David & Iona IMage by lee Garland Photography
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I thee Wed – Bright and Beautiful at Calke Abbey


Issue 48: When It Was Just You

Real Weddings

I thee Wed – Bright and Beautiful at Calke Abbey

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Welcome to the wedding of David & Ilona.




This bright and beautiful wedding is sure to put a smile on your face. Full of happy people, a stunning venue, bursts of colour and a fabulously unique and inspiring style – here the bride Ilona talks us through her big day:




“We were married at St Giles’ church with our wedding celebration at Calke Abbey and the Riding School, Calke Abbey

We looked at a LOT of venues and this was probably the biggest and hardest decision we made as part of the planning process, and there were several reasons for our eventual choice. We wanted a venue where the ceremony would be walking distance to the reception, but also wanted to be married in a church. We liked the Riding School, as partly it is a beautiful and spectacular space in its own right, but it is also a ‘blank canvas’ which meant we could completely do our own thing with the decorations and weren’t tied to an existing colour scheme etc. Finally, being able to go back and visit the place we got married for years to come, is something that is really important to us. So many venues are private properties where visiting in future would be difficult.


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I suppose it would be fair to say that the wedding had a rustic and vintage feel, but we really wanted some bright colours and textures to reflect the time of year (Spring). The selection of flowers mixed wild/rustic (thistles etc) with bigger brighter peonies etc. We also employed bright pastels most notably with the ceiling ribbons commissioned from Fabric Theatre.

Ultimately, we wanted the feel of the day to reflect our personal tastes and interests and not seem manufactured in any way. We took a long time planning every element and I’m sure everyone that knows us would recognise us in the final result.

We put a lot of time into creating as many of the details as possible ourselves by hand. From wooden signs for the driveway, hand-stitched flags for people to wave, place names incorporating corks from the bottles of wine we’ve shared over the years, a chalk-board menu made from an old door, and DANCE light-up marquee sign letters, we spent countless hours preparing.


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Music was a big part of the day. David’s a keen guitar player who has played at many friends’ weddings. He created some beautiful recordings of music which I walked down the aisle, and we left together to. We’re also very lucky to have such talented friends who provided music throughout the day. A friend sang an original song during the wedding service, the maid of honour sang with another good friend (they go by the name ‘KaBen’ if anyone’s looking for some talented musicians) to kick off musical proceedings in the evening (including our first dance), a bigger band of friends put together a funky-soul set of music to really get people dancing, and finally the DJs (more friends) played the night out.

I’m terrible at describing things and a picture says a thousand words but the dress was made of layers of ivory and honey tulle, gathered at the waist and with a sparkle motif strap across the shoulders and down my back. I particularly liked swirling around the dance floor in it and the contrast of the highly detailed strap with the softness of the tulle. The lovely ladies at the Kula Tsurdiu Lace Market Bridal Boutique in Nottingham designed and made it for me. We went through an abundance of photos together to come up with the design. I was particularly keen that the back included lots of detail as people spend a fair amount of time looking at your back during the ceremony. I couldn’t praise their work more highly. There were changes a long the way as the dress came into existence and Kula accommodated these with ease whilst always offering her own advice based on her years of experience.

I always looked forward to my fittings, not only for the joy of seeing the dress developing each time but the chats with Laura, Kula and Jeff. I once spent 3 hours in the shop just sorting out my veil (which actually only took about 20 minutes) because we were chatting away. I will really miss seeing them every few weeks!

I’m sure every bride does but I felt like a princess on the day and was even told by the many children on the day that I looked like one of the princesses from ‘Frozen’.


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In addition I have to mention both my hairdresser (Katie Layton) and make-up artist (www.Claire-Elizabeth.com) as they both did an amazing job. I wish I could have air-brush make-up everyday! Also, Katie is my regular hairdresser so she knows me fairly well and not only did she create exactly the look I wanted but she was perfect to have there on the day and helped to calm my nerves with a well needed glass of champagne

I’d seen Jolly Edition through their Etsy store a couple of years ago, and we instantly knew they were the stationers for us. [http://jollyedition.com] Basically, they spend a lot of time finding out about us and our interests, and provide completely custom, hand-drawn stationery. This included a painting of us used in the invitation, a map, information card and order of service. We even got the originals which we plan to frame up.

Natalie at Yummy Little Cakes was an absolute pleasure to work with from beginning to end (not just because of all the scrumptious samples we kept receiving). The cake table that resulted – 3 cakes, macarons, meringue kisses, cookie cupcakes and more – was spectacular and a real talking point.

Helen at The Flower Mill instantly got the look and feel we were going for. We’re not great at describing flowers, but once we showed her my Pinterest board of ideas, her creativity was able take our ideas to fruition. This included bringing to life a particular favourite image we’d seen of flowers draped over a suspended beam above the top table – the result was even better than the original and we completely loved it.

We’d seen some previous work of Fabric Theatre’s in the Riding School and really thought they could bring the dance floor area to life. We planned some beautiful coloured ribbons and lighting with them. This made the dance floor area into a magical area with twinkling lights above it – like you were dancing under the stars.

What can we say about Lee Garland’s photography? His pictures speak for themselves. In our eyes, no-one comes close to capturing people’s special day so brilliantly. He’s also one of the friendliest and personable people, and working with him was one of the easiest and best experiences we had.


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Time management and planning are key – do not underestimate the sheer number of hours that a relatively minor seeming task can gobble up. We’re possibly not the most organised people in the world, but the few weeks leading up to the wedding were crazily busy.

Most importantly enjoy the whole process – I found it a great opportunity to be creative particularly as my job is one of the least creative jobs going and I actually miss that side of things. It will be stressful at times but at the end of the day you have to think about what you both want and why you’re doing it all in the first place.”


The amazing suppliers involved in this wedding:

Photography [weddings.leegarland.co.uk]

Venue [http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey/hire-this-venue/]

Dress [http://www.kulatsurdiu.co.uk]

Florist [http://www.theflowermilldraycott.co.uk]

Cake [http://yummylittlecakes.co.uk]

Stationery [http://jollyedition.com]

Hair [www.imamobilegirl.com]

Make-up [www.Claire-Elizabeth.com]

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1 Comment
  1. Lee Garland

    Thanks for featuring! It was such a honour to photograph Ilona + David’s day. They are a wonderful couple and the day was a visual delight!

    I must mention, Kim from Bonbon Photography was second shooting that day, and a fantastic job he did too.


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