It started with a cup of tea in Selfridges…
Selfridges – good. Tea – good! How I love the Englishness of this! Fast forward six years to Naomi and David’s seaside wedding on February 8th, 2014, where the wintry weather doesn’t stand a chance of dampening the day in the face of all the vibrant colours from the flowers, the bright styling details, and the pinks and turquoises of walls and camper vans. If anything, the grey skies and cloudiness add a really moody backdrop that is totally complementary to the brightness. I keep telling you – rainy, blustery, grey wedding days rule!! I have a real thing about them.
Naomi’s description of the big day is fantastic. It reads like a book, and I couldn’t bring myself to edit it too much because it’s so beautifully written! Grab yourself a large hot chocolate, and be whisked away by this gorgeous family wedding…
David proposed when we were on holiday in Cornwall last year. We had five days away without the children. On the Wednesday evening, we’d booked a table at an amazing pub, The Gurnards Head, on the beautiful coastal road to St Ives. We had a lovely meal, and afterwards David suggested we walk down to the sea. I really wasn’t keen, it was getting dark and there were lots of cows (and cow poos) in the fields. I think (actually I know) I was grumbling quite a lot, but it was really quite beautiful. The fields were full of bluebells and the sun was setting on the sea. I turned around and David was on one knee. It took me a minute to fully understand what was happening, but I of course said yes (quite a few times apparently), and we both cried. David presented me with a beautiful engagement ring. I was speechless as it was a one-of-a-kind ring that I had pointed out nearly two years earlier on a Danish jeweller’s website and he’d bought it without my knowing.
Our choice of venue was made in rather a round about way. We knew that we wanted to get married beside the sea and Anglesey is the probably the place we visit the most often, both as a couple and also for family holidays with our children. The island is incredibly beautiful and unspoilt and we especially love it in the winter months, when the grey skies and empty beaches are perfect for long walks and beach combing (a slight obsession, we even managed to collect an enormous piece of driftwood on our wedding day!)
So having decided upon a winter wedding in Anglesey, we travelled up to the island for a long weekend to find the venue! We’d always known that we wanted our wedding to be very personal and intimate. We have wonderful family and friends, but we knew from the start that we wanted our day to be just us and our five children. Fortunately, our families were incredibly supportive of this, and we’re holding a garden party later in the year so that we can celebrate with them.
We visited several venues on the island and although they were lovely, none of them felt like ‘the one’. We wanted to be right next to the sea and didn’t want anything that felt too formal. I’d seen a converted boathouse on the Menai Holiday Cottages website, but hadn’t wanted to look at it because it didn’t have a wedding licence. Inevitably, we ended up there and both loved it! Not just the house, which is stunning and has amazing views of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia, but the Anglesey coastal path passes directly in front of it and leads to a pebble beach: perfect for lots of flotsam and jetsam!
We knew it had to be The Boathouse; it was the perfect base for our long weekend, but were unsure what to do about the ceremony. A chance conversation with the owner of Menai Holiday Cottages led us to The Outbuildings, which is a beautifully renovated group of buildings, offering bed and breakfast, delicious food, and all centred around a large galleried barn with lovely décor and open fires.
Judith also owns The Outbuildings and kindly offered to let us hold our ceremony there, despite the fact that we would be staying at The Boathouse. This was perfect for us and it was made even better when we discovered that The Outbuildings owns a black and white camper van, ‘Huey’, which we were able to hire in order to travel the short distance between our venues. This earnt us serious brownie points from our children, who were thrilled when we revealed that Huey would be ours for the weekend!
After the ceremony, we planned to have an afternoon tea party, and then to return to The Boathouse for a winter walk along the beach and to play board games (no WiFi is a family holiday rule!) We had a special personalised edition of ‘wedding Monopoly’ made using all of our names and favourite places.
We knew that we wanted to make the most of staying at The Boathouse, so we decided to hire a chef to cook a meal for us in the evening. Hilary at The Rustic Gourmet was recommended to us and did a fantastic job.
Who wore what?
We wanted our wedding to feel informal, to suit our family, but we still wanted to be able to dress up, if that’s not too much of a contradiction!
I’ve always loved Audrey Hepburn’s and Jackie Kennedy’s style, so decided to look for a classic dress with just a nod to the 1960s. I happened to be browsing the Boden website and saw their Wardour dress in ivory and thought perfect! I did have to have it professionally altered, but I loved it straight away and didn’t try on anything else.
