Steam Fair Wedding

This wedding started a week before when the groom and his cousin turned up on a steam roller to flatten the ground in the field for the marquee.  Not an ordinary steam roller but one driven by steam.  A hint of things to come.

The marquee was provided once again by Truro Marquees - / 07971 445465 / 01872 555855 / – John the proprietor knew exactly how he wanted things to be and sent the van back to Cornwall as they had brought the wrong dance floor.  Well worth the effort as the chequered floor looked wonderful.

Friday brought family and friends to decorate.  Slices of wood, cut by the groom, were placed in the centre of each table on top of hessian cloths and onto these went brightly coloured flowers bought from the local supermarkets which were arranged in decorated jam jars.  The tables were scattered with faux rose petals.

The top table had a hessian runner down the centre and paper bunting hanging in front.  Candles in silver candlesticks were arranged amongst swags of ivy, wild hops and white roses.

The children had a table to themselves with thoughtful gifts in each place to keep them amused.

A Sweet trolley laden with goodies was placed next to the table set out ready for good wishes and presents.   A huge amount of work and planning had gone into every detail of the decorations, right down to the table napkins on the buffet table.

In the porch accessories were laid out ready for the photobooth, and a board welcoming guests to the wedding was set up in one corner.  Inside another board told guests where they would be sitting.  Each table was named after a different traction engine with the top table named after the family engine.  The boards were all beautifully scripted and illustrated by the bride.

Outside the tent the bride and her helpers had been busy creating the most amazing floral arch which was place over the entrance to the marquee and on either side strings of light up icicles were hung ready for the evening.

Two shepherd’s huts arrived one for the couple to spend their wedding night in and another for two of their guests.  Caravans took their place further over in the field.  With some guests spending Friday night on site.

A signpost went up in the entrance from the car park – a perfect replica of our local ones - made by the groom to show guests where to find everything and solar lights were dotted around to guide them in the dark.

The party worked late to make sure everything was perfect.

The wedding day arrived and the field became a hive of activity.  Traction engines began to arrive, filling up with water from a hose we had rigged to reach into the field.  Steam filled the air, brass was shone until it gleamed.  One engine had come over from New Zealand for the Steam Fair and stayed on and was brought over by our mower engineer.

The groom plays in a band - Pinkman - and he helped his crew set up for the evening.  Pinkman / / mobile: 07891473518


The caterer put her gazebo next to her van ready to serve the evening food - Debbie Cole with Billie’s Country Kitchen / The couple had asked for burgers to fit the Steam Fair atmosphere but Debbie can provide catering of all sorts from fish and chips to fine dining and gave the couple a wonderful display of salad as a wedding present - see the evening photographs.

 A small lorry arrived laden with drink, and a bar was quickly set up in the marquee, where the smart silver units filled the space beside the dance floor.  They soon had some of the Traction Engine drivers buying beer before going off to change into their wedding clothes.  (5 Star Bars Southwest - Hannah 07976 284538 / – they also provide a full catering service) .


For drinks the next evening, the couple had designed a ticket to enable guests to collect a free drink. The groom works on the railways and the tickets were very cleverly made to look like a railway ticket


The wedding cake arrived in the porch, a glorious tower of iced sponges, made by a family friend.  This was place on the table waiting for it in the corner of the marquee.

The Old Ox Inn from the village were providing the buffet lunch and they arrived to lay it out on the waiting tables, whose white table cloths were sprinkled with rose petals and dotted with small flower arrangements.  A cooked salmon, beautifully presented, was placed in centre position and was deemed later to have been delicious! /01258 860 055 /

Picture Blast arrived with the photobooth which came with its own printer so that guests could take home copies of their pictures.  They also provided an enormous light up “Mr and Mrs” which stretched the whole length of the stage. (photo booth hire 0800 193 3333/ )

Last but not least, a “Striker” was delivered by ES Promotions - Nina 01536 310 520 – which completed the fairground scene. Nina 01536 310 520 and which was a great success with the guests later that evening.

Quietness settled for a while as everyone left for the wedding which was taking place in the village church.

Soon, however, the rumble of metal tires could be heard on the drive and service finished they arrived back at the house on a trailer drawn by yet another engine. The bride looked so beautiful in a stunning lace dress which laced up the back. There had been a thought that they would drive the engine themselves but she quite rightly felt that her wonderful dress might be ruined. 

