A memorable autumn wedding in Norfolk

18 Jan 2022

Jessica Smith and Jack Pearce tied the knot at a stunning country house in Holkham

Photography: Katherine Ashdown Photography

How did you meet? 

We orginally met on Tinder, and a mutual friend of ours asked if he could pass my number on to Jack. The ‘chat’ nearly fizzled out again over message but luckily one of Jack’s friends sent me a bold message saying that we were going out for dinner that Friday and the rest is history. 

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Tell us about the proposal  

We had a week's staycation in Norfolk and I had an idea that he might propose. The whole week went by and nothing happened. Then a couple of weeks after this on a random Thursday after work, Jack was really keen to head out and walk our dog, Chester. We drove to Thornham and walked along the scenic Thornham Harbour.  

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As the sun was setting, Jack put his arm around me and then I suddenly realised it was about to happen. I was so taken by surprise when he got down on one knee, I barely remember what was said.  

We then went for our favourite, Eric's Fish & Chips at Drove Orchards, Thornham, accompanied by a bottle of rosé to celebrate.  

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How was your wedding affected by Covid-19? 

We had to completely postpone the wedding and our reception venue changed too. It was stressful and I do think it unfortunately put a dampener on the lead up to the wedding day, but we plan to renew our vows for our 10th anniversary to make up for it. 

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

We always wanted an autumnal wedding so we chose a burnt orange, white and green colour palette with light and dark greys on the tables as well. 

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

The Marble Hall at Holkham Hall & Estate is such a stunning venue. You feel as though you are abroad but right at home in the most beautiful setting. We made good use of the Saloon room and Statue Gallery for our champagne toast before heading to our reception venue, which was The Hoste Arms. 

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

I went to several local bridal shops and really warmed to a similar style of Pronovias dress, but there was just something not quite right. So, I searched online and found the perfect one on the Pronovias site. I travelled down to their flagship store in London and chose to only try that one on and I loved it. 

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear? 

I had seven bridesmaids who all wore these wonderful burnt orange multiway dresses from a company in America. 

They were Sophie, my sister-in-law; Zoe, my friend from high school; Stevie, my friend since birth; Harri, my friend from college; Rosie, my friend of six years; Bethaney, my friend of seven years and Kimmy, my friend of 12 years. 

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Where did you find your suits?  

Jack bought his suit from Trotter & Deane, Bury St Edmunds. The ushers and best man hired suits from Moss Bros. 

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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 

For me, I love photos; I love taking them, displaying them and treasuring them as wonderful memories. So, my personal touch on the day was to include a small printed photo paperclipped to the top of every person’s menu, with a picture of us and the guest for them to keep.  

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Our flowers were by Victoria Arrowsmith Floral Design and we just wanted simple elegance with the arrangements to match the day’s theme. There was also a cosy corner by the dance floor to ensure our  grandparents were comfortable and involved in the evening’s antics.  

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?  

It only hit me that it was actually happening as I sat having my make-up done and from that point on, I was an emotional mess. I pretty much cried the whole way down the aisle. I wasn’t sure why but I think I’d held on to so many emotions in the run up to the wedding, that it finally came flooding out. 

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?  

We made everything as personal as we possibly could as the day was about us and our love for each other. We had some beautiful readings by family and friends: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear read by our friend George, The Ent and The Entwife from Lord of the Rings read by our friends Stevie and Zoe, and an extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale read by Lucy Pearce. 

Our fantastic pianist, Matt Carter, played music we loved. The entrance song was All of Me by John Legend and he continued playing songs during the signing of the register. 

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What was your most memorable moment?  

The whole day was a memorable one and there were three moments that made it unforgettable. The first is when as we were moving over to the table to sign the register, my father gave Jack and I a pen each to use. He hadn’t informed me that there was no lid on the pen and so, as I was hoisting my dress up, I drew down the front of my dress. By this point and with everything else we’d been through, we just laughed.  

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The second moment was when we were at the top of a hill on the Holkham Hall & Estate. We were about to have some photos taken in the pouring rain when our driver got out to speak with our videographer and photographer. We quickly realised that he hadn’t put the handbrake on and the car started rolling backward down the hill with Jack and I sat in the back. Mike, our videographer gave us a cheeky wave which made us laugh hysterically, then the driver ran after us and quickly dived in the car and lifted the handbrake.  

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The third moment was also to do with the wedding car, which sadly reached its end half way back to our wedding reception after going through a huge puddle. Luckily, Kathy, our photographer and Mike were on hand to get us back safely. 

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

We chose What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong because we didn’t want anything too gushy and we wanted it to reflect everything happening around us too. We love the song and felt it was right for us. 

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Tell us about your wedding cake

We weren’t going to have a cake but we were at an event and happened to try some of Beth Haxby’s cake she had made. It was delicious, so on our wedding day we had a two-tier cake with two different flavours. We didn’t do a cutting of the cake ourselves but it did get served later on. 

Where did you go on honeymoon?

It wasn’t where we’d originally booked, but we managed to go to Santorini for a week and flew out on the Monday after the wedding. It was beautiful and hot. We had a lovely time, although in hindsight, we wish we’d have gone a few days later instead as it was such a rush and very overwhelming. It would’ve been nice to have had a few days taking the wedding in, going through presents and catching up with people.

It was certainly amazing to have got away though and we spent the honeymoon pigging out on seafood and wine. 

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

You can never plan too early and it is perfectly normal to feel stressed out in the lead up to the wedding.  

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Steal their style: 

Photographer: Katherine Ashdown Photography
Ceremony venue: Holkham Hall & Estate
Reception venue and caterers: The Hoste Arms
Dress: Pronovias
Hair: Stacey Goodwin Bridal Hair
Make-up: Kirstie Makeup
Flowers: Victoria Arrowsmith Floral Design
Cake: Beth Haxby Cake
Videographer: Mike Reid
Confetti: Mitre Farm
Entertainment: (band) The Houndogs, (pianist) Matt Carter Event Pianist, (saxophonist) The SaxWalker

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