Lizzie and Arun: 2nd July 2016
“The staff at Ufton Court were amazing and we didn’t ever feel like ‘just another wedding’”
All photographs by Marianne Chua Photography
Why Ufton Court?
Arun and I always knew we wanted lots of outdoor space for our wedding. We also knew we wanted somewhere low key and informal. We had viewed so many places and none seemed to fit what we wanted. We felt like we were on a corporate conveyor belt, these venues were churning out weddings and it just didn’t feel right to us.
After a stressful few weeks we happened to came across a website for Ufton Court. Once we saw the pictures we couldn’t believe we hadn’t found it before. It was 10 minutes from my parents and utterly perfect for what we had in mind. We loved the grounds and the barn and the long driveway up to the house. What really sealed the deal however, was the fact that it was a charity. Our wedding would not just be for us but it would be helping others too! I work for a charity and I also volunteer in my spare time so for me this made it all the more perfect.
The staff at Ufton Court were amazing and we didn’t ever feel like ‘just another wedding’. Julia, our designated coordinator always made us feel supported and was on hand to answer our questions and help out both before and on the day.
Your Style –
We didn’t really have a theme in mind but we did want to make sure we included a nod to Arun’s Indian heritage. We decided on mint green and coral colours to reflect the rustic nature of the barn and incorporated touches of gold to represent the South Indian culture.
We were engaged for two years and so had plenty of time (or so we thought) to make and organise lots of decorations. Everyone got involved and we were collecting allsorts from hanging elephant decorations to china teacups and wedding photos from our friends and family.
We ummed and ahhed over whether to hire any lights or extras for the day. We really loved the idea of hanging lanterns but budget constraints meant we couldn’t quite find the right price. Luckily around a month or so before the wedding, Julia from Ufton Court got in touch to say the couple getting married the day before us also wanted hanging lanterns. She asked if we would be interested in sharing the cost. We jumped at the chance and in an amazing twist of fate our colour schemes were almost identical. To me this really drove home how amazing the service is at Ufton Court. I was so worried about how we would decorate the venue and where things would go but Julia took care of everything and it all looked amazing!
The Ceremony –
Arun’s family originate from Pondicherry in Southern India, a former French colony and so they are catholic. Mine are Church of England but to be honest neither of us is particularly religious. We decided to hold a civil ceremony in the Tithe Barn as it suited us perfectly.
Arun’s grandparents are unfortunately too elderly to fly to the UK so we were lucky enough to be able to visit them in India, along with our parents, the best man and one of our bridesmaids, for a catholic blessing. It was amazing to be able to include them in our celebrations and meant that we could have two weddings instead of one!
For the ceremony, we wanted something simple that reflected us as a couple. We chose to have two friends speak, one of my bridesmaids, Hayley, read a simple four line poem called ‘That still and settled place’ by Edward Monkton which we both just loved and really summed up how we felt.
The second reading was more personal, we asked a very old friend of mine, Chris, to read an extract from Lord of the Rings called ‘The Ent and the Ent-wife’. I have long been obsessed with Lord of the Rings and when Arun proposed he actually proposed using an exact replica of the ‘One Ring’. Asking my old friend Chris to read it was very fitting as he was the one I shared this obsession with!
Finally we asked my maid of honour, Ali, to sing ‘Come away with me, by Norah Jones’ while we signed the register. She has an amazing voice and it was great to have her sing for us on our day. The whole ceremony felt like a celebration of our relationship and the life we had built over the eight years we had been together. It was by far my most favourite part of the day.
The Dress –
Early on we decided to have a ‘costume change’ after dinner and knowing that I was also having a catholic blessing in India I wasn’t just hunting for one wedding dress I actually needed three!
For my trip to India my mother in law chose a beautiful sari in pink and pearl gold that I was expertly and professionally wrapped into on the day of our Indian celebration.
For the traditional white dress I only visited three shops and in all honesty I wish I’d found the last one sooner! I was reading a wedding blog and came across a boutique called ‘Fur Coat No Knickers’ (FCNK) who specialised in vintage style dresses for modern brides. I emailed the shop and immediately got a response from the lovely Laura who arranged my appointment. They asked my size and what style I liked so that when I arrived they had laid out a number of dresses for me to try.
