John proposed to Caroline in New York.

I was working in New York and John flew out to join me for a long weekend exploring the Big Apple. While out for dinner on the Saturday night, John arranged for flowers and champagne to be delivered to our suite at the Waldorf. When we returned from dinner, John pulled out a ring from his back pocket which took me completely by surprise and, of course, I said yes!

The Wedding and Reception Venue

John and Caroline booked their local Church, St John’s in Loughton for the service, so needed a reception venue close by. They also needed a big exclusive wedding venue as they have a lot of friends and family, but wanted their day to feel intimate, low-key and unpretentious.

We wanted somewhere private so we would not be sharing our venue with strangers or, another wedding. Having been to a few weddings, we thought our best option would be to find a barn wedding venue in Essex. Barns tend to be more cosy and relaxed than, for example, hotels. We booked our lovely local church for the service so needed the barn to be close-by. Gaynes Park was actually the only one!! But luckily, as soon as we got there, we both knew we’d found our venue. We booked it there and then without looking anywhere else.

Caroline and John booked the 18th December as they were full of Christmas wedding ideas. They wanted their wedding to be romantic and feel different and for all their guests to enjoy a good party filled with Christmas spirit. They secretly hoped for a white wedding, but never truly thought it would snow.

Bridesmaids

The three bridesmaids wore full-length, midnight blue, strapless satin dresses, with side draping and a bow at the empire-style waist.

The Men

Each wore a black morning suit with a grey waistcoat, navy blue paisley tie and navy blue silk pocket hanky.

Your Dress, Accessories and Flowers

Caroline wore a white, floaty, tiered, chiffon silk dress with V-neckline. It had a waist sash that tied at the back and went down to the floor.

Like the venue, I wanted it to feel relaxed and also to be comfortable.

Caroline’s accessories consisted of a white floral hairband that sat on one side of her head and a pearl and silver necklace with matching bracelet and earrings. Her bouquet was made up of white akito roses, white tulips and navy verbena berries.

Transport

Caroline was meant to travel to Gaynes Park in a silver Regent Landaulette car. However, the snow on the day meant the driver got stuck only a few yards away from Caroline’s house in the morning! With little other option, Caroline’s Dad drove her to the church with her mum and bridesmaids in the back. They made it, but were 50 minutes late. After the service, the happy couple jumped into the back of a family friend’s 4X4 to get to Gaynes Park in the snow.

By that point, what we looked like wasn’t really a consideration – it was just a matter of getting there! We had also hired a routemaster bus to take guests from the church to Gaynes Park. It wasn’t there when we left the church which was a bit worrying, but luckily it did turn up about 30 minutes late and, amazingly, it had snow chains! The driver was a total super star. He even stayed the whole evening at Gaynes Park, to take everyone to their hotels around Epping at the end of the night.

The Decorative Touches

The four beams in The Mill Barn had garlands of white gyp, white roses, white tulips and navy viburnum berries wrapped around at the top.

We wanted the room to be as candle-lit as possible for a romantic and intimate Christmas setting, so we had loads of tea-lights in clear glass holders scattered around the tables.

Guests’ names were written on snowflake shaped name cards that were then clipped onto the wine glasses. Little crystals were scattered randomly around the tables.

We wanted it to feel like everything had been lightly frosted – a bit of a winter wonderland.

Hurricane lamps were placed in the middle of each table with a large white candle inside. White roses and tulips, plus viburnum berries with silver twigs were placed around the base to make the table centre pieces.

Out of all of the many Christmas wedding ideas, their chosen favours were silver Christmas crackers with a snowflake motif. They were a great ice-breaker for guests and seemed to go down well as lots of the guests were still wearing their paper hats well into the night.

The Cake

The couple had a five-tier fruit cake, with thick navy blue ribbon and a thin silver diamanté ribbon running around the bottom of each tier. Plus one large bow joined by a sparkly silver clasp that looked a bit like a snowflake.

Best Part of The Day

The moment we arrived at The Orangery – we were so relieved to actually get there! Also, some guests had got stuck en route to the church so took the sensible decision to go straight to Gaynes Park. They were already in The Orangery when we arrived and we were so happy they’d made it!

Wedding Planning Tip

It’s quite difficult finding time to plan a wedding. For me, it was all about doing a bit of research on the internet whenever I got a spare 20 minutes, making a quick phone call and then just booking stuff up. It’s really satisfying ticking another thing off the list.

Smile a lot at all times on the day, whatever happens! You never know when the camera will catch you off guard.

Make sure, you throw a really great party for your friends and family. Your wedding isn’t just about you, it is also about your guests who might have travelled a long way and spent a lot of money, to see you getting married. Make sure they will remember your wedding for being a blast.