Abi and Jon Bird had been living less than a mile from each for 15 years when they were finally introduced by a mutual friend on a snowy day in December 2010 at a pub in Farnham. Nine years later, they tied the knot at the stunning Farnham Castle, surrounded by friends and family and their mutual friend Dan as a groomsman!
We’re a little biased at Hitched HQ about this wedding as Abi is our brilliant Head of Marketing. However, we think you’ll agree it was a gorgeous day, filled with fun, personal touches like Lego place cards, crazy golf, hangover kits, a glitter booth and even Prince Charles’ harpist!
Luckily the day went much more smoothly than Jon’s dramatic proposal, where he pretended to break his ankle on a dog walk to lure Abi up to a hill on the Swanage coast where he had written ‘Will you marry me?’ in stones – a favourite activity of hers when she was a child. The dogs, Digby and Peggotty, made a special appearance at the wedding too – scroll down for more!
Photography by Studio Rouge.
The Wedding Dress
Despite working for Hitched, Abi didn’t listen to our wise advice to try on a maximum of four to seven dresses! Thankfully she did still end up with her perfect dress – a strapless, fishtail Allure Bridals gown from her friend’s mum’s bridalwear shop which has now closed.
“I went to six shops and must have tried on around 50 dresses before I found ‘The One’!! I have big hips so wanted something figure hugging. I originally wanted lace but it didn’t suit me so I went for something classic. I didn’t change into a different outfit for the evening, but I did change into pearl encrusted trainers for the first dance!
“I wanted my makeup classic too so I went for a similar style to what I normally wear, but my hair was completely different. I usually have a bob but I grew it so I could have an up-do.
“I accessorised with a clip in my hair, and kept my jewellery simple – just a diamond bracelet and yellow diamond earrings which were a wedding present from Jon and matched my engagement ring.”
The Wedding Morning
Abi and her bridesmaids got ready in Farnham Castle’s plush bridal suite, while the groomsmen donned their blue tails in the Gatehouse.
“I had five bridesmaids. Jon’s sister Natalie, who flew in from Miami, then my four best girlfriends – Fran, Diane, Jenna and Caroline. We had a day shopping in Guildford where they tried on lots of bridesmaids dresses. All of the bridesmaid were different shapes and sizes but we found a dress that complimented everyone. They were floor-length grey by Issa from House of Fraser.
“On the morning, my bridesmaids gave me a Rae Feather personalised wicker bag and the diamond earrings Jon had bought me.”
The bridesmaids’ dresses ultimately guided Jon’s outfit too, hired from Hire5 in Guildford.
He said: “I went with Abi to get her opinion. As I didn’t know what the bridesmaids dresses looked like, she needed to ensure it all went together. Blue tails for a wedding was not the classic look but a trendy version! I also wore a pocket watch and a new Breitling watch which was a wedding present from Abi.”
Abi and Jon chose Farnham Castle for their wedding, a recently-renovated and romantic 12th century castle in Surrey. With five acres of grounds, two chapels, three halls and a bar, it provided plenty of opportunities for photos, including one from the top of the castle walls.
“We had both grown up in Farnham and both our parents still live there so we wanted something local. I have always loved the idea of getting married there. When we went for the showround they were incredible. Nothing was too much trouble and they made us feel really special. They were so flexible allowing us to have the day we wanted. They didn’t say no to anything! The customer service and food were amazing.
“You have to go with your gut instinct. If something feels right, then book it. There is so much variety out there that you can spend hours researching. I tried to limit my time and if I was happy with suppliers’ customer service then I booked them.”
The couple had a civil ceremony at the Castle in front of 95 guests, with handwritten poems and even a royal musician. At the end of the ceremony, a special surprise turned up in the form of their dogs for the photos!
“We had Prince Charles’ harpist Claire Jones play ‘A Thousands Years’ by Christina Perri as I walked down the aisle with my Dad. Jon and I held hands for the full half an hour, it was an amazing feeling.
“The ceremony was my favourite moment of the day, we have never felt so connected. I had written a poem which my friend Karen read during the ceremony. Making Jon cry with my poem was a real highlight!
“Jon had arranged for the dogs to be outside as soon as we walked out of the ceremony. It made me cry and was amazing having them there for photos as they’re our family. The only thing I would have changed was I would have loved our grandparents there, who are no longer with us.”
The Reception and Entertainment
Abi admitted that she didn’t manage to stick to her wedding budget “because I kept seeing more things that I wanted!” For her guests that meant a huge pick of entertainment, including giant outdoor games, and personal touches, like their Lego place cards. Her giant A&J Letters, wedding postbox, light up trees and pontoon lighting all came from Farnham Sound & Light.
“The tables were named after the family dogs and we had pictures of them on each table. Then we had Lego figures on the place names and a succulent for each guest.
“The menu was chorizo and sausage meat scotch egg with tomato, fennel and paprika ragu for starters. The main was fillet of beef, potato gratin and peppercorn sauce; and the dessert was raspberry and crystallised ginger brûlée with a shortbread finger. In the evening, we had a cheese tower from Godminster, and pad thai and burrito stations.
“At the reception, we had a sweet cart, selfie mirror, glitter make up booth, crazy golf, hangover kits and flip flops for the girls!
“We had a harpist for the ceremony and drinks reception, a saxophonist for the wedding breakfast and evening drinks reception, then a seven-piece band for the evening. I didn’t want the worry of sorting out playlists so chose live music throughout the whole day. It created an amazing atmosphere. Our first dance was ‘From Head To Toe’ by Chris Clark – a Motown number!”
With a grey, white and pink theme to the wedding, Abi and Jon went with soft summer flowers for their bouquets and centrepieces – arranged by Pauline at Longacres in Bagshot. They wove their flowers into their stationery too, which was designed by one of Abi’s friends.
“My bouquet colours were white and baby pinks, using roses, peonies and sweet veronicas – all very neutral. We used the same flowers in the venue decor along with hydrangeas and the centrepieces were tall flower arrangements that matched my bouquet.”
As rustic wedding cakes go, Abi and Jon’s stood out for its incredible woodland design and clever inspiration, both brought to life by Emma Waddington at Gifted Heart Cakes. Do you spot those furry cake toppers sitting at the bottom too?
“We wanted something unique. Jon is a builder and does a lot of woodwork and my new surname is Bird so we chose wooden logs with hummingbirds flying into it. It all got eaten on the night. We had four flavours: Red Velvet, Lemon, Raspberry & Coconut, and Blueberry & Lavender.”
Abi and Jon jetted straight off to the LUX* Belle Mare in Mauritius for a 10-night, all-inclusive honeymoon after the wedding.
“We’d been to another LUX* resort and they’re incredible so decided to go to a location we hadn’t been before. It was amazing! The food was so good that I put on 8lbs in 10 days! The service was brilliant and they made us feel really special. Our honeymoon meal was at the best Indian restaurant we’ve ever been to.”
Venue: Farnham Castle
Photographer: Lynsey at Studio Rouge Photography
Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals
Makeup: Claire Hayes Makeup
Hair: Hair by Jessica Marvin
Cake: Gifted Heart Cakes
Cheese Tower: Godminster
Entertainment: XO Party Band, Crazy Golf & Jenga, Ken Wharton-Emms Saxophonist
Lego Place Cards: Through Creation Design
Table Plan: Etch Twenty Eight
Décor: Farnham Sound & Light
Thank you to Abi and Jon for sharing their beautiful wedding day with Hitched! If you’ve been inspired by Abi’s bridesmaids’ dresses, don’t miss our pick of the best grey bridesmaid dresses.