A home-grown wedding in Essex

06 Nov 2019

With all members of their family helping to plan their wedding day, Hollie Turff and Danny Clark decided there was no better place to celebrate than at the bride's parents' home in Epping

How did you meet?

Danny and I met through friends aged 13. After we met we soon realised that danny played football at my school, he already knew members of my family and we had many mutual friends. We have always felt that we were destined to cross paths, even if it hadn’t have happened that day it would of happened eventually.

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Tell us about the proposal.

Danny proposed at our home on our one-year anniversary since we had moved in together. He filled the room with heart shaped balloons, scented candles, white roses, our favourite music playing and our Yorkshire terrier, Freddie, in a personalised jumper. To my surprise, my mum, dad, twin sister and brother-in-law were hiding in our bedroom ready to jump out and congratulate us. It was definitely my idea of a perfect proposal.

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

I wouldn’t say we started out with a theme for the day but we knew we wanted the church to be simple and traditional. Our reception was very laid back with a country garden party theme. For the bridal party and groomsmen, we decided on a grey colour scheme.

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

Since moving to our family home six years ago I had always hoped that we would one day be able to hold our reception in the gardens as I knew this would be my parents' forever home. We were fortunate enough that once we became engaged my parents did all they could to make it possible for this to happen.

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How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?

In 1996 my mum found her wedding dress in Confetti and Lace in Essex so my dad surprised me by booking an appointment for me in the same bridal shop. I had the most amazing wedding dress shopping experience and not only found my dress on my first visit it was also the first dress that I tried on, too. My twin sister, Bonnie, had chosen it and as soon as I walked out of the dressing room I knew it was the dress for me and by the tears and looks on my mum, dad and Bonnie’s faces showed that they all felt it too. I was then advised to try on all of the other options picked out by myself, my family and the staff to make sure I was 100% certain it was the dress for me, which I was then even more positive that it was.

My dress was by Riki Dalal and part of the Liri Collection that had only arrived in store just a few weeks before my visit.

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What did the bridesmaids wear? 

I found all of my bridesmaid and flowergirl dresses at David’s Bridal Shop in London. My chief bridesmaid was my twin sister and she wore a one shoulder floor length dress with a lace bodice and chiffon skirt. My two other bridesmaids were Phoebe and Joanna, my best friends since school, and they wore the same dresses but with a different style neckline. My flowergirls were our niece, Frankie-Rose, and our god daughter, Roseanna, who both wore white lace and tulle dresses with an open heart back and large satin bow.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My mum, Tammy, looked effortlessly beautiful in her Ronald Joyce dress with matching bag, shoes and a classic Chanel bag.

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Where did you find your suits?

Danny’s suit and shoes were all custom-made for him by Anthony Formal Wear. When we began planning our wedding, Danny decided this would be a surprise for me, as my dress was for him. Danny takes pride in his appearance and loves clothes so I knew I had nothing to worry about leaving him to make those decisions.

I was beyond proud seeing him standing at the front of the altar looking so smart and handsome, and to see he had incorporated a dogtooth check pattern was so special to me as it was a pattern that my granddad used to wear.

The groomsmen’s suits were also hired from Anthony Formal Wear. We had decided to extend the surprise with our bridesmaids, flowergirls and groomsmen’s outfits with neither of us knowing what the other had picked. All we had discussed was that pale grey would be incorporated and we were so happy at how it worked out and everyone’s outfits complemented each other, so it was a successful idea, luckily.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

My mum and I run Flowers Make Scents together, which covers London, Essex and Kent. So having been a part of so many weddings and events, it gave us ideas on what we did and didn’t want for mine and Danny’s day. For our flowers, we chose a colour palette of lilac, pale pink, peach, pale blue, green and white. We used country garden flowers and foliage such as peonies, roses, hydrangea, dahlia, mint, eucalyptus, delphinium and we also incorporated hops as a special nod to my grandfather’s youth when he would go hop picking during the summer with his family.

My mum made my beautiful bouquet which was a wild, trailing style using flowers such as peonies, garden roses, grasses, ivy, hops and eucalyptus and Danny chose to have a peony buttonhole as they are my favourite flower. For our ceremony we had large pedestal arrangements, wild window displays, and an arch for the entrance. For our reception we kept it very simple with lots of plants and for our tables we used a variety of vases in different shapes, styles and sizes with single stem flowers, eucalyptus runners and artificial flowers hanging from the ceiling.

I felt that, as a florist, our guests may have expected me to go over the top with the flowers but I wanted to keep it simple yet different and everyone was pleasantly surprised with what we had created.

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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.

Coming from a creative family, we felt it was important to use everyone’s talents where we could and we were very lucky with the number of people that offered their help to us and wanted to be involved:

  • My mum has so many talents, as well as all of the flowers and venue decoration we did, she also made homemade jams using the fruit from her fruit trees that we then used as one of our favours. The other favours were personalised candles as a nod to Danny’s proposal.

