dance to the whole of a song with people watching us. Cutting the song short and switching into another worked really well and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a bit nervous about all the eyes being on you during your first dance.
With everyone still on their feet, we had the DJ switch to ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina & The Waves - a really upbeat and cheerful song that got everyone dancing! It was a wonderful moment, soon to be cut short by a polite reminder from the staff at Rockbeare, that we weren’t allowed to be dancing altogether due to the current COVID restrictions still in place (these damn rules seem so trivial now we know what Downing Street were up to - but I won’t say anymore…). Despite this, we spent the rest of the evening dancing in small groups amongst the tables.
Once we had exhausted ourselves of drink, dancing and the photo booth, our guests departed and a small number of close friends and family joined us in the library for a final drink and wind down. We then all climbed the stairs and went to bed.
The following morning, those who stayed at the venue, all gathered in the dining room for a wonderful cooked breakfast. The staff had laid the tables with the flowers from the day before and I got a chance to really pay attention to how beautiful they were. Gathering over breakfast the following day was a really lovely way to finish off the celebrations. George and I went for a final stroll around the grounds before we all piled into cars, with cake on laps and flowers everywhere and headed home.
It really was the most magical day and I cannot thank all the people who helped make it so special!
Venue: Rockbeare Manor
Dress: Lace - Heart A Flutter, ‘Wynter’ by Cathleen Jia. Alterations and Underlayer - Story Of My Dress, Cara & Gill Andrews.
Veil: Rebecca, Rebecca Anne Designs
Jewellery: Zoe Lev - Bracelet. Amara Palm - Earings
Hair: Ellie, The Up Do Girl
Make Up: Elysia, Elysia Wylie Wedding Hair
Bridesmaid Dresses: Whistles
Groomsmen Attire: River Island
Florist: Laura Hingston, The Flower Sessions
Photographer: Lee & Xanthe, Lee Hatherall Photography
Videographer: Jordan, Jordearn Video
DJ + Photobooth: Jake, Bespoke Disco
Cake: Clare, Clare Makes Cakes