N and R's Wedding

Today is my first visit to the Orangery at Braxted Park Estate, Essex for the wedding of Ria & Nick and it’s such a stunning venue. The lush green lawns as you steer down the drive and look up to the house itself.

For those of you who have not had the fortune to visit and immerse yourself in its history, Braxted Park was first recorded as a Deer Park in 1342 when it belonged to the Countess of Pembroke. Some three centuries later, Thomas Darcy II, abandoned the old house situated close to Braxted Church, and built Braxted Lodge on the site of the present house in 1680. Peter Du Cane, a cloth merchant and entrepreneur subsequently lived at Braxted Lodge until 1803 when his son inherited the park carrying out extensive alterations to both the house and grounds. To learn more about Braxted Park’s history, click on this link.

It’s an early start for Sian Belton of Busy Brides Wedding Planners, the official wedding planner of Ria and Nick’s nuptials, and I’ve been fortunate to be allowed to shadow Sian at this fabulous event.  Despite years of corporate event and party planning, and with three personal weddings under my belt, it’s always an investment working alongside a wedding planner with over ten years of experience, and a niche in Asian weddings.

Despite the wedding officially starting at 3:30pm, the first suppliers are due to be onsite from 7:30am.  Sian has the timetable for the day tied down: starting with the crew setting up lighting, bespoke dancefloor and DJ set, the floral decorators, and catering team, and with one set of guest tables are coming from the team at Braxted Park and the other two bespoke table designs for the immediate family of the Bride and Groom, there could be a little juggling as who will be setting up first as the dance floor, the centrepiece for the wedding celebrations, will need to be located first.

We look over the plans – there are 12 pages of them: where the couple will be seated for the civil ceremony; the confetti walk; photo line-up; the newly wedding couple’s grand entrance; the first dance and bouquet throw.  Sian assigns me to setting up the chairs with a fan and confetti; directing the guests to the Orangery for the ceremony, and helping family and friends line up in select groups for the official photos.

Dressed for a wedding but with pumps for comfort, I walk around the various rooms and Pavillion (where the wedding breakfast will be held) to better visualise where I need to be for each stage of ceremony.  I’m aiming for the ‘seamlessly guiding’ look, far preferable to ‘manhandling’ guests into their seats or tables.

Throughout the warm and overcast afternoon, there has been a steady stream of guests arriving at the Orangery.  Befitting of an Asian wedding, some women are enrobed in elegant silken saris, a blaze of pinks, creams and lilacs.  The groomsmen formally attired in navy suits and with grey waistcoats with the bridesmaids in deep cerise fitted dresses, with splits and frills to flatter.

With the warning of rain threatening to put a dampener on the afternoon’s nuptials, Nick the groom, is a little worried that the sun will not shine.  Surrounded by his groomsmen and family, he is looking exceptionally smart and a mite nervous; this is a man who wants his wedding to be perfect.

On the other side of the house, Team Bride are relaxing with a coffee in the Bridal Changing area. They’re being pampered with a hair and makeup crew looking after their every need.  Ria, the bride-to-be is suitably chilled and father-of-the-bride Ash, proudly excited for his daughter.

Before you know it, we’re zooshing-up Ria’s beautifully embroidered wedding dress and veil, with Ash escorting her up the white carpet to her waiting groom.  The Orangery is filled with aunties and uncles, the couple’s respective grandma’s, friends, colleagues and schoolfriends.  Gasps of joy and claps of appreciation fill the room as Ria takes her final walk as a single woman.

Back in the Pavilion, Sian and I are waiting anxiously for the 18 guest tables to be dressed with tablecloths, which will allow us to finalise the last details: centrepiece flower displays, menus and table numbers.

The sun has timed it superbly, breaking through the cloud as the newlyweds leave the Orangery in readiness for the confetti walk.  Staff are prepping cocktails and putting champagne on ice for drinks in the garden. The guests line the Confetti Walk in anticipation of seeing the couple festooned in petals, and of course, the promise of Champagne and canapes once this event is over.

After numerous photos, the couple finally enter the Pavilion, to a melody of soulful jazz from the saxophonist @chriszaywilliams, for their wedding breakfast. Ria looks stunning in her second outfit of the day: a white sequined side-split evening dress. It doesn’t take long for their family and friends to hit the dance floor BEFORE the food is served; my kind of guests!

With the celebrations in full flow and many memories being made, I take my bow and return to my trusty steed for the journey home.  I would like to wish Ria and Nick a wonderful future.  Thank you for allowing me a seat at the start of your married life.