Today’s wedding is incredible – I fell hard for the gorgeous red peony bouquet, which matches beautiful bride Charlotte’s hair perfectly! The venue is spectacular… if you’re looking for a wedding venue in the south east of the country, and want to make a real statement – then this is absolutely one to go see! David and Charlotte’s day is filled with thoughtful handmade touches, beautiful moments, and love and laughter. I hope you love it as much as I do!
We got married at Battle Abbey School in Battle, East Sussex. I grew up in Hastings (which is just down the road) and David has come to adore the coast so the setting and the location was perfect for us. For our wedding we decided on a book theme. Both of us are avid writers and readers and the love of a book is what heavily fueled one of our first conversations. Battle Abbey offered the opportunity to have our wedding breakfast in their library – which convinced us that it was the perfect setting for our day. Around the wedding we had various literature related items – book centerpieces, paper flowers, a table plan constructed of book pages. It was great to bring that love of ours into such a special day. I think the style of our wedding was quite classic, with the setting of Battle, the tails for the boys and lace on my dress.
Our wedding flowers were done by Geoff at La Collina Gardens. They had done the flowers for my cousins wedding so I knew the quality beforehand and knew we could trust them to help us in any way we needed. We decided on peonies, calla lilies and roses for our flowers, all in deep red and ivory tones. We picked those three flowers because they were our favourites and because we felt they really complimented each other. My bouquet consisted entirely of red flowers of all three varieties, which my bridesmaid had red and white, minus the calla lilies. Our mothers also had white wrist corsages and the boys all had red buttonholes, with David’s flower being a calla lily whilst the others had roses. Geoff was so amazing and helpful, designing some stunning centerpieces and pedestal arrangements and created an incredible ivy piece on the balcony above the hall, which he filled with fairy lights. Those details really added a magical and special element to the venue.
Wedding photographer’s website:
We had been looking for a photographer for a while and we couldn’t seem to find one that we truly loved. I was signed up to a number of wedding sites where suppliers were recommended to me and could email me. We received an email from Nikki – it was such a warm and friendly email and after we read about her candid photography style and her love of vintage weddings, we had to look through her portfolio. The quality of the photos she took made us fall in love with her immediately.
We adored Nikki. From the first email exchanges to our final phone call, she was kind, open-minded and enthusiastic about everything we came to her with. She had such a passion for every detailed we had planned for the day and was eager to incorporate it into the story she was going to tell with her photographs. Nikki is such an unobtrusive photographer that we forgot she was there for most of the day – which made for some of the best photos we now cherish.
Nikki sent us over a slideshow with our photos and we were instructed to watch that before opening the full album which added a whole different element to the experience that made it so, so special for us. Seeing our photos for the first time was amazing. The day went so fast that I was afraid of forgetting some of the best moments, but Nikki captured them all so spectacularly that I knew I would never have to worry about that. There were so many of us smiling, of people having fun, of precious moments between David and I, me and my parents and David and his parents, that I can express my gratitude to have those. It was an emotion time opening that album and it made me want to relive the day again!
The ceremony room was stunning and just flooded with natural light, with an enormous painting of the battle in the background. I did a venue visit a few months before the wedding day, and while the building itself and these gorgeous rooms were stunning, I was most excited about the ruins. There are ruins that you can explore right next to the venue. Stunning, dramatic light, crumbling walls, huge archways and hidden rooms. An amazing setting for the couple portraits! ~ Nikki Van Der Molen
Can you describe your wedding in fewer than 10 words?
An incredible day we would relive again in a heartbeat.
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
Most of our suppliers were sourced locally. My cousins had gotten married in the area in the few years prior so we knew a number of suppliers that we could trust already, such as our amazing florist. A few we found independently, such as our band and make up artist, who were so incredible and I would highly recommend them! We also did quite a bit of DIY, such as my husband making all of our signs, name cards and order of the day. But for some bits I would recommend using the internet to your best advantage. Ebay, Amazon, Etsy were all close friends of mine during our planning!
What’s your top tip for saving money?
Start early! I started saving money a year or two before David even asked me to marry him. I didn’t necessarily save it for the purpose of our wedding, but I knew there were a lot of things in our life I wanted us to do and I knew none of them were cheap. Weddings cost a lot more than anyone ever expects and I think keeping that in mind will help. I would also advice keeping spreadsheets of your budget and where your money is going. It not only helps you to keep on track with payments that need to be made, it also avoids any unexpected budgetary disasters or surprises.
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
Having a second shooter on the day is something I’m definitely glad we did. Having photos of David getting ready in the morning and all those different angles throughout the day are so great. Spending money on hiring a make up artist too saved us so much stress on the day and I’m glad that we had Natasha there to keep us all calm and to make it as smooth-sailing as possible. Our flowers also looked so incredible and I’m so glad we decided on those particular flowers, even though they were a little more expensive, because they were the colours and style I had always wanted and they all matched so well and really added to the decoration of the main hall and the library. We also decided to hire a photo booth for the evening and it was one of our best ideas because people had such a great time in it and we have some great memories because of it.
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
Our stationery was mostly made by David. As a skilled artist and designer, he decided to make all of our signs, our name cards, table plan and order of the day. It was really nice to have that personal touch on the day and he loved it so much that he’s now planning on starting a business doing it! Our invites and thank you cards were ordered from Hitched Wedding Stationery. We wanted to incorporate our engagement shoot photos and a particular thank you photo we took at the wedding into the design and they had a really easy system with lots of designs that allowed us to do this.
