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We Got Hitched! Our Candid Tale To Help You Avoid Pitfalls And Plan Your Very Own Dream Wedding

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Having worked in the wedding industry for over ten years, I thought that planning my own wedding was going to be a walk in the park. I knew hundreds of venues, suppliers and had first-hand experience as to exactly how the day should unfold from start to finish. I couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d tried.

Planning a wedding can be stressful even with all the knowledge in the world. This is especially true for those of us who were planning in the very beginning of the pandemic that suddenly hit at the beginning of 2020.

Ultimately, we had an amazing day, after three date changes, two venue changes and going from 90 guests to 15 to 30 and then back to 90, we finally tied the knot on Friday the 27th of August 2021.

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Naturally, running a wedding blog and having our own wedding, it was inevitable that I was going to write about our day and the run up. I’m hoping that my candid tale of our wedding will help you avoid pitfalls and plan your very own dream wedding.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Debbie and I got engaged way back in 2017. After seven years of being together, I decided that it was about time we started to think about getting married and simply made an appointment at our favourite jewellers to talk about engagement rings. Our engagement story is a long one, which I’ve already blogged about so if you want to hear more about this story click here.

If not, I’ll delve straight into our wedding planning process which started in January 2020…

After a three-year long engagement, Debbie and I decided it was about time we started thinking about getting a date in the diary. After some extensive research, we settled on a date and a beautiful venue in Suffolk and so the wedding planning began. We booked the venue, sent out save the dates and had just started organising suppliers when the world was hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. From here on out, the wedding planning became trickier than I ever thought it could be.

It suddenly didn’t matter that I’d been in the industry for 10+ years because all of the rules had changed. I could have a wedding with 30 and then it changed to 6 and then it changed to not at all unless there were extraordinary circumstances. I think it’s safe that none of us could keep up with the ever-changing rules that were being released week upon week.

The Coronavirus Pandemic hit every corner of the globe, and still to this day life is so different to how it used to be. Debbie and I had a chat about what we could do, and resolved that we could make the pandemic work for us. From the very beginning, Debbie and I wanted to have a relaxed, informal wedding. We booked again in March 2021 and decided to have a very small number of guests (around 24) for an intimate ceremony and a meal.

The months ticked passed and the pandemic grew worse. Lockdowns began being re-enforced and in late February this year, we cancelled our wedding for the second time.

To say that we were both deflated from the whole scenario was a slight understatement. At this point, I will admit that all of the fun of planning a wedding had completely disintegrated into dread and avoidance. We contemplated different scenarios: wait until we could travel and go to Vegas? Host a ceremony with just our witnesses? At the end of the day, we really just wanted to be married at last.

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For a few months, Debbie and I procrastinated about our wedding. We carried on with normal life. We moved house, got another puppy, and continued on completely ignoring the fact that our wedding was on hold, AGAIN. Eventually, family and friends kept asking what our plans were and we decided that we’d try again, third time’s a charm, right?

I will be forever grateful to the setbacks that we endured. The months in-between our cancelled weddings really helped us evaluate what was important to us. We decided to throw the most casual wedding ever. Ultimately, all we really every wanted was to be wife and wife. We also realised that we’d much rather spend our savings and income on travel, evenings out, our home and our babies (yes, my dachshunds are always referred to as my children). We planned a wedding that cost less than a third of our original wedding and finally became Mrs and Mrs late August this year.

OUR DREAM TEAM:

Our dream team was small and carefully selected by both me and Debbie, to help us create a beautiful wedding in our local village hall. I’d honestly never imagined myself getting married in a hall as I’d always had my heart set on a rustic barn wedding, and our team were chosen to help us transform this space into a beautiful wedding venue for the day.

- Clare Kentish

It’s safe to say we know a lot of photographers. It was important to us to choose someone who we felt naturally comfortable in front of, especially as I am the most awkward person ever to walk to earth. Clare is a fantastic, creative photographer and we knew that we could tick one thing off our list that we really didn’t need to stress about.

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Before our day, we met up with Clare to chat about the photos we wanted and decided that we’d get ready a little early and get some photos in Castle Park, Colchester before our ceremony at the town hall. I’m so glad we did it this way round, we ended up with some beautiful photos which you can see a sneak peek here: https://clarekentish.com/2021/09/21/the-one-with-the-ashes/

*All of the photos featured in this post are courtesy of the lovely Clare.

- Flora & Daisy

After changing my mind countless times on what I wanted on our tables, I ultimately decided that if I chose a florist who’s style I loved, it would be hard for me to dislike whatever they chose for us. I had already bought occasional flowers from Vicky before, and adored her beautiful, artisanal creations. To make planning easier, I simply found a few pictures on Pinterest of the style of centrepiece’s I wanted and sent them to Flora & Daisy. I asked Vicky to use whatever was in season and basically left it totally up to her to choose the flowers for my bouquets, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, flowers for our hair and the table arrangements. I am honestly SO glad I did it this way. I spent little to no time researching flowers and the end results were so beautiful. I had several guests comment on how lovely the flowers were.

