Zoe & Stuart – Walton Hall, Welsbourne, Warwickshire

A bit of a special wedding for me this was. You see, Stuart has been my best friend since we were at school, so I was not only the photographer but also the best man as well which I knew was going to be a hectic day but with Sophie shooting as well I was still able to enjoy the day and fulfill my best man duties. Walton hall was beautiful with some awesome settings for photos. Stuart is in the RAF so it was only fitting to have a Helicopter flying the bride and groom off following the ceremony. The day was amazing so lets see what the couple have to say:

How did your proposal go; how, where, when etc?

We were both just at home watching a film together. It was the day after my birthday! Stu disappeared off into the bedroom and was fiddling about and then came back and asked if I wanted some wine. He went into the kitchen to get it and was ages again; I asked if he was squashing the grapes himself! Then he came back into the living room and just asked me. Obviously I cried and then rang half the family and my best friends to apologise for the fact that I’d bailed on going for dinner with them.

What was your vision/plan/style for your wedding?

Well I’ve been planning my wedding for the last 20+ years so I had plenty of ideas. We discussed things together and I constantly text him whilst he was at work with pictures and links to things that I’d seen online that I liked! We wanted to keep things pretty simple and incorporate the colour navy into the scheme to match his military uniform. I like the rustic look for a wedding; lots of kraft brown card and twine with fairy lights (who doesn’t love a fairy light?”)

How did you begin planning?

We started pretty quickly after we got engaged; first planning an engagement party! After that we’d quickly decided on a rough date for when we wanted to get married and a wedding venue as these get booked really quickly for the time of year that we wanted. Also we had to get our wedding request in to the best man and our photographer Nick!

Where did you look for inspiration etc.

Pinterest is an absolute must; we got lots of ideas from here as we’d chosen to make our own save the dates and invitations. I also got inspiration on ways to make centre pieces in order to save us some more money. I read a few bridal magazines and watched endless episodes of “Say YES to the Dress”. Stu was not so keen on this show!

Your venue?

We instantly knew where we wanted to get married. We chose Walton Hall in Wellesborne as this is where we went on our first weekend away together as a couple. We loved the building and the surrounding grounds and the fact that it was also a large hotel so all of our guests had the option to stay on sight. The package they offered here also included a lot of extras such as the chair sashes and all the table place cards/plan.

Your dress and accessories?

I have to admit I tried on A LOT of dresses, probably near to 50 of different styles, sizes and colours. I changed my mind on the style I wanted a couple of times but then fell in love with a strapless, fitted lace dress. I got this from “The Wedding Quarter” in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. Here they sell dresses of the rack for a fraction of the price and it was totally worth it. I just paid to have it cleaned before the ceremony. To add sparkle to the dress I went for a belt. I tried one on in the shop and then ended up buying a replica from eBay and it was brilliant! I wanted to keep my accessories really simple. I got my veil from a bridal shop in Dunster, Somerset. I had gold sparkling shoes from BHS and a matching bag from Debenhams. My beaded hair slide was also from eBay.

Groom’s attire?

Well this was easy; Stu is in the military, so he decided to get married in his number ones. This saved us money and time trying to find something that he was happy with!

Your bridesmaids?

I knew that I wanted their dresses to be navy blue to go with the colour scheme. Once again, I went onto eBay to see what was on offer. I know there have been horror stories in the papers about dresses that have been ordered from abroad and then when they arrive and look nothing like the picture, so I wisely ordered 1 dress for the girls to try. When it arrived, I was amazed as it was really good quality and suited all of the girls! Once they’d all said they were happy with it I ordered all of their dresses and they arrived 6 weeks later; they only cost me £27 each! I then just found someone to do alterations so they fit perfectly. My youngest bridesmaid had an ivory dress that I got in the sale and wore a navy ribbon sash so that she matched in with the colour scheme.

Your flowers?

I knew that I wanted quite neutral flowers, but I also wanted to include my favourite flowers, pink gerberas. I looked for florists nears to the venue so that the delivery cost on the day would be kept low and I knew that they wouldn’t have far to travel. I went with “Elizabeth flowers” who are based only 10 minutes from the venue near Stratford-upon-Avon. When I met her she was lovely and made me feel really comfortable. She emailed me images of the flowers that she planned to include and what the arrangements would look like. We kept in constant contact and on the day the flowers were amazing.

Your cake?

Once again we didn’t want to spend a fortune on a wedding cake; it just ends up getting sliced up on the evening and half the guests won’t remember eating it! We did however enjoy sampling a lot of free cake at wedding fayres. We went with a simple cake from Marks & Spencers. There are lots of options to choose from and you can stack them yourselves. I asked the venue to stack ours for us and they changed the ribbon on the cake from ivory to navy. We had mirrored letters for our cake topper that I got from a wedding show I went to in Manchester.

