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Planning thread- Summer in the Cotswolds 2017


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Hi all

I love ready people's planning threads on here and thought it would be fun to write my own! I hope that there's something that people find useful or interesting :)

About us

I've been with my partner Gary for 7 years. My group of friends met his group of friends at University and since then there's been a lot of dating back and forth within the group! I actually dated one of his best friends for a year or so before me and Gary got together. Everyone jokes about our groups being a little 'inbred' but we are actually the only lasting couple out of all that dating and partner swapping!! I knew by our second date that this was the man I was going to marry and I was right :) We moved in together after 2 years, and several moves and one cat later he finally proposed!

The ring

In our case the ring came before the proposal- but by accident, not design! I always imagined he would pick out the ring himself and didn't like the idea of choosing one together. However, we'd been talking about getting married for a while, and decided that I should find out what ring size I am. So we popped into a jewellers, I tried on a ring that was way too expensive but just happened to be in my size- and burst into tears. Luckily it was 60% off in an outlet store so he bought it for me on the spot!

The proposal

As I knew the proposal was coming, it wasn't exactly a massive surprise, but I was still a bit shocked when it happened! We were at Neuschwanstein castle in Germany and he asked me to take his picture. I walked away a few steps, turned back round, and when I did he was down on one knee! I panicked and got a bit grabby with the ring- I think because I knew how much it had cost I was worried about him dropping it or someone stealing it!

Neuschwanstein- it was kinda foggy!

The castle entrance where he proposed

Next: The Date and Venue hunting :)


Setting the date!

I knew I wanted a summer wedding- Gary loves warm weather so winter was out! There's also something about weddings in June- it just seems like a classic month to get married. June 2016 was too close so June 2017 it was! We also wanted a Sunday if it was cheaper than a Saturday (it seems like Fridays cost as much as Saturdays!). It was a bit of a toss up between the 11th and 18th June and we decided that 'the third Sunday in June' sounded good, so the 18th it was!


We had three choices when it came to the part of the country we wanted to get married in- the South West, where we now live, Yorkshire, where we are from and our parents live, or Cornwall, which is our favourite part of the country. As you might be able to guess from the title of this thread, the South West won! We just thought it would be a lot more convenient for us- I had a friend from Southampton who got married in Yorkshire and she was forever going to and fro for menu tastings, hair trials, supplier meetings etc. We didn't really fancy that! So the venue search in the South West was on.

Before we even got engaged we had this idea about getting married at Bristol Zoo Gardens. We've been before and it's really pretty, and we absolutely love animals. The photos on the website are amazing. So we felt like 'yes, we definitely want to get married there! Search over'. Even the reviews on venue websites were glowing. I started planning my zoo themed wedding in my head- animal themed favours, table numbers, invites... So a couple of weeks after we got engaged we planned a trip to see the venue.

The photos are cool, right??

I guess I should add a note here- I don't like to hang around or put off decisions. When I know I want something, I go book it. It might seem like a rushed or rash decision, but I go very much with my heart, and when I know I know. So that's why we were off venue hunting only 2 weeks after engagement- and it was hard for me to wait that long!

So anyway, we planned a trip to Bristol to see the Zoo Gardens. We were both mega excited and saying things like 'let's go see where we're going to get married!'. However, I was a little sad that we would miss out on seeing lots of pretty venues. I'm really nosy and love to look round places just for the sake of it (unlike Gary who doesn't see the point unless we're buying!). So I also booked in a Cotswold hotel for us to see the same day, just for fun.

We arrive at Bristol Zoo gardens mega excited. After parking we head round to the side entrance where the guests would enter into the function venue. Hmm. The door is kind of grubby and covered in spider webs. Well, OK, I'm not buying the outside door, am I. So we go in- the entrance hall has the most hideous leopard print carpet and a massive old stair lift as the first thing you see. Right, well.... we're not buying the carpet are we?

So we start the show around. The first thing the lady says is 'I only have half an hour until we have a wedding starting'. Right, well why did you book us in for this time then?? We would have happily come earlier. First off we see the room upstairs where you have the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, and it's really nice:

By the way, I didn't take any pics so these are off google.


Then we see the downstairs room, and it's not nearly as nice. But they insist you use it for the reception. Again the pic is off google- sorry about the people in it.

Notice the lack of chair covers? They don't let you re-use the chair covers from upstairs, so if you want them downstairs too you have to pay double. The lady says that 'most people don't bother as it doesn't matter what this room looks like for the evening'. Hmm, you and I have different opinions on that, lady.

