Alex and Dan’s Summer Garden Party Wedding

Alex and Dan’s wedding on 21st July 2012 at Clock Barn in Hampshire had a summer fête theme with lots of roses, bunting, a scrummy chocolate cake and fish n’ chips in the evening.


Alex and Bridesmaids


How did you two meet?

Dan and I were best friends and we set up a vinyl printing business together back in 2003. It was only a year ago that we both realized we didn’t want to be with anyone else and Dan proposed. He had recently moved house and we announced the engagement at his house-warming party – although the house then had to go on the market because it wasn’t big enough for all of us!

We spent many months house hunting and then we found a 400-year-old house that needed lots of work doing on it, but we loved it. What with running the business, moving house and starting the renovations, as well as organizing a wedding, it’s been a very hectic year!


What made you choose Clock Barn?

Clock Barn was the first wedding venue we went to look at. We just wanted to get an idea of what was available but once we’d seen it, we never looked at any other venues.


Clock Barn


It is so pretty and we loved the location. At first, we thought it was going to be too difficult for our guests to get to until we discovered that our sat nav had taken us there by a very strange route! It was actually really easy and convenient to get to. In the end we organized a coach for guests anyway, so they didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.


What were the best things about it?

It is very pretty and didn’t feel too big, although there was enough space inside if the weather wasn’t good enough to be in the garden. Helen and Ginny looked after all the arrangements and made everything very easy for us.


How far in advance did you book?

We booked just over a year before.


Bride and Groom Smiling at Each Other


Tell us about your dress...

When it came to choosing my dress, I wanted to feel like a bride, but because I’m over 50 and it’s my second marriage I didn’t want to look foolish or OTT. After trying on lots of gorgeous dresses, I saw the ‘Abaco’ dress, in ivory pleated chiffon with off-the-shoulder straps on the Pronovias website and fell in love with it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a shop in Hampshire that stocked it, so had to go to the flagship store in London to try it on. I then ordered it through The Ivory Boutique in Winchester, where Hannah had already helped me try on lots of dresses and really looked after me.


How did you feel when you put it on?
I felt really elegant and comfortable in it. Because it wasn’t strapless, I didn’t feel I needed to wear a wrap to cover my upper arms, which I’m self-conscious about.


Alex and Dan’s Summer Garden Fête Wedding


What accessories did you wear on the day?

I also ordered my headdress from The Ivory Boutique. It is from Nieve Couture and featured pearls that co-ordinated with my pearl necklace, which was my ‘something old’ (it was my 21st birthday present from my godfather).

Apart from my pearls, everything else was new, so I borrowed a garter from a friend that had a blue bow on it – killing two birds with one stone! Another friend introduced me to a version of the rhyme that I hadn’t heard before:


“Something old, Something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in my shoe”


Apparently, it is traditional for the father-of-the-bride (or whoever is giving her away) to place the coin in the bride’s left shoe. The same friend provided the silver sixpence and my son placed it in my left shoe before we left the house.


My shoes were from Belle and I bought them from Brides of Winchester. They were ivory satin with a thin asymmetric strap decorated with diamante. If there is one tip I’d give another bride it’s to buy comfortable shoes! I’m so glad I did. Mine were really pretty and had a decent heel but weren’t so high that my feet hurt after several hours of being on my feet. In fact, I forgot I had them on.


Belle Wedding Shoes


What did Dan wear?

Dan hired his suit from Moss Bros in Winchester and all the men in the wedding party hired the same one in black with matching waistcoats. Their ties and handkerchiefs were a dusky pink to match the bridesmaids’ dresses.


How did he look when you first saw him?

Very, very smart.


Bride and Groom Smiling Outside Clock Barn


Tell us about your bridesmaids...

My bridesmaids were my daughter, Emma, and Dan’s daughter, Georgia. I wanted the bridesmaids to have floral dresses with full knee-length skirts and I had intended to get them made but was struggling to find a fabric I liked. I saw the perfect dress in Phase Eight and both girls approved.

I had their dresses altered slightly so that the skirts were shorter and fuller. The print was of roses in shades of dusky pink, grey and ivory, so this became the colour scheme for the whole day.

I found dusky pink satin shoes and a grey satin wrist-bag featuring an appliquéd rose corsage in Debenhams (Debut) that matched their dresses perfectly. Both girls wore matching pink satin Alice bands from Accessorize in their hair.


Phase Eight Bridemaid Dresses


Who were Dan’s best man and ushers?

Dan asked his best friend, Tim, and his son, Will, to be joint best men. It meant that all our four kids had a role to play on the day because my son, George, was giving me away.

Dan’s ushers were his brother, Laurence, and a good friend, Steve. On the day Laurence made sure everyone who should be was on the coach to Clock Barn and Steve was in control of the music played before and during the ceremony.


