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Ali and Dylan’s Wedding at Botleys Mansion

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A Botleys Mansion Wedding with a King Proteas Floral Theme

Ali and Dylan met through an online dating site and had so much to drink on their first date that Ali blames the alcohol on her agreeing to a second. However, she did find Dylan and his South African charm intriguing and was excited to get to know him (and his crazy cat) a little better.

After being together for just a year, Dylan started to search for the perfect engagement ring. His search started with a ring designer who sent over a number of designs that Dylan could choose from, however none were perfect so Dylan chose aspects of each design he liked to make it the perfect ring. He then had to plan the perfect proposal.

The couple had already booked to visit South Africa in February 2016 to follow the Garden route, taking in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Knysna, Kariega Game Reserve and complete their journey at Dylan’s parents’ house in East London. Dylan thought that this was the perfect time to pop the question and therefore made plans to propose during a safari ride. Absolute secrecy was insured by Ali’s parents, who Dylan had asked permission from prior to their holiday, and the game driver who escorted Ali & Dylan on their first game drive. Seeing wild rhino, giraffe and zebra on their first trip was unbelievable and when the game driver suggested a quick refreshment break to take in the late afternoon sun it seemed to be the perfect time to get out and take in the amazing scenery and wildlife. With the driver discreetly moving away, the planned fire-pit, petals on the table and champagne on ice Dylan turned to Ali and stated ‘I’ve got a present for you!’ after tossing a ring box in her direction with the rushed words of ‘so you’ll say yes then?!’ Ali had to point out that actually he didn’t even ask her THE question! However, it was always going to be a big YES, and the celebrations continued throughout the rest of the holiday with Dylan’s parents in South Africa throwing them a big engagement party.

Setting the Date at Botleys Mansion

The couple knew that they wanted to get married within a year of their engagement and therefore set March 2017 as their wedding month. They were on the hunt for a spacious wedding venue to contain their guests, should the British weather turn on them once the big day arrived. Botleys Mansion was the first venue Ali and Dylan visited on Sunday 13th March 2016; in the blazing sunshine as the couple drove up the sweeping drive to the grand and imposing façade. It was love at first sight. The entrance to the glass Atrium sealed the deal and it felt right for the excited couple to host their wedding at Botleys Mansion. Trying to keep a cool head, Ali and Dylan decided that they should continue to look at a selection of alternative wedding venues as a comparison. But after leaving the last venue scheduled for a couple of weeks later, they both turned to each other in the car and stated ‘it has to be Botleys Mansion’ and put the deposit down for Friday 10th March, 2017 as they drove away from their final wedding venue visit. Shortly after putting down their deposit, Ali and Dylan purchased wedding insurance from Debenhmas, to give them peace of mind throughout their wedding planning process.

During the run up to their wedding, Bijou’s online planner was a complete lifesaver to Ali and Dylan as it allowed them to keep track of costs, guests attending and different options that were available in regards to enhanced extras. Even for someone as organised as Ali who had a number of wedding spreadsheets, the online planner was an amazing tool to use.

Finding an Elegant Wedding Dress

Ali had pictured the wedding dress she wanted from the moment they got engaged. Having her heart set on a satin princess dress with some lace detailing, it was disappointing to find that these dresses were not a popular choice and she therefore struggled to find anything close to what she had researched online. Not wanting to go strapless as well also added to the stress of finding suitable dresses and hearing that ‘you can add a bolero’ became frustrating. After attending 7 wedding dress shops with her mum and sister and still not finding anything Ali decided to pay to have the dress she’d seen online, shipped to a dress shop in London, JS Couture. Once her dress had arrived, the bride-to-be visited the shop with her mother and sister. However, after walking out of the dressing room in what should have been her dream dress it was hard to contain the tears of disappointment as it just didn’t look right. The shop owner had recently had an Allure Bridal trunk show and had kept one dress back and asked if Ali would like to try it on. Style number 9362 was a satin fishtail with a lot of beading to the front and a very detailed back. It looked perfect on. Ali cried, her mum cried and a wedding dress purchase was made.

To fit in with the glamour of her dress, Ali thought that a pair of satin shoes would go best, and found a gorgeous pair by Badgley Mischka online which were ivory satin with enclosed toe and a detailed strap. They were stunning and perfect and also extremely comfortable despite the 4-inch heel; Ali wore her stunning shoes all night and didn’t even change into flats for dancing.

Bridesmaids & Bridal Beauty

Choosing the bridesmaids and groomsmen was a fairly easy process. Ali and Dylan wanted equal numbers in both parties and it was decided that 5 bridesmaids and 5 groomsman would make the wedding party look great, but not too crowded.

The traditional flower of South Africa, the king proteas, was the main floral focus at the wedding – therefore, Ali thought it would be perfect to have her bridesmaids wear gowns in a shade of dusky pink.

When it came to finding a wedding hair and beauty supplier, Facebook and Instagram were extensively searched to find a person whose recent work captured the best of the bride without looking overly done. Amanda White MUA, was exactly who Ali was looking for and after two trials, Ali was happy with the decision to wear her hair up in a high bun on the big day; the extra height at the front lifted her face and drew attention to the amazing back of her stunning Allure gown. Aside from the bride – 5 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls and 2 mums meant that the hair and make-up team were extremely busy throughout the morning of the wedding. Amanda was the cool head which helped Ali so much in the prep time especially after finding out the flower girls were stuck in Jersey. Ali can honestly say that she’d never felt more amazing than what she did on her wedding day.

