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I feel unbelievably honoured to be able to share these beautiful photographs, captured on the day that British bridal fashion designer Andrea Hawkes tied the knot with her love Daniel at Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk.
The couple held a relaxed countryside wedding, surrounded by friends and loved ones, on 22nd September this year, in an area of the UK they feel drawn to for its outstanding natural beauty. An alignment with Andrea Hawkes brand values, having a natural and ethical wedding was always the only option for this couple who work together. The Andrea Hawkes brand has from the off been committed to creating the most sublime, silk, sustainable wedding dresses and running a business that takes responsibility for the environment. It’s one of the many reasons we are so proud to work with them.
The beautiful story that follows is shared in the words of both Andrea and Dan. I hope you enjoy this beautiful day as much as I do.
We love the East coast of England, in particular Suffolk and Norfolk, so we really gravitated towards finding a venue there – it felt really right to us.
Most of our family and friends are based around London and the East so we knew it would be easy to get to.
For us the venue needed to feel special but with an organic, relaxed feel. I said to Dan on the day we visited, I will know in the first minute if this place and the people are right and if there’s a touch of pretence, it’s a no!
Wilderness Reserve was the first and only place we visited. They welcomed us with open arms before knowing we were in the industry and made us feel instantly wowed.
I loved the homely feel of the place alongside the attention to detail. I had done my homework subconsciously over the years seeing what our brides have planned for their day and maybe what in time I would love as a venue. Our brides have always given me the best inspiration.
During appointments at the studio, I have always chatted about their plans and suppliers; it’s like you get to know things you love and not really realising you are collating your favourite suppliers and styles until you are doing it yourself.
We held our wedding at the Chapel Barn, which alongside The Grange allowed us to accommodate our nearest and dearest, so we could create a relaxed togetherness for everyone.
Finding the venue and working with the team at Wilderness really set the tone for the whole planning process. It gave us confidence in knowing everything would be organised and that many aspects we could work through with the venues support to source and arrange, whilst keeping it personal and curated.
My perfume was Infusion D’Iris by Prada – this was the scent I was wearing when we met.
I found someone who was happy to work with short hair. Most bridal styles are beautifully coiffed and feel very formal. Having short hair, which I’m growing, meant a nice blow dry and some styling. Hair Stylist Katrina Kelly is based in Cambridgeshire. She worked with me to ensure I felt happy with the style as it was growing.
Her warmth, friendly, understanding nature and professionalism stood out to me.
I have known the girls from Pamela & Andrea Makeup since we first met at a business start up meeting. we’ve staying in touch ever since and they have done most of our photoshoot make up.
I’ve had my makeup done before professionally and prefer a natural, fresh faced look. I feel I wear less make up as I get older.
I wanted to feel made up and to highlight my skin which I look after. The girls really understand how to create a natural, glowy feel with a hint of glamour. They’re simply the best a this look and are genuinely the nicest people. I’m all for supporting them and championing two women who have worked hard to set up their own business.
I never imagined getting married until I formed Andrea Hawkes, as I couldn’t imagine myself wearing a wedding dress. I hear this so much from our brides, so I know we create wedding dresses for my type of girl!
I’m a touch tomboy at heart – with a good dose of rural chic! You’ll usually find me in jeans, t-shirt and a nice pair of shoes.
Thinking about what I was going to wear felt huge because the focus was on me, as ‘the bride’, but also as a bridal designer.
I started by having a chat with Siobhan, our head of marketing, and Laurie, our pattern cutter, about what style might suit me. We decided that first thing first – I needed to have an actual appointment like any bride would have!
I designed my dress initially on paper. Last year, I thought about a style that might suit me and it’s pretty much that. It was really important for me to design my own dress as I feel proud of the company we have created from nothing and I wanted to wear something that represents us as a brand and what we specialise in. Just like any woman on their wedding day, I wanted to feel the best version of myself so therefore what I wore would need to reflect that. I focused on my body shape and with how I am.
I opted for a deep V neckline on a semi structured bodice, with a fit and flared shaped skirt. I went all out on the train, I mean, why not?! We also spent hours working on this sleeve/cape idea which incorporated long flowy, drapey sleeves, which I felt reflected my style.
We made our daughter Amber’s dress in the same silk fabric as mine. The dress was accessorised with a sash made from a bright Liberty silk fabric.
My two oldest friends. Rachel and Stephanie, wore Andrea Hawkes custom made silk dresses based on our Pearl dress and Mila jumpsuit from our collections. They had fully made to measure with toiles.
