The bright and vibrant nuptials of Kirsty Sillett and Ben Blackburn at Applewood Hall in Norfolk make for a captivating and colourful Wedding of the Week
How did you meet?
I had joined the gym with a friend in the new year (2009). My friend and I would go in the sauna after our workouts. Ben would occasionally come in too and before I knew his name he was nicknamed ‘Sauna Boy’. Then we got talking and I jokingly said he could come and wash my car that weekend. That evening I caught him leaving his number under my window wiper…he didn’t clean my car that weekend, we went for a fry up instead as it rained.
Tell us about the proposal.
We were in Rhodes for my uncle's wedding and the evening before the wedding the two of us went for a walk around the hotel. We were overlooking the water fountain that provided an evening show with lights and music. Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World was playing and Ben asked the question “Will you marry me?”... my reply was “Are you joking?”. When I finally answered 'yes' through the tears, he replied: “Phew, it was easier asking you to marry me than asking your dad for his permission.”
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
Kirsty: We wanted to show that both of us had input ideas for our big day. The colour scheme was based around my favourite flowers (gerberas) and I also wanted hearts to feature.
Ben: I am a tree surgeon so we wanted the rustic wood effect to feature too. Our stationery, pew decorations and place names all matched our centrepieces which were hollowed-out bark candle holders.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
After six months I went with my mum and sister to an evening event that Heart Brides were holding and met Zoie and the other lovely ladies. I went in with an open mind as I wanted to find the right dress and although I had my ideal dress style in mind, I wanted to try others to confirm I was right. So after trying a fair few dresses on, I then tried one that was picked out for me by my sister and I loved it the moment I put it on. Zoie advised me to put some shoes on and a veil and that was it, I was a bride. I couldn’t believe I had found ‘the dress’ so easily and 18 months before our wedding, so I went elsewhere just to try some but I compared everything to that dress and nothing lived up to it.
Where did you find the suits?
We bought the three-piece suits in dark grey from Greenwoods. The staff were all great, right from the measurement stage to collection.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
I had my favourite flowers, gerberas, in orange and pink. Our florist entwined charms into my bouquet, which were photos of my grandparents, all of which were sadly not here to share our day and having lost my nan only five months before the wedding, I thought these charms were a lovely way to include them all. The groom's party had individual gerberas, the opposite colours to their cravats. The bridesmaids had smaller versions of my bouquet and our mums had wrist corsages. Tip: Save unnecessary spending, use your bouquet on the register table when you are signing and for photos.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
As we have said, we wanted our day to feature ideas from both of us and capture us as a couple too.
- My mum made the hessian hearts to decorate the church pew ends (flower girls had the same to hold) and I had an evening with my mum and sister filling personalised, heart-shaped confetti cones.
- Our place settings were a handmade hessian heart with a small tag attached with each guest’s name written on it.
- At the reception we had a memory table which had photographs of loved ones that could not be there to share our day with a personalised sign saying ‘We know you would be here today if heaven wasn’t so far away'.
- In both the ladies and gents toilets, we decorated baskets with toiletries which included deodrants, hair grips, mints, plasters, Ibuprofen etc. We also filled a basket with white flip-flops in various sizes, individually tied with pink and orange ribbon for guests to use so there were no excuses for not being on the dance floor.
- On our RSVPs we asked guests for a song for the DJ, so not only did we create a playlist for him, we didn’t really have a moment where no one was on the dance floor.
- We hired the candy bar stand, the cake tier and the table plan tree from The Wedding Party shop in Norwich and they were very helpful and hire was for four days.
- The large ‘LOVE’ letters displayed at Applewood Hall were a surprise arranged by my mum and dad with Sammy at Prestige Events and Weddings. These went down a storm, a perfect backdrop for posed photos and selfies.
- My mum decorated lots of jam jars with pink and orange ribbons, hessian and gerbera clips and each had a battery-operated tea light in them so they lasted all night and were safe with children around.
