Wedding couple with wedding guests holding sparklers

Olivia and Stephen’s September Wedding

We are so pleased to be able to introduce you to another of our wedding couples, Olivia and Stephen, who were married at Layer Marney Tower in September 2022.

We are very grateful that they have agreed to share some of their memories from their special day, which include some of the planning and preparations, through to the wedding itself.

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

We got engaged on Christmas Day 2020.  A lockdown proposal!  I (Olivia) love puzzles, so Stephen made me an Advent Calendar where each day there was a little puzzle for me to solve based on our relationship.  This all led to some coordinates and an early start Christmas Day up to the highest point in Surrey, (where we lived at the time), Leith Hill – to watch the sunrise.  The weather was perfect and as the sun rose Stephen got down on one knee and here we are!

Did you have an ideal venue in mind before you began your search? How did you research your venue and how many venues did you visit?  Why did you choose Layer Marney Tower?

We had visited Layer Marney Tower for a day trip early on in our relationship and always liked the red brick Tudor style.  So we knew of it when we started our planning.  However, when it came to planning we weren’t quite sure what we wanted, so we looked at lots of different venues.  Stately homes, marquees, hotels – all sorts!  Online we looked at practically every Essex wedding venue, but in person we probably saw around six.

Outdoor space was important, as was the freedom for us to decorate the venue and put our own stamp on the day.  Layer Marney Tower stuck out for us because of the iconic tower, as well as the gardens.  We were already starting to think about colour schemes and once we settled on an Autumn wedding, thought the red brick was a perfect match for our Autumnal colours.  The wedding co-ordinators and caterer, Bouquet Garni, were also really lovely when we met them at Layer Marney Tower’s Wedding Fayre, and we liked that we had the option of either the Long Gallery or the Barn, so it felt like there was lots of possibilities and flexibility as our planning came together.

How far in advance did you book your wedding day?

We got engaged in December 2020, booked Layer Marney Tower in Summer 2021 and got married in September 2022.  We were still in lockdown in early 2021 and so couldn’t see the venues in person until the Spring.  We spent a couple of months looking at venues and thinking about what we liked and didn’t like, before settling on a venue and then a date.

Did you have a theme?

We didn’t have a theme but we did have a colour scheme – Autumnal, so oranges, yellows and reds.  Stephen had a classic orange mini (the third wheel in our relationship), so we knew that would feature heavily on the day and therefore our colours needed to compliment it.  Our favourite colours are orange and yellow, and we wanted to compliment the red brick of the Tower.

In the end, our bridesmaids dresses wore a rust orange, the groomsmen had orange ties and our flowers were a beautiful spectrum of Autumnal colours.  We then decorated the Barn with complimentary colours and flowers.

How did you choose which suppliers you used?

We found Layer Marney Tower’s Wedding Fayre really useful.  We found both our DJ (Blu Ice) and photographer (Rachel Reeve Photography) through the Fayre. It was great being able to speak to suppliers and it also helped us get an idea of what we wanted.

Some of our suppliers we chose through word of mouth, or friends and family.  Our florist (Rachel Ann’s Flowers) worked for a florist that my Mum had used for a family funeral and recommended.  Our cake was made by one of our bridesmaids Mums.  Others we found online like our videographer (Save the Date Wedding Films).

With all suppliers, we made sure we spoke to them first before booking, to get a feel for them, how they work etc We were very pleased with all of our suppliers who did a great job bringing together the day!



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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?

Stephen and I led on the planning, but we did get help from friends and family from time to time.  One of my bridesmaids came over the help me hole punch paper when I thought it would be a great idea to DIY confetti!  As mentioned, another bridesmaids Mum made our cake.

A lot we wanted to do ourselves, so the wedding would feel personal to us.  We bought rolls of fabric to cut down as table cloths, Stephen hand made a neon sign for the Barn, I stained wooden crates and filled jars to make our sweets table display and I needle felted the Bride and Groom figures that stood on our the top of our cake.  The biggest DIY element of the wedding was Stephen’s car, a classic mini which he decided to restore in the run up to the wedding.  Lot of help from family and friends over the months helped it make it to the big day!

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

The whole day was brilliant; it’s hard to pick just a few memorable moments.

Olivia: For me, I remember the moment right before I walked don the aisle.  Me and my Dad drove to the venue from a local hotel in the Layer Marney Tower Rolls Royce and it was really nice to have a quiet moment beforehand.  Also greeting all of our guests when returning from a short drive after the ceremony; it was great to see everyone in one place.

Stephen: Turning around and seeing Olivia as she walked down the aisle was the highlight of my day.

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

It can be really overwhelming as well as exciting after you get engaged! There’s lots to do, and when you don’t have a date or a venue or suppliers yet if can feel like you have so much left to do.

There will be lots of family and friends with views about your plans, but only you can make the decisions as it’s your big day.

We didn’t have a set idea of what sort of wedding or colours we wanted when we started planning.  So we found finding a venue first, then finding a date, then suppliers, helped structure our planning and stopped us struggling with too much at once.  This also helped us to start to think about colours and details of the day, as we wanted these to compliment the venue.

Finally, make sure to enjoy the planning process and still take time for yourselves as a couple to enjoy your engagement.  It will all come together in the end!

All photos credited to Rachel Reeve Photography.