Hales Hall & Great Barn Wedding - Rose & Evans Magical Day

I truly loved every second of my first visit to the magnificent Hales Hall & Great Barn for Rose & Evans wonderfully personal and unique wedding day story, so I thought it would be lovely for Rose to give a little bit of insight into the planning that went into her very special day.

I understand that Evan proposed to you at Holkham up on the north Norfolk coast, so tell us please a little about that Rose and whether it was a surprise to you?

Evan managed to take me completely by surprise even though we’d been together for seven years when he proposed. We were back in Norfolk for Christmas holidays and had decided to stay a night at the Victoria Hotel the day before my birthday, which is in early January (it’s a busy time of year for us!). I thought we were having a quiet night to ourselves after all of the Christmas festivities, and then as soon as we got into the room Evan dropped down on one knee and proposed! I wasn’t expecting that, even though we’d spoken a lot about marriage already—you really have to when you’re from two different countries; you can’t be shy about having those sorts of conversations.

Holkham is somewhere we’ve spent a lot of time over the years, I love the north Norfolk coast and Evan has grown to love it too, so it was a lovely place for him to choose. We kept it to ourselves at first, and had supper at the hotel and then went for a very windy walk along the beach the next day. It was fun having it as our little secret. Then we got back to my parents’ house and told everyone, so were able to celebrate all over again.

What really appealed to you and Evan in choosing Hales Hall & Great Barn as your venue?

As we live in Toronto it was actually my Mum and Dad who visited the hall first and told us how perfect it was. We’d seen a few other venues with them while we were in England, but then we had to fly back to Canada, so my parents very kindly spent their weekends traipsing round the various halls and barns around the county. After they saw Hales Hall they said that nothing else compared. We went on the website and from the pictures alone we said that’s the one! The barn is beautiful, so full of character, and the fact that our families could stay together on the property for the weekend made it all the more special. Your special day was very personal to you and Evan.

Tell us a little about your vision and the planning that went into your amazing day?

A great deal of planning went into it! We wanted a day that spoke to each of us, and united our cultures and traditions. I come from an English, culturally Anglican background and Evan’s family are Canadian and Jewish. So we pulled parts from each side, and had one Humanist Jewish officiant and one family friend officiant (who happens to be a bishop, but he was representing us in a non-ecclesiastical capacity). They were actually an amazing double act! We think they should do more weddings together.

We pulled elements from English weddings, such as having an afternoon ceremony (and we happened to have a beautifully sunny day, so we were very fortunate there), as well as having confetti, which was new to most of Evan’s family, and including readings during the ceremony. Then we incorporated Jewish traditions such as the Hora, breaking the glass, and having a dance set between the main course and dessert—which seems like a strange thing if you’ve never done it before, but it actually makes a lot of sense as it’s lovely to not be sitting for so long.

What was the most challenging aspect of organising your big day?

Crafting our blended ceremony was certainly a challenge! For us it wasn’t a scripted set of words that we would say on the day and then move on from, it was the foundation of the life we wanted to build together, one that navigated our different backgrounds and brought together our shared values. It’s not always easy embracing change, so we were a bit nervous about what everyone’s reactions would be. But of course there was nothing to worry about in the end, everyone was so supportive.

When did you know that you had found ’the dress’?

It’s interesting because I didn’t really have a vision of what I wanted for the dress, I actually wasn’t too bothered about the dress part of things, as that’s not really me. My Mum came to stay with us in Toronto and we went to a few boutique shops, so a bit smaller and not too intimidating. The dress I ended up getting was one of the first I tried on. I felt like myself in it, but a more glamorous version! I knew that I wanted to feel comfortable, and to be able to sit and dance without any problems—and not to have to enlist an army of friends to help me get to and from the loo. I didn’t exactly have a “this is the one” moment, but I liked the way that dress made me feel. It was simple and elegant, and I bought a lace topper to wear for the ceremony and then a belt to put on for the dancing, so it was almost like having two dresses on the day!

How did you feel with your ‘first look’ with Evan as he saw you in your dress for the first time?

I was quite nervous and was getting used to walking in my dress and negotiating a bouquet (which is actually quite heavy!), so I think I just giggled when we finally got to see each other. It was lovely having that moment to ourselves, to just smile and feel a little giddy and excited. Evan made a very sweet face when he first saw me.

Tell us a little about the ceremony and signing of the Ketubah?

Before the main ceremony we had a Ketubah signing, which is taken from the Jewish tradition. A Ketubah is a Jewish marriage document and it would have traditionally outlined the obligations of the groom towards the bride. For ours, we wrote the wording ourselves and used it to outline our intentions, such as promising to love and inspire one another, to be open and understanding, and to nurture one another emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. The document is printed and decorated—ours was illustrated by an artist friend in Toronto, which made it even more personal—and is then signed on the day by the bride, groom, two witnesses and the officiants. It’s currently sitting in my parents’ house, but once we get it back to Toronto we’ll frame it and hang it up.

We were very involved in the crafting of the ceremony too, and we decided to write our own vows in order to express exactly what marriage meant to us. It was quite daunting putting together such an emotionally open, intimate ceremony, but on the day everyone was so full of love, you could feel the happiness radiating from the room. It makes me smile just to think about it. The ‘hora’ looked amazingly good fun.

Tell us a little about what the hora is and why this formed part of your big day?

The hora is one of the best parts of Jewish weddings as it kicks off the party with a big group dance, and then the bride and groom, and each of their sets of parents, are hoisted in chairs. Everyone loved it! The music is well known, and it’s so energetic, it’s impossible not to join in. It mainly formed part of our big day as it seemed rude to deny it to those that hadn’t experienced it!

Tell us about your floral arrangements?

The table decorations, chuppah decorations and flowers around the hall were done by the amazing Nadine Weeks, who is a independent florist. She did such a wonderful job, we told her we wanted a natural look, lots of structural leaves and white flowers spilling out of boxes (the brick of the barn is so stunning you don’t really need much). My bouquet and the mens’ button holes were done by Swaffham Florist, who beautifully captured a similarly natural romantic look. I also had a few flowers in my hair, because the more flowers the better, I think!

Who were your main suppliers and how did you select them?

The flowers were by Nadine Weeks and the Swaffham Florist, as mentioned above. My hair and makeup was by Flamingo Amy, who I can’t recommend enough, she’s wonderful. We also had Laura Howard come to do blow dries for the rest of the family, and though I didn’t have much time to chat to Laura, everyone looked gorgeous, so she was fantastic too. We used Hales Hall’s in-house caterers De’Ath Hospitality for the food, including our amazing cheese tower wedding cake. Finally, our band was actually a two-in-one in that they did an acoustic set as the Herringbone Cocktail Club for the canapés outside, and then they transformed into Rocking Steady for the evening sets (donning black suits and electric guitars), it was great! The band is managed by Lemon Entertainment. Most of our suppliers came recommended by friends and they were all brilliant.

If you could go back and change anything what would it be?

That I could squeeze some extra time into the day! It all went far too quickly. And I would put suncream on my back for the canapé hour outside. My shoulders were a little pink by the end of the night!

Do you have any advice for couples planning their special day?

Deep breaths, it may seem like a long and tedious task but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Also, make sure you’re planning the day that you want, rather than the day you think others want or expect. In the end, they’ll be happy if you’re happy. That’s the most important thing to remember.

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