Real Wedding: Hannah & Andy

Andy is just full of surprises for his new wife Hannah. From that oh so romantic engagement plan to the life-size cutouts and fireworks at the wedding. This pretty pastel afternoon tea party was filled with love, laughter and some Harry Potter touches for these two Harry Potter fans. A truly classic church service followed by elegant golf club reception captured by the brilliant Louie Donovan Wedding Photography

The Engagement

Andy and I had been together 2 years and it was our anniversary weekend, and Andy had a big surprise weekend away planned. He is known for the occasional big gesture so I didn’t think anything of it! At the last minute, he broke it to me that he was now unable to come on our weekend away because he’d been called in for a military event, but I was to go away anyway with a friend and he would join later on the Sunday. I was really upset he wouldn’t be there on the Friday and Saturday!

I ended up going on a road-trip with Andy’s sister, Siobhan, around the south coast of England, following clues that Andy had distributed at each location. We had an afternoon tea and spa in St Albans, a lovely dinner in a restaurant in Salisbury (with champagne provided by Andy on the table!) followed by B&B stay, and a trip to Stone Henge. We then had lunch the following day at Rufus Stone in the New Forest, finishing at an Owl and Falconry Centre in Ringwood. I absolutely adore owls, and so an owl-flying experience was the perfect present for me!

It was then that I noticed the scroll in one of the owl’s talons. I had to read it out, and it was called “The Hannah.” It described the 10 steps that Andy had gone through to propose to me.

He then appeared, complete with tuxedo, and got down on one knee!

To say I was surprised was an understatement. We had a lovely evening together celebrating and went to get my engagement ring re-sized the next day. The military event was all a hoax, and Andy had been ahead of us the whole time laying the clues. Siobhan, my now sister-in-law, knew about the proposal the whole time. He’d taken my dad and brother out for a curry the weekend before, whilst I was at work, to ask them. Nobody else knew it was coming!

We were engaged in May 2015 and were married in July 2017.

The Wedding

It was incredibly important to both of us that our wedding day was traditional yet represented us as a couple, and we like to be a little bit different! For me, I had always imagined my wedding to be held at St Mary’s Church in Denham, Buckinghamshire, which is where I grew up, and Andy was more than happy for us to be married here. My parents still live in Denham and it meant that I “came home” which was very special for me.

We never really considered a winter wedding. Our colour scheme was pretty and fresh, and very “spring-like”. I needed to include pink roses for my nan, who we sadly lost in February 2015, as she would have been an important presence at our wedding. There was no particular theme that we had in mind. We knew we didn’t fancy a 3-course hot meal and an afternoon tea was always on the cards, so our ideas always tended to move towards an “English summer tea party”. We had teapot flower displays on the tables, and bunting to represent this. We both love Harry Potter (this was the theme of my hen-do, plus we watched all Harry Potter films back to back when we first got together, sadly!) and there were a couple very subtle Harry Potter hints. Our table names were the names of Harry Potter owls and beasts, and our table plan was a Marauders map. We also had Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans on the tables.

We sent out our save the date emails really early, over a year before, because it was so important to us that we had family members attend from all over the world, including Ireland, Australia, the British Virgin Islands and India. It was quite a big occasion, with around 100 people attending the church, 88 for the wedding breakfast and a further 60 guests came to our evening reception.

If we could describe our wedding in three words it would be “laughter, happiness and cake.”

Ceremony & Reception

We got married in St Mary’s Church in Denham Village, Buckinghamshire. This was so important to me particularly, as I grew up in Denham and my parents still live here. The vestry next to the church was where I was weighed as a baby!

Our rector, Christoph Lindner, was absolutely fantastic. We had traditional readings followed by “the Owl & the Pussycat” nonsense poem which is very “us”. We also left the church to “You’re my Best Friend” by Queen, which really was amazing and brought a smile to everyone’s faces. A friend of ours filmed us as we came out of the church and to have our church bells on permanent record is lovely.

Our reception was held at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club which is reachable via an avenue of trees and a 5-10 minute walk directly from the church. We had visited the golf club about 7-8 times prior to actually booking our wedding date – but we knew deep down that this was the venue for us and we booked it in October 2015. We are very flattered that a lot of our wedding photographs now feature on their website!

Alana Bower, who was our wedding coordinator at the venue, was unbelievably good. She was so friendly and approachable and was always available for our never-ending stream of questions!

Stationery

We both agreed we didn’t want to spend a fortune on wedding stationery because ultimately the invitations get put into a drawer or thrown away. I designed them and then made them myself, using ivory card and our little printer at home! I think people were impressed with them as we had a few compliments about them afterwards. It also meant that I could do the rest of our stationery myself in the same style so that everything matched.

