On a lovely spring day, Friday 27th April 2018, Antonia and Phil made a commitment to each other that would last a lifetime.
This journey started however in the city that never sleeps… New York!
“Phil and I had both been to New York when we were younger and absolutely loved it, and always talked about going together. We eventually decided to bite the bullet and book our trip combining it with a few nights in Vegas. On our 3rd day in New York, on a boiling hot day, I hadn’t realised quite how strange it was that Phil was wearing a big hoodie and wouldn’t take his hand out of his pocket.
All became clear though, when he got down on one knee by the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and said
‘I know you love New York, and I love you, will you marry me?’
We celebrated with lunch at the Boathouse and cocktails at the top of the Rockefeller Centre.”
How romantic! We do love a good love story.
So after the trip of a lifetime, it was all systems go, looking into where and when and all the bits in-between.
When planning a wedding of your dreams, it’s always best to start with budgeting yourselves and knowing what you’d like to spend. Antonia and Phil did just that.
“We started off with a base budget by working out what we already had in savings and what we knew we could afford to put aside each month. We then had conversations with our parents, as they had said they would like to help pay for the day, to understand roughly how much they wanted to contribute.
Once we had a final figure, we used various articles, advice from friends, and Pinterest pages to work out how to break down all of the costs. One thing I would say to anyone else getting married, you will never ever think of everything to go on your budget spreadsheet – so make sure you have a substantial amount as a contingency. If you don’t end up spending it all – bonus!”
Inspiration too is then a good idea to look into, as this can then assist with your budgeting. Like most excited Brides, Antonia had already thought of this!
“The next thing we did was consult my pre-existing Pinterest board (one that I’d been preparing for years!) to work out what ideas were realistic and what was a little bit too Kardashian budget-esque! Once we had an understanding of the kind of wedding we wanted, we started looking at venues.”
And that is what they did! They started the sometimes very long and confusing task of finding the perfect place to become Man and Wife.
“We didn’t want to get married in a venue that was really local for us, as we thought it would be nice to go somewhere different. The first venue I saw in a bridal magazine was actually Leez Priory, and when we researched the Country House Weddings Group, then we fell in love with Gosfield Hall.
We’d already been to see another venue in Essex, and as we were leaving, Phil and I had felt quite deflated about how it hadn’t lived up to our expectations. I remember thinking that maybe our budget wasn’t going to allow us to have our venue of dreams. The next day we went to the open day at Gosfield Hall – even as we were coming down the drive I felt optimistic and as soon as we walked through that big green door into the Grand Salon, I knew it was perfect. Then, when I walked into the Ballroom, with the tinkly music playing, I got goosebumps and just remember thinking, ‘this is how I want my guests to feel’”.
And that was it. With both Antonia and Phil falling in love with Gosfield Hall’s charm and beauty, they made the decision to hold that wedding of their dreams with us.
With the most important bit done, deciding where and when, it was onto planning. It was time for that Pinterest board to come into it’s own!
“We really wanted the wedding to be traditional; something we could tell our grandchildren about and for it still to have just as big a wow factor then as it did on the day.”
With all the major plans now sorted, it was time to sit back and relax and wait for the big day to arrive!
The day before, Antonia and her bridesmaids Amy, Sheryl, Becki and Katie arrived at the Lady’s Chambers Cottage, our night before cottage to have a relaxing evening, enjoy the hot tub and prepare Antonia for the next day.
On the morning of the wedding, it was all systems go! Hair and makeup, done by Team Glam, arrived nice and early to get the girls looking glamorous! Once ready, they moved into the Bridal Suite, The Rococco, to have finishing touches done and to put on that all important dress!
“Before I went wedding dress shopping, I’d seen a dress online I thought was perfect – I turned up, tried it on and it looked hideous on me – that’s when I decided not to second guess my choice and just try on all the different styles. I’m so glad I did because I had originally been completely against strapless!
When I first tried on my dress I was so in love with the silhouette, the subtle sequins running through and the gorgeous scalloped lace hem – I knew it was the dress for me. We made a few alterations, dipping the neckline to make it more sweetheart shaped, and adding a super blingy belt just to make the dress stand out even more. I was so nervous about finding a dress, not being your typical size 10 bride, but I could not have felt more beautiful.”
