Kent Church weddings

Wedding of the Week: Julie Connellan and Steven Mayhew

09 Oct 2017

A lavender and lilac colour scheme with ski-themed details characterised this beautifully personal wedding in Kent

How did you meet?

We were introduced by a mutual friend at Steve’s sister’s birthday party in July 2012.

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Tell us about the proposal.

Steve proposed on Mont Vallon in the Three Valleys in France when we on our annual skiing holiday in February. Poor Steve had planned to pop the question in the snow at the top of the summit of Val Thorens but, halfway up, I couldn’t take the biting cold in my fingers and toes so we ended up having lunch at the restaurant by our favourite runs and that’s when Steve got down on one knee in his ski boots and asked me to marry him.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

We didn’t really have a theme but you could call it 'modern classic'. Our colour scheme was lavender/lilac.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We chose St Paul’s Church for our wedding service as it’s where I go to church and Patrick, the vicar, is so friendly and good at putting people at ease that we knew we wanted it to be him to marry us. We also chose The Yarrow Hotel for the reception. We looked around a few venues but totally fell in love with the look and feel of The Yarrow from its grand old entrance to light, modern function room with chandeliers. We also really like that the hotel is owned and operated by East Kent College and has education and training at its heart.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

My dress was the fifth one I tried on. It was a 2017 design by Sophia Tolli called Desriee. I went to the Crystal Fairy Company in Birchington. Caroline was fantastic and it was actually her who found my dress. All the dresses I’d picked to try on were very similar so she suggested trying a few other styles and I fell in love with my dress.

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What did the bridesmaids wear?

The bridesmaids wore full length, chiffon dresses with a sweetheart neckline in lavender by Amanda Wyatt. They were from Birchington Brides in Westgate.

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Where did you find your suits?

The men wore grey three piece morning suits with lavender handkerchiefs and cravats that matched the bridesmaids.The groom had an ivory waistcoat and cravat. They were also from Birchington Brides in Westgate.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

The flowers were from Black Iris Floristry. My bouquet had lavender and ivory roses and freesias and the bridesmaids’ were smaller ones with ivory roses and ivory freesias. The groom had an ivory rose and the men had lavender ones. The mums had ivory corsages of freesias. We had a floral display in the church of seasonal flowers in the colour scheme of the wedding and a top table display.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

We wanted to make the day special to us and different to other weddings we had been to. We also wanted everyone to feel included. One way was through food as we had many friends and family with dietary needs. We had a dairy and egg-free cake and ensured everyone would be able to eat some of the canapés and buffet. The chef at The Yarrow also made our strawberry cheesecake dessert egg-free and did a special dairy-free dessert too. Steve’s favourite meal is pork chop which is a long running joke as it is the only thing he will cook so we had that as our main course for the wedding breakfast.

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Another way we decided to make all the guests feel welcome and included was by trying to have something for everyone’s taste and age. St Paul’s has a small play area at the back of the church which meant the younger children could be occupied while their parents still enjoyed the wedding service. We also purchased some books and games to give the children something to do during the welcome drinks and some garden games for everyone to enjoy for that time between the wedding breakfast and the evening guests arriving. Additionally, we bought age appropriate favours for the children to play with during the wedding breakfast and speeches. The children (and adults) also enjoyed our treat table with a selection of cakes, biscuits and sweets in ribbed glass jars with lilac ribbons I had tied round them. For the evening, we booked an amazing local band called Tundra who were very popular with the guests but also booked a roulette table for people who don’t like dancing.  We also arranged prosecco welcome drinks and personalised chocolate favours for our evening guests when they arrived.

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We wanted a different and fun way to remember all our guests so settled on a magic selfie mirror where the guests got one print and another went in a guest book for them to write us a message.  Judging by the guest book, we think the guests really enjoyed this.

We also set the tone of the wedding with our stationery which was all handmade and I was able to be involved in the design process. For our seating plan, we named each table after a skiing resort in the Three Valleys as a nod to the proposal and our shared love of skiing. Another personal touch was the favours - a packet of sweet peas with personalised packaging.

We also broke with tradition with the speeches by having the bride and maid of honour make speeches as well as the groom and best man.

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When it came to transport, we chose a modern gold Chrysler for the bridesmaids and a classic 1930s Beauford Tourer in gold and ivory for the bride and father. 

