Another fantastic wedding on the blog today – Erin and Russell are the most amazing couple and I think you’ll love their rustic wedding from Northampton. I love the story of how they met (fate across a distance of 3,000 miles!) and the wonderful focus on family and everyone’s enjoyment of their wedding day.
Do read their wedding report which begins halfway down the blog feature today – there is so much to share with you! Look out for tips on wedding invitations for guests from overseas as well as for English wedding guests, and enjoy the images too! They’re by Northamptonshire wedding photographer Aaron Collett.
Big congratulations to Erin and Russell, and huge thanks for the brilliant wedding report and for sharing your big day with us on the English Wedding Blog! Thanks also to Aaron Collett for submitting the wedding and sharing such lovely photos with us all today. Enjoy! Claire x
Erin and Russell’s beautiful, rustic wedding in Northamptonshire
Wedding venue: Hunsbury Hill Centre, Northampton
Wedding photographer: Aaron Collett
How would you describe your wedding style?
We went for a rustic, simple wedding. We really wanted our guests and ourselves to feel relaxed and comfortable the entire day.
A little about the wedding ceremony:
We loved our ceremony. At first we were apprehensive about a Civil Ceremony, but our Registrar, Dipna, was wonderful. She made us feel so comfortable before the ceremony started. When we got to the front of the room, we already felt at ease and were able to enjoy every second of the ceremony.
Erin chose her wedding party to consist of the Sisters. Erin has four sisters, of which three were able to make it to England. The fourth was in her third trimester back in Florida! And being Russell’s only sibling, his sister completed the party.
Russell chose his groomsmen carefully when he asked his best friend from University to be his best man, his cousin who is more like a brother, and Erin’s brother.
Which readings did you choose?
We had two readings – both of which spoke to our personalities. They were full of humour which allowed us to keep the ceremony specific to us as people. Our first reading was done by Russell’s cousin, Laura, who read ‘Yes, I’ll marry you my dear’ by Pam Ayres. The second reading was done by one of Erin’s best friends, Kyle, who read ‘I’ll be there’ by Louise Cuddon.
Tell us a little about your wedding venue styling and details:
Hunsbury Hill set the stage for a beautiful, rustic wedding. We did not have to do much at all except add some details. The main ceremony and dinner was held in the High Barn, which was 90sq metres of relaxed comfort.
We tied about 30 jade lanterns over the beams and dressed the tables with a simple, homemade centrepiece. Each centrepiece was designed to give the guests something to do or something to talk about while they were seated.
We had an apple crate with unique antique items ranging from an old camera to books about simple inventions that now during the modern day we take for granted. We spent many weekends hunting round antique shops to see what we could find. We also added games from an older generation such as marbles and pick-up sticks. Each crate had a unique vase filled with a few handpicked wildflowers.
We designed the day around comfort so one of the decisions we made around the food was to have a buffet style English tea spread for our Wedding Breakfast. We did not assign seats so the guests could move around freely and even dine in the outdoor patio if they wanted.
After our evening guests arrived, we treated them to some chip shop favourites. Our skilful caterer brought out the fryer and cooked fish, chips, battered sausages, and more.
We topped off the spread with a beautiful, three tier cake made by our wonderful friend. We chose three different layers containing chocolate cake, vanilla sponge, and chocolate brownie. Each layer was encased by a chocolate frosting decorated with Cadbury Fingers and milk and white chocolate Maltesers.
Invitations and reception stationery:
This was one of our favourite parts of the wedding preparations. We had guests coming from the United States, so we went for a travel document theme. We first sent out Save the Dates about the end of 2011. They came in the form of personalised boarding passes. Then when we sent the invitations in June, they were personalised passports, where each page detailed another part of the event. It contained details of the day, of course, but also suggestions on where to stay and also some things they could do while visiting England.
For the English guests, we did the same type of invite, but omitted the accommodation and touring sections and instead replaced it with directions to the venue. Both of these we designed and created ourselves.
What did you wear?
Erin’s dress was a soft ivory, classic dress. It was subtly embellished with clear jewels around the waist. The train was modest and was pinned up in time to start the dancing! The dress was topped off with an elegant bolero jacket. The Sisters wore their individual selection of a jade dress with Russell’s younger cousin in a Flower Girl dress.
Russell wore a traditional black tails jacket with grey pin stripe trousers and an ivory cravat. His groomsmen, along with Erin’s six year old nephew, wore the same attire with a jade cravat.
