Real Wedding, Bride, Ceremony, Bouquet, Prestwold Hall, Dottie Photography

Zara and Pete’s Real Wedding at Prestwold Hall | Dottie Photography

A love of travel and vintage chic brought this real wedding to life

Prestwold Hall set the scene for the wedding of Zara and Pete, providing a stunning backdrop for the work of Dottie Photography. Bride Zara shared some words with Buckinghams to shed some light on her beautiful wedding day and the process leading up to the big event.

How did you meet – tell us a little about yourselves?

We met at university in 2005. Pete was in his second year studying Geography, and I (Zara) had just started my Biology degree. Since then we have done a lot of growing up and travelling until we eventually moved in together in 2009, renting a flat in Fulham. 

Tell us about the proposal – where, when, how?

It wasn’t until January 2014 that Pete finally proposed to me, nearly 9 years after we first met! He suggested we go for a walk in central London like we used to when we were at uni. We made our way towards a little spot on the river where we used to sit and chat and, once I’d finished the scotch egg I had insisted on buying just before we got there, Pete surprised me by dropping on to one knee. There was a beautiful vintage diamond ring staring back at me. I was shocked, but of course, I accepted straight away!

How did you find the wedding planning process?

The planning process was great fun if a little stressful at times! We had never appreciated how much time could be spent choosing a font or deciding a specific hue. I really enjoyed being creative and making our ideas come to life.

What was the inspiration for your theme/style?

We decided on a vintage travel theme. This was partly because we love travelling and Pete is a Geography geek, but also because it looks good and seemed to fit with the venue! We wanted lace, vintage books and a vintage bike as well as mini suitcases and luggage tags. It looked amazing!

How did you find your vendors?

We spent a huge amount of time on Google! But we also go to spend several enjoyable afternoons at wedding fairs, including at our gorgeous venue, Prestwold Hall.  We used wedding magazines and Pinterest to collect images of ideas that we liked and then searched further for the companies and individuals involved.  Vendors also gave us recommendations of other suppliers that they had worked with. The most important aspects for us were photography and the music and we are so glad we found our wonderful photographer Mandy and the band Champagne Skies.

What made you decide on your venue?

The church was the easy bit, it’s in the town where I grew up and I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. The reception venue was a bit trickier. My Dad spent a day driving us around to look at venues, it was quite a tour. I think we looked at 7 in one day! Prestwold Hall was the last one we visited and as soon as we walked in we just knew it was the right place. It was beautiful. It has an intimate feel about it, but grandeur at the same time. We also liked the fact that there was plenty of inside space for our guests if it was raining, and beautiful grounds if it was a nice day. Luckily, we had the latter!

How did you handle your guest list?

The guest list was easier than we expected. We each wrote a list, then compared and discussed. We actually settled on guests very quickly. The table plan was slightly more difficult, but we got a load of small sticky notes and kept moving them around on a mock table plan until it worked!

What food and drink did you choose?

Choosing the food was one of the best bits about the wedding planning. Prestwold Hall took the hassle out of it as they do all the catering for competitive rates. We went along to a group tasting session at the venue and got to try all the food they offer! We decided on lamb, rather than the usual chicken, and cod as a pescatarian option. It was delicious, though Pete and I didn’t get to eat much as we were so nervous about the speeches! We also chose some delicious red Italian Barbera, and white New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine and they couldn’t have been better.

Most memorable parts of the day?

The whole day was brilliant! It flew by so quickly but I feel like I can remember every tiny detail because I loved it all so much. My favourite part was probably saying the vows themselves, but the most memorable moment has to be the look on everyone’s face when Pete got up with the band to sing!

If anything, what would you do differently?

We wouldn’t do anything differently, it was simply the best day!

Where did you honeymoon?

A few days after the wedding we departed on our honeymoon. We started with a night in a spa hotel, Alexander House Hotel near Haywards Heath close to Gatwick. From there we flew out to the Maldives, transferring to our island on a sea plane, this was great fun! We spent 10 amazing nights there and then flew home via Dubai, spending 3 nights there too. It was a relief to relax together after the mad run-up to the wedding! Scuba diving with rays was a real highlight.

Funniest moment?

There was a bit of confusion as I was about to walk up the aisle. The vicar was getting impatient waiting for the organist to start playing the music. He finally caved and went up to him to tell him to start. What the vicar didn’t realise was that the music had already begun. I think Pete thought I’d changed my mind!

Did anything go wrong? Any surprises?

The day ran like clockwork. The biggest surprise for the guests had to be Pete getting up to sing ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ with the band at the start of the evening, just after the first dance.

What tips or advice do you have for couples planning their wedding?

The best advice I can give is to have fun! Get stuck into the planning and you won’t feel rushed closer to the time, which means you’ll get to enjoy the build up more. Then on the day, make sure you spend time with all your friends and family and don’t forget about each other! This is probably going to be the only time in your life where you can get all your friends and family in the same place at the same time, so make the most of it. Pete and I made a promise that after 10 pm we would hit the dance floor together and not stop until the end.

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