My latest clients got married on 23rd July this year, with a beautifully relaxed beer festival-styled reception at the “Willow Tree” in Bourn, Cambridgeshire. It was an absolute pleasure working with them mainly due to their creativity, honesty and easy-going nature – which I thought would make them fabulous examples for future Bride & Grooms. So I pleaded with the lovely Clare to share her story and impart some freshly felt wisdom to future Brides.
Read below to discover Clare and Keith’s romantic story and very honest foray into wedding planning…
How did you and Keith meet and how did he propose?
“We met through work. His Dad was the Chief Executive at that time and Keith would come into the office occasionally. However, before I could use our relationship as a bid for promotion, Keith’s dad announced he was leaving! I was in charge of arranging his farewell party and Keith came up from London to attend… One thing led to another and here we are!
Keith proposed on 6th November 2015 – his birthday. He used the birthday as a decoy and planned a romantic weekend away in Europe. Two days prior to our departure I lost my passport… no joke! I hunted high and low for it, through the bins, under the bed, in the same places I had already checked – I even looked in the oven, but it was gone. I was devastated. Keith took out his credit card and made a swift plan B. We went to The Hoste in Burnham Market instead, which wasn’t much of a hardship. That evening he proposed and I was presented with the most beautiful ring, designed by him and made by one of his friends who owns a jewellery shop in Mayfair… of course I said yes!”
Swoon! Did you immediately know the sort of wedding you wanted?
“Well every bride has an idea of what they want from their wedding. But we both knew from the offset that we wanted to throw a big party for all our friends and family. We wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere, complete with deck chairs, great live music and DIY décor… And that’s exactly what we got!
We really wanted to showcase our personalities and choose the things that represented us as a couple; to some extent we really did push the boundaries of tradition. But it’s nice to be different!”
It sounds like you had some definite ideas about what you wanted… What prompted you to hire a wedding planner?
“Because our wedding was ‘alternative’ and we didn’t hire a typical wedding venue, we didn’t have the pleasure of a wedding co-ordinator as part of the package. The responsibility of planning our wedding fell on our shoulders and became a very daunting task. It takes a lot of dedication and time to plan a DIY wedding which is a tall order when you’re both working full time.
Also I hate making decisions. So weddings, with their millions of decisions you have to make (what colour flowers for the table, seriously?) was pure torture for me. Not everyone has this problem, and many brides (and grooms)-to-be jump into wedding planning like they’ve been doing it forever, but those millions of decisions really wore me down.
I knew from the get go that there was no way I could plan this alone.”
Did you enjoy planning your wedding? What was the best bit?
“We loved the freedom of making it so personal to us as a couple and sharing that uniqueness with our guests. We made everything ourselves; we designed our own invitations and table plan; we hand wrote all of the place settings and handmade all of the vases. We started planning early, but everything always took a lot longer than we thought. Doing a lot yourself is great, very rewarding, and will save you loads of money, but it takes its toll on your stress levels and not to mention time! I can’t imagine doing it without a wedding planner – that took such huge amount of stress off my plate!”
Can you describe how you felt on your big day? Was it everything they say it will be?!
“We truly enjoyed every minute of our wedding, from the moment we woke up until we closed our eyes. I was never very interested in weddings or getting married – I always saw it more as a formality. I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was an overwhelming day in the best possible way. I never thought I could relax and truly enjoy my wedding day, but with the help of our Wedding Planner I did… every single second of it. I never wanted it to end!”
If you could give some advice to brides-to-be in planning their big day, what would it be?
Don’t get stressed and focus on the minutiae of the day – let your day flow naturally. Every bride and groom want their wedding day to go to plan – you spend months planning every detail. When the day arrives the main focus should be for you to enjoy your day. If you need to hire in some help in order to help with that, then DO IT! Especially if you’re going for a DIY Wedding – it was totally worth it.
Don’t choose your dress too early, like I did! I bought a dress 10 months before our wedding day then changed my mind last minute… so ended up with two!
Dance like a maniac all night!! It’s the best party you’ll ever attend and it’s all for you!
There may be things that don’t go exactly how you wanted, or things you think you could have done differently, but at the end of the day the wedding day itself is really only a drop in the ocean – your lives together before and after that day will make any dress disasters or table setting blunders pale into insignificance.
Beautiful 🙂 Finally, what did you do for your honeymoon?
We had an incredible honeymoon in Kenya and Zanzibar, which combined a wonderful safari in the Masai Mara with a cultural experience in Stone Town and a luxurious stay on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. It really was the perfect honeymoon. I would thoroughly recommend a safari, which was the highlight of our honeymoon, to anyone who has enough left in the budget – it was a once in a lifetime experience.
Ohhhh can we see??
Thanks for sharing Clare & Keith!
Wedding photographer: John Woodward Photography