Regal, Romantic and a Big Castle… and wait until you see how they cut the cake!
If you’ve been picturing your dream wedding since you were four, Justyna and Richard’s gorgeous castle 'I dos' – packed with romance, surprises, and happy ever after moments – will convince you to go full fairytale. Set against the regal backdrop of Warwick Castle, the artistic eye of Chris Fossey Photography captures all the magic of their fit-for-a-princess nuptials.
With a fairytale wedding comes magical music. To save on wedstress, our heroes turned to wedding entertainment fairy godmother Alive Network to help bring their personal soundtrack together. Think ethereal harp music for a royal-inspired wedding ceremony, romantic string quartet, and a wedding band fit for a princess. Shall we begin?
Here Justyna and her amazing team of suppliers share their top tips, wedding entertainment ideas and contact books with you. Plus our pinnable and shareable edit helps you steal the style, while adding your own personal touches. Planning sorted!
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It’s a modern fairytale: Justyna and Richard met through dating app Tinder in 2015 and got engaged merely months later, with a spectacular proposal at London’s Aqua Shard. “We hit it off right away and couldn’t wait to see each other again. I just knew he was the one!” admits Justyna.
Originally from Poland, Justyna had recently moved to the UK so was learning English while living in a new country and planning a wedding. “It was tough! But I didn’t want to let it stop me from planning the wedding I’d always wanted!
“We picked 10 June as we wanted good weather, and it was important for my family to be there – we hired a beautiful manor so we could all be together, relax and get ready in the morning.”
Justyna and Richard commissioned photographer Chris Fossey, to capture the style of their big day fairytale:
Justyna wanted the day to look like a royal wedding: she wanted sophistication, dignity and a lot of natural photography. She provided a number of key photos that she liked and I was able to interpret these in my own style while showcasing everything that Warwick Castle has to offer.
When choosing a photographer always make your final decision based on the quality of the photographer’s portfolio and how comfortable you feel with them. Choose someone you know can handle your group, who will be able to work in all weathers, and is prepared for the unexpected!
Let’s face it, nothing says fairytale romance better than a castle wedding!
“I am passionate about history, myth and adventure, I studied history at University and recently learned Latin to research my family tree all the way back to 1750. Warwick Castle is such an idyllic setting for a wedding… Frank Sinatra and real princess Grace Kelly have hosted parties here!”
Each room they occupied during their wedding had a different character – from the regal opulence and glamour of the State Dining Room to the rustic medieval charms of the Great Hall, adorned with ancient weaponry, stunning marbled flooring and with beautiful gothic-style windows.
The fairytale feeling began in the morning, when Justyna’s princess prep included some lovely and thoughtful details. Richard provided Justyna with Dom Perignon to enjoy with her family as they got ready; she wore a fabulous perfume, Baccarat Rouge 540, that he had given her on their last date; she wore glamourous heeled platform shoes from Kurt Geiger; and was given a beautiful lace handkerchief from her mother for those moving moments.
The magical moments of Justyna and Richard’s big day were documented by videography company Tony Hailstone. Highlights here:
What can we say about THAT dress?! Intricate detailing on the sweetheart bodice, with a full tulle floor-length ballgown…it’s Cinderella meets Royal Ballet. *DIES*
Like us, Justyna fell in love at first sight. “It was the dress I’d dreamed of. I think every woman has a hidden princess within, so why not to show that on your wedding day?! My dress reflected the fairytale feel of the whole day.”
Riki Dalal Haute Couture provided the perfect atmosphere for Justyna to choose her gorgeous gown, as boutique manager Aba Biavati describes:
We recommend setting aside 2 hours per boutique for your dress shopping, and if you can, book an exclusive appointment. Justyna had an entire room and more than 200 dresses available only for her, as well as an expert bridal consultant helping her while she enjoyed a glass of champagne, fresh fruits and chocolates. We believe all brides should experience this privacy and comfort when finding ‘the one’. She tried different models, some that she had pre-selected and others chosen by her consultant, until she finally fell in love with Reina from the Casablanca/Noya collection.
We believe no bride should settle for less than their dream!
