As many do, Joanna and Liam met through a mutual friend. It wasn't until five years after this first meeting at a 17th birthday barbecue though, that they got back in touch again. Theirs is a beautiful tale of a friendship that developed into much more as they learned about each other, and shared common interests, as well as a similar sense of humour.
Liam proposed in May 2016. Jo remembers, "We went for a picnic together in Friston Forest. He told me to close my eyes and when I opened them again he was down on one knee, telling me that he wanted to be with me forever!" Naturally, Jo gleefully accepted his proposal, and there the pair sat, overlooking the Litlington White Horse, watching the paragliders soar past as they soaked in the moment.
The couple shortlisted Northease Manor from a selection of venues they'd seen online. Jo explains, "We were looking for somewhere local where we could host the whole day. We loved its setting, the grounds, the thatched Tudor barn, the manor house, and the rugby pitch allowing us to have a hot balloon!"
We were super-excited about this wedding day as soon as we laid eyes on the couple's incredible photos, and caught up with the bride to hear her memories of 1st June, 2019…
The chairs were covered in ribbons. We also had ribbon bunting, fairylights, uplighters, foliage on the beams, and a handmade cork barsign. I made all the signage, guestbook, reserved ceremony seating labels, and order of service fans.
My hair was amazing – a true Rapunzel style mermaid braid with fresh flowers.
The ceiling in the barn was covered in coordinating paper lanterns, which Mum and myself made. Each had a woven basket attached to give the illusion of a hot air balloon in the sky.
The groom was dressed in a dark navy suit, with a grey tweed waistcoat. He paired this with a champagne coloured tie and pocket square. He wore a vanda orchid buttonhole making him stand out from the groomsmen.
I wore a Martina Liana gown, style number 984. It was an A-line dress with beading in champagne. I accessorised with a necklace, which had silver orchids on the chain and a blue pendant, to serve as my something blue.
Katie, my maid-of-honour, and Sophie, my bridesmaid, wore tulle maxi skirts and cream tops in two tones of pink and lilac with vibrant bouquets and flowers in their hair. Tilly, my goddaughter and flowergirl wore a coral dress.
Our favours were little fabric pouches in various colours to complement our palette, which contained Californian poppy seeds from our garden.
We had a round table plan with pegs and string. It was decorated with a flower wreath and a hanging basket to give the impression of a hot air balloon.
Our tables were all named after the places we've travelled to together. The top table was Dominican Republic (our honeymoon destination). There was also Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Venice, Verona, Jamaica and Paris.
I had a gorgeous shower bouquet full of textures and the buttonholes were all shaped with various flowers and colours to match the groomsmen's ties and socks.The ladies had corsages and the flowergirl carried a small hoop.
We made our hot hair balloon centrepieces by hand from paper maché, painted in colours from our palette and a flower basket of trailing blooms. Little flags displaying the country table name were sewn in.
I was a florist in the past and chosemy floristry tutor to create our wedding blooms. I gave her a brief of vibrant deep hues to contrast with the pastels, along with a list of my favourite flowers including Black Magic vanda orchids, hydrangeas, roses, hypericum berries, trailing amaranthus, peonies, veronica, astilbe, and clematis.
We had a four-tier cake in various flavours, covered with buttercream in hues to suit the theme. It was topped with a hot air balloon, which read "Mr and Mrs Bailey."
We decorated the tables with laser-cut place names and menus. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and our parents also had personalised hot air balloon biscuits.
We started with canapés at the drinks reception and later sat down to a three-course meal of chicken roast. In the evening we served ahot roast finished with chocolate covered strawberries and cake.
The ceilidh dancing was also so much fun, it was great to see all the guests enjoying themselves!
Liam travelled to the venue in a Mercedes with his best man. Me, the maids, and my parents arrived in a cream VW Campervan, which was a dream come true!
We got to walk inside the balloon envelope as it was being inflated, which was incredible. But, climbing in and out of the balloon basket wasn't an easy task in my big dress. We were so fortunate with the weather, which made the balloon possible. We hadn't told many about it in case it didn't happen.