A black-tie wedding in Surrey
27 Aug 2020
Joanne Holden and Scott Waterhouse enjoyed a December wedding with non-traditional touches and plenty of style
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
As it was a Christmas wedding, I kept the colour scheme strictly to white and green. I am all about the neutral palettes in every aspect of my life, so opted for lots of foliage and eucalyptus with giant balls of gypsophila as the centrepieces for the tables. As a modern couple opting for a less traditional wedding, we used lots of neon signs, fairy lights, foliage walls, balloon arches and lighting to give the venue a wintery/Christmas atmosphere. There was a tuxedo dress code for the men with casino tables as additional entertainment for the evening guests. We didn’t make full-length dresses mandatory for the ladies, however most women opted for gowns to really embrace the festive party vibe. The hotel had been elegantly decorated with Christmas decorations which only added to the Christmas spirit.
Tell us about the venue and why you choose it?
Our venue was Wotton House in Dorking, a country mansion style venue located in the picturesque Surrey Hills. As it was a December wedding we were keen to find a venue which allowed us to hold the whole day of events inside because that time of year can be tricky with the weather. We also had friends travelling from all over the country, so it was essential that we found a venue that could not only host our ceremony and our reception but also have the capacity to sleep all of our guests. Wotton House had it all, but the Old Library in which the ceremonies are held is what sold it to us. It boasts a beautiful vaulted ceiling, a chapel like feel and really has that wow factor. We used a combination of fairy lights and flowers to create an archway down the aisle.
Tell us about the dress?
I found my dress before I had even started looking at venues, let alone set a date. When I got engaged I started following some wedding dress designers. I fell in love with the designer Galia Lahav and had a particular dress and style in mind. When I saw online that Truly Bridal of Surrey (a shop only an hour drive away from my home) was hosting a trunk show of hers, on a whim I phoned my mum and maid of honour and made a private appointment. I browsed the collection and selected seven dresses to try on. In the fitting room the boutique owner chose the first dress for me to try on and I swiftly realised it was going to be the last. I just knew it was the one – it fitted like a glove and both my mum and bridesmaids cried. Everyone said to me, “I bet you any money you will drag everyone around hundreds of shops and go back to the first one,” so I decided not to waste everyone’s time and I just bravely committed to the first dress I ever tried on. I teamed my dress with some delicate strappy rose gold Saint Laurent heels which were my dream shoes.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
I had three bridesmaids, my two best friends and my cousin. They were absolutely amazing from start to finish and I would highly recommend keeping your bride tribe small and close. The morning of the wedding I was full of emotions and these girls made it perfect for me in every way. They wore stunning Burgundy figure hugging dresses that were made to order from Dessy
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mum and I made a day out of shopping in London for her outfit with Champagne in Harrods after finding her dress. Similar to my dress experience it didn’t take long, we fell in love with a classic and neutral dress and jacket combination by Veni Infantino for Ronald Joyce and sourced in Nigel Rayment’s boutique in Marble Arch.
What did the groom wear?
My husband is a gym junkie and BMX racer. He has always struggled to find suits that fit well because he is so muscular. We trawled the shops far and wide and he ended up in a black velvet tuxedo from Only & Sons which we found through ASOS. The brand is actually a fashion based brand but the velvet and modern twist on the tuxedo worked perfectly with the festive time of year.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
Flowers by Elaine provide all of the floral arrangements. My vision was to keep all floral arrangements to white and green with lots of foliage, gyp, eucalyptus and a touch of mistletoe to embrace the festivities. My centrepieces were large, oversized gypsophila balls which stood on tall pediments above eye level. The ceiling was draped in fairy lights with real foliage. The backdrop to the top table was a foliage wall which also featured a demi balloon arch and a neon sign.
