Exactly one year ago today, I married my best friend and soul mate. To mark our first wedding anniversary, I thought I would share some insight into what turned out to be the best day of our lives...
We both fell in love with a small town called Ravello when we visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy a few years before saying ‘I do’. Even though we were yet to become engaged, I couldn’t imagine a more picturesque and romantic setting for a wedding. With elderly grandparents and family who were afraid to fly, we figured it simply wasn’t meant to be.
On Positano beach 2016
When Matt (finally) proposed after 9 years together, we visited Charlton House for a wine tasting night with our families and managed to sneak out between courses to check out the grounds. It was then we stumbled across the orangery with its enormous French doors leading out to the walled court yard. It felt incredibly Mediterranean and we knew right away that we had found our perfect wedding venue.
As much as I loved the Orangery, I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of the curtains (I should add that they’ve since been changed and look stunning!). I wanted to create a whimsical, dream-like setting and had seen one of Cahoots’ drapery installations at another venue we had visited for an open day, so got in touch with them to see if they would be able to work their magic in the Orangery. Of course, they did just that. I walked down the aisle, scattered with rose petals, to 'Pergola's Song' from the film, 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and it truly was a moment in time I will never forget. Continuing the Italian theme, we decorated the room with lots of fresh foliage and kept the colour palette simple, sticking to white, gold and green. We hired in our own gold Chiavari chairs and decorated the pew ends with eucalyptus. The drapes were parted to allow the light to beam through the French doors and were tied with fresh foliage tie-backs. Our signing table was covered in a gold sequin tablecloth with floating candles at the base. From the first time I heard Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, I knew right away it would be the perfect song to play at our wedding, so we chose to play it as our exit song after the ceremony. Our guests were ushered out onto the courtyard clutching their bags of confetti, whilst Matt and I took two minutes to ourselves to take in what had just happened!
The Drinks Reception
We were incredibly blessed with a perfect summer’s day, encouraging our guests to enjoy a glass of prosecco in the sunshine in the courtyard overlooking the orchard. We played traditional Italian music for our guests to enjoy whilst Matt and I had some portrait photographs taken in the Orchard. A couple of days before the wedding, we had taken a trip to the venue to do a final walk around before the big day. With the knowledge that the weather was looking promising, we decided at the last minute to install fairy lights over the courtyard and managed to persuade my mum to lend us her potted olive trees to add an added sense of Italian nostalgia!
The Wedding Breakfast
The inner stylist in me knew right away that the wedding breakfast needed to be something special. Hosting the whole day from the ceremony right through to the evening reception in one room wasn’t easy, but the staff at Charlton House certainly made it seem that way. They tactfully pulled the drapes to keep the room under wraps until it was ready for guests to take their seats. I remember spending hours sketching ideas, pinning ideas on Pinterest and doing my best to try to pull it all together. There was no mock up so the first time I saw the room made up was on the day itself, along with the rest of our guests. I’m proud to say it didn’t disappoint, and the vision I had created truly came to life before my eyes.
Our guests sat on circular tables, covered in gold sequin table cloths and full-size mirror table tops which cleverly reflected the light. To add interest to the room, we used centrepieces of alternating heights on each table. The flower displays were stunning, made from eucalyptus and white and blush roses. We wanted to try something a little different on the top table, instead opting for a eucalyptus foliage garland which ran across the length of the table. Our flowers were probably one of my favourite things from the day and I cannot thank Bramble and Wild enough. Each table was named after an Italian City and we managed to source authentic Italian postcards to serve as table names. We upgraded the cutlery, opting for vintage gold flatware and lifted the tables with gold beaded charger plates. Then there was the food…! We were incredibly lucky to have such an accommodating head chef at Charlton House who helped us create an entirely bespoke menu inspired by traditional Italian cuisine. We gave our guests two choices – for starters, either dressed crab or glazed onion tarte – for main, beef wellington or spinach and goats cheese wellington, both served with dauphinoise potatoes and for dessert, lemon cheesecake or elderflower panna cotta. It was as delicious as it sounds.
After dinner, we somehow managed to pull off a surprise singing waiter act which resulted in our guests standing on their chairs waving their napkins around in the air singing to ‘I love you baby’ at the top of their lungs! It was a moment I will never forget.
The Evening Reception
The tables were swapped out for a white starlit dancefloor and the cake took centre stage as the swing band started to play. Lewis Hutton led the vocals and the Apollo Big Band did a fantastic job creating just the kind of ambience we had been looking to achieve. We left a few tables and scattered some poseur tables around the orangery and in the foyer for guests to perch themselves up against which seemed to work well. Our first dance was to Elvis Costello’s ‘She’ which is from one of our favourite films, Notting Hill. I then shared a father and daughter dance with my dad to the band’s version of ‘The Way you look tonight’ which is a song from yet another favourite film, Father of the Bride. Finally, I was surprised by my new husband and his friends with a choreographed dance to my guilty pleasure ‘Wham’. It was absolutely hilarious and our fantastic videographer managed to get it all on film!
Our wedding day was a true reflection of us - all our loves and experiences rolled into one day and looking back we wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you to all our lovely suppliers who helped make it happen:
Florist - Bramble and Wild
Prop Hire & Drapery - Cahoots
Prop Hire & Décor - Crescent Moon
Stationery - Willow and Rose
Dress - Lace and Grace
Makeup - Annabel Rayner makeup
Hair - Beth from the secret salon & Louise Millar hairdressing
Favours - Costello’s Frome
Venue - Charlton House Hotel & Spa
Videography - Agnes Wedding Films
Photography - Stewart McPherson Photography
Entertainment - Apollo big band
Entertainment - Lewis Hutton