When I knew I’d be blogging this beauty of a wedding I whooped, hollered and clapped my hands with glee… Its filled with so many wonderful details, and the bride, Steph describes it all so beautifully.
It’s set in the depths of the Norfolk countryside at the resplendent garden venue that is Narborough Hall, and it’s full of creative details, fashion-inspired touches, and an achingly chic bride and groom ( well they do both work in fashion industry – in fact that’s how they met, but more about that later on).
You guys are in for a treat. Seriously. this wedding is a dream.
Steph, the Bride: I fell in love with Narborough Hall as soon as I saw it… somewhere where we could feel at home, and relaxed. We were originally going to get married in Ibiza, but my family are farmers, so they couldn’t be away from the crops and the animals for any long amount of time, not to mention that my grandad wouldn’t be able to travel that far..
Narborough ticked all the boxes in terms of being a bit boho and absolutely beautiful, and somehow really tranquil and fun.. not at all stiff or pompous.
The fact that the flowers could all be sourced from Narborough’s own gardens also made it feel very natural and not ‘plastic’ or put on.
I sort of toyed around with loads of magazine tears and ideas from the internet..The problem was that trend seemed to be for kitsch, hand made, english country wedding, and although I love all that, I didn’t want our wedding to look like it had been taken straight out of someone else’s wedding shoot or too ‘theme’ wedding rather than my wedding..
So I began to look at films and other inspirations and found some fantastic images of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that kind of era, mixed with a bit of faded English glamour and tarnished jewels became the background theme.
Juls’s dad got involved too, as a keen photographer/ artist, he used one of Narborough Hall’s photos and re-worked it to look like a watercolour painting, which I then printed onto matt, textured postcards, along with a photo representing me (a farmer) and Juls (a Blackpool Donkey!).
These had all the details for the day printed on the back (including a poem by Juls about the plans for the wedding weekend), and were wrapped in an outer layer with the official invitation printed on in simple black and white.
I then tied these with string, added a luggage name tag, printed on the reverse with a monogram stamp I designed, and packed them into envelopes also monogrammed. (Like I said I got a bit obsessed with this part because it is so much more fun than my day job!)
First of all I went with my mum. I tried on lots of dresses and loved them all! Most of which were a classic bridal shape- bodice top, nipped in waist and full skirt. I had always imagined myself in a Vivienne Westwood style, and didn’t think anything else would suit me. Then I went on my own to try and get my head around it all, and then I went with Raquel, my mother in law to be, and tried on some completely different shapes, one of which I really loved, which totally confused me!
So then I went with my big sister, mum and dad for the final verdict. I found a shop in Nottingham (Dream Wedding Dress) that had my favourite from my day out with mum, and a similar style to my day out with Raquel. My dad cried when he saw me in the second option, so that was decision made!
My dress was by Donna Lee, strapless, with a vintage looking diamante and seed pearl application under the bust, and lace overlay, fading off towards the bottom. The body was fitted to mid hip, then flaring out into a full skirt with a short train. I had a fitted top with slash neck made out of fine mesh and the same lace as the dress, to cover my arms, which went under my dress.
MY TIARA AND VEIL
I wore a tiara which had very similar pearls and diamantes to my dress, in a pattern very similar to the lace. My veil had teeny tiny diamantes all over it and along the hem edge and was very simple.
I think having Juls lowering my veil in the badeken and then lifting it again after the ceremony were significant moments I will always remember. Having converted to Judaism, I felt that this part of the ceremony was really important, and whereas it might seem outdated to some, there was no way I was going to miss that!
HAIR + MAKE-UP
I started off with a really big bun on top, with a donut as big as a cushion beneath! But when I came back down to earth I know that I don’t really like much fuss, and can look really harsh if my hair is too slick, so I went more natural, pinned back, which I let half down for the evening.
Melissa Abel did my makeup and she was amazing! I loved what she did in the trial from the first attempt, and the only change for the wedding was that at the very last minute I asked for more!
