Life’s too short to worry about how the napkins are folded!
How did you choose your venue?
We initially wanted to get married by the sea, but struggled to find a venue which could manage our numbers. Having visited a number of venues in both Scotland and the south-west, we eventually settled on Pentillie, as this was just down the road from where we first started our relationship and became engaged. Additionally, the venue was stunning, had incredible views of the river (satisfying our desire to be near the water), had sufficient on-site accommodation for the wedding party, and were happy to manage our number of guests.
How did your proposal happen (who, when and where)?
With the help of Kirsten’s friends, Michael convinced her that they were going to Devon one weekend to run in 10k race. He even orchestrated multiple training runs to keep up this pretence. When they ‘arrived early’ before their friends Michael took Kirsten for a walk up to Rame Head, a stunning headland over looking the sea and home to a small chapel ruin where we had previously been camping. At this time Michael broke the news that there was no such running event to look forward to but instead Kirsten had been lured to this beautiful spot so that he could ask her to marry him. Having accepted Michael set off some fireworks (despite a fairly substantial sea breeze!) and then we retreated to a little cliff-top cabin overlooking the sea for the rest of the weekend.
In 3 words, how did you picture your wedding at the beginning?
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail/theme – tell us about the special details of the day and how you implemented them (colours, theme decorations, centre pieces, favours, photo booths, DIY etc)
The whole concept of our wedding was avoiding unnecessary stresses and decision-making which seem to besot so many weddings! The idea was simple – choose a great place, become husband and wife and celebrate our happiness with all of our friends and family. Our beautiful marquee was supplied by one of Michael’s old school friends and it needed very little doing to enhance it’s elegance. A few ebay-bought paper lanterns hung with some fishing line, added a simple but stylish finish. There were some small military touches throughout the day (as Michael is an RAF officer), including a guard of honour and sabring of a champagne bottle, and we brought Scottish tradition to the day by ensuring we had an excellent ceilidh band. The place settings were photos of the guests with bride/groom/both and these doubled as favours and an excellent conversation piece for the guests who didn’t know each other. Our traditional and elegant wedding cake was made ‘in-family’ by Kirsten’s Auntie Sandra, and we worked with a small, independent gin distillery in Bristol (Psychopomp) to produce a unique ‘wedding gin’ for our big day, which incorporated botanicals including Scottish heather, and south-west blackberry. Beer was sourced from the brewery less than a mile from our home in Bristol. The bar stock seemed to be well-received, but fortunately we had a little bit leftover to enjoy in the weeks after the wedding.
Were you inspired by anyone on social media?
Not really. Keep it simple.
Please give a brief account of your wedding planning story i.e. priorities, highs & lows, challenges etc
We wanted to minimise wedding stress at all opportunities, so chose not to have lots of ‘frills’. It made no difference to us how the napkins were laid out, or how the coffees were served – we just wanted everyone to have a good time and make the most of the beautiful setting. Our biggest priority was being able to invite everyone we wanted, even if that meant compromising on some other aspects (e.g. favours, menu choices etc). A small challenge for us was negotiating our way out of NHS shift patterns in the days before the wedding, as well as for the honeymoon afterwards.
For the mainstay we divided up the tasks, tried to make quick decisions, and avoided getting bogged down in the detail.
What food did you choose for your day, wedding breakfast and evening buffet and why?
We wanted the dining experience to be casual and relaxed without the need for lots of serving staff. For this reason we went for sharing platters of deli meats and pickles for starters, followed by Asian pulled pork and a variety of accompaniments that guests could help themselves to on the table. The idea was to create a fun, interactive dining experience that would get people talking, rather than a traditional plated meal. Despite some scepticism from others, we chose to have locally-sourced Cornish ice-cream served in small tubs of varying flavours – this was fun, easy for the kitchen to organise, and fairly economical.
For the evening food we took delivery of a good selection of large and snack-size Cornish pasties, kept simple by serving warmed in paper bags. They were all gone within an hour, so can only assume that the guests enjoyed them.
What was your favourite part of the day?
Difficult to choose one part that topped the rest. But when we were pronounced husband and wife and turned around to see our favourite people cheering and smiling with us whilst the sun shone down – difficult to beat that!
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle / saw each other on the day?
I (the groom) was so excited to see Kirsten – after all the anticipation and planning, I almost couldn’t believe that I was about to marry my wonderful fiancée.
What was the most important investment for you? i.e food, photography, dress?
The most important thing for us was having a venue that could accommodate a large party (of 160 guests) and not have to trim down our guest list too brutally! This meant we were willing to compromise on more lavish drinks and food. The fact that we could accommodate 20 guests from both families in the main venue building was also a bonus, and meant we didn’t have to source extra accommodation elsewhere.
What song did you have for your first dance and why?
Tom Odell – Grow Old With Me
Great tune, meaningful lyrics and easy to dance to, and we had seen him perform live a few years earlier when we had just started seeing each other.
What are your top tips for other couples?
People say organising a wedding is really stressful. We came at it with a relaxed approach and didn’t get hung-up on the details. Life is too short to worry about how the napkins are folded! Remember what it’s all about and enjoy the process – don’t make it an arduous task! And don’t forget you can always delegate (or not if that’s easier!).
Photographer: Andy Lawson – ugotthelove photography
Bride’s Dress: Clifton Brides
Groom’s Outfit: RAF ceremonial uniform for ceremony, then M&S suit for reception
Flowers: The Velvet Daisy
Caterer: Catering provided by Pentillie Castle & Estate
Music: Bowreed (led by Fred Holden)
Cake: Handmade by auntie of the bride
Stationery: Some homemade, some from Papier
Transport: Inflatable boats for groom and ushers. Otherwise N/A
Evening Food: Helluva Pasties, Cornwall
Make-up: Victoria at The Greenhouse Spa Retreat
Hair: By Lara at Arena, Plymouth
We had our own bespoke wedding gin distilled by Psychopomp Microbrewery in Bristol. This proved to be a real success and we fortunately had a few bottles left over to kick start married life.