Sarah and Tristian were on a family holiday, unbeknown to her, something was about to happen…
“Tristan had planned three possible spots to propose and we didn’t make it to any of them because it was so hot and busy with families on half term. In the end he got cross and marched off with our dog to one final place that he thought would do, which ended up being just the most beautiful spot with a view out towards Lake Windermere – his grandparents live there so it’s a spot we can keep going back to and they actually bought us a beautiful print of the view as a wedding gift.
We have a tradition of taking a ‘family photo’ when we go on holiday, so he pretended to be setting his phone up to take a photo on the timer but actually set it to film so we have a video of the whole proposal. I knocked the ring into sheep poo by mistake at first…”
What a view! A beautiful place to have a lasting memory.
With the engagement now sunk in, it was time to start the first steps of the planning process! That first step:
“Tristan is a history teacher and we both love a good National Trust property so we knew we wanted somewhere with character and history to it. For everything else, we had Pinterest boards to start getting ideas together. We actually looked at Leez Priory first as Sarah’s dad cycles past it regularly and has always thought it was beautiful. It just wasn’t quite right but through them, we heard about Gosfield Hall and arranged a visit.”
At the beginning of the planning process, it’s always good to know what is important to you, so that you can then set yourself a budget. Sarah and Tristan did just that.
“Food & drink (plenty of both) and a venue that could accommodate our elderly grandparents comfortably was a must– the lift and bedrooms at Gosfield Hall were a big plus. We also knew we wanted a winter wedding so it was important to have plenty of space indoors and for it to feel cosy and warm.
We asked around a few friends who have married recently and went from there when it came to planning a budget – we did weigh up options such as venues where you bring in your own caterers and bar, which would have worked out a bit cheaper but were an awful lot more time and effort.”
Knowing what they were looking for, they just needed that all-important venue.
“It sounds cheesy but we fell in love as soon as we walked in and it just ‘felt’ right. We loved the history and character (especially the library) and could picture how magical it would look with all the Christmas decorations up. Practically it ticked all our boxes too – plenty of bedrooms to accommodate guests (Tristan used to work in China and our families are scattered all across the UK so we knew lots of people would want to stay over), all under one roof in case of bad winter weather and easy access to all areas for older guests.”
With the venue booked, it was then onto planning and preparing everything else!
Time flew by and the wedding day was upon them…
Sarah and her bridesmaids arrived at Gosfield Hall at 9am on the 20th December 2018, for the day that would change her’s and Tristan’s lives forever.
As soon as the girls arrived, it was time to get into the full swing of getting ready!
With the girls upstairs well on their way to being ready, the boys had arrived downstairs and were getting ready themselves.
“Tristan wore traditional morning dress with an ivory waistcoat and a tie made from his family tartan (hunter green and navy, with red and yellow running through it). He also had a pewter tie pin featuring the Macleod crest and motto, as did his dad. He had considered going all-out with a kilt but decided it might be a bit chilly in December!”
With everyone busy, the personal touches around the house were in place and ready for the guest’s arrival
“We didn’t have to do much by way of decoration but we had a very loose Scottish theme, based on Tristan’s family tartan, which then gave us colours for bridesmaids’ dresses, and groomsmen’s outfits, as well as inspiration for our flowers which included purple heather and thistles. Sarah made the cake herself and used the same hunter green from the tartan for the cake ribbons.”
“We also wanted to include lots of old photographs to help get conversation going and cause a few laughs at some of the more embarrassing ones, so we bought some cheap frames and dotted them throughout the reception rooms, starting with our baby photos, 1st birthdays, 1st days at school, then moving through our graduation, 1st puppy, 2nd puppy…”
“Sarah’s dress was the very first one that she saw online – she tried on lots of others in lots of different styles but ended up tracking this particular one down and wasn’t disappointed! It was very traditional and what she’d always imagined she’d wear but she was very open-minded and tried on all sorts of things (and was pleasantly surprised by some!).”
“Sarah’s hairpiece was handmade by the lovely Victoria Millésime (co-owner of The Boutique – where the bridesmaids’ dresses came from) from tiny seed pearls and white clay flowers from Italy – Sarah then wore pearl earrings and necklace to match. The Boutique also supplied the veil, which was made to Sarah’s specifications to complement her dress – it was a mantilla style, fingertip length with just a touch of delicate lace around the bottom edge to match the lace top of the dress.”