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  • My uncle, Scott, made a bespoke card box from a tree trunk which he then carved our initials into.
  • My cousin, Carly, handpainted a peep board canvas of Danny and I to use as a photo prop for the guests.

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  • My uncle, Ryan, kindly made personalised signage for us to use throughout our day.
  • My dad created a huge amount of props for us, as well as getting all of the grounds set up and ready for us alongside Danny and my brother-in-law, Liam.
  • One of my most favourite touches for our day was the car Danny chose for his transport. Anyone that knows him knows he is a huge Only Fools and Horses fan so it was his dream to have the yellow three-wheeler.

From start to finish our wedding as a real family effort with many personal aspects.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

All morning I felt very emotional and nervous but once at the threshold of the church with the bells ringing and music playing, the nerves disappeared. The excitement and happiness I felt walking down the aisle with our friends and family beaming back at me and seeing Danny at the front with tears in his eyes waiting for me is both a feeling and moment I will honestly never forget.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

For our ceremony, we chose to have a church choir singing our choice of hymns. My great grandmother, Paula, stood up to read a bible reading for us and it was very important to us to have my grandmother, Ameila, and Danny’s only sister, Kelly, as our witnesses. We had an unplugged ceremony where guests were asked to not use their phones during the service but after that we weren’t picky and let guests post as they pleased.

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What was your most memorable moment?

By far, our most memorable moment was being pronounced as husband and wife and leaving the church together holding hands with the church bells ringing out our exit as a married couple. Having photos back at our home with our dog Freddie was also a moment that we will always cherish, especially as he is 10-years-old now.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Choosing to have our wedding at home as opposed to a venue meant we were in charge of all aspects. Finding suppliers, organising timings and all the decision making were the most difficult parts but if I was doing it over again I would still have chosen to do it the same way.

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What was the most important investment for you?

Food, drink and entertainment were all equally the most important investments for us. We felt each of those things are what people judge a wedding on and if they are well fed and watered with both adults and children entertained then it will be a success.

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

Our first dance song was Perfect by Ed Sheeran as that was the song Danny chose to play when asking me to be his wife.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

For entertainment, it was a priority for us that both adults and children were entertained throughout the day. For the children we organised to have bouncy castles, a face painter, ice cream van, balloon artist, children’s tent full of toys such as a foosball table - all of which were well used.

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With great music from out DJ, cocktails on tap from the amazing and entertaining bar staff, caricaturist and magician, a photographer hired to take photos of the guests with our flower backdrop for them to take home and also a drum band, it was safe to say that the children were not the only ones enjoying what was on offer.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

My mum is an amazing baker so as soon as we started wedding planning we wanted her to make our cake. We wanted a simple cake so we chose a square, three tiered buttercream sponge cake covered in fresh flowers and featuring a personalised topper. We chose a different flavour for each tier: cherry bakewell sponge and icing with cherry jam, lemon drizzle cake with lemon icing and lemon curd jam, and toffee sponge and icing with toffee apple jam - all the jams were also made by my talented mum.

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

There isn’t anything we would do differently, but the only thing we wished we had done on the day was take some time just the two of us to stop, look around and take it all in because it does go by so quickly.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

We were very fortunate that our day ran as smoothly as it did and we were so lucky with the weather but the only issue that did arise was an accident along the church road causing the road to be closed and diversions put in place. This made it difficult for Danny and our guests to get to the church but luckily, by my arrival, all was sorted and all guests seated.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

We wish we had known how quickly the day goes by, everyone says it but it really is true.

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

For our honeymoon we chose to go to Barbados for 11 nights. We flew a few days after the wedding as we knew we wanted to go soon after the wedding. However, with the wedding being at home we knew there would be a lot of cleaning up and jobs to be done which we wanted to be there for.

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

Try to stay calm through the planning process and enjoy it. It is a day all about the two of you and it should be exactly how you both want it to be. Also make sure to do plenty of research before jumping to any decisions or purchases.

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Steal their style: 

Flowers & venue decoration: Flowers Make Scents
Photography & videography: TDH Media
Catering: The Naked Sausage
Bar: James at Cocktails UK
Dress: Confetti & Lace
Hair: Brandon Hall, Hair by Brandon
Make-up: Amy Gillingham, Made Salon
DJ: Harry Paxton
Groom & groomsmen suits: Anthony Formal Wear
Bridesmaid & flowergirl dresses: David’s Bridal
Marquee: American Marquee Hire
Balloons: Buttercup Cards and Crafts
Face painter: Anna at The Fairytale Face Painter
Caricaturist: Steve J Hearn

For more Essex wedding inspiration, browse the latest edition of Essex Bride magazine

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