WEDDING CELEBRATION ON BELVOIR ESTATE
September 18, 2019
“Amy, where do we begin. We reached out to you when our idea of hiring a wedding planner was still maturing and we were in a confusing situation with another planner who didn’t seem QUITE trustworthy. You simply said ‘follow your intuition’ and never pestered us, just let us lead the way. We did exactly as you suggested, picked you and never looked back.
From that moment on, magic started to unfold.
Magic that comes from working with someone with a rare mix of immense experience, the appropriate skills, ability to work with anyone and anywhere… and a personality like yours that highlights how much of a true listener you are (you picked up on so many things that turned out to be completely ‘us’), how much you CARE, your sense of fun, your eye for quality and beauty, your ability to connect deeply with everyone in our ‘dream team’ that you helped create that basically meant all vendors were THEMSELVES feeling just as happy and supported as we were!
All this happened in the months before our big day, leaving the day itself to unfold naturally.
Everyone was comfortable with everything, and there was this truly magical sense of vendors all feeling like they’ve at least worked together before or known each other somewhere, yet this was the first time for almost everyone! THAT vibe. That sense of flow. I’m tearing up just remembering it all.
Of course, it’s all about the big day ultimately, but hear me when I say there were SO MANY special days and special moments facilitated by working with Amy. I know she’ll likely say we co-created it together, and maybe so, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near the same without her”.
Joanna and Gary had their natural and beautiful wedding celebrations at the picturesque spot that is Frog Hollow on the Belvoir Estate in August 2019. The most picture-perfect location for them, where they had a separate marquee for their wedding blessing, (so that they could really enjoy the natural surroundings of Frog Hollow), as well as one for their wedding reception.
How did you both meet?
This story is one that continues to make others laugh their heads off and also nod at the recognition that we cannot control when others walk into our lives! We first found out that each other existed on an online webinar that was designed to share information about a global network of people with heart-led work like ours. We had both made a conscious decision that we weren’t looking for love for a variety of different reasons, and, on top of that, we were living in different continents: USA and UK. When Gary reached out after the webinar to connect and was curious about my work, I was weary initially! It wasn’t until I chatted with a mutual friend that said ‘he’s lovely’ that I accepted the invitation to connect on a one-to-one call on the understanding that it was about our work! This turned into a hilarious series of events as our first call happened while the sound didn’t work for either of us, only the cameras. This was made even more hilarious by the fact that he was staying at a friend’s house and took the call in their little girl’s bedroom that meant he was surrounded by princess castles, stuffed animals and lavender walls! For a first impression, it was about as funny and memorable as you can get! Yet I saw his smile, his kind eyes, his sense of fun and genuine willingness to connect. There was nothing to be weary about. When we eventually connected, we did so by talking about how our work connects us with our passions and what really moves us in life. We quickly realised we could chat forever about philosophies, life, spirituality, yoga, and many other shared passions, and we connected many times over calls, via Facebook Messages and a few months later, finally met in Manchester airport where we fell head over heels in love all over again in person. It still blows me away that he took the leap – the flight – to meet me and has moved over here to be together.
How did Gary propose?
We had two proposals! Neither were standard proposals! The first time I had treated Gary to a few days in north Wales, in Snowdonia, for a post-birthday celebration for him. Little did I know but he had already bought a pair of rings and asked for permission to propose! Gary wasn’t yet in a position to become legally engaged so he asked me if I would spend the rest of my life with him while we were about half way up Mount Snowdown looking down at Lake Llydaw! I genuinely thought he was rummaging around in his rucksack for chocolate when we first stopped – haha! It was so much better than that. When Gary was able to become legally engaged, I gave him just a few days of bachelordom before I proposed to HIM this time! I surprised him when we were having a divine meal at Hambleton Hall to celebrate him coming over a year ago. I was shaking like a leaf! Yet it was an honour to propose to HIM. I love how balanced our relationship has always been like that. I often sink into feeling ‘less than’ for being female, but Gary has always reminded me of my strength and freedom of choice.
Describe your style?
Our style is best described using the words we picked to vision our ideal wedding day. First, though, it’s best explained that we eloped the previous year and followed this up with a wedding celebration, repeating and renewing our vows, one year later on our first anniversary. While both days were different and in different countries, there is so much that connects them. For the first time, around we went for the words “nature, connection, calm”. And for the second time around we added “cherished celebration” to those three. Nature and connection describe how we feel nature is our church. We’re both yogis and enjoy embracing the core teachings of several religions, but never felt the need for a human-built sacred space when nature herself has already created so many masterpieces that feed us, clothe us, nourish us and provide shelter. Calm was an invitation to come back to each moment, each breath, yet not a necessity. And cherished celebration was how we wanted to honour the larger gathering of the second wedding and define it away from hedonistic parties and more towards truly connecting with our ‘family’ of people around the world. This showed up as marrying ourselves in a giant and remote log cabin, 8,500ft elevation in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, then choosing a sanctuary-like space in nature, surrounded by trees, a lake and with a sense of feeling held by nature herself closer to home back in the UK. In the UK, we chose a marquee with 2 clear walls so we could see nature, even if the weather meant we needed to be indoors. Plus, we blended flowers with handmade wooden creations, with a touch of decadence in the form of gold edged charger plates and flower stands, plus gorgeous baroque linen in a natural latte colour.
