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. ( https://marqueeelegance.com )
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 Party Hire 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.
( Dorset Party Hire - www.dorsetpartyhire.co.uk )
Both Southern Bars - www.southernmobilebars.co.uk - and Andrew from Meeks Catering - www.meekscatering.co.uk - 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 - https://www.honeybells.co.uk - these were later joined by a few private tents.
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. (www.sweetpeablandford.co.uk / 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.
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 - https://theroyalts.co.uk )
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!