Gemma and Daniel Wed Outdoors in The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey

Gemma and Daniel celebrated a sunny, September wedding ceremony outdoors in The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey, Buckinghamshire. Read all about their dream wedding day…

Gemma and Dan celebrated an outdoor wedding at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire

About the Couple 

Gemma has worked in the wedding industry for the past decade and was on a work night out when she met her husband-to-be. A friend introduced her to her boyfriend and his friends…one of whom was Dan. 

Several years later, and after realising that they truly were ‘meant-to-be’, Dan planned a surprise picnic, to take place on a boat in the beautiful Oxfordshire town of Henley. Dan had arranged for his brother and his fiancé to join them, so that his brother could drive the boat…but at the last minute he got called away to work (as a fireman) and luckily made it back just in time. Dan’s plan went ahead and on the gorgeous, sunny, September afternoon, he bent down on one knee and proposed to Gemma, with a ring he’d had designed especially for his beautiful bride-to-be.  Gemma’s future sister-in-law took photographs and everyone enjoyed a glass of celebratory Champagne as they gently drifted down the River Thames. Celebrations continued further into the evening as Dan had arranged a family meal at Gemma’s favourite restaurant. 

Finding the Dress

Gemma tried on around 12 different wedding dress styles before finding ‘the one’. Her mother advised her to buy a ‘proper’ wedding dress; one that was unique, stylish and unlike anything she’d ever worn before. Gemma followed her mother’s advice and fell madly in love with a gorgeous number from bridalwear designer, Ellis.

The bodice of Gemma’s dreamy dress was a delicate blush pink and was a combination of everything she’d loved about all the wedding dresses that she had previously tried on. The gown was originally strapless, but to make it her own, Gemma had straps added. Teamed with pretty wedding shoes, a stunning veil and beautiful bridal make-up, Gemma was ready for her fabulous outdoor wedding at her dream Buckinghamshire wedding venue, Notley Abbey. 

Gemma and Dan outside the front of Notley Abbey, an exclusive use wedding venue in Buckinghamshire
Gemma and Dan chose a purple and pink decorative theme for their country house wedding in Buckinghamshire

Booking a Buckinghamshire Wedding Venue 

Choosing Notley Abbey was a no-brainer for Gemma and Dan. Having worked with the Bijou Wedding Venues group for several years, Gemma was very familiar with the way in which Notley Abbey operates and the high standards that Bijou portray at every single one of their weddings. She knew she’d have complete faith in the Bijou team from the start of her wedding planning journey to the end.

Gemma said “The staff did an incredible job on our wedding day and it has been so lovely to hear such positive comments from all our friends and family even months after our wedding.” 

Before her wedding, Gemma asked every married couple that she knew, what they would have done differently if they got married again. The response from almost everyone was the fact that they wished they’d hired a wedding videographer. Gemma and Dan made a point of booking the best wedding videographer that they could afford. “Seeing the photographs from our wedding has been amazing but the wedding DVD really captured the day and helped us re-live it all” said Gemma. 

The Bridal Party 

Gemma initially asked 5 friends to be bridesmaids, but one fell pregnant and her due date happened to be just a week after the wedding - so Gemma had 4 bridesmaids and one honorary bridesmaid supporting her on the big day. The bride-to-be hadn’t decided on a set colour theme when she started looking for outdoor-wedding appropriate dresses for her best girls, but managed to find floor-length, blush pink gowns from a high street store which matched the blush hues in her wedding dress perfectly. The style of dress that Gemma ended up choosing also meant that it was suitable for all of the bridesmaids, who were all different heights and sizes.  

The groom and his ushers hired dark suits and blush coloured ties from Moss Boss. 

