In September last year I shot Greg and Shaheen’s wedding at Greenwoods Hotel and Spa in Essex. The day was absolutely glorious! The couple had chosen a really vibrant and exotic theme, which I absolutely loved. The flowers were to die for. This one is a real feast for the eyes. Here is Shaheen to guide you through their planning process.
Your venue: Greenwoods Hotel and Spa, Stock, Essex
Both our extended families are based in and around Essex, so we always knew that we would have the wedding there and it was just about finding the perfect venue to hold our wedding. We also knew that it would be a big wedding (200+ people!) and so the space needed to be big enough for everyone to feel comfortable. We also wanted to have parts of the wedding outdoors and in the sunshine (I love the sun and heat!) and given we had quite a few children at the wedding some green space that enabled them to run around was important to us. Finally, we took inspiration from some of the weddings we have attended in the past – the day always goes by so quickly and you don’t always get the chance to chat to all your guests – so offering a place on site for people to stay, and so we could have breakfast in the morning with them was also super important to us. How we found Greenwoods? Totally by chance! We were recommended by a different venue close by to check out Greenwoods as an option for guests to stay overnight in essex. We were surprised when we saw that Greenwoods offered wedding packages – the relaxed feel, accommodating staff, beautiful garden space and BBQ option for the wedding breakfast sealed the deal for us ?
Outfits (for the bridal party
Bridesmaid dresses – Mango Satin tie dress – these were the first outfits we bought – found in the boxing day sales in Jan 2019. I knew that I wanted my bridesmaids to feel regal so the champagne was a great touch of glamour. I also wanted them to feel comfortable and be able to move (& dance!) freely throughout the night. Everyone has different body shapes and level of comforts – so I had hoped this dress would make everyone feel 100% fabulous!
Groom & Groomsmen Suits – We wanted to treat all the boys to tailored suits and found this amazing tailors in East London, Jennis and Warmann, importing fine cut italian material to tailor suits for all 5 boys – including a personalisation for the groom. The price point is amazing for the quality of the suits and the service. Cannot recommend highly enough!
Bridal Gown – Made with Love, Harlie dress , purchased from Ubridaled Boutique. After long internet searches, I finally bought my dress about 8 months before the wedding. I narrowed it down to two designers and chose Made With Love an Australian designer with a great selection of dresses made for curvier figures (which I have!) I was also keen to find a dress in an “off-white” colour to go with my skin tone. I found my dress in a boutique in South Kensington, but purchased my dress off the rack from a boutique in Scotland through the StillWhite platform – a great way to find pre-loved / unloved dresses for a fraction of the price! I loved that I could find my dream dress and at the same time be re-using a sample sale dress – reducing the amount of waste that can be found at weddings! I plan to re-sell/ re-use my wedding dress too.
Hair and Make-up: Jo and Jo from the Perfect Marriage were absolute superstars on the wedding day. I only had one trial, with them, and they made me feel so comfortable and really listened to what I wanted and the look I was comfortable with. They were also very flexible and we had lots of back and forth before the big day to ensure everything would run smoothly. They are super organised (which I loved!) creating a schedule for the day and making sure that everyone had enough time to get ready.
Rings: Greg designed my engagement ring from scratch – sourcing the diamonds, tailoring the cut, and deciding on all finishing touches from the type of band to the colour of the centre stone. It was based on a ring we spotted in the shop window of a vintage jewellery store on holiday in Italy, very early on when we were dating. I was very touched by the personalisation of the ring – which was a 3-stone sapphire diamond ring. I wanted to make sure our wedding rings reflected that personalisation, and so we bought them on holiday in the Caribbean (Aruba) from a small store in the jewellery district. It comes with the memory of that amazing holiday and couldn’t be more perfect.
Cake: We’re very lucky to have some talented friends! Our cake was designed and made by the talented Sian Peters of Sugar sloth (who is the sister of a god friend of ours) We approached Sian early on who was very flexible about what was possible in our cake design. It was important to us that the cake was tasty! as it would be dessert for our guests. We went for a salted caramel and coconut 3 tiered cake with a selection of mini cupcakes – Sian was very flexible and tried lots of combinations to help us decided on what we wanted.
