Your Names: Amber & Craig Harris
Date of Wedding: 8th September 2021
Photographer: Che Birch-Hayes
Your love story
We met through our hobby and love of theatre, we were part of the same theatre group for a few years & took part in an independent feature film project. After a few fun filled years and a lots of great nights out we knew we’d got a best friend in each other, this continued to grow and deepen into a relationship and love.
The proposal was a complete surprise! Craig had asked my parents for their blessing, told his family of his intentions and even asked our Director, Musical director & Stage managers for permission, but I was clueless! On the matinee performance of our musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we had finished the show and were leaving the stage after taking our bows, but Craig wouldn’t let go of my hand and asked me and the rest of the cast to wait on stage with him. I thought at first we were saying thankyous and presenting gifts to the team that had made the show happen but when Craig began saying “Whilst we are surrounded by friends and family both on stage and in the audience….” I suddenly realised what was happening. Unfortunately so did everyone else and the cheers and screams drowned out the rest of what he was trying to say! He got down on one knee and without hesitation I said yes! Our final performance that evening had an extra special buzz and the whole cast helped us celebrate that night.
Choosing the wedding dress
The COVID restrictions made me nervous that choosing the dress wouldn’t be the fun experience I had hoped for but the team at Castle Brides were fantastic! I took my mum and my mother in law (to be) with me on a wet, stormy day in October 2020 and received the warmest welcome into their beautiful luxurious barn conversion. When asked what I wanted in my dress I had no idea, I could only tell them what I didn’t want. This didn’t faze them at all and after trying on variations of several styles (at least 15 different dresses!) I finally found the perfect dress and although it was nothing like what I thought I’d choose, it definitely felt perfect!
What was your inspiration/theme for the big day?
I previously worked as a wedding co-ordinator so I had seen many special days and lots of amazing ideas. It helped me to refine which bits I liked/disliked and which bits worked best and/or could create the relaxed atmosphere and fun we wanted to share with our guests. We added a touch of ourselves to each part of the day with a hint of Disney for me (glass bell jars & golden candelabras) and a hint of Dr Who for Craig (Tardis card box & themed photobooth), music from our favourite theatre shows in the background and a big focus on family, friends and love.
Why did you choose Bredenbury Court Barns?
Having worked in a hotel wedding venue I wanted to find somewhere new, outside of our area and looked for something that wouldn’t remind me of being in work. We started looking at wedding barns but in most cases the added extras (toilets, catering, parking, transport, accommodation etc.) made it too costly and more work than a ready made venue. That’s when I spotted Bredenbury, the perfect cross between relaxed barn venue and having all the necessary facilities with luxury touches and fantastic staff!
Tell us all the details!
As we had a long way to travel and didn’t want to start our special day in a rush we choose to stay the night before in Bredenbury’s luxury lodges. We woke early to the most beautiful sunrise and bacon butties! The fantastic ladies from my hair and make up suppliers helped the female members of the family get ready and we relaxed with bucks fizz as we were pampered. The boys took the other lodge and left it ‘til the last minute to get ready but boys will be boys and our Mums soon got them back on track.
I had decided against bridesmaids (as how could I possibly choose just 2 or 3 of my girl friends) and for years I had been telling my 4 closest friends (all boys) that they would be by my side in some way if the big day ever happened. The joke of them being bridesmaids and upstaging me by wearing dresses was started and kept getting mentioned during the various weddings we attended over the years. Unfortunately we lost our friend Shaun a couple of years ago but Gwyn, Luke & Duke have all been amazing friends and as the big day got closer they all agreed to try on a dress. Originally I suggested it just be for a giggle and a photo opportunity but as time went on and the excitement built they all told me they would stay in them all day!
We opted for an early midday ceremony so we could pack as much into the day as possible. We went against tradition in a few ways throughout our big day and I asked both my mum and dad to walk me down the aisle. Craig was nervous to begin with but with his 2 best men & brothers Lewis & Ben by his side he stood proud and happy at the front of the room (I may be biased but he was definitely the most handsome man in the room). My mum had made my bouquet and surprised me on the morning with a beautiful necklace and earrings set to wear on the day. Our friends from HMS Wales Re-enactment group also surprised us by turning up in full Napoleonic naval kit and providing an honour guard for our walk down the aisle as newly weds. Following the ceremony we wanted to take a moment to remember loved ones who couldn’t be with us so we released (biodegradable) balloons and then enjoyed a drinks reception and candy floss in the gorgeous sunshine while our theatre friends played a selection of songs from the musicals.
Our amazing photographer and videographers Che, Pete & Craig took us away to get some shots while our guests were seated for the meal but it wasn’t long before my bridesmen followed to photobomb us in a spectacular fashion!
As we waited to be announced into the room one of our guests was late back (after using the facilities) and as our MC, and Craigs friend, Ioan introduced us to the waiting guests we sent Kai in through the doors to everyone’s confusion and then we heard the laughter that followed. Ioan re-introduced us and we all took our seats for the beautiful meal provided by Jenkinsons. We had during our first meeting with the catering team expressed our want for the day to remain relaxed, un-rushed and fun. We weren’t sure what food to have to complement this so when we requested a medieval banquet style offering the staff showed us a selection of ways to achieve that feel whilst still providing tasty hot food. Huge platters of their Signature Beef Burgers, Minted Lamb Kofta & Marinated Cajun Chicken Breast were placed on the tables accompanied by Coleslaw, Onion Rings, Burger Buns & New Potatoes. We had provided bottled beer and cider for our guests and iced buckets of both were placed on every table.
