Glamour and Grandeur at Kedleston Hall
We get submitted quite a few weddings and every now and again, we come across a real belter which we cannot wait to share. And this is the case with today’s beauty.
Jennifer & James left no stone unturned and created an incredibly beautiful wedding filled with character and charm and ensuring not just them but their guests had the time of their lives.
Jennifer has written all about her big day and goes into lots of detail which I’m sure will help provide endless inspiration for you if you’re planning your own wedding.
Although my husband is from London and I have also lived there for the last 10 years, it was always inevitable that our wedding would be held where I grew up in Derbyshire. I had investigated various London locations just to explore all options, but nowhere I’d seen came close to achieving that same friendly, warm, relaxed attitude that you undoubtedly receive wherever you happen to visit in the Peak District. That particularly is what I wanted my guests to experience.
We held the ceremony in the village church where I grew up, St Alkmund’s in Duffield. It’s a beautiful building and my old family home up on the hill overlooks it. Mum always said that one day I would get married there, happily that dream came true! Unfortunately a month prior to the wedding our vicar left and we had a mad search for an alternative. We found an excellent replacement in Anne Stratton (from St Peter’s in Belper). She was amazing and felt like one of the family. She set the perfect laid-back, happy tone of the day. Everyone remarked on her exceptional delivery and indeed how the service was completely tailored to suit us as a couple, gifting us with a little book on which she based her ceremony about us.
For our venue we chose some fabulous tipis by Elite Tents in the grounds of Kedleston Hall. One of my school friends lived on the top floor of the Hall as her dad managed the property for the National Trust. I was lucky enough to have spent many hours during my childhood exploring the grounds, ice-skating on the lake during winter, playing tennis in the old courts in summer, telling ghost stories in the hall during numerous sleepovers. As I have so many happy memories there it seemed an obvious choice as above all, I really wanted a location with which we had a meaningful connection. Of course it’s close proximity to the church and the fact that the location is absolutely stunning made it even more perfect!
Although I love London, I’m a country girl at heart, my wedding just had to be set in the beautiful picturesque rolling hills of the Peaks. We decided on a vintage English country fete wedding, styled with lace, hessian and pastel tones.
I’d seen tipis online before and knew that was definitely the route I would like to go down as they create such a magical atmosphere, especially with the fairy lights, natural wood beams and open fires. We chose a large spacious arrangement of connected tipis for the main area, with reindeer hides laid out on benches to enhance the relaxed, rustic, country style. We also had a separate tipi which was used for the photobooth, cake, candy cart, chill out area complete with cushions and coffee table where people could sign and add photos into our personalised wooden guest book. We had an additional tent which was used for a cooking area in the day which made a great visual impact for guests on arrival, and it turned into a ‘cigar corner’ in the evening.
I bought an old Raleigh bike with wicker basket on ebay, then painted a sign with our names on to welcome everyone, and attached it to the frame on with cable ties. I’d also made a couple of large chalkboards, one for inviting people to help themselves to flipflops for when their feet get tired, and another with a list of dancefloor rules, this was placed on an easel by the DJ. On the tables I’d bought lots of sets of dominos and playing cards, tied up with tags like ‘open me’, ‘play me’ etc and images from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I’d produced scrolls for the menus tied up with string and a tag. I’d also created a betting slip with pencils for the speeches, this got everyone involved and all tables interacting, always good for a buzzing atmosphere!
I spent months sourcing vintage teacups & saucers, birdcages, antiques books, Victorian lace table cloths, fabrics, old fashioned sweetie jars, sweets, shepherds hooks to hang glass lanterns with candles, x20 vintage picture frames for each table to be displayed on haybales etc. Anything that I thought might help set the theme.
I also had an area dedicated to family members who were no-longer around, our grandparents, great uncles/aunts, friends etc. I collected lots of different vintage frames and asked people to send over any wedding day images of them, which I had printed up. I added another frame saying ‘we know you would be here today if heaven weren’t so far away’. It felt nice that in some way they could be there to enjoy the day and it meant a lot to all of the guests connected to all those people pictured.
