Becca and Darren wed at the beautiful St Helens Church – where Beccas family have attended for many years. They had an intimate, family focused ceremony in a small village in Berkshire during the Great British Summer Time.
Darren proposed on a walk on White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire which is a lovely area for walking near where we live. It actually all went quite wrong as he didn’t have any change for the car park after putting the ring in his pocket so we had to park further away. It also kept raining so I just kept asking if we could go back and get lunch! Little did I know he was waiting for there to be less people around so he could pop the question!
We knew we wanted a Saturday as it would be easier for people not having to take time off work. I always imagined having a summer wedding and we were quite keen for late June/early July.
We got married at St Helen’s Church, Benson as this was the village I grew up in and my family have attended for many years. It was where I had always imagined that I would get married. The reception was at Riverside Marquee in Bray, near Maidenhead. I was really keen to find a venue on or near the riverside as I’d always had this idea that it would be really special to arrive at the reception by boat. Riverside Marquee has its own private jetty and a boat company they work with so we could easily make this a reality. The venue also has lots of beautiful outside space – which ended up perfect with some of the COVID restrictions in place for our day and doing as much outside as possible. We also really loved the food served at an open day we went to. We both love food so it was really important to us that our guests were well fed! We also liked the idea of food that was a bit different. We ended up having sharing platters of Mexican food which everyone really enjoyed.
We really wanted bright colours. My favourite colour is red but this didn’t feel very summery so went with a bit of a twist on that. I think my colour choices were inspired a lot by looking at flowers. I loved coral pink peonies so then based my colour scheme around shades of coral, pink and red.
We didn’t hire a planner – I’m a bit of a control freak and love planning so I was keen to do as much as possible myself. This included DIY – I made all my wedding favours (mini cake jars), items for centrepieces and other décor around the venue. I wanted our day to feel as personal as possible.
I bought my dress from Sophie Grace Bridal in Wokingham. It was actually the first dress I tried on – I liked others that I tried on but just found that none compared. I got my dress very early on (about 18 months before) as my Gran became very unwell and I thought it would be nice for her to see me in a wedding dress before she passed away – I did not expect to find the one at that point, but I think it was just meant to be! The shop were so understanding and helpful, they don’t normally allow you to take photos when trying on dresses but let me take a picture of the dress so that we could show my Gran and I think it was really special for her – and for me knowing that she wouldn’t be there for the wedding.
I had always known I would have my school friends as my bridesmaids – we met when we were 11 and are still all close friends now 18 years later. I also had my husband’s sister who has become a really close friend as well as sister-in-law. I love to bake cakes, so to ask them, I made them each a cupcake with a topper saying “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?”
The most stressful part of wedding planning was most definitely COVID! We had booked our wedding in October 2019 which was obviously before the pandemic hit. Originally, we felt hopeful that our wedding would have no restrictions and especially when the roadmap was originally announced, our date was just after the original plan for “Freedom Day”. It’s safe to say the last few months before the wedding were incredibly difficult, not really being able to have any certainties of what our day would be like and therefore we found it very difficult to feel excited about it. When it was announced that the easing of restrictions was being pushed back to July, we basically had less than two weeks before our date, and made the very difficult decision to go ahead with the wedding despite the restrictions. I can honestly say now, I’m so glad that we made that decision – and although our day wasn’t normal (masks at the church, dancing advised against, drinks reception seated etc), we couldn’t believe how normal it felt and we really did have the most incredible day and were so lucky to be able to go ahead and have pretty much our whole original guest list there.
One of the things I think about now, it just how lovely it was how excited everyone was to go to a wedding and to be re-united with people they hadn’t seen for such a long time. It is something that I really felt in the spirit of the day and something I think is probably quite unique to weddings that were happening at that time.
Pre-COVID, I absolutely loved wedding planning. I just love weddings in general and I loved doing loads of research on Instagram and Pinterest and going to wedding fairs. It really helped inspire me and bring together my vision of the day. During COVID, talking to other brides on Instagram gave me an outlet to speak to people who understood what we were going through and helped bring some of that excitement for planning back.