She and her bridesmaids, who were elegantly dressed in black, carried brightly coloured bouquets made by our talented village florist, Emma from Martha and the Meadow.

Guests milled about, gathering round the huge wooden spool that had been placed in front of the marquee as a table.  The bar was busy and with guests chatting and happy, the couple went off for photographs on the lawns of the house and the railway station. This has been painstakingly restored.  Belinda McCarthy, a village friend, took all the photographs on this blog except those with a dot in the corner which are in house.

This finished, everyone went into the tent for the Wedding Breakfast, speeches and the cutting of the cake. The children finished first and came out to play where the photographer tried to take photographs of them – the boys were quick to escape.

With dusk, the Fair atmosphere really started and the bride and groom came out to have more photographs taken. Guest mingled amongst the engines.

Darkness truly fell and the fairy lights we had strung along the fence came on, the Showman’s Engine was lit from end to end and the lights round the marquee shone.  The effect was really magical.

Great music flooded out from the tent as a duo of ladies in Rockabilly dresses sang and the Bride and Groom took to the floor for their first dance - Scarlet Swing / /

Mobile: 07964764455

Guests drifted over to Debbie’s van, Billy’s country kitchen, to collect their evening meal.

The photo-booth was a huge success and we went down to have our pictures taken too.  Soon the dance floor filled as the Groom’s own band began to play with both the Bride and Groom taking their place on the stage, and the party really began, only briefly stopping at the midnight curfew when the music ceased.  The festivities continued quietly until the early hours with many a sore head appearing from the caravans the next morning.

Everyone joined in to clear the site and the last engines disappeared in the afternoon.  The end to a fantastically atmospheric weekend.

Tipis come to Shillingstone

Tipis had been ordered for this wedding.  They were huge!  The Oakleaf Marquee team who put them up were incredible, even moving them a little to make sure that they were in the perfect place.


Friday brought a great crowd of helpers and family to put the decorations in place.  They had been made by the bride to fit the Native American theme and to celebrate her surname.  They looked stunning.

Tables were laid and flowers put in place in jam-jars on each one. Some of the flowers were provided by Emma Vowles from Winterbourne Stickland, Dorset, who also created the bouquets, head-dresses and buttonholes. Friends supplied the rest of the flowers and most of the bracken from their blueberry farm just outside Wimborne -

A bar had been put in place by Oakleaf Marquees and this was stocked with wine that the couple had brought back from France as well as spirits and bottled beer.  Wheel barrows were put ready for ice the following day to keep the drinks cool.  They had also ordered beer on tap from Drop the Anker Brewery, specialists in Bespoke ales. The bar was manned by friends. 

In the field was a horsebox bar – – which had arrived on Friday night.  The was used to serve fizz after the ceremony.  The girl who arranged this was a friend of the bride and came from Kent but seemed very happy to return to Dorset for other events.

The open entrance to the tipis held the table plan, the timings for the day and a box for cards and good wishes. So much pre-planning and making had taken place.

The back of the gazebo was festooned with a beautiful macramé hanging made by the bride.  Lanterns and candles were added to the in-house pots of white cosmos. The benches from the Tipis were set out ready for the ceremony next day.  The bride’s father had grown pots of bracken to place down the aisle.  He had also brought pots of shasta daisies which were scattered about by the entrance to the tipis.

Haybales were once again delivered from Vines Close Farm and these were arranged on the lawns and around the fire pit for extra seating.  We had put a shade sale up over one of the benches and the family had placed a garden gazebo over a “haybale sofa” on the lower lawn. They had made tables from pallets for drinks and candles.

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Campers who had stayed Friday night, either in their own tents or in one put up by New Forest Bell Tents - – came over to the tipis on Saturday morning to put the last decorations in place.  (see later photographs for one of the bell tent city)

The bride arrived with her father but no bridesmaids! They had left the house they had rented in Winterborne Houghton earlier than the bride.  The bride went into the house to see the registrars and the bridesmaids did arrive in time having taken a roundabout route. The bride looked stunning in a lace trimmed dress with flowing sleeves. On her hair she wore a wonderful coronet of bracken and flowers.

The bridal party left by the dining room doors and crossed the lawns to the gazebo.  Eight adult bridesmaids in pale grey dresses with sequinned tops, two small girls in white and the couple’s older son in grey trousers led the procession.

The piano player who had set up beside the gazebo started to play, the ceremony began, just a little later than planned. - /Chloe Inskip - 07711 312253

And a truly beautiful, relaxed, family orientated ceremony it was.