Finding the dress! I was incredibly lucky as it was the first and only dress I tried on! I didn’t have a set idea about what I wanted and hadn’t as far as picked up a wedding magazine. However, I knew it had to be an intricate lace piece as that would suit the style of the wedding.
We met with a few caterers but no-one came close to offering the level of service of Black Peppermint Food Company. On first meeting with Adam we saw his passion for the business and knew he would deliver our guests that wow menu.
With Black Peppermint Food Company we created a selection of food sure to impress, from cured salmon and Turkish delight canapés, to our tapas sharing starter (Italian meats, cheeses, fish, artisan breads, oils, jars of sauces, savoury jams etc), to the posh mixed grill main, to the trio of desserts (including chocolate soil in a mini terracotta pot with a mint leaf sprig) to the stone baked pizzas in the evening, everyone remarked on how incredible the food was.
Libby from the ‘Little Blue Bay’ sometimes serves sweets out of the back of VW campervan Bluebell, but I’d asked her if she’d kindly serve pimms and gin instead, obviously! After the ceremony hundreds of cans of pimms and lemonade, gin and tonic, cream soda, cloudy lemonade, dandelion and burdock etc. were stacked up on shelves and in wooden crates at the back of the van. I also asked Libby to write a drinks menu on the blackboard under the title ‘One for the Road?’ It looked fantastic! I’d ordered plenty of stripy paper drinking straws so people could take them on the double-decker buses for their journey to Kedleston. This touch went down really well and all of our guests appreciated the welcome refreshment!
All of my bridesmaids are different skin tones, hair colours and sizes therefore I went for a mix ‘n’ match effect for their dresses, I truly wanted all girls to look and feel fabulous!
My amazing hair stylist (James White) styled my tresses in a loose up-do with veil and diamante headband for the day, which was let down into a half up/down style for the evening. I really wanted my hair to include a plait around the back of the head. James cleverly designed it so that when the up-do was let down (by my bridesmaids via a couple of strategically placed pins of a different colour…) the plait was revealed and a new long wavy boho look was created. Fortunately it had managed to hold despite the brief but heavy rain shower!
With the girl’s dresses being quite different, the consistency had to come from the hair and make-up. I’d asked my make-up artist (Jenni Hughes) to keep everyone’s looks as fresh and clean as possible with natural eyes and lips. Everyone wore strip lashes which lifted the look even further and added the glam factor! I’d asked James to also style the girls in a similar way, loose curls pinned up with a statement diamante hairclip and flattering waves framing the face.
Both Jenni and James did a great job looking after all of us, indeed we had a team of four stylists working away to perfect all of the bridal party looks. It was busy timetable of one in one out but they managed to bring the right amount of fun, calm and professionalism to proceedings and all of the ladies were so pleased to have benefited from their fantastic expertise. Everyone walked out feeling, like me, a million dollars!
I asked my florist (Michele Gledhill) to produce a variety of arrangements to work with the vintage mix ‘n’ match pastel colour theme. I’d seen her website so was confident but when the bouquets, wrist corsages and buttonholes arrived at the hotel, I was totally blown away.
One of the best decisions I made was hiring my singing waiters and James was in charge of music, he found our band (iRock) and DJ (Spirits High) online.
I knew I wanted to take the stress out of the logistics for my guests therefore I hired two vintage red routemaster buses to bring a bit of London to Derbyshire! My dad and I enjoyed a bumpy but fabulous ride to church in an absolutely gorgeous VW campervan called ‘Bluebell’ hired from The Little Blue Bay Company in Ripley.
One of our ushers owns a helicopter, we were incredibly lucky that he was able to take us to our reception.
Enjoy the day, everyone says it goes too quickly, it’s true. I was aware of this piece of advice so took time to capture memories of all of our lovely smiling guests, it was such a happy day I didn’t want to miss a second. Ensure that you actually spend moments with your new husband, you will be pulled from pillar to post on the day so make an effort to keep catching up with each other, afterall that is why you’re both there!
