Weddings: Need Big Day ideas? Read on. . .
For couples stuck in wedding limbo, we wish you luck with your forthcoming celebrations – and for those still planning, here’s some ideas for wow-factor venues, dresses, flowers, catering, bespoke face masks and more
GUEST TO IMPRESS
It’s the moment all guests dread; you rock up to your friend’s wedding in a fabulous frock, only to spot your doppelganger, wearing the very same dress. Lessen the chances of costume drama by shopping small independent labels. Irish designer Aideen Bodkin specialises in dresses which exude feminine flair, with eye-catching floral prints, and a vintage feel. She works with small fabric mills, adding her own handwriting, to ensure each piece will be a unique treasure.
Shop the designs at Anne Furbank, Buckden, or annefurbank.co.uk
A novel dessert idea or even a substitute for the wedding cake, French macarons are dainty, delectable and utterly irresistible! Treat Me Sweet, London! specialise in artisanal macarons, bursting with creamy ganache, in a rainbow of hues and flavours, including Sicilian Pistachio, Lemon Curd, Strawberry Cheesecake, Lavender and Chocolate Gingerness. The mouth-watering fillings are created by talented baker Senda El Kardali, and are naturally gluten-free and organic.
Find your favourite flavour at treatmesweet.org.uk
Multi-award winning fashion label Sabina Motasem has created The Green Collection – a luxurious, vegan and sustainable range, launching with six stunning wedding dresses.
Prices start from £975, and the dresses are available to buy online, with a home delivery service and complimentary virtual appointments available.
Sabina, who has been busy stitching scrubs and masks for the NHS during lockdown, formulated the green range to complement her higher-priced Couture Collection, providing an eco-option for the cost-conscious bride.
Find out more at motasem.co.uk
FEASTS OF FLAVOUR
“I love cooking, I love eating but mainly I love to feed people,” enthuses Charlie McLaughlin. And that’s exactly what she’s been doing – in mighty fine style – since launching Little Piggy Catering, shortly after having twins back in 2010.
Charlie, who grew up in a foodie family on a farm in Yorkshire, offers a decadent array of dining options for weddings, from the specialist Little Piggy hog roasts (the crackling is legendary) to smoky barbecues, using locally-sourced Leech & Sons meat. There’s a tempting array of mains, plus grazing plates and feasting boards, loaded with delicious global cuisine from Italian antipasti to Persian mezze treats. Dreamy dessert options include crunchy Pavlova topped with tropical fruits and gooey chocolate brownies.
Charlie, who is based in Longstanton, works alongside Katie Murray, a passionate artisan baker, who perfects the vegan and vegetarian menus. The pair offer tailor made menus to suit events of all sizes. Recently they’ve expanded into Lockdown Dinners for Little Piggies who’ve had to stay at home.
Find out more at littlepiggycatering.co.uk
Imagine saying ‘I do’ on an idyllic beach at sunset, bathed in a burnished orange glow, or exchanging vows in a bucolic meadow bursting with crimson poppies? If you yearn to tie the knot in a truly unique location, B Celebrant’s Ryan Wilson-Lane can turn your dreams into glorious reality. Ryan, who is based in Bury St Edmunds, specialises in bespoke tailor-made celebrations. “We can create services in traditional venues, on a beach, in a forest or in your own garden,” explains Ryan. “Guests can sit in a circle, which is nicely symbolic as a circle represents eternity, or we can include hand-fasting ceremonies. There’s endless options.”
B Celebrant is named after the humble bee, symbolising harmonious communities and strength in working together - and Ryan spends time getting to know couples’ love stories, which are woven seamlessly into his ceremonies.
Ryan, who has worked in hospitality and was a community police officer for 12 years, also runs a concierge business, Bottle & Bowler, in tandem with B Celebrant. As well as offering a plethora of personal assistant services, from house-sitting to vacant property checks and event planning, Ryan (whose sartorial trademark is his bowler hat!) can help with butlering at hen and stag parties or caring for beloved pets on wedding days. With his special skillset, I think we all need a Ryan in our life!
ART OF LOVE
Wedding presents come in all shapes and sizes (and with kind-hearted intention), but to avoid unwanted gifts, why not open a Byard Art Gift Account? Choose a stunning artwork from the Cambridge gallery, then invite wedding guests to gift money towards it, or alternatively set up a credit account so you can take time to choose that awe-inspiring watercolour. Byard will provide inserts to enclose in wedding invites, containing a unique gift number, and will later compile a list of all contributors, making those all-important thank you letters a breeze!
Visit Byard Art, the independent gallery on King’s Parade, to safely browse the selection of paintings, craft and sculpture.
Find out more at byardart.co.uk
You’ve likely spent the best part of a year planning your Big Day to the nth degree, from the dream dress to the fiddly favours, not to mention the dreaded table plan. So, dear bride (or groom) you really do deserve some pre-wedding pampering. And there’s nowhere better than the luxurious surroundings of Gresham House Wellness, located in the gardens of Gonville Hotel in Cambridge.
A haven of serenity in the city centre, there’s a host of heavenly treatment packages available using Gresham House’s signature beauty brands, including ESPA, Jessica Nails, Mii Makeup and Kissed by Mii Tanning.
Why not indulge in the wellness centre’s hero ESPA Iconic Back Face and Scalp Treatment, to restore calm to mind and body? Drift off in one of the three beautiful botanical themed treatment rooms as you’re treated to an hour and a half of deep relaxation, including a hot stone back massage, personalised facial and scalp massage.
Get a golden hydrating glow for when you slip on the shimmering bridal gown with a tanning treatment, or prepare nails ready to show off your sparkler with a Jessica manicure.
