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Zoe and Mark’s wedding at Styal Lodge, Cheshire

Hi again! I can’t believe it’s Tuesday morning already! Did I sleep through Monday (or was I working too hard… hmmm…) Anyway, I hope you’re having a lovely day. I have all the gorgeous images from Zoe and Mark’s wedding at Styal Lodge to share with you this morning.

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Before we begin – did you see yesterday’s competition to win your wedding photography? Don’t miss that one! It’s a fantastic prize and the competition’s open to couples anywhere in the UK.

But now for today’s main feature with Zoe and Mark. You’ll have seen their wedding film on the blog yesterday, along with a few of my favourite images… now we have the full wedding report from Zoe and images from the lovely Jonny Draper Photography to share with you. For anyone who missed the wedding film, I’ve shared it once again at the end of the blog post – with thanks to Craig from Unforgettable Memories for sharing it with us!
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A beautiful Cheshire wedding: Zoe and Mark

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Zoe’s wedding report

Mark and I had the most incredible wedding – things could not have gone more to plan and we loved every single second of it. It rained every day before the wedding and the day after but on the day itself there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. All our guests have commented on what a fabulous day it was and everybody seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves and have fun which was one of the most important things for us.

We think this was because we made some wise choices – firstly our venue, Styal Lodge was stunning and the people who run it know exactly what they were doing and made everything run so smoothly.

We chose Jonny Draper to do the photography and Craig at Unforgettable Memories as the videographer and both were outstanding and we couldn’t recommend them more highly. We were unsure about booking a videographer at first but I’m so glad we did as the day goes so fast your head is in a spin and it all seems a bit of a blur! There are also bits you don’t get to see, such as the guests arriving so it’s nice to sit and watch the film afterwards and see all those little things you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.

Craig even dashed off from filming me and the bridesmaids, to see Mark at the hotel to give him his wedding present from me – an Omega watch that he had wanted for years. He filmed him opening it which was great as although I wasn’t there I still got to see his reaction.

For food we chose Barrett’s who were incredible. They took care of the canapés, wedding breakfast and the evening food. The food looked and tasted delicious and the staff that served it looked smart, were polite and ensured everyone got their food at the same time. Emma Casson from Special Days made the room look beautiful with understated white chair covers with white sparkly bows, flowers and tea lights on the table and organza and fairy lights decorating the beams. We debated on whether to have a DJ or a band but in the end we chose to have both with the band Under the Covers. They couldn’t have been more fabulous – everyone was up dancing and we had so many comments on how great they were.

Another reason we think the day went so well was because we kept things fairly relaxed. We didn’t have a receiving line and instead between courses the two of us went to all the tables together to make sure that we got to speak to all of our guests. We would definitely advise other couples to do the same – it was a lovely way to see everyone without the formality of a receiving line. We also decided against an evening buffet and instead opted for bacon sandwiches and cones of chips. They were again delicious and so well received after everyone had had one or two drinks. The staff walked around the guests with silver trays brimming with the chips and bacon sandwiches which meant no one had to queue up a buffet and people even carried out dancing whilst they were handed something to eat!

Another tip is to be as organised as possible! The couple of weeks before the wedding are hectic even if you have everything organised – there’s final dress fittings, things to pick up, final payments due, family coming to stay etc so it was good to have everything else done so that we could enjoy the run up to the wedding and get excited about the big day! We booked the venue in April 2011 setting the date for 22nd September 2012. This meant we had 17 months to plan the day. This sounds like a long time but it soon goes quickly. We found a happy balance between taking our time and booking things such as the videographer as we know they get booked up very quickly.

Having a decent amount of time also meant that we could take our time with choosing exactly what we wanted – I had a great time trying on wedding dresses and tried on over 60 before making my final choice! But I couldn’t have loved the dress more – it was a stunning lace and tulle ivory traditional dress by Enzoani which I added a diamante ivory sash ribbon belt to so that it was unique to me and added that bit of sparkle. For me I would always advise brides to have a veil. I just loved wearing it and even wore it the day after the wedding with jeans and a jumper when we had close friends and family to my mum and dads house to reminisce about the day.

People casually dropped by for a glass of champagne sharing stories and memories from the day before. My mum and I also went to loads of wedding fayres which was a great way to meet suppliers but also such a fun thing to do together and we’d always team it with lunch and fizz!

Although we had a healthy budget we also had a large guest list with 125 guests during the day and an extra 60 for the evening. This meant that a lot of our budget went on food and drink which we were more than happy to do as the most important thing for us was having all our friends and family there.

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We therefore saved money on other aspects – we made our wedding favours and name cards together which not only saved money but was a lovely activity to do together and get excited about the day. We bought white favour cardboard boxes on ebay and decorated them with royal blue ribbon to match the bridesmaid dresses and some diamantes to add sparkle. We did the same theme for the name cards, again bought on ebay for a bargain £5 for 125 cards. We then got handmade chocolates from Simon Dunn’s in Wilmslow who for no extra cost decorated the chocolates with our initials. We also didn’t spend a fortune on the invites. We had them made by Millymango and kept them very simple. They were classy without costing a fortune.

For the three adult bridesmaid dresses we looked at lots of different types of dresses, including made to order ones from bridal shops but in the end we got them from Coast. The colour was stunning and exactly what I wanted and all three bridesmaids loved them. We also had three flower girls and we found their dresses from Monsoon which were again simple but stunning. This meant all six dresses came in at around £500 which I think is a bit of a bargain! We also utilised the bridesmaid’s bouquets as part of the top table decoration. This also saved money and meant that the bridesmaids didn’t have to have their flowers taking up space on their table. I’d advise brides to pick their wedding shoes carefully. When I’m going out I love wearing sky high stilettos but I was more sensible when choosing my wedding shoes as I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. I got a lovely lace pair of ivory wedding shoes from Monsoon which had a high enough heel for me to not feel short but they were comfortable. You are on your feet all day and the last thing you want is to be wearing a crippling pair of shoes – and no one really sees them anyway!

When we chose our wedding cars we picked a 1960s Jaguar for my dad and I and a Daimler for the bridesmaids. It was only after choosing the Jaguar that we found out it was actually an old police car which was very fitting seeing as we are both police officers! When we told Andrea from Grand Carriages she informed us she could dress the car up as a police car. So it took my dad and I to the ceremony with the royal blue and ivory ribbon but after the ceremony we came out to the car where it now had a blue flashing light on the top, black and white checked ribbon and POLICE on the side in large letters – it was such a lovely touch and made some great photographs. We also went for a short drive in it together after the ceremony. We wanted to make sure we had a bit of time on our own so this was a lovely way to do it and reflect on the day so far.

I loved planning our wedding and met so many lovely people; if I could I would become a wedding planner, it’s such a fabulous and exciting time!
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Zoe and Mark from Unforgettable Memories on Vimeo.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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