Daniel decided what he was going to wear would be a complete secret to me. He lives in smart casual clothes everyday but likes certain brands so I had a loose idea. He surprised me with the mix of different jacket to the trousers and I knew he would wear a top rather than a formal shirt. Tonally perfect for him. All beautiful and lovely pieces which I know he will cherish and wear again. Andrea
Where do you start?! With the added pressure of marrying a wedding dress designer! 😬 I feel fortunate that day to day I don’t have to wear a suit or tie.
Being ‘smart casual’ is very much me and suits my personality. So, when it came to finding my wedding outfit I wanted to of course be formal and appropriate to the setting and the day, but retain my style.
I am a huge fan of Paul Smith as a menswear designer, so did imagine wearing a Paul Smith suit. However, I came across the jacket I eventually wore and it really changed the look and approach to the whole outfit. The jacket is by Bottega Veneta an Italian design house. I loved the colour and the wool fabric, I wanted my outfit to be made from natural fibres, and the jacket was perfect.
The only inspiration I really had to then complete the look, was a single photo of a groom I had kept on my phone that I found some time ago. I loved the way he had mixed smart with casual by not wearing a traditional shirt and tie, but with a smart modern jacket and a really special pair of shoes.
This led me to one of my other favourites, John Smedley, a well known knitwear designer based in Derbyshire England. I have worn John Smedley since I was a teenager, loving the sharp button up Mod style and The Beatles 60’s connection. Their use of natural merino wools and cashmere have always made them a favourite of mine.
I wore a beautiful pair of formal wool trouser with a traditional fit, by Paul Smith, that went with both the John Smedley top and Bottega Veneta jacket. This paired with a customised Paul Smith belt and silk pocket square, completed the look.
Finally, the shoes. I am a life long fan of Grensons, so started the search there. I couldn’t find a style that really went with the outfit or something quite unique enough for the occasion, so I moved the search on and found Northampton based brand Edward Green. I instantly loved their traditional production methods and materials. I went for their ‘Charles’ shoe, which gave me the perfect mix of unique, timeless and simplistic.
I of course had a small nod to my other true love, Liverpool F.C (Cue Andrea’s eye rolling! 🙄). With two badges inside my jacket that I’ve had from Anfield for years, not something blue, but something Red! There was of course something fitting about ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Overall I was really pleased with my look – it felt special and unique but still me, the tones worked well for the Autumnal time of year. I worked with our team at Andrea Hawkes on the fitting (they did a magical job on an unusual outfit for them!) and I think Andrea liked it…?! 🤔 😉
I searched for a local, independent florist who was based in Cambridge. Juliet from Willow & Wolf worked from her own home studio. I found Juliet through a beautiful image of a bouquet that both of us individually felt suited the relaxed style of our day. Juliet came to meet us at the venue a few months before to meet us in person and to get a feel for the venue.
We visited the teepee and main Chapel barn and planned the type of flowers we would like.
The feel was informal and relaxed. What was really important to me was for the cut flowers to be able to be dismantled so we could give them away to our guests. Some pressed them as a keep sake. We also wanted plants and herbs as part of the display so we could replant them.
A nice touch was for us to use our off cut silk as ribbons for the bouquet, corsage and button holes.
Everyone headed over to the jetty/tipi’s, Dan arrived with Mum & Dad in front, followed by the bridesmaids, followed by the children, and then Andrea came just behind on her own, accompanied by the sound of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, by The Maccabees.
We chose to have a humanist ceremony after researching in to alternative wedding ceremonies. Mainly we wanted to hold the ceremony over by the teepee and this could then not be a legal. Following that we reached out to Helen Mclaveen who was warm, friendly and had an upbeat personality. We instantly knew Helen understood us as individuals and would curate a beautiful and engaging ceremony that really was us!
We decided to have some readings from friends and family. We also had a ribbon tying ceremony which is where our close friends, brothers and children placed a ribbon over our hands and gave their best wishes. We then ‘tied the knot’! The ribbons I hand cut from fabrics we have used for the dresses we have made and my dress fabric.
Our readings included Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, chosen by a friend.
Photography really was important for us to get right – to capture a special day in the right way and to not feel posed or contrived. We both loved the photography of Jessica Williams, it felt natural and candid, capturing couples and guests off guard to show true emotion.
We decided to not have a videographer, to retain that sense of memory, making the photography that more important and reflective of the memories we now hold. The shots of our children are particularly special for me. I love that they were there on our wedding day, that they will have those memories growing up and we can look back at that time in their childhood.
We really wanted the overall feel to be relaxed, for everyone to enjoy the venue and surroundings and to bring people from different parts of our lives together. It felt right from the offset to have a countryside wedding, somewhere green and open with an ‘away from it all’ vibe.
