Real Wedding: A Laid Back Big Day with Splashes of Red in East Sussex
65 guests were in attendance at the intimate big day, and were treated to delicious pub food and a delightful handmade cake that perfectly suited the laid back style of the occasion.
Gemma wore a short vintage wedding dress accessorised with amazing Vivienne Westwood shoes, while Nick looked equally great in a slim fit polka dot suit - quite the dashing pair!
Click through their wedding day to see how they let their unique venue do the talking, yet still created a day that beautifully reflected them as a couple.
Photographer | Dale Weeks Photography
How they met and the proposal
Nick and Gemma knew each other from afar at college, with Gemma always having a crush on Nick, but being too shy to confess. <br /><br />"After leaving college we met again a few years later on the dance floor of Pitcher & Piano on a Saturday night in 2010," shares Gemma. <br /><br />Seven years on, Nick popped the big question, taking Gemma completely by surprise. <br /><br />"Nick took me on a weekend away to Harrogate for my birthday as I had always dreamt of going to Betty's Tea Rooms," explains Gemma. "He proposed over candlelight and a curry. I wouldn't have had it any other way!"
The venue choice
Gemma and Nick chose to hold their ceremony and reception at <a href="http://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-venues/the-bell-inn_2466.htm" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The Bell in Ticehurst</a>. The quirky venue is a renovated old coaching inn, perfect for holding lovely laid back weddings. <br /><br />"We knew from the beginning we didn't want anything too big or formal, just a nice relaxed day with the people we love all under one roof," says Gemma. <br /><br />"We saw four other venues before deciding on The Bell," she continues. "We'd stayed there before and knew it hosted weddings. We loved that it was completely unique in style with the eclectic decor and wacky finishing touches."
The wedding decorations
With such a unique aesthetic, The Bell allows couples to let the character of the venue do the talking and plan their decorations around it.<br /><br />"I wanted to play on the unique character of the place and use colours, shapes and textures which not only complemented, but added a personal stamp," explains Gemma.<br /><br />"We loved the rich reds and warmth of the wood, so we decided on a matching red colour scheme with clashing pinks to add a little spin. Red is the colour of love, after all!" She continues. <br /><br />Since the venue was a pub, Gemma and Nick played on this, using beer bottles to display flowers and buying fresh hops to hang over the railings.
The beer bottles
"We spent a whole year collecting empty beer bottles at every chance to use for our flower arrangements!" says Gemma. <br /><br />"I sprayed some gold and others I added a personalised initial stickers with a stamp."<br /><br />The bottles were displayed on the three long rows of tables, decorated with hessian table runners with the artful frayed edges. <br /><br />"I used paper doilies for name places and for favours I made 'Gem Jam'," she shares. "It's one of my favourite things to make and give so I thought it would be a perfect idea to make mini jars for everyone."
The wedding dress
Gemma found her wedding dress in vintage wedding boutique <a href="https://www.facebook.com/fcnkvintage" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Fur Coat No Knickers</a>. "I knew as soon as I got there that it was meant to be," she says.<br /><br />"Before going there I had tried on a lot of different dresses and was struggling to find something special enough."<br /><br />"The staff in the boutique made me feel so comfortable and relaxed and all the dresses were completely me."<br /><br />"The style I went for was called Gin & It," Gemma shares. "I loved the classic lace and the subtle satin edge detailing. I added a sparkly belt too, for extra glamour." <br /><br />"I've always liked the vintage '50s look as it's so feminine and glamourous, so my wedding day was a great opportunity to dress up like a mini Grace Kelly. I learnt that the key to finding a dress is to get one that reflects you as a person."
Vivienne Westwood wedding shoes
"My shoes were from <a href="http://shopmelissa.uk/vivienne-westwood/vivienne-westwood-melissa-lady-dragon-xii" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Vivienne Westwood</a> and were probably my favourite purchase ever!" Gemma says.<br /><br />"Having a shorter dress meant I wanted a pop of colour and they were just so fun! Plus, since they're made of jelly, they were so comfortable for dancing in."<br /><br />The heart detailing on the shoes influenced the whole day in the end, with Gemma sharing: "I went little bit heart crazy, with bowls of love hearts and heart shaped marshmallows. We left heart shaped lollipops on the seats for the guests as they arrived, too."