The Big Day: 23rd September, 2016 

Gemma and Dan planned a civil wedding ceremony in The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey; they loved the idea of being able to celebrate their marriage on the wonderful lawn with their 80 guests immediately after the ceremony. Gemma prepared for her big moment in the luxurious bridal suite at Notley Abbey before heading down the grand, chandelier-lit staircase with her pretty bridesmaids and her father. The couple hired Bijou’s recommended partner, The Paper Songbirds, to sing Gemma down the white, lantern-lined aisle and during the signing of the register. For years, Gemma had always known that she wanted to walk down the aisle to ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical Rent; Steph and Lizzie from The Paper Songbirds (who had both recently been cast in the musical) sang the perfect rendition. Gemma walked down the aisle on the arm of her father and the couple stood under ‘the nook’ in The Walled Garden to say their romantic wedding vows to one another. It was a magical and memorable moment for the bride and her new husband. A kiss sealed the deal and the celebrating began! 

The couple decided to hire the lemonade stand and ice cream trike from Bijou. Guest were able to help themselves to a cool refreshment during the early afternoon – and were entertained by a magician, Andrew Edmonds, who Gemma had been wowed by at a London Wedding Show during her wedding planning journey. Refreshments and canapés were served on the lawn in front of Notley Abbey where the couple also did their unforgettable ‘confetti shot’. 

Emma from Signature flowers designed all of the floral arrangements for Gemma and Dan’s day. The couple were lucky to have wonderful weather on the day of the wedding, so Emma was able to display incredible floral arrangements over the entrance to Notley Abbey as well as outside on the end of the white wedding ceremony chairs to add a touch of colour. Gemma wanted to create a real wow-factor in the Monks’ Refectory for their evening reception, so opted for tall, elegant floral displays. Deep purple shades mixed with a shocking pink decorated the reception beautifully and the couple even had a monogram of their initials featured on the stone wall in the Monks’ Refectory. Purple organza sashes were tied to ice chiavari chairs and blush table cloths hired online gave the whole reception a touch of glam. 

Gemma and Dan’s Wedding Banquet Menu

Red onion tart, spinach & saffron shallot, mascarpone, red currant & balsamic
Roast butternut soup with root vegetable crisps (v)
Slow braised sticky Hampshire beef with creamed parsnip mash, honey roast baby carrots, baby leeks, glazed baby onions & celery
Roast Mediterranean vegetable stack with garlic and
thyme glazed goats' cheese and new potatoes (v)
Chocolate pot with a melting middle, mandarin sorbet with a sprig of mint and chocolate crumbs
Fresh fruit platter with Charantaise melon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and kiwi (v)

The couple made sure that music was played throughout their drinks reception and throughout the day, in order to create a wonderful atmosphere. The Paper Songbirds sang their hearts out post-ceremony but during dinner the couple had pre-prepared a play list which could be heard through an iPod. During the evening the couple hired a guitar duo, Ear Candy, who played for an hour before the Bijou DJ started to play in the early evening.  A further 40 guests joined the newlywed couple during the evening reception where an evening buffet of Bijou’s Super Slow Roast Pulled Pork Hog Roast with baps and apple sauce was served, along with a delicious wedding cake made of cheese.

Dan and his sister Zoe are keen bakers, so it was a given from the beginning of their wedding planning process that the groom would be baking their wedding cake. The 7 different flavours of cake in their incredible cupcake-style tower, represented the 7 years that the couple had been together; a wonderful touch! 3 days before the wedding, Gemma and Dan’s kitchen transformed itself in to a bakery, but all of the stress and taste testing was worth it! The couple froze the top tier of their cake to share with family at a later date – a gathering where they all watched their wedding DVD together for the first time. 

Instead of creating a traditional wedding gift list, Gemma and Dan asked guests to contribute towards a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. The couple have yet to venture on their dream honeymoon, but will be heading over to Bangkok, Krabi and Phuket in early 2017 to continue the celebration of their marriage.  

Top Tips for Future Wedding Planning Couples 

When asked if there was any advice that she could give future wedding planning couples, Gemma said “Go with your gut instinct when making decisions. It is easy to get bogged down with all the minor details and spend ages researching different options.” 

