How did you guys meet?
We met through my best friend, at her 21st birthday party in Southampton. She was there at Uni with Ben, and after initially thinking I was a little weird, we got chatting and he bought me some jaeger bombs. He asked me out pretty soon after that and we moved in together a year later. From that point on he said he was going to marry me, it was just a question of when.
Tell us your engagement story
A few years on, after a night at the same friend’s house, we went for a hungover lunch in Chipping Camden and Ben took me for a walk in a Landmark Trust estate there. In a field surrounded by sheep and no one else, he called my name and I turned round to see him on one knee, slightly wobbly from landing on a lumpy piece of grass! Of course i said yes.
- We had a dinosaur flower girl, which I surprised Ben with. He had no idea and it was a really fun way to start the ceremony. We also left the church to an a cappella version of the Jurassic Park theme.
- We had loads of our friends helping out the day before and throughout the wedding, which made it super special for us. Friends helped with the decorations, literally building the venue, performing throughout the day and with everything else inbetween.
- We had the wedding in a marquee in my mother in laws house, which meant we had loads of space and were able to invite loads of friends and family to the evening bit. So the whole thing turned into an epic party and it was the best night.
- I had 8 bridesmaids – a lot! – but it was amazing to be surrounded by my best friends for the build up and on the day.
How did you Keep it Real and what did you do differently?
Ben and I really wanted the wedding to be ‘ours’ and so we tried to add as many quirky things to it as possible. We were the first of our friends to get married, so we had the pleasure of not having too many people to compare ourselves to, and so we could be as crazy as we wanted. We had a dinosaur theme running through the wedding, and children’s napkins with Spongebob and My Little Pony to name a few of them on the tables. We wanted people to have fun, without too much pomp and fancy rubbish. We also used a lot of friends and family for help, and if it wasn’t friends and family helping, things were as local as possible. Most of the music was by mates, the flowers were all grown in my mother in law’s garden and arranged by a family friend, and that was just the beginning.
Where did you get married and why did you choose your venue?
Cambridgeshire – a tiny place called Caldecote in St Micheal and All Angels church. Ben’s family live on the same street as the village church, so it was walkable to the reception at his house after the ceremony. Also, his dad is buried in the church yard there, and we thought it would be nice to have his dad there too. There were about 120 at the ceremony and dinner, 180 at the party afterwards.
Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?
Our photographer was the incredible Maria Assia. She was just like another guest at our wedding, and blended in perfectly with all our friends. This meant she caught some really beautiful secret moments, that we didn’t even see on the day! She also fitted perfectly with what we wanted – for us was minimal staged photos and more ‘moment’ photos. We could not have been happier with the photos – and for me it was really important to have something really special to look back on after the day was over.
She also makes a special little video a few weeks after the wedding of her favourite photos, which means you get a little hit of loveliness just when you really start feeling the wedding blues. That was a really special touch for us.
What song played as you walked down the aisle?
I have a lot of musical friends from singing at Uni, so had live music throughout the ceremony. My friends made up a choir, and two of them sang 1000 years by Christina Perri as I came down the aisle. I chose this song because 1) I could find the sheet music for the quartet and 2) I used to be a Twilight fan and wanted the same song as Bella! Ben’s cousin also brought her quartet who preformed at the ceremony and at the reception.
What did you DIY and how did you decorate the venue?
The theme was dinosaurs. The flowers had a Jurassic park feel, and had little dinosaurs in amongst the flowers. The decor otherwise was simple with bunting and flowers. We liked the natural feel of being in the countryside and tried to use that as inspiration. A lot of the stuff I bought for decorations was bought online – we got as much secondhand as we could, or through friends.
I did the table plan. We found photos of everyone and pinned them up at the entrance to the wedding, and they had the table name written on the back. A friend of mine wrote the place cards, and everyone had a little gold dinosaur as a placeholder. The table name cards were designed by our artistic friend Kelly, and they were named after special things in our life – places we have been and things we loved.
Favours – Each place had a small golden dinosaur holding the name cards, which people took. I spray painted little toy dinosaurs gold.
Tell me about your catering. Was it done in-house or did you bring outside caterers in?
We had Emma J, a local Cambridge caterer, do our food and it was the highlight of the wedding. She cooked three courses, for 140 people, all exactly the same and all equally delicious. Food was a really important part of our day, as Ben and I are serious foodies, so we spent a long time looking for the perfect chef.
She served an amazing array of canapés to go with the champagne after the ceremony. For the main meal we had scallops to start, lamb for the main course with green veg, dauphinois and jus, and then chocolate cheesecake/ Eton Mess for pudding. She did an incredible job looking after people with dietary requirements too.
Tell us about your alternative to a wedding cake…
We had a cheese tower instead of cake, because our caterer provided pudding, and Ben and I, as well as most of our friends, liked cheese more than cake. We got it from the Cambridge Cheese Shop, and chose the different cheeses ourselves. It was delicious, and a great way to end the meal.
How did you pick your stunning flowers?
Our florist was our amazing friend Clare, and she used local flowers in all our arrangements. My mother in law had been planting flowers for the last 2 years to be used for the wedding, so the day before the wedding the bridesmaids had great fun going out and picking flowers. We had lots of natural grasses, wheat, cosmos and sweetpeas. She totally took our dinosaur theme to a new level and made the table decorations look like little dinosaur landscapes with little toy dinosaurs I had painted gold. The bouquets were pure sweetpeas, of different colours. They were the scented variety so they smelled amazing.
How did you entertain everyone?
Ben found a roving silhouette artist for our reception drinks, who did the most amazing silhouettes of everyone after the ceremony. It was a super fun way to break the ice with guests, and everyone got a keepsake from the wedding as they could take their silhouette home.
We also had Ben’s cousin perform with her quartet whilst guests had canapés and champagne. They are such fun performers though, as the quartet moved around the garden, and danced about whilst they were playing! They were amazing.
What was your first dance?
We had a friend, Henry, who is a Jazz singer, perform our first dance. He arranged an amazing version of our favourite song Waterloo Sunset, by the Kinks. But it was a much slower, jazzy version than the original. Ben and I even went to ballroom dancing lessons so we could dance properly!
Any tips for saving money?
We cut down on unnecessary items from the caterers, such as saucers for the cups and napkins (which saved a surprising amount of money). Instead we bought children’s party napkins and each table had a different set. We also asked friends for a lot of favours, which saved a lot. A friend did all the flowers, music was mostly free, and signs/decorations were all a team effort.
Would you do anything differently?
I think I would have liked the ceremony filmed, because of all the people that performed. But apart from that, absolutely nothing. We gave ourselves 2 years to plan the wedding so nothing was stressful, we had the time to book everything we wanted without worry.
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Photographer: Maria Assia | Bride’s dress: Charlie Brear| Cape: Sassi Holford Bridal Boutique: Ellie Sanderson | Shoes: £4 pair of white plimsolls decorated by bride | Rings: Niessing | Hair accessories: Family heirloom| Earrings: Gift from groom| Other jewellery: Gifts| Bridesmaids: Coast| Groom & Best Man: Handmade suits | Ushers: Moss Bros| Flower girls: | Florist: | Photographer: | Hair: Stephanies Hair| Make up: Did own|Cheese Tower: Cambridge Cheese Co | Catering: Emma J’s Party Food | Entertainment: Silhouette artist