The wedding was held in mid September. Everyone arrived the afternoon before the wedding day for an informal BBQ and that meant that everyone could meet and greet. It really helped relax everyone and after a great evening of laughter – and made the wedding day that bit more special.
Having breakfast with everyone the next morning followed by some leisure time before the ceremony again set a perfect tone for the vibe we wished for.
Guests took the opportunity to swim, walk and cycle (or get a massage!) and to enjoy their own private rooms whilst getting ready.
We kept some parts of the wedding day a surprise, such as where the ceremony was, and I really enjoyed that element of reveal and intrigue. It made the whole day feel very unique and personal.” Daniel
“Dan and I are very much on the same page with how we wanted the wedding to feel. I wanted it to be a venue where everyone could stay and for the ceremony and reception to be close together.
I enjoy being a host so much and so I wanted everyone to feel at home, relaxed and able to do as they wish. To enjoy the estate, to eat great locally sourced food and drinks. To meet each other as our favourite people. We created hours of playlists with uplifting tunes and had a few late night swims in the glorious pools.
We had loose dress code of relaxed formal so each could feel themselves, however everyone took the opportunity in the middle of nowhere to dress up for a party!
We had a loose colour scheme based around the English county garden. We wanted things to feel joyful, fresh, colourful, bright and to reflect the seasonal transition of the time, the wedding being mid September. We wanted it to still feel bright for the time of year with a hint of the turning season. the venue and natural feel of the barn and interiors inspired our tonal choices too.
We met 13 years ago, the good old fashioned way in a pub! Our sliding doors moment, Daniel was meant to be heading into London and after missing a train headed to the pub to wait for the next one, he bumped into some friends and decided to stay on for a little longer when my friends and I walked in.
We then discovered we had both lived in the same area all our lives, yet never crossed paths until that evening.
We got engaged in Regensburg in Germany, it was a place we had discovered on our travels with Andrea Hawkes and decided to return to celebrate Daniel’s 30th birthday in December 2017. Dan used this to disguise a proposal, which was kept a secret and a big surprise!
Our celebrant shared our proposal story during our ceremony;
“As Daniel and Andrea were expecting their second baby they headed to Regensburg, Germany after a wonderful day walking around the town they were relaxing on the sofa when Daniel slipped some headphones on Andrea and as the Maccabees ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ played, (the song Andrea walked down the aisle to) he handed her a flip book which began; ‘I wanted to find a way to say something without you talking. The Maccabees remind me of your bedroom when we first met. I love you and always will and I want to show you that. So, will you marry me?’ And as he presented her with a ring from a Danish designer they both admire (Ruberg), Andrea was delighted to say yes.”
The big question we were asked was “are you seriously getting in the boat?” I slipped off my shoes and walked towards the boat.. We enjoyed some time in the boat to head back to Chapel Barn for our reception dinner as everyone else headed back on dry land! Andrea
We had a loose colour scheme and was based around the English county garden. The main words of inspiration were for the feel to be joyful, fresh, colourful, bright. the time of year being mid to late September the season is changing.
We wanted it to still feel bright for the time of year with a hint of the turning season. the venue and natural feel of the barn and interiors inspired our tonal choices too.
We also made our own napkins and hand tied them. The table runners were made from our beautiful plant based silk which both can be reused.
We both always wanted a wedding cake. We love baking and cake as a family so it had to be a good one – one really traditional part of the wedding. We did forget to cut it though!
We found Beth Haxby Cakes though social media and instantly noticed the unique painted style very appealing.
Beth sent me a lovely box of cake samples which the children in particular loved tasting them. We let them decide the flavours which were Victoria sponge and Chocolate with salted caramel buttercream. Beth was super professional, informative and makes delicious sponge.
Our first dance was to Moloko’s ‘The Time is Now’. It felt relevant to the importance of celebrating the moment. It’s also a great song!
For the evening, we hired Festival Wedding DJs to fill the dance floor and Rubbish Portraits, who provide funny live illustrations, to entertain our guests.
Enjoy it, together, all of it, it’s a one-off moment in your lives.
Try and alleviate some of the pressure of planning by being organised and decisive but remember it’s about celebrating you as a couple not about the colour of the napkins.
Make the day and the vibe what you want it to be, we now know that the memories will stay with you forever.
We have worked with Annabel at Love My Dress since starting Andrea Hawkes ten years ago. Love My Dress has always been such an important platform to showcase what we do and how we do it, to brides at the very start of their planning journey. We have truly developed into such a special connection with the blog and Annabel herself, working on some real milestone parts of our journey to this point.
To have our own wedding feature on the blog feels really special and the perfect way to dovetail our own wedding experience and joys with the AH brides of the past and the future.