My shoes were ivory lace with a kitten heel from Emma Hope. I had always wanted a pair of her shoes as they are so beautiful. I love them, l love the box, I love the dust bag, I loved wearing them. They made me very happy. (I found them on eBay, which made David very happy, too!)
I needed a coat in order to keep warm between venues and found just the thing, again from Boden. The heritage coat in navy was lovely and warm (fortunately so as it turned out) and had just a hint of the 1960s about it. I’ve also been able to wear it after the wedding, too, which is a bonus.
David has to wear suits and ties for work and didn’t want to feel like he was on the job! In the end, he opted for a navy Jasper Conran suit, with a really crisp white shirt from Van Laack and brown shoes from Red Tape. No tie, he was adamant! He did opt for some funky navy socks with white stars and a navy spotty hankie for his jacket pocket from Austin Reed. I commissioned a pair of map cufflinks as a surprise for him from Not on the High Street. They featured Anglesey on one and San Francisco (our honeymoon destination) on the other!
Our girls, Katie, Charlotte and Esme, aged ten to 14, wore navy lace skater dresses from Johnnie B at Boden. They all loved the dress and at their suggestion we teamed them with navy Converse hi-tops for a relaxed feel. I realised they may be rather cold (North Wales in February and all that) so we added nutmeg coloured cardigans, which matched the boys chinos, and ivory wool military coats from Next.
Matthew and Harry, our handsome boys, wore chino and pale blue shirts with white t-shirts underneath and navy converse to tie in with the girls. They also wore wool jacket with contrasting sleeves and elbow pads in shades of navy and blue. Like David they also had spotty hankies. Their outfits were from Gap and their jackets, Next.
The DIY/Thrifty Elements
The main DIY elements were thanks to our girls, Katie, Charlotte and Esme! They had seen a CBBC show called Marrying Mum and Dad and begged us to let them organise our wedding! We weren’t brave enough to hand over the whole day, but we decided to let them have total control over the celebrations following our ceremony.
We agreed because we really wanted them to be involved in the day, and they didn’t let us down. They worked incredibly hard planning all the details for an afternoon tea party, including the music, decorations, the menu and even the cake, which they wanted to be gooey and chocolatey, just like the one Bruce Bogtrotter has to eat in Roald Dahl’s Matilda!
They made chalkboard table mats, collected seashells, and with help made a table runner and napkins from tea towels. They made a personalised wedding Scrabble board for us (David is a Scrabble addict!) and added heart confetti to the table cut from Monopoly money!
The staff members at The Outbuildings were incredibly supportive of the girls and their sometimes unconventional wedding ideas, following their menu to the letter, as well as allowing them free rein to do all of their own decorating for the afternoon tea party. This was lovely and meant a great deal to both of us.
In addition to all of the girls’ efforts, I wanted to add some personal touches to The Boathouse, too. I’m fortunate enough to work at an amazing florist shop, Lucy Walker Flowers, which specialises in English country flowers. The girls I work with are a great source of inspiration and suggested a wreath of gypsophila for the front door and taught me how to make my own button holes (I work on the vintage and home side of the business), which I did at The Boathouse on the evening before the wedding. I also decorated the house with spring flowers in teapots and my favourite Emma Bridgewater pottery.
The only real disaster was the weather! It was awful! Driving rain and wind that you couldn’t stand up in. The ribbons blew off the camper van, the bunting flew away, and our much longed for beach photographs were an impossibility! Fortunately, our truly amazing photographer Gill Jones, braved the elements to take some fantastic atmospheric shots of just how awful it was and ‘the weather’ has now become part of our wedding story!
Never forget what your day is really about. We wanted to make a commitment to spend the rest of our lives together. That’s the special bit, and the rest of it, however lovely, is just window dressing. So if the heavens open, your bunting disappears, or your ‘signing the register song’ keeps stopping and starting (ours did – the weather affected the WiFi), don’t let if spoil the day. You’re together and you’re getting married and that is what it’s really about.
Walking in – God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
Signing the register – Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
We asked each of our children to read from an actual copy of our favourite children’s books, which they did beautifully. The readings were from Guess How Much I Love You, Winnie the Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Modern Family, and Lemony Snicket’s The Beatrice Letters. This really added a personal element to our ceremony, and we now have the copies of the books grouped together on our bookshelves as a reminder of the day.