Sarah and John
15/07/2006 – The Great Hall at Stoodleigh Court, Nr Tiverton, Devon
How and when did you meet?
We met back in 1999 during my university placement at Hewlett Packard where John works but we didn’t start seeing each other until later.
How old are you both?
I’m 27 and John is 43.
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
John proposed in Bath in the pouring rain a couple of days before Valentine’s Day. It might not sound very romantic but it was for us. He then whisked me away to the wonderful Ettington Park Hotel in Warwickshire for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend – complete with four-poster bed and plenty of Champagne!
Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
My hen party was a Pamper Day at Tortworth Court, just north of Bristol. A few friends and I spent the day swimming and having lovely beauty treatments. Then we had Champagne and did Confetti Hen Party quiz questions before getting dressed up in posh dresses with Confetti’s Pink Flashing Hen Party Sashes. After a couple of cocktails in the hotel bar, we had a lovely posh dinner and then breakfast together the next morning. For John’s stag party he went bowling with the lads, then down into Bristol centre for more beer, a curry and then a live band until the early hours.
How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
He helped pick the venue, the food and drink, the cake, the band and he helped to make all the invitations. He also organised the logistics of moving our Cannon and setting up the Archery. He even designed his own outfit! In fact the only things I don’t think he helped with were the dresses and flowers!
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
The most useful part is the Confetti Café. I started using it only a couple of months after getting engaged and found it very useful when trying to make decisions and finding suppliers. We also bought a number of things from the Confetti shop.
Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?
We bought lots of ribbon, bubbles for the children, sparkly confetti, cake bags, envelope seals, glue-dots etc. My maid-of-honour bought our Hen Party sashes and quiz questions. All were bought online as there aren’t any Confetti shops close to Bristol.
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
My dress was made by Rivendell Bridal who specialises in Medieval, Celtic and Elfish style wedding dresses which was perfect as we wanted a medieval style wedding. I’d tried looking in a number of Bridal Shops in Bristol and Exeter but didn’t find anything medieval. I was so happy when I found Rivendell Bridal. Emily, the designer, and I designed my dress together during visits to her workshop and also via phone and email. It is made from pale ivory satin and embroidered dupion which is enhanced with shimmering silver metallic embroidery and beading. It has a boned bodice, long ivory chiffon sleeves, chiffon overlay to the skirt and train and a fantastic ribbon lace-up back. I’m so pleased with my dress and would definitely recommend having a dress made by her. I also had a pair of boots made from the same embroidered dupion as my dress.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
We had three bridesmaids (aged 4, 6 and 8) two of which are John’s nieces and the youngest is our best man’s daughter. My best friend was my maid of honour. The bridesmaids wore pale pink Bonny dresses. Like mine, their dresses had chiffon skirt overlays and beading. My maid of honour’s dress was made by a friend of a friend and was made from an antique rose coloured satin, complete with boned bodice and lace-up back.
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
John’s best man was his long time friend. Our ushers (or rather guardsmen!) were John’s nephews (aged 10 and 12). John and his best man wore linen shirts, hose (medieval trousers) and soft leather slashed doublets. John in brown and his best man in black. His nephews wore linen shirts and black sleeveless doublets. All the outfits were designed by John and created by Jackie of Cloaked and Daggered who specialises in creating period clothing. John and his best man also wore Medieval Swords and John’s nephews had Parry Daggers and Staffs. Their weaponry was also their thank you presents!
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
A civil ceremony.
Where did you hold your ceremony and reception?
The Great Hall at Stoodleigh Court, Nr Tiverton, Devon. It is a fantastic old manor house with great views over the Devon hills. The Great Hall is simply stunning!
Did you have any special wedding transport?
No, I actually got ready in the Brides Boudoir at Stoodleigh Court. When you leave the boudoir you walk down the grand staircase in the Great Hall. It really makes a fantastic entrance! Most of our guests however arrived by bus! We arranged for a 49 seater bus to got to three of the local hotels to pick our guests up which seemed to make things easier for most people.
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We invited about 120 people to the wedding and another 40 to the evening but we told the evening guests they could arrive anytime after 5pm as we didn’t want them to miss the cutting of our massive chocolate wedding cake and the Archery ‘have-a-go’!
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
We had a medieval theme and the main colours were pink, ivory and silver.
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
We had a buffet for our guests as we felt this was more in keeping with our fun informal wedding, therefore we didn’t have table settings. We did however have a flower arrangement on each table which matched my flowers. The flowers we had were like those that might have been used in medieval times as they included traditional English flowers and lots of herbs.
Did you give your guests favours?
We did have three large baskets of old fashioned sweets (like barley sugars, Parma violets, lemon sherbets etc.) around the venue that people could help themselves to.
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
We found a wonderful florist in Broadclyst called Sarah Pepper. Although she will do any style of flowers you would like, she specialises in traditional/period flowers. I had a teardrop shaped bouquet of ivory and pale pink roses, sweet peas and lisianthus with rosemary, myrtle and long tendrils of ivy. My bridesmaids had pomanders of ivory and pale pink sweet peas and roses with ivy, and my maid of honour had a hand tied collection of the same flowers. They also all had a clip of fresh flowers in their hair.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
Our venue handled the catering for us and they were very good. We had a fork buffet for our wedding breakfast and then a finger buffet in the evening. Amongst other things we had dressed fresh whole salmon with a lemon and watercress mayonnaise, spinach and feta filo parcels, supreme of chicken breast stuffed with fresh garden herbs, fresh strawberries with Devon clotted cream, and fresh cream pavlova made with freshly picked raspberries.
What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
We had a three-tiered chocolate cake made by The Organic Chocolate Cake Company. It was a fantastic cake, soaked in rum, sandwiched together with homemade plum jam, covered with dark chocolate with white chocolate scrolls, fresh fruit and flowers. It looked and tasted fantastic. Also the premises on which they are made are completed nut-free which meant all our guests could have some!
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We had a nine-piece soul band called Tailfeather in the evening. We’d seen them a number of times before in Bristol and we both think they did their best ever performance for our wedding. Everyone said how great they were and the dance floor was packed!
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We didn’t have a gift list, instead we asked our guests to give to our two chosen charities. We raised over £850 for Cancer Research UK and over £200 for the NSPCC. We also received a few surprise presents and some John Lewis vouchers.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent our first night at the Hornhill Guest House in Tiverton. We booked the room with the antique four poster bed!
For our honeymoon we went to Mauritius and stayed at Le Telfair Hotel which is in the south west of the island. We booked it with Susie Freeman Travel. We had a fantastic time.
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
There’s too many to choose from! Seeing my husband’s face when I walked up the aisle, doing archery in my wedding dress (surprised most of our guests with that!), cutting the cake with a dagger rather than a knife, having our finished cannon at the venue (though we couldn’t fire it), seeing friends and family I hadn’t seen for years and lots more.
Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
No, not really. I was a little worried we weren’t going to get my maid of honour a dress in time and we were a little rushed in the morning to get ready but it all worked out well in the end.
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
Plan everything early and get yourself a good photographer. But my best advice is don’t stress. Even if everything doesn’t go perfectly to plan, it doesn’t really matter, just as long as you both turn up and are happy!