Ceremony finished, the guests collected their glasses of fizz from the horsebox bar in the field and then explored the grounds or chatted with friends before gathering on the field for the first of the group photographs. Dan Watkiss took all the amazing photographs not marked with a dot which are in house.  His ones of the children and the totally natural close up photographs of the guests were truly fantastic but sadly not ones we can use on the website.

Just as he finished taking the group photograph and was beginning to put away the camera he had to start clicking away again as the best man got down on one knee and proposed to his partner!

The sun was incredibly hot and many people took refuge under the catalpa tree where we had also place a pram for a tiny guest.

The caterers, Nothing Pretentious, had set up their barbeque and salad tables earlier and they began serving delicious burgers – either meat or veggie – which guests collected from the chefs so that their burger was cooked as they wanted, before going on to choose salads etc.  I had a veggie burger which was made from sweet potato and was delicious -
Later they set out a table laden with cheese and fruits of every sort and three layers of cake cooked by a friend. Laura had added her own home cooked chutneys, oils and pickles to the feast.

As the sun got lower in the sky and the light became better for photographs, Dan took a whole group photograph from an upstairs window. Just as he finished taking the photograph and was beginning to put away the camera he had to start clicking away again as the best man got down on one knee and proposed to his partner!

He then took the bride and groom off into the fields and gardens to take some beautiful informal photographs.

6pm brought speeches and then the band started up, two musicians and one singer and the party commenced!  They had come down from Manchester and played some wonderful music. They came through Encore Musicians - The Bass Player was called Bo Lee -

Oakleaf Marquees had provided speakers and a friend set up a disco which started to play at 9.30 and continued until the witching hour of Midnight when music has to stop.  The couple had arranged for a silent disco from for their friends so that they could continue to dance into the small hours.  I gather it was a huge success and amazing to watch! /

The tipis really came into their own at night when they glowed and the lights strung across their rooves lit up

We had moved the firepit to the field by the house as the grass was still green enough to be safe and some of the party stayed up, very quietly, until 5am!

The couple spent the night in our bell tent in the walled garden and only appeared very sleepily at about 11am.  Bacon then began to be cooked for brunch which smelt delicious.  The party continued with watching first the tennis and then the football on a large screen and many friends taking advantage of the amazing weather relaxing on the lawns.  Clear up was a bit of scrabble to get done at the end of the day!

It had been an amazing weekend.  The tipis, the weather, the number of guests camping and relaxing in the grounds gave the celebrations a wonderful festival feel.

Garden filled with small children!

Preparations began on Thursday with Marquee Elegance putting up the marquee, working late to get it finished as the weather was dreadful.  They kindly put down a wooden floor as the grass was so wet - a very welcome change from the drought.  Marquee Elegance have their offices in Shillingstone so it was great to have them here. ( )

In the evening the brides came to check everything was correct and to get a final feel of the gardens before decorating the next day.

This was very much a family and friend’s wedding and many arrived on Friday to help set up.  The brides had tried to get all the suppliers locally and to have a relaxed, festival feel to their celebrations as you can see from the table decorations!  They left the inside of the marquee plain, instead hanging coloured lanterns from the roof and putting multi-coloured bunting round the sides, inside and out.

Great trouble had been taken with the layout and decoration of the garden as well.  Haybales arrived from Dorset Farm Party and were laid out in conversation groups on both lawns and decorated jam jars, containing battery operated tea lights were scattered around, ready to be lit on Saturday night.  The brides had a definite vision of what they wanted everything to look like.  

( )

Both Southern Bars - - and Andrew from Meeks Catering - - came on Friday, to set up ready for the next day.  Southern Bars had chosen to bring their rustic wooden bar to fit in with the relaxed theme.

More action was taking place in the old playground where Honeybells, from Blandford, were putting up bell tents for the campers the following night - - these were later joined by a few private tents.

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Saturday dawned and a couple of the Brides' friends arrived to set out the chairs in front of the gazebo.  Each seat had a tube of bubbles on it to blow at the end of the celebration.  A Scottish mist came in and discussion took place as to whether to turn over the padded seats to keep them dry but luckily it blew over and it was overcast but fine and warm for the rest of the day.

Ropes of pears and white paper bunting had been strung over the gazebo and more little jam jars placed outside.

