Lovebirds Marianne and Jack held a glorious summer wedding at Nonsuch MansionThis love story begins on 28th June 2008 and is cemented on 27th June 2015 – almost 7 years to the day since Marianne and Jack first met through Jack’s best friend (and best man), Julian. Marianne tells her summer wedding love story to Bouquet Catch.
We first met at our mutual friend Julian’s birthday, although thanks to the consumption of quite a lot of wine on my part I think I spent most of the night talking AT him. We started messaging shortly after the party. Jack had a month off in between jobs and I was on the summer break before my last year at the University of Sussex in Brighton, so we ending up spending a lot of time together over the next month. Jack came down to visit me most weekends and became a regular fixture in our uni house.
Jack proposed to me on my birthday in 2013. He’d booked us a room at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and when we arrived we were greeted by an amazing view of Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace and the London skyline. On a table by the window was a huge bunch of flowers with a note attached to them. The first thing I did was to rush over to the table to the note which read: “Happy Birthday my love, I hope you have enjoyed your day so far. I have one more surprise and a question to ask of you…”. In my excitement I turned around too quickly – he barely had time to take off his jacket and put his bag down let alone get the ring out of his bag and get down on one knee! I couldn’t have wished for a better proposal – it was so romantic and personal.
Jack had invited my parents to join us for afternoon tea so we were able to share our news with them shortly afterwards (Jack had asked their permission a few weeks beforehand to which their answer had been: “About time!”).
We decided that we wanted to have a summer wedding and we were so lucky with the weather – it was such a beautiful day. When Jack and I first started looking for venues we looked at barns in Surrey, but some, although beautiful, were a bit too far away for our family to get to. When we saw Nonsuch Mansion we fell in love with its charm – the building itself is beautiful and the grounds are so lovely. We walked around the gardens and knew that it would be a great place for pictures and for our friends and family to enjoy a drinks reception if the weather worked out as we hoped it would.
When we came back on other occasions to walk around the park our love for it was cemented – we had never seen so many happy-looking dogs bounding around in the long grass and mud. Cheam is only a half an hour journey for most of our friends and family so this was also a big selling point. The events team there are fantastic. They answered the many questions we sent them and were happy to meet with us whenever we liked to go over our plans for the day.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Sutton the night before our summer wedding with my bridesmaids and my parents. I wanted to spend the night relaxing with my bridesmaids so we gathered in my room watching a film and enjoying a Nando’s! My bridesmaids were Holly (Maid of Honour), my best friend (other than Jack) who I met at university and the person I trust with everything, my cousin Martha and my two oldest and closest friends within my friendship group, Lucy and Libby. We’ve grown up together and have changed a lot over the years but are still really close and I wanted them by my side on the day.
I gave them presents to say thank you for being my bridesmaids and all the hard work they had put into the preparations so far.
These included a bag each from Alphabet Bags, some lip balm, hand cream, a miniature of their favourite spirit, a perfume atomiser and a Timbergram card, while they gave me a garter, personalised slippers and a ‘Bride’ robe, as well as a hand-made glass and a lucky sixpence to put in my shoe.
I had also ordered wooden postcards from Timbergram for my table of friends from school. I wrote a personal message to each of them and asked that it be left on the table with their wedding favours. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell them how important they are to me and Timbergram was a great and unusual way to do just that.
On the day we got up early to get breakfast (I couldn’t eat much as I was too nervous) and then Stephanie Dorelli arrived to do make up and hair for me, my maid of Honour and my mum. I met Steph at the Nonsuch Wedding Fair and instantly liked her – she was so easy to talk to and I could tell that she really knew her stuff. When she came to do my hair and make up trial she was great – she spent ages with us trying out different styles and was happy to send more ideas by email.
My Maid of Honour made a playlist of songs for us to listen to as we got ready, and the morning flew by. Steph drove us to the mansion to get ready – our dresses and shoes were already there. When I arrived it was really special to see the flowers around the room as we wanted them and to see the room laid out ready for the ceremony. Our colour scheme was a minty green with corals, peaches and pinks in the flowers, which were by Michelle Rust.
We met Michelle at the Nonsuch Fair and were really impressed. She made the venue look amazing and listened to what we wanted. I loved my bouquet of peonies and roses.
