How did you start planning your wedding at The Bay Tree Hotel?
We had a rough idea of what we wanted – which was two different weddings. One in the UK, which is where we live, and one in the US, which is where all of my family lives. We started with a budget, deciding how much we could save each month, and worked our way through the planning from there. The venue was the most important to us to find first, as we imagined the rest of planning fell together from there – dress, decor, colour scheme, etc. Plus it was the most expensive so we wanted to find the perfect venue for the best price (and hopefully would give us more wiggle room in the rest of the expenses).
How did you find planning your Oxfordshire wedding?
I initially thought planning a wedding, let alone two, would be simple – venue, attire, decor, food, done! Turns out it’s not that easy, especially when you are working with a different caterer and venue. Everyone involved have to be aligned down to the minute.
It is also a lot more time consuming that one thinks. For example, we used Paperless Post to send the invitations out via email. The struggle it took to get everyone’s email address was unreal. We planned to send out the invites in January and ended up not getting everyone’s email address until March!
On this same note, another tip would be to not wait until the few days before the wedding to get the little finishing touches done. Several reasons for this. One huge one is that you may have family and friends from out of town coming up a few days before the wedding. I found that I really wanted to cherish this time with them rather than finish up wedding planning, because this would probably be the only time in my life all my favourite people would be together in one place. More importantly, you may have heightened stress the few days before the wedding. If one small, incredibly unimportant thing goes wrong, you will end up in tears, crying to your mother that your future husband doesn’t know the difference between card stock and photo stock.
Why did you choose The Bay Tree Hotel for your wedding?
We chose to get married at The Bay Tree Hotel in Burford, Oxfordshire. The venue is not only absolutely gorgeous, but you get so much for your money. The package included a ceremony, dinner and reception including a DJ, 21 hotel rooms, all in an exclusive-use of the hotel. What really did it for me is when we went to tour the venue before booking it and it was set up for a wedding later that evening. When I walked down the aisle, I immediately got goose bumps and that’s when I knew that I needed to have it!
How did you bring your individual personalities and your values in to your wedding day?
We both agreed that neither of us liked super traditional weddings, and wanted to take the bits and bobs that we would enjoy doing. We wanted to keep it simple, relaxed and fun because that’s the kind of people we would like to see ourselves as. We had hand-made / self-assembled centrepieces, a cosy venue, and loads of games, Polaroid camera’s and props to entertain.
I am also from the US and my husband is from the UK so we had slightly different wedding traditions that we wanted to incorporate. James’ dad had performed the ceremony for us as he was a priest, the meal was very traditionally English and the speeches were very American. All my bridesmaids had a part in the speeches. My bridesmaids included 3 American friends and my Dutch friend – there was no holding them back. My maid of honour took the lead speech and my sister sang this incredible song she wrote on the ukulele, which had everyone in tears. Needless to say, we really tried to make this day our own instead of making it traditional.
What is your advice to other couples getting married? What would you do differently?
Respect what each other want on your wedding day. Try to incorporate what is important to each of you. Try to make wedding planning fun and don’t do everything by yourself! It’s a good exercise in working together as a married couple. Try to not sweat the small stuff, because you most likely won’t remember those things on your big day.
What was it like to work with me?
It was amazing working with Rowan! From the start, she was incredibly friendly and helpful planning out the day. I received so many tips on how to make sure the day ran smoothly including timings, when to best take the photographs and random things I never would have thought of. On the wedding day, she was super flexible with what we wanted to shoot and I honestly barely noticed her taking pictures during the ceremony and speeches. Last minute, James decided he wanted a picture of all of the wedding guests with us in one shot. Before I could say, ‘James, you’re crazy we’re never going to be able to do that,’ Rowan started gathering everyone to take a picture. It ended up being my favourite picture of the evening! She’s an absolute rock star!