A Relaxed & Rustic Barn Wedding

oxfordshire barn wedding

Rob and Laura married on Easter Sunday at The Tythe Barn, Nr. Bicester. They wanted their wedding to be relaxed, rustic and a big party for their loved ones.

Laura looked super gorgeous in her Maggie Sottero lace dress with her elegant up do while Rob went for traditional Highland Dress. I love that they broke tradition and had Laura’s three brothers as their Bridesmen, with what sounds like the perfect journey to the venue.

They had a delicious chocolate brownie wedding cake, fresh florals and beautiful brown paper stationery. Such a perfect day.

Thanks so much to the amazing Jen Marino for sharing her photographs with us today.


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The Proposal… Rob got down on one knee in the sand, on a beach in Cape Cod, New England.  It happened on a road trip around New England in April 2012.  He had previously asked my Father’s permission and had designed and had custom made a beautiful diamond engagement ring, his parents are jewellers so he was lucky enough to be able to choose exactly what he wanted.

The Vision for the day… We wanted the ceremony to reflect the importance of the occasion, but still to have a relaxed and personal feeling.  The reception was all about the celebration, and throwing a big party for our family and friends.  Rustic and relaxed was probably the nearest thing we came to a theme.

The Planning process… We didn’t want a great big long engagement so aimed to plan our wedding as quickly as possible.  With the engagement in April we really only started looking at venues in May/June so a winter wedding would have been too close to secure a good date and venue.  We opted to have our wedding in spring and when we fell in love with a venue they had availability for Easter Sunday which was perfect as most of our guests from out of town came in the day before and turned it into a long weekend with the bank holiday Monday to recover!

The Venue… The Tythe Barn, Launton, North Oxfordshire.  We had wanted somewhere informal and so a barn wedding seemed ideal.  After looking around a few we had found one that seemed almost perfect, and then we went to the Tythe Barn and fell in love.  We were struggling to find days off together to view venues so I first went to the Tythe Barn with my Mum, who thought it was amazing.  I knew without Rob seeing it that it was perfect, but I didn’t want to sway his opinion so I booked him in to see a couple of the places I had liked.  He felt the same way, everything we could want was all in this one place.

It is beautiful, elegant at the same time as informal, relaxed and rustic but still gorgeous for photos.  The high wooden-beamed ceiling adds to the grandeur for the ceremony, making it feel like an important venue for such an occasion, while everything else means it never feels too grand and maintains the lovely relaxed feeling we wanted for the day.

The staff were incredible and at all times assisted with planning and offered advice, giving great support without being pushy.  They were also very relaxed and calm about the whole thing, and seemed to agree with our views on weddings; as long as the couple are married and everyone enjoys themselves it has gone well!

The Dress + Accessories… Mine or Rob’s???  I wore a Maggie Sottero gown (‘Embrace’) in ivory lace with a two tier veil for the ceremony and formal photos.  For the informal photos I wore a cardigan and removed the veil as it was really cold (a last minute change to the attire to accommodate the unseasonably cold weather at the end of March – 2 degrees!).  My something borrowed was a lovely drop pearl necklace from Rob’s parents shop, which I coordinated with a pearl bracelet given to me a few years earlier by my brothers.  My something blue was a small blue bow hand sown from ribbon by a friend of Rob’s family.  My something old was a sixpence in my shoe and my something new was a cute pin with beads pinned to the inside of my skirts, both given to me by my lovely Bridesmaids.

Finding the dress… Finding the dress was fairly simple.  I found one in the first shop I went to that I loved, a simple lace dress.  Everyone said you can’t pick the first dress you see so I booked in to another dress shop and found another simple lace dress I liked there too.  I liked both equally but my Mother and Mother-in-law who were both there for the appointment slightly preferred the second one so that one got the vote.

Unfortunately the dress fittings were not quite as simple, due to an error in the dress or the fitting there was a large defect in the dress that was not fully corrected until 5 days before the wedding.  A bit stressful towards the end when the wedding was getting close, but nothing we couldn’t cope with.