Tell us about the details of the day
As a designer who is extremely particular with fonts I designed and made my own wedding stationery. I wrapped my save the dates and invites in transparent paper and hand sealed every single one with a gold wax seal stamp with our initials on. I also designed and made three copper frames which were draped in faux foliage and housed large signs which gave guests the order of the day and the table plan. I made my own post box to match the stationery of the day and draped it in matching faux foliage to the handmade signs. The place settings consisted of matching menus to the invitations with every name place being a gold painted laser cut wooden Christmas tree decoration. I tied ribbon to all of the guest's names so that they could take them home and hang them from their tree which doubled up as a wedding favour. Instead of opting for a classic wedding guest book I made my own white painted twig tree guest book. I provided all of the guests with a clear bauble and asked them to use some finger paint to leave their finger print on a bauble with their personalised message to the bride and groom. It actually created a beautiful decoration that Scott and I will now put up every year.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
It was all a blur, I never anticipated the nerves that would hit me as I stood outside. My legs went to jelly but as soon as I saw Scott’s beaming face I relaxed. In the card he had written me on the morning of the wedding it said “Please don’t take too long walking down the aisle because I will not be ok until you are by my side,” and that was very much the case for both of us. As soon as we were back together we felt far more relaxed.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We had a pianist who played a mix of our favourite songs throughout the ceremony, he was fantastic and able play everything from rock, to RnB to Jazz. On the invites we asked our guests to request a song for our wedding and we hand-picked a couple of these requests to be played on the piano. I made an order of service for each seat which matched all of the stationery and came with a handmade sprig of natural petal confetti in a transparent bag and sealed with a personalised sticker. Two close friends did readings at our wedding which were extremely personal. One of which was a funny poem by Susan Branch called ‘When you Marry’ and read by a bridesmaid. The second was a dear friend who we left to choose her own reading as a surprise. It was a reading from The Amber Spyglass and bought us all to tears, her reading then became the voice over for our wedding video.
What was your most memorable moment?
Prior to the wedding a recently married friend advised that Scott and I took 30 minutes out in the afternoon, we took the advice and it was a much needed and precious time of reflection to soak in all of the love around us. We took a walk around the Italian gardens at the venue and discussed the events of the day thus far. The photographers and videographers made themselves very scarce but captured this moment perfectly.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning your wedding?
The most challenging aspect of planning the wedding was deciding on the final colour scheme. I was quite particular with the overall image and the save the dates had to reflect the colour scheme and be using the same font that was going to be used for everything throughout all of the details on the day. Making this decision so early on is such a brave and big decision because as you start to look at other weddings and inspiration your mind can start wondering. My advice would be once you have a theme for the day, stop looking for inspiration elsewhere as sometimes it can de-rail all of your ideas and make you question your prior decisions.
What was the most important investment for you?
The most important investment for us was the photographer/videographer. We wanted to make sure that every moment from the day was captured so that we had something to look back on and they did that so very perfectly. We chose Inverve because they had a modern and natural style to their work which we felt reflected our personalities. We have watched the video together more than 20 times and it still makes us both cry every time.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We opted for a very non-traditional first dance song - Manny Walters’ My Own Fault, but its ‘our song’. We went back and forth feeling like we should opt for a typical love song, but we ended up running with it despite controversy. The minute we hear it, it makes us both smile and because its unusual its easily recognisable to us as our wedding song. Ultimately it’s a personal for us and that’s the most important thing on your wedding day.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We toyed with having a band but in the end we settled on hiring a saxophonist to work the dancefloor with the DJ at the same time and he was worth every penny. The guests loved him and he just added another dimension to the music. The pianist for the daytime, the sax and the DJ were all supplied by Piano DJ which offer the whole package making it easy and simple to co-ordinate. We also hired a casino blackjack and roulette table for the evening to give the wedding a real Christmas black tie feel.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
We had a very small window of opportunity for outdoor family photos due to bad weather. I should have been more organised and provided the photographers with more detail of who was required for each of the portrait photos. There are some extended family shots missing from the final album which was primarily because of poor weather, but it’s safe to say the photographers did a fantastic job at getting candid photos of all my guests mingling so we were not disappointed at all.
Steal Their Style
Venue: Wotton House
Bridal dress: Truly Bridal of Surrey
Hair: Katya Valentine Hair
Make-up: Katie Cullen
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Dessy
Groom’s outfit: ASOS
Cake: Rebecca Huntsman, Cutting Cakes
Flowers: Flowers by Elaine
Pianist, DJ and Saxophonist: Piano DJ
Balloon Arch, Foliage Wall and Blossom Tree: To Have and To Hire Events