An English country garden

A pastel palette and lavender accents formed the prettiest of backdrops to Sophie and Michael's al fresco summer day at Blake Hall

After meeting through university in 2005, Sophie says Mike caught her attention after drinks in a pub. “It felt as though we'd known each other for years,” she recalls. “He impressed me by walking down the road on his hands at the end of the night!” Some eight years later, Michael booked a table at his bride-to-be's favourite restaurant, The Blue Strawberry, with one big question in mind – unbeknownst to Sophie. “It was heavy snow so I suggested we stay at home but he insisted we go.” Luckily, Sophie agreed to brave the elements. “Between the main course and dessert, he turned to me and, while attempting to get down on one knee at a corner table, said 'I don't want you to be my girlfriend any more – I want you to be my wife.'” After a teary 'yes' Sophie says the whole restaurant erupted into applause, while the waitresses brought over champagne and a congratulatory dessert.

Here, Sophie shares all the details of their big day with An Essex Wedding…

An English country garden: Image 1
We chose Blake Hall as we wanted to get married outside and to have our reception in a barn. It also had stunning accommodation on-site.


An English country garden: Image 2a"We wanted our guests to feel like they were at a garden party in the day and to dance and let loose in the evening – which they all did". – Sophie

An English country garden: Image 2 My dress was called Catherine by Enzoani. I went to about ten bridal stores and tried on about seven dresses in each. It was the only one I tried on that I felt like a real bride in.


An English country garden: Image 3
Our venue had beautiful walled gardens. It was very relaxed and not as formal as your usual wedding venue.


An English country garden: Image 4aWe displayed pink roses, astilbe and lavender in glass jam jars down the aisle, hanging from ivory shepherd's hooks.

An English country garden: Image 4 My nieces Annie and Ellen were flowergirls and carried vintage, ivory wicker baskets of rose petals and lavender.


An English country garden: Image 5
The bridesmaids' dresses were style 6694 in periwinkle blue from the After Six by Dessy collection, and they carried posies of astilbe and lavender.


An English country garden: Image 6aSix of our table centrepieces were flowers in jam jars and ivory jugs, while our three top tables had flowers in ivory birdcages. They were all set upon lace table cloths which had been handed down through my family for generations.

An English country garden: Image 6 We had a vintage step ladder for decoration, displaying plant pots of flowers.


An English country garden: Image 7
For our reception room we dressed exposed beams with fairylights; my mum handmade bunting with ivory lace and my childhood curtains; and we had pale pink, ivory and lavender-coloured paper pompoms and glass tea lights hanging from the beams.


An English country garden: Image 8aWe used blackboards to write the order of the day on one side and our love story on the other.

An English country garden: Image 8 We had giant garden games including Jenga, Connect 4 and croquet. They really helped to break the ice between all the guests who hadn't previously met.


An English country garden: Image 9
Our table plan was a vintage map on an easel with luggage tags. The tables' names were written on postcards on each table, with a little note explaining why the place is special to us.


An English country garden: Image 10aJennifer Cakes made us five tiers of cupcakes with a top cake for cutting. The edible bunting and lace cupcake holders perfectly suited our theme. We loved the handmade figurines of us and our cat Benny too!

An English country garden: Image 10 We loved Rebecca Farries' style of photography and she made us feel very relaxed and at ease. We'd highly recommend her.


An English country garden: Image 11
Sophie's top tip: Make your big day personal to you and your partner, and plan it together as much as possible.


Sophie Russell and Michael Brownsell's contact book

Bride's accessories
Bird's Bridal

Bride's dress
Prima Donna Bridal

Bride's hair
The Strand

Jennifer Cakes

DJ Terry Lewis

The Flower Mill

Rebecca Farries Photography

Butterfly Art

Venue and catering
Blake Hall


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