Groom’s attire… Rob is from Edinburgh so wore traditional Highland Dress.  His family have a kilt that his Great-Grandfather wore in battle, bearing the tartan of the Gordon Highlander’s regiment.  Rob has had a kilt made in the same fabric, and wore this with a Prince Charlie jacket and bow tie, along with a plaid (fabric of the same tartan over his left shoulder) held in place by the cap badge of his Great-Grandfather’s military cap.  He completed this outfit with a sporran bought by myself as a present for his birthday, and a kilt pin of an entwined thistle and rose designed by his parents.

Rob’s father, Brendan, wore the original family kilt, and Rob’s brothers William and Craig wore kilts of the same tartan.

The Readings + Music… Both Rob’s brother, William, and my brother, Richard spoke at the wedding.  They both took traditional readings and modified them to make them personal to us.  Both did an excellent job, and spoke with such feeling that I cried along with most of the guests – the Dads were the worst.

They played “Book of Love” sung by Peter Gabriel as I walked down the aisle, then “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac and “At my Most Beautiful” by REM as we signed the register.  When we walked back down the aisle together they played “Sweet thing” by Van Morrison.

The evening music was provided by an excellent band that quickly recognised the group’s love of rock and played to a packed dance floor during each set.  I danced until midnight as did most others including Rob’s Grandmother, Janet, who was still up dancing at the very end!

Beautiful bridesmaids… We didn’t stick too rigidly to tradition and so I had a collection of Bridesmaids and what I like to call Bridesmen (my 3 brothers, Richard, Robert and Lawrence).  Our family’s mean so much to us that it was important to me to have them there on the morning of my wedding, keeping me calm and providing their company.

One of my bridesmaids was the beautiful Gemma Waterfall, a friend from my university course.  She wore a one-shoulder navy floor length dress and looked gorgeous.  She walked behind me down the aisle to assist with my train and was there in the morning to help settle my nerves and to provide me with much needed moral support.

My second bridesmaid was the amazing Jessica Jones, a friend who I lived with in halls at university many years ago.  We received the happy news several months before the wedding that she was due to have a baby a week before the wedding so unfortunately this meant that Jess could not be with me on the morning of the wedding as she had a 2 week old, Isaac, to look after.  It did mean we had a cute 2 week old baby at the wedding, so all positive from our point of view.  She made such an effort to be there so early following the birth of her first child, and we will always be so glad they could share in our day.

So, the bridesmen!  They wore gorgeous navy suits and a striped tie to match the colours of the kilt and flowers.  They all looked so handsome.  They turned up in the morning to provide me with support and encouragement, and seeing their faces when I walked down the stairs fully dressed confirmed why it was so important to me for them to be there.  My brother Lawrence kindly collected several guests on the way to the wedding while Richard and Rob chauffeured me and my father to the venue.  It was not your traditional wedding car journey.  We were getting a little too flustered and panicked in the back, so the boys kept us calm by playing a mixture of cheesey disco classics, hard-core hip hop and loud rock music!  We were a little bit early, unheard of for an Egan, so we had to stop for 15 minutes on the way up.  The only place we could find was a Little Chef car park and as my brother reversed into the space I looked at the overflowing bin on my left and the Little Chef full of truckers on my right and remarked “It’s just how I’d dreamed it would be”.  Such a fun journey full of laughter and fun, and one I will never forget.  When the music started at the ceremony and the boys walked one by one down the aisle in front of me it was a little unconventional but was so personal to us that even traditionalist forgave us I think.

The Flowers… I can confess to knowing nothing about flowers!  A great friend of mine, Susie, knew all about my lack of floral knowledge.  I had discussed my general thoughts on wedding flowers with her; plenty of foliage, thistles as they go well with the kilts, and nothing too bright.  When thanking me for a small favour Susie decided to buy me a bouquet of flowers that were all in season in March and fitted these criteria.  They were beautiful.  Helen Russell, Susie’s mum and provider of wedding flowers to countless other lucky couple, kindly agreed to provide flowers for the wedding.  She and Susie put together a plan for the wedding flowers following a visit to the venue and a chat with Rob and I (and our mothers).  I can honestly say that I was not sure of most of the names that were thrown around during the meeting, but the flowers were exactly how I would have wanted them, lots of foliage, subtle colours that looked beautiful with the venue, and relaxed informal arrangements. I trusted them completely to take into account our preferences and create something wonderful, and they did just that.  The ones I can remember are….thistles, eucalyptus, paper-whites (?), rosemary sprigs.

