Hannah & James… Sopley Mill…

So… This weeks blog is all about being true to yourself… not conforming to all those silly wedding rules, and just rocking it out as you see fit… Hannah has some great tips to share with you all, especially about budgeting and dress buying…

How did James propose?

James proposed whilst we were on holiday in Portugal, it was amazing. He popped the question on the first day, well… first evening as he carried the ring around all day waiting for the perfect moment… it rained quite a bit, which left us drinking sangria and exploring the old town, rather than sunbathing on the beach! After dinner we ended up sat in the tiniest bar that had live musicians playing Wonderwall…we just felt so relaxed and happy, belting out the words, when I looked down to see the most beautiful ring in front of me on the bar… the rest is history! Jim said he looked at us having the best time, just so happy in each other’s company, and the moment perfectly painted what our relationship is all about.

What made you choose Sopley Mill?

The New Forest is a very special place for us, we both love being near water, whether it be the sea, a lake, or a river. We very much live the country life of wellies, dog walks and log fires, and Sopley Mill reflected this side of us perfectly. We decided on a winter wedding as we knew we could still have a great day there and not worry about the weather as the inside is so beautiful with the exposed brick, fire places and amazing views over the river. Having said this, we were extremely lucky with the weather and had that really low winter sun all afternoon, meaning our guests enjoyed mulled cider out on the terrace. The other thing that attracted us to Sopley Mill was the fact it’s dog friendly, which was a big bonus for us as our Jack Russel was ring bearer!

What are your top tips to wedding planning?

As cliché as it sounds, do what is right for you and try not to worry too much about what anyone else thinks. So many people said to us that our wedding reflected us both as a couple and individually which made it unique to us and made it feel that extra bit special.

Also, when looking at your budget it’s so easy to get carried away. Try to work out what parts of the day are really important to you, and allow more budget for these bits… whatever ends up being less important can either be  left out entirely, or just be given a small budget… For example, we were desperate to have Clair’s moongate because it’s just so stunning, however we weren’t too fussed on having a wedding cake, so we decided to have a super cheap naked cake from M&S (which was beautifully decorated by Clair) and this allowed the money for what we really wanted… The moongate!

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get married ‘out of season’. We got married on a Monday in December between Christmas and New Year and had the most amazing weather and setting. You can make the day exactly what you want regardless of what day or time of year it is!

How did you choose your florist?

I discovered Clair on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her style, your work just seemed wilder, more unstructured and more relaxed than others I had seen. I was also a little clueless over flowers (mainly because they are so hard to pronounce!) and Clair was just so helpful and patient, not to mention really passionate which was important for me. I became a pinterest addict, which I shared with Clair, and you worked your magic from there. I also soon realised that all the suppliers we were booking all knew each other or had worked together already which was reassuring but also it meant the day came together much more easily!

Tell me all about your dress buying journey?

Oh my god where do I begin. I am still so in love with my dress! here it goes…

When we got engaged I decided I wanted something very simplistic with no lace, however after hours/days/weeks of searching the internet I kept finding myself looking at the INCA gown by ‘Grace Loves Lace’… yep, the whole thing was lace! I even kept looking at pictures of their show room because it was absolute interior goals. So I took myself and my bridesmaids to the London showroom in Shoreditch so I could try it on and it was just amazing… Everything I had hoped! The whole experience was just so relaxed and enjoyable; no rules or restrictions on taking photos, how many people could come along etc. We were just made to feel so welcome and felt we could fully relax, soak up the experience and not feel rushed because of other appointments after us. The dress and the experience just felt like it was perfect and reflected my personality so well. Having said all this, I felt I still wanted to look around, mainly out of curiosity to see what else was out there, but to also just experience the whole dress shopping thing. I went to a number of shops and yes I tried on some really lovely dresses in some lovely shops, but being pegged into a dress which was too big and then having to walk out and stand on a box in front of a mirror just wasn’t for me. The beauty of a ‘Grace Loves Lace’ dress is that they are SO comfy, there’s no boning, buttons or zips and I could literally pull it over my head myself and I was good to go. This meant that dancing, going to the loo and eating were all very achievable! 

I also got my veil from the Grace Loves Lace sample sale and it was 75% off! I did have to channel my inner Monica from friends (minus the whistle) and get up stupidly early in the morning to queue outside the showroom but it was all part of the fun and totally worth it!

Favourite part of the day?

All of it!…

Getting ready with my girls and mum, seeing James and Jackson (our dog) waiting for me at the top of the aisle, having all our friends and family together to help us celebrate, the speeches, the beautiful winter sun, the soul band singing our first dance live, the list goes on….

Photographer – Stephen Duncan

Stylist – Fundoo Weddings and Events

Makeup – Tara Sanger

Very responsive and flexible

Clair is extremely passionate about what she does, which is highly infectious... She knows her craft and is very responsive and flexible to additional ideas... Everyone commented that they were the most stunning wedding flowers they'd ever seen!

She is an extremely talented artist

Even after my own wedding over a year ago I still follow Clair on all her social medias... seeing her new work with other brides and feeling like she keeps re-investing herself, nothing is ever alike! She is an extremely talented artist.

Exactly what every bride needs

Clair is knowledgeable & friendly which is exactly what every bride needs. Her work looks like it's out of an East London photoshoot with oodles of style... All of my bridesmaids want Clair to be there florist. She is exceptional!