Every now and then an absolute stunner of a venue comes along that just blows you away. When we first found St Clere (thank you Twitter!) and met Eliza and her team we just knew that any couple would be mad not to fall in love with it. With endless possibilities and exclusive use, St Clere Estate is simply perfect. But you’ll need to be quick. The privately owned estate is only opening up its doors for a limited number of wedding dates in July 2014.
St Clere is in the heart of the Kent countryside with remarkable views of the North Downs and can cater for up to 180 guests. They offer a full package, where you can have drinks and canapés within the formal rooms of the house and on the terrace enjoying views of the immaculate gardens. Then your wedding breakfast and evening entertainment are set just a stones throw from the house within a lavish marquee. For the Bride and Groom there is also the option of staying in a luxury Yurt so you can spend your first night as a married couple looking up at the stars in the tranquil St Clere gardens.
We’re also super excited about this venue as The Wedding Dolls come as part of the wedding package, which means all St Clere couples have a totally unique and stunning wedding day that is full of personality.
Visit St Clere to find out more about the wedding package and all that this beautiful estate can offer – if you’re anything like us you’ll love it as well.
As it’s St Georges Day today what better way to celebrate than share with you a gorgeous English wedding. Sharon and Nigel were married last summer at the Lost Village of Dode and the red colour scheme matches the military uniforms perfectly.
Thanks to the team at Howling Basset Photography for sharing the wedding with us.
Happy St.Georges Day!
Now we’re not usually ones to chat about old bones at the Wedding Dolls HQ but with the discovery of Richard III this week it’s got us thinking about how Castles bring with them a unique mix of history and new beginnings. For us today’s real wedding is the perfect example of mixing old and new and all that’s great about England and it’s historic castles and manor houses. Bevan and Melissa were married in August 2012 at Chiddingstone Castle, Kent with 60 guests at the ceremony and wedding breakfast and a further 50 guests for the evening reception. Here Melissa tells us about their big day.
“We wanted a venue that was in between my home town of Forest Row, East Sussex and Bevan’s home town of Gillingham, Kent. We looked at lots of venues across Kent on a really rainy day and fell in love with Chiddingstone Castle. It’s country vintage style suited our wedding theme and the exclusive use of the castle was just what we were looking for. It looked perfect even in the pouring rain!
“I wanted a dress that was grand enough for the castle setting while still fitting our traditional English vintage theme so I chose a Sassi Holford dress which suited my figure perfectly and I loved the simple design with delicate lace embellishments. My shoes were my extravagance. I’d looked at millions of pairs but once I saw Blush Bloom’ by Freya Rose they were the only ones that would do! Melissa Morgan Designs created both mine and the Bridesmaids jewellery. My favourite was my headpiece that Melissa designed and made for me using a vintage brooch I bought in a local antique shop.
“Our theme was Traditional English vintage with touches of a classic afternoon tea, we used accent colours of pale pink and green. The theme can together perfectly and I was so delighted with it! I snuck into the Great Hall while we were getting ready and had a peek at the tables – I nearly burst into tears!
“We are big big tea drinkers so all of our tables were named after types of tea – the top table was our favourite, English breakfast! As soon as we got engaged I started collecting vintage tea cups and saucers from antiques fair, car boot sales and charity shops. I filled each of these with pale pink wax to make tea cup candles for our female guests and the men and children had tea pot shaped cookies. The centre pieces were hired vintage tea pots, cake stands and tea cups filled with beautiful country style floral arrangements. We knew exactly what we wanted for our stationery but neither wanted to spend ages making the save the dates, invitations and seating plan so we enlisted the help of Frances Symes. I ordered a tea cup and tea pot paper stamper from America and Frannie did the rest!
“Our photographer, Martin Briggs was listed on the Castle’s list of trusted suppliers. We looked at his work online and loved his pictures and when we met him we could see how talented and passionate he was. He also used to live in Chiddingstone Castle so knew exactly where all the best spots for pictures were! We didn’t really need a wedding car but I absolutely love Morris Minors so Bevan hired a 1961 white convertible for me from Alfred’s Wedding Cars to get to the venue.
