Becky and Mike’s back garden wedding is everything you want your rustic, laid back country garden wedding to be and more. It’s elegant but not overly formal, chilled out without being sloppy, pretty without becoming twee. A beautiful day and a beautiful couple. Every detail has been thought of without being overdone. It oozes the warmth, love and familiarity that make home garden weddings so special. Becky’s dress is sophisticated but works perfectly with the garden party setting, and the bridesmaids look stunning in neutrals and a range of styles to suit their needs.
Aside from the bride, groom and maids though, the star of the show is the garden. The preparation and attention to detail was fantastic and really paid off, small touches like the signage and candle holders really pull everything together, and I love the green in the glassware. A lovely pop of colour complimenting the white linens and candles. It can be tempting to go overboard on centerpieces, especially with so much pretty to pick from, but Becky and Mike’s day is a real example of how less can be oh so much more.
Oh, one last thing and then I must stop gushing… I’m sorry, but how good does the food look, amazing! I’m now starving!
Becky and Mike, the story begins…
Mike and I met 6 years ago on a night out in Manchester. We were both out with friends – one of those casual, straight-after-work evenings when the last thing on your mind is meeting a boy! But, we saw each other across the bar and that was it…a few minutes later we were talking about making mud pies as kids!
Mike is an avid snowboarder and it wasn’t long before he had me convinced it was pretty easy and we were off on our first boarding trip to Meribel. Easy it was not, but despite tears and a very bruised posterior I loved it. On our third trip to Meribel in 2013 Mike proposed, on the top of Mt Saulire on the last night of our holiday. He had gone up earlier that morning to prepare whilst I was resting my black and blue rear, none the wiser, and later took me up for one last view of the mountains. As I turned the corner he pointed up the side of the mountain and asked me what was written in rocks in the snow…it read ‘Marry me?’ I turned back around to find Mike on one knee. I could not have been more surprised, it is one of the most special moments of my life…I had no idea he could be so romantic!
Where did you begin with your Best Day Ever…
The wedding planning all started with the venue. I have always known I wanted to get married at the church down the lane I grew up on and have the reception in my parent’s garden. I spent my entire childhood at Smith’s Cottage, and in the garden and fields surrounding it and I had never imagined I would get married anywhere else. My parent’s house is a beautiful, traditional cottage set in a classic English country garden and I really wanted that to set the tone for the whole day – classic, simple and relaxed.
As an event planner I certainly felt a little extra pressure, but I wanted every element of our wedding to be completely personal to us. The single most important thing for both Mike and I was having our family and friends all together in one place and for everyone to enjoy themselves – just one big party! I also like to think I am a little creative so wanted to make as much of the personal details and decorations as I possibly could.
They very first thing I did was to ask my three best mates and my two sisters to be my bridesmaids. My sisters live in Sydney, so it was really important to me that they felt involved from the beginning. To make sure they knew how special they are I created boxes to send them, asking of they would be my bridesmaids. Inside the boxes I included a CD ‘Bridesmaid Beats’ containing all our favourite, most memorable, or significant songs, a little mood book with colours and photos to represent the kind of day we wanted, a little description about why I had asked each to be my bridesmaid, mini sparklers, a face mask and sweets. It was so exciting to send and wait for them to reply, my sisters sent me step-by-step photos with them opening it, ending with a photo of them with huge smiles and a big sign just saying ‘yes’!
In order to create that box, I had to first think about the kind of day we wanted, so I created a mood board of photos depicting wooden garden bars, flowers and colours I liked and that really did create the look and feel for the day, I followed it all the way through and actually used the mood board and images in it throughout the designs I created for the save the dates, invites as well as the order of service, menus, table decorations and other details.
Best Dress Ever…
It may sound strange, but I was not looking forward to wedding dress shopping at all. I know it is meant to be the most fun part of planning your day but it was low down my list! My sisters actually unwittingly forced me to get over my fear by taking me dress shopping in Sydney. I think knowing I wasn’t gong to buy my dress in Australia took the pressure off and I had an amazing day drinking champagne, trying on dresses and getting the girls and my mum to try on outfits too.