Hair & Makeup

I spent a long time deciding whether I wanted my hair up or down, but decided on an up-do due to the back detailing of my dress. My hairdresser, Amiee Foster of Amiee Lauren Hairdressing, is a friend of a friend and came highly recommended, and I must say I was so impressed with her attitude, friendliness and attention to detail. The look I wanted was achieved at the first attempt, and we were able to incorporate a delicate pearl and crystal hairpiece to match my dress and veil. It looked absolutely amazing and I felt like a million dollars.

My makeup artist, Hannah Jackson of Hannah’s Makeup, is an award-winning makeup artist based in Watford. She did the wedding makeup for a friend of mine last year who I was a bridesmaid for, and I was so impressed that I had to book her for myself. She did both mine and my mum’s makeup and we were so impressed with her professionalism and clear passion for skin. At my makeup trial, she recommended a cleansing regime using the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish range, and because of this, my skin was the perfect canvas on my wedding day. She was also able to tweak my look from the trial and make it perfect for my big day. I wanted a fresh dewy look for my skin, with glittery eyes and a dark winged liner for my upper lid (as this is my signature look). Hannah made this effortless and perfect.

My bridesmaids had a different makeup artist, Nadia Becker, purely because there were 5 of them and with an early wedding, it would be hard to fit everyone in! Again, I was so impressed with Nadia. She was recommended by a friend and she really made them all look (even more) beautiful. She also did the makeup for the mother of the groom, and after a fantastic trial, we had no doubt we had hired the right lady for the job.

The Dress

My wedding dress is called Collins, by Maggie Sottero. The wonderful ladies at The Bridal House in Aston Clinton helped me choose her – I wouldn’t have been able to put my faith into anyone else!

My mum was the only other person who saw my dress (not even my maid of honour or bridesmaids came to any fittings) and I am so glad we had this special experience together.
The dress I chose was the second wedding dress I’d ever tried on, and the tears of joy from both myself and my mum proved that she was “the one!” As I am only 5’ tall, I was worried that any dress would look strange on me because of the length, but my seamstress (Karen Silver, based in Aylesbury) worked her magic and made it look phenomenal.

The train and the back detail with little pearls are what made this dress so unique & special for me. My veil was a finger-tip length and had a scalloped edge, with lace and crystals, which complimented the dress and made my look complete.

Accessories

I always had a penchant for Irregular Choice shoes and they make the most stunning ivory wedding shoes. These were the obvious choice for me! With the insoles I had bought separately, they were comfortable throughout the day.

I received a pearl bracelet from my parents for Christmas the year before and this really complimented my look. My necklace was an antique pearl necklace that had originally belonged to my Grandma, and it was so special to be able to wear it on the day.

Bridesmaid Dresses

The story behind my bridesmaid dresses is actually quite funny, in that I chose the colour based on the colour of our hallway! We were lucky enough to buy our own house last year, and when we painted the hallway a fresh pale blue I realised that this was the colour I could see my girls in!

I spent a long time researching online dress companies and ordered several different styles from Chi Chi London. Unfortunately, the first set of dresses was the wrong blue and didn’t match our hallway!

The dress we chose together, in the end, was called the Rihanna dress and was a perfect fit for all my girls. It was the perfect shade of blue, with a lovely soft skirt and intricate detailing on the bust and back, making them a little different from traditional strapless bridesmaid dresses. The girls looked absolutely stunning and it was made all the sweeter by the fact that the dresses were in the sale and were only £27.99 each!

Groom & His Men

I was much more involved in the groom and groomsmen outfits than Andy was with my wedding dress! I went with him to several fittings, and we hired all the morning suits from Slaters in Reading where the service was second to none.

Andy had a clear idea in his head about his look and we both agreed that navy blue with black shoes would be the perfect combination. We spent a while thinking about the combinations of waistcoats and cravats, and decided on ivory waistcoats for all, with an ivory cravat for Andy and pale blue cravats for his groomsmen. Andy ultimately made all the decisions regarding his morning suits; I’m lucky that I have a man with such good taste!

He surprised me on the day with a top hat, to match our page boy.

Flowers

Flowers played a big part of our wedding and I was so glad that we chose fresh flowers. Taniece Saunders, from Hire Heaven, really was our best friend during the wedding planning process! She has such a passion for flowers that making decisions with her was easy, and she gave us ideas about colours and what would work and what wouldn’t.

Andy in particular, to my surprise, really wanted a flower arch, and we were able to make this vision a reality with Taniece. This made our entrance to the church even more beautiful.

I loved the idea of having cream and pale pink roses in my bouquet, with a touch of blue to match the bridesmaids. The main colour we wanted was pale blue and we had delphiniums and hydrangeas to make this happen.

I also loved the look of gypsophila and long ribbons, and this was the perfect look for our bridesmaids.

The overall look of the flowers was incredibly pretty, and the flowers at the church were all re-used and enjoyed even more at our reception. There was a strong blue theme throughout, with hints of pink and cream.