Joanna contacted me back in January 2019, as she knew she wanted some wedding support and assistance. Having actually got married the August before in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, USA, they wanted to re-create certain elements of their day with all of their family and friends here in the UK on their first wedding anniversary.
After a couple of emails and a Skype chat, Joanna and Gary booked me for partial wedding planning support. Frog Hollow, their photographer (the amazing James Rouse) and florist (Joanna’s mum) were already in place, but that was it, they still had the rest of their key suppliers to choose and confirm, (marquee, caterer, bar, hair, makeup, linen, cake, musician, DJ and of course the horse and carriage), so it was full steam ahead and what an incredible wedding planning journey it was. A huge thank you to all of the suppliers involved, such lovely genuine people as well as great wedding suppliers.
Why did you feel the need to hire a wedding planner?
Gary and I both love exploring the variety of topics that come under the term ‘leadership’, on a personal and professional level. One area of this is knowing and understanding personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the team. Between the two of us we have a number of great strengths to create wonderful experiences such as being great at envisioning future ideas, being great strategists and so on. However, both of us knew that we are not driven by the details of planning and execution. While this is something we do in life anyway, we knew that choosing to take on more of this wouldn’t be ideal for either of us. With so many passions in our lives taking us in lots of different directions already as well, we’re very grateful that we already knew the cost of forcing ourselves to do work that isn’t well suited to us and we knew how this would also serve to support our natural strengths even more. Stress is something that is ALWAYS worth avoiding, especially in important life events. It’s not just about the importance of enjoying your big day, but it’s about the impact of stress on you, your health and your immediate network of people around you in the run up to it. Of course, there were still some stressful times for us, it’s impossible to avoid 100% of it in life, but there were so many more joy-filled moments, time to rest, and time to work on the parts that lit us up and had us feeling butterflies and excitement JUST for the planning part, let alone the day itself.
What made you choose Amy?
When we first began exploring hiring a wedding planner, we had started chatting with someone who just didn’t quite feel right to work with. There was nothing obviously wrong; they were lovely. However, my gut feel was strong. I reached out to some others and when we got in touch with Amy she was a quiet voice of calm (there’s one of those words we chose from before!). She was friendly, supportive and never pushy. She was straight forward and even though events can get complicated, chatting with her made it seem like things were truly simple. In the end, she invited us to ‘use our intuition’ to choose who to work with. My intuition was like a beacon pointing to Amy! And to this day I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone who is so well suited to their work and shines while working like Amy.
WEDDING PLANNING JOURNEY
Joanna and Gary were an absolute pleasure to work with. We had quite a few meetings to pull everything together in the 6 months we had. I also got quite involved in the styling side of the wedding. Joanna’s vision was one of rural decadence and we had such fun choosing table linen, charger plates, amongst other things.
She wanted to use the same colour palette, but enhancing it to reflect their personalities and the location more. Using the yellow colour palette from their wedding day, but working on this evenmoreso, taking out the blue.
Gary wanted to create the arch that they would share their wedding vows under, with Joanna’s mum doing the flowers.
Joanna and Gary really wanted to focus on their wedding blessing and that is what they really concentrated on as well as the food.
The beauty of Frog Hollow was that they had it for 3 days, so the marquee could be setup and Joanna and Gary could put in their personal touches prior to the wedding day itself. One of the first weddings at Frog Hollow and what a gorgeous location it was. So many gorgeous photo opportunities and James Rouse was so incredible to work with – what a talent he has.
What did you most enjoy about working with Amy?
It was like working with a friend! I have no idea how she creates the wonderful balance of being professional yet 100% approachable and relaxed. We felt like we could confide in her about anything big or small. I heard that she was working on quite a few other weddings around the same time, but it always felt like she was there JUST for us! Plus, watching how she formed genuine connections and friendships with the others we worked with (other vendors) was incredible. It is obvious how she does this; she genuinely cares.
What part of your wedding planning did you enjoy the most?
Re-living the day again and again before it happened! The fun meetings with Amy. The exploration of all the ideas we had! Being free to get creative with the styling of everything. Keeping the big secret of the horse and carriage. Being blown away by the support of not only Amy but other vendors as well that seemed to be the perfect match on a level much deeper than simply business. I felt like the day happened in so many different and perfect ways many times over before the wedding date! There were so many experiences that were absolutely incredible along the way! I remember being moved to tears by the support of our caterers. The fun chats about possibilities with others such as our brilliant musician. Even the year before, the experience of choosing my dress was perfect. It was so much LESS about what it looked like than how it felt and made me feel. It meant that on the day I didn’t care what went to plan and what didn’t. We’d had months and months of special days, events, unique experiences, fun, laughter, photos to cherish. We knew that, with Amy’s support, our dream team of staff and suppliers, everything was going to be okay and perfectly imperfect. Mother Nature would choose the weather and we’d each do our thing accordingly!
