Great Fosters Wedding
Lexi & Rob
“We’ve loved both the photos Brett produced and every aspect of working with him – definitely one of the best wedding planning decisions we made!”
So in order to change things up a bit and in a bid to hopefully make my blog a more useful resource for prospective brides and grooms, I thought I’d try and include couples whose weddings I’ve already photographed. Not only are they far more articulate than I am but they also offer a great insight into many aspects of a wedding that I’m not involved with. They’ll also give you an idea of what it’s like to have me as your wedding photographer!
Sometimes as a photographer I am truly blessed with the people I get to meet. This is the blog of Lexi & Rob’s wedding. They got married at Great Fosters in Surrey. They are awesome. Sometimes I have the pleasure of spending the day with a couple who are inspiring, who are unpretentious and genuine in their love not just for each other but also their friends and families.
Lexi & Rob you are all round good eggs, I loved spending the day with you.
So please read on to find out more about Lexi & Rob’s story and some great advice they have about making your wedding that bit more special.
Tell me your story. How did you meet, how did you become engaged and for how long had you been engaged before your wedding day? What happened along the way? How did you get here?: Rob and I met at a birthday party, at which I brought my best friend from school and a university friend brought Rob (said school friend and university got married in May 2017 – it was a good night for all of us!). We spent all night talking, working our way down the cocktail menu until the truly seedy club we were in closed, at which point Rob gallantly escorted myself and a few of my friends in a 3am search around central London for a taxi… and completely omitted to ask for my number. At this point, the aforementioned university friend decided to give us a little push, telling me that Rob had asked for my number and Rob that I’d asked him to pass on my number. By the time we realised we’d been had, it was far too late…!
Our engagement was a private affair, and a huge surprise to me (I had literally no idea it was coming); we spent the day in Bath, where I grew up, and Rob insisted that we hike up to Alexandra Park (my full name is Alexandra) to “see the views”. I was in heels and had no interest in hiking up a massive hill, but eventually relented, complaining all the way up the hill. He waited until there was nobody around, gave a short speech and got down on one knee… at which point my memory kind of stops. I understand from Rob that I said “oh my God” a lot, but completely forgot to actually say “yes”. He figured my taking the ring meant he’d probably got the response he wanted! He also sneakily managed to make sure that we both saw most of our immediate families within 24 hours, so could celebrate face to face rather than over the phone.
We were engaged for 18 months before we got married. If I had the chance to do it again, I think I’d do it quicker and get all the planning out of the way – although there is a benefit to having a wider pool of suppliers to choose from!
“What happened along the way” is a rather open ended question! Highlights include a trip around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, buying and doing up a house together and Rob desperately trying to teach me how to cook.
As to “how did you get here”, the answer is some of our least mature friends started to get engaged / married and suddenly it didn’t seem so scary!
What made you choose your venue?: Having travelled all over the place for weddings, we wanted somewhere that the majority of our guests could get to easily. This meant easy reach from London (friends), Bournemouth (my family) and Surrey (Rob’s family).
If you ask Rob, he found our venue… Frankly, once you’ve got a guest list of over 150 people, you are limited on the venues you can look at! I spent DAYS going through different venue websites, and compiled a shortlist. Rob then “found” the venue on my spreadsheet and proceeded to take the credit. He’s lucky I still married him.
What made you choose your outfits? What did you love about them?: The Dress – Finding “the” dress was a bit of an ordeal. I must have gone to 6 or 7 different places and “chosen” 3 different dresses before I finally made a decision. In the end, I found a dress I really loved by Ian Stuart, and then messed with the shape of it (very scary paying all that money for a dress you’ve never actually tried on, but they did an amazing job!). I really loved the drama of it – it was still definitely a wedding dress, but not like one I’d ever seen before, so felt unique to me (especially as I knew I’d had it designed by Ian Stuart himself). The one thing I didn’t consider was the weight – I had bruises on my hips by the end of all the dancing (worth it)!
Rob always had his heart set on morning suits – as someone who wears a suit everyday at work he wanted something different for the wedding! We used a firm called the Cad and the Dandy, who did a fantastic job of making his suit, along with ones for his dad and brothers! We sourced the ties and pocket squares from a relatively small firm called Mrs Bow Tie – they had loads of choice so it was easy to find something that we liked!