“My shoes were from ASOS. They were probably the cheapest part of my whole outfit, but I loved them! They were white satin, with bits of sequin, lace and diamantes – they were just perfect to go with the rest of my sparkly day!”
“We had 4 bridesmaids, my sister as my maid of honour, my 2 best friends and Phil’s sister, and three groomsmen; Phil’s two close friends, and his sister’s partner.
I had a wooden box made for each of them, engraved with their name and ‘will you be my bridesmaid?’, the groomsmen had hip flasks (both from NotOnTheHighStreet) – we even posted Phil’s sister’s out to Australia for her!
It was really important to me that the girls felt special and glamorous in their dresses; I didn’t just want them to feel plain in a really standard bridesmaid dress. We ordered loads of dresses online, in all of their different sizes, Skyped Phil’s sister in from Australia, and had a mass trying on session, before settling on head to toe sequins! The dresses were from Quiz, and at £100 each were a lot cheaper than a typical bridesmaid dress, and personally I thought they looked really effective!”
Jewellery – Earrings – Liberty in love, Bracelet – Ivory and co,
Underwear – B by Ted Baker Hair grips – Matthew Williamson
“I also had a diamond necklace that Phil bought me and was given to me the morning of the wedding with a letter and a poem – something very out of character for him!“
While the girls were drinking bubbles and making the finishing touches, the boys were busy downstairs too…
“We rented the boys outfits from Fogarty, which is a local shop to us – we wanted them in tails so that it was something a bit different – all the boys have office jobs so wear a suit every day. We also got a matching suit for Phil’s dad, and picked everyone a pale pink tie to complement the silver dresses and pink flowers.”
“We also got everyone some presents for the day – the girls got pyjamas, dressing gowns, slippers and a little bag, and the boys got cuff links with their favourite football team’s badge, and a whisky decanter.”
With the boys suited and booted, the girls acclimatising to their heels, it was time for Antonia and Phil to meet with the registrars and then make their way to their ceremony.
“Phil wore a blue suit with tails, a pale pink tie and a grey waistcoat, in contrast to the groomsmen’s blue. They also had sweet avalanche roses for their button holes. For Phil’s wedding gift I bought him a Breitling watch – a bit extravagant but it was something he’s always wanted – when I saw him in the ceremony room in his outfit and wearing the watch I just couldn’t stop smiling at how handsome he looked.”
With Phil nervously awaiting his Bride, the time was upon them to finally be reunited and make those all important vows to each other.
“We had a singer and guitar player performing as our guests arrived into the Queens Gallery, and I walked down the aisle to them performing ‘Feels Like Home’ by Chantal Kreviazuk. Unfortunately my father passed away a few days before my wedding, so my mum walked me down the aisle – I did have his chain tied around my bouquet, so I know he was there in spirit.”
And that was it! The hard part was over… Meet Mr & Mrs Smith!
Straight after the ceremony, Antonia and Phil made their way downstairs to the welcome drinks reception and some yummy canapes.
Antonia and Phil chose for their welcome drinks;
House Prosecco, Raspberry Fizz and Strawberry Daiquiri!
Whilst their guests enjoyed the food and drinks, Antonia and Phil went off around the house and grounds with their photographer to get some lovely pictures together.
“We found Jay, our photographer, by googling ‘Gosfield Hall’ and ‘photographer’ to see what photographers had been to Gosfield Hall before. We did this so we could see exactly how they would photograph the venue. We loved Jay’s candid shots and elegant style. When we booked him, he even took us to Richmond Park for an engagement shoot, just to help us familiarise ourselves with his style.”
With everyone full of laughter and aching jaws from smiling and chatting, it was onto the wedding breakfast in the ballroom to enjoy their hand picked menu and to laugh and reminisce at the speeches.
Antonia and Phil took alot of care and time in picking what they would like to bring into the house, decorations wise and supplier wise.
“We wanted everything to suit the venue, so tried to keep our decorations elegant and timeless.”
“We had the most beautiful flower wall which was our alternative to a photo booth – which everyone loved!”
“Our florist also did a lot to help us create the most magical decoration on both the tables and the big staircase.
