Just over a year before they wed, Amanda and Craig secured the venue of their dreams!
It all started on the other side of the world:
“Craig’s Dad is from New Zealand and as a child, he visited the top point of the north island called Cape Reinga. It was amazing to see the wonderful view of the Tasmania sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. When he took me here and got down on one knee, even managing to ask a bystander for a simple picture of us in front of the lighthouse. When he asked me I couldn’t stop crying! He actually asked if it was yes or no due to the number of tears rolling down my face. I think he was a little worried! He literally took me to the end of the world to ask me. We then celebrated with his family in New Zealand which was nice, as his grandmother was 91 and too old to travel over for the wedding.”
How lovely! It really does look like the end of the world from up there!
With all the celebrating finished and goodbyes said in New Zealand, it was off home to start the planning:
“The first thing we did once we got home from our holiday was find a venue! As a child, I dreamt of a white manor house, so I went on google and searched white manor houses. Up popped Gosfield hall! I was so excited to go and see it. Craig and I both work long hours and we didn’t have many occasions when we were both free, so I dragged my maid of honour along and fell in love with it. It’s such a beautiful house with amazing grounds, I literally had butterfly’s when I was looking around. Craig trusted my decision and we booked the venue! He then visited a few months later and was most happy with my decision and blown away with the amazing bridal suite.”
With the most important part booked, it was on to planning the finer details, how they wanted to decorate, a theme, if they had a band or not, the list can go on!
“I searched eBay for Kate and Williams wedding photos in Hello magazine and also Michelle Keegan and Mark Wrights wedding. I used these both for ideas but didn’t want to mimic them exactly. It was important to have our own characters come out at the wedding. Although I did copy Michelle’s cake as vanilla cake designs were quite local to the venue. Pinterest was also my best friend it’s so quick and easy to find ideas.
Entertainment was a must for us! We love a good party and wanted everyone to have the best time. We had a live band and a live sax player both in the evening as I love festivals and Ibiza. Flowers were also important and I was set on having a flower arch of some sort over the stairs as you went up for dinner.”
With all the plans set in place, all that was left to do was to await the day! A little over a year of planning had finally fallen to the night before… Amanda arrived at the Lady’s Chambers with the girls, ready to relax in the hot tub with a glass of prosecco and prepare for the big day!
The sun was shining and the wedding preparations were in full swing! The girls were busy getting hair and makeup done in the cottage, Craig was on route to the venue, everything was ticking along nicely.
“I had always had an idea that I liked the open mesh backs but really didn’t think I would wear a fishtail dress. I found my dress online when I googled open back wedding dresses. I then went to Bromley Brides website as I was heading there that week and they had the exact dress on their website. When I got to the shop I said I didn’t think it would be the one but I’d quite like to try it on for fun… It was the first dress I tried on in there and I loved it! And when I found the veil it was perfect!”
“I had three bridesmaids which are all close friends and my Maid of Honour who is my best friend. It was hard to get them all together initially, so I decided to ask them all differently if they would be with me on the wedding day.
I asked my Maid of Honour by sending her a large confetti balloon with ‘Will you be my Maid of Honour?’ on it.
I then organised a meal for two of my bridesmaids and planned to give them both a balloon filled with confetti and a message inside saying ‘Will you be my Bridesmaid?’. I told them it was a wedding favour idea and they should use the needle to pop it. They were so shocked when they read my message and had tears of happiness.
I sent my third bridesmaid a balloon again like my Maid of Honour’s one, as she couldn’t make the meal. I sent it to her work which gave her a little embarrassment! I also had two flower girls who were my cousin’s little girls.”
“My shoes were from Stuart Weizmann, which I had seen when I was on holiday in LA. I had searched for ages looking in London but didn’t like any traditional wedding shoes, so I ordered them online.
I had a last minute hair change as I was going to wear it up but decided I wanted to look like me and be comfortable. So a couple of days before the wedding I brought a hair piece from Debenhams. I also ordered Lipsy wedding underwear from Debenhams.
