Wedding | The Holt – Oxfordshire | Nat & Jon
Nathalie & Jon
OXFORDSHIRE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE HOLT HOTEL
I travelled to Oxfordshire for Nathalie and Jon’s wedding, which meant I stayed the night before and the night of the wedding in the hotel where they had chosen to hold their reception. I knew Nathalie from our days as students at Gravesend Grammar School for Girls and have since followed her journey building one of the most successful UK food blogs which caters specifically for allergy-sufferers. Jon works in the car engineering industry and has been heavily involved with formula 1, so he’s done pretty well too!
We met for the first time since school at their engagement shoot, and it was lovely to hear all about their wedding plans and meet their son, Callum, the inspiration for Nathalie’s work. I didn’t meet their daughter, Chloe, until the wedding day and there she took centre stage when she delivered one of the readings during the church ceremony. It was lovely to see the children taking an active part in the wedding.
As Nathalie is an active blogger, I asked her to write for me to tell you all about her wedding from her own perspective. If you are currently planning your wedding, read on for her helpful tips and advice!
1. Why did you choose your venue and what were the best things about it?
“We went to look at a number of different venues before choosing. We had a vague idea of what we wanted, but it became apparent that our minds were realising what was important to us as we looked around each one.
The first was a beautiful converted barn in a village near to us. It fit perfectly with our relaxed theme but there was nowhere for anyone to stay at the end of the day. With a lot of family travelling from abroad, it wasn’t practical. We also didn’t want to rely on a taxi to take us to a hotel at the end of the night, especially with the kids who would most likely be exhausted.
Another venue had an impressive look. It was truly stunning on the outside, with beautiful gardens, but once inside, it was little more than a conference centre and felt as such!
The venue we ended up choosing had character (14th century haunted coach house), we could all stay there at the end of the night, was well within budget and had a fantastic chef offering a great menu option (crucial for a foodie such as myself)!
The feedback we’ve had from our guests has been great, they loved the venue, and the food!”
2. Why did you choose your dress?
“My dress nearly wasn’t my dress!!
I booked to try another dress that I’d set my heart on, and pulled my mum and my Maid of Honour (Vicky) along for moral support.
The dress that I originally chose was my typical style, and what everyone would have expected me to wear, but as soon as I tried it on it just didn’t feel right. I’m not one for clichés normally, but this had no ‘wow’ factor on me, and didn’t particularly move me.
The lovely Rach at the bridal boutique suggested everyone pick 2 dresses for me – 1 they thought might suit me, and then a wild card.
I duly tried everyone’s choices. A couple were hideous on me, and totally not my style. But, this was the perfect excuse to play dress up, so you’ve got to indulge, right?! J
The last dress I tried on was my choice of wild card. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted, or rather thought I wanted. I was adamant I didn’t want strapless, and that I wanted a classic a line, no full skirts or lace.
Well, that was blown out the window!
As soon as I put the dress on, I got goosebumps, and promptly burst into happy tears. Yep, the girl who doesn’t do cliché, totally turned into a cliché! Oooops!
When we pulled the curtain back to show mum and Vicky, they were moved too, so it just had to be the one!
So, I got my beautiful Diane Harbridge, and I absolutely loved wearing her!! Even Jon was surprised when he saw it. He said it was beautiful, and that I looked amazing, but totally not what he’d expected me to choose! If you can’t keep them guessing…..!”
3. How did the day itself meet or differ from your expectations?
“From start to finish the day was truly magical, it just went way too fast!!
Jon and I have been together more than 15 years, so our wedding was a longed for day!
As with most brides, I’d struggled to sleep the night before due to nerves and excitement. Even though Jon wasn’t at the hotel with me, he still managed to calm me, show me how much he cared and how much the day meant to him and more with little surprises and presents throughout the morning whilst my daughter, my mum, my bridesmaids and I got ready!
One of his presents moved me so much, I ended up crying so many tears my lashes fell off and had to be redone! Ooops! It was very emotional though to be fair, and everyone in the room got a lump in their throat! We’ve gone through more than our fair share over the years, and to still be standing strong is quite some achievement!
There had been a lot of worry over the weather forecast, which had threatened heavy rain, but the gods were kind to us and we ended up with a beautiful dry and sunny day.
The venue did a wonderful job, as did our florist, my make-up artist and also my hairdresser. Our photographers were simply fab as well. Everyone commented on how much fun Kate and Amanda were, and enjoyed our take on photos being much more laid back and not the stiff posed photos of old!
