Today I am honoured to share this beautiful family centric and intimate Lavender inspired Wedding.
I have known the Bride, Lucy for several years through her wedding photography Business.
I have also known her through the tough time she has had in the last 18 months overcoming ovarian cancer and through her fathers battle with Dementia.
Its so lovely to be able to share her and Chris’s amazing wedding day.
Images were captured by Caro Hutchings Photography.
So often with Weddings the celebrations take precidence over the truly special moments we can share together.
Focusing on the human connection of our Big Days can take second place to the drama of the details.
But when there is the possibility of someone you love not being there through loss or illness the importance of these moments of time move sharply into focus.
Ash Sweeney once said …”Each moment of your life is a picture you have never seen before and will never see again.”
“So live each moment to make it count and make each moment beautiful.”
For Lucy and Chris these moments were especially important.
Lucys Dad battle with Dementia and the thought of him not being part of their day was something they could not ever imagine.
To make this day all the more joyous and poignant was Lucys battle with Ovarian Cancer.
She was diagnosed in March 2016 but following surgery and treatment she is now thankfully clear of the disease.
In those early days though she was not sure if she would even survive.
In planning their Wedding Lucy and Chris realised the impact of this which made them really think about how life is short and you have to live every moment with purpose!
I hand over to Lucy to share her story…
How did you meet?
Our first date was 17th August 2016 and we got married a year later.
Tell us about the Engagement…
We went to Chris’ friends’ wedding in June and it was so full of love, I was really moved by their day.
I knew I wanted to have Dad at mine and I was really sad because I wasn’t sure he’d still be here. I was THAT guest who is in the toilet crying!
I told Chris and he said ‘so you think you’d like to get married then?’ And I said yes.
That was the last we spoke of it until a few days later when Chris came home from work and said ‘You know I love you very much, and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you, will you marry me?….
Tell us about your wedding planning journey
We didn’t have long! Chris proposed to me in mid June and we got married on 25th August.
As soon as we got engaged we knew we’d get married as soon as possible so my Dad could be there with us.
Dad has FTDP (or PSP, we don’t have a definitive diagnosis) which is a form of dementia that is very rapid and causes the person to lose motor function, speech, and movement.
It’s very different to Alzheimer’s in terms of memory loss, for example Dad remembers who we are, though he is now mute and cannot move or do anything for himself.
Dad went into a care home this year, we thought about how we could get dad to various venues and we weren’t sure how it would be possible so we asked the care home if we could get married there.
They said YES! Nobody had ever asked them that before and they were so excited to be involved.
We were delighted. The care home has an amazing garden and we planned everything around getting married outside.
Mum was in charge of décor, and she and Wendy (Head of Housekeeping) and Wendy’s team made everything look so pretty.
We will forever be so grateful to the staff at the care home who were phenomenal.
There were paper lanterns in the trees, bows in the bushes, pots of lavender plants, buckets of natural petal confetti, and Wendy and her team had made 30 rusted horseshoe decorations to hang on the fence.
We gathered together all of the colourful, mismatched garden benches for our guests to sit on too, we loved how informal they looked.
When we first got engaged our top priority was finding our suppliers.
I photograph weddings myself and I know that suppliers get booked up really quickly.
Not only were we getting married in less than two months but also in peak wedding season!
We had just enough time to book up the legal marriage ceremony at Islington Town Hall, which meant we were able to use a celebrant for our care home ceremony.
We put a shout-out on a local forum and we had a reply from a celebrant who was taking time off because of dementia in her own family, she said she’d put a request out to her networks and… we found Pippa Ward.
The experience of working with Pippa was fantastic. She was so understanding about Dad’s situation.
She listened and made suggestions, and guided us through the process.
At every step of the way she made us feel so special.
On the day she didn’t stop beaming and brought a lovely energy with her. She made our wedding ceremony feel so unique to us.
Our photographer is also a friend of mine. I knew I wanted her to shoot the day and Chris loved her work too.
When I asked her if she was available I think I almost stopped breathing until she replied and said yes!
Caro has an amazing eye and we loved her documentary style of photography, which we knew would be perfect for our situation and getting married in a care home.
She was sensitive and brilliant, capturing the tiniest moments, and all the emotions – and there were A LOT of emotions!
We were blown away when we saw all of our photos. Caro also donated her fee to the care home – they are raising money for a sensory room and garden. What a star!
My sister makes fabulous cakes and we asked if she would make ours as her wedding present to us.
She’s really busy with orders and we weren’t sure she’d be able to do it with so little notice, but she said yes.
We said keep it simple, but on the day she had created a beautiful three-tiered cake iced in vanilla butter cream with purple detail and decorated with lavender. It was wonderful.
We wanted a big cake so we could share it with care home staff and residents – they got their own tier!
Our rings were from an artist/designer in Hackney. We loved the idea of distressed looking rings and found We Are Arrow.
We went to meet Tatiana in her studio at Netil Market (East London) and discovered that the rings we loved were actually made of fingerprints.
