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Sam & Gemma’s Compasses at Pattiswick wedding, with beautiful images by Sally Rawlins

I know you’re going to love a wedding if I find myself beaming at my screen as I write it all up. And today I did just that, SO many times! It’s not just the beautiful bride and gorgeous groom, and it’s not just Sally Rawlins’ amazing images which are making all my wedding bloggy senses tingle… it’s the words. It’s the heartfelt story of a wedding, the focus on connection and family, and the generous and glowing reviews for some fabulous suppliers, which are wonderful to hear. Gemma & Sam’s day is going into my secret little ‘favourite weddings‘ folder and will most certainly be making a reappearance on the blog one day in the future, for sure!“english

For us it was really important that our wedding was as sustainable as possible. Our talented florist uses seasonal flowers and even grows some of her own flowers in her allotment. Our caterer’s use locally sourced food. Even all our décor was either biodegradable, rented, second hand or bought to be used again. There were also elements of DIY – I designed the invitations with the venue illustration and made my own cake!

After the past year, it was amazing to have all our family in one room. Yes the pandemic slashed our guest numbers but it couldn’t take away the important and emotional aspects of the day. For example, my dad getting emotional seeing me in my dress, Sam shedding a tear or two during the ceremony when he said there was no way he was going to cry and the belly laughs during the speeches.

Wedding photographer’s website

Sally Rawlins – https://www.sallyrawlinsphotography.com/

How did you choose your photographer?

Our photographer Sally Rawlins was recommended to us by our venue, when we looked through her portfolio it was clear to see why. We were drawn to Sally’s relaxed and candid style, plus her editing is superb. She was so easy to talk to on the phone and afterwards I couldn’t wait to book her knowing something so precious as our wedding photos will be in safe hands

Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!


We were blown away by our photographs when we first saw them, they were everything we wanted and more. Sally was so flexible leading up to the wedding, planning during a pandemic wasn’t easy but Sally would always put my mind at rest every time we spoke. On the day she made everyone feel so relaxed and most of the time I didn’t even realise she was there taking photos, which resulted in some of our favourite shots.

Videographer details if applicable – and any thoughts for other couples about having a wedding video?

We originally weren’t going to have a videographer, we wanted to keep things simple, but a couple of months before the wedding we decided to book one! The pandemic meant we had to downsize our guest list, so having a wedding video allowed us to share the day with people who couldn’t be there. We booked Six Eight Video (named after his height!). He was a fly on the wall for the whole day and captured the essence of the wedding beautifully. It was one of the best decisions we made to have videography, he captured parts of the day that sometimes our photographer didn’t and vice-a-versa. Watching the video back was so special because the day goes by so fast, it was nice to relive it all again. Six Eight Video – https://www.sixeightvideo.com/

How did the pandemic affect your wedding plans? Do you have any advice to share with couples planning their weddings right now?

Luckily Covid didn’t cause us to postpone, even though there were some wobbles where we thought we might. But on the day none of that actually mattered, it really was the best day ever and we would not have changed a thing. What you don’t realise while planning is that Covid can never take away those important moments. Like the happy tears during the ceremony, the belly laughs during the speeches and your families pride for you. Covid really made me question some of my original wedding plans (in a good way). I ended up prioritising what was important to us as a couple. And what was important was just getting married in front of our family, everything else was nice to have. We cancelled the evening reception part of the day, instead, we ended the wedding with a taxi ride back to the pub inn we were staying at and stayed up late chatting until last orders. It actually felt more ‘us’ than the evening DJ you would traditionally have. My advice to other couples would be to focus on what you CAN do and the positives around that rather than beat yourself up about what you can’t do. When things get out of your control just roll with it and everything will turn out fine in the end, I promise. And trust your suppliers, they are not going to let you have a bad day.

Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?

We got married at the Compasses at Pattiswick in Essex. It was the first venue we saw and we fell in love with the intimacy and charm the building had to offer. Perfect for our original guest list of 60 (which felt small at that time) and just as perfect for our downsized guest list of 20. The staff’s enthusiasm and professionalism are what makes this venue so special. They made such an effort to ensure our wedding didn’t feel too restricted by the covid rules and came up with brilliant solutions. I loved spending the morning there getting ready. The bridal room they have is so light and modern, it created a lovely relaxed atmosphere. What was truly unique was the mirrored glass on the bridal prep room door, you can see out of the room, but no one can see in! Seeing people arriving and feeling a buzz from outside got me so excited and the butterflies started to kick in. The Compasses also has the most amazing surrounding countryside, perfect for those romantic photographs. Compasses at Pattiswick – https://compassespattiswick.co.uk/

Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?

