Wednesday 24 July 2019

Real wedding: A relaxed summer wedding at Cowley Manor

Samantha Hawkins and Darren Silverthorn fell for the modern interior and beautiful grounds of Cowley Manor where they held their summer wedding, followed by a fun-filled barbecue evening do at The Green Dragon.

The lowdown

The happy couple: Samantha Hawkins, 30, a marketing manager, and Darren Silverthorn, 33, a senior product manager executive, both from Bristol who now live in Cheltenham.
Wedding date: Saturday 15 August 2015
Ceremony venue: Cowley Manor
Reception venue: The Green Dragon
Wedding theme: Relaxed and summery


The suppliers

Photographer: Naomi Hudson, Lush Imaging
Flowers: Bumblebeez, Cheltenham
Dress: Poppy by House of Mooshki, from Sarah Elizabeth Bridal, Cheltenham
Bridesmaid dresses: Online
Groom’s outfit: Reiss
Cake: Cake of cheese
Transport: Best friends Campervan
Entertainment: Disco from Bonehead Productions
Hair and beauty: Hair, Blushes, Cheltenham and make-up by the bride, with products from Space NK
Rings including engagement ring: RJ Spicer, Cheltenham


The details

When and how did you first meet?

Samantha remembers: ‘We met about 12 years ago when we both worked at the Hilton Hotel in Bristol. Darren worked on the bar and I was a waitress.’

Who popped the big question and how did they propose?

Samantha explains: ‘We were away in Devon for the weekend in our campervan; Darren proposed while we were sat in a field overlooking the sea. It was a lovely surprise.’

How long did it take you to plan your wedding?

We booked our venues about 12 months in advance and we then planned the rest about six months.

Why did you choose your venue?

We knew we wanted to get married in Cheltenham so we visited a few venues and Cowley Manor was by far our favourite. We loved the funky interior design and the grounds are beautiful. The venue meant we could be flexible depending on the weather on the day.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Was there an inspiration or theme for your wedding?

We didn’t really have a theme for the wedding; we knew we didn’t want anything too formal or traditional. We are both quite relaxed, outdoorsy people and we wanted our wedding to reflect us.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

What made you choose your photographer?

Naomi is a friend. I love her style of photography and her attention to detail; her photos are beautiful.

How did your wedding photographer capture your big day memories?

We decided early on that we didn’t want many staged photographs. We wanted Naomi to capture the day, our friends and family so we were able to look back at our photos and remember the moments.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Did you hire a wedding planner or was it a DIY affair?

It was very DIY!

Did you make, design or create anything yourself?

We made most of the evening venue decorations – I spent a lot of time on Pinterest! This included jam jars for the flowers and candles, table centre pieces and photo boards.

Rather than a guest book we had a fingerprint tree, the picture is now on our wall at home and makes us smile!

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Tell us about the wedding dress

I knew I didn’t want anything too traditional and at around 5ft tall I felt that a long dress would drown me. I visited Sarah Elizabeth Bridal in Cheltenham that stocks House of Mooshki who specialise in tea-length dresses. ‘Poppy’ was my stand-out favourite. I love shoes and bought some very colourful ones from LK Bennett.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

What did the groom wear?

Darren also wanted something a bit different. He didn’t want a formal wedding/morning suit but also didn’t want a suit that looked like any other work suit. He liked the idea of tweed or check but this can often be quite wintery. He found a light grey three-piece suit he loved in Reiss.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Did you have something old, new, borrowed and blue?

It wasn’t a tradition I felt I needed to adhere to, although I definitely had something old and new. My friend Amanda stitched a blue flower in my bouquet.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

What song did you walk down the aisle to?

‘Old Pine’ by Ben Howard. It reminds us of summer trips in our campervan and good times.

Did you have any special readings during the service?

We had one reading. Darren’s best friend Ben read ‘I love you because’ by Jonny Cash.

What did you have for your wedding breakfast?

We didn’t want anything too formal or traditional especially as we have eight nieces and nephews and wanted them to enjoy the day as much as the adults! Our wedding breakfast was afternoon tea with Prosecco for the adults!

For our evening celebrations we had a barbecue, and a couple of barrels of ale and cider, at The Green Dragon.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

What kind of cake did you go for?

As we had afternoon tea for our wedding breakfast we choose a cheese wedding cake! Darren loves cheese and we purchased a range of crackers and chutneys – it was very popular with our evening guests.

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

What was your first dance song?

We didn’t have one… although it didn’t take much to get everyone on the dance floor!

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

After the wedding breakfast we all went outside on the terrace, there was a point in the afternoon where all our friends and family were enjoying being outside and in the lovely grounds of Cowley Manor. It was how we wanted the day to be and felt special. The evening party was also brilliant fun, especially when everyone was on the dance floor!

Cowley Manor Real Wedding

Did everything go to plan?

Yes, pretty much! Although I did arrive too early and had to drive round the block a few times! Our friend’s classic campervan can be temperamental, but behaved on this occasion.

What advice would you give anyone planning their big day?

It’s easier said than done – but don’t stress! We were both quite relaxed about the day and I think it made the planning and the day more enjoyable.

And finally, where did you spend your honeymoon together?

We spent two nights in the Scarlett Hotel in Cornwall and then two weeks later we jetted off to Mauritius for 10 days.


If Samantha and Darren’s relaxed summer wedding has inspired you, see Cowley Manor, and for further details about the couple's photographer, see Lush Imaging.

© SoGlos
Thursday 28 July 2016

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