A sunshine-filled rustic wedding in Somerset

04 Sep 2019

Amber Clews married Joshua Armstrong at Clevedon Hall in North Somerset

How did you meet?

We actually met at work when Josh started as a sales representative, and I was working as an account manager.

Tell us about the proposal.

The day before my birthday, Josh took me out for a lovely meal in Clifton village in Bristol and asked me if I would like to have a walk up the downs, which is a view point over Bristol and the Suspension Bridge. I was actually incredibly poorly this day with an awful cold but happily obliged and was looking forward to seeing the Suspension Bridge just before sunset. We held hands and walked across the front of the view point before he bent down on one knee and asked me if I would be his wife. At first, I didn’t believe him and thought he was going to give me a pair of earrings. We hugged and cried as I just about managed to say yes through my tears, and we couldn’t wait to share our news with our families who were eagerly waiting to hear whether Josh had asked me yet.

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

We didn’t have a theme as such for our day, but we were heavily Pinterest inspired by beautiful peach and pink colours, creams with green eucalyptus and gypsophila. We wanted to keep the colours soft for our summer wedding but with the rustic look, with thick wooden logs and table name holders.

What venue did you choose?

We chose Clevedon Hall as our venue for a number of reasons. It was easily accessible from the motorway for Josh’s family driving up from Devon, it wasn’t too far from Bristol and the venue was absolutely stunning. The grounds we’re just what we had in mind – it was a bonus when we found out they were also planning to build a new orangery as this was the one thing we’d really wanted.

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

My dress was a Wtoo Cadence dress by Wtoo Watters from Lace and Grace Boutique – a small independent bridal boutique close to my house with the most stunning shop and collections. I tried on four dresses before this one and I knew it was the one as soon as I tried it on. It was a dress I didn’t expect to love, but so glad I chose.

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Does the dress match the one you originally thought you would choose?

Not at all – I originally thought of myself in a strapless, heart-shaped, fishtail dress, and I’m so pleased with the decision I made for the day. It was beautiful and comfortable.

What did the bridesmaids wear?

My bridesmaids wore Marks & Spencer multiway dresses – these were an absolute steal at £30 and I was lucky to have a 20% off code which meant the dresses came in at an exceptional price. I had four bridesmaids in total: Lindsey, Steph, Amy and Shannon. They’ve been my longest and closest friends and I’m very lucky to still have such good friends after so many years.

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Who else was in the bridal party and what did they wear? 

Sadly my mum couldn’t be with us for my special day, but my auntie who has raised me since I was 10 wore a beautiful cream and beige dress with a lace top from Gina Bacconi.

Where did you find your suits?

I found the suits at Slater Menswear, they were really helpful and provided great service for everyone coming in at different dates and times for fittings.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

My flower arrangements were very specific – blush pinks with white roses, gypsophila and eucalyptus. I hoped for peonies but with the heat of the summer, we opted for white veronicas, white double eustoma and roses. My bridesmaids and flower girls had smaller versions of my bouquet, and close family members had beautiful wrist corsages with ribbon. The groomsmen had blush pink roses on their buttonholes.

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Tell us about the details of the day.

Detail was incredibly important to us.

  • We handmade 60 pots of jam for our special day. We purchased jars from Hobbycraft in the sale and picked huge punnets of strawberries from our local farm which took nearly five hours to clean, sterilise and make in total.
  • We purchased individual origami hearts from Etsy for each table favour alongside the jam.
  • We made floral hoops with old family pictures inside using embroidery hoops which we hung from a decorated IKEA clothes rail.
  • We also used names of countries we’d visited as our table names and our friend handmade all of our table name holders. All the design was done by a friend at work and we printed it all in-house – the perks of working for a print company.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I’d been told the whole morning about how I was the most chilled bride they had ever known. I didn’t feel stressed, overwhelmed or overly nervous; I just couldn’t wait to see Josh at the other end. I was so proud to walk down the aisle with my uncle who gave me away, but I’ve never felt an overwhelming feeling of love like it when I looked at Josh for the first time.

How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our songs were incredibly personal and something that was really important to us. Our songs were beautifully played by our pianist, Matt Day, who travelled and very kindly played at our wedding for free. We had Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright and This Year’s Love by David Gray as guests were seated before I walked down the aisle.

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What was your most memorable moment?

The most memorable moment was the moment when I stepped out of the building and walked down to the aisle; the sun came out and lit up everything. We’d been expecting cloud with chances of showers. I like to think this was our loved ones who couldn’t be there watching down over us.

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Feeling the need to please others and the money. Remember it’s your day, no one else’s. I think it’s important to consider this when planning your special day.

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What was the most important investment for you?

Definitely the food. We’re massive foodies and we loved the choices of food from Clevedon Hall. We had beautiful canapés of tempura prawns, salmon blinis, and mini Yorkshire puddings with beef and horseradish sauce. For our wedding breakfast we gave guests options of crab and avocado or mozzarella and slow roasted tomato tart, mushroom risotto or slow cooked beef brisket with vegetables and potato gratin, and white chocolate mouse and raspberry sorbet to finish. It was stunning.

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

Our first dance was a song from the film My Sister's Keeper. It was a beautiful song called Feels Like Home by Edwina Hayes. We chose this song because of the wonderful lyrics that related to us, and how we felt at home with each other.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We had a selfie station which was absolutely fabulous and a DJ. They were both brilliant fun.

Tell us about your wedding cake.

We chose a three-tier naked cake, consisting of lemon sponge with lemon curd and Victoria sponge. Our cake maker provided beautiful fresh flowers on the top of the cake and it was honestly the best cake we have ever eaten.

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

Don’t worry about people’s opinions and comments, you’ll never please everyone.

Did anything go wrong on the day?

We were incredibly lucky and we didn’t have any problems on the day.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

I wished we had booked our suppliers sooner, and given ourselves a little longer to save up for these things so we didn’t feel quite so under pressure near the time.

Where did you go on honeymoon?

We got married on the Friday and on Saturday afternoon we flew to Seville, Spain for three days. It was a short break, but we had an amazing time. We’ve been lucky enough to have now booked two weeks in the Dominican Republic for November.

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

Keep everything on a spreadsheet – I listed each supplier, if I had paid a deposit, when payments were due, and made a budget timeline of how much we needed to pay each month until our big day. We also kept a separate tab for people attending, who had responded, their food choices and if they had paid for their room. I felt so much more organised having done this.

Steal Their Style

Photography: Ben Simmonds
Hair: Laura Turner
Make-up: Sabina Porter
Floristry: Emma Petersson 
Dress: Lace and Grace Boutique
Cake: Debbie Evans
Venue and catering: Clevedon Hall

For more South West wedding inspiration, browse the latest issue of South West Bride magazine

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