Danielle & Paul’s Real Life Wedding

From a proposal at Paddington to a Country House ceremony…

Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen? 

London has always been a special place for us. We first met in Paddington Station and spent many memorable times, creating many lasting memories in London since that day. It seemed only right that the very place that put us together would be the perfect location for the proposal. I turned our fairly routine weekend away in London into a proposal on the platform of Paddington Station, watched on by a full train waiting to depart, with the Paddington bear statue as the backdrop. I gave a ‘dummy’ ring to Danielle, with the final surprise was that she was then being to design her own engagement ring. Being December 8th 2020, this was done in the midst of a snap lockdown after already having to re-arrange this due to the first lockdown. A photographer was on hand to capture the very moment! 

What was your first step in planning your wedding, did you use blogs/magazines etc? 

Venue! Our first step was deciding what we wanted from a venue. Did we want a country house, did we want a country hotel, a city-based wedding or even a wedding abroad? Luckily our thoughts and wants aligned and the next step was deciding on a list of locations. We used a combination of Bridebook, Hitched and Google to shortlist. The venue was the first thing we booked and we felt, the most significant. We had a Pinterest board, a ‘to-do list’ using Google Docs so we could both access it and we also created a spreadsheet with our suppliers, costs and any other details which became key to our organisation and planning as the months progressed and the list of suppliers and various payment dates grew.  

What were your wedding “must have’s”? 

Our must-haves were a country house venue with beautiful grounds and inclusive of onsite accommodation as having our guests stay was important to us and the flow of the evening. We also decided early on that we wanted live music throughout the day including the ceremony so we decided on an acoustic guitarist for our ceremony and afternoon entertainment, followed by a full band for the evening reception. We knew we wanted both a photographer and videographer as being able to look back on and relive the day in years to come, in as much detail as we could, was hugely important to us.   

Wedding budget: how did you organise your wedding budget? 

We built our own spreadsheet with estimated costs researching suppliers and weddings on the internet and speaking to others, although these costs soon grew once we had pricing from suppliers. A tip would be to book suppliers as soon as you can as prices increase year on year which would affect your initial estimated costs. Also, allow some headroom as there will always be irresistible ‘extras’! 

How did you find your venue and what made you choose it? 

They say when you know, you know. When we saw St. Audries Park, it was very much a ‘wow’ for us both and we knew. We didn’t even want to visit another. It was everything we had dreamt of and more. The grounds, the house, the stunning interior including the beautiful staircase, the Orangery for our ceremony as well as our very own deer for the day, it was a thing of dreams. We first came across it by accident as it popped up as an advert on social media and we assumed that something as perfect as this would be out of our reach, but there was no turning back! 

How did you personalise your big day? 

Our theme was simple, rustic and neutral. We wanted to be at one with the venue and the surrounding countryside. We chose natural tones such as whites and off-whites, choosing to contrast these with a selection of golds. Table decorations consisted of the same range of colours as well as using wood and greenery to add little touches of colour, with alternating blossom trees (to add height and warmth)| and ornate stag heads (as a homage to the venue) to finish our banquet hall decor.

Some things were loaned from the venue, some things we purchased ourselves and other aspects were designed and made by us at home. We decided to make our own favours as nothing felt quite right, as we wanted it to fit with our venue and decor choices, and of course, needed to be within budget. We chose to pair some little hexagonal glass jars with gold lids and filled them with white chocolate Jazzies, complete with brown string and little brown paper name tags to complete our place settings on the tables. These were a huge hit with the guests, big and small! Another item we also created was our guestbook.  We chose to go against tradition and instead, created a wooden guest book sign. Built from wood with the centre focus being ‘The Read’s’ laser-cut from plywood, along with the date of our wedding. This stood on an easel, near our cake for most of our wedding day where guests were able to use paint pens and leave messages or sign their names. This now sits on a wall, as a proud feature in our home. 