A family friend, Sweet Pea Florists, from Blandford, came with a wonderful array of pink and cream flowers to arrange in the antique bottles placed on each table.  She also left a box of buttonholes in the same colours. The bottles had been collected over the previous year and looked perfect. ( / 07526732855) Tables were marked with old singles and Newspaper hearts were scattered over the cloths.

The most beautiful wedding cake was assembled in the marquee, made by a cousin of one of the brides.  It looked amazing and was decorated with fresh berries and sugar flowers that she had handmade herself.

At about 1.45 a VW van arrived containing five adult bridesmaids looking so elegant in oyster pink dresses, three lovely flower girls in oyster pink lace dresses with their hair beautifully braided and three pages, the latter in grey shorts with braces over white shirts and bow ties. With the bridal VW van going back to collect one bride, we rushed the other one in to see the registrars.  Paperwork safely out of the way, she returned to garden so that she would not see the other bride arrived.  Both brides were being given away by their fathers making it much more difficult to keep them apart! 

The VW returned carrying the second bride in a full wedding dress - she looked absolutely stunning.

Photographs were taken and then she went into the dining room to do her paperwork. 

Safely out of the way, number one had photographs taken on the front door steps, looking very smart in grey trousers, waistcoat and a pink flowery tie.  As the music began to play she walked with her father and her attendants to the gazebo. 

Bride number two then followed with her entourage - the dress had successfully remained a secret - and the ceremony began.

Ceremony over, more formal and informal photographs were taken on the lawn, and a group one from an upstairs window of the house.  All the fantastic photographs of the brides and their guests were taken by Rachel Brewer, a family friend. Those marked with a dot are in house.

The lawns seemed to erupt with small children!  The Brides had supplied huge amounts of lawn games and the children played with these or just rushed around exploring the gardens.  It was not long before they discovered the tractor and many a parent was dragged off to keep and eye on them. Later in the evening they discovered the props for the photo-booth and appeared in a tiara or fought with huge inflatable hammers.

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The brides made a formal entry into the Marquee where Andrew Meeks and his team from Gillingham had laid out a barbeque feast - one guest said the Caesar Salad was just amazing.  It smelt wonderful, though the smoke from the barbeque threatened at one point to envelope the gazebo during the wedding.  Luckily the wind changed. They also took all these wonderful pictures of their food plus a lovely one of the house and the gazebo.

Food and speeches finished, the cake was cut. More photographs were then taken in the garden.  The brides were keen to have some on the boat in the playground and very bravely, in full wedding kit, they climbed to the bow to strike a Titanic pose.

Soon it was time for the band, The Royal T's, to put in an appearance. They played some wonderful music, from all eras and the dance floor was packed until midnight. (The Royal T's - )

A buffet had been laid on by one of the brides for the evening when another seventy or so guests arrived.

The brides spent the night in our Indian Bell Tent in the walled garden.  Their friends did the most incredible clear up first thing the next morning and the brides were woken by breakfast in bed at 11 am!

It was a truly memorable weekend and a tremendous feat of organisation and calm. On Sunday we found an extra memory on the grass behind the roses - the children had created an amazing and beautiful nest from petals and leaves!


The brides went on to post a wonderful tribute to Shillingstone on our facebook page - thank you.

“5 stars isn't enough for this beautiful setting. Sir Michael and Lady Caroline Salt made our wedding set up so easy and relaxed. They went above and beyond for us and are such lovely people. We celebrated our wedding on Saturday 18.08.18 and everything went so smoothly and exactly as we had wanted. The house and grounds are absolutely stunning and with the extra option of camping for our guests, it just made it so much more relaxing. Thank you so much for allowing us to share your beautiful home on our wedding day xxx!




Ceremony in the dining room

The weather was glorious, very hot and with incredible blue skies as the team from Affordable Marquees - - put up our second Petal Marquee of the year.  They are more complicated that the usual pole marquees and take two days to complete. The roses were in full flower and the bed where our glorious chestnut had stood is beginning to look established.

Thursday brought the first of the working parties with the bride’s mother spending hours frothing up the pompoms that they had borrowed from our supplies.  The bride and her friends lined up the paper lanterns ready for Sean from Affordable to hang from the roof of the marquee.

The bride had wanted a gentle lead up to the wedding so had engaged a wedding designer to pull everything together on the Saturday so Friday was not as hectic as usual.  The bride and groom arranged a table for good luck cards and a ladder shelf in the entrance of the tent with information about seating etc. 