The Cake… This was provided by two of our very good friends; Susie and Cathie.  They are both exceptional cooks and I have sampled many baked goods from them before.  However, they are not professional bakers and had never made a wedding cake before so it was a huge task and one that was so appreciated by Rob and I.  We decided to use the wedding cake as dessert as we wanted everyone to get the opportunity to try some of it, ourselves included.  I have never managed to have room for cake at a single wedding and I didn’t want to miss this one!  We were treated to a tasting session when the selection had been narrowed down to two choices; a chocolate sponge so chocolatey it was unbelievable, and a more dense chocolate brownie cake made with almond flour.  It took us longer than it should have to select from both incredible options, but we decided eventually to go for the chocolate brownie cake.  It was perfect to be served as a dessert with berries and cream.  There was an added advantage; our friend is Jewish and our wedding was during Passover so he was not able to eat flour, but could eat ground almonds.  Our wedding day was also his 30th birthday so despite occurring during Passover he was able to have some cake on his birthday.

The cake was decorated with a delicious chocolate icing and decorated with fresh flowers, hundreds of which were hand-wired over several hours by Cathie, Susie and Jo on the morning of the wedding.  They didn’t even get time to drink the champagne I’d put by for them to enjoy because they were so busy.  It looked incredible and so many people commented on it to us both before eating it but especially after.  We loved all of the personal touches, things people made and did, that made our day so special.

Your Photographer… What can I say about Jen Marino?  If you are planning a wedding, book her.  She is ludicrously reasonably priced given the talent and service she offers.  She provided a practice photo shoot in the cost, which if I’m being honest I thought was something we wouldn’t benefit from.  However, I couldn’t be more wrong.  It puts your mind at ease – you approach your wedding knowing two things 1) you have posed before and know what to do and what not to do 2) you have had photos of yourselves from your photographer so know how amazingly they will turn out.  This all adds up to zero stress about the photos before, during, or after the wedding.  What more could you want?  She took into account all of our requirements, provided advice where we didn’t know what we wanted, and was unobtrusive on the day (I barely noticed her).  The main thing though….the photos are incredible.  There are plenty of photos that could be printed and framed, but she also got a lot of photos capturing special moments, fun times, the atmosphere, the venue and all the little touches we wanted to remember.  My top tip for all brides would be to record all of the important people, and the important things to you from the day and pass this onto your photographer.

The Details + Decor… We didn’t have a theme but with a barn wedding, rustic is always going to be the way to go!  We made table runners from hessian, stitched some hessian banners for the venue, and decorated about 50 jam jars lovingly kept by our mums.  There were a few little signs around the venue such as one telling the boys in the toilet to “Wash their hands and get back out there” and another reminding people that “Today is a day to celebrate, for today we both give up on finding someone better.”

We had a large blackboard with the table plan handwritten by Rob, showing people the way to their tables named after our favourite scientists.  We are both geeks.  Rob was in charge of all of the stationery for the wedding; I wrote the text and he created beautiful invitations, table names and place names.  Rob also made a board to introduce everyone to our wedding party, with silly photos of each member of the wedding party for those who didn’t know who everyone was.

The Honeymoon… Following the wedding we just wanted to relax in each other’s company and take a few days to mull over the wonderful occasion in our minds.  We went for a few days break at a cottage in the Cotswolds and read books by the fire, cooked meals larger than we needed and took long baths in the middle of the day.  We went on one walk up over an enormous hill, but it was quite cold and it all seemed a bit too energetic so we didn’t repeat the exercise!

