A wedding in wonderland

When Catherine and Haider met while working together on a film shoot, it wasn't long before they were 'bumping' into each other and staying after work to chat. "We even ended up on a rooftop watching fireworks together," Catherine remembers. "I was sure he was going to kiss me – but no such luck!" A few days later, Haider had vanished to take a last-minute contracting job on the other side of London. "After an excruciating couple of weeks, I plucked up the courage to text him," Catherine says. "Our relationship blossomed from there. He later told me that it never crossed his mind that I might like him more than a friend."

When the time was right, Haider popped the question in a beachfront restaurant. Knowing that Catherine was keen to design her engagement ring with him, he instead gave her a promise ring. Catherine explains, “When Haider scored his first ‘proper’ job after university, he spent his first pay check on a ring for his mum. Although flattered, his mum told him it was too much, and that she would keep it safe until he met the girl he wanted to marry.”

With the date set for 14th June, 2019, the pair got to work planning their dream ceremony at Chalkney Water Meadows, followed by a reception at The Barn Brasserie. And as the bride is a floral designer, it was always going to be absolutely beautiful!

Flowers

The couple dreamed of a barn wedding, but they also loved the idea of an outdoor ceremony. "We'd come across the gorgeous 16th-century The Barn Brasserie a few years back, when we were looking for a brunch stop on the way to the coast," Catherine says. "We knew there was something special about the place, so we got a wedding brochure – despite it being years before we were engaged!" When it came to looking at venues, the couple returned to The Barn Brasserie, where they got chatting to the owner.

Tent

They explained that they were hoping for an outdoor ceremony, which is when he said that he knew just the place: Chalkney Water Meadows. The pair snapped up the last summer date when both venues were available. "On the day, the meadow was full of wildflowers," Catherine says. "We had a triple-hat tipi covered in fairylights, which I emerged from before walking down the aisle. It couldn't have been more perfect."

Floral arch The couple gave the day a loose Alice in Wonderland theme, with a blue and white palette. The journey began with the invitations, which were designed in the style of a book, welcoming their guests to join them in their enchanted wonderland. "Arriving at the meadow, guests walked along the lakeside path following a set of themed signs," Catherine explains.

Bridesmaids They emerged into the meadow through a floral archway, which was covered in silk peonies and hydrangeas. Haider insisted on adding the Cheshire Cat on top!" They positioned large floral lanterns along the aisle and dressed the ceremony pontoon with an array of mini lanterns on long blue ribbons, each filled with a delicate silk bloom. The entrance of the tipi was adorned with stems of wisteria and bottles of meadow flowers.

Hanging tableplan

At the reception, a table plan was set up in the courtyard of the venue, with each table named after characters from Alice in Wonderland. "The printed table names were hung in a hoop and suspended from chiffon-wrapped piping," Catherine explains

Wisteria hanging over sweettable

"Inside, the venue was draped with wisteria and hanging arrangements of fresh hydrangeas, roses and delphiniums. On the tables, we created a medley of high and low centrepieces, with trios of teapots, cups and saucers alongside tall glass vases."

Speech Catherine and Haider decided against a traditional cake, instead opting for 150 delicious red velvet, chocolate and coffee cupcakes, with a larger one in the middle so they could have their cake-cutting moment. Guests were treated to tiny glass bottles containing inspirational love quotes as favours, and the place settings were Alice in Wonderland-themed playing cards, with each guest's name hand-calligraphed by a friend.

Bride and bridesmaids Catherine looked stunning in Prunelle by Pronovias, with its delicate floral detailing and buttons running down the back. "I accessorised it with a waist-length veil and lace bridal boots by Irregular Choice," Catherine says. "Haider wore a light blue suit with a brocade waistcoat. We stopped at an outlet shopping centre on the way home from a planning meeting. Annoyingly, after all the boutiques I'd visited, he went into the first shop and bought the second suit he tried on! It was ideal."

Exchanging vows For the bridesmaids, Catherine chose two sets of dresses in different styles, but with the same blue floral pattern. "I wanted them to have a choice to flatter their body shapes, so they felt confident and beautiful on the day," she explains.

Ceremony
Meadow

Walking through woods A classical harpist set the scene for the ceremony, the delicate music filling the meadow as guests arrived. After the I dos, loved ones enjoyed garden games and the children went on a bunny hunt. At The Barn Brasserie, a pianist got everyone in the party spirit – upping the tempo as the meal progressed, before a DJ took the reins. "Our DJ played a unique mix of Asian beats and chart songs," Catherine says. "He had some great desi mixes of pop songs, which went down a storm. The dancefloor was packed until 1am!"

First dance As a wedding florist and events designer, Catherine decided to design and create all of the floral arrangements and ddécor herself. "In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Haider helped with chainsawing posts, painting signage, sourcing pallets and painstakingly creating our selfie booth," she says. "The day before the wedding I made all of the centrepieces and bouquets. On the morning, instead of relaxing, we headed to the venue to set everything up! Haider looked after the meadow, while I took charge of the barn. My bridesmaids were amazing, and we had a team of family and friends who went above and beyond. We couldn't have done it without them, and it touches my heart that they helped us create our dream wedding."

Walking through meadow The bride's dad acted as celebrant for the ceremony, givingit a real personal touch. It also meant that Catherine was able to walk down the aisle with her brother, who was the man-of-honour. "At the reception, Haider's sister gave the most thoughtful speech, we were both so touched," Catherine adds.

Catherine and Haider's contact book

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