Another lovely celebration of love today!
Say hello to Lara and Nick. A gorgeous fusion of British-Arab cultures, they had a spiritual humanist ceremony centred around equality at Guyers House Hotel in Wiltshire.
Lara and Nick met at university through mutual friends. Nick studied Engineering and was a third year. Lara studied English and was a second year. We bonded over many student fancy-dress nights out!
With an eclectic ceremony focused on their family, it included personalised vows and some delightful traditions from around the world. Nick and Lara (wearing sublime Eliza Jane Howell ) wanted their day to be spiritual, fun and informal to truly reflect them.
Captured beautifully by Nick Church Photography (yes another Nick) their fun-loving photographer. I’ve asked Nick to share a few words about being part of their special day.
Lara and Nick were a gorgeous couple and I have never felt such love between two people, it was a very emotional day. Helping create amazing photos was the mix of ethnicity, a freak summer storm that caused havoc and some stunning pictures of beautiful Lara and Nick
Working with couples from mixed backgrounds means, (in the post-Brexit horror that we find ourselves), that for that one day everyone I meet is in love with the idea of variety and inclusion and all they see is a couple who are becoming one; and the whole is something much greater the sum of parts. From a photography perspective, when cultures combine, the music is more varied, food is more interesting, people are more fascinating and the weddings tend to be different from every one before or after which is all good news for the photography. My Fiancé is from Antigua, so as a mixed race couple I feel especially at home at weddings like Nick and Lara’s.
Out of the blue, Nick planned what was billed as a week-long ‘trip down memory lane’. We started the week by visiting old friends and drinking ‘Red Devil’ cocktails (Red Devil being one of the fancy-dress costumes that I was famous for) before driving up to Yorkshire. We’d previously spent many happy weekends there and Nick arranged us to visit the houses of my favourite authors (The Brontes and Thomas Hardy).
On the final day of our ‘trip’, by which time I was totally confused by the extravagance of it all, we went on a walk up a hill that can be seen from my family home. It was while we were there that Nick got down on one knee and popped the question. Although, not before he slipped half way back down the hill though! I ended up crouching beside him in tears. We must have looked like a modern-day Jack and Jill! (Nu Bride: Utterly brilliant! lol)
For a final flourish, Nick had booked lunch for us and our families at a vegetarian restaurant that I loved. The evening was capped off by Nick surprising me by gathering all of my closest girlfriends for celebratory champagne!
We actually didn’t have much of a ‘theme’ and that was deliberate. We wanted the whole day to feel relaxed and natural. We had bright colours in our flowers and our reception room was kitted out with plenty of kitsch decorations – all adding a fun, festival vibe which we wanted.
We found a lot of the inspiration of Pinterest to be very over done and bordering on clichéd and we were adamant that we wanted something slightly different, so that it didn’t feel too polished. It did take a lot of planning and creating and, yes, I think that I did a lot myself rather than using inspiration from elsewhere.
We had lots of quotations and books at the wedding, not only due to my love of books (I am an English teacher) but we also used extracts from many of our favourite musicians. We gave away small notebooks to our guests in the style of a Penguin classics and we had bunting made out of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. We had quotations from books, philosophers and music scattered on the table.
The Great British Florist did an excellent job of the flowers. Only 10% of cut flowers sold in Britain are actually grown here and so we chose The Great British Florist for their environmentally friendly outlook. They were really helpful from start to finish and the results were beautiful.
I highly recommend our photographer Nick Church Photography to everyone I meet! He is so warm and calm and his photographs are intimate without being cheesy.
The wedding dress was easy to find actually! Everyone says it’s the hardest decision you’ll make but I made it very quickly. My criteria were to choose something ‘different’ and something comfortable. I found that almost immediately in the Eliza Jane Howell dresses. The bridal shop I went to – Flossy and Willow – were really helpful and showed me ways that I could ask a seamstress to make the dress my own. In the end, I was comfortable but bridal!
The suit was harder to find than the dress! We originally considered having contrasting waistcoats but it turns out that that is a hard look to pull off. Actually, we were really pleased with the crisp royal blue of the Suit Supply three pieces that we opted for because they allowed the ties and the flowers to do the talking. Smart and sophisticated.
Our ceremony was eclectic – like us!
We are not religious but we are spiritual and so it was a very easy decision for us to have a celebrant to marry us.
From the moment we met her we knew that Pamela Woodford was the one for us. She has hundreds of quirky ideas that you can slot into your wedding! In the end we had a ‘tying the knot’ section as well as a ring blessing and Cherokee Indian wedding blessing to finish.