Memorable wedding day moments:
We absolutely loved our first dance. We chose ‘Unintended’ by Muse as it was definitely fate that brought us together. A girl from Boston, sent to England on a work assignment, met the man of her dreams. Any different choice in life might have changed what Erin was doing in January 2009 when she met Russell 3,000 miles away from her home.
Wedding day advice:
Usually I think time is the most popular advice? We started planning our wedding a full year before the ceremony which allowed us to be creative about what we really wanted. But more than that, we really made sure to keep it low key and low stress. We had heard so many horror stories about couples going mad over the details and we wanted to make sure the day was calm and we kept focus on what it was really all for! We also managed to keep costs low while not sacrificing anything, good research and getting hands dirty goes a long way.
Wedding music and entertainment:
As guests were arriving we played a selection from ‘The Wedding Album’ by Roy Todd, and as Erin walked down the aisle, we played ‘Bridal March’ by Jonathan Cain. It is the most beautiful compilation of traditional wedding songs with just music and no words. Upon hearing it for the first time, it made the bride cry as she remembered to take a breath and remember how monumental it was that they were getting married and their dreams were coming true.
Post ceremony, we invited a song artist and musician, Leona Passow, to play two 45 minute sets. We all got to enjoy her gorgeous singing, accompanied by a fantastic solo guitarist. Leona covered many songs ranging from classic to contemporary.
Our evening event kicked off after the first dance, with a unique 2 hours of karaoke. All of the guests were invited to show off their amazing singing skills; to call it entertaining would be an understatement. Afterwards, a lively and enjoyable disco kicked off well into the night.
Recommended wedding suppliers:
We set our sights on the venue first and fell in love almost immediately. When we first met with the venue, they mentioned that the weddings that they had booked in for 2012 already double the number they had in 2011. And as we continued working with them, we could see vast changes in their company. They went from a small company who booked in events as and when, to a large company who ended up hiring out their business to an outside vendor to help organise and maintain their bookings.
The event coordinator, Sarah, was extremely helpful and professional and she gave us the reassurance we needed to make sure everything went according to plan both leading up to the day as well as on the big day! www.hunsburyhillcentre.co.uk
Aaron Collett was our primary choice for photographer. Having seen his previous photos, we knew the style would suit us well. Aaron’s calm and controlled demeanour kept us at ease. He worked with us to provide the shots we wanted, but took the lead when we asked him to provide us with suggestions. Being as we are relatively easy-going, we gave Aaron a free reign over photos, which resulted in a great final selection of images. We cannot recommend him highly enough. www.aaroncollettphotography.co.uk
And what an unforgettable adventure as Erin and her immediate family drove for 45 minutes from the house to the venue, through breathtaking English countryside while riding in two classic cars; a 1932 Rolls Royce Open Tourer and a 1963 Austin Princess limousine, provided by Regency Carriages. An experience that the Americans are sure never to forget! www.regencycarriages.co.uk
The great thing about Hunsbury is that they recommended their in-house caterer, Impressions. Knowing we wanted the best for our money, we went away and did some research as to what other caterers we might work with. After talking with a handful of companies, we quickly learned that Stuart and his team at Impressions were not only the best at what they did, they were creative, flexible, and also knew the venue intimately which led to excellent service the day of the wedding.
And as everyone knows, the bride & groom don’t have a lot of time the day of their wedding, so one very small detail was who the heck was going to set up the venue on the day to make sure that it was everything we wanted by the time we got there? The only people we trusted with this very important task would be people who were attending our wedding as guests!
We were referred to The Wedding Dresser, Janet, who worked in an extremely professional manner but was also down to earth. We met her at her house well before the wedding, where she helped us pick out chair covers, chair ties, accessories, etc. She even offered to do our wedding invitations for us (of course at a charge). But we already had our hearts set on doing them ourselves.
Janet was amazing. In a time of a lot of stress and not enough time, Janet would email us to remind us of things that she still needed from us leading up to the big day. She kept us on track, showed up to the venue the day of and dressed the venue beautifully!
Our florist, Lee Berrill, did a handful of beautiful bouquets as well as supplying us with the wildflowers. He was great at making suggestions and was happy to arrange the bouquets in a more rustic way to keep the feel more casual. He even added the extra touch of jade jewels to the bride’s bouquet to make it a bit more special. He was wonderful even when we asked him to make three different stops the morning of the wedding to make sure all the right flowers were at the right location.
And Russell even surprised Erin when he left for his stag weekend with a Lee Berrill arrangement which lasted three long weeks on their dining room table. What a great testimonial leading up to the wedding to ensure that we had made the right decision in choosing him as our florist!