Gemma and Ian’s August Wedding

Gemma and Ian’s August Wedding

One of our favourite styles of blog post has to be the chance to reminisce with a bride and groom regarding their special wedding day.

Here we chat to Gemma and Ian about their wedding planning experience and how the wonderful wedding day itself exceeded all their expectations.

I hope you enjoy hearing their story and viewing a selection of their official wedding photos.  (Karen – Wedding Coordinator)


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

We got engaged in March 2018.  The groom organised a surprise day out – something we’ve done few times before so it didn’t seem unusual.  After a day of fun activities, he proposed…and then once we’d called around our immediate families to tell them the exciting news, we celebrated with champagne and a riverboat cruise on the Thames.

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

We didn’t have a definitive idea beforehand.  So we just started googling wedding venues in Essex and emailed the ones we liked the look of.

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

We visited about four venues in total, but it wasn’t a difficult decision.  As soon as we drove through the gates at Layer Marney Tower, saw the animals roaming the fields and the magnificent tower in front of us, we knew it was the one.  It was perfect in every way and better than we could have ever imagined.

How far in advance did you book your wedding day?

As we were wanting to get married on a Saturday the following Summer, we knew places would fill up quickly.  So once we’d decided Layer Marney Tower was our perfect venue, we booked it straight away to avoid disappointment!  It was approximately 17 months from the initial booking of the venue to our wedding day.

Did you have a theme?

With the Groom being such as big Aston Villa fan, there was no room for negotiation with the colour scheme being claret and blue.  This was only allowed by the bride with the condition of there being no further football references…

There wasn’t really a specific theme to the day, we just picked things that we really like, (the bride’s favourite animal is an owl, so we had one deliver the rings) or things we thoughts would be fun for our guests, (we made our own raspberry vodka and personalised every bottle label and also set up a “diary room” in the bar for them to leave video guestbook messages).

How did you choose which suppliers you used?

We met the falconry supplier and DJ at wedding open days before we’d even chosen our venue.  Our photographer Andy Chambers was a recommended supplier at Layer Marney Tower and we loved his albums online.  Hair and makeup for the bride was through friend’s recommendations.  The wedding cake and flowers were through family or friends.

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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 wanted to plan the majority ourselves and keep most of the plans a secret from family and friends, in order to make it a surprise on the wedding day.  But inevitably there were things that we needed help and advice from our parents for, so they were involved on a wine tasting night and we had their opinions on the flowers.

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

We had a recording from the X Factor voice-over man, Peter Dickson, to introduce us into the Long Gallery for the wedding breakfast.  All of our guests still talk about how amazing it was to have an owl deliver the rings during the wedding ceremony.  And for his speech, the bride’s Dad wrote a song which got the whole room singing!

But just seeing all of our friends and family together having such a great time was the real highlight for us.

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

Of course it’s good to get inspiration and ideas from others but never compare or try to compete.  You may have been to weddings were extravagant in every way but you shouldn’t try to copy them.  Focus on making the day reflect you as a couple, the things that people know and love you for.

And spreadsheets…lots of spreadsheets!!


All photos credited to Andy Chambers Photography.

DJ – Jimmy Lee, Devoted Events

Owl – Imperial Bird of Prey Academy

Wedding Cake – Kim Smith (Auntie of the Bride)

Florist – Jenny Black (works with Bride’s Auntie Kim)

Bridal party makeup – Scarlett Allen

Bridal party hair – Charlotte Mulley (