Marry Christmas! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!! ***Pro flashes added page 3***

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  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 21:50

    Marry Christmas! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!! ***Pro flashes added page 3***

    Venue: Hever Castle Astor Wing

    Dress: BHS Antoinette, with additions added by Jacqueline Smith, dressmaker 

    Groomsmen's suits: Moss Bros

    Hair and Make Up: Natasha Quinton 

    Bridesmaid dresses: J Crew 

    Flowers: me! Wholesale stems from Flowers for Florists 

    Cakes: Hummingbird, Choccywoccydoodah, Waitrose, M&S

     

    Part 1: Background


    Ant and I got together back in late November 2010, when we had our first date on a very very cold day in very very grey London.  He had offered to show me the sights, as I had only been in the UK for a couple months and hadn't had a chance to do any touristy sightseeing, unless you count weekly trips to the British Museum for masters course work and studying.  We met at Big Ben and walked across Westminster Bridge to the south bank and along the Thames, talking and commenting on the strange people along the river, until we reached Tower Bridge.  We continued walking along, stopping for coffee and then walking some more to St. Paul's , along the Strand and across to Covent Garden, where we stopped for drinks, then dinner, then drinks again.  Finally, we ended up walking down the Mall and parting ways in front of Buckingham Palace after walking, talking, drinking, and eating for about 8 hours.  We never ran our of things to talk about.


    We spent a lot of time over the next couple months in pubs, at each others' flats, travelling, etc, and we got very serious very quickly, but it all felt so natural, unlike every other relationship I'd been in, in which I would always be at least somewhat on guard.
    I had never planned to meet anyone in England, as I had grand plans of finishing my masters degree, then either moving back to Toronto to work at the ROM or to some other exotic foreign location.  As it was, I moved in with Ant when my classes finished and he proposed on Christmas day 2011, about a week after I got the results from my masters.. So I was staying in England after all Smile

     

    Part 2: Wedding Planning


    We planned our wedding over the course of about 18 months, which I felt was entirely too long, and I really could have gotten it all together in 1/3 the time, but Ant didn't think it would give people enough notice.  Boo.  Oh alright, he was probably right, and we probably wouldn't have gotten our amazing venue, or have had Wispa, or my dress, etc, etc.
    We only looked at 3 venues: Penshurst Place, Hever Castle, and Chartwell.  For various reasons, Hever won out by a landslide over the others, and we booked it within weeks of our engagement.


    I had never been one to dream about my wedding and all the details, and I didn't really know what to look for in a wedding dress.  And so I turned to the internet.  It was actually the dress search that first brought me to hitched.  I looked up various dresses and sent photos to my closest friend back in Canada, and very quickly we came across this dress:

    ..and both of us fell in love.


    But then… I found out it was over £8k, hahahaha.  Not possible.  And so the dress saga began.  First I looked into having it made from scratch, but got very very worried.  But then I bought that BHS dress on which to base my lovely creation.  Then I found that amazing lace!  Well, you'll see what came of it later.  Enough dress talk for now!
    Anyways, I had basically planned the entire wedding by the time we still had a year to go, so I needed something to distract myself with, and so….

     

    We got Wispa, our adorable adorable adorable labradoodle.  But more about her later Smile


    When there was only a few months left to go until the wedding I really got back into the swing of things with the planning, and it all started to come together.  I had the dress in the works, my collection of cakes plates and teacups was growing, and the wedding was FAST approaching.  It all kicked off on Friday, just over a week before the wedding...

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 21:51

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Part 3: The Lead Up


    Friday/Saturday

    I picked up my mum at Heathrow on the 14th and brought her back to Orpington to stay at ours for a couple nights.  My sister, her husband, and my gorgeous nephew Sebbie arrived that day, too, and we all had a lovely lunch and trip to Covent Garden on Saturday.  Ant and I had both forgotten about trooping the colour, so we had the lovely surprise of having the planes directly overhead.
    I suggested to them that I had arranged it just for us.  No one believed me. Sad

    Sunday

    Sunday we were all invited out to lunch to celebrate Ant's parents' birthdays, and that night we moved in to our castle.
    Oh. My. God.  
    The castle.
    Medley Court is the 4-bed holiday let attached to the Tudor Astor Wing at Hever Castle.  


    The first night it was just my mum and I and we were STUNNED.  We decamped, walked around the garden a bit, and fell asleep into our massive comfy beds for the night.  I had to work in the morning, but luckily Chartwell is less than 10 minutes by car from Hever, so yay!

