On the 11th July, Katie and Johnny held their special day at The Great Barn at Manor Mews, it was a beautiful and personal day, for a lovely couple! 

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Heres an insight into their entire wedding process;

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

Johnny proposed when we were on one of our regular trips to Overstrand in Norfolk. Johnny’s parents have been visiting Overstrand to stay in a friend’s holiday home since their children were little and when Johnny and I got together he introduced me to the tradition of joining his parents with his other siblings to “gatecrash” a weekend of their holiday! What I didn’t know was this particular weekend in July 2013 was different! My parents had been invited to join us all too (I don’t know why I didn’t find this suspicious!!) as well as Johnny’s sister and her husband and daughter and they were all in on the surprise proposal. We spent the day on the beach, playing with Johnny’s niece, building sandcastles and paddling in the sea with our dig Archie. Johnny suggested that before dinner that evening we should go for a drink in the garden at the Sea Marge, a hotel up the road. We all found a big table in the garden, which over-looks the sea, and sat and had a drink. Johnny asked me to come for a walk with him so we walked through lawns and into the rose garden. Then Johnny got down on one knee! To say I was surprised was an understatement! When we re-joined the family they all cheered apart from Johnny’s Mum who hadn’t a clue what was going on! (apparently, she can’t keep a secret so she was the only one not in on it!!) In tears, I showed her my hand and she screamed and starting crying too!! All in all it was the most wonderful moment and a real family affair!!

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What was your first step in planning your wedding?

We decided what kind of wedding we wanted and what time of year and started looking at venues. I started a Pinterest board and the first thing we booked was the venue.

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Inspiration: Did you use blogs or magazines for ideas?

I bought a few bridal magazines but found them quite overwhelming with all the designers and suggestions of what you need. I stuck with my Pinterest board for most of my inspirationand talked to people I met at wedding fairs about ideas.

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What were your wedding “must have’s”?

The most important thing for us to find a place in the countryside where we could have all our families (both of them are pretty large!) together and for us all to feel totally relaxed and happy.

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Wedding budget: how did you organise your wedding budget?

We discussed at length between ourselves what we felt was reasonable and affordable and then spoke with our parents who had offered to help us out. We were keen not to go over the top and do a lot of things ourselves to keep the cost down.

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Wedding venue: how did you search for a wedding venue?

We did a lot of online searching but I actually found out about our venue at a wedding fair. The company specialized in Norfolk venues (something which we hadn’t considered since we live in Leicester). All of their venues were far grander than we wanted so I thanked them for their time but advised we wanted something more relaxed and rustic. It was then that they told me that they had a new venue under construction- a barn conversion!

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What made you choose your wedding venue?

We went to visit the barn a month later and there wasn’t much to see other than a big old barn which looked like it had stood unloved for the last 50 years. However, the setting was just perfect, in the middle of the countryside, surrounding by fields; and all the old out houses had been converted into holiday cottages with enough room for 82 guests to stay. When we were told about the plans for renovating it we just knew it was exactly what we wanted, so we took a chance and booked it!!

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Styling your wedding: how did personalize your big day?

We were keen to keep our decorations rustic and low key to fit in with the beautiful backdrop of the barn and we made most of them ourselves. We had jugs full of lavender around the room, jars decorated with hessian and lace with candles in them, sheet music confetti on the table (Johnny is a musician!) big recycled glass vases as our center pieces filled with a big plume of gypsophillia, by the ceremony we had hay bales with a vintage zinc bucket, bath and watering can full of flowers and we had a step ladder decorated with all our family’s old wedding photos. Neither of us like cake so we had a cheese wedding cake decorated with ivy and raffia. Our favours were to represent Johnny’s Irish family and my Polish family: we had shot glasses with our names and wedding date on and then on the tables was a Kilner bottle with Irish whiskey and a bottle of Wisniowa (polish cherry vodka). I then invited everyone to do a shot with us (as in tradition in Poland) after I did a small speech at the end of the other speeches. We had a big vintage suitcase for our cards and we had luggage labels for the place settings (matching the save the date luggage labels we sent out before the invitations, which we also made ourselves).

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Wedding photographer: how did you choose your photographer?

I met our photographer Sarah Salotti at a wedding fair and instantly clicked with her. Her photos were relaxed and natural and very candid, something we both really wanted. 

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Wedding suppliers: how did you choose your suppliers?

