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A decade in the making: What I've learnt as a wedding guest

08 Jul 2019

Alicia Dunning reflects on the weddings she has attended since getting engaged and ponders how they have inspired her own

I recently attended the most beautiful wedding and it got me thinking about all of the weddings I’ve been to since we got engaged and how I’ve been able to use them for inspiration while planning our own big day. So, I’ve decided to pick a handful of my favourites and use this month’s blog to tell you a bit about each of them and hopefully give you a little inspo too. 

I’ll start with my friend Rebecca’s wedding at Thornton Manor Estate in the Wirral. Rebecca and Adam’s wedding was an April wedding and they went for a gorgeous spring theme with lots of floral decorations and classical vibes – picture string quartets and cupcakes in teacups. The day was fantastic and had loads of little quirky and personalised elements, like an old-fashioned ice cream cart during the welcome drinks, photo booth for evening guests and a bride who rapped Eminem. 

For me, the biggest take away I had from the day was the importance of music to the atmosphere. Rebecca had incorporated music throughout the entire day, from the string quartet at the ceremony to a solo guitar singer during the meal and a band in the evening. The whole day and night was amazing and definitely not an event anyone’s likely to forget. 

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Above image: Adam Joe Roberts Photography

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In last month’s blog I mentioned my cousin Sarah’s wedding and how I’ve been lucky enough to recycle some of her wedding items in our own wedding and so it’s definitely one that I had to mention. Sarah and James celebrated their wedding at The Oak Tree of Peover in Knutsford – I think this is possibly one of my favourite wedding venues of all time (alongside Stock Farm where I'm getting married, of course). It’s absolutely gorgeous – the oak beams, large glass windows and amazing views make it one of the most romantic venues I’ve ever visited and that’s before you’ve added a single decoration.

They perfectly balanced a traditional church ceremony with a romantic and rustic reception and even managed to throw in some fun quirky elements, like an old-fashioned red double decker bus to take guests between the church and venue. The whole wedding was stunning and fun and a perfect reflection of Sarah and James. 

My biggest take away (except from the items I did physically take away) was how well Sarah managed to combine rustic feels with a contemporary and fun wedding. I think this is when I started changing how I viewed rustic weddings and what inspired me to follow a similar theme – rustic doesn’t have to be all hessian and crafts, after all. 

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My next wedding guest appearance was to celebrate Amanda and Phil’s wedding at the gorgeous Colshaw Hall Country Estate in Knutsford. Amanda is probably one of the most creative people I know and, even when planning a UK wedding while living in Dubai, managed to plan one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever attended.

Amanda designed her own A&P logo which she used as the core of their wedding theme and which pulled everything together, from the wedding stationery to the choice of flowers and table decorations. They had a projector inside the venue which projected the logo onto the wall as soon as you entered and it really just set the tone for the beautiful day that followed. Amanda had thought about every small detail and it made such a big impact on bringing the whole day together and made it all feel seamless and fun.

I think this was the biggest take away and inspiration for me... trying to think of all the little details and how they build up to set the tone and vibe of the day. Amanda and Phil’s wedding was beautiful, creative and thoughtful and I absolutely loved every minute of it!

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Above image: Cassandra Lane Photography

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Hollie and Jonny got married at the amazing Dorfold Hall in Nantwich on a beautiful weekend in July. Rather than a single wedding day, Hollie and Jonny had a wedding weekend which began on the Friday evening with a meal for close family and friends. They then celebrated the wedding on the Saturday with both the ceremony and reception taking place at Dorfold Hall and then hosted a garden party on the Sunday.

Hollie planned the entire weekend to perfection including designing her own invitations and wedding stationery, which was so nice that she started getting requests from other people to do theirs and now runs @hollieleighdesigns – you might recall from a previous blog that she even did our invitations.

Hollie thought about each part of the weekend and precision planned it to make it the most enjoyable experience for guests. From cosy fire pits with baskets of blankets and s'mores kits to special punches and cocktails and even a firework display on the Saturday evening.

Hollie and Jonny’s wedding was amazing and I think the main thing I took away as a guest was how thoughtful Hollie had been in considering the guest experience during every part of the wedding and celebrations. The whole weekend blew us away and the Sunday garden party was genius - a post-wedding barbecue in the sunshine was possibly the best hangover cure I’ve ever come across!

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Images: Jo Bradbury Wedding Photographer

My most recent guest experience, and the one which inspired th

is blog, was at Pryor Hayes Golf Course in Chester to celebrate the wedding of Ruth and Louie. Pryor Hayes is a beautiful venue; it has a country rustic vibe with exposed oak beams and floor to ceiling glass windows looking out over the golf course. The weather was glorious and so I experienced my first ever outdoor ceremony, which was stunning.

Ruth and Louie have two gorgeous little girls together and so the whole day had a lovely family feel about it, starting with their daughters walking down the aisle scattering rose petals. I teared up from the start of the day so I was glad I’d opted for waterproof mascara. The whole day felt really relaxed and fun and had so many beautiful little moments that really made the whole experience. This included an amazing speech from Ruth and Louie’s gorgeous four-year-old because, well, “Why do boys get to do all the talking?!” (I think she made a very valid point). 

I had a fantastic day at Ruth and Louie’s wedding; it was beautiful, heartfelt and an amazing day all round. I think if there was a key thing I took away from the wedding it’s that as much as the venue, decorations, food etc are all key elements that make up a wedding, at the end of the day it’s about marrying the person that you love and bringing your families together and that should be at the centre of it all. 

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Above image: Livi Edwards

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