A proposal overlooking Clifton Suspension Bridge led to a wonderful Winter Wedding at St Audries Park!
Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
‘Tom proposed at Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol this is where we had our first proper date. The bridge has always been my favourite place as I have grown up in Bristol and love it! The proposal was much unsuspected, a few weeks earlier we had gone to New York for my 30th and that’s when I thought it would happen (and hoped!). But one Sunday morning we went for a walk around Clifton and he seemed very odd and nervous and then we sat on a bench overlooking Bristol and he popped the question!’
What was your first step in planning your wedding?
‘I really enjoyed the engagement bubble and my maid of honor bought us this great wedding planner diary which we loved! We always imagined we would have a summer wedding and get married in a big marquee but then we decided we didn’t want to wait until summer 2020 and as it was November the upcoming summer was too soon! So we looked on Pinterest at winter weddings and decided it would be great fun to have a Christmassy/Winter wedding and we wanted a big stately house which was cosy and traditional with a roaring fire. We started looking at venues around Bristol and we couldn’t find any we loved and were in our price range. Then we started looking further afield and we came across St Audries Park.’
Inspiration: Did you use blogs or magazines for ideas?
‘We used the internet….A LOT for inspiration. I especially love Pinterest and we downloaded a good app called Bridebook.’
What were your wedding “must have’s”?
‘We had so many things that we both wanted from a wedding. We both really wanted live music at the reception and in the evening and lots of nice alcoholic drinks (Tom was adamant on having a free bar!) and excellent food. And most importantly all of our favourite people there to celebrate with us. Smaller details like flowers and decorations weren’t as important to us initially….but when the day comes closer you get swooped up in all the smaller details. St Audries Park and Wilde bunch (our florists and prop company) were fantastic at helping us fine tune the more personal details.’
Wedding budget: how did you organise your wedding budget?
‘Budget is so important! Do not start looking at things before you’ve worked out your budget because you can get carried away. Firstly work out how long you have before your wedding and how much you can feasible save added to savings you may already have. Then decide if you want to put things on 0% credit cards or get a loan. Then have the awkward conversations with your families about what they’d like to contribute! Once we worked out our budget we prioritised our must haves such as number of guests. We really didn’t want to scrimp on numbers for the day and obviously each guest costs quite a bit so we started with that. Then we added on the other big expenses that were must haves for us such as music, free bar and flowers. We had a very comprehensive spreadsheet where we itemised everything, but this really worked for us – I would definitely recommend it! After all the big expenses you can decide what smaller details you want to spend your money on (for us it was fireworks!!)’
Wedding venue: how did you search for a wedding venue?
‘We searched online for venues, firstly in our local areas then we expanded our search.’
What made you choose your wedding venue?
‘We really wanted a cosy winter wedding in a big house with traditional features; we like the stately home British feel. When I visited St Audries Park with my bridesmaid minus husband, I just knew it was the one. The venue and the grounds were exquisite and the view of the sea and greenery gave a really peaceful and romantic feel. Another factor that I thought Tom would like was that it was in a Deer Park and as Tom’s a vet and is passionate about the countryside and wildlife I thought he’d love it. Being close to Bristol, where we originally wanted the wedding, was also a bonus and it was easily accessible from the motorway for family coming further afield. So I booked it without Tom seeing it (bad fiancée!).’
Styling your wedding: how did you personalise your big day?
‘We started with the season and what colour we wanted the bridesmaids in and then the theme went from there. We chose forest green as it was wintery and festive and then we had gold accessories such as chair covers and table plans. As we love the outdoors we made personalised glass baubles for each guests filled with pheasant, peacock and guinea fowl feathers and we also tied these feathers in our bouquets and pinholes. We had the most amazing florist who provided all props for free! So we had an awesome table plan made from gin bottles and had old vintage ladders covered in flowers, suitcase for cards and lots and lots of candles to give a warm and atmospheric feel on a wintery day. Our cake was a barely there naked cake covered in beautiful flowers with 4 different flavours. It was made by a family friend and this was something we weren’t too fussed about and didn’t put a lot of money aside for but on the day it was perfect and there is an amazing window space at St Audries Park for the cake to be showcased.’
Wedding photographer: how did you choose your photographer?
‘We had a few friends that used a photographer for their weddings and we loved the style, he did documentary style photos mixed with organised group shots which we liked rather than stale staged photos. As he did have to travel quite far we originally had meetings with other photographers and looked through their portfolios. I think this is really important as the photographer plays a big role in your day and you want someone who is on your wavelength and can seamlessly blend in with your guests while being firm enough to get the right shots organized (especially when your family have started having a drink or two!).’
Wedding suppliers: how did you choose your suppliers?
‘We attended St Audries Open Day and this really helped us get ideas for suppliers. But most of our suppliers were from recommendations from friends as we are at the stage in our life when everyone is getting married! Instagram was also helpful because it’s very visual and if you follow venues accounts they often post suppliers they have used. So if you see something like a flower arrangement or cocktail bar you like the suppliers are often tagged. I would say that wedding fairs are really fun though and I wish we went to more……although the excitement can make you lose control of your budget slightly!’
