A relaxed summer countryside wedding in Suffolk

11 Mar 2019

Despite having to plan the wedding from France, Heloise Backhouse and Ollie Cook achieved their dream countryside wedding in the heart of Suffolk

How did you meet? 

During our first term in first year at Exeter University in our Italian class – Ollie said he saw me when he entered the class room and chose to sit next to me – we got chatting and, as they say, the rest is history.

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Tell us about the proposal.

The proposal was on my favourite beach in Barbados, called Miami Beach (I have been going to Barbados almost every year since I was two-years-old and Ollie has been to Barbados a number of times before with me and my family). It was just after we had lunch, we walked along the beach hand in hand and half way down the beach Ollie got down on one knee and proposed.

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

The theme was British countryside, relaxed and fun. There wasn’t really a colour theme, we just wanted light, pastel colours. 

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

We chose my parents' house in Suffolk as we both love it there and we could make the wedding really personal. 

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

I found the dress at Prima Donna in Norwich. I had previously been to four other wedding dress shops and tried on so many dresses. I was really nervous I would never find the one until I went to Norwich one day with my mum and the lady helping me gave me my dress to try on. I knew straight away it was the one as it wasn’t too heavy (unlike a lot of dresses I had tried on). It was really comfortable, I could move in it and it had a beautiful back which I really wanted. Mum knew straight away from the grin on my face it was the one. 

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What did the bridesmaids wear? How many did you have and who were they?

The bridesmaids wore long, very light pink dresses. I had five bridesmaids, my sister as maid of honour, Ollie’s sister, my best friend from school, my best friend from university and one of Ollie’s best friends who over the years has become a very close friend of mine. 

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

A navy blue and white dress from Phase Eight with a navy blue hat, navy blue clutch and a navy blue pashmina. 

Where did you find your suits?

Debenhams. 

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

We both wanted light coloured flowers and lots of foliage (going with the relaxed, country theme). I also really wanted light pink peonies as they are my favourite flowers and one of the reasons I wanted to get married in June. Our florist also used a lot of locally grown flowers which we loved as we wanted everything to be local. 

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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.

Our favours were homemade Limoncello made by daddy and chocolates. The location was of course very personal, being at my parents' house. We had a horse and cart to take dad and I around the village before the wedding and all of the villagers stood outside their houses waving to us. Ollie and I then had the horse and cart for the way back to the house – it made the wedding so special. We also arranged drinks and nibbles behind the church for people who live in the village and we had a drink with them after the ceremony. It is a very close village and a lot of people helped with the preparations. 

How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I have never felt so happy in my life, I couldn’t stop smiling - which you can see from the photos.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 

All of the hymns were chosen by us as well as the readings. Our vicar who conducted the ceremony has also known me for more than 20 years and was very good friends with my grandparents so that made it very special. 

What was your most memorable moment? 

The ceremony, taking the horse and carriage to the church, the horse and carriage ride back with Ollie to be alone and take in the fact that we were now married, and the first dance. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Planning it all from the south of France - although my parents were amazing and helped so much, it was really challenging having to chose and order all of the catering supplies, plates, cutlery, cookers, fridges etc. as well. 

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What was the most important investment for you? 

The food, drink, entertainment and honeymoon! 

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

We chose the acoustic version of Came Here For Love by Ella Eyre, as we love her acoustic version of Waiting All Night – it’s one of our favourite songs, but felt the lyrics were more appropriate in our chosen song. We also felt we could dance to it.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

Yes, we had a live band called Black and Gold who were brilliant and got everyone on the dance floor! 

Tell us about your wedding cake. 

We chose a semi-naked, three-tiered cake in our favourite carrot cake variety to go with the relaxed, country style theme.

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

I would have loved a videographer and I would have chosen one more bridesmaid. 

Did anything go wrong on the day?

No, it all ran smoothly and was so relaxed. Our original wedding photographer went missing with just days to go but luckily we found Jeremy James, loved his work and by chance he was available and stepped in to save the day. It was meant to be and we felt actually pleased that our photographer had gone missing or we would never have found Jeremy. We absolutely love our wedding pictures and wish we had known about his work to book him from the start.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We went to Sri Lanka for two weeks, spending nine days travelling around the country and five days relaxing by the beach. We went two months after the wedding as we wanted to enjoy the summer in France, so we had a couple of mini-moons by the coast and in Provence before going on the proper honeymoon the following September. 

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

  • Whenever you get stressed about the wedding planning just think about the bigger picture – you’re about to marry your best friend. That stopped me stressing about little things that could go wrong or wouldn’t be perfect.
  • Book a reliable photographer like Jeremy James Weddings.
  • Book a fancy hotel the night after the wedding if you can. We did and we’re so glad we did so; we didn’t have to leave the wedding  party early and we could really spend quality time together the next day.
  • Book a live band if you can as it ensures everyone gets on the dance floor.
  • Buy a comfortable dress you can really move in.
  • Finally, try to treasure every second of the day; it goes by so quickly and hopefully it will be one of the best days of your life.

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Steal their style:

Photography: Jeremy James Wedding Photographer
Floristry: Karen Leah Flowers
Make-up: Angel Beauty Clinic
Catering: Suffolk Catering Company
Cake: Amelia's Kitchen

For more Suffolk wedding inspiration, pick up the latest edition of Suffolk Bride magazine

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