My mum spent a long time investing in teapots from charity shops in the months leading up to the wedding – and these made absolutely stunning centrepieces, perfect for our afternoon tea wedding breakfast!

Food

As we had a very early wedding at 12 noon, we were anxious our guests would be hungry so they were served canapés with our welcome drinks. These were giant Yorkshire puddings with beef, marinated prawns and bellinis.

For our wedding breakfast, we didn’t feel that a 3-course hot meal suited us at all, and so we had a traditional champagne afternoon tea! We had sandwiches, scones and a variety of cakes and pastries and it was all delicious. This was served with tea, coffee, champagne and white or red wine.

All the guests were then served a hog roast in the evening, with sides including chips, coleslaw and salads. Our wedding cake was our pudding and it went down a treat!

Cake

Our cake was based on a Marks and Spencer cake that had been discontinued! It plain white icing with delicate piping, and pale blue ribbon to match our colour scheme. Each tier was a different flavour; fruit with marzipan, lemon with lemon curd, Victoria sponge with raspberry jam, carrot cake with passionfruit curd and finishing with chocolate cake with chocolate ganache on the bottom. We have kept our top tier for our first Christmas cake! Our cake topper was us in owl form, which was appropriate!

Entertainment

We had lots going on all through the day.

Andy had a little surprise lined up for me and had some life-size cardboard cut-outs of ourselves made, for our very own photobooth. This was hilarious and guests loved it!

Our wedding band was called The Mad Hatters Tea Party Band. We had seen them at a friends’ wedding a few years before and were so impressed with their professionalism, performances and variety of music that we really needed to book them. Will, who was our contact from the band, was so great and they were able to learn a few songs for us.

Photography

We couldn’t have wished for a better wedding photographer. Louie Donovan Wedding Photography was the first choice by a clear mile, as she is clearly so passionate about photography and weddings in particular. The examples of her work that she brought round to show us were second to none and on the day she was so friendly relaxed and accommodation for all the shots we wanted.

We received an amazing “sneak peek” of our wedding photos whilst on our honeymoon and it took about 6 weeks for the rest of our photos to arrive – all 1900 of them! We are really going to struggle to choose the best ones as they are all so brilliant – right from getting ready up to our first dance.

Special Mention

Our wedding favours were handmade lollipops made by the amazing Holly’s Lollies – these were personalised and were a bit different from the traditional sugared almonds! Any that were left over we took away with us and they were delicious.

We were lucky enough to finish our evening with an incredible fireworks display from Total Pyro. It was completely worth it – it meant that I could do my “bouquet toss” and little speech prior to them being set off! We had sparklers at the same time and everyone has commented since on what an incredible wedding it was. Andy had yet another surprise for me, with a “Mr & Mrs Catton” sign in fireworks at the end.

We had our first dance to “Ruelle – I get to Love You” and we learnt the waltz for this. One of our bridesmaid’s mum is a dance teacher and owns the Sargent & Plester School of Dance in Chesham, and thanks to her patience and expertise we were able to waltz our way through one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.

My very special Nan was remembered with a beautiful bouquet charm that I had made – and our florist was able to incorporate this into my bouquet which brought a tear to the eye on the morning of the wedding.

Cherished Memories

The fact that my cheeks hurt the next day from smiling so much speaks volumes! We did our wedding our way, and everything from the readings at the ceremony, to the music, to our first dance and choice of food, was all our decision. Everyone special to us was able to come, and it meant such a lot to us that people made such effort to come to celebrate with us.

Bride To Bride

Try not to worry about the small things – ultimately you will marry your prince & it will all fall into place! Make sure you take the photographs you want to take and don’t worry about timings slightly overrunning. Take 5 minutes every hour or two with your new husband – to look back at your guests and reflect on the day so far. You’ll be so busy trying to get around everyone otherwise that you may not see each other!

Try and arrange to have breakfast the next day with as many guests as you can. Our hotel very kindly set aside a whole room for us and people could come along for the breakfast buffet even if they didn’t stay at the hotel. It was lovely to catch up with people the next day once the excitement from the day before had calmed down a little!

If you find a supplier you like, find out when they are attending another wedding fayre. Suppliers will often offer discounts if you book at a fayre, and if you do your research beforehand you are in a better position to book “on the day”.

Suppliers

Venue: St Mary’s Church Reception: Buckinghamshire Golf Club
Hair:  Amiee Lauren Hairdressing  Bridal Makeup: Hannah’s Makeup
Dress Designer: Maggie Sottero from The Bridal House
Bridesmaid Dresses: Chi Chi London Grooms Attire: Slaters
Flowers:  Hire Heaven Cake: Sugar Petals 4U  Favours Holly’s Lollies
Entertainment: The Mad Hatters Tea Party Band Fireworks: Total Pyro

Photography: Louie Donovan Wedding Photography

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