Gold and purple themed castle wedding in Gloucestershire
05 Mar 2019
Natalie Brown married Ean Hill at Clearwell Castle in Coleford, having planned their dream English wedding from their home in America
How did you meet?
Our parents are good friends and have known each other since they were little so I had always known Ean but I had never actually met him in person as I am American and live in America. I was on vacation a few years ago visiting my dad and stepmom who live in England. My stepbrother was playing with his band at a local pub in Bristol one evening and I invited Ean to come along with me. We immediately hit it off. I have to say it was love at first sight. We loved each other’s accents and talked the whole night. It was a very magical evening.
Tell us about the proposal.
Ean and I were in Mexico together celebrating both of our birthdays, since they are just three days apart. On my birthday, Ean gave me a present to open. It was a big box so I had no clue what it was. Inside the big box was a small ring size box but when I opened it there was nothing inside. I turned around and found Ean there on one knee with the ring in his hand. He proposed and of course I said yes.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We didn’t have a specific theme but relied on a colour scheme of purple and gold.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
Clearwell Castle was our venue as I had always wanted to get married in a castle. England has such an abundance of beautiful castles that it was hard to choose one. Clearwell Castle took my breath away when we first walked in the main gateway, and we both knew it was right for us. We ultimately chose Clearwell because it is near Ean’s family and friends and it included mostly everything we needed for the day in the wedding package.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
To save money for the wedding I took a job on the weekends at a bridal store. It was a great idea as I was able to scope out the dresses beforehand, and I got a discount too. I must have tried on about 10 dresses and I loved every single one of them. Once I saw myself in the dress I chose I knew nothing could compare to it. Seeing my friends’ faces as I walked out of the dressing room was amazing and solidified my choice. They teared up and their jaws dropped wide open, I hadn’t even seen myself in the mirror yet so couldn’t have dreamed of a better response from them. My dress was designed by Galina Signature.
Does the dress match the one you originally thought you would choose?
The dress I chose was almost exactly what I had envisioned. The only difference was that it didn’t have buttons on the back of the dress, but those were added for me.
What did the bridesmaids wear?
The bridesmaids wore a one shoulder, long, purple chiffon dress with a side slit. I had six bridesmaids: my daughter, my two best friends I have known for more than 20 years, my sister-in-law who is married to my twin brother, and two of my husband’s sisters.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
She wore a long gold and black dress.
Where did you find your suits?
It was a local shop in Bristol called Dyfed Menswear. They were very accommodating and worked with us to fit members of the wedding party who lived overseas and couldn’t come in personally for a fitting.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
I chose to incorporate lilac roses and Cadbury purple lisianthus into my bouquets. My bouquet had slightly more lilac in it then the bridesmaids and theirs had more white in them. The groomsmen all had lilac rose buttonholes. Ean had a white rose buttonhole for a bit of contrast.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
We started off the wedding celebrations the night before the ceremony with a girls’ night at the cottage at Clearwell watching movies and relaxing in the hot tub. It really is the cutest cottage I have ever seen. The morning of the wedding was an early start as there was myself plus six bridesmaids to get ready, but the time went by quickly. One of my favourite pictures from this part of the day was my dad’s first look at me as he saw me come down the stairs. That is when the waterworks began for sure.
The ceremony went perfectly and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. Next came the cocktails and canapés and some mingling before the wedding breakfast which was a three-course meal that included beef wellington as one of the mains. Living in America, I wanted to pick the most English thing on the list and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Everyone loved the meal. Next were speeches from my father, Ean, and from Ean’s best man Simon. Following the speeches was the cake cutting.
The bouquet toss was a pretty funny event as we incorporated an American tradition as well, which is where the groom has to remove the garter from the bride’s leg with his teeth. He then has to throw it off to all the men for one of them to catch for good luck. It was pretty funny as most people didn’t really know what was going on at first or what to do with the garter.
The evening went on with the first dance, then the father/daughter dance, and a DJ playing all night. Of course there was even more food with a buffet of snacks for people to munch on. There was a photo booth that guests had fun with and a play room with games for the kids to enjoy. We parted the night with sparklers and fortunately Clearwell has rooms to stay at the venue so people could stay the night and enjoy a breakfast with us the next morning.
For our favours we bought Lotto scratch tickets for the guests with a sign that said 'Wishes for Riches from the new Mr. & Mrs'. We also designed and printed all the invitations, name cards, table numbers, and the seating chart on our own by ordering the paper from a website. It sounds easy but was actually pretty time consuming, it involved a lot of cutting and taping.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I was pretty nervous, there was a sea of faces I hadn’t met before and some familiar ones that travelled long and far to come to the wedding. A lot was going through my mind but as soon as I saw Ean at the end of the aisle with a big smile on his face, but the only thing I could feel was pure happiness. I must have been in a hurry to get to Ean at the end of the aisle because I remember my dad telling me a few times to slow down, thank goodness he was there to guide me down the aisle.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
My two daughters both read something that they personally picked out for the ceremony. Isabella, who was my flower girl, read a sweet but funny one that totally matched her personality. It was 'All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten' by Robert Fulgham. Angela, who was also a bridesmaid, read a more mature but sweet one 'On Your Wedding Day' by an unknown author. It was a really special moment seeing them involved in the ceremony.
What was your most memorable moment?
The first kiss was the most memorable moment for me. I think because it had signified so much at the time. I just spent 10 months planning the wedding from abroad, my family and friends and I travelled 5,000 miles for the wedding, I spent all morning getting made up, the ceremony went perfectly, I had finally married the man of my dreams, and we would begin to start our lives together. I remember punching the sky with my fist as we kissed I was so happy.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Definitely trying to plan everything from America. Transporting my wedding dress on the plane was also quite a challenge.
What was the most important investment for you?
The venue was the most important to me. It was essential that we found a venue that included almost everything in their package as it was going to be hard to plan everything while living in America and in just 10 short months.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
At last by Etta James. For one, it is an easy song to dance to, but secondly the lyrics fit well with our love story.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had a DJ and a photo booth as well as a whole display of evening food to snack on.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
It was a three-tier cake, the top and bottom layer was classic vanilla sponge with buttercream and strawberry conserve filling and the middle layer was chocolate with chocolate mousse filling.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved every moment of that day.
Did anything go wrong on the day?
Only one thing went wrong. Since some of the wedding party lived in America, we had to order the suits for everyone and just hope that they would fit based on the measurements that we had sent. There wasn’t time for them to try on clothing beforehand or make adjustments. On the morning of the wedding, my stepdad tried on his suit and his shirt didn’t fit. Luckily our wedding manager, Zoe, found a shirt for him (till this day I still don’t know where it came from) – she saved the day.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
Everyone tells you that the day goes by really fast. I didn’t believe it until the day felt like it was flying by. Savor every moment as it goes really quickly.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We left the evening after the wedding to Barcelona and Ibiza. I’m glad we left right away as it was really nice to have a relaxing time together. The weather was perfect, food was amazing and best of all we got to introduce ourselves as Señor and Señora Hill.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. You can then relax on the day of your wedding knowing that everything has been taken care of.
Steal their style:
Photography: Anthony Ball
Cake: Occassion Cakes
Flowers: Purple Violets Florist
Suits: Dyfed Menswear
Wedding dress, flower girl dress and bridesmaids' dresses: David’s Bridal
Hair stylist: Go Gorgeous
Make-up: Amy Blush Beauty
Photo booth: BAM Booths
Invitations, table number cards, name cards and seating plan: Cards and Pockets
Venue: Clearwell Castle
For more Gloucestershire wedding inspiration, pick up the latest edition of Cotswold Bride magazine.