Vicky & John's English Tea Party Wedding

Vicky and John got married at The Barn at Bury Court in Surrey and chose mixture of wedding themes and included some novel touches which thrilled their guests.


The proposal

"I was really surprised. John had always been about planning for the future and spending money wisely so I had no idea that he was about to commit to probably the most expensive event of our lives! He proposed on holiday in Zanzibar. I did wonder why he was so preoccupied with the activity of the tide a couple of nights before he popped the question …but then it all became clear.



On the night he proposed, after our dinner at the resort, he walked me down to the beach and just slipped into conversation that maybe we should play hangman in the sand (this has meaning too as it harked back to our first holiday together - a quick getaway to Tenerife where the weather was bad and the hotel wasn't up to much so we ended up playing drunken hangman in the piano bar, spelling out funny things about our time away). So he went first and etched his lines in the sand. I went through guessing all the wrong letters and it wasn't until it pretty much spelt out MARRY ME SILLY ('silly' is our nickname for each other) that I started giggling, he shed a tear and I said yes! I have a pic of the proposal in the sand.

What I didn't know is that he had asked my dad's permission before we went on holiday whilst I was at a little local spa. He got my dad out of bed to ask him! So when my mum and dad dropped us off at the airport I did wonder why they looked so excited.



Choosing the wedding venue

We opted for The Barn at Bury Court in Farnham, Surrey. We did quite an extensive search online and visited a few venues but we loved the barn on first sight. I remember after our first viewing saying to John, "Ooooh I really want that one!". We loved how bare it was inside; I am the creative type who likes to make things my own and we really had the freedom here. Suzanne and Valda at the venue were absolutely amazing to work with. They really accommodated our wishes.



Vicky's wedding dress

So this is a story! My first ever venture into looking at dresses started at the Wedding Show at London's Olympia. I hadn't planned on focusing on dresses on this visit as it was about 18 months out from the wedding but I passed a little stand by a shop called Fur Coat No Knickers and saw this gorgeous original 1950's dress on a mannequin. I LOVED it. I took the girl's business card and contacted them later that week to see if the dress was still for sale. I made an appointment, visited with my cousin, and tried it on. I loved it and honestly thought it was the one. But then I started to panic that I was rushing into it having not visited ANY other shops or boutiques but was very aware that, as a one-off, original vintage, if it were to sell, then that would be that.

I made a few more visits to it and the girls at 'Fur Coats' and almost committed but something wasn't right. It was the length of the dress which was just off the floor. I felt amazing in it but not 100% like a bride. I loved the material and all the detail on it but it was just that bit too short. I remember so clearly emailing the girls at the shop from my laptop in bed one morning and cried when I hit send on the email telling them that to not reserve it for me any longer. I really thought I was making a huge mistake!



I then made some visits to the likes of Jenny Packham, Amanda Wakely (where I almost committed to a dress but again it wasn't right or comparing to the first one!) and then found a lady in Kentish Town who makes bespoke wedding dresses and dresses for the likes of Kate Moss! I again almost committed to her to make me an original dress but when it came down to it I felt as though my choice of dress shape was limited and I really just wanted the freedom to play around and make something perfect.

Throughout this whole period I kept thinking, "I wonder if I could go back to Fur Coats to see what else they have…." as I loved the girls in the shop and their attitude. So I checked out their website and saw that they had started to make bespoke dresses! I got in contact and told them that I wanted to try to recreate the original one that I liked but in a full length version. And there started the design process. I was involved at every stage and the girls were a DREAM. I would pop there on work lunch breaks to make tweaks with them. They were unreal.

They found an original vintage dress that we then built out with new material. We placed gorgeous vintage diamante on it and I also provided the girls with a little vintage broach of my late Nana's that they stitched into the dress as a personal, meaningful touch. It worked out at about £2000. I also bought my veil and little Lucite 1950's clutch bag from them. Oh and my necklace…!


Vicky's wedding day accessories

  • A short little veil - that I didn't take off ALL day!
  • My Nan's earrings that I had altered for pierced ears, instead of clip ons.
  • A vintage necklace
  • Kurt Geiger satin peep toe shoes
  • Original 1950's Lucite clutch bag
  • Myla undies



John's Groom attire

  • Grey Ben Sherman Camden style bespoke suit from Saville Row
  • Ozwald Boateng black bow tie
  • Kurt Geiger shoes
  • Mark Marengo white shirt

He looked SO handsome! Perfect for our theme of wedding. Like a proper English gent.



Bridemaids and their outfits

This was such an easy choice for me. My cousin Anna who is the same age as me - we have grown up together and are more like sisters. My friend Hayley who was my best friend from around the age of 16 at secondary school and my husband's sister Nikki.

They were fab - they planned 2 excellent hen dos - one in Spain and the other in London. I was very lucky and spoilt! Nikki had previously worked in a jewellers and so she helped out from day on one advising about the engagement and wedding rings. Hayley and Anna were fab on wedding dress visits.

Their dresses were what I consider my first big purchase that I ticked off my list. I originally wanted them all in different vintage dresses, in coral colour, but as plans changed I found this gorgeous mink-colour dress in Monsoon that I literally stumbled upon in the sale and tried on myself and took a pic. I sent it to the girls and they all loved it. But the particular store I was in didn't have many sizes and they wouldn't help me locate a store that had more! So, on a whim, I drove that same day to another Monsoon and as luck would have it they had a whole rail of smaller sizes.