Groom, Best Men and Ushers


What was your ceremony like?

The day dawned with sunshine and blue skies. All summer the weather had been awful, with rain almost every day, and everyone had been joking about needing to buy umbrellas to match their outfits. I maintained that it would be sunny on the day because I couldn’t visualise it any other way and my prayers were answered. It helped to get everyone in a really happy mood because we’d all been missing the sunshine!

My son George walked me down the aisle, who I thought was more nervous than me – until we started walking and I was overwhelmed by everyone looking at me and got a terrible case of the shakes!


Bride Walking Down the Aisle

Alex and Dan’s Summer Garden Fête Wedding


Did you have readings and/or music?
We had two readings during the ceremony. The first was “The Lovely Dinosaur” by Edward Monkton, read by Dan’s brother, Laurence. The second was “He Never Leaves The Seat Up” by Pam Ayres, which the two bridesmaids read together, taking it in turns to read each verse.

The music for the ceremony was very important to us. George walked me down the aisle to Adele singing “One And Only”, which brings a tear to my eye whenever I hear it now. Dan and I exited to Paolo Nutini “Pencil Full of lead” (!), to get everyone in a dancing mood. The photographer then organized the guests into lines so that we walked through a confetti shower of dried flower petals.


Confetti Baskets


After the ceremony, the guests were entertained in the garden by Spanish guitarist, Andres Garcia, and Perks Caterers laid on a lovely canapé reception with Pimm’s and homemade lemonade.


What is your favourite memory?
I will never forget seeing Dan waiting for me, and wiping a tear from his eye because he was so happy.


Bride and Groom at Ceremony


Styling the day

I wanted the day to feel like a typical English summer garden party/fete, so there were lots of flowers, which were all supplied by Jan and Helen at The Blooming Workshop. My bouquet and the bridesmaids’ bouquets included Sweet Avalanche and Memory Lane roses to echo the fabric of the bridesmaids’ dresses. We had ivory ceramic bowls on each table, which were crammed with flowers, including more roses, gypsophila and eucalyptus.


Sweet Avalanche and Memory Lane Rose Bouquet

The Blooming Workshop Flower Arrangement


Sweet favours
Every place setting had a little jam jar filled with heart-shaped sweets and I printed labels saying ‘Bonbons Amour’ in a design to co-ordinate with the Liberty fabric lids. Each person’s name was written on an old-fashioned luggage label tied with gingham ribbon.


Sweet Wedding Favours


Clock Barn provided white bunting and I made another 50 metres of bunting in various fabrics, including the fabric I’d used for the jam jars, to co-ordinate with the bridesmaids’ dresses.

I designed all the stationery with a bunting theme that, together with pink gingham ribbon, featured a lot in the little details. I created the artwork for the table plan as a “trompe l’oeil” to look like an old cupboard that had pieces of paper pinned on with gingham bows.

The cupboard doors appeared to be backed with the same fabric I’d used for the jam jars. Having our own vinyl printing business again proved useful, as I was able to print the table plans, the jam jar labels and the table names.


Order of Service Wedding Stationery

Wedding Stationery


Chocolate cake
Barbara Parker at Parker’s Cakes made our wedding cake. I showed Barbara a photo of a cake I liked, which featured soft pink roses and creamy coloured icing. The only request Dan had made was that the cake was chocolate with chocolate covering. I hadn’t realized that you could have a chocolate covering that still looked like a traditional icing, but Barbara achieved exactly that. It looked lovely and tasted delicious.


Chcolate Wedding Cake with Cream Coloured Icing

Rose Features on Wedding Cake


Tell us about your wedding reception...

The wedding meal was a barbeque and Perks Catering provided a really tasty assortment of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. We had 82 guests for the day, with some more friends joining us in the evening. Perks again did us proud by serving cones of fish n’ chips just when people were starting to get a bit peckish around 9pm.


Wedding Table Arrangement

Cheese Board Wedding Catering


First dance
Our first dance was to Ray Lamontagne “You Are The Best Thing”. Whilst I love dancing, Dan is not so keen so we didn’t end up doing a choreographed routine because it would have been just too nerve-wracking for him!


Bride and Groom First Dance


Rob Paston provided the disco and he did a great job of keeping the dance floor full all evening. Tim and Steve are both musicians and treated us to an impromptu performance, which was a highlight of the evening for us. I remember feeling quite emotional when I looked round at everyone having such a great time and realizing that they were all there just to celebrate the day with us.


“If we could do it all again, we’d...”

The whole day was totally perfect and the comment that’s been made most often was that it was the happiest and prettiest wedding they’ve ever been to. I wish we could do it all again!


Alex and Dan’s Summer Garden Fête Wedding


Images courtesy of Kate Jackson Photography ©

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