I came back from Oz with a really clear idea of the kind of dress I wanted – lace, fitted, with sleeves and a low back. It wasn’t long after we were back that Mum and I went shopping around where I live, we visited two shops in Knutsford and ended up in The Wedding Shop, Alderley Edge, where I fell in love with the first dress I tried. The ladies were amazing and really great at advising what I could and couldn’t alter on the dress. Over the months leading up to the wedding I had it altered further (by an amazing lady called Tusneem Jabbar at Boutique Alterations) – fitted around the arms and waist and had the back lowered with a scalloped lace edge. I absolutely loved my White Rose dress and BHLDN accessories. And my amazing metallic Jimmy Choos!
Once the colour of my dress was sorted it was on to the bridesmaids! Two live in Sydney, two in opposite ends of the country and two were pregnant…due a matter of days and weeks after the wedding – quite a challenge! So, there was a huge amount of guess-work with the dresses. I couldn’t get everyone together, so Mum and I went out shopping with just a colour pallet in mind. The most important thing for me was that they all felt beautiful and happy in their dress, and I thought a mix of dress styles and colours would add to the look and feel of our day. Each dress ended up being individual but the soft colours worked really well together and the girls looked gorgeous. All the dresses where from House of Fraser.
Mike always looks good in navy and I thought it would look great against the colours of the bridesmaid dresses. We went to Whitfield & Ward in Wilmslow for the suits, Mike chose a navy three-piece suit with navy tie and pocket-watch and the best men and fathers wore navy with muted pink ties.
For the bouquets and button-holes we chose antique roses set-off with bright and dark green foliage and rosemary with white seasonal flowers tied with garden string. Theses really helped to lift the subtle colours of the dresses.
It’s all in the detail…
We were so lucky with the weather. I was able to walk to the church with my bridesmaids and my father holding my hand anxiously! The fresh air helped to calm the nerves – much needed! After a very special ceremony I walked back, this time with my husband! This is one of my favourite memories, seeing all our guests following behind having showered us in dried hydrangea petals collected earlier in the year. Neighbours and friends even came out of the houses to wish us well. There was a real festival feel on that walk home – it really set the tone for the day.
The best thing about getting married at home is the fact that we had full control of everything! I hoped that everything I planned would come together to create a light-hearted, relaxed and most importantly fun garden party.
Welcome drinks and canapés were held on the lawn set to the background of an acoustic duo and guests playing traditional garden games such as croquet and horseshoe throwing, whilst we had our photographs taken.
The reception was held in a marquee, so there was quite a lot of dressing to do within the space. We wanted to bring the garden inside and I wanted as many parts of our day to be hand-made by ourselves or friends and family and we were so lucky to have so much help.
The single most amount of time was spent on the garden. Mum wanted it perfect – so many weekends leading up to the day were spent weeding, pruning and planting in preparation. It’s set me in good stead for having my own garden! On the day the English cottage garden looked perfect with rose arches, herbaceous borders and pond in full bloom creating a great backdrop for the photographs.
Another major undertaking were the hand painted directional signs which helped guest navigate their way from the games on the lawn to the marquee as well as the Gentleman’s Pee Patch (good for the plants apparently!).
Mike and my Dad spent a couple of weekends creating magnificent wooden bars for the garden and for inside the marquee, using driftwood from the beach in Wales – the one in the garden still stands as a lovely reminder of an amazing day! To continue the rustic feel, my father-in-law cut and drilled out countless wooden branches and wooden planks to create the candleholders for the tables, which we arranged on hessian runners that worked really well with the green and clear glasses. The wide windows and roof of the marquee were decorated with ivy garlands (collected from the woods down the road), festoon lights and hand-made white bunting.