We had a church wedding at the church in the village where I grew up and my family have attended for many years. The vicar had known me since I was a baby which brought a lovely sentimental element to the day. We weren’t allowed to sing hymns due to the restrictions but we have a string quartet – which is something I had always wanted. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D, during the signing of the register they played “Concerning Hobbits from Lord of the Rings” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You – Elvis Presley”. As we left the church they played “It Must Be Love – Madness”. I am a big believer that so many songs sound so beautiful played by a String Quartet – I loved researching songs for them to play.
Your Photographer/ Videographer
We met our photographer Amanda Goodyear at a wedding fair. I found it very difficult with photographers because I saw so many that had such lovely portfolios and I didn’t really know how to choose. Amanda was so friendly and I just felt like I clicked with her straight away – I think it’s really important to feel comfortable with your photographer, especially if you’re a bit nervous about taking photos like Darren and I are. She also said she loved to make the most of nature in photos which was really important to me knowing what beautiful outdoor grounds our venue had. I can also hugely recommend having an engagement shoot if you’re a bit nervous. It really helped feeling like we already knew Amanda and what to expect on the day.
Our videographer was Brad from Purple Stripe Films. I found him on a Facebook Group advertising wedding suppliers in Berkshire. We couldn’t meet in person due to COVID but had a video call with him and again, I just wanted to make sure we felt comfortable before booking.
The cake was one of my favourite things about the wedding. As a keen hobby baker myself, I wanted a special cake and Charlotte from Chocolate Utopia Oxfordshire made that happen. She specialises in the most beautiful chocolate flowers which I fell in love with, and her cakes are absolutely delicious too. Our flavours were White Chocolate and Raspberry, Chocolate Orange and Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake. The design Charlotte created could not have been more perfect. She drew pictures in advance of a few designs and she’d perfectly understood my colours and ideas from the pictures I’d shown her beforehand.
‘Stand out’ special moments
The boat trip we had on the day and arriving by boat was one of my favourite parts of the day. It was lovely to have a little time with Darren alone after the ceremony to just soak it all in. During the reception we actually didn’t spend much time together as we were trying to talk to all our guests so I found that alone time really special. Arriving on the boat at the venue, waving to all our guests – I felt so special and guests loved it and said it was so unique.
I also just loved how pleased everyone was to be re-united with friends and family and be at such a happy occasion after long periods of lockdowns and restrictions. I really felt like the whole day just had such a feeling of joy and love which made the whole day feel so special.
Due to travel restrictions we didn’t book a big honeymoon until sometime after the wedding. We spent a few days in the Cotswolds to have a break directly after the wedding which was very much needed! We are due to go on our actual honeymoon to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in March 2022 which we are very excited about!
Advice for Brides to be
If you have a guest book – put a bridesmaid or a groomsman in charge of going round guests telling them to sign it or people won’t do it.
Ask people to send you photos afterwards because it was a bit of a wait for our professional photos, and I loved keeping the memory alive while I felt a bit of the wedding blues in the weeks after. At a wedding I went to since, they had an app where guests could upload photos afterwards which I thought was a great idea.
Also, leave reviews for your suppliers – I found it really helpful as a bride-to-be looking at reviews when choosing and it really helps the suppliers too.
Everyone says this but it’s so true – embrace every single minute because the day goes by so fast and feels like such a blur afterwards!
Suppliers that really made your day
All our suppliers absolutely blew me away. Despite it being such a difficult time for all of them too, they couldn’t have been more accommodating and helpful throughout the lead up to the wedding and the day itself.
Church – St Helen’s Church, Benson
Reception Venue – @riversidemarquee
Photographer – Amanda Goodyear – @amandagoodyearphotography (second shooter was @taragillenphotography)
Videographer – @purplestripefilms
Wedding Dress – Sophie Grace Bridal Wokingham (@sophie.grace.bridal.ltd) Dress is Poppy from St Patrick La Sposa
Veil – @emmadeesewing
Hair Accessories – @hiddenbotantics
Make up – @mrs.b.beauty
Hair – @chloelyfordhair
Bouquets, buttonholes and church flowers – were done by a family friend, Clo Hayle
Reception Venue Flowers – @beautyinbloomstwyford
Cake – @chocolate_utopia_oxfordshire
Bridesmaids Dresses – @victorialoubridal
Suits – @waltersofoxford
Boat hire – @privateboathire
DJ – @discosolutionseventsltd
Pianist/singer – @richarddsnow
String Quartet – @musicstudentsforhire
Stationary – @emmalou_stationary