Laura and Neil met through mutual friends and from the moment they started chatting it was clear they had a lot in common – it even turned out that they'd actually been living around the corner from each other for the past two-and-a-half years. Neil won Laura over with his cooking and prepared her a chicken pesto pasta dish on one of their first dates. "We don't know what would have happened if he hadn't made me that meal," Laura laughs.
The couple headed to New York to celebrate Laura’s 30th birthday and went to watch the sun rise over the Brooklyn Bridge on the first morning there. Laura remembers, “It seemed to take forever thanks to all of the high-rise buildings.” But when it eventually peaked out from behind the skyscrapers Neil got down on one knee and presented her with the engagement ring. “It was a huge surprise! We were expecting our first child that August and were about to move house, so I’d thought a wedding would have to wait,” Laura shares.
It was love at first sight when the pair visited Abbeywood Estate. “The gardens are breathtakingly beautiful – the perfect setting for a summer wedding,” Laura explains. The venue had to close during lockdown, but its gardens could remain open, and they made the most of them by going for walks with their new daughter. So, by the time the wedding date came round, they felt a real affinity with the place.
Here, bride Laura shares her memories of the big day...
Laura and Neil opted to style their day in a romantic and relaxed way, using a palette of dusky pink and grey, accented with eucalyptus and plenty of greenery. This was beautifully brought to life through the floral arrangements.
A flower arch adorned the church entrance, with two dramatic pedestals bearing blooms flanking the aisle. At the reception venue, grey chiffon runners were draped along the centre of the tables and glass candle sticks holding tall dusky rose candles sat on top, with eucalyptus and roses carefully wrapped around the bases.
The table plan was created in a white canvas with eucalyptus detailing around the edges and the place names were designed to match. As wedding favours, guests were gifted super-cute packets of seeds, which were labelled "let love grow."
Laura's mum made the big-day bake and decorated it in silver grey ribbon to complement the theme. "After months of tasting and practising, she definitely pulled it off," the bride tells us. It was completed with more beautiful blooms provided by their florist.
The venue took on a wonderfully romantic ambience in the evening as lanterns lit the pathway and little lights illuminated the bridge in the gardens. The staff also dressed the beams of the glasshouse in eucalyptus and drapes with more twinkling lights.
"Having our friends and family together for the first time in what felt like forever was the most special feeling."
Neil, his best men and the dads were all dressed in traditional black dinner suits complete with black bow ties. The style of the groom's waistcoat differed from the other gents to allow him to stand out as man-of-the-moment. He also wore a very dapper-looking custom-made white shirt with black buttons.
The bridesmaids wore silver grey Motee Maids dresses. The girls each chose the style of top they wanted to go with the coordinating tulle skirt. They were all delicately embellished with diamantés and pearls, mirroring the bride's accessories.
"No matter what wedding day you end up having, it'll still be the best day of your life."
Acoustic musician Daisy Kate played during the drinks reception, creating a beautifully relaxed atmosphere. "We'd hire her again in a heartbeat. Many of our guests commented on how good she was," Laura remembers. The garden games too were a huge hit, especially with the children. Owner of the Rustic Wedding Company Tina even came to set them up in the morning, and collected them the following day ensuring a stress-free experience.
The evening do centred around six-piece band, The Back Beats booked via Entertainment Nation. "They were amazing and so accommodating with requests," Laura says. Guests also loved the converted VW Campervan photo booth, which provided heaps of fun throughout the evening.
"It's so easy to get carried away with planning, so set realistic expectations, embrace the spreadsheet and keep in mind that the day is about becoming husband and wife. Everything else will fall into place."
Laura remembers the worry caused by the turbulence and uncertainty of the past year or so: "We were a bag of nerves for the announcement on 14th June, as we didn't know what it'd mean for our big day. We didn't even know how many guests we'd be having until five days beforehand!" But luckily that latest update in restrictions meant they could have their 70 guests by their sides as they celebrated. The excitement was tainted slightly though by the fact that Neil's family had to make the tough decision not to make the journey from Ireland, but plans are already underway to make up for it with another celebratory bash as soon as it's safe.
Bride's and bridesmaids' dresses
Hair and make-up
Jewellery, accessories and wedding rings
Venue and catering