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- S&K Hospitality

S&K Hospitality is a company we’ve been working with for several years now, and it was a given that we would choose them to provide our food. In the end, we opted for canapés on arrival followed by a classic buffet and a cheese board to finish. Shaun and his team were fantastically organised, the food was amazing and people raved for weeks about the canapés, the buffet (especially the bbq ribs) and the service given by these guys.

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- MDM Entertainment

The two things we knew we wanted at our wedding was 1. Drinks and 2. Dancing. We've known Mitch at MDM for a good few years now and have worked together on enough occasions that we knew MDM would make a great fit for our wedding entertainment. These guys have over 10 years experience in the industry and really know how to get the party going.

My advice to any couple having a DJ at your wedding is to NOT give a playlist of 100 songs to your entertainment team...

The whole point of hiring a DJ is to let go and let your chosen team decide what to play. Of course, if there's any style of music you really do hate then let them know but otherwise, just let them do their thing.

*We're waiting for all of our beautiful photos to be edited. I'll add photos to the blog as soon as we get them back!

- Buttercups

As you might have guessed by now both Debbie and I are very laid back people. We knew we wanted a cake but we honestly weren’t too bothered about it being a certain way. I took to Pinterest (once again) and found a very simple, two tier design complete with flowers (supplied by Flora & Daisy). After having used Buttercups several times for family occasions, and as they’re our most local supplier it was of course a given that we would use these guys for our cake. We love to support other small, local businesses and we knew that this cake was going to taste incredible. Our top tier was luxurious vanilla sponge & white chocolate buttercream, and the bottom was matching buttercream with an indulgent chocolate cake. We also added on a few cupcakes as little extras, mainly for the kids (although I think they were all snapped up by the adults pretty quick!)

*This was another supplier that guests just kept asking me about! Safe to say we chose the best of the best.

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- Fabricate Décor

Fabricate Décor was a company we were yet to work with, however I’d had their details for a while meaning to get in touch. As soon as we’d booked the village hall, I knew where I’d be heading to get our ceiling drapes and extras. Fabricate specialise in drapes and venue transformations. Our local village hall is a beautiful, newly built, industrial style building with gloriously high ceilings, which are great, however we wanted the space to feel a little more intimate and a little more romantic. Fabricate did an amazing job of turning our hall into a magical event space with white drapes, fairy lights and tea lights.

*We're waiting for all of our beautiful photos to be edited. I'll add photos to the blog as soon as we get them back!

- Beyond Bar Hire

Having booked a village hall with no on site bar meant that we had to outsource our booze. Luckily for us, we know an array of different suppliers who would have been perfect for the role, however we landed on Beyond Bar Hire as they offer such a versatile service. What I love about these guys is they're so friendly and are really helpful when choosing drinks. Debbie and I decided to go for a few cocktails which was easily added on to their service plus they served welcome drinks to all 90 of our guests upon arrival.

*We're waiting for all of our beautiful photos to be edited. I'll add photos to the blog as soon as we get them back!

All of the other details:

Colchester Town Hall

Peldon & Wigboroughs Community Hall

Dress: Needle & Thread

Debs' Outfit: New Look, Shein, Roman

Bridesmaids & Flowergirls: ChiChi

Hair: Beckie Taylor @ Claire Francis, Mersea Make-Up: Stephanie Farthing Beauty

Jewellery: Carat, Swarovski

Rings: Michael Frank

Velvet Box:

Bag: Brides & Babes Car: Lexden Executive Car Hire Live Stream: E-There Letters & Barrels: Island Inflatables

Signs: I made these!

Invites: I also made these...

My top tips and advice for your wedding day: Firstly, EAT SOMETHING BEFORE YOU GO TO THE CEREMONY.

I used to tell couples this all of the time when I was running weddings at our venue. I couldn't understand how some of our couples had made it to their reception venue without having eaten the tiniest of things. Well, my time came around and I too had made it to my venue having only had one glass of champagne and a mini sausage roll from marks and sparks. I'll be frank with you, I felt awful by the time I got to our venue and I am SO lucky that we literally live over the road as I had to nip home to eat a banana and have a cup of tea before I could face anyone! If you're anything like me and suffer with blood sugar levels and general hangriness, please, please, PLEASE, schedule some time on your wedding morning to eat a really good breakfast before you leave.

Secondly, sneak some time for just the two of you.

Both me and Debs agree that our favourite part of the entire day was leaving early to have our photos taken. It was probably the only time we really spent alone, al-beit with Clare and her camera following us around but still... it was so nice to just to have a little time for the two of us for everything to really settle in.

Lastly, don't stress about things that you can't change.

The weather, the colours you've chosen, the seating plans: everything is done. When your day is finally here there is absolutely no point in worrying about things that you can't change. You're going to have an amazing day, as long as you don't let stress get in the way.

Overall, Debs and I are over the moon to finally be married. We're so glad everything turned out the way that it did and at the end of the day your wedding is just one day out of a thousand that you'll spend together. Don't forget to enjoy yourself. Let your hair down and really soak in everything that's going on around you. The day will be over before you know it, and the rest of your lives together will begin...

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