    Monday/Tuesday

    Monday was the awkward meeting of my parents for the first time in donkeys years.  They hadn't 'hung out' since … 1997?  Yeah.. It was fine, though, just weird for me.  It was no worse than the first root canal appointment I had earlier in the afternoon.

    Monday and Tuesday nights my 13 year old brother joined us at Medley Court, and he was super helpful, laying out bits on the big dining room table.  He helped me make the candles in half the teacups, and label up the cake plates as well.  Part 2 of the root canal was done on Tuesday as well, and the dentist was kind enough to prescribe me antibiotics 'just in case'!!

    Wednesday/Thursday

    Wednesday I drove to Heathrow to pick up my maid of honour.  She has been to visit me everywhere I have lived (and this was her third trip to England for me!), and this was her first time seeing Kent proper; Orpington doesn't count Smile Ant joined us at the castle for Wednesday and Thursday nights, while my dad, step mum, and brother stayed at our flat to look after Wispa.  Apparently they wanted to take her home with them when they left!  Well, I can't say that I blame them, really, she is a master cuddlier.  


    Thursday lunch was the first big pre-wedding event.  My entire immediate family plus their spouses and children met with Ant's whole family (aunts and uncles but not cousins included) at a Chinese restaurant near London Bridge.  It was a great way to introduce the families to one another and have a bit of a get to know you afternoon.

    Friday

    We had so much left to do by the time Friday morning rolled around.  I had made last minute appointments for manicures and pedicures for my MOH, sister, and I in Edenbridge.  We also had to get my BIL's suit pressed at the cleaners there (luckily they said they'd do it in an hour!).  After our pampering, we drove over to Godstone to buy our flowers.  We spent a grand total of about £110 on a slew of roses, carnations, stocks, gyp, hydrangeas, and eucalyptus leaves.  When we got back to Hever we very quickly threw together our bouquets...


    …and the teacups, pots, and teapots.


    We had decided against doing the traditional north american rehearsal dinner, and instead decided just to let our guests know that we would be grabbing drinks and dinner in Tunbridge Wells on the Friday night.  All of my out of town guests, except my brother and his family (two very young boys - 2 yrs and 8 weeks!), came out, and Wispa came, too!

     

    She was basically the star of the show and everyone in my family cooed over her and gave her love:


    And then the night was over, and Anthony took the car back to Orpington and the rest of us headed back to the castle for my last night of singledom…

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 21:51

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Part 4: Getting Ready


    I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at around 8am after getting a solid 6.5 hours of sleep.  I threw open the curtains and was greeted by a lovely overcast day, haha.  Whatever, it was better than the forecasted torrential rain and thunderstorms.


    I had toast for breakfast, and set to work putting together the button holes.  I'd read online that they don't last overnight and have to be made on the day they're worn.  Oh well, it wasn't difficult, and Ana did half of them anyways.  A couple eucalyptus leaves, a sprig of gyp, and a pale pink rose.  Done and done!


    The venue staff arrived to start ferrying decorations over to the Astor Wing.  I remember that I was rushing around a bit by the time hair and make up arrived at 10:30am.  My hair was still wet from my shower and my sister hadn't even showered yet.  Ana had, though, so she went to go dry her hair while Natasha rough dried my hair and put some product in it.  Then she did Ana's hair, then Jenny's, and finally mine.  Then she started with Ana's make up, then mine.


    I should say that during this time people started arriving: my brother and his family arrived early as his son Henry was a page boy and they wanted to visit with us and get ready at Hever.  Also, Ant's sister and her family arrived to check in to their room early and get the flower girl dresses.  Rachel (Nuts!) arrived to help out and hang out while we all got ready.


    Anthony also arrived with his groomsmen and Wispa, and they brought with them my HOF fairy present, which turned out to be a cake slice, which was amazingly perfect for me.  It went straight over to sit with the other cake table things to get used in the evening.  I found out that there had been a car accident on the road near the entrance to Hever Castle, which meant that people were being delayed in arriving, but I'm not sure if it affected anyone other than the groomsmen


    Wispa came in with us, and Rachel took expert control of her, though I think we ended up letting her off-lead in the room for a while.  Eventually the photographer and videographer both arrived and caught the end of my make up being done and a bit of cuddling with Wispa.


    At about 2:20 I remember saying something like 'I'm getting married in 10 minutes, maybe I should put on my dress!'


