An autumnal garden wedding in Essex

18 Dec 2019

Piers Reed and Alexandra Hargreaves tied the knot in their family home nine months after their engagement

How did you meet?

We were in the same year at school together. 

Tell us about the proposal.

We were on a weekend away in staying at The Norfolk Mead Hotel in Norfolk. After a lovely long lunch at a nearby pub, where we watched England beat Ireland in the Six Nations, Piers was so excited he got down on one knee and proposed to me when we got back to the hotel. 

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

The name of the suite where we stayed at The Norfolk Mead Hotel was called Crabapple - inspired by that and the time of year we got married, we decided on an autumnal theme. My mum, Kate, of Tangle & Thyme, is a talented florist and incorporated lots of natural autumnal produce into the arrangements.

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

It was my parents' house, somehwere very special to me and in the most beautiful setting. 

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

I had set my heart on the Sorrento gown by Anna Campbell from the moment we got engaged. I was given brilliant advice from one of my bridesmaids that was to find the designer you like and then choose the boutiques to book appointments. I went to two boutiques; Blackburn Bridal (who stocked the Sorrento) and a lovely little boutique in Hackney. As soon as I tried on the Sorrento - I knew it was the one. With the help of the team at Blackburn Bridal, I redesigned the back of the dress into a lower back and added buttons to replace the big bow. 

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

Yes, absolutely. 

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

I chose my sisters, Emma and Immy; my friends, Becky, Nush, and Charlotte; and my maid of honour was my best friend Phoebe. They wore the same dress in three different colours with sequins that matched the top of my dress. They looked absolutely stunning. 

What did the mother of the bride wear?

A pale yellow dress and matching coat from LK Bennett and a hat made by Mary-Ann Morrison. 

Where did you find your suits?

Slater Menswear in Chelmsford. 

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

It was an obvious choice for me - my mum runs Tangle & Thyme Floral Design and created incredible archways, table centrepeices and urns full of natural English hedgerow, eucalyptus, pale pink roses and autumnal produce. 

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Tell us about the details of the day.

  • Our wedding favours included 'We tied the knot, take a shot’ Hedgepig gin bottles in the flavours Wild Bullace and Quince for the men and Zesty Elderflower for the ladies. We tied the name places around these, which were designed by my cousin on parcel tags. 

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  • My father-in-law created an incredible pallet wall where we hung the table plan. All of the tables were named after autumn produce such as crabapple, mulberry and damson. 

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  • We hung a beautiful ladder above the top table which was full of pale pink roses, foliage, little Chinese lanterns and hanging candles.
  • The menus on each place setting included 'Let’s Feast' and contained the words to a surprise performance song for 'Say a Little Prayer' after my dad’s speech. 

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  • The girls had a sprig of eucalyptus and boys had a pheasant feather on their place settings.
  • We included an order of play to keep guests up to date with what was going on.
  • Our gin bar featured a variety of cocktails named after us. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Completely filled with excitement, happiness and love, it was just the best emotion in the whole world. 

How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

One of our best friends, Piers’ godfather Lance and my grandmother read during the service. Our nephew Billy and our cousin’s children, Amalia, Cecily and Freddie, were flowergirls and page boys.

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What was your most memorable moment?

On the dancefloor - Whitney Houston’s 'Higher Love' came on and the ushers put Piers and I on their shoulders and lifted us into the air. It was like having a bird's eye view on the entire wedding and everyone’s smiling faces were dancing the night away. When we left the reception everyone formed a massive archway and we left to 'Ho Hey'. At the end of the arch, our sisters had decorated a quad bike with bunting and we drove off on that. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

The guest list - it was hands down the trickiest and hardest but on the day every face I saw was an amazing memory and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. 

What was the most important investment for you?

Food and drink.

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

'Your Love’s Lifting Me Higher' - it’s just such a happy song and makes me smile every time I hear it. 

Did you have any evening entertainment?

Yes, we had an incredible band called ‘Electric Ocean’ - I cannot recommend more highly. 

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

White chocolate and raspberry, with summer berries made by a wonderful girl called Poppy from The Hazelbury Kitchen. We actually served it for pudding. 

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

Nothing at all, which I know sounds cliché but it really was the most perfect day of our lives. 

Did anything go wrong on the day?

We ran out of toilet roll in the loos, so my poor mum had to go and hunt some down in the house.

Did you have a custom hashtag for social media?

Our surname is Reed so it was #GettingMarreed

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

Make sure everyone you want to have in your formal photos are aware they are going on so you don’t have to hunt through a drinks reception of 190 people. 

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We went to the amazing Retreat East for a few days of relaxation straight after the wedding and are going to Kenya in February which is very exciting. 

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

When things get stressful with the planning make sure you bring it back to the reasons why you are getting married. Also make sure you spend time during the wedding with one another not talking about the wedding. 

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Steal Their Style

Photography: Binky Nixon; Sally Forder 
Venue: Reception at Private Home in Essex. Ceremony at Mary's the Virgin High Easter Church 
Bridesmaids' hair: Georgia Hook, Noir, Dunmow
Groom’s suit: Slater's Chelmsford 
Bride and mother of the bride hair and make-up: Gail Gardner
Flowers: Tangle & Thyme 
Stationery: Designed by Els Field. Printing by M&B Printers
Marquee: BSW Marquees 
Entertainment: Electric Ocean 
Mother of the bride hat: Mary Ann Morrison 
Catering: Geneens and Truly Scrumptious 
Wedding favours: Hedgepig Gin
Video: Joseph Young 
Dress: Blackburn Bridal
Bridal earrings: Lace & Favour  
Wedding Cake: The Hazlebury Kitchen 

For more wedding inspiration in Essex, pick up the 2020 issue of Essex Bride Magazine. 

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