Our photo-booth frame went in one corner along with a wonderful selection of props and hats for their guests to pose with.

Dinah from Blooming Hill Plants arrived with the most amazing collection of cut flowers -  She took incredible care arranging these in the bottles that the bride and groom had collected and did not leave until late.  She returned the next day with the buttonholes for the groom etc.

Saturday brought a “Mr and Mrs” in huge lit up letters, which were arranged along one side of the marquee – – who also produce photobooths of every shape and description.

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Southern Bars arrived and set up a very impressive wooden bar - and the DJ arranged his equipment in the corner by the dancefloor.

Rachel from Love by Design laid the tables, brought the flowers from their cool in the porch of the house and put up the pompoms in clusters round the marquee.  Her company can arrange all design aspects of your wedding if you wish.

The wedding cake took the form of cupcakes and chocolate brownies, with a small cake for cutting.  They were made by a family friend. Rachel and her helper laid these out in vintage crates provided by the couple and they looked wonderful.



Dorset Porkers set up their gazebo outside the marquee ready for their free-range Hog Roast.  They also provided the loos!  -

The groom and groomsmen checked that all was in place, looking incredible smart in full kilt dress, complete with sgian dubhs in their socks.  None of them had ever worn a kilt before but said they were really comfortable – if hot! The groom's father had brought over his Morgan for the his son to arrive in.  


The wedding, which was an intimate gathering, was to take place in the dining room and the bride wanted to enter through the dining room doors so we had put daisy trees in place by the steps.


The bride arrived in a very smart Rolls Royce, courtesy of the firm, as she works for them - proceeded by two totally non wedding vehicles which had to be hastily parked out of the way!  She looked so beautiful, in the simplest but superbly cut dress with a long train. Her three bridesmaids were in matching blue dresses.

Photographs taken by Paul and Mike from - they took all the fantastic photographs not marked with a spot which are in house.

The sun shone as the couple left the dining room by the steps onto the lawn.

Further guests arrived after the ceremony and were greeted with music from Little Thoughts an acoustic duo who played until everyone entered the marquee for the wedding breakfast. (

Hog roast consumed and speeches finished the guests wandered on the lawns and more photographs were taken.  It was another baking day and groups of guests settled in the shade of the house or used the new outside furniture provided by Affordable Marquees.

Later, as darkness fell, the DJ tuned up and dancing began with the party continuing until midnight.  Several of the guests continued to wear the props from the photobooth!

The couple had not taken the glamping area so left to spend the night at the Crown in Marnhull but before they left Paul and Mike took this amazing photograph of them under the great oak in the field using large flash lights.



The bridegroom’s mother very kindly wrote and thanked us afterwards

“I just wanted to thank you and Michael so very much for the weekend. Adam and Sophie absolutely loved you both and said you couldn't have been more helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. Your experience, advice and guidance was VERY welcome. You made them feel special throughout the planning and on the day itself.”

Perfect Organisation!

The bride for this wedding was enormously organised - "Efficiency is the key! The more organised it all is, the more relaxed I am!" - she sent in her email when I congratulated her.  And it certainly worked.

The marquee went up on the Wednesday as it was very big.  It came through a new provider to Shillingstone, Maidmans Marquees from Verwood – / 07963375618. They were the first company to provide hard hats for their team. 

The groom came over to see that everything was in the correct place.

On Thursday the bride’s parents came over to check how things were progressing and to choose their pitch for the bell tent that they had ordered for the weekend from Dorset Bell Tents –

Friday brought an army of relations, groomsmen and bridesmaids to set out the haybales that had been organised for seating outside, laying tables and putting decorations in place.

The groom is very keen on his bands and the tables were all called after different groups.


The sound system was set up and luckily tested as there was interference from the generator – Kaleidoscope Sound and Light Systems - which was used for the speeches and later by a friend who organised the disco. -

Flowers were arranged by New Street Flowers from Poole to frame the entrance to the gazebo ready for the ceremony the next day – beautiful huge peonies and hydrangeas which looked amazing.  They also provided the flower arrangements for the tables, bouquets and buttonholes. Phone: 01202 674889/ (The gazebo photographs were taken the next day with guest queuing for food in the background)

Whilst this was happening, a group of groomsmen were trying to put up a screen to show the pictures the chief bridesmaid had arranged for the next day.  I wish I had had a mobile with me and could have videoed the proceedings!

