Gemma and Mike set the scene for their day by sending all of their guests gold tickets wrapped in chocolate bars as invitations. And this won my heart from the second I knew – they sound fabulous! Their day was themed around Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with lots of lovely touches bringing the theme to life and some STUNNING portraits which take my breath away.
I asked Gemma to share her best advice with all of you lovely brides and grooms out there: “Don’t get stressed out about the wedding, and make sure you have the day that YOU want. You don’t always have to please everyone else.”
And after the day? What’s the best thing about being married? “Knowing that we are both really happy, and looking forward to what our next adventure is.” How lovely is that?
Images are by lovely Dave Allen of Just Hitched Wedding Photography, based in Essex. Find out more about Just Hitched Photography here:
I hope you love this wedding! Who else is feeling a little too chocolatey for this time of day already?! 😉
The English Wedding Blog interview: Gemma and Mike
Wedding photographer’s website:
How did you choose your photographer?
We attended another wedding where he was the photographer, and really liked his manor with all the wedding guests, and how he didn’t seem to be getting in the way or taking over the day.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
Yes, super pleased. He was very friendly, and all the guests really liked him as well. He also made us feel comfortable when taking photos round both our houses in the morning before the ceremony, We liked the fact he was there from the beginning of the day until our first dance.
Tell us about the moment you saw your wedding photos for the first time?
We had a sneak preview of two photos that Dave posted on his blog, and we loved them. Everyone who saw those absolutely loved them as well, and both they and us couldn’t wait to see the rest of the pictures. We had people asking “have you got them yet, have you got them yet?!” The rest of the photos were lovely to look through, and we spent one evening just watching a slideshow of all the images!
Great Hallingbury Manor
Your wedding style or theme:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
Mainly recommendations, and we found the beautiful Rolls Royce we had as our wedding car via the internet.
What’s your top tip for saving money?
Don’t go to a few tiny boutique wedding dress shops, go to somewhere with much more variety – you are more likely to find something you love and for not such a premium price.
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
The church service – having the choir present really made it extra special.
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
We designed the stationery, and Mike’s dad, Les, made it a reality for us through his company Offsite Digital. Our invitations were real chocolate bars, with the wrappers in the style of a Wonka bar. The invitation was a golden ticket inside the chocolate bar. We loved our invites – and so did our guests!
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
We all walked into David’s Bridal in Stratford (I was with my mum, and all my Bridesmaids), with no appointment, and an hour before closing. But as they had a special event on, they let us. Within an hour all the girls had picked out dresses for me, I had tried on a few and then found the one. Everyone loved it the first time I put it on. And to make it extra special the wedding dress designer was in the shop with us!
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
– shoes from a lovely Italian shoe shop in Holborn, London. They just sparkled through the window!!
– pins for my hair from Accessorize
– earrings from Swarovski
– a Pandora bracelet as a wedding present on the day from my now husband
– a heart bracelet that was the same as one I gave all the bridesmaids
– the most amazing sash to wear with my dress, from David’s Bridal
And what did the groom wear?
A dark grey suit bought from Jeff Banks, and a silver waistcoat with silver cravat and pocket chief.
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
Matching cobalt blue long dresses (purchased from ASOS). They all looked great – one of my bridesmaids was 5 months pregnant and still looked fabulous in it.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
My brother’s girlfriend Olivia is a fantastic hairdresser, she highlighted my hair just before the wedding, and put my hair up on the morning. It looked amazing and stayed in all day. Another friend Maria (@_mj_makeup) trained as a Mac make-up artist, and she did a fantastic job on my make-up, which also lasted all day!
Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)
Barbara, who does all the flowers for St Mary’s Church, Great Dunmow, did all of our flowers for us.
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
Great Hallingbury Manor took care of this for us – we just supplied centre pieces, favours, place cards, the table plan, and told them the colour theme so they could match the sashes on the back of the chairs.
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
I homemade our table centre pieces with my Bridesmaids. We made sweetie trees. I purchased the bases and polystyrene balls from ebay in the correct colour theme (blues), and then purchased ALOT of sweets – the table names were after the type of sweet, so we had Lindt, Celebrations, Quality Street, Roses, Miniature Heroes and Ferrero Rocher. After plenty trial and error, we found the best way to stick them on was with a glue gun. This was fun, and we were proud of ourselves once we had finished.
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
We went for a cupcake tower so we had a bit of variety in the types of cakes people could eat – we had filled chocolate orange cupcakes, filled salted caramel cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes, and plain vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. We also had a giant cupcake on top so that we had something to slice.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
My Uncle Roy, who flew over especially from Australia, played the trumpet in the church. As me, my dad and the Bridesmaids were waiting to walk down the aisle, he played the song Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was pretty magical. He also did a solo part way through the service, and played along to all the hymns. For our final hymn, we had put out percussion instruments for all the guests, and they joined in with the celebrations which was fantastic.
For the speeches, my dad decided to sing part of his – a song called I Loved Her First – and a family friend, Peter, played the piano while he sang. It was very emotional and a total surprise!
In the evening we had a band called The Downside. They were excellent. We had another surprise – my dad is a professional drummer, and when the band went to play Walking on Sunshine, he played the drums, my sister Cath sang with the main singer, and my Uncle Roy played the trumpet. It was incredible!