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Weddings

Real Wedding: Nathalie and Tom

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At Elmore Court

How did you meet?

We met in 2014 a week before our birthdays. Having only recently moved to London I didn’t have any plans so my friend dragged me on a night out that one of her friends was going to. That turned out to be Tom’s birthday celebration and we bonded over our nearly birthday (our birthdays are a day apart). We were then together for six years before Tom proposed in July 2020.

Who proposed, when and where?

Poor Tom had planned on proposing in April 2020 – one month after our 30th birthdays – but Covid had other ideas and we went into lockdown three days after our birthday weekend. I sat through lockdown oblivious to the fact that there was an engagement ring hiding in our flat – and Tom spent the whole lockdown petrified I’d find it.

Eventually restrictions were eased and we escaped London to Devon for a long weekend. I had no idea he was planning on proposing, to the point where he basically had to drag me down to the beach for a drink one evening while I complained I was too tired and too cold. He then proposed on the deserted (and very windy!) beach; I was so shocked I just kept on asking if he was joking which I don’t think was the reaction he had quite anticipated.

Why did you choose Elmore Court for your wedding venue?

We knew we wanted a Winter wedding, and a venue that had beautiful interiors and lots of different rooms so that people didn’t feel cooped up all day. We also knew we wanted somewhere that had rooms so our guests could stay and carry on the party after the wedding had ended. Tom grew up in Worcester and was keen to get married as locally as possible. So, when we visited Elmore we realised it ticked all those boxes and more – the Gillyflower was the most amazing surprise and when we were told about the 18ft Christmas Tree which is put up in December it sealed the deal.

Did you have a theme for the wedding and why?

It’s so cheesy but I love Christmas, it is my favourite time of year and when Elmore said they had one date left in December – the Bank Holiday between Christmas and New Year it was fate. I knew I didn’t want our wedding to look traditionally Christmassy but I wanted it to feel really opulent and fun.

After nearly two years of Covid restrictions we just wanted to give everyone a great time and wanted it to feel like a huge celebration. Tom loves music so the band were very important, and we both agreed a Motown Band would really get everyone dancing. I am very visually creative and love interiors, so the décor was one of the most important bits to me.

When did you start planning and did you enjoy the process?

We got engaged in June and booked Elmore in July so the ball started rolling straight away, we knew with Covid postponements we had to get in quick to secure suppliers. I found it hard to enjoy the whole process due to Covid: we were never 100% sure the wedding would be able to go ahead, especially the month before when a new variant started spreading and more lockdowns were threatened over Christmas. I think we only let ourselves truly relax when we got to the ceremony. I enjoyed the creative side of things, and we both loved choosing the band and the food. Elmore made the planning process so easy, we knew that everything was under control and no request felt too outrageous or too much. Even when we added in a last-minute firework display a month before.

What flowers and/or décor did you choose and why?

I wanted to complement the amazing space with lots of beautiful flowers but I know nothing about them so wasn’t fussed on the type of flower, I just wanted what was seasonal and matched my colour palette. I also wanted to add lots of greenery and oranges and pomegranates into the flowers to really add to that opulent, festive feel. Luckily my florist was amazing - she didn’t laugh at the fact I wanted half a fruit bowl in my floral displays and even created the most incredible asymmetric floral installation which we had in the ceremony room and then re-purposed for the Gillyflower under our neon sign. As I knew my dress would be very simple, I could go to town on the bouquet so she created me the most insane, giant bouquet which looked amazing. We also bought loads of different sized disco balls and incorporated them into the décor to add to the disco feel plus a big neon sign with our wedding hashtag Byrne Baby Byrne (Tom’s surname is Byrne).

Tell us about your wedding outfits including your shoes and any accessories.

I actually found wedding dress shopping really hard as wedding dresses aren’t very ‘me’. I knew I wanted something simple and classic and I knew I definitely wanted to get changed for the dancing. I went to a few places and eventually found my dress at Australian designer MWL Bridal.

My wedding shoes were the Sophia Webster Wifey For Lifey Pumps which I had actually seen years ago and loved. I found them on eBay for half the price two months before the wedding so I bought them immediately - they were my ‘something old’! My veil had tiny hearts on it, which was quite a kitsch addition and my jewellery was from Eva Palm via Wolf & Badger. My Bridesmaid lent me her Cartier Love Ring to wear as my ‘something borrowed’ which was lovely; I was probably more terrified of losing that all day than I was of my new wedding ring.

I took my veil off after the reception and put a white tuxedo blazer on to walk into dinner which is one of the best things I did. Not only was I warm but it felt so much more ‘me’ and made me feel much more relaxed. Tom also changed into a navy blue velvet tuxedo jacket from Hugo Boss which looked great and he still wears to this day.

I got changed at about 9pm into a silk halter neck dress from Silk Maison who I found on Instagram and tailored within an inch of its life.

How about your attendants?