Where do I start with Juls’ outfit?! The focus was definitely more on him than me! He is renowned amongst our friend and family as a sartorialist, so all eyes were definitely on him! Even our Rabbi mentioned in his sermon how he had been speculating with his wife about what Juls would wear..no mention of me!
In the end he wore a light blue one button blazer from Mr Start in London, with strong blue straight leg trousers, a white shirt, navy knitted bow tie, polka dot handkerchief in his pocket and lilac socks topped off with some burgundy tasselled loafers that he had all the girls in our office hunting for rather than working, for a week before the wedding! He looked amazing.
BRIDESMAIDS, PAGE BOYS + USHERS
Bridesmaids were somewhat outnumbered by page boys and ushers. (I have 5 nephews under the age of 10, and Juls’s cousins also had 3 boys we wanted to be page boys, compared to one niece and one cousin’s little girl). So in total I had 8 page boys, 2 flower girls and 3 bridesmaids.
The page boys looked super cool in outfits similar to Juls’ light blue shirt, navy shorts, white converse and I made them each a bow tie from different fabrics in shades of blue/grey/green.
The flower girls had soft vintage pink and sparkle dresses from Monsoon, and my little toddler niece Emilia had the cutest little bolero on over the top with almost feather like fabric trims on the shoulder.
My bridesmaids wore dresses from Alfred Sung.. all the same fabric and shade of Royal Blue, but in different necklines, so that they each had a shape to suit them. I ordered extra fabric for belts that form bows at the front, so that they all had this in common too.
HOME-MADE JEWISH CEREMONY PROGRAMME
I made a programme for the wedding for everyone to read through and understand what was going on. Our Rabbi has kept a copy to show other converting couples which was really nice.
FAVOURITE PART OF THE CEREMONY
The best part was circling Juls seven times. I had pre-warned my nephews that I needed to do this, so they kept a count for me, shouting ‘One’, ‘two’, ‘three’ etc!
A GORGEOUS FLORAL AND WILLOW CHUPPAH
Having converted relatively recently to Judaism, and only ever witnessing one Jewish wedding, the idea of designing a chuppah was completely new to me. All I knew was that I didn’t want something too big and overpowering.
At Narborough Hall, down by the lake side, there is a willow arbour, which we planned to have decorated in flowers and Juls’s dad’s tallis…so very natural and pretty and part of the landscape.
In the end though, the British weather had its way, and we decided on the day before the wedding to relocate inside. It was the best decision ever! Joanne and her groundskeeper at Narborough Hall set to work making a very simple willow chuppah, under which we suspended the tallis, and decorated with gorgeous garden flowers. It was amazing.
Joanne at Narborough Hall did all the flowers, which were sourced from the gardens, so it was all very natural English Garden and totally beautiful! Every posie and table setting was different but just gorgeous. I just gave Joanne an idea of colour and she went for it. I knew I could trust her totally from the first time we sat down to discuss it. She totally understood my desire for something special, but completely easy and beautiful in its own right, not forced grandeur.
My aunt also made posies for each row of chairs in the barn. They were made of Pinks (My nan used to grow them), Lavender (a theme throughout the wedding) and wheat (my dad is a wheat farmer). All tied up with raffia and measuring tape effect ribbon (a nod to our fashion background).
We had sandalwood fans which looked beautiful…but I had over-estimated the weather a bit and they weren’t really needed whilst it threatened to rain…but they still looked pretty!
MY FAVOURITE CREATIVE ELEMENTS OF THE DAY WERE:
– The Menu/ Bencher. I designed and got this printed myself and took a lot of time working on putting commentary in it so that the Jews and non-Jews alike felt included….But mostly I liked it because it looked pretty and fitted in with the colour scheme and was something I did myself!
– The invitations as described above were also great to do, and it was so lovely to hear everyone’s exclamations of joy and comments when they received them.
– The table plan- again I designed this myself, and found an old cheap frame in a cupboard in our office, got one of our interns to paint it white, whilst I printed and mounted vintage wallpaper and cutout style table numbers and plans- simple but really effective I thought.