“Sarah’s shoes came from LK Bennett and were red velvet (the same as the cake…) as she wanted to find shoes that she loved and could wear again rather than buying ivory ones that would only be worn on the day. Her underwear was her something blue!”
“Sarah’s (very emotional) dad walked her down the aisle, both our mums were our witnesses and Tristan’s dad gave a reading, so each parent had a special part to play in the ceremony.”
“Sarah walked down the aisle to the Glasgow Love Theme (from Love Actually) and we left again to Thunder Road (by Bruce Springsteen – our favourite artist) both played beautifully on the piano. Our pianist also played a selection of pieces by Ludovico Einaudi as guests arrived and during the signing of the register – we wanted something with a more modern feel than some of the traditional classical pieces.”
“Tristan’s dad read an extract from ‘On Friendship’ by Cicero, which is quite a serious one (Sarah teaches Latin so it also represented her) and Sarah’s sister, Louise, the maid of honour, read ‘Yes, I’ll Marry You’ by Pam Ayres, which was very funny so the two readings balanced each other well.”
Congratulations to Mr & Mrs MacLeod!
With the hard, nerve-racking bit over, it was time to go and have their welcome drink and canape reception, then off for a few surprises and pictures!
“For our drinks reception we had both sparkling and mulled wine (brave when wearing white but delicious and warming and went down a treat with guests who were feeling very festive!). As mentioned before, our pianist played throughout and Sarah’s nan started a singalong to some of her favourite songs!”
Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream
Tempura King Prawn
Free range honey chilli Chicken skewers
Rare roast Beef served on Rye bread with a Horseradish cream mousse
Blue cheese crostini with honey roasted Figs
Brie and Red Onion Crouton
“Sarah also surprised me by arranging for our two Labradors to be brought over to Gosfield for photos. This was a real highlight of the day (although her dress ended up covered in pawprints!) and something that made it very special as we are such huge dog-lovers. Lots of our guests came out to play with the dogs and said that it was such a memorable moment. Our older dog, Basil, is in our engagement video so it’s extra special that he and our newer puppy, Ludo, could feature in our wedding photos!”
“The groomsmen and best man all wore morning dress and the same tartan tie as Tristan. They represented different stages of Tristan’s life with one from primary school, one from secondary school, and two (including the best man) from university.”
“We had 4 adult bridesmaids – Sarah’s sister, Sarah’s best friend and Tristan’s two sisters – and 2 flower girls – Tristan’s cousins aged 5 and 7 (who stole the show!). Sarah made each of them a card and superimposed their faces on to the ugliest bridesmaid dresses she could find to ask them to be part of the day! The adults wore hunter green, floor-length dresses from the True Bride collection, which featured delicate silver beading on the tops that really caught the sparkles of the Christmas lights. The two little ones wore ivory Rocha John Rocha dresses with lace tops that matched the bride’s dress.”
“Sarah hates having her photo taken so we knew we wanted somebody that would be quite discreet and wouldn’t focus on traditional posed photos. An advert for Lee Allison popped up on facebook one day and we loved his style immediately, as well as the fact that he specifically stated that he worked in a documentary style and tried to capture lots of candid moments. We followed his Instagram for a while before booking to get a really good feel for his work.”
After lots of pictures had been taken and family and friends ready for dinner, it was time to head upstairs for the wedding breakfast in the Ballroom.
“We also spent a little extra on having customised wedding stationery made by the very talented Helen Hugh-Jones of Nell’s Originals – she designed our invitations and menus and hand-painted and calligraphed the table names, table plan and timeline for the day. This meant that we could match the designs to our flowers and have something very personal created. Our tables were named after our favourite whiskies too to continue the theme.”
“Instead of place cards and favours, we found a photo of each guest with at least one of us and had them printed in a polaroid style. These were then stuck into corks and the guests’ names written on them – we aimed to find either a significant memory or a funny one so that guests could tell the story behind the photo over dinner (our friends had done this at their wedding and it worked brilliantly!). Lots of our guests kept hold of their photo as a memento which was lovely.”