A bar was set up in an alcove off the marquee by Perfect Wedding Day Services – they can cover all wedding services if you want - 01305 789166/

Saturday and not a cloud in the sky.  The groom and his friends arrived to check that everything was in place.  They looked extremely smart but extremely hot as they had chosen to wear tweed three-piece suits to go with the country theme of the wedding, not thinking for a moment that they would have a heatwave. Most of them, including the groom,  changed into shorts as soon as the ceremony was over!


The country theme continued with welly boots filled with flowers in front of the gazebo and the couple’s dog arriving in time for the photographs.

Barbara Hooper from String4u - 01202 624554/  – set up on the dance floor of the marquee ready to play for the ceremony.  They have an extensive play-list and the selection they play is chosen by the client.


Guests began to arrive about 12.00 and took their places in the marquee or mingled on the lawn.  Some went to set up their tents in the camping ground.

The "Festicole" had started!



The bride, who looked stunning in a very simple but very beautiful dress with a long train, went into the house to meet the Registrars where photographs were been taken of her and her bevy of bridesmaids on the steps of the house -four adults and four children.

She had chosen to come out of the house through the front door and then progress with her father under the catalpa tree and down the full length of the marquee before meeting her groom at the gazebo.


Ceremony over guests were invited to mingle on the lawns with a drink whilst amazing photographs were taken both formal and informal by Andrew Sibley Photographer - He took all the photographs not marked with a dot which are in house. Mobile 07593843359

The couple had also chosen to use a Videographer,  Daniel Henry.  Earlier in the morning, I had heard a buzzing sound and seen someone lurking in the field.  On challenging him, I found it was part of the Videographer team with a drone taking really beautiful film of the house!  - Daniel Henry on Vimeo/ 07779625639

Food was a little delayed as the Pizza company had hit traffic in their journey from Watford.  Once here they quickly set up shop and delicious pizzas were soon pouring out of the oven set in the front of a “Mini” car.  The home team had a taste and they were deemed delicious.  They also provided salads etc.  - Soho Pizza – Kris Read - E-mail: / Call: Kris on 07917822227 /

More photographs of the bride and groom were taken in the gardens and guests tried out the lawn games and explored the grounds. 

At 6pm the reception guests began to arrive and Jack and a Box started to play.  Jack & A Box is a Duo, Jack English and Ben Court, based in North Dorset, who play a wide range of covers from Johnny Cash through to Mumford & Sons. -  They were excellent and had our family jiving in the walled garden as we picked the vegetables.  The first of some amazing music. 


More food in the shape of a Hog Roast appeared – Ben has been to Shillingstone several times before - Hog Roast BBQ/01202 421760 /  - Jack and a Box played a second before leaving.

Midlife Crisis took over for the first dance.  More music right up our street! Leuan, Glyn, Lee and Paul specialise in 50/60/70s music and the dance floor was packed.  Leuan - 07971 007431 / Glyn - 07855 258422 /


10.30 Jack Harlow, a friend, played for half an hour before a disco took over until midnight when guests wended their way to their tents.  The end of a wonderful, beautifully organised day.  The bride and groom spent their wedding night in our bell tent in the walled garden.

First wedding of the Summer

Our first wedding of the summer brought the new Petal Marquee from Affordable Marquees -  The bridal couple had chosen to put this up in the field facing the house.  It looked wonderful despite the dark skies and showers of rain.


Rain and thunderstorms were forecast so Sean from Affordable Marquees put up an extra cover in front of the gazebo where the ceremony was due to take place.

On Friday friends and relations arrived to decorate and put everything in place.  The couple had ordered an extra large marquee with sofas at one end so that IF it rained everyone would be comfortable

Large coloured paper balls had been hung by the marquee company from the ceiling. 

Flowers from Martha and the Meadow were arranged in a selection of glass jars and bottles ready for the tables.  These and the decorations for the Gazebo were hired from Dawn Morley-Norris of Winterborne Vintage (07869136939 | 01305 889656)

The couple had borrowed our Photo booth frame and provided props and a camera.  This proved very popular on Saturday evening.

The tables were named after cities of the world.  The tags on the tables collapsed overnight but were quickly revived by being ironed in the house on Saturday morning!

Guests had a photograph of themselves on their places, along with a little box of sweets decorated to look like a suitcase. Children had the added bonus of a special colouring book.