I had six bridesmaids and a maid of honour and Tom had two best men and two groomsmen, a combination of our best friends and family. I didn’t want all my bridesmaids to be matching so I just chose a colour - black - and let them choose whatever they wanted. I love that everyone was slightly mismatched and hopefully they’ll wear them again – my sister wore an incredible black sequin jumpsuit which looked amazing. Our dress code was Black Tie so the groomsmen were in tuxedos.

How did you feel on the day?

That morning I was an emotional wreck. The three weeks leading up to the wedding had been awful with the threat of another lockdown. By the time we made it to the day I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t stop crying. My makeup artist Victoria deserves a shout out at this point as she really calmed me down, her energy was amazing and everything was kept precisely to time so nothing felt rushed. By the time we got to the ceremony it was like all the stress had never happened. As soon as the door to The Hall opened and I walked down the aisle I felt this huge sense of relief and from that point onwards it was amazing.

Tell us about the ceremony.

Tom’s sister Charlotte and her husband Dillan are both incredibly talented musicians, so we were very fortunate to be able to have them play the music. They were given the brief of ‘jazzy Christmas’ for when people were entering the Ceremony room, at one point I could hear them playing the Home Alone theme tune from upstairs.

Dillan then played How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys on the piano for me to walk down the aisle to. Tom’s family are Irish so are big fans of The Waterboys plus the song is in one of our favourite romantic comedies, About Time. At the end we walked out to the original version to tie it all together.

We had two readings by our two very dear friends, again we wanted everyone to feel comfortable so let them choose their readings. One of my friends read The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach which was beautiful and then the other actually wrote a poem for us which was hilarious – I didn’t let Tom see the poem beforehand so it was a total surprise to him as well as our guests which was really special.

And afterwards?

We did our confetti throw immediately after the ceremony in The Hall and I’m so glad we did. The photos are amazing and I’m glad our guests were then able to go and enjoy the drinks reception in The Drawing Room which looked incredible with all the flowers and roaring fires; it literally looked like the setting of a film. We had Winter Candles burning throughout the day to scent the wedding – we found a candle brand called Byrne Candles which was very fitting. We had a couple of quite cheesy nods to Christmas – a personalised Santa Sack for guests to put cards in and tins of personalised Quality Street saying Byrne Street throughout the room.

Meanwhile we were busy having our photos taken. Gary was a recommended supplier from Elmore and luckily his aesthetic totally matched ours. We would recommend him to anyone – the photos were totally worth missing the reception.

How did you choose the music and/or playlist?

Tom is very passionate about music so he was in charge of this and did a cracking job. We wanted there to be Christmas songs weaved in throughout the day but we also wanted to make sure it wasn’t too much.

The Motown Band were amazing at getting everyone dancing and their first track was my favourite song September by Earth Wind and Fire which they played as the curtain of the dancefloor was pulled back surprising all the guests after dinner. We asked one of our very musical Groomsmen to do the post-band playlist so that was a very personal touch – and he smashed it.

Given our whole wedding was built on the hashtag Byrne Baby Byrne we walked into dinner to Disco Inferno by The Trampps and we named each table with a ‘Byrne’ song title pun such as Byrne-ing Love’ by Elvis Presley and Byrne-ing Down The House by Talking Heads so we then had those play throughout the night.

What did you eat and drink?

One thing I didn’t stress about at all was the food because after our tasting I knew Elmore was going to deliver. We had so many of our guests coming up to us afterwards telling us how incredible the food was, which was lovely to hear. As well as wine and fizz served throughout the day, we love cocktails so we also did cocktail hour as our wedding favour right after dinner where guests could choose Espresso Martinis, Old Fashioneds or Gin Fizzes.

And your wedding cake?

My sister is a trained pastry chef so she made our cake for us as our wedding gift. She made it bright and fun and even ordered a bespoke cake topper which matched our neon sign.

Was there a particular highlight of your day?

The whole day felt like one big magical blur but we both agreed after that some of the highlights were the times when we were alone reflecting on the day. One highlight for me was giving a speech at dinner, I decided I didn’t want to leave it to the men to do! It felt so special to be talking to a room of our favourite people and wedding guests are the easiest crowd you’ll ever play to so I felt like a comedian for 10 minutes.

Finally, have you any advice for couples planning their own weddings?

Delegation is key and you don’t need to stress over the micro details. And try and get moments alone together – they really make the day.

Suppliers:

Photographer: Gary Nunn Photography garynunn.co.uk/ & instagram.com/garynunnweddingphotography/

Florist: Sarah at Love At First Sight Floristry loveatfirstsightfloristry.com/

Band: OJ’s Soul Band motownband.com/ (we also had their guitarist for our reception)

Stationery: Bee Davies beedavies.co.uk/

Bridesmaids Hair: Gemma Hull gemmahullhairandmakeup.co.uk/

Bridesmaids & Bride Makeup: Victoria Fox victoriafoxmakeup.com/

Dress: MWL Bridal madewithlovebridal.com/

Groom Suit: Suit Supply suitsupply.com/en-gb/

Shoes: Sophia Webster sophiawebster.com/

Fireworks: Shockwave Pyrotechnics

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