We loved our outfits and didn’t want to take them off! Sam’s suit was from Jack Bunneys, the suits they hire are so well made. He chose a dark navy blue suit with a contrasting waistcoat which I agreed looked very smart. He also wore some sentimental gold cufflinks that were gifted to him by his Grandparents when he was eighteen. My dress was designed by Andrea Hawkes, an amazing British designer in London. I met her at the Most Curious Wedding Fair (it was probably one of the last normal things I did before the pandemic) and fell in love with her minimalist designs and modern laces. The geometric lace design top stood out to me because it was unique, cool and very much my style. It was so important to me that I felt like myself on the day. Buying our outfits during a pandemic, I’m not going to lie, was a bit of a headache. Cancelled and rearranged appointments became the norm because the UK was going in and out of lockdowns. My measurements for my dress were done just two months before the wedding, which meant my dress had to be made at lightning speed. It was a relief to finally pick up my dress just a few days before the big day. Andrea Hawkes – https://www.andreahawkes.co.uk/ Jack Bunneys – https://www.jackbunneys.co.uk/

Did you hire a florist? Tell us about any floral amazingness


After booking the photographer, I booked the florist next because for me that was the next priority on the list. I think showstopping flowers can make a wedding special. Sam at Violets and Velvet is an absolute artist! She made our wedding so special with her stunning floral arrangements, the smell on the day was also incredible. Every guest and even our other suppliers all commented on the quality of the flowers and how well they suited the venue. I knew I wanted wildflowers, peonies and thistles and Sam made this vision come to life with a beautiful colour palette. She also uses seasonal flowers, some are even grown by herself, making her a great choice for sustainability. Violets & Velvet – https://www.violetsandvelvet.co.uk/

As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?

I am a passionate baker and I always loved the idea of making my own wedding cake, so I did it! It took lots of practice runs and planning but I’m so proud I did it. I will never underestimate the talent a professional wedding cake baker has, I thought it was hard work even with choosing a simple design to avoid putting too much pressure on myself. The top layer was lemon and elderflower and the bottom layer was vanilla and raspberry. To finish off the cake my florist added some fresh flowers which I think and gave it that ‘wow’ factor.

Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves

I designed the invitations and day-of stationery, which included an illustration of the venue… I obviously had too much time on my hands during the lockdown. It was nice to have an excuse to use my drawing skills and I was really pleased with the outcome. It made the invitations so much more personal to us. The homemade cake also had some extra personal touches, the cake stand was borrowed from my Mum and the cake knife was borrowed from my Maid-of-Honor/Sister-in-Law. It sounds weird, but the borrowed elements from both families made that cake even more special to me. The favours were lovingly made by my Mum, she is where I get my baking skills from, they were homemade biscotti and very yummy. It was important to us that our wedding was as sustainable as possible. So all our décor was either biodegradable, rented, second hand or bought to be used again.

Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?

We did get to read our personalised vows which were amazing. We kept them short, sweet and to the point. Both of us didn’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of our families any longer than we had to, not that they would have minded. We decided not to have readings, I doubt we would have been allowed them anyway to keep the ceremony as short as possible. The most memorable part of the ceremony was walking down the aisle to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack ‘Concerning Hobbits’, played beautifully by Terry our live guitarist. We are both Lord of the Rings fans so that felt very special. Sam got emotional at the ceremony, which surprised me, but we gave each other a comforting hug and our nerves then went away, we were then able to relax the rest of the ceremony. Classic Guitarist – https://www.thesologuitar.co.uk/

What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?

We actually decided not to have a first dance. At the time dancing was advised against but couples were still allowed a first dance. We really didn’t want to awkwardly dance while everyone watched and no one being able to join in on the fun. We’ve delayed our evening reception to next year so we can celebrate with all our friends and family in the same room, so we will save our first dance until then. Although, technically, our first dance was in our kitchen while making dinner the first night back from our honeymoon. I don’t remember the song, it was probably something very silly.

Favourite wedding suppliers

Sally Rawlins – https://www.sallyrawlinsphotography.com/
Six Eight Video – https://www.sixeightvideo.com/
Compasses at Pattiswick – https://compassespattiswick.co.uk/
Emma Smeaton Make Up – https://www.emmasmeatonmakeup.com/
Bridal Hair by Marina – https://www.bridalhairessex.co.uk/
A big shout out to the hairstylist and makeup artist, not only did they make me look and feel beautiful, they made the whole morning run smoothly and stress-free. They even helped me get into my dress and put on my shoes in time.
Valentine Cuisine – http://www.valentinecuisine.com/ If guests are well fed then you know you’re going to have a wedding to remember right? Valentine Cuisine was fantastic, despite our BBQ plans being scrapped because of THE Covid restrictions, their substitute plan of a three-course meal tailored to us was delicious. The fact they also used locally sourced food wherever they can was a big bonus for us two foodies.
Bridesmaid Dress – https://wearerewritten.com/
Shoes – https://freyarose.com/
Earrings – https://completedworks.com/pages/about
Andrea Hawkes – https://www.andreahawkes.co.uk/
Jack Bunneys – https://www.jackbunneys.co.uk/
Violets & Velvet – https://www.violetsandvelvet.co.uk/
Classic Guitarist – https://www.thesologuitar.co.uk/

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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