When we became Mr & Mrs Dawson

I’m still in shock at how many messages I received from people wanting to read about our wedding, I always enjoy writing about something off the beaten track from my usual so thank you for giving me this opportunity. For me, writing it down is like living it twice and I’m loving every second of this!

Myself and James got engaged in March 2015 and got married the following year on Friday 12th August 2016. We exchanged vows in a beautiful little church local to us called St. Michaels of Galleywood which is the same church that James’s parents and grandparents got married in so it meant a lot to us and his family.

After looking at a short list of wedding venues, we settled on the Channels Estate in Essex as our evening reception venue. We went to a wedding at Channels a year previous to getting engaged and it was then that I fell in love with the venue and knew it was the place that I would one day want to get married. It’s a beautifully restored 17th century barn with gorgeous honey coloured beams for a countryside feel and located right in the heart of the estate. We visited a few other venues for comparison but nothing came close so we booked it in September 2015, giving us 11 months to plan the wedding. Here is a picture of the barn set up on the morning of our wedding –

I started dress shopping almost immediately and after visiting a handful of shops in and around London and Essex, I finally found my dress at Great Expectations Bridal in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. Great Expectations is an exclusive bridal boutique which stocks the likes of Justin Alexander Signature, Christiano Lucci and Pepe Botella. I honestly hadn’t come across such beautiful and luxurious dresses and after just one visit to the shop I had found my dream dress. It was by a designer called Allure and I purchased a veil from the shop which matched perfectly.

I wasn’t at all precious about having a fancy pair of designer shoes for the wedding and so purchased a comfortable nude pair of stillettos from Office. They were super comfortable and I was able to wear them all day and night and still wear them to this day – not bad for £40!

The night before the wedding, I booked to stay in a cottage at Channels and it was just perfect. I had dinner with mum, sister, aunty and all my bridesmaids in the Channels restaurant and then retreated back to the comfy cottage for an early night.

On the day of the wedding, myself, my mum, aunty and all my bridesmaids got ready together at the cottage before heading off to the church. Krystal Dawn, best known for doing Michelle Keegans and Billie Faiers wedding makeup, did my makeup and my gorgeous friend Beau (who I didn’t even know before my wedding but is a close friend now!) did my hair. Fun fact: I only decided how I wanted to have my hair on the day of the wedding! The night before I got married I was still saving hair inspo to my mood board on Pinterest!

In total I had 8 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls, 4 page boys and James had 1 best man and 6 ushers. I know what you are thinking… absolute madness! Looking back now, it was excessive but at the time it felt right and that’s all that matters!

My sister was my maid of honour and wore a slightly different dress to my other bridesmaids. Her dress was from Lipsy and the others wore a multi-way dress that I purchased from Debenhams. As I had so many bridesmaids, of all different shapes and sizes, the multi-way was the most versatile dress that could be adapted to suit them all. I absolutely loved the colour of their dresses and thought it was the perfect tone for a summer wedding.

My flower girls dresses were from Monsoon and my page boys (my four handsome nephews!) outfits where from Next. They made the day so special!

We were so lucky with the weather on the day as it was one of the hottest days of the year. The sun shined from dawn into the late evening and our vision of a big bbq outside for our guests came together perfectly. Everyone said how lovely the food was and how having a bbq instead of a sit down 3 course meal was a welcome change from tradition.

We had a master of ceremony, Terry Lewis, who ran our wedding from start to finish which was an unbelievable godsend. He joined us at the church and coordinated the entire day until the very end which meant myself and James could just enjoy ourselves instead of worrying if the day was running to schedule or not. He was also our DJ and played an incredible set of music. Our guests were on the dance floor all evening and he played a really good mixture of old and new dance floor fillers which is exactly what we asked for. Our first dance was Tenerife sea by Ed Sheeran as the lyrics meant a lot to us and seemed very fitting for our wedding day.

You can see Terry in the background here making sure the speeches were running to time!

Photography was so important to us because once the day was over we knew that’s something that would keep the memories of our wedding alive forever. We found Summer Lily photography by recommendation and she was just incredible. She made everyone feel so comfortable and captured the most natural and beautiful shots. I really didn’t want staged photos and that’s exactly what I didn’t get. Terri sent a finished photo over to us on the evening of our wedding (I think she knew just how impatient I would be!) and we were then able to share it with our guests at the breakfast the following morning which I loved! This was the exact photo and will probably always be my favourite –

Our beautiful flowers were from an incredibly talented family run florist local to us called Springfield florist. The budget for our wedding wasn’t massive but I absolutely love flowers (I’ve secretly always wanted to be a florist and would kill to have fresh flowers in my house each day) and so I wanted flowers that weren’t too expensive but had maximum impact. I wanted very subtle fresh looking flowers to match the country style interior of the venue and I had earl grey roses sprayed throughout my bouquet to tie in with the colour of my bridesmaids.

Our wedding cake was made by James’s mum. She makes the most beautiful cakes and to make our wedding cake was a dream come true for her. It looked absolutely incredible and was better than I had imagined. There was so much of it to go round and we still have a tier in the freezer! It’s fruit cake so hasn’t gone off, don’t worry!

Instead of providing wedding favours which I’ve noticed most people leave behind at weddings and cost unspeakable amounts, we had a help yourself candy cart which the children loved. I ordered personalised paper bags for the sweets so that our guests could take them home and they did! There wasn’t a single sweet left.

Things I would do differently now:

1. I massively regret not having a videographer. The day flies by and some of it becomes a blur after awhile so to have a video to look back on for years to come would have been amazing

2. Ask your photographer to print and insert your photos into a book – we paid for a usb package and to this day they are still all on the usb or on an album on my phone. There’s nothing as great as flicking through actual photos, especially when showing grandparents etc but now I don’t think il ever have the time to sit down, print them all and sort them into a book – not until the kids have grown up anyway!

3. Keep it small – we had lots of guests, which meant lots of things to arrange (invites, tables, flowers, place settings, outfits, gifts, photos etc) which at times felt like too many people to consider over ourselves. Weddings are mega to plan in their own right – financially and making sure the day feels perfect for you in terms of the ceremony, vows, music, photography, catering etc and so to have a list as long as your arm of people to cater too can seem overwhelming and at times, super stressful. I wouldn’t change our day for the world but when people ask me for advice on their own wedding I always say, keep it small, and keep it about you.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!

Lots of love

G

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