The only piece of jewellery I wore was a pair of diamond earrings from a close friend as my something borrowed. I also wore a garter to keep up the tradition.”
“My bridesmaids all wore a silk fishtail dress from Maids to Measure which was so glam but chic which is just how I wanted the wedding to be. It was very important to me that they all looked amazing on the day. They wore their own shoes as long as they were nude. The flowers girls dresses were from a shop online.”
Whilst the girls were busy in the Rococco Suite, the boys were putting on their suits, in preparation for making their way onto the church, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Braintree.
“Craig wore a tailored tuxedo from Hugo Boss which I helped him pick out. He looked amazing in it! He also wore a pair of Carvella shiny shoes from Kurt Geiger.”
“The Hugo Boss cufflinks were one of the gifts I gave him.”
“The two Groomsmen’s and two Best Men wore tuxedos that were from Slaters in Bromley at £60 each which was cheaper than renting.
They also wore shiny shoes.”
The boys were off!
Amanda was having some finishing touches done to her hair and makeup and having a few pictures taken, before revealing her dress to her’s and Craig’s mum, the Bridesmaids and of course her dad.
“Well, unfortunately, I was a victim of a wedding scammer, a very good one at that. She had actually been found by a friend of mine at a wedding fair and made her some artificial bouquets for her wedding abroad. It turns out that she would do small jobs to get good reviews and then run off with the money for big events. She let down a lot of brides.
In hindsight, I do wish I had gone through the venues recommended suppliers list. I probably would have done if I hadn’t of been looking for a specific blossom tree which this lady said she could provide. I ended up using her for everything in the end. Luckily I noticed some weird behaviour and decided to make a massive decision two days prior to the wedding and hunt for new suppliers! Who in the end were recommended suppliers by Gosfield Hall.
Thank god there are some amazingly kind people out there! A couple of companies came together to provide me with different things and my bridesmaids spent the whole morning putting my table plan together.”
“One of our biggest savings were the Bridesmaids dresses… I managed to buy the dresses on Black Friday for £90 each instead of their original price of £260!”
With pictures complete, it was time to make their way down the Grand Staircase, under the flower arch and into the Inner Courtyard, where the Rolls Royce awaited.
At the church, the finishing touches were being made by family and friends, guests were taking their seats in time for the Brides grand entrance.
“We got married in a lovely little Catholic Church in Braintree as I am Catholic. We had one short reading as there weren’t actually many Catholics at the wedding and I didn’t think it was fair to make it last over an hour. We had a good friend of ours sing Ave Maria as I walked down the aisle with my dad. We had a couple of hymns sung casually without an organ, as I’m not a massive fan and think it’s a bit old-fashioned. It was good as it got people singing more and was quite funny. We also picked really easy old favourites from school.
Our priest was fantastic, he had great humour and was so lovely. We then played ‘Everlasting Love’ – Natalie Cole as we left the church.”
And just like that, the hard part was over! Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Swinburn!
After the ceremony, it was back into the Rolls to head back to Gosfield Hall for the drinks reception
However, for the odd few, they were on clean-up duty!
Pimm’s & Lemonade
Roast Peppadews stuffed with a Goats’ Cheese and Black Olive crumble (V)
Free-range honey chilli Chicken skewers
Brie and Red Onion Crouton
Salt and Pepper Squid
Free-range bang bang Chicken
Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream
Amanda and Craig then had some group pictures taken before heading off around the grounds for some one on one time and pictures together.
It was time for one last group picture before everyone started to make their way upstairs to the Ballroom for the Wedding Breakfast.
“All of the food was amazing and the portion sizes were very generous. Everyone commented on how it was the best wedding breakfast they had ever tasted. It ran so smoothly and all the waiters and waitresses were fantastic.”