Describe your wedding attire
‘We went for a black tie wedding, which Tom originally wasn’t keen on as he wanted tails. In the end he was really glad we went for this attire as all the men looked so smart and uniform (nobody crept in with jeans on!) and it made the occasion feel really glamorous and special….and I mean when do you get the chance to wear black tie?!
My dress wasn’t what I imagined I’d be in at all! When I tried it on initially it was only because my mum forced me too but as soon as I was in it and saw the effect of a full skirt dress with an embellished top half I thought it was perfect for a winter black tie wedding. And as cringe worthy as this sounds I did feel like a princess!’
What accessories did you wear on the day?
‘I wore simple white heels which were super comfortable. This was my plan all along as I wanted to dance all night and not be in pain. At about 9 O’clock I changed shoes to sparkly trainers! I wore small diamond earrings, an embellished hair clip and that was about it. I didn’t want too many accessories as I wanted my dress to have all the attention.
What did your partner wear?
‘Tom wore a navy tux with a black waist coat and a velvet forest green bowtie to match the bridesmaid dresses. He looked like James Bond! I loved how he and the groomsmen looked, they all looked so smart and dapper and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way on my wedding day.’
Tell us about your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and their outfits
‘We had 4 bridesmaids and they were forest green dresses that were fairly plain and 7 groomsmen who all wore navy tuxedos and forest green bowties (and braces hidden under their jackets).’
What was your biggest wedding splurge?
‘This is a tricky one – I would probably say the free bar or the evening band, who we were obsessed with and so glad we got! Tom secretly paid extra last minute for a saxophonist to come and join the band as we both like jazz, funk and soul.’
What was your biggest wedding saving?
‘Bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxedos. We decided to rent the tuxedos, shoes, shirts etc. and we got an amazing deal. It was so much cheaper than buying them for everyone. The bridesmaids dresses were also super reasonable as there are so many good websites for long dresses you don’t need to go to a bridal room and pay fortunes for beautiful bridesmaids dresses (save that for your dress!)’
What was your ceremony like?
‘The ceremony was perfect! We got married in the Orangery and Tom’s Dad held the ceremony as he is a humanist celebrant and we had a humanist (non-religious) wedding. It was so personal that such an important family member married us and we made it even more personal by having my best friend/ maid of honour and Tom’s sister doing a reading and one of the groomsmen playing me down the aisle as I walked in with my dad. It was so much fun to plan our own ceremony to reflect our life and journey getting to that day.’
Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast
‘St Audries Park has an amazing variety of cocktails and drinks available so we chose Mulled Wine, Prosecco cocktails and an English Garden (gin) cocktail for the reception along with beers and wine at the bar. There were also fantastic canapés that came around and they seemed never ending! We had a band playing at the reception to keep spirits high after the ceremony and then we went into the wedding breakfast. Food was very important to us as we are big foodies and spending a lot on such a special day meant we had high hopes for the cuisine. Well I have to say St Audries Park did not let us down! We knew from our tasting evening that the food was incredible but we were wondering how they were going to maintain the quality with 130 guests. We had a choice of starters, mains and deserts for our guests. The mains were a Roast Beef, Vegetable Goan Curry or Salmon and all of the feedback we got was how amazing the food was and what great portions sizes they were (we aren’t the nouveau cuisine kind of people!).’
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?
‘In the evening we had a band and a DJ – best of both worlds! When the band left at 11 we had the DJ until 1 O’clock. It’s fantastic that you get a DJ included in the package at St Audries Park, from looking around venues this is very rare and saves a big chunk of money!’
Tell us about your first dance – what song did you chose and why?
‘We had quite an upbeat first dance and I was super nervous about doing it but Tom is a bit of a showman and couldn’t wait. The song was ‘You make my dreams come true’ By Daryl Hall and John Oates. This is our ‘weekend dancing around the kitchen’ song and it brings us lots of happiness and laughter so we thought it would be a perfect song to celebrate our marriage.’
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:
‘Do not fall out with your partner over planning the wedding. This is easier said than done but in the grand schemes of things if you have different opinions on what cocktails to serve it doesn’t matter! Compromise and listen to one another (even when you know your idea is better!), you will have to do this for the rest of your life.’
‘Prioritise early on what is most important to you and start your planning with those things in mind.’
‘Don’t let family and friends have too much of a say over your day and influence your decisions. It’s your day and hopefully you’ll only be doing it once so have it your way and don’t worry about upsetting others. Advice and opinions from family and friends is very helpful but don’t feel obliged to go along with all of their ideas.’
“If we could do it all again, we’d…”
‘(If money was no object) to have had some entertainment during the meal probably a saxophonist or singing waiters! I also would have loved to have had the venue all weekend. We had the night before package for 40 (which is a MUST!) and we wished we had the venue the day after our wedding to relax and catch up with friends before they headed home. ‘
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
‘We went on the most amazing honeymoon to Sri Lanka and then the Maldives. We went over Christmas, which we were initially a bit worried about as we always spend this time with our families. But it was lovely to spend time together at Christmas just the two of us in complete relaxation and in paradise in the Maldives.
Tell us about your Suppliers:
Photographer: Russell Lewis Photogrpahy
Wedding attire: Dyfed Menswear, Westbury on Trym Bristol
The accessories: Krystle Brides, Bath
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Goddiva Online
Wedding rings: John Titcombe, Clifton
Make up and hair: Southwest Bridal