Emma and Andy - Cain Manor

Physiotherapists Andy and Emma Van Blommestein got married at Cain Manor on 29th September 2014.


The Preparation:

Andy is Catholic and wanted a church wedding, however I wanted a civil ceremony as I’m not religious so we initially based our search around looking for a venue which had ecclesiastical qualities. We also love the countryside and the South Downs, so we ideally wanted somewhere with great views. We live in south-west London, and love the South of England, particularly the downs, so we centred our search through Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. We started by looking on wedding websites but I also looked at the council websites for registered venues in each area and checked them all out online, and made a short list of venues to visit from there. Cain Manor was the first venue we visited. We both had a great feeling about the place when we walked in –it wasn’t just because we were handed a glass of prosecco. The venue itself had everything we wanted –an amazing ceremony room with vaulted ceilings –barn-style, but also a little church-like to suit Andy’s needs. We did go to see another 5 or so other venues after that, but nothing quite matched up to the stunning Cain Manor.

The Planning Process:

Andy and I did the planning together.  As much as Andy was not hugely enthusiastic about it all, he really wanted to be involved all the way.  So when we came back for the wedding planning Wednesday, we found it amusing that we were the only couple there –all the others were brides to be and their mothers or friends.  We didn’t really have too much help in the planning, though Mum helped choose the dress, our friend Claire helped with the music, and Emma Cheng helped with the stationery.  Plus of course we had a lot of emotional support from friends throughout, and our Bijou wedding planner (Rosalind) was a great source of information and assistance.
The place names were all comical photos of our guests mounted in corks and the table names were all vineyards – three South African as a nod to Andy’s roots, and three English, as a nod to mine. We found choosing our menu quite hard.  We were constrained by cost, so that narrowed our selection down but because we could only taste one dish from each course and couldn’t pick which canapés to try, it was difficult to know if/what would actually be good as we couldn’t compare. Everyone commented on how great the canapés and the food were.

The Theme: 
This is a difficult one as we didn’t really aim to have a theme. If I had to say, perhaps loosely it would be vintage country with a South African twist.

The Day: 
I woke up early on the wedding day with a slight headache and in need of water!  We went for dinner the night before and had not planned to drink much, but ended up having my glass topped up constantly, I hadn’t intended to have a hangover.   We stayed the night before at Cain Manor with the bridal party which was great –it was an early wedding so it was nice not to have to plan driving to the venue into our day.  It was also great that the girls/guys from the bridal party could have breakfast together.  I think we were both nervous but excited.  Andy managed to go for a run around the surrounding villages with one of the Groomsmen to shake off some of the nerves!

The Reception: 
I will always remember the increase in sound as everyone started drinking more bubbles and the more daring people became whilst playing the outdoor games. We were clapped into the wedding breakfast by our guests as we entered the room. I was really nervous and emotional in front of my wife, family and friends as I delivered the most important speech of my lie but I laughed out loud when listening to the stories that my two best men had chosen to share with my nearest and dearest.

The Evening: 
Our first dance was to Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” as it was dedicated to his Grandparents about a couple being made for each other.  We had one dance lesson in our front room to give us some ideas on what to do, which was great.  There was a slight hiccup on the day as the wrong version was played but we don’t think anyone noticed!  We had a band in the evening interspersed with music from our own collection which helped us to have a great time dancing the night away.  We also had a photo booth which was a real hit. 

Where was your honeymoon?
We’ve not yet had our “proper” honeymoon, which we hope will be in South America. We’re saving up some extra cash and annual leave so we can make it extra special.  However, we booked a last minute deal (booked 2 days before our wedding) to a villa with a private pool and great views in Corfu. 

Top tips for other Bijou brides:
Don’t have too many photos – spend the time with your guests, the day goes really quickly! Try to enjoy as much of the planning process as you can, but don’t worry if you don’t, I know plenty of people who haven’t loved the planning, the most important thing is that you enjoy the day.

Life after Bijou –what are you both up to now? 
We’re currently looking for a new home and planning our proper honeymoon.

Who did what?


  • Robert Buress, Shooting Hip Photography, Petersfield


  • Raimon Bundo (Infanta) from Angelica Bridal, Angel, London


  • Peach Freshwater Peal bracelet, bespoke, from Maison Grimaldi, Antibes, France
  • Protea Charm on bracelet: AK Thorpe Jewellery (Andrea Thorpe)
  • Paris side-tiara, Starlet Jewellery from Cascade Online, Yorkshire
  • Shoes –BHS Wedding Collection –cheap but comfortable!

Wedding rings:

  • Tracey’s Diamonds, Franschoek, South Africa

Bridesmaids dresses: 

  • BHS wedding collection
  • Bridesmaids jewellery: bespoke white freshwater pearl necklaces (on leather as one bridesmaid allergic to metal) from Maison Grimaldi, Antibes, France

Hair & make-up: 

  • Nicky Rattray, Vanilla Blush Makeup, Petersfield

Groom’s outfit: 

  • Bespoke suite by Gresham Blake, Brighton 
  • Shoes: Loake
  • Shirt: Charles Tyrwhitt
  • Tie & pocket square: Marc Philippe
  • Protea cufflinks, AK Thorpe Jewellery


  • Emma Lee Cheng (vintage letterpress), London


  • The Lavender Hill Company, Farnham
  • Succulents for the cake and table displays: Fiona Wemyss, Blue Leaf Plants, Kent
  • Vases for all the flowers & candles: all from Emma’s Nan
  • Tree rings for table displays –sourced in the New Forest


  • Caroline Baker, Cakes to Impress, Petersfield


  • Band: Decade, Tailored Entertainment
  • Photo booth: Paul Saban, Like Photography, Farnham (lives 5mins from Cain Manor)