Helen & Andrew

Country Fair Wedding
English Country Wedding
Herefordshire Wedding
Traditional Herefordshire Church

Andrew proposed in the Italian Lakes on a beautiful warm October day which was perfect, but as soon as we started planning our wedding we knew that we wanted to get married close to home.  We didn’t want to have too long an engagement and since I grew up in Herefordshire we agreed a summer wedding close to my parents’ house would be our ideal.

As we were having an English countryside wedding, we focused on a soft, flowing, country fair type theme.  My parents used to keep pigs and Andrew came up with the idea of having little pigs as our wedding mascot which led to our colour theme being soft pinks which we matched with gold and ivory.  It was such a lovely way to incorporate something personal and little piggies turned up on the invites through to the thank you cards and almost everything in between.

My advice would be to enjoy every single bit of planning knowing that there is no wrong because it is all entirely down to what you as a couple want.  Andrew was wonderful in helping with lots of things but also letting me plan to my heart’s content.  He jokes that he realised on the day that I had been distracting him with little jobs throughout but had really organised the whole thing without him knowing.  It was a joint effort though and all came together perfectly so on the day we both just sailed along and enjoyed the best day of our lives.

Bridal outfit

I had no idea what type of dress I wanted so went to about six bridal shops and tried on all different styles.  I had a list of top three but none of them had given me that feeling that everyone talks about.  My only stipulation was that I wanted my legs free as I wanted to be able to run - not away from the altar but around the gardens and play games at the reception.

I went to try on one of the three dresses again in Jean Jackson Couture and when I walked in a Caroline Castigliano dress that wasn’t even supposed to be in the shop was hanging up.  I tried it on and knew it was the one.  It was there by chance from Jean Jackson’s sister shop in Urmston and so I got the dress from there.  It was much bigger than I’d expected I would have wanted but the skirt was such soft, flowing silk satin and the bodice such delicate lace that I felt beautiful in it.

I wanted a V shaped back and Jean Jackson was wonderful in customising the dress for me with thin straps in the same lace as the bodice was made giving me the V that I wanted.  Jean also made the straps detachable so I could take them off when the dancing started.

I surprised myself at how traditional I wanted my dress, and went for a full length veil with it which Jean Jackson also custom made and trimmed with the edging of the dress.  Jean also made me a beautiful pink sash with a lace trim on the ends.   

I treated myself to gold Jimmy Choos and my mum bought me underwear from Rigby and Peller.  My something old was my bracelet from my dad from when he passed away, my something new was my garter from my now husband, my something borrowed and blue was my mum’s sapphire and diamond ring.  My wonderful mum also bought me a gold necklace with a halo of diamonds and my wonderful husband bought me the matching earrings.  Both were from Erica & Edwards jewellers in Manchester, which was where my engagement ring and our weddings rings came from too.  That’s a whole other story, but suffice to say the jewellers are absolute gems.

I was truly spoilt on my wedding day and felt like a princess. 

Bridesmaids dresses

I found it difficult to limit the number of bridesmaids so I had six, Andrew’s two teenage nieces, my sister and three of my best friends.  I needed a design that wouldn’t be too old for my nieces, I also wanted dresses in different shades of pink.  My bridesmaids were somewhat scattered around the country too so I ended up buying three from Fairytale Brides in Whitefield and two from Hi-Brow Brides from Bexley in Kent.  We had alterations carried out by Stitches which is a tailors in Manchester.  My sister also wouldn’t have been comfortable in a flowing pink dress so we bought a short navy dress from Reiss for her, to match the colour to the groomsmen and she looked fantastic in it.  I also bought slightly different gold bracelets for each of the bridesmaids from Erica & Edwards as thank you presents.

Groom and groomsmen

We went to a few wedding outfitters but Andrew decided that he didn’t want tails so bought an midnight blue Armani suit which he matched with a tie the same ivory colour as my dress. (He used a swatch to match it, no way was he seeing The Dress before the big day!)

We suited up the groomsmen in three piece suits of the same colour using Slaters in Manchester.  We also bought pink ties for them from Hawes & Curtis.


