Joanna and Danny were instantly attracted to each other when they met at a Southend nightclub. The pair exchanged numbers and couldn't even wait to get home before they started texting and arranged to meet the following day. "We went for a walk along the seafront in Old Leigh," Joanna says. "We stopped at The Peterboat pub for a drink with his – now our – dog, Stanley." They were inseparable from then, and a few years later Danny was planning how to pop the question while on a trip to Venice for Joanna's birthday. "He told me he'd planned a birthday surprise," she tells us. "We made our way over the Rialto Bridge to the fish market where a tour guide and water taxi was waiting for us, complete with prosecco." Just as the boat reached Piazza San Marco, Danny pulled a ring out of his pocket and got down on one knee. Of course Joanna said "yes", and back at home they got to work planning their dream day for the 2nd March, 2019. We chatted to Joanna to find out how they did it…
Joanna fell for Gaynes Park after seeing a photo of the glorious main barn. "I was expecting it to be miles away," she says. "I couldn't believe it when I found out it was in my home county! We loved the long drive through fields to reach it, the fabulous Apple Loft where we got ready in the morning and the beautiful on-site accommodation for our guests."
The couple chose a rustic theme but gave it a contemporary twist with a white, nude and metallic palette. "We chose garden and spray roses with gypsophila and eucalyptus for our florals," the bride says. "They were neutral colours and coordinated perfectly with our theme. White rose petals lined the aisle while the table centrepieces looked wonderful sat on silver stands." The cake was a four-tier semi-naked creation topped with a personalised 'Mr and Mrs Marney' cake topper. "We were spoilt for choice when it came to flavours," Joanna says. "In the end, we opted for red velvet, vanilla and salted caramel and chocolate."
For a personal touch, the bride DIYed some elements for the day. "I made the table plan from wooden cladding and twine to peg cards to," she says. "I finished it off with eucalyptus, gypsophila and wicker hearts. We named the tables after places we'd visited together." She also made pretty place settings, which she placed in small tree-trunk holders to fit the rustic look. Guests were treated to little jars of limoncello in homage to their Italian proposal. The pair put their own stamp on the venue. "There was beautiful white draping, a wicker heart, which our florist made for our ceremony backdrop and silver lanterns," Joanna recalls. "I also upcycled an old ladder and placed photos of family members on it."
The newlyweds and their loved ones dined on delicious canapés and a sumptuous four-course feast, paired with their favourite wines. To further demonstrate their love of Italy, in the evening they enjoyed wood-fired pizzas.
Joanna's Enzoani Lavender dress looked stunning with its lace detailing and low back illusion top. "Being petite, I felt this style suited me better than a strapless cut," she says. "I customised it by removing the nude layer in the skirt, making it entirely ivory." She accessorised her gown with a delicate hairpiece from Michelle Walker Bridal Hair, achapel-length veil and fabulous Jimmy Choo shoes.
The groomsmen looked super-smart in black slim-fit dinner suits in a dogtooth design alongside the bridesmaids in gorgeous V-neck champagne-coloured gowns.
Joanna and Danny kept their nearest and dearest entertained by booking the award-winning MC and DJ Terry Lewis. "He provided the music for the whole day," Joanna says. "He also kept our day on schedule, rounded up family for photographs and introduced the speeches." He was a real hit with guests, interacting with them, organising games and keeping the dancefloor full all night.
When asked how they felt on the day, Joanna said, "It was surreal, like we were in our own happy bubble. We felt totally loved and didn't stop smiling! I was most nervous about the ceremony, but this turned out to be one of my highlights along with the speeches and our first dance to our favourite song, I Found Lovin' by Fatback."
DJ and MC
Venue and catering