A Country Wedding with a South African Twist for Andy and Emma

A September wedding at Cain Manor for Emma and Andy featuring a South African twist

Finding Our Perfect Venue

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 and the ultimate barn-style feel - 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 compared to the stunning Cain Manor.

The Wedding Planning Process

Andy and I did the planning together. And, as much as Andy was not hugely enthusiastic about it all, he really wanted to be involved all the way. We attended a Wedding Planning Wednesday, which we found amusing because we were the only couple there – all the other guests 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. We had a lot of emotional support from friends throughout, plus our Bijou Wedding Planner, Rosalind, was a great source of information and assistance.

The Big Day: 29th September, 2014

Our wedding celebration followed a vintage country theme with a South African twist.

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 were lucky enough to stay at Cain Manor with the bridal party the night before the wedding; we had secured an early wedding time slot with the registrar so it was nice be at the venue in order to get ready early and at our own pace. It was also great that the girls/guys from the bridal party could have breakfast together. I think we were both nervous but excited and Andy even managed to go for a run around the surrounding villages with one of the Groomsmen to shake off some of the nerves!

At our wedding reception the table 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 wedding banquet menu quite hard, but on the day everyone commented on how great the canapés and the food were.

Our first dance was to Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” as it was dedicated to Andy's 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 hired a photo booth which was a real hit. 

Our Honeymoon and Top Tips

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. 

Our top tips for future Bijou couples would be: 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.

Emma and Andy's Wedding Suppliers

Wedding Venue: Cain Manor
Wedding Photographer: Shooting Hip Photography
Wedding Dress Designer: Raimon Bundo (Infanta) 
Hair & make-up: Vanilla Blush Makeup
Wedding Flowers: The Lavender Hill Company
Wedding Cake and Table Displays: Blue Leaf Plants
Wedding Cake: Cakes to Impress
Wedding Band: Decade, Tailored Entertainment
Photo booth: Like Photography
Wedding Stationery: Emma Cheng