Whether you desire a dewy fresh-faced look, or some old-school Hollywood glamour, the experts at Gresham’s can work their magic with a bridal make-up session. Bridesmaids and mother of the bride and groom can also be booked in for make-up consultations and for bridal party pampering packages.
The team at Gresham House Wellness have created a safe environment for clients, with temperature checks on arrival at Gonville Hotel, plus special screens and hand sanitizer stations provided. So all that is left for you to do is to relax and allow the professional therapists to pamper mind, body and soul. Sounds idyllic!
Find out more at greshamhousewellness.co.uk
With face coverings becoming the new norm at weddings, Cambridge sewing shop Sew Knit Craft are creating beautiful bespoke masks, ideal for the happy couple. Irena Spence and her talented team at the city centre crafting haven can embroider tailor-made masks, in various designs (we adore the delicate heart-patterned one shown here) which can be personalised with initials and the wedding date. They can also embroider bespoke table linen and make a quilt as a treasured memento of the special day, with guests signing the reverse, before it is hand finished at the independent King Street store.
Find out more at sewknitcraft.co.uk
CIRCLE OF LIFE
Immortalise your love story in your wedding or engagement ring, by having it handmade by the brilliant designers at Harriet Kelsall. The team, with retail showrooms and design studios in Cambridge and London, and a HQ in Hertfordshire, mix creativity and quality materials to produce inspiring, one off bespoke jewellery. So if you’re a couple that love the ocean your rings could be inset with azure sea blue diamonds or if you’ve inherited exquisite family gems, these can be incorporated into precious pieces. The designers believe in discovering each customer’s story and designing ‘treasured possessions’ for them. Enlist their help and prepare to be dazzled!
Find out more at hkjewellery.co.uk or call (01223) 461333
Exquisite flowers – from roses to ranunculus – can express warmth, joy and love as they cascade down a pillar, decorate a pew end or take pole position in the bridal bouquet. Emily Lambert, who runs wedding florist Thatch & Roses Studio in Wilburton is passionate about producing beautiful, sustainable wedding flowers that are less about an Instagram picture and more about reflecting the happy couple.
Emily herself married in 2014, and within three weeks tragically lost her father-in-law, which has influenced her thinking on floristry ever since. “It magnified for me the importance of staying true to your own values during the wedding planning process - because life is too short,” she explains.
Emily, who creates delightful seasonal arrangements, fusing elegant textures and tones, offers an open and authentic process with her wedding couples, with a focus on sustainable floristry and garden-inspired design.
Post-Covid, Emily also produces everyday bouquets, arrangements and flower subscriptions, working across Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.
Find out more at thatchandroses.com or call 07500 877972
From dinky favour boxes to elaborate table decorations, it’s the thoughtful detailsthat can really make a wedding unique.
Ellie Ling’s gift packaging business, The Midnight Mouse, began last year after she created table decorations for a fairytale-loving friend’s wedding meal, themed around the Cinderella story. Ellie captured the magic midnight hour with golden carriage gourds and book paper mice, which later inspired ‘The Midnight Mouse’ company name.
The wedding range includes elegant personalised gift wrap for the bridal party, and present packaging for the groom, best man and ushers. Quirky, imaginative favour boxes are also a popular commission – and since lockdown, Cavendish-based Ellie has designed products to be sent flat for safe postage, which can be popped-up on arrival.
Shop the range at midnightmousesuffolk.co.uk
ON LOCATION . . .
Agonising over your wedding venue? Here’s a trio of magnificent locations – from a luxurious country house to a charming converted barn
A perfect fusion of contemporary style and rural charm, Swynford Manor is the ultimate luxurious country house wedding venue. With striking interior décor, a myriad of ceremony and reception spaces, 12 guest bedrooms, a stunning bridal suite and seven acres of lawns and paddocks, there’s so much to love about this charming setting.
Once the home of Lord Byron’s half-sister, Augusta Leigh, the house is rich in history and distinctive in style, fusing romance and glamour. Nestled in the picturesque Cambridgeshire countryside, Swynford Manor offers exclusive-use, so you can pretend to be lord or lady of this stately pile for a day!
Swynford Manor is at Six Mile Bottom, Newmarket. Find out more at swynfordmanor.com
The Wedding Barn at Old Hall
If you love rustic chic, the Old Wedding Barn at Steeple Bumpstead should be top of your wish list, having been lovingly restored and transformed into a magical venue. The former steam-driven Victorian barn is packed with character, retaining many original features (including interior bricks bearing the names of farm workers inscribed in late 19th century) mixed with a modern aesthetic (check out the stunning back-lit wine bottle library!). Couples can set up the day before their nuptials, and hold both ceremony and reception at The Wedding Barn, catering up to 120 guests. The latest arrival at the barn is a vintage-style shepherd’s hut, which will act as a chic bridal boudoir.
The Wedding Barn at Old Hall is at Steeple Bumpstead (some 2020 dates are still available). Find out more at oldhallweddingbarn.com
Willow Tree, Bourn
Welcome to a fairytale venue, where you can profess your love beneath the bows of a beautiful majestic willow tree or within a fairylit naked tipi in the Secret Meadow. The Willow Tree boasts an informal vintage vibe, with enchanting surroundings, encompassing an elegant shabby chic restaurant, al fresco terrace, beautiful country garden with tipi and adjoining whimsical meadow. Since Covid-19, there are also amazing private dining Domes, allowing you to feast beneath a star-lit sky. Couples can opt for a boutique wedding for up to 80 seated guests or an informal outdoor feast such as a wood fired pizza or hog roast, and prices include venue hire, ceremony set up, bespoke food and drink menus and expert wedding planning. Smaller wedding receptions for up to 25 are also available.
The Willow Tree is at High Street, Bourn. Find out more at thewillowtreebourn.com
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More by this authorLouise Cummings