Wedding couple Ali and Jim

Ali and Jim’s Autumn Wedding

Jim tells the story of how he and Ali achieved their Fairy Tale Wedding at Layer Marney Tower.

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

“It’s a long story – literally.  Ali and I have been together for almost 20 years.  We did get engaged, but then we bought a house, was blessed with our daughter, Elizabeth and went through the usal life experiences most people do ‘after’ they get married.  Then just over a year ago, we got re-engaged at Holkham Beach in Norfolk.  It was a beautiful autumn day and it was still quite nerve-racking even after being together for so long.  Thankfully, Ali said ‘Yes’ in front of a few other couples who happened to overhear us.  It’s certainly never too late to get married!

Here’s the catch.  Ali’s not too keen on the whole researching and shopping thing, so searching around for suppliers and the like doesn’t really appeal to her.  So apart from the wedding dress, it was up to your’s truly to organise the wedding.  now, there are plenty of horror stories on the internet about groom-organised weddings, but fortunately, I’m (still) living proof it is possible!

After keeping Ali waiting all that time, the wedding had to be something special, a small do wasn’t really going to cut it.  Also, we wanted to day to not only be about getting married but also to celebrate the journey we had made together those years leading up to this point.


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

It has always been Ali’s dream to get married at Layer Marney Tower.  It was already the front-runner but having said that, we did visit a few alternatives.  All that did was to reinforce what an amazing venue Layer Marney is and how perfect it was for us.


Why did you choose Layer Marney Tower?

It’s certainly a beautiful place that has the ‘wow’ factor in itself but what makes Layer Marney Tower truly special are the people who work there.  We felt immediately comfortable from the first visit, everyone was so friendly and helpful, no question too big or too small.

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How far in advance did you book your wedding day?

We booked Layer Marney in early November 2016, during one of their excellent Wedding Open Days.  We’d always talked about a summer wedding but we’d spent the day wandering around the grounds commenting on how beautiful they were during autumn and great the open fire in the Long Gallery was.  That’s when it clicked –  why not go for an Autumn wedding?  The 21st October 2017 it was.


How did you choose your suppliers?

For the main suppliers, we found going to wedding fairs and open days (yes, even ones not held at Layer Marney!) to be invaluable.  It’s really important to get to know your suppliers, especially those providing a personal service on the day (photographers, caterers, musicians, entertainment etc.)  and the only way to do that is face-to-face meetings.  We also tried to keep them as local as possible, with all but one of those crucial suppliers coming from the Colchester area.  Crucially they had worked together at Layer Marney before.  As one guest commented recently, the day “flowed seamlessly” and that’s why,.

This brings us onto Bouquet Garni, the resident caterers, who are excellent.  All we needed to do was to choose the menu (from an amazing range of choices) rather than having to go through finding different caterers.  They provided everything for the reception and wedding breakfast apart from drinks which we decided to get ourselves.

The other suppliers we found online but special mention to Etsy where there are some amazing people who ended up creating our stationery, wedding favours, signs, jewellery and the like.


Did you have a theme?

Our Autumn theme flowed through from the very start with the invitations, right through to the lighting and table decorations during the wedding breakfast.  It was really helpful knowing the theme from the outset, as we could immediately narrow down the vast array of choice of the other things, like the stationery, flowers etc.


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

So many wonderful memories, the perfect day.  Big things; seeing Ali for the first time in her  beautiful dress walking down the aisle, the fireworks (I’d organised as a surprise – worth every penny).  Little things; the smell of the open fire, the Mr and Mrs game we played after the speeches, watching our guests having such a great time.

A personal memory; taking a final look at the Long Gallery just before the wedding, all set up, waiting and thinking “we made this”  The culmination of a year’s hard work and a fantastic experience in it’s own right.


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

  • Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask.  There are no silly questions when you are planning one of the most important days of our lives.  We had so many preconceived ides, which ended up being so much better having talked them through with the professionals.
  • Start keeping lists and spreadsheets from day one.  There are so many things to think about (not to mention the budgets and bills to manage) and this is not the time to be forgetting things!
  • Plan as much as possible as soon as possible.  we set ourselves a goal to book all the main suppliers before Christmas 2016 (for October 2017) and even then it was tight.  Many suppliers will be booked up a year or more in advance, so it pays to get in quick.
  • Remember to enjoy it!  It is a glorious whirlwind sweeping you along and the day can be over all too soon.  So, consciously take a few moments through the day just to take it all in.


Our Main Suppliers

Wedding Dress/Suit hire
Hair and makeup
Disco and lighting
Magician and MC
Chocolate Fountain
Wedding Favours
Some useful websites