Becky & Alex’s Wedding Story 4th Oct 2015
It’s a popular misconception that brides and grooms have everything figured out regarding wedding planning, when they arrive at the venue on their big day. Often there are still details to be figured out and elements that even with the months of preparation no time has been allocated to. While this can be a scary thought, with so many other things to think about on one of the important days of your lives you need to depend on the people you have around you and the skills of the team you have chosen to manage your day.
Luckily for Becky and I we had picked Woodhall Manor for our venue. Walking up the drive on our first visit we were sure this was the right place as we loved the period manor house set in the beautiful Sufolk countryside – manicured lawns but with modern and spacious entertainment and dining areas set off the ‘walled garden’. The mix of new and old allowed us the grand feeling of the country house but with the security of having enough space to have plenty of guests and not be shuffled out of one room while it was repurposed for the next stage of the day. The team all had lots of experience catering for all kinds of weddings and we had total confidence in both the venue and the unseen facilitators who would be working hard behind the scenes on the day to ensure everything when to plan.
Although planned for October we had specified that we wanted to have our ceremony outside. As you can image the chance of this was slim however we kept a positive attitude and there was plenty of watching the sky on the lead up to the date. On the morning of the wedding myself and the ushers arrived early (not as early as the girls who we could only assume were well into hair and makeup etc) the day was cold and cloudy, and our chance of an outside wedding was holding on by its fingertips. As the ushers and myself darted around the beautiful manor house inspecting all the bedrooms (decked out with ornate bathrooms and 4 poster beds and making sure all was ready for the guests to arrive) Becky and the girls were in the special ‘bridal wing’ prepping dresses. Our photographer Luis Holden was like a strike ninja gliding around the venue and snapping perfectly timed shots of hair being done, cufflinks snapping open and buttons being done up as well as capturing people as they arrived.
All the lads were ready as the guests started to arrive with the expressions we shared when Becky & I first set eyes on the venue. “Where did you find this place” seemed to start most conversations and I was excited to show people around and to their rooms. By this time I had totally missed the sun break through the clouds and instead was stood in the drive with family bathed in sunshine. The lounge bar had been open for a while and people were gathered around ordering from the large range of beers and wines etc however I was happy clutching my pint of water. Brioni (our wedding event organiser) would whip past me every few minutes and at every opportunity I would say “ceremony outside, yeah?!” I knew it was down to the registrars for the final ok but after an unsure morning, believe it or not we would be graced by essentially a summers day and I could not believe my luck! 10 minutes later when the registrars arrived they confirmed that we could get married on the lawn and I knew it would make my brides day.
The ceremony was amazing. As I said earlier you assume brides and grooms have everything figured out but I was totally unprepared for when Becky walked towards me in her dress looking so beautiful. Woodhall has a ‘dove cot’ only just big enough to have a wedding licence but we were so glad it did, and as we stood there together repeating the lines from the registrar I couldn’t have been happier with anything about the day. The venue perfectly framed the fantastic ceremony with our guests drenched in sun shine sat on golden chairs on the manicured lawn.
After the ceremony we walked to the backside of the house where we had photographs. We were met here by the Woodhall staff with trays of beer, champagne, orange juice, and canapés. Months before when we visited the venue for one of our pre wedding meetings we had said that we might not want starters for the main meal and instead offer chunky canapés meaning that guests didn’t get hungry while waiting on photographs. This idea proved to be very popular and recommendation to any bride and groom in the planning stage of their big day.
Guest’s happily chowed down on the mini fish and chips, local sourced mini sausages and satay chicken enjoying a beer on the lawn only occasionally having to find another person with a free hand to hold their drink when they were requested for a photo. The grounds of Woodhall provided a perfect backdrop for our wedding pictures and in such a fantastic location you won’t be surprised to hear that all our photos were amazing. The colours in October, still green with highlights of gold and brown had our photographer Luis giddy with excitement and kept him snapping all day.
After the photos it was ready for the meal. The dining room is part of the new space off the ‘walled garden’ and as you would expect was beautifully laid out. Although I had been aware of how things would look through the planning stages I was super impressed with only the fear of my speech dampening my usually over excited personality. Becky had been in the dining room before us lads had even arrived decoration the table centres and the cake, but this was the first time I had seen it. On closer inspection of the cake we saw the knife that we would use to cut it. We had been told we could use one supplied by Woodhall however we were totally surprised that Woodhall were not only letting us borrow a knife but they had engraved one specially for us and as a little gift from them. Another example of the great service and little touches that sets Woodhall apart, not only as a venue but as an element of the big day that enhances they whole experience.
The food was amazing! We had chosen to have roast pork and it was delicious. The lack of a starter also meant that the pace of dinner was a lot greater but no one was left hungry due to all the canapés. Woodhall also dealt seamlessly with dietary requirements of some of our guests. We had a few gluten free, some vegetarians and a diabetic but at no point though the planning process or on the day was this an issue. The quality of the food was top notch for everyone and the dessert was amazing. We couldn’t decide which to go but this wasn’t a problem as we were able to choose a trio which meant there was something for everyone.
After all this food it was now time for the speeches which I’m happy to say went smoothly. To be fair I had the easiest job however it’s still a tough gig, my advice, practice.
Once dinner and speeches were over the time had flown by and evening guests had started to arrive. The doors to the entertainment space were open and so was the bar! The entertainment space at Woodhall is not what you might expect at a country house venue, its modern, sleek, spacious and a great space for a party. Fairly lights drape the ceiling above the dance floor and our band ‘Fun House’ had set up on the stage area. Big tables were also set up in the space meaning guest still full of food could sit and chat while their dinner went down and they started throwing shapes on the dance floor.
The cake was cut and the band played our first song which we picked a few weeks before which they did specially for us. The rest of the evening was a blur! Not because of too much beer but because things go so quickly! Becky and I had the most amazing time dancing, singing and being with friends. Our photographer Luis was grooving late into the night capturing some of the most amazing shots I have ever seen immortalising our special day in colour and beauty.
By 11.30 / 12 things were winding down and Becky and I made our exit to the honeymoon suite. This room was amazing and another example of why Woodhall is really special. From the four poster bed to the wet room shower to the massive Jacuzzi bath (which the lovely staff had already run for us when we arrived in the room).
The next morning it was fair to say there were some sore heads but some very happy people. We sat in one of Woodhall’s many lounges reminiscing over the previous day and saying how lucky we were with the weather as a few spots of rain started to fall outside. Everyone enjoyed their day and mentioned how nice their rooms were just as we were called in for breakfast. An array of cereal, fruit, yogurts and warm croissant lay on the table and were soon devoured by a lot of the guests who must have thought we were having a continental breakfast. Minutes later the full English came out which was amazing and we were all stuffed minutes later!
The only thing left to do by then was load up the cars and for people to make their way home. Becky and I had an amazing time at our wedding and at Woodhall Manor, their operation was slick and they did everything they could to make our day special. Tucked away in the heart of the Suffolk countryside Woodhall is a fantastic place that will always be a part of the amazing memories of our wedding.
It’s a popular misconception that brides and grooms have everything figured out regarding wedding planning when they arrive at the venue on their big day, we sure didn’t but the team at Woodhall worked super hard and we had the best day of our lives!
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