Photography: Oehlers Photography Wedding Venue: Swancar Farm, Nottinghamshire
Marquee, Mori Lee, bridesmaids in white & helicopter send off
How did you meet – tell us a little about yourselves?
After six months of living abroad in Amsterdam, and Dan having travelled around America for three months, we both returned home in September 2015. Following months of being on Tinder and having no joy, my best friend Chloe decided to do a bit of match making. After liking almost everyone who popped up, my phone began pinging all afternoon with new matches! Around 6pm that evening the phone pinged for a final time and it was Daniel, his opening comment: ‘more fake profiles… what’s the name of the model in the pictures you’re using?’ A refreshing first message after months of boring or rude initial conversations! Three and a half years later and we’re happily married and I’m still laughing at Daniel’s silly jokes.
Two years ago, on 14 February 2017, Daniel proposed to me! It was Valentines Day and after much deliberation I decided I wanted to avoid the crowds and fancied a night in and Daniel to cook dinner for a change. After waking up to no card, and coming home to an M&S dine in for two, this was starting to become quite funny. Whilst sitting down having tea, Daniel’s best mate phoned to say he had a leak and could Dan go and look at it (Dan’s a plumber by the way!). Dan shot off so I decided to take myself off for a bath with a glass of champers – surely this would be the best way to end a less than average Valentines! Whilst in the bath there was a knock at the door. I ignored it. Then the phone rang. It was my mum. “Your sister is at the front door in tears, Meg. Please can you see if she’s ok?”
I hopped out of the bath, shot downstairs, opened the front door and there was a white and sweaty Daniel with a handful of message cards in his hands and Ed Sheeran playing in the background (imagine the front door scene in Love Actually!). The first card told me to be completely silent and read the following cards carefully.
After declaring his undying love for me and telling me how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, he revealed the second to last card which said ‘close your eyes and count to ten’. After counting to 20 and slowly opening my eyes, I couldn’t believe it – there Daniel was, on one knee, with a ring in one hand and the final card in the other ‘will you marry me’ .
After cuddles, kisses and tears (and saying yes!), I saw Dan’s friend appear from around the corner with the iPad. He had recorded the whole thing!
How did you start your wedding day morning?
Daniel started at home with his best man Dario. I started at my mum’s house with my sister, Mum, Dad and cousin. The remaining bridesmaids joined us at 7am to begin the hair and make up saga! My mum did a mini-grazing table full of sweet breakfast treats, washed down with champagne. It was amazing.
Tell us about the dress!
It was a fitted, Bardot-style Mori Lee dress in Ivory, with a lace overlay and cathedral train.
What did Dan wear?
Navy blue trousers, waist jacket and tails, grey top hat with a white shirt, pink tie and pink pocket square. He looked gorgeous, as did our groomsmen.
What was it like to finally walk down the aisle?
I’ve never been so relaxed in all my life. I didn’t know why everyone made such a fuss! My ultimate hero (my Dad) was on my arm and giving me away to the man of my dreams. What was there to be worried about? My two year old niece took the pressure off as she screamed down the aisle haha!
How did you find the wedding planning process?
As a little girl I had always dreamt of what my wedding would be like. In reality it was everything I ever dreamt of and more. The planning process itself was quite easy as I’m a really organised person but trying to manage a mother and mother in law who both had very strong opinions was the hardest part! In the end I actually decided to try and compromise with them both as much as possible and keep everyone happy. When others are happy, I am.
I actually found the big things such as choosing the venue, caterer, florist and wedding dress the easy part. It was the smaller details such as the writing of invitations and guest list, which wasn’t so exciting!
What was your biggest worry?
Genuinely, my biggest worry was offending someone. I wanted everyone to be happy and keeping family happy is quite hard when everyone has different preferences. In the end I managed to please everyone in their own way.
How did you manage your budget?
I was really lucky that my Dad paid for the majority of our wedding so he ultimately decided what we could and couldn’t spend but I kept a track of everything in a spreadsheet. The average wedding now costs around £27,000 and ours was roughly 2.4 times that – ouch! You do the maths!
What made you decide on your venue?
With a guest list of just over 200 people it was hard to find somewhere that was pretty enough for a wedding and could also accommodate that many people for a sit down meal. After attending Grange Farm for a friend’s wedding, we immediately fell in love with the venue and thought it would be great for our wedding too. The venue was perfect for both of us. Grange Farm is in Wansford and has a permanent marquee; big enough for our 200 guests, supported by an amazing team, overlooking a lake with rolling fields and horses grazing.
How did you choose your vendors?
We knew we wanted to keep our wedding close to home and use trusted, local suppliers. Once a date was sorted with the venue we set about meeting caterers. In the end we went with three! For the formal Wedding Breakfast we used Rutland Gourmet (a recommended supplier by Grange Farm and a caterer well known in the area). For the evening we went with an Italian theme as Daniel is Italian. We went for an Italian inspired grazing table by Grape & Fig, and also hired a wood fired pizza oven for fresh pizza! The Master of Ceremonies, florist, venue dresser and DJ also came on a recommendation from the venue.
