Real Wedding- The West Mill, Kayleigh & David

Welcome to our latest Real Wedding blog featuring Kayleigh & David at The West Mill exclusive use wedding venue.
When Kayleigh Otter and David Foster, both 31, first met they were just 16 years old and worked on
the production line in a sandwich factory. But even then Kayleigh knew David was the butter to her
bread and after half a lifetime together the couple tied the knot in a stunning ceremony in Derby’s
West Mill. Here, Kayleigh tells the story of their day.
Who: Kayleigh Otter, a midwife at Kingsmill Hospital, and David Foster, an algorithmic trading
manager. They live in Selston, Nottinghamshire.
Proposal: David took me to Venice for my 30th
birthday and I had absolutely no idea he was going to
propose. Even when he got down on one knee I didn’t expect it – I just laughed. We had a few days in
Venice and then we went to Milan and I chose my ring there. It was completely unexpected but all
the more lovely because of that.
Venue: West Mill, Darley Abbey. I had always wanted to marry in church, but Dave works away a lot
and the church in Darley Abbey insisted we attend three weekends a month, for six months. This was
impossible for us, so we decided on a country house venue. We looked at several in Nottinghamshire
and Derbyshire but we hadn’t found anything that really had the wow factor. As soon as we walked
into West Mill Dave was asking if we could book it – we loved how unusual the place was.
When: The venue didn’t have any Saturdays left in 2017, but they did have some Fridays. We decided
to book 7th July and it was only afterwards that we realised the date was 7.7.17 – so Dave has no
excuses for forgetting our wedding anniversary.
Night before: My mum hired Stretton House the night before and we all stayed there. My two
cousins from Australia came over for the wedding and it was lovely to be able to spend the night
before with all my family.
Bridesmaids: My sister Tamara Otter was the matron of honour and my bridesmaids were cousin
Olivia Heslop, sister-in-law Claire Harradine and friend Claire Pedley. I also had my two nieces as
flowergirls, 14-year-old Caitlin and 10-year-old Maisie. My mum owns a mother-of-the-bride outfit
shop called House of Elegance, in Worksop, so she ordered all the dresses and accessories.
Best man: Dave’s best friend Andy Graham was best man. He lives in Hong Kong and came over
especially for the wedding.
Dress: I did loads of dress shopping and I had a very set idea of what I wanted: something plain. In
fact, I ended up with the complete opposite but I couldn’t have loved it more. It was from the
designer Mori Lee.
Theme: West Mill is very urban and industrial but I chose to view it as a blank canvas and endeavour
to make it prettier. I wanted the theme to be elegance and sparkle and to link back to Venice a little
bit too. I had an enormous scroll made with a quote from the Merchant of Venice written on it,
which came from Polly and Me, and I placed this in the centre of the room.
Flowers: I saw quite a few florists and some of the quotes I was given were completely ridiculous. I
was continuing to look around and met Laura from Avant Garden at a wedding fair at Calke Abbey.
She was incredibly down to earth and understood exactly what I wanted, which meant I had
complete confidence in her.​ My bridal bouquet was stunning, filled with white cymbidium orchids, with blush centres, sweet
avalanche roses, pink astilbe, pink astrantia, white thistle, blush wax flowers, Italin ruscus, baby
eucalyptus and asparagus fern. I loved it so, so much I have paid to have it preserved and it is now in
a glass case – I couldn’t bear to just let it die.
Laura also did my bridesmaid’s posies which had sweet avalanche roses, memory lane roses,
waxflowers, astrantia, astilbe and greenery.
Dave’s button hole was a Cymbidium orchid, white thistle and waxflower while the groomsmen had
memory lane roses instead. The corsages were white orchids in keeping with bridal bouquet.
Every single flower Laura used was absolutely stunning and she really helped to guide me in choosing
the right thing for the right time of year. She was also really well-priced and I felt that I got a lot of
flowers for my money. We went to 10 weddings last year, all with different budgets and themes, but I
would not change my flowers for any others. They were perfect, fabulous quality and my favourite
floral masterpiece was our ceremony backdrop. Avant Garden brought the “WOW” factor I wanted
for the ceremony room.
Accessories: Laura also did my birdcages filed with flowers which hung from the ceiling during the
ceremony, and then went on the tables later. She filled jam jars with flowers which hung off the
chairs either side of the aisle and I had hurricane vases with candles in them lining the aisle too. I had
a vintage ladder which held sweetie jars and lollies and I made my own tables cloths and runners
with rose gold sequins, hessian and lace.
I made a welcome board, which had maps of the places we met, got engaged and got married cut
into the shape of hearts.
For the name places, we had chocolate bars made with a photograph from our engagement shoot on
one side and the menu on the other.
Rings: My engagement ring was by Cartier and we bought our wedding rings from Temprel in
Nottingham. I’m a midwife which means that I can’t wear diamonds at work, so my dad suggested I
have two rings – a plain band that I wear all the time and a diamond one that I wear when I can.
Music: This was really important to me. I had a violinist called Alexandra performing during the
ceremony and a duo called The Notes played during our drinks reception.
In the evening we had a band called Echo Drive – I chose them because the lead singer Caulder has
an amazing raspy sound. We booked them solely based on their promotional video but it was a
gamble that paid off because they were great.
Photography: I came across Simon and Adam from Enchanting Wood Photography at a wedding fair
and although they are based in Berkshire I knew they were right for us. We are really thrilled with
our pictures a lasting memory of our day. And we also had a photobooth in the evening which was
really good fun and has provided us with a really different set of images too.
Cake: This was from Buttercup Cakes near Manchester and it was actually the first thing I booked –
even before my dress, even though it really reflects my dress in terms of the ruffles. I had four tiers of
lemon drizzle cake and the bottom tier was covered in white, pink and purple frills which gave it an
ombre effect. It was beautiful and tasted divine.
Top tips: Everyone tells you the day will go quickly but it was like a whirlwind. It’s important to take a
step back and take it all in. Also, prepare as much in advance as you can. It is possible to do an awful
​lot yourself, providing you give yourself plenty of time. And finally, stick to your budget – because it is
possible to get very carried away.
If you would like to book a consultation to discuss your wedding flowers click here

