An intimate elopement with just eight guests and a dog

08 Oct 2019

Having been engaged for more than two years, Hayley Carcas and Andrew Brookes from Northamptonshire decided against a large and expensive wedding and eloped to Devon

How did you meet?

Online, through a friend of a friend of a friend!

Tell us about the proposal.

We took a quick trip to Tenerife, before moving into our new home. We missed the first flight, so a two-night stay became a one-night stay. We took a hire car to the cable cars on Mount Tide, straight from the airport. The question was popped above the clouds, but only a short walk beyond the top of the cable cars because we were too exhausted for a serious hike.

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

A woodland theme but with light fresh colours (mainly pale blue, silver and grey).

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

Ever After – A Dartmoor Wedding, Lower Grenofen. We were looking for somewhere to elope but didn’t want to go for Gretna Green and wanted to have a few guests and our dog to join us.

I did a lot of research online and came across Ever After while searching for places in Devon. We chose the venue because it had such good reviews, picturesque photos of previous elopements and offered the package we wanted. As we aren’t local, we didn’t view the venue until we arrived the day before and were even more impressed when we saw it in the flesh (despite the rain, which luckily cleared up for the big day).

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

I did plenty of research before I went dress shopping with my friends and step-mum and narrowed it down to four or five from a particular dress shop. When I got to the shop, none of the initial ones I’d chosen to try on looked right. I ended up trying on around 12 in total and the one I chose was quite different to what I had envisioned. The designer was Anna Sorrano. I was torn between two for a while but the deciding factor was being able to sit down in one of them but not the other.

I thought I’d go for an A-line dress with a tulle skirt and long sleeves. However, I ended up choosing a fishtail/mermaid style with a low back and no sleeves.

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Did you have bridesmaids?

No, I didn't have any bridesmaids. We had a very small wedding (fathers, step-mum and close friends who all wore navy or grey to match the colour scheme).

Where did you find your suits?

T.M. Lewin

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

Amanda Randall supplied the flowers (recommended by the venue). I had a lovely bouquet which doubled as the table centrepiece. I knew I’d like white anemones and something blue, but Amanda came up with the rest. I was very happy with it. The groom wore a buttonhole with the same style/colours included.

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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.

  • We followed the woodland theme for the invitations, table settings and wedding favours (these were in little brown paper bags and included a stick pencil, woodland notepad, some 'mint-to-bes', blue and silver wrapped chocolates and a silver antler bottle opener.
  • We chose a little finger print tree in place of a guestbook as we had such small numbers.
  • We also had disposable cameras, silly photo props and an assortment of games, most notably cads about matrimony.
  • We also played Mr and Mrs (and we won). This was after the wedding breakfast when we were sat in front of the fire in the barn with cheese and biscuits.

How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Nervous and excited. I was mainly concentrating on not falling down the steps. Perhaps I should have practised walking in my dress a bit more beforehand. I hadn’t seen the barn set-up until I walked in so was overwhelmed by how lovely it looked and it was very romantic with the open fire.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

My oldest friend did a reading about our loved ones who are no longer with us and the registrar surprised us with an animal/dog related reading which was a nice touch. My ceremony entrance song was The Fray's Look After You.

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What was your most memorable moment?

The amazing scenery when we went down to the river and into the woods for photographs.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Narrowing our guest list down to eight people. We have quite a few siblings between us, but due to having a limit on numbers we couldn’t invite any of them as we were unable to have all of them as well as our parents and close friends.

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What was the most important investment for you?

Probably the honeymoon – we went to America for the first time for both of us. As a wedding gift from our parents, we were treated to First Class flights with Virgin Atlantic (and managed not to miss our flights this time). We stayed in Orlando for the first week and visited most of the theme parks and water parks before going to Daytona Beach for the last few days, for a slightly slower pace.

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

Our first dance song was James Morrison – I Won’t Let You Go. We didn’t really have 'a song' before the wedding so we listened to a lot to try and find the one with the right feel and found this one.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

As we had a very intimate wedding, we just had a playlist running in the background while we played games and chatted in front of the fire. Some of us had a dance later on, but we were mostly just enjoying relaxing. We were very lucky with the weather but as it was November, it did start to cool down in the evening so the open fire was a big hit. 

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

The food and cake supplier recommended by the venue was Harrie from Boo to a Goose. The three-course wedding breakfast was excellent. They catered well for gluten-free, vegetarian, pescetarian and nut free. Harrie also helped us decide on the style of cake to match the woodland theme. It was a small two-tier cake (but still plenty for 10 of us) with icing made to look like wood/logs and was topped with some foliage to match the bouquet and a silver stag and doe cake topper. 

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

Perhaps to have my dress carried as I walked down the steps before going in to the ceremony as the steps were still a bit wet/dirty, presumably from the rain the day before, and my dress picked up some mud. I know this was inevitable with the type of venue and length of dress I chose but it just bothered me a little bit as it was before the ceremony and noticeable in some of the photos, although probably only because I knew it was there. Someone did offer to hold it but mentioned they would then be in the background of the photos of my dad and I walking down the aisle so I declined…so my fault really. Wellies for the photos in the woods were definitely a good idea. 

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

We were expecting to be shown around and given a bit more information when we arrived at the venue the day before the wedding as we were staying on-site in the honeymoon cottage. I probably just assumed this as we hadn’t visited the venue before so did not know exactly where the ceremony was going to take place and how everything was going to run.

However, I think the idea was supposed to be that we left the organisers to set everything up so we did not have to worry about anything, which they did an amazing job of. We just wish we’d known this before we went.

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

Do what you want to do. We initially started planning a much larger wedding but the guest list just kept increasing (along with the costs) and it became a bit overwhelming. In the end, when we really thought about it, neither of us wanted or could justify the cost of a huge wedding and preferred the idea of a smaller, intimate wedding and to splash out a bit more on a honeymoon.

Think about what’s most important to the both of you and be realistic about what you can afford to spend. As tempting as it is, don’t go and see venues that you know are out of your price range - you will compare these to other, lower priced venues that you may have otherwise really liked. Also, don’t get sucked in to all the little extras which aren’t necessities if you’re on a budget. Finally, enjoy it because you only do it once.

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Steal their style: 

Venue: Ever After, Devon
Photography: Clare Kinchin 
Catering: Boo to a Goose 
Floristry: Amanda Randell  

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

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