Today's real wedding is a very special one, as Toby and Victoria are actually my brother-in-law and brand new sister-in-law. Yes, that handsome best man is my husband and you might even catch a glimpse of me in some of the photos!
Victoria's parents own the stunning Walled Gardens at Croome Court, which was the perfect venue for this fabulous summer wedding, with an intimate ceremony at The Rotunda in the grounds of National Trust Croome. They even grew all of their own wedding flowers, which were arranged by some incredibly talented National Trust volunteers.
Victoria is the food blogger behind Pershore Patty, so the food at this wedding was always going to be amazing - and with a wedding breakfast at Eckington Manor, an incredible Ahh Toots wedding cake and even a first burger in place of a first dance, it definitely didn't disappoint!
The whole day was beautifully captured by Duncan Cox Photography.
Thank you Victoria and Toby for sharing your beautiful day with us! xxx
HOW THEY MET
Victoria: I received a message through Facebook from a former client saying “this may be a little random, but my friend has seen your profile as a friend suggestion and has asked if I can pass on your details”. I asked who it was so I could look at his profile, but there was very little for me to find out as ironically Toby very rarely uses social media. I accepted his friend request and he got in contact to say that it wasn’t his usual approach, but thought I looked amazing. I actually thought it was quite sweet that he’d asked for an introduction and I was intrigued.
Weeks went by and every now and again I’d hear from Toby and we’d chat about food, music and green tea! Eventually we met for a drink and got along really well but didn’t see each other again and just went back to the messages as couldn’t seem to tie each other down to a date.
A year later, we finally arranged to meet for a coffee, and we got engaged 10 months later!
Toby: I rarely go on social media but I was looking on Facebook and V’s picture came up as ‘someone I might know’. I didn’t know her, but she looked gorgeous on the photo and I knew I wanted to know her! On impulse I then sent her a friend request and then messaged the friend we have in common to put a word in for me and to explain I’m not a weirdo. I hasten to add I have never done this before or since!
It turned out we had a lot in common and we arranged to meet for a drink one Saturday afternoon. We basically laughed for the couple of hours we were together. I later found out that we were both hungover on that day, but I knew having met her that she was the one. We didn’t see each other again for while which was mainly because we were both busy and also I was seeing other people. Fast forward a year and we started messaging again and arranged to meet again - and I moved in pretty much straight away!
We’d had a few drinks over lunch in Worcester one afternoon and drunkenly decided to pop into a jewellers and try on watches. Toby bought me a beautiful watch and asked me what sort of engagement ring I would have if I were ever to get married. Of course the shop assistant spotted us and persuaded me to try a few on. It was great fun, but we hadn’t been together very long so I tried not to read too much into things.
A couple of months later Toby had booked a few days holiday for us in Florence, Italy. On the first day we walked the entire city in the sunshine and had a lovely lunch, eating pizza and drinking Aperol Spritzes. It was the perfect day that just got better and better.
We stopped for a drink in Café Gilli overlooking Piazza Della Republica and Toby ordered a bottle of Prosecco while I nipped to the loo. When I returned I noticed he’d taken off the ridiculous hat he’d been wearing all day and it was on the table with the Prosecco. Slightly irritated by this, I tried to ignore it and kept the thoughts to myself that it seemed a bit rude to plonk the hat on the tiny table with the drinks. Prosecco poured and with the glass almost to my mouth, Toby asked me to pick up the hat and underneath was the sparkly dream ring I had tried on in the shop. Thankfully he didn’t get down on one knee, but asked if I would marry him. The answer was YES!
We both called our parents to tell them the news, although it turns out mine already knew as they had been storing the ring safely for weeks. We agreed on a date to get married immediately, which would be almost 12 months to the day from our engagement. All of the plans we had for the rest of the holiday went out of the window and we spent most of our time enjoying being together by the pool and leisurely walking to find restaurants. Back home we were greeted by some very excited friends and family and everyone was very happy for us.
THE WEDDING VENUE
Ceremony - The Rotunda at Croome Court
Wedding Breakfast - Eckington Manor
Reception - The Walled Gardens at Croome Court
We were extremely lucky as we already had the perfect wedding venue. My family own a beautiful 5 acre walled garden and we couldn’t have found a more magical place for us to get married. The ceremony took place in a Rotunda folly just yards away from the gardens, which has an incredible backdrop of the Malvern Hills.
THE WEDDING STYLE
There was no real set theme, most of what we did was decided by what we had available to us. We didn’t want the wedding to be too formal, so it was more of a summer garden party and hopefully a lot of fun. The arrangements were all based on our own preferences and it was non-religious and non-traditional.
The most important thing was the food! As a food blogger, my number one focus is always food ;-)
Dress - The Pretty Dress Company
My experience was probably unusual to most. I felt a lot of pressure once we announced that we were getting married to find a dress straight away. It really put me off wanting to try on dresses and I knew that I didn't want a traditional style dress.
