Hello! How are you this lovely morning? I’m deliriously happy – I’m just head over heels in love with today’s wedding. Heather and Gary chose Maunsel House for their vintage travel wedding – a fabulous venue indeed. And then they decided on vintage Vespas for wedding transport. Now as you might know, I ride a Vespa and I’m always, always looking out for Vespa weddings to feature. This one is special – and just look at those beautiful little scoots!
Today’s gorgeous couple tick all the boxes for me – they chose a superb wedding photographer, Neale James, who gets a glowing review in the wedding report (towards the end of the blog feature today). And as further proof of their excellent taste and style, my lovely friend Joanne from Vintage Twee made their on the day stationery (wonderful wedding menus, orders of service and table numbers to fit with the vintage travel wedding theme).
It’s all so lovely – I’ll leave you to enjoy the wedding. Thanks to the beautiful bride and groom – Heather and Gary you are awesome! And to wedding photographer Neale James – thank you for submitting such a wonderful wedding!
The bride and groom: Gary and Heather Newby-Allen
Your wedding photographer’s website: www.nealejames.com
Wedding venue: Maunsel House, Somerset, UK
Can you describe your wedding in a single sentence?
Vintage rock with a healthy dollop of romance
What was your reaction to seeing your wedding photos for the first time? Were you pleased with your wedding photographer?
Awestruck. Gary and I were up until 4am looking at them. We looked at over 350 images, four times over. The essence of the day has been beautifully parcelled for us by Neale James to keep in the memory bank forever. Our wedding felt quirky on the day with guests being chased by peacocks, grown men cuddling stuffed grizzly bears and beautifully-dressed ladies walking found with machine guns. Neale was everywhere, capturing everything; even the bits that we missed ourselves on the day.
Your wedding style and theme:
Vintage travel. My husband and I have lived and worked overseas in India, New Zealand and South Africa for the last five years so we wanted our wedding to reflect this; the travel theme was always going to be a big part of our day.
We’ve always loved vintage vehicles, our pride and joys’ being a 1975 split screen VW (which features in a great deal of the pictures and was used as our wedding car) and a 1975 Douglas Vespa (used together with another Vespa to transport the bridal party). The colour theme was dark, chocolate brown and turquoise – the soft turquoise you find on an old map. These colours were carried throughout all of our stationery as well as the suits for Gary and the best man and ushers.
Our style was really everything that we love and enjoy. We love marmalade so we had boozy marmalade as favours. We love red-velvet cake, so that’s what we had as our wedding cake. We love fancy dress, so guests tucked into giant chicken outfits and clown suits as the evening went on. Out policy was, “it’s our day, let’s surround ourselves with everything we love.”
Any happy tears on the day?
Yes, it wasn’t at the altar though. It was in the back of our VW when we left the church. The best man, ushers and bridesmaids were following us on scooters behind and for the first time in our campervan, we were sitting as husband as wife. We had sat in that position so many times, in so many different places and there we were all suited and booted and freshly married. We caught ourselves having the time of our lives.
How long did you spend planning your wedding?
In all, it was about 10 months. We had a fair few guests coming from overseas so we needed to get the invitations out as early as possible to allow people to book flights early. As soon as the invites went out, the questions started coming, which kick-started the planning in earnest. We currently live in South Africa so everything needed to be done over email or skype. We booked the venue over the internet, without having seen it. That was one of our riskier moves, but it paid off.
Best bit of budget advice?
Decide on three elements of the big day that are really important to you and prioritise those. For us, the band, the venue and the photographer were our three elements. Some couples are real foodies, some spend everything on their outfits, but we prioritised a live band, an eccentric venue and the lasting memories that are born from fantastic pictures.
Invitations and stationery:
I hand made our invitations. I loved them, but in hindsight I should have ordered them. They were made from vintage maps with inserts for directions and travel details all printed in brown ink on cream paper.
All of the name places were written by my father-in-law in calligraphy pen on luggage tags. The invitations put paid to any other creative ambitions I may have had for menus, table names and the order of service so we enlisted the help of Joanne at Vintage Twee – a lovely little online company that specialises in wedding stationery. She managed to successfully step inside my head and created everything beautifully. She was so good at communicating with me over email in South Africa and so considerate, sending me colour swatches online to make sure I was happy with the shade of the paper being used. It really was a fantastic experience.