The Groom and Groomsmen assisted with the decor on the morning of the wedding. Our cake was three tiers with three different flavours. It was a ‘semi-naked’ cake, again keeping the neutral and natural tones that we wanted. Splashes of colour were again provided by real foliage. Our florist created beautiful arrangements throughout the venue to tie in perfectly with all of the above.    

Did the venue provide any memorable extras or nice personal touches that stood out? 

For us, the personal touches were the thoughtful attention to detail when decorating the venue i.e. our memory table was so carefully and beautifully arranged and they moved on our behalf from the Orangery to the Banquet Hall once our ceremony had ended. We also noticed other decor ‘appearing’ in various places throughout the day, which clearly must have been moved by staff based on where we were celebrating with our guests. This all happened seamlessly and without us asking.   

Describe your wedding attire and favourite accessories  

A lifelong dream for me was to have a bespoke suit made on Savile Row and there was no better occasion than my wedding day! I opted for a navy tone for the suit, contrasted with a rustic brown bespoke waistcoat and a gold tie with a pocket square to tie in with the bridesmaid’s dresses and floral arrangements. I chose Christian Louboutin shoes in brown leather, I had cufflinks made from pieces of vintage Omega watches (a gift from my now wife) but I think my favourite accessory may just have been my Breitling watch with brown leather strap which I had been saving for many years to wear on my wedding day (long before marriage was even in the pipeline!). Having a suit that not only fit me perfectly, but one I had ‘created’ and watched come to life from sketches and fabric choices truly made me feel a million dollars on a day I could use all the confidence I could get! 

What did your partner wear?

Danielle chose a full ‘A line’ satin dress finished in a subtle champagne, with a lace bodice, customised with various additions such as sleeves and a corset back to create the dress of her dreams, which worked beautifully with the contrasting bridesmaid dresses, venue and flowers. This was created by Bridal Cottage and a lovely seamstress who helped make the dress fit like a glove. This was complemented by Christian Louboutin heels in a champagne glitter. Danielle’s favourite accessory was her Cartier diamond bracelet, delivered to her as a surprise from me on the morning of the wedding. Danielle looked breathtaking. Perfect in every way. A moment I will never forget! 

Tell us about your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and their outfits 

We opted to keep it simple and keep the arguments minimal, so decided on two groomsmen and two bridesmaids. For Danielle, it was lifelong best friends and for me, it was also two amazing friends. We both chose to present them with surprise invitations and small gifts, none of which suspected a thing! In terms of outfits, we chose to contrast the bridesmaid’s dresses against Danielle’s subtle champagne with a much bolder champagne tone, opting for a simple yet stunning, mid-length, one-shouldered, satin dress, which despite searching high and low, ended up coming from ASOS. We chose to put the groomsmen in matching suits, in a subtle navy checked pattern to compliment my suit. Matching brown waistcoats and brown shoes completed the look. We absolutely love symmetry and felt this would look beautiful in our pictures. Which it did! 

What was your ceremony like?

Our ceremony took place in the beautiful Orangery. An open airy space filled with natural light, and the decor we had chosen, it was just about as perfect as could be. Our acoustic guitarist was providing background music whilst our guests took their seats. Our children entered first, followed by the bridesmaids one at a time and then my beautiful bride, who was walked down the aisle by her Grandfather, to her chosen song being played by our guitarist. I waited nervously, flanked by my groomsmen. The ceremony passed by so fast and before we knew it, we were leaving the Orangery to our chosen song to see our guests awaiting our departure, armed with confetti.  

Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast

We opted for guests to all have Pink Sparkling Rosé as their welcome drink, with options of apple or orange juice for those wanting a soft drink (not forgetting our littlest guests). As well as this, we chose to have the Pimms cart in the gardens which guests absolutely loved and were able to help themselves to along with a selection of delicious sweet and savoury canapes. Entertainment was provided by our acoustic guitarist who had set himself up on the lawn and was putting his new concept of a ‘guitar jukebox’ to the test. Guests were encouraged to write the name of any song on his ‘jukebox board’ which he would then have to play. We provided a children’s table, full of toys, colouring, bubbles, hula hoops, flying gliders and a whole lot more. The venue provided giant garden games such as croquet and Connect Four. The guests all commented what an amazing time they had at our drinks reception and how these little touches kept the atmosphere alive compared to other weddings that they had attended and felt like there was always a lull before the breakfast started. 

