Michelle & Jack’s Botanical Wedding Article written by EMMA DOWDELL of Gosfield Hall | APRIL 25TH Photography by Natalie J Photography On Thursday 25th April 2019, Michelle and Jack tied the knot after years of planning. However, their story doesn’t start here, it starts a few years prior to this in Santorini… “Jack proposed to me on my 30th birthday in Santorini on the balcony of our suite in front of the most amazing sunset. He was so nervous, but it was perfect and unexpected as we were buying our own place at the time.” After letting the engagement sink in, they then decided to start making some firm plans and organising their special day! “We’d been engaged for nearly 3 years by the time we’d decided to start planning our wedding and so I’d had a Pinterest board for quite a while. The first step really was to choose a venue. We had originally chosen a venue in Santorini, but the waiting list was huge, and we felt like we’d waited long enough to get married and so we decided to look closer to home. “ Before making any set plans, they decided the first thing to do was to look into budgets. “We found that Hitched.co.uk had some helpful information around setting budgets and getting rough prices together. Our friends got married the year before us, so we asked them lots of advice and for guide prices which really helped, so we kind of worked backwards from that. I had a very complicated spreadsheet which my Dad had made for me, but we did lose track towards the end. I didn’t want to scrimp on anything and so it kept creeping up, but it was definitely all worth it.” One of the other important decisions was to decide what kind of style they wanted in a venue and what was most important to them. “We started searching online for venues close by to us in Essex and back in Liverpool where I’m from, also asking friends and family. We actually came across Gosfield Hall on an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride – where the bride goes to her dream venue (which she never ends up getting!). I searched online for it straight away and lucky enough there was an open day coming up in the next few weeks, so I got in touch and booked us in! Gosfield Hall just felt special, from the drive up the driveway, to the beautiful grounds and the amazing bridal suite. We just had so much fun exploring the house and were made to feel so welcome, we wanted that for our guests too. Jack and I have very different tastes, he wanted somewhere modern, but I love anything to do with the Tudor/Georgian era and so Gosfield won my heart straight away. Gosfield was the first venue we viewed and nothing else really compared. We viewed one more venue in Essex straight after and then around 4 or 5 more in Liverpool a few days later, all of them were very different. We went on holiday the next day and so we decided to take some time to think about it whilst being away, but that only lasted a few days and we ended calling up the Gosfield Hall office from a beach in Sardinia to book. We chose 25th April, the beginning of wedding season and hopefully the beginning of spring.” With the venue booked and the date in the diary, everything else would then fall naturally into place! It was then time to get some Gosfield Hall inspiration and to get booking suppliers. “I mostly used Pinterest, Hitched and Instagram for inspiration. Once we’d booked Gosfield Hall I found the blogs, particularly the ‘Real wedding’ pieces, really useful for decoration ideas and finding local suppliers. After booking the venue there was literally no stopping me, I’m a planner and so I was in my element. I had everything set all in my head what I wanted. I sat Jack down one Sunday to take him through my Pinterest board and thankfully he liked everything I was proposing. We made Sunday afternoons our planning day so that I made sure I kept him in the loop on everything I’d done during the week and that he had input on things he wanted to input to. Our theme was Botanicals. The venue has a lot going on and so I wanted everything to be kept quite neutral. I knew that I wanted the bridesmaids in pale Grey and that I wanted lots of greenery. I’m a designer and so I designed all of our save the dates, invites, website and stationery around the venue. The stationery was a mixture of pale Grey with Gold and Marble accents and foliage illustrations. The style was a combination of traditional and modern, what we were also trying to achieve in the venue. “ With all of the plans finalised, finishing touches planned, it was then time to arrive at the Lady’s Chambers for Michelle and the girls! “The night before the wedding we stayed at the Lady’s Chambers Cottage for some final prep and bubbles before getting an early night. The