Real Wedding: A travel-themed celebration at Thornbury Castle
Meeting on safari in Kenya and getting engaged in St Lucia, Rob and Johnny tied the knot within the spectacular setting of Thornbury Castle, with their big day themed around their shared passion for travel.
The happy couple: Rob Prince, 42, a scientist working in drug discovery, and Johnny Plessas, 35, a vet specialising in neurology, living in Hitchin, North Hertfordshire
Wedding date: Saturday 14 April 2018
Ceremony and reception venue: Thornbury Castle
Photographer: Mark Leonard Photography
Flowers: T & J Owen Florists, Thornbury
Groom's outfits: Reiss Personal Tailoring, Reagent Street, London
Cake: The Cake Hole, Hitchin
Catering: Thornbury Castle
Stationery: Destination Stationary
Entertainment: Nigel Peirce, Stylish Entertainment
Rings: Plain platinum bands made by Gatwards of Hitchin
When and how did you first meet?
We first met in Nairobi, Kenya, on an overland safari trip through Kenya and Tanzania. Our love of travel and exploring new places, cultures, and experiences meant we hit it off from the start.
During the trip we had so many life experiences that by the end of the two weeks we felt like we’d known each other for years. We hadn’t long been back in the UK when we arranged to meet and things developed from there.
Who popped the big question and how did they propose?
Johnny proposed whilst we were on holiday in St Lucia. We’d arranged to have a private dinner under the stars in the hotel’s beautiful gardens. It was all very romantic and Johnny took advantage and popped the question during the dinner.
How long did it take you to plan your wedding?
Travel is our passion and one of the first things we decided on was where to go for our honeymoon. Having decided on the destinations we worked out the best time to visit them was April/May so decided on an April wedding.
As we’d already started a project to renovate our entire house we realised we couldn’t plan the wedding too for the next April, so decided to have the wedding the following April, which gave us almost two years to plan.
Why did you choose your venue?
We had been looking for somewhere that could accommodate a relatively small wedding but had lots of character and history, and overnight accommodation for our guests.
We saw Thornbury Castle online and by chance happened to be visiting a friend who lives nearby a couple of weeks later, so went for a look and fell in love as soon as we drove up its impressive entrance. It ticked all our boxes and more. We felt comfortable there and could imagine our wedding day on that first visit.
Was there an inspiration or theme for your wedding?
The theme was travel and travelling; it’s our biggest passion and probably the first word our friends would use to describe us.
The Tudor Hall at Thornbury Castle, where the ceremony and reception took place, is so magnificent that we didn’t really need to decorate it, but our stationary was travel themed, luggage tags for save the date cards and vintage airline boarding passes for the invites. Each of the six tables was a continent and our table plan was a vintage world map.
What made you choose your photographer?
We wanted someone who had a more untraditional modern style to their photography as well as someone who we felt comfortable around. Mark plays with the depth of field and he uses light in the most beautiful way. Looking through his portfolio his pictures felt so natural and intimate, yet certainly not the usual wedding snaps you normally see!
How did your wedding photographer capture your big day memories?
Mark was around for the whole day, from us getting ready together in the morning with our Best People to the packed dance floor at the end of the night, yet for much of the time we didn’t notice him, he was so discreet yet still managed to capture every element of the day in his amazing pictures.
When he did take us off for a few snaps ‘because the light is great right now’ it was never for too long, he was keen to get the shot and let us get back to the day. For us, every shot Mark took is a wow! Our guests seem to agree too; we’ve had so many messages complementing the pictures, we’re so thrilled with them all, looking at them instantly makes us smile.
Did you hire a wedding planner or was it a DIY affair?
Hannah at Thornbury Castle was great, she gave us so much help and advice, the rest was done by us. Even though we had lots of time we still ended up having a few things to arrange last minute.
Did you make, design or create anything yourself?
We made our wedding favours, we sourced little match boxes printed with a vintage world map and filled each with chocolates and tied closed with some twine. Rob came up with an airplane/flight themed running order of the day, which we printed and put in a frame on display for the guests.
What did the grooms wear?
We both had our suits made at Reiss. We used their Personal Tailoring service, which was great. We went together as although we knew we didn’t want to wear the same suits we wanted some common elements. Rachael at Reiss was great and guided us through the whole process giving us the benefit of her tailoring knowledge and even sorted out shirts, ties, pocket squares and socks for us!
The suits turned out better than we could have hoped for and all the little personal touches incorporated in them made them perfect for our big day. Rob wore a blue suit and Johnny a grey check. Both had burgundy accessories.
What song did you walk down the aisle to?
We had a string trio for the ceremony and we both walked in at the same time from opposite corners to ‘Canon in D’, Pachelbel.
Did you have any special readings during the service?
We had two readings. Each chosen and read by good friends of ours. One was ‘Tell Me The Truth About Love’ by W. H. Auden, and the other was an Indian Wedding reading by anon.
What did you have for your wedding breakfast?
One of the great things about Thornbury Castle is that you’re able to offer your guests a choice of three starters, three main courses and three desserts. It did require our guests to choose in advance, and for us to maintain a big spreadsheet of everyone’s choices, but as far as we know everyone got the meal they wanted on the day.
What kind of cake did you go for?
We went for a three-tier sponge cake, which ended up being four tiers, with each tier being a different flavour, all encased in burgundy trimmed pieces of white chocolate.
The bottom tier was chocolate and amaretto; middle tier was mango and passion fruit; whilst the top two layers were cardamom and cinnamon, which was a new flavour combination for Colin at The Cake Hole but one that we requested.
The fourth tier was a mini cardamom and cinnamon cake Colin popped on just for us, to have after the wedding.
What was your first dance song?
Our first dance song was ‘Doop by Doop’. Prior to the wedding the song didn’t have any special meaning for us, but we picked it because we wanted a fun and lively song, something a bit different. We learnt a Charleston to dance to it much to the amusement of our guests. We messed up a couple of steps but we had a ball and needless to say it does have special meaning for us now.
What was your favourite part of your wedding day?
Our favourite part was the two of us officially becoming a family, and seeing all our loved ones together in one room. The love and affection from everyone was intense and overwhelming, but also so comforting.
Did everything go to plan?
Yes! The team at Thornbury Castle kept everything moving along so smoothly.
What advice would you give anyone planning their big day?
Plan for what you want and not what you think your guests would like. In our experience if you’re happy and enjoying yourself so is everyone else. Don’t overdo it either, there’s a lot to think about in the run up to the big day so sometimes less is more.
Is there anything you know now that you wished you’d known before the big day?
The day will fly by, take some time for just the two of you during the day, enjoy it all and make sure to take it all in. Before you know it the day will be drawing to a close.
And finally, where did you spend your honeymoon together?
We split our honeymoon between two different countries. We spent the first week in Japan visiting Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. From Japan we flew to French Polynesia where we had a further two weeks on the beautiful islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Tahiti.
For more information about Mark Leonard Photography visit markleonardphotography.co.uk directly.
Wednesday 20 June 2018
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