Presenting Charlie Brear’s #FridayBridE Penny
With a ceremony overlooked by a castle and a reception in a medieval barn, Penny and Dan’s wedding was a modern-day fairy tale in the Dorset countryside. There were prince-like touches, with the groom taking their vows in military attire and an heirloom sword to cut the cake. Penny experienced love at first sight too – with the stunning lace dress she first set eyes on online. Here at Charlie Brear we love building this kind of relaxed, romantic look using our collection of lace overdresses and slip style dresses - bridal perfection.
Find out how Penny and Dan devised their big day despite not living together, and the invaluable advice they have to share for planning a wedding to remember.
Penny and Dan’s nuptials and party were captured by the very talented Paul Underhill.
Please can you describe the style of your wedding for us.
It was a true Dorset affair. The ceremony took place in a 19th Century orangery, followed by a rustic-themed reception in a stunning medieval barn.
Where did you purchase your dress & why?
I found my gown at the Charlie Brear flagship store in London. I spent a lot of time looking at different styles of dresses online and knew that I wanted something a bit different. I found Charlie Brear’s designs and totally fell in love so it was top of my list for making an appointment. I visited two other stores previously but had clearly saved the best until last!
What was your best experience when trying on dresses?
I had the brilliant Hannah helping me along with my two best friends. As soon as we walked through the entrance it was like stepping into a magical land! Although I had a particular dress in mind, once I’d seen the array of stunning dresses I knew I’d be trying on a few. Hannah was so patient with me as I narrowed my decision down to two and had to try both on again just to make sure the final decision was definitely the right one.
When and where did your husband propose to you? Did he have a ring ready?
My husband Dan had told me well in advance that he’d got tickets for us for the London New Year’s Eve fireworks display, however after spending Christmas with my parents, on the day we were due to head home he suddenly announced that we weren’t actually going home after all. Instead, he’d booked a two-night stay in the New Forest at one of our favourite places, Cottage Lodge in Brockenhurst. On the morning of New Year’s Eve we went for a lovely walk in Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary where he suggested we stop on a bridge over a little stream. I had my hand in my pocket and found a penny and said we should throw it in the stream and make a wish. When I turned around to face him after I’d made my wish he was standing there holding open a ring box and asked me to marry him. Funnily my wish was that we’d have a wonderful year to follow!
What would your advice be to other brides about shopping for a wedding dress?
Definitely do lots of research before going shopping to get an idea of the styles of dresses you are drawn to. I actually ended up buying the dress that I had seen online first, although I made sure I tried on quite a few others first so that I knew 100% I’d made the right choice. I heard so many stories of brides trawling through every wedding dress shop in town and beyond but knew that I’d rather focus on a few designers I really liked and not look any further. I definitely would say once the dress is bought, stop looking!
How long did it take to plan your wedding?
We had a year-and-a-half engagement, which was a lovely length of time to pace the wedding planning and to get creative.
How did you feel after you had ordered your dress?
Buying my wedding dress was such a special day, it made me feel like it was truly happening. I also felt really excited that I could then start doing the next stage of planning… accessorising!
What shoes did you wear?
I bought some really simple Rainbow Club kitten heels, which I got professionally dyed a beautiful shade of blue. I knew I wasn’t a white shoe girl and also that I’d kill my feet in anything higher! Funnily enough, my wedding shoes were really comfy but it was a little pair of blue ballet shoes that I changed into to dance in that were the ones that hurt my feet - I had the bruises four months later. Not something I usually say but I wish I’d stayed in my heels!
Did you struggle finding the right lingerie that worked with your dress, if so would you recommend anything for future brides?
I had some great advice from married friends who said to go with practical underwear that works with the dress and make sure you’ve bought it before dress fittings. With my dress being quite lacy I bought a strapless, skin-coloured bra and seamless knickers from Calvin Klein, which were so comfortable.
What Traditions did you follow? Something borrowed, something blue or not seeing each other until the ceremony for example.
I love these traditions - although I wasn’t so convinced by the suggestion of the something borrowed being my best friend’s Spanx! So instead I went for a pearl hat pin that belonged to my late Grandmother, which I pinned into the hessian around my bouquet. I had blue shoes, a beautiful blue gemstone and a diamond ring that I inherited from my other Grandmother and my something new was a hair comb, and of course my dress.
Dan and I didn’t see each other the night before to keep with tradition and in fact had his stag party the night before! Thankfully he felt fine for the wedding day, though his friends and brothers definitely came off worse! I think he was the only one who thought this old tradition of a stag the night before was a good idea!
Who did your hair & make-up and how did you find them?
Lisa Want, the very talented and very funny hair and make-up artist who is based in Yeovil but also offers a mobile service. As I had never had my hair or make-up done in the area I did lots of research to find Lisa and it really paid off. She is such a talent and a lovely person to have around on the wedding morning.
Where and when did you get married?
We got married on June 4th with our ceremony at the orangery in the grounds of Sherborne Castle, followed by our reception at Stockbridge Barn Farm. We fell in love with both when we were searching in Dorset and although we could have chosen to book the whole day at either we decided to have both venues. We couldn’t have been happier.
What was the funniest moment of the day?