THE WEDDING DAY
On the wedding day itself, I was onsite at the marquee bright and early – thank you to David at Every Occasion Marquees for being the complete superstar he is with setting up this wedding (amongst the high winds) on the Friday and Saturday! During the wedding morning, I had to set up the ceremony marquee with chairs, confetti, order of service, etc, both marquees had to be vacuumed and a few other things put in place, as well as greeting all of their suppliers when they arrived.
There were some lovely suppliers involved with this wedding and the morning flew by (far too quickly) as lots of things were arriving from different suppliers.
Joanna and Gary’s guests started to arrive an hour before their wedding blessing. Little did they all know that Joanna and Gary were arriving on a horse and carriage.
I made sure everyone was across in the ceremony marquee for when they arrived. As soon as their horse and carriage turned the corner, blue sky appeared and the rest of the day was just gorgeous.
After their ceremony, they went back on the horse and carriage for photos at the castle and all of their guests enjoyed drinks by the fabulous Louisiannas and canapes by the equally incredible Red Olive Catering Company. George Simpson entertained their guests.
When Joanna and Gary returned from their photos, they had their confetti shot before heading into the marquee to cut their wedding cake, followed by their gorgeous wedding breakfast. The Red Olive Catering Company did an amazing job with the food for this wedding. It was a wedding which was quite heavy on dietaries which I totally appreciate can be a challenge, so a huge thanks from me.
The amazing food went into speeches. Some lovely speeches, including one from Joanna which really came from the heart.
Day went into evening and the cowboy boots and hats came out for something that was close to Gary’s home / heart. After some dancing, the Firepits were lit and s’mores were there for people to toast on the open fire. Such a wonderful sight and it was lovely to leave on that evening, having a photo with the gorgeous couple, and seeing how happy they were with how everything had gone. The most prettiest of settings when I left with the festoon lighting looking just perfect against the night sky.
What part of your wedding day did you enjoy the most?
Hardest. Question. Ever! All of it!!! Highlights were surprising everyone by arriving by horse and carriage – something that brought joy to people for days! The surprise fly-over by a Lancaster bomber! Our incredibly friendly, funny and talented photographer, James, who made some of the funniest moments as we got ready together this year and helped dress each other – some of the most special memories I’ll cherish forever. Especially, that I got the chance to help Gary put his cufflinks and cravat on. It’s not all about the bride and the dress, this groom and THAT suit knocked my socks off TWICE in two weddings! Then having wider family and friends approach us after our ceremony to say how much they were moved by our completely customised and handcrafted ceremony where we married ourselves again and were able to craft a ceremony experience that was truly ‘us’ and our favourite bits of so many different rituals and traditions. Then the cowboy boots. The country music. The s’mores. The children dancing! Wearing hiking boots in wedding gear! Being covered in confetti for days. The feeling my dress gave me and the way it moved. The chocolate wedding cake! My first ever speech! The moving speeches of our MCs, family and friends and Gary. The list goes on…
What can I say such a beautiful wedding day with such a relaxed couple. It was a pleasure to be a part of your wedding planning journey and day Joanna and Gary. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me and going with your ‘gut instinct’ for me to assist with your wonderful wedding anniversary celebrations. Memories that I will always look fondly upon with a smile each time I think of you storing the s’more on your dress for a few photos!!
A huge thank you also goes to Vicky for assisting me for part of the day and to Katie (from Belvoir Castle) for being so helpful in the run up to the day.
What advice would you give to a bride (or groom) whilst planning their wedding?
Hire Amy. I think this might be an obvious one! Haha! But other than that, take time. Every time you feel pressured into a choice, or even a deadline, pause and breathe, separately and together. Do you really NEED to do what you feel pressured to do? Is it coming from the two of you, or from something external to your relationship? How do you know you really need to do that thing? Allow yourselves to untangle from the immense load of ‘shoulds’ that may come naturally from doing something so tied with tradition, plus family, peer pressure, inner fears, and allow the quieter yet more wise voice of your two hearts to speak. Allow the shared ‘heart’ of your relationship to lead you to new places and possibilities.
Five words to describe Amy?
Friend | Calm | Sincere | Elegant | Aligned
Would you love to do it all again?
YES! Did it twice already, why not a third?!
THE DREAM TEAM
Wedding Planner – Amy Thorne of Amaranthyne Weddings
Photographer – James Rouse Photography
Marquees, Tables, Chairs, Lighting – Wilson Marquees (Every Occasion Events)
Caterer – Red Olive Catering Company
Bar – Louisiannas
Hair and Makeup – Emily Johnson
Joanna’s Dress – DressPlace – Nottingham
Horse and Carriage – Horse and Carriage Masters
Flowers – Joanna’s mum
Confetti – Shropshire Petals
Cake – Claire Elizabeth Creates
Table Centre Pieces – Wedding Metal Art
Table Linen – 88 Events
Drinks Reception Musician – George Simpson
Evening Disco – QL Discos
Wedding Venue – Frog Hollow, Belvoir Estate, Grantham
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