Red bridesmaids dresses
Gemma had her sister and nine-year-old cousin as her bridesmaids.<br /><br />"I couldn't get them matching outfits but wanted to get them colour matched as close as possible," she explains.<br /><br />"I found Ruby's <a href="http://uk.monsoon.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Monsoon</a> dress first, and I was so pleased they had the perfect red lace dress. We teamed it with some small heeled gold shoes."<br /><br />"My sister's dress came from <a href="http://www.asos.com/women/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ASOS</a> and she wore glitzy gold heels from <a href="http://www.newlook.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">New Look</a>."
The groom's outfit
"I didn't want the typical wedding style suit, so went for something a little more contemporary," shares Nick. "At the time it felt like a risk to go for a polka dot, slim suit, but this style seems to be favoured now."<br /><br />"I chose a slim fitting grey wool suit from <a href="http://joshuakanestore.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Joshua Kane Bespoke</a>, with a polka dot lining," he continues.<br /><br />"I wore it with a black wool double breasted waistcoat with a low lapel. My shirt was white with polka dots, and I accessorised with a navy micro-dot tie and a pocket square with larger dot detailing."<br /><br />"Shoe wise, I treated myself to some black <a href="http://www.church-footwear.com/uk/en" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Church's brogues</a> to make sure I was comfortable all day."<br /><br />"I thought the suit brand epitomised cool without standing out too much, after all, Gem needed to be the star of the show. "<br /><br />
The bridal bouquet
Nick and Gemma chose <a href="http://www.joannetruby.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Joanne Truby Floral Design</a> to do their flowers for the big day.<br /><br />"We were both so pleased with how they turned out, Joanne managed to capture everything we wanted and more and she got hold of red anemones, which really made my day," Gemma says.<br /><br />"My bouquet included anemones, roses, chamomile, astilbe, chocolate cosmos, craspedia, dahlias, asclepius and hypericum berries," she shares. "The button holes were mini versions."<br /><br />Colourful flowers were dotted about the venue, too, designed to mirror the relaxed and colourful feel of the day.
The improvised photo booth
In a flash of genius, Gemma and Nick created a photo booth style set up, without having to blow the budget.<br /><br />"We really wanted a photo booth but just couldn't afford it so we improvised with a load of gold curtains to create a back drop," Gemma says.<br /><br />"We had props and a polaroid camera which guests could then stick in our guest book with a message. This was very popular and it was so funny to see how wild the photos got towards the end of the night."
The wedding cake
Believe it or not, Gemma and Nick's gorgeous wedding cake was a joint effort between Gemma and her nan.<br /><br />"My nan helped me with the sponge and then I put it all together," Gemma reveals. "I used berries and flowers to create a <a href="http://www.youandyourwedding.co.uk/planning/cakes/gorgeous-nearly-naked-wedding-cakes/22215.html" target="_blank">nearly naked cake</a> look, and used some of my homemade Gem Jam and cream for the layers. I was very pleased with it and lots of it got eaten with the evening buffet, so I think everyone enjoyed it."
Gemma's most memorable moments
"The morning getting ready wit the girls and all the excitement building up was so memorable for me," she says.<br /><br />"The ceremony too; I really was on cloud nine and it felt so overwhelming to have everyone I love in the little room all together."
Nick's most memorable moment
"I was so nervous, I told myself I'd be fine but I wasn't," Nick admits.<br /><br />"I felt on edge all morning. It's silly as I knew everything would be fine but I couldn't relax until the speeches were over."<br /><br />"Seeing Gem for the first time really set me off; it's meant to be the girls that shed a tear!"
"Don't get too bogged down with the planning, remember the reasons you are doing it and let that lead your way," Gemma advises.<br /><br />"It's amazing how everything comes together on the day and how much help you have around you to make things happen. Be sure to take a minute to soak it all in and enjoy yourself as it goes so fast."<br /><br />"I know the details matter, but don't worry about them too much on the day," adds Nick. "Nobody else will worry about them and it might make your day flow a little smoother." <br /><br />As for Gemma's best money saving tip? "If you can do it yourself, do! Spend money on things which will make a difference. Saving money on a cake or centrepieces can free up money for things that will make your day more individual."