The outside of the venue (the zoo side, not where you first enter) looks like this:

And has little terraces like this:

In reality, all the white stonework here was covered in a thick layer of grime. The tables and chairs were grimy too. And there was cigarette butts all over the floor. Eww. You remember where I mentioned they had a wedding in half an hour? Yeah, that means they aren't going to clean this up before the wedding starts. My heart was sinking and I felt gutted but didn't show it as it seemed like Gary loved it.

The lady invites us to have a walk around the zoo after the viewing- yay, okay, now I can see where I get all those cool pictures! We exit stage left as the groom comes in the other door. We have a nice time walking around the zoo for half an hour, but I'm getting more and more disheartened- that cool picture in the underwater tunnel requires you to drag your dress through the penguin enclosure which is covered in bird poop- and then into the tunnel where there are puddles of dirty water everywhere. Right... wellies then?

After 30 mins we have to leave to get some lunch before viewing number 2- the one I organised just for fun. Both of us are pretty quiet, and nobody wants to say it first. I can't remember who did, but eventually we both let out how disappointed we were in the venue. We were both in love with the pictures and the concept- but not the reality. So we let go of our dream of a zoo wedding, and consoled ourselves with burgers and fries at Five Guys (mmm).

Up next- venue hunt part 2!


After our disappointment with Bristol Zoo we headed off to see The Hare and Hounds in Tetbury. It's a classic Cotswold hotel which I mainly chose because of the reasonably priced wedding package. You'd think with a budget of 12k (for the whole wedding) we would be able to find loads of options, but it doesn't seem to get you very far!

We pulled up into the car park- and instantly I was impressed! Even the car park is nice- it's almost like parking in a forest. So here's the front of the venue (from google images):

We were instantly made to feel so welcome and seated in a lovely lounge with a fire and offered coffee- a million miles away from our last viewing! I had always dismissed the idea of having a hotel as our venue as it was 'too boring'. Yet as we toured the venue I was just falling in love.

Here's a couple of pictures I took of the reception room and grounds:

You see the little hut thing outside? That's where you can get married outside. They roll out a red carpet and set up the chairs out there. I took those pictures from the fire escape of one of the rooms- like I said, I'm nosy and they let me explore everywhere!

The bedrooms are just gorgeous too- really nicely designed. Some of the rooms even have hot tubs! We saw one with a gorgeous free standing bath tub, and a mirror in the bathroom that changes into a TV! Never mind getting married there, I wanted to live there.


yay! a new planning thread :) we were getting a bit quiet lol.

i can completely sympathise with being convinced you were going to have a certain venue and then changing your mind! if the second venue is your choice, i think it looks gorgeous.

looking forward to reading more! x


The venue hunt part 3

I loved the Hare and Hounds but wasn't ready to commit to a venue yet. I still had in mind something more unusual, so I looked into a ceremony at the Planetarium in Bristol- you can even have your reception drinks in the aquarium, how cool! (Bit of a theme here- I love animals and aquariums). However as the venues were open to the public during the day you had to get married late and that's not what I wanted.

We saw a few other venues including some in the same small hotel group as the Hare and Hounds- and they were all lovely, but I just didn't get the same emotional reaction as I had there. One even made much more financial sense to book- the venue was lovely and it included about 1k worth of extras that the Hare and Hounds didn't, for the same price. But the heart was saying no, so we scheduled another visit to the Hare and Hounds. When we pulled into the car park I felt like crying- there was that emotional reaction again! So from that point it was pretty much set- we had our venue!!

A few details and calls to the registrar later and we were all booked- for the 18th June 2017!

I have to say I was a bit shocked that even though we are booking for 2017, lots of dates were already booked up- and the registrar said they've taken bookings for 2018 and they weren't sure if they can fit us in! Eek! But luckily they could :)


Songbirds and Sugared Almonds

I'd had a soft pastel coloured sugar almond theme in mind for a while for my wedding, and it was a bonus that it was going to fit into the wedding venue perfectly!

I'm going to have bridesmaids in the same dress but different colours, and also contrasting pastel shoes- something like this:

I have 3 bridesmaids and 1 flower girl, and I felt like 4 colours would also work well for things like the chair covers and table decorations. So I think I'm having pastel pink, blue, lilac and yellow. Although I love pastel green it didn't make the cut! I can't buy the bridesmaid dresses until much nearer the time as one bridesmaid wants to lose lots of weight, and another might get pregnant again!

I will also have 4 different chair covers, like this (but slightly different colours):

And pastel flowers:

I'm debating having smaller mixed pastel posies for the bridesmaids or plain white ones. Opinions anyone?

The other part of my theme is 'song birds'. This came about because I like birdcage centre pieces and I found some cute DIY elements for invites with birds on them!

I love the staggered tea lights in these, although I wouldn't have the red petals! I'm thinking of making pastel coloured paper flowers to go in the bottom

I love this cute cards box!

