Today was the third of four weddings this weekend and it was an absolutely beautiful one!
I was thrilled to be working with the newly launched Little Dower House, a stunning private home in Old Windsor, with extensive grounds that include a private and really magical walled garden, the home for my couple's ceremony today.
I discovered this venue some time ago now, and the owners who live on-site (Hamish and Susie) are just the loveliest people. The land and the site was once owned by King Henry VIII and Little Dower House occupies part of the grounds now and sits at the end of the most wonderful sweeping driveway. When you arrive at this gorgeous venue, you really do feel like you've kicked off your shoes and put on your comfy slippers.
It's a magical place with breathtaking views across the countryside to Windsor Castle, and when you get here the whole place just seems to have a lovely ambience and you instantly feel relaxed.
When I arrived today I could see the marquee set up in the lower paddock, and the garden terrace to the side of the house (that sits right along a beautiful little stream) had become a lovely secluded drinks reception area.
My home for the afternoon was the secret walled garden, and my couple had decided upon a lovely rustic, natural outdoor wedding celebration. The walled garden is a realy special setting and you really do feel like you are stepping into a magical and enchanting secret garden.
The ceremony was taking place underneath the old Catalpa tree and it looked sensational!
I began the afternoon by setting up and checking my PA system and talking to the photographer, and the musicians that arrived soon after. Then it was time to pop up to the 'Little Hideaway' a truly stunning private self-contained annexe (right next to the main house) that is dedicated to the bridal party for getting ready and of course the couple as a honeymoon suite too.
As I entered I could hear lots of laughter and chatter from the bride and her beautiful maids, all getting ready, excited and with music playing. They were all in such good spirits and I was greeted with happy faces and hugs!
My couple are both introverts and so I worked on some ideas to make them feel as comfortable today as possible. When it was time to seat all of their guests, I delivered my messages and welcomed everyone.
The bride had requested that I pop out to see her and the wedding party before they came into the walled garden, just to allay any nerves and to have a final run-through with the bridesmaids about their entrance.
Having returned to the garden, I saw my cue and the beautiful sounds from the string duo began to fill the setting, followed by the first of our five bridesmaids and the lovely little flower girl. As the bride and her father reached the top of the aisle, I could see the groom beaming and these two clearly couldn't wait to be together!
As we seated everyone and moved the couple into position facing their guests (there's something special about being able to face your guests and it instantly connects everyone together), we had a message about those that could not be with us today, and then talked about what marriage means to my couple. Today was about celebrating all of their achievements and looking ahead to their future together and so we spoke a little about their journey and how they work together as a team.
These two are clearly so in love, they are each other's loudest cheerleader, they share adventures, and they have such fun together. Today we asked the bride's sister and the groom's friend to share some words with everyone and they read perfectly. The couple's vows were honest and sincere, and their ring exchange was a lovely symbolic way of sealing the promises that they had just made.
We concluded the ceremony with a handfasting, and the couple had arranged their own ribbon cord which was made up of two colours (selected from their wedding theme) which represented the two of them joining together, and the extending of their family ties today. I wrapped the couple's hands and read a beautiful blessing (one of my favourites in fact), and then with their family and friends as witnesses, I tied the knot and the couple showed everyone their hands that had been bound in matrimony.
After signing their commemorative certificate, the couple led the recession back up the aisle, followed by their groomsmen and bridesmaids in pairs, all perfectly synchronised and accompanied again by the live musicians.
A champagne reception awaited everyone outside of the walled garden, over in the terrace, and as I cleared away all of the ceremony equipment I could hear the delightful sounds of glasses clinking and lively chatter as the couple were united with their guests. As I congratulated the couple, I was stopped by the bride's father and several guests who all clearly enjoyed the lovely personal ceremony and the bride and groom were just so happy!
They both did amazingly well and were so pleased with how their very special day was unfolding. A huge congratulations to the new Mr & Mrs Allen-Clark, and the best of love and luck for your future together!
(All images in this blog taken by Jenny Knight, pre and post-ceremony.)
Venue: Susie and Hamish at Little Dower House
Celebrant: Jenny at Knight Ceremonies
Photographer: Bart at PhotoBart Photography
Musicians: Angela Jung and Will Robertson
See more about Berkshire Ceremonies