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Real Life Weddings at Pennyhill Park

How did you both meet and how did the proposal occur?

We worked together in 2014, Sarah in Operations and Chris in Sales. For those not familiar with these two parts of a business, they normally get on like cats and dogs. Chris welcomed being reminded by Sarah on a weekly basis how to do his job; that was something that he found hugely attractive.

After several months of Chris making excuses to set up working meetings, he built up the courage to ask Sarah out for a drink to which she replied, “I don’t date colleagues” Bearing in mind one of the things Chris found highly attractive about Sarah was her stubbornness, he responded to her statement informing her he had resigned from his position earlier that day. Before he had a chance to exhale Sarah jumped at the opportunity to get together. The rest is history really.

Fast forward almost 3 years on to 12th Jan 2019, Chris surprised Sarah with a proposal at Cliveden House in Taplow. It started to rain at exactly the time of his proposal so unfortunately he couldn’t make it down on one knee, but the ring and surprise day he had planned more than made up for it. After a romantic champagne and lobster lunch they spent the evening in Stoke Park celebrating their engagement. 

What did you love most about Pennyhill Park?

Despite it being on their now doorstep, Pennyhill Park is a special place for both of us. Chris surprised Sarah for her 40th with a spa weekend in 2017 and they have been regularly frequenting ever since. 

Choosing Pennyhill Park for the wedding seemed like the most obvious choice however the initial wedding idea was very low-key until we met the wonderful Maddy Ross, our Wedding Co-ordinator, who guided us on every twist and turn and to what would become our ultimate wedding celebration. Throughout the planning phase, we would often pop in to see Maddy and our 3 year old son loved tagging along to what he referred to as the “Castle”. We were always made to feel special before and during our wedding. The location is stunning but it was the entire team who looked after our party on those magical days is what made it for us. 

What we both love most about Pennyhill Park is that now it’s always going to remind us of our special moment, where we created our first memories of husband and wife. It’s our happy place. 

Did you have a theme or a particular style for your day?

So originally, the wedding was going to be in a registry office followed by a very small and intimate BBQ on the lily pond terrace for close family. We hadn’t even thought about a theme in those early months. What actually happened was very different and as the wedding planning grew it’s own arms and legs, so a theme emerged. 

We decided upon a 2 day wedding. A very small evening ceremony on the Pavilion on Friday evening followed by photos, drinks and intimate private dining. We chose as many guests to join us for dinner that could comfortably fit round one table. The Saturday was then dedicated to celebrating so the theme was more “wedding party”. We wanted to host our friends and family outdoors with daytime and evening entertainment and a relaxed BBQ meal which followed a drinks reception with canapés.

The theme was summery, the colour palette was peach, rose gold and ivory accents with sage and olive-greenery. The effect we were going for was relaxed, welcoming and romantic.

We defied tradition wherever we could, our strap line for the wedding was “WE DO it in our own way”

Although our flowers, decor and wedding attire was all on theme, we did not set a colour scheme for our immediate wedding party, there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen. We wanted people to feel comfortable and not have their outfits dictated. The outcome was perfect. Our guests still made an effort and ultimately they felt comfortable; judging by the photos everyone was happy. 

For us, it was all the little individual touches which came together that brought our wedding to life. The handmade bunting matching our florals which surrounded the lily pond terrace, the pop up crèche, allowing our parent friends to enjoy the day knowing their little ones were being cared for, the games room for the older kids, the extravagant ones are in balloon  the sweet bar for those with a sweet tooth and the two ugly selfie booths, a  Selfie Tuk in the day and a 360 selfie in the evening.

Lastly a party needs music so we arranged for a singer during the drinks reception to get everyone in the mood, followed by a 6 piece band and DJ who kept us all on our feet dancing the night away until it was time to say goodbye.

Tell us all about THE dress…..

Despite us being far from the sea, we were still aiming for a summer beach wedding look. 

We had two wedding dresses and a custom made suit. 

The Friday wedding dress for the ceremony was more traditional, JOELLE by Madi Lane. The Saturday wedding dress was very special and the first dress bought from the wonderful team at Boo Bridal in Hartley Witney. Named Paisley by Alan Hannah it was the perfect dress for the perfect non-traditional wedding. Elegant, sexy and unique would be how I describe it. 

The Grooms suit was custom made in a sand coloured, linen wool mix fabric from Guildford Tailoring. Both the Father of the Bride and our son had suits to match the Groom on the Friday. Everyone else had full discretion on their outfits and they did not disappoint. 

What do you remember most about the day itself?

Whilst the entire weekend was over too quickly in a flash what we remember most are a few special moments. 

The look on my mum and dads face when they saw me all dressed up and ready to walk down the aisle.

That I nearly forgot my bouquet when walking down the aisle.

The loving smiles on both our faces as we recited our personal vows to each other.

The private moments we shared on Saturday whilst escaping for some couple photos and then walking back up to the terrace to hear Matthew Allman singing his version of ‘As it Was’ by Harry Styles. Magic.

I remember how everything I’d planned so meticulously with Maddy our Wedding Coordinator in the weeks preceding the wedding just all happening so smoothly right in front of me so I could just enjoy the moment. The entire team were on point and I remember feeling delight by the way the day just went so perfectly with the timings. I remember when Maddy sadly had to say goodbye but not before she kindly got me my wedding flats! I’ll be forever grateful to her. 

Were there any special moments or surprises?

I think I’ve mentioned so much already but something I will mention. 

We promised each other no gifts since we’d already blown our wedding budget 6 times over.  My husband broke his promise and completely took me by surprise with a very special time piece which I wore on the day of my wedding and which became the talking point of the day. It was a very stunning and thoughtful something ‘blue’ for the something old, new, borrowed and blue tradition. I’m still slightly annoyed and embarrassed that he broke his promise and I gifted nothing in return. 

Aside from everything we’ve shared what made everything so unique is that we were fortunate enough to be able to split our wedding across two days. In doing so it allowed us to not only enjoy the event more but it also allowed us that special intimate time with our closest family and friends on Friday, followed by not feeling guilty when wanting to party with our friends and wider guests the next day. Walking down the steps to the lily pond terrace as husband and wife and seeing everyone cheering us on was such a great feeling, one we will never forget. 

What tips or advice would you give to future couples?

It’s simple. Do what you both want and don’t be led by what is “supposed” to happen. It’s your special day and it can be exactly how you both envisage that being. Your friends and family will love and appreciate whatever makes your day special. 

Choose your venue based not just on the location but also on who your wedding coordinator is and whether you trust that they can carry out your vision with you. It’s an intense relationship and such an important factor to being able to relax and enjoy the day.

As everyone says … after months of planning, the day (or days in our case) is over in a flash and all you are left with are the memories. Not true. If you have a great photographer and videographer, you will relive your special moments forever. I am so happy we decided to have both photos and video for both the days. It’s such a good investment. They captured so many memories in such a natural way that watching them brings you right back to the moment like it were yesterday, Lauren Squire, we have to give you a special thanks.  I read a lot of do’s and don’ts of weddings, many of which advised against a videographer saying it will never be watched. Whoever wrote that has not seen the work by Visions of Grace!