Justyna created her own gorgeous veil, pairing two metres of luxurious French silk from haberdashers MacCulloch & Wallis, with a pretty pearl hair band she hand-picked in a Camden Passage antique shop, in London. “My veil was absolutely exquisite and felt so lovely to wear – it was my favourite part of my wedding attire! I’m so happy I made my dream veil a reality.”
“My sisters were bridesmaids, and they wore antique lace style dresses from Poland.”
Justyna went for a very natural look, as her makeup artist Naomi McKeever explains:
Justyna was a very lovely relaxed bride and was happy to go with what I suggested, so we went for a look that accentuated her natural beauty. It’s important that your makeup reflects your personality and creates a timeless look.
It can be tricky to communicate the type of look you’d like to achieve – create a Pinterest page of makeup you’re drawn to. It will be easier to show how drastic or natural you’re comfortable with.
The groom and his seven groomsmen hired their special outfits from Heaphys in Warwick, as owner Kevin Scott explains:
Justyna and Richard chose traditional morning tail suits for their glorious wedding day. A Tailcoat is ideal for setting the Groom and Ushers apart from the wedding guests.
This timeless style is perfectly fitting for a historic venue like Warwick Castle, and will be great for looking back at photos in years to come.
When selecting a car for your wedding, we recommend you view the actual car of your choice, and clarify any questions you may have – what’s included in the cost (eg flowers, ribbons, bubbly); is there a charge for waiting time; how long can you have the car for; what mileage is included within that standard charge? Also ask about indemnity insurance and reviews.
“Our ceremony was in the State Dining Room. We wanted it to feel sophisticated and royal, so we asked our string quartet to play classical music. We chose Bach’s Air on G String for my processional – walking down the aisle felt so surreal! I experienced pure happiness, I didn’t rush. I saw happy tears in my future husband’s eyes, I celebrated that moment and I wished time would slow down. It was beautiful to be surrounded by all our guests and family; I could feel the love and pride emanating from them. I was asking myself 'is this a dream? Is this really happening?'
“Our wedding was based on moving moments and, for both of us, the culmination point was the moment of the sacramental 'yes'. I was grateful for the beautiful handkerchief my mother gave me – it was such an emotional day.
For Justyna and Richard, we played while the guests arrived, during the ceremony and for the drinks reception, and many of the guests paid us such lovely compliments. The ceremony was beautiful.
Music can accentuate the emotions of a wedding day at just the right time. If you’re thinking about having a string quartet, ask them to perform your favourite music for your ceremony. We always love playing processional music – it’s so exciting, and the emotion it can bring is so intense – you can just see it on everyone’s faces!
Make sure your musicians have a named contact at the venue, who can advise and coordinate all your suppliers. Having a contact at the castle was really useful – it meant we didn’t have to bother Justyna and Richard on their big day.
Adam March was Justyna and Richard’s Entertainment Coordinator at Alive Network, and was only too happy to take some of the pressure off their shoulders when it came to planning their musical accompaniment to such an emotional day.
“Justyna already had a firm idea of the type of entertainment that she wanted, but had been struggling for days to find it. Then she came to Alive Network – she spoke to me and booked all three of her most-wanted musicians (a string quartet, a harpist, and a party band) within two days. I like to think of myself as her musical fairy godfather, making planning quick, easy and stress-free!’
Adam, Justyna’s Entertainment Coordinator
Flowers give so much joy on your wedding day. It’s all about the magical moments, which will show on the pictures and stay in your hearts.
Justyna, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves!
Justyna was really keen on classic flowers with an English romantic look and feel. She chose roses, peonies and hydrangeas in cream, blush pink and ivory. These flowers then became the basis for all of her wedding arrangements.
For the tables, we used tall candelabras decorated with a beautiful display of flowers and delicate foliage. Candles add real ambiance to historic rooms, and they really suited the castle’s Great Hall.
When deciding on a wedding florist, you need to be sure that they will interpret your ideas and create the flowers you want for your wedding day, so look at their extensive portfolio of designs.
Cindy Lymbery of Pure Botanics, www.purebotanics.co.uk
“When I think about weddings, flowers automatically come to mind – flowers everywhere, so why not on the cake? I chose roses in white and red, the eternal flower of romance… they added a special charm and looked beautiful!”
