Real Wedding

A Somerset Afternoon Tea Wedding With Country Vibe: Jessica & Pete

Jess & Pete turned the sit down traditional wedding on its head and opted to have an ‘afternoon tea’ wedding breakfast instead! They married at The Minster Church, Ilminster with their reception afterwards at the beautiful Dillington House in Somerset.

Jess opted for her favourite colour purple as an accent colour for the flowers and a few details and kept the rest of the styling very country cottage which suited the afternoon tea vibe perfectly.

Words by Jess. Images by Freckle Photography.

I had only looked in two wedding dress shops before going to Wedded Bliss where my main aim was for my Grandma to see me in a wedding dress, as she is now quite frail and I knew she would be unlikely to be able to travel to Somerset to see me on my wedding day. So my Mum and I brought Grandma to Wedded Bliss, which is in my home village of Dibden Purlieu.

As it happened, after trying on a couple of dresses, I then found “the one” – it had a gorgeous delicate lace detailing across the shoulders and bodice and I really liked the fishtail silhouette with further lace at the bottom. It had buttons all the way down the back and I really loved the scoop illusion back.

With three generations’ approval I knew I was onto a winner! However I did then have a bit of a panic, which I think a lot of brides have, closer to the wedding that I had made a huge mistake and that the material would crease etc and that I should have gone for something less fitted around the bottom! In the end I needn’t have worried as it was so nice to wear and I received so many lovely compliments about it.

I had six of my closest friends as my bridesmaids and my oldest friend Rae, who I have known since secondary school, as my maid of honour. Many people were highly amused at the number of bridesmaids I had and it became a bit of a running joke but I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

I wanted my bridesmaids to have floral garlands in their hair and Eden didn’t disappoint – they looked beautiful – as one of my guests said they all looked “like something out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!”

I received so many compliments about my Lily Hairvine, which Rachel from Steven and Laurent Hairdressers suggested having across my forehead like my bridesmaids’ garlands the morning of the wedding. I was initially a little hesitant, but I’m so glad I went with it!

I actually stumbled across Hermione Harbutt’s shop in Clifton, Bristol quite by serendipity as I was actually there looking for a dress to wear to my Gatsby themed hen weekend when I saw her shop! It was full of the most beautiful creations but having not really budgeted for any hair accessories I settled on the lovely Lily Hairvine and pins which Hermione made up for me in no time at all considering I placed my order in June for a July wedding.

I gave Pete his cufflinks as a gift for him to open the morning of the wedding. Sourced and engraved through Mr Roy Macdonald who was recommended to me by one of my bridesmaids whose family live in Edinburgh.

I’m not one of these girls who had always dreamed about their wedding dress but the one thing I did know was that I wanted a veil and I wanted it to be full length, after all, you only get to wear a veil once! It had a small amount of lace detailing to it with tied it into the dress well and I loved it so much I didn’t take it off until just before the first dance!

Emma was absolutely wonderful to work with; from our sunny save the date shoot in Cornwall (

to the wedding day itself (when Nina was our second shooter), and all the correspondence since, she has been so friendly and passionate about her work. Her photos are stunning and captured the day perfectly. We loved our wedding albums too and lots of our friends and family have commented on them. A couple of our recently engaged friends were so impressed that they have asked Emma to shoot their wedding in September!

Purple has always been my favourite colour since I was small so I really wanted that to be the main colour of the flowers however I didn’t want them to be a Cadbury’s purple but more muted tones with a country cottage garden feel. I looked up a few ideas on Pinterest and brought them to the meeting with Jane at Eden.

When Jane delivered the bouquets and hair garlands on the morning of the wedding I was blown away – they were everything I had asked for and more. I didn’t see the rest of the flowers at the venue until the Afternoon Tea but again they looked fantastic, as did the big displays in the two milk churns and the displays on the tables in the jam jars.

We sourced crates, vases & picture frames (to use as chalkboard signs) from the local tip and recycling centre’s Re-Use shop. We also found an old typewriter which we used to display the menu. The large gilt mirror we used as the table plan was also sourced from the Re-Use shop!

We collected multiple jam jars over our 21month engagement (and Pete ate a lot of jam!) which my Mum and one of her friends then helped decorate with lace and ribbon – these then had flowers in on each table.

The wine boxes were given to us when we purchased the Crémant in France from Veuve Ambal and they made excellent boxes for storing guest’s cards.

Pete made a giant tumbling tower (aka “jenga”) himself from wood from Travis Perkins.

We handmade the paper bunting, which adorned the Theatre in the Mews building, with brown string, napkins and a glue gun! We also made the name places by hand and pegged them to each teacup with mini heart pegs.

We chose our cake to reflect the pretty vintage feel of the wedding. Simple ivory icing was embellished with edible lace detailing and the colour came from the arrangement of fresh flowers in-between the tiers. The bottom tier was fruit cake with the top two being sponge and it was delicious.

What was your most memorable moment of the day / evening?

I think it is impossible to pick one most memorable moment – there were so many!

The car journey to the Minster with my Dad after phoning my Grandma to let her know we were setting off was a special moment, as was listening to the choir sing Beati Quorum Via – it is one of my favourite choral pieces and it was sung so beautifully by our friends that it made me cry!

Running the confetti gauntlet was lots of fun and the speeches which were side-splittingly hilarious and Pete’s speech made me cry again.

If you could impart any words of wisdom to future brides planning their wedding day, what would they be?

Enjoy the planning but remember it is just one day in your whole life and if anything doesn’t go exactly to plan it really doesn’t matter – everyone is there to have fun and to see you having fun! My other advice is something that a friend told me before the wedding: that it will go by so quickly, so to make sure that at least one point during the day you stop, and look around the room at everyone you know and love, and just try and take it all in and appreciate it.

Lastly our friend Chris who read for us, said that each of us should write a diary of how we remember the wedding day, whilst on our honeymoon when everything is fresh, and then to compare memories. It was really interesting to see the different things we each recalled!

Pete and I initially wanted a laid back, middle-of-a-field-plus-a-marquee-wedding. Then our worry about the English weather and our number of guests kicked in and we decided that somewhere with a solid roof would be more sensible!

We wanted it still to be a relaxed atmosphere so opted for an Afternoon tea and then hog roast later, instead of a full sit down dinner. I have a sweet tooth so Afternoon tea suited me to the ground, plus having candyfloss instead of canapés! Then everything really stemmed from that – the vintage feel and cottage-like flowers.

We were so lucky to have found Dillington and Kirsty. It was such a stunning venue with its gardens and grounds (and sheep!) and the staff there were lovely.

wedding credits / photographer: freckle photography / wedding venue: / brides dress: justin alexander from wedded bliss, evening dress from reiss  / brides veil: wedded bliss / brides headpiece: hermione harbutt / grooms suit: fox flannel & m&s / brides shoes: rachel simpson / grooms shoes: / bridesmaid dresses: john lewis / bridesmaid shoes: their own / hair: steven and laurent  / makeup: claire bowring / florist: eden weddings / wedding cake: lets-celebrate. chesses cake by the cheese shed

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