With a dream of a party of a lifetime, Helen and Philip knew that finding the right venue for their autumn wedding was key. “We wanted the best food and drink and lots of it, all enjoyed in a venue close to my family home,” smiles Helen.
As the couple were living in Sydney at the time of planning their wedding, they were keen to get their venue sorted promptly, allowing them to plan the rest of their wedding around their venue choice. “I had always wanted to hire a country style pub, castle or cool industrial warehouse type venue. Once we’d found a few online, we narrowed our choices down based on budget and headed back to the UK to visit our top five,” explains Helen.
The couple were keen to find a venue that could do most of the work for them and where pretty much everything was included – from expert wedding planning right through to the catering. “Farnham Castle was the clear winner, we knew we’d be able to rely on them. The setting was beautiful and the staff knew what they were doing. It was a cut above all the other venues,” smiles Helen.
Now that Helen and Philip had a beautiful vintage wedding venue sorted, they could start to finalise everything else for their big day. The couple bucked the popular trend of Pinterest and instead gained inspiration for their styling and décor from a variety of websites and blogs, including Hitched, Wedding Venues, Modern Wedding and Polka Dot Bride. “We combined ideas we saw with our personalities to create a vintage theme featuring our lives and loves,” explains Helen. “The table names were all places in Japan that we had visited during the trip when Philip proposed to me, while our favours had an Australian theme, our new home,” says Helen.
Flowers played a key role in the couple’s styling. Hydrangeas were the main focus and were placed all around the Castle in Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks bottles. Helen’s dad also dug out an old wine crate, filled it with hydrangea pot plants, stencilled the pair’s names and their wedding date on it and placed it at the castle entrance. “For the table decorations, we used stacks of old books that my Dad had in the loft and our florist filled small jars and bottles with flowers. I didn’t want anything too high or dominating so this was perfect and had that dainty vintage feel,” smiles Helen.
When it came to her wedding must-haves, it was all about the dress for Helen. “It had to be perfect, stunning and different. I wanted Phil to cry…or at least gasp!” she smiles. With such high expectations, Helen knew it would be hard to find ‘the one’. “My shopping trip in the UK was unsuccessful – even though friends and family loved the dresses I tried on, I wasn’t 100 percent happy,” she explains. “I finally found a dress back home in Australia that blew me away. I got all emotional thinking about walking down the aisle and knew Phil would love it. I felt amazing. It was definitely the one!” she smiles. Helen finished off her look with vintage jewellery, a long veil and a mid-brown 1930s fur cape – perfect for keeping warm in the autumn wedding weather.
Despite planning their wedding from overseas, the couple’s special day came together perfectly and before they knew it, it was time to tie the knot.
Helen and Philip’s ceremony took place in the Castle’s Lantern Hall on 17th October. “I had always wanted to get married in a church, simply because they are so beautiful and I love the history of them – but I’m not really religious so I didn’t think it would be right,” explains Helen. “The Lantern Room gave the feel of church architecture and it had history. Everything was naturally beautiful, from the white walls to the arched windows,” she adds.
The catering that followed, throughout the drinks reception and wedding breakfast, was included in the couple’s wedding package. “From the moment I saw the menus I knew the food would taste amazing,” says Helen. Unfortunately, as Helen and Philip were in Sydney at the time they were unable to make the Farnham Castle tasting event, but Helen’s parents received an invite on their behalf. “They were blown away at the food tasting and on the day of the wedding, we got to see how delicious the food was for ourselves,” smiles Helen. “For the reception, we had Pimms and canapés, featuring wild mushroom, truffle oil and leek tart, crispy risotto balls, deep fried crispy pork belly, hoisin salmon and pickled ginger spoon, beef Carpaccio on parmesan shortbread and mini beef burgers and pickles. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get much of an opportunity to eat the canapés as we were off having photos. Luckily the staff had saved me two of each canapé, which I got to scoff once the photos were finally done and we were about to make our entrance for the wedding breakfast!” she adds.
For their wedding breakfast, the wedding party enjoyed a starter of seared scallops, minted pea puree, crisp pancetta and pea shoots, a main of Beef Wellington and a trio of desserts. “To cook 60 sets of scallops and have them all perfect, was no mean feat. And the same went for the beef, Wellington. Not one was over-cooked. The chef at Farnham really cannot be more highly commended,” says Helen. “Phil and I were so pleased because keeping guests happy with great food was one of the most important things for us,” she adds.
The couple closed their day with the incredible party they were looking for. “We went with the DJ that was recommended by Farnham Castle and everyone danced their socks off,” smiles Helen. “I really wanted to choreograph a routine for our first dance because Phil and I cannot dance at all! But Phil said I was being ridiculous and we should just wing it. So we did and just went for it!” she laughs.
It’s your day, so do what will make you happy. People won’t remember whether the napkins matched the seat covers – so don’t worry about the little things. You and your fiancé just need to have an awesome day together celebrating with your favourite people.
Images © Victoria Mitchell Photography