It was 6am. The birds were chirping happily outside the window and my lace, A-line gown was hanging in all its beauty in front of me. My alarm chimed but I was already awake, fidgeting with excitement and anticipation; our wedding day had finally arrived.
I awakened in The West House, the stunning medieval wing of Nether Winchendon House, where I’d spent the evening celebrating with my beautiful bridesmaids. Upon arrival the prior afternoon, we discovered we had been treated to complimentary delicious cupcakes and decadent chocolates to enjoy with a glass of bubbles, courtesy of the wonderful owner of Nether Winchendon House, Georgianna - what a delight!
Following a light breakfast and the arrival of our photographer and my parents in our lead wedding car - my classic Mini Mayfair, lovingly known as Pearl - it was time to ready ourselves for the church. We spent much of the morning enjoying having our hair and make-up done in the crenellated make-up room while sipping champagne, and I truly felt like a princess.
Following some fun in front of the camera, my mum and bridesmaids stepped into the second of our wedding cars, Primrose - the famous Rolls-Royce which starred in one of my all-time favourite television series as a little girl, The Darling Buds of May. They made their way to the church while my dad and I shared a precious few moments of father-daughter time together, before Primrose returned to collect us.
As we drove the distance of the daffodil-lined drive to depart from Nether Winchendon House, knowing I’d be returning later with my husband as newlyweds, I felt the same butterflies I had felt when James and I first met and I was eager to greet him at the altar.
Finally, we arrived at St. Mary the Virgin, Chilton. A place of great meaning to me and the church where my beloved grandparents are buried. Our wonderful reverend, Priscilla, welcomed us with a beaming smile and instantly made me feel at ease - for wedding day nerves do get one’s adrenaline pumping! The moment had arrived, the one I’d been dreaming of for weeks; it was time to walk down the aisle and take my wedding vows - my dad beside me, my best friends behind me, my soul mate in front of me. Was it everything I’d dream of? It was that and so much more.
Having been showered with confetti and compliments, James and I returned to Nether Winchendon House in style - seated in the back seat of Pearl, adorning ‘Just Married’ bunting (courtesy of loved ones) with my dad in the driver’s seat. It was the first moment James and I had shared alone together on our wedding day and it was incredibly romantic. We had permanent smiles for the entire journey back to Nether Winchendon House and as we entered the gates to the drive, the view of majestic, medieval architecture and happy guests lining the grass was spectacular.
Champagne and canapés were served on The Terrace by the amazing team at Lavender Dining upon our arrival, and James and I shared some quality time alone together while our photographers captured our first precious moments as a married couple.
We explored the Walled Garden and enjoyed the idyllic views of the River Thame and rolling countryside from the South Lawn, before making our way through the orchard to the 18th century Carriage Barn for our Wedding Breakfast. We were able to make The Carriage Barn truly feel like our own for the day and enjoyed our chosen vintage afternoon tea with a subtle Alice in Wonderland theme, served by Lavender Dining.
Floral centrepieces featuring vibrant purple Alliums and a significant model touring car adorned the tables, which were named after royal castles and palaces with meaning to us. Tiers of delicate sandwiches and scrumptious cakes were served, loose leaf tea was poured into quaint vintage teacups and the champagne flowed into crystal glasses. In this moment, surrounded by our dearest friends and family, James and I felt incredibly blessed - to celebrate our love for one another with those we care about the most, in the most stunning venue, was incredibly special.
With the touching and slightly embarrassing speeches complete, happy tears dried and the delicious three-tier wedding cake cut and devoured, it was time for our first dance. We swayed, giggled and whispered the next few minutes away to a favourite song of ours - Lavender, by Marillion, which James had always said reminded him of me. Friends and family joined us in this romantic moment until, and I’ll never forget the sight of us all running for the dance floor, we heard the first up-beat song of the evening and rushed into the DJ, of Apex Sounds, to perform a dance-off!
James and I, along with our guests, danced the night away! Lavender Dining were still on hand, serving delicious bacon rolls and burritos to help keep our energy levels in check and those who preferred a more relaxed setting were able to enjoy the bar at their leisure.
Our perfect day came to a perfect end with the announcement of our final dance, where James and I sang and danced to another favourite song of ours, Love Walked In by Thunder, as our parents, siblings and closest friends formed a circle around us.
We shared one last kiss on the dance floor and said farewell to our friends and family before making our way, hand-in-hand, to the beautiful Bridal Cottage next door where we spent our wedding night. It truly is the most tranquil, romantic cottage and the fridge had been kindly filled with breakfast treats for us to enjoy the next morning with a cup of something cosy.
We spent the next morning snuggled on the living room sofa, sipping tea, soaking in the sights and sounds of the grounds, and simply enjoying each other’s company, until it was time to depart for our honeymoon - our first adventure as The Charmans.
Nether Winchendon House was the perfect venue to host the wedding reception of our dreams and every year, on our anniversary, we look back on that day - our spring wedding in the country - with the fondest of memories.