This Wedding in the English Countryside Was Inspired by the Quintessential Sunset
When Laurie Wilson and Lee Hayward first met, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. "We locked eyes across a room and shared small talk," says Laurie. "Ten years later, Lee popped up on my Instagram feed and I plucked up the courage to message him." And while it may have taken them a decade to finally connect, they knew what they had was special. "He asked me out for a drink, and the rest was history!" says Laurie. Two years later, Lee popped the question on a trip to Barcelona, where bad weather forced a last-minute change from the hot air balloon trip he had planned to a sunset proposal in a park.
Laurie, an events manager, took over the design of the wedding, and she and Lee chose a special color palette inspired by their sunset proposal. "The wedding was themed around 'Shepherd's Sky,' the moment the sun rises or falls," the couple explains. "You have the most beautiful array of peaches, blues, and blush hues across the sky. It's our favorite time of day." Over the course of 10 months, they planned a ceremony and reception for 125 guests, with the majority of the festivities taking place at a very significant location: "We held our celebrations at Laurie's parents' family home in the English countryside," says Lee. "It's such a beautiful house and grounds, and holds such special memories—we couldn't think of a better place to celebrate our wedding." The three-part reception on August 10, 2019, included separate tents for a post-ceremony Champagne reception, a candlelit dinner, and an evening of dancing and cocktails. "We spent hours making sure everyone was sat next to the right person and had interests and hobbies in common," says the couple. "It was really important to us that the atmosphere at the wedding was fun and everyone left making new friends and family."
Perfect for Her
Laurie worked with designer Suzanne Neville to create a one-of-a-kind wedding dress that mixed two existing elements. "I chose one of her corset tops but removed the sleeves, and one of her skirts, and combined them together," says Laurie. "Anyone who knows me knows I love flowers. As soon as I saw Suzanne's 'Bronte' corset with the delicate embroidery of the small petals, I knew it was the one!"
Boutique owner Ellie Sanderson designed an organza wrap embroidered with the same small flowers that appeared on the corset, which Laurie wore around her arms. "This was removable, but I decided to wear it all day because I love it—it was cathedral length," says Laurie. "I really wanted my dress to be the perfect mixture of British princess and bohemian goddess, and I felt both Suzanne and Ellie allowed me to create this vision. I felt incredible—I wish I could wear my dress every day!"
Going to the Chapel
The couple chose Saint Mary's Church in Boxford, Suffolk, for their ceremony. "We wanted our wedding to be the perfect balance between effortless elegance, British brilliance, and relaxed fun, and for all our guests to leave knowing how grateful we were for their love, support, and memories so far on our journey together," says Laurie.
Floral designers from Studio Sorores decorated the door of the church with an oversized floral arch in a gradient of hues: Blue and white on the left brightened into burnt orange and pink on the right, mimicking the sky-at-sunset color palette. Wild grasses added texture and depth.
Blues and Blooms
Bridesmaids carried bouquets of roses, oxypetalum, scabiosa, phlox, trailing clematis, and jasmine in the same peach-and-pink hues that carried throughout the décor. "We kept the bouquets quite light and fresh but full of texture and shape," says the florist.
Down the Aisle
Laurie's father escorted her to the church, where she and Lee saw each other for the first time that day. "My daddy gave me away and we walked arm in arm with beaming smiles," she says. "I think he even shed a tear or two!" Though she admits she felt a little nervous, she was excited, too: "I couldn't wait to see Lee and for him to also see my dress!" she says. For Lee, the moment was overwhelming. "When Laurie walked down the aisle, she was breathtaking," he says. "I am the luckiest man in the world."
A Precious Moment
The couple exchanged vows in a religious ceremony that included readings from Laurie's two older brothers, one of the couple's close friends, and Lee's grandmother. The ceremony also included an unpredictable—but precious—moment. "My mummy unfortunately passed away two years ago unexpectedly," says Laurie. "I believe that she is always with me. In particular, I know she shows me she is there through butterflies. When Lee and I were saying our vows in the church, a butterfly appeared and was flying in figures of eight above us. It was extraordinary and a sign from her that she was with us—truly magic."
The New Mr. and Mrs.
Throughout the ceremony, an organist provided music for the bride's entrance, the hymns—including "Give Me Joy in My Heart," "Amazing Grace," and "Jerusalem"—and the couple's joyful exit. "I always remember he was playing 'God Only Knows' as we were signing the register, which is played in the film Love Actually, and all my bridesmaids began dancing," says Laurie. "It was brilliant!"