Our Wedding breakfast took place later that afternoon in the beautiful banquet hall. The entrance was memorable, our guests making us feel like royalty as we were announced as the new Mr and Mrs Read once again. We enjoyed a three-course meal cooked to perfection, with attentive staff who really understood the nature of the day. There were choices of duck leg confit scotch egg or garlic-scented bruschetta to start, followed by a choice of glazed leg of local lamb or butternut squash and walnut wellington with options of baked American cheesecake or warm triple chocolate brownie to finish. We left it in the capable hands of our children to decide on the children’s menu choices for our younger guests. Speeches came fast, all of which were short, sweet and perfectly formed. A balance of humour and heartfelt, memorable to the core. 

Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception? Did you have a first dance – what song did you choose?

We chose to have a live band for our evening reception and to play our first dance. We spoke in detail with the band who kindly learnt the song we had chosen despite this not being on their repertoire. We chose ‘Symphony’ by Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson, played acoustically. It was just as we imagined and truly perfect. The band then performed the first set in the style of Mumford and Sons, equipped with basses, cellos and banjos. The second set was more traditional, playing all of the songs you would hope made an appearance and the songs that would get your guests on the dancefloor. The resident DJ took over from the band after our surprise sparkler moment and fireworks and continued the mood perfectly for the remainder of the evening.  

Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:

Whatever you think your wedding will cost, allow some headroom. Prices and numbers will always vary.  

Allow enough time from planning your big day to budget for everything you want, not everything that ‘will do’. Build this into your planning timeline. There is often only a small cost between make-do and absolutely perfect. 

Never compromise. You don’t want to look back in years to come and think that you wish you had done things differently.  

Use a good wedding website (we chose ‘Joy’) and a collaborative spreadsheet to aid with your planning and guestlist. 

Book suppliers and your venue early. Don’t overthink it when you think you’ve found the one, you may just lose them. 

Don’t get sucked into believing that your wedding has to be on a Friday or Saturday. This is a thing of the past and the only difference to your day will be a saving! We chose a Thursday and didn’t lose any guests. They say Thursdays are the new Fridays! 

Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?

The only way to finish our wedding of dreams was with our honeymoon of dreams. We chose to visit the Maldives, splitting our time between two beautiful islands (it was simply too hard to choose!). We visited Kuramathi and the Emerald Resort for a week at a time, respectively. We spent our time reminiscing and enjoying being the new Mr and Mrs Read, in one of the most beautiful settings we have seen. 

“If we could do it all again, we’d…” 

 Change nothing! Plan, plan some more and plan some more again! It does pay off.

Purchase & Hire – Tell us who your suppliers were: 

Wedding attire: 

Groom – Cad & Dandy Savile Row & Emma Willis London 

Bride – Bridal Cottage Somerset 

The accessories: Christian Louboutin, Cartier, Breitling 

Bridesmaid’s dresses: ASOS 

Other outfits: Next 

Wedding rings: Tiffanys 

Wedding cake: Dreams and Wishes 

Videographer: Tristan Adams 

Photographer:  Evolve Photography 

Band/disco/DJ: Vintage Roots 

Scents: Jo Malone

MUA: Sophie White

Bridal Hair: Beckie Lyons

Flowers: Wedding Flowers by Wendy

Fireworks: Fire Magic

Guitarist: Marcello Michaels

If you have any questions relating to having your wedding at St Audries Park, please don't hesitate to call Sally via the contact details below:

Sally

T: 01984 633 633
E: info@audries-park.co.uk

Remaining dates until January 2025 now just £7,995! Free upgrade for first 10 couplesTell me more!