To add to the personal feel, one of my Mum’s good friends hand stitched napkins for the top table with Mike and my names and the date. Each table was named after a different herb and their meaning, table centres were created using pots of each herb, and a herb display at the entrance to the marquee directed each guest to their table.
Involving our guests and making sure they felt what an important part of the day they were was hugely important to us. Mike and I sifted through years of photos to pick the most memorable shots of us together with our guests bringing back amazing memories. We printed each photo in black and white and created garlands of photos around the entrance to the marquee. I wasn’t sure people would notice them but by the end of the night there weren’t many left as people had asked to take them with them which I loved!
As we had chosen long tables for the Wedding Breakfast there were definitely going to be people sat together who didn’t know each other, so we created mini books for each place setting. These gave a little information about each guest, special memories we share with them and conversation starters – most of these had disappeared by the end of the night too which made the time spent on them so worth while.
One of our Scotch friends Lochy, looking impressive in his kilt, piped Mike and I in to the marquee on his bagpipes, which was magical and a total surprise.
Guests took away home-made thank you gifts…Smith’s Cottage Damson Gin courtesy of my father for the men while Mum and I grew plants in mini terracotta pots for the ladies.
Best Pictures Ever…
We were really lucky to be able to use a photographer that I knew well from work, which made the whole thing so much more relaxing and I also knew I could totally trust him to capture the day whilst putting our guests at ease.
Jay from Jay Cain Photography took a few formal photos when we returned from the church and a great shot of all of our guests together on the lawn before spending the rest of the day capturing every special moment, he stayed well into the evening – I love looking back at the photos and reliving the day!
We also encouraged guests to download the WedPics App which meant we had hundreds of photos being uploaded during the Wedding Day and day after and got to see the day through our guests eyes.
Best Meal Ever…
As unashamed foodies, the menu was a key part of the day for us and we spent weeks and weeks discussing possible menus and tasting wine!
We wanted people to get involved and to create an informal feel but also reflect the garden theme, we chose Heathcotes outside catering to bring our vision to life and they did not disappoint. To start we had a presentation of melon with sorbet, gels compressions and basil cress followed by garden-herb scented roast beef carved at the tables by invited guests with shake-it-up salads in Kilner jars and new potatoes. It all added a touch of entertaining theatre to the meal!
The mains were followed by a board of local cheeses and our Victoria sponge wedding cake (made by another generous friend) served with meringues, honeycomb, vanilla bean cream and fresh fruit. The various-sized cakes looked spectacular displayed on large logs from the garden.
Best Dance Ever…
Our first dance was to The Lumineers, Ho Hey, perfect chorus lyrics and it just makes us happy! For our entertainment during the day we found a great 4 piece band called The Dominoes, they did the acoustic set during reception drinks, managed all the background music and got everyone up on the dance floor after the speeches. Bacon sarnies served by the best men at midnight kept the energy levels high and we were still standing at 6am!
Best Holiday Ever…
The day after the wedding most of our guests returned for a day long BBQ and to help us finish of the bubbles and wine. A mass cricket match ensued followed by dancing and drinking in front of the chimineas into the night.
Needless to say Monday morning and the dash to make it to the airport was a challenge but we made it – just! We started our honeymoon in South Africa on Safari and even spent a night in a safari tree-house…unforgettable. Next we flew to Mauritius for sun and sea, finishing off in Dubai for complete indulgence before heading home. It was an incredible two weeks.
Best Day’s to come…
We are now on the hunt for our own home, our first bought together, we’ve started our family with two gorgeous kittens and hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to expand the Ward clan further in the coming years.
The people who made it all possible:
// Marquee – Mahood Marquees // Band – The Dominoes // Brides Bracelet – BHLDN // Brides Dress – White Rose // Dress fitting and alterations – Boutique Alterations – // Suit Hire – Whitfield & Ward // Catering – Heathcotes Outside // Photographer – Jay Cain Photography // Make-up – Jo Coole Makeup // Hair – Artiste Creative // Lighting – LiteAlt // Bouquets and button holes – The Potting Shed //