Real Wedding: A Juggling Officiant for a Gorgeous, Music-Filled Day

It’s Monday, it’s nearly November and it’s frickin’ freezing outside, so to warm you up and put a smile on your face, I am thrilled to share with you today the beautiful wedding of my dear friends, Helen and George.

Helen has written an epic and fabulously detailed write-up for you, so I shan’t waffle on too much. This is a wedding that features a juggling officiant, shameless posing, Cheshire cat smiles and an awful lot of leaping around like loons.  Enjoy…

All images by Richard Davenport from Soulbird Photo.

The Proposal

“George and I met through our sisters who are best friends. George’s sister, Fran, was watching a student film I had made at Uni and George asked who I was.  It was a kind of spoof soap opera where I was like Sharon from Eastenders– I don’t think he could resist the short skirts and my amazing acting ability (ahem). We ending up meeting for a blind date under the clock at Waterloo. We moved in together 6 months later. And 5 years later, George took me on a surprise trip to Venice at Christmas and proposed. It was a total surprise and unbelievably romantic.”

“We didn’t want to wait that long to get married. Before we got engaged I had sent George details of a venue that I had found in Stratford Upon Avon called Talton Lodge. George was brought up in the area and it was about 10 minutes from his house. It was totally on impulse that I sent it over to him, and, without telling and knowing he was going to propose, he phoned them to see if they had any space in 2012. They only do about 8 weddings per year and were totally full. Luckily, after we got engaged we contacted them again and they had a cancellation, so we went to see the venue and booked it straight away for the 1st September 2012. This gave us about 8 months to organise it.”

The Ceremony

“The ceremony was really important to us. We wanted people to actually enjoy it and remember it rather than perhaps seeing it as a barrier to the free bar and party.  We saw it as the start of our day and it was important that it was really personal, colourful and fun to set the tone for the rest of the party.

We didn’t have any readings, instead choosing to fill the ceremony with song. My mum was worried that no one would sing; luckily my university friends who all did Drama pretty much doubled as a full voice choir and everyone singing loudly and joyfully is one of my favourite memories of the day. We asked friends of ours to perform two of our favourite emotional songs, ‘Moon River’ and ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story which were amazing and beautiful, and for the ‘hymns’ we chose Buddy Holly, the Kinks and the Beatles to kick off our married life.”

“The best choice we made for the whole day was stealing an idea from George’s Dad. He had married his god-daughter a few years ago in the US and had been ordained via the good old internet to perform the marriage. We wanted to use this idea and have someone personal to us to perform the ceremony. It was important to both of us that we had someone who actually knew us to talk about us and oversee our vows. Now this is a big choice, but both on total gut instinct the first person we thought of was our friend Frank. We are very close friends with Frank and his girlfriend Laura, and one night over dinner at their house we asked him if he would marry us. After shock and hysterical laughter from all sides he agreed to do the deed. Now I would love to say it was all carefully planned and we meticulously went through all the details with Frank… but to be honest we left Frank to it, and, apart from writing our own vows (ahem, the night before) and stealing the ring exchange dialogue from the Humanist website, Frank wrote all the jokes and joy into the ceremony itself. We made totally the right choice; he was brilliant, hilarious and moving in equal measure, and in all the pictures you can see everyone is smiling at all times which is exactly what we wanted.”

The Dress

“Unlike most girls (so I hear), I had never really thought about my wedding dress seriously before I got engaged. I literally had no idea what I was looking for. Now, being a wedding dress sceptic, I never thought I would try a dress that would make me say ‘this is the one’ and get all teary and emotional; after all ,that would be a bit too- well, girlie. But then it happened…oh no.

Me and my mum went to a bridal shop in York. When you are trying on dresses you need a brilliantly honest shop assistant and I found one in this shop. I picked some dresses out and tried them on and she was like – “erm no.” Then she brought in 2 -3 amazing frocks that looked like nothing on the hanger but perfectly suited my body shape and taste. The one that I chose I just absolutely loved. Fadella by Cymbeline is a silk corset underlay which hugs at the waist, and a beautiful and very expensive lace overlay with little tiers of lace all the way down. Simple but beautiful. It also echoed the layers of lace on my mum’s wedding dress which I thought was a nice touch too.

Overall what swayed me was its simplicity and this is something that I knew George would love as well – he ain’t into frills and flounce and it was important to me that he liked the dress too. I felt absolutely amazing in it and couldn’t imagine wearing anything else – which is a sign it was definitely The One!”

The Suit

“We decided that we didn’t want the men in matching suits, and George wanted to wear something a little different to the traditional grey.  He likes his clothes quite fitted and as he is quite slight, it’s difficult to find a nice suit that doesn’t look like he borrowed it off his dad.  He looked for a vintage suit– there was talk of powder blue at one point (!)- but ones in good condition are quite hard to come by. So under the supervision of me, his sister Fran and the voice of reason Chris, Fran’s Boyfriend, he went for this blue River Island suit, with a white shirt and great purple tie from Reiss. The shoes are the great triumph – vintage Paul Smith from a local retro shop where we live in Stoke Newington and he totally loves them.”