We then came home for a few days, but soon headed back out for another short break in the Lake District.  By this point we had some energy back so did a few walks and saw some beautiful scenery.  We had plenty of time to reflect on the day and how important it was.  We also had little depressed moments when we realised it was all over.  We do miss our family and friends.

Memorable moments… The car ride there was incredibly fun, singing along to silly music with my Dad and brothers while drinking champagne.

The ceremony was more than we could have hoped for.  Despite being a civil ceremony we wanted it to retain the gravitas usually found in religious services, and our wonderful registrar, together with the spectacular venue and the moving readings meant that the ceremony seemed full of all the importance and emotion it should have, while still having enough light-hearted moments to keep it relaxed and informal.

The evening entertainment was amazing.  Our band was great and kept the dance floor full.  I danced for the full length of each set and didn’t want it to end.  However, the real highlight was our first dance.  Both Rob and I hate dancing and being the centre of attention, so it should have been hell for us.  Months before the wedding we approached Rob’s brother, Craig, a talented guitarist but not a professional and asked him if he wouldn’t mind playing our first dance.  We danced to “You and Me” by Dave Matthew’s Band while Craig played and sang an acoustic version unaccompanied.  He was incredible, and we know how nervous it was so really appreciated what it took to do it for us.  It took a lot of the attention of us but was just so personal and beautiful that what would probably have been the low light of the whole event ended up being one of the highlights.

Advice for other couples… Don’t let people tell you what you “need”; there are very few hard and fast rules.  Remember that wedding ceremonies are to join you as man and wife, and that the reception is just a celebration of that event.  Do whatever feels best for you, it is your day.  We cut our a few traditional aspects and added a few in of our own, and even the more traditional older generation didn’t mind one bit.  We stayed well under the “budget” we could have used for our wedding because we only included things we actually cared about.  Look at each decision and ask “is it strictly necessary”?  If it isn’t, ask yourselves if you care enough about it to put in the time, effort or money to make it happen.  If you don’t, don’t bother!

We didn’t worry about ceremony programs, because we never bother with them when we go to other weddings.  We had male bridesmaids (“bridesmen”) because I wanted to have my brothers there.  My brother cleaned up his car and drove us there rather than paying for wedding cars because neither of us really likes cars that much so it wasn’t worth the effort – and it was more time with my brothers and a real highlight of the day.  No chauffer would ever have sung “Safety Dance” with me on the way to the wedding!

We don’t like formal photos and would never probably have one hung up in our house, so we kept them to just the bare minimum, about 8 photos, to provide photos for those who might want them but got back to mingling and enjoying the day as quickly as possible.  We don’t like the traditional ceremony music so we had modern songs that meant something to us.  I wore a cardigan over my dress because it was cold.  We don’t like silver service and saw a menu option that included shared antipasti boards to start and burgers and ribs for main course, so we went for that, our favourites!  We wanted our cake to feature in our day so we had it for dessert.  Cut out what you don’t care about so you can focus on the bits that you enjoy.

Credit where credit is due…

Photographer; Jen Marino Photography http://jenmarino.com/

Flowers: Helen Russell, contact details on request.

Venue; The Tythe Barn, Launton, Nr. Bicester http://www.thetythebarn.co.uk/1/welcome-to-the-tythe-barn

Catering; Jamie Oliver’s Catering company, via The Tythe Barn, http://www.jamieoliver.com/fabulousfeasts/home

Suit and Kilt Hire; Slater’s Formal Hire, http://www.slaters.co.uk/formal-hire

Hairdresser; Stenning’s Hair Studio, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. 01491 651890.

Band; Life in Stereo via Bands For Hire, http://www.bandsforhire.net/function-bands/item/13-life-in-stereo

Just beautiful, i love the whole atmosphere to their day. Thanks so much to Rob and Laura for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou

2 thoughts on “A Relaxed & Rustic Barn Wedding

Everyone loves a nice barn wedding, and the photos are full of energy and life! I particularly like the shot of the bride taking a swig of champagne from the bottle, just the kind of moment that I like to capture when I’m shooting a wedding.

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