In terms of accessories I was very laid back about – I just wanted them to be simple. So the necklace was one I have worn every day since I had it made a few years ago, the earrings I had seen a friend wear and coveted for a while (I’m actually wearing them as I write this). The shoes, again, were something I’d seen in LK Bennett a few months before I started looking properly at shoes, and I managed to pick them up in the sale! Although they did cause panic from my grandmother, being neither white nor satin (she’s admitted to liking them now)!!
Tell me about your flowers/florist (bouquets, centre pieces & general decorative arrangements)?: The great thing about Great Fosters is that it really doesn’t need much doing to it. As an accountant, I don’t really have a great sense of design / imagination, and so my focus was more on finding suppliers who had a much better eye than me!
Flowers The flowers were done by the amazing Sue Pritchard of the Lavender Hill Company. I met with a few different florists that I knew had done Great Fosters before (mostly from stalking wedding photographers blogs in the search for one that didn’t make me want to cry for all the wrong reasons) and Sue was the only one who, instead of showing me on a computer what she’d done to Great Fosters in the past and asking me which design I wanted, really talked Rob and I through what we liked and who we were as a couple before making suggestions and narrowing down the kind of feel we wanted. Her great skill was coaxing out the opinions we didn’t know we had and transforming that into a concept. I can’t take any credit for the final design – it was all entirely her brainchild (apart from the ball hanging down from the ceiling, which I 100% stole from another florist that was at the Great Fosters open day).
Stationary I developed a great working relationship with Mara Lagonigro, the mastermind behind Blush and Gold, and so really wanted to use the stationary as something that tied everything in as much as possible. Everything from the invites to the table plan to the order of ceremonies to the signs by the cake and the photo booth were designed by her. She was really (REALLY) amazing to work with, even helping me try and decide on a frame for the table plan and replying to me late on the Friday before the wedding (when I realised that I’d forgotten to change my own name to my married name – disaster!) to ensure that I’d have a new version before the wedding.
Other decorations Other decorations (chairs, draping in the ceremony room etc) were provided by Blanca Popkin of Host With Style. Again, an absolutely amazing person to work with – I actually managed to meet her at the Great Fosters open day, and she took me through what I was planning and suggested some changes based on her own experiences, which worked really well.
Cake Cake was by Chloe-Hill Thomas of Cake! by Chloe. Again, really easy to work with – I gave her some ideas and she made some suggestions which were better than my ideas. I especially loved that she made a huge sugar work flower that should last forever – we’ve got it on a shelf next to some of our wedding photos.
Music (string quartet) We worked with Brian Lee of Liquid Strings. He couldn’t do enough to ensure that they provided the best service possible, and also organised an arrangement of our favourite song for me to walk down the aisle to. Another hugely personable supplier, who responds quickly and is always there to give advice from his own experience if you need it.
Music (Ceilidh) Fred Holden of Bowreed organised our Ceilidh. They were brilliant – pretty much everyone was a complete novice (and by this point quite a few people had drunk rather a lot!), and the caller still managed to herd people into something that at least vaguely resembled a Ceilidh and was a lot of fun!
Tell me about your Ceremony including any readings?: As Rob and I are both not religious and (really) not into public displays of affection, we wanted to keep the ceremony as short and simple as possible. We were lucky in our registrar (you don’t get to pick, and as I’m sure you know there are some terrible ones!), who definitely ad libbed quite a bit but made it feel really special!
A really special moment for me was walking down the aisle – I tried not to look at Rob straight away as was petrified that I was going to cry, but seeing him at the end of the aisle with a huge grin on his face was a lovely moment.
I also really enjoyed having my grandparents so involved – Grannie gave a beautiful reading and Grandpa was a witness. They’ve been such a huge part of my life that it felt important to include them.
The main thing for me was that it felt so natural. I realised on the morning of the wedding that we hadn’t discussed so many things (“how are we going to do the kiss?!” being the big one), but when it came to it, it still felt like us.
I’ve asked Rob this question, and his answer was “when you decided not to repeat the vows mid way through!”.
Do you have any comments about your photography? What was it like working with Brett?: I don’t know where to start with comments about the photography!!
I picked Brett firstly because I fell in love with the style of photos on his blog, but also the character that he showed through his website (the one that stuck out to me was:
“WILL YOU BE ABLE TO REMOVE MY DOUBLE CHINS AND MAKE ME LOOK SLIMMER?
No, you look beautiful as you are. Trust me.”)