On the day, my hair and make-up – as well as the bridesmaids’ - was done by a family friend who is a professional film and TV make-up artist. Sara made us all look beautiful and helped keep us calm and relaxed during the morning.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Emotional, but happy. It was so overwhelming to be surrounded by all my friends and family and finally walking down the aisle. I was so happy to see Steve waiting there for me.

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What was your most memorable moment?

The wedding service itself was really memorable – finally saying our vows and becoming husband and wife, but also our first dance. It was great to hear our guests’ reactions and although everyone was watching, it felt so personal and intimate.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

The time. We didn’t have long and I was very busy with work (I was leading Year 6 in a primary school including overseeing SATS).

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What was the most important investment for you?

The reception venue. We wanted to enjoy our wedding in a fantastic venue and The Yarrow was just that. It’s new, so we were one of the first weddings there. It is a beautiful building which gave lovely photos but is also so modern and light inside. We liked that we had use of the bar and solarium for our welcome drinks and then the function room, downstairs bar and private garden. We wanted somewhere with an outdoors too so the children could play. The food there is fantastic.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We had Flaws by Bastille. We both like the band and that song is very special to us. I heard it after we’d had an argument once and sent it to him to make up. We wanted something that meant a lot to us, had significant words and was fun to dance to. Steve decided last minute he wanted to a do a choreographed dance, so two weeks before the wedding we had an hour’s dance lesson and practised every night. It was amazing and our surprised guests really loved it.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We had a local band called Tundra who were fantastic. We also had a roulette table and a magic selfie mirror for our guest book as well as garden games.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

The cake was a three tier design with purple flowers and different flavoured layers: traditional fruit, vanilla sponge with champagne and strawberry compote, and a light chocolate sponge with black cherry compote – all three were utterly divine. We also had a vegan carrot cake that was entirely dairy- and egg-free to cater for our family members and guests who had allergies (the groom is dairy intolerant and the mother of the bride is severely allergic to eggs). We also had some cupcakes and biscuits for the treat table – the cupcakes were iced lilac or ivory and had edible butterflies on and the biscuits were heart shaped and iced lilac or ivory with edible glitter. All of these were made by Val from Curiously Cakes.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything – the day was perfect. Although, I would have loved to make it longer – it was all over so quickly.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

It rained. It thundered at times during the service and was raining heavily when we left the church so we weren’t able to do photos or confetti outside. It cleared about 4pm and we did family photos and confetti outside The Yarrow instead and that beautiful old building created a lovely backdrop.  Thankfully the sun came out while we were eating, meaning that during the evening people got to enjoy the lovely private garden at The Yarrow and play the games. It also meant we could go ahead with our bride and groom portrait session and James captured some stunning photos of Steve and I in the evening sunlight in King George VI Park, near where I grew up.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

No, I don’t think so. I’d read a lot of bridal magazines for tips and advice and planned everything meticulously. I do wish we’d asked for two copies of the marriage certificate at the time though to speed up the name changing process.

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

The Yarrow Hotel gave us the gift of the wedding night in one of their suites which was a lovely way to end the day. Just two days later we set off for honeymoon in beautiful Santorini where we hiked the active volcano, snorkelled, kayaked, explored the ancient sites and watched the sunset from a private yacht.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Enjoy it and don’t panic. Look at a few bridal magazines and talk to people who are recently married. Set a budget. Do what you and your partner want and don’t get too caught up in worrying about what other people will think.

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Steal their style:

Venue: The Yarrow Hotel, http://yarrowhotel.co.uk/
Venue dressing: Thanetian Events, http://thanetianevents.co.uk/
Cake: Curiously Cakes, http://curiouslycakes.com/
Floristry: Black Iris Floristry, http://blackirisfloristry.co.uk/
Transport: Forever Wedding Cars, www.foreverweddingcars.co.uk
Hair and make-up: Sara Austin, www.occasionhairandmakeup.co.uk
Dress: Crystal Fairy Company Bridal Boutique, www.thecrystalfairycompany.co.uk
Bridesmaids' dresses: Birchington Brides, www.birchingtonbrides.co.uk
Photography: James Davies, www.jamesdaviesweddingphotography.com
Videography: The Wedding Film Company, www.theweddingfilmcompany.co.uk
Entertainment: Tundra Fusion Band, www.tundraband.co.uk
Roulette table: AK Casino Knights, www.akcasinoknights.co.uk
Photo booth: All Occasions Photobooths, www.alloccasionsphotobooths.co.uk
Stationery: Daffodil Creations
Rings: Anthony W Pearce Jewellers

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