It is always every mother’s dream to marry her daughter. In my day it was what we called “bun and run” you did the church service, went to a hotel mid-week and had a reception, then speeches and everyone left for dinner a couple of hours later. How times have changed! Now it’s an all day affair and Izzy’s dream was to be married from our home in Norfolk, which over the years has been a party central for many large scale events. We have witnessed every significant birthday from 16 – 80 there and it was important that as an Interior Designer we created something new and fresh for the day. Something totally unexpected. I have also been to many very expensive and beautifully organised weddings, so have had plenty of opportunity to work out what worked and what didn’t. At every turn, just as in a house, it needed to be kept fresh and interesting. It is important to create different things to look at and things to constantly amuse and entertain the guests, who let’s face it are often jaded from the wedding circuit!
I wanted the church to be an important part of the day for Izzy and Roly, and I think it really was with the flowers, trees, and lighting and brilliant service which Izzy and Roly had devised with so much humour.
I was extremely lucky that Izzy and Roly (to a degree) trusted me with the plans for their big day. I knew we had to go big or go home but in unexpected ways.
Even more fortuitous was that Roly and his partners own Key Structures, one of the biggest marquee companies in London. It was too predictable to bang it out of the park with loud pink and orange, so I wanted to create something much more subtle, but still beautiful and interesting. India is my favourite place in the world for its creativity and colour, so on a business trip in Jaipur back in November 2022 I took the opportunity to visit our suppliers and found the beautiful Indian Umbrellas. Then I found 20 different fabrics, all based on the same colour palette and had them made into tablecloths. Kelling Designs is known for a good pom pom, so I had our pom-pom maker custom make pom-poms to our specific colour palette! We visited the local ribbon suppliers to buy ribbon and in Delhi we visited the stationers to buy all the name cards and place cards.
Armed with the colour palette and the idea that we wanted to try and be sustainable we moved onto flowers and trees. Ihave worked for years with a lovely girl called Bex from The Botany House , so Bex and I started to plan and discuss how to make this wedding different.
For the reception in our beautiful walled garden, we had a standard cream lining in the tent, but in the previous November we had planted 500 aliums so that there was some interest, as the garden in May is still relatively bare. A brilliant idea from our garden designer meant that we had 4 beautiful May poles in the centre
s of the 4 parterres. These were made from drainpipes sprayed by our very talented graffiti artist that we use on multiple projects.
Into dinner, we had created an entrance through a wooded glade, with fox gloves and trees, taking the guests on a journey and creating the feeling of slowing moving from light to shade.
We used trees and a woodland theme for the dinner tent, with a midnight blue lining so that it felt more night time and intimate, given that at 7pm in May it is still light. The flowers on every other table
s were very simple and spaced out so you could see them surrounded by moss.
In what we call the “Party Barn”, a 100 ft 1600’s old flint and brick barn, we placed the dance floor with trees in what felt like a wooded glade with a 1.2 m glitter ball.
The lighting & music was amazing by Ed Basset – good lighting makes an event, just as in interiors.
The food was just as important as the design – good food makes a good wedding and we were very lucky to have Nicky Swinburn Ltd who were superb – some of the best food I have ever tasted. We spent a long time choosing the plates and glasses for the evening as the presentation and theatre is so much part of the overall look.
From the dancing, guests could move into the 5th area, which I wanted to create the feeling of a sexy London nightclub. We did this by using a starlit tent with a black lining and a bright pink carpet. We then used furniture from the house and Kelling Home products. We put in lamps, coffee tables, cushions and objets. We hung pictures and dressed it as you would expect to find a proper club.
All the flowers were brought from the church during the reception and dinner and beautifully used to full effect.
The Planning Process
If you have been in design for as long as I have, you see things in your mind pretty quickly and I had a very clear idea of what I wanted once I had found the umbrellas and the table cloths in India. Detail in our world is an everyday occurrence, you can have 4 types of fabric and trim on one chair, so it wasn’t daunting to handle lots of variables. The hardest thing for any designer is to sell their vision and explain to their team, why they need to hang 13 mirrors in a reception tent that is only going to be used for a couple of hours! But the devil is in the detail. I have a great team that was led by Philippa Pease, who helped with logistics and running of the day. To really enjoy the day, you need someone to deal with the details and the snags.
The End Result
By the guests reactions I think we achieved what we set out to do, we had a beautiful country wedding. We walked to and from the church with babies, dogs, ponies, gospel singers, sunshine, friends and family.
Everything slotted into place – the best party organiser, the best catering, the best cake, loads of drink, great music and a desire to make it the most special day for the bride and groom.
For a designer, you can judge your work by the comments others make, and in a few months when all the things that you would have done differently have been forgotten. On balance – we nailed it. Judge it for yourself!
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