One year ago, I married the best person I’ve ever met. I’ve been meaning to share details and photos of our wedding day here ever since, but I thought that today would be the perfect day to look back on it.
Ryan and I met when we were in school, where we shared drama classes together but were in very different groups of friends. It wasn’t until we went to college that we fell into the same friendship group, a bunch of nerds who enjoyed video games and punk pop bands and were categorised by most as ‘Emo’.
By Christmas of our first year at college, we were deemed a couple. Six years later we moved into our first home together, and a year and a half after that Ryan proposed on the beach in St Lucia. Then, on 6 October 2016, almost ten years after it all began, we tied the knot surrounded by our friends and family with huge smiles on our faces.
As amazing as the day was, it took A LOT of planning. I will never go to a wedding again without appreciating how much effort is put into it, because blimey it’s hard work! But it was so worth it, and I’m glad I can share it with you here in the hopes that it might inspire those of you planning a wedding of your own.
As you’ll see, we went for a cosy, autumnal wedding with dusty colours, books and quite a lot of Harry Potter. As much as we tried to avoid the Harry Potter theme it soon crept in to almost every element of the day, from the bouquet and the cake topper to the table plan and centrepieces. But I think we kept it tasteful and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.
All of the photographs are by the wonderful Becca Martin Photography.
We had the most enormous list of venues that we wanted to go and see, but in the end we only went to two and booked the second. That is so unlike me, I’m usually very indecisive, but we really liked it, it wasn’t too far away from home, it was reasonably priced, they had a good date available and they offered a discount if we booked within 24 hours. Plus, we got free canapés to try. We were sold.
The venue is called Crondon Park, with a stunning barn and ceremony room that we fell in love with. We knew we wanted a barn for that rustic, cosy feel, and we liked that the bar and garden area were all connected, so people couldn’t break off into segregated groups. It worked wonderfully, and if we could do it all again we’d still choose it.
I had such trouble finding a dress. I think I went to about six shops and tried on more than ten dresses in each one. I found it incredibly stressful! But in the end, we went to Bridal Boutique in Southend. The service was amazing and the dresses were stunning, and in the end I settled on a Mori Lee dress from the Voyage collection.
I loved how light and simple it was, and I added a touch of sparkle with an additional belt. I did have trouble with the bra situation, though, and if I were to do it all over again I’d probably try to find a very similar dress that’s more flattering for someone as lacking in the boob area as me. But all-in-all, I loved it. And I got to wear sparkly Kurt Geiger trainers.
We had seven bridesmaids and a flower girl. They were my sister Tayler, Ryan’s sister Paris, two cousins Chloe and Lauren, three best friends Zara, Amy and Kerry and my cousin Hayley’s daughter, Wren.
I loved having them all as my bridesmaids, and getting ready with them all in the morning (even if it was a bit chaotic all being in the same room!). The dresses came from David’s Bridal, and we went for a mix-and-match colour scheme in purple shades. That was such hard work but I think we just about pulled it off in the end!
They wore their own shoes, some flat, some high, and it didn’t matter to me which they picked as long as they were comfortable. After all, I was wearing trainers!
We went for grey three piece suits from Burton which we really loved and were really reasonably priced. They all bought their own shoes, and ties were from Debenhams to match the maid of honor. Ryan had both of our dads wearing matching suits, as well as his twin brother (best man) and five of his best friends.
The flowers are one of my favourite things about our wedding. We used Rachel Dampier Floral Design and she is the glue that held our entire wedding together. We chose soft pink and purple roses, mixed with carnations of a similar colour for the bridesmaids and centrepieces to help keep the cost down. We also had eucalyptus and gypsophila, and I ordered the most amazing paper roses made from Harry Potter pages dotted in amongst them. The Harry Potter roses were also used for the buttonholes.
We collected so many jars ahead of our wedding day thanks to our friends and family’s help, so we used those (some of which we decorated with ribbon, hessian and lace) to hold some of the flowers I’ve mentioned on each table. We also had a log slice for the centrepieces to sit on, and a selection of four vintage books rented from Rachel.
Each table was named after a Harry Potter location. We had ten in total (plus the top table which we called Hogwarts), each with its own additional touches and its own favour. This was one of the most fun things to do, but also the most challenging. I loved the creativity of coming up with how each table would be themed.