next morning, we were up very early to get started with hair and make-up, there was a lot of us!” The next day, there was excitement all around, the girls were up and getting ready and keeping Michelle nice and calm. They moved upstairs to the Rococco Suite to get settled before helping Michelle get into her beautiful dress. “I had 7 Bridesmaids and 1 Bridesman, 5 of my best friends from home (Liz, Clare, Carly, Sammy and William) and 3 of my best friends from London (Roisin, Danielle and Carly). I made each of them a photocard and wrote in them why I wanted them to be my Bridesmaid/Bridesman. I gave them to them at dinner (one in Liverpool and one in London) there were tears and bubbles.” Whilst the girls were upstairs, downstairs the house was being transformed into their vision! “Jack and I designed our cake together with Jip. Jack had really wanted a Grey marble cake and so we gathered lots of inspiration from Pinterest. We went to Jip’s house for our tasting and we went through our ideas with her and she sketched it out in front of us. We loved the finished product; it was exactly what we wanted and more. We felt that the Grand Hall could look quite bare and so we decided to dress the bannisters with foliage and gypsophila. We bought our cake stand from made.com to complement the cake, it had a gold stand and a marble top and James provided us with the Grey table cloth which really set it all off. I created a ‘Meet the Bridal party’ stand with photos and also photos of our Nana’s who couldn’t be with us on the day.” “My Maid of Honour, Roisin, made us the most amazing confetti stand. It was made from copper piping and the cones were made of little maps of Liverpool and York. She also added in some artificial foliage which matched our theme. We filled the cones with fresh, brightly coloured rose petals.” Jack and his groomsmen had arrived at the Hall and were busy chatting with guests, whilst Michelle was doing finishing touches. “I gave all of the Bridesmaids a personalised tote bag, fluffy slippers, a Katie Loxton pouch bag and matching PJs (Rosie for Autograph at M&S). William had colour co-ordinated David Gandy PJs, he also got some Reiss socks and a personalised Gin glass. We had the best morning getting ready, especially once we moved up to the bridal suite. The bubbles were flowing, music was on and everyone was up dancing and singing it was so much fun.” “I was pretty certain which designer I wanted but when I went to try on the dresses, they were underwhelming on me and most of the other dresses I tried swamped me, with me being so petit. I wanted something simple and modern but with that something special about it. The stylist recommended a dress by a designer which I’d never heard of, it had an Italian lace applique waistline which I’d never considered. I’m quite fussy so I hadn’t expected to like it so much but when I put it on it felt so silky and smooth and seemed to fit me in all the right places.” “The back was exactly what I had wanted, low with buttons and a train but the neckline, waist and straps were so different to what I’d had in my head. When I looked at my Maid of Honour I knew it was the one, so I invited my Mum down on the May bank holiday to come and see if before taking the plunge and buying it. She was so nervous to see it, as was I to show her, as I knew she would tell me if she didn’t like it. When I came out of the changing room she cried immediately and came and gave me a hug, she loved it! It was made to order and so from that day (May 2018) I didn’t see it again until February 2019! I was worried I would no longer like it, but I loved it even more! Eventually when the time came to put it on for real, and after revealing it to my bridesmaids and seeing their lovely reactions I felt confident and excited to finally walk down the aisle and for Jack to see what I’d chosen.” “On the day I wore platform shoes by Jimmy Choo in a pinky colour. As I went for a simple dress, I wanted statement earrings and veil. I had a bespoke petal veil made by Heather at Sash + Veil, it was cathedral length and had dried ivory and toffee coloured petals scattered all over it. My earrings were handmade, embroidered silk organza petal earrings from Luna Bea. I also had a Katie Loxton ‘Mrs’ pouch bag.” Now ready to go, it was time for Michelle to make way to the ceremony. Not before seeing the other important man in her life, her dad. “I was very chilled all morning until I met with the registrars, then the nerves came flooding in. I was stood at the top of the stairs, my Bridesmaids walking down in front of me when I caught a glimpse of my cousin Luke who had waited at the bottom of the stairs to escort my Mum in. He gasped and started crying, I had