This character is a perfect representation of what working with Brett is like. You’re not going to end up with anything that doesn’t look or feel like you, instead what he creates is a safe space to allow people to relax and then simply captures the moments (all with a great eye for timing, framing and a whole host of other photography skills that I can’t even name).
He’s also incredibly involved in not only ensuring that his output looks great (and oh boy does it), but that the bride and groom actually have a great day. The advice he gave us, from the morning’s “OK, I will set up for the father of the bride “first look” picture, but PLEASE don’t be upset if he doesn’t really react because sometimes fathers just don’t” to the evening’s “you are missing the dancing – stop chatting and go and enjoy your party!” were both well timed and made a real difference to our enjoyment of the day (although luckily we did get a reaction from my father!).
He’s also got the ability to either be entirely invisible or entirely personable – either way, everyone looks relaxed and like themselves in the pictures and I’ve had rave reviews from anyone he spoke to. We’ve loved both the photos Brett produced and every aspect of working with him – definitely one of the best wedding planning decisions we made!
What was your first dance song?: How Long Will I Love You – Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman (an arrangement of this was also the song I walked down the aisle to). This song is from the About Time soundtrack and somehow became “our” song, as the film has somehow become “our” film. Not sure how, neither of us are the type to attribute a song to a relationship!
Did you have any entertainment?: We had a Ceilidh and then a DJ in the evening. The Ceilidh was a nod to the fact that my husband is half Scottish, and it’s something we’d done before and really enjoyed. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend to anyone that doing a Ceilidh in a dress that weighs roughly the same as a medium-sized elephant is actually a good idea, it was really lovely to see people who never dance at wedding getting involved, and all the different groups of people being mixed together in what can, at best, be referred to as organised chaos.
The DJ was also great fun, although I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of people who removed their shirts for the Baywatch theme…!
What was your favourite part of the day and why?: This is a really difficult one to answer.
For Rob, he really enjoyed the Ceilidh, as so many people got involved and seemed to really enjoy it. He also cites the “golden hour” pictures as a welcome break to get away from everyone for a bit and it just be us.
For me, I really loved the ceremony. It was the part of the wedding that I wasn’t looking forward to, worried that it would feel forced or not like us, but in reality it felt totally natural and was a really special part of the day. Like Rob, I also appreciated the moments we actually got to spend just the two of us, both during the portraits and when we took a small time out from the dancing and tucked ourselves away outside for a few minutes!
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a couple planning their marriage and wedding day, what would they be and is there anything you would do differently?:
1) Try not to stress about the small stuff. I know it’s easier said than done, but in reality there were plenty of little details that didn’t quite go to plan on the day (at which point I noticed them, laughed, and moved on), but if you’d have told me that in the weeks leading up to the wedding I probably would have thrown a fit. Nobody will notice them but you, trust me.
2) Try and spend some time with the important people on the day. I had an amazing wedding day, but didn’t actually get to spend that much time with my bridesmaids / the people I’m most close to, because I was trying to make sure I said hi to everyone. Accept that you won’t make it around to see each and every one of your new spouse’s relatives, let alone your own, and make sure you do spend time with the people who have got you through wedding planning (relatively) sane.
3) Take a time out with your new husband/wife. Unless you actively do something about it, the period you spend taking pictures is the only time you’ll get to spend alone with your new husband/wife in the entire day – a day that really is just about the two of you. We ended up slipping away and watching the dancing through the window for a few minutes, which actually ended up being a really nice moment for the just two of us to decompress and recognise the fact that we’d (I hope) successfully pulled off a wedding.
4) To me, this is the important one: everyone says your wedding will go by quickly. I will go by INSANELY quickly. Try and enjoy and remember every moment of it and, when you inevitably feel like you’ve forgotten parts the day in a blur, make sure there’s someone great there to capture the moments to remind you.
Flowers – Sue Pritchard of the Lavender Hill Company
Stationary – Mara Lagonigro of Blush and Gold
Other decorations – Blanca Popkin of Host With Style
Cake – Chloe Hill-Thomas of Cake! by Chloe
Music (string quartet) – Brian Lee of Liquid Strings
If you are having an Great Fosters Wedding
or indeed you’re getting married anywhere else and are still looking for a wedding photographer to capture your day in a creative yet relaxed fashion I would love to hear from you.
You can use my contact page or please feel fee to just call me for a chat about your wedding, 07760130044.
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