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Gemma and Daniel’s Wedding at Notley Abbey

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Outdoor Wedding in The Walled Garden at Notley Abbey

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.

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!

tiered homemade cupcake tower on clear cake stand

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.

Wedding Banquet Menu

Starter

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Red onion tart, spinach & saffron shallot, mascarpone, red currant & balsamic

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Roast butternut soup with root vegetable crisps (v)

Main Course

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Slow braised sticky Hampshire beef with creamed parsnip mash, honey roast baby carrots, baby leeks, glazed baby onions & celery

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Roast Mediterranean vegetable stack with garlic and
thyme glazed goats’ cheese and new potatoes (v)

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Dessert

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)

Wedding Reception & Homemade Wedding Cake

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.”

Wedding Suppliers

Wedding Venue: Notley Abbey
Wedding Photographer: Guy Hearn
Wedding Dress: Ellis Bridals
Wedding Singers: The Paper Songbirds
Wedding Cake: Baked by the groom
Bridal Make-up: Abbie Martin
Wedding Hair: Lucy Beesley
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

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