Justyna and Richard were looking for something sophisticated and a design that would fit into the setting at Warwick Castle. We knew this cake had to be stunning!
As they live in London and we are in Leamington Spa, we had a few phone calls to discuss the design and size. We then sent a box full of samples for them to try, and they chose two flavours for their five-tier cake – traditional fruit cake and Belgian chocolate fudge cake, which was covered in ivory fondant, hand piping and hand-made sugar flowers.
If you’re unable to meet your cake designer in person it’s helpful if they’re familiar with your venue. The chances are they will already know where the cake is being positioned and any potential obstacles in delivery or entry restrictions. An open and honest relationship with any supplier is also essential so you can build up trust and know they understand your expectations.
Sarah Edwards, Cake Designer, www.sarahedwardscakes.co.uk
The Reception & Wedding Breakfast
“Our drinks reception was outside and in the castle’s Orangery. The weather was lovely and there were peacocks wandering around. We wanted family and guests to feel transported back in time, so we chose lots of surprising medieval performers… it was wonderful.”
Siobhan Noake, of Warwick Castle, helped to organise their special historical touches at the castle:
Richard and Justyna wowed their guests with lots of medieval details – an armoured Knight on horseback to greet and proceed them to the castle, a jester performing fire tricks at their drinks reception, and to top it off, a pair of live Knights sprung to life out of the armoury display in the Great Hall to surprise their guests with a sword fight among their tables.
Siobhan Noake, Wedding Sales Executive, Warwick Castle
The harp was the perfect choice … so in keeping with the regal setting and it perfectly complemented the dinner as beautiful, non-intrusive background music.
The couple had left the playlist to myself. I began with classical music to complement the general atmosphere of the banquet, and then varied the song choices with recognisable contemporary numbers to please the particular age group. This was really enjoyed by the wedding guests and they were surprised by some of the songs that can be played on the harp, for instance the Game of Thrones theme!
The harp can be played at any part of a wedding day – the church/civil ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. Harp music resonates very well for outdoor weddings. It’s best to have your harpist setup on a flat stone surface, and a shaded and covered area is a must, to protect the instrument. If you have a very large number of guests, or if the space is particularly big, the harp can always be amplified with a microphone and PA system.
“Warwick Castle’s resident knight was our master of ceremonies for the day. He engaged with our guests and kept them entertained; he announced every speech at the breakfast and even gave us a sword to slice our wedding cake! That was such a surprising moment!”
The Evening Party
Justyna and Richard’s magical first dance song was Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, played live by The Pods. Tom from the band enjoyed performing this hand-picked song, “It was a perfect choice for their first dance as husband and wife … it has a beautiful melody and, lyrically, has exactly the right sentiment for a first dance.”
Justyna and Richard loved it too, “the dance was just amazing, emotional. We looked deeply into each other’s eyes and the whole world stopped!”
“After our first dance, we asked The Pods to play a ‘second dance’ song, to get everyone dancing with us. We chose Blame It On Me by George Ezra.”
Justyna and I collaborated before the big day to ensure The Pods were going to provide her with exactly what she wanted. We carefully tweaked the setlist to ensure there would be something for everyone, and so it was perfect for Justyna and Richard’s evening do.
Wedding audiences tend to span a very wide age range so, when selecting the band for your wedding I would advise looking through the band’s playlist to ensure there is enough variety in their repertoire.
Plan and book ahead…
If you know what you want, book as far in advance as possible. Some of the things we wanted were already booked many months before, which made it difficult. We had to compromise on the date of our wedding because we wanted a weekend in summer-time, so that my family could come over from Poland. And I found it difficult hiring a wedding car and finding just the right entertainment. It was quite stressful, but it worked out great… eventually!
Make time for dress fittings…
With my busy workload, I struggled to find time for fittings. My dress was too tight, so I had a last-minute body contour wrap, and it was amazing!
The Magic Makers
Chris Fossey Photography, Stratford-upon-Avon
Morning tail suit: hired by Heaphys, Warwick
Pure Botanics, Leamington Spa
Driven In Style, Solihull
Sarah Edwards Cakes, Leamington Spa
Venue, Food and Drink
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Tony Hailstone, West Midlands & UK-wide
Tachbrook Mallory House, Leamington Spa