A chance meeting at a club in their hometown brought Julia and Sam together. Given Sam was wearing a fluorescent yellow t-shirt, Julia could hardly miss him! She says, "I kept noticing his cheeky smile, and mentioned to my friend that I liked him, so she asked for his number. We messaged back and forth for a few days, before he asked me to go on a date."
We rejoin their story eight years on, when Sam surprised Julia with the Christmas present to end all Christmas presents – a trip to New York. They arrived in the Big Apple in the following February, and began their first day exploring the city. Julia remembers, "We'd been walking around for quite some time when Sam, all of a sudden, dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him." It came as a total surprise to her, and certainly turned the trip into one the pair would remember forever.
Having attended weddings at various local venues over the years, Julia was keen to find somewhere different. Gildredge Manor had been suggested to her, so she took her mum along for a viewing. "I fell in love with it straight away. I felt that it really suited my style," she recalls. So, the date was set for 13th July, 2019.
We found out more about the big day from the bride…
The couple settled on a rustic theme with a neutral colour palette, and the centrepieces reflected this beautifully. Log slices acted as the base for hessian-wrapped jars filled with dried lavender and gypsophila. The latter was used throughout the venue, including the ends of the ceremony chairs, and featured in the bride's bouquet. "I also chose blush pink roses and eucalyptus. My bridesmaids had the same, but on a smaller scale," Julia explains.
The bride designed the table plan, and sent it to an online supplier to be made. It featured Kraft card adorned with pearls, and the place names were the perfect complement. Each table was named after a tree species to fit the rustic theme.
A family friend made their incredible cake, with bark-effect icing and sugar flowers. The top tier was fruit cake, and the middle was flavoured with coffee and walnut, with a foundation layer of Julia's favourite – lemon.
A casual meal was on the agenda for the pair's guests. They served a barbecue buffet where friends and family could help themselves to as much or as little as they wanted. They were blessed with wonderful weather, so it suited the day perfectly. For dessert everyone enjoyed Eton mess and lemon pots.
Julia looked stunning in her Stella York gown. She says, "I only tried on three or four dresses in total, as the one I chose felt so right. It had a racer back as I didn't want straps that would need adjusting, and the fitted style worked well with my body shape." Despite being adamant that she wouldn't have a veil her grandma persuaded her to try one on. "It complemented the dress so well, with subtle sequins around the edge," she says, having taken the decision to go with it.
The groom wore a navy suit, with a slight tweed check, and his groomsmen were dressed to match. Sam stood out with a pale pink tie, which matched the bridesmaids' dresses, and the other gentlemen wore a mustard version to complement the lining of their suits."My bridesmaids looked beautiful," Julia remembers. "The dresses were a lovely shade of mink in a fitted style and floaty at the back,"she continues.
Guests used the venue's stunning grounds to their fullest throughout the day, and started an impromptu football match at one point. Julia remembers: "It was great to see both of our families coming together. "There was also a magician on hand to entertain nearest and dearest from early afternoon until the early evening. There were certainly plenty of amazed faces around as a result.
For the bride, walking down the aisle to meet Sam was the highlight of the day. She recalls:"I felt completely relaxed throughout the morning, until suddenly I was told that I would be walking down the aisle in five minutes.That's when the nerves kicked in! I cried happy tears as I walked towards my handsome fiancé, surrounded by our family and friends."The day really couldn't have gone any better – there was so much laughter from everyone enjoying themselves. We both had family who had travelled a long way to be with us, and it was wonderful to see everybody together."