Prawn and Crayfish Tian
Prawns and Crayfish bound in Marie Rose sauce served with sliced Avocado, dressed leaves and Lemon Dressing
Mozzarella and Rocket Salad with Tomato and Chilli Salsa (V)
Toasted garlic bruschetta, topped with rocket salad and slices of creamy mozzarella, garnished with tomato, red onion and chilli salsa
Roast Pork with Apricot and Stuffing
A tender piece of Pork on bubble and squeak, garnished with sliced Toffee Apple and Cider Sauce
Roasted Vegetable Wellington (V)
Seasonal vegetables, blended and encrusted in puff pastry, finished with red wine and cranberry reduction
Triple Chocolate Torte
with Raspberry Mascarpone and Mint
“The speeches were all amazing! My Dad did so well and Craig’s brother was just a natural throwing note cards behind him as he walked in front of his audience. Craig’s words were as special and meaningful as always.
But to top them all was his mum’s speech which had everyone in tears as she asked me to be her Jennifer… The name she had always saved for her daughter but had two boys.”
With full bellies, aching jaws from laughing too much and not a dry eye in the house, it was time to head on downstairs to catch the last rays of the day.
It was then onto the all-important, Michelle Keagan and Mark Wright inspired cake cut!
Straight from there, it was onto the dancefloor for one of the last formalities for the day, the first dance.
“Our first dance was ‘Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé – Perfect’.
Craig loved the original and suggested it but I wasn’t sure, as I felt like the words were all about the women. I think this moment was about how amazing he is for me as well. So when the Beyoncé version came out we jumped at it… it was literally perfect!
I choreographed it slightly my self but didn’t want anything to rehearsed. We both enjoy dancing usually and wanted it to be natural.
In the video, I’m actually singing the whole way through the dance! I was just so relaxed and enjoying my self.”
“At the end of the dance, our Groomsmen and Bridesmaids joined in and right at the end they naturally formed a circle around us and it looked great in our wedding video. Everyone looked so happy for us.
I requested for ‘Take That – Never Forget’ to be played at the end as it’s a song everyone knew the words to. It went off with a hit! Craig lifted me up and span me around and everyone sang along in a circle again formed around us, he then fireman lifted me to my surprise… Not such the elegant bride by the end of the night!”
We asked Amanda and Craig… Based on your own experience, give us some top tips;
“To avoid getting stressed just do what you want! It’s your wedding day, you can’t please everyone. As long as you have the best day ever that’s
all that matters. I had many checklists and a wedding planner with every supplier’s details and receipts in. Keep a little pot of money aside for
those unexpected expenses, there’s always one! Just take in every moment of the day as it will go so quickly. Craig and I made a pact that from 8pm we would have fun and not stress about speaking to everyone and keeping everyone entertained.
Our dearest and closest family and friends were there any way by our sides.”
“If we could do it all again, we’d…
Do it all the same but obviously, I would have used the suppliers on the day from day one!”
We asked the newlyweds about their honeymoon plans
“We went on a mini-moon to Rowhill Grange Spa, which was very relaxing and great to just spend the time together after such a busy day, to take it all in and catch up on the day/night events. We head off on our honeymoon at the end of November to Dubai and the Maldives for a relaxing two and half weeks. We have lots of nice dinners and parties planned for Dubai before heading to the Maldives to relax in an over the sea hut in tranquillity.
We can’t wait!
Thank you so much to everyone at Gosfield Hall for making our day the most memorable and a special thanks to Keeley our wedding planner for all your hard work.”
From all of us here at Gosfield Hall, we hope you have an amazing time away on your honeymoon and that you enjoy married life to the fullest!
Wedding attire: Bromley Brides
The accessories: Debenhams, Stuart Weitzman
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Maids to Measure
Other outfits: Mother of the bride – Le Chic
Wedding rings: Hatton Garden
Wedding cake: Vanilla Cake Designs
Cars: Limo Brokers
Invitations: A Moment of Magic
Photographer: Paul Grace
Videographer – Philip Smith Visuals
Band/disco/DJ: The Lowdown
Sax: Abi Rose Sax
Wedding favours: eBay – boxes
Hair: Hair Beau Babbington
Flowers: Cherubs Florist
Blossom arch – Jade’s Flower Designs
Bridesmaids bags – Katie Loxton
Bridesmaids dressing gowns – Primark
Personalised boxes and hangers – Papermel crafts