I am excited to share this gorgeous wedding with a distinctively vintage theme. The reception was held at an old WWII airbase in Suffolk featuring lots of DIY elements and a 1940s swing band. With lots of quirky details, from ‘Love Actually’ style singing in the church to WWII Jeeps whisking us through the countryside. Read the full story as told by Hattie, the Bride herself.
How did you meet?
There’s only one man we can thank for bringing us together: Bruce Springsteen. We’re both diehard fans of the ‘Boss’ and it was at his concert in London’s Queen Elizabeth Park that we first met. It still baffles me that of all of the thousands of people at the show that I’d spend the whole thing standing next to the guy who would ultimately be my husband.
What’s even stranger is that instead of performing the usual ‘Thunder Road’ at the end of his set, Bruce decided to swap it out for a rendition of the rarely played ‘My Lucky Day’. It was this odd song choice that helped spark up a conversation between me and my fellow concert goer. That guy was Terry and the rest is history!
To mark that special day we got the words ‘My Lucky Day’ engraved on the inside of our wedding rings and our first dance was to Bruce’s ‘Tougher than the Rest’.
We’d been together for two years by the time Terry popped the question. He was living in Hertfordshire whilst I’d moved from London back to Norfolk to study for my Masters. It was therefore with great excitement that we embarked on a weekend together in Oxford in June 2015, complete with tickets to see Van Morrison at Blenheim Palace. Between sets we took the opportunity to walk around some of the stunning gardens and it was whilst admiring that beautiful lake as the sun set that Terry got down on one knee. Of course I said “Yes”!
Planning pretty much started on the train back to Norwich the next day. It wasn’t long before we settled on a date for the following September, giving us just over a year to plan the wedding on a very tight budget.
The first thing we decided on was the venue. I work in the heritage sector and have a passion for all things 1940s. Part of my job at the time was working with local museums to help promote the history of the American 8th Air Force. Thousands of Americans came to East Anglia during the Second World War and operated from air bases across the region. One particular base is located in Horham, a small village near Eye in Suffolk. Volunteers have spent years restoring some of these buildings to their former glory and the site now operates as a museum known as The Red Feather Club.
Straight away we knew that this would be the perfect place to hold our wedding reception and thankfully for us, the chairman of the museum, James, enthusiastically agreed.
DID YOU HAVE A THEME?
Once the venue was sorted we soon found a 1940s theme developing. Red, white and blue decorations for the dance hall were crafted in front of the TV, whilst weekends were spent trifling through antique markets for treasures from the period. Luckily for us the building already had so much character, including original murals painted by the American servicemen, that we only needed a few of our own personal touches.
As the museum doesn’t have its own kitchen we knew we’d have to bring in external caterers. We wanted something relatively fuss-free but tasty to boot, so enquired at our local Norwich pie and mash shop, The Flaming Galah Pie Stop. One of the best bits about planning had to be deciding on the pie fillings. Seeing as the Flaming Galah have been known to put everything from ostrich meat to a full roast dinner into a pie, this wasn’t as easy as it sounds!
We also had Carolyn from Carolyn’s Kitchen put on some canapes for the guests’ arrival. Carolyn also made our delicious cake, which was adorned by Sylvannian Family cake toppers. Not quite 1940s, but definitely a nod to our 1990s childhood!
As music is such a major part of our lives we decided to make mix CDs as favours. We compiled all our favourite love songs and burned them onto vinyl style disks. Attached to the CDs were parcel tags I’d made with old 1940s cigarette cards, which also served as the place settings. The vintage theme was carried through to the table names, which we put on old vinyl’s. Due credit has to go to my mum for helping us put the whole thing together. From making bunting to snazzing up the chairs with ribbon, she worked tirelessly to make the room look fantastic.
Your Wedding Day
The day itself was all we could have hoped it to be. Family friends kindly lent us their lovely Georgian house for myself and the bridal party to get ready in. My makeup was done by my very talented sister whilst my equally talented sister-in-law did a brilliant job with my hair. By this time our photographer, Nick Jermy, had arrived to take some getting ready shots.
He took some great ones of my dress, which I was still in the process of getting accustomed to at the time. As a bit of a tomboy, dresses definitely aren’t my thing and to say that I was a bit daunted by the prospect of choosing and wearing one is an understatement. Although I’d originally planned on getting a tea length dress, this idea went out the window when a tried on this particular dress at Camilla Brides in Sprowston. I loved the long sleeves and elegant buttons at the back.
We were escorted to the church by a convoy of WWII American jeeps, driven by some dashing G.Is. The service took place at All Saints Church in the Norfolk village of Earsham, where I grew up. My aunty had arranged the flowers in the church, which we’d bought from a stall on Norwich Market, and the whole thing looked beautiful. My mum walked me down the aisle to the song ‘Have I Told You Lately’ my Van Morrison, played on the harp by our family friend and very talented musician, Xenia Horne.
Xenia and our bridesmaids were also responsible for another magic moment when at the end of the service the whole congregation burst into a rendition of ‘All You Need is Love‘. Before we knew it, a guitarist and trumpet player had also emerged from the balcony, just like the scene from Love Actually.
The fun carried through to the reception, where our guests, many of whom were dressed in their best 1940s stlye outfits, could explore the museum. Our home-made photo booth was a hit, as was the pick-and-mix stand!
After the meal and speeches we hit the dance floor to the sound of the Glenn Hurst band, a fantastic swing band who really brought the party alive. A short dance lesson at the beginning of the evening helped to keep our guests swinging the whole night through. As the party went on inside, we snuck off outside with our photographers Nick and Heather to capture what would be my favourite photo of the day.
By this time the rain, which had managed to hold off all day, was coming down in buckets. Every cloud has a silver lining though and the resulting picture of us, brollies in hand, is a real eye-catcher. It’s the perfect image to capture the perfect day.