And if you can’t already tell from the photo above, we made the table plan ourselves! Haha.
Here’s a rundown of each of the tables and their finishing touches:
Centrepiece: Golden Snitch, Quidditch World Cup Programme from an amazing book I have, and the favours were Ferrero Rochers that I took the brown cup and sticker off of and stuck little wings to to look like Snitches.
Centrepiece: Instead of jars we used plant pots on this table.
Favours: Little packets of seeds
Centrepiece: Half moon spectacles and Dumbledore’s wand
Favours: Sherbet Lemons
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
Centerpiece: A gold yoyo, a catalogue for the shop from the same book that I got the Quidditch World Cup programme from.
Favours: (Fever) Fudge
Platform 9 & 3/4
Centrepiece: A Hogwarts Express ticket, a little figure of Hedwig in his cage.
Favours: A bar of chocolate that we made look like tickets.
Centrepiece: Piles of money (chocolate coins)
Favours: A bag of chocolate coins (we got a massive bag of them to split up from Amazon here)
Centrepiece: The Ford Anglia, teacups instead of jars
Favours: Jars of ‘Floo Powder’ made from green Millions (you can see these in the photo of the entire inside of the barn if you look closely at the table on the right).
Flourish and Blotts
Centrepiece: An inkwell and quill, as well as extra books including Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Centrepiece: Handmade wands from Etsy (here)
Favours: Wands with a tiny bag of star-shaped mints
Eeylops Owl Emporium
Centrepiece: Gold-dipped feathers (from here)
Favours: Owl-shaped candles
My sister mentioned a macaron tower to me long before I started planning what sort of cake we’d have, but the idea really stuck. I absolutely love macarons, they are my favourite thing ever, and I don’t actually like cake that much.
Ryan loves cake though, and there were some guests we spoke to that didn’t seem to like the idea of the macaron tower as much as I did, so we met in the middle and had a small semi-naked cake to go alongside it, both made by the amazing Couture Baker.
And of course, we finished it off with ‘Always’ which we got from Not On The High Street.
And what wedding would be complete these days without a sweetie table! It went down a treat, and we paired the marshmallow tree with hot chocolate.
Wow, that’s a lot, but I still haven’t told you everything! Let me think…
We hand made our invitations, and even lined the envelope with a page from Harry Potter. This saved us so much money but it took us hours and hours and hours to do. I’m still glad we did, as I loved them more than I had liked any of the designs we’d seen online. They were totally unique to us and I think that’s awesome.
We made confetti from Harry Potter book pages, too.
We made our own playlist for the ceremony using lots of songs by the Vitamin String Quartet. We particularly liked the Geek Wedding album!
After the ceremony, we had canapés while we were having photos taken by the amazing Becca Martin Photography. Then it was time for dinner, which was tomato and pepper soup, roast chicken and the most delicious white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake.
We had sparklers in the evening, which we absolutely loved. They were served at around the same time as the bacon rolls, which also went down a huge treat and saved us a lot of money over an evening buffet.
Our evening entertainment was provided by an amazing band called Soulfire who went above and beyond to make the evening so much fun. When they weren’t playing, we played songs requested by our guests on their RSVPs, which made for a pretty crazy mix.
And our first dance song was Take The World by Jonnyswim.
Loved reading the blog Ashleigh! A sneak peak into the most beautiful wedding. Also reading about the flowers made me well up! A lovely look back on what was one of my most favourite weddings, with the most lovely couple!
Aw thank you Rachel, I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for us and for making our crazy ideas come to life in the prettiest way possible. You’re amazing!
Your wedding was beautiful and creative!
Thanks so much Kristi!
Oh. My. Gosh.
This is the most beautiful post for the most stunning occasion. This looks and sounds like the most unbelievable wedding!!!! I’m getting married in just under a month, also going for the autumnal feel, and I’ve got a few sneaky HP elements creeping in (although my fiancé doesn’t seem to have spotted them 😂), this is the most inspiring, beautiful wedding post.
Happy Anniversary, and here’s to many more years!
Aw! Thank you so much. I’m so excited for you, it’s going to be amazing I’m sure of it! I can’t wait to see photos, congratulations and the best of luck to you both xx
Aaahhhh such lovely memories xx
I know, right? Love you! x