Rather than ask our guests to sit still and quiet for 45 mins whilst all the speeches took place we chose to have them happen throughout the day. Our mums and dads said a few words before the meal, Craig’s brothers who were his best men spoke before dessert, one of my dear friends Julie read a poem she had written especially for us and myself and Craig spoke to finish the day before the evening entertainment started. As we knew none of our friends would enjoy champagne or sparkling wine we again broke tradition and offered everyone shots of sourz for the toasts. Dessert was a personal indulgence of mine as I love a Mr Whippy style ice cream! Luckily the weather was perfect and everyone made their way outside (some of them ran!) to the ice cream van and spent some time soaking up the sun, with a cool ice cream, in the gorgeous grounds surrounding the venue. Having worked a lot of weddings in my time as a coordinator I knew how long the shifts are and we had requested during our meetings with Bredenbury that the staff be allowed to take a moment to have an ice cream too. We took another moment to get photos (some serious and some silly) and as we looked around we knew we’d achieved our goal. All of our family, friends and even the staff (whilst still working) were relaxed and smiling.
3 of our friends are keen bakers and when asked they all agreed to make our wedding cake so rather than pick one we had all 3! Kristen created a fantastic 3 tier, theatre themed, lemon sponge cake adorned with photos of Craig and I in action on stage. Katy produced delicious and beautiful vanilla cupcakes with dalek and tardis treats on top and Helen made a 2 tier red velvet and chocolate tardis that stood about a foot tall!
The evening entertainment started with the Bierkeller Schunklers Oompah Band who had our guests singing along, doing actions and up performing a conga – much to everyones delight. During the break the photobooth was a big hit and we will be blackmailing our friends with those photos for a long time to come! The oompah bands second half included modern hits performed in an oompah style, more actions, lots of dancing and a few props including a very large tuba. Our DJ Andrew announced our first dance and we all boogied the night away, that is until he used his smoke machine without warning and set the fire alarm off! We all temporarily evacuated, laughed and teased Andrew and then got right back to partying. You know you’ve created a day to remember when even the catering staff take the time to say thank you for a great day at the end of their shift.
We both went to bed grinning like the Cheshire Cat and stayed on cloud nine all the way through our journey home and the staycation honeymoon (covid put an end to our dreams of Barbados but we’ll be making the trip soon!)
We’ve said thank you so many times and will say it again and again to all the people who made our day happen. We will never stop being thankful to every supplier, every member of staff, every guest and every family member for their contributions, efforts, support and love no matter how crazy some of our ideas sounded! We will be singing Bredenburys praises to anyone who’ll listen and offer our best wishes to all their future couples, don’t worry you’re in great hands!
First Dance Song?
Elbow – Mirrorball
“We took the town to town last night
We kissed like we invented it
And now I know what every step is for
To lead me to your door
Know that while you sleep
Everything has changed
You made the moon our mirrorball
The street’s an empty stage
The city’s sirens, violins
Everything has changed”
Your favourite moment of the day?
It is so hard to pick just one moment from the day. We both enjoyed every minute of it, surrounded by the people we love in a beautiful place and soaking up all that wonderful atmosphere. We were very lucky to have picked a date that fell perfectly into the gap when covid restrictions had almost all been lifted and we were able to enjoy the day the way it was always intended. Our big day was an oasis after the difficulties of the lockdowns we had all endured, it was made even more special by the fact that it was the first time in over a year we had seen some of our friends. The atmosphere was wonderful as everyone soaked up the first real celebration with loved ones in a long time and partied like they meant it. The whole day was a moment to be treasured and we will forever be grateful to everyone that helped us make it so magical!
A word of advice for future couples?
Don’t think to much about what is expected or traditional, instead create a day that reflects you. We promise that your friends and family will enjoy the day more if it feels like a celebration of you as a couple. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time so try to include the things you love, your music taste, your favourite foods and don’t forget to join in and enjoy those things on the day you don’t have to stand and pose for photos all day long!
Don’t get too caught up in the details, sometimes things don’t work as planned or the weather isn’t on side but remember why you’re there and who your with. You’ll have a fabulous day, regardless of what colour your decorations are, because your marrying your best friend.
Your dream team suppliers list:
Photographer: Che Birch-Hayes Photography
Videographer: Pete Johnson Films
Dress: Castle Brides
Shoes: Ruby Shoo
Rings: Ring Workshop, Oswestry
Accessories: Sorrel Sevier Handmade Jewellery
Make-up: Figure & Face, Welshpool
Hair: Jane Hair, Chirbury
Grooms Attire: Peter Posh, Shrewsbury
Bridesmen Dresses: Castle Brides
Cake: gifts from friends
Entertainment : Evolution Entertainment & The Bierkeller Schunklers Oompah Band
Favours: Jungle Straws eco-friendly bamboo products
Photobooth: Ultra Booth