It was a fantastic experience and Laura was absolutely amazing. After a glass (or two) of bucks fizz and after trying on lots and lots of dresses, I found mine!! A 50’s style lace number with sleeves! (I had to have sleeves!)
FCNK make the dress to your specification and you can add/ take away things and really make the dress your own. They were just the most helpful and lovely place and I really recommend visiting them (even if it’s just to try things on!) The dress was perfect and I really felt like me on the day, (albeit a more glammed up version!)
For the evening I had decided on a gold lengha (a kind of Indian top and skirt). Traditionally Southern Indian brides wear either Gold or Red. Again my mother in law sourced some beautiful and intricate gold material with lace embellishments that was then stitched together by a friend of my parents who was a professional seamstress. The Lengha was even better than I had hoped and I loved wearing it in the evening. It felt so decadent to have a costume change!
The Flowers –
We were very lucky with our wedding in that we managed to source a lot of things from friends and family. Most of the flowers on the day, the bridesmaid’s bouquets, the buttonholes and table flowers were arranged by my sister’s friend, Sian who did an amazing job.
Despite my lack of knowledge on the subject, what Sian produced was perfect.
Almost a year before our wedding I attended a wedding fayre at the Excel centre in London. There I entered and came second in a competition and won my wedding bouquet for free. Marian of ‘Flowers by Marian’ did a wonderful job on the bouquet and it ended up being almost identical in style to my other flowers on the day. A real testament to the skill of these two ladies!
The flowers turned out to be my favourite thing on the day and after the wedding my mum dried the petals to make pot pourri so I’ll always have them!
The Food & Drink –
The caterers we chose to work with were Wild Fork and like all of our other suppliers they did a fantastic job. We had decided we wanted our food to be a fusion of English and Indian and from our first meeting they really took the idea and ran with it, creating a bespoke (and extremely delicious) menu which went down amazingly with our guests! We had a starter of Sambar and Indian breads (Naan, Chapatti, Dosa) followed by a main of spiced shoulder of lamb with mutter paneer, lentils and a new potato salad.
I am a bit of a baker and love making cakes so we decided early on to have a ‘wedding bake off’ for dessert. We asked family and friends to bring a cake along on the day and ended up with the most delicious assortment of goodies, all of which got eaten! The star of the show had to be the chequerboard chocolate cake made by my friend Rachel; she covered the whole thing in chocolate icing and sweets including a full sized kinder egg, it went down such a treat with the kids (and the adults!)
The Cake –
Again we were so lucky to have so many people involved in making our day so special. I had planned on my making my own cake but a close friend of the family bought us our cake as a wedding present. Her brother in law, Peter Higgs, is a professional cake maker and she commissioned him to create something for us. He produced the most delicious naked wedding cake, three separate tiers of Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate and Ginger Sponge and Victoria sponge decorated with berries and fruit. It was awesome and we still have some frozen in the freezer so we can have it whenever we like!
The Entertainment –
The Photographer –
Our photographer was hands down probably the best supplier we picked. We booked her about a year and a half before the wedding and she was the only photographer we met with. We just loved her style and her website and when we met her we knew we had made the right choice. Marianne was amazing throughout the whole process and afterwards. We couldn’t be happier with our photos and the service we received was second to none. She is an amazingly talented individual and for someone who hates being photographed, I can’t stop looking at ours!
Ufton Court is an amazing venue for photographs and we really got some great ones. I love the ones of the kids running around and hiding and I love the photos of Arun and I in the herb garden.
We were so lucky with the weather on the day (as it had been torrential rain the week before) and it just meant that everything was how I had envisioned it in my head. The photos really reflect the fun we had.
Your advice to future couples –
It’s hard to give advice because everyone approaches things differently but if I had to say anything it would be that all the cliché’s are true!
I never thought I would get stressed at organising a wedding but I did because it’s a big thing to take on. At times I felt so overwhelmed by everything but the trick is to step back and ask for help. Once I had confided my fears to Arun, to my mum and even to Julia at Ufton Court, it was like a weight was lifted. Your friends and family and even your suppliers want to help you and want to make your day amazing, so I guess my only real advice would be to relax and ask for help. Oh and make sure you try and see all your friends and family. Ours had travelled from all over England, Scotland, France, and even India and America to be with us so I was really keen that we spent time with everyone.
Our whole day felt like a great big reunion for all of our family, our old friends and our new friends, it was so much fun!