I also want to make or buy pretty coloured kilner jars to put tea lights in and place around the venue like on the tables outside

And maybe some cute pastel pom poms to hang from the tree in the reception room

Apart from that I haven't got any more decor or theme ideas yet!


Eek- The Dress!

Obviously I was so looking forward to trying on wedding dresses! I had a few in mind that I liked:

These from Maggie Sottero:


These from Mori Lee

And this gown from Essence of Australia which I absolutely loved and was my number 1:

I was very restrained and waited a month or so until I was up visiting my parents for us to visit the one bridal shop round the corner that we always lust over.

I tried on a lot of dresses and the one I liked most was a Justin Alexander dress- I think it was this one, if not it was very similar! I wasn't so sure of the light gold underneath, but the lady in the shop showed me how it changed in different light- in daylight it looks almost white, in darker light almost gold. Wow, maybe that's pretty cool actually!

It was lovely but I didn't think it was 'the one'- I was looking for something a little more unusual. Plus at £1500 it was way over budget!


Also in the same store I tried on a dress which made my mum and sister both cry- but I didn't like it at all! This was starting to sound more difficult than I thought it would be. The dress they liked was too tight and too hot. Another I tried was so heavy I felt tired after wearing it for 30 seconds! Okay, so I need to add to my dress 'must have' list: number 1: Must be light and comfortable to wear!

This summer I went to a wedding where the girl took off her dress half way through and changed into a scruffy old maxi (she hadn't planned to so didn't have a fancy second dress) as her wedding dress was so uncomfortable. I was determined that wouldn't be me! Some dresses also felt like nicer quality than others- I didn't want anything scratchy or cheap feeling (as they certainly aren't cheap!)

I went to a shop closer to home on my own, but didn't like the experience of trying on dresses on my own! But the next weekend I had an appointment at another bridal store who were having an Essence of Australia designer trunk show. I was so excited- maybe they would have my dream Essence of Australia dress!


i think you have made a great choice in your venue! it is so exciting when you have a date to work towards :)

i love your colour theme - perfect for a summer wedding! i think you should have white flowers for your BMs. pastel dresses and flowers may be a bit overkill!

looking forward to reading more! x


Welll... no they didn't have it. But- I bought my dress! A completely different one to any I had seen before! It's an Essence of Australia dress (which I have decided is just the most beautiful designer), and it just felt amazing on. It's as light as a feather and I know I could wear it all day, walk in it, dance in it! I was just in love. Here's a picture of it in a pinky colour, however I have ordered it in 'ivory lace over cafe'- which is ivory lace over light gold silk, with a light pink belt.

Up until now I was convinced it was totally different from everything I liked before- but when I look at the pictures above now it's actually kind of a combination of all the styles! Wow. The owner of the bridal store actually picked it out for me, and she was really helpful and pointed out that I probably wouldn't like the dress I was 'in love with', because I kept dismissing similar dresses in the store.

I'm going to alter it and bling it up- the straps will be thinned (I have skinny shoulders and they're a bit thick for me), and then the straps and the belt will be blinged up. I'm also going to get the buttons on the back switched out for crystal buttons. The lace does have little sparkly bits in it but it's currently not bling enough for me!

I've had a few wobbles since about ordering my dress so early, and not trying more on, but every time I see it I just fall in love.


Sammykate wrote (see post):

I've had a few wobbles since about ordering my dress so early, and not trying more on, but every time I see it I just fall in love.

Oh Sammykate I could have written this.....I am getting married 2 weeks after you, well, 1 week and 6 days lol, on the 1st July and I have also already bought my dress. I absolutely adore it but sometimes thing oh gosh what have I done. I was sooo torn between two different styles and the dress I got is a combination of the two, so is perfect but I do sometimes think what if. 

Anyway I lovvve your dress and think it will be nicer with the goldy underlay! I also love your theme :) 

Will definitely be keeping up with your plans!


Thank you Jenni! I'm glad I'm not the only summer 2017 bride who already has her dress!! Ahhh I'm still freaking out a bit about ordering it though. Do you have a planning thread? I'd love to hear about your plans as well :)


Other things I've planned so far

So I thought I'd just do a quick post about the other bits for my wedding that I've done so far :)

I've booked fireworks for the evening- if anyone is curious about a local Gloucestershire/cotswolds company, I've used G-Force fireworks. The venue wanted us to use them as their usual supplier, and I was happy with that as they were really lovely and flexible- they will work with any budget! I love fireworks and have always dreamed of having them at my wedding. This is a picture from one of their wedding displays!