Tips on Wedding Flowers & Styling your wedding venue.

When planning Wedding florals and venue styling with our couples we hear so often “Help…. we have no idea where to start” At Avant Garden Weddings we provide a full wedding flower service from bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces all the way through to church and venue styling as well as hiring linens, props and more. We have done over 400 weddings, so we like to think we know a thing or two about planning, styling and florals.

Suppliers: The first and most important part of the whole process is finding the right supplier. It is important that you choose a supplier that’s style of work reflects your own style and personality. Look at their body of work, go on Instagram, Facebook, visit their website and see them in person at wedding fayres and venue open days. Do you love what they do? and would you be happy to let them do it for you? If so book an appointment, but don’t leave It too late. Good suppliers book up to 2 years in advance.

Budget:  Before a consultation I always advise our couples to start by giving me a budget. We often meet couples who don’t know their budget and that is totally understandable, who knows what these things cost?? Try looking at weddings on our social media pages or on our website. Ask for a ballpark figure of what that wedding would cost based on your guest numbers.

Venue open days are a great way to see the space dressed and ask the supplier ‘what would this cost?’ I like to be really open with my pricing and I am always happy to provide a start from amount for any wedding or floral arrangement before you come in to see us. An itemised price list is available on our website


Just keep in mind when choosing your décor, if you have picked a design from a magazine or a royal wedding then it costs what it costs. A cheap version of it will be just that. If you bring us a photograph of your dream ceremony arch that will cost £600, but you only have £300 for it in your budget then it won’t be your dream arch, on the day it will be a cheaper version.

Your budget doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it is always a good starting point. Having an indication of your budget will enable us to deliver you the best wedding for the money available to us and help prioritise spaces for decor. It doesn’t matter if you have a little or a lot, but it will be easily wasted if you don’t choose how to spend it wisely.