My mum designs and hand-makes cards so we knew that we wanted her to make our invitations. She patiently sat down with us while we debated styles and designs and then she hand-made them all. My parents even went on an expedition to find the right shade of green card while on their holiday in the Cotswolds. Having mum make our invitations was a lovely personal touch and meant that we were able to have exactly what we wanted. She also made us some bunting and colour coordinated it with our scheme and we used this in our cards hamper. For this, we used a picnic hamper from Hobbycraft.
The men wore blue suits from Ted Baker. Jack got ready at home (after going for an early morning run) and then finished getting ready at the venue with his best man Julian and usher Scott.
I had found Chris Giles online after looking at lists of the best wedding photographers in London and Surrey, as well as Nonsuch Mansion’s white book of suppliers. His website draws you in instantly because it showcases his amazing work without being in your face.
We really liked his natural style of photography and the way that he captured beautiful and unusual shots. We met with a couple of other photographers, but the minute that Chris walked in to our flat we had an instant connection with him and it felt like we had known him for years. We talked about our love of Westies and over an hour or so he teased out of us some ideas about what we wanted our photographs to be like. Chris isn’t the cheapest photographer but his work speaks for itself – we couldn’t be happier with our photographs. He sent them over to us by email while we were on honeymoon and it was amazing looking through them again to relive the day.
The ladies finished getting ready upstairs at Nonsuch in the bridal room which is so beautiful – really bright with light streaming in and gorgeous white rugs, mirrors and chairs. My wedding dress was from Harrington and Cleur in Epsom.
They were fantastic – if it wasn’t for Paula I never would have tried on the dress that I actually chose. She knew it would suit me and the minute I tried it on I just knew!
Chris came to take the usual getting ready shots and once I was dressed we did a ‘first look’ shot with my parents. Chris led them in with their eyes closed and it was such a special moment seeing my mum and dad tearing up when they saw me – seeing my dad get emotional set me off too. Dad held my hand tight as we walked downstairs and waited to go into the ceremony; I know he was so proud to walk me down the aisle.
The ceremony was in the Rose Room at the mansion. There were some hydrangeas on the end chairs to line the aisle. Jack remembers the wait at the front of the ceremony room the most – he said it went on for ages! I was really nervous about walking down the aisle – I was worried I might trip up or be put off by everyone looking at me – but once I walked into the room and saw Jack at the end of the aisle, he was the only thing that I focussed on and I felt so happy and calm.
My entrance was to Pachelbel’s Canon in D and during the signing of the register we had string versions of our favourite songs (Sweet Disposition, Human Nature and Just the Way You Are) playing. We had three readings – my mum read a lovely one called Union which Helen from Nonsuch sent us. We felt that it really summed us up as a couple. Holly read i carry your heart by ee cummings which I think is beautiful and sums up how Jack and I feel about each other, but also how I feel about Holly! Finally, Jack’s dad read a poem called Stepping Stones that Jack’s mum Hilary had written – we kept it a secret until the day that it had been written by Hilary and it was so special and personal. To be honest the ceremony is all a blur but I just remember feeling so elated and so proud to be there with Jack.
Unfortunately, Jack’s sister and brother-in-law couldn’t be with us on the day as their newborn son had been born four days earlier and they were only discharged from hospital the evening before. Obviously, we were really sad that they were unable to join us for the day but it was really special that they were able to listen in. Jack’s dad called Emma from his mobile during the ceremony so that they could listen and he did the same for the speeches. When I first saw Jack’s dad Jon on the phone I was a bit confused as I thought it was an odd time to be getting his phone out, but when I realised why it was really nice.
We decided that we wanted to have photographs of our family members included as part of the decorations to pay tribute to those unable to share the day with us. We chose to have the wedding photographs of our parents on their wedding day back in the 60s, our grandparents as well as Jack’s sister and brother-in-law (which we are really pleased we did as they couldn’t join us on the day). We collected different but coordinating frames in the lead up to the wedding and then had them placed around the venue – on the fireplaces and on the table by the card hamper as guests came in.
After the ceremony, we were able to grab a few minutes together while guests left the room and got ready to throw the confetti. It’s moments like these, as well as later on before we went in for dinner, where it was just Jack and I together talking about how surreal everything felt, or just standing there taking everything in, that I really remember the most.
We did the confetti shot followed by photos with Chris in the venue gardens.
It was such a hot day that it got quite uncomfortable towards the end but Chris was determined that we could get the best pictures and to get us back to our guests to celebrate our day. While we were doing this they enjoyed drinks and canapés as well as croquet on the lawns. Before we went in for dinner, Jack and I took a few minutes to ourselves to take a breath and try to savour the moment – people often tell you to do that and it is a really good idea! On the day Chris was brilliant, he put everyone around him at ease and captured some fantastic pictures – he even had Jack’s best man and usher playing Frisbee with my mum’s hat on the lawns at Nonsuch.