We're keeping the fireworks a surprise from most guests :)

We've also booked the photographer, we are using Capture Every Moment who are based around Cirencester. I was dithering between a couple of companies, but my partner loved the fact that they give you two photographers, and I loved the fact that they won't charge extra to stay until 10pm for the fireworks!! So many photographers are really rigid on the hours they will do and charge you extra for anything else. They also include a pre wedding shoot in their price as they prefer to get to know you a bit and get you to relax in front of the camera. So very very happy with our choice.

As a side note- 2017 really does not seem so far away when your photographer tells you they had an enquiry for 2020 the other day!!

Onto venue dressing- you remember the sparkly fairy lights in the function room at our venue?

I was kind of hoping they were free, but of course they weren't... lol. But once I'd seem them I had to have them, and that was another £300 spent. We got the same company to do our chair covers, we are having white covers with pale pink, pale blue, lilac and pale yellow sashes (or I hope we are- I haven't chosen them yet!).

I'm about to book our videographer- which everyone who has been married has urged us to do, as they say you miss so much of the day! Of all the choices we've made this is the one that my partner and I have argued over. I spent hours and hours researching companies but they were so much more expensive than I expected. The one our photographer recommended was £1800! That's more than my photo and video budget combined. I found a company who had worked with our venue several times and who were coming in around £600. However my partner wasn't keen on their sample videos and said the 30 minute length was too short. I mean, what does he expect, a full length cinematic extravaganza??

Eventually after much huffing from both of us we have decided to go with the above cheaper company. This was a compromise made by me pointing out that they were the only one we could afford, and that by this point I wanted to sod it all and just not have one. The company also offered us all the raw filmed footage for an extra £50, which made him happier. I'm still a bit wary as I don't want to book a supplier and after the wedding have him saying 'well I never wanted them anyway'. Hmm, watch this space...


DJ or Band?

We went to a wedding up north in the summer and they had an absolutley fantastic wedding band. Before I saw them I thought all wedding bands were a bit 'meh' and that I'd prefer to just hear the original version of the songs, but they really were fab. My partner is dying to hire them for our wedding- with just one hitch. They are far far out of our budget. The band alone is around £1500 to hire, plus around £500 in travel, hotel and food costs (as they would be coming from Yorkshire). Ouch.

I know my partner is a bit gutted and I feel really bad as it's the one thing he really wanted for the wedding- but we just can't justify 2k on a band when we are paying for the whole wedding ourselves, plus trying to save for a house deposit! The wedding budget is already slightly out of control and we have to draw the line somewhere. I don't really know what to do now- look for another band, or just go for a DJ? To be honest we are having a celidah (run by a friend for free) and fireworks, I'm not sure we need a band as well. But I know my partner really wants one. Dilemma!

Can anyone reccomend a band in the South West/Cotswolds? If anyone is interested, our 'dream' wedding band is The Rebel Sounds- and if you have the budget I definatley reccomend them!


I'm very worried I'll get major wobbles when I look at other peoples dresses and think "oh I wonder what that'll look like on me"! Also a friend who got engaged recently wants me to go shopping with her but I worry I'll start looking for me and change my dress was way over budget too so I can't afford to change it! 

Yes I do have a planning thread - Champagne and Ivory wedding - I think you have commented on it (cat proposal)! But I have updated it with the venue since then and will write about the dress v.soon!

Your venue looks amazing with the lights - definitely worth the extra £300! And I am so jealous but I don't think Ill manage fireworks in my budget. I am planning on having a sparkler send off though to make up for it....and hopefully a picture a bit like this: 

We are also having the massive debate a band vs. DJ. We aren't huge party people as at the beginning of this process vowed to only splash the money on things that are most important to us, which a party isn't really.  BUT I do think a band would be amazing and the best way to get people dancing and ensure they have a good time, as some our of guests are party people even if we aren't - such a dilemma!


Oh yes the cat proposal! I can't wait to see your dress :)

I would be a little worried too about going dress shopping with someone else and seeing something you like- does she have similar taste to you? If not then maybe agree to come with and see her in dresses but not browse the rails in case you see something!!

I agree a band gets people up and dancing! But if nobody dances its such a waste of money. At a wedding this summer I went to, not one person danced as the weather was so nice everyone just stayed outside. I'm kind of hoping that our celidah will do that job for us anyway.

We are paying £600 for fireworks which is a lot but I thought they might cost even more! It's the one thing ice always wanted at my wedding so worth the splurge :)  I do love the sparkler idea as well!


Yeah I cant wait to write about it - was an emotionally draining experience to say the least! ha! TBH I have no idea what her testes are but she is quite different to me so I'd imagine yes. Nevertheless I think as soon as I walk into a bridal store I'll just want to look through the rails as bridal boutiques are magical places haha! 

A celidah will definitely get people dancing, like you I am not sure if you need both that and a band! 

That's a great price for fireworks! xx