“Our wedding breakfast was wonderful! For canapés we had Rare roast beef in mini Yorkshire puddings with horseradish cream, Pork belly on creamy apple dauphinoise, with cracking and applesauce, Cornish crab fritters with avocado mousse and Beetroot rosti with whipped goats cheese and truffle honey – gorgeous! Then to start we had Scallops with parsnip puree and crispy pancetta, for main course Confit duck leg with slow roasted garlic mash, garlic sprouting broccoli, spice duck filo parcel and a pickled plum sauce and to finish we had Hot chocolate fondant with vanilla sour cream. The food not only tasted fantastic but it looked amazing – we even have photographs of it in our wedding album!
“In the evening we partied along to a live band called ‘Twist’. They played at a friends wedding and we knew we had to have them! Bevan chose 1,2,3,4 by the Plain White T’s for our first dance which was completely perfect and the band did a great rendition of it.”
Sounds like the perfect end to a fantastic day! Thanks to Melissa and Bevan for sharing their day with us.
Photography: Martin Briggs
Brides Dress by: Sassi Holford from Pantiles Bride
Catering by: Kalm Kitchen
Flowers/Styling by: Karen Woolven – Karen interpreted my theme and colours beautifully.
Entertainment by: Twist
Groomsmen: Penguins of Chatham
Bridesmaids: Dessy through Jodi of Maidstone
Drinks reception entertainment: Greenwich String Quartet – they were incredible.
I was at the London Golf Club last week to help out at a charity golf day. Whilst there I managed to sneak off my duties for a bit to get a good look around at it’s potential for a wedding venue. I’ve never been a big lover of weddings at golf clubs so I wasn’t expecting to like this much but I have been left eating humble pie as it makes a great wedding venue!
The London Golf Club is in a beautiful setting with the Clubhouse at the heart of the 700 acre estate complete with lakes and fountains to create a seriously stunning backdrop. From the gatehouse there’s an impressive driveway for real wow factor as soon as you arrive. The Great Hall with magnificent oak beams and the Long Bar are fabulous rooms to entertain your guests and the banqueting room is really light and airy with a luxurious feel. The patio and terrace areas are also great for drinks and wedding pics during the summer months.
Forget stuffy old golf club here as everything is modern, fresh and very well executed including the menus. Catering prices start at £99 per person and include room hire. The views over the lakes and Championship fairways are enough to make this venue special but the attention to detail and really friendly staff just make the whole package one worth considering.
Definitely a hole in one for a perfect wedding!
As wedding planners we get very excited when we can share a wedding with you that we’ve worked on and today’s wedding is a real treat. Our couple Vijay and Leanne had a fantastic theme for their wedding back in June, this year, and were so full of creative ideas we knew that it was going to be such fun helping them with their big day.
Leanne tells us how they started with their planning journey. “As a mixed race couple we wanted a day that reflected both our cultures. We had the structure and the ‘nice’ formalities of an English wedding with the food and party of an Indian Wedding, so you could say we picked the best of both and fused them together.
We had a civil ceremony at Nettlestead Place, Wateringbury. We chose the venue as it allowed us to have the day we wanted without being dictated too. We looked at other venues but our options were limited at many of them. Nettlestead Place offered us the perfect mix to create our fusion wedding – a beautiful old English house with a marquee for our Indian party.”
“We run our own Graphic Design business so we designed our own wedding theme and then used this theme to create our stationery including invites, place names and table plan. We named our tables after artists as we met at art college. We’ve designed lots of wedding stationery for our clients, but creating our own took us quite a while – we became super critical and wanted to reflect both our cultures. In the end we used Edwardian British Raj colours including Ivory, Sage Green and Brown with hints of gold.
The Wedding Dolls gave us very clever advice on timings and came up with ideas and solutions for potential problems that we would have never thought of. I was worried about not being able to keep check on everything on the day and so it was fantastic to have them there making sure everything was running on time and dealing with all those last minute issues that cropped up.”
“My dress was from Isabella Grace in Tunbridge Wells. I would highly recommend them as the service was outstanding and you’re made to feel very special – the whole experience of choosing my dress was really memorable. I found the perfect dress by Sophia Tolli that had a touch of ‘bling’ but was still me. The dress was stunning and I haven’t seen another like it – I’m now a big fan of her dresses – she’s a very clever designer.