    And so I got that sucker on.  Thank god Natasha (hair and make up) stayed, because she did the dress up like an absolute pro.  That dress, which I had lovingly created, was a dream!  Remember the Stewart Parvin dress?  Well, I tweaked the design a bit.  The original dress was a bit wintery for a June wedding, so we shortened the sleeves, widened and lowered the neckline, changed the velvet sash for satin, and lightened the skirt by having fewer layers of tulle.  It wasn't finished until the Thursday before the wedding, and my mom was freaking out that I would be dress-less, but it was PERFECT!  You'll see photos in the next installment, though, as I don't yet have the official photos, so none of me getting into the dress yet!


    Anyways, the registrar came and went, and then it was just all of us wedding party milling around until the venue staff came, with their little walkie talkies, and told us it was time to walk over to the Astor Wing...

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 21:52

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Part 5: The Ceremony and Drinks Reception


    They stopped us outside the ceremony room to wait for the all clear, then before I knew it, everyone had gone in and it was just my big brother and I waiting.  I could hear the song I'd chosen, and I whispered to my brother to say when he recognized it, but then we were walking in, too, and it's such a short room, before I knew it I was whizzed to the side at the front and only then did I notice Anthony.  I'd been looking around side to side to see everyone and I hadn't even seen him yet!!  It was all a blur, really, and then the registrar was talking and Ant and I were saying all those words we picked out from the ceremony booklet, etc.

    And then my little baby brother did his reading.  I saw this hands shaking as he held the sheet of paper on which it was printed.  And then he spoke.  And he was clear, and he was strong, and the reading was perfect.  I'm so glad we decided to have it.  Let me say, though, that I really don't agree with people having readings for the sake of having readings.  Trawling the internet for something to add into your ceremony doesn't really make it more personal in my opinion, they're just stock readings you get at any old wedding.  This one, though, was wonderful.  And so us.  We're both somewhat nerdy.  We like the odd sci-fi, and we LOVE comedy, and the Hitchikers Guide is such a wonderful combination of the two, and this reading was something that Anthony chose.  He had it in his mind without needing to scan pages of wedding readings in books or on the internet.  And because of that, it worked.  Anyways, here's the reading:


    'They looked at each other for a moment. The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from. For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door of his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking. He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

    He hadn't realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was,
    "yes."'



    And I nearly cried at the end of it.

    Before I knew it the ceremony was over and we were signing the register, and then walking out to Solsbury Hill and outside into the fresh air, where I had a tray of Pimms proffered before me.  After gulping half of it down and letting several Aunts hug, kiss, and congratulate me, my photographer was suggesting that in 15 minutes we would start the photos.


    And then I went looking for Nuts and Wispa.  I said hello, she nearly jumped up on the dress, and finally I crouched down to her level for a kiss.  Anthony wondered whether she felt different now that her mum and dad were married Smile  How cute is he?


    Wispa and Henry totally stole the show.  Don't know who Henry is?  Well, he's my eldest nephew at age 2, and he's gorgeous:

    He wasn't the only man to enjoy a game of croquet, though, quite a few of the guys took part:

    There were loads and loads of group photos with the castle as a backdrop, and the cloudy sky was really intense.  I loved it, but man was it cold for 22 June!

    Before I knew it, the drinks reception was over.  People had a good time, even though the only 'entertainment' provided was croquet.  Only a handful of people played, but most guests mingled and chatted and drank.  No one cared that there weren't canapes, because we were all called in to the meal after 90 minutes!

    (note the threatening clouds!!)

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 21:57

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    The suspense!

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 22:02

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Part 6: The Meal and Evening Do


    The meal was in the Tudor dining room and it was packed in tight with the maximum number allowed.  The meal itself lasted a lot longer than I had expected.  We started with a lovely speech by my sister.  She had asked Ant and I questions about each other and we weren't allowed to tell each other what we had told her.  It turns out neither Anthony nor I were able to give simple answers and we ended up giving her options for some of them.  As for the three words he would describe me with, they were 'awesome, awesome, and awesome'!  I called him a 'human joke generator,' but that's an in-joke between the two of us.  I called him that once and his deadpan response was 'you mean a comedian?'
    The food was delicious.  Our starter was a pea and ham hock risotto, which was AMAZING.  Of all the food, it was the thing people talked about (until the evening, that is).  After the started we had a speech by my dad.  Surprisingly it was short and somewhat sweet and not at all inappropriate!  Anyways, we had decided to split up the speeches so that we didn't have to sit through a huge amount of time listening to people, and we could eat in between.  So after my dad's speech we had our mains, which was a roast duck breast.  To be totally honest, I wasn't a huge fan of it.  It wasn't bad, really, but it wasn't amazing.  


