“Because he’d had so little time to plan anything, I didn’t suspect a thing so it was a complete surprise. In fact, I almost scuppered his plans by suggesting we turn back because we were cutting it fine for our dinner reservation,” Amber explains. Luckily, Ben managed to convince her to carry on to the summit where he was hoping for an impressive view across the Tuscan hills to the sea beyond, but cloudy weather put paid to that! “The proposal was still romantic and emotional, even though Ben hadn’t managed to find a ring in time!” Amber adds.
They set the date for 7th September, 2019 and opted for a rustic theme with a touch of Disney magic.
When it came to choosing the venue, they set their sights on a country barn in Suffolk where Amber grew up and Blackthorpe Barn in Rougham ticked all their boxes with its authentic interior and thatched roof.
"It was already subtly decorated with fairylights and bunting. It's also where my family get their Christmas tree from every year, so it had a personal connection too. The wedding team's enthusiasm for providing restaurant-quality food was also a deciding factor and their partnership with Forage Kitchen certainly delivered this," enthuses Amber.
The quaint St Peter's Church in nearby Thurston village was ideal for the ceremony. "We were attracted to its beautiful interior with sandy stone walls and intricate choir screen. The congregation was also very welcoming in the lead-up to the wedding, which made it all the more special to return there for our marriage," adds Amber.
Amber found her Suzanne Neville Antionetta dress at the House of Snow in Bury St Edmunds. "Harriet and Jess provided a bridal boutique experience like no other. They were refreshingly honest and down to earth, which made it a really relaxed and fun experience," she recalls. Made mainly of Italian crepe with subtle lacing and a small bubble train, she completed the look with a single tier, church-length veil to show off the laced V-back. "It ended up suiting me more than the style of dress I thought I'd choose, so my advice is to always keep an open mind."
Ben stood out from the groomsmen in a contrasting burgundy suit and grey waistcoat and the bridesmaids looked stunning in blue Mark Lesley made-to-measure dresses. Amber and her bridal party stayed on site the night before in the beautiful Georgian Blackthorpe House and arrived in style for the ceremony in a white VW Campervan. "We kept this a surprise from the girls and it was great to see their faces when they first saw it! It also meant my sisters could travel with me, as well as my dad, which is something I'd always wanted," reveals Amber.
A string quartet played during the ceremony and entertained everyone during the post-vows cocktails and canaps afterwards. "It created the perfect atmosphere with classical songs in the church and more contemporary covers at the reception, including Ed Sheeran's Perfect, Elbow's One Day Like This and Wake Me Up by Avicii. Special guests William and Wayne the donkeys were a big hit too and provided plenty of great photo opportunities.
For the decorative touches, Amber says, "We tried to keep them subtle, relaxed and rustic so the original beauty of both venues could shine through."
Favours – succulents, sourced from the florist, which they wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. "We felt these matched the rural theme and were eco-friendly which was important to us!" explains Amber.
Table plan – large wooden easel in keeping with the natural décor with a painted 'Be Our Guest' sign across the top in a nod to Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Centrepieces – jars of loose flowers on log slices, all supplied by the florist. They also added bride and groom painted corks to each table and created a Disney love song quiz to entertain guests during the meal.
Cake – homemade by one of Amber's friends with four different flavoured tiers and displayed on a wooden barrel. Place names – written on individual mini pegs attached to the succulent favours.
Flowers – marmalade and pink roses, blue delphiniums to complement the bridesmaid dresses and pops of burgundy blooms to match the groom's suit and reflect the late summer/autumnal colour scheme.
Place names – written on individual mini pegs attached to the succulent favours.
Table names – Polaroid-style pictures of different locations from Disney films on mini easels including Neverland from Peter Pan, Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh and Te Fiti from Moana.
The food by Forage Kitchen was another highlight of the day, with a delicious three-course sit-down wedding breakfast including a trio of desserts which Amber and Ben kept as a surprise for their guests. "We sneaked out after the main course to enjoy some time together and have our photos taken. The sunset certainly delivered a beautiful golden-hour glow," remembers Amber.
For the evening celebration, there was pizza and macaroni cheese and friends and family added to the feast by baking cakes for everyone to enjoy.
Live band Be Three ramped up the fun with group sing-offs, awesome mash-ups, as well as some great covers such as Daft Punk's Get Lucky and a funky version of King of the Swingers! In between the band's sets the DJ keep the dancefloor busy all night.
Bride's dress and accessories
Ceremony and drinks reception music
Groom and groomsmen's suits
Groom's party accommodation
Hair and make-up