My veil was also from Isabella Grace, it was a chapel length veil which had two tiers to it. The veil had seed beads and pearls along the scalloped edge, I felt it had a little Indian look to it, like a chunni, especially when it was draped over my shoulders. I asked at Isabella Grace if they could remove the top tier, which they very cleverly did for me, making it a less formal and more like a chunni.
During the day I wore my Nan’s pearl necklace and engagement ring but changed them in the evening to create an anglo-indian look. Typically Indian Brides wear Chura for their wedding, so I created my own version of this with Ivory and Silver sets of bangles for each arm and my mum’s crystal drop necklace and topped it off with a bindi. We also gave out bindis to our guests to wear which they loved.
Vijay wore a Sherwani, which was Indo-Western style, it was a 3 piece tailored silk suit in brown with an Edwardian cut. It was from Geeta Arts in Green Street, Forest Gate.”
“For our reception we had canapes and then our menu included Dhal Tarka, Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry, Saag Paneer, Jeera Rice and Naans. For dessert we had an ice cream cart by Little Gems, with gorgeous handmade ice cream in lovely flavours – she also made our beautiful wedding cake.
During the wedding breakfast we had a singer, Amy-Jayne, who sung mellow songs and then raised the tempo for our first dance and to get the party started in the evening. Later we had an Indian DJ who played a mix of Bhangra and English/American music. They also played the Dhol (an Indian Drum) to our entrance into the marquee and then performed as a Dhol duo on the dance floor once the evening was underway… brilliant!!! It turned into a great big party, as every indian wedding is!”
Finally we asked Leanne what advice she would you give to other couples about planning their wedding day?
“Be realistic! As much as you may want it all, the day is shorter than you think. Ask for help from family and friends and don’t be afraid to ask wedding professionals. We feel we couldn’t have made the day as perfect as it was without the help and advice of The Wedding Dolls, who were brilliant and definitely saved us money and lot’s of stress in the last few weeks.
Make sure you hire a Videographer, there is so much of the day you don’t see and it’s lovely to be able to see your guests enjoying themselves. Also think carefully about your wedding photography and the type of shots you want most. Lastly, if you can take your honeymoon a week after the wedding as this gives you time to reflect on the fun you had on the day with family and friends.”
Thanks so much to Vijay and Leanne for sharing their day with us and for being so much fun to work with. Congratulations to you both xxx
Brides Shoes: Rainbow Club
Brides Jewellery: Chez Bec and Glitzy Secrets
Videography: Padgham Productions
Catering: Dream Days for You
Flowers: Chic Weddings
Joanne hit the road last week with a Bride and Groom venue hunting in West Kent and East Sussex. Here she tells us how she got on.
“On of our shortlist of venues to check out was The Great Barn at Rolvenden. Full of character and magnificent in size, the 18th Century barn is in the outskirts of Cranbrook and is a range of traditional brick and timber farm buildings, which were last used for agriculture in the mid 1980’s.”
“I loved it as it’s a great big blank canvas where you can hire your own suppliers and the possibilities are endless. There’s no limit on the choices available to you and the barn can be personalised in so many ways. Good points are that it comes complete with a kitchen area, car park and toilets which save some hire costs but you will need to arrange tables and chairs, or even perhaps hay bales! You can supply your own drink and there’s no corkage charge. Go local for your beer and try The Old Dairy Brewery.”
“The Great Barn is licensed for civil ceremonies so you could have your whole day here, it also has a license for live and recorded music. There’s only 18 functions held here per year and so there will never be more than one wedding on a weekend. This means you would be able to get into the barn a few days prior to the wedding to begin the set up process and a few days after to clean up.
Some of you might be put off by the simplicity of the barn and not having an on site co-ordinator available but Joan who showed us round was very helpful and had a vast knowledge of the venue and surrounding area. Plus if you need help setting up and want a co-ordinator for the day there’s always The Wedding Dolls to consider!”
See our featured wedding at the barn for more images.
Images courtesy of Rebecca Douglas
This was one wedding video I couldn’t wait to see as it showed all the bits I missed when we worked at Vijay and Leanne’s wedding in the summer. Whilst I was busy up in the marquee Joanne got to see the happy couple exchanging their vowels and ….awwwww….how happy do they look!