Photographer: YOU! ? we loved your relaxed style of photography – capturing every one of our guests in the moment rather than having formal stuff photos. We also did not want to spend a lot of time away from our own wedding taking couple photos – we think you nailed the balance of capturing all the wonderful details of the day whilst also making sure we were present and enjoying it ourselves! The montage video is our favourite thing from the wedding! We watch it all the time and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy ?
Evening entertainment: The music was a priority for us when planning the wedding – we’d basically booked all the entertainment before we did anything else. We’re big music lovers and so we wanted the entertainment to reflect the music we love and feature the songs that play a special part in our lives. We were so happy with all the bands and the music we selected – it all fit perfectly with the weather and the feel of the wedding.
Cocktail reception music – https://www.solid-steelband.com/ to reflect my island girl heritage (Mauritius!) and our wonderful holiday to the Caribbean
The DJ – https://www.facebook.com/officieljmp/ who is british-mauritian and was able to bring the “séga” music vibes as well as some old school and new school classics. He was very flexible and mixed our spotify playlists as well as creating an evening playlist that was matched to our tastes and what we felt people would get up and dance to.
The reception band – https://www.drumnbrassband.co.uk/ possibly the best decision we’ve ever made! We loved the band and their take on bringing an old school 50’s sound to modern classics like Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé and Michael Jackson.
Spotify is a great way to build a wedding playlist for couples and then to share widely with your entertainment ?
Venue Decor: Monet Events – We found Steph and Tracey through the hitched.com website as wedding planners who were based in Stock close to Greenwoods. They were the most attentive wedding planners and went above and beyond to ensure the style and vision for our wedding was achieved – including accommodating some last minute changes. We went from a traditional autumn wedding theme to a more tropical island theme in a matter of weeks, and I am so grateful that Steph and Tracey helped us make it happen! With dark navy blue tones and bright orange and pink flowers, we hope we recreated that tropical feel for all our guests.
Flowers: Recommended by our wedding planners – our tropical floral arrangements were created by Stock Florist. They were able to recreate multiple Pinterest collages and include the bird of paradise flower (found in Mauritius) as a central piece of the floral arrangements.
Wedding Stationery: Bee Davies is another incredible talent we discovered at a wedding fair in East London. She designed a leather jacket with wedding date and married initials, our wedding boards and table stationery (menus etc.) as well as the agate place cards. Her calligraphy and creative eye is amazing and she was also super flexible when it came to confirming designs. (attached a pic of wedding jacket)
Wedding Website: We also had Izabela from Atelier Beliza create our wedding website which had all the details for our wedding – directions, dates, RSVP lists, music requests etc. We didn’t need paper invites (saving trees!) and most guests found the website a much more accessible way to find the major details of the wedding. It was also designed in our theme colours (blue and gold) and included nifty tips for travel, dietary requirements and dress code.
Accessories: Michelle of MW Makes is a very close friend. We met at university and spent 4 blissful years discovering our real selves. She has always been the most creative person I know, studying architecture and is now a successful architect. She has recently launched a creative venture in designing bespoke leather goods and as a wedding gift to me designed the most beautiful clutch bag that I adore. It had engraved on the back my married initials and on the inside my wedding date, and went perfectly with my dress. She is incredibly amazing and we have bought several pieces from her since the wedding – they make fab Christmas and birthday gifts!
A couple of planning questions:
When you were planning, what were the most important things that you wanted for your wedding?
- Music / Entertainment
- Comfort for guests
- Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?
- Not really – weddings involve a lot of planning, but for us the end result made it all totally worth it.
- Can you offer any advice to couples in the planning process?
- Give yourselves time to think about what is really important to you on your wedding day, and then prioritise those things. Its very easy to get swept away by all the possibilities – we prioritised music and comfort of guests and led with those things rather than being distracted by a million other things we could have focused on.
- Be present – once the planning is done and you get to your big day I’d encourage all couple to take time to breathe it all in. Sometimes the planning can take over and the day becomes incredibly stressful, so for us it was important to stop and look around every once in a while taking snapshots of the day that we’d remember forever. Enjoy yourselves! (and that is why I’d highly recommend wedding planners who can take some of that stress away!)