A Notley Abbey Wedding with a Modern Romance Theme for Sarah and Sean

Exquisite floral detail, sensational table décor and a cake too pretty to eat! View the spring real wedding story of Sarah and Sean here...

Sarah and Sean on the drive at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire

When Sarah Met Sean

Sarah worked for Sean in a department store back in 2015 and used to offer to work for free, just so that she could be around him. However, it wasn’t until the following year, after Sarah had left her job, that Sean agreed to go on a date. The pair hit it off and moved in with each other after just a short amount of time. It wasn't long before Sean realised that Sarah was the woman he wanted to marry, so a little over a year after getting together, Sean purchased Sarah’s dream engagement ring. 

Sarah came home from a night out, to a hallway lined with petals and candles, and Sean cooking a steak dinner. Sarah thought a proposal might be about to happen but didn’t say anything and then on the sofa whilst watching Masterchef, Sean nervously reached down the side of the sofa, found the ring box he’d been hiding and got down on one knee in front of Sarah, saying ‘Are you going to marry me then?’ Sarah excitedly said yes but made Sean propose again later on that night.

The newly engaged couple spent the next 18 months planning their sensational wedding at Notley Abbey.

A stunning floral arch inspired by Meghan Markle's Royal wedding
Pink wedding decor in The Abbot's Hall

A Dress Fit for a Princess 

Sarah wanted a full, ball gown style wedding dress and ended up purchasing the first dress she tried on. 

‘Forget me Not’ by Ian Stuart featured a sweetheart neckline, an embellished bodice and a full A-line skirt with a rose pink underlay, adding a subtle hint of colour. "It suited my princess personality down to the ground" explained Sarah. Just to ensure it was ‘the one’, the bride-to-be tried on 5 additional dresses, but nothing compared. She even had the gown customized to have a longer train and off-the-shoulder sleeves so that she could have her Princess Diana moment as she walked down the aisle.

Sarah teamed her gown up with nude, pump style Christian Louboutin wedding shoes and wore her hair in big, curled waves, pushed back with a glitzy slide from Miss Clemmie Accessories. 

A Maid of Honour, two bridesmaids and 3 flower girls supported Sarah on her big day. The older bridesmaids wore multi-way dresses from M&S and Sean looked dapper in a Royal Blue, three piece tailored suit with a grey waistcoat and a pink bow tie – a slightly different look from his grooms party.

Booking Notley Abbey

Sarah had browsed several different styles of wedding venues online, but in the end only ended up visiting Notley Abbey as it seemed to fit their requirements in more ways than one. During their visit, Sarah and Sean loved everything about Notley Abbey; from the long driveway to the beautiful house and the grounds. “We were really lucky to be able to get married in such a beautiful venue. The history also added an extra wow factor.”

Sarah and Sean thought the online wedding planner, provided by Bijou Weddings was an absolute dream to use and meant that they could plan the wedding as and when they wanted to. Sarah planned her wedding during lunch breaks at work, late at night when she couldn’t sleep and when she emailed The Bijou Team with any queries, her questions were always answered very quickly. All in all, the couple found the planner very straight forward to use and believe it helped the wedding to run smoothly on the day.

Wedding Flowers Inspired by Meghan Markle

When it came to her floral ideas, Sarah took inspiration from none-other than Meghan Markle and the floral arch she had at her Royal wedding in May 2018. “Hayley from Bloomfields designed our flowers and she was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made” explained Sarah. Her wedding bouquet consisted of garden roses, lisianthus and eucalyptus foliage amongst others, and similar flowers/foliage also featured in the stunning floral arch over the entrance to Notley Abbey, in large white urns in The Abbot’s Hall for the wedding ceremony, on reception tables in The Monks’ Refectory and in button holes for the groom’s party. 

“Our flowers were my favourite part of the wedding day, and honestly took my breath away when I saw them. I’ve always loved flowers and it was such a privilege to have so many on the day. Plus the smells were incredible! We had so many compliments on them.” said Sarah.

The Big Day: Friday 22nd March, 2019 

Sarah and Sean’s wedding ceremony started at 1pm in The Abbot’s Hall which had been beautifully dressed in a soft shade of pink by Joley from Ambience Buckinghamshire. 64 guests witnessed the marriage and signing of the register to the sounds of ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga – Sarah is a huge Lady Gaga fan and couldn’t get married with out her music playing in the background at some point. The Best Man, and Maid of Honour each read a reading and a kiss sealed the deal before the couple headed back down the aisle as husband and wife. 

