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10th Jan 2013

Sarah and Iain's Big Day

Sarah grew up in Biggin Hill and Iain in Lincoln. They met through a friend of Sarah’s who she went to university with. He joined the RAF after university and she was invited to attend an RAF summer ball at RAF Benson where she met Iain, a helicopter pilot in the RAF.
Originally when they first met, Iain was based in Oxfordshire and Sarah was living in Southampton so there was about a 2 hour commute between them. But they wished the weeks away so that the weekends would come round quickly and they would be able to visit each other!
After about a year of this they decided it was time to take the plunge and move in together. They brought a house and ever since then, it has been adventurous and full of fun!

Iain proposed to me on Sunday 4th December 2011. We spent the afternoon putting up and decorating our Christmas tree in our house, we'd had some mulled wine and mince pies and been listening to our favorite Christmas songs.
I was about to turn on the TV to watch Strictly Come Dancing (I'm a bit of an avid fan) when Iain said there was one more decoration for me yet, and with that got down on one knee and opened a little black velvet Tiffany's box.
I squealed! Blinked back tears and said YES!
It’s a beautiful Princess cut diamond solitaire ring which sits on a knife-edge platinum band.

I have one distinguishing memory from a very young age. I had always dreamed I would get married in Church. Once Iain and I had brought our first house together in Pangbourne, it made sense to us that we got married where "we" were from rather than going the traditional route of returning to one of our home towns. Fortunately Pangbourne had it's very own Church ,only a few minutes from our house, so this set the stage for the ceremony very nicely.
Once we knew this everything else seemed to fall into place.

I had a very specific idea of the kind of dress I wanted. I'm one of these annoying girl shoppers who likes to try on everything and then make a decision (which usually involves returning to the first shop we were in!).
I knew for my wedding dress I had to break this habit, otherwise I'd be trying on dresses forever!
My brief to myself was timeless, classic and elegant.... rather plain really, no embellishment and no lace. With this in mind my sister and Mum whisked me off into London in January 2012, a month or so after Iain had proposed.
My sister got me to try a lot of different styles, many of which included embellishment and lace. She was right as this helped to confirm what I really wanted or didn't want.
I tried on lots of different shapes; princess, halter next, strapless, sweetheart, fishtail... it soon became very apparent that the dress I had set my heart on from internet shopping alone, a Stephanie Alin gown, did not suit me at all. It was just too much dress for me.

With this lesson learned I set about the internet again trying to find designers that fitted this brief and came across Jesus Peiro and Augusta Jones.
I had seen a number of Jesus Peiro dresses that I wanted to try and one Augusta Jones dress in particular called "Grace" that I had fallen in love with online.
It took me a while to call round and find a boutique that carried all the sample dresses from these two designers in particular that I was interested to try. That is how I found White Mischief.
I arranged my first appointment to visit White Mischief with my sister the afternoon of Friday 6th January 2012, which is when I met Lorna and Sandra for this first time. The shop was amazing, like an Aladdin's cave of wedding dresses and everyone was so helpful and nice!
I tried lots of the Jesus Peiro dresses and one was a very close match to what I was looking for, but the minute I tried on Augusta Jones "Grace" I knew this was the one. And my sister totally agreed the moment I stepped out of the fitting room! It was a classic and elegant satin gown with sweeping fishtail train with sweetheart neckline. I liked also that it came with a detachable crystal embellished belt, which could be worn at the waist.
I liked the idea of revere lace bolero jackets that could be detachable to give a day and evening look to the dress. Heather Hunt, the seamstress at White Mischief did such an amazing job at bringing my ideas for the jacket and belt to life. She did an extraordinary job of designing, making and fitting the reverse lace bolero jacket... to the point that many of my guests were confused in the evening when I came back downstairs without it on. They all thought it was part of the dress itself!

With my less is more approach that I had set myself as the brief for my dress, once I knew that "Grace" was quite simple but came with a crystal belt I thought I would add to the crystal detail in my shoes also. I am one of these girls that likes things to match! I fell in love with a pair of Benjamin Adam's crystal embellished shoes called "Gaga".
When they arrived and I put them on they did make me feel very special, and I went nearly the whole day in comfort in them, I only had to take them off for the final hour of dancing in the evening.
I decided not to wear a veil, I would have the lace detailing in my reverse bolero jacket and didn't want to hide this!

My jewellery was quite simple too. I wore a single zirconia pendant that was edged with tiny zirconia stones. My earrings were studs. These were purchased from ‘GoldSmiths Jewellers’ in Reading. I wore diamante snowflake shaped hair slides in my hair.

I am quite creative and ordinarily would happily do my own make-up and hair for parties and going out. I decided for my wedding day that I felt comfortable doing my own make-up, but decided the pressure of trying to do my own hair would be too much. So after a few mock make-up trials in House of Fraser and John Lewis I purchased Bobbi Brown eye shadows and blush and Dior make-up for my primer, face & cheeks. They didn't let me down and I was really pleased that it looked fresh and natural throughout the day.
In the evening I was able to pop upstairs and because I had brought all my own make up could easily touch it up. I actually went a little darker with the eye make up for the evening too.