I bought six of them in all different sizes and the girls all came over to try them. It was very successful. They all loved them and the first thing they did when they put them on was swish around in them - perfect!

They were reduced from £150 each to £50 in the sale - bargain! They were so different. Not the shiny floor length ones you see so often. They were girly and gorgeous.



Best Man and Groomsmen

We had quite a few! Two Best Men, four Ushers and one Pageboy! They arranged a stag do to Las Vegas for John! On the day of the wedding they were fabulous. I had written them strict instructions that they pretty much stuck to. Great stuff! They were all in black suits, white shirts and mink/grey coloured ties that matched the colour of the Bridesmaids' dresses. Something John and I did (as a photo opportunity more than anything) was provide the best men and ushers with a brightly coloured pair of socks each!



The wedding ceremony

Because the weather was lovely, ceremony seating was outside with John and me getting married just inside the doorway (for legal reasons). The aisle was outside, lined by fresh flowers and topiary trees - our florist was a genius!

We had readings by Anna (Captain Corelli's Mandolin) and Nikki (Apache Blessing). As I have worked in the music industry, music was key to me. While people were being seated I really wanted to set the mood for the wedding. It wasn't to be uptight. So I made an extensive playlist that one of our Ushers managed via an iPod and speaker system that we had bought. There were songs like Every Day by Buddy Holly and Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra. People were bopping before the ceremony had begun! My dad walked me down the aisle to Norah Jones's cover of Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley.

The great thing about our setup was that all the guests got a great view of me and the maids walking down the aisle as we were walking towards them, not through them - I have pics to reflect this. I just remember seeing everyone smiling at me and then seeing John. I wasn't nervous AT ALL.



Wedding theme and decorations

Our theme was a mixture of English tea party, vintage, love, red hearts. We stacked up old vintage crates outside and decorated them with flower arrangements and little flowers in jars hanging from trees. I hung red hearts and wicker hearts from a selection of trees at the wedding venue and hung a homemade 'Mr and Mrs Gooden' sign outside the barn. We also made red heart signs that stood in buckets.



The inside of the barn was decorated with white bunting and we had heart shaped paper lanterns for the evening. We had a sweet table that went down a treat! I made a chalk board menu board that was perched on a bench outside during canapés.


Guest book

Instead of a guestbook we had a 1940s typewriter for guests to type their messages on.



Fun photos

Polaroid camera - used an old vintage clothes airer as a place for people to peg up their pics! We had red lips and a moustache on sticks as props for the Polaroid table. I framed old family wedding pictures and made a big photo collage that stood on an easel - all pics of John and me.



Table decorations

I hired vintage sugar bowls, vintage tealight holders and centerpiece vases from Bonne Fete. The sugar bowls had red heart sugar cubes in them! I made 'Drink Me' labels that hung around the wine bottles on the dinner tables. Each table had 'drinks tokens' on it for people to exchange for a glass of wedding punch after the dinner.



Wedding favours

I had bespoke red heart cakepops made by a friend ( as favours and people identified where they were sitting by an attached faux Polaroid pic attached to each pop.



Wedding cake

I found the one I wanted on Maisy Fantasie but had our caterers make it instead. It was an amazing 3 tiered Victoria sponge. I had ordered some wooden cake toppers from Etsy that looked like John and me and some cake bunting too. Lovely!



Wedding breakfast

Our wedding breakfast was pie and mash with traditional liquor! For dessert we chose chocolate torte. There were 107 guests for the sit down meal with an extra 30-40 in the evening. We had an outdoor barbecue in the evening with the chefs making lovely steak sarnies and chips. My dad used to work at Smithfield Market in London so he used his contacts to provide the meat. It was gorgeous.



The speeches

John was sneaky and made the Best Men wait until after the dinner to do their speeches! My dad and John went before. The Best Men got him back though by doing a photo slideshow and pulling up video content from John's 'I want to be a TV presenter days' and his show reel! The Best Men speech was half an hour long but well worth it!



Evening Reception and first dance

We had a band and a DJ. The band was Motown Gold from the Earcandy Agency and were out of this world. The DJs were The Wedding Smashers who were again brilliant! Because we call each other 'Baby' we went for The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'. The dance wasn't great as we'd had no time to practice but we think we got away with it and just dragged guests up to join us.



Best bits of the day

Just generally feeling as though you are watching the happiest day of your life before your very eyes. You know everyone in the room and they are all over the moon for you. It was the best feeling. A stand out moment was definitely the balloon release and that's something that people still reference.



What I thought was funny was after the honeymoon we started receiving thank you cards from our guests! Many people referenced '…all the little touches' and this is exactly what we'd wanted to hear. Glad all the effort was appreciated!



Tips for other wedding couples

  • For Brides: Breathe! It'll all be ok. There comes a point where you have to let go of the to-do list and relax and focus on you. It's crucial to get some sleep and plan in your beauty regimes. Don't be rushing around at the end if you can help it. It's all about YOU. Don't feel like you have to buy some Louboutins. Don't feel like you have to have Swarovski crystal just to please people. You do things your way and then you'll have no regrets. You have to feel comfortable. Don't walk down the aisle as a version of you that your groom won't recognize.
  • For Grooms: Support your Bride, she'll need it! Offer help to lighten her to do list. Put time aside to show real interest in all the little things she is planning and working on.


If we could do it all again…

We'd set our alarm clocks a few hours earlier so that we could enjoy the most special day of our lives for that bit longer."



Vicky has now started to hire out all of her props for wedding.


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