Having been so busy running around the day before, the morning of the wedding was such a special time. Having an opportunity to spend the morning with my two best friends whilst having our hair and make-up done was so much fun and definitely full of giggles.
Did your wedding have any quirky or unusual features?
With 18 months to plan the day, I had loads of time to get creative. Our reception was a stunning medieval barn and I had my heart set on a rustic theme. My husband let me loose on the vision side of the day: I made 16 hessian and lace table runners and recycled the 80-odd jam jars from my best friend’s wedding the previous year for table decorations. Each jar had either a tea light or beautiful cottage garden flowers in them arranged by our florist Melinda, who grew everything in her garden.
I also made floral print fabric hanging hearts for all the female guests with miniature ones for the children and then used the rest of the hessian on little bags for the men containing five sugared almonds. My Mum had told us about an Italian tradition where each almond has a symbolic meaning of health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life which we wanted to incorporate into the day.
Dan is in the military so we had a few traditions, one of which was very special: he’d had a family military sword restored which had been handed down my family, so we used this to cut our wedding cake.
TAKE 5 WITH THIS WEEK’S #FRIDAYBRIDE
Don’t get sucked in by all the blogs, magazines etc... that make you feel under pressure to spend more money on unnecessary extras. They are great for ideas but can also make you loose sight of what the day is actually all about regardless of all the frills.
Have a clear budget from the start. We sat down and made a spreadsheet of costs and stuck as closely to it as we could. There are lots of websites that give you an idea of average costs depending on the style of your wedding. Add a bit extra to your budget for unforeseen costs - it’s impossible to think of everything at the start.
I did lots of craft for our wedding as I love this. But don’t put yourself under pressure to make things unless you’ve really thought it through or you have a team of helpers if you’d rather not be sewing late into the night.
Don’t worry what other people might think of your ideas, as long as you and your partner agree, go with it - it’s your day after all!
Try not to let wedding planning consume your every thought. Be realistic with your aspirations and have a timetable when you’ll do ‘wedmin’ and time where you can put your feet up as a couple!
If you could do it all again what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change anything!
Where did you go for your honeymoon?
We escaped for a few days to a beautiful shepherd’s hut in a remote spot in Wales and then a few months later went for an incredible three-week holiday to the islands of Hawaii.
Did you find organising your wedding an easy process? What parts were easy, what parts were trickier?
Luckily we both love a project and enjoy planning, so organising our wedding didn’t phase us. We divided up the jobs between us, which made the whole process much easier. We had to be super organised and look ahead as we weren’t living together so having an idea of when we’d have weekends to hunt for a venue, food taste etc… was helpful to put in the calendar.
We actually planned our ceremony during a camping trip. We decided to write our own promises and being stuck in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere was a pretty good place to do some thinking. We put a lot of thought into the service. As we were having a civil wedding, we wanted to make it personal and special. We asked friends and family to contribute to writing a personal reading and had music performed by my best friend and her husband and readings by my other best friend and her husband who we now share a wedding anniversary with, having married on the same date several years before us.
It was such a great experience planning the day and seeing it all come together.
What will you do with your dress now?
My cousin recently got married in her Grandmother’s wedding dress which she discovered in the attic in a suitcase that was allocated to fancy dress; it was from 1934 and although a few alterations were made she wore it complete with original hooks and eyes!
I love the idea that one day in years to come someone in my family will discover my Charlie Brear dress and wear it for their wedding day. For now, it hangs in my wardrobe and definitely won’t be going in the attic anytime soon!
What are you and your husband's best memories of the day?
There are so many we could pick but one of the most special moments was when my best friend Emily sang a song during the ceremony which she had composed. I had secretly written some lyrics which she then turned into a song to surprise Dan with.
The very best memory though is having all the people we love together in one place to celebrate with us.
It’s rather cliché but it was definitely the best day of our lives.
Dress: Pettine Versailles by Charlie Brear!
Shoes: Rainbow Club
Accessories: Katherine Swaine - vintage inspired 1950’s earring and bracelet
Ceremony venue: The Orangery, Sherborne Castle
Reception venue: Stockbridge Barn Farm
Photographer: Paul Underhill Photography – www.paulunderhill.com
Bridesmaids' dresses: Skirts – Mango, Tops – Dorothy Perkins, Shoes – Dune
Flower girl – Dress by Kids Monsoon
Rings: Alan Bick
Music: I walked into: Yiruma – ‘River flows for you’
Whilst signing the register my bridesmaid sang: ‘Kissing you’ by Desiree & ‘Forever’ lyrics by me and written by my bridesmaid, Emily
We walked out to: Jack Johnson – ‘Better Together’ played by Emily’s husband Dan who also played the piano as guests arrived for the ceremony
First Dance: Adele – ‘Make You Feel My Love’ then turned into ‘Happy’ by Pharrel Williams
Band: Freddie and The Freeloaders
florist: Little Strode Farm, Bridport
Caterer: Queen’s Arms Catering, Corton Denham
Penny WAS A VISION IN a Iconic Bridal collection dress
Browse our Bridal Iconic Collection to find a style like Penny's dress and see many more options
Did you catch last week's friday bride, Erin?
Our cool bride walked down the aisle in an Iconic Collection dress