Embrace the creativity and personalise it! Fortunately I had over a year to plan so plenty of time to allow my crafting ideas to get completely out of hand! The comments I’ve had from all of the guests has been that they were overwhelmed by how many personal touches there were. Anyone can buy a package wedding, what makes a day stand out are those small additional bits and pieces which although involve more effort, take it to the next level and forge their way into people’s memories.
Get others involved. I had a ‘bridesmaid bunting weekend’ at my house in London, this firstly enabled all of my bridesmaids (some from London, some from Derbyshire) the chance to get to know each other better. Secondly it was a great opportunity to get them involved with the crafting, we ended up making a huge amount of lace bunting which saved me a few days’ worth of work!
I also made hand-painted direction signs but needed them nailing to a white post, my dad is a DIY extraordinaire and I tasked him with sorting this out and down to B&Q he went! I also stumbled across a vintage Harrods suitcase in an old warehouse, it was in a bit of a mess but a bit of horse saddle soap and sponge from a local stables and it came up beautifully, I re-lined it with fabric to fit the theme, and dad then fashioned a surface with holes for inside to hold all confetti cones in place at the church. My mum is great at calligraphy, so I asked her to write the names onto luggage tags which were tied to the handles of each china cup for place settings.
My great auntie has lots of roses in her garden and she’d spent a year collecting, drying and boxing up the petals for the church confetti!
Don’t forget the kids! Create goodie bags or activity packs for them. When the kids got to their seat it was like a surprise present, sometimes kids can be forgotten and I really wanted our young guests to feel part of it, like they’d been thought about. In a hessian bag I included a colouring/activity book, a pack of crayons, a wedding themed scavenger hunt, play dough, stickers, glow sticks, slinkies, bubbles, drinking straw glasses, fairy wands and plastic jewelled rings for the girls, yoyos for boys, amongst other items. I attached a big tag with their name, a little picture of a bear or toy train etc. saying ‘for when the adults get boring’. The parents were glad as they could sit back and enjoy the dinner/speeches properly, indeed those I’ve seen since say their kids are still walking around with their little pink or blue hessian bags at home, so they obviously went down very well!
Keep a spreadsheet & get organised. I am a super-organised person but not even I could be prepared for the crazy list of things that need to be dealt with during the preparation process. Keep separate ‘to do/buy’ lists just to keep track of your tasks and indeed the budget, believe me, it quickly gets out of hand. I also made little sketches on post-it notes of how I wanted the decor to be laid out and put together on the day. If, like us, you only get the day prior to set up then it’s crucial that you know exactly how you want everything to look. We had a lovely team of friends and family who were asking for guidance and jobs, it’s so important that you’re able to give clear instruction otherwise you’ll be running around like headless chickens!
Finish on a high. We bought in loads of sparklers to be lit to music, for our ‘sparkler send-off’ at midnight which was both beautiful and overwhelming. No-one wants their day to wimper out so whether you organise a firework display, let off Chinese lanterns or simply have an awesome last dance tune which gets everyone on the dancefloor, make sure you end with a bang. A spectacular day needs to be rounded with an equally fabulous close and one which will stick in the memories of your nearest and dearest for years to come!
Lastly believe in your vision and go for it! Enjoy the ups and downs, it’ll all be over so quickly and you’ll be left only with the memories of an incredibly special day. You may have doubters but as the bride, unfortunately it’s an inevitable side-effect of the process! Only you know the full picture of your day, believe in it, work hard and it’s sure to be a roaring success!
Mrs JB x
The fab suppliers involved in this wedding:
Photography- Emma Cleveley
Venue – Kedleston Hall
Tipis – Elite Tents
Catering – Black Peppermint Food Company
VW Camper – The Little Blue Bay Company
Florist – Michele Gledhill
Hair – James White Hair
Make-Up – Make Up by Jenni
Magician – Matthew Youngs
DJ- Spirits High