to take a deep breath before I made my own way down the stairs.” With Dad’s tears wiped away, it was time to escort Michelle into the ceremony room to meet Jack, who was eagerly awaiting her arrival. “The ceremony was beautiful, we opted to have it in the grand salon as the room is so beautiful. JF Styling and Stock florist worked together to transform the room providing the trees, candles and foliage and we had the gold chiavari chairs.” “We first went to Stock Florist; we sat down and went through all of our ideas for bouquets and decorations around the venue. After that first appointment, we decided that we needed to go back to the venue and plan exactly what we wanted where. That’s where we met James from JF Styling. James was great, he knew exactly the kind of style we wanted which wasn’t the traditional Essex style wedding. James, along with Stock Florist helped us achieve that natural, romantic look with lots of glass cylinder candles, blossom trees, foliage, and festoon lighting outside.” “Jack wore Navy, custom made skinny trousers and a slim jacket with tails from Anthony Formal Wear. He had a contrasting grey check waistcoat with matching pocket chief and a Navy polka dot tie with matching polka dot socks and a pocket watch chain. We chose it together; I’ve never seen him looking so handsome – I will never forget it.” “We had a Pianist, Sandra, play Adele, ‘Make you feel my love’ for my walk down the aisle, it was Jack’s Nana’s favourite song.” “Jack cried as soon as he saw me! I had been dreading the walk down the aisle but as soon as I saw Jack I couldn’t stop smiling.” “We had two readers, my bridesmaid Sammy and Jack’s sister Lorraine. My cousin Frankie and Jacks niece Libby were our witnesses.” Say hello to the very new Mr & Mrs Aaron! “The pianist played ‘All of me’ by John Legend whilst we signed the register and then ‘All you need is love’ by The Beatles for our exit.” After the ceremony, Michelle and Jack headed outside for the welcome drinks and canapes reception. “Luckily the sun came out for our drink’s reception, it had been overcast and drizzly in the morning, but it was perfect by the time we got out into the courtyard.” Welcome Drinks Prosecco Gin Cocktail Peroni Corona Canapé Selection Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream Basil crostini with Feta and Tomato Pearls (V) Tempura King Prawn Rare roast Beef served on Rye bread with a Horseradish cream mousse Butternut Squash and crispy Pancetta en croute Free range honey chilli Chicken skewers The newlyweds then had a few group sots with their nearest and dearest, before heading off around the house and grounds together with their photographer. “I looked at thousands of Bridesmaid dresses online, I knew exactly what I wanted in my head and finally, Oasis launched their Bridesmaid range and I found my perfect dresses. They were a pale Grey slim silhouette with a cowl neck and a cold-shoulder. I got the shoes from there to match too. My Bridesman William wore the same suits as the Groomsmen.” “Jack had his brother Lea and nephew Ethan as Groomsmen and his friend Jonathan as best man. They wore Navy suits, also from Anthony Formal wear but with no tails, a plain Grey waistcoat and matching pocket chief and Navy polka dot tie. They all received Navy polka dot Reiss socks and Yorkshire Rose cufflinks as gifts.” “I read a Gosfield Hall blog and Nataly was featured on one of the Real Wedding pieces, I really liked the look of the shots, they were candid and modern. I immediately went on Instagram and knew straight away from her page that I wanted her! Her photographs have a lovely warm tone to them, they’re natural but so striking.” “I found choosing suppliers the hardest and most time consuming, there’s so much inspiration out there and it’s hard to know who to trust. We went to quite a few open days at Gosfield Hall and that’s where we met James from JF Styling. I found our florist, Stock Florist, and hair and make-up, Team Glam, on Instagram. Our videographer, Alex, did the filming at our friend’s wedding. I found Jip who made our cake on Hitched and our photographer Nataly and Pianist through the Gosfield Hall blog.” “The Ballroom looked amazing, the room is so grand and just having the foliage really set off the colours perfectly. Stock Florist provided the tall Gold stands which complimented the height of the room. Our table names were Liverpool and York landmarks, and we created a playlist of music from both cities for the Wedding Breakfast.” “Our entrance into the Wedding Breakfast was AMAZING! We had the song ‘Show me Love’ playing by Robin S (a 90’s house classic). Everyone was up singing and dancing right through to the very end of the song, it was unreal!” “Each