Ali and Jim picked the perfect Autumnal day in October to get hitched at Layer Marney Tower in Colchester, Essex. I spent a fab morning catching up with Jim and getting his take on their day over coffee and a much welcome box of Krispy Kremes (provided by Jim – they didn’t last long!).
A bit of Background
Ali and Jim had a whirlwind romance and our dream couple were engaged after only 5 months together. But the sound of wedding bells were not to be heard for some time. It wasn’t until they had undertook the life experiences of home owning and extending their family with their beautiful daughter, that Jim planned to surprise Ali 20 years later by re-proposing on a romantic beech in Norfolk.
A small shin-dig just wasn’t going to cut it after all this time. Ali and Jim wanted to celebrate their lives together. With Jim taking the reins on the planning side (Yes ladies, the groom planned most of the day!), despite the horror stories of groom-planned weddings – Jim is living proof its possible and he did a smashing job!…………
Here’s Jim’s insight on the day….
Why choose Layer Marney Tower as your Wedding Venue?
“It has always been Ali’s dream to get married at Layer Marney Tower. So in that way it was an easy choice. Having said that we did visit a few alternatives but that really just reinforced was an amazing venue Layer Marney Tower is. Yes, it’s a beautiful place in itself but what makes it truly special are the people who work there. We felt immediately comfortable with no question too small.”
What Drew you to your Choice of Wedding Attire?
Ali wasn’t going to have a dress with a train and I wasn’t going to have tails … but guess what? That’s exactly what we ended up with because in the end, they looked fantastic! Seeing Ali in her dress for the first time as she walked down the aisle really was a ‘WOW’ moment (I found out later from the guests, I actually said ‘WOW’ out loud when I saw her!). So, morale of the story: don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a little and take the advice of the experts.”
Any Personal Touches?
“We settled on an Autumn theme early on which followed through from the wedding invitations to the decor at the wedding breakfast. It kept a lovely timeless feel and created a flow which tied together pretty much every aspect of our wedding journey.
Ok, so some might say I went a bit over the top on this one. I say, Ali deserved the wedding she had been waiting 20 years for. One I especially like was a custom ‘Order of the Day’ board which we put outside the entrance to the Long Gallery. It looked perfect.”
Décor and Lighting at Layer Marney Tower – An obvious focus!
Here’s where Dreamwave came into their own. We had originally planned for a another DJ but he was unavailable on our date, so Plan B had to be found. This was a real stroke of luck as it tuned out because not only would Dreamwave be able to provide the DJ for the evening but the added bonus of the fabulous decor and special touches too.
From the script-style ‘Love’ letters which worked brilliantly under the main window in the Long Gallery to the candles on the staircase (a late addition but totally worth it), the woodland “gobos” and the up lighters. These are all the things that made the venue ‘ours’ for the evening.
We settled on an Autumn theme early on which followed through from the wedding invitations to the decor (the woodland gobo’s worked complemented this perfectly) at the wedding breakfast. It kept a lovely timeless feel and created a flow which tied together pretty much every aspect of our wedding journey.
The Wedding Ceremony at Layer Marney Tower
“I was fine until about an hour before the ceremony. We’d been at Layer Marney Tower all morning setting up and making everything “just so”. We had the use of the bridal suite, which was perfect for us to get ready. From there it was a real blur and before I knew it I was standing in the Corsellis Room waiting for Ali to arrive. I’ve been told that when the door opened and she began to walk down the aisle, I turned round and audibly said “Wow!”. She looked absolutely gorgeous; exactly as I’d dreamed she would.”
The Drinks Reception and Wedding Breakfast at Layer Marney Tower
“We were so lucky with the weather to be able to have our drinks reception outside, given it was late October. It was lovely to go into the Long Gallery whilst it was still empty, just us with the smell of the log fire burning in the fireplace. We were able to take a moment to admire everything and take a breath before the wedding breakfast. The flowers, from W Flowers, were amazing and reflected the whole Autumn theme perfectly. Wendy and Julia understood exactly what we wanted including Ali’s favourite Dahlias. They also provided a couple of Bay Trees for the entrance which set it off nicely.
