Posted: November 23rd 2018
Sonny and Adam Wharton-Ward got married at Holkham in July 2018 in spectacular style - a day with surprise after surprise and one that their guests won’t possibly forget in a hurry. Here Sonny reveals the magic that went into their big day.
We managed to whittle down a long list of wedding venues that we liked down to just four options. Holkham just so happened to be the first one we saw. From the moment we entered Holkham’s 25,000 acres of Norfolk countryside we were blown away by its beauty and its grandeur. I remember driving down towards the main house to meet the events team and we had to go through the deer park, pass the lake and then wait for a gaggle of geese to pass the drive before we could continue forward! There was no doubting the beauty of the country estate and what the venue had to offer. We instantly fell in love with its charm. Adam and I knew that Holkham was “the one” but we kept having to remind ourselves not to get too carried away as it was our first appointment and we still had three more wedding venues to view.
Our wedding party and immediate family all stayed at The Victoria Inn on the night before and the night of the wedding. We had dinner together in The Victoria’s Orangery, which was perfect because it gave family members and friends who hadn’t previously met the chance to do so in a private and intimate setting.
The night before the wedding one of my best men stayed with me in my room and Adam stayed in a room with one of his best women. I barely got any sleep as I was just too excited. I woke up on the morning of the wedding and shouted “I’m getting married today!” My four year old nephew Rocco, who was also our ring bearer, was staying in another room on another floor but still heard my announcement and said to his mum “that was Uncle Sonny”. That morning Adam had breakfast with our guests and his best women in the hotel’s restaurant and I had mine in my room with my best men Andrew and my brother Jack. The rest of the morning was spent slowly getting ready with music playing in the background and sipping on Champagne. It was a really lovely morning, people kept popping in to my room to give me their good wishes for the day ahead.
We chose to have the ceremony in the Marble Hall as we were absolutely blown away by its beauty. I have never seen a space quite so grand and majestic. It seemed unbelievable that this could be the room in which we were to get married – I mean it looks like a palace! We couldn’t get our heads around something quite so beautiful being available to us – it was like being on the set of a movie!
I was so nervous waiting to enter the hall on the morning of our wedding. My heart was beating so hard and fast. Adam and I entered separately via side rooms opposite to each other at the top of the Marble Hall so, as our doors opened at the same time, the first person we saw was each other.
We wore navy blue three-piece suits from Hackett, which were personally tailored for us. We chose everything from the fabrics to the buttons and the pockets. Adam works for the shoe company Dune and we were lucky enough to get some custom-made shoes from there with our new initials embroidered on them, as well as having Holkham and the date of our wedding pressed into the sole. We each wore a White Calla Lily with Gypsophila in our buttonholes.
We came in to the Marble Hall with our mothers to Nat King Coles When I Fall in Love, which was played live by a pianist and cellist. We walked along the mezzanine to the top of the marble staircase and then down towards our guests. I remember seeing lots of colourful and elegant outfits, lots of smiles and quite a few tears too. Our celebrant was a friend of Adam’s family - she used to cut his hair as a child. We were really lucky to have her as our registrar, she made the whole ceremony so light, friendly and personal.
After the wedding ceremony, our catering team served the guests a glass of Champagne for toasts and Adam and I gave our speeches. We wanted to do them straight away so that we could enjoy the rest of the day and not feel stressed or worried about having to do our speeches. Then we surprised our guests with a flash mob-style performance to our ‘song’ Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, which was a huge hit and seemed to be played everywhere when we first met and were dating. Two of our guests are professional singers and, as the pianist and cellist played the introduction to the song, one of them stood up from their seat and started to sing the first verse of the song. Then another of our friends stood up and sung the second part of the song as they both made their way to the bottom of the staircase.
We wanted the sound and energy of the surprise performance to build up so as the song went on we had a drummer, two violinists and a viola player appear from some side rooms where they had been hiding the whole time and then a saxophonist began playing down the aisle. All our guests were standing up clapping, dancing, singing along and filming the performance on their phones. It was such a happy and uplifting moment.
We had a big group photo with everyone outside the hall and all made our way to the Lady Elizabeth Wing lawn for a drinks and canape reception, to which live music was played by the string quartet who had been part of the earlier performance.
My highlight of their set was hearing Let’s Go Fly a Kite from Mary Poppins - my cousins and I sung it to our Nan and Grandad like we had when we were children. As our guests walked into The Lady Elizabeth Wing they were greeted by a choir of 25 children from the Sylvia Young Theatre School. I’ve been teaching dance at the school for 10 years now and to have them travel from London to Norfolk to perform at our wedding was an absolute joy and a real honour. The children sang a song that was written about Adam and I and our relationship – it was really very funny and our guests were in hysterics over the lyrics and stories told. They then performed an eight-minute all-singing all-dancing high energy Rock and Roll cabaret – our guests were absolutely blown away by the talent of the children and said they felt like they were at a musical.
Shortly after the children’s performance, dinner was served. We had three courses, each with three choices. Adam and I aren’t massive foodies and we enjoy traditional British classics, which was reflected in our menu. I was so impressed by the food at our menu tasting that I requested to have a mix of two starters and a miniature trio of the desserts - greedy maybe but it was my wedding after all!
Both our Dads and our Best Men and Best Women did speeches – which I think we managed to come out of quite lightly to be honest! Then Adam and I had our first dance to a song called Home written by American songwriter Scott Alan and sung by Shoshana Bean. It was a song I heard when I was about 17 years old and have always thought it was the most beautiful song. The lyrics are gorgeous and the first time I heard it I said it would be the song I do my first dance to. Our amazing band Velvet Soul, who had come over from Wales, then performed. The night was filled with more drinks, wedding cake, bacon rolls and lots more dancing!
To have the people we love and care for the most share our most special and treasured day with us and for everyone to be able to look back on the day with the best of memories was the most important thing to me. The day was everything we imagined and more! I planned and researched everything myself so to see it all unfold before me was like a dream come true. It was hard work and at times very stressful but it was a labour of love. We always refer to it as the best day ever and wish we could do it all over again…
Catering: Julie Abbs
Photography: Lightening Photography
Videography: Capture Media
Flowers: Constance Rose
Band and DJ: Velvet Soul
Entertainment: Sylvia Young Theatre School
Suits: Hackett London
Musicians: Professional Musicians / Kavolini String Quartet
Rings: Hearts of London
Lanterns: Sam Race
Trees: Posh Plants
Best Women dresses: The Dressmaker in Leigh on Sea
Best Men tuxedos: Moss Bros