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Charlotte Balbier’s wedding diary: planning the perfect ceremony

Bridal designer Charlotte Balbier is getting married! This week she debates whether to say 'I do' in a church or civil ceremony

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The light and airy garden room at Iscoyd Park

When I was little, my only experience of weddings was in church and I’ve loved the church marriage service ever since – from the setting to the readings and the hymns to my favourite part, the bride walking down the aisle.

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I didn’t go to my first civil ceremony until my early 20s and, not knowing what to expect, I was struck by how quick it all was! No sooner had we sat down eagerly awaiting the bride’s arrival, than the “I dos” were all over and we were heading to the drinks reception. It was still a wonderful affair, though, and I’ll never forget how utterly beautiful the bride looked in cascading chiffon.

Since then I’ve probably been to more civil services than church weddings and I love the way they’re forever evolving. I’ve been a guest at ceremonies where live bands, pianists or singers have provided the entertainment, where friends and family have recited romantic poems and readings and where couples have exchanged handwritten personal vows that were so heartfelt and moving. With a civil service you really can tailor it to be everything you wish for.

So when Teddy and I booked our venue, the beautiful Iscoyd Park (iscoydpark.com), I wasn’t surprised to learn there were two rooms licensed for weddings; the drawing room, for intimate celebrations with a breathtaking view through to the elegant gardens, or the spacious garden room, a gloriously light and fresh room that almost feels and looks like a church. But as charming as the garden room was, both Teddy and I knew that being married in a church was what felt right for us, our family and our future.

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Charlotte’s fallen for the charms of Whitewell church

One of the things I loved about Iscoyd Park was that, just around the corner and tucked away in the Cheshire countryside, was the idyllic Whitewell church. It had me hooked from the start; even the name is perfect for a winter wedding. As soon as we booked Iscoyd we called Reverend Steven at Whitewell to find out the facts, although having heard stories from friends and Balbier brides that getting married in a church outside of our parish would not be easy, we were a little nervous to make the call. We needn’t have worried. Reverend Steven was friendly, warm and happy to go over all of the details. 

This Sunday we’ll be attending our first service there and we can’t wait. We are both beyond excited and really do feel blessed. From now until the wedding Teddy and I will worship at Whitewell and, after our banns have been read, we’ll exchange our vows and be married by Steven. (I still have to pinch myself when I say that!)

I’m looking forward to picking out our hymns and readings and putting together our vows for our special day. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to get married, it all comes down to what feels right for you. We’re so lucky today that we all have such freedom of choice. I’ve known Charlotte Balbier brides get married in church, on a beach, on a boat, in Central Park in New York and some by the king himself, Elvis in Las Vegas!

So that’s the venue booked, church booked and the date set…. what’s next? Photographer? Videographer? Florist? Entertainment? Food and drink? Favours? Themes? Cakes? Bridesmaids? Stag and hen dos … Phew! This list is endless! And with a million and one ideas going through my head, maybe I need a wedding planner, too?

Love Charlotte xx

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Next week Charlotte turns her attention to the details that will make her big day dreams come true! Don’t miss her next blog post on youandyourwedding.co.uk on 20 November…