The venue: So…you’ve arrived at our studio for a consultation. We usually begin a virtual walk around the venue. We start at the front door and create a list of all of the areas that we feel are important to dress. Are there any ugly features? Or any pretty features to accentuate? like a beautiful fire place or a gorgeous window that could be dressed? Most people naturally want to allocate money to hiding ugly features, but I think your budget is better spent accentuating the features that you love. This will detract from any negatives and ensure your guests are drawn to the features that made you fall in love with the venue in the first place.

What is the style of the venue? Why did you choose it? We always encourage our couples to keep in line with the style of the venue. So, if you have picked a grand stately home, then go with it. Its highly likely that a rustic wedding will look seriously out of place in these surroundings. Instead opt for in keeping centrepieces such as candelabras or tall urns and accessorise with charger plates and luxury linens. If you are getting married in a barn, then think milk churns and lots of gorgeous eucalyptus table runners. In a converted industrial space…. think copper and geometric. It’s so easy to pick out the latest Pinterest trends, but if your venue is dominated by a colour or theme that doesn’t match then you are fighting a loosing battle.

Consider which rooms you will be using. You don’t have to necessarily dress every single room, think of where your guests will spend the most time. It is so easy to spread your budget out too thinly by having little bits here and there that can get lost in a big space full of guests. We recommend making displays from the key focal areas. Such as your ceremony area, guest tables, top table and cake table. These areas are viewed throughout the day and will make more of an impact than the odd few flower jars on the drinks tables or bar.

Theme/style: Do you want your wedding day to have a set theme, colour scheme or style? Don’t be too distracted by the latest Pinterest trends. Although it’s great to be on trend, these trends will come and go. We recommend your day reflects you as a couple and your personal style. For example, maths teachers love our geometric themed items and we recently worked with a book worm bride who incorporated our book table numbers into her centrepieces.  

Again, think about the venue, does it have a strong colour scheme?  Think about how everything will all tie in together, and contrary to popular belief…. not everything has to match the bridesmaid’s dresses!! I hear so often “I want pink, but the bridesmaid’s dresses are navy.” The bridesmaids aren’t exactly going to stand next to the napkins all day. So, if the flowers, dresses and general décor colours and styles compliment each other there is no need to worry.

Focal points: It is easy to spread your budget out too thinly by having little bits here and there. These bits can get lost in a big room full of guests. Make striking statement displays out of your ceremony area, your wedding cake table and most importantly your top table. These are the focus areas that guests will go to or look at during the event and most importantly be photographed throughout the day.

Centrepieces are also your chance to stand out and be remembered. Your guests will be sat in front of them for a long time and it is nice to create something memorable that will leave an impression. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be big and expensive. We often mix high elaborate centrepieces with low more simplistic ones to give the illusion of height across a large room, without breaking the bank. Really small simple centrepieces can look great on Pinterest but can look lost in the reality of a cluttered table. We always recommend smaller centrepieces are accentuated with tea lights or candle sticks to make them really stand out.

Statement pieces: I am a massive believer in every wedding having at least one statement piece. So, if it’s a beautiful backdrop for your cake table, an entrance archway, a  feature centrepiece for the head table or an isle covered in candles. Save some budget for a statement piece that no one will forget. It will provide a real talking point for your guests and your photographer will absolutely love you for it!

Statement pieces don’t have to cost the earth, never under estimate something as simple as candle light to create a statement. Some of the most beautiful top table displays we have created have been just masses and masses of candle light. we also have a range of gorgeous frames, arches, artificial centrepieces and backdrops that cost as little as £100 to hire.

If the Pinterest backdrop of your dreams looks like it is going to be quite costly, you could consider doubling up its use. For example, most of our props are designed to be able to move. So, your ceremony backdrop could be moved behind the top table, then after the wedding breakfast it could be moved to the evening reception area and used again as a photo backdrop or to frame the cake table.

The most important thing to consider when deciding on florals and décor is how much do you want it? Will you regret not having it for years to come? The event is one day but your photos and memories will last a life time.