Another homemade touch that we were really pleased with was our table plan. We both knew that we didn’t want the traditional paper table plan, and had seen one particular plan on Pinterest which used lavender in pots and had slate sticks with guests’ names on. To create our version, we used a wooden stall from IKEA to create some height and then had a selection of herbs in white tin plant pots which Jack’s mum had spotted in Waitrose. We used slate markers for the table number and my mum created a luggage tag in the colour scheme of the wedding which listed the names of the guests seated on that table. We then gave the plants to friends on the day as an extra gift from us.
The speeches were a brilliant memory – it’s always lovely to hear people say nice things about you both and it is the one chance that you get to be gushy about each other. Jack’s best man did a quiz as part of his speech and it was so unusual but brilliant – it summed Jack up perfectly and had everyone in hysterics.
We decided to choose Sharon Lord to make our wedding cake and the biscuits for our wedding favours after seeing her work online. We went to her house to meet with her where she gave us samples of her delicious cakes and showed us some of her designs. Compared to the extortionate prices we had been quoted by various businesses we had met at fairs or contacted online, Sharon was really reasonable and was so easy to talk to in person – she was really friendly and helped us to come up with a cake design that looked so elegant on the day.
Jack and I both love tea so we knew that we wanted to make that part of our wedding favours. We did some research online and found Victoria Mae who designs and makes lots of fantastic things. After some emailing regarding our scheme and the design that we liked, she sent us through some pictures of prototypes. We both got goosebumps when we looked at them – they were absolutely perfect and so personal to us as a couple. When we decided that we also wanted teapot-shaped biscuits to go with the tea bags as favours, Victoria also kindly let us use the design on these so that they matched perfectly.
We also got traditional noughts and crosses and dominoes sets from dotcomgiftshop, to give people something to talk about and do if they didn’t know anyone around them on their table.
The one part of the day that we were most nervous about was the first dance – we even thought about not having one. We decided on Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder and my friend’s sister gave us some tips to help us make the dance more than the dreaded shuffling in circles.
We asked our friends and family to join us on the dancefloor shortly after the chorus and told them they would know when – we had secretly planned to add a lift in and this went down really well. The bridesmaids had even managed to find some spare confetti which they threw at us mid-lift which makes the pictures look incredible. It was such a relief to have the dance over and done with and to be able to actually let our hair down and enjoy the rest of the reception. It hadn’t even been that bad, it was a lot more fun than we expected and we even recreated the lift later in the night after a few more drinks, helped by our DJ Steven Boys from First Dance DJ.
We had a great photo booth for the evening from The Photo Booth Guys, given to us as a wedding gift by friends. They let you choose the backdrop and you can personalise the strip of pictures so it has your name and the date of the wedding on it. The photos came out in really high quality – and in one of them is our photographer and our DJ!
We went on our honeymoon two days after the wedding (we managed to squeeze in some time with family including our new nephew Theodore) and spent two weeks in the Caribbean. Most of the first week we spent catching up on much needed sleep.
To sum it up, the day was just as we wanted it to be. All of the months of planning and deliberating over little details had finally come together and it was just the best day. Jack looked so handsome and we loved every minute of it – it flew by so quickly and in such a blur which is a shame and I can’t remember as much of the ceremony and speeches as I would like. From Jack’s point of view, he was disappointed that his speech hadn’t been recorded when the best man’s speech had been – we have them on paper but it would be lovely to be able to see them again.
My advice to other brides would be not to stress too much about choosing music for the ceremony – most people don’t listen to it and we spent hours debating on which things to choose. Don’t forget the groom. So much of the lead up to the wedding is focused on the bride and it is easy for the groom to get lost in this and to feel left out. It is as much their day as yours. Oh, and confetti – don’t be surprised at finding it in unexpected places!
It’s often said but try to have other things to look forward to. It is easy for wedding planning and wedding talk to take over every minute of conversation and by the time we got to our wedding day we had nearly had enough of it. We made sure to have things to look forward to that weren’t wedding related such as the theatre or afternoon tea. Just remember that it will all work out fine on the day and all the tiny details that you think are important are often missed by most guests, so if they aren’t quite right it really doesn’t matter.
Finally, take a few minutes every few hours or so throughout the day to be with your groom and savor how special your wedding day really is.