Francesca and Ollie’s August Wedding
We couldn’t have been happier when the last of the wedding restrictions were eased in 2021 and the latter part of the year saw some fantastic celebrations here at Layer Marney Tower! It wasa relief to see the anxiety and concern of our wedding couples turn to excitement and joy that their longed for day was able to take place.
Francesca and Ollie have kindly agreed to chat with us about their wedding planning experience, from the proposal and early days of searching for a venue, right through to their beautiful August wedding day.
(Karen – Wedding Coordinator)
When did the proposal take place and how did it happen?
Ollie popped the question on Sunday 24th March in Victoria Park in Bethnal Green. This was a very special place for Ollie and I, as it was the location of our first date in London. We joked that one day this park would be our back garden and when we moved to London two year later, it actually was! Ollie managed to get me to take a walk around the park, get a quick drink in the pub and persuaded me to sit down with an ice-cream. It was a beautifully sunny day for March so it didn’t take much persuasion. We sat on the grass and Ollie asked me “did I remember this spot?” which of course I did. He then said “I couldn’t think of a better place to ask you to become my wife”! I was in complete shock but of course I said YES and we skipped home and couldn’t wait to share the news with our family and friends.
Did you have an ideal venue in mind before you began your search? How did you research your venue?
Ollie and I both wanted to get married in something that resembled a castle; Ollie loves history and I just enjoy being his queen. We also wanted to find a venue that supported our vision and didn’t have a restricted “wedding package”. We started with a simple Google of “castle-like” venues in Essex; I’m originally from Essex and really wanted to be able to get ready at my childhood home.
We then made a short list of venues that we liked the look of and that met our requirements. We wanted onsite accommodation or a hotel that could cater to us nearby, we wanted to be able to have outdoor space, a venue that could host ceremony and reception. Most importantly, somewhere that gave us the wow factor.
How many venues did you visit and why did you choose Layer Marney Tower?
We viewed Layer Marney Tower first and then four others; to be honest none of them stood up to how we felt when we first were shown round Layer Marney Tower. We chose Layer Marney Tower for many reasons but the one that stood out to us was how they made us feel on the day. The wanted to get to know us and hear our story and it made us feel very special. They didn’t ever say this is how we do a wedding, they wanted to know what our ideas were and how they could support us. We mentioned many ideas to them were met with nothing but support and excitement.
We knew Layer Marney Tower was the space for us and as soon as we booked we got such a huge warm feeling. Throughout everything, they were amazing – changes made through lockdown, helping us navigate limited numbers and finally giving us the day of our dreams!
Layer Marney Tower was the perfect venue for us, the best and easiest decision I’ve ever made.
How far in advance did you book your wedding day?
Well…originally we booked in April 2019 for a May 2020 wedding date. This was pushed back to August 2021. Layer Marney Tower were so flexible and tried to find the best date us, whatever the situation.
Did you have a theme?
The theme was a celebration of us really; we met when we were both back packing around the world so a lot of our theme was based on travel and the places we loved. The food and drink was based around what we loved to eat and we designed a Gin and Beer bar, so guests could sip our favourite drinks during the drinks reception. I loved everything about our wedding and that’s because it really was a day filled with everything and everyone we loved!
How did you choose which suppliers you used?
I went to the Wedding Fayre at Layer Marney Tower and they gave me a lot of recommendations. I then did a lot of research for local people within the area.
The florist we chose was someone I had seen on Instagram and once I visited her at her studio I knew she was the one for us. Ollie wasn’t too interested in the flowers so I took the lead on this. I wanted to incorporate my Nana’s favourite flowers as the main feature and although the florist hadn’t worked with them before she happily adapted her previous work.
The photographer was someone who had photographed at Layer Marney Tower previously and when we met with him we just enjoyed how he made us feel. He was also very interested in our story and made this the focus point of his work. We had an initial meet and greet, a walk round the venue and then a final consultation around two weeks before the wedding. On the day we did a walk round and he confirmed all the final details. For me, the finer details were important and I wanted everything to be quite natural and casual rather than posed and set.
I bought my wedding dress in London totally by chance and my hair and make up ladies were recommendations from friends who had got married locally.
Have you enlisted help from family and friends with the planning or was it mainly the bride and groom that made arrangements?
We had some help but mostly we did all the planning; it was easier to make decisions with less people’s opinions. We had some help with practical things like the amazing bars that were made by my lovely father in law – this was more helpful than hiring them.
We did have a lot of help from our very talented friends however. For example, the band was headed up by my friend Anna so booking and hiring was a little easier. Also, our wedding stationery was all designed and printed by our house mate Sophie. Our wedding cake was made by a friend and getting to try everything with someone we knew made the experience much more joyful and it ensured it tasted exactly how we wanted it to.
Having people you trust makes the decision-making a little easier. A big shout out to all our incredible friends and family members who helped us out!
What were the highlights of your day or particularly memorable moments?
Hearing the music I was going to walk down the aisle to. Although I had heard this music so many times, hearing it on the day made for a magical lump in the throat moment.
The car ride (in the Rolls Royce) after the wedding ceremony – our first time alone as husband and wife.
Walking into the reception – hearing the cheers from outside!
Our first dance.
Finally, waving goodbye to everyone as they got on the bus to the hotel.
Do you have any advice for wedding couples just starting their wedding planning?
This day is about you two as a couple. Try not to please other people and just please yourselves! Enjoy every moment and just take it in, second by second. Take as many pictures as possible. Grooms…have a spare shirt for after the ceremony. You will be nervous so a fresh shirt will feel good!
All photos credited to https://www.jeffturnbull.co.uk
Flowers by https://www.hannahlouiseflowers.co.uk
Wedding dress from https://www.joyceyoungcollections.co.uk/shops/london
(a big thank you to the amazing dress fitter, Mary)
Groom’s suit – hand made in Vietnam (where the couple met) by Peace Tailors