There isn’t one thing I would change about our day, it was perfect from start to finish. I just wish it hadn’t gone so fast. One minute it was 8am and we were having our hair and make-up done, the next minute it was 8pm and time for the first dance!”
4. What advice would you give other couples planning their wedding?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff! No seriously, people don’t notice the little things that you think will ‘ruin’ the day. They are all there to share in your happiness and your special day, they don’t care if a colour doesn’t quite match!
We were given the advice to take some time out after the wedding service at the church, to just soak the atmosphere up, and to catch up. Sounds crazy, but you don’t get much time together because everyone wants to talk to you!
We had a little time travelling from the church back to our venue, and we stopped the car and swapped stories of getting ready, and who we had already seen. I’ll always cherish that 20 minutes because it was just the 2 of us, laughing and being us, our first catch up as husband and wife!”
5. Why did you choose me as your photographer? How did you like the service I provide? What would you advise others to look for when choosing their photographer?
“I’ve known you since school, and as soon as we decided on a date and were booking the venue, we immediately found out whether you’d be available! We’d have moved the date if you hadn’t been free. There was never going to be anyone else who would be our photographer!
What we love about what you do, is the fun, calm, endearing way you capture every little moment. You see things that others don’t, or can’t capture so well. The little laugh in someone’s eye, the tender moment in someone’s face, the atmosphere in a room. Every single image you capture is able to tell a story in its own right, and that’s a real gift!
Our guests loved the way you and Amanda worked. You were there, but you weren’t. A constant calm presence, that seemed to just blend with us all.
It was such a pleasure to have you there as part of our special day, and it meant so much to us, and to me in particular!
For anyone looking for a photographer, I recommend meeting with the photographer first. You need to know that you’ll get on well with them, be comfortable in their company and be at ease in front of the camera. A photographer is capturing the most important day of your life (apart from giving birth) so you need to have confidence in them and be happy around them!
Hint – pick Kate for goodness sake!! You won’t regret it, I promise!!”
6. What was the most memorable aspect of your wedding day?
“There are 3 key parts of the day that still give me goose bumps even now!
Opening my card from Jon and realising quite how much I mean to him, and how much love and attention had been put into the card.
Standing in church trying not to get too emotional, with my beautiful mum walking me up the aisle to my wonderful smiling and slightly emotional Jon, surrounded by our close family and friends.
Our second ‘first’ dance (Pharrell Williams, Happy) with Chloe and Callum, with all of us a ‘Newman’ and having so much fun!”
7. Would you do anything differently?
“Yes! I wouldn’t print our table plan until 48 hours before! We booked the wedding a year in advance, and worked our way steadily through everything, so that we didn’t have lots to do at the end. It meant the cost was evenly balanced throughout, with no nasty surprises and was easy to budget for.
We printed the table plan with a month or so to go, and then the phone calls started with people pulling out for various reasons! We ended up having to reprint it twice!”
8. Did you rely on anyone/thing to help you plan the day?
“We pretty much did all the planning ourselves as we wanted to keep the day very personal to us. It was a French English mix to reflect our backgrounds, with a few little extra details along the way.
We did use the Guide For Brides planner app to know roughly when we should be booking things, when to have certain things completed!”
9. Any other things you think are worth mentioning, personal or otherwise, or that you would like to comment on.
“Our bridal party were simply fantastic! They had our backs, were so supportive, and couldn’t do enough to help us throughout the organising, during the day, and after. They gave up their day the day before the wedding to help us set up, and we couldn’t have asked for better friends and family! It was quite emotional saying good bye the day after the wedding, for all of us!
If there is any advice I can give to brides, it’s to stay true to yourself, don’t let little things get to you, and remember that the day is ultimately about you and your partner. A wedding is about celebrating your love for each other in front of your nearest and dearest, that’s all that’s important! The rest of it is simply cosmetic.
Wishing all future brides the most wonderful, magical day and a happily ever after!”
Nathalie & Jon’s suppliers:
Venue – Holt Hotel
Florist – Moss of Buckingham
Bridal Boutique – Rach @ Butterfly Bridal
Make up – Carol @ Red Barn
Hair – Trish @ Red Effect
Chair covers – Deans Events
Church – St Michael & All Angels Finmere
Music – The Delta Sons
Thank you to Nathalie for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope they give some context to the images and that you find there are some useful gems in there!
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