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Wedding

Helen and James

High on this couple’s list of priorities was good food, good drink and a relaxed atmosphere with minimal fuss.

© Gary Rowsel Photography

A festive wedding

Helen and James wanted to make the most of the festive season – their wedding day was the last Saturday before Christmas day – so Christmas decorations and the warmth and glamour of the occasion were important.

We loved the modern décor – it’s elegant and polished without being over the top – and the Art Deco feel suited us because we own a 1930s property and like the period anyway.

First impressions

Helen and James wanted a modern-looking venue that could accommodate the whole day and do most of the planning for them because their jobs are demanding and don’t afford them much spare time. They found Swynford Manor to be very accommodating and our team’s organisation was suitably slick!

The style

Helen never wanted a traditional white wedding dress. The style she designed was more akin to an evening dress, made from scratch by the very talented Allison of Allison J Clothing in Maulden. It was created entirely from gold sequins, and was full length with a modest train.

Due to a leg injury a few months before the wedding, Helen left the nude Christian Louboutins she’d planned to wear in their box and instead opted for inexpensive, dark burgundy block heels from Debenhams.

However, by the evening they were discarded in favour of black Nike trainers (complete with gold shoelaces)! She also wore a pair of yellow citrine stud earrings by Kiki McDonough – a gift from James earlier in the year – and a gold and sapphire ring borrowed from the Mother of the Groom. On the morning of the wedding, James gifted her a new Tom Ford fragrance as a friend had suggested he buy her a new perfume so that every time she wore it afterwards she’d be reminded of their wedding day.

The groom wore a grey 3-piece suit made by Norton & Sons in Holland and Sherry material. He’s worn it almost every day since for the office!

I never even tried on a white wedding dress – why would I when I could be head to toe in shimmering sequins?

The reception

Swynford Manor needed very little in the way of decoration when it came to Helen and James’ festive wedding. The reception space was kept fuss-free other than a few candles and the tables were kept simple with Christmas cards as place names and gold and grey-themed table numbers from notonthehighstreet.com, which matched the seating plan. The seating plan was A3 sized and framed so the couple could use the frame again. It’s now up on their living room wall!

Swynford Manor had done such a great job with the Christmas decorations, we didn't feel the need to have any decorative flowers. It meant we could spend money on the things that really mattered to us – like the wine!

The food

To kick the wedding breakfast off, Helen and James and their guests enjoyed Goat’s Cheese, then Pork Belly for the main and Lemon Tart for dessert. They wanted a menu that was hearty, given it was winter but were also very aware that their guests would be eating their Christmas dinner a week after the wedding, so avoided Christmas-themed food. They washed it all down with bottles of Morey Saint Denis.

For the evening, they incorporated their love of cheese into the festivities. It was accompanied by the ‘most amazing scotch eggs’ and traditional ploughman additions, all supplied by the venue.

Surprise, surprise!

It’s Helen’s Dad’s worst nightmare to speak in public so she always knew he wouldn’t do the traditional Father of the Bride speech. This worked to her advantage though as she wanted to speak at her own wedding – “I wasn’t going to allow three men to speak on my behalf!” So, she kicked off the speeches, followed by the groom and then his Best Man, Chris.

As for surprises, the impromptu dance-off the band instigated was pure comedy – guests performed the worm, wheelbarrows, cartwheels, the splits and some even more shocking moves from the boys that involved taking clothes off… “far too naughty to mention here…!”

The Denison’s top tips

“Don’t stress about doing certain things just because that’s what’s expected. We didn’t bother with lots of traditions. For example, we didn’t have bridesmaids, ushers, wedding suits, the big white dress, confetti, a gift list, lots of posed photos, decorative flowers, table decorations…. I could go on! I think it’s the feeling and tone you create that counts, and that’s what people will remember. We’d also be more explicit in requesting what the band played in-between their two sets to keep the dancefloor filled while they were taking a break”