For my hair I used a company of wedding hair & make-up specialists called Claire Nicole, who are based close to where I live in Pangbourne (just outside of Reading). I had a trial a few weeks before the wedding with Chelsea, who came to my house, to make sure the look I had chosen would work. I had decided on a side messy bun with a few diamante hair clips as accessories.
Chelsea worked wonders and I was over the moon with the result and it stayed in the whole day through a bit of wind and lots of enthusiastic hugs!

We chose Scarlett full length Coast dresses for the adult bridesmaids and a white satin Dessy dress with scarlett sash for our flowergirl
Our colour scheme was Red, White and Silver. We decided on this as it felt very Christmassy to us. Also once Iain had decided he would wear his RAF blues uniform to get married in the Red dresses worked really well along side this.
The girls also wore white feather shrugs. The adults were by ‘Jasper Conran’ in Debenhams and the flower girl's was from ‘Bromley Brides’ in West Wickham.
The adults wore earrings and bracelet by ‘Jon Richard’ and a pendant by ‘Alan Hannah’. Our flower girl wore a diamante snowflake pendant by ‘Estella Bartlett’.
I wanted everyone to have a bit of sparkle for the day!

Being a member of the Royal Air Force, Iain decided to wear his RAF number 1s uniform to get married in and changed into his RAF number 5s uniform for the evening reception.
The flowers I decided on for the bouquets were as follows: For the Bridal bouquet it was a mixture of red Roses, white Cala Lillies, White Lily of the Valley, white Spray Roses, red Berries, varigated Ivy and Greenery.
For the Bridesmaids and Flower girl they had the same except the Lily of the Valley was substituted for White Stephanotis.
I added the Lily of the Valley to my bouquet as this was my Gran's favourite flower so could have a little bit of her with me on the day. It also carries the most beautiful scent.
For the bridesmaids and flower girl their scent came from the Stephanotis.
The Men's buttonholes:
The groom, Iain wore a single red Rose, with a sprig of White Lily of the Valley and varigated Ivy and Greenery.
For the other men they wore a single white Rose, with a sprig of red Berries and varigated Ivy and Greenery.
The florists who helped me with my flowers and made these stunning creations were Laura and Cherie in ‘The Flower Shop’ based in Caversham outside Reading.

The Flowers placed in the Church and on our tables at the reception were a variety of miniature and large Red and White Cyclamens in silver Buckets and Goblets. I know these as a winter plants and I wanted to be able to give them out for people to take home and have in their houses over Christmas.
I still have a few on my windowsill in the kitchen now (4 weeks later!) I really liked the idea that plants would last longer than cut flowers.
The cyclamens were sourced from ‘The Flower Shop’ as well as ‘Sonning Flowers’ who were dressing our table centers at the reception.

The decorations was an easy decision!... quite simply Christmas!
We had oversized Christmas tree decorations (Snowflakes, Stars and Bows) as the pew-ends in the Church. We decided on Christmas Hymns to sing at the ceremony and Christmas music greeted us during our drinks reception where mulled wine and mini mince pies were served.
The one theme that was carried through the wedding stationary was a snowflake symbol. I had decided to make the Order's of Service, Table place settings, Menus and Table Plan myself. I had purchased a Red snowflake stamp by The English Stamp Company through Amazon for this purpose.
I also used the stamp to seal the envelopes on our wedding invites before these were sent out.

These were simple and elegant, plain, square invites with a beveled edge on thick white card with the text in silver font.
This brought in the White and Silver from the colour scheme and I added a splash of Red to the envelopes with my Red Snowflake stamp.
We had 100 Adults and 4 Children for the day plus approx. 20 more guests in the evening.
We wanted all our family and close friends to be invited for the day but knew the maximum our reception room and budget could accommodate would be around 100.

The marriage ceremony took place in our local Church, St-James-The-Less, in Pangbourne, which is where Iain and I now live. It's a pretty Church with stoned walls and red roof with stained glass windows and a large bell tower holding 5 bells.
The reception venue was called Highfield Park, which is 30mins by car from Pangbourne. This was an elegant main house, in the style of Queen Anne set in 35 acres of beautiful parkland on the Hampshire border.
In hindsight choosing Christmas time to get married meant that both our Church and reception venue were already decorated for Christmas and in theory I could have left it at that. The Church was already decorated for the annual Christmas tree festival. So we had a large Christmas tree at the back of the Church and smaller ones on each of the windowsills. I added our Red and White colour scheme throughout the Church by placing potted cyclamens around the Church.
I also added Over-sized Christmas tree decorations (Stars, snowflakes and bows) to the pew-ends.
HIghfield Park again was already decorated with Christmas trees, garlands and tea-lights throughout. I added a few red and white cyclamens to the Bar/lounge area but the rest of the hotel already looked very Christmassy (it had 5 trees, one in each of the areas we were using).
The wedding breakfast room was dressed with White chair covers and scarlett organza bows by a company called Berkshire Wedding Hire.
The Tables had 5 arm silver candelabras at their centres with silver goblets holding red and white cyclamens & tea-lights around their base. The Table centres were hired from a company called ‘Sonning Flowers’.