Burton Court was the first place that we visited when we were looking for a venue.  As soon as we were greeted by Edward, I had a feeling it would be perfect. The more we saw of the different rooms, the more we loved it. 

We are a very foodie family and so it was important to us to be able to use caterers of our choice and this posed no problem with Edward. In fact, nothing was a problem as far as Edward was concerned.   We went to look at a second venue the same morning, and the difference was stark.  Some places are very rigid with what you can and can’t do.  Edward was not only fantastically  flexible and accommodating but also came up with some brilliant ideas, like the external lighting to match the colour theme of the wedding.  Anything we wanted was worked into our day easily, Edward could not have been more helpful.

We stayed in the bridal suite on the night of the wedding, and waking up to the beautiful view bathed in glorious sunshine the next morning set our first day as husband and wife off to a great start.

We simply cannot speak highly enough of Edward, his lovely wife Helen (not just because she has a great name) and the venue as a whole.  We had total confidence that Edward and Helen had everything under control from start to finish which made our day totally stress free, and the house and grounds were just perfect.


I met Louise of The Herefordshire Flower Studio at a wedding fair at Burton Court and she was wonderfully helpful all the way through.  I didn’t have a clue where to start with flowers but she listened to the general themes of the wedding, made some lovely suggestions and the flowers on the day were absolutely perfect.

Louise made bouquets with long trailing ivory ribbon for the bridesmaids and my bouquet with pink ribbon in the same colour as the bridesmaids dresses.  She also put together fresh flowers on slides for mine and the bridesmaids’ hair.  The focus was on roses, waxflowers and astilbe with eucalyptus and other trailing greenery to produce a bouquet that wasn't too structured.  Louise made up all the button holes and corsages for the ladies, centre piece displays for the table and displays at the church and reception.  She also provided two bay trees decorated with pink ribbon which we wanted for the entrance to Burton Court.  She put together thank you bouquets for the new mums-in-law, and even sourced additional flowers for us so that the ladies at the church we were marrying in could do some more displays to keep at the church after the wedding.  On top of all this she also liaised with the cake provider to supply flowers that were incorporated into the cake.

Louise was really patient as well as sensitive to our budget and I would not hesitate to recommend her to you.

Ceremony in a local church

We were married at St Leonard’s Church in Yarpole, a 10 minute drive from Burton Court.  My mum and wonderful stepdad got married there and so it was the obvious choice. 

It has such a great community revolving around the church, with the shop and café within it, and there were so may wonderful people who helped with the decorating and setting up, as well as with the clearing up afterwards!

The church was packed, with people up in the gallery to get a glimpse, and it made us feel really special to have so many people come along to celebrate with us.


As I said, we are a big foodie family so catering was very important to us.  We had a Michelin starred chef lined up to cater for us, Shaun Hill of The Walnut Tree near Abergavenny (go if you can, it’s yummy), but staffing issues meant Shaun had to pull out.  We were looking for someone who could come up to that standard and came across Rococo Catering.

We had tastings with Eddie and he was very receptive to making little adjustments to the menu to our preferences and my stepdad’s exacting tastes.  My favourite dessert is my mum’s salted caramel and chocolate mousse with cherry compote as I am a bit of chocolate fiend.  Whilst the deserts offered by Rococo were delicious, I still wanted chocolate so Eddie made my day by taking my mum’s recipe and reproducing it for all the guests.  A super touch which made me a very happy bride, even better that he put an extra portion in our room for me for when the celebrations had finished!


We also met Jan, of Emily Rose Cakes, at a wedding fair at Burton Court.  Edward highly recommended her and we soon found out why.  We went and had a tasting session at Jan’s studio  and I had trouble dragging Andrew away.

We decided on a four tier cake: victoria sponge with whimberry jam; lemon drizzle; and chocolate with salted caramel along with a fruit cake to keep.  Jan was happy to use jam made by my mum in the sponge cake.  When we showed her our piggie mascots she said straight away that she would make them in sugar work for them.

