Kirsty & Tom
Aynhoe Park, Oxfordshire
When Kirsty got in touch with us they hadn’t yet chosen their venue. Although living in Manchester they knew they wanted to get married somewhere other than the North West of England. In Kirsty’s words, her friends had already got married at all the nice places. So the shortlist ended up being between Gleneagles, where they got engaged or Aynhoe Park.
After listening to their ideas, it was clear to us they should choose Aynhoe Park. They could hire the whole place exclusively for the weekend, giving them free reign to do whatever they wanted and put their own stamp on things.
And so the planning began, this was no ordinary wedding, they definitely wanted extraordinary! As they knew it was a lot to ask guests to travel down to Oxfordshire, they wanted to ensure that when they got there absolutely everything was taken care of. This included providing all the accommodation and transport they would need for the weekend of celebrations. As well as little details like a welcome letter complete with the weekend’s itinerary, a hangover kit and for the guests staying in self catering cottages luxury hampers were awaiting their arrival.
Guests staying at Aynhoe itself were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea on arrival before we headed to church for the all important rehearsal.
They decided they would like to welcome everyone on the Friday with a relaxed pre-wedding get together. This would be the guests’ first chance to see this stunning, eclectic country home, which is full of beautiful taxidermy and artefacts the owner has collected over many years.
After our first visit to the venue, when we totally fell in love with it, we thought a ‘Gatsby’ themed evening would work perfectly in the opulent setting.
Guests arrived to an avenue of fairy lit topiary trees and the entrance strewn either side with candle lit lanterns. As they entered the magnificent hallway the fire roared and the butlers handed out champagne saucers from the ever-present silver trays. The sounds of the 1920’s jazz band seeped from the Salon throughout the house.
A vintage photo booth, complete with fun dressing up props and art deco prints amused some guests whilst others headed straight for the library to try their luck at the casino tables, well it was only personalised money after all!
Guests had great fun as they played and explored this intriguing house. We ensured there was plenty of food, with the curry station in particular going down a storm.
Then for the last hour, after a late request from Tom, we introduced the surprise for the evening; a silent disco complete with DJ. Guests absolutely loved it! It was the perfect end to a fun filled evening. We sent them all home happy and looking forward to what was to come the following day.
Overnight a transformation took place, as our florists arrived and set to work, ready to do their magic. We brought them down from Manchester as we knew they would be perfect for this venue. So when guests woke up the Entrance Hall and staircase had been transformed, the photographs speak for themselves!
Tom loved the idea of having all the guys (and some of the girls) taking part in a clay pigeon shoot after breakfast. The south facing terrace was the perfect setting and it certainly kept them busy and settled the nerves.
Our hair and makeup artists arrived with their bag of tricks to help Kirsty look and feel her best, they were staying all day to ensure she was always picture perfect.
Breakfast complete and the room turnaround began with tables being laid with the special glassware, linen and crockery that had been brought in just for this wedding. The spectacular floral arrangements, bespoke stationery and tiny taxidermy added the finishing touches to create a truly remarkable tablespace. We had a production team on hand to install lighting, TV screens and a PA system and that was just for the wedding breakfast.
The stunningly simple and elegant cake was adorned with flowers was set up next to the floral clad lion cub, of course!
With the religious ceremony taking place at the Church next door, all guests could meander slowly across and be met by a gospel choir in full swing. We even managed to persuade them to sing Blue Moon for Tom, a big Manchester City fan! So much so their badge was sewn into the lining of his bespoke tailor- made suit!
Meanwhile a truly royal (it featured on the Crown) blue Rolls Royce had arrived at Aynhoe ready to transport the bridal party to church.
Now they do say never work with children or animals. Thankfully the only animals we had to contend with were stuffed but the kids on the other hand … 15 minutes later than scheduled Lydia, the bride and groom’s 3 year old daughter took centre stage as she walked down the aisle alone carrying a message for daddy. Paving the way for the long-awaited arrival of her absolutely stunning mummy.
When guests returned to Aynhoe, the butlers were waiting with the champagne and the strings were playing in the Orangery, a room which we kept secret until the wedding day. They enjoyed sumptuous canapés and had chance to take in the fabulous 3D table plan (a particular favourite of ours as we had the miniature taxidermy made in the States).
Kirsty and Tom had seen a magician perform in Manchester and we had asked him to come and entertain their guests throughout the day and evening and wow was he good!
As guests made their way through to take their seats for the wedding breakfast, the TV screens came to life in time for the Father of the Bride’s speech. After guests had been told the rules for speech sweepstake Tom was able to share some exciting news with the guests. He and Kirsty were expecting a sibling for Lydia, which obviously brought the house down. The best men did very well to follow this bit of news and their speech was touching and heartfelt, as well as very funny.
During dinner we were busy transforming the Orangery into a perfect party venue complete with stage, podiums, dance floor, lighting, band and DJ.
The mixologists were in their element preparing the after dinner cocktails whilst the saxophonist set up in the bar ready to play some Ibiza classics before the big reveal. The makeup team set up a glitter booth in the entrance hall, ready to transform the guests for the evening party.
Once speeches were complete we had the traditional cake cut, before Kirsty was whisked away for a change of look before the first dance. The cocktails flowed…a lot! And guests enjoyed the Ibiza lounge feel created by the saxophonist.
Once Kirsty was ready, we took her and Tom into the Orangery were they had a private magic show just to completely blow their minds before the first dance! Then we opened the Orangery doors and invited guests in to watch them undertake their first dance as husband and wife. There wasn’t a dry eye when Lydia joined them, and it became a family first dance.
The DJ, Sax and percussionist soon got the party underway and the dance floor was jumping. Drinks flowed and more food was served, we definitely didn’t let these guests go hungry. The band made an extraordinary entrance on to the stage ready to entertain in a big way.
For most weddings that would have been the perfect end to an amazing day, but we still had another surprise up our sleeves. As the band finished and the bar closed those guests still standing were invited downstairs to Aynhoe’s very own basement nightclub to party in to the wee small hours.
When asked about our highlights from this wedding we found there were too many to mention. So we will just say a spectacular venue, a really lovely couple and loads of fabulous details, it was an absolute joy to work on and a wedding we will never forget.
Venue: Aynhoe Park
It’s taken me a month to get around to writing this review , as it is difficult to put into words just how much Andrea helped in making our wedding weekend such a happy and memorable time.
Andrea is the single most organised person I have ever met - which when you are pretty laid back with a clueless fiancé trying to organise a wedding - is an absolute God send!
The contacts the team have are second to none and without doubt made the planning and choosing process so much easier. Nothing was too hard work or too strange a request- even when we decided quite late on that we wanted a silent disco - Andrea went away and came up with the goods... just like on so many other occasions!!
The lists and gentle reminders meant that every detail was thought of, the suggestions and advice throughout it all, the reassurance .. the list goes on!
I think as the wedding got closer Tom and I both truly realised just how much Andrea does - she took the stress and drama out of all the details which allowed us to get excited about the weekend.
It was noted a few times that I seemed like a very chilled bride - I can assure you all that is down to having a fabulous wedding planner!!
We both know that without the help of Andrea the wedding would not have been anywhere near as fantastic as it turned out to be. It really was the best day of our lives and we have Andrea especially to thank for that.
Without doubt the best money spent on our wedding!!
Thank you x
Tom and Kirsty