Hayley and Daniel got engaged on Hayley’s 24th birthday in Jamaica, while the couple were enjoying a far-flung escape with friends. Daniel wowed his bride-to-be with a proposal on her birthday night before a dinner date with friends. “I was totally surprised and had no idea whatsoever. Afterwards, Daniel told me he was worried about getting the ring to Jamaica and keeping it safe and hidden away from me,” smiles Hayley.

Setting the date

Before their engagement, the couple already had a favourite venue – Gaynes Park, in Essex. They’d been to a wedding there before and loved everything about it, from the friendly atmosphere to the nice staff and amazing gardens. Now it was time to plan their own wedding, Hayley visited the venue once again with her mum to see if it was still the one. “We were shown around the venue and it just felt so right. I knew it was where I was going to get married,” she says. Despite booking the venue 18 months in advance, the couple still had limited choice on Saturday dates. “Originally I wanted a winter wedding and Daniel wanted a summer wedding, but there were very few Saturdays available. The venue suggested we get married on 23.03.2013 – one of the few Saturdays they had! The date somehow had a nice ring to it!” smiles Hayley.

Vintage vibe

With the venue confirmed, the couple began planning their wedding day details and decided upon a shabby chic theme with an ivory, duck egg blue and dusky pink colour scheme. To create the vintage look, the couple chose table centrepieces that included birdcages, adorned with pearls, and candelabras with hanging gems. “We wanted to keep the decorations to the tables only as we didn’t want to hide the natural detail inside The Mill Barn,” explains Hayley. Their lemon and coconut wedding cupcakes had marshmallow centres and were decorated with vintage style flowers, pearls, doves and buttons. “It was amazing how much Lucy, from Juicy Cupcakes, was able to fit onto the cupcakes,” says Hayley.

From catwalk to aisle

When it came to her big-day gown, Hayley wowed guests with a corseted lace style Cinderella-inspired dress, designed by Art Couture. She only visited one bridal boutique and tried on just a handful of dresses, but knew instantly that the Art Couture gown was the one. “I felt like bride and the dress felt and looked wonderful when I spun around in it,” smiles Hayley. “I kept my accessories very minimal, but I did buy some Christian Louboutin heels for the day!” she adds. Hayley’s bridesmaids, Cyrina and Katie, complemented her look with a dusky pink dress from French Connection and an ivory shrug. “Finding the bridesmaid outfits was very stressful. We originally had a silk blue dress from Monsoon but Katie had got pregnant and no longer felt comfortable in that style. It was important to me that both bridesmaids felt comfortable and confident in what they were wearing so we went on the hunt again. Luckily we came across the beautiful French Connection dress,” explains Hayley.

Winter wonderland

On the morning of the wedding, Hayley awoke to hear that there was a snow blizzard. Justin Bailey, the couple’s photographer, was able to put her at ease though when he arrived at her home, showing her photos of Gaynes Park that he had taken already that morning. “It was breathtakingly beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get there,” says Hayley.

Perfection in every way

Soon enough Hayley arrived at the venue and walked down the aisle with her dad to The Wedding Song, by Kenny G. The ceremony room was dressed for the occasion too, with flowers, pretty jam jars, and wicker hearts, which hung on Hayley and Daniel’s chairs. A tasty wedding breakfast followed the ceremony and included and autumn vegetable soup for starters, fillet of beef for the main and triple chocolate brownie and ice cream for dessert. “The food was amazing, so succulent! We had so many people still to this day commenting on how delicious the food was and how it was cooked to perfection,” smiles Hayley.

A touch of magic

The couple’s evening reception was full of fun and laughter as guests posed in the photo booth and were wowed by close-up magician Toney Stewart. “Our magician was absolutely amazing and entertained everybody. We had him arrive before the evening guests to break up that awkward in-between period,” says Hayley. “We had planned for a spring wedding, cold but sunny, and it couldn’t have been more different. We had full on snow ­ it was like it was just meant to be. It was magical and Gaynes Park was beautiful.”

Hayley’s top tips:

  • Relax and enjoy every moment of the planning, the excitement and the day
  • Make sure you take some time out on the day itself so that you can just absorb everything
  • Shop around for things. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save