    Throughout the meal we had cards on the table for a quiz.  Each table had to work together as a team to guess which of the two of us or both certain statements described.  After the mains the best man gave his speech and also announced the answers to the quiz.  The parents' table won, but they were a bit at an advantage knowing the two of us best.  All the guests seemed to enjoy it, everyone laughed, there were quite a few surprises (no one seemed to think I would ever play the game Civilization! Hah, how little they know me!).  My brother and cousins had a bit of fun with a couple of the girls' fascinators:

    Anyways, blah blah blah dessert (GORGEOUS!), we made the rounds to talk to everyone, and eventually we all got up and Anthony and I disappeared into the gardens with the photographer and videographer for a while to get some more photos in the gardens and down by the lake.  No official photos back yet, but I'll post some when we get them!


    Evening guests were invited to arrive at 7pm, but since the dinner overran, they were there before the day guests were escorted over to the restaurant, and well before Ant and I got back from the lake.  When we finally arrived I was freezing (it was very very cold for 22 June!), and Ant had given me his jacket.


    The bar was open before we got there, so luckily most people already had a drink.  Apparently the bartender wasn't that good at telling people there was an account bar for all beer, wine, and sparkling wine, so some people paid!  Unheard of for the North American contingent, but the Brits didn't mind in the least.  I don't think my side minded particularly, but I felt a bit miffed as we had set up the account bar specifically and every wedding I'd been to back home was open bar, so I want ours to be similar.  But anyways, everything was lovely, really.

    The cake bar was set up when we arrived, and people had already started tucking in, so we had to hurry a bit and 'cut the cake' before someone else did!  We opted against cutting the choccywoccydoodah cake as the hard chocolate would have been … difficult to cut, no?  Anyways, we cut the chocolate cake from Hummingbird.  It was DELICIOUS.  I only managed a tiny bite, and I'm gutted we didn't make ourselves a take away box of different bits from the table, because it was decimated by the end of the night Sad


    Our DJ was great.  He was a bit cheesy, but I loved it.  He started with a surprise ice breaker game to test how well Ant and I knew each other.  We sat back to back and had to raise a shoe to say which of us we thought was the better driver, the better looking, most likely to get arrested (me!) etc.  We did pretty well up until the end, actually.

    And then we got down to the business of partying.  The poutine came out, it was a huge hit:

    Henry and Esme were in love on the dance floor.. it was adorable.  Skye, the older flowergirl, was overheard in the loo saying to her mum, 'Mummy, being a bridesmaid is such hard work!'

     

    And then I let my hair down.

    And had a bit to drink Wink

     

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my wedding in a nutshell.  I promise to update with professional photos once we get them, which should be fairly soon!

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 22:22

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Eeeeee gimme more!

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 22:46

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Erm V????!!!!! Where have you gone??!!! We've been looking forward to this for ages.... Don't leave us in suspense!!!! ;0) xx 

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 22:51

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Aww, just wow. Everything looks so so wonderful. I liked your reading and definitely agree on your whole point concerning 'doing a reading for the sake of doing a reading.' It's a great moment when it just works though.

    The cake table looks amazingly delicious - love the croquet games, that looked super fun. And oh my gosh, Wispa!! Soooo adorable! 

    Looking forward to your professional photos, will have to show us when you get them! 

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 22:53

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Bless- we were impatient and all the time you were typing... Sorry!!! 

    It all looks amazing hun!! And wow, the dress worries were certainly worth it! Well done on the flowers, too.... I left ALL of ours to the actual day so good on you for just having the buttonholes to do last minute :0)

    I'm glad Wispa behaved.... She's got a good mummy and daddy training her! 

    Can't wait to see your official photos now...... :0D Xxx 

  • Posted: 6 Jul 2013 23:18

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhmazing! Big Smile

  • Posted: 7 Jul 2013 2:26

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Best bed time read I have had in a long time :) even more wonderful than I expected.  I adore the pictures of you wearing Ants jacket, so cute. Congratulations again Mr&Mrs Christmas :)

  • Posted: 7 Jul 2013 7:42

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Ahh loved reading that, sounds like you had an amazing day.

  • Posted: 7 Jul 2013 8:23

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Thanks everyone! We had an amazing day, I can't wait to get the pro pics back, and the video!! 

     

    I almost forget, though.  I was thrilled to have a few girls I'd met through hitched able to make the evening (and day in one case), it really is amazing what good friends you can meet online Smile

  • Posted: 7 Jul 2013 8:32

    Re: Marry Christmas! I did! Hever Castle 22 June Wedding Report!!

    Aww it all looks lovely! I adore doggies being involved in weddings :)

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