Here is a lovely blog written by Louise from my team, about her wedding at the gorgeous Notley Abbey this month.
"Emma had dreamt of an outdoor wedding and as I drove along the M40 the rain which hadn’t been seen for a few weeks started to fall. As I entered the fabulous treelined driveway leading to Notley Abbey the sun had started to peak slightly behind the clouds. With a fear of being caught out in traffic I had arrived incredibly early, and the bridal party were just starting to arrive.
As I passed the giant chess set, the croquet and the Jenga I could see the groomsmen gathered outside the large Augustinian wooden door as they awaited their rooms to be ready, catching up and chatting and taking in the stunning scenery of the Abbey. The dedicated staff from Notley were waiting to greet all the guests and to direct them to the correct area. Introducing myself I decided to go and look at the walled garden, praying that the wedding could be outside.
Julie from Harpers Notley had set up chairs inside and outside just in case and the florists, Sonning Flowers were busy at work creating an arch of flowers above the door and displaying pedestals of gorgeous, white hydrangeas, pale blue delphiniums, yellow roses and white peonies. I had a peek into the florists van where the button holes, bridal bouquet and bridesmaid bouquets were being kept cool, the fragrant smell of the summer flowers was beautiful.
As I strolled along the lavender walkway I spied Emma arriving in her curlers like a scene from the 1940’s apart from the jeans, a very different casual look from the bride we would see later. Emma was in good spirits, appeared excited and very calm after all she had made a spreadsheet leaving nothing to chance and all the bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members had been allocated tasks.
This organisational and planning trait was one I had noticed as I chatted to Emma and Andy over the months we prepared for today. Emma was whisked off to her room with some of the bridesmaids whilst she continued with her preparations. Andy arrived again very calm, having spent the night before nearby in a pub and surprisingly sending me his vows quite late into the evening. Sarah Vivienne the photographer was walking around looking at the Abbey and considering her shot angles whilst James from Fox Films the videographer had a drone flying over the grounds of the Abbey. I had a chat with them both about the ceremony and the key moments of the vow making and the exchange of rings. Special ties that matched the groomsmen appeared as a surprise for Nick father of the bride and for Andy’s dad and Nick was quickly adorned with his new tie with the aid of his son.
Everybody was busy at work preparing for the amazing event that was to happen later, the bike with the drinks cabinet was being wheeled into position, the waitresses and waiters were setting up the Monks refectory for the wedding breakfast having had the go ahead from Emma that we were definitely having the wedding outdoors. Tablecloths were being ironed, cutlery and glasses polished and there was a buzz of busyness.
Gin bottles from Emma and Andy’s Gin point O garden bar adorned the tables and there was a definite gin theme with a gin bar going to be set up for the evening reception. The semi naked wedding cake was sitting resplendent on its stand by the grand piano and vases of fresh flowers adorned the shelf waiting to the put into position. The Abbey had come to life as Emma and Andy’s vision was being created.
Once the table had arrived for the ceremony, I placed the wedding certificates, arranged the floral display and laid out the keepsake folder and all the elements I needed for the signing part of the ceremony. As the bridesmaids and groomsmen arrived to place reserved cards on the chairs for the bridal party and family and small white fans for the heat, a small debate on what 18 on either side exactly meant ensued. I ran through the readings with Elinor and then Marcus ensuring everyone was comfortable with their special part in the day’s proceedings. At this point Jonny the best man and I decided we would have a rehearsal with Juno for her star role as the ring bearer. What a star she was with Andy at the front, Jonny with the whistle and Gareth on release duty at the back, Juno performed her role perfectly being rewarded with big cuddles, we just hoped that with the guests seated Juno would perform as well.
Next with two of the Welsh speaking bridesmaids old school friends from Emma’s childhood home in Carmarthenshire who I learnt had come over from the UAE and Madrid to be there supporting Emma, they wouldn’t have missed it for the world and were busy taking selfies, mingling and helping to set everything up as Emma and Andy wanted. I wandered back into The Abbey with them and up into the bridal preparation room where Emma’s hair was being crafted into a beautiful elegant semi chignon.