guest had a personalised place card which had a photo of themselves on and I wrote the memory on the back.” “We did the speeches before dinner to get the nerves out of the way. They were touching, funny, and even shocking (thanks to the Best Man Jonathan).” Starter Mozzarella and Rocket Salad with Tomato and Chilli Salsa (V) Toasted garlic bruschetta, topped with rocket salad and slices of creamy mozzarella, garnished with tomato, red onion and chilli salsa Main Course Pan-Fried Chicken with Chargrilled Asparagus Served on wilted Spinach with Roasted Shallots and Thyme Jus Traditional Roast Topside of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding Served on a bed of Horseradish Mash with a Red Wine Jus Roasted Vegetable Wellington (V) Seasonal vegetables, blended and encrusted in puff pastry, finished with red wine and cranberry reduction Dessert Lemon Tart (V) Handmade crisp butter pastry with a rich lemon filling served with clotted cream, raspberries and caramelised lemon zest Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownie (V) With dark chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream After dinner, Michelle, Jack and their family and friends headed downstairs, to cut the cake, have their first dance and party the night away! “In the disco room, we had LED M&J letters and some white balloons with foliage strings dotted around. I bought LED light up letters from Hobby Craft which spelt out our surname and placed them on the mantlepiece. For the evening we had a 5-piece band travel down from Liverpool, Loose Moose String Band, who did covers of the likes of Depeche Mode ‘Just can’t get enough’ and Cisco ‘Thong song’. We then had Jason, the Gosfield Hall DJ who was brilliant! We’d given him a short brief beforehand which was basically anything lively, nothing slow and the dancefloor was booming all night! We chose The Beatles ‘I saw her standing there’ because we both love The Beatles; we really wanted a lively song so that our guests could get involved. I also had a special dance with my Dad to ‘Michelle’ by The Beatles, which he chose.” Based on your own experience, give us some top tips: “Our advice would be to spread the organising out as much as possible, that way it’s a lot less overwhelming. We finished our prep a few days before the wedding and took ourselves off for a spa night at Champneys, Henlow for some relaxing time together away from the wedding and it was the best idea. Budget wise our advice would be to double any budget you initially had in mind and that would be more realistic with the final spend (at least it was for us!). Always remember that it is your wedding day and you should do what you want and not try to please other people too much, you will not be able to please everyone, I think that we forgot that sometimes along the way. And finally, savour every moment as it really does go so quickly that it’s over in a flash.” “If we could do it all again, we’d…” “If we could do it all again, we’d do it exactly the same! It really was amazing, better than we ever could have hoped. We wish that we could do it all over again, and of course, we would have Tegan (our wedding manager) all over again because she was exceptional from start to finish.” Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon? “The day after the wedding we had a little after-party at our local pub with around 50 of our guests. The next day we flew to Nairobi, Kenya. From there we went on a Safari in the Masaai Mara and then onto the Seychelles. Going away straight away was the best idea to beat the wedding blues, we were on such a high and we had lots of time to reflect on our best day ever!” Mr & Mrs Aaron, we wish you all the very best for the future and a long and happy life together Credits; Wedding attire: Dress by Clinton Lotter Earrings – Luna Bea Shoes – Jimmy Choo Bridesmaid’s dresses & shoes: Oasis Groom & Groomsmen outfits: Suits – Anthony Formal Wear – Shoes – Kurt Geiger Hair and makeup – Team Glam Wedding rings: Wongs, Liverpool Wedding cake: Jip’s cakes Florist: Stock Florist Styling (candles, trees, festoon lighting, LED letters, Balloons): J F Styling Invitations & Stationery: By Me (Michelle) Photographer: Nataly J Band/disco/DJ: Jason (Gosfield Hall DJ) & Loose Moose String Band Pianist: Piano Perfect Wedding favours: Photo place cards Videographer: Alex Haynes Wedding Films Stock Florist: We at Stock Florist loved working with Michelle and Jack and ensuring all flowers were perfect for their big day. Congratulations from all at Stock Florist x Book your free consultation with one of our team to discuss your wedding via our wedding page: https://stockflorist.co.uk/weddings/ Article written by Gosfield Hall click here to view.