– I used luggage tags as place settings, tied around the cutlery with measuring tape ribbon. Then we inserted a stick of lavender into each setting.
– The table numbers were bought online in pre-cut vintage design, and I backed each one with the same fabric I used for the page’s bow ties, so each table number was different.
OUR WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHER
We chose the amazing Katherine Ashdown. I can’t believe she managed to stay calm, even when half of the party refused to come outside when it looked like it might rain and their hair might get ruined (even though it didn’t!, and I, the bride, was stood there waiting for them!) The photos are amazing, and every morning I wake up and scroll through them on my phone before I do anything else…I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of looking at them!
A FASHION-INSPIRED WEDDING CAKE
I went with my mum to design the cake which was great fun!
We sat and looked over ideas, and decided on a 4 tier cake, quite traditional but with hidden details in that there were sugar paste buttons hidden amongst the flower decorations and a measuring tape trim around each tier. I didn’t even get to taste any before it was all gone so I’m guessing it was good!
Our catering was done by Owsley-Brown – they were fab and everyone commented on how professional they were and how amazing the food was.
We had Paul Dobie from Blackpool, who walked around during the afternoon tea/ drinks reception prior to the wedding, playing acoustic guitar and singing, to get everyone warmed up, then after the wedding for the evening reception, he played some traditional Hora Dancing music, which was AMAZING! My friends and family have never had so much fun!! I was absolutely terrified up on the chair, but I haven’t run around and danced like that since I was a kid- it was brilliant fun and set the tone for the night!
After a while everyone congregated around the bar more than the dancefloor, so we moved the music a bit closer to them, and got one of our good friends involved (we had asked him to bring his guitar along on the off chance that he might get to join in, and join in he did! We ended the night all dancing and singing at the top of our voices to the cheesiest Manchester tunes (most of our friends are from Manchester and we have both lived there on different occasions).
Honestly it was one of the best moves we made, and it goes to show…just go with it on your wedding day! We hadn’t planned to unplug the entertainment and move it into another room, but once we had it was the best decision ever!
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
Don’t sweat the small stuff- it will be alright on the night! Our original cantor cancelled the night before and we had to change venue from inside to outside at the last minute, but who cares? I’m still married! Just be flexible and roll with it.
Also choose your bridesmaids wisely…mine were awesome! I could not have survived the days before without their common sense talking!
AND FINALLY, THIS IS HOW WE MET…
Juls was an agent for a clothing manufacturer and I was a designer. He met my boss one drunken night and sold the dream to him.. Next thing I know my boss has told me not to design any jeans, because this guy Juls had all the stock they needed! (so of course being a territorial designer I immediately hated him!) Months later, the stock still hadn’t arrived and I was blamed for not designing anything so of course I hated Juls even more! Five years later, Juls had grown up a bit, as had I and I was moving from London to Manchester, and he was moving from Manchester to London. I went out with some mutual friends to see the sights of Manchester, and lo-and-behold, my nemesis Juls was there! Anyway, we got chatting, he told me he was moving down to London and needed to rent his flat out. I went with him to look at his flat….and the rest is history!
Steph + Juls’ awesome wedding film by Sugarfish
STEPH + JULS’ LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue – Narborough Hall
Photography – Katherine Ashdown
Videography – Sugarfish
Bride’s dress – Donna Lee
Bridesmaids’ outfits – Alfred Sung
Flowergirls – Monsoon
Groom’s attire – Mr Start
Catering – Owsley-Brown
Hair – Gemma Holiday
Make up – Melissa Abel
Flowers – Joanne at Narborough Hall
Entertainment – Paul Dobie
Wow, Steph’s creativity knows no bounds! Aside from all her design talents and her amazing bridal style, I think this big day quite possibly has the cutest page boys and flower girls I’ve seen in a while – how lovable are they? And on top of all the amazing creativity, the whole day is clearly infused with a healthy dollop of sunshine, love and good feeling. Thank you Steph and Juls for sharing your W-Day and inspiring us with your very special story.