Probably as most brides to be experience, I didn't sleep great the night before and woke up fairly early at 7am. But my niece who was also our flower girl Ava was already up by then so we had breakfast together and watched some childrens’ cartoons on the TV.
Once my adult bridesmaids were up, there was more tea drinking and gossiping.
Iain had text me to tell me there was a little present hiding in his wardrobe, so I retrieved this and opened it with the girls. He'd framed the RAF ball ticket where we had met. This romantic gesture had my sister and I with tears in our eyes! I'm glad I opened it well before doing my make up. It was strange, as the rest of the morning seemed to go in slow motion, I felt like I was floating on air.
I was nervous but only because I was worried we wouldn't be ready in time.
I wasn't nervous about getting married and as soon as I put my dress on at mid-day the feeling went and I was fine. I had an hour to go, the wedding car had arrived and I was going to be on time.
I had several people popping in and out of the house during the morning, my Dad arrived with our flowers, my Mum was there of course as well as my other sister and her boyfriend and our amazing photographer, Adam Jefferson, was snapping all the special moments.

Champagne was opened and we all had a little and we'd hired a Red and Ivory 1953 Bentley S called "Amy". She took the bridesmaids, flower girl and my Mum to the Church first and then returned for Dad and I.
She later whisked Iain and I from the Church to Highfield in true style.
I managed not to cry, just, but was a bit over-whelmed when the Church doors went back and I saw the number of people waiting for us. Iain was beaming at me from the other end of the aisle!
The Rector, Reverend Heather Parbury, conducted a beautiful service; we had two readings, both about Love and sang two Christmas Carols, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".
Our organist played Canon in D by Pachelbel which I arrived to, Jerusalem and Flower of Scotland during our signing of the register and "Hornpipe from water Music" by Handel for Iain and I to exit to.
We were also very lucky to have a Guard of Honor at the end of the service. 6 friends of Iain, also in the services, 5 RAF and 1 Army AirCorp were in their military uniforms with swords. The whole congregation exited before Iain and I and then we were received through the Guard of Honor outside the Church entrance.
The service was, in two words....Amazing fun.

Highfield Park looked brilliant, the food and drink was fabulous and everyone had a magical time. We were able to have some photos outside to take advantage of the spectacular outlook as well as time to catch up with our family and friends.
My Dad, Iain and our best man, Mark, did an excellent job of the speeches, many funny stories were revealed, some about me embarrassingly enough!
In the evening after I had thrown the bouquet and cut the cake with Iain, our first dance was to "Stand By Me" by Ben E King. The band we had hired "High Fidelity Show Band", were out of this word and played great music for us to dance the rest of the night away to.

The cake was a three tier square cake. I liked the idea of a square shaped cake as it reflected the shape of my engagement ring diamond. It was plain white and had been edged with Red Satin Ribbon, overlaid with lace and each tier had a diamante snowflake-shaped brooch attached. We had chosen two flavours, vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream and chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream. It tasted yummy!
As favors I had ordered glass snowflake Christmas tree decorations and strung them on personalized red satin ribbon with our names and date of the wedding.
Each family or couple got one to take home to hang on their Christmas tree as a momento.

Adam Jefferson (www.ajphotographic.co.uk). I met Adam at Highfield Park's wedding open day early in 2012.
We just clicked, he seemed like a very relaxed and a nice guy.
The examples of his work were just what we were looking for, we wanted some of the formal group shots but preferred the reportage style that is casual, which is what Adam does best.

Our first dance song was "Stand By Me" by Ben E King. All in all it was all so very, very special. That night Iain and I said to ourselves how lucky we were to have had a perfect day like this surrounded by all our family and friends. We couldn't quite believe that it had been our own wedding day! I can only describe it as truly magical. Everyone says it but it has been the best day of my life so far....

My advice to any bride-to-be would be to trust in your own ideas and visions, go with your heart (and not always the budget) and be as organized as you can ( I found my excel tracking spreadsheet invaluable!)

Photographer: Adam Jefferson www.ajphotographic.co.uk
Bridesmaids: www.coast-stores.com, www.dessy.com
Fur shrugs: www.debenhams.com
Jewellery: www.notonthehighstreet.com
Hair: www.clairenicole.co.uk
Jewellery: www.goldsmiths.co.uk
Flowers: www.cavershamflorists.co.uk, www.sonningflowers.com
Reception venue: www.deverevenues.co.uk/locations/highfield-park
Bows: www.berkshireweddinghire.co.uk
Glass decorations: www.christmastimeuk.com

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Photographer: Adam Jefferson
Dress: Grace by Augusta Jones at White Mischief Bridal
Location: Reading, England
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