I use the word ‘awesome’ in honour of today’s beautiful bride. Amanda hails from America – she came back to England with groom Sam to marry in the middle of Cambridge. The wedding has flavours of American tradition – watch out for the wedding cake face-squishing! – and the most wonderful English setting and details. Loving those top hats!
Awesome also refers to the photography – and in the English use of the word: awe inspiring. I’ve started with a night time shot, so this blog feature is all upside down and backwards… but Chris Hanley‘s photography is breathtaking, is it not?! While I have your full attention, let me introduce Amanda and Sam who’ve written their wedding story to share with you on the blog today. Congratulations to you both, and thank you so much for making English Wedding Blog so incredibly gorgeous today!
Everyone else – enjoy. x
A beautiful Cambridge wedding: Sam & Amanda
Sam and Amanda had been dating long-distance for over a year. Sam was living in Cambridge and Amanda was living in the United States in Central Illinois. Sam decided he was ready to make the next big step in the relationship while visiting Amanda and bought a ring.
He was very worried about not being able to keep the ring a secret, so he decided to propose right away the next evening. Amanda came home from work to a huge bouquet of flowers that Sam had bought for her. She went over to read the card that came with the flowers and when she turned back around, Sam was on the floor in front of her. She wondered, “What is he doing on the floor?” She then realized he was down on one knee and that he was proposing. Poor Sam was so nervous he could barely get out what he was trying to say until he finally said, “Amanda, will you marry me?” Of course, Amanda instantly said, “Yes!”
The ceremony was at Great St. Mary’s Church located in beautiful Central Cambridge amongst the colleges of the University. The reception was held at The Rectory Farm, an old Georgian-style house with scenic gardens located in Cambridge.
We chose Chris Hanley Photography to document our wedding day. Chris and his wife, Claire, did a fabulous job photographing our day and providing us with artistic and dramatic images. Seeing the beautiful photos they took during helps us relive our perfect day.
Our wedding style was traditional with a few rustic accents. Sam wore a traditional morning suit with an ivory cravat and silver waistcoat. Amanda wore a white tulle ballgown by Madeline Gardner.
We had a traditional Anglican ceremony led by the Revd Canon John Binns. John was a wonderful vicar and he made the mood of the ceremony very warm and light-hearted. During the sermon, he gave us a little hazelnut. He compared the hazelnut to our love for each other and reminded us to nurture our love, like we would a little hazelnut growing in the ground, so that our love may grow throughout our marriage. The ceremony was very heartfelt and memorable and was a great start to the rest of our lives together.
Wedding reading: John 15: 9-17
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
The ceremony was held at Great St. Mary’s which is located in the centre of Cambridge and is usually very crowded with both locals and visitors who are out shopping or viewing the colleges of the University. As Amanda drove through town towards the church in a classic Rolls Royce, the crowds cleared a path for the car and waved at Amanda as she passed. The people gathered around the church and greeted Amanda with applause as the she arrived, helping Amanda build confidence before walking down the aisle. After the ceremony, tourists crowded around to take photos and some even jumped into the photos with us! We wonder how many Facebook pages we are on now! It was great fun and we felt like the whole City of Cambridge was there to celebrate with us.
After the ceremony, the guests made their way to the Rectory Farm. They were greeted at the gate of the garden and were served Pimms. Shortly after we arrived, everyone was led to the marquee in the back of the garden. Upon entering the marquee, guests found a table covered with mini tealight lanterns. Each lantern had a tag with a name and a table number, guiding each guest to his or her seat.
The food was provided by Chimneys Catering. Guests were provided an option of either a tian of oak-smoked salmon or a tartlet of capel mushrooms for the starter. For the main course, the guests were given the choice of either roasted chicken or a spinach and wild mushroom puff pastry. Cheesecake with summer berry compote was served for dessert. The food was not only incredibly delicious, but was also visually stunning.
After dinner, we cut into the cake, which was 4-tiers of both fruitcake and sponge cake with white chocolate ganache and raspberry filling. The cake was decorated with silver ribbons, crystals, and rhinestones and was topped with an “A” and an “S”. To follow American tradition, after cutting the cake, we fed each other little pieces and smashed the cake in each other’s faces. After cutting the cake, we had our first dance to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis.
Wedding day highlights
The food and service was above and beyond our expectations.
Sam stayed up until 3am the night before the wedding writing his speech. Everyone suspected that it would just be a standard, bland speech. Instead, the speech had everyone roaring with laughter. There were also a few heartfelt moments, which made his speech a definite highlight of the evening.
The Boogie Men, a blues band for which Sam’s dad plays the bass, played for the reception which was not only very personal for us, but was also great entertainment for the guests. Everyone really enjoyed themselves.
Venue styling and details:
Cars entering the venue drove down a long path covered by the canopies of trees before reaching the house. Behind the house was a large open field where guests could mingle and even play a little bit of croquet. The weather was beautiful and sunny, making it a great time to spend in the outdoors.
The marquee was decorated in all white, with white linens and flowers, giving a very bridal feel. We sat at the top table with the bridal party and family and friends sat at round tables throughout the marquee. Above our heads, the marquee was lit with beautiful crystal chandeliers. The chandeliers, tealights, and sunlight coming through the marquee gave the venue a very warm feeling.
We also set up a wishing tree that served as a guest book where guests could fill out well wishes and marriage advice on little tags and hang them on decorated branches in a vase. We will be reading the well wishes on our first anniversary.
More memorable moments
The day before the wedding, the weather was horribly cold and rainy. The morning of the wedding, we woke up to completely clear skies and a warm, sunny day. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have such wonderful weather. The sunshine made the events of the day absolutely perfect.
Sam’s favourite moment was watching Amanda walk down the aisle. Amanda’s favourite moment was watching Sam smiling at her as she walked down the aisle.
Wedding day advice
Wedding music and entertainment
Sam’s dad’s band, The Boogie Men, played blues music for everyone to dance to. The band played two sets, so between sets, the guests were entertained with the tossing of the bouquet (which was accidentally thrown clear over all of the ladies’ heads) and the tossing of the garter (a risqué American tradition). We also played The Shoe Game. For the Shoe Game, the two of us sat back to back holding onto one of each others’ shoes. The best man then asked us random questions like, “Who said, ‘I love you’ first?” and “Who is the better dresser?” If the groom is the right answer, then each person holds up one of the groom’s shoes and vice versa. We, of course, couldn’t see what the other person’s answer was, so it was entertaining when we had differing answers. Everyone was then served fish and chips so that they had the energy to keep dancing.
Recommended wedding suppliers:
The Photographer: Chris Hanley Photography, Compstall
The Caterer: Chimneys Catering, Long Melford
The Florist: Studio Flowers, Fulbourn
The Cake: Deesigns for Loving, Duxford
Reception Venue: Rectory Farm B&B, Cambridge