I received a newsletter one evening from The Pretty Dress Company. I wasn't looking for a dress particularly, but stumbled across a really simple ivory dress - the 'Fatale hi-low gown'. I loved the cut as it had a train at the back and was shorter at the front. I was always more interested in having the perfect shoes and just knew this would really show them off!
Shoes - Jimmy Choo - Abel white suede with crystal mix
Jewellery - Diamond necklace borrowed from my mother, pearl earrings from Rock Lobster in Worcester, watch (bride's own)
Suit from Next.
All rings from Fraser Hart in Worcester.
Bride's engagement ring is a platinum 1 carat round diamond signature setting ring. Bride’s wedding ring is a platinum 0.50 carat diamond eternity ring and groom’s wedding ring is a platinum superior court wedding ring.
THE MATRON OF HONOUR
My best friend was my Matron of Honour, she wore a dress that she had borrowed from a friend. It was originally purchased at House of Fraser.
THE BEST MAN
Victoria: We were very conscious that we didn’t want to spend more money than we really needed to on anything. We also wanted to have a videographer on the day, but feared it would all be too costly. I logged onto Facebook and entirely coincidentally someone had posted in a group asking for wedding photographers in Pershore and several people recommended Duncan. I went straight onto his website where all of his packages were priced and I could see examples of his work. I loved the fact that he was local, I loved his work, and his prices seemed very reasonable. We met with Duncan shortly afterwards, talked through everything and booked him that same day without hesitation.
Toby: Cost is obviously a factor but in addition for me it was important for the photographer to be local and use a decent camera. I also wanted to see a track record in terms of portfolio and I really like the journalistic, natural non-posed shots. With obviously the essential portraits for a wedding album.
We met Adam at a Halloween event a few months earlier at Barton Court in Ledbury. We chatted to him at the time and mentioned we were getting married. When we contacted him later Adam agreed to be our videographer.
We planted and grew all our own flowers, and they were cut and arranged by the wonderful flower volunteers at National Trust Croome. Due to a heatwave we lost many of the flowers that were grown specifically for the wedding, however we were able to salvage enough to fill large outdoor pots, jugs for the tables and a bouquet for both the bride and Matron of Honour. Flowers included a mix of sweet peas, roses, dahlias and foliage such as eucalyptus and rosemary.
THE HAIR AND MAKE-UP
Hair by bride's hairdresser, Darren Westwood.
Hair extensions by Beauty Works and fresh flower picked from the walled gardens.
I wanted length in my hair and although I had planned an up-do I still wanted there to be plenty of volume. I bought some hair extensions from Beauty Works which matched my hair colour perfectly. We had a trial run a couple of weeks before the wedding and on the day I just let Darren work his magic.
The cake was bespoke from Ahh Toots in Bristol.
I saw a photo on Instagram of someone I was following who had used Ahh Toots for their wedding cake. I searched their website and found the most stunning cakes I'd seen anywhere. I couldn't find another anywhere that I liked as much, so we booked a cake tasting with them and ordered it there and then. The base was a courgette & lemon sponge. The top tier was orange & earl grey.
I got a list together of every wedding caterer in the area as originally we were going to do a street food/festival style catering offer. After speaking with the businesses many of them could only really cater for larger numbers or wanted sole exclusivity. On the off-chance, I contacted our favourite burger restaurant The Beefy Boys in Hereford. With it being a summer wedding and relatively short notice I thought they’d be booked up, but luckily we managed to secure them to cater for our evening reception guests.
We asked the The Deli @ Pershore to supply canapés and serve fizz, as well as staff the bar and supply after-dinner cheese.
We had our wedding breakfast at Eckington Manor which is also where we had our engagement party. The wedding ceremony was quite small with only 27 guests and we wanted to do something special. We knew that Eckington Manor would be perfect for an intimate family lunch and that we wouldn’t have to worry about a thing.
The wedding celebrations extended to the next day when we had another 60 guests. Again, we served up burgers, but this time from street food experts Roly Poly Ltd. The Pershore Deli owner also came back the next day to manage the bar.
We created a playlist by asking all of our guests to give us a song suggestion with their RSVP. We used our own equipment and PA system to play music throughout the evening.
We talked about hiring a band, but we really wanted to keep things as simple as possible. We just wanted a really good party, plus there were lots of older people invited to the evening reception!
My Dad also put on one hell of a firework display later in the evening, as well as organising a professional lighting designer to light the marquee and gardens.
We had around 30 people to get from the ceremony to the wedding breakfast and back, which is only about 4 miles each way. We decided to try and keep costs to a minimum for the transport and thought it would be fun for everyone to go together.
