Newlyweds Grant and Katie tied the knot at Ashridge House in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, just over six months ago, in an elegant autumn wedding. As we look back at their special day, beautifully captured here by Kris Piotrowski Photography, it’s easy to see why they chose this venue above all others.
When Grant and Katie tied the knot nobody could accuse them of rushing into things! In an inspiring tale of long-lasting love, these two sweethearts had been firm friends since their school days. It wasn’t until they left school that romance blossomed; fast-forward through their years together and here we have their wonderful wedding day, brimming with love and happiness. I wonder what their 14-year-old selves would have thought of the fact that one day they’d get married?!
It’s not hard to see why the couple chose Ashridge House; the Grade II* Listed building is absolutely stunning, with fairytale turrets, towers and crenellations galore. The grounds are spectacular, with vast sweeping lawns and formal landscaped gardens, surrounded by nearly 200 acres of National Trust woodland. Shy deer can often be spotted grazing quietly, and in the summer months, the terraces and lawns are picture-perfect for an alfresco reception and relaxed garden games such as croquet.
Crucially for Katie and Grant, the interior is just as magnificent; their November wedding date meant that they couldn’t rely on the British weather to be favourable and they needed to start from the assumption that most, if not all, of their special day would be indoors.
In thinking about the colour theme for their wedding day, Katie had instinctively gone for blush and mint, a winning combination that she adores. But as she explains, somehow it didn’t seem quite the right fit for the season, being from a more summery palette, and so when she found these exquisite bridesmaids dresses in a delicate grey, it all fell into place.
Wedding planning, mostly fun and exciting, can be time-consuming and fraught at times. Katie was pleased to report that the Ashridge House events team were there to help every step of the way, offering guidance and support throughout the wedding planning process. Grant and Katie liked the fact that there is a variety of wedding packages available, which can be personalised to create a unique wedding for each couple, but which offer a starting point for creating a realistic budget and help keep the planning stress-free and simple.
We love all the personal touches that Katie and Grant added to make their wedding truly unique, especially the handmade elements such as this rustic wooden Order of the Day board. Both Grant and his brother are very creative, and this gave them the perfect opportunity to show off their skills. Between them they also crafted the wooden table name stands, wedding card box and a Words of Advice box, for guests to contribute their thoughts, both amusing and serious. There was a surprise for friends and family answering the call of nature too: Grant and his brother had made boxes, filled them with goodies, and placed them in the loos for the guests’ use.
As Ashridge House is not usually open to the public, none of Katie and Grant’s guests had ever stepped foot inside before. As their family and friends arrived, there was an amazing wow factor as they marvelled at the impressive interiors.
Katie and Grant chose to exchange their wedding vows on the grand central staircase, sweeping down into the main hall. The stairs, already magnificent, were even more stunning with a flickering church candle placed at the edge of each step, along with a romantic scattering of white rose petals, and the ornate ironwork banisters decorated with swathes of flowers and foliage.
The staircase forms the ideal stage for a wedding ceremony, with the guests in rows in the magnificent main hall. This lovely photo of the Registrar and groom looking up in anticipation as the beautiful bride makes her first appearance at the top of the sweeping stairs says it all!
Following on from their ceremony, the newlyweds headed outside with their bridesmaids and ushers for a photo shoot with Kris Piotrowski. With the huge trees showing off their best autumn display, contrasted with the deep green of the evergreens, the grounds looked splendid. Despite the November date, they were lucky to have glimpses of bright blue shining through the dramatic skies.
Once these fabulous group photos had been taken, Grant and Katie were able to slip off for a few precious moments together, just the two of them alone for the first time as husband and wife.
Both Katie and Grant are keen travellers having explored far and wide in their years together, so of course it seemed only right that they incorporate this aspect of their lives into their wedding celebrations. Their table plan was brilliant idea and a true one-off; each guest had to find their photo, taken on an ‘old-skool’ Polaroid and pegged across a world map. On the reverse of each Polaroid was their table name, which in turn was named after one of the many countries they had visited.
Of the wedding breakfast, Katie says, the service and the food were outstanding… the waiting staff were always very professional, something that all our guests commented on.
One of the great features of Ashridge House for a wedding at any time of year is that there are different rooms for each part of the day; there is no waiting around for areas to be prepared for the next stage of the celebration.
By the time the guests had enjoyed their wedding breakfast, the main hall had been cleared and was looking spectacular in its evening format.
Ashridge House comes into its own again once evening falls, with carefully placed lights illuminating the beauty of the arches, balconies and ornate stonework.
As the evening guests arrived, it was time for the party to start. Grant and Katie wanted this part of the day to be just as special and exciting as the day’s events had been, and were thrilled with their band, The Soul Thieves. As Katie recalls, they were the best band! They really got everyone on the dance floor and played a real mixture so all ages were enjoying themselves throughout. It really was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to!
The tradition of the first dance was honoured with Bob Marley’s One Love, played by the band. At first the guests swayed along to the music, until they could hold back no more – and the fun really began!
It seems a shame that even the best of days has to draw to a close, and Katie and Grant were determined to end on a high note; everyone was invited to join them outside for a fireworks finale, lighting up the trees with twinkling light.
In conclusion, Katie says, without a shadow of doubt, we would recommend Ashridge House to anyone!
Although Katie and Grant chose to have an autumn wedding, exchanging their vows on the grand central staircase, there are a number of other licensed settings for civil marriage and partnership ceremonies. On a summer’s day, there are few settings more beautiful than the South Terrace, a sun-kissed and spectacular location, with views across the Italian Gardens.
Unusually, Ashridge House can also offer an Anglican blessing for those couple who wish to have a Christian ceremony in addition to their legally-binding formalities. The magnificent Anglican chapel, set in the grounds of the main house, is a masterpiece of Gothic styling and can be booked alongside the house and gardens – just speak to the wedding coordinator for further details.
Photographer: Kris Piotrowski
Bride’s dress: Ann’s Bridal
Bridesmaid dresses: Debenhams
Hair and make-up: https://www.facebook.com/bridalhairandmup/
Rings: Smooch Rings
Band: The Soul Thieves
Harp: Bethan Gillard
Photo booth: The Guest Factor
Cake and flowers by friends of the bride