A post box was provided for wishes of good luck and a bar set up in the corner. Flip flops appeared in a box for sore feet and an umbrella stand was positioned by the entrance in case of rain.

A huge amount of thought and preparation had gone on over the months prior to the wedding - decorations for the tent and tables etc  - which made the atmosphere on Friday seem remarkably stress free and fun.

The gazebo was festooned in silk ivy by the groom's parents who added pink pots of flowers to the "bird cages" and along the front. (bird cages also provided by Winterborne Vintage)

With everything in place, the bride and her bridesmaids made their way back to the Old Forge, Fontmell Magna. They had stayed here the night before in a range of accommodation - Cottage, Shepard's' huts, old Forge and a Gypsy Caravan. The party gave the B & B rave reviews. (

Saturday dawned and a completely different forecast met our eyes.  Wall to wall sunshine! 

The caterers - Flaming Peaches - - finished laying the tables and brought over the flowers from the cool of the house porch. 

The most beautiful three tier wedding cake arrived with each layer a different flavour.  This was finished off with real flowers to match those on the tables. ( Lynne Hassini Wedding Cakes:

The groom and friends arrived first to check arrangements, then the cars arrived with the bridesmaids, looking very elegant in matching lilac dresses and the bride accompanied by her mother, who was giving her away.  The bride looked stunning in an off the shoulder dress of cream lace.  They all entered the house by the front door, passing the ancestors also dressed for the day. They all carried bunches of flowers in bright colours, again made by Emma from Martha and the Meadow.  

Official papers finished, they made their way down the dining room steps over the lawns to the gazebo.

With such glorious weather, the couple were able to marry outside and their guests sit under the marquee for shade rather than the feared downpour.

After the ceremony, the guests gathered on the lawn for canapes served from an old fashioned VW van - again the caterers Flaming Peaches.  They looked delicious! 

Nostagia Steel Band from London set up on the lawn and serenaded the party whilst they had their canapes.  The perfect sound for such wonderful weather.  ( Lionel McCalman - /

Official photographs were taken along with some lovely relaxed informal ones.  Adrian Neal from the Studio Without Walls took these and all the  amazing photographs not showing a dot which are in house - 

The wedding breakfast followed - a sit down meal, also provided by Flaming Peaches.  Non stop laughter drifted out of the tent.

Children began to sneak out to play cricket or one of the other lawn games set out by the groom.  With speeches finished, adult guests joined in with much joking and laughing. Even the bride was persuaded to take part.  At some point the ball obviously disappeared into the bushes.

More delicious food by Flaming Peaches arrived for the evening, again served from the van or circulated by waiters.  


The evening band arrived - again from London - Motown Gold/ /08002300889 - played some fantastic music and the dance floor was packed.  They also provided disco music during their breaks. 

11 pm brought the thunderstorm we had all been expecting.  Sheet lightening lit the sky and rain came down in buckets.  The party in the tent did not miss a beat! The music finished at midnight but it was quite a lot later before the campers made their way to their tents. 


We had one Bell Tent put up by Dorset Bell Tents and ordered by one of the guests. but otherwise it was private tents which filled the tenting lawn.

The Bride and Groom spent the night in our Indian Bell tent.  The end of an amazing day, blessed with the most amazing weather.  A day filled with laughter and fun.

Umbrellas had been provided but were hardly used and these were kindly donated to us for future weddings here.










First Winter Wedding Ceremony


January 20th brought our first Winter Wedding Ceremony to Shillingstone House.

It took place in the Dining Room with a blazing fire which gave a wonderful warm atmosphere to a cold wet day.  It was a morning celebration as the party were going on afterwards to the Tickled Pig in Wimborne for lunch. (  Tel: 01202-886-778 )

The bride and groom came the day before to arrange flowers and fairy lights to supplement to the storm lanterns that we had placed round the room.  

As it was a small party the guests were able to use our wonderfully aged dining room chairs.

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Friends and family were greeted by drifts of snowdrops as they came up the drive and then by pots of Christmas Roses in pots on the steps of the house.


The bride looking stunning in a beautiful off the shoulder dress, was escorted down the aisle by her father. She was followed by her lovely step-daughter-to-be proudly carrying her long train.

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Guests retired to the hall to toast the bridal couple with champagne and photographs were taken there and on the stairs.  The bride and groom were showed with confetti inside as it was too wet outside before driving off to lunch in a vintage Land Rover.

It had been a truly beautiful day.