We designed and printed everything ourselves using Vistaprint. It may not have been the best wedding stationery you've ever seen, but it did the job and was very cost effective.
THE WEDDING MORNING
We both stayed at home together the night before. I had an early start as my hairdresser wanted to get started on my hair, my Matron of Honour and my Mum. The morning was quite relaxed until the registrars arrived to interview me. After they left I realised I only had about 10 minutes before I was meant to leave for the ceremony and all that was done was my hair. Luckily, I didn’t have any make-up, so just had to throw on my dress and shoes. The photographer took a few quick snaps before meeting our guests and then I had a couple of minutes spare to share a quick glass of fizz on my own with my Dad. He then drove us both up to the The Rotunda on his John Deer Gator!
We wanted to have an intimate ceremony with close friends and family only. This was a difficult decision as we feared it may upset a few people, but we got around it by having a big evening reception. We chose The Rotunda as it is on the estate where we live, so was walking distance from where we’d be getting ready and returning for the evening reception.
The ceremony was extremely short – maybe 20 minutes or so in total. We wanted to keep things light hearted and not boring! We chose non religious vows and the shortest and easiest ones to say from the options provided. We decided against having music with it being such a short ceremony. We were also tight for time, so didn’t want to add anything extra that we could live without.
After the ceremony, Toby and I were driven to the coaches on the National Trust golf buggy along the path, with our guests following behind us.
Toby chose both of the readings. The first was read by one of his close friends:
The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach
A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.
The other reading was read by my step-grandmother:
A Walled Garden - Anonymous
"Your marriage", he said, "Should have within it a secret and protected place, open to you alone. Imagine it to be a walled garden, entered by a door to which only you have the key. Within this garden you will cease to be a mother, father, employee, homemaker or any other roles which you fulfil in daily life. Here you are yourselves, two people who love each other. Here you can concentrate on one another's needs. So take my hand and let us go back to our garden. The time we spend together is not wasted but invested. Invested in our future and the nurture of our love".
The reception was in a marquee in my parents’ walled gardens. When we returned from the wedding breakfast at Eckington Manor we had the speeches and cut the cake before the evening guests arrived. We built our own bar in the marquee and covered the tables with white linen cloths. We bought our own white chairs, but didn’t decorate them as they were to be moved outside and used for our evening guests later on and the guests who had been invited the next day. Other than the flowers on the tables and in the pots outside the marquee we didn’t decorate anything.
7.30am – Hairdresser arrived
9.30am – Photographer arrived for bridal party prep and pre-wedding bridal portrait session
11am – Ceremony at The Rotunda, National Trust Croome
12pm – Wedding breakfast at Eckington Manor
3pm – Travel to the Walled Gardens at Croome Court for evening reception
3.30pm – Speeches, cake cutting and toasts
5pm – Evening guests arrive
7pm – First burger and food served.
9pm – Cheese and biscuits
12.30am - Coaches
We talked a lot about favours and kept changing our minds about whether we needed them or not. We felt that many people wouldn't take them away and that they were possibly an unnecessary cost. Very last minute we chose some acrylic wedding place cards that I found on Not on The High Street by a seller called Twenty-Seven. We displayed these on the table at the wedding breakfast for the ceremony guests to keep as a memento if they so wished.
The speeches took place after the wedding breakfast back at the reception venue. They were given by the father of the bride, the groom and best man.
THE FIRST DANCE
Neither Toby or I are fans of public dancing and the idea of a first dance felt very cringeworthy, so we opted for a unique spin on things and decided to have the first burger instead! Our photographer thought we were a bit bonkers but went along with it. The Beefy Boys made up the first burger and wrote 'bride & groom' on the box. After we took a bite together of the first burger our guests were then invited to go and order theirs before enjoying the party.
THOUGHTS ON WEDDING PLANNING
I am quite an organised person and have planned many events previously (not weddings), so found the planning part much less stressful than I had thought based on feedback from other people’s experience. Admittedly, it’s not something I would want to do again, but although we had a big wedding it was relatively simple as we didn’t stress about detail.
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
I started off looking at Instagram etc but got bored of that very quickly. In the end, I just got all of the main suppliers booked, ordered the dress and shoes, got the save the dates and invites sent out and then just figured that anything else would be an added bonus.
THE BEST BIT
I loved looking around and seeing everyone enjoying themselves. In all of the photos, everybody is smiling and having a good time. Our family have 4 dogs, and they were all joining in at the evening reception – the guests loved having them there. It was so relaxed and everyone loved the food that we had chosen – including the dogs!
ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
I really don’t think there is. We both really just wanted to get married to each other and so the wedding part wasn’t anywhere near as important as that. It was nice to have the big wedding with all of the guests, but we would have been equally as happy if it were just the two of us.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
Don’t stress about the details – they really don’t matter!