Laurie's bridesmaids wore matching silk dresses from Ghost in a shade called skylight blue. "I knew I always wanted the girls to be in skylight blue as this was our hero statement color at the wedding," she says. "The sky is always there for you no matter what, on gray days and on sunny days, just like my best friends are!" Lee's groomsmen wore black Charles Tyrwhitt suits with custom bow ties and cummerbunds in the same fabric as the bridesmaids' dresses, and added a bright accent: "Skylight blue socks," says Laurie, "because every chap should have bright socks to show off when they sit down!"
Home Sweet Home
After posing for a few quick portraits, Lee and Laurie joined their guests at the outdoor Champagne reception, where peaked tents, live acoustic music, and an open bar "reminded us of how we have spent so many of our summer evenings together!" says Laurie. "Lee and I love the countryside and my family home is surrounded by open, golden fields, the setting sunshine, and fresh air, so it created the perfect setting for us to say 'I do.'"
A post-ceremony portrait shows off the custom engagement ring Lee designed with jeweler Kinvara Law. The piece features a tanzanite stone belonging to Laurie's late mother. Laurie's other accessories included a bespoke Rene Walrus hairpiece made of mother-of-pearl flowers, and Lee's wedding gift to his bride: a Le Vian diamond necklace and earrings.
Welcome to the Family
At the entrance to the festivities, Lee and Laurie displayed a simple, elegant sign decorated with an understated garland of leaves.
Sunset and Sky
Inside the tent, light blue tablecloths created a sky-inspired base for the reception decor, while floral "clouds" of pampas grass in shades of orange and blush hung overhead.
Studio Sorores arranged flowers for the tables in three different types of vessels, alternating the size and height of the bunches of peach, pink, orange, and ivory blooms. Silver flatware, pattered glassware, and white plates were a neutral complement to the florals; sprigs of lavender sat on each plate.
As an alternative to traditional place cards, Laurie and Lee worked with Word It. Rhyme to write a custom poem—printed on a bookmark—for each guest. "[This] went down a treat!" says the couple. "We also loved how they brought to life our love for reading as a couple." The only people who didn't get poems were the couple themselves—or at least, that's what Lee thought. "Laurie wrote a poem for me called Happily Ever Haywards—it told the story of how we met and fell in love, and she shared this at the wedding," he says.
Ready to Dance
After dinner, the couple and their guests moved into a third tent for dancing—and Laurie traded her gown for a sequined ASOS frock "so that I could party under the stars!" she says. The couple opened the dance floor with Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." "We chose this song as we used to always sing it to each other, especially in the car on long journeys for some reason," says the couple. "We also wanted a song that we could dance romantically to but have an upbeat moment that everyone could join."
So Happy Together
After setting off confetti cannons during their first dance, the couple kept the party moving with music from Briggs Street Players and DJ Zulu. But their guests didn't wait until after dinner to start the celebration: When Michael Buble's "Everything," one of the couple's favorite songs, played during dinner, "All our guests began clapping, singing, and swinging their napkins in the air to the beat of the song and lyrics," says Laurie. "The marquee tent was filled with joy, song, and happiness. It was a moment Lee and I will never forget—I remember thinking, 'This is euphoria!'"
Photography, Emilie White
Ceremony Venue, St. Mary's Church
Event Coordination, Kerry Poulter
Event Design, Laurie Hayward
Catering, Crown Catering Cambridge
Flowers, Studio Sorores
Videography, Rupert Ward-Lewis
Officiant, Jane Lloyd
Stationery, Vine in the Wild
Cake, Nikki's Bountiful Bakery
Music, Adam Harris; Briggs Street Players; DJ Zulu
Rentals, Ester & Erik (candles); Jones (glassware); Joseph Benjamin Marquees; Northfields (linens)
Bride's Gown, Suzanne Neville; Ellie Sanderson (ceremony); ASOS (reception)
Bride's accessories, Rene Walrus (hairpiece); Ellie Sanderson (veil); Le Vian (jewelry); Jimmy Choo (shoes); Rüya London (clutch)
Hair, Victoria Ralph
Makeup, Kelly Dawn, Christine Anderson
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Ghost
Groom's Suit and Groomsmen's Attire, Charles Tyrwhitt
Groom's Accessories, Mrs. Bow Tie; Tudor (watch)
Lighting, Joseph Benjamin Marquees
Transportation, BCD Wedding Cars; Beautiful Day Wedding Cars
Favors, Word It. Rhyme
Guest Book, Be Golden
Rings, Kinvara Law