Tatiana gave us some strips of wax to press our fingerprints into and she cast our rings from the wax.
It was so cool being part of the process, and now I wear Chris’ fingerprint and he wears mine.
Our only big wedding planning scare was the flowers! We’d planned to have a lavender and rosemary bouquet.
We chose both because they are used in dementia treatments – lavender to treat anxiety and rosemary to aid memory.
They are also both very traditional and herbs were used in bouquets in Victorian times – lavender to symbolise love, luck and devotion and rosemary for remembrance.
With just a week to go our florist said that lavender wasn’t available, it had been a wet summer and lavender season had finished early!
We both got straight on the internet to see if we could find a farm with some lavender still in bloom.
The weekend before the wedding Chris and my neighbour Gill went off to Hitchin Lavender Farm and spent a backbreaking afternoon picking a flower here and there.
We weren’t sure it would be enough. In the end, my mum saved the day! She drove past a house in the village and they had a huge bush of still-blooming lavender which they very kindly said we could use. Phew!
On the day everything came together perfectly. The sun was out, the garden was super pretty, and the care home sat the residents in the window so they could share in our celebrations.
We invited 30 family guests and luckily everyone could come with such short notice.
Chris’ family came from near Dartford, and his mum and dad had just got back from a cruise so we were very happy that they could make it.
I walked part way ‘down the aisle’ with my dad in his wheelchair, pushed by my sister. And the rest of the way with my nephew Toby.
The care home residents all waved and cheered as I went by.
We walked down the aisle to ‘City of Stars (Humming Version).
My dad didn’t stop crying and it was very obvious to everyone that he knew what was happening and was there with us.
He cried, Chris cried, I cried. In fact, I think everyone cried. It was emotional and happy and full of heart and we honestly couldn’t have imagined a better wedding.
After the ceremony we all went to The Riverside Wine Bar for tapas, and spent the rest of the evening chatting and laughing together under the fairy lights on the banks of the River Wye.
Our pictures were captured in Chepstow: on the bridge between Wales and England, and on Keith’s Terrace with Chepstow Castle in the background – Keith was a local man who kindly let us use his view!
What was the theme /colour palette of your Big Day?
Our theme and colour palette was Lavender.
What was the best bit of your day?
When dad saw me in my dress for the first time he burst into tears.
I burst into tears too and said ‘oh Dad, I love you so much’, he replied ‘I love you’. It was miraculous.
It’s incredibly hard for Dad to form words and it was the first time he’d spoken since Christmas. I will never, ever forget that moment.
If I can choose two other best bits they’d be:
1. Seeing Chris. I’ve photographed a lot of those moments but there is no way to know how that feels until it happens to you. I just knew it was the most right thing I had ever done.
2. Our friends and family supporting us with all sorts of aspects of the wedding, and coming together to make our day special.
Chris said his best bit was the beautiful venue and all of our family being there on a sunny day – it was just perfect.
What advice would you give to other couples getting married?
Keep focused on why you are getting married – there are so many lovely wedding distractions online (Pinterest!!) and it’s easy to get carried away with all the pretty things but ultimately, the most important thing is that you are getting married and that’s all that’s needed.
Chris said his advice is ‘Don’t Panic!’.
We got our wedding sorted in a relatively short space of time with good planning, teamwork, asking for help and not letting the things that might have gone wrong get in the way.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
In the UK there are over 850,000 people living with Dementia right now.
The care home are saving for a sensory room and garden which will make a massive difference to the lives of its residents.
Lucy and Chris have set up a Just Giving page to support them and you can donate to that here > Sensory Room Stannes.
Dementia UK also do amazing work to support people with Dementia and their families, to support > Dementia UK
To see photos Lucy has taken documenting her dad’s story you can see here > Dads Dementia
Every wedding I have the privilege to share is special.
However this beautiful intimate lavender inspired wedding has been a little extra special to share as I have followed Lucy through her journey.
Chris has been her constant, her rock, her soul mate and it makes me so happy to share their wonderful day. I wish them all the happiness in the world.
Thank you too to Caro for her incredible imagery.
Venue – Ceremony: St Anne’s Nursing Home (who were AMAZING, everyone came together to make our day a celebration for everyone)
Reception: The Riverside Wine Bar
Photographer: Caro Hutchings
Celebrant: Pippa Ward
Dress – David’s Bridal
Shoes: Rainbow Club
Jewellery: Earrings – Brides own and Necklace – Brides sister’s
Ties and cufflinks: Bundle Monster
Cake Maker: Jessica Williams (Lucys sister) – Crumbolicious Cakes
Florist: The Flower Shed – Undy
Lavender supplied from local people in the village and Hitchin Lavender Farm
Rings: Fingerprint wedding rings – We Are Arrow
Stylist: Brides mum did loads of the décor along with Wendy and her team at the care home
Stationery: Lavender gift labels – Card Creative
Make up/Hair stylist – Bride did own make up
Hair: Toffs Hair Studio
Cool Etsy suppliers: Bride’s bag & small lavender purse presents for sisters and Brides mum: Red Ruby Rose