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
I couldn’t have found a more perfect dress for our wedding. I looked around a few shops and tried on a number of dresses, but I never felt 100% satisfied with the choices I had. When we visited Tying the Knot, Jan and Annabelle made the experience so special that trying their dresses on felt so different. Everything about my dress was what I’d always wanted. The amazing train, the lace detail, the pearl design, the A-Line fit. They even adapted it so that it was strapless for me. It fit in perfectly with our venue and made me feel amazing, so I fell in love easily. I just wish I could wear it more than once!
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
I purchased my dress from Tying the Knot Bridal Boutique in Eastbourne, East Sussex. My dress was the Carmella from their English Rose Collection.
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
I matched my jewellery with details of my dress – I wore a pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings. They were simple, as were my shoes, so not to draw away from the detail of my dress. My hair piece was similar, with diamante and pearl features. I think the most special addition for me was the small piece of handkerchief my mum pinned in the layers of my dress. It belonged to my granddad who passed away before the day and it was so lovely to still have him there with us as we knew how excited he had been.
And what did the groom wear?
David and his party all wore a navy herringbone tailcoat, pinstriped trousers, ivory waistcoats and red cravats. The style of their suits fit perfectly with the setting. We also made sure that David’s waistcoat had a different design on so that he stood out. All the suits were hired from Bustles and Bows in Hastings, East Sussex and were from the Cameron Ross collection.
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
My three bridesmaids wore floor length, red wine coloured dresses that were also strapless. The style really complimented their figures, hair colours and individual tastes and the colour matched the flowers perfectly and, conveniently, the colour of my hair! Our flower girls wore white lace dresses with a sash of red satin around their waist that matched the colour of the bridesmaid dresses. They were a perfect mix of me and the bridesmaids, which our page boy had a miniature version of the boys’ suits. We purchased the bridesmaid dresses from Bridal Factory in Hastings and the flower girl dresses from Marks and Spencers.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
We hired both our hair and make up. Our hair was done by a close family friend who has been cutting and dying my hair since I was a young teenager so I knew we could trust her to get it exactly as we wanted but also honestly advise on what suited us. Our make up was done by Natasha Valerie, who is also local to Hastings. She was so incredible, making sure we were 100% with the work she had done and willing to retouch any detail we asked for – as we were all so particular! Having her there felt like having another friend in the room, which really made the atmosphere and experience so much nicer.
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
Our venue didn’t really need much decoration in all honestly. As a heritage building it really decorates itself! We added some minor details such as the flowers – both paper and real – throughout, vines of ivy and flower lights around pillars and large lanterns on the steps outside. We felt these details just gave the venue a personal touch that made it magical for us.
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
I really enjoyed having a few homemade parts of the wedding! It felt like we could really get involved and personalise the day rather than just having someone deliver and set everything up for us. We made our favours ourselves, choosing our favourite sweets as small gifts, and David’s mum had small sugared sweets made to honour the tradition that runs in the Italian side of the family. And simple things, such as making the confetti boxes and reserved signs, gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
We are both huge fans of food and have really sweet teeth, so the cake was one of the most exciting decisions in a way! We decided on a four tier cake that consisted of lemon drizzle, victoria sponge, red velvet and fruit cake. There’s nothing worse than going to a wedding and not being able to take home a slice of cake so we wanted to have something for everyone. The outside was decorated with a trail of red and ivory sugar flowers, which was really beautiful.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
We both love music, particularly live music, so we knew we had to get a band for the wedding. We decided on a Brighton-based band called Teenage Kicks. With David a fan of older songs and myself more in tune with modern, it was great to have a band that catered to both. My recommendation is to go for a band or DJ that has a lot of experience as they will build a set list that keeps your guests and party going! We also researched the band, checked their set lists and listened to a few recordings to make sure they were suited to our style before booking. The guys were so great and so friendly, even learning a song of our choice which I will always have an amazing memory of dancing to.
Words of wisdom: share your best piece of advice for other couples:
Planning is crucial. From setting yourself deadlines, to keeping track of budget, to deciding what you want earlier on. It helps to avoid any arguments and any stress at a later date. Your wedding is supposed to be an enjoyable experience and you shouldn’t let any last minute panics ruin that for. Just be prepared for everything. My advice for people on the day is love every moment. If something isn’t going right, don’t worry about it now. There will be someone there that can panic on your behalf. This is your day. This is what you’ve been waiting for. It goes so quick that you’ll blink and it’ll be over. So take it all in and make as many memories as you can.
What’s the best thing about being married?
It’s definitely being able to look at David and know that he is the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with. All the good days, the bad days, the laughter and the tears will be shared. And that is such an amazing feeling. To know that no matter what, he loves and supports me as I do him, was perfectly reflected in our wedding day and will continue to be in every day after.
Favourite supplier web links for other brides and grooms:
www.hitched.co.uk and www.ukbride.co.uk is a great site that lists suppliers and advice for all different areas. Even if you don’t find anything on there you want to book, it at least narrows it down. The blog David and I write also covers a number of wedding topics with advice for people currently planning their weddings. We can be found at thecasualcolumnists.wordpress.com. Also, check out all the suppliers I’ve mentioned. They’re all amazing and we couldn’t have asked for better people for our wedding.
Photographer: Nikki Van Der Molen – http://www.nikkivandermolen.com/
Florist: La Collina Gardens – http://www.lacollinagardens.co.uk/
Cake: Candy Cake Creations – http://www.candycakescreations.co.uk/
MUA: Natasha Valerie – http://www.natashavaleriemakeup.com/
Band: Teenage Kicks – http://www.teenagekicksband.co.uk/