Your makeup?

I had originally booked mine and the bridesmaids’ make up with the beautician at the venue but the day before my trial I received and email from them cancelling! Luckily I had an amazing wedding co-ordinator at the venue who had already sorted me a new make up artist; “Katy make-up Artistry”. I met with Katy the next day for a trial and she was lovely. We discussed the look I wanted and I showed her images on pinterest. After she’d finished we discussed if there was anything I wanted to change/alter and when I was happy she wrote down all the products she had used. On the day she arrived early and did my make up as well as 3 bridesmaids, my friend and my Mum! She was really chatty and I have spoken to her since. I’d highly recommend her.

Your photographer?

Well there was no question who our wedding photographer was going to be! Stu has known Nick since school so he was the obvious choice. He and Sophie were amazing on the day; Sophie was an absolute angel sorting my dress about a hundred times during the day and Nick was able to get loads of amazing photos as well as constructing a selfie station, appear in photographs and make a best-man’s speech! Since our wedding I have recommended him to many of my friends who are now getting married.

Explain your details and décor.

To keep with the ‘rustic’ theme our centre pieces were bird cages (another eBay purchase!) decorated with false ivy and wired fairy lights. We also had wooden heart confetti for the tables. Our wedding favours were sweet cones with personalised stickers; a big thank you to Becci for spending an afternoon with me in Makro and making up 70+ cones! Any sweets we had leftover we then used to have a sweet stall on the evening. There were pillars in our evening room so we decorated these with twine and photographs of myself & Stu from when we first met till present and of course more fairy lights! We were really happy with how it looked. We had a dropbox guest book with wooden hearts for the guests to sign as well as a selfie station provided by Nick who presented us with an album filled with all the photographs from it. We also had a table with photographs of family and close friends who’d passed away and couldn’t attend. This was really important to me.

Your memorable moments from the day?

One of them has to be our helicopter ride! As part of the hotel’s package we were able to have a 20 minute flight across Warwick after the ceremony which was absolutely amazing and definitely memorable. It was also just such a joy to have all our family and friends there to spend the day with us; some of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time! I remember also looking round at Stu just before we were declared as husband and wife and thinking “Wow…this is actually happening!” I think it’s really important to take time to look around and appreciate what is actually happening!

The honeymoon?

I had always wanted to go somewhere really exotic that you don’t go every year for a holiday. We chose the Maldives and it was the best holiday ever! It’s just like being in another world…or in this case your own little island. We paid a little extra to have a hut right on the beach so we were able to walk straight out every morning onto the beach and go snorkelling. The marine life there is incredible and we were luckily enough to see a range of fish as well as a turtle and a shark! The staff simply can’t do enough for you and are all so welcoming. We had an amazing time there and secretly I’d love to go again.

Advice for future couples?

Oh my I could write a rather long list here; since our wedding a lot of my friends have been getting engaged so I’ve been boring them will all my advice so I’ll go with a top 5!

  1. Be organised. I know it seems an obvious one but there really is no point thinking “Oh I’ve got loads of time”…you really haven’t! If you want the photographer, venue, DJ etc that you want then you have to get in early. At least you’ll have time to find an alternative if they’re unavailable.
  2. Shop around. When I saw something that I liked, for example our centre pieces, I looked at a range of places that I could either buy or hire them from to see which was going to work out at the best price for us. Some shops sell practically identical items but the price difference can be shocking. Put the word ‘wedding’ in front of anything and the price rockets! I know some may turn their nose up at it but eBay was amazing for our wedding… I had a long list of things from there and nobody even knew unless they asked!
  3. Be cut-throat with the guest list. I remember when we initially wrote our guest list there were loads of people; but when we worked out the cost it was just not achievable so we had to review it. You have to think “how often do I see this person? Would I really be upset if they weren’t there?” I know it sounds awful but at the end of the day it’s your wedding. If they get offended that they weren’t invited; well then they obviously aren’t very understanding; weddings don’t come cheap you know!
  4. Don’t go crazy on the little things. I can’t talk; I did this…buying little extra bits to decorate the tables, signs to go up around the venue, door hangers for the hungover guests the next day! Admittedly yes I was really happy with all of these things and they looked great but you soon forget how much you’ve spent until you see all the stuff laid out infront of you. Oh and also when you have to transport it back home after the big day!
  5. Excel is your best friend. Now as all my friends know, I love a spreadsheet BUT it’s a great way to keep track of everything. I had one document that contained; our guest list, evening guests, whether they’d RSVP’d, their food order, where they were sitting, table plan, money spent, deadlines for payments, running total for guests at the venue. Our wedding venue coordinator loved me and said that I was one of the most organised brides that she’d ever met so! But on a serious note it’s a really good way to keep track of everything all in one place.

Here are some images from the day:

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