Summer Wedding for Amy and James

A Summer Wedding for Amy and James

In August, James and Amy tied the knot at the Layer Marney parish church and followed the wedding ceremony with a reception in the Long Gallery at Layer Marney Tower.  Here, we take a look back on the build up to their special wedding day and find out about the planning and preparations beforehand.  (Karen – Wedding Coordinator)

When did the wedding proposal take place and how did it happen?

James proposed in September 2018.  We have always loved going for long walks locally and on this occasion we were walking along the coast at Tollesbury.  James had suggested we go out to “practice using our new drone” before our trip to Iceland the next day.  He had actually planned to record the whole proposal however I forgot the memory card, so none of it actually recorded!  So, although it didn’t go exactly to plan it was very special and we love that it is somewhere we can go back to…and we have done already!

Did you have an ideal wedding venue in mind before you began your search?  How did you research your wedding venue?

Despite having been together for over 4 years, we had not discussed weddings at all.  We both wanted to wait until it was really happening so that it was all new, and even more special.  We actually started researching venues the day after we got engaged, whilst we were in Iceland!  As I have worked in the wedding industry previously, I knew of many local venues, but we did not have a certain one that we were set on.  We did the classic Google of “wedding venues in Essex” and started from there.

How many venues did you visit and why did you choose Layer Marney Tower?

Layer Marney Tower was the first venue we visited and we absolutely loved it.  I think we both knew it was “the one” but made sure we visited a few more just to make sure, so we also viewed several other wedding venues in the area.  However, Layer Marney Tower has lots of meaningful ties with us, which sealed the deal.  For example, it is equidistant between where we both grew up, I had visited there as a child, my Dad went to school with the owner and the view from the grounds actually looks over the the estuary where James proposed!

We both knew we also wanted a grand building/entrance for our venue and Layer Marney Tower of course ticked that box!  From the moment we arrived it did not feel like we were being “sold” a venue, it felt comfortable and homely.

How far in advance did you book your wedding day?

We booked our August 2019 wedding in October 2018, so we had less than a year to plan everything.  I loved the planning process though and never found it a chore.  We thought the guestlist and seating plan would be the trickiest part but actually it was quite straight forward in the end.

Did you have a wedding theme?

We didn’t have a theme as it isn’t really our thing.  We are both fairly traditional so I guess if I had to label our wedding theme it would be traditional/classic British.  We are also avid travellers and have visited over 20 countries together, so we did name all of our tables after our favourite countries we have visited.

How did you choose which wedding suppliers you used?

Having worked in the industry and with my cousin being a local wedding photographer, we were at a good starting point.  We only actually contacted a couple of different suppliers for each area of the wedding and chose the ones that felt right, and mostly the ones that replied the quickest!  A big priority for us was music so we ended up having a harpist, acoustic singer, string quartet and live band throughout the day!  Music is very important to us and we certainly made this clear on the day – we had so many comments about how brilliant the musicians were.


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Have you enlisted help from family and friends with the planning, or was it mainly the bride and groom that made arrangements?

We planned the whole thing ourselves but when it came to actually executing our vision we were very lucky that we were able to hone in on the skills of many of our guests.  One of the bridesmaids designed all of our wedding stationery, another bridesmaid played the harp for us, the best man helped with making signs and painting and James’ Mum made our cake – which was delicious.

What were the highlights of your day or particularly memorable moments?

It is true what they say, your wedding day really is the best day of your life!  It meant the world to us to have all of our closest friends and family together in the same place at the same time, as it doesn’t really happen other than on your wedding day.  We appreciated that guests even flew in from California, Denmark and Cyprus for our big day.

We were quite nervous about doing our first dance as we choreographed it ourselves but it ended up being a highlight and we really enjoyed doing it.  All of the music was definitely a highlight – the band for the evening (Jupiter Ray) got everybody up and dancing right until the very last minute which is how we had hoped the evening would be.

I loved seeing James in the church in his military uniform, and I was so pleased that he loved my dress; I found it so hard not to show him photos before the day!

Do you have any advice for Brides and Grooms just starting their wedding planning?

Everyone works differently but we recorded everything on a spreadsheet that I couldn’t have managed without!  It helped to keep an eye the budget and was just useful to have everything in the same place.  We found our “timeline” particularly helpful – we wrote a list of what we wanted to achieve by the end of each month in the lead up to the wedding.

We would also advise that if a venue, or a supplier, or any decision you are about to make just “feels right” then chances are it is – go for it!

Try and enjoy every moment, even when it seems stressful at times.  I really missed the planning when the wedding was over, I didn’t know what to do with myself!

Also, remember it is YOUR day and you need to do what makes you happy.  It is impossible to please everybody, just make sure you know you can look back on your special day and know it was perfect for you as a couple.

Finally, if it is within your budget, we would definitely recommend a videographer – we almost decided not to have one but we are so pleased that we did.  They capture moments of the day that we would have have seen otherwise.

All photos credited to photographer Will Stedman.

Other wedding suppliers:

Harpist – Louise Binks

Oakwood String Quartet

Essex Wedding and Function Band – Jupiter Ray

Florist – Hannah Louise Flowers

Videographer – Twenty Six Films