We were adamant that the ceremony should also be about our families. My dad was adamant that he wanted to give me away and despite my misgivings about the practice, I was really pleased that he did.
I was so glad to have someone to cling to while walking down the aisle and the proud smile on his face was priceless. We also included other humanist elements such as giving a single rose to our new mother-in-laws. We did have some more traditional elements such as readings and vows but we edited the vows so that anything about ‘obeying’ was erased and we inserted words that made us think of being a ‘team’ and a ‘support’ to each other.
Our readings were both from modern poems by Jackie Kay and Carol Ann Duffy. The ceremony was our favourite moment of our day.
Notably, the change in weather during the ceremony was probably the most representative of us! We had planned an outdoor ceremony but, of course, there was a plan B.
When I arrived it had been showering all morning but we made the decision to plough-on. During the ceremony, our friend sang a beautiful rendition of ‘What a Difference a Day Makes’ and as she hit the final chord, the the wind picked up and the clouds came over as a dramatic storm hit us.
We had to make the very quick decision to move everyone indoors!
Watching our friends and family – many of whom were meeting for the first time – pick up their chairs and carry them inside was joyous and just proved to us what a laid back and amiable bunch they were! It was also lovely because it meant the ceremony lasted even longer and Nick and I got a moment to say a proper ‘hello’ to each other while walking up the outdoor natural avenue while everyone moved inside.
This set the whole tone of the day. Sometimes weddings can be stuffy and people are nervous, but having to move inside put everyone at ease and meant the whole day felt really relaxed.
The funniest moment? Well, it was after we had walked under the confetti tunnel and were covered in multi coloured dried rose petals. Nick took one look at me and could see that they were everywhere and his natural inclination was to help me out (ever the gentleman). But the first place he thought to remove petals from? My cleavage! Nick Church got a hilarious shot of Nick with his hands down my dress!! (Nu Bride: The little devil – both of them lol!)
The venue is quite formal and so we wanted to go overly laid back with the details to counteract this. The gardens at the venue are wonderful and these acted as our inspiration – colourful, wild and very British. We wanted to bring the gardens inside so we used fresh flowers in jars as well as bright orange notebooks for our favours.
Our friends and family all produced such diverse speeches.
Father-of-the-Bride was short, sweet and loving.
Our girl friends wrote us a poem about our time together and the best men succeeded in dragging up some hilarious old stories about Nick. The groom’s speech was loving and heartfelt and emotional.
We danced to ‘You and Me’ by Penny and the Quarters. It’s a song that I have always loved and the lyrics just seemed very appropriate. It is also very short which meant less dancing and less chance of me standing on Nick’s feet. I thought I would be nervous about the first dance but we felt really natural and enjoyed it as one of the rare moments that we actually got to be together just the two of us all day.
Challenges and Triumphs
Challenges: My mum hired a surprise wedding car for me and she asked the driver to pull onto our drive to get the best photo op. In doing so, the driver reversed into our garden fence and ended up with half of it on his bumper! I was reasonably oblivious to all of this but it was some drama! (Nu Bride: Oh no! lol!)
I decided to begin following a vegan diet about 3 months before the wedding – this meant changing some of the cake that we had already ordered and changing my meal choices. Thankfully, all of our vendors were really supportive and I was able to enjoy delicious food on the day.
Triumphs: finding my dress so quickly; getting to walk down the outdoor aisle in the sunshine; the photo booth that we had during the evening.
Top Tip for Couples
Enjoy the process. So often, couples are so nervous about planning a wedding.
And then they are nervous about walking down the aisle…
And then they are nervous about the speeches…
Take the time in the lead up to the day and on the day itself to be grateful that you are planning a big party that celebrates your love. Taking this time will mean that your memories are more crisp and the details will all come to life more!
Photographer: Nick Church Photography
Venue: Guyers House Hotel
Bride’s Fashion: Eliza Jane Howell, Delilah dress
Purchased from: Flossy and Willow Bridal Store
Accessories / Jewellery: Ivory and Co
Bought from: Krystle Brides
Makeup: Jessie Walwin Makeup
Hair: Zara Perry
The Girls Bridesmaid Outfits: Asos
Personal Touches: Cake: The Bath Cake Company
Flowers and Décor: The Great British Florist
Food: Guyers House Hotel in house.
The Entertainment: Ben Powell Acoustic Guitar and Guyers House DJ