Real life: Sarah and Matthew Archer
24 Jun 2013
Real life: Sarah and Matthew Archer
Justine Ferrari shoots a beautifully rustic wedding in Edwardstone
Sarah is a business development officer for St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich and Matthew is a senior manager in a recruitment company, they live in Ipswich, Suffolk. Complete opposites, Matthew likes spreadsheets, accountancy and logic whilst Sarah has a masters in drama. They have pet cats and love a potter around together and exploring new places. Both competitive cooks there is always a battle for the kitchen, they also love walks in the beautiful Suffolk countryside and spending time with their friends.
How we met
It’s a Christmas party cliché! We worked in the same office for a while and although we got on, there was nothing immediate which signalled we would be man and wife. The Christmas party 2009 however had something to say about that. Some say it was fate that we simply happened to be standing by each other as the slow music started at the end of the night, others say that Matt had stalked me all night waiting for his moment to pounce. Whatever your view, that inappropriate dance at the work Christmas party was the very beginning of where we find ourselves now.
It was Matt’s birthday and I had spent the day planning a lovely evening for him. When he got home candles were lit, champagne was on ice and a birthday cake glowed in the middle of the dining room. As a thank you Matthew disappeared upstairs saying that he had to go and get my “non-birthday” present but when he came down he sheepishly said he was kidding. He then proceeded to walk over to where I was sitting, got down on one knee, pulled a ring out and asked me to marry him. It’s fair to say I was in absolute shock and spent about five minutes just asking ‘what?!’ before bursting into tears and saying yes.
This was a bit like a classic football game of two halves - Matt with his spreadsheets and me with my mood boards. We were lucky to have wonderful friends and family who did everything they could to support us without interfering too much. We really stuck to our own strengths, so everything creative was my responsibility whilst the practical, boring and finance stuff was left to Matt and his multifaceted project plan. Flowers, pretty things, and colour schemes were down to me and managing the budget, paying for everything and booking the honeymoon was up to Matthew.
I had a very specific idea about the kind of style and look I wanted to have with my dress. A vintage style that would epitomise the vintage, county wedding I wanted, and I dragged my mum, sister and best friend to every bridal shop I could and in each one found what I thought was ‘the dress’. But in the final shop my best friend just suggested that I try a completely different style, one that was very fitted, that tailed out in the bottom and with a touch of pearl and sparkle. And that was it, love at first sight, sometimes it’s the dress that you least expect that will make you smile the most. Topped with a floor long veil, a Swarovski crystal tiara, Swarovski crystal shoes and the dream outfit was complete.
It had to be top hat and tails for Matt, and he is now nicknamed ‘Downton Abbey’ at work but we all know he secretly wishes he was born in the olden days!
The flowers were one of the most special aspects of the wedding. With a sunflower theme, the bridesmaids, groom, best man and ushers were all adorned by the bright vibrant yellow whilst my flowers looked like they had been scooped out of a wild flower meadow and handed to me. They were rustic, natural and many of the sunflowers were extra special as the mother of the bride had spent months growing and nurturing them for all the button holes as well as growing them all around the garden.
It was really important that the wedding ceremony reflected who we were as both individuals and a couple. Our reverend made sure that it was completely personal and unique to us by having separate meetings with us to ask us questions about the other person which she then used as part of the ceremony. This added such a personal touch. We had both traditional and contemporary readings including Corinthians 1 v13, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and “I want to be yours” by John Cooper Clarke. The ceremony was happy, full of laughter and love.
The reception was in my parents’ garden and was in essence a garden party where all the guests could relax, eat drink and be merry. There were straw bales scattered around the garden, masses of bunting hung from the trees and in the rose garden, and picnic blankets were on hand for everyone to sit on. As a special surprise Matt had arranged a beautiful string quartet to play as quests arrived and canapés and drinks were served.
For the speeches and dancing a marquee had been set up (also as insurance against the weather but luckily the day was warm and even the sun managed to come out just in time to set magnificently over the valley). Inside there was more bunting, sunflowers and candles everywhere to create a beautiful atmosphere.
Keeping with the theme of a relaxed garden party, we had arranged for an informal BBQ to be served in the garden. Not only did this keep the atmosphere relaxed but it also solved the stressful issue about where to sit the four sets of biological and step parents! The caterers provided the food for a friend’s wedding 18 months previous and it took away all of the angst knowing that the food would be delicious and plentiful.
The wedding cake was made by my mum. It encompassed the beautiful colours of the wedding and had fresh sunflowers on top of the two layers but most importantly was full of love and deliciousness. We won’t tell the story about how mum had to throw away the first lot of fruit that was steeping in brandy but needless to say that the cat wasn’t very popular for quite a while.
A band that had performed at a local music festival caught our eye and ended up being more than we could have hoped for, with hits spanning the different decades, there was something for everyone and no excuse not to get up and dance! They also performed an excellent rendition of Muse’s Feeling Good for the first dance.
The wonderful photographer was Justine Ferarri, who we’d met at a friend’s wedding. We had instantly adored the pictures she took. The wedding was very relaxed and Justine has a wonderful talent for capturing the beautiful moments that just happen, which for us is the real essence of the wedding and what we really wanted.
Most memorable moment
For Matt it was actually right at the start of the day, when he got to the cottage where we were staying to get ready. I had sneaked in during the morning and left Matt a romantic card and a skeleton pocket watch. Matt is somewhat obsessed with watches and this was a beautiful start to the day for him.
My most memorable moment was as our vintage car drove us up the track to the reception, with the gorgeous smell of the lavender from the bouquet, I heard the sounds of a string quartet drifting on the breeze. Music was a really important part of the wedding for me and having the strings there was just amazing and it was all a surprise present from Matt.
Our joint best moment is as the sun set over the gentle rolling hills of the Suffolk countryside. All day had been warm but overcast. Then just after the speeches had finished and we were all milling about my soon to be brother-in-law dashed in and demanded that we get outside right now. As we left the marquee we saw the most beautiful sunset over the stubble fields. Justine came over as we strolled over the fields and took what are our most favourite pictures. That was the moment that we shared when we realised that we had just got married, the day had been wonderful and that we loved each other so much. It really was quite magical.
Matt spent ages planning this and it had to be perfect, but with our differing tastes this wasn’t going to be easy. The holiday of a lifetime turned out to be a tour of the American west and a cruise along Route 66. It started with a stay at the Sofitel at Heathrow and a relaxing spa treatment before boarding a 747 bound for LAX. We spent four nights in Newport Beach where we picked up a gun metal grey 4.0 V6 Ford Mustang Convertible, this was far and away Matt’s favourite bit!
After going around Hollywood and going to the MTV VMA Awards, we drove to the Grand Canyon for the next three nights. Our friends had been especially generous with giving gifts and this meant that we were able to splash out on the day of a lifetime – a plane tour over the Grand Canyon, a trip into Antelope Canyon and then a boat trip from Glen Canyon Dam all the way back to the Grand Canyon at Lees Ferry. It truly was amazing. Some 1,500 pictures later, we drove, via the Hoover Dam and Route 66 to Las Vegas. A tiring 48 hours later we were on a plane. having said goodbye to Mustang “Sally”, to head to San Francisco. We really loved the cosmopolitan relaxed atmosphere in San Fran and took every opportunity to sample the local cuisine and wine. A mandatory trip to Alcatraz, a day at Napa Valley wine tasting and a visit to Golden Gate Park summarises the last leg of this tour,
The very last picture of the honeymoon was at San Fran airport, a pizza and a bottle of wine before heading home to the British Autumn. That was a very long and sad flight home.