Baked Camembert Tart
Poached William pear topped with rich and creamy Camembert encased with puff pastry
Roasted Butternut Squash
A thick, rich soup with a subtle flavour and velvety texture – made with delicious roasted butternut squash and selected vegetables and spices
Roast Leg of Lamb
Served with redcurrant & rosemary stuffing and a rich roast jus
Roasted Vegetable Wellington (V)
Roasted seasonal vegetables encrusted in puff pastry served with a cranberry reduction
Marmalade and Whisky Bread and Butter Pudding
A traditional dessert flavoured with tangy orange marmalade and a rich Whisky custard
Vegan Pecan Pie
Rich soya pastry, with maple syrup filling and toasted pine nuts
“We didn’t hire a videographer but we did rope in some friends to film the speeches as others had told us that this was something they regretted not doing. They set up a tripod to film on their phone and also separately put a phone on top of the mantelpiece just to audio record, then merged the two together. We’re very glad that they did otherwise lots of the speeches would have been lost under all the laughter! Highlights included Sarah’s dad roping in her sister as his assistant to wipe his tears and some of Sarah’s favourite childhood toys making an appearance, Tristan celebrating the fact that Sarah chose not to talk…for once…and Ashley, the best man, striking just the right balance by giving hints about stories that guests should ask him about in the bar, but not going into too much detail in front of the children!”
“All of the speeches were brilliant because they were so personal and relived some of our favourite stories – they were light-hearted and poked fun rather than being too serious.”
After the speeches had concluded, it was off downstairs to cut the cake!
“Our first dance was to ‘Should I Fall Behind’, which is again by Bruce Springsteen, our favourite musician and who we’ve seen in concert several times. This particular song has very poignant lyrics – it’s not about falling in love, but staying in love, which seemed fitting – and is one that we have always loved. We chose a particular live recording which the DJ played for us.”
“We had sent Gosfield’s resident DJ a playlist of some of our favourite songs in advance and this was well worth it as everything he played was spot on for us – Sarah doesn’t normally dance but only left the dance floor for a few quick photos throughout the entire night! Likewise, our band, The Kicks, had asked for 10 dos and 10 don’ts from their repertoire then built a set list around that. They were absolutely brilliant!”
“We also had Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ as our second song to get everyone on the dancefloor, and requested ‘Fairytale of New York’ as the last song, as a nod to Christmas but also suited us as a couple who aren’t massively romantic!”
And that was that… Sarah and Tristan had a fabulous day, spent with the people that mean the most. We couldn’t think of a better way to get into the Christmassy spirit!
After the wedding, we asked the newly wed’s a couple of questions;
What was your biggest wedding splurge?
“Not what we spent the most on but probably our biggest luxury was getting in a live band and a pianist to play during the ceremony and drinks’ reception rather than just using the DJ and recorded music. Both were definitely worth the extra cost as they created such a great atmosphere – our pianist even ended up starting a singalong with Sarah’s nan during drinks!”
What was your biggest wedding saving?
“The cake! Sarah made it herself so it only cost us the price of the ingredients (about £50) and ribbon. She made three tiers – traditional fruitcake, red velvet and coffee and walnut (Tristan’s favourite), then an extra lemon and white chocolate plus a gluten-free fruitcake which were just cut up and served in the evening.”
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:
“Choose things that are personal and meaningful – they don’t have to cost a fortune but these are the things that will make your day memorable. In total, we spent about £50 on photo frames, £15 on getting photos printed and £30 on getting our dog-sitter to bring our boys over, but these were the things that got everyone talking.
Make sure you factor guest numbers into your budget and get a good idea early on of how many you will have – we guessed at about 75 initially but ended up with almost 100 when we actually wrote a list so had to adjust our budget and plans accordingly.”
After the wedding, Sarah and Tristan went on a nice little break away;
“We took the dogs to West Sussex for a few days immediately after the wedding and stayed at a pub called The White Horse, in Chilgrove, where we have been before. We took the dogs to the beach and just escaped real life for a while! Our honeymoon is two weeks in Malaysia at Easter – we’re really glad that we have a bit of a wait as it means we have something really exciting to look forward to.”
From all of us here at Gosfield Hall, we hope you have a lovely honeymoon and wish you a lifetime of happiness together!
The accessories: Victoria Millésime
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: The Boutique & Co., Fulham
Wedding rings: Wellington Jewellers, Wokingham
Wedding cake: Made by the Bride
Stationary: Helen Hugh-Jones of Nell’s Originals (bespoke design – Helen also designed the timeline, table plan, table names and menus)
Photographer: Lee Allison
Band: The Kicks Live Band and Cornel Oprea, pianist
Flowers: W flowers
Hair and makeup: Tori Harris Pro Team