Our biggest splurge was probably our florist. We had fallen in love with the dressed stairs from photos on Instagram, so had asked Sam to recreate a look she had previously done at Gosfield Hall.”
“Our cake was 5 tiers, with lots of silver and sparkle!”
“Our table plan was a large ornate mirror, with the names transferred on to it.”
“For our table numbers, we had small silver frames with foil printed New York landmarks, as that’s where we got engaged.”
Beetroot Carpaccio (V)
Thinly sliced poached beetroot with Goat’s Cheese Mousse & Balsamic Glaze
Prawn and Crayfish Tian
Prawns and Crayfish bound in Marie Rose sauce served with sliced Avocado, dressed leaves and Lemon Dressing
Roasted Vegetable Wellington (V)
Seasonal vegetables, blended and encrusted in puff pastry, finished with red wine and cranberry reduction
Traditional Roast Topside of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
Served on a bed of Horseradish Mash with a Red Wine Jus
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownie
With dark chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream
Strawberries & cream simply irresistible
“Everyone commented on how amazing the food was – the chef is truly incredible!”
“Our speeches lasted quite a while! My mum spoke in place of my dad, and a close family friend read some words dad put together before he passed, which was really emotional – but although there were some sad moments, I know dad would have wanted the day to be a celebration – which it was!”
“We also had a couple quiz, so everyone filled in their answers during the meal, then we swapped papers and revealed the answers – we gave a tray of drinks to the winning table and I painted some wooden spoons to give to the losing tables. We then also had a speech from Phil, the groomsmen and a quick few words from me as well!”
After the speeches had finished, it was off downstairs to see the newlyweds cut their cake and onto see the first dance!
“Phil actually picked our first dance song – it was You and I (Nobody in the world) by John Legend – the words were so relevant because while we were dancing it really did feel like there was no one else in the room!”
“We also decided to have the disco room decorated with white draping and purple uplighters just to make it look even more special.”
With all the formalities done with, all that was left to do was to enjoy the dancing, have a drink and chat with friends and family about the wonderful day experienced by all!
That was that. And what a wonderful day they had!
We asked our lovely couple, based on their own experience, give us some top tips;
“Share your vision – make sure your bridesmaids/ mum know exactly how you want things, so they can run round in the morning and help your wedding manager put it all together.
Don’t compromise – if you want it, and you can afford it, you can make it happen, even if you have to do a bit of DIY to make it happen.
Enjoy the planning – it sounds cliché but after the wedding you will feel so strange having nothing to plan, so make the most of the spreadsheets, lists and Pinterest boards!”
If we could do it all again we’d…
“Worry less! It will all be fine – it rained 99% of our day, yet it didn’t matter in the slightest!”
Shortly after the wedding, Antonia and Phil had sometime together to enjoy their new way of life of being Husband and Wife.
“We had initially booked to go straight to the Maldives, but decided to postpone for a couple of weeks. The weekend after the wedding we went on a mini-moon to Hastings and stayed in a gorgeous lodge. Two weeks later we flew out to the beautiful Kuramathi Island in the Maldives for 2 weeks in paradise.”
Antonia and Phil had a Videographer film their day for them… I’m sure you will all agree how moving it is! Also how happy they both look too.
“We picked our Videographer the same way we chose our Photographer, by looking on google – the thing that sealed it for me was that every single video on their website made me cry!”
From all of us here at Gosfield Hall, we wish you a very happy future together and wish you all the best!
Wedding attire: Brides of Berkhamsted
The accessories: Ivory and co, Liberty in Love
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Quiz
Men’s Suites: Fogarty Formal Hire
Wedding rings: 77 Diamonds
Wedding cake: Essex Wedding Cakes
Invitations: Planet Cards
Photographer: Jay Rowden
DJ: Gosfield DJ
Wedding favours: Amazon
Drapes: Alexandrea Occasions
Face painters: Wish Upon a Sparkle – Glitter face paint
Magician: Paul Fowler
Hair and Make up: Team Glam
Flower Wall and Love Letters: Bella Occasions
Videographer: Boutique Wedding Films
Ceremony and Drinks Reception singer: Something Acoustic