James and Sarah were busy taking photos and videoing the beautiful dark green bridesmaid dresses hanging up in a row and the gifts laid out elegantly on a long chaise bench. Jossie Maid of Honour and Master of Ceremonies decided the time was right for the fizz to appear and the cork was popped, glasses filled and toasts to Emma and her special day began. I shared a few photos of the Walled Garden and the general setup around the Abbey for Emma to see. The atmosphere was one of pure joy and excitement everybody was there to support Emma and Andy and to have a really good time.
As the guests started to arrive the sun had broken through and a very hot afternoon had emerged. Everyone was chatting, catching up and walking around the grounds, some looking for shade, the youngsters playing with all the games and others retired inside to the cool of the Abbey and the hydration station.
The time was getting closer, the groomsmen and Andy headed for their rooms to get ready in their navy suits and natural ties, the bridesmaids and Emma were donning their dresses, the florists had completed their duties and left and the string trio, The Flower Trio were deciding on where to position themselves in the garden to keep cool and opted for the shady spot under the fir trees. They kindly played a piece for me, and the music was stunning, we chatted about when the bridal party started to walk down the aisle and the music choices and the points in the ceremony when they would be playing.
I left them warming up as I rechecked the ceremony space and ensured everything was perfect. Soon the guests started to come round and enter the walled garden and there was a sense of real anticipation. Once they were seated I gave the housekeeping announcement and then chatted with Andy and Jonny while we waited for the go ahead from the venue that Emma, her father Nick and the bridal party were ready as the guests listened to the string trio. They entered through the firtree arch in pairs Jossie, Chloe, Ione, Angharad and Elinor along with Ettie and Emilia as flower girls and Remy their page boy looking beautiful apart from Alex who looked handsome in his role of carrying Emilia one of the flower girls down the aisle, his navy suit contrasting with the woodland green and pale cream of the bridesmaids and flower girls dresses. Everyone turned to look and how stunning they looked in their dark green dresses with the flower girls in cream.
A small pause added to the tension before Andy’s eyes lit up at the sight of Emma arriving and starting to walk down the aisle with her dad Nick. With a smile on her face she walked down acknowledging friends and family but with her eyes set on Andy. She looked amazing in a fitted white dress with a stunningly beautiful lace embellished train.
As her dad handed her over to stand by Andy’s side, the love in the air was palpable. The ceremony began and Emma and Andy’s love story was shared, Marcus read a beautiful poem about Love being like a dog and we had our own little flypast during Elinor’s reading from Corelli’s mandolin, but what’s good enough for King Charles on his birthday was good enough for Emma and Andy. Once the very intimate vows were shared, Juno performed her role as ring bearer to perfection, sauntering down the aisle adorned with a floral collar and the rings in a beautiful navy pouch attached to her collar. She then sat patiently at the front and watched the rest of the ceremony.
The wedding certificate was signed by Emma and Andy in the shade of the stone archway and then they were joined by Irene and Claire both the mothers as witnesses. Soon it was time for everyone to stand and to cheers Emma and Andy the new Mr and Mrs Bointon- Allan and Juno Bointon -Allan were clapped down the aisle and off to start their journey into married life. All the guests helped themselves to a handful of petals and emerged at the front of the Abbey for the confetti throw along the lavender lined path.
As Emma and Andy walked out of the Abbey petals were thrown and sprinkled into the air as they joined their family and friends to start the afternoon and evening celebrations. I left as they were all mingling and drinking and catching up.
Emma and Andy were excited to share time with everyone and to enjoy all the special moments they had planned for the afternoon and evening. They had tied the knot at Notley Abbey and what a glorious day it was surrounded by the love of family and friends.
Congratulations Emma and Andy!
(All images in this blog were taken by Louise. We look forward to seeing the official images soon.)
Venue: Notley Abbey
Celebrant: Louise at Knight Ceremonies
Florist: Sonning Flowers
Photographer: Sarah Vivienne
Videographer: James Fox (Fox Films)
See more about Berkshire Ceremonies