Charlotte & Christopher - Cain Manor

Primary school teacher Charlotte booth married sales manager Christopher Bestwick at Cain Manor on 27th July 2014

THE STORY

The Preparation: 
When Chris and I started discussing marriage we both knew immediately that we wanted a relaxed, informal venue for our wedding. We moved into our first home together in 2012 which we call the 'cosy cottage' due to it's age, character and charm. We wanted our venue to reflect this and for our guests to feel relaxed. 

The Planning Process: 
Once we started looking online in the Surrey area and found Cain Manor we pretty much knew that we didn't need to look any further. We were quite realistic about the possibility of rain in July so we had been looking for a venue which would comfortably allow for shelter should we need it. On the initial visit there was a lot of sideways glances and smirks to each other that we knew we had found the place we wanted to get married. We were drawn to the cosy feel of the meeting room with huge fire place, the high beams of the ceremony room and the amount of space and stunning views outside. 
We thought we couldn't so lucky as to find 'the one' on our first visit so we arranged an appointment at another venue to compare. The following weekend we visited the other venue and there really was no comparison. On the way home from this venue we rang Bijou to see if we could arrange another visit that afternoon. The staff were happy to help and immediately having hung up the phone, we received a text message confirming our appointment and informing us that 'champagne would be chilling for your arrival'. This was one of the many little details along the way which made us feel welcome. We were so sure about Cain Manor that we confirmed our wedding date before we had even got engaged! We knew we wanted to get married the following year and we didn't want to risk not being able to get married at the venue so we booked the venue in September 2013 before Chris whisked me off to Venice for a romantic proposal in November. 

The Theme: 
Like many brides I had an idea of the dress I wanted from the off. With this in mind I based the colours and theme around the dress, the relaxed feel of the venue and with the advice of my florist, Michele, the types of flowers that would be in season during July. 
Our theme was 'Shabby Chic' as a result of mixing antique rose with sage and ivory. Our invitations and wedding stationery from byinvitationly.co.uk had featured birds so I wanted to keep the theme of lovebirds throughout too. 
For further inspiration I had wonderful chats with my mum and Michele about elements we could combine. I wanted every table arrangement to be different and even though we were aiming for a relaxed feel, all arrangements were planned to the last detail. As much as I love flowers I wanted to avoid being wasteful so we came up with the idea of accessorising in other ways. Chris and I enjoy playing Scrabble so this was included from our guest’s tables to our bouquets. Michele had a multitude of beautiful antique glass domes, under which she made individual arrangements, paper flowers, candelabras, cameras and books which were all talking points for our guests during the wedding breakfast. These details spilled out into the waiting room where intricate vases of flowers and swans decorated the tables for the guest book and finger print tree.

The Day: 
I stayed at my parents’ the night before as we had planned for the bridal party to meet there before heading off to beautify ourselves at Cain. I had about 20minutes to myself the morning of the wedding, before my family woke up and the doorbell started ringing. For me it felt like the anticipation and excitement of all of my childhood Christmas Eves rolled into one. My hair stylist Kasia Fortuna arrived to set my hair whilst my bridesmaids arrived with happy hysteria and much needed breakfast! They had kindly surprised me with arranging a black taxi to the venue so that we could all have a celebratory Prosecco en-route.
The bridal suite was a joy to get ready in. There was ample room for myself, the bridal party and all of the people who were there to help us get ready. It also set the scene for some beautiful photos.
Before I walked down the aisle with my dad and had a moment to compose myself, I noticed that all of the staff had quietly got into position and even in that surreal moment I remember thinking how smart they looked with their white gloves lined up outside the ceremony room. Aside from feeling incredibly nervous, I couldn't wait to walk in and see Chris. The ceremony was perfect and on our exit, Chris and I, who were still slightly stunned, were ushered in the right direction by well positioned, affable staff.