How did you manage your guest list?
We didn’t! We wrote a list of everyone we wanted there and our parents added to it! That was then our number. Daniel is Italian so as you can imagine the world and his wife were there. I even met some people for the first time on the wedding day!
Flowers, cakes, stationery, decor – tell us about your style!
The theme was white and gold with a hint of blush. The stationery was designed by my Godfather, Tony Leach. It was very regal – we chose off-white card with gold edging and raised gold writing. This included everything from save the dates, invitations, order of service, menus and thank you letters. Everything you can think of!
Flowers – well – we went a bit OTT on those! We had hydrangeas for volume, roses for texture and colour and a small touch of greenery. We had two giant pedestals for in the church and each pew end also had a hydrangea and ribbon attached. We also decorated the entrance of the church with flowers too. The reception venue was where the majority of money was spent on flowers, as that’s where we were for the majority of our time. Each table had an arrangement, either tall or short so you could talk across the table, a 3D archway at the main entrance to the marquee, each picnic table outside had a small arrangement and we also had two further pedestals and a long and low arrangement on the top table. The tables were finished with gold and crème charger plates, gold cutlery, white napkins with a blush Dior bow and white and gold menus. Each table also had either gold or pink chair sashes tied in bows.
Outside we created a glamorous photo booth under a willow tree with the lake in the background. Recycling my great grandma’s Louis style sofa, we added fresh flowers to the sofa and pom-poms in the trees. It was such a hit and so many people used it for photographs.
The cake was very simple. It was four tiers with white icing finished with cascading fresh roses in cream and blush. Each layer was a different flavour. We had vanilla sponge, amaretto butter cream and jam as the base, chocolate as the second tier, lemon as the third and a traditional fruitcake on top.
What food and drink did you choose?
We had a mixture of canapés and champagne for guests on arrival. For the first course we had antipasto with artisan breads, followed by the most delicious rack of lamb with dauphinois potatoes followed by a trio of desserts. In the evening we had an Italian grazing table supplied by Grape & Fig as well as a wood fired pizza oven. There was a purpose built bar at the venue so people drank what they liked and my dad kindly picked up the tab at the end of the day.
Most memorable part of the day?
It has to be ‘I do’. But apart from that it has to be the helicopter arrival – our guest’s faces were a picture! We also loved the Italian dancing and the food. The drink. The cake. The garden games. The bouncy castle. The photo booth. It was all amazing. We couldn’t pick a favourite!
Apart from someone falling on the cake, it has to be the speeches. Dad started and made jokes at Daniel’s height. Dan then started and made jokes about Dad’s height! That or Dan’s face when I surprised him with the helicopter.
Did anything go wrong? Any surprises?
Apart from someone falling on the cake nothing went wrong as such. My two-year-old niece cried and didn’t want to walk down the aisle but can you blame her? 200 faces staring at you in a cold church, which you’ve never been to? On the day you just have to roll with it and laugh at the things that don’t quite go according to plan. I did all the worrying beforehand. Nothing was going to ruin our special day.
What, if anything, was the biggest headache to organise?
Transportation and working out the itinerary for the day. Trying to make sure you’ve remembered everyone and they’re in the right place at the right time was a bit of a headache.
If anything, what would you do differently?
I’ve been asked this so many times and the honest answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was our dream day. I’d never do it again because I couldn’t and wouldn’t change a thing. Other than someone falling on my cake at 11pm – yes that happened but you have to laugh! At least we got the pictures beforehand.
What tips and advice do you have for couples planning their wedding?
People say do what makes you happy. But I disagree. I think you can only be happy when others are happy. Listen to those around you and take advice. The one thing my mum was persistent on was that she didn’t want evening guests because weddings always run over and you always get people turning up when you’re having pudding or the speeches are taking place. I listened and in the end she was totally right, we were an hour behind schedule but on the day it didn’t matter – we weren’t in a rush!
Which song did you choose for your first dance?
Our first dance was to Ellie Goulding ‘Still Falling For You’. Everyday we say we don’t think we can love each other anymore. And every day we wake up, we love each other more than the last. Well most days anyway!
Where did you honeymoon?
Italy, of course! We had a three week road trip starting in Milan, travelling across to Lake Garda, onto Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome and finishing with a week in Positano on the Amalfi coast.
Meg & Dan’s Wedding Team
Photographer – October Willis Photography | Dress Designer – Mori Lee | Dress, bridesmaid dresses & accessories – Unique Brides, Castle Rising | Grooms wear – Robert Goddard | Flowers – Pollen Floristry | Cake – Couture Cakes | Venue – Grange Farm, Wansford | Grazing Tables – Grape & Fig