I have even less idea about cake decoration than I do about flowers so I told Jan the bridesmaid dress colours and that we were going for quite a simple look (except for the piggies) and left the design to her.  She produced a beautiful cake, which was simply delicious.  We were almost sorry we were going on honeymoon and didn’t get to eat piece after piece in the following days!  The local councillor had lent us his ceremonial sword though so we got to cut the cake with that.  Andrew was very happy.


We hired two Beauford Classic Tourers for the day from Deputy Driver.  The blue and ivory cars matched our wedding party perfectly and John decorated the car with ivory and pink ribbon.

The drivers were superb, and there is a classic photo of one of them holding two of the bridesmaids bouquets.

Their service was excellent, and the cars were beautiful.  I would not hesitate to recommend them.


As with the catering, we wanted to have our own choice of drinks. We were very lucky as the majority of our wine came from my stepdad's cellar and the rest he ordered in, all of which perfectly complimented our menu. Edward chilled what needed to be chilled and everything was served perfectly. 

The pink champagne reception on arrival at Burton Court was just as I had dreamed it would be.

We also had a keg of beer from our local brewery in Marple, Hexagon, which was brewed especially for us.  Andrew was pouring this for the guests in the Orangery after dinner when the evening guests had arrived. He loved it and our own ‘special brew’ was awesome too.


This was the bit that I was most worried about as I’m not a very arty type.  There were contributions from everyone though and it all came together brilliantly.

We used a lady called Amanda at Love Invited to design our invites and she produced the pig mascots for us.  She then reproduced these on the table plan, the menus, the table names and Jan of Emily Rose cakes replicated them on the cake decoration.  I cannot recommend Love Invited highly enough, Amanda was superb throughout.  With Louise’s flower centrepieces the table decoration was nearly complete.

I had in my mind that I wanted balloons on the table, which would give some height in the Great Hall where we had our wedding breakfast.  I wanted them to look like big bunch from the movie ‘Up’, but in pastel colours.  I went to The Balloon Display & Party Co Ltd shop in Hereford and arranged this with them.  They came and set them up the day before and tied them to the flower centre pieces.  I also arranged one giant white and one giant black balloon tied onto mine and Andrew’s chairs, just in case he didn’t know where he was supposed to be sitting.

I also hung flip-flops from the back of the ladies’ chairs.  I bought them online, and they were very welcome on the dance floor.

Other touches were the metres and metres of bunting that my lovely friend Jo made and which we tied up outside.  She also gave us a beautiful vintage suitcase for guests to put cards in.  Our guest book was a frame with the pig mascots at the bottom and stickers for people to sign and stick on to look like balloons being held by the pigs.  Outside we had a croquet set, hay bales for the guests to sit on and space hoppers - well surely a wedding wouldn’t be complete without them! 

The final touch was for the dance floor, where I had hired ‘A & H’ lights from Aisle Hire It.  The company and the lights were brilliant.  They liaised with Edward and there was zero hassle for me.  The effect was fantastic and Andrew was suitably surprised too.    


We chose Jarek Lepak as our photographer purely because he was local and I really liked his website.  He was absolutely lovely and we got some wonderful photos.

Jarek did an engagement shoot with us.  We are both from Manchester and, because we were getting married in the Herefordshire countryside we asked if he would mind doing our engagement shoot up north in the city.  He was so obliging, still coming even though he’d been really poorly the day before, and he got some brilliant shots of us at our favourite haunts.

On our wedding day his lovely wife was the second photographer, and she took photos of the groomsmen getting ready.  I wasn’t there but I’m told they were a bit rowdy and she kept them in good order!   

My top tip for photos is that you think really hard about what specific photos you really want, as some friends of mine who have got married have found after the day that they didn’t have what you might consider the essential family photos.  Jarek helped us with our list, giving brilliant guidance, and we have plenty of beautiful photos to remind us of the best day of our lives.

We also signed up to www.WedPics.com and got cards printed which we put on guests places.  This is a site where guests can upload their photos all in one place and we could view them.  We got some absolute crackers of photos on there and it was nice for everyone to be able to see one another’s photos.

The photographs bring back all the amazing memories of the day every time to you look at them, so pick your photographer wisely.  Jarek was superb, and trustworthy for the job.

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