The Venue

Talton Lodge is an organic farm and we held the ceremony on the lawn of their manor house and then moved over to two huge festival-style tipis in their Victorian walled garden for the reception.  When we initially saw the venue and met Olivia and Barney who run the place, it encapsulated everything we both wanted. It was relaxed and informal, and the fields and tipis gave it a festival vibe whilst still being an undeniably beautiful English Country Garden.

It was the people that made the place and we knew in Barney and Olivia’s hands we weren’t going to get stressed out or ripped off and would be allowed to do exactly what we wanted. On the day our gut instinct was totally right and they paced everything from the hog roast to the bonfire totally perfectly without asking either of us one single question! We can’t thank them enough.”

Décor and Styling

“We did have a budget for the wedding and we spent most of it on the venue, booze and food. The best way to spend it, I think! So in the end, we only had a small budget to spend on décor and styling. Luckily for us, Talton Lodge is so beautiful it didn’t actually need too much help to make it look good. 

We did, however, have to ‘wedding-up’ the two giant tipis. George and I wanted to make the decorations ourselves. We tried to make some pom poms and when experimenting at my mum’ s house we didn’t actually have any tissue paper so had a go with newspaper instead. It looked great! Much to my mum’s horror (she came round eventually) we decided to make all the pom poms out of newspapers, collected from my work. We chose two sizes – the Daily Mail and the pink Financial Times. We strung loads from the ceiling in the dancing area and they looked amazing!

For table décor, we went with wild flowers from our florist’s garden arranged in Golden Syrup cans and mini milk bottles by two talented friends, tea lights and floral table runners from H&M. Each place setting had a luggage label with a name hand-stamped by me, a sprig of Rosemary from the mother-in–laws garden and a UNICEF charity favour– a vaccination for a child. Favours annoy the heck out of me, I really hate them, they are totally pointless – everyone should do charity favours!!”

Best Bits

“It was literally the most fun I have ever had in 24 hours. I couldn’t pick out one best bit; there were several amazing points. One great moment was walking back from having our photos taken by the house and then walking into the field where we were having our reception. All our guests were stood there drinking champagne and blowing the bubbles that we had given them instead of confetti– it was just magic.

When we were planning the wedding we had a lot going on. We were living in rented accommodation while George was renovating our house, he had just set up a new business, I was just starting my new job, we moved house the week before into a building site with no kitchen or shower… Needless to say it was a preeeeeeety stressful time and we really didn’t want any more stress, thank you very much. I am not sure we really planned that much stuff, we just kind of decided things and then did them. The doing bit was my favourite; I loved hand stamping the name tags, collecting my mini milk bottles, making the wedding play list was really fun, and the order of service. We had a picture quiz on the back which we found hilarious. I don’t know if anyone else did…”

Words of Wedded Wisdom

“The best advice would be to remember that your wedding should tell your story. To us it was really important that our wedding was really personal and held true to everything that we believe in and included all the best people in our lives. Then try to put all those people at the centre of it- how can you make it as fun and easy for everyone– let people wear what they want, give the kids some colouring books and have a free bar… I think that’s pretty much all bases covered!

One last random thing is buy vintage wedding rings. We had a day out at an Antiques Fair at Alexandra Palace and bought the most beautiful rings that have history and stories behind them making them even more special.

And if you are stressing out, just remember George’s favourite line throughout the planning process: ‘We are only having a massive party– what could possibly go wrong??’ I hate to admit it, but in retrospect he’s right…”

* * * * * *

It really was such a joyful, relaxed day. Frank the clown officiant was a delight and made the ceremony so much fun, and I genuinely can’t think of a more perfect or well-run venue than Talton Lodge.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Helen and George for the free bar and can assure them it was very well utilised by all.  I, in particular, took advantage of the free-flowing Prosecco.  So much so, I was asleep on a bench by 9pm and completely missed the Ceilidh, bonfire and night time merriment!  There are pictures to prove it which I shan’t be publishing.

Thank you also to Richard from Soulbird Photo for allowing me to share these awesome pictures, and for taking this shot of me and my best buds looking like the cast of Shameless…

Brilliant, no?

Sama xxx

4 thoughts on “Real Wedding: A Juggling Officiant for a Gorgeous, Music-Filled Day

  1. Ahh this is such a beautiful wedding! I love everything and will be taking notes of how they decorated the tipis!

    On a side note, is one of the men giving speeches the actor from Harry Potter?! x

  2. Ah happy memories and here here, TAlton LOdge and Olivia and BArney are just brilliant, we had our wedding reception there on aug 27 2011, and would recommend it to anyone!

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