- Our table plan was a tree that displayed the tags with guests' names and our table names were species of tree (again, tying in with Ben's profession).
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
Kirsty: I don’t really remember standing outside the church, I just remember gripping my poor dad's arm tightly. I was grinning from ear-to-ear and was overwhelmed when I clocked eyes with Ben, knowing this was the moment that meant the most.
Ben: I recall my best man, Simon, telling me to turn around to look at Kirsty, so I did and thought how beautiful she looked and just squeezed Simon’s hand.
What was your most memorable moment?
Kirsty: One of mine was going in to Banham Zoo for some photos. It was just the two of us with our photographers and I remember other zoo visitors pointing, saying congratulations and taking photos; it was bit surreal. Our first dance was another favourite part of the day for me, a moment we could just talk to each other and to be honest although all eyes were on us, it was like there was only us in the room.
Ben: Everything on the day was like a dream, just perfect, and it was the following day when I woke up next to my wife that I realised every day from then on was going to be great.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
All the cancellations and obstacles we had to overcome. In the last four months before the wedding we had our local florist retire, my original make-up artist cancelled, our chocolate fountain cancelled and a week before the wedding our vicar fell ill, so we had to find a replacement at short notice. Thankfully, he is now recovering well.
What was the most important investment for you?
Ben: Food was the big thing for me. We picked Tony because he is a local business and we have always been impressed with his food. He catered for gluten-free guests, vegetarian guests and guests with other allergies too. We had four barbecue items per person and all salads, it was sublime. Everyone enjoyed it so much that they went up for seconds and some thirds. He did bacon butties for the evening. Not only did Tony do the catering, he also supplied napkins in our colour scheme and arranged waitresses and a company to box up the dirty cutlery and plates and take them away to wash - amazing.
Kirsty: The photographers were worth every penny. Adam and Sam were brilliant and every guest has commented on how natural our photos are and how they didn’t notice that they were there. This was the reason we chose Adam and his style. They were very friendly and totally up for ideas from us too.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why? Our first dance was Lonestar – Amazed, specifically for the lyrics. On our one-month anniversary, we went for dinner and Ben had secretly asked for the song to be played when dessert was served. I can’t listen to it without feeling emotional.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Ben: My nan made the giant cupcake which was the one we cut at the reception. The smaller cupcakes, in various flavours, were made by Claire’s Custom Cakes and were served as dessert. We just wanted simple decorations so had buttercream icing with little edible daisies in our colours.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Kirsty: Mum and dad had arranged a surprise vintage car to take my dad and I to the church, then Ben and I to Applewood Hall. It was a beautiful car and I loved the time we had in it but the driver arrived late and then, having dropped us at Applewood Hall, just left before the guests and bridal party could have photos in and around the car. I felt disappointed and upset for my parents.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We had a mini moon in September and we are going to Tenerife in June. It has been nice to have a gap between our wedding and honeymoon as it has given us something to look forward to this year.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Get your ideas together but look around because a lot of it could be handmade if you have the time and patience and could save you money. Make sure you both have an input in the day and generally just enjoy the process up to it. It goes so quickly.
Steal their style:
Venue: Applewood Hall, www.applewoodhall.co.uk
Photography: Adam Hiller, www.hillierjames.com
Make-up: Hayley Dalley
Hair: Hannah of Studio A
Dress: Heart Brides, www.heartbrides.co.uk
Suits: Greenwoods, www.greenwoodsonline.com
Bridesmaids' dresses: www.boutiqueofdreams.co.uk
Flower girls' dresses: www.debenhams.com
Stationery: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.lalumieredesigns.co.uk
Catering: Tony Perkins Butchers, www.tonyperkins.co.uk
Venue dresser: Prestige Events & Weddings, www.prestigeeventsandweddings.co.uk
Decor (LOVE letters): The Wedding Party, www.theweddingparty.co.uk
Cupcakes: Claire’s Custom Cakes, www.clairescustomcakes.co.uk
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