After a confetti shower and drinks on the patio with photography by Steph Kiely, the newlywed couple and their guests were called in to The Monks’ Refectory – decorated to perfection by Ambience Buckinghamshire and complete with floral detail from Bloomfields. The Monks’ Refectory looked gorgeous and everyone was excited for the feast they were about to be served. 

Spring Wedding Feast

Starter: Baked French brie parcel, served warm with a bacon, redcurrant and caramelised orange salad    
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Main Course: Slow braised sticky Hampshire beef with creamed parsnip mash, Root vegetable crisps and Olivette carrots
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Dessert: Blackberry and apple crumble with caramel ice cream and creme Anglaise
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Wedding pianist, Anne Jenkins, played the Grand Piano in The Monks’ Refectory, beautifully, throughout the wedding breakfast and wedding reception tables were named after hotels the couple had stayed at in the past. Personalised M&Ms were given as favours, along with a donation to The British Heart Foundation to honour the life saving heart surgery the bride’s father had back in 2012. 

Sarah and Sean hired Jamie Bakes Cakes to design a stunning five-tier wedding cake to stand tall during their romantic wedding reception. The five wedding cake flavours, from the bottom tier up, consisted of Madagascan vanilla with jam and buttercream, chocolate fudge and rich chocolate buttercream, salted caramel, zesty lemon with lemon curd and lemon buttercream and the top tier was a traditional fruit cake. As an extra sweet element to the day, Sarah and Sean hired the Sweetie Cart from the Bijou Venue Styling department which featured personliased bags to fill with candy. 

The Bijou DJ played ‘Is That Alright?’ by Lady Gaga as the newlyweds danced their first dance, whilst Firebust Fireworks set up a display on the lawn at the front of the historic Abbey for everyone to enjoy. A further 29 guests joined the evening festivities and as the night came to a close, the newlywed couple and their overnight guests drifted up to bed at 1am after a nightcap to end a wonderful day. 

Sarah and Sean spent their honeymoon in the Maldives for 7 nights and said that their most memorable moment of the day was walking down the aisle, seeing each other for the first time. 

Sarah’s Top Wedding Planning Tip

“We booked Notley Abbey from the night before (which I know isn’t always possible) and it was the best thing that we could have done in terms of preparing for the wedding, as it meant that everything wasn’t such a rush and we could relax the night before and even decorate some of the rooms the night before the wedding.”

Sarah and Sean’s Wedding Suppliers 

Wedding Venue: Notley Abbey
Wedding Photographer: Steph Kiely Photography 
Wedding Dress Designer: Ian Stuart 
Wedding Shoes: Christian Louboutin 
Wedding Hair Accessories: Miss Clemmie Accessories
Hair & Beauty: Frankie Rose
Bridesmaid Dresses: M&S
Groomswear: Fogarty Formal Hire 
Wedding Florist: Bloomfields
Venue Styling: Ambience Buckinghamshire 
Wedding Pianist: Anne Jenkins
Caricatures: MK Caricatures
Wedding Cake Designer: Jamie Bakes Cakes 
Sweetie Cart + white post box: Bijou Venue Styling
Evening Entertainment: Bijou DJ
Wedding Insurance: John Lewis
Wedding Videography: Save the Date Wedding Videography 
Fireworks: Fireburst Fireworks 

Notley Abbey is one of the most historic wedding venues in Buckinghamshire
A floral bouquet created by Bloomfields flowers
The bride looking over the country grounds of Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire
A pretty spring button hole idea for the groom
Suits hired from Fogarty in Leighton Buzzard
M&S bridesmaids dresses in a shade of grey
Sarah and Sean exchanging emotional vows during their wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey
The bride and groom exiting Notley Abbey under a floral arch
The bride with her bridesmaids outside the country house wedding venue
Wedding photography in the walled garden at Notley Abbey
Wedding photography in the country grounds at Notley Abbey
Matching leather jackets for the bridesmaids at Notley Abbey
Ambience Venue Styling in The Monks' Refectory at Notley Abbey
Wedding menus with a pink theme
Floral styling at Notley Abbey by Bloomfields
A tall 5-tier wedding cake creation featured at Notley Abbey
A moment to reflect on the wedding day at Notley Abbey
Wedding photography around the grounds at Notley Abbey
The Monks' Refectory is lit with glamorous chandeliers
Notley Abbey is a romantic country house wedding venue
Firework display by Bijou Partner Fireburst Fireworks
Notley Abbey is available to hire for 24 hours