My word! What an incredible, wonderful, uplifting day!
I knew that my daughter’s wedding day would be emotional, but it was packed full of more joy, warmth, happy tears and total love than I had thought possible. Bex and Dan’s love for each other is complete and Bex just didn’t stop smiling – no, beaming – for the entire day. Dan’s tears as he first caught sight of his chosen one as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm set off many more in the packed congregation. There were people having to stand at the back of the 12th century church in which Bex had been christened Rebecca Rose Mary Olley 24 years ago. Today she was to become Mrs Hayter!
Everything went to plan: our Vicar, Sarah, commented that she had never before had her church roof raised by quite so many joyful voices, the sun managed to find a gap in the clouds as we filtered out of the church to blow bubbles and throw confetti over the happy couple and the absence of ice and snow meant they could depart in the most beautiful vintage Rolls Royce, famously used in the TV series’ To the Manor Born and Dad’s Army.
As the guests entered the hall for the reception there were gasps of approval. It’s just a community hall, where I have attended Weight Watchers and Pilates classes, and trained Barney when he was a puppy. But a team of family and friends joined us on Friday evening to transform it into a beautiful space fit for a celebration. We couldn’t have done it without the help of Peony faux flowers.
The wonderful Julie Bates offered to lend us some plants and arrangements from her warehouse on the Ruckley estate, and her two designers, Stevie and Verity, were absolutely marvellous in using their talent to create some stunning pieces for us. We hired a van to transport it all and it was like opening the doors on Kew Gardens! From beautiful wisteria trees to hearts of roses, Christmas wreaths to glass dome tea-light holders, everything looked absolutely gorgeous.
Julie gave me the idea of using real cranberries in glass holders, and with mini pine cones and faux rose petals scattered over the tables, the scene was set. The finishing touches were provided by the lovely Gill Gauntlet, who lent me lights, flameless candles and more foliage. We raided her stash of Bethlehem Lights goodies and strung lights through the Peony trees and around the hall. When we had finished, it looked amazing.
Friday evening felt a bit like the barn building sequence in the Harrison Ford film The Witness – members of a community working together to create something beautiful. It was such a fun feeling of togetherness and anticipation, with slices of takeaway pizza to share!
The reception started with delicious mulled wine, served with sausage rolls made by my mum (350 of them!) followed by a sumptuous cream tea for 140 on stunning vintage china. The speeches were perfect; Olley managing to have everyone laughing and crying in equal measure with his poignant and amusing memories of Bex growing up. Dan wore his heart on his sleeve as he declared his love for Bex; and there wasn’t a dry eye in the hall while the best man got it just right, poking fun at his good mate but not crossing too far over that line!
We were into the evening and the ceilidh band started – the sound of the fiddle and accordion filling the hall. With a caller to explain the moves no one had an excuse not to dance, and no one wanted one – I think every one of the 200 evening guests was on the floor at some point. Some didn’t leave it!
Photos were taken using a garden arch as a backdrop – we had decorated with ivy from our garden and other beautiful pieces from Peony, the colours matching Rebecca’s gorgeous bouquet. The whole theme was rustic and natural with an accent colour of burgundy, as you may already know from reading my earlier blogs. The hessian table runners worked well and everyone loved the little jars of my homemade jam and chutney as wedding favours.
My outfit seemed to win approval too – I wore a long dress with a lovely drape at the hem from Join Clothes in pencil grey and a gorgeous faux fur trimmed cape from Frank Usher with a matching faux fur headband in a beautiful wine tone. Finishing touches were provided with Diamonique earrings and a glorious Butler & Wilson tassel necklace (available now at a clearance price of £34.44!) teamed with another longer tassel necklace that I borrowed from our fashion stylists, and a Butler & Wilson cuff that Ali Young kindly lent me.
Thanks to social media I have lots of photos already, before we see any from the official photographer. I’ve included some for you to see here, I hope you enjoy them!
And on that note, I also hope you enjoy the coming festive days, hopefully with family or friends who are dear to you.
And if you are finding this time of year difficult, for whatever reason, know that you are in the thoughts of many people who appreciate how lucky they are and make the most of every moment but who also realise that not everyone is as lucky.
Wherever you are, and whatever your beliefs, I wish you health, peace and happiness this Christmas.