An island wedding
Tai Tuwai and Karen Riggall
Where: Ceremony at St Mary Magdalene Church, Brampton, Cambridgeshire followed by reception at Island Hall, Godmanchester
Photography: McKinley-Rodgers Photography
Island Hall was the first and only wedding venue we visited. Despite being very cold and there being snow on the ground, we fell in love with it straight away. It was perfect and so close to home, the house was beautiful and the Island was the blank canvas that we were looking for. For a grand manor house, there was something very homely and comfortable about it and I felt instinctively that our guests would feel comfortable there too. Being Fijian, Tai also loved the idea of having the marquee on an ‘Island’!
Christopher Vane Percy owns Island Hall and is one of the funniest and loveliest gentlemen you could meet. We felt very privileged that he opened his gorgeous home to us and our 100 guests.
Initially I had visions of a very vintage affair with bunting and hay bales but it was Island Hall’s eclectic mix of antique furniture and paintings with a dash of Tai’s passion for golf that eventually inspired the theme for the day.
I shopped around for marquees and luckily I came across Nick from Fairytale Marquees who was incredibly helpful, even fitting a vintage style chandelier that I had bought. Nothing seemed too much trouble for him and the marquee looked amazing on the day.
For my dress I researched local bridal boutiques and found The Bridal Gallery in Finedon. Having looked at their sample sale section on their website I couldn’t get one of the dresses out of my mind. I decided I would regret it if I didn’t try it so convinced my mum and sister to come with me. It was light and floaty and heavily beaded at the back – and with its vintage ivory colouring, it was a really flattering tone and just a little bit different.
I tried on some other shapes and styles but I felt uncomfortable in most of them and compared everyone to the first, so I emerged just over an hour later the owner of sparkly new wedding dress – a Jenny Packham gown called ‘Gaia’.
On the morning of the wedding I stole one of Tai’s ushers, Ben, to do my hair as he is a hair stylist. He was very patient with me as I kept changing my mind about what I wanted.
My make-up was also done by my lovely friend Alison, who I have known for years. It was great to have such close friends to pamper me on the morning and made it so much more special.
I thought I would be petrified walking down the aisle and speaking in front of all our guests but I actually felt very calm and controlled and absolutely loved the ‘I do’s’. We have had lots of complements on our music choices (which were unusual for a church wedding), guests particularly enjoyed our signing of the register track which was ‘All I Want Is You’ from the ‘Juno’ soundtrack. We also had a Fijian hymn sung by Tai’s relatives which was a very special moment during the ceremony.
Our colours were creams, pastels and metallics and on the tables we had vintage candelabras and trophies that I had collected through the year, filled with flowers we’d bought from Waitrose the day before. Each table was named after one of Tai’s favourite UK golf clubs with the club logo as the table name. Tai managed to get hold of golf balls from each of the clubs with the matching logos as favours for the men which we placed in cotton bags on the corresponding tables. The ladies had truffles.
Our caterers were the Cambridge Dining Company and we had a barbecue for our wedding breakfast which was exceptional. People are still commenting on the quality of the food served. Also Sam, their wedding event manager, did an amazing job looking after us during the run up to the wedding and on the day, we really cannot praise her enough.
Following the meal and speeches we had cocktail hour with ‘make your own Mai Tai cocktails’. Each table had a tray of ingredients and instructions. These were a big hit and probably explain why the dance floor was packed all night!
We were incredibly lucky to have Phil as our DJ for the evening. We met him through a friend; he is not your ‘usual’ wedding DJ. He was epic and we have had so many comments on just how brilliant he was.
For entertainment we had a silver glitter photo booth, with unlimited photos and an array of vintage props, which was so much fun. Guests got to take their photos home and we have second copies in our guestbook.
WHO DID WHAT
Photography: McKinley-Rodgers Photography, www.mckinley-rodgers.co.uk
Venue: Island Hall, www.islandhall.com
Dress: Jenny Packham, www.JennyPackham.com
Bridesmaids dresses: Coast, www.coast-stores.com
Hair: Ben Hall
Make-up: Alison Whately, www.makeupbyalison.co.uk
Groom’s outfit: Reiss, www.reiss.com
Stationery: Tom Gautier, www.tomgautier.com
Flowers: Violets & Velvet, www.violetsandvelvet.co.uk
Catering: Cambridge Dining Company, www.cambridgedining.co.uk
Entertainment: Boothnation, www.boothnation.com
Marquee: Fairytale Marquees, www.fairytalemarquees.co.uk