The venue provided most of the things we needed and we did a lot ourselves but we found our florist at a wedding fair.

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Describe your wedding dress (Was it the style you thought you’d have? How did you feel when you put it on?)

My wedding dress was the total opposite of everything I thought I wanted, it was a fitted corset top which finished at the waist, with a sweet heart neckline, covered in pearls and beading. The skirt was layers of tuelle and the whole dress was slightly off-white in a shade called “vintage”. I thought I’d have something low-key and relaxed, very Jenny Packham-esque. But when I put this dress on (suggested by one of the bridal shop staff) I felt like a dream! If you could bottle up that feeling and sell it you’d be a millionaire!!

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What accessories did you wear on the day?  

I kept my accessories simple, pearl earrings that matched those on my dress and a pearl and crystal bracelet that I made. I had a crystal clip in my hair at the back that fixed two plaits together.

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What did the groom and groomsmen wear?

Johnny and I discussed ideas for the outfits and then the boys all went off together to choose what they wanted. The groom and groomsmen wore tweed waistcoats with sand coloured chinos and white shirts. They wore tanned lace up brogues and ties that complimented the colour of the tweed. They look smart but relaxed and totally in-keeping with the countryside setting.

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Tell us about your bridesmaids and their outfits

I had 5 bridesmaids, my 3 cousins and my 2 old school friend (1 of which was my maid of honour). They wore Grecian style one shoulder dresses in a mink colour and they looked stunning!!

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What was your biggest wedding splurge?

Our biggest wedding splurge was on the rings, we wanted to have something special because they were the things that were going to last forever.

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What was your biggest wedding saving?

Our biggest saving was making everything ourselves, especially the invitations and place settings etc.

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What was your ceremony like?
It was a civil ceremony and it was short and sweet and very emotional. My brother did a reading from Captain Corellis Mandolin and Johnny’s sister read the poem “I Will be Here”. There literally wasn’t a dry eye in the house, it took us all by surprise how emotional it was.

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Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast

We had Pimms in the garden straight after the ceremony which was extremely welcome as it was a very warm and sunny day! We planned the wedding breakfast to be relaxed and ‘family style’: the starters were sharing boards of anti-pasti (Italian meats, cheeses, olives and breads) then the mains were big platters of chicken and sea bass fillets cooked in white wine and garlic and served with greens and potatoes. Dessert was a big bowl of eaton mess on every table and an apple strudel to cut up and have with cream.

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Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?

We had a band who also did a disco in-between their sets. They were a two piece who played an acoustic guitar and a box drum and played a whole mix of old and new, very Mumford and Sons in style and lots of fun!

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Tell us about your first dance – what song did you chose and why?

Our first dance was the Artic Monekys version of “Baby I’m Yours”. We both love this song and think it fits our personalities. We danced together for a while and then got everyone to come and join in with us!

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Based on your own experience, give us some top tips

Take your time and enjoy the experience of planning everything, it can get very busy and stressful so take a step back and remember why you’re doing it. Talk to you partner and do things together, try to have fun with it. Don’t be afraid the delegate to willing friends and family; just be clear on what you want and say no if they start to impress ideas on you that you don’t like/want! Talk to your parents and explain things to them so they feel they are “in the loop” and included, be mindful that it is a special time for them too but ultimately, it’s yours and your partners day.

“If we could do it all again, we’d…”

Do it exactly same! It was literally the best day of our lives and a dream come true!!

Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?

We went on mini-moon to a spa hotel called Congham Hall, it was heaven. We are planning to go on honeymoon later on in the year.

Purchase & Hire

Wedding venue: The Great Barn at Manor Mews
Bride’s dress: Ellis Bridal style 12215
Bride’s accessories: John Richard earring, homemade bracelet
Groom’s suit: Waistcoat, trousers and shirt all from Next.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Debut at Debenhams
Other outfits: mothers of Bride and Groom wore Jacques Vert
Wedding rings: Ernest Jones
Wedding cake: The Cheese Board, Melton Mowbray supplied by Long Clawson Dairy
Cars: we didn’t need cars as we stayed at the venue
Invitations: Home made- recycled card, with hearts of lace and sheet music
Photographer: Sarah Salotti
Band/disco/DJ: Live Lounge – Ear Candy Acoustic Duo
Wedding favours: home made- shot glasses, glass transfers, kilner bottles and spirits.

 

A big thank you to Sarah Salotti Photography for sharing these wonderful photographs with us!