All of the catering was taken care of by Bouquet Garni, the resident caterers at Layer Marney Tower. They provide all the amazing food as well as serving canapés and drinks.
Throughout the reception and wedding breakfast, Spencer Wood performed his brilliant magic to entertain the guests. We had so many complements! He was also able to provide all the Master of Ceremony duties too, so he really tied the whole day together.”
The Evening Party at Layer Marney Tower
“We opted for an Early Set Up with Dreamwave. What a great move this was. We didn’t have to worry about the the chaos of the room turn-a-round. Our transition from day to night for the evening party felt like a natural progression. Definitely worth the extra money! Following the speeches, Spencer hosted another little surprise for everyone: a quick game of Mr & Mrs! It was so simple, yet so much fun too.
I had one last ‘little’ surprise; my gift to Ali on our wedding day. We had a rouse to get everyone outside, a photo shoot with sparklers, which in itself went really well. Then the surprise: a full fireworks display by Dynamic Fireworks. Queue lots of oohs and aahs and a very, very pleased Ali! A blow torch to light the sparklers was a great idea. It was a pretty windy evening and we had not trouble lighting them!
Then it was onto the party! Our Dreamwaves DJ, Spike was amazing! From the first dance (Still Falling For You by Ellie Goulding) to the last song the music and dancing just kept coming. We had previously shared a Spotify playlist with Dreamwave so they had an idea of what we liked. It was fun selecting songs you both love, but not too many: there’s maybe 60 tracks in a 4 hour party. Also, make sure you let your DJ know if there are any songs you DON’T want played too! I still have that playlist, it’s a cherished keepsake I hadn’t expected. It’s something to take away from the day and enjoy again and again, much like the wedding photos. Music is so emotive too and those happy memories just keep flooding back.”
TIP – You can backup Spotify playlists to files using Exportify.
Advice from the Groom
“I would definitely say to sort out the big questions to start with. It makes it far less daunting. So, big or small wedding? Summer or Winter? Posh or Shabby Chic? Get the basics right first and you’ll get a better idea of what you’ll need to do later on.
Plan as much as possible as soon as possible. We set ourselves a goal to book all the main suppliers before Christmas 2016 (for October 2017) and even then it was tight. Many suppliers will be booked up a year or more in advance, so it pays to get in quick.
Get Organised – Make a list for everything and start from day one. It’s easy to keep on top of it then. On the day there is so much to do and just having a check list of things to do was invaluable.
Get to know your suppliers.
Decide on a realistic budget and keep a spreadsheet to help keep you in check. There’s such a lot to think about, from the obvious like stationery, menu choices and wine selections to the more subtle details like easels and drinks.
Keep an open mind – What immediately springs to mind about something may not be what works out when you try it. So consult your supplier on your thoughts, that’s what they are there for.
Leave a couple of surprises. In our case the Fireworks and the “Mr & Mrs”
Find a good photographer. Not just one who takes photos you like but one you would want to spend time with.
Take a moment. This will be one of the best days of your life and one of the busiest. During the day itself make a specific effort to take a moment to take in what’s happening. It’s an amazing time but it is a whirlwind. You will (necessarily) be whisked off here and there and before you know it, it can be all over before you realise.
Get on the internet. Etsy, Notonthehighstreet, Weddingspot, Pinterest. These site were really useful for getting ideas.
Finally, have fun! I met so many lovely people through thus journey. It was an honour and privilege to able to organise our wedding. Not only did I get to finally marry the love of my life, I had such an amazing time doing it.”
A HUGE thank you to Jim and Ali for inviting us to be part of your day and taking the time to meet me to write about your awesome wedding!
If you liked the look of the Lighting and Decor at Jim and Ali’s Wedding or just want a fab wedding evening party; Contact Us to find out more!
Supplier Credits for Ali and Jim’s Wedding at Layer Marney Tower:
Pianist – Phillip Keith http://www.phillipkeithpianist.com
Alterations: Tas’s Alterations
Wedding Favours: Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics
Order of the Day Board: Paper Fudge www.paperfudge.co.uk