Smaller weddings are always my favourites! The atmosphere is relaxed and full of love and often an intimate wedding means budgets can be played with rather than stretched – meaning smaller weddings can be creative and fun. Annette and Darren’s wedding on the Isle of Wight is fantastic: their style is exciting and colourful and they’re clearly so very much in love.
I also adore their big day because they included family in a big way. Annette told me, “our marriage means more to us than the coming together of our couple, it is also the coming together of the two sides of our family“. I think that’s magical.
Of course there’s also a fabulous cake, Annette’s dress is amazing and she’s such a beautiful bride. The images by wedding photographer Jason Mark Harris are ever so lovely – and Annette and Darren have been kind enough to share their wedding story with us all today. I know you’ll love it!
Congratulations to Annette and Darren – you make a gorgeous couple and you have the cutest family ever! Wishing you every happiness in your new lives together – thank you for allowing us all to enjoy your wedding blog today! Claire xxx
An intimate wedding with family, on the Isle of Wight – Annette and Darren
A little about the wedding ceremony
The Priory Bay has a very welcoming atmosphere and the ceremony took place in their Living Room. That room has a grand country-house feel about it, yet the setup was very informal as instead of the usual rows of chairs, the sofas and armchairs were used to face the front of the room.
We wanted a small ceremony and only invited 23 of our closest friends and family. Darren’s twin sons, Harry and George (17) were ushers, and my daughters Emily (7) and Olivia (5) were my flower-girls. We made up with other friends and extended family by holding a big party two weeks later!
Darren spent the previous night at The Boathouse, a local pub & guest house with his best man. They were joined by a few friends for a very civilised ‘stag’ evening and Harry and George arrived in time for a full English breakfast before donning their finest in the morning. Before hopping onto the gorgeous Vintage Bus to go to The Priory Bay Hotel, the boys enjoyed a fun photo-session, in true ‘Reservoir Dogs’ style!
Everyone else met at our house in St Helens, where we had a glass of bubbly before setting off to The Priory Bay Hotel. The Vintage Bus took everyone there, but one of my bridesmaids, Lou, had arranged for her step-mum to pick me and my flower-girls in her horse & cart. It was a wonderful surprise as I stepped out of our house, and the girls felt they were in a Disney Fairytale! Their dreams had finally come true too!!!
Wedding music and entertainment:
We were very particular about the music we wanted during the ceremony. We spent hours trawling through the internet, and we eventually found versions of our favourite songs that we really loved.
My bridesmaids, flowergirls and then my Dad and I entered the room with an acoustic guitar version of “Marry You”; we played Etta James’ “ At Last” and Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E” whilst signing the register and Darren and I skipped along to a yukelele version of Jason Mraz “I’m Yours” on our way out.
The pre-ceremony background music included Jason Mraz ft. James Morrison version of “Detail is in the Fabric”, James Blunt’s cover of “Fall at your Feet”, Carole King’s “You’ve got a Friend”, Charles Aznavour “For me Formidable” and finally, the cheesy ‘guilty-pleasure’ that is The Carpenters’ “I can’t smile without you”. 8 months on from our Big Day, it’s STILL my favourite playlist…and probably will remain so for a very very long time!
What did you wear?
Darren wore a sand-coloured three piece suit with a green tie and handsome brown brogues; I wore a 50s inspired knee-length tea dress over a fluffy ruffles candyfloss-pink petty-coat, a specially commissioned crocheted shawl, ‘pimped up’ plain shoes and a flower hairclip.
I found the perfect dress in a local wedding shop just before Christmas; my mum and bridesmaids all agreed, it was stunning. Then a month or so later… I completely changed my mind! I didn’t want the Grecian, long strapless gown anymore.
It was too late to cancel the order, but luckily the wedding shop agreed to sell it for me (still no luck yet though!). I then went online (I’m a bit of an internet-shopping addict!) and saw EXACTLY what I wanted: a knee-length ivory dress, with lovely detailing around the bust that reminded me of 1950s glamour…and it was a tenth of the price of the one in the shop!