Gemma and Daniel’s Wedding Suppliers 

Wedding Venue: Notley Abbey
Wedding Photographer: Guy Hearn  
Wedding Dress: Ellis
Wedding Singers: The Paper Songbirds
Wedding Cake: Baked by the groom
Bridal Make-up: Abbie Martin
Wedding Hair: Lucy Beasley
Wedding Florist: Signature flowers
Groomswear: Moss Boss
Wedding Band: Ear Candy
Wedding Magician: Andrew Edmonds
Wedding Videographer: Black Kite​
Lemonade Stand & Ice Cream Trike: Bijou Hire
Evening Entertainment: Bijou DJ
Wedding Car Hire: The Bijou E-Type Jaguar
Dance Floor and Lighting: Virtual Events

Notley Abbey is an exclusive use, country house wedding venue with accommodation on the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire border
The outdoor wedding ceremony set up at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire
Ideas for decorating your wedding chairs for an outdoor wedding
Floral decor at Notley Abbey
Gemma and Dan hired the Bijou Post Box for their wedding reception
Notley Abbey is an exclusive use, wedding venue with history located near the border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire
Gemma and Dan hired a florist to decorate the exterior and interior of Notley Abbey
A wedding sign put up outside Notley Abbey to welcome guests
Gemma getting ready in the gorgeous bridal suite at Notley Abbey
Gemma chose a wedding dress by the designer Ellis
Gemma preparing for the big moment
Gemma's bridesmaids seeing her for the first time
The bride on her way to down to meet her groom
The bride with her bridesmaids at the top of the staircase at Notley Abbey
The bride and father of the bride on their way down to The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey
Gemma and Dan wed outside at Notley Abbey at the end of the summer
The outdoor aisle at Notley Abbey, an exclusive use wedding venue with accommodation in Buckinghamshire
Gemma and Dan saying their wedding vows in The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey
An outdoor wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey
The Paper Songbirds entertained guest throughout Gemma and Dan's outdoor wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey
Newlyweds Gemma and Dan signing the register outdoors
The couple walking back down the aisle after their outdoor wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey, located on the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
Gemma and Dan hired Bijou's E-Type Jaguar and took it for a spin after their outdoor ceremony at Notley Abbey
Bijou Wedding Venues have an E-Type Jaguar for hire
Gemma and Dan hired the Lemonade Cart from Bijou
Gemma and Dan posing for a photograph within the grounds of Notley Abbey
Gemma and Dan on the approach to Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire
The newlywed couple enjoying the luxurious country grounds at Notley Abbey
Notley Abbey is a dream, country house wedding venue with wonderful grounds
Wedding guests mingling outside Notley Abbey after the outdoor wedding ceremony
Garden games were played on the lawn during the wedding reception
Gemma wore a gorgeous wedding dress by Ellis
A welcoming wedding sign
Gemma's bridal bouquet consisted of pink and cream florals
Tall vases were placed in the centre of each wedding reception table
A lovely way to display wedding reception table names
Floral decor for the top table at Gemma and Dan's wedding
The top table and Gemma and Dan's wedding at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire
Gemma and Dan chose a luxury wedding reception theme for their Notley Abbey wedding
The Monks' Refectory at Notley Abbey decorated for Gemma and Dan's wedding reception
Elegant wedding reception decor in the Monks' Refectory at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire
All of Gemma and Dan's wedding guests outside Notley Abbey
Gemma and her bridesmaids taking a wedding selfie outside Notley Abbey
The groom, his best man and ushers
The bride with her bridesmaids on the lawn outside Notley Abbey
Gemma and Dan's bridal party at Notley Abbey
Decor over the mantle piece at Notley Abbey
Gemma with the Bijou Team
The wedding speeches at Gemma and Dan's summer wedding at Notley Abbey
Wedding cake made of cupcakes created by the groom
The top tier of Gemma and Dan's home-made wedding cake
The newlywed couple cutting through the top tier of their wedding cake
The bride tossing her bouquet to her girlfriends
Getting dark at Notley Abbey
The Cloisters Garden walk at Notley Abbey
The first dace in the Monks' Refectory for the newlywed couple
The newlywed couple and their guests on the dance floor in the Monks' Refectory at Notley Abbey