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
I did. It’s a lasting affair too – I still pay a weekly visit to the cupboard it hangs in and gaze adoringly at it. I bought it from Pronovias, South Africa. It was last year’s stock so I managed to get a fair discount on it.
Glitz and sparkle: the bride’s accessories:
My dress had quite a lot of lace detailing on it so I kept accessories to a minimum. I picked up some earrings and a bracelet from Accesorize about a week before our wedding and they worked perfectly. One guest complemented me on my bracelet and asked if it was Tiffany! I enjoyed telling her it was 12.99 from Accessorize!
The groom wore:
Dark brown herringbone tails and a cream waistcoat. It was really quite difficult to find dark brown tails, as most are in navy blue or black so we set our friends at home on a mission to find brown tails and they came up trumps.
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
My four beautiful friends wore mink sequinned shift dresses. They looked really quite 60’s. I picked them up in a shop in South Africa and sent them off to their homes really just hoping that they would like them. They set about accessorising them with beautiful mink shoes and matching bags. The effect was truly amazing and I was incredibly touched by how much effort they all went to.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
My close friend did my makeup. I don’t wear a great deal of makeup on a daily basis so I begged my friend to do it for me. She was really reluctant at first because there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. However, we’re very honest with each other and that was the most important thing to me. I wouldn’t have trusted a stranger or felt comfortable enough to tell them that I didn’t like something.
My hair was done by a professional hairdresser but she was probably the most disappointing of all the suppliers. I had my hair half up with very loose curls just to give is some body but they all fell out within 30 minutes. My bridesmaids were rallying round with curling tongs just before we got in the campervan to go to the church.
Maunsel House recommended our florist, Dinah. We hit it off on our first meeting because I went along with a picture of my dream bouquet that I’d found on the internet and it turned out to be one of her designs. She pointed out the very same image to me in her design book. I know nothing about flowers but she guided me through everything and suggested ways in which we could re-use the flowers we had in the church for little touches throughout the rest of the day. I have lasting memories of guests squabbling over which bunches to take the day after the wedding so that’s got to be a good sign!
Our church was very small and intimate, exactly what we wanted. The vicar was relaxed and even brought in a bit of humour which did wonders at easing the nerves.
We had three readings – one about Jesus turning water into wine, one about Einstein and one that I randomly found in a book in a friend’s bathroom about taking a journey together – this was in keeping with the theme and probably my favourite of the three. The author wasn’t known.
One of the surprising highlights of planning the service was choosing hymns. We sat around our friend’s kitchen table belting out all the golden oldies we could remember from our school assemblies over a cup of tea and some boozy marmalade on toast.
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
Maunsel House really didn’t need any decorating. It was like an Aladdin’s cave of antique furniture, stuffed animals, suits of armour and antique guns. We did add our own touches like signs and flowers and vintage map bunting – all 64 metres of it!
The wedding cake: traditional or quirky?
Quirky – we fell in love with red velvet cake in SA so we just couldn’t consider having anything else, despite my mum’s disapproval at not having fruit cake.
We had a barbershop quartet when people were having a drink on the lawn after the service. They then pulled us aside and gave us a private serenade which was a lovely moment for us to just be together and take two minutes to take everything in. Our band, Hipster, was truly amazing. They were one of our biggest outlays but as we all boogied into the wee hours, it was worth every penny. A guest has actually booked them for their wedding as well.
On the day tips and advice:
Delegate, delegate delegate. It’s the one day that your friends and family can rally round and make things happen. My bridesmaids were fantastic at making things happen, they did everything from helping my mum with her pre-ceremony nerves to peeling merry guests off the floor later.
If suppliers need to be paid on the day, draw out cash well in advance and put it into labelled envelopes and hand it to the best man. You shouldn’t have to be sorting out payments on your wedding day or dealing with money.
What’s the best thing about being married?
For us, it was the surprise that even after being together for eight years, the feeling of being married was something completely new. I still get a buzz when I introduce Gary as my husband, rather than my partner, and I feel like we are a family now, even though, in essence, we were before. There’s still something very romantic about these traditions – I can’t recommend marriage highly enough!
Quick supplier list for other brides and grooms:
- Venue, Maunsel House, Somerset
- Posh Nosh – Caterers
- Vintage Twee – wedding stationery
- Bunting – Bev Johnson
- Photography – Neale James, Breathe Photography
- Band – Hipster (I cannot rate these guys highly enough, we had injuries from such enthusiastic dancing)
- Pronovias – wedding dress
- Cake – The Cake Lady, Somerset