The only slight hiccup…it was listed on ebay and would come from China! But I took the plunge, and sent them all my measurements (less a few inches that I had all intentions on losing between then and the Big Day…that was a good incentive!). Some weeks later, I got an email to say it had been shipped and I could track its progress…across two provinces in China, then through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and after several other countries to my front door!
My bridesmaids made me promise I wouldn’t open the parcel until they were with me. It was torture but I managed and, truthfully, it was JUST as I had expected it!
As for the shoes…oh my what a nightmare! Of course I had my mind set on a pair of Dolce and Gabana costing £250. Which I would never ever spend on shoes; well, not just one pair anyway! So after months of searching I finally decided to go for plain ivory mid-heel weeding shoes, and made two flower clips to attach to the front of them. Et voila!
The shawl was made by a local lady who even crocheted different types of flowers along the borders of our shawls (my two girls and the bridesmaids all had shawls too; theirs were pink with green/dark pink flowers and mine was green with pink roses and peonies). As the morning was still a little cool, it was great having those beautiful shawls to cosy into. And they’re a great reminder.
Darren also found his suit online. It was a sand-coloured, three piece Jeff Banks suit that looked really smart without looking too formal. We were incredibly lucky with his tie, which we found on etsy.com and turned out to be the EXACT right hue of green…phew! He also wore some lovely brown brogues and a beautiful pink & green rose in his boutonniere.
The Priory Bay Hotel, Seaview, Isle of Wight for the ceremony, aperitif and lunch. Our home for cake, tea and dancing (splashing for the kids) in the latter part of the afternoon. Two weeks later (once we’d returned from Honeymoon), some Yurts in a local field for a BIG party with live music, free bar, food and a fab photobooth.
How would you describe your wedding style?
Low-key, Happy and Relaxed
Which readings did you choose?
I asked my bridesmaids, Liz and Lou to read Pam Ayres’ “Yes I’ll Marry You”. But first both Darren and I read out ‘Family Vows’ that we had written for the girls and boys, respectively. It was very emotional and I’m glad we did that, as our marriage means more to us than the coming together of our couple, it is also the coming together of the two sides of our family.
Tell us a little about your wedding venue styling and details:
The Priory Bay Hotel is a welcoming, cosy Country House and there was really nothing we could have added to make it more special. We had lunch after the ceremony in their Island Room, which has a wonderful fresco of island landscapes on all walls.
The only thing we added were a few low flower arrangements, and the favours: a bottle of home-made Lemoncello for the grown-ups, and a hand-made booklet of puzzles, colouring etc for the children. Our main colours were apple/sage green and candyfloss pink…that was found in the flowers and the bridal party’s ties, bouquets, shawls and (oh so fluffy!) pettycoats!
Invitations and reception stationery:
We designed and ordered our invitations online, through zazzle.com and didn’t even think of having an Order of Service or Menu etc. We just felt it wasn’t really needed. As for the kids’ favours, I got my inspiration from the internet and drew pictures, made up puzzles and crosswords and printed and bound the booklets myself. I’m glad I made those as not only did it keep the children busy for a short while, but they enjoyed having their own personalised memento of the day.
Memorable wedding day moments:
- Grinning so much all day that my jaw hurt
- My two girls looking soooo beautiful
- My bridesmaids bringing in their home-made wedding cake – OMG it was PERFECT – and Delicious!
- Our vows to the children and to each other
- Getting back to our home and my father-in-law and brother-in-law playing guitars whilst the kids splashed in the pool and grown-ups sipped tea or champagne and ate cake…
- The WHOLE day was my most memorable and cherished moment.
Wedding day advice:
Don’t over-complicate things. It’s supposed to be a FUN day for all, but especially for the Bride and Groom, so don’t get bogged down in stressful details and don’t feel there is a format you ‘have to’ follow. It’s YOUR Big Day…make it what YOU want.
Recommended wedding suppliers:
Photographer: Jason Mark Harris – his pictures really capture the essence of our day. He was so discreet we hardly knew he was there, which made for more natural photos.
Venue: The Priory Bay Hotel, Seaview, Isle of Wight is so beautiful in its own right, you really don’t need any props (bows on chairs, bird cages, elaborate flower displays…) to make it look amazing. The staff, and Ralph in particular was so attentive, they made us feel like our day was special for them too.