Firstly I feel I need to start this post with an apology, which goes along the lines of ‘I’m sorry we didn’t tell you we were getting married..’ it’s something I have had to exchange over and over during the last three weeks but something I am ever so proud of.
Leon proposed just under a year ago in St Lucia, (watch the video here) we had never thought about actually tying the knot but knew it would happen one day just maybe not for a while, we loved our life and didn’t feel the need to get hitched right away. Unfortunately there were just too many funerals last year and we soon realised that although we weren’t in a rush to get married we would hate to leave it just because we could only to find the people we cared about most were no longer able to celebrate with us. Thirty is an odd number and something I had never imagined turning, luckily for me Leon turns 30 five days after me so we decided to have a joint 30th birthday, a joint 30th birthday that would actually be our surprise wedding!
Venue, my PT Client is the proud owner of the stunning Fishley Hall, a gorgeous barn and house just 20 minutes from our house, it was completely empty but stunning, it came complete with a manor house that could sleep sixteen, had tv’s in the showers and space for people to camp, what’s more none of my friends knew it existed meaning there was no pre-existing wedding vibes to get people guessing.
Invitations, we didn’t want our friends to get suspicious so we opted for a Facebook invitation, we put out the key details and invited everyone we adored, it gave us an idea of how many people would come and also helped us let people know what time to be there and what to bring. The catch, with it being a wedding we needed guests to have arrived by 4 pm latest so stated that we had a special guest not to be missed at 4 pm and asked friends to be there for 3:30 pm if they didn’t want to miss it.
The Dress: I had followed Grace Loves Lace on Instagram for around two years prior and subconsciously always knew I would find my dream dress if I ever visited their shop in Australia. As fate would have it they held their very first ever pop-up shop in London the day I landed back in the country from Canada. I squealed, booked an appointment and left Leon at the airport. I went alone and tried on just two dresses. The first I fell over in and the second I couldn’t stop twirling, it was nothing like I had expected, I always thought I would go for a backless number, however, this dress made me feel incredible! Five minutes later and I had bought ‘the one’.
The Shoes: When we were dating, Leon tried to get me a pair of Vivian Westwood shoes I had fallen in love with however we couldn’t find the colour anywhere in my size. On the day that I said “yes to the dress”, I saw the exact shoes I had previously loved in the window of the shop next door to Grace Loves Lace. It was meant to be!
My Hair: I’ve always been happiest with my hair down so knew it would be no different on my wedding day, we opted for a half up, half down style with a fishtail plait and the most beautiful floral hair piece from Etsy. It was so lightweight and dainty, I cannot wait to pass it on as something borrowed to my friends in future.
The Ring: There will never be another ring more important to me than my engagement ring. Leon designed it alongside my best friend Cat, owner of Cat Meffan Jewellery and I spend every day loving it. Because of this I decided I never needed another ring and opted to keep it as my wedding ring. I bought Leon a ring on our previous anniversary so he also turned that into his wedding band…simples!
The Flowers: As the venue was completely empty I knew flowers were going to be key to turning it into something wedding chic. We opted for white flowers and lots of greenery, eucalyptus and babies breathe from Libby Ferris Flowers, simple but bright. For our wedding backdrop, I knew I wanted something dainty but different, we were hoping that the weather would be on our side and could get married outside so I requested hanging flowers from a branch. When I finally saw their creation on the morning of our wedding I was speechless! It was so romantic and became even more romantic when I saw my soon-to-be-husband sheltering it during a brief storm an hour before the ceremony.
Tipi: We wanted somewhere fun that guests could go to chill out, roast marshmallows and play games, so when we came across Magical Camping we just knew we needed one! Chesterfield sofas, an open fire and fairy lights, it was perfect and the best addition to our outdoor wedding.
Backdrop: it was actually the owner of the venue who came across the website Prestige Events and their stunning flower wall. I knew my friends were going to want to take pictures and it seemed like the perfect backdrop for our registry signing. It received so many compliments and really dressed the barn.
Seating: when we first started planning our wedding we had hopes of using hay bales but soon realised it was quite the nightmare to plan. So after some Google searching I came across Rustic Hire, we loved the look of their rustic benches and knew they’d be perfect for the ceremony. We also hired an old tin bath to pop alcohol in, some apple crates to use as tables and the most beautiful lace bunting for decoration.
Who Knew?: We managed to keep the big secret until the week before but decided it would be best to let my four best women and Leons’ best-man in on the plan. We were so happy that we did as we could have a week of excited WhatsApp messages and gained extra support when we needed it. They even surprised me with a mini hen-do one hour before the ceremony! We told my Dad the night before so I could ask if he would walk me down the aisle but everyone else found out on the day!
The Food: Because it was a surprise party we never fully knew exact numbers which would have made table numbers and place sittings impossible. We opted for food trucks, Broadside Pizza’s, Christophe’s Crepes and Nandos. Yes, I can squeal at the fact that we had Nandos at our wedding! It was where we had our first date and words cannot describe how honoured we felt to be their first ever wedding. Each van had enough food for 180 people and not even a mouthful was left. Nutella crepes, gluten-free pizzas, everything was delicious and made the perfect atmosphere.
The Cake: I’ve always found cutting the cake a little weird and I, as a big cake fan, always hated having to wait for someone to finally cut it and then follow some stressed waitress as she walks around carrying mouthfuls. We opted for Crosstown Doughnuts, 200 to be exact and they were delicious. We opted for traditional and crazy flavours and by the looks of the boxes left behind, people loved them!
The Band: Music always sets the scene and all we ever wanted was for our friends and family members to dance the night away. Well, we did just that, thanks to Loki, a local band who left my legs aching for days, followed by our friend Zoe who is a well-known DJ and knew the perfect tunes to get us all reminiscing and recreating dirty dancing lifts on the dance floor.
Gifts: I wanted to surprise my best women with a gift to say thank you. We missed out on having a hen do (although the girls gave me a surprise one, an hour before the wedding, in my room) and I didn’t treat them to a special dress so instead, I opted for a ring. I visited Dixi.com and chose an opal ring for each of them, it’s the same stone as my wedding ring and it felt like it brought us all even closer together.
Photographer: Possibly one of the most important parts of our day so I was so happy that my beautiful friend Lovaine of The Wild Bride and her now husband wanted to help. At the time, I was more excited about our video than our photos but I am so happy that we have them. They captured our day perfectly without interruption and totally understood that we didn’t want anything formal. We were honoured to have her especially as she got married the following week!
Finishing Touches: Smell, something I have always thought is so important. I feel like a smell can transform a room and take you back to an amazing memory. I wanted just that with our wedding and so treated myself to a Jo Malone wedding scent, we picked two scents Myrrh and Tonka and Peony and Blush Suede. I then chose to have those scents in diffuser form. As a gift I let friends and family members take a scent home with them and we have one in our house. Now every time I walk through my door I am reminded of our wedding day. I also have lots more wedding ideas on my Wedding Pinterest board which was of course secret during the planning but is now open for all to see! I’d love to see your posts on your wedding day, have you ever thought of having or been to a Surprise wedding?