The Big Day: 10th March, 2017

Ali and Dylan were married in the Green room at Botleys Mansion at 2pm on Friday 10th March, 2017 in front of 80 guests.

The aisle was decorated with storm vases and rose petals, with proteas tied on with silver and ivory ribbons to the chairs at the end of the aisle. At the altar, white stands held tall displays of roses, hydrangeas and lisianthus in silver vases. The signing of the register table had been decorated with two low silver bowls of king proteas, mini proteas, roses and ivory / blush hydrangeas, with rose petal scattered along the table and with silver votives adding a touch of candlelight. Ali walked down the aisle with her Dad to Pachelbel Canon in D played by a string quartet, Reflection Strings.

The couple had chosen two readings for the ceremony, one being ‘Marriage Joins Two People in a Circle of Love’ by Edmund O’Neill. The first few lines of the reading encompassed everything that Ali and Dylan felt towards each other and how they want their marriage to be. “Marriage is a commitment to life- to the best that two people can find and bring out in each other” – it was perfect.

Bride & Groom Wedding breakfast entrance Botleys Mansion

After their romantic ceremony, the couple enjoyed chatting to their guests before the grand and truly elegant Atrium was un-veiled. The exquisite staircase leading down to The Atrium was decorated with the same storm vases from the aisle and the proteas from the chair ends. Thankfully the bridesmaids and groomsmen did a great job of moving all the flowers when the newlyweds were outside taking photos with their wedding photographer, Anthony Hurren.

Each reception table had a tall silver display of roses, hydrangeas and lisianthus. To make a big impact, smaller silver vases with proteas at the base of the tall displays and votive candles were interwoven throughout the displays. The top table had the low bowls of king proteas and roses from the registry table and the bridesmaid’s bouquets were also placed along the table. A number of candles (from Sevenoaks Candle Company) and votives were scattered throughout. For wedding favours the couple used the skills of Ali’s cousin to make personalised place cards with proteas and springboks on a mirrored stand for people to keep as a wedding memento. Everyone took them home with them and they added a nice personal touch of South Africa to the dinner.

Throughout the wedding banquet and after the wedding was over, the couple received several comments from their guests about how incredible the food was. After changing their minds on the menu, Ali and Dylan opted to serve their guests smoked salmon presented with edible flowers as a starter, followed by sticky beef for the main course and crumble with crème anglaise paired with salted caramel ice cream for dessert.

Ali and Dylan ordered two wedding cakes. An elegant, pink, tiered cake featuring carrot, chocolate, lemon and raspberry flavours, and a surprise single tier, salted caramel cake, where on the top sat a very special, personalised cake topper made to look like Dylan holding his surf board, Ali in her gown and their cat Chilli; the detail on the cake topper was amazing. Half of each wedding cake tier was cut and distributed on the evening buffet, so that the couple could enjoy cake at home with friends and family following the wedding.

A further 20 evening guests joined Ali and Dylan at Botleys Mansion for their evening reception. During the run up to their big day, Ali and Dylan had taken dance lessons so that they could perform the perfect first dance. The newlyweds had carefully chosen their first dance song to be ‘You Are The Best Thing’ by Ray LaMontagne. Dancing on the light up dance floor, alone, in front of their guests and oversized LOVE letters was a moment that Ali and Dylan will never forget.

Wedding Flowers with a South African Twist

As Ali always wanted to include aspects of South Africa within the wedding it was non-negotiable that king proteas (the national flower of South Africa) featured heavily throughout. Ali fell in love with The Fine Flowers Company and when she met with Gabi at Botleys Mansion; there was an instant understanding of the feel and impact that Ali wanted the proteas to make. Gabi not only discussed through ideas on how best to dress the luxurious, exclusive use wedding venue but also offered up ideas on making the most of the king proteas and making them the focal flower. As Ali’s favourite flower is the rose, they were also featured within the floral décor. Ali’s bridal bouquet was made up of 3 blush king proteas, offset with Singapore orchids and ivory and blush roses. The bridesmaids each had a single king protea with blush and ivory roses with trailing silver and ivory ribbon and the buttonholes were mini proteas with one rose. Dylan’s buttonhole was slightly more elaborate with additional spray roses. Both mothers had wrist corsage’s with ivory and blush roses, mini proteas and Singapore orchids.

The Honeymoon

Ali found Dylan Googling ‘honeymoon destinations where you can surf’, so it soon became apparent that surfing was a honeymoon priority, as well as a beach, plenty of sunshine, amazing food and of course, wine. Mauritius topped the list of great surfing destinations and Ali was quite happy to go along for the peace and quiet and the pool service, of course! It was a fantastic holiday and one that the newlywed couple will remember for years to come.

Advice for Future Bijou Couples

Ali and Dylan say, “remember that ultimately the day is about the two of you as a couple. No matter how stressful the planning can be, the demands from family and bridal party can drive you insane, but this day is about the two of you getting married and therefore as long as it makes you happy the others will eventually be happy.”

Ali and Dylan's Wedding Suppliers

Wedding Venue: Botleys Mansion
Wedding Photographer: Anthony Hurren
Wedding Dress Designer: Allure
Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bridal Beauty: Amanda White MUA
Wedding Flowers: The Fine Flowers Company
String Quartet: Reflection Strings
Wedding Gift List: Prezola
Wedding Insurance: Debenhams
Table Décor: Sevenoaks Candle Company
Wedding Cake: Gorgeous Gems Bakery
Cake Topper: Feats of Clay
Table cloths: Dress it Yourself
Wedding DJ: Bijou DJ
Light up Love Letters: Locke and Busby
Photo booth: The Photo Lounge

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