For Shona and James, their wedding needed to feel simple and timeless. Having found the perfect Norfolk country venue, they timed it just right for a classic outdoor party against the backdrop of mellow wisteria-clad walls
Photography: Ben Bull
Shona and James wanted to keep things simple for their lovely country wedding. While they live in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk is an area they know extremely well – and it has many happy associations – so the choice of Narborough Hall, near King’s Lynn, as their venue was easy.
“My parents have a holiday cottage nearby in Congham, which we go to all the time for short breaks and summer holidays, and we had been to Narborough for Sunday lunches,” says Shona. “Whilst we looked at other venues in the county, Narborough had a magical, relaxed feel that nothing else could emulate.”
The other reason to choose Norfolk was very personal. “The proposal happened on one of these trips to Norfolk so it held a special place in our hearts,” says Shona. With romantic association and timeless country venue in place, plans quickly fell into place. There was no strong theme to the day as Shona says she and James felt their setting stood out in its own right. “We wanted things to be quite simple – the venue and grounds were so beautiful that a theme didn’t really matter.”
“We were so lucky with the weather – being able to have the ceremony outside was a dream come true”
They were, however, keen to get their timings right in order to see Narborough in its full glory. Shona says: “We were keeping our fingers crossed that the wisteria at Narborough would be out in time for the wedding. We even based the bridesmaids’ accent colour around the blue tone of this, and liked the idea of contrasting pink in the flowers”.
The bridesmaids’ simple Grecian style gowns and the groom and groomsmen suits in navy were perfect foil to Shona’s lovely off-the-shoulder ivory lace dress, while the beautiful flowers created by the team at Narborough captured the spirit of this mellow country setting.
This was a day of high points, but the first of these happened right at the start. “A real high point was seeing the sun shining when we woke up!” says Shona. In fact, the weather did them proud, with the mercury set fair and warm weather that enabled their guests to enjoy the spectacular grounds at Narborough. “We were so lucky with the weather,” says Shona. “And being able to have the ceremony outside was a dream come true.”
Another high point came during the dancing. “It was a surprising high point. Neither of us had thought much of it and we picked ‘Your Song’ by Elton John. But hearing all of our friends belt out the words at the top of their lungs as we danced (badly) felt amazing.”
“We wanted things to be quite simple; the venue and grounds were so beautiful that a theme didn’t really matter”
Shona and James say the party atmosphere was wonderful and the whole day went perfectly to plan. “The wedding coordinator at Narborough, Fen, and the entire team were amazing,” says Shona. “The whole planning experience was very relaxed and they made you feel like part of the family long before the wedding. The actual day was coordinated to perfection and we didn’t have to think about a thing.” They also had a great team of local suppliers, from Carrie (Caroline) Wilson their wonderful Norfolk cakemaker to East Anglian wedding photographer Ben Bull, who captured the day so beautifully on film.
Their advice to other couples is to plan the wedding day to match their own vision of a great party, and also to do what makes them happy. “You can’t please everyone. If you don’t want a hen do, don’t have one, if you don’t want to do a speech, don’t do one,” says Shona “And if you think you’ve bought too much alcohol – you haven’t!”
Shona & James’ Wedding Sourcebook
Photography: Ben Bull; benbull.net
Venue & flowers: Narborough Hall; narboroughhallgardens.com
Cake: Caroline Wilson; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridal gown: Gowns and Garters; gownsandgarters.com
Groom/groomsmen suits: Next; next.co.uk
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