The Reception: 
After the ceremony The Storyville Strutters began to play. We had searched extensively online for a band who would be happy to play acoustically and keep to the feeling of the day rather than just play a set playlist. When the heavens opened they continued without a second thought and proceeded inside.
Our photographer, Isha, had met with us previously for a pre-shoot so that we could get to know each other and discuss concerns such as angles we didn't want to be photographed from or whether we were more comfortable with formal/informal shots. She had previously asked me to gather ideas of pictures I liked from online and send them to her before the wedding. She had brought copies of these pictures with her to remind me of what I had asked for. Posing for a wedding photo is very different to having a quick snap on a night out, so these and Isha's instructions were invaluable. She made us feel at complete ease and promised us that even if an angle seemed unnatural to us it would look good in a photo. Isha worked around sunshine, rain and lightning, allowing time for us to talk to our guests as well get the photos we wanted. We couldn't be happier with our photos and how the time to take them was naturally incorporated into the day. 
The wedding breakfast arrived before we knew it. As we sat down the band had discreetly made their way up to the balcony and played while our guests ate.
One of the first things Chris and I spoke about was ensuring our guests were not hungry throughout the day. Bijou provides an extensive assortment of canapes which were very difficult to choose from. We also opted for a buffet of mini burgers and hot dogs for the evening.
There was a good variety of food to choose for the wedding breakfast without feeling like we had little or too much option. We opted for warm buffalo mozzarella tart with heirloom tomatoes and pesto, classic roast breast of free range chicken served with seasonal vegetables as our main and chocolate pot with a melting middle for dessert. Bijou was very accommodating for our guests who required vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Chris and I are wine lovers so the opportunity to take away our chosen samples by Bijou was warmly welcomed. It allowed us to consider what we and our guests would like in our own time without feeling like we wouldn't remember how they tasted from a sip we'd sampled weeks ago. 
Our cake was chosen from Marks and Spencer to match the roses in my bouquet and consisted of sponge, chocolate and fruit layers. 
I spent the entirety of my dad's speech trying not to cry, knowing that if I did he would lose his composure. It was heartfelt and beautiful and I had a good cry when I re-read it at home the next day! 

The Evening: 
It was my mum who suggested I have a first dance with my dad before he gave me away a final time to Chris. We danced to Stevie Wonder’s 'I just called to say I love you' as it's a special song to us from when I was young. Chris and I danced to 'I won’t let you go' by James Morrison. 

The Honeymoon:
Due to my school terms, we had planned to go away during the Christmas holidays but our plans were happily put on hold as, unbeknownst to us at the time, we had an extra guest stowed away on our wedding day. Baby Bestwick is due in April 2015 and we couldn't be more excited!

Top tips for other Bijou brides:
I always had an idea of how I wanted my wedding and when I started to look online for ideas I found it quite easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices and ideas. To avoid this I spoke often to Chris, my mum and my bridesmaids for their opinions. Do go to different venues and vendors to compare as you need to find what is best for you. Ask friends for recommendations of who they know of or who they have used, but don't feel obliged to use anyone’s services as your wedding will be different to everyone else’s. 

 

Life after Bijou – what are you both up to now? 
We are now busy doing all of those jobs on the 'To Do' list before our arrival in the Spring. Our wedding exceeded all of our expectations. We really did have the best day imaginable and would love to do it all again. 

 

Who did what?
Photography: Isha Hawkins    
Dress: 'Grace' by Allure from Aurora Brides 
Accessories: Veil and Hair Accessories, Aurora Brides, Earrings - Fraser Hart
Wedding rings: Fraser Hart
Bridesmaids dresses: Coast
Hair & make-up: Kasia Fortuna (Hair) Alex Bastable (Make - up)
Groom’s outfit: Moss Bros
Stationery: Byinvitationly
Flowers: Michele Knibbs from Muscari Whites 
Cake: Marks and Spencer
Venue dresser (if applicable): Michele Knibbs
Videographer: Luigi and Natalie Pozella from Wedding Flicks
Entertainment: The Storyville Strutters