We’ll be featuring the full wedding with all it’s fabulous details next week but for now enjoy the video, shot by Padgham Productions.
Happy Sunday x
If you are still looking to book your venue and have a wedding date between 1st October and 31st March then you might be in luck.
Country House Wedding Venues are offering 10% discount on venue hire between those dates in any year! They have two venues in Kent we really like and which might just make the perfect backdrop to your country wedding.
Combe Bank School, Sevenoaks
Set in a fantastic Sevenoaks location and built in 1728, Combe Bank’s fabulous grounds, grand front door and elegant style make it feel spacious and light.
The Adam Room is licensed for civil ceremonies of up to 60 seated guests or 100 guests with 40 standing. The Chapel is also licensed for ceremonies of up to 140 guests and may be used for a blessing.
For receptions the Dining Room can accommodate up to 140 guests with the Main Hall the perfect location for the evening party as it comes with it’s very own stage. The marquee can hold up to 300.
Boxley House, Maidstone
One of their other Kent venues is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, just outside Maidstone. Boxley House, is a beautiful 17th Century Jacobean Manor and has three main function rooms for you to choose from. The Garden Room and the Terrace Suite can both be used for the Wedding Breakfast with access out onto the terrace and 17 acres of parkland!
It has a license for Civil Ceremonies in the Drawing Room for up to 50 guests and the Terrace Suite for up to 80 guests. There’s also the marquee which seats up to 300.
Both venues would work really well in these traditional “out of season” months as they would look stunning dressed up for a mid-winter ball theme!
Go take a look for yourself by booking a viewing with the team.
All images: Country House Wedding Venues
Today it’s sunny and we’re super excited as we’ve just signed up to be part of Alice and Rose Presents, Vintage Wedding Fair on Sunday 16th September.
It’s a really different kind of wedding fair with a relaxed atmosphere and lots of fun along the way. On the day you can expect to be entertained with live music, a bridal pack with wedding mag and discounts, a glass of bubbly on arrival, competitions and the chance to meet lots of lovely suppliers who can help you pack a punch when planning your vintage wedding. And of course you can now meet us to chat through any wedding worries you might have.
We suggest you bring a picnic on the day and enjoy some breathtaking views across the Kent and Sussex countryside. Plus there’ll be a bar open serving beer,wine and soft drinks and you can even meet the local animals that call Hollambys Farm their home.
The fair is at Hollambys, which is a small organic farm in Groombridge. Their converted Sunset Barn, overlooking Birchden Field, is perfect for a country wedding and is a fabulous place to check out for your vintage wedding.
Image: Sunset Barn by Heather Shuker
Plus did I mention that it’s free entry? So don’t hang about pop over and see Alice and Rose Presents for more information now.
We’ll look forward to seeing you there!
Featured image on homepage by Tino & Pip
This weekend brings us sunshine! And about time too. With school out for summer and weddings galore over the next few weeks we need the sun to stick to around just for a while. On a selfish note as well I’ve bought loads of maxi dresses for going to weddings and not got to wear them once yet – having to stick to my winter attire made up of tights and a waterproof mac!
So before I run away with the sun celebration let’s look back over the last week on the blog. Our dress of the week was by Alan Hannah, a gorgeous backless dress with stunning detail, that judging from the comments we’ve had is a big hit with all of you too.
Then we shared with you a unique venue that we’ve had the pleasure of working at, Nettlestead Place. The house, gardens and stunning views along with it being exclusive to you on the day are just a few of the reasons to check it out.
Next was our fantastic find Little Gems, who make the most gorgeous cakes alongside a vintage ice cream bike with homemade ice creams. We worked with Gemma at a wedding and could see first hand how much the guests loved picking their own ice cream for dessert and comparing flavours – it was a big hit!
For wedding decor inspiration we looked at the comeback of the humble balloon. With large latex balloons now in the offering you can make simple and stylish backdrops at a really reasonable price. We just love them.
If you’re looking for accessories and decoration for your big day our Saturday Shopping guide is just what you need with beautiful name places, invitations and table settings from one of our favourite online shops, Cox and Cox. It’s our first stop for unique little wedding ideas.
Enjoy the sunshine and happy Sunday everyone!