Carly and Steve’s beautiful outdoor wedding at Thornbury Castle, with Martin Dabek Photography
Good morning lovely, and welcome to today’s pretty, sunlit, beautifully-dressed summer wedding! Gorgeous couple Carly and Steve tied the knot in August, choosing our fabulous friend and Thornbury Castle wedding photographer Martin Dabek to capture their day. Carly is breathtaking in a stunning embroidered gown from The Dressing Rooms in Halesowen – if anyone knows the designer of this dress, do give us a shout because we LOVE it! The florals are divine, and Claire from The Wilde Bunch (who Martin recommended to Carly and Steve) gets the loveliest review from our happy couple.
Do read Carly’s English Wedding interview after the images. Her story is beautifully told, and she gives us glowing reviews for some brilliant wedding vendors (listed at the end of the feature for your convenience!)
So snuggle up with a cuppa, get your scrolling digits ready and GO! You will LOVE this wedding!
Wedding photographer’s website:
Martin was highly recommended by our venue.
We thought Martin was absolutely fantastic!! He made us both feel really special whilst not being too intrusive. He adapted to the flow of the day naturally and nothing was too much trouble! His fun personality is perfectly suited to being a wedding photographer and he captured some fantastic moments from our special day – everyone loved him!
Tell us about the moment you saw your wedding photos for the first time?
We cried!! (very happy tears!) The photographs are absolutely stunning and we love them all! Looking through the photos really bought back happy memories from the day – and even little moments we had started to forget. We must have looked through the photos over and over again at least 5/6 times when we first got them! Even now when we look at them they make us smile from ear-to-ear! Will treasure the photos forever!
Thornbury Castle, South Gloucestershire
What an AMAZING venue! Steeped in history and in beautiful grounds. We were also lucky enough to be able to get married outside in the gardens.
Can you describe your wedding in fewer than 10 words?
The most surreal, incredible and best day of our lives!
Your wedding style or theme:
We went for a lilac colour theme as, unbeknown to Steve, I knew this colour would perfectly compliment my dress! Our wedding style was small and intimate with close family and friends which was perfectly complimented by the venue and grounds. Our flowers were beautiful and had a touch of something a little bit different from the norm – the candelabra flowers were stunning and very well suited to the Wedding Breakfast room and atmosphere.
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
I found my wedding dress supplier after visiting the national Wedding Show at the NEC – I didn’t try any dresses on there as I wanted to have the real experience of going to a bridal shop.
We fell in love with our venue in Gloucester but this meant we couldn’t really source suppliers locally by us and we heavily relied on recommendations. Our florist was recommended by Martin, our photographer, and we couldn’t have been happier with the results. Our other suppliers came from searches on Instagram which worked brilliantly! We also went to a Wedding Fayre at the venue which really helped us find our cake supplier.
What’s your top tip for saving money?
Make a spreadsheet to keep track of spending and do lots of research before confirming bookings.
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
My wedding dress!! I never normally wear dresses but I absolutely loved my wedding dress and wanted to keep it on forever!
Our photographer – the photographs are irreplaceable and every single one holds a special memory!
The venue – we both got “that feeling” when we first went to see it, much like viewing a house for the first time, and we just knew it was the one!
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
Etsy is absolutely fantastic – there’s so much choice (sometimes too much choice!) but we loved the stationery we chose and it was very in keeping with our venue and personal styles.
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
YES!!! I was nervous about looking for my wedding dress and the one I chose was actually a dress the assistant suggested I try on. As soon as I put it on and saw myself in the mirror I fell in love with it! My dress was a little bit unusual which is “very me”, it was blush and ivory. On our wedding day I felt amazing in it!
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
Bridal boutique: The Dressing Rooms, Halesowen – highly recommended!!
Dress Designer: (not sure) but my dress is called “Paige”
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
I wore Dune wedding sandals, which were really comfortable considering the heel height!
I didn’t want to detract from my dress too much so had decided to go simple with accessories. I had a dainty wedding vine from John Rocha at Debenhams which was woven into my hair. My wonderful husband surprised me with a Tiffany bracelet on our Wedding morning which I put on straight away! He is so thoughtful.
I lost my Mum when I was 11 and on my wedding day morning my Dad came to see me and gave me my Mums engagement ring to wear for the day. This was incredibly special and meant the world to me – it felt like I had a little piece of my Mum with me the whole day. We both got quite emotional when he gave it to me and placed in on my finger. My Mum’s engagement ring is beautiful – blue sapphire with diamonds around it which meant it also completed my “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”. I will never forget that moment.
And what did the groom wear?
Steve wore a DKNY mid-grey suit. We went suit shopping together and, again, unbeknown to Steve, when we saw the DKNY suit I know it would perfectly compliment my dress! His tie and pocket square were pastel lilac in keeping with our theme and had really lovely subtle floral detail on them. He bought new Ted Baker black shoes which came with a choice of blue or black laces so he went with the blue for something a little bit different (along with his bright pink socks!!) The cufflinks Steve chose were special – they were little motorbikes! Both Steve and his Best Man (Steve’s brother) are big into their bikes so this was a lovely touch and something special to them both.
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
I had just 1 bridesmaid, my beautiful sister in law! We have been like real sisters for many years, even before she married my brother! She wore a lilac dress from Little Mistress which had gorgeous lace detailing on the back.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
Make-Up: ByAnnabella – she was AMAZING! She made me feel really at ease and I even learnt a few tips from her! She has a wonderful personality and I clicked with her the moment I met her. All I asked was that I look pretty on my wedding day and I was over the moon with the makeup look she gave me.
Hair: Chris Allen. Chris works at the same salon as Annabella and, he too, was fantastic! I had gone down to Bristol for a hair trial with a different person and it was a disaster – there were tears! Chris on the other hand really listen to what I had envisaged and delivered perfectly.
I was delighted with both my hair and make-up – I just wish I lived closer to where they’re based so I could go back to them for other special occasions.
Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)
Florist: The Wilde Bunch, Claire Nicholson.
From the moment we met Claire we knew she would be perfect for us! She took on board our ideas and came up with the most incredible selection of flowers. Claire called them “ingredients” which always made me smile! I love that expression for the flowers! Throughout the whole process she provided guidance and suggestions without being pushy. After our meeting Claire sent us photos/pictures of the flowers we had discussed which really helped paint a real picture in our minds of what the flower arrangement would look like. An additional plus was that we were able to use their props (candelabras, lanterns, vases) at no additional charge which was brilliant!
The flowers were mainly a mixture of different types of white flowers, of differing sizes, with hints of blush pinks and light purples/lilacs to go with our theme. The David Austin roses were beautiful and smelt gorgeous! I had hoped to have had peonies in my bouquet but they were out of season so Claire suggested the David Austin rose as an alternative and they were great! Eucalyptus was also included and this created a really lovely soft effect in my bridal bouquet. myself and my bridesmaid had handheld bouquets which even last for a good couple of weeks after the wedding! We also had buttonholes made for the Groom, Best man, both Dads and Steve’s mum had a ladies corsage made.
I loved the flowers so much I have had my bridal bouquet preserved!
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
We were lucky as our venue was an old Tudor castle and therefore we didn’t want to detract from the feeling of the venue at all. our Wedding Breakfast table was set up as a large banqueting table – very fitting for the venue – and the candelabras were placed along the centre of the table which gave it a real grand feel in keeping with the setting. What did work really well was we hired up-lighters for the wedding breakfast room in the North Wing which made a real difference to the ambience of the setting. We also had up lighters placed outside so that when it got dark the outer walls of the courtyard were lit up. This came out really well in our night-time photographs. The up-lighters could be set to pretty much any colour we wanted so we opted for a purple which tied in very well with our theme and helped bring everything together.
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
I am big into horse riding and I am very lucky that at the stables the yard manager will often save horse shoes after the farrier has been and she cleans them up to decorate! She collected some horse shoes for me and painted them silver with a hint of purple in them. Once painted, 3 shoes were stood up and tied together with purple and ivory ribbon to make candle holders – this made for a great talking point for guests! I also had some shoes from my favourite horse made into a decoration with flowers and our names on for the guest book table.
We also purchased a large mirror which we used for our order of the day. We managed to buy a lilac marker pen and, in my best handwriting, we wrote our own order of the day on the mirror which was placed on an easel.
For the Bride, Groom and Bridesmaid we also bought some vinyl decals to transfer onto champagne flutes which said “Bride” “Groom” “Bridesmaid” and our wedding date. Although this was a fiddly job the end results looked fab!
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
As we only had a small wedding we knew we didn’t need a big cake! We opted for 2 small tiers, the bottom tier slightly larger than the top and the cake was decorated with large sugar craft flowers which matched flowers from my bouquet.
It was hard to chose between flavours so we opted for one tier each of both of the flavours we liked best: lemon and good old victoria sponge!
We ordered cake boxes off eBay so that guests could take a little slice of cake home with them. The cake boxes worked really well and we had them made with a message on the lid “A little slice from our big day! From the new Mr & Mrs Sherwood”.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
With a small wedding we decided not to incur the expense of a band so we had a DJ instead. I have to admit I was nervous that no-one would be dancing but I needn’t have worried! Once the DJ started everyone had a good old dance as we made sure we went for a broad selection of music so there was something all our guests would like and have a boogie to!
Our BIG surprise was that we booked Jemima Phillips – a harpist with a difference! She is awesome!! Her harp combines loop and fx pedals and her large repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary music utilising both acoustic and electric harps. When we received her track list we were amazed at how long it was and how much diverse music she can play on her harp. I will never forget the feeling I had when she started playing the music I had chosen to walk down the isle to and I knew I was about to get married! For our guests – they were so surprised when she plugged in her harp and started playing really cool contemporary music – everyone loved her!
Words of wisdom: share your best piece of advice for other couples:
Make sure you take a few moments to yourselves on your wedding day – everyone will say how fast the day goes, and it really does! It feels so special to take a moment together, just the 2 of you, to take everything in.
Don’t worry about the weather – it is out of your control!
Try to book hair and make-up artists ASAP – they get booked up so far in advance!
What’s the best thing about being married?
Being able to introduce one another as “this is my husband; this is my wife”!
Favourite supplier web links for other brides and grooms:
Wedding Dress: www.thedressingroomsbridal.co.uk
Groom’s suit: DKNY
Bridesmaid’s dress: Little Mistress
Venue: Thornbury Castle, South Gloucestershire
Harpist: Jemima Phillips