An East Sussex Garden Party Wedding at Birling Manor ~ Hannah & Conor

If you’re struggling with these dreary and grey autumn days, we’ve got just the tonic for you, in the shape of Love Sussex Weddings readers Hannah and Conor’s August bank holiday bash!

The couple, who originally hail from Leicestershire (Hannah) and Belfast (Conor) and live in Teddington, London tied the knot in a beautiful bunting and fairy light  laden ceremony at East Dean’s Birling Manor and continued their pretty vintage-inspired garden party themed big day in a capri marquee on the crocket lawns.

We caught up with gorgeous bride Hannah to talk crafting, mother-in-law cake offs and why these London-locals chose to marry in Sussex:

Hi Hannah! Before we start chatting away about your beautiful big day, tell us – how did Conor propose?

We’d been together six and a half years in July 2013 – Conor had just started working for a new company and they used to have competitions every Friday with amazing prizes. Conor pretended he’d won a night away in Stoke Park Hotel –a luxury 5 star hotel. On arriving in the amazing suite, I tried to rifle through the mini bar saying that as we were not paying for the room we should treat ourselves to a bottle of champagne – Conor obviously very uncomfortable, tried to convince me otherwise!

We had a fabulous meal with the very last course being bought out to us both under a silver dome.  Still completely oblivious to it all I lifted off the dome and underneath was a red ring box! Conor then got down on one knee and said “it’s not a competition, will you be my wife?” The ring belonged to his grandmother and is from the 1930’s.

What a charmer! That’s such a lovely proposal story! So, spill; why did you choose to get married in East Sussex?

We both love East Sussex! It’s just short drive from London and the sun always shines (mostly!). I think we will move, eventually. Conor saw our wedding venue, Birling Manor online. We decided to go down for the weekend and it was love at first sight! We didn’t see ANY other venues and signed up for the Bank Holiday weekend there and then.

We don’t blame you, it’s a gorgeous wedding venue! We take it you stayed locally?

We rented six Beachy Head Cottages for 4 days, to include the wedding party and close friends, all centred around a beautiful kitchen garden.  It really was so much fun nipping in and out of each other’s cottages during the whole weekend! We were looked after so well by the estate manager too. We had a BBQ Sunday and it made the wedding into a whole weekend celebration rather than just one day.

Sounds great!  It looks like you had a very relaxed and fun wedding – how did you go about creating it?

We asked everyone to wear their ‘prettiest frocks and best chinos’ on our invites – guests chose not to wear suits or anything too formal to be more relaxed.  We didn’t have a traditional cake (or cut the cake), my mum made two lemon drizzle cakes in the shapes of our initials and Conor’s mum made four fruit pavlovas. On our menu, which was titled “nosebag”, Conor invited guests to choose at their peril between the two deserts!

A lot of our friends have children and they are very much part of our lives too, so we had created a games area for kids with space hoppers, football goals, and swing ball. We gave all our guests the option to bring their children if they wanted – and for those who wanted a weekend away by themselves that was fine too.

We wanted people to come for the whole weekend and enjoy Eastbourne and East Sussex. Many guests were flying over from Northern Ireland and we encouraged everyone to come for 2-3 nights and have a little holiday. Conor created a pamphlet called “Keeping you keen in East Dean” – it detailed the history of the area and points of interest like walks, beaches, Birling Gap, a brewery tour, the Seven Sisters and Eastbourne so people could make the most of their trip.

We didn’t have a receiving line or wedding cars – my dad drove me to the venue – he even made me a CD for the short journey and donned a chauffeurs’ cap.

Aw! Good ole dad! We LOVE the idea of a mother-in-law cake off too! We can see that so much effort went into making your day so pretty and personal – can you tell us about these touches?

We had so many – we basically decorated and designed the whole look and feel of the wedding. Birling Manor provided us with a beautiful backdrop then we just went to town and made it our own.  We spent hours researching and looking on the internet- bought lights, lanterns, tissue pom poms , floating lanterns – made our own signature cocktail, made the favours, designed labels and printed name tags and painted signs.  We also had comedy podcast playing in the toilets to amuse people! My engagement ring was Conor’s grandmother’s and my wedding ring was my grandmother’s – it’s so wonderful knowing they have been given a new life.

That’s lovely. Clearly, you got really stuck into crafting for your delightful dream day, can you share with us what you made?

Conor is a design manager and so he made all of our wedding invites, RSVPs, menus and a pamphlet  The best man’s wife Natalie made 50 metres ( yes 50!) of beautiful blue and green mixed material bunting. My dad collected vintage plates and made cake stands, wedding signage and made gifts for the bridesmaids. My mum arranged all the flowers in the venue and knitted and made our card suitcase. My sister, Amanda made the button holes and the table plan suitcase. The bridesmaids and groomsmen helped me with the wedding favours by pickling and jamming, and our neighbour, Greer made table runners out of burlap and lace. Everyone was involved one way or another!

My advice to brides that want to make things for your wedding is to start early and accept help from others.  Even if you sit in front of the TV and do small bits every night – just don’t leave till the last minute as it can look rushed!

That’s great advice! Do you have any other top tips to share with fellow Sussex brides-to-be?

Don’t try and control everything yourself – delegate! People enjoy helping and it makes them feel proud when they attend your wedding and feel like they’ve contributed.

Top tip indeed! So if you had to pick, what would you say was your favourite thing about wedding planning?

The craft element! It felt like a treat creating and making things you normally wouldn’t have reason to make.

We bet it was fun. And, what was the worst thing about planning your big day?

The table plan! It felt like a school essay I had to finish.

Ha! If you could do it all again, what would you change?

We’d order more booze!  We had to ask our DJ before he got started to nip out and buy more beer!

That’s brilliant! Did we hear rightly, that you had a mini-moon and are embarking on a mega-moon too?

Yes we’re greedy having two honeymoons! But our first choice was Vietnam and Cambodia and it wasn’t the right weather in August. So, we had a mini-moon at Finca El Cerillo in the Andalucía mountains, Spain and our mega-moon is a 3 week delight starting 8th December!

Team wedding:

Venue: Birling Manor | Photography:  Darren Buss | Videographer:  Cupcake Videos

Dress & Accessories:  Emma Elizabeth Bridal | Shoes: Rachel Simpson | Hair: Phoenix Hair & Beauty 

Bridesmaids: The Pretty Dress Company | Flowergirl: Next | Groom & Groomsmen: River Island & Samuel Windsor

Rings:  Steensons | Flowers: Church Lane Flowers | DJ:  Matt Maurice

Catering: Buzz Events and Catering | Drink: Majestic

Where on earth do we start summing up this bank holiday beauty? I suppose, we should talk about the weather – in Britain, sadly a Bank Holiday usually means one thing; it’s going to rain – but luck was on this lovely couple’s side as while there was occasional spits and spots of drizzle, they and their party celebrated in the sunshine! What did Hannah say about sunshine and Sussex?! So heart warming to hear about how much their family and friends got stuck-in with making and baking for their wedding too.

Hannah looked divine in her Alfred Angelo lacey delight (bought from Emma Elizabeth Bridal in London) while how suave did Conor (and his groomsmen) look in their River Island shirt-tie combo? We can’t go without saying how much we l-o-v-e-d those bridesmaid dresses too. Such a clever choice opting for the same fabric but with different shapes to suit all figures – a top tip for all of you brides out there, who are struggling to find that one dress that suits all of your maids.

A big thank you to Darren Buss for sharing these incredible images with us and also thanks and happy mega-mooning to the newlyweds Hannah and Conor! Have a great time guys! We’re not at all jealous!

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2 Responses to An East Sussex Garden Party Wedding at Birling Manor ~ Hannah & Conor

  1. lovesussexweddings says:

    Thanks Darren